Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tomorrow, July 1st is Canada Day up here in the land of mosquitoes and 6 months of winter. This is the national holiday of Canada. Canada Day marks the beginning of the Dominion of Canada via the British Noth America act passed on July 1st, 1867. On that day three British colonies, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada (consisting of the united provinces of Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Quebec) Canada were united as a "Dominion". The original title of 'The Kingdom of Canada' was rejected. The title of "Dominion" was accepted because of the reference to "having dominion from sea to sea".
The holiday was slow to catch on. On June 20th, 1868 Governor General Lord Monck issued a proclamation calling for a a celebration on July 1st of that year. The holiday was only established as "Dominion Day" by statute in 1879, and no official ceremonies were held until 1917, the golden anniverary of the establishment of Canada. On this date the new Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings was dedicated as a monument to the fathers of Confederation and to the bravery of the Canadian troops dieing uselessly in WW I in the service of British imperialism. It was ten years later in 1927, the Diamond Jubillee, that the next official ceremony was held. On this date the cornerstone of the Confederation Building on Wellington St. was laid in Ottawa and the Carillon in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill was opened.
The official and regular observation of Canada Day only began in 1958. From this date the traditions of fireworks, band concerts and the trooping of the Colours on Parliament Hill began. Beginning around Canada's Centennial in 1967 the presentation of multicultural events began and the celebration became known as "Festival Canada".After 1980 the federal government began to increasingly promote Canada Day celebrations outside of Ottawa. The traditional fireworks were first held in 15 larger cities across the country in 1981. Dominion Day was officially renamed as Canada Day on October 27th, 1982 even though most people had ceased to refer to it as "Dominion Day" many years before.
Most Canadian cities now have Canada Day celebrations, sponsored to a large degree by the federal government. Concerts, pancake breakfasts, carnivals, public citizenship ceremonies and more are organized here there and everywhere across the country. The holiday is celebrated internationally as well, without official recognition, in such places as London, England or Detroit, Michegan. In the latter case it is called the "International Freedom Festival" and is celebrated by a large fireworks display over the Detroit River that seperates Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. In Newfoundland the morning of July 1st is held as a remembrance of the huge losses of the Newfoundland Regiment at the Beaumont Hotel on the first day of the battle of the Somme during WW I. Canada Day is "officially" July 1st unless this is a Sunday, as it is this year. When this happens the "official" holiday is held on Monday, July 2nd even though most events still happen on the first.

In Quebec the observation of a holiday on July 1st derives from a totally different tradition. It is called 'Moving Day' there. This day was originally May 1st. This was the date that the feudal seigneuries were permitted to begin evictions of their tenants, after the winter snows had melted. This later evolved into a law saying tha urban leases had to begin on May 1st and end on April 30th. The date of "Moving Day" was changed to July 1st during the Quiet Revolution and it was also added that leases no longer had to have fixed terms. The tradition, however, has persisted, and July 1st remains a day of great chaos in Quebec. Movers have to be booked three months in advance. They work round the clock and often charge 3 times the normal rate. The day is particularily ugly in Montreal where only about 1/3rd of the people own their own house and where landlords typically don't provide such items as fridges and stoves. Tenants usually have to supply their own, and these appliances have to be moved down and up narrow staircases leading up to apartments several floors up. Look out for falling objects !
If you want to learn more about Canada Day look to any of the following references. The official government site for this day is at . The site of the National Capital Commission gives the low down on the official celebrations in Ottawa. If you want to see what events are occuring in your area you can search for them at Canada Day.Com. If you want to download free Canada Day graphics they are available at .
1398: Legend has it that Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney landed at Guysborough, Nova Scotia on this day. This unverified.
1492: The King and Queen of Spain give Jews 30 days to leave their Kingdom. This is verified as is the fact that some of the funds stolen from departing Jews were used to finance Columbus' expeditions.
1566: Nostradamus, beloved fad prophet (later to be profit for new age charlatans dies). He never saw it coming.
1578: Martin Frobisher lands in Greenland and claims it for England, naming it 'West England'. Frozen fish and frozen chips franchises open soon after.
1812: In the lead in to the War of 1812 Upper Canada gives US citizens 14 days to leave the province. The only country to ever threaten Canada directly tries over the next few years to conquer Canada. Canada fights its first and only defensive war and wins, or at least beats the Americans to a draw. Maple syrup was not renamed "freedom syrup" in the USA at this time.
1837: William Lyon Mackenzie helps form the 'Committee of Vigilance' in Upper Canada, a provisional revolutionary government that is eventually defeated by the British Crown.
1858: First Chinese colonists reach Victoria BC (see later item 1927).
1866: New Brunswick finally officially recognizes Confederation. Looks for an Intercolonial Railroad that costs them a pretty penny and helps them not at all.
1878: The famous anarchist Bakunin dies in Berne Switzerland. "Old Mike's body lies a'molderin' in the grave, old Mike's body lies a'molderin' in the grave, old Mike's body lies a'molderin' in the grave, but his soul goes marching on.
1892:Famous Homestead Strike at the Homestead Steel Mills in Pennsylvania begins. Virgorously contested by both sides.
1892: Gung ho Teddy Roosevelt leads his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish American War. A goofy and exceedingly foolish move that puts his men in position to be picked off by even the notoriously poor shots in the Spanish army. The 10th Calvary, consisting of Afro-American soldiers charges to his rescue and saves his sorry ass. They get none of the credit.
1899:The Gideon Society for Bible distribution is formed. For over a century the Gideon bible in the drawer of the hotel room gives that eerie feeling that you just don't have words for to millions of travellers.
1900: The storied Fraser River strike of fishermen begins in BC.
1912: The Regina Cyclone roars through downtown Regina, Saskatchewan, killing 28 and leaving 2,500 homeless. Dominion Day is cancelled. Many ex-residents of Regina such as Molly swear that the dump never recovered.
1923:Passage of the 'Chinese Immigration Act' restricting Chinese immigration to Canada in response to hysterical "nativist" sentiment. Finally repealed in 1947, but often referred to as 'Humiliation Day' amongst Chinese Canadians.
1930: A Pontifical Mass is held in the Vatican to celebrate the first canonization of North Americans, the 'Jesuit Martyrs'. Mussolini welcomes Archbishop Forbes of Ottawa with open arms (see next item).
1937: Spanish bishops officially endorse the rebel Francisco Franco in his bid to conquer Spain for right wing terrorism. Dios con nosotros- the old refrain-but also viva la muerte.
1941: The Mackenzie King government brings in Bill 80, sanctioning his promise not to apply conscription for overseas service.
1945: Saskatoon Star Phoenix runs classified ad reading:"For sale, one homemade coffin, never used. Reason for sale:Improved health. Fit 6' 2"."
1962: Algeria wins independence from France despite long running terrorist campaign by the French government.
1966:The USA launches Medicare to provide medical services for people over 65 years. Over 40 years later the program has improved only slightly.
1972:First edition of Ms Magazine.
1973: First Canadian National Lesbians' Conference.
1976: US Air Force base at Goose Bay, Labrador closes. Departure of southern USA boys from Newfoundland results in first fishery crisis as the 'God stocks' are depleted.
1977: American Indian activist Leonard Pelletier is sentenced to two life terms on trumpted up evidence. Protests continue to this day.
1983: Simpson-Sears fined $1 million for misleading advertising, largest such fine in Canadian history. Across the prairies sales of the Sears Catalogue collapse as it is official that it not just as soft as toilet paper.
1989:The Bank of Cnada ceases to issue one dollar bills and the Loonie is hatched. The dollar coin pulls the belt market back from the edge of collapse. Pants fall and belt sales rise.
1991:The Warsaw Pact is officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague, Czech Republic. Vodka sales collapse across eastern Europe as Russian soldiers stagger home.
1996: "Horsey Betty", Queen Elizabeth II, unveils equestraian statue of herself on Parliament Hill. Becomes instant "hit" with local pidgeon population.
That's about all that ever happened on this day that was at all interesting. As to future history creation activists in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are planning "Anti-Canada Day" protests to continue on from the National Aboriginal Day of Action on the 29th. hoping to bring Canada's shameful history of mistreatment of its native people to light.

In my previous blog on the article 'Free Software as Part of the Anarchist Toolkit' on the Anarkismo site I complained that the author gave too few references. Never let it be said that Molly is totally negative- just mostly. In a positive light here are a few extra references besides the Source Forge site that the article in question gives. All have also been added to Molly's links under the Other Interesting Links section.
*Free Software Foundation (produced in collaboration with UNESCO)
And, of course, there's a Wikipedia article on the whole concept of free software. It contains many other references for the truly curious as well as giving a backgrounder for the neophyte.

People living in different parts of the world may get confused when searching the internet for the term "Blue Moon". The present definition of this phenomenum is when two full moons occur in the course of one month. Parenthetically, the term "black moon" is when a month has no full moon. This can only occur in a February because the lunar cycle is slightly longer than a regular 28 days(about 29.5 days). The moon in such a month is, however, so close to visibly full that the casual observer will "think" there is a full moon in such a month even though there is not.
Today's full moon arrived at 13:49 GMT (8:49 Winnipeg time- daylight savings time). Is today's full moon a "blue moon" here. No...because the last full moon was on May 31st at 20:04. It was May that had a blue moon here and elsewhere in the western hemisphere.
But it is a little more complicated than that. The eastern hemisphere does have a blue moon this month because there are full moons on both June 1st and June 30th there. The point where this ceases to be true is two time zones heading west across the Atlantic. Not the best place in the world to set up a telescope. But let's go further. Near the Pacific international date line the month that has a blue moon is neither May nor June. It's July. Auckland New Zealand for instance has a full moon at 01:49 July 1st and another at 12:48 July 30th. If you want further details on this go to the Blue Moon Page and hunt for the "longer answers". The Wikipedia encyclopedia has a more general article on the whole matter of blue moons.
But in any case the Moon is full, and it's time for Molly to hop in her little cruise ship, 'Selena', and go sailing down the lunar seas on her long interupted lunar voyage.
Look at the above lunar map. Mare Frigoris is labelled # 6 in that diagram. It is the northernmost (highest "up") major lunar feature. It lays just north of the Mare Imbrium (see later) and stretches eastward (to the right) above the Sea of Serenity. Like the other lunar "seas" Frigoris is dark because its basin is filled with lava that flowed after impacts on the early Moon by other bodies. This sea is bounded on the south (below) by the Montes Alpes on the east (right) and the Montes Jura on the west (left) and the Montes Teneriffe in the middle.. The mountains of the Moon are generally named after other mountain ranges on Earth. If you look a point just to the left and down from the number six in the above diagram you will see a dark smudge. This is the crater named Plato. Lunar craters are named after people with an emphasis on astronomers, scientists, explorers and other political and religious people from the past. There are hundreds of recognized names for lunar craters. Plato essentially marks the division between the Juras/Teneriffes to the left and the Alps to the right. Plato, about 100km wide, is extremely dark in colour and thus is one of the easiest lunar craters to spot if you are using binoculars that are less than ideal. Less easy to spot is the crater Cassini just south (down) from the Alps where this mountain range runs into the Montes Caucasus which bound the Sea of Serenity on its northwest. in the approximate middle of the Alps there is the 'Alpine Valley' that seems to bisect the mountain range in half. This is a shock ray from the impact that created the Mare Imbrium to the south.
That's it for now. The little pea-green ship Selena is now pulling up to dock. Stay tuned for when we sail again for the Sea of Rains.

Friday, June 29, 2007

There's a really great article over at the Anarkismo site. Free Software as Part of the Anarchist Toolkit is both an history and a description of the phenomenum of free as opposed to commercial software. The author goes into how the free and democratic spread of information empowers people to run their own lives in the way that anarchists think they should be able to do.
As an aside Molly heard a sterling example of this on the radio just the other day. Some decades ago anthropologists gathered thousands of blood samples from the Yanomamo people of the Brazilian jungle under the false promise that they were sampling to see what diseases these people were susceptible to and the further promise that specific medicine would be provided for those diseases. Of course this was utter bullshit. The purpose of the blood samples was for genetic research. The Yanomamo were particularily useful for this as they were genetically isolated. Today samples of this blood retail for up to $80 per tube on the internet. The Yanomamo custom on the death of a person is to completely cremate every item connected with this person. This, of course, included blood that may be anywhere from Rio to Atlanta to Berlin. The trouble for the retailers of the blood is that some of the Yanomamo now have internet access. They want the blood back. No, not a cut of the profits, but a return of the items swindled from them under false terms. Gotta have the Yanomamo version of a decent funeral. Without the internet the Yanomamo would never have discovered this swindle and would hardly have the means to act upon it.
Back to the article. The author presents numerous examples of how the free flow of information has enhanced democracy and how it could do even more by making local initiatives visible on the world stage. He also argues about how further development, often held back by copyright laws, could enhance the freedom of both individuals and groups by providing the technical knowledge that they presently lack. He goes into some of the "collaborative public science" projects, mostly environmental, that exist (Molly Note: Strangely enough he misses the larger and more well established projects such as the annual Christmas/midwinter bird count or the many projects under the heading of "amateur astronomy"- both of which have been discussed previously on this blog).
Anyways, have a look at this article. It's interesting and thought provoking though it would have been better if the author had provided more references for further study.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tomorrow, June 29th, members of First Nations in numerous locations across Canada will be taking part in the National Aboriginal Day of Action. From Nova Scotia and New Brunswick where native people will be slowing down traffic to hand out leaflets, to Montreal, to Toronto, to numerous communities in Ontario such as Hamilton, Kingston, Nipigon, Sudbury, London, Sault St. Marie and Thunder Bay. From a rally by Mohawks at the Seaway International Bridge in Quebec to a threatened blockade in Deseranto, Ontario to rallies in Winnipeg, Roseau River, Manitoba, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and on to the west coast in Vancouver native Canadians will be taking to the streets to protest their past and present treatment at the hands of the Canadian government and to urge that the glacial pace of outstanding issues like land claims and compensation for residential school abuses be speeded up. Here in Winnipeg a march and celebration sponsored by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will begin at 10:00 am at the legistlature and proceed to the forks where the celebration will go from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The Manitoba Southern Chiefs' Organization has also called for a one day boycott of non-native businesses by reserve residents.
The highlight of the day will be two events in Ottawa. A march will be held from City Hall to Victoria Island on the Ottawa River. This is being sponsored by the Assembly of First Nations and will pass by Parliament Hill. On the Hill itself the Algonquin members of the Barriere Lake community will set up their own camp. Whether they will still be there to spoil Stevie's Canada day on July 1st is unknown. For 20 years the Barriere lake community has negotiated and struggled to have the federal government live up to commitments that are made but never carried out. Most of the houses in the community are infested by mold, the school needs total replacement and there is a 90% unemployment rate on the reserve. The Quebec government Youth Protection authorities now prohibit newborns and young children from returning to the reserve because of the conditions.
Natives across Canada are virtually unanimous in their desire for peaceful protest rather than confrontation. Despite this Via Rail has cancelled service between Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto as well as other locations in southern Ontario tomorrow because they fear rail blockages. Much media attention has been focused on Mohawk protestor Shawn Brant who hinted to the Canadian Press that the group he belongs to may carry firearms to protect themselves. Ontario Provincial Police Commisioner Julian Fantino responded with something more than hints, saying " the end of the day there will be consequences and they will be severe. And hopefully they will be those that will deter others like him from this kind of anarchy".
For a complete backgrounder on the reasons behind the Day of Action, what events are being planned and follow up news Molly can suggest no better source than the Turtle Island Native Network. Tune in there.

Molly promised many moons ago to update all the additions (and some deletions) that she has made to her Links section. This may seem like a politician's promise, but I'll eventually get to it. For the moment,however, Molly has to tell about her most recent addition -Anti-War.Com. It's an American site that is a news aggregator and editorial site that doesn't just cover the American invasion/war in Iraq but also many other potential and actual sources of war across the globe. Very interesting and very timely. Drop over for a look. It's well worth your while.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Once more Molly goes chugging down her blog roll to pick out the best of the recent posts. Today we feature the letter "b":
Janet Biehl continues her efforts to present a comic strip version of the life of Murray Bookchin. Look to her blog for the more recent efforts.
Bombs and Shields has an interesting story/report on how some NYC police officers are in more than slight doodoo because they assaulted a lawyer and his wife who tried to intervene when they noticed that the police were beating a handcuffed black man. Now kicking the crap out of a lawyer is one of the more stupid things that any person can do. No doubt the police will have to do more than a little of the ol' extra wiggle to get out of this one. Can't say that I feel sorry for them.
Butt Darling from Australia has a report on how the Australian secret police have been building up dossiers on journalists who have the "wrong" politics, particularily if they criticize the secret police or law enforcement in general. Can anybody say "criminal conspiracy" ? Can anyone say "blackmail" ? Can anyone say "intimidation" ? Can anyone say any number of other criminal offenses that are only "criminal" when they are not done by private citizens rather than agents of the state ?
A little afterthought here. Anarchafairy has replied to my previous post on the last edition of 'The Best of the Blogs', saying basically that I mistook what he was trying to say. In his opinion "lifestylism" and "social anarchism" are not mutually exclusive, and a truly comprehensive anarchist "praxis" will encompass them both. Point granted. Have a look at his replyin the comments. Molly would dearly love to see an integration of "theory" and social action with such aspects of everyday life as "redneck culture" from country and western music(and not just "rap") to bingo, as "sports fandom", as the attempts of ordinary people to preserve their family structure, as the far more important do it yourself culture amongst ordinary people as compared to primitivist posturing, of gardening by ordinary people as opposed to the pathetic recommendations of primmies whose skill is considerably below that of the average gardener, of the public festivals favoured by regular people rather than the contrived festivals of cultists- see Barbara Ehrenreich's 'Dancing in the Streets', of the efforts basically of ordinary people which vastly outnumber the sort of thing that Murray Bookchin vented his spleen against. Of,of,of,of. What Molly says over and over here is that the idea of raising a myth of "ubermensch" is a great and grevious mistake, besides being simply ugly beyond belief. Radical "alternatives" to daily life formed in the hothouse of subcultures will almost inevitably be inferior to those formed by the average person. There is nothing here to integrate with a "social anarchism". Anarchism has to remember its roots as being based in the ideas of justice and equality, not privilege and elitism. When it pretends that it has some magical "new way of living" that others are expected to follow like rats after the Pied Piper then it betrays the very essense of anarchism. It also plays very much into the class interests of the new ruling class who advance less kooky versions of such so-called "alternatives", often for great financial profit.
Yes, by all means anarchism has to be integrated with everyday life. All that Molly is saying is that there is an "undiscovered continent" amongst the great 99.99% of people who don't pretend to be a sect of superior beings, and that their actions are worthy of attention, publicity and emulation. Looking across the 49th parallel to the cesspool of chintzy "post-leftism" that raised Murray's blood pressure while he was alive I see little worthy of value and imitation, let alone "integration with". I do, however, see many things much !!!!!!!!! more widespread that are admirable and point the way to a hopeful future.

More photos and even a video are now available on the internet from the recent protests in Quebec City over the march of the Royal 22nd regiment, soon to deploy to Afghanistan. The photos can be seen at . There is also a short video (10 minutes) by d'Olivier D. Asselin at .
Molly really has to pause here and give out her own little slanted view. The Quebec City demonstration was larger than most other recent "events" as far as protests go. The libertarian character of the participants was also much more visible (excluding the participation of the RCP-Quebec is perhaps the last refuge of Maoism in the world outside of the Himilayan mountains) than at other events. The Quebec comrades made a deliberate choice to participate in the mainstream of the demonstration and not to playact at forced militance. Perhaps this is because the movement in Quebec is more mature, more like those of Europe, and less given to the "spectacle of militance" that others in North America are attracted by.
The protests in Quebec City attracted less "media attention" than some other recent ones because they were non-violent. Some rather naive "anarchists" believe that such media attention is an unalloyed "good". False and pretty obviously false if you understand exactly what remains of such pseudo-news as "50 people who look wierd get the shit kicked out of them by the cops" after perhaps a week passes. No details. Only a vague emotional impression at best. In the majority of cases- nothing. That is the secret of the "media". Not some vague paranoic Chomskyian fantasy of a conspiracy to manipulate "news". The media do not sell news. They sell entertainment with all the staying power of cotton candy.
The idea of arranging to lose in street battles against the police simply does not have any effect on the ordinary person via the media except to leave a vague idea that you are either thuggish or pitiful. Usually it leaves no impression. Actions such as those in Quebec City also leave little lasting country-wide impression. What they do, however, leave is an impression amongst non-anarchist participants and observors who see them close up of anarchists as reasonable people. Even better, as entertaining and friendly people who might actually have reasonable ideas about what to do. Many kudos to the Quebecois anarchists.

More than 30 workers at the 443 room Rydges Hotel at World Square in Sydney, Australia are demanding that the new owners, the Schwartz family, show a little respect to their workforce. The Schwartzes have indicated, without consulting their present employees, many of whom have been working at the hotel for longer than 8 years, that they intend to contract out housekeeping servives. The Schwatrz family prides itself on its "charitable work", but in this case they fail to understand the old adage that charity- and justice too- begins at home.
The photo above shows some of the hotel workers demonstrating outside the hotel. The workers are asking for the public to show solidarity by phoning and emailing the Schwartz family in regard to their actions. To learn more and participate go to

The Harper Index, your microscope on the bacteriological world of the Harper government, has a recent article on the efforts of the Conservative government to resurrect the nuclear power option in Canada. If successful this will, of course, result in many billions of dollars in corporate welfare available at taxpayer expense to government subsidized industries that would be totally unprofitable if they actually had to finance the projects themselves. Perhaps it might even convince many corporations that their donations are better given to the Tories than the competive business party, the Grits. As the article points out the development of the nuclear option is also important for the continued (over)development of the Tar Sands, and also is a golden opportunity for the Conservatives to "appear" to be doing something about carbon emissions. The full article 'Energy endorsement may be linked to tar sands and climate change pressure' can be seen at

Following China's successful bid for the 2008 Olympic Games both Chinese officials and International Olympic Games officials pledged that the games would be a catalyst for the improvement of human rights in China.
"By allowing Beijing to host the games you will help the development of human rights"
-Liu Jingmin, Vice President of the Beijing Olympic Games Bis Committee, April 2001
"It will help promote all economic and social projects and will also benefit the further development of our human rights cause"
-Liu Qi, former Beinjing Mayor and current president of the Organizing Committee for the Beinjing Olympic Games, 13 July 2001
"We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve the human rights record in China"
-Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, April 2002.
The international community hoped that china's Olympic promise would end China's ongoing violation of fundamental human rights, including the use of forced labour, the denial of freedom of association and the denial of the right to collectively bargain. In particular, it was hoped that the significant number of labour activists who have been imprisoned for no other reason than trying to exercise basic workers' rights would be released.
What has really happened ? To date China has failed to live up to its Olympic promise. Basic workers' rights continue to be violated and labour activists continue to be imprisoned. A significant number of labour activists remain in prison for their peaceful actions to defend labour rights. Some of these have been in prison since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. In fact, ever since China's Olympic Promise to improve human rights, more labour activists have been detained. Some have had their sentences extended well past the next Olympics in 2012.
The ILHO, the Hong Kong Liason office of the international trade union movement has initiated an international campaign for emails to the President of China. They have also produced a set of downloadable pdf postcards if you wish to send your demand that China release detained labour activists by mail rather than email. To learn more about this campaign and to participate go to .

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yesterday, four days from this Friday's planned planned national aboriginal day of protest, members of two northern Ontario first nations erected a nine metre high teepee on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature in protest over the Ontario government's collusion with resource corporations that are destroying their tarditional lands. People from the Grassy Narrows First Nation, near Kenora Ontario, have been fighting for many years against the clear cutting carried out by Montreal based forestry giant Abitibi Consolidated. Members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Nation about 600 kms northwest of Thunder Bay are protesting the actions of the Ontario government is ignoring a court decision and granting mineral exploration rights on their lands. In both cases the traditional way of making a living from the lands occupied by the bands is or will be destroyed by the destruction of the ecosystems on which they depend. None of the economic benefits from these projects ever reach the reserves whose land has been stolen.
The native activists were supported by people from the Rainforest Action Network and the Christian Peacemaker Teams. See the first for suggestions as to how you can act in solidarity with the protestors. See the latter for a news aggregator of mass media articles on this protest.

In 2005 the City of San Francisco passed one of the strongest anti-sweatshop purchasing laws in the USA, prohibiting the City from purchasing and uniforms, electronics or other good made under sweatshop conditions. In a year and a half the City made no new purchases that might fall under the purview of the law, but now the first contract involving apparel purchases is being reviewed by the City's Office of Contract Adminstration (the purchasing arm of the City). This agency is proposing a blanket waiver of the law, essentially gutting the whole letter and spirit of the anti-sweatshop law. This would set a bad precident for several other purchases that will be looked at in upcoming months. The people at the Union Voice site are asking you to add your voice to theirs in pressuring the City of San Francisco to not abandon its anti-sweatshop policy. To participate in this campaign go to

Carrying on from the little parable on bullshit in the last post, there's something about war that hones the bullshit skills of its proponents to fine and steely points. Once more...bullshit is different from a simple lie, though it may contain lies as part of its stream. Bullshit rather is speech with nothing more than emotional content and no consideration whatsoever as to facts. Sometimes this may be rather benign, such as a long winded streams of praise for your favourite sports team. Sometimes it is not so benign.
In a ceremony prior to last Friday's military parade in Quebec City Quebec Premier Jean Charest showed himself to be a grandmaster of the art of bullshit. My favourite quotation from his speech to the soldiers follows,
"You are the acting arm of Quebec patriotism."
Pardon me ???? Other parts of his speech were ordinary bullshit which you might think good or bad depending upon whether you approved of the emotions he was hoping to evoke. This little quote, however, deserves to be enshrined in The Hall of Bullshit Fame. It goes beyond the level of bullshit as speech that thinks facts are totally irrelevant. This little blurb is bullshit that thinks sanity and the meaning of words are also beside the point. Molly wants to start a campaign to appoint Charest as Governor General, a post where supreme command of the art of bullshit is a requirement. Charest has proven that he is perhaps the premier practitioner of the art in today's Canada.
Then, of course, there's the Canadian federal government and its own wartime bullshit. The ruling Conservatives have still to find a position of supreme unimportance for ex-leader Stockwell Day, one where he can do no harm because he does exactly nothing. His latest pronouncement on the Taliban statements supposedly "targetting" Canada is, in fact, true in that the Taliban indeed has no capacity to send fighters to attack targets in Canada. One pictures a crew of them carrying a leaky boat across a thousand miles of mountains and desert to finally reach the Indian Ocean and start paddling. True enough, but it qualifies as bullshit in Day's mouth because it was not a statement of the merely obvious. It was said as a schoolyard taunt. Fine. Good. The trouble is that the same federal government persists in trying to paint a picture that is exactly the opposite of this truth. In numerous statements the Canadian army in Afghanistan is pictured as being on some sort of "front line" defending Canada against some imaginary horde of turbanned warriors due to come ashore at Come By Chance Newfoundland and sweep on raiding their shaggy ponies to take Toronto in under a month. This qualifies as truly obvious bullshit, a little brother imitating the big American brother's rhetoric. The outstanding thing about this is that it is in direct contradiction to Day's statement. Either the only thing holding back the hordes is the Canadian troops in Afghanistan or those same hordes can't (and probably don't want to) do a damn thing to Canada itself. Both cannot be true at the same time.
No doubt some Taliban commander made a rousing speech to his troops consisting of nothing but bullshit. The Canadian government does the same thing. All governments and would be governments do the same thing during times of war -and most other times too.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Molly has just finished reading 'Satanic Purse' with the more descriptive subtitle given above. Naylor is a professor of economics at McGill University where he specializes in such matters as money laundering, smuggling, black markets, environmental crime and now terrorist financing. This book concentrates on the myth of a worldwide well financed Islamist conspiracy backed by Bid Laden as a multibillionaire with extensive fingers in every shady pie from drug running, through "halawa banks" and on into stock market manipulation. It begins, however, with a well documented debunking of the myth of Bin Ladin as a sort of terrorist supervillian, a myth that has been deliberately propogated by US officials for the purpose of justifying their policies both domestic and foreign. The author goes into the rather complicated web of Middle Eastern politics, both secular and Islamist to draw out a picture of a rather fractious crew of mutually feuding groups, trends and simple points of view. My favourite is the North African group who think that Bin Ladin should be killed because he isn't "radical enough". The whole point of this can be summarized by the following quote from the book,
"The role of Bin Ladin in recent terrorist outrages is not only grossly exaggerated, in many cases it is completely fictional. This is not to suggest that he is/was a nice guy- he preached a villent and retrograde ideology, exhorted andf encouraged at least some of the crimes imputed to him, and applauded after the fact. There were/are plenty of raps on which to haul him before a genuine court of justice (by definition outside the U.S.). But for a variety of reasons it was/is convenient to give him credit for actions in which he had at best a peripheral role, frequently none at all. Blowing Bid Ladin metaphorically out of all proportion before blowing him physically off the face of the Earth is consistant with a US trdaition of personifying infamy by invesnting supervillians with which superheroes do battle, inevitably to a victory that, if not real, is certainly loudly and publically declared. While this practice may be politically expedient (and profitable for the infotainment industry) in the short run, it obscures understanding and thereby impedes sensible action in the long.
Similarily with al-Qa'idah. The original construct was built on myths about "criminal organmizations" as large scale, transnational, centrally run entities which were extrapolated from the criminal justice to the "national security" fields. Just as crime is almost always the preserve of individuals or of loose ad hoc associations without serious long term staying power, so, too, with "terrorist" groups. to the extent that relationships ever do exist between militant factions beyond the merely rhetorical , they are temporary alliances of convenience among those with essentially local grudges rather than the result of those groups (usually guided by men with huge egos) being departments or subsidiaries of some hierarchically controlled international conspiracy. Under these circumstances to attempt to combat them using measures created to deal with either countries (with a geophysical existence) or organizations (with a supposedly corporate one) is like furiously throwing lethal punches in the air and hoping that there are not too many innocent bystanders, or at least no independent witnesses, in the general vicinity. Even worse, by effectively creating, then advertising, an al-Qa'idah brand name, the US and the West at large give local groups a global significance they otherwise would not likely have had, guaranteeing further sets of imitators in the future." Satanic Purses, pp 336-337
The reality of those who went crusading against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was that they were a fractious divided lot whose real contribution to the victory over the Soviets was marginal at best. Bib Ladin was merely one amongst many, and his financial contributions were nothing astoonishing. Similarily in the post Soviet age. Terrorist attacks are almost inevitably the result of local groups operating on a shoestring budget with no central direction from Bin Ladin or anyone else. Their perpetrators are not the stuff of James Bond novels, but are often instead bumbling idiots who only occasionally get lucky because law enforcement agencies and the "spook industry" contains more than its own share of similar idiots and, perhaps more importantly, chug along well trod bureaucratic paths that are the very antithesis to "intelligence".
Speaking of James Bond, the book contains more than a few side plots as the author shows how the myths of previous "campaigns" such as the War on Crime (the Mafia as a giant centrally controlled corporate entity), the War on Drugs and even the Cold War (America has had more than its share of phoney wars) were recycled into the new War on Terror. One of the myths that Naylor examines, however, is not American at all. It is the 'Blood Diamonds' tale. The tale was actually concocted by Ian Fleming, the author of the Bond series, on behalf of the South African De Beers corporation when they felt that their control over the international diamond trade was threatened. De Beers spread Fleming's rumour that the "diamond racket" was controlled by the old standby, the 'Evil Empire'- even at exactly the same time that the De Beers company had entered into secret arrangements with the Soviet Union to smuggle diamonds out of the USSR in violation of anti-Soviet sanctions then in force.
There is so much more to discover in this book which concentrates much more of the myth of Islamist terrorism as a generous paymaster requiring the multimillions that it does not have. At times the author may overstate his case, but the general picture he paints has the unmistakeable ring of truth to it. It's an undercurrent that makes a whole lot of sense when you look at the recent history of Islamist terrorism, its perpetrators and how often they are caught. They seem a rather motley crew because that is exactly what they are. The picture painted by US authorities is, of course, wildly different. This is because it is plainly and simply "bullshit". Bullshit can be defined as not simply lying, though there is plenty of that as well. It is talking as if the whole concept of "truth" is an inconvenience that hardly has any real importance. High sounding emotional trigger words replace actually saying anything of substance. Coherance is as little valued by the bullshitter as facts. Academic post-modernist leftists may construct a grandious theory justifying bullshit, but the non-academic world of real governments puts them to shame in that they have constructed a very successful "practice" of bullshit that is much more advanced than anything in the "theories" of the academics. But more on that later.
Molly recommends this book highly. It opens many different doors to many different ways of viewing world events.


QUEBEC CITY: Close to 1,000 people turned out last Friday, June 22nd, to protest Canada's role in the war in Afghanistan. The occasion was a military parade by the Royal 22nd Regiment, the 'Vandoos'. This takes place in a climate where over 70% of Quebecers oppose sending Canadian troops to Afghanistan. Despite refusing to stand when the Quebec National Assembly applauded military representatives who were in the public gallery the Parti Quebecois voted along with the other parties to commend the soldiers being sent overseas.
In the run-up to the march and protests local talk radio host Bouchard of 93.3 FM urged his listeners to form a human blockade to prevent the protests. Nobody listened to him, and the protests went smoothly with no violence and no arrests. The protest began at 6:30 pm, and at one point about 8:30 pm a group of protestors managed to march alongside the military parade. The police formed a line to prevent contact between the two parties, but unlike in some other other places they kept their cool. The Coalition Guerre a la Guerre:Valcartier 2007 pronounced the protest a success.
To see photos of the event like Molly shows above go to .
Pour lire plus en francais a Quebec Indymedia

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Anarkismo site has recently published a "class struggle" analysis of events in modern Turkey under the above title. The article is a description of the rather convoluted political evolution of modern Turkey, criticizing nationalist currents, Islamist currents and also the left. An interesting introduction to the politics of modern Turkey.

For two years now University of Chicago students have been carrying out a campaign to "kick Coke off campus" in protest against the international actions of the Coca Cola corporation. Recently the 'Campus Dining Advisory Board' ignored the wishes of students who had expressed at many times the desire to exclude Coca Cola from marketing on campus and voted to allow Coke to continue to market on the campus of the University of Chicago. Students at the campus are asking people to email the University president to reconsider this recommendation and indeed bar Coke from campus. To learn more and to participate in thios campaign go to


The Solidarity Federation, the British section of the AIT, has posted the text of a leaflet that they will give out at the upcoming Shop Stewards' Network meeting in London this upcoming July 7th. It can be read at . The content is pretty standard. Real workers' solidarity as opposed to top down mainipulation by officials, advocacy of seperation from support for social democracy. Nothing to disagree with here, and many kudos to the SF for taking their ideas to a platform where they can possibly influence decent people who have workers' rights in mind rather than simply crawling up a bureaucratic ladder.

Good luck to them. What Molly wants to point out here, however, is her rather "short term" goal. Unlike some Molly has a very realistic knowledge of where anarchism is today. Her goal over 30 years, by which time Molly will likely be dead is not some bizarre fantasy of worldwide anarchist revolution. It is the possible, if anarchists act according to the numbers they are now, that supporters of social democratic parties would be reduced to passing out leaflets while anarchists set the agenda at such conferences. That is the sort of goal that Molly thinks we should strive towards while abandoning romantic illusions. It is possible while other things adavanced by too many anarchists are idle emotional fantasies.

Issue # 14 of Cause Commune, the journal of NEFAC in Quebec, is now available on the web. 3,000 copies of this journal are dustributed free by libertarian militants, both members and non-members , of the organization. Cause Commune wants to be a platform for anarchist ideas and a support for resistance to the bosses, the propertied and their allies in government.
You can download a pdf version of Cause Commune (french language) at .
L'Original en francais:
Le numero 14 de Cause commune, le journal de la NEFAC au Quebec, est maintenant disponible sur le web. 3000 exemplaires papier de ce journal sont distribues gratuitement par des militantes libertaires, memberes ou non de l'organisation. Cause commune se veut un tremplin pour les idees anarchistes, en appui aux mouvements de resistance contre les patrons, les proprios et leurs allies au goouvernment.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Every once in awhile it is necessary to go back to basics, particularily in a forum such as this where the vast majority of readers don't share a given philosophical viewpoint. Molly is an anarchist. What does this mean ? It certainly doesn't imply a mindless liberal agreement with everything that is done by anyone who defines themselves as "anarchist". Molly believes that there is a real world and that words have meanings insofar as they describe real events. She is not a fan of the modern Stalinism of post-modernism which is nothing more than a pseudo-intellectual justification for the ideas that "definitions depend upon the number of tanks you have". That's OK. Molly is not an academic leftist nor a menber of a sect that depends upon distorting language. What then does Molly propose ?
The ideas are actually ridiculously simple. Molly is in favour of greater equality and envisions a society that holds to this ideal as the best society to live in. This doesn't mean that I don't recognize the differences amongst people but merely that I think that these should not lead to great economic disparities. Perhaps minor disparities but nothing like our present society where a coal miner earns so much less than the scum who contribute far less than he does. Is this possible ? Molly's reading of sociobiology (to be deliberately offensive to the left who have their own class interests) says that it is. Molly believes that she has objective justification for her ideals and that what she proposes is possible. I may be wrong, but this is where I stand today, and the contrarian arguments are pretty weak. This doesn't mean that Molly believes in some abstract concept of "equality"; merely that she believes in economic equality. Molly is too much of a realist to believe that different people have the same intellectual or emotional resources. Still, these differences can be "compensated" by methods other than economic inequality.
Molly is also a hard line believer in "freedom". This means that she has serious doubts about any attempt on the part of a well meaning government to legislate the equality that she takes as a value. The actual way that this works out is that the controllers of the state simply "pay themselves first" and they distribute the remainder to the "deserving poor"whose behavior they control as an industrial product. It's actually amazing how much clearer things become when you apply a 'Marxist' (or actually any analysis that recognizes class differences) to the favourite "causes" of the so-called left today. Those buggers benefit big time without having to go through the painful process of actually learning a skill. ANY government initiative towards equality (helping the poor in liberal speak) will inevitably be subverted by the class through which the money flows.
Molly's belief in freedom also extends to opposition to neo-conservative plots to increase the expenditure of the state by "slightly" decreasing funding to social control bureaucracies while at the same time increasing funding to more violent arms of the state-the judiciary, the police, the army, the prisons. It's a good scam, but people will eventually pick up on this corruption when they are presented with their next tax bill. There is one thing about modern "conservativism" that is pretty well obvious. It promises fiscal responsibility and never delivers, just as social democracy promises equality and never delivers. EVERY conservative government in the modern world has violated simple economics by overspending on their pet projects while at the same time giving tax breaks to their friends.Spend more and collect less. A great way to run a business !!!!Deficits are then put down to acts of God rather than the obviuous cause of transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.
Does Molly think this massive system can be challenged ? Yes she does, but not by play-acting at fighting cops. Only by a mass movement to take the economy back from the corporations. Only by a long term strategy of organizing co-ops and fighting piece by piece within the unions as they bargain (with the gradual enroachment of union funds on corporate control). This is definitely not romantic on the level of pretending you are some sort of "vanguard" in getting punched out by a cop 40 pounds heavier than you. It is still the only realistic strategy if you want to actually create libertarian socialism rather than show off.

There were 21 people arrested at the recent action against 'Atlantica' last June 15th. There has been a considerable debate on the Maritimes Indymedia site about the tactic of "refusing identity" to the police, though there has been no debate on the wisdom of engaging the police in theatrical battles. The Halifax Coalition Against Poverty has undertaken the defense of the 21 arrested people and they are calling for financial donations. Money may be sent to :
Halifax Coalition Against Poverty
ACC (Anti-Capitalist Coalition)
2420 Agricola St.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
B3K 4C2
Molly has to call a time out here. Once more she has to emphasize the "real meaning: of "direct action", the favoured tactic of anarchists. It does NOT mean the most militant action possible with NO chance of success. Those who think that way are Maoists hiding under the camoflauge of anarchism. What "direct action" means is the self directed action of communities to solve their problems "directly" without the intervention of "sympathetic" politicians. Organizing a co-op is direct action. With all the limitations involved with subculturism, 'Food Not Bombs' is direct action. A work to rule strike is direct action insofar as it is aimed at weakening managerial rule. Squatting is direct action. Self reduction movements in public transit are direct action. Setting up an Infoshop is direct action.Travelling across many miles to try and beat police who are much better than you are just to show off is not direct action. It would become such only if there was a reasonable expectation of actually disrupting the event you protest. There hasn't been such an expectation for almost ten years. Whether it is 50 people as in the case of Atlantica or 2,000 people in Europe at the G8 this is a forelorn hope. It hasn't happened ever since Seattle and it will never again. Quite frankly the police are smarter than their opponents and they are not hamstrung by ideological nonsense. They do what is effective. Thus they win- every time.
Molly is not opposed to contributing to the defense of the people arrested during the Atlantica protest. All that she says is that anarchists should look towards their "strengths" as they have become something of a "hegemonic idea" amongst the left today rather than clinging to an outmoded way of acting that only exposes weakness (50 people,50 people,50 people..drawn from half a continent...dummy up your head). Most larger cities in North America have far more anarchists and sympathizers(ie much more than 50) who could be drawn into much more constructive projects.
Yes, Molly knows that abandoning the romance of pretending that you are a match for well trained and well disciplined police substracts from the "appeal" of anarchism. Yet this romance is obviously built on a lie, and its supporters can only uphold it by increasingly shrill appeals to a diminishing number of people willing to be cannon fodder (50 people,50 people,50 people). Does the appeal of modern anarchism depend upon such a lie ? If it does it does not deserve to exist. Molly can only hope that at least a large proportion of modern anarchists in North America can see the difference between the fads and the underlying ideas. If they do they will abandon useless tactics and make their contributions to the constructive side of anarchism. Beyond this the "street fighting" tactic means that you have abandoned the "moral high ground", something that is critically important if you see your actions as "political" rather than "existential" as in proving yourself or influencing only a tiny little segment of the population thag you perform in front of. Yeah, I've read the bullshit supposedly justifying much more serious actions than street riots,and as an outsider to the cult my only regret is that I can't sink myself into the cultish mind enough to condemn it in its own language.

The next meteor shower of this year will be best viewed on the night of June 27th (next Wednesday) in the constellation Bootes. The shower is unlikely to be very spectacular, but is still worth looking out for.

The Workers' Solidarity Alliance(WSA) of the USA, as distinguished from the Workers' Solidarity group of Ireland, has just published a new edition of their newsletter. The WSA was once part of the AIT before being expelled because of internal disputes in the US, and they are still generally sympathetic to the AIT. Their newsletter contains many reports on recent class struggles in the USA and even Canada. There is no online version, but printed copies can be ordered for $2 US from:
339 Lafayette Street- # 202
New York, NY 10012

Once more Molly goes chugging down her blogroll list to feature recent posts from other blogs on her Links section that were of particular interest. Today is devoted to the letter "A".
Against the State, a libertarian blog from the USA has an article titled 'Post Constitutional America'. It is really a collection and reference to how the original American idea of "limited government" gradually disappeared to be replaced by the leviathan of today.
The Aketus Blog has an article, 'The Tanneries Squat is Safe' on a the situation on a squat in Dijon, France. Lots of good mustard there.
Alas a Blog has an interesting review of 'Red Diapers, Growing up in the Communist Left'. The book, of course, is very much centred on the USA where the commies had a virtual monopoly of "radical politics" for many decades, and thus it misses the experience of being a "red diaper baby" in Canada, let alone European countries. Still very entertaining reading.
Anarcha Fairy, from down under, has an article titled 'On the Problem with 'Life-Stylism', basically a critique of Murray Bookchin and containing all the misapprehensions that most of us "colonials" have when viewing events at the centre of the Empire. Molly disagrees with the author in that, as a Canadian, she has a much closer view of the nonsense that Bookchin criticized. The whole matter of the simple insanity of some parts of the American left and its imperial role in exporting nonsense to the rest of the world is ignored here in an attempt to see the matter in a dispassionate philosophical light. Not that the author is wrong in what he says. He merely is ignorant of the "heart" of the debate which is emotion rather than philosophy. Perhaps only Americans (of which Molly is not one) can judge the true depravity of the things that Bookchin argued against. One can only hope that when the bullshit is exported from the USA that it is diluted by the more common sense views of the colonials.
Still, there's another post from down under on the Anarchia site titled 'Against Veganism as Individual Boycott'. Your meal as politics is one of the less enlightened commodities that has been exported to anarchists across the world from the industrial ideology factories of the USA(and Britain to a lesser extent). The author comes to the conclusion that veganism is "simply a personal choice" and not a reasonable political statement or strategy. Well, yeah !!!!... this seems obvious to those of us outside of the charmed circle, but it bears repeating and justification in the face of too much subculturalism.
Finally, An Australian Anarchist Weblog has a story of the alternatives to the dreaded Wikipedia as well as a comment on the whole matter of "encyclopedias". He mentions the Uncyclopedia which is basically a spoof of Wikipedia as well as the Citizendium which attempts to be an alternative to Wikipedia. There's also reference to the loony tunes American fundamentalist site Conservapedia that attempts to give a holy roller alternative to the 'Satanic' Wikipedia. Look this one up for yourself. The other two have been added to Molly's 'Other Interesting Links'. Molly especially appreciates the spoof. Very well done with a lot of effort.
Sometime later this weekend...other letters of the alphabet.

The anarchists of the Ottawa-Outaoais area will be holding another of their assemblies this upcoming July 15th at 2:30pm at the Jack Purcill Community Centre, Room 202. For further information contact . The first part of this assembly will be a short presentation from people who took part in the 2002 'Take the Capital' demonstrations. Not a back patting session, this will attempt to analyse what worked and what didn't. This will be followed by presentations from groups currently active in the Ottawa/Outaouais area including:
-The IWW
-The Under Pressure Collective
-The Anarchist Discussion Group
-Critical Mass
-The Panhandlers' Union
-PGA Block Ottawa
-Exile Infoshop
To read more about this assembly go to .
What does Molly think ? As an anarchist of almost 40 years duration Molly has seen a gradual extension of the anarchist ideal to more and more people. Some whose vision of "anarchism" (sic!) is the ability to imitate the 'Deadheads' via a travelling riot think that anarchism is in a "lull" recently. From the 'higher ground' Molly sees more and more anarchist initiatives springing up all the time and a great 'maturation' of the movement beyond juvenile street fighting. The Ottawa comrades have taken up an experiment in local coordination that has been pioneered before in Montreal, Philadelphia, Chicago and NYC as well as other localities. One never knows how it will go. It is, however, a necessary 'first step' when anarchism reaches a certain level of popularity in a given city ie when it goes beyond the level of a tiny in-group where everybody knows everybody else. This level has been reached in many places that have yet to try and integrate the various groups. Molly can only hope that the vision of the people involved is wide enough to see how a larger stage is necessary, one of regional federations (some of which are formed already) and also realistic enough to see the magnitude of the long road ahead rather than taking shelter in dreams of some imminent "revolution" that can only be seen with the blinkered vision of a incestuous cult.
One step at a time. Ottawa has definitely taken several steps along the road.

Retired General Raul Eduardo Iturriaga Neumann, formerly of the Chilean military during in years in terrorist power, skipped out on his date with destiny on June 12th when he "went missing" on the day that he was to begin serving his five year sentence for his actions during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. An arrest warrant has been issued. He was sentenced for his role in the "disappearance" of 21 year old left wing militant Luis Dagoberta San Martin. He has also been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment "in abstentia" by a court in Roma, Italy way back in 1995 for his planning in his role as the Chief of the Exterior Department of the 'DINA' (the Chilean secret police) for the attempted murder of Chilean Christian Democrat politician and former vice president Bernardo Leighton in Rome back in September, 1975. General Neumann was, of course, a graduate of the US's "torture academy", the School of the Americas back in 1965. He played a prominent role in 'Operation Condor', an international terrorist campaign against Latin American leftists both at home and in exile. To read more about this cuddly cute individual go to
For some "inexplicable" reason Molly always feels a little thrill every time one of these government thugs gets caught. May General Neumann's unpleasant time in the luxury of the right wing underground be as short as possible.


The French CNT (the CNT-Vignoles, the breakaway from the AIT) has initiated a project in the wake of their very successful i07 conference in Paris of publishing an international newsletter about their activities. The first issue of this can be seen in English at . The newsletter discusses French affairs that might be of interest to foreign anarchists. Readers of the newsletter will very obviously see that comrades who have left the purism of the AIT have not abandoned the struggle for self management and liberty. They have merely chosen different and more realistic methods. Molly can't find mention of this newsletter in the CNT's website, but I'm sure it will show up there eventually. In the meantime you can sign up for the CNT's information bulletin- en francais.

The 'Harper Index', the website devoted to keeping its steely gaze on the history, antics and plots of the federal Conservatives, keeps on examining little Stevie and his friends. One recent article is about "deep integration", the business plan to "harmonize" regulations across the Canada, the US and Mexico. As if they weren't "harmonized" enough the Conservatives are promoting two new trade deals that would reduce the ability of the public to control the actions of the corporations. One is the 'Interprovincial Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement' (TILMA) . This has already been signed by the usual suspects, the governments of BC and Alberta. If agreed to this would allow out of province businesses to sue provincial and municipal governments that they feel "restrict or impair their investments" ie health, safety and environmental regulations are in the gunsights. The other agreement being constructed is the 'Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America' (SPP) which is basically an "energy grab" that would commit Canada to securing the energy supply of the USA even though it has no plans to secure its own energy supplies. Read much more in the article at .
Being as yesterday was National Aboriginal Day it might also be a good time to look into the details of Harper's much ballyhooed new aboriginal land claims tribunal. The Harper Index has an article citing law professor Bradford Morse of Ottawa University and a native affairs analyst who requested anonymity because of the well known vindictiveness of the Harper government. The article goes into the real limitations of the proposal that don't get much media play Well worth a look. Also the dirt of Tom Flanagan, Harper's long term mentor on land claims matters. See
Finally, there's an article on the twenty year long history of Conservative attacks on the Canadian Wheat Board. The recent attempts to abolish the CWB hardly came out of nowhere. See

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Today was the day of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere (winter solstice south of the equator). The term "solstice" may refer to either the exact time of the sun's furthest point away from the equator or it may refer to the day on which this occurs. In the first sense the solstice is already well past. It occurred at 18:06 UTC (Greenwich Mean Time). Here in Winnipeg this would have been at about 13:06 (ie 6 minutes after 1pm). If you are interested about when the event occurred in your locality look it up on the Time And Date.Com site. This site also provides information on such things as sunrise, sunset, phases of the moon and even weather.

In the second sense there are still a couple of hours left to go in the solstice "day" (night now). This day is 16 hours and 21 minutes long here, actually about two seconds shorter than yesterday. NO...the solstice day was NOT the longest day of the year this year. This occurs because the exact time of the solstice doesn't always correspond with the exact point of midday in a given location. Sometimes the exact time of the solstice can even fall in the middle of the night. The solstice is not even always on June 21st. in 2008 and 2012 it will fall on June 20th (though very close to midnight-only one minute off in 2008).

The cause of the seasons, of which the solstices and equinoxes are the arbitrary dividing points, is the fact that the angle of rotation of the Earth is about 23.44 degrees from the perpendicular to its orbital path. It keeps this orientation throughout its orbit with the result that at any given time (except the equinoxes) one or the other hemisphere will be tilted towards the sun and hence be warmer than the other.

At the time of the northern solstice the sun appears to be directly overhead for all places 23.44 degrees north of the equator, known as the Tropic of Cancer, while during the southern solstice the same is true for any point 23.44 degrees south of the equator, known as the Tropic of Capricorn. The points in between this latitudes are known as the "tropics". The names for the tropics are actually misnomers as they stand for the constellations from ancient times when astrology was formulated. Due to precession the Sun is now in Taurus during the northern solstice and in Sagittarius during the southern one. The change of constellations makes the names more one of convenience than anything bearing any relation to reality.

The severity of seasonal change fluctuates over long time periods (thousands of years) because the axial tilt of the earth varies from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees. The greater the tilt the more dramatic the seasonal changes.

In East Asia most calenders divide the year into 24 "solar terms". "Xiazhi" (Ha chi) is the 10th solar term. It begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude(the highest point the sun reaches in the sky) of 90 degrees and ends when it reaches 105 degrees. Xiazhi literally translated is "summer solstice". In our calender this corresponds roughly to the period from June 21st to July 7th.

The time of the "northern sun" during the summer solstice can only be seen from places north of 66.56 degrees north, the Arctic Circle. At exactly this latitude the Sun touches the horizon at midnight but never truly sets. At the north pole the Sun would appear to rise and set in exactly the same place at the time of the solstice- in the south. But don't forget that all directions are south at the pole. The Sun would indeed appear to reverse course across the sky, but it wouldn't appear the same as if it did so at lower latitudes.

There are two interesting terms related to the twilight as one approaches the poles during midsummer. When one reaches latitude 50 degrees north the Sun never gets further than 16.56 degrees below the horizon. this is known as "astronomical twilight" when it is impossible for astronomers to do any work with any great precision. It is also called the "grey nights". Above 60 degrees latitude the Sun never gets more than 6.56 degrees away from the horizon at the summer solstice. This is known as "civil twilight" or "the white nights".


Many traditional holidays clustered around the times of both the summer and winter solstices. The time of most of the summer festivals in western cultures, however, is no longer June 21st but rather June 24th. The difference is due to the calendar reform of Pope Gregory XIII. The old Julian calendar moved the date of the solstice forward about 3 days every four centuries. The Gregorian calendar, on the other hand, moves a little bit from year to year but only advances on the average a day for every 3,000 years. The old pagan solstice festivals had been christianized as the Feast of St John the Baptist, and this day kept its separation from the actual solstice at the time of the Gregorian reform.

The Feast of St. John is unique is that it is celebrated on the presumed date of the Saint's birthday. All other saints' days are celebrated on the day of their presumed death. The Roman Catholic Church has declared St. John's day as "Solemnity", the highest designation of a feast day. For more on St. John the Baptist and his celebration see the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Many of the European customs that surround MidSummer Day derive from older pagan customs, but far less is known about these than many modern "mythologizers" imagine. The actual reconstruction of verifiable rather than fanciful knowledge about pagan European religions is rather austere and sparse compared to the free flights of fantasy engaged in by many people who imagine they are recreating said religions. It's doubtless true that there were midsummer bonfires and, in some countries, midsummer trees (like the Yule trees, the spring trees or the maypole at different times of the year). The Romans had the feast of the Vestalia when married women were allowed to enter the shrine of Vesta, Goddess of the Hearth, where only the vestal virgins were allowed to enter at other times. Yet, even for the names of ancient deities, let alone detailed accounts of the religious practices of preChristian Europeans there are few reliable sources, and these are vastly outnumbered by the endless tomes of pop-religion in the New Age sections of bookstores today. As a matter of fact you'll rarely find them on the shelves of any bookstore. Tacitus, Bede and Caesar simply don't have the "pizzazz" that modern carbonated pop-religion delivers.
The religious practices of Native Americans are known a little better, and some of their midsummer festivals have been described in much greater and more accurate detail than those of ancient Europe. Native Americans have also left perhaps even more stone structures (some are known as "medicine wheels") that are just as accurate astronomical calculators as the better known megalithic structures of Europe such as Stonehenge. As an interesting sidelight June 21st has been officially known as 'National Aboriginal Day' in Canada since 1996.
In France La Fete de Saint-Jean is a Catholic festival held in June 24th (midsummer) and features large bonfires. The first Canadian celebration took place in New France in 1638, according to the Jesuit Relations. Ludger Duvernay, the Quebecois editor of La Minerve began the campaign to have this day declared the official holiday of French Canada in 1834. Pope Pius X declared St. John the Baptist to be the official patron of French Canadians in 1908. June 24th became an official holiday in Quebec in 1925, and in 1977 it was renamed the National Holiday of Quebec, though it is still usually referred to as St Jean-Baptiste Day.
Midsummer festivals in Portugal are actually held at various times depending upon the area. Lisbon, for instance, celebrates it on St. Anthony's Day (June 13th), but other places hold to June 24th. In Brazil, however, June 24th is the universally celebrated day, and it has become much more popular there than back in Portugal. The "Festa Juanina" is particularily popular in northeastern Brazil, actually rivalling Carnival in popularity.Two cities in the northeast of the country, Caruara and Camina Grande, are in competition with each other for the title of "Biggest St. John's Festival in the World". Caruara presently holds the Guinness title.
In Ireland many towns hold midsummer festivals on the weekend nearest to the 24th. In Italy the day is particularly popular in Florence (lasting from June 21st to June 24th) as he is the patron saint of Florence. In Poland, especially in the north, midsummer is celebrated on June 23rd. It begins at 8:00pm and lasts all night. Traditionally wreaths were thrown into the Baltic or into rivers and lakes.
The name for St. John in Russia is Ivan Kupala. It is celebrated on June 23rd (Gregorian calendar) and July 6th (Julian calendar) in both Russia and Ukraine. As in Poland wreaths are thrown into bodies of water and bonfires were/are lit as well. Mussorgsky's 'Night on Bald Mountain' was actually inspired by Ivan Kupala day festivals rather than Halloween. Bonfires were also traditional in the Baltic countries of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, despite Soviet disapproval in the case of the latter country. Wreaths in Latvia were worn rather than tossed into water. In Latvia this is known as the Feast of Jani. In Estonia bonfires are once more featured and the festival is very similar to that of Finland to the north (Estonian and Finnish are related languages). Finland also features the ever present bonfires and also a summer pole tradition borrowed from Sweden. Before the conversion to Christianity the day was known as Ukon juhla, after the Finnish god Ukko. The day is known as Juhannus in Finnish and "midsommer" for the Swedish minority in Finland.
In Sweden Midsommarafton (Midsummer Eve) and Midsommardagan (Midsummer Day) are celebrated beginning on the Saturday that falls between June 20th and June 26th. It may rival Christmas in importance in this country. A "maypole" is raised on the Friday following the beginning of the festival , decorated with flowers and greenery, and dances are held around this pole. The years first potatoes,pickled herring sour cream and (hopefully) strawberries would be on the traditional menu. Old traditions about decorating houses and barns with greenery persist even though the old superstitions about this bringing luck are mostly forgotten. Midsummer in Sweden is considered the start of the summer holidays, something like the May long weekend in Canada and is a great time to party. In Norway the day called "Jonsok" or "Sankthansaften" is celebrated on June 23rd. Once more there is the midsummer bonfires.
The Danish name for St. John's Eve is "Sankt Hans aften", and it takes place on the evening of June 23rd. Once more it is time of bonfires and parties even though it is no longer an official holiday. Midsummer festivals in Great Britain gradually petered out during the Reformation and in subsequent centuries. Midsummer bonfires are still being lit in some places in Cornwall, however, and neo-pagans have their annual get together at Stonehenge, though, as previously mentioned, this has little connection with traditional midsummer festivals.
Sorta a great loss to Molly's point of view even if she has little sympathy with the necromancy of trying to revive that which is dead and dolling it up in the illusion that it is a recreation of the past. Better to create entirely new traditions without pretense.
Anyways, merry solstice and a happy midsummer.