September 8, 2018 - No. 30

Matters of Concern to the Polity

Electoral Reform in BC -- Private Interests
of Establishment Parties versus
Citizen Empowerment

Federal Court of Appeal Overturns Approval
of Trans Mountain Pipeline

- Peggy Morton -
New Memorial to Glorify Ontario's Integration
into U.S. Wars of Aggression

•  Demand to Stop the Ring of Fire Is Entirely Just
- Kaella-Lynn Recollet -
Alberta's Thriving Dairy Industry Underscores Need
to Defend Supply Management Systems

- George Allen -

For Your Information
Growth and Power of Oligopolies

Opposition to the Anti-Social Offensive
Calgary Activists Organize in Response to Greyhound Shutdown
Information Picket to Stop the Ring of Fire!
Fight to Restore Ontario's Basic Income Pilot Project

Supreme Electoral Court Denies Lula's Right to
Be a Presidential Candidate

- People's Committee in Defence of Lula and Democracy -
What the Empire Wants in Brazil
- Randy Alonso Falcón -

Important Anniversary
70th Anniversary of Founding of DPRK
-- Standing for Peace and Justice for Seven Decades

Labour Day 2018

Workers Across the Country Uphold the Dignity of Labour

Matters of Concern to the Polity

Electoral Reform in BC -- Private Interests of Establishment Parties versus Citizen Empowerment

The desire of the people of British Columbia to have more control over the politics and economy of the province, as well as their representatives in the Legislature, is longstanding. Indeed, this desire has often been expressed in the election platforms of worker candidates dating back to the late 1800s and includes calls for the right to recall MLAs and launch initiatives, for women's right to vote, and for some form of proportional representation to replace the first-past-the-post electoral system.

In the late 1800s, a type of non-party system was in place in BC that resulted in the election of what were essentially independent candidates. Worker candidates began getting elected to the BC Legislature under this non-party system and, it was then that the big parties -- Liberals and Conservatives -- were brought in with their operatives and the system was changed in 1903 to a party-dominated system which prevails to this day and is favoured by the corporate elite.

Over the years, opposition to this party-dominated system which operates like a cartel, has come from workers, women, Indigenous people, people with small and medium-sized businesses, and other sections of the population who desire to have more say and more decision-making power in the political affairs and economy of the province, and to bring about democratic renewal.

The Establishment parties have responded by stubbornly holding onto the current electoral system with all its entrenched party privileges or, as is often the case, to change it only in ways that favour themselves over their rivals. In either case, the motive has not been democratic renewal and the empowerment of the electorate but rather maintaining party domination.

There are many instances of this cartel-like behaviour by the Establishment political parties throughout the history of British Columbia and Canada. For example, in order to keep the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) out of power in the 1952 BC elections, the Liberal/Progressive Conservative Coalition brought in a "preferential ballot" system to replace the first-past-the-post vote-counting system, a move they presumed would keep them in office. But the move blew up in their faces with the fledging Social Credit Party unexpectedly winning a minority government.

After only nine months in office, with the same self-serving motive, the new Social Credit government changed the system back to first past the post and called a new election, where it won a majority with just 38 per cent of the vote and went on to rule for the next 21 years.

In the 1991 provincial election, in a move to bolster its plummeting popularity and respond to public demands for more accountability, the Social Credit government held a referendum on bringing in legislation which would allow citizens to recall MLAs and to launch "initiative petitions" to "propose new laws or initiate changes to existing laws." Over 80 per cent of voters cast their ballots in favour and the legislation was brought in several years later by an NDP government.

Having the right to recall MLAs and launch initiatives was a small, but positive, step forward in the struggle of British Columbians for electoral empowerment. But, reflecting the cartel party mentality, the NDP government crafted the legislation in such a way that it was almost impossible for voters to utilize. Indeed, in the last 23 years, there has been no MLA recalled despite a number of attempts and only one citizen initiative has been successful (the 2011 referendum which defeated the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)).

A similar thing happened with the referendums on the Single Transferable Vote (STV) in 2005 and 2009 which were prompted by longstanding citizen dissatisfaction with the electoral system. While the process to recommend an alternative voting system through a randomly-chosen Citizens' Assembly was a positive development, the Liberal government jacked up the threshold for approval of STV to 60 per cent rather than 50 per cent. This resulted in the 2005 referendum falling short of a Yes vote despite achieving a clear majority (57 per cent) of the votes.

On the federal level, reflecting the self-serving attitude of the cartel parties towards electoral reform, the Trudeau Liberal government launched a process after the last election that was supposed to result in the replacement of the first-past-the-post system. Yet, when it looked like the process might not result in the Liberals' preferred system, Trudeau abruptly cancelled it, despite public opposition.

While all of this history demonstrates that British Columbians are striving for more control over their lives, it is clear that, to achieve this aim, people must have their own program to empower themselves and to bring about democratic renewal. They cannot rely on the cartel parties to bring about advances. Far from it, the cartel parties have shown time and again that they fear voter empowerment and will always attempt to limit or thwart it while, at the same time, claiming to be supportive. They even fear rudimentary forms of democratic process such as referendums (e.g., the Charlottetown Accord of 1992 and HST in 2011) or even minor tinkering with the electoral system that might cause them to lose control and open up opportunities for people to take independent action.

Between October 22 and November 30, 2018, British Columbians will be voting on whether to replace the existing first-past-the-post system with proportional representation. It is important to keep in mind that the three parties in the BC Legislature have their own narrow interests to serve when determining which voting system to support and promote.

But for the people of British Columbia, this referendum presents an opportunity to seize the initiative, vote Yes to proportional representation, and have a say and involvement in what follows. That would be a positive outcome and a step forward in citizen empowerment.

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Federal Court of Appeal Overturns Approval
of Trans Mountain Pipeline

Celebration of Court of Appeal Decision in Victoria, August 30, 2018.

The Federal Court of Appeal released its decision on Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada on August 30, 2018, overturning the approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) by the Trudeau government. Nonetheless, the sale of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to Canada was approved by Kinder Morgan shareholders the next day, at a cost of $4.5 billion.

Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip speaks in Vancouver after court decision is announced.

In a unanimous decision, Justice Dawson wrote that Canada failed to meaningfully consult First Nations, falling "well short of the mark" set by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Trudeau government failed to "engage, dialogue meaningfully and grapple with the real concerns of the Indigenous applicants so as to explore possible accommodation of those concerns," the ruling said. The government also made a "critical error" by basing its decision on a National Energy Board report that refused to consider marine shipping in violation of its responsibility to assess the environmental impact of a project.

The Federal Court of Appeal decision was the response to fourteen separate judicial reviews which were heard as a single review in September 2017. The challenges were launched by Tsleil-Waututh Nation; Squamish Nation; Coldwater Indian Band; Aitchelitz, Skowkale Shxwa:y Village, Soow Ahlie, Squiala First Nation, Tzeachten, Yakweakwioose, Skwah, Kwaw-Kwaw-Aplit & Ts'elxweyeqw Tribe et al (Sto:lo); Upper Nicola Band; and Stk'emlupsemc Te Secwepemc; environmental organizations Living Oceans, Raincoast Conservation Society, represented by Ecojustice; the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, and the province of British Columbia.

The Court held that the National Energy Board did not provide a report suitable to supply the "Governor in Council" with the information and assessments it required to make its public interest determination and its decision about environmental effects. It also found that the National Energy Board had erroneously concluded that section 79 of the Species at Risk Act did not apply to its consideration of the effects of project-related tanker traffic.

The cartel parties in power and in opposition in Ottawa and Alberta reacted to the court decision by blaming each other and refusing to be accountable for their own words and deeds. The Liberals blamed the Harper government, the Alberta government blamed the Liberals, Jason Kenney blamed Rachel Notley and on it went. For two years these parties have all repeated the mantra, in one form or another, that the "consultation" process for the approval of the Trans Mountain was beyond reproach. Anyone who did not agree was a fringe element, and if they refused to be silent they could be silenced -- "in the national interest."

Both the federal and the Alberta governments are now paying lip service to the requirements set out by the court, which entail redoing Phase III of the consultation process and conducting an environmental assessment of tanker traffic, particularly with regard to the endangered orca population. Both the Trudeau and Notley governments have made it clear that, while fulfilling the requirements of the court, they will pursue "all options" to get the TMX built.

Media and government reports tried to suggest there was something new or different in the court's interpretation of the government's obligation regarding environmental assessment and the duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous peoples. However, this is not the case. The Trudeau Liberals merely decided that the approval process for the TMX would follow the changes made by the Harper government to limit the consultation process and who could participate. They claimed that they had fixed the process by adding consultations, by which they meant that people could give their opinions about a decision that was already a done deal. The opinions would be recorded and passed on to the decision-makers who might or might not even read them.

The court pointed out what was obvious -- that this is not "consultation" and does not meet the standard set by the courts in numerous decisions regarding the duty of consultation and accommodation of the Indigenous peoples.

For its part, the Trudeau government treated its duty to consult and accommodate the Indigenous peoples and the responsibility of the National Energy Board to consider environmental impacts with utter contempt. It threw tens of thousands of pages of documents at the Indigenous peoples and demanded a response within weeks. It received but did not respond to their concerns. As well as adopting the process imposed by the Harper government to limit participation in the National Energy Board process, the government promised further review and appointed a panel to conduct the review. The panel produced a report that many people felt responded to their concerns, but barely three weeks after the report was released the government approved the TMX without responding to a single concern raised by the report. Even the government's own civil service told it that the approval process would not pass muster.

The cartel parties in power and in opposition are well aware of the significant legal precedents established through many court challenges launched by the Indigenous peoples in defence of their sovereignty and right to be. The Trudeau government approved the pipeline in violation of the law. Like the Harper government before it, whose approval of the Northern Gateway project was overturned, the Trudeau government uses police powers in the form of its ministerial prerogative to violate constitutional law, which cannot be changed through the use of arbitrary powers. Its attempt to declare decisions which favour private interests to be in the "national interest" were foiled. However, both the federal Trudeau government and the Alberta Notley governments have responded with statements that show an intent to carry on this fraud. Furthermore, as noted above, this decision has not affected the Liberals' purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.

Heartfelt congratulations to all who fought to get this approval overturned. Canadians are sure to keep fighting to hold this sanctimonious federal government to account and any other that bases itself on expediency and turning the assets of the people over to private interests. This Liberal government's corrupt practices to pay the rich are beyond the pale of what even any of its predecessors, Liberals and Conservatives, have managed to pull off to date. It is an indication of the stranglehold of the  private foreign interests on the country and the impotency of Canadian governments at any level to act independently. It is the working people with their Indigenous allies who are taking charge of nation-building. They will not let up the fight.

Vancouver gathering, August 30, 2018, after Federal Court of Appeal decision.

(Photos: UBCIC, M. Worthing, Greenpeace)

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New Memorial to Glorify Ontario's Integration
into U.S. Wars of Aggression

A statement issued on Labour Day by the Windsor Peace Coalition points out that "Along with being vehemently anti-worker and anti-union, the Ford government is setting itself up to be a champion of U.S.-led wars of aggression." On June 27, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that his government intends to construct a second monument on the grounds of Queen's Park to those who fought in Afghanistan. A statement issued by Ford's office refers to "the sacrifices our fellow Canadians made to protect our values and freedoms." Federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is reported to have commended Ford on the project. There is an Ontario veterans' memorial already on the Legislature grounds that commemorates those who served in all of Canada's military missions, including Afghanistan. This begs the question: why build another monument?

Ford said the new memorial's goal is to "send a clear message to future generations about the heroes of Afghanistan and the sacrifices they made on behalf of all Canadians, lest we forget."

The Windsor Peace Coalition points out that the phrase "Lest we forget," often cited in Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada, comes from a poem, written in 1897 by British author Rudyard Kipling, entitled "Recessional." The poem cites past military exploits of the British Empire in what are now Iraq and Lebanon, yearning for the British Empire to carry on its Dominion in the face of opposition from "lesser breeds" with "wild tongues," reference to the restless conquered peoples who would not accept their subjugation. Kipling wrote the poem "White Man's Burden" that same year, in which he referred to "your new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child."

The aim of building a second monument specifically to those who fought in the war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with remembering, the Windsor Peace Coalition points out: "It is an attempt to associate the Ford government with support for the military and U.S.-led wars of aggression. It is a signal that under this government the militarization of civilian life in Ontario will be stepped up, something which must be opposed."

The Windsor Peace Coalition decries the suggestion that such a monument reflects the values of the people of Ontario, especially its youth, who are not for war, and adds: "Trying to declare support for war as a Canadian value will not change this."

The Windsor Peace coalition can be reached at or on Facebook.

Ontario veteran's wall at Queen's Park, completed in 2006.

(Photos: TMLW)

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Demand to Stop the Ring of Fire Is Entirely Just

September 6, 2018 information picket demanding the Ring of Fire project be stopped.

The demand of the Anishinaabe people to Stop the Ring of Fire is entirely just.

The Anishinaabe people's land, Anishinaabe Aki, also known as Northern Ontario, has been subject to the depredation of the mining and forestry monopolies and the oligarchs who control them since the days of the Hudson's Bay Company. They have systematically exploited the resources of Anishinaabe Aki, extracting huge wealth for financiers in southern Canada and in the colonial and imperialist heartlands with little, if any, regard to the interests of the Anishinaabe people or to the land and the water.

The oligarchs and their mining companies are salivating at the prospect of ripping $60-100 billion worth of minerals from the Ring of Fire. Both Liberal and Conservative Ontario governments have seen the Ring of Fire as a bonanza to exploit to extricate themselves from their crisis.

The main issue with respect to the development of the Ring of Fire is Who Decides? The mining companies and the Ontario government want to decide all the main questions themselves and only allow the Anishinaabe people to have a consultative role on minor matters.

At the minimum, the Anishinaabe people need free, prior and informed consent to any development of the resources of the Ring of Fire. At the maximum, the Anishinaabe people need full decision-making powers in their traditional territories.

Unlike economic endeavours such as farming, fishing and forestry which, with planned husbandry, provide for a crop every year, and so can support generations, mining is only done once. Once metal is dug out of the ground, it is processed only insofar that its transportation becomes economically viable for the mining companies. Once it is exported to the industrial heartlands, that resource does not come back and that economic activity will not be repeated and support future generations.

It thus behooves the Anishinaabe people and the working people who also reside in this land of Anishinaabe Aki to make sure that the resources of the Ring of Fire are exploited in a manner that contributes to the economic and spiritual well-being of the Anishinaabe people. If the Ring of Fire is developed according to the wishes of the oligarchs and their mining companies, the interests of the Anishinaabe people and Mother Earth will be ignored. Whether it takes five years or five hundred years, it is important that any development of the Ring of Fire has the interests of the Anishinaabe people as the highest priority.

Chromium, like nickel, is a strategic war materiel vital to the manufacture of stainless steel. There is no commercially viable source of chromium at this time in the Americas and the U.S. war machine is reliant on Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and India for what it needs. The development of the Ring of Fire will provide the U.S. with a secure supply. We have a social responsibility to ensure that our resources are not used for war purposes but to the benefit of the material well-being of human beings. We should remember that World War I could not have been fought without Sudbury's nickel as Inco supplied both England and Germany with the nickel they needed for their dreadnoughts, artillery and tanks and other machines of mass death and destruction until the U.S. entered the war.

Mining, forestry and most industrial-type economic development in Anishinaabe Aki has not benefitted the Anishinaabe people. Early mining operations in Bruce Mines and Mica Bay denuded the vegetation, poisoned the air and waters and scared the animals away or worse. Things have not changed in nearly two centuries. Mercury still seeps into the English River in Grassy Narrows. Many other examples of the destruction of the environment and traditional Anishinaabe ways of life can be given. We need decision-making powers throughout our lands to ensure that economic development benefits us and integrates modern science and technology with our traditional ways.

I believe the working people of the industrial cities in Anishinaabe Aki also deserve decision-making power on developments within their communities. The mining oligarchs should not be allowed to establish metallurgical facilities that are potentially cancer-causing within a few hundred metres of an established community as they were seeking to do in Coniston, Greater Sudbury. I commend the Coniston and Greater Sudbury community for banding together, becoming active, and defeating this attempt to establish an industrial enterprise in a community without the consent of that community.

The key question in the development of the Ring of Fire is Who Decides? The mining oligarchs want a mining development on their terms and conditions with the Anishinaabe people and the working people who live in the industrial towns and cities throughout Anishinaabe Aki, bribed, coerced or intimidated into accepting the conditions of the mining oligarchs as the only way forward. This will not do. The Anishinaabe people, in conjunction with the working people of the industrial cities and towns, need the power to determine the type of economic development that will benefit them. We need decision-making power in our lands and territories. Until then, I say:

Stop the Ring of Fire!

(Photos: TMLW)

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Alberta's Thriving Dairy Industry Underscores
Need to Defend Supply Management Systems

Quebec and Ontario dairy farmers demonstrate on Parliament Hill, June 2, 2016, demanding
supply management be protected under any new trade deals Canada signs.

As has been the case for many years, reactionary forces in the U.S. and Canada are trying to dismantle Canada's supply management system, in part grovelling before Trump in an attempt to win his favour. This is an outright attack on Canadian farmers and workers which will have dire consequences for their way of making a living and the communities they provide with their products and services.

Many, many agricultural products fall under the supply management system in Canada. As one example, let us take Alberta's thriving dairy industry. In the early 1970s, dairy became the first commodity in Canada to operate a national supply management system, managed by the Canadian Dairy Commission. Farm organizations turned to provincial governments to create the actual marketing boards, such as Alberta Milk.

Provincially established in 2002, Alberta Milk represents Alberta's dairy producers. It is funded primarily by producers through mandatory membership assessments, which can only be changed when approved by a majority vote of licensed producers. The transportation pool is operated on a cost-recovery basis, with all producers sharing equally in the cost. Alberta Milk funds research, new initiatives, and nutrition education (e.g., in schools) and strives to provide dairy producers with accurate and timely information and feedback regarding the dairy industry. Other agricultural supply management systems operate in a similar manner.

Alberta Milk and Canada's other provincial agricultural commissions and marketing boards are producer-controlled organizations that developed to fulfill the needs of Canadian producers, and which render account to the actual producers as to the price that is put on the value they have produced. They oppose the dogma of the ruling circles that some mysterious "free market" can set "fair" prices, even when every sector of the economy is dominated by monopolies that manipulate prices to suit their narrow interests. Supply management systems have a long and commendable record of maintaining stable and consistent prices for producers, processors and consumers, ensuring a constant and certain supply of quality products and eliminating reliance on subsidies. For example, since February 2001, 100 per cent of Alberta's dairy producer revenues have been derived from the market.

Alberta is the fourth largest milk producer in Canada, producing 8.2 per cent of all milk. In Alberta, the dairy industry is estimated to support upwards of $2.5 billion in economic activity. With the value added from all other dairy processing and manufacturing, Alberta's dairy industry contributed a record $1.27 billion to the provincial economy in 2005 (latest available figures), making it the second largest segment of the province's food processing activity.

The agricultural products marketed through supply management systems play an important role in the lives of the people. For example, over 10,000 Albertans rely on milk for their livelihoods, including dairy producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, researchers, professors, consultants, government workers, equipment salespeople, milk truck drivers and many processing and retail workers.

Dairy farmers in Saguenay, Quebec, August 25, 2016, demand any new NAFTA agreement
protect supply management system.

In fact, the dairy sector is a dynamic and consistent contributor in every Canadian province. Dairy is one of the top two agricultural sectors in seven of 10 Canadian provinces. The sector's contribution to the gross domestic product was $19.9 billion in 2016. Total jobs have decreased at the farm level but have increased in value-added processing, remaining at around 220,936 jobs. In 2015, the Canadian dairy industry contributed $3.8 billion in local, provincial and federal taxes.

The damage caused by the elimination of Canada's agricultural supply management systems would likely mirror the damage caused by Harper's 2012 dismantling of the single desk Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). The remains of the CWB are now owned by a U.S. monopoly and serial human rights violator Saudi Arabia. As was the case before the 1935 creation of the CWB, agri-monopolies such as Richardson's and Glencore once again control the market for Canadian wheat. Like the destruction of the CWB, the destruction of Canada's supply management systems would clearly be another major blow against thinking, social consciousness, and human progress.

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For Your Information

Growth and Power of Oligopolies

The following excerpts from articles in the New York Times (NYT) reveal certain features of the growth of oligopolies and the dominance they exercise over the working class and economy. The dominance of the financial oligarchy over the economy finds its reflection in the destruction of politics as power is concentrated in the hands of the few and private interests are politicized and polities are destroyed. The disempowerment of the vast majority of the people is reaching unprecedented proportions.

From NYT 's "Apple's $1 Trillion Milestone Reflects Rise
of Powerful Megacompanies"

Apple on [August 2] reached a market value of more than $1 trillion, a milestone that highlights how a group of enormous companies has come to dominate the United States economy.  [...] Today, a smaller cluster of American companies commands a larger share of total corporate profits. ... The impact of this phenomenon has been clear in the stock markets, where a band of household-name companies -- led by Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google -- has fueled the nine-year bull market, the second-longest behind the rally that ended in 2000.

But the effects of the consolidation of corporate profits extend far beyond the stock markets -- and they are not entirely benign. Economists, for example, are starting to look into whether the rise of so-called superstar firms is contributing to the lacklustre wage growth, shrinking middle class, rising income inequality in the United States (and) the vast social and political influence wielded by these megacompanies. ...

In the past few decades, a profound shift has taken place in the distribution of corporate profits among American companies. In 1975, 109 companies collected half of the profits produced by all publicly traded companies. Today, those winnings are captured by just 30 companies, according to research by Kathleen M. Kahle, a University of Arizona finance professor, and René M. Stulz, an economist at Ohio State University.

On [July 31], Apple reported the latest in a string of strong quarterly earnings, with its profit increasing to $11.52 billion, up nearly a third from the same period a year earlier. ...

The difference between how much it costs American companies to make their products and how much they sell those products for -- a metric of the power that companies possess in their markets -- is at its highest level since at least 1950, according to a 2017 paper by two economists, Jan De Loecker of Princeton and Jan Eeckhout of University College London.

More than three-quarters of all American industries have grown more concentrated since 1980. [Scholars have linked corporate consolidation to rising income inequality.] A consensus has formed among economists that the trend toward corporate concentration -- in terms of the size of companies and their grasp on profits -- is real and may be long-lasting. "The number of papers that are being written on this from week to week is remarkable," said David Autor, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor who has studied the phenomenon.

The consolidation is especially pronounced in the technology sector, where a group of large, efficient companies now lord over the fastest-growing and most dynamic parts of the United States economy. When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, it quickly transformed the way society interacts with technology. More than 1.4 billion have been sold since.

Apple and Google combined now provide the software for 99 per cent of all smartphones. Facebook and Google take 59 cents of every dollar spent on online advertising in the United States. Amazon exerts utter dominance over online shopping and is getting bigger, fast, in areas like streaming of music and videos.

But the trend is not confined to technology.

Today, almost half of all the assets in the American financial system are controlled by five banks. In the late 1990s, the top five banks controlled a little more than one-fifth of the market. Over the past decade, six of the largest United States airlines merged into three. Four companies now control 98 per cent of the American wireless market, and that number could fall to three if T-Mobile and Sprint are allowed to merge.

Consolidation begets profits. "Whoever is left is more profitable and can generate higher returns to investors," said Professor Pelina Larkin of York University in Toronto, who has studied the impact of corporate consolidation on financial markets. ...

This year, five tech companies -- Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google's parent, Alphabet -- have delivered roughly half of the gains achieved by the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. Apple is the only company with a $1 trillion market value, but Amazon this year has been nipping at its heels. It is currently valued at more than $880 billion. ...

And in the labour market, scholars have linked corporate consolidation to rising income inequality and the declining share of the nation's wealth that goes to workers. The so-called labour share of the economy has been declining in the United States and other rich countries since the 1990s, coinciding with the trend toward corporate concentration. And that decline has been most pronounced in industries undergoing the greatest consolidation. ...

Other economists argue that with fewer companies in a given industry, there is simply less competition for workers and therefore little pressure to give raises to workers. That may be especially true in industries where skills are highly specialized, because it is harder for workers to look elsewhere for better pay. Recent research has highlighted examples of companies colluding to keep wages low by agreeing not to poach each other's workers and by inserting provisions into workers' contracts that bar them from joining competitors.

Some on the left take the critique a step further, arguing that greater corporate power translates into weaker antitrust enforcement, looser limits on campaign contributions and declining rates of unionization, which collectively make it easier for big companies to tilt the economy in their favour. Companies, in this view, are not just reaping bigger profits than they were in the past, but they are also feeling less pressure to share the spoils with workers.

From NYT 's "Paycheques Lag as Profits Soar,
and Prices Erode Wage Gains"

Since the century's start, labour's share of the nation's income has sunk to the lowest levels in decades.

In 2000, when the jobless rate last fell below four per cent, corporations pulled in 8.3 per cent of the nation's total income in the form of profits; while wages and salaries across the entire work force accounted for roughly 66 per cent.

Now, the jobless rate is again fluttering below 4 per cent. But corporate profits account for 13.2 per cent of the nation's income. Workers' compensation has fallen to 62 per cent.

If workers' share had not shrunk, they would have had an additional $532 billion or about $3,400 each, said Jared Bernstein, an economic adviser to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ...

Workers' paycheques account for much less of the nation's total income since the last recession, and the profits of businesses account for more.

  From NYT 's "Are Superstar Firms and Amazon Effects
Reshaping the Economy?"

Two of the most important economic facts of the last few decades are that more industries are being dominated by a handful of extraordinarily successful companies and that wages, inflation and growth have remained stubbornly low. ...

Mainstream economists are discussing questions like whether "monopsony" -- the outsize power of a few consolidated employers[1] -- is part of the problem of low wage growth. They are looking at whether the "superstar firms" that dominate many leading industries are responsible for sluggish investment spending. And they're exploring whether there is an "Amazon Effect" in which fast-changing pricing algorithms by the online retailer and its rivals mean bigger swings in inflation. ...

At an annual symposium in the Grand Tetons (Wyoming), leaders of the Federal Reserve and other central banks discussed whether corporate consolidation might have broad implications for economic policy.

"A few years ago, questions of monopoly power were studied by specialists in a very technical way, without linking them to the broader issues that animate economic policy," said Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. ... "In the last few years, there's been an explosion of research that breaks down those walls."

Central bankers tend not to chase the latest research fads, as Mr. Furman put it. But they, too, are wrestling more intensely with the possibility that the details of how companies compete and exert power matter a great deal for the overall well-being of the economy.

While these topics more commonly show up in debates around antitrust policy or how the labour market is regulated, it may have implications for the work of central banks as well. For example, if concentrated corporate power is depressing wage growth. ...

Esther George, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the host of the conference, has been intrigued by the weak lending to small and midsize businesses in recent years, even amid an economic recovery. She and her staff have explored whether the increasing concentration of the banking industry among a handful of giants might be a cause. ...

Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist, argued that monopsony power is most likely part of the apparent puzzle of why wage growth is low. By his estimates, wages should be rising 1 to 1.5 percentage points faster than they are, given recent inflation levels and the unemployment rate.

When workers have few potential employers to choose from, he said, they may have less ability to demand higher pay, and it becomes easier for employers to collude to restrict pay, whether through explicit back-room deals or more subtle signalling. ...

Another paper, by the Harvard economist Alberto Cavallo, presents evidence that the algorithms used by Amazon and other online retailers, with their constantly adjusting prices, may mean greater fluctuations in overall inflation in the event of swings in currency values or other shocks. ...

Mr. Cavallo wrote, "Fuel prices, exchange-rate fluctuations or any other force affecting costs that may enter the pricing algorithms used by these firms are more likely to have a faster and larger impact on retail prices than in the past."

"Wage stagnation is not a puzzle," said Marshall Steinbaum, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, who spoke on a panel organized by the activist group Fed Up outside the lodge where the Federal Reserve symposium later took place. "Cutting-edge research tells us exactly what's going on, and yet the Fed seems to be considering this for the first time."


1. Definition of monopsony according to Investopedia:

What is a "Monopsony"?

A monopsony, sometimes referred to as a buyer's monopoly, is a market condition similar to a monopoly. However, in a monopsony, a large buyer, not a seller, controls a large proportion of the market and drives prices down. A monopsony occurs when a single firm has market power through its factors of production. The firm is the sole purchaser for multiple sellers and drives down the price of the seller's products or services according to the amount or quantity that it demands.

In situations where monopsonies occur, sellers often engage in price wars to entice the single buyer's business, effectively driving down the price and increasing the quantity. Sellers that get caught in a monopsony can find themselves in a race to the bottom and losing any power they previously had over supply and demand.

For example, some economists have accused Ernest and Julio Gallo -- a conglomerate of wineries and wine producers -- of being a monopsony. The company is so large and has so much buying power over grape growers that sellers have no choice but to agree to the company's terms.

Examples of a Monopsony

Monopsonies take many different forms, but they most commonly occur when a single employer controls an entire labour market. When this happens, the sellers, in this case the potential employees (who sell their capacity to work), compete for the few jobs available by accepting lower wages, which drives down employee costs for the business.

The technology industry is an example of this type of monopsony. With only a few large tech companies in the market requiring engineers, major players such as Cisco and Oracle have been accused of collusion and choosing not to compete with each other in terms of the wages they offer for technical positions. This suppresses wages so that the major tech companies realize lower operating costs and higher profits.

[The manipulation of market prices arises from the power of the oligopolies to determine those prices. In this situation, the market prices may deviate from their prices of production. As the economy is an objective thing, any deviation in market prices from their prices of production to favour the narrow private interests of certain oligopolies has far-reaching negative consequences and becomes a factor leading to economic crises. The objective value the oligopolies demand in market prices according to their own private interests must come from somewhere in the economy to the detriment of the whole and particular sectors, such as in the example of Gallo Winery, damaging those forced to sell their product to Gallo at market prices possibly below their prices of production. – TML Weekly Ed. Note.]

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Opposition to the Anti-Social Offensive

Calgary Activists Organize in Response
to Greyhound Shutdown

A group of Calgary activists have organized themselves as Prairies for Public Buses in order to mobilize people to take up the issue of the imminent shutdown of a number of Greyhound Canada bus routes. To kick things off, Prairies for Public Buses held a lively rally and discussion the afternoon of September 3 at McDougall Centre in Calgary. During the successful action, participants took a unified stand against depriving Canadians of essential national and regional bus services. Almost all the participants gave their views during the discussion, defending the right of all Canadians to affordable, safe bus service.

Greyhound, which is owned by a huge UK transport monopoly named FirstGroup, announced on July 9 that its arbitrary shutdown would include all bus routes in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and in Northern Ontario west of Sudbury, and all but one in British Columbia. The routes are being shut down because, according to Greyhound, they are no longer profitable. That is the only basis for the decision. If the company has its way, bus operations on those routes will cease on October 31 and 415 workers will lose their jobs.

Public opposition to the July 9 Greyhound announcement was swift. Many pointed out that rural areas will lose a very important low-priced transportation service affecting seniors, students, the poor, and people with medical issues. Others highlighted the reality that a bus shutdown will further endanger Indigenous women and girls living in remote areas thereby depriving them of safe, reliable transportation to medical appointments and, if living outside their communities, to return home for funerals and other important matters. The whole situation highlights the fact that private business decisions that affect the public interest must not be made unilaterally but must be brought under popular political control.

On another front, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) held a press conference in Ottawa on August 9. The Canadian president of ATU asserted that the shutdown was "catastrophic" for about two million riders and suggested that ten thousand daily riders depend on Greyhound. He pointed out that finding "alternative transport" could be dangerous, giving the example of the numerous Indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered on the "Highway of Tears" between Prince George and Prince Rupert, BC. He called for immediate government action and an opportunity to dialogue with the Minister of Transportation. Unfortunately, as most workers are aware, the federal and provincial governments generally take the attitude that decisions made by foreign monopolies to wreck the economy are of little concern because they are private business matters and hence can only be "solved" by the private sector.

Meanwhile, in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, small carriers are setting up routes to fill the gap left by Greyhound. Saskatchewan-based Rider Express is expanding with a Saskatoon-Edmonton route and a Regina-Calgary route. Northern Express Bus Line is expanding its offerings in northern Alberta between Grande Prairie and Edmonton. Red Arrow is also expanding to include a Camrose-Edmonton route. The problem is that all these moves are individual business decisions based on what routes are the most profitable for the carriers involved. None of the private companies are dealing with the overall issue of planning and implementing a comprehensive system of accessible, affordable, safe bus routes that meet the needs of all Canadians.

A whole month after the Greyhound announcement, federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau on August 9 finally announced that his department is working "as quickly as possible" to gather data about the affected routes and will make a decision about further action in consultation with the federal and provincial deputy ministers of transport early in September. In other words, the Greyhound matter will be handled in the usual manner. First it is ignored, now, due to public pressure, arbitrary decisions will be made from the top to silence dissent, while the people who are most affected will be excluded from any meaningful role in the consultation.

The foreign owners of Greyhound have decided to end bus service in western Canada to serve their own narrow private interests. No alternative that would serve the local and broader Canadian economy and public interests has been presented for discussion and action. That is why the only real alternative is that the people must take matters into their own hands. Reducing the working people to the role of spectators to the wrecking of their lives, industries and nation is not an option. It is up to the working class through its own organizations and media to rally the people to engage in action with analysis, in order to change the transportation situation in favour of the people. That is exactly what those who have rallied around Prairies for Public Buses are now attempting to do.

(Photos: TMLW)

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Information Picket to Stop the Ring of Fire!

An information picket was held by about two dozen mostly Indigenous people at the entrance to Laurentian University on Ramsey Lake Road on the shores of Lake Bitimagamasing (Ramsey) on Thursday, September 6 from 9:00 am to noon. The aim was to make known their demand to Stop the Ring of Fire and have Anishinabek rights recognized. At 11:00 am, they held a ceremonial three-minute round dance at the intersection of Ramsey Lake and University Roads. One of the organizers, Bruce McComber, sang a water song taught to him by his auntie.

The Ring of Fire is a mega mining project/mineral deposit in what settler governments and institutions call Northern Ontario, the organizers explain. Complementary projects include the chromite smelter on Anishinabek lands that Noront is promoting.

The Facebook post on the event quotes Former MP Tony Clement pointing out that the potential impact of the Ring of Fire "is very much akin to what the oil sands is to Alberta and Canada today."

The post continues:

"Do you want a project akin to the oil sands in your homelands? We definitely don't! This is an event for anyone who loves clean air and water, wild lands, happy animal families, Anishinabek sovereignty, Indigenous rights, and life! Most people who fit in that category can agree we live in an era of exponentially increasing environmental destruction and degradation. Most of those same people would probably agree that we also live in an era of unprecedented political/corporate corruption.

"From an 'Indigenous' or Anishinabek perspective, we have never had our true rights recognized. Our right to either explicitly decide and choose NO to a proposed mining development or town/city development in our territories occupied by the Canadian state has never been honoured. We are never allowed to own the primary companies, or the mines, or even most of the means of production. Mining companies continue to destroy our homelands, steal our wealth, and leave us with scraps we are told to be grateful for.

"Chief Pontiac once said, 'They came with a bible and religion and stole our land and now tell us we should be thankful to the Lord for being saved.' Thank goodness Canada saved us historically (Indian Residential Schools, '60s Scoop, etc.) and is saving us today by starving (chronically underfunding/Millennial scoop etc.) us out of the last of our last homelands and letting us be wage slaves in their crony capitalist towns, cities, and country! Even Canadian subjects/citizens get ripped off and abused daily by Canadian systems. The more Indigenous rights/systems are accepted and applied, the better it is for all people calling these lands home.

"We are a group of people committed to helping the larger network of allies around Anishinaabe Aki and Turtle Island who want corrupt governments and corporations to face the consequences for the irresponsible and seemingly deliberate destruction and abuse of our planet and its peoples. We want all mining in the Ring of Fire area to STOP! We hope you can join us in friendship, comraderie, and respect as we pray for and celebrate water at Lake Bitimagamasing (Ramsey)."

(Photos: TMLW)

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Fight to Restore Ontario's Basic Income Pilot Project

Lindsay rally, August 7, 2018.

Concerted action has been taken to oppose the Ford government's decision to cancel the Basic Income Pilot Project. The previous Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne initiated the pilot project in April 2017. The pilot project, scheduled to last three years, was to involve 4,000 people who earned less than $34,000 a year in the Hamilton/Brantford area, Brant County, Lindsay and Thunder Bay. Single recipients were eligible to receive up to $17,000 per year and couples could receive up to $24,000 per year, minus 50 per cent of any earnings that year. Those with disabilities could receive up to an additional $6,000 annually. Only 2,000 of the successful recipients would actually receive the increased funding. The remaining 2,000 were a control group who would be compensated for filling out surveys related to mental health, housing stability and job training. Researchers from St. Michael's Hospital and McMaster University would study the results. The project was budgeted at $150 million for the three years.

Lindsay was selected as a testing "saturation site." Almost everyone living in poverty would be part of the project with half of the nearly 2,000 participants receiving the funds and half being the control group. On learning of the cancellation of the project, over 100 residents protested at Lindsay's Victoria Park on August 7. On August 27, four of the Lindsay recipients filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the Ontario Government for breach of contract and negligence for cancelling the pilot project. If the lawsuit is accepted by the courts, other recipients will be invited to join.

Protest in Cobourg, August 10, 2018, against cancelling of Basic Income Pilot Project.

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and Mission Services, which pressed hard to force the Wynne government to initiate the pilot project, went into action as soon as the PC government cancelled it, mobilizing its members and concerned citizens and residents to contact their members of the Legislature, sign a petition, talk to neighbours and contact the media. They took their concerns to City Hall on August 15. They are exploring legal options and co-ordinating actions with anti-poverty groups in Brantford, Lindsay and Thunder Bay.

On August 17, Hamilton City Council unanimously approved a motion denouncing the cancellation of the project.

Hamilton photographer Jessie Golem has launched a photographic series called "Humans of Basic Income," showing the human side of the decision to cancel the basic income pilot project.

Hamilton participants in the Basic Income Pilot Project speak at recent forum at
McMaster University.

On September 5, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, Brantford Mayor Chris Friel, City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham, and Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs issued a joint letter asking the federal government to take over the pilot project. While the project itself fell far short of guaranteeing the right to live at society's standard of living, anti-poverty activists, workers, and trade unionists fought for years to gain this small advance in their battle to end poverty. Their fight to force the Ford government to reinstate the project is a just fight that deserves the support of all.

(With files from Hamilton Spectator, kawarthaNOW, Kawartha Lakes This Week, Photos: Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, J. Draper)

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Supreme Electoral Court Denies Lula's Right
to Be a Presidential Candidate

In the early morning hours of September 1, justices of Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court handed down a 6-1 decision to deny Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva the right to be a candidate for the presidency of Brazil in the October 7 election. The Workers' Party was given ten days to either replace Lula as their candidate or file an appeal of the decision. This week, Lula's defence filed two appeals against the decision -- one to the Supreme Electoral Court and another asking the Federal Supreme Court to overturn the decision. The following bulletin was issued the day the decision to deny Lula the right to be a candidate was handed down.


1. Faced with the violence committed by the Supreme Electoral Court against the rights of Lula and the people who want to elect him President of the Republic, the Workers' Party [PT] announced, in a note, that it will continue fighting by all means to guarantee his candidacy in the October 7 elections. The PT says that the idea that the Ficha Limpa (Clean Slate) law can bar the candidacy of people who have been denied their second appeals, as in the unjust situation faced by Lula, is incorrect. Article 26-C of the law calls for the suspension of ineligibility while there are still appeals pending in higher courts.

2. The Brazilian judiciary, in this case the Supreme Electoral Court, has shown, once again, that it is capable of breaking all of its time records when dealing with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The disqualification of Lula's candidacy -- trampling protocols, deadlines and even a decision by the UN Human Rights Committee in defence of Lula's right to run for office -- was passed in less than 24 hours from the start of the time period for rulings on party tickets.

3. The same Electoral Court Justice who issued the ruling disqualifying Lula's candidacy recognized the right to run for office guaranteed in the Electoral and Ficha Limpa (Clean Slate) laws for 145 mayoral candidates in the last round of municipal elections. Unlike Lula, they were allowed to run for office sub judice with appeals still underway. Ninety-eight of them were elected and are currently governing their cities.

4. Ex-President Lula sent a letter to the people of Pernambuco state, which was delivered by his Vice Presidential running mate, Fernando Haddad. One passage reads, "The moment we are living in is not easy. Judicial persecution by a few who think they can bar the people from expressing themselves are keeping me imprisoned in Curitiba."

5. On the political program that was broadcast today on all TV stations for the People Happy Again Coalition [Workers' Party, Communist Party of Brazil and Republican Party of Social Order], Lula, in his first appearance as candidate, took a jab at the judiciary. "We are in a situation in which an innocent man is being condemned to prevent an innocent man from returning to make the best government for Brazil. I know that I will go down in history as the President who provided the most social inclusion in this country, who built the most universities, who built the most technical schools, and who put the most young people in university in the history of the nation. I know how I will go down in history, but I don't know if they will be remembered as judges or as torturers," said the ex-President, who is leading in the polls from all polling agencies.

6. The Unified Workers Central (Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT)) released a note repudiating the Supreme Electoral Court's ruling to bar Lula's candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic. The CUT considers the ruling to be one more "arbitrary act made by a judicial authority, which has been characterized by bias and disrespect for the fundamental rights consecrated in the Brazilian Constitution as well as the UN Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Brazil is a signatory.

7. The Landless Rural Workers' Movement (Movimento de Trabalhadores sem Terra) also repudiated the Supreme Electoral Court's ruling. The organization criticized the Supreme Electoral Court's disrespect of the Electoral Law and the UN Human Rights Committee.

8. Hours after the Supreme Electoral Court's arbitrary decision, Lulaço demonstrations sprang up in cities and towns across the country -- demonstrations in public areas with thousands of people demanding freedom for Lula. In Fortaleza, for example, there was a classic "Olê Olê Olã, Lula lá, Lula lá" demonstration in the Iguatemi Shopping Mall, which is a popular spot with the middle class. There were also Lulaço demonstrations in the Vila Rubim Municipal Market in Vitória, Espirito Santo, as well as in locations in other cities such as Manaus, Curitiba, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro.

(Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, September 1, 2018. Edited slightly for style by TML. Photo: People's Committee in Defence of Lula and Democracy, PT)

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What the Empire Wants in Brazil

Rally condemns the Electoral Court's removal of Lula as candidate, September 1, 2018.

The electoral disqualification of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the latest chapter (although not the conclusion) in the dirty political campaign against the Brazilian left, initiated with the spurious parliamentary-media-judicial process that removed Dilma Rousseff from the presidency.

The session of the Supreme Electoral Court, which has almost definitively removed Lula from the electoral contest, took place on the same date that the coup against Dilma was consummated two years ago.

Premeditation and Treachery?

As was the case then, the manoeuvres are based on supposed interests and fabricated responsibilities. "There is no justice for those who disagree with the choir of the elites," Brazilian journalist Fernando Brito said in an article in the digital newspaper Brasil 247.

The goal is to prevent at all costs a new popular government in the South American giant that would serve as an obstacle to the U.S. empire's pretension to dominate and the aims of the local oligarchy to appropriate the wealth.

"Now they are preventing Lula from being a presidential candidate because they know he would win the October elections by a wide margin. In Brazil, the media, in coordination with the judiciary, have destroyed the Rule of Law," Argentine President Cristina Fernández wrote on her Twitter account.

Where Is Washington's Hand?

The story could be a long one, but let us focus the analysis on the most recent events. Edward Snowden's revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States, which exposed a vast program of espionage against Brazil, are barely remembered.

According to U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, in several articles he wrote on the subject for the Brazilian newspaper O Globo in July 2013, Brazil was the main target of the NSA's electronic espionage program in Latin America, which collected information from billions of electronic messages and telephone calls that passed through Brazil.

Inside the leaked documents was the question: "Brazil, ally, enemy or problem?" and Washington's concern about the impact that Brazil's economic growth would have on the international political scene was revealed.

The NSA had tapped four telephones in the office of President Dilma Rouseff and intercepted the leader's phone calls, e-mail and text messages as well as the communications of her personal advisor and secretary. Even the presidential plane was monitored. Few foreign leaders were under such extensive scrutiny by the empire.

U.S. espionage followed all the communications of at least 29 members of the Brazilian government, including the head of the government house, Antonio Palocci, who was later one of the stars of the betrayals rewarded by the Brazilian justice system. Did the revelations that led him to surrender come from that?

The NSA also spied on all communications of the Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras, which had been strengthened during the Lula and Dilma administrations. The former president of the company, Antonio Menezes, warned at that time of the "significant risk" posed to free competition and to Petrobras if its development and methods were known in other countries, because it would be a "marked target" on international petroleum's strategic game board.

But beyond economic espionage, would key elements not have emerged from that snooping, later to be used by the judiciary to unleash the process that began precisely one year after Snowden's revelations, with an extensive investigation against Petrobras and its contracts, leading to Lula's disqualification? And were the United States and its oil companies not interested in dismantling the powerful Petrobras and the sovereign oil policy that the Workers' Party (PT) governments promoted?

The use of the judiciary, as is already known, is at the moment Washington's favorite mechanism for attacking leftist leaders in our region. They have applied this strategy against Dilma, Cristina, Correa and Lugo. Faced with its failure to impose their pawns through voting, the United States resorts to other mechanisms to achieve its objectives.

This is no coincidence, but rather a strategy of penetrating the judicial entities of the region, under the guise of tackling corruption. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Justice, in coordination with universities, foundations and NGOs in that country, have developed a training program for Latin American judicial cadres through scholarships, seminars, workshops and other programs.

A classified 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by Snowden and revealed by Wikileaks, assesses a regional conference that year held in Rio de Janeiro to train police and judicial forces in crimes related to illicit financing. The report states: "The investigation and conviction of cases of money laundering, includes cooperation between countries, confiscation of assets, methods to extract evidence, and the negotiation of charges." It also points out: "The Brazilian judiciary is very interested in fighting terrorism, but needs the tools and training to use force effectively (...) specialized judges will direct the most significant corruption cases that implicate government individuals."

One of the best students of that seminar was the current Curitiba judge Sergio Moro, the champion of the relentless persecution of Lula. Moro is a direct product of the imperialist training plan: a graduate of a course at Harvard on transnational corruption, a participant in events organized by the U.S. Department of Justice and a frequent traveller to that country.

"Moro was trained in the State Department. He constantly travels to the U.S. and knows how to win Washington's approval," the renowned Brazilian diplomat Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães Neto said in an interview.

It is significant that while the investigation of Petrobras and Odebrecht, with its saga of leniency deals, began in the state of Curitiba, it was the U.S. Justice Department that uncovered the keys to Odebrecht's illicit operations in Brazil and nine other Latin American countries, and imposed a fine of $3.5 billion dollars on the Brazilian business giant. Why is the United States intervening so decisively in a case that the Brazilian justice system is taking on?

The Returns

Aerial photo of Alcântara Aerospace Base.

The concerted onslaught of the media, the judiciary, the oligarchy and the Empire against Lula and his political forces, comes at a significant social cost, but yields juicy fruit for its sponsors.

Doors have been opened to Washington and its allies that were impossible to pass through under a Lula government. They have managed to set up a 16-year agreement for a U.S. presence at the Alcântara Aerospace Base, which they left in 2003 during Lula's first government over concerns of national sovereignty. That was the most important goal that General Mattis, head of the Pentagon, had on his agenda during his recent visit to Brazil.

The Alcântara base, where the Brazilian Space Agency operates, is the only space rocket launch infrastructure under the control of a sovereign country in South America. Specialists consider the site to have enormous advantages for space launches due to its proximity to the equator, where the speed of the earth's rotation is greater and the launches can be done more efficiently, using less fuel and with greater load capacity.

But others emphasize that the real U.S. objective is a military one, because of the possibility of an ideal space for troops for political-military operations in South America and Africa, given Alcântara's location in northeast Brazil, across from West Africa. It would also be a strategic location for its conflicts with Russia and China.

For the former Brazilian Minister of Strategic Affairs (2009-2010), Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães, "the main U.S. objective is to have a military base in Brazilian territory where they can exercise their sovereignty, beyond the reach of Brazil's laws and surveillance, including the military, and where they can carry out all kinds of military operations." In his estimation, the U.S. use of Alcántara is the "most flagrant case of the surrender of sovereignty in Brazil's history."

It is also remarkable that in 2017, for the first time in history, joint military operations between the United States, Brazil, Peru and Colombia took place in the Amazon, a region rich in resources, biodiversity and water, control of which Washington covets.

For renowned Mexican researcher Ana Esther Ceceña, holding exercises, such as AmazonLog2017, makes it possible to "put in place war supplies that facilitate discreet territorial incursions, rapid response operations, contemplating the intervention of special forces -- whether U.S., local or private -- or that permit massive, much more visible or ostentatious operations such as those in response to supposed humanitarian dangers, very likely in Venezuela."

The leading Brazilian defence company, Embraer, closed a deal in April 2017 with the U.S. company Rockwell Collins in the aerospace sector and the U.S. Army's Engineering, Development and Research Command opened an office in São Paulo to deepen relations in research and innovation in defence technologies.

Added to the U.S. military's assault on Brazil, is that of large U.S. firms. In July, Boeing's purchase of 80 per cent of Embraer's well-known middle distance civil aircraft division was finalized. The Brazilian company, which has produced commercial, military and executive aircraft since 1969 and was Brazil's lead exporter between 1991 and 2001, and the number three aircraft manufacturer in the world was a kind of national symbol, so there were major demonstrations of indignation in Brazil over this transaction. "It is a scandal because Embraer is a symbol of Brazilian technological capacity, something like Petrobras but, in this case, a much more sophisticated industry," said analyst Mario Osava.

Embraer, together with Canada's Bombardier, is the second largest manufacturer of 100-seat regional aircraft, a sector where Boeing did not operate. It therefore has an interest in the fast-growing regional aircraft market where it must compete with newcomers such as Russia's United Aircraft, Japan's Mitsubishi and China's Começ.

Boeing's smaller aircraft, the 737-700 -- with more than 140 seats -- "is unable to take advantage of the growth in demand from low-cost airlines or the increase in the number of smaller airports that do not receive large aircraft," the business newspaper Valor pointed out.

As former President Dilma Rousseff noted recently in a round table, it was the delivery of one of Brazil's most valued assets and an industrial icon to a competitor.

Opening the Way for Transnational Takeover of Brazil’s Oil

The huge pre-salt oil reserves, the largest in the world, reserved by the PT government for Petrobras to exploit, has been opened up to foreign investment by Temer's government. It was one of the first steps taken after the coup d'état against Dilma. The decision is to remove some of Petrobras' important functions and eliminate it as the principal operator in the pre-salt basin so that now large transnational companies can manage the country's natural resources.

A record 16 oil firms, including Royal Dutch Shell PLC, U.S. Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp,  Norwegian Statoil and French Total SA registered for the auction last June of blocks on the high seas where the equivalent of billions of barrels of crude oil are trapped under a thick layer of salt beneath the ocean floor.

Temer has also announced major privatizations in 34 strategic sectors of the country, in an accelerated race of neo-liberal restoration applauded by the perverse local oligarchy and transnational powers. Fifty-seven public companies, airports and ports are listed as being under negotiation or already sold.

"The coup has taken Brazil off course. They are selling off the public patrimony [with privatizations], they have decreed the end of workers' rights [Temer's labour and pension reforms] and they have cut investments in health and education for the next 20 years [by reforming the Constitution to impose a spending ceiling]. All that done in a brazen way. To eliminate the harmful effects of this coup, we have to go to the polls," Dilma told Spanish newspaper El País a few days ago.

"When they have nothing else to sell, they are going to sell their souls to the devil," Lula told Brazilian newspaper O Globo a few months ago. Can you understand why the ex-union leader and flag bearer of the PT cannot be returned to power in Brazil?


- Espionaje de EE UU a Brasil marcó la visita de Rousseff a Washington

- Temer anuncia privatización de 34 empresas de Brasil

- Gobierno de Temer privatizará 57 empresas estatales de Brasil

- Wikileaks: EUA creó cursos para entrenar Moro y juristas

- Brazil: Illicit Finance Conference Uses the "T" Word, Successfully

- Las coimas Odebrecht y la "justicia" made in América

- Odebrecht: cinco claves para entender las declaraciones del FBI

- Sergio Moro, un juez adiestrado por EE UU

- El Comando Sur de EE UU y la ocupación silenciosa del Amazonas 

- Brasil -- Subastas petroleras en 2018-2019

(Cubadebate. Translated from the original Spanish by TML. Photos: Brazil de Fato, Internationalist 360)

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Important Anniversary

70th Anniversary of Founding of DPRK --
Standing for Peace and Justice for Seven Decades

National seminar, September 6, 2018, part of celebrations leading up to the DPRK's
70th anniversary.

September 9 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which is being celebrated with revolutionary enthusiasm by the Korean people in the DPRK, all the patriotic forces in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the diaspora, as well as peace and justice-loving people in Canada and the world. The 70th anniversary is taking place in the context of the drive of the Korean people to secure peace for their nation and put an end to more than 70 years of U.S.-engineered division, tension and strife and to move forward as a united, peaceful and prosperous country.

This year, on the initiative of Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, he and President Moon Jae-in of the ROK on April 27 signed the Panmunjom Declaration. On June 12 in Singapore, Chairman Kim of the DPRK and U.S. President Donald Trump held the first DPRK-U.S. Summit, a historic meeting where both leaders pledged to put the past behind and move forward in a new relationship. They pledged to establish peaceful relations that would open the prospects for establishing a permanent peace in Korea, including denuclearizing the entire Korean Peninsula. It was the principled and selfless efforts of the DPRK and its leadership that enabled the Singapore Summit to be held in the wake of several threats by President Trump to cancel. Its holding reflects the bold leadership and commitment of Chairman Kim to find a peaceful political resolution to the 73-year crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

National book exhibition began September 7, 2018, as part of 70th anniversary celebrations.

The founding of the DPRK on September 9, 1948 was an event of great historical significance for the Korean people and the peoples of the world. After decades of struggle against the Japanese occupiers (1910-1945), the Korean people, under the leadership of General Kim Il Sung and the Korean People's Army, liberated their nation on August 15, 1945, and began building a modern democratic state from the ruins of war. Across the country, People's Committees were formed and in August-September 1945 the Korean people elected their representatives to a People's Assembly, which proclaimed the "Korean People's Republic" on September 6, 1945.

However, the Republic was short-lived because the U.S. insisted on fulfilling its ambition to establish a foothold in north-east Asia on the Korean Peninsula after the defeat of Japan, even though the Korean people freed themselves from the Japanese occupiers without the presence of any U.S. troops. The U.S. included a term in the surrender signed by Japan on September 2, 1945, that the Korean Peninsula would be divided along the 38th parallel and that the defeated Japanese military in Korea would surrender to U.S. forces in the south, not to the Korean liberators. On September 8, two days after the declaration of the Republic, thousands of U.S. troops began to arrive in Korea. The new occupiers declared the Korean People's Republic illegal and began to crush the People's Committees by force. In the words of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, Korea was to be an "anti-communist bulwark."

Over the next three bloody years, through a campaign of mass terror and brutality, the illegal U.S. Military Government and their local agents criminalized, rounded up, tortured, imprisoned and murdered hundreds of thousands of suspected communists, "leftists" and other patriots who refused to submit to U.S. dictate.

The U.S. organized a fraudulent "free and fair" election in May 1948, which was boycotted en masse by the Korean people. The U.S. installed Syngman Rhee as President of the Republic of Korea by force of arms in July 1948.

In response to this crime by the U.S. against the Korean people and their drive for independence and reunification, Kim Il Sung declared the founding of the DPRK on September 9, 1948 in Pyongyang at a jubilant rally of more than one million people.

In order to capture the Korean Peninsula and use it to threaten aggression against China and the Soviet Union, in 1950 the U.S. instigated the Korean War and from 1950 to 1953 more than four million Korean civilians were killed and massive destruction caused to the economy and infrastructure. The United States and 17 other countries, including Canada, took part in this war of aggression against the Korean nation under the fig-leaf of the UN flag on the false pretext of collective self-defence against an attack by the north on the south.

The U.S. aggressors committed crimes against the peace, crimes against humanity and untold war crimes, including massacres of civilians, as well as the use of biological and chemical weapons and the fire-bombing of various northern cities, which resulted in many civilian casualties. The DPRK, though still in its infancy, with the help of the Chinese Volunteer Forces, organized the Korean people and defeated the U.S. in the war and forced it to sign the Korean Armistice Agreement, thus defending the sovereignty and honour of the Korean nation.

DPRK President Kim Il Sung said at the time: "The victory of our people in the Korean War was a victory of the revolutionary people over the imperialist forces, a victory of the revolutionary army over the aggressive forces of imperialism. It proved that the people who rise up for freedom, independence and progress, taking their destiny into their own hands under the leadership of a Marxist-Leninist party, will never be conquered by any imperialist forces of aggression. It also exposed the vulnerability and corruptness of U.S. imperialism, demonstrating to the oppressed nations of the world that U.S. imperialism is by no means an unconquerable enemy and that they too can definitely fight and defeat it."

It is important to point out that the DPRK has committed no act of aggression against another country. The Korean War, which engulfed the entire Korean Peninsula, was provoked by the U.S. and its puppet regime in the south. Standing firm against the might of the U.S. military empire -- known for its use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons worldwide -- the DPRK affirms not only its right to be, but the right of all nations and peoples to self-determination and peace. For this internationalist spirit, the DPRK is justly admired by all justice and peace-loving people in Canada and the world.

Contributions to the Fight for Korean Reunification

United Korean team on the podium at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian games.

From the end of the Second World War to the present, the DPRK and its leadership have been instrumental in all proposals for the independent, peaceful reunification of Korea under the banner "By the Nation Itself." This includes the proposal made by the DPRK's founder, Kim Il Sung on July 4, 1972, which states that the three principles of Korean reunification are: "realizing independent reunification without outside interference, achieving great national unity by transcending differences in ideas, ideals and systems, and reunifying the divided land by peaceful means without recourse to armed force."

In 1980, President Kim Il Sung proposed that the DPRK and ROK become a "confederal state republic through the establishment of a unified national government on condition that the north and the south recognize and tolerate each other's ideas and social system, a government in which the two sides are represented on an equal footing and under which they exercise regional autonomy respectively with equal rights and duties." He proposed that the name of this confederal state be the Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo.

On April 6, 1993, Kim Il Sung published the 10-Point Programme of the Great Unity of the Whole Nation for the Reunification of the Country. This further elaborated the principles to achieve national reunification and set up a confederation where the systems in the DPRK and ROK could co-exist and work for a neutral state in the interests of the Korean people as an intermediate step towards complete reunification as desired by the Korean people.

These and other efforts by Kim Il Sung, and the efforts of his successor Kim Jong Il, led to the signing of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration in 2000, the October 4, 2007 Agreement and, on the initiative of Chairman Kim Jong Un, the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration. These historic agreements have inspired and given impetus to the Korean people's striving for peaceful independent reunification and are now irrevocably part of the political consciousness of the Korean people.

Today, despite the unjust and illegal U.S.-inspired political and economic sanctions passed by the UN Security Council against the DPRK, in addition to those imposed by the U.S., Canada and other imperialist states, the DPRK stands tall and continues to march forward. Under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, the DPRK continues to strengthen its independent and self-reliant economy and is building and extending its fraternal relations with other countries on the basis of a common cause of independence and peace for itself and all nations and peoples. It continues to exercise high political culture, implementing the terms of the DPRK-U.S. Summit and calling on the U.S. to keep its commitments as well.

(Photos: Naenara, Hankoreh)

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