Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tonight, as the decade ends, we will have the unusual event of a "blue moon" to ring out the old year. The term doesn't actually refer to the moon appearing blue in colour, though this can occur given certain atmospheric conditions. If there is sufficient dust in the air then light of a longer wavelength, ie red, is scattered away from the eyes of the observer, and the light that gets through is shifted to the blue end of the spectrum. this sort of lunar colouration was most prominent after the explosion of Krakatoa in 1883, but it also occurred in the 1950s after large forest fires in Canada and Sweden. It was also reported after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, and there were even reports of "blue suns" in that year (see here). I do not recall it being so, and neither do I recall any change in the colour of the Moon after this year's extensive forest fires in BC. I do recall being able to spot the atmospheric haze after the eruption at Mount St. Helen's in 1980. Does anyone else have any memories or references ?

The origin of the phrase "blue moon" event goes as far back as 1528 when it was used in an anti-clerical English pamphlet entitled "Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe" where the author mocks the clergy saying that, if they declared the moon to be blue then they would expect others to believe it. The use of the term to describe a rare event, as in "once in a blue Moon", dates from 1824 (see here). There is some dispute about the origin of the term in relation to an "extra moon". Some say that the Old Farmer's Almanac began to use the term to refer to an extra full moon in a season in the 1800s, while others claim that the Farmers' Almanac didn't begin using the term this way until the 1930s. In any case the usage of the term as referring to two full moons in a month is of even more recent vintage. It's generally accepted that this way of using the phrase began in 1946 when a writer for Sky and Telescope Magazine misinterpreted the Farmers' Almanac rule of an extra moon in a season as being an extra moon in a month. For more on the history of the term see the Wikipedia article on blue moons.

Today's (tonight's) blue Moon takes place at 19:13 UT. Here in the Central time Zone this translates as 13:13. We obviously can't observe the exact instant of the Moon's fullness here in Manitoba at a little after 1:00 in the afternoon. In Australia and East Asia the event doesn't actually occur until tomorrow, January 1, and it is January rather than December that will have a 'blue Moon' there. The actual "blue Moon" will, however, be the second full Moon of January, not the first. The time of an "exact" full Moon is, of course, an instant rather than a night in duration. If you wish to find the exact time of the full moon and to convert it to your own local time consult the Time and Date.Com site where there is a wealth of other information such as sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset data. For those who would like a visual representation of the Moon's phases I could suggest the Moon Phase Calender at the Moon Connection site. A "blue Moon" in the sense of a second full Moon in a month occurs about once every 2.72 years.

There is also a partial eclipse of the Moon visible in Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa tonight, though it is not visible in the western hemisphere. This event has already passed , as maximum totality happened at 19;23 UT.

For those interested in matters lunar a couple of years ago Molly featured a series of articles that were a "leisurely cruise" through the various most prominent visible features of the Moon. If you're interested just type the item that you might want to read about (such as 'Mare Criseum', sea of Tranquility, etc..) in the search function of this blog and read all about it. See you in the New Year. It's been an interesting year and an interesting decade.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009



This is part two of my effort to define what I consider as anarchism, particularly "my anarchism". The first essay on this subject brought forth some responses which I have taken to heart, even if I see no reason to change what I wrote previously. As I go further in this project I am sure that there will be even more that various people disagree with. My purpose in this series is not to lay out some "overwhelming ideology" that I would expect should be adopted by all anarchists. That is a simple impossibility, as anarchism, by its nature, is a fluid set of positions that are given different emphases in different situations. The situation that anarchists find themselves in will very much govern which aspect of the principles come to the fore. Anarchism never was the sort of closed totalitarian system that Marxism aspired to be. In actual fact the principles that lie at the basis of anarchism do not form some conflict free "whole". They exist in a dynamic tension, sometimes reinforcing each other and sometimes in opposition to each other. This will become plainer as we go on, but, for now, all that I can say is that the very fact that humans always have and must always live in a society put a limit on the "total freedom of the individual" while, conversely, attempts to over-emphasize the "collective dimension" of anarchism (and socialism) run the grave risk of producing a society even worse than the one they wished to replace.

I still think that the first attempt at a definition of anarchist socialism that I put forward is useful to proceed from. I also think that it descriptive of what anarchism throughout almost all of its history and in almost all of the world has been. I am aware that there is a current of "anarchism" in the USA, the anarcho-capitalists, who are not socialist in any sense. I would ask the reader, however, to not confuse this current with the traditional individualist anarchist current that was prominent in the USA, but also in many other countries (Italy, France, Spain and England come to mind). This current of anarchism is a totally different beast than the ideological capitalism popular in some quarters in the USA, and the proponents of this sort of individualism were very much socialist by both their actions and their own self-definition. This sort of individualist anarchism still exists in the USA , even though it is small to the point of disappearance elsewhere. I cannot self-identify with it, but I can view it sympathetically. I hope that proponents of these views (opposite to those of the anarcho-capitalists) will forgive me if I use the term "left-libertarian" as broadly descriptive of what they believe.

Words can be treacherous things. There are words in the dictionary that can have 25 or more definitions appended after them. In the definition of "socialism" that I proffered in the first part of this series I tried to "get beneath" the disputes about ways and means that divide various schools of socialism and find a definition that would encompass all socialists whatever their attitude to "tactics". The contrary definition from Wikipedia excluded at least one form of enterprise that I consider socialist ie consumer cooperatives. It also seemed to imply that socialists, as a whole, believe in "total equality" rather than the "much more egalitarian" belief that I offered. That socialists, anarchists or otherwise, believe in such total equality is debatable. What is manifestly not debatable is that the vast majority of socialists, statist and libertarian alike, do not believe that we should concoct some grand scheme whereby consumption is governed solely by "labour hours" put in. On the anarchist side this was what was called "collectivism", and it has not been a popular option for over a century. On the statist side, if one imagines that this is a goal of statist socialists then where, on God's green Earth, do all the welfare measures and "collective consumption" that socialists have advocated over all of their history come from ? Certainly not from a belief in "labour vouchers".

Then we come to the matter of whether "anarcho-capitalists" are actually anarchists. These people certainly do not believe in equality. If the only defining point of anarchism were to be against government then one would have to admit the 'anarcho-caps' into the family. Even if, however, they have a tendency to define "government" to their own advantage. To their point of view the old classic of the peasants rising up to burn out the manor house is government while the manor lord hiring a gang of thugs to shoot down the peasants is "free enterprise" and not "government". In the end, to maintain the inequality that will be the result of their economics, they will inevitably have to employ the force that they deplore when it is used by present governments.

The problem with anarcho-capitalism is that it doesn't proceed from a deep enough ethical basis. One may argue about whether it has any ethics at all. It is here where I have to start tacking things onto the original position that I gave in the first essay, of anarchism as a form of egalitarian socialism that believes in decentralized governance. The purpose of both equality and personal political influence-which can only be exercised in direct rather than representative democracy to to produce both individual fulfilment/happiness (in a life that leaves less matter for envy and more of a sense of personal worth) and collective fulfilment/happiness (being that humans happen to be social animals who are happiest when they experience a life of "community").

The need for individual happiness necessitates the maximum possible personal freedom. This means that the sort of "equality" dictated by the collective (of which the Communist states, especially such horrors as Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge or North Korea today, were/are the primary example), whether state or otherwise is not a worthwhile goal. Freedom can certainly be restricted by the state, but, contrary to what anarcho-capitalists may think, the state is hardly the only way that a collective (or strong individuals within a community) can restrict individual freedom. The history of religion is, to a large extent, standing proof of how freedom can be restricted by practices other than statist ones. Also, despite the almost Stalinesque delusions of the true believers in the "noble savage", actual stateless societies that have existed have not necessarily been either egalitarian nor respecters of freedom.

The need for personal freedom, both in the negative sense (of "freedom from" ) and in the positive sense ( of "freedom to") is an absolutely necessary part of any anarchism. The positive aspect is pretty well totally ignored by such as the anarcho-capitalists, and because of this their "anarchism" is of the same dwarfed and twisted form that led all too many anarchists to make the opposite error in the past and assume the 'Soviet-anarchist' position as viable. Anarchism is not only class struggle, though such is an absolutely central part of it. It is also class struggle to a purpose. Dethroning the "Bosses" will only result in a new set of bosses being thrown up if the extent of personal liberty is not also expanded at the same time. Similarly trying to get rid of the state without, at the same time, increasing the equality in society and also increasing the "freedom to do" (two things that often are much the same thing) will merely result in a new state under a different name.

So, the idea of anarchism as a socialism of a different sort has to be supplemented with the idea of anarchism as a struggle for personal freedom. There is a lot more to be said on this "freedom", but I'll leave that for a subsequent essay.

Here's an interesting little item from the German Deutsche Welle about how retailers in Germany are trying to have the tactic of "flash mobs" banned for use by labour during disputes. Well...if they dislike it so much that they are trying to have it banned then it stands to reason that it's a useful tactic and one well worth considering for use outside of Germany. Here's the story.
Retailers launch legal bid to ban flash mobs:
German retailers say there is no room for flash mobs - large groups of people who assemble suddenly in a public place to perform an unusual action - when it comes to labor disputes.

The Association of German Retailers (HDE) has filed a legal complaint with the nation's highest court in an attempt to ban the use of flash mob tactics in labor disputes.

The term "flash mob" refers to the sudden assembly of a large group of people who perform an unusual action before quickly dispersing. Such gatherings are generally organized via mobile phone messages, social media websites like Facebook, or viral emails.

The lawsuit lodged with the Federal Constitutional Court is directed at the Verdi services union, which organized a flash mob at a supermarket where unionized staff members were striking in 2007.

The flash mob protest saw 40 participants block the store's checkout area for about an hour by simultaneously purchasing small items worth just a few cents. They also filled shopping carts with goods and abandoned them in the store for strike-breaking workers to clear away.
Questionable tactics
The latest complaint comes three months after the Federal Labor Court ruled that flash mobs are a legitimate form of industrial action given that they do not constitute a blockade of company facilities.

Judges recommended that store owners counter the spontaneous protests by closing their stores for a short time or banning participants from entering the premises.

But the HDE says that decision is both impractical and unfair.

"The people who suffer are customers who are not involved in the dispute," HDE labor expert Heribert Joeris told the Associated Press.

Joeris warned that the term 'labor dispute' would become disreputable if flash mobs were permitted to make a nuisance of themselves in retail outlets, or if store workers could only clear protesters from their premises by using physical force.

"That would be a legal situation that we retailers cannot and will not accept," he said.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Live out in BC and looking for a good gig on New Year's Eve. Why not join the Joey Only Outlaw Band in Wells BC. Here's the promo.

NEW YEARS EVE - WELLS BC - with Joey Only Outlaw Band:‏
& Scott Dunbar as opening act!
in Wells BC, 82 km east of Quesnel British on Hwy 26
event promoted by: Friends of the Wells Community Hall
Come to your favourite little town in the Cariboo Mountains for our rockin little New Years Eve show. Located in the Community Hall this party will remind you of your favourite festival(Artswells Festival) as all those familiar faces will be back to be in each others company. Again this year there will be fireworks, snowcastles, juggling and all sorts of late night psychedelic madness!
...the full contingent of the JOEY ONLY OUTLAW BAND will be rocking for hours with our new line-up and our new philosophy called KUNG-FU COUNTRY (relentless, direct, attack). We aint stoppin for shit!! This will be our last show before we release the new album in April called TRANSGRESSION TRAIL. This will be a night to remember!
There are hotels and places to sleep, bring your bed roll and whatnot and get ready for one crazy all-night long psychedelic party. Reply to this e-mail for assistance in finding billeting. See you in WELLS! --

Out Saskatchewan way a real test of wills is shaping up between the right wing Saskatchewan Party provincial government and over 11,000 workers represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Having voted over 88% in favour of strike action in late November the health care workers have continued to negotiate with the government, but many are becoming frustrated enough to begin walkouts at any time. They do this despite legislation that defines pretty well all of what they do as an "essential service" which means that they legally barred from striking. What follows is an article from the Regina Leader Post. To follow developments check in with the SEIU's western Canadian website.
Health-care workers willing to defy legislation, SEIU says:
By Janet French
Some unionized health-care workers are willing to walk off the job, defying essential services legislation and potentially incurring hefty fines, if they can't reach a deal with health regions, the president of Service Employees International Union-West says.

"People are prepared to take that next step," union president Barbara Cape said late last week.

Last Friday, the union, which represents more than 11,000 health-care workers such as licensed practical nurses, special care aides, laundry, maintenance and food service workers and more, announced it is taking four regional health authorities to court over their latest essential services plans.

Cape says lawyers have filed a notice of motion for a judicial review of essential services plans given to the union by Saskatoon, Cypress, Five Hills and Heartland health regions, and have also asked for a judicial review of the Public Service Essential Services Act itself.

The union is challenging the constitutionality of the act, and the plans.

Three health-care unions representing 25,000 workers -- SEIU-West, Saskatchewan General and Government Employees Union, and Canadian Union of Public Employees -- bargain together, and have been without a contract since March 2008.

The parties had been at the bargaining table, but those talks broke off in early December.

In a late-November strike vote, SEIU members voted 88 per cent in favour of job action.

When health regions delivered the union their essential services plans that day, Cape says the employers had declared at least 90 per cent of the workers "essential," which she says was more onerous than plans the health regions had handed over earlier this year.

"It takes away our right to strike, if not, severely limits our right to strike in support of collective bargaining," Cape said.

Susan Antosh, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations, which bargains on behalf of the health regions and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, says the regions did meet with the unions to try and agree on an essential services plan in advance, but the parties were not able to reach agreements.

They had also discussed, but failed to reach an agreement on providing replacement workers in the event of a strike.

Essential services legislation says as soon as there is a threat of job action, employers must present an essential services plan to the union, and notify workers, if no such agreement has been struck in advance.

Antosh said a strike vote means the unions could give 48-hour strike notice at any time.
Because hand-delivering letters to thousands of employees takes more than two days, Antosh said health regions opted to hand out their plans earlier.

Antosh also said the essential services plans handed over in February, then after each union's strike vote, were the same, if not less demanding than initial plans. Each plan declared about 75 per cent of the full-time workload to be essential, Antosh said. She admits that may work out to affect more than 90 per cent of the employees, but didn't have exact numbers.

During talks with members across the province before the strike vote, Cape said several workers claim they are willing to defy legislation and walk off the job to get a fair deal. Cape said the union is attempting to discourage workers from doing that.

Defying the essential services legislation could result in "significant" fines against the worker and the union -- $2,000 on the first day for a worker, and $400 on every subsequent day, Cape said.

"I don't know any health-care workers, let alone any person in the province, who can afford that kind of fine," she said.

Antosh also discourages any workers from breaking the law, but adds those are personal choices health regions cannot control.

When asked what assurances Antosh could provide that health-care services will be there for Saskatchewan people in the event of a strike, Antosh said the employers have done everything they can under current legislation.

"The employer is extremely interested in ensuring the services are provided, and people of Saskatchewan actually have access to the services that they need," she said. "That is not a decision or something that I have the ability to control."

During talks, the unions asked for wage increases of five per cent in 2008, five per cent in 2009 and five per cent in 2010.

SAHO countered with a proposal of a 9.4 per cent pay increase over four years, with additional incentives for hard-to-recruit professionals.

Cape calls the essential services plans a "stall tactic," that's preventing the parties from reaching an agreement, instead of a tool to ensure public safety during a strike.

Antosh maintains essential services agreements and collective bargaining are two independent processes, and that one shouldn't affect the other. (She probably said this with a straight face too-Molly )

However, there is hope bargaining will resume soon between the unions and SAHO. Both parties have agreed to work with government conciliator Doug Forsyth, and Antosh is hopeful more bargaining dates will be scheduled for January.

The essential services legislation was enacted in Saskatchewan in May 2008, and raised the ire of several labour groups and official Opposition both before and after it became law.

The news media are abuzz in the last 24 hours over an incident during the Olympic Torch run in Guelph Ontario. The torchbearer, Cortney Hansen, was allegedly knocked over by a protester. There is, however, another side of the story, one that seems quite probable given the photograph above. The demonstrators allege that Hanson fell over because she collided with a policeman in the security detail. In other words she "tripped over a cop". The offending object in its Olympic outfit can be clearly seen in the photo above. The following article is from Global TV. Note that while the "stumble over cop" version is given that this take on the events is well buried below a headline that says the opposite. The same sequence of events was also reported by Tony Saxon, a reporter for the Guelph Mercury, who was apparently an eyewitness to the events. His story can be seen here. I find it interesting that the vast majority of news reports tell nothing about this other side of the story. By the time the matter has been clarified via the courts the Winter Olympics will probably have already come and gone, and it is doubtful if any retractions will be published at all, let alone timely ones. Here's the story.
Olympic torch bearer knocked over by protester:
Katherine Laidlaw, Dean Tester and Philip Ling, Canwest News Service:
HANOVER, Ont. — A woman carrying the Olympic torch was knocked down by a protester Monday morning during the Olympic torch run in Guelph, Ont.

Brittney Simpson, 19, from Kitchener, Ont., was arrested and has been charged with assault, according to Guelph Police Service. She is scheduled appear in court in February.

Simpson allegedly knocked the torchbearer — Cortney Hansen, 28, from Milton, Ont., — to the ground at about 7:50 a.m. Monday morning.

A crowd of demonstrators appeared and disrupted the relay but the torch remained lit, police said. Hansen was treated at the scene for her injuries by Olympic Torch Run medical staff, but got back up and continued her leg of the relay.

A spokesman for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee said the disruption was an “isolated incident” and was responded to “rapidly and appropriately” by the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit and the RCMP. The two groups are responsible for the safety and security of the torchbearer and the escort team.

“It is unfortunate that this torchbearer’s once-in-a-lifetime experience with the Olympic flame was disrupted in this manner,” said torch relay director Jim Richards.

“We understand that the Olympic Games are a high-profile event and will attract attention and that people have the right to express their opinions,” he said. “We ask that they do so peacefully and respectfully.”

The incident occurred in front of about 1,000 children and parents who attended the festivities, police said in a release.

Simpson is part of an anti-racism protest group known as Kitchener-Waterloo Anti-Racism Action, gathered to protest the flame passing over native land and the continued poverty in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, according to protester Alex Hundert.

Hundert said the protest was meant to be peaceful and blamed the police for the incident.

“The RCMP people kind of freaked out and basically caused the person with the torch to stutter-step and then trip,” he said. “And then things got much worse, because as that person went down, they basically (started) . . . what sounds like a minor attack on the protesters.

"Basically, the relay team caused a disaster and the police decided they needed to arrest somebody."

A local reporter said it appeared the woman fell after bumping into a police officer. (NB-MOLLY )

“The 28-year-old Milton woman hit the ground hard ... seemingly tripping over the leg of a police officer who was struggling with protesters trying to interrupt Hansen’s Olympic moment in downtown Guelph,” Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury wrote.

There have been protests throughout the torch relay, but it has been mainly peaceful.

The relay route was altered Dec. 21 as the torch made its way through the Six Nations community in Grand River, Ont. The move was a response to anticipated conflict with protesters.

One of the protesters gathered outside a news conference that day said she was protesting the Olympics as a call to fair treatment of aboriginal people in Canada.

The torch was briefly delayed in Toronto Dec. 17 when hundreds of protesters filled the streets shouting, "No Olympics on stolen native land!"

Several groups in Victoria caused disturbances early in the torch’s national relay. Though that protest began peacefully in late October, it grew to a parade of around 200 people who effectively blocked the route and cut 10 torchbearers out of the relay.

One protester that said there is concern about the amount of money being spent on the games when budgets for health and education are being stretched.

Later Monday, on the Saugeen First Nation leg of the relay, there was no sign of protest.
Community members gathered around a fire outside the Ojibwa reserve band office awaiting the flame.

Nearly 50 Olympic supporters stood, some waving signs and carrying Canadian, Ontario and aboriginal flags.

Adam Kahgee, one of the flag bearers, said the community was supportive of the Olympic relay.

He said he appreciated the relay’s efforts to reach as many Canadians as possible, keeping with what he called the “for-the-people attitude of the Olympics.”

“I think it’s a great thing,” the 27-year-old Saugeen resident said.

He added that although no one in his community was protesting, those who have demonstrated in other regions are entitled to their opinions.

“Obviously, everybody has a different opinion and can express those opinions. It’s Canada, right?” he said.

“There are two sides to every story and it’s good that both sides are being heard.”

Randy Roote, whose nephew Blaine was another Saugeen torchbearer, said more community members came out to support the relay than he expected.

“I haven’t heard any bad feedback. It’s a big thing for our people to have the torch coming through,” he said, adding that one day maybe his community will have an Olympian of its own.
Earlier Monday, Day 60 of the relay found the torch passing through Erin, Orangeville, Hanover and Walkerton.

“Don’t drink the water there.” That’s the tired phrase Colin Wells heard when he told people where he would be carrying the Olympic flame during his portion of the relay.

Walkerton is perhaps best known for the E. coli tragedy from nearly a decade ago, when contaminated water resulted in seven deaths and widespread illness.

With supporters carrying flags and homemade Olympic rings lined the streets, cheering in support of the torch, Wells said he hopes being touched by the flame will remove some of the town’s negative stigma.

“That’s getting old. I really hope it brings some positivity to the town. It’s such a nice town — we get the best sausage at our local place.”

As the 39-year-old London, Ont., resident carried the torch over a bridge and into the town, snow blustered around him and coated his glasses. The wintry conditions didn’t put out his flame — although a torchbearer later in the relay in Walkerton wasn’t as lucky, as her flame had to be re-ignited twice.

Wells was joined by his wife and 17-year-old son, as well as his father, who was dressed in his original red and white torchbearer suit, with the words “Calgary ’88” printed on his back.

Both Wells and his father had carried the torch in the 1988 Calgary Olympic torch relay, after Wells filled out countless applications for both of them until they were both chosen and passed the torch off between them.

Wells said he believes in the spirit of the Olympics, and doesn’t understand why the flame encounters protesters.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “We had an aboriginal girl on our leg of the relay and she didn’t have a problem with the Olympics. I don’t understand it.”

Later, in Owen Sound, where the torch ended its day’s run Monday night, things smoothly until its second-last leg, when runner Peter Kelly bent to light the flame of the next torch bearer, Paralympic medalist and quadriplegic Jason Crone, and it didn’t work.

"I went to light Jason’s and it wouldn’t light," Kelly said. "You think these torches are light but after running 300 metres with it and holding it for five minutes, it’s heavy!"

As Kelly began his portion, the self-described "Olympic nut" said he tried to go slowly to absorb what was going on around him.

"It was unbelievable, the crowds were amazing. The kids with their own torches, and there was this one guy who had made this huge torch out of cardboard. Everyone was waving as we went by," he said.

Kelly said he’s carried the regret of not running in the relay for the Calgary 1988 Olympics with him for the past 21 years. "The first time I ever saw the Olympics, it was on a tiny black and white TV at the cottage. You could only make out traces of what was happening but I was absolutely fascinated," he said. "It’s just the idea of gathering the best in the world, you know?"

After VANOC escorts dismantled Crone’s torch and got it lit, the relay started again.

Crone, who completed the final leg of the torch relay for Day 60, won a bronze medal in wheelchair rugby at the Beijing Paralympics and is an Owen Sound native. He lit the community cauldron at the city’s celebration after the relay concluded for the day.

The torch relay begins again Tuesday for Day 61, and is expected to pass through Blue Mountain, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, before stopping for the night in Barrie.

The torch’s trek began Oct. 30 in Victoria. It will make an appearance in 1,000 communities before Feb. 12, when it reaches its final destination of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Here's the latest from the Olympic Resistance Network about their upcoming speaking tours, as well as public meeting in Vancouver with Dave Zirin, author of 'Politics In The Ring'.
Tours + Dave Zirin in
1) Anti-Olympic Speaking Tours in Jan (BC, Washington, California)
2) Politics in the Ring - Dave Zirin in Vancouver!
- please forward to your contacts in BC and West Coast -
No Olympics on Stolen Native Land Speaking Tour British Columbia and US West Coast - Jan 2010
As you may be aware, in February 2010, Vancouver BC, unceded Coast Salish Territories, will be the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The effects of the upcoming Winter Games are increasingly apparent expansion of sport tourism on Indigenous lands; increasing homelessness across the province and especially in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside; misdirected public spending and debt; vulnerable working conditions especially for migrant labour; unprecedented destruction of the environment; and unparalleled police and security spending.
Beginning in January 2010, we will travel down through so-called BC -unceded Indigenous lands - as well as the west coast of the US to conduct a series of speaking tours on resistance to the 2010 Olympics, to share our experiences, and to promote the Feb 10-15 anti-colonial & anti-capitalist convergence.
The purpose of this letter is to find people/groups in these areas to assist in local organizing of speaking events for our tour. The events will feature a speaker from the movement. We would also bring materials such as leaflets and Tshirts to distribute and fundraise with, as well as videos we have produced for screenings. A template poster will be provided if you would like to use it. Specifically, you will have to secure a venue for the event (community centre, university, union hall etc), provide billeting, and put $100-$200 (flexible) towards overall travel costs. No event is too small or meaningless for us!
In BC, we aim to arrive in towns and communities just prior to the arrival of the Torch in these communities to help build local resistance to the Torch relay. For more information on the torch route, check out the interactive map found on .
* Specifically we are looking to host the following events as part of our speaking tour:
- Kelowna Jan 14
- Penticton Jan 15
- Nelson Jan 16
- Castlegar Jan 17
- Golden Jan 18
- Merritt, Kamloops, Salmon Arm or Vernon: Jan 19-20
- Nanaimo: Jan 22
- Comox Valley: Jan 23- Powell River: Jan 24
* Day trips on any Saturday or Sunday in January:- Squamish, Gibson, Lillooet, Abottsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Pemberton,Sechelt, others.
In the US, we hope to confirm events in LA, Bay Area, San Diego, Santa Cruz etc between Jan 19-25 (as close to Jan 19th as possible), starting in San Francisco.
If you can help out with this, please respond ASAP or by December 28th at the latest so we can confirm final details. Thank you in advance and we look forward to your response! The tour email is .Please forward all correspondence regarding the tour to that email address.
About Olympic Resistance Network:
- mark the dates -
Award-winning sports writer Dave Zirin will be speaking in Vancouver on the politics of sport and mega sporting events on January 20 and January 21, 2010. You will not want to miss him! On Facebook:
Wed Jan 20 @ 2:30-4:30
MBC 2290,
SFU Burnaby campus
Organized by Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), email
Wed Jan 20 @ 6:30 pm.
Suggested donation $10, no one turned away.
Maritime Labour Centre,
1880 Triumph Street (corner Victoria Drive)
Dave will be available for a book signing, People’s Co-op Books will have his books for purchase.Organized by Olympic Resistance Network, .Endorsed by: Vancouver Action, Submedia, No One Is Illegal, Anti Poverty Committee, Council of Canadians, Warrior Publications,
Thurs Jan 21 afternoon at UBC (details TBC)
Organized by UBC Social Justice Centre.
Named one of the UTNE Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World", Dave Zirin writes about the politics of sports and resistance in sports. His writings appear in the Nation Magazine, SLAM Magazine, the Progressive, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Daily News, and Los Angeles Times. Zirin is also the host of XM satellite's popular weekly show, Edge of Sports Radio. He has brought his blend of sports and politics to other television and radio programs including ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, C-SPAN, Democracy Now, National Public Radio, Air America, and Pacifica. Author of several books, his new book is "A People's History of Sports in the United States," part of Howard Zinn's People's History series for the New Press.
* Some recent articles:
Amy Goodman and Canada's Olympic Paranoia
Message to Obama: You Can't Have Muhammad Ali
Tiger Woods Falls from Grace
Obama's Olympic error:
Gaza anger overwhelms hoops contest
* More about Dave and his writings:

On December 17 we reported on the situation of Turkish workers due to be laid off due to the sell off of the Turkish tobacco monopoly. All that the workers involved are asking for is that they be granted other jobs to compensate for the loss of theirs. The government has responded with violence, but the protest continues. Here's an update from the international union federation, the IUF.
UPDATE on TEKEL Workers Protest in Ankara:
Urgent Action 22-12-2009
Workers, their family members and supporters have been demonstrating in near-freezing temperatures in protest against a snap government decision to close their workplaces at the end of January 2010.

The protest began in front of the headquarters of the AKP (the political party in power), but the police cleared the area on 16 December and forced the demonstrators to a nearby park. The following day, police put up barricades around the park and then used water hoses and tear gas against the demonstrators. Police violence escalated and clubs were used against the demonstrators, many of whom had to be hospitalised. Mustafa Türkel, president of IUF-affiliate Tekgida-Is, which represents these workers, and general secretary of the national confederation Türk-Is, was arrested, but then released later that evening.

The police violence caused an outcry in the Turkish Parliament, but the ruling party continues to refuse to accede to the workers' demand that they be given alternative employment with their full employee benefits, as the law on privatisation provides.

The protesters are now gathered in front of the headquarters of the Türk-Is national trade union confederation, while about a dozen workers remain in the the park on hunger strike (picture below). Despite police attempts to prevent further busloads of TEKEL workers from entering the city, their numbers are steadily increasing. The city of Ankara has provided them with shelter in sports facilities and Tekgida-Is is providing food and transport.

These workers are determined to carry on their protest until the government accedes to their demands. And they urgently need your support!
Please go to the link above to send the following letter to the Turkish Prime Minister.
To the Prime Minister of Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
Dear Mr. Erdogan,
It is with extreme concern that I note your government's decision to close the former TEKEL warehouses, a decision that involves the dismissal of some 12,000 workers. I call on you to ensure that negotiations with their trade union TEKGIDA-IS begin immediately with a view to ensuring that these workers are transferred to other public enterprises with their full employee benefits in accordance with the law.
Yours sincerely,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's almost the end of the year, and, given how much I have pontificated on this blog, it is perhaps incumbent on me to say what I mean when I say "anarchism". goes...

I have usually defined "anarchism" as "a form of socialism that, instead of having enterprises owned by the state that they be owned and controlled by the workers who are employed in them or by local communities that are governed by direct democracy". Furthermore I believe that "socialism", or at least "my socialism" means that the "government" be devolved down to local democracy such that every person can have a direct say on what will be the policy of the neighbourhood. Is this enough of a definition ? In some ways yes; in some ways no.

It is first of all a definition that places anarchism in the "continent" that it has always been in ie 'socialism", an ethical project that attempts to abolish class differences. This is the "continent" that "anarchism" lives in in every country other than the USA today. In the USA there are "derivatives" of anarchism that say that this central point is irrelevant , and that such things as "abolishing civilization" are the central point of "anarchism". In other countries, amongst the small number of anarchists influenced by such imperial ideology this idea has an echo, but, in the "civilized world", anarchism continues to have its historical meaning of an end of class society.

All that is neither here nor there. Most of us are disgusted by the American ideologies, primitivist, post-anarchist or whatever name they chose to call themselves at this second, giving as they are so much dependent upon fashion.. In the end they are pitiful.The important point is what we decide to call ourselves. What is "socialism" ?

What is "socialism" ? Obviously, if we want to, as Molly does. claim the label for our own views, we have to have a definition that encompasses both the statist terms that are in more common use and also the alternative definition that "libertarian socialists" might like to put forward. Given the limitation that any definition must encompass both socialisms I would proffer the following:

""Socialism" is an ideal that says that society should be much more egalitarian and that the decisions about how the society should be organized should be decided by democratic processes".

What exactly does this mean ? Is the 'democratic process' one of the workplace or one of the local community ? perhaps, as Molly believes, a combination of both that may vary from place to place and item to item.

Quite f4rankly I don't know how democracy will be embodied in any future libertarian society. All that I do know are that there are very many efforts towards such a libertarian society today, and that I am determed to support each and every one. Whether they be workers' self management or local control, the form is irrelevant to me because I don't know the eventual form of a libertarian society, only those efforts towards it.I can, however, judge which things bring a liberation society closer and which put it off. I may indeed be wrong in various judgements, and I hope that others may correct me when I fail in my judgement.

There is no doubt that "anarchism" is much more than a simple synonym for "socialism", though I think that the resemblance should be the major point of how anybody defines anarchism in a "global" as opposed to an American sense. I will give other points about anarchism later, points that are secondary to how I define anarchism but are still important. Till then.....

There is still much more to define "anarchism", and it will be defined in further posts.

It's been a good year and a bad year. Personally, Molly has had a "little touch of colon cancer" which involved surgery and a recovery period at exactly the right time of the year ie that time when there is little money to be made but lots of unreasonable demands being made. ( Not now, not "right now", but "right fucking now"- for free) .I'll be back at work in early January, and I'm already able to do the various ballet contortions that say I can do what I have to do in my regular work, but I will go with my general "age restriction" and refuse to lift 100 lb weights and carry them "with dignity" like those who would never even conceive of doing such a thing imagine that I should do.) There are, after all, people from the local crematorium who will send out two young strong guys to do such labour. How fast I can throw my body out of harm's way to avoid death or permanent disability is still in doubt. That can't be judged by exercises. Enough bitching. I've done this job enough years to learn to defend myself from the idiocy of the public and their demands. You have never "hated" until you get a phone call at 7:00 am from an idiot (whom you don't answer) who has an appointment with another veterinarian at 10:00 am who thinks he can get you out at 7:30 am ( at, of course, less of a charge than the guy who will see his animal at 10:00 am). In such a situation one is tempted to phone the other vet and ask him or her to raise the price by 20% for the "asshole charge".

Ah well, enough of "the job". I hope to impress the surgeon on January 6 when I go back for the recheck.
The guy was Dr Momah, here in Winnipeg who did a very fine job, though I have to admit that my own determination had a lot to do with my rapid recovery. I was up and booting it less than 24 hours after having some of my guts cut out. I refused all pain killers because I wanted "my mind" during recovery, and I was right, as was evidenced by the the final visit of the "pain nurse" to my bedside shortly before my recovery.
Her point- "she had never said that "veterinarians knew more about pain than people in human medicine", even though, of course, she had never said such on our first meeting shortly after the surgery. My point- "I really don't know about that statement. But I offered her an article that I was reading about pain from Nature Magazine, and I tried to figure out why what she said "might" be true. What was left unsaid , to my great disgrace, was that my refusal of pain relief was not because I was a veterinarian and "knew more" (which she thought and I doubted even though I am a member of the IVAPM) but because I am who I am, and I have an unique sensitivity to certain drugs. It was very personal, and it influences the way that my anaesthesia was handled as well.

Quite frankly, should the US Empire ever get so deluded that they would put me into prison and torture me there is literally no pain that I could not endure. Most of it I would be capable of laughing at. All this to gain the fact that I know nothing. Pain might be frightening to those who have never experienced it before, and it also might be frightening for those whose emotions determined that they should "run from it". Neither case is applicable to me. Pain is my ete3rnal companion in every second of mty life.

OK, enough of my personal situation. As to this blog, over the last year it has essentially doubled its readership. This has been at the cost of time spent in "blog promotion", which means time away from posting new items. This is obviously necessary, but it is still annoying because of the "objections" that others have to this blog. I've tried to search down such objections, and at least one has been resolved. Molly's Blog, of course, isn't a money-making business. Any fool who thinks he can make money off "a Blog" is usually quite deluded.
Yet, there is other opposition that is pretty consistent. All of these sources eventually come together despite their different reasons. One source for labour blogs is that only social democratic posts will be allowed (or less than social democratic in the USA). Another for "Canada blogs" is that the interests of right wing readers and those who think that the actions reported are not "anarchist enough" coincide. This transfers over to those posts listed as "anarchist" where that tiny little part of international anarchism that is the deviation known as "anarcho-capitalism" in the USA objects to anything reported by Molly that might be "socialist". I will leave the ignorance of the Americans as to the term "libertarian socialist" to others.

All that I can say here is...that I will continue. Someone who can get up from gut surgery and walk the same day is hardly likely to be intimidated. Quite frankly, I am "on the side of the angels", in a general sense. Not every thing I say is right, but the objections have less validity than what I post here. I will walk on because am the toughest son-of-a-bitch that has walked this Earth since Roman times.

Hey, here's another item that proves that Molly isn't only focused on the cold and frozen North. The following came Molly's way via the Asian Anarchist Network. It's originally from the Japanese CIRA (the Japanese section of the international centres for anarchist documentation and research)via the Irregular Rythym Asylum Blog. I hope that that will be enough references for anyone. In any case the following calender highlights an attempt to assassinate the Japanese emperor earlier in the 20th century. Ah- every anarchist's dream, "to assassinate the emperor" and thereby "make a difference" with a simple act without complications. It's too bad that reality rarely is so simple. In any case here is the advert for the calender.
CIRA Japana 2010 Calendar Out Now!‏
Hello comrades, Please check this out.
cat bloc
CIRA Japana <> 2010 Calendar Out Now!

CIRA Japana <> presents the 2010 calendar with a theme of the 100th anniversary of the High Treason Incident <>.

The High Treason Incident

<>, also known as the Kotoku Incident, was a socialist-anarchist plot to assassinate the Japanese Emperor Meiji in 1910, leading to a mass arrest of leftists, and the execution of 12 alleged conspirators in 1911.

To commemorate the people’s struggle against the Emperor in the early 20th century, this calendar highlights the key figures of the High Treason Incident <> and international campaigns of prison solidarity for the victims. You will see valuable pictures of activists in the early socialist movements in Japan with English thumbnail for each month.

Here are the topics of the months:

[Jan] Shusui Kotoku: a prominent political thinker and anarchist

[Feb] Sugako Kannno: a feminist journalist and anarchist

[Mar] Gudou Uchiyama: an anarchist monk and his secret publication

[Apr] The High Treason Album/International prison solidarity

[May] The Commoners’ Society (Heimin-sha): the centre for socialists in the early days[Jun] A protest against fare rises of the Tokyo City railways[Jul] Suppression of free speech against the Commoners’ Daily[Aug] The Commoners’ Summer Seminar[Sep] The pollution in the Ashio copper mine and socialists[Oct] The post-war campaign on the restoration of honour of victims[Nov] Other High Treason Incidents: Daisuke Nanba, Park Yeol and Fumiko Kaneko, and Lee Bong-chang[Dec] Movements against the emperor system in the post-war Buy your copy now! 1200 yen plus postage.You can order by Paypal: If you want more than 2 copies, let us know by email:

Just a little reminder about an upcoming march in solidarity with Toronto social worker Gaetan Heroux who has been fired for solidarity with his clients. Here's the callout from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
REMINDER, TUESDAY: Reinstate Gaetan Heroux: March to Scarborough from Street Health:‏
Reinstate Gaetan Heroux: March to Scarborough from Street Health Homeless Contingent to walk from downtown east to Neighbourhood Link
** Sign Petition to Reinstate Gaetan (see below) **
ACTION: March from Street Health to Neighbourhood Link
DATE: Tuesday, December 29th, 2009
TIME: 9 am
LOCATION: Meet at 338 Dundas Street East (Street Health
)Walk approximately two hours to 3036 Danforth Avenue (Neighbourhood Link)
On December 8th, 2009, much-loved and respected community advocate and activist Gaetan Heroux was fired from his job as a PAID ID worker, by his employer, Neighbourhood Link. Gaetan's dismissal came after he refused to comply with sudden relocation of his office from Street Health, in the downtown east end, to a new location at Victoria Park and Danforth.
The move would have meant Gaetan's work providing identification to poor and homeless people in the downtown east would have been severely compromised, as clients of the PAID Project necessarily require access to workers and their ID at unpredictable times and often on an urgent basis, given the instability of homelessness.
The attempt to move Gaetan came after he spoke up in defence of his colleagues at Street Health, who have been trying to negotiate a fair contract with management for 1.5 years, and have been subject to harassment, threats, and intimidation as a result.
The relocation efforts mean that his employer, Neighbourhood Link, in apparent cooperation with Street Health management, is effectively going to deny people access to a service that is essential to their lives. Gaetan would not stand for this and refused to move. He was subsequently fired.
Join a community delegation of homeless people and friends, as we walk to Neighbourhood Link from Street Health in the depth of winter. This long journey is the one which will be required of homeless PAID Project clients if management persists with the plan to move services to the Scarborough offices. When we arrive at Neighbourhood Link, the delegation will requesting a meeting with Executive Director Mary McGowan (a request already sent in writing), to demand the following:
1) respond to the articulated needs of homeless clients and return ID services to the downtown core on a full time basis;
2) reverse the decision to terminate Gaetan Heroux and relocate him back to his office at Street Health.
We will be presenting signatures already collected in support of Gaetan and the return of PAID ID work to the Street Health location. Add your name to this new electronic petition and join all of us in calling for an end to the loss of the heart of Street Health: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sponsored by Friends of Street Health & the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

While most of us are still enjoying our Christmas holidays the workers on strike against Vale Inco in Ontario and Newfoundland are still on the picket line in the bitter cold. Here's a story about 'Christmas On The Picket Line' from the Sudbury Star. To keep up to date with the latest news from the strike don't forget to visit the strike support site Fair Deal Now.
Christmas on the picket line:
As most Sudburians were waking up Christmas morning to spend the day with friends and family, there wasn't much cause for celebration on the Vale Inco picket line.

Christmas music played over a radio in the background as Yvon Laforest, Gord Bazinet and Jeff Whissell gathered around a fire on the picket line at the Copper Cliff smelter.

The members of Local 6500 volunteered to take a six-hour Christmas shift, starting at about 6:45 am.

"We left the people with younger kids at home so they could spend some time with their kids," said Laforest, who has worked for Vale Inco for four and a half years.

More than 3,000 of Vale Inco's production and maintenance workers have been on strike since July 13 and there appears to be no end in sight.

The union and the company have not gone back to the table since the strike began.

The major issues are concessions the company wants on pensions and a nickel bonus.

"It should have been settled a long time ago. That's what I think," said Laforest, who works in the divisional shop.

Aside from being away from family for six hours on Christmas day, the father of five said his Christmas would be all right.

"A lot of people are more unfortunate than me," he said.

Whissell, who has worked for Inco for nine years, said what he hates most about the strike is the fear of the unknown.

"You don't know what you are going to do," he said.

Whissell, who works in the acid plant, doesn't know if he should go back to school or leave the city he was born and raised in to find work elsewhere.

"I don't know what to do," he said.

The strike is not a positive experience, he said.

"I can't speak for everyone, but I'm assuming everybody is frustrated, some fearful. I'm sure some have lost quite a bit already," Whissell said.

Support from the community as well as the government would help, he said.

"Everybody stands to gain if we can get back to work," he said.

"I don't know what our government is doing" selling off our natural resources, Whissell added.

"I'd like to know what the game plan is in clear English."