November 14, 2020 - No. 44

Resistance to Privatization Across the Country

Stop the Privatization Fraud!
Stop the Corruption!

Campaign to End Contracting Out of Civilian Work Within Department of National Defence

Crisis in the Airline Industry

The Need to Give the Airline Industry a Nation-Building Aim

- K.C. Adams -

• Airline Crisis in Stark Numbers

Government Bailouts in U.S. Industry

Demand Permanent Immigration Status for Migrant Workers, Refugees and International Students

End Exploitation and Abuse of International Students

International Students Rally in Toronto to Demand Rights

Montrealers Honour the Dead by Fighting for the Living

- Diane Johnston -
November 24 Rally to Stop Mass Deportations
of Migrant Student Workers

COVID-19 Update

Eight Months into the Pandemic

73rd World Health Assembly Resumes Proceedings Virtually

Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution

A Watershed Moment Still in the Making


U.S. Election Results

Bolivia's New President and Vice President Take Office

Resistance to Privatization Across the Country

Stop the Privatization Fraud! Stop the Corruption!

Stop paying the rich! Increase investments in social programs,
public services and public enterprise!

Workers and their allies across the country are demanding a reversal to privatization of social programs and public services. Working people are fed up with the global oligarchs pilfering the public treasury and damaging society, the economy and the lives of public sector workers. Slogans have arisen to stop private interests from interfering and profiting from public work.[1]

The fraud of contracting out education, health care, public services and all manner of public work to the global oligarchs, leaving programs weakened and workers twisting in the wind, must cease! 

No excuse exists at all to contract out public work but if the ruling elite force it through then this must not mean or result in workers being contracted out. If the public treasury pays for the work then workers working for the public enterprise and institutions must remain public sector workers with the automatic right to retain membership in their public union with wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions acceptable to themselves, to which Canadian governments and state institutions remain committed in collective agreements.

If any portion of funds to mobilize workers for work comes from the public treasury, government or state institution, such as a public-private partnership, then the workers involved must be deemed to be public workers and guaranteed to receive similar Canadian-standard wages, benefits, pensions and security of employment as public workers across the board. When the public pays for the work, even a portion of the work, then workers must be deemed to be working for the public, full stop; not for a contracted company or private enterprise, such as a private school subsidized with public funds, no matter what position of authority the government has given to the private entity.

Stop the Privatization Fraud!

Privatization of public services and social programs sucks the lifeblood out of public investments, the economy, society and the working class. The obsession of the imperialist class to expropriate private profit from every cell of the economy regardless of the damage this causes must be restricted. The working people are coming to realize that privatization is a pay-the-rich conspiracy against the people and society.

Privatization diverts public funds away from the intended purpose of public services and social programs to serve the public good.

Privatization reduces the scope of the necessary social programs, public services and infrastructure, and encourages a section of the people to seek private solutions, in education and health care for example.

Privatization fragments the working class and inhibits its ability to maintain or gain Canadian standard wages, benefits, pensions, security of employment and working conditions agreeable to themselves and ratified by their collectives.

Privatization puts more power and wealth into the hands of the global oligarchy directly reducing the reproduced-value going to the Canadian working class and reduces any influence the people may have for nation-building in opposition to imperialist globalization and the U.S. war economy.

Privatization expands the numbers of the privileged oligarchs by providing them increased positions of ownership, control and power within the economy. With this increased power and wealth, the imperialist class finances its own think tanks, media and political representatives to push the neo-liberal agenda and damage public opinion for the New and block the movement to stop paying the rich and increase investments in social programs, public services and public enterprise. Those in control and ownership of the privatized sectors and enterprises of the economy are deep-pocketed bombastic supporters of imperialism and neo-liberalism, and opponents of the working class, nation-building and the necessity for a new pro-social direction for the economy to solve the many economic, political and social problems confronting society.

Privatization blocks the working people from having a say over those matters that are important in their lives, such as education, health care, public services, infrastructure and the search for and discussion and implementation of solutions to social and natural problems and a new direction for the economy and politics.

The damage caused by privatization and decreased investments in social programs and public services has become patently obvious during the pandemic. Seniors have died in their hundreds in starved-for-funds long-term care facilities, and governments at all levels have been stymied in meeting the challenges of the health emergency. Necessary infrastructure and means of production, such as the airlines, have been incapable of dealing with the emergency because their narrow private interests negate the public interest, as their aim for maximum private profit puts their narrow interests before the needs of the people and economy as a whole.

Privatization fragments the economy into competing sectors, parts and enterprises. This saps and blocks the modern productive forces and working class from mobilizing their inherent strength and capacity to meet the challenges of the pandemic. The modern economy and working class need cooperation and a pro-social aim to work in harmony for the mutual benefit and development of all and to solve problems.[2]

Each major private enterprise is on the prowl to use the difficulties of others to destroy them or seize and take them over rather than work together for the good of all. This competition introduces weakness into the social programs, public services and infrastructure and inhibits any possibility to mobilize the productive forces and human factor/social consciousness to defend the people and society. Privatization must be stopped and reversed for the good of all, the economy and society!

Stop the privatization fraud! Stop the corruption!

Join the struggle against privatization, to stop paying the rich and to increase investments in social programs, public services and public enterprise.


1. See Workers' Forum for reports on the growing resistance in Alberta, Quebec and throughout the country to privatization and on the burgeoning movement to stop paying the rich and increase investments in social programs.

2. The disastrous response to the pandemic in the United States has exposed the weakness of the extensive private nature of the U.S. health care system. Many believe that the miserable failure of the U.S. elite in the face of the pandemic is partly the result of the privatized health care system. Private health insurance further fragments the private ownership and control of almost all hospitals, clinics and other parts of the system. The staggering personal cost of even minor treatment leaves millions unable or unwilling to seek medical help.

Many Canadians watching U.S. television during the election wondered about the number of ads for private health care insurance. The "open season" to renew private health care insurance is November 1 to December 15 and companies spend millions pushing their respective plans. This fight for customers reflects the competition among all parts of the health care system, which greatly weakens its collective strength.

Annual family premiums for U.S. employer-sponsored health insurance -- the amount it costs each year for insurance, often divided into 12 monthly payments -- rose four per cent to average $21,342 this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. On average for workplace coverage during the last year, workers paid $5,588 toward the cost of their coverage, while employers picked up the rest. Those without workplace coverage must pay the full amount or go without. Also of note, most plans carry a deductible, the amount a person pays for health care before insurance begins to pay the health care bill. The deductible has been constantly rising in recent years. In 2020, the average annual single deductible amount a person is required to pay for any doctor's visit or hospital treatment before insurance coverage begins has been $1,644, nearly twice what it was a decade ago.

More than  243,857 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States and some 10,319,131 have been infected.

(Photos: TML, AUPE, OHC.)

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Campaign to End Contracting Out of Civilian Work Within Department of National Defence

September 2018. PSAC's broad public campaign successfully halts the contracting out of cleaning services at Greenwood military base in rural Nova Scotia. The planned contracting out of cleaning services in Kingston is also reversed.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and one of its largest components, the Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE), are calling on Canadians to join its campaign to eliminate privatization within the Department of National Defence (DND). The unions released a report on October 30, "detailing the failure of privatization within the DND. Most DND bases contract out facilities management, cleaning, food preparation, grass cutting, and trades work. Services critical to DND operations, such as helicopter maintenance and airport management, are also contracted out."

PSAC-UNDE declares, "When governments contract out public sector work to private companies, profits take priority over services, and everyone, except the corporate shareholders, ends up paying the price."

PSAC-UNDE details the abuse of public funds and workers by the contracted companies. This abuse includes a constant demand to amend the contracts for more money and extensions, the hiding of how the money is used, terrible relations with employees and a low standard of service.

"Once the contract goes out the door, Canadians have no way of knowing how public money is being spent because of the protection of competitive advantages and corporate interests clauses in the Access to Information Act," states Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President, PSAC-Prairies. "Without the details of these contracts, the public has no information on inspection reports, employee salaries, equipment expenses, or profits made by the companies. When employees report being told to water down cleaning products and ration supplies, those details become very important."

PSAC-UNDE says Canadian Forces Base budgets are skewed to ensure that it appears favourable to hire private contractors rather than having public sector employees doing the work. Within the budgetary process very little money is allotted for in-house organizing of maintenance and service. In contrast, the budget calls for "generous funds" to be paid for contracted services for Operations and Maintenance. Inexplicably, Base Commanders are bound by their budgets, which are determined by DND, not to use the public service but rather to contract out the work to private interests, "even if contracting out is more expensive."

PSAC-UNDE says, "Instead of providing the budget to hire an adequate number of employees, the DND skimps on staffing budgets, forcing Base Commanders to contract out while knowing that it will cost more money to provide less service. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in this shell game, with substantial profits going to private corporations in Canada, and across the globe.

"In the meantime, communities across the country that rely on Canadian Forces bases for employment are left with minimum wages and precarious jobs instead of decent work that pays a decent wage and allows workers to contribute to their local economies."

The DND annually gives around $4 billion of public funds to private companies rather than investing that money in building a viable public service sector and giving workers a chance to have stable Canadian standard jobs with security of employment. A vibrant stable public sector ensures that the DND money spent on services and maintenance for the most part flows into and throughout the local economy.

The amount contracted companies siphon off as expropriated profit is not a trifling amount. Many of these companies are global cartels that repatriate their profits to who knows where. Cartels such as Aramark, Sodexo and ATCO are notorious global privatizing profiteers involved in contracting work in health care and all manner of social programs and public services.

Alberta Experience

"Alberta is riddled with examples of unnecessary contracting out ranging from facilities management and cleaning, to kitchen staff and emergency medical response staff. We even have public sector trades people being replaced with contracted 'handymen.' Our bases deserve the highest quality of work, not cutting corners for profit's sake," states Peter Devlin, UNDE Local 30910 President. "UNDE hears incidents of contracts issued through members at the base but cannot find any public records. If there are public dollars involved, there should be public accountability, period."

PSAC-UNDE says, "Public service janitorial workers used to be larger in scale but are slowly being eroded. In 2019, an advanced procurement notice was issued for Wainright Garrison [Alberta] for janitorial services with a total cost of $6 million over three years to supplement the work of the public service."

Devlin insists that the union's campaign to oppose privatization "isn't a matter of switching private contractors, it's about getting out of the privatization game altogether -- we tried it and it failed. By investing public dollars into the public service, we know we are investing in quality work with transparency and accountability, and good stable jobs for the people of our communities."

The experience in Alberta confirms that privatization undermines the safety of workers and their working conditions and saps money not only from the local economy but from Canada.

Saskatchewan Experience

15 Wing Moose Jaw, similar to other DND bases, has privatized and contracted out facilities' management, cleaning, food preparation, grass cutting, trades work, helicopter maintenance, airport management and firefighters. Reports are rampant of contracted employees being pressured by their employers "to water down cleaning products and ration supplies." Those details never come to official light because the contracts and details of the companies' practice are kept secret and no accountability is allowed.

"At the start of the pandemic at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, it became even more clear that contracting out creates two classes of people: those protected by their employer and those that felt disposable," UNDE Regional Vice President Mona Simcoe states. "Despite continuing to be paid, CAE subcontractors, ATCO and Sodexo, ignored directives to limit work to 'only essential core activities' and instructed their workers to continue to go into work, regardless of the urgency of the task."

PSAC-UNDE writes, "DND told PSAC-UNDE that it 'couldn't tell the contractors how to manage' their employees. Only through intervention by senior elected union officials -- UNDE National President June Winger and Vice-President Mona Simcoe -- and only when the deputy minister was brought into the situation, did contractors address the union's concerns. But it's still not enough. The union continues to fight for these workers' rights as coronavirus cases dramatically increase once again."

PSAC-UNDE emphasizes, "Contracting out creates an endless cycle of precarious work. With Aramark's current contract complete in January 2021, Aramark employees at 15 Wing are currently under threat of losing their jobs. A new contractor would mean job losses for every Aramark employee at 15 Wing."

For Simcoe a solution is not difficult. "With Aramark's current contract out for proposals, now is the perfect time to bring these workers back into the public service. By investing public dollars into the public service, we know we are investing in quality work with transparency and accountability and good, stable jobs for the people of our communities," she says.

Manitoba Experience

The Manitoba experience reveals the failures of privatization within the DND and that a solution exists in contracting the work back into the public service sector. "Over a decade ago, we experienced the failure of privatization at 17 Wing in Winnipeg. Civilian cleaners had their hours reduced from eight to six hours. Any work required outside those six hours was contracted out. It didn't take long for there to be complaints about the quality of work provided by the private company. Contracting out created the problem and contracting the work back in has solved it," said Mona Simcoe, UNDE Regional Vice President for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Hladun notes, "PSAC-UNDE has analyzed the data and heard directly from affected workers and the findings are clear: Canadians pay more to get less through privatization, all the while undermining fair and safe labour practises, labour relations and the security of our bases. Now is the time to put an end to these private contracts and begin contracting back in the civilian work on DND bases."

PSAC-UNDE's statement concludes decisively, "Private interests have no place on Canada's military bases."

(With files from PSAC-UNDE and Photos: PSAC. )

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Crisis in the Airline Industry

The Need to Give the Airline Industry a
Nation-Building Aim

October 20, 2020. Airline workers demonstrate on Parliament Hill demanding the federal government take action to "Save Canadian Aviation."

The necessity for a new direction and aim for the airline sector that begins
with nation-building to serve the people

The current crisis in the airline sector is the fifth one this century. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers and Pentagon in the U.S. and the SARS outbreak in 2003 disrupted the airline sector, especially Air Canada. Next came the general economic crisis of 2008-09 followed by the oil price collapse of 2014 and the continuing crisis in the oil sector that has hit Alberta and Saskatchewan hard.

The 2020 crisis is the most severe crisis to date. It underscores the necessity for a new direction and aim for the sector that breaks free from the recurring crises and iron grip of the global investment cartels and their mania for private maximum profit above all else. The airline sector is a key component of modern nation-building, in particular in Canada with its vast land mass, distinct economic regions from coast to coast to coast, that trade with each other and the world, and with many in the population having family links and other relations across Canada and abroad. The airline industry needs cooperation and a broad aim to serve the people, economy and society, not the present narrow competing private interests of the global rich to become richer.

Prior to the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis of 2020, more than 50,000 workers were directly employed with Canada's airlines as flight attendants, pilots, baggage handlers, and in customer service, maintenance, call centres and security. Today only a fraction of that number are employed and working. The major airports in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver prior to the crisis had thousands of workers each but today resemble ghost towns. Indirectly, the crisis has adversely affected thousands of additional workers in the tourism, hospitality and hotel sectors and the taxi industry.

October 30, 2020. Demonstration at Pearson Airport in Toronto.

The reasons for the crisis in the airline sector are both objective and subjective. The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated the immediate crisis but the manner in which the privately owned and controlled airlines have responded to the pandemic has made it worse. The response was conditioned by the narrow aim and panic of those in control not only of the airlines but politically and the underlying contradiction between the sector's socialized productive force and its private control by competing oligarchs.

The ruling elite in control view the working class as an enemy and object to exploit and not the determining human factor that can and should be mobilized to defeat the pandemic and solve economic and social problems. The reactionary response of the rich in control and ownership of the main economic sectors is conditioned by their outlook that the working class is a cost of production and an object to exploit and discard at will. Their megalomania is so intense, they believe that only by the rich becoming richer will the economy prosper and some of their excess wealth will trickle down to the masses through jobs and their philanthropic charity. Their narrow aim for private profit cannot see or grasp the necessity to put the airline sector on an emergency footing to keep workers active and producing for the sake of the socialized economy and common good. Instead, the private interests in control have scrambled to save their private fortunes and engaged in wrecking of the productive force and then begging for bailouts from the public purse.

The response of the ruling elite in the airline sector to the pandemic has been to lay off workers and reduce flights. They have refused to mobilize their workers to participate consciously in continuing to fly in a socially responsible and safe manner with more flights, less passengers and any additional physical precautions scientists and airline workers themselves deem necessary.

October 30, 2020. Montreal action by airline workers.

Instead, those in control conspired with their representatives in the federal government to pay some of their workers a percentage of their regular wages not to work and to stay in contact for use when needed while others were dismissed. This self-serving action of the rich has generated tremendous anxiety, insecurity and hardship among airline workers at a time their expertise and sense of social responsibility at work were sorely needed to keep the industry producing and serving the economy, people and society.

The rich in control of the sector in addition are demanding public bailouts such as low interest loans, government purchase of stock equity in their private companies, and other pay-the-rich schemes. These demands arise without having done anything to solve the problem of how to produce during the health emergency. In fact, the ruling elite deliberately collapsed the air industry as the numbers show. They demanded government pay some of their workers a stipend not to work and now in the face of their criminal wrecking actions want public funds to bail out their private interests so they can continue in the old way.

Why should such socially irresponsible self-serving actions of the rich be rewarded with public funds? The airline oligarchs have proved in practice they are useless at solving problems and detached from the present conditions and the necessity for a new direction. They are blinded by their greed and hatred of working people and society. They deserve nothing more than to be relieved of their positions of ownership and control and thrown into the dustbin of history.

The refusal to mobilize the working class throughout the country to collectively uphold social responsibility towards one another and society and deal with the pandemic using the available advanced science and means of production has led to a deepening economic crisis and resurgence of the pandemic.

In the modern era no economic, political or social problem can be solved without mobilizing the working class to tackle it by unleashing the human factor/social consciousness. This requires a new direction and aim for the economy that upholds the public good and nation-building to serve one another and society generally in a spirit of mutual benefit and cooperation.

The control, direction and aim of the global oligarchs to compete for maximum private profit to become richer through the expropriation of the value workers produce and their socially irresponsible exploitation of natural resources are outmoded and completely discredited and in contradiction with the socialized productive forces, causing recurring destructive crises and war.

Working people and their collectives must step up to take control of the situation for the good of the nation, people, economy and society. The time is now to build the New!

(Photos: ALPA Canada, CUPE, Unifor Local 2002.)

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Airline Crisis in Stark Numbers

November 9, 2020. Airline workers in Halifax demand government action. (Unifor Local 2002)

The gross income of Canadian airlines plunged dramatically during the first half of the year 2020; in July passenger numbers were down on average 90 per cent year over year. NAV CANADA, the private cartel controlling air traffic, reports that air traffic throughout the country in September was still down by an average 62.6 per cent compared to a year earlier, with air cargo accounting for a large percentage of the traffic. It could be said these terrible numbers are largely self-inflicted by those in control. They stem from the contradiction between the private competing control of an industry that is completely socialized and interconnected with the rest of the economy and in need of cooperation for the mutual benefit of all. The airline sector, along with all the basic industries, requires a new direction and aim to serve the people, economy and society under the control of those who do the work.

Air Canada

Since mid-March, the country's largest airline, Air Canada, has slashed its flight schedule by more than 90 per cent and grounded more than 200 of its fleet of 332 planes. At that time, it laid off 5,100 employees. It has cut service internationally from 150 airports to just five. Gross income from ticket sales and services at Air Canada dropped by $604 million or 16 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with a year earlier. The company says it burned through $22 million in cash per day in March. It reported a loss of $1.05 billion in its first quarter compared with a profit of $345 million in the same quarter last year. The company said it expected the cash burn to ease as it stops most flying other than for cargo.

This is the backward and destructive view of the ruling oligarchs. They see only the "cash burn" of what they consider their own money when producing a necessary service during an emergency. They do not see the value of mobilizing the working class to work and produce, albeit at a reduced rate, during the pandemic. But they scream, What is the good of producing if maximum private profit cannot be had and we're burning money that belongs to us? Let the public burn its money paying workers not to work!

When faced with the difficulties of a health emergency, the rich oligarchs lash out in desperation to save their private fortunes. Through destruction they see opportunities to save their skins, demand public money and even expand their empires, as the Air Canada oligarchs are plotting to do with their proposed purchase of Air Transat at half the price they offered before the pandemic.

Air Canada's Second Quarter: Air Canada's second quarter 2020 results showed gross income declined from $4.738 billion in the second quarter of 2019 to $527 million in the second quarter this year, a decline of $4.211 billion or 89 per cent. Only cargo income was up over the previous year, climbing 52 per cent to $269 million. Total passengers carried declined by 96 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2019. Operating loss for the quarter was $1.555 billion compared to operating income of $422 million in the second quarter of 2019, a decline of almost $2 billion.

Air Canada reduced its second quarter 2020 passenger/seat capacity by 92 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2019 and announced plans to reduce its third quarter 2020 capacity by approximately 80 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2019. By this point, Air Canada had reduced its workforce by more than half -- a total of 20,000 positions -- through layoffs, attrition and early retirement.

Cancellation of Routes: Air Canada announced in June the complete suspension of service to 30 regional routes. The routes cancelled without any indication of a plan to restart are the following:

Atlantic Canada: Deer Lake-Goose Bay, Deer Lake-St. John's, Fredericton-Halifax, Fredericton-Ottawa, Moncton-Halifax, Saint John-Halifax, Charlottetown-Halifax, Moncton-Ottawa, Gander-Goose Bay, Gander-St. John's, Bathurst-Montreal, Wabush-Goose Bay, Wabush-Sept-Iles, Goose Bay-St. John's.

Quebec: Baie Comeau-Montréal, Baie Comeau-Mont Joli, Gaspé-Iles de la Madeleine, Gaspé-Quebec City, Sept-Iles-Quebec City, Val d'Or-Montreal, Mont Joli-Montréal, Rouyn-Noranda-Val d'Or.

Ontario: Kingston-Toronto, London-Ottawa, North Bay-Toronto, Windsor-Montreal.

Western Canada: Regina-Winnipeg, Regina-Saskatoon, Regina-Ottawa, Saskatoon-Ottawa.

Stations Closed at Regional Airports: Air Canada closed its stations in the following regional airports:

Bathurst, New Brunswick
Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador
Gaspé, Baie Comeau, Mont Joli, and Val d'Or, Quebec; and
Kingston and North Bay, Ontario.


The second biggest Canadian carrier, WestJet, parked 140 of its 181 aircraft and furloughed more than 9,500 of its 14,000 employees early in the year. The wrecking of service resulted in a 95 per cent drop in passenger travel on the airline, particularly to and from Alberta.

WestJet also eliminated 80 per cent of its flights to the Atlantic Provinces, completely suspending service to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney and Charlottetown while significantly reducing flights to Halifax and St. John's. It stopped all its flights between Toronto and Quebec City.

Other Carriers

Porter Airlines out of Toronto grounded its entire fleet on March 21 and now says the suspension will last until at least December 15.

Air Transat ceased almost all its operations and closed its Vancouver base.

Sunwing and other smaller regional carriers across the country have in the main suspended air service.


The national air traffic controller NAV CANADA, which is a private cartel of the major airlines and others, so far this year has cut 720 of its 4,600 workers.

NAV CANADA announced in May that it would hike its fees by 29.5 per cent, which became effective in September. The new fees increase the price of tickets for a cross-country flight for a family of four by about $100. NAV CANADA blamed the increase on the absence of greater government support though it did not specify, as a private enterprise, what support it wanted from the public treasury.

Chief executive officer Neil Wilson said in a press release at the time: "NAV CANADA acknowledges this increase (in fees) comes at a time when its customers are also in exceptionally difficult circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. [...] All available alternatives, including further government assistance, will continue to be explored and utilized in order to minimize or avoid the proposed rate increase."

NAV CANADA is a private corporation that owns and operates Canada's civil air navigation service (ANS) on behalf of the private airlines. The work includes air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation. These responsibilities were held by Transport Canada until it was privatized in 1996. The federal government of Jean Chrétien transferred the ANS from Transport Canada to NAV CANADA for a privatization fee of $1.5 billion. The cartel leadership that seized control of ANS consists of four directors from the major air carriers, one from general and business aviation, three from the federal government and two from bargaining agents or unions.

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Government Bailouts in U.S. Industry

September 10, 2020. Action by Chicago, Illinois, flight attendants calling for extension of payroll support program. (AFA)

The necessity for a new direction serving the people and
not private profit of the rich

The colossal failure of the U.S. ruling elite to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a crisis in the airline industry that shows every indication of continuing into the winter. People are not travelling, either from fear of contracting the virus or because of government restrictions. In effect, the economic crisis results from the inability or rather unwillingness of the ruling elite to mobilize the working class, the human factor/social consciousness, to deal with the health emergency. This reluctance is embedded in the hostile unequal social relation those who own and control the means of production have with the working class. The ruling elite view any development of the human factor/social consciousness of the working class as an opening to the empowerment of working people and a threat to the continued economic, political and social dominance of the uber-rich oligarchy, the imperialist class.

Airline Crisis

Airline reports for the third quarter (July, August, September) reveal a situation that has not improved since the spring. Passenger volumes across major U.S. airlines are down 65 per cent from last year. American Airlines (AA), Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines each report their gross income from operations is down about 70 per cent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year. United and Delta also report large quarterly losses with gross income down nearly 80 per cent compared with last year. All carriers collectively say they are losing about $200 million per day as they cannot fully realize (sell) even the reduced number of available passenger seats.[1]

AA reports a loss of $2.4 billion over the third quarter, while Southwest lost more than $1.1 billion and Alaska more than $430 million. Airlines collectively say they will cut their production (capacity or available passenger seats) for the rest of the year to just 30 per cent of last year's production.

Companies in the airline industry have demanded thousands of industry workers take buyouts or pay cuts. In September alone, United and AA furloughed more than 32,000 workers. Reports are rampant of layoffs, even with government paying subsidies to companies to keep workers employed. A congressional committee reported on October 9 that the U.S. Finance Department allowed aviation companies to keep relief money that was supposed to go to workers. Business Insider reporter Tyler Sonnemaker explains: "The Trump Administration's mismanagement of a coronavirus bailout program that Congress created to 'preserve aviation jobs' has instead led to 16,655 layoffs across the industry while overpaying companies that fired workers, a congressional investigation concluded earlier this month."[2]

The concrete conditions of the airline productive forces have forced a discussion on their status within the economy and the necessity for a new direction. Voices are being raised that the airline industry should be deemed a public trust administered by a public authority with the aim to serve the people and economy and be held accountable to the people. Discussion is growing that the airline industry is a necessary means of production or public infrastructure for the modern economy, in effect a public utility that must be stable and not subject to recurring crises as is presently the case in the hands of competing private interests.

The general sense of the discussion is that a public utility would serve the people as an important infrastructure of a modern economy, especially in a country as large as the United States. A public utility, a social means of production, should not be in the hands of competing private interests with their aim for maximum private profit. Ownership by competing interests, each with an aim for maximum private profit, is in contradiction with the aim of serving the collective interests of the people and economy.

Pay-the-Rich Government Bailout for U.S. Airlines

U.S. airlines were offered a reported $60 billion in financial assistance last March as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Of note is the fact that the CARES Act has come into being, passing out billions to companies, while the 2008 federal government Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac totalling $700 billion are still in existence.[3]

The airline portion of the current CARES Act includes $25 billion in straight grants intended for companies throughout the airline industry, some of which was directed at paying workers so they would not be furloughed. This aspect of the program has been widely criticized as full of holes.[4] Another $25 billion was made available as loans for the largest passenger airlines and another $10 billion as grants and loans for cargo airlines and aviation contractors.[5]

The U.S. Congress was negotiating to extend and increase the $25 billion grant program for airlines and the separate $25 billion loan program available to airlines, certified repair stations and ticket agents, but because of the bitter fight between contending factions of the ruling elite and their cartel parties for control of government and the public treasury the talks were postponed until after the November 3 election.

Airline Ruling Elite's Expropriation of Realized New Value
to Pay the Rich

Roger Lowenstein writing in the New York Times exposes the practice of airline companies paying their stock holders and executives millions of dollars from realized new value rather than keeping it as insurance for the inevitable crisis or using it to refurbish the industry. For Lowenstein the imperialist practice of paying the rich through stock buybacks and huge payments to executives is anti-social. The same airlines that engaged in these practices prior to the pandemic are now demanding government bailouts, which shows that pay-the-rich schemes in different forms exist in "normal" times as well as during crises.

Lowenstein reminds his readers of the recurring crises in the sector and that you can predict with certainty that the money from realized new value will soon be needed "for a rainy day" crisis such as the pandemic. Instead of putting money aside "for a rainy day," he writes, "From 2014 through 2019 the big four carriers (American, Delta, United and Southwest) plowed $42 billion into stock repurchases in the hope of improving their share prices."

Lowenstein remarks that during a period of large realized new value airlines should make funds available for reinvestment or insurance rather than gifting owners of stock higher prices through buybacks and giving huge bonuses to senior executives. The author wishes for something that is in contradiction with the aim of those who own and control the economy and can only come into being if working people force the issue.

Aside from paying the rich with stock buybacks and extravagant executive payoffs, during the same period before the pandemic the airlines borrowed massively. They collectively increased their debt on average 56 per cent from 2014 to 2019. For example, during this period of sizable realized new value, AA increased its outstanding debt from $18 billion to $33 billion.

Lowenstein writes, "The borrowing binge fit the Wall Street strategy of leveraging up to increase risk. Temporarily it worked; airline stock prices moved higher. And stock price was key to executive pay. Over the six years, the chief executives of the four carriers pocketed almost $340 million in stock sales. American's CEO, Doug Parker, was the biggest winner, with stock sales totalling $150 million. And those figures don't include stock received but not yet sold."

It should be remembered that servicing of airline debt comes from the expropriation of a portion of the realized new value airline workers produce. This servicing continues whether the gross income and realized new value remain high or collapse as they have during the current crisis. Servicing debt during a drop in realized new value means less available profit for executives and stock buybacks and dividends: enter other pay-the-rich schemes. Various pay-the-rich forms are regularly used to deal with servicing this debt during a crisis, including government bailouts, Federal Reserve making cheap money available, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

On government bailouts for the airlines Lowenstein writes, "The argument for a bailout rests on the premise that airlines are important to national security. But bailouts save the shareholders. The assets -- the planes, the gates and so on -- endure, even if the ownership changes. The history of the industry is riddled with bankruptcies and yet planes keep flying. The other argument is that bailouts maintain a higher level of workforce than would otherwise be possible, given that revenue has plunged."

Lowenstein refutes this argument and suggests an alternative to bailouts although he gives scant details how this could be accomplished other than to suggest that representatives of the oligarchs in Congress should do it even though they are the regular architects of pay-the-rich schemes. He writes, "When and if airline traffic recovers, so will employee levels. In the meantime, it would be better to send checks directly to the people, until they find work in sectors that are growing. If executives are unwilling to forgo their gains, Congress can seize any carrier that fails, dismiss the chief executive and run it as a public trust. Let's end the farce in which airlines are risk-taking enterprises in good times and the public's burden in bad."

Also related to the airline industry is the production of its most important fixed instruments of production, commercial planes and airports. The public purse heavily subsidizes both these fixed means of production. This payment of public funds for airplanes to such companies as Boeing, and for airports, reduces the market price the airline companies must pay.

Boeing faces stiff competition from the European Airbus cartel, which it accuses of receiving government subsidies reducing the market price for its commercial airplanes. The lower prices for means of production plays a role in reducing the size of the airline companies' investment in fixed value, thus propping up their rate of profit. The production of airplanes, which is also closely tied to the war economy, along with airports, should become part of a public trust operating in the public interest to serve the people and economy and not be targets of private interest, pay-the-rich schemes and the imperialist warmongers.

To his credit Professor Lowenstein suggests an alternative direction and aim for the airline industry without, however, concretizing his view in a practical way. Any alternative direction must confront the economic, political and social control of the global oligarchy, the imperialists. The working class is the only social force capable of bringing into being a credible pro-social alternative. In this regard, a new direction also entails the necessity to mobilize the working class to defend and claim what belongs to it by right and to confront the sector's real problems with real solutions both in stable times and crises such as the current health emergency.

Federal Airline Bailout of 2001 and Use of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

To bail out the airlines in 2001, President Bush signed into law the Air Transportation Safety and Stabilization Act, which gave public funds to airlines in "compensation" for their reduced gross incomes following the 9/11 attacks. The act gave the airlines $5 billion in grants and an additional $10 billion in loan guarantees or other federal credit instruments.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection acts like a pay-the-rich scheme. The big airline companies have used it many times this century. Between 2002 and 2011, American, Delta, Frontier, Northwest, United and U.S. Airways all filed for Chapter 11.[6]

Richard Squire in an article in the Washington Post titled "U.S. airlines don't need a bailout to stay in business" points out, "All [airlines while in Chapter 11] kept flying throughout, and all emerged intact. (Some have since consolidated by merger.) Most of their customers didn't even notice."

Squire writes, "Once a public company [not public as opposed to privately owned but rather one listed on public stock exchanges -- TML Ed. Note.] enters Chapter 11, it rarely has difficulty raising new credit to cover operating costs, such as payroll. This was true even during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when, despite the general credit crunch, private bankruptcy lending reached a new peak. Bankruptcy loans to companies in Chapter 11 are extremely safe, because the Bankruptcy Code gives the bankruptcy lender a high-priority claim on the assets. And potential bank lenders are now [in 2020] flush with cash, thanks to the Federal Reserve's market interventions in recent weeks."

Squire notes, "The airlines aren't running out of cash because their debts are coming due sooner than expected. They're running out of cash because their revenues are much lower than expected. That's a solvency problem, not a liquidity problem. Losses are inevitable. The only question is whether Washington leaves the losses with private investors or shifts them to taxpayers."

He continues, "The president has also said he wants to back the airlines because the current crisis is 'not their fault.' True enough, but an industry's investors ought to bear responsibility for its direct social costs. Otherwise, the industry grows too large while under-investing in precautions. Airlines doubtlessly provide a socially valuable service. But, as we have seen, that service can sometimes contribute to the spread of a contagious disease. The risk of further spread is why governments are banning international travel and why the public is shunning cramped airplane cabins. The resulting drop in industry revenue is thus the manifestation of a business risk inherent in the service the airlines sell. Airline investors, not taxpayers, should bear the resulting losses."

Richard Squire also writes of the airline companies blackmailing the public into believing that only through pay-the-rich schemes can "draconian measures such as furloughs" be avoided. In a joint letter to political leaders in Congress in September the companies warned that unless they immediately received an additional $29 billion in "worker payroll protection" grants, plus another "$29 billion in loans or guarantees" massive layoffs would occur along with possible bankruptcies. Of course the private interests in control would never suggest a new direction for the industry to make it a public trust with a new pro-social aim to serve the people and economy. Instead, they insist on pay-the-rich schemes to entrench their private power, wealth and imperialist class privilege.


1. The situation in Europe is similar with IAG, a global investment cartel that controls British Airways, Iberia and other airlines and industrial and financial interests. IAG reports its airlines suffered a decline in gross income of more than 80 per cent in the third quarter compared with a year ago and that its planes are regularly only about half full.

2. Business Insider writes, "The Payroll Support Program [PSP], which was established under the CARES Act and expired this month, tasked the U.S. Treasury Department with allocating U.S.$3 billion to aviation contractors to help them avoid unnecessary layoffs as the pandemic ground travel to a halt.

"The money was intended to cover companies' payroll for six months, until September 30 -- and in exchange, recipients were supposed to keep workers employed for those six months.

"But the Treasury Department's 'delays' and 'perverse' approach to implementing the PSP encouraged companies to fire workers while they waited to receive funds, the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis concluded in a report published on October 9. [...]

"'These delays led at least 15 different aviation contractors to lay off or furlough at least 16,655 employees before the agreements took effect -- more than 15 per cent of the existing aviation contractor workforce,' [the report] said."

The House report is available here

Sonnemaker points out that the U.S. Treasury Department "let companies continue to lay off workers while their PSP applications were pending." According to the report, "This decision had the perverse effect of incentivizing companies to lay off or furlough workers before executing the agreement [and] stockpile the money rather than rehire laid-off workers."

"Swissport, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Fare were among the companies connected to the aviation industry that, according to the report, laid off workers while accepting coronavirus relief funds -- and some companies used the funds to pay their top executives. The report found that Flying Food, for example, received more than $85 million in taxpayer dollars and 'restored senior executives and management to full pay' even when many others at the company were being laid off," Alternet noted.

The newsletter ProPublica gives examples of these practices in a particularly poignant article available here.

3. ProPublica says as of August 12, 2020, the 2008 TARP and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts have dispensed $634 billion of public funds to 983 corporate recipients. The newsletter keeps a bailout tab of the hundreds of companies receiving public funds from both programs and how much has or has not been returned. The bailout tracker is available here.

4. "The Trump administration let aviation companies lay off more than 16,500 workers while taking coronavirus relief funds -- some used the money to pay executives -- according to a congressional report," Tyler Sonnemaker, Business Insider, October 20, 2020.

5. To date, seven large carriers have received more than $12 billion through the CARES bailout program. American Airlines received $5.8 billion, United $5 billion, Alaska $992 million, JetBlue Airways $936 million, Frontier Airlines $205 million, Hawaiian Airlines $292 million, and SkyWest $438 million.

Five airlines have struck agreements with the Treasury Department for portions of the $25 billion in federal loans during the pandemic: American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Sky West Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

Last spring, U.S. airlines started receiving portions of an additional $25 billion in grants to pay for workers' wages. Cargo air carriers received an additional $4 billion. Talks were underway in Congress to extend this program through to next March but the election fight between the two cartel parties of the rich has postponed a decision.

A list of the hundreds of airline companies that have already received payroll support from the federal government is available here.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury writes:

"Payroll Support Program Payments

"Section 4112 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) authorizes the Treasury Department to provide up to $32 billion to compensate aviation industry workers and preserve jobs.

"The Payroll Support Program under Division A, Title IV, Subtitle B of the CARES Act provides payroll support to passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers, and certain contractors for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits. A total of up to $25 billion is available for passenger air carriers; $4 billion for cargo air carriers; and $3 billion for certain contractors."

6. Chapter 11 is similar to the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) bankruptcy protection for big companies in Canada. Canadian workers are very familiar with the infamous CCAA, which is frequently used to attack their pensions and benefits and generally for the rich in control to escape as unscathed as possible a crisis either real or concocted. The Stelco steel company in Hamilton, Ontario concocted a CCAA bankruptcy in 2004, which Local 1005 of the steelworkers' union exposed as a massive pay-the-rich fraud. Details of this struggle are available in issues of TML Daily published at the time.

The rich in control of a company under CCAA, but also those in charge of the bankruptcy process such as the cartel Ernst & Young Global Limited, use the process to feather their own nests, attack the working class and force certain competing investors to give up a portion of their investment in the company under CCAA, to "take a haircut" as they say.

Once workers and certain creditors have "taken a haircut" through Chapter 11 or CCAA, companies such as the U.S. airlines are then released from bankruptcy protection to continue operations. Other companies in bankruptcy protection may be dissolved with the rich in control escaping with the lion's share of the assets and workers are left to pick up the pieces of their lives without the security of jobs, benefits and pensions which they have worked for years to build.

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Demand Permanent Immigration Status for
Migrant Workers, Refugees and International Students

End Exploitation and Abuse of
International Students

On October 20, the Trudeau government lifted travel restrictions for international students coming to Canada to study. The only condition is that they hold a valid study permit and that the Designated Learning Institution they are enrolled in have a provincially approved COVID-19 readiness plan.

Why is this being done? Over the summer it was reported that there has been a 22 per cent decline in government-issued study permits to foreign students which would affect the budgets of all universities and colleges in Canada. As governments continue to underfund public post-secondary institutions in the context of the anti-social offensive, universities and colleges have become increasingly dependent on the high tuition fees levied on foreign students.

For example, at the University of Toronto (U of T), which promotes itself worldwide as Canada's premier university, international students make up fully 30 per cent of the total student body. Most hope to remain in Canada. They contribute close to $1 billion to the university's operation, a third of its budget. For the privilege of attending U of T, an undergraduate international student pursuing a bachelor's degree in arts or science pays more than $40,000 a year while a Canadian student pays $6,200. Typically, international students attending Canadian universities and colleges pay from two to six times the tuition fees Canadian students pay for the same programs. In an interview with the campus newspaper The Varsity in February 2019, U of T President Meric Gertler said that international student tuition is priced to cover the "full costs associated with educating those students," without disclosing what those "full costs" are.

Currently students from India, China, the Republic of Korea, Brazil and Vietnam comprise the largest cohort of international students in Canada. Migrant Students United, a national defence organization for international students in Canada, notes that there are 721,000 study permit holders in Canada as well as an estimated 500,000 postgraduate work permit holders, who together contribute close to $30 billion to the Canadian economy. They are trapped in a racket that the Canadian state has created to ensure a cheap source of labour for Canadian monopolies and financial oligarchs, as well as a source of revenue for subsidizing the operations of Canadian colleges and universities. The Canadian government, along with post-secondary institutions and unregulated "consultants" around the world charge students large amounts of money for the "privilege" of studying in Canada.

When international students arrive in Canada they have to fend for themselves from day one. The rules and policies governing international students' ability to work in Canada are restrictive. In one case, Jobandeep Sandhu, a student from Punjab studying mechanical engineering at Canadore College, Mississauga Campus, was pulled over by police while driving a truck from Montreal to Toronto. That was in December 2017 when he was 10 days away from receiving his diploma. He was subsequently found to be working more than the 20 hours a week permitted. He had accumulated nearly $27,000 in fees and other school costs and was forced to work longer hours. Despite broad opposition, including a petition delivered to then-Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen signed by more than 50,000 people calling on the Canadian government to allow Sandhu to remain in Canada, he was deported in June 2019 for "breaking the law."

Statistics Canada reported in 2019 that international students who find work after graduation were found to earn less tha their Canadian counterparts six years after graduation. A 2018 survey by the Canadian Bureau for International Education found that close to 60 per cent of international students in Canada surveyed were unemployed and having difficulty finding work in fields that would enable them to accumulate enough points to apply for permanent residency. And this was before COVID-19!

As Migrant Students United, the Canadian Federation of Students and other organizations have pointed out, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, international students have been further victimized by the total lack of support from the federal government. Yet, in May this year, in order to keep fleecing foreign students, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada ruled that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, international students can study online at Canadian universities and colleges without affecting their eligibility for a Post-Graduate Work Permit.

This is unconscionable. The Trudeau Liberals have formalized the exploitation and abuse of international students in their International Student Strategy, a five-year plan (2019-2024) to dramatically increase the number of foreign students in Canada. When the plan was announced Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr noted:

"International education is an essential pillar of Canada's long-term competitiveness. Canadians who study abroad gain exposure to new cultures and ideas, stimulating innovation and developing important cross-cultural competencies. Students from abroad who study in Canada bring those same benefits to our shores. If they choose to immigrate to Canada, they contribute to Canada's economic success. Those who choose to return to their countries become life-long ambassadors for Canada and for Canadian values."

Canadians do not want international students to be exploited and abused in the name of enhancing "Canada's long term competitiveness." They do not want international students to be uprooted from the nations that raised them and brought to Canada where their basic rights are denied as they are currently in the case of the pandemic. It is an abomination to create a pathway to citizenship that is essentially rigged against the majority of international students in Canada who, even before COVID-19, were unable to find the work that would enable them to qualify for permanent residency and citizenship. The process of citizenship should begin as soon as international students arrive in recognition of the fact that they are contributing to Canada from the moment they come here.

(With files from Government of Canada, Globe and Mail, Migrant Students United, The Varsity. Photos: TML, Migrant Workers Alliance, B.S. Walters.)

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International Students Rally in Toronto
to Demand Rights

Migrant Students United (MSU), a national affiliate of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, held a rally outside the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada office in downtown Toronto on October 25 to demand the recognition of the rights of international students. They demanded that the Canadian government guarantee their basic rights to live, work and study in Canada and uphold the promises made to them to entice them to come to this country. Activists from the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) also participated in the action.

The main demand is for the renewal of the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for all international students so that they have additional time to fulfill their employment requirements to qualify for permanent residency. Many of the more than 700,000 international student work permit holders are facing the reality that their work permits will expire at the end of 2020 and they will be deported because they are unable to fulfill their employment requirement to qualify for permanent resident status.

Sarom Rho, the main organizer for MSU in Toronto, highlighted the extreme difficulties that international students are facing in the COVID-19 pandemic. She pointed out that foreign students pay tuition fees two to six times that of citizens or permanent residents. They contribute billions of dollars to the economy through these high fees, and through their labour and taxes, yet have been completely ignored by the Trudeau Liberal government and deprived of any emergency financial support, health care and other basic social services. They have been left extremely vulnerable. Many are going hungry, having lost their jobs and housing, are cut off from their families, and now face the prospect of being deported. She called for an end to this abuse of international students. She put forward the MSU's four demands to the Canadian and Ontario governments:

1. Fix Rules Around Work: Make postgraduate work permits renewable so former students can complete requirements for permanent residency (PR) in the COVID-19 job market. Remove time limits and count all work for PR.

2. Give Real Access to PR: Lower the points required for PR. Ensure full and permanent immigration status for all migrants.

3. Lower Tuition and Ensure Full Services: Ensure migrant students pay the same tuition fees as Canadians; Ensure full access to all services including health care, housing, scholarships, pandemic emergency benefits, in-school support and jobs; and immediate access to social insurance numbers.

4. Unite Families: Allow families to travel, and ensure work permits for family members.

Two George Brown College postgraduate students, one from Brazil and one from Poland, shared their struggles, frustrations and constant stress about their future. They expressed their determination to continue to fight for the rights of all international students and migrant workers in Canada for permanent status so that they can continue to live in Canada and contribute their talents. They called on everyone to join them in their fight for justice.

An online petition to "Fix PGWP, Ensure Status for All" can be found here.

(With files from MSU. Photos: TML.)

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Montrealers Honour the Dead by
Fighting for the Living

As part of the Migrant Rights Network's November 1 pan-Canadian day of action "to raise the call for full and permanent immigration status for all," Solidarity Across Borders organized a rally in Montreal. The rally was held outside the Radio-Canada building "to highlight and challenge our invisibility in the mainstream media." Approximately 70 people, mainly youth, turned out for the event.

November 2 is the Day of the Dead, "a Mexican festival to commemorate and honour the dead." This action was held in honour of friends, family, compatriots and fighting comrades who have died, as well as to strengthen everyone's resolve in the fight for the recognition of the rights, including the right to be, of all human beings in society. It included a symbolic "die-in," described as "an art action to show our dead."

The first speaker stressed that not only are undocumented migrants involved in a life and death struggle for the recognition of their rights, they are also on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Government indifference to the untenable working and living conditions of these workers has resulted in some of them losing their lives. "It is our intention to continue the struggle until this issue of migrants has been resolved," one speaker asserted. "We will remain on the ground and continue to fight for them, as a matter of human dignity."

A message from Robyn Maynard of Black Lives Matter was read. Amongst other things, Maynard wrote that the injustices migrants face today are part of Canada's long legacy of racial injustice and that the country's entire history is one of racial discrimination. She said that the pandemic has exposed the scandalous exploitation of migrant labour in Canada. "Front line health care workers, factory workers, janitors, drivers, grocery store clerks -- without those jobs, this nation does not function. And yet those who do this work are subjected to the worst working conditions [...]."

"None of us are free while some of us are working, such as black or racialized women, on the front line of the pandemic while afraid for our own possible deportation."

"None of us are free when our brothers and sisters are working in a factory facing workplace abuses regularly for little pay [...]."

"None of us are free while black and racialized people across the American continent, the Caribbean, Central and South America are forced to leave their homes due to the unequal global economic system [...] and while Canadian mines misappropriate the global south."

Maynard then encouraged everyone to continue the struggle "of our time, working to build a better, safer world for all of us. All migrants are essential! All migrants require protection, deserve security [...] and justice."

Participants then heard the news that Mamadou Konaté, a failed refugee claimant originally from the Ivory Coast who had been detained by the Canada Border Services Agency on September 16, had been released. His case had been widely publicized.[1] Mamadou, who participated in the action, thanked everyone for their efforts in securing his release, encouraging them to continue the struggle for status for all.

Protesters then observed a minute of silence to "remember the thousands of migrants who have lost their lives crossing the border into the United States and into Canada." These include Mavis Otuteye, a Ghanaian grandmother living in the U.S. who had overstayed her 2006 visitor visa and attempted to cross over into Canada in 2017. Her body was found about half a kilometre south of the Manitoba border town of Emerson on May 26, 2017.

Also named during the commemoration was Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose image made global headlines after his body washed up on a beach in Turkey on September 2, 2015. Canada, just like other NATO powers, bears responsibility for driving millions of people  out of their homelands and creating hundreds of thousands of refugees through its participation in war, regime change, nation-wrecking, sanctions and anarchy unleashed by the U.S. imperialists and NATO powers against Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Venezuela. Those forced to leave their countries, among them refugees facing persecution and death, are then labelled "migrants," suggesting that millions willingly leave their homelands for economic reasons. This obscures the causes of their flight, that they have been subjected to the most brutal, violent, inhumane treatment due to allegedly civilized Western intervention by the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Statistics were given on the thousands of deaths of migrants fleeing their home countries by way of the Mediterranean Sea year after year.

Countries who close their borders to asylum seekers were condemned, with Western countries in particular being called upon to abide by the 1951 Geneva Convention with regard to the rights of refugees.

The rally ended with a symbolic "die-in," with participants lying still on the ground in commemoration of those who have perished.


1. "Oppose Canada's Role in Exploiting and Abusing Migrant Workers!" TML Weekly, October 10, 2020.

(Photos: Solidarité sans frontières.)

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November 24 Rally to Stop Mass Deportations
of Migrant Student Workers

Organized by Migrant Workers Alliance for Change


Tens of thousands of migrant student workers in low-wage jobs are facing deportation because of impossible immigration requirements. Millions of people lost work and wages during COVID-19, but for migrant student workers who are on time-restricted work permits, losing work means they cannot fulfill requirements to apply for permanent residency. Their work permits are non-renewable and time is running out. Unless Prime Minister Trudeau and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino act quickly, thousands will be forced to leave Canada by the end of this year or become undocumented.

Migrants should not be punished for the pandemic! Ensure fair immigration rules to stop the deportation of thousands. Make work permits renewable and value all work!

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COVID-19 Update

Eight Months into the Pandemic

November 12, 2020. WHO map of coronavirus cases worldwide as of 4:40 pm.

November 11 marked eight months since the WHO characterized the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. The recent period has seen a marked upsurge in cases, whereby infection curves that had been flattened now threaten to exceed the capacity of health care systems.

As of November 13, there have been at least 53,256,556 recorded cases of people infected with COVID-19. Of these, 37,316,738 people have recovered and 14,637,743 cases are active. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 is 1,302,075. The number of daily new cases has risen sharply in the last month alone, from 419,312 on October 16 to an all-time high of 647,651 on November 12. Daily deaths were 6,226 on October 16 and also hit an all-time high on November 11 of 10,163.

The 20 countries with the highest number of cases on November 8 were, in descending order: the U.S. (10,880,526), India (8,729,190), Brazil (5,783,647), France (1,898,710), Russia (1,880,551), Spain (1,484,868), the UK (1,290,195), Argentina (1,284,519), Colombia (1,174,012), Italy (1,066,401), Mexico (991,835), Peru (930,237), Germany (752,830), South Africa (744,732), Iran (738,322), Poland (665,547), Chile (526,438), Belgium (520,393), Iraq (514,496) and Ukraine (512,652).

As of November 13, the 20 countries with the highest infection rate (measured in cases per million) among countries with a population greater than one million in population are: Bahrain (48,875), Qatar (48,211), Belgium (44,830), Czech Republic (41,682), Armenia (38,574), Israel (35,026), Panama (33,034), the U.S. (32,801), Spain (31,754), Kuwait (31,594), Switzerland (29,631), France (29,065), Argentina (28,326), Peru (28,070), Chile (27,452), Brazil (27,139), the Netherlands (25,456), Slovenia (25,193), Costa Rica (23,662) and Oman (23,178).

The 20 countries with the highest number of deaths as of November 13 are, in descending order: the U.S. (248,638), Brazil (164,332), India (128,722), Mexico (97,056), UK (50,928), Italy (43,589), France (42,960), Iran (40,582), Spain (40,461), Peru (35,067), Argentina (34,782), Colombia (33,491), Russia (32,443), South Africa (20,076), Indonesia (15,037), Chile (14,699), Belgium (13,891), Ecuador (12,946), Germany (12,312) and Iraq (11,580).

The 20 countries with the highest mortality rate, for countries over one million in population, (measured in cases per million population) as of November 13 are: Belgium (1,197), Peru (1,058), Spain (865), Brazil (771), Argentina (767), Chile (767), Bolivia (752), the U.S. (750), Mexico (750), the UK (749), Ecuador (730), Italy (721), France (658), Colombia (656), Panama (652), Sweden (609), North Macedonia (594), Armenia (572), Bosnia and Herzegovina (552) and the Czech Republic (537).

For countries in the northern hemisphere, the onset of winter is expected to increase the infection rate, all other factors being equal.

In Europe, which was a hotspot early in the pandemic and instituted lockdowns in the spring, a sharply worsening situation has seen increased measures such as mandatory mask-wearing and reduced hours for bars and restaurants being put in place over the last month. Lockdowns at the national or regional level are being brought back in Ireland, Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic.

Situation in Canada

As of November 12, Public Health Canada reports a total of 282,477 cases recorded in Canada. Of these, 226,775 had recovered and 45,034 remained active. There have been 10,768 deaths. There were 5,516 new cases on November 12. As of November 13, Canada's infection rate is 7,463 cases per million population and the death rate is 284 per million. Most provinces and territories across the country have experienced a surge in cases in recent weeks.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, said in her November 12 statement that:

"As the resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and health care capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country. [...]

"Though the cumulative number is high and continues to increase, with several regions experiencing accelerated growth, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions that will keep ourselves, our families and our communities safer.

"[...] The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 4,015 new cases (November 4-10) and 54,668 people tested, with 5.8 per cent testing positive (November 1-7). Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada. Although the size can vary from just a few cases to larger clusters, outbreaks are being reported in a range of settings including long-term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and large social gatherings.

"The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 1,361 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent seven-day period (November 4-10), including 258 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 50 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. Elective admissions are now being postponed in some areas of the country given rising COVID hospitalizations.

"As hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity. As well, influenza and respiratory infections typically increase during the Fall and Winter, placing increased demands on hospitals. This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practices that keep respiratory infection rates low.

"With colder weather, we are moving indoors. Canadians should avoid the 3Cs settings -- closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations -- wherever possible. Larger clusters tell us that closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather and close contact situations can amplify spread of the virus. Spread in informal social gatherings and activities is also occurring. In these more relaxed settings, such as family and holiday celebrations and recreational activities, letting our guard down and not consistently maintaining public health practices, can lead to many exposures and infections. For these reasons, it is recommended that everyone wear a non-medical mask or face covering when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household.

"Canada needs a collective effort to support and sustain the public health response through to the end of the pandemic, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences. To do this, we need to retake the lead on COVID-19, by each reducing our close contacts to the best of our ability and employing key public health practices consistently and with precision: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate, and keep up with frequent hand, cough and surface hygiene. [...]"

Regarding the possibility of a vaccine, Dr. Tam stated on November 6 that she is "cautiously optimistic that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be available in the first quarter of 2021, bringing us one step closer to the widespread and long-term management of COVID-19.

"I would like to emphasize that when vaccines become available, there will be a limited supply at first. While that supply will continue to increase over time, it does mean that federal, provincial and territorial governments will have to make important decisions on how to use the initial vaccine supply.

"The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, is a long-standing expert advisory group that provides independent guidance and recommendations to inform these kinds of tough decisions.

"On Tuesday [November 3], NACI provided preliminary guidance on the key populations that should be considered for early COVID-19 immunizations, including people at high risk of severe outcomes or those at high risk of spreading to them; workers essential to maintaining the COVID-19 response and other essential services for the functioning of society; and people whose living or working conditions put them at elevated risk of infection and its disproportionate consequences, including Indigenous communities. The full guidance is available online at

"While this preliminary guidance is helpful for planning, there is still a long road ahead. Clinical trials need to continue, Health Canada still needs to approve the vaccines if they are deemed safe and effective, and we will be receiving additional advice on prioritization based on the characteristics of each vaccine once approved. In the meantime, it is crucial that we continue to layer on individual protections that we know to be effective in keeping infection rates low: stay home if you have symptoms, even mild ones; wash your hands frequently; maintain physical distancing; wear a mask when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household; and avoid or limit time spent in closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact situations where you can't consistently maintain physical distancing [...]"

(With statistics from

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73rd World Health Assembly
Resumes Proceedings Virtually

May 18, 2020. World Health Assembly meeting. (WHO)

The World Health Assembly (WHA) this week resumed its proceedings virtually from November 9 to 14. The resumed session follows the reduced (de minimis) meeting of May 18 to 19.[1] The WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHA highlighted three main concerns to be addressed at the proceedings:

1) COVID-19 can be beaten with science, solutions and solidarity, and calls for an evidence-based approach to the pandemic and for all countries to work together to develop and provide everyone with the necessary vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

2) Members of the WHO must not backslide on its critical health goals. The WHA indicated, "The resumed session will discuss a 10-year-plan for addressing neglected tropical diseases, as well as efforts to address meningitis, epilepsy and other neurological disorders, maternal infant and young child nutrition, digital health, and the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, adopted in 2010."

3) The world must prepare for the next pandemic now. It is calling on "the global health community to ensure that all countries are better equipped to detect and respond to cases of COVID-19 and other dangerous infectious diseases."

Overall, the major concern of the WHO is to develop the capacity, cooperation and solidarity of all countries to collectively overcome the health problems facing humanity.

Summing Up the WHO's Work in 2020

In his opening remarks to the WHA on November 9, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus summed up the state of the pandemic and gave an overview of the WHO's approach in the past year to overcoming COVID-19:

- providing the world with up-to-date scientific guidelines;
- conducting the Solidarity Trial, one of the largest and most diverse clinical trials, to generate robust data on therapeutics;
- the learning platform that has provided free online training in 17 different topics, in 41 languages, with more than 4.5 million registered users;
- the Access to COVID-19 Tools that aims to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics fast, and to allocate them fairly.

Dr. Tedros noted the WHO's work to respond to more than 60 emergencies, "including major outbreaks of Chikungunya in Chad, yellow fever in Gabon and Togo, measles in Mexico, conflicts in the Sahel, Middle East and Caucasus, storms in the Philippines and Viet Nam, and much more." He noted, "After an 18-month struggle, under the leadership of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and with multiple partners, we ended the Ebola outbreak in the country's east -- one of the most complex health emergencies WHO has ever faced, made even more difficult by the world's largest measles outbreak." The WHO also provided aid to those injured in the explosion in Beirut on August 4. It has continued its vaccination program to eradicate polio, despite the difficulties posed by COVID-19.

He stated that "there has been progress towards our target to see 1 billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage" and that "There has also been significant progress in our work to support health system-strengthening around the world."

Transformation of WHO

Dr. Tedros also pointed out that the WHO is in the midst of a process of transformation as directed by its membership. Its aim is to "deliver a measurable impact" in member countries, including by making the "WHO a modern, data-driven organization that supports Member States with timely, reliable and actionable data to drive impact."

The second aspect of the transformation is "new processes to make us more effective and efficient."

Thirdly, the WHO is also implementing a "new aligned operating model, which for the first time clearly differentiates the role of headquarters, regional and country offices, and aligns our structures at all three levels."

Fourthly, the WHO is taking a new approach to partnerships, expanding them to include ones with sports federations and the private sector, including social media monopolies.

Fifthly, is what Dr. Tedros referred to as "a new culture that is focused on results" which he linked to the WHO's values charter established two years ago "which outlines five values that make us who we are: service, excellence, integrity, collaboration, and compassion."

The sixth aspect of this transformation is to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for the WHO. He said, "For WHO to do its job, we must address the shocking and expanding imbalance between assessed contributions and voluntary, largely earmarked funds. In the past decade, the world's expectations of WHO have grown dramatically, but our budget has barely changed. And those expectations will only continue to increase in the wake of the pandemic. Our annual budget is equivalent to what the world spends on tobacco products every single day."

The seventh and final aspect of the transformation is "building a motivated, diverse and fit-for-purpose workforce," and Dr. Tedros noted, "We achieved gender parity in senior leadership for the first time in WHO, and we're making progress in other areas."

Dr. Tedros also mentioned a proposal made last year "by the Central African Republic and Benin as the then-Chair of the African Union [...] in which countries agree to a regular and transparent process of peer review, similar to the system of universal periodic review used by the Human Rights Council. We're calling it the Universal Health and Preparedness Review. Its purpose is to build mutual trust and accountability for health, by bringing nations together as neighbours to support a whole-of-government approach to strengthening national capacities for pandemic preparedness, universal health coverage and healthier populations. We are now in the process of developing a more detailed proposal, which we will share with Member States very shortly."

Resolution on Emergency Preparedness

On November 10, the WHA approved a resolution on emergency preparedness. The resolution asks countries to reinvigorate their systems of emergency preparedness, vulnerability assessment, alert, response, and compliance, in line with the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), which are a binding legal framework.

The new resolution also asks the WHO to come up with proposals by next year's WHA for "possible complementary mechanisms to be used by the Director-General to alert the global community about the severity and/or magnitude of a public health emergency, in order to mobilize necessary support and facilitate international coordination."

The website Geneva Solutions reports that "member states are considering adding an 'amber alert' to the current IHR system by which WHO could signal that a public health emergency is developing -- even before it becomes a full blown 'red light' signaling a 'public health emergency of international concern.'"

Resolutions on Meningitis Control and Epilepsy,
Roadmap on Neglected Tropical Diseases

Committee A, which focuses on program and budget matters, recommended the adoption of the first-ever resolution on meningitis, which would approve a global roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030 -- a disease that kills 300,000 people annually and leaves one in five of those affected with devastating long-term consequences.

Committee A also recommended the adoption of a resolution calling for scaled-up and integrated action on epilepsy and other neurological disorders such as stroke, migraine and dementia. Neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide.

Committee A further recommended the endorsement of the new roadmap for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The roadmap aims to achieve the following targets by 2030: reduce by 90 per cent the number of people requiring treatment for NTDs, eliminate at least one NTD in 100 countries, eradicate two diseases (dracunculiasis and yaws), and reduce by 75 per cent the disability-adjusted life years related to NTDs.

Committee B, which deals predominantly with administrative, financial and legal matters, reviewed the Director-General's report on "Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan." Committee B also voted to recommend the adoption of a decision requesting that the Director-General, amongst others, report on progress in the implementation of its recommendations to the next World Health Assembly.

Along with the resolution on scaled-up action on epilepsy and other neurological disorders, resolutions on eye care and food safety were also adopted. The WHA also adopted a Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a public health problem, a Global Strategy for Tuberculosis Research and Innovation; and a Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property.

The WHA declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Healthy Aging, as well as declaring 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers.


1. For coverage of the first part of the 73rd WHA, see "73rd Session of World Health Assembly Held Virtually," TML Weekly Supplement, May 23, 2020.

(With files from WHO, Geneva Solutions.)

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Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution

A Watershed Moment Still in the Making

November 7, 2017. Communist organizations in Russia were joined by representatives of political parties and democratic and progressive organizations from more than 80 countries
at a march and rally in Moscow honouring the 100th anniversary of the Great October
Socialist Revolution. (teleSUR)

November 7 marks the 103rd anniversary of the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. In "ten days that shook the world," the first ever socialist workers' state was created. The architect of that revolution, the great V.I. Lenin, spoke to its significance saying that this revolution undertook the task of completing the democratic revolution that got underway in England in the 1660s. Old forms of governance based on liberal democracy and a bourgeois civil society were replaced with new ones. This created a socialist civil society with full employment, free education, health care and housing for all and no taxes. It provided political equality before the law, full democracy to elect and be elected, no class privileges and no exploiting classes. It affirmed that peace, prosperity, freedom and fraternal unity of the peoples are not merely a utopia, a pipe-dream. They are attainable and the necessity of our times.

Today, the dregs of the deposed ruling classes of that time are consumed with a spectre of communism which haunts them every time they engage in practices which go against the public good. They have created a stereotype of socialism which is a figment of their deranged imaginations, dominated by morbid preoccupation with their own demise. Such is the case in the United States where the Trump campaign declared that a vote for his adversary was a vote for socialism. Such is also the case in the defamatory imperialist propaganda against the Communist Party of China or Putin's Russia. This merely expresses how jealous they are of the ability of others to channel all the human and material resources of their countries in a manner which favours them -- something the U.S. imperialists and their allies, to their chagrin, are unable to accomplish.

In fact, the more the counter-revolution launched since the fall of the former Soviet Union deepens, the more the significance of the Great October Revolution to human history increases. The restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet Union, which led to it becoming an imperialist superpower and then to its collapse, is not a failure of socialism but of capitalism. The consequence is the brutal neo-liberal anti-social offensive and wars to achieve regime change and domination led by the U.S. imperialists, as they collude and contend with other great powers for domination over spheres of influence and sources of cheap resources and labour, and zones for the export of capital with highest returns.

In the conditions of the retreat of revolution, the world is now waking up to take stock of what it means to have a society such as the one which came into being just over one hundred years ago when Soviet Russia was established and Soviet power created a new society where the workers decided all matters in a manner which favoured their interests.

The conditions of the present are forcing all concerned to look at the most important events of the past with the eye of the present, to assist in securing the future. All over the world, the peoples are striving to bring new forms into being, based on democratic principles which vest sovereign decision-making power in the people in a manner which is consistent with the needs of the 21st century.

The October Revolution brought to power those forces which lay dormant in the bosom of the old society. The workers, peasants and the intelligentsia and other working people established a power which favoured them for the first time in human history. Not only did the October Revolution bring an entirely new class to power -- the working class -- it also inspired the workers and oppressed of all lands to embark on the same path. The national crisis created out of the First World War was resolved in favour of the people as the October Revolution ended that bloodiest war in history which was being fought between the imperialist powers for the re-division of the world.

  Lenin declares Soviet power, October 26, 1917 at the historic meeting of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets at the Smolny Institute.

This was the first revolution that created an entirely new society. Socialism appeared on the world historical scene, as predicted by Karl Marx, and the practice of the proletarian revolution ushered in an entirely new period, the period of ending the exploitation of persons by persons and of creating a socialist and communist society on the world scale.

The founder and leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), Hardial Bains, emphasized that during the entire period which has followed the October Revolution, "people have been profoundly imbued with change. Everything points to a great upheaval in the making for the renewal of the society again at this time. Workers cannot but draw the conclusion that prejudices and dogmas are no substitute for a clear conscience and scientific analysis, on the basis of which the crisis in the sphere of ideas can be overcome and cognition can take place in favour of the people and that this is the necessary ideological preparation for renewal."[1]

"This period in history is increasingly bringing forth the necessity to look at all events in history with an open mind, by depending on the body of knowledge and experience of life itself to come to pertinent conclusions. A grasp of the present, a strong handle on what is going on in front of one's eyes, has become vital to ward off that blindness which presents events in history as the work of some evil forces, instead of recognizing them as important milestones on the high road of civilization," Hardial Bains added.[2]

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) hails the Great October Revolution with a great deal of revolutionary optimism, by always keeping in mind that it is the working people who are to decide their future themselves. It is their stubborn persistence to bring about the renewal of the world today which reinforces the Party's resolve to continue until final victory.

The world is in transition from one system to another. The workers of the world and progressive peoples are striving to bring a new world into being. They are taking stock of the present situation in which democratic renewal has emerged as the most important demand in order to humanize the social and natural environment. What people are demanding is to be in control of their lives, to participate meaningfully in the decisions which affect their lives. Only if people can take part in decision-making are they part of the political power.

The working class is the most important part of this struggle for renewal in which abolishing class privileges and discrimination based on race, culture, nationality, religion, gender, language and privileges has become the battle cry. The content, the words, the analysis and observations, and the demands which the working people are putting forward far exceed the possibilities that the existing forms can provide. As a result, people are calling for a change in the forms to ensure that they can bring about the necessary changes for the resolution of the conflicts in their favour.

Increasingly, the political processes are coming under fire as the politicians resort to even greater deception and anti-people, anti-social laws.

The experience of this entire period is very instructive. Taking into consideration all the developments of the past more than 100 years since the triumph of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls on the workers to stand steadfastly behind their cause. CPC(M-L) calls on the workers to join with the Party to leave behind everything which has been negative, especially the influence of the bourgeois world outlook and instead elaborate their own reference points that can help them make heads and tails of unfolding events, and work out what can be done to turn things around in their favour.


1. TML Daily, Vol. 22, No. 27, November 7, 1992.

2. TML Weekly, Vol 48 No. 38, November 3, 2018.

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