Canada has been criticized for its role, along with the United States, in what activists call aggression towards Cuba and Venezuela.
The efforts of Canada, the United States and other western nations are designed “to cause as much destruction as they can in Venezuela’’ and to choke Cuba, according Dr Isaac Saney, co-chairman of the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC).
“We live in extremely dangerous times,’’ said Saney, who was one of three presenters at a panel discussion in Toronto titled, “Cuba in the Time of Trump: AN ISLAND AGAINST THE EMPIRE’’.
The discussion, at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre, and organized by the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto and the CNC, came just days after the United States tightened its decades-old embargo against Cuba, banning cruises to Cuba under new restrictions on US travel to the Spanish-speaking nation.
US officials in President Donald Trump’s administration said the measures are to pressure Cuba to reform and stop supporting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Panelist Yoslaidy Clemente López, a consul at Cuba’s diplomatic mission in Toronto, described the US action as “crazy’’, but said the experience is nothing new for Cubans.
“It’s just a cycle,’’ she said. “Cuba will stand independent and sovereign forever.’’
Saney said the United States wants to “extinguish’’ Cuba because the Caribbean country “represents an example and a vision of a better world’’.
“In this struggle that Cuba is waging is the fact that they are an example of resistance and they insist on their right to self-determination,’’ he charged. “The United States cannot stand any country that stands against the empire.’’
In the case of Venezuela, said Saney, it’s being attacked because Maduro and former President Hugo Chávez represent a “seizing of a very important section of the Americas out of the hands of US imperialism and the creation of a project that was trying to use the resources to the benefit of its people’’.
Venezuela, he said, “has more than just oil. But, there is a whole series of other riches that that they have, such as gold, that not only the US wants but also Canadian mining companies want as well’’.
There also is a “profound racist element’’ to the “undermining’’ of the government of Venezuela, where the people in power are overwhelmingly the poor of African, Indigenous and mixed-race descent, Saney charged.
Panelist Cikiah Thomas, after commending Cuba and it former President Fidel Castro, especially on despatching military troops to Africa in the 1970s in support of Angola’s fight against US-based South African forces, then turned his attention to Venezuela.
Thomas, chair of the Global Afrikan Congress (GAC), said Venezuela is in a “critical situation’’ that he blames on meddling from the US and allies such as Canada.
“Canada likes to pride itself as a country of laws but this is lost on the Canadian government when it comes to Venezuela,’’ Thomas said. “It is time for Canada to come out with her real reasons for the aggression towards the legitimate government and people of Venezuela.’’
The actions against Venezuela are “immoral, unethical and illegal’’, said Thomas, and Canadians should contact their parliamentary representatives and demand an end to the involvement by the Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The GAC has embarked on what it refers to as an international lobbying campaign to mobilize “progressive forces all the world over to resist the unprovoked attack on Venezuela’’.
The campaign includes letter-writing to the Presidents of South Africa and Nigeria, urging them to “champion the cause of the Venezuelan people’’ by bringing up the Venezuelan situation for debate at fora such as the African Union and the United Nations.
“In our opinion’’, GAC says in its letter, “Mr Trump is directing his puppets to recolonize Venezuela.’’
#aggression towards Cuba and Venezuela#Global Afrikan Congress#Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto
How does a country recover from centuries of slavery and racism? In the US, a growing number of voices are saying the answer is reparations.
Reparations are a restitution for slavery – an apology and repayment to black citizens whose ancestors were forced into the slave trade.
It’s a policy notion that many black academics and advocates have long called for, but one that politicians have largely sidestepped or ignored.
But increased activism around racial inequalities and discussions among Democratic 2020 presidential candidates have thrust the issue into the national spotlight.
This week, talk of reparations made headlines after a Fox News contributor argued against the policy by saying the US actually deserves more credit for ending slavery as quickly as it did.
“America came along as the first country to end it within 150 years, and we get no credit for that,” Katie Pavlich said on Tuesday, adding that reparations would only “inflame racial tension even more”.Skip Twitter post by @LisPower1
Talk of repaying African-Americans has been around since the Civil War era, when centuries of slavery officially ended.
Some experts have calculated the worth of black labour during slavery as anywhere from billions to trillions of dollars. Adding in exploitative low-income work post-slavery pushes those figures even higher.
Even after the technical end of the slave trade, black Americans were denied education, voting rights, and the right to own property – treated in many ways as second-class citizens.
Those arguing for reparations point to these historic inequalities as reasons for current schisms between white and black Americans when it comes to income, housing, healthcare and incarceration rates.
Prof Darrick Hamilton, Executive Director of Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, says this history is part of America’s unique problem.
“From our founding fabric we have based our political and economic institutions on chattel slavery,” he told the BBC. “Which makes our institutions not only pernicious but structurally entrenched [in inequalities].”
A brief timeline of slavery in the US
1619 – Some of the first African slaves are purchased in Virginia by English colonists, though slaves had been used by European colonists long before
1788 – The US constitution is ratified; under it, slaves are considered by law to be three-fifths of a person
1808 – President Thomas Jefferson officially ends the African slave trade, but domestic slave trade, particularly in the southern states, begins to grow
1822 – Freed African-Americans found Liberia in West Africa as a new home for freed slaves
1860 – Abraham Lincoln becomes president of the US; the southern states secede and the Civil War begins the following year
1862 – President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation frees all slaves in the seceded states
1865 – The South loses the war; the 13th Amendment to the Constitution formally abolishes slavery
1868 – The 14th Amendment grants freed African Americans citizenship
1870 – The 15th Amendment gives African American men the right to vote; the South begins passing segregation laws
A case for reparations…
In arguing for reparations, Prof Hamilton says the impact of slavery continues to manifest in American society.
“The material consequence is vivid with the racial wealth gap. Psychologically, the consequence is [how] we treat blacks without dignity, that we dehumanise them in public spaces.”
From policies excluding primarily black populations – like social security once did – to pushing narratives that blame black Americans for their economic problems, Prof Hamilton says the US has structural problems that must be addressed in order to move forward.
US household income by race ($)
Median adjusted for inflationSource: Pew Research Center
In 2014, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates brought similar ideas into the national conversation with his piece The Case for Reparations.
Coates detailed how housing policy and wealth gaps in particular most clearly illustrate the ways black citizens are still affected by America’s past.
Decades of segregation kept black families away from white areas, which had better access to education, healthcare, food and other necessities, while institutionalised discrimination hindered black Americans’ economic development.
“As we go further back in our history, one can see it as explicitly violent,” Prof Hamilton says. “Now it might be implicitly violent.”
Subconscious racism in police forces, enduring bias against black Americans in the courts and financial institutions are some examples of that subtle violence, he adds.
…and a case against it
But support for reparations today remains largely divided along racial lines.
A 2016 Marist poll found 58% of black Americans were in favour of reparations, while 81% of white Americans opposed the idea. A 2018 Data for Progress survey also found reparations to be unpopular among the general public, and especially so among white Americans.
One argument against reparations echoes what Fox’s Ms Pavlich said – that they would only build walls between Americans.
Some contend that the reason reparations have worked elsewhere, namely Germany, which has paid billions to Holocaust survivors since the end of World War Two, is because the reparations are between nations, not within one.
“A one-time payment, and then nothing more owed…That is the only conception of reparations that could possibly be politically viable. It would also be utterly toxic, ultimately widening divisions that we’re trying to shrink.”
Even for some black activists reparations seem an unreasonable ask.
Bayard Rustin, who organised the March on Washington and was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr, called it a “ridiculous idea”.
“If my great-grandfather picked cotton for 50 years, then he may deserve some money, but he’s dead and gone and nobody owes me anything,” Mr Rustin told the New York Times in 1969.
He later expanded on the views, writing that a payout would demean “the integrity of blacks” and exploit white guilt.
“It is insulting to Negroes to offer them reparations for past generations for suffering, as if the balance of an irreparable past could be set straight with a handout.”
How would reparations work?
A monetary payout to black Americans usually comes to mind when discussing reparations in the US. And critics are quick to point out such a payment would cost the US trillions.
But just throwing cash at the issue, advocates say, would not address the root of the problem.
Prof Hamilton told the BBC he supports a payout mostly as a symbolic gesture.
“In any case where there’s an injustice, to achieve justice not only do you need the acknowledgment, you need the restitution.”
“We need to couple it with an economic justice bill of rights,” he adds. “Simply paying the debt doesn’t address the structural problems America has, with certain classes of Americans being able to extract and exploit.”
But acknowledgement isn’t “trivial”, he says – it would help refute existing narratives that dehumanise black Americans as lazy or dysfunctional.
Economist William Darity has also suggested a “portfolio of reparations” that would combine payments with black-oriented policies focusing on funding black education, healthcare, and asset building as well as ensuring that public schools properly teaches the full impact of slavery.
What have Democratic candidates said?
President Barack Obama never endorsed a reparations policy – nor did 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton – but next year’s presidential contenders have been more outspoken, if vague.
Senator Kamala Harris has said she is in favour of “some type” of reparations.
In February, she told The Grio: “We have to recognise that everybody did not start out on an equal footing in this country and in particular black people have not.”
She has proposed the LIFT Act, which would give families earning under $100,000 annually a tax credit, benefitting “60% of black families who are in poverty”.
The California Democrat has also suggested policies investing in black communities through black colleges and healthcare programmes, for example.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has also expressed support for reparations, calling racial injustices “a stain on America” that has “happened generation after generation” at a CNN town hall this month.
“Because of housing discrimination and employment discrimination, we live in a world where the average white family has $100 [and] the average black family has about $5. It’s time to start the national, full-blown conversation about reparations in this country.”
Mrs Warren said she is in favour of a bill currently in the House of Representatives to appoint a panel of experts to report back to Congress about what can be done to solve these issues.
Senator Bernie Sanders saw some backlash during the last presidential election over rejecting the idea, but he maintains that a reparations cheque would not fix the problems.
“Right now, our job is to address the crises facing the American people and our communities, and I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a cheque,”he told ABC’s The View this month.
Mr Sanders said rather than supporting a payout, he is for universal programmes or anti-poverty measures that would help all underprivileged communities.
Senator Cory Booker, like Mrs Harris, has proposed a “form of reparations”.
“Baby bonds” would create a trust fund for lower-income children that they could use for education or housing
As more black families are impoverished than whites, the policy would help address race inequalities, broadly speaking
Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said the idea of reparations was something “worth” discussing.
Mr Castro said he is also in favour of an expert panel that could study the issue and inform Congress how best to proceed.
Author Marianne Williamson has said she supports a reparations plan.
She has floated the idea of a $100bn “educational, economic and cultural fund to be disbursed over a 10 year period by a council of esteemed African American leaders”.
To Prof Hamilton, regardless of policy, the fact that these conversations are happening is a step forward.
“The conversation in and of itself is valuable. It’s opening the door to reframe our understandings of racial inequality overall.”
Trudeau promises to legislate implementation of UNDRIP if re-elected
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Wednesday June 19, 2019 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019 3:22PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2019 6:18PM EDT
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising that a re-elected Liberal government will introduce legislation to ensure federal laws are harmonized with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Trudeau made the announcement Wednesday through his government’s representative in the Senate, where a private member’s bill on the same topic, New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash’s Bill C-262, has been stalled for weeks by Conservative senators.
Their procedural manoeuvres to prevent the Senate from dealing with Saganash’s bill has meant holding up a slew of other private members’ bills, including one from former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose that would require judges to take training in sexual-assault law.
Unless passed by the Senate by the end of this week, when the House of Commons is expected to break for the summer and subsequent election campaign, the bills are effectively dead.
But if Trudeau’s objective is to break the impasse and allow the Senate to get on with the other bills, Conservative Senate whip Don Plett indicated it’s unlikely to work.
“Probably not,” Sen. Plett said in an interview, adding that Conservative senators’ priority is to debate government bills.
“When we are at the end of a session, we cannot do justice to any more than government bills.”
Still, Plett indicated that the Conservatives might drop some of the stalling tactics they’ve been using to prolong the Senate’s handling of government bills and, should all those be dealt with by Friday, he said there could “possibly” be some time left to deal with some private members’ business.
However, Peter Harder, the government’s Senate representative, appeared Wednesday to be writing off all the private members’ bills.
“It’s become clear to me that at this stage there is not a collective will to find an agreement to get Bill C-262 and other items of non-government business (done),” he told the upper house. “Regrettably, I simply do not see a path forward.”
On behalf of the government and prime minister, Harder then said: “I have been authorized to formally announce in this chamber that in the forthcoming election, the Liberal Party of Canada will campaign on a promise to implement, as government legislation, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Should the Liberals win re-election, Harder said the government would introduce the legislation and ensure its “expeditious” passage. The declaration asserts a range of individual and collective rights for Indigenous Peoples, including to a degree of self-government, protection for traditional land, and economic and cultural development.
Independent Sen. Murray Sinclair, a former judge who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and has been championing Saganash’s bill, said Harder’s message was “very heartwarming for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is it’s something Indigenous groups have been asking for.” He said implementing the 2007 UN declaration should have been a government bill in the first place and the failure to present it as one created the opportunity for Saganash’s bill to get hung up in the Senate.
But he saved his harshest words for the Conservatives, whom he accused of acting “in the best interests of the petroleum industry” and making dishonest arguments that implementing UNDRIP could result in a veto for First Nations over resource projects.
“They know that it’s not a veto. They know that the UN declaration does not create substantive rights in Canada. They know that because the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on that issue a number of times … So they’re just using it to their political advantage to raise fears,” Sinclair said.
Other private members’ bills whose fate remains uncertain include one on Indigenous languages and one that would add First Nations, Metis and Inuit representatives to the board that makes decisions on national historic sites and monuments. As well, there is former Conservative Sen. Nancy Greene Raine’s bill to prohibit food and beverage marketing aimed at children.
On Wednesday, Ambrose once again tweeted her displeasure that her bill on judges’ education appears about to die because of “a backroom deal by a few senators.”
“It’s shameful that powerful senators lack the will to stand up for victims of sexual crimes,” she said on Twitter.
Ambrose did not name the senators she holds responsible but Independent Sen. Pierre Dalphond, a former judge who has been championing her bill, laid the blame squarely on the Conservatives. He tried and failed Tuesday and again Wednesday to get unanimous agreement to have the Senate sit early the next day to deal specifically with Bill C-337.
Dalphond noted that Ambrose’s bill was unanimously supported in the House of Commons, including by Conservative MPs, yet the party’s senators continue to hold it up. He said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer “could give marching orders to let it go, if he wanted.”
“If they are not doing it, I will assume that Mr. Scheer is not opposed to that or he’s a very weak leader, which I suspect he’s not,” Dalphond said in an interview. “I think there is some duplicity there.”
Conservative senators are the last remaining unabashedly partisan group in the Senate and the only senators to sit alongside MPs in a party caucus. Plett said he’s in constant communication with the national caucus and that what Conservative senators do “we do as a Conservative Party of Canada.”
For the past couple of weeks, Trudeau and his Liberal government have made clear their firm stances on their environmental commitments. Along with Monday’s resolution, Canada is set to ban single-use plastics by 2021.
Trudeau says that the project will help bring stable and gainful jobs that will improve Canada’s middle-class. Alberta’s government is especially happy about the decision because it affects them the most.
PM: Pipeline decision not about ‘whether’ more oil should be produced but ‘where’ it is sold. Says oil transport by rail has doubled in recent years, says pipelines are less dangerous, cause less pollution. Says reaching more markets means more money to help meet climate goals.
Of course, many Canadians are skeptical about the sincerity of Trudeau’s promises attached to the controversial pipeline project. Some accuse of him playing a political game with the voters of Alberta, who are polling at 55% Conservative.
There’ll be money to encourage homeowners to retrofit their houses and increase energy efficiency. Businesses will be eligible for tax breaks to develop eco-friendly technology. Big industrial polluters will be forced to invest in R&D for “emissions-reducing technology.”
But wait, there’s more! There’ll be a Green Patent Credit and a Green Technology and Innovation Fund. Plus a Green Hub for Innovation, not to mention plans to deal with invasive species and wetlands and migratory birds and, oh yes, plastic waste. So many plans!
If such a scheme was presented by a left-leaning political party, you might well expect conservatives to jump all over it as a typical over-complicated effort at social engineering. Another quasi-socialist attempt to micro-manage the economy, they would cry. Simply won’t work, they would opine.
As expected, the theme is “Green Technology, not Taxes.” There’s everything but a low-flow, super-efficient kitchen sink in Scheer’s plan, but what there isn’t is anything resembling a carbon tax along the lines of what the federal Liberals have championed as a key element in fighting climate change.
Carbon pricing (or the “carbon tax” as Conservatives call it) is anathema to Canada’s Conservative parties and governments, from Edmonton to Queen’s Park. Instead, as per Scheer, they’re wooing voters with an array of complicated programs that purport to get us to the promised land of lower carbon emissions without the pain of actually paying for it.
At the heart of all these plans, including the one that Scheer unveiled on Wednesday, is what amounts to a lie.
He and other Conservatives acknowledge that climate change is a real, serious problem that we have to tackle now. And to his credit, Scheer is sticking with Canada’s commitment to meeting its climate goals under the Paris Agreement of 2015.
But his message is that someone else (industry, “big polluters,” and the like) should pay for it while regular folks (“middle-class families just trying to pay their bills”) should be let off the hook.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. There are indeed costs involved in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, and the issue is whether they will be made at least partly transparent through carbon pricing or hidden in higher prices for goods and services passed on by businesses.
Op-ed: Joe Biden Is The White Moderate Dr. King Warned Us About
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE-PRESIDENT, AND 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SHARED FOND MEMORIES TUESDAY NIGHT OF JAMES O. EASTLAND, THE WHITE SUPREMACIST MISSISSIPPI SENATOR KNOWN AS “THE VOICE OF THE WHITE SOUTH,” CALLING HIM “SON.”
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Joe Biden, the architect of the 1994 Crime Bill and former U.S. Vice-President, is not as slick as he thinks he is. In fact, he’s a cliché, a stock photo, an avatar, for every single liberal white man who believes that just because he’s not a member of the Republican Party or an adherent to the most virulent white supremacist policies, that he can disguise his rancid racism behind “Aw shucks, I just tell it like it is” performative politic-ing and Black people will just fall in line.
Because at least he’s not Donald Trump.
He proved that again Tuesday night at an NYC fundraiser, during which he reportedly told the crowd that he and James O. Eastland, the long-serving, segregationist, white supremacist Mississippi senator known as “The Voice of the White South,” and the “Godfather of Mississippi Politics”, shared a mutual fondness and respect for each other.
The senator from Delaware reportedly stated, “I know the new New Left tells me that I’m — this is old-fashioned. Well guess what? If we can’t reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president.”
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden continued, reportedly slipping into a southern drawl. “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
Because Eastland was a refined man, you see. A civil man who only used “boy” to reinforce a racist power dynamic and dehumanize the “ni—ers” he hated so much—never Biden.
Later reports added that Biden also mentioned his fondness for segregationist Georgia Gov. Herman Talmadge, saying of both of the white supremacists, “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
It makes sense, then that while Biden’s daddy was wreaking havoc in the lives of Black Mississippians, Biden was a crusader for anti-integration, anti-busing policies and actively courting Eastland’s support.
In a March 25, 1977 letter, Biden wrote his mentor, who at the time served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, these words:
“Dear Mr. Chairman, I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote.”
Eastland worked closely with the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, a state-sponsored white terrorist organization that aided and abetted in the assassinations of Black civil rights leaders—and surveilled others, including my grandparents. Yet, he was apparently not only a model of civility for Biden, but a political accomplice.
In asking Eastland to speak on the Senate Floor in favor of his anti-busing bill, Biden wrote the man, who once called Black people “an inferior race,” another note on Aug. 22, 1978, pleading, “I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions. Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”
Be clear: Former President Barack Obama may consider Biden to be his BFF, but the man cannot be trusted. He is making it plain that he will beat Trump at his own game, twisting the knife of white supremacy deeper still into the core of this nation with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.
Democrats, is this your king?
If not, they need to make it plain now, because it is past time, but potentially too late, for this so-called “progressive” party to reckon with itself.
Whether it looks like 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris previously threatening Black mothers with prison time if their children were truant from school; or New York City Mayor, or 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Bill de Blasio refusing to stand with the family of Eric Garner in demanding the release of killer Daniel Pantaleo’s disciplinary record; or former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel closing public schools in Chicago and participating in the cover-up of the extrajudicial killing of Laquan McDonald; or not one police officer being convicted of federal hate crimes under the Eric Holder-helmed Justice Department during the Obama administration for the state-sanctioned killing of a Black person, it is clear that the Democratic Party cannot be exempt from excavating its own devils.
Even those, especially those, with a twinkle in their sparkling blue eyes.
“As far as I’m concerned, ‘liberal’ is the most meaningless word in the dictionary.” — Assata Shakur
This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.
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