June 20, 2015 - No. 25

Harper Government's "Accelerated Depreciation"

To Plan or Not to Plan

Global Private Interests Versus the
Canadian Public Interest and Nation-Building

Farcical Accounting

Canada's Ukrainian Adventure
Harper Government's Continued Attempts to
Impose Nazi Values on Canadians

- Dougal MacDonald -

National Aboriginal Day, June 21
Profound Political and Constitutional Renewal Are Needed to
Redress Crimes Against Indigenous Peoples

- Philip Fernandez -

Celebrating Quebec Nationhood, June 24
Quebec's National Holiday
- Geneviève Royer -
Origins of June 24 Celebrations

Fourth National Day of Action for Refugee Health Care
Health Care Workers and Allies Demand Harper Government Restore Funding for Refugee Health Care

Work to Promote Canada-Cuba Friendship
Cuban Hero Fernando González Warmly Received in Toronto
Doctor's Tour Highlights Work of Humanitarian Brigades
in Fight Against Ebola

Canadian Network on Cuba Sets Work to End U.S. Blockade
and Strengthen Canada-Cuba Relations

Peoples' Summit at CELAC-EU Summit in Brussels
An End Must Be Put to Injustice Created by an International Order, Which Is Increasingly Unjust and Exclusive
- Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, First Vice President,
Cuban Council of State and Ministers

People Unite to Defeat Anti-Government Violence

Seeking a Solution for Greek Debt Crisis
Truth Commission Says Much of Greek Debt Is Illegal

St. Petersburg Economic Forum and EU's Bitter Predicament
- Pyotr Iskenderov -

Harper Government's "Accelerated Depreciation"

To Plan or Not to Plan

To plan (be) or not to plan (be), that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them

(With apologies to Shakespeare)

Capitalism has reached a tipping point. The system has become so heavily monopolized in the basic sectors and dominated by concentrated social wealth that the economy demands planning. Those holding great social wealth agree, for otherwise their private wealth cannot grow at what they consider an acceptable rate. They want state-organized planning to defend their private interests and enlarge their private fortunes; they oppose planning to defend the public interest, strengthen the overall socialized economy and build the nation.

The law of a falling rate of profit forces those that own great social wealth to plan in concert with the state to prop up their private profits using the public treasury and the political power of laws, rules and regulations that suit their private interests, but which immediately come into contradiction with the public interest, other owners of social wealth and the working class.

The centres of great social wealth demand state-organized planning for private purposes. This private planning within parts of the economy comes into conflict with its broad socialized character and the need to harmonize interests, not pit private interests against each other and the public interest.

State-Organized Planning to Serve Certain Private Interests

Harper's PMO put out a press release that distorts economic science to the point of farce. The Harper government proposes that the value of machinery be considered transferred to production at a rate of 50 per cent per year on a declining basis. This "accelerated depreciation" has a contradictory effect of decreasing the amount of added-value for accounting purposes yet increasing the claim on added-value by owners of equity. The loser in this accounting scheme is the government's claim on added-value. This tax proposal is an example of state-organized planning to serve certain narrow private interests. With this state-organized planning for private purposes, the monopolies that benefit are in contradiction with each other, with owners of less social wealth, the working class and the economy itself.

In this case, the monopolies demand state intervention in planning to blunt the law of a falling rate of profit under capitalism. By artificially minimizing added-value through boosting transferred-value from machinery, the government's proposal decreases taxable corporate income thus inflating the actual profit companies can claim. This manoeuvre overcomes at least for accounting purposes the law of a falling rate of profit for the companies directly involved while at the same time further decreasing overall added-value and its rate. By doing so, the problem of a falling rate of profit is buried under economic ignorance and self-serving accounting practices and not faced up to squarely.

State-Organized Measures to Distort the Economy and
Prevent Genuine Renewal

Only fictitious kinds of modern machinery depreciate at 50 per cent a year. Can anyone imagine modern machinery transferring its value at a yearly rate of 50 per cent unless of course it is complete junk to begin with and already falling apart as it leaves the factory, lasting only a few years at best? Even the current 30 per cent rate cannot be justified.

The irony that an annual 50 per cent depreciation of machinery would actually lower the rate of profit in the first few years appears to escape the PMO. The practice lowers the added-value in the accounts but at the expense of only the government's claim while boosting the claims of owners of the monopolies due to the current tax regime. The government's claim on added-value, the corporate tax, is based on a company's "net profit," which clever tax accountants can manipulate down to nothing while at the same time distributing profits to owners of equity.[1]

These state-organized measures to distort the economy are meant to serve certain private interests. They militate against the socialized economy as a whole by taking value from here and putting it there in contradiction with the laws of economic science. They deprive certain sectors of value while filling the coffers of others causing problems for the economy and creating conditions for a general crisis.

The current tax regime and this particular Harper government scheme show the necessity for a complete overhaul with governments and their social and material infrastructure claiming revenue directly from enterprises and not from secondary sources using employee income tax, payroll tax, sales tax, corporate tax on net profit, and user fees. The objective conditions cry out for planning in the public interest in harmony with the socialized nature of the modern economy to meet its needs and that of the people for social programs, which guarantee their rights.

The concept of manipulating transferred-value as a means for the government to claim less added-value from the socialized economy is a farce and causes problems in practice and theory. If the government does not want to claim any of the added-value from production, it should just say so and explain where it plans to find money to fund itself, its institutions, programs, the social and material infrastructure and the general interests of society. The people should denounce the government for making a mockery of economic science to serve narrow private interests.

The Harper government's gambit is an attempt to circumvent a socialized economy that cannot continue in the old way with private relations of production and state-organized planning serving privileged private interests. The old relations based on private ownership of the social forces of production need to be revolutionized and brought into harmony with the reality of the new.

The distortion in accounting is one more effort to avoid the obvious conclusion that the socialized economy demands radical reform and not narrow state-organized planning to serve certain private interests. The falling rate of profit is a problem that emerges from the contradictions of capitalism and cannot be avoided as long as the system persists. It must be acknowledged as a scientific fact and dealt with accordingly, starting with restricting monopoly right and its destructive attempts to circumvent the law.

The economic planning that is needed emerges from the economy's social character and the fact that private ownership of competing parts of the basic sectors cannot control and stabilize the overall economy, and has no use even for its own production unless it serves its narrow private interest for money profit. The organized people have to gain the political power and legal will necessary and capable of confronting and restricting monopoly right and depriving it of the political power that serves its narrow private interests.

Planning to serve the public interest and socialized economy, especially with regard to the wholesale sector, the determination of prices of production in the basic sectors according to a modern scientific formula, which includes an average rate of profit, and control over the supply and distribution of basic production are first steps to avoid recurring economic crises and open a path forward.


1. The classic example of the manipulation of corporate taxes and the “net profit” fraud is the global monopoly GE and its over 1,000 tax accountants. For a summary of its practices read the articles here and here.

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Global Private Interests Versus the
Canadian Public Interest and Nation-Building

Posted below are excerpts from a May 14 statement from the PMO, "PM highlights support to help Canadian manufacturers equip for success," with comments from TML in double parentheses.

"Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide an accelerated capital cost allowance (CCA) at a rate of 50 per cent on a declining-balance basis for machinery and equipment used in manufacturing and processing. This is a substantially faster write-off than the standard 30 per cent rate, allowing businesses to defer taxes and recover the cost of their capital investments more rapidly. The measure will apply to capital assets acquired after 2015 and before 2026."

((Investments in machinery are not recovered through deferred taxes. The value of the machinery is consumed in the production process and then transferred and preserved within new goods and services as transferred-value. Businesses recover the transferred-value when the new good or service is realized (sold). The quality of the machinery and intensity of its use determine the recovery period, not any arbitrary percentage the government may propose in deferring taxes.

The full value of the investment is recovered when the entire value of the machine has been transferred into new production and realized through sale. The machine at that point or earlier would have to be rebuilt to be of any use or retired from service. To impose a 30 or 50 per cent annual recovery to reduce the government's claim on added-value distorts the economy and reveals the manner in which governments presently make their claim on added-value based on a company's "net profit." To relate the recovery or depreciation period for transferred-value to a government dictated "accelerated capital cost allowance" is a theoretical and practical distortion of economic science, which becomes yet another factor disrupting the economy causing crises and solves no problem.))

"This incentive will provide concrete, long-term support, enabling Canadian manufacturers to plan the investments that are needed to compete in a global economy .... The ten-year term will provide businesses with more planning certainty for larger, long-term projects."

((State-organized help for private planning comes into conflict with competing private interests and the public interest. The interrelated socialized economy requires broad social planning taking into account all factors and sectors not just the private interests of particular businesses or sector.))

"New investments will help position them to meet both present and future economic challenges, while creating jobs and growth."

((How does the Harper government know this? From this supposition, it predicts that whatever "new investments" businesses make will "meet both present and future economic challenges." Maybe the investments will be completely disastrous or simply made to cash in on some pragmatic scheme for a quick score.

Also, the claim that investments in machinery and productivity "create jobs" is patently false. Increased use of machinery leading to productivity eliminates jobs. That is the point of productivity, to reduce the living work-time while producing the same quantity of goods and services. Certain businesses using more machinery such as robots generate greater productivity. This will not only eliminate jobs within their own companies but may wipe out competitors within Canada destroying even more jobs. The Harper PMO's statement does not foresee this real possibility but brags of "creating jobs and growth." This statement, unaccompanied by any talk of dealing with possible adverse consequences, shows the government has no plan for increased unemployment and enforced idleness due to greater productivity.

The broader public interest does not gain from this concession to private business interests. The people are left to deal with any negative consequences in an enforced atmosphere of "fend for yourself" creating chaos such as poverty and anti-social behaviour and outlooks. The government foregoes claims on added-value for nothing concrete in return just pie in the sky hopes for "growth," which if it materializes using a gift from the public treasury is registered as a gain for private companies not public enterprise, social programs or public services.

If growth does materialize from certain companies becoming even larger and stronger, the public interest does not benefit. In fact, the public interest directly suffers. As global companies become larger, they become more dominant and belligerent in pushing monopoly right in opposition to public right.

Also, the investment in machinery by companies registered in Canada may in fact be used in their holdings abroad. This is not such a far-fetched idea. Earlier this year the trade union Unifor exposed a $526 million Export Development Canada loan to Volkswagen to help finance the global monopoly's expansion not in Canada but abroad. The government rationalized this misuse of public finds under the hoax that maybe Canadian companies will increase their exports to Volkswagen's non-Canadian enterprises.

Another issue not broached in the PMO statement is the origin of the machinery the companies may purchase. Prime Minister Harper made the announcement in Windsor, Ontario so presumably he has the auto sector in mind. These days, primary machines in vehicle production are robots, which are mostly not manufactured in Canada. Also, the Harper government often speaks of the resource sector, and again, the heavy machinery employed in that sector is not made in Canada but mostly in the U.S., Japan and Germany.

Without a plan to develop robot and heavy machinery production in Canada, the continual purchase of these means of production from abroad, aided by the state treasury, drains social wealth from the country and weakens the economy. The Harper government does not consider the negative implications of this on nation-building nor does it propose anything to change the situation. Its neo-liberal obsession to use the power of the state and its public resources for the empire-building of private monopolies means it opposes any restriction of monopoly right in defence of public right and the sovereign right of the people to control and build their nation and economy to serve the public interest, the people's well-being and general interests of society.))

"This initiative is one of many measures that the Government has taken to create an environment that enables Canadian manufacturers to prosper. Other examples include the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, the Venture Capital Action Plan, concluding negotiations for the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement, and concluding negotiations and implementing legislation for the entry into force of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement."

((This is disingenuous to say the least. Not one economist or academic would dare to suggest that the Canadian manufacturing sector has grown and prospered in recent times. The list of the Harper government's initiatives to serve monopoly right highlights the growing problem facing Canadians of powerful global monopolies that put their private interests as a priority in opposition to the public interest and sovereign nation-building, and use their monopoly right and influence over the state to have their way.))

"The deferral of tax associated with this new measure is expected to reduce federal taxes for manufacturers by $1.1 billion over the 2016-2017 to 2019-2020 period. Since 2006 the Government has worked to create a low-tax environment for business investment ...."

((These types of statements from the Harperites reduce the socialized economy and society to a banality. The social wealth produced within the socialized economy is necessary to reproduce the economy, meet the needs of the working class from birth to passing away and serve the general interests of society. How is such a modern interrelated complex enterprise to be organized and controlled so that the public interest is served? The answer is not found in self-serving triviality.

Statements to the effect of "creating a low-tax environment for business investment" solve no problem and are meant to justify a regime that deprives Canadians of their right to govern themselves and control their economy in the public interest. Such statements attempt to paper over a regime that has handed over the basic sectors of the economy to global private interests in opposition to the Canadian public interest and nation-building. The neo-liberal line of constantly serving monopoly right is a slippery slope to disaster. Canadians demand their right to govern themselves and control their economy to serve the public interest, nation-building and the general interests of society.))

(Complete statement from the PMO is available here.)

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Farcical Accounting

Regarding the PMO's proposal to depreciate
newly-bought machinery at 50 per cent a year

Besides everything else, does a particular company need the new machinery or not? Does such a company need the Harper government's yearly 50 per cent transferred-value promise to push it into buying new machinery or otherwise would it just carry on with what it owns? If the machinery is needed, it could borrow the needed money and the value of the investment would return to the company in time as production is realized.

What does the government hope to achieve through this measure? Are companies going to buy all sorts of new machinery, and with it and the resulting increased productivity flood the economy with production that may or may not be needed, and can or cannot be realized? Does the government somehow know that companies are just itching to buy new machinery but will only do so if they can write it off in their tax accounting as transferred-value at 50 per cent each year? This arbitrary dictate is a public gift to companies and throws mud at economic science, which cannot accept an inflated transferred-value when determining a price of production.

Also, what has the government planned to do with the surplus workers who are no longer needed when the modern machinery increases productivity? Under the capitalist regime, increased productivity does not just generate more social wealth for a privileged few but also more idleness and poverty on the part of many.

The Harperites' plan boosts equity profit by shifting the claim of the government on added-value to owners of equity. This sleight of hand declares the government's claim on added-value as no longer valid, renaming it transferred-value from machinery depreciated at 50 per cent annually and used as a company tax benefit.

The increased owners' claim of equity profit through a tax benefit arises from a convoluted sequence of events from an artificially inflated transferred-value. The increased transferred-value from depreciating machinery at 50 per cent annually decreases the available added-value at least according to the Harper government's accounting. Paradoxically, the decreased added-value ends up benefitting the company as profit because of the existing way corporate taxes are calculated on so-called net profit. The company's taxable net profit becomes less, resulting in a lower government claim on the available added-value, which becomes a tax benefit for the company.

A portion of the available added-value goes to pay for the new machinery before its value is transferred into new production and realized as transferred-value. This scenario exposes the necessity for a completely new taxation system whereby governments and their institutions claim added-value directly from the amount workers produce in the socialized economy and also exchange socially produced value, for example from public education and health care, directly with companies that consume the value. Also, the Harper government's nonsense underscores the necessity to assert the public interest over the wholesale sector and the determination of prices of production.

The $1.1 billion in additional money going to companies to pay for machinery is seized from the government. In the most cavalier manner, the PMO press release brags about the $1.1 billion to be handed over to the private interests profiting from the scheme, without any mention whether the government needs this revenue or not. If the government does need the revenue, it makes no mention of where it will find the forgone $1.1 billion.

This state-organized distortion of the economy should be characterized as official corruption serving certain private interests. It opens the door to possible buying and selling of equipment here and there even within monopolies or fictitiously to themselves as a means to increase transferred-value and avoid paying taxes. The same piece of equipment could be moved around on paper to where it reduces net profit in the most effective way. Global monopolies are organized that way. To avoid showing any profits for years on end, they move the accounting of transferred-value around from one division to another, even from one country to another, or from the construction of a new mill or mine to a facility that is fully productive and can benefit from a tax deduction. Monopoly manipulation can declare a part of the same company completely independent for self-serving purposes. U.S. Steel has done exactly that saying its wholly owned Canadian subsidiary is bankrupt and owes the parent U.S. company billions of dollars as a secured creditor ahead of all others including pensioners.

With this tax measure, the Harper government keeps piling on the ignorance and contradictions. The people are forced to keep on keeping on as they say, or as Shakespeare writes, "to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them," and by doing so bring the outmoded relations of production of private ownership of competing parts of the economy into harmony with the already socialized economy where the actual producers will control the economy, and scientific planning can stabilize and stimulate the economy to best serve the public interest and general interests of society.

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Canada's Ukrainian Adventure

Harper Government's Continued Attempts to Impose Nazi Values on Canadians

Parliament Hill, October 4, 2014.

Ukraine's worst-kept secret is now being more and more exposed. For many months, the ruling circles of Ukraine, the Harper dictatorship, and the U.S. and Canadian monopoly media, among others, have tried vainly to conceal the facts of the continuing neo-Nazi resurgence in Ukraine. Currently, the openly neo-Nazi political party Svoboda holds seven seats in the Ukraine parliament. Other similar parties such as Right Sector, which apologists euphemistically label "ultra-nationalist" and "far right," also hold parliamentary seats. Meanwhile, Ukraine military attacks on what are labelled "pro-Russian rebels" are being spearheaded by the openly neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, as well as by other private and government-financed "volunteer battalions" -- such as the Aidar Battalion -- which brandish Nazi symbols.

The Azov Battalion, funded by Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, is a military unit commanded by Ukrainian legislator Andriy Biletsky, a known white supremacist. The Conservative British newspaper, the London Telegraph, commented on August 11, 2014: "Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf's Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites." Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the reality of the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.

Neo-Nazi emblem of the Azov Battalion.

As far as the Azov Battalion goes, the cat is now completely out of the bag. On June 10, the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives was forced to pass a bipartisan amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act -- from Representatives John Conyers Jr. (Democrat-Michigan) and Ted Yoho (Republican-Florida) -- that would block U.S. training of the Azov battalion. "I am grateful that the House of Representatives unanimously passed my amendments last night to ensure that our military does not train members of the repulsive neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, along with my measures to keep the dangerous and easily trafficked MANPADs (note: man-portable air defense systems) out of these unstable regions," said Conyers on June 11.[1]

The U.S. move has once again put the Harper government's Minister of Defence Jason Kenney, squarely on the spot. As is well-known, the Harper government and its minions have been engaged in a passionate love affair with the Nazi-infiltrated Ukrainian regime, especially since the May 25, 2014, coup by the forces backing current President Petro Poroshenko. Poroshenko himself has made his own pro-Nazi stand very clear. In December 2014, he granted Ukrainian citizenship to Belarusian neo-Nazi and Azov Battalion commander of reconnaissance Serhiy Korotkykh. On April 6, Interpol-wanted leader of Ukraine's neo-Nazi group Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, was appointed as an adviser to the country's Chief of General Staff. On April 9, the Ukraine parliament banned communism and officially recognized Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with the Nazis as "freedom fighters." On May 15, Poroshenko signed a bill to remove communist monuments and to rename all "communist-related" streets, public places and settlements. The legislation also provided public recognition to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, led by Stepan Bandera, which collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War.

This April, Minister of Defence Kenney announced that the Harper government was committing up to 200 Canadian soldiers to train Ukraine's military to fight "Russian rebels." The move was questioned at the time. In light of the April announcement, on June 18 Kenney was asked to comment on the U.S. vote to block training of the Azov Battalion. Kenney refused and instead his press secretary emailed this response: "Ukrainian forces are responsible for the screening process to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces will only be training legitimate military members. The first installment of trainees will be members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (Land). [... We have] been assured that this group will not include members of the Azov Battalion and this battalion will not be integrated into the Ukrainian Armed Forces."

Former Canadian diplomat James Bissett had already suggested in April that Minister Kenney's claims of "selective training" were not supported by the evidence. Following Kenney's announcement, Bissett said that the Canadians could end up training members of the country's fascist groups as those troops are now being enrolled in Ukraine's regular forces. "These militias are being merged with Ukraine's military so we won't be able to determine who we are training," said Bissett, Canada's former ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania. "These are unsavoury groups that Canadian soldiers should not be associated with."

It should be noted that Minister of Defence Kenney revealed his own pro-Nazi leanings as many as six years ago. In 2009, Kenney expressed his admiration for convicted pro-Nazi war criminal Cardinal Aloysious Stepanic during an invited speech to the Croatian community: "I have on my desk in my office in Ottawa a prayer card with a picture of Cardinal Stepinac, who was himself a kind of martyr for Croatia and for the faith, and he, for me, is one of the great heroes of the 20th century. And these men, all of them, men and women are heroes. I was very touched by this. So, thank you very much."[2]

During World War II, Kenney's hero Stepinac collaborated with fellow war criminal Ante Pavelic, the head of a pro-Nazi puppet state called the "Independent State of Croatia," which was founded on April 10, 1941, after the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia, and run by a murderous fascist gang called the Ustashe. By order of the Vatican, Stepinac held the position of supreme apostolic vicar for the Ustashe army. "Hitler is an envoy of God," declared Stepinac, then an Archbishop, in a letter to the Croatian Sentinel on January 1, 1942. Stepinac was promoted to Cardinal by Pope Pius XII in 1953 and beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1998.[3] The Ustashe regime set up the notorious Jasenovac concentration camp, one of the largest in Europe, where an estimated 13,000 Jews, 48,000 Serbs, and 10,000-20,000 Roma were systematically exterminated.

The 1947 investigation by the Yugoslavian government, "The Case of Archbishop Stepinac," clearly exposed Stepinac's criminal role in wartime Yugoslavia: "Investigation by the Yugoslav War Crimes Commission established that Archbishop Stepinac had played a leading part in the conspiracy that led to the conquest and breakdown of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was furthermore established that Archbishop Stepinac played a role in governing the Nazi puppet Croatian state, that many members of his clergy participated actively in atrocities and mass murders, and, finally, that they collaborated with the enemy down to the last day of the Nazi rule, and continued after the liberation to conspire against the newly created Federal Peoples Republic of Yugoslavia."[4]

The Harper dictatorship's continuing anti-communist campaign and its open support for neo-Nazism and black reaction pose serious dangers for the Canadian people. Many examples can be given. The just-passed Bill C-51 legalizes black ops and state terror against the working people. The Harper government used the occasion of the June 5-11 visit to Europe, which included stops in Ukraine, Germany, Poland and Italy to dishonour the Canadian people by advocating war and aggression in their name. The Harper Conservatives supported fascism by boycotting the May 9 celebration in Moscow of the 70th anniversary of the victory in Europe over the Hitlerites. For several years now, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Defence have spearheaded the funding of an anti-communist memorial in Ottawa on a prime piece of real-estate so as to impose Nazi values on Canadians. These many betrayals by the Harper Conservatives of all those who fought and died fighting fascism are of great concern to all Canadians. It is a clear indication of the sinister extremism that the Harper Conservatives are trying to impose on Canadian society.


1. For further details, see the article, "U.S. House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine" in the June 13 Supplement to TML Weekly Information Project. http://www.cpcml.ca/Tmlw2015/W45024S.HTM#1

2. See the You Tube video of Kenney's speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtHVhfjXcS4&feature=youtu.be

3. For more details on Pope Pius' role during the Second World War, see Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius X11 (1999), by John Cornwell.

4. Full document available at http://emperors-clothes.com/croatia/stepinac1.htm

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National Aboriginal Day, June 21

Profound Political and Constitutional Renewal
Are Needed to Redress Crimes Against
Indigenous Peoples

Walk for reconciliation in Ottawa, part of the final assembly of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, May 31, 2015.

June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, which was proclaimed in 1996 by then-Governor General Roméo Leblanc. The Governor General's proclamation noted that the summer solstice had particular "symbolic" significance for Aboriginal peoples and had thus been selected as the occasion for National Aboriginal Day. He stated: "Aboriginal peoples of Canada have made and continue to make valuable contributions to Canadian society and it is considered appropriate that there be, in each year, a day to mark and celebrate these contributions and to recognize the different cultures of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada."

National Aboriginal Day 2015 comes at a time of sharpening struggle of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples as they affirm their hereditary, treaty and constitutional rights.

The Harper government is using the occasion, as it has done in the past, to pay lip service to Aboriginal peoples' contributions and to pretend that there is no issue of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples' rights and claims.

This is abundantly clear in the manner the Harperites play coy with the Summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report to be tabled later this year. It is noteworthy that on June 4, a day after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Summary was tabled, Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development issued a statement about initiating talks with the Métis National Council as part of "Canada's broader commitment to work with partners to develop a new reconciliation framework for addressing Section 35 Aboriginal rights. The goal is to develop shared solutions, provide clarity about ongoing rights and create a more predictable climate for economic investment and increased prosperity for the benefit of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities." It is clear as clear can be -- for the Harper government, reconciliation does not mean a new way of working with Aboriginal peoples that is based on nation-to-nation relations, mutual respect and mutual benefit, but rather on blackmailing Métis, Inuit and First Nations to be "willing partners" to "create a more predictable climate for economic investment." This is how the Harper government defends monopoly right against the rights of the Aboriginal peoples and the peoples of Canada and Quebec. Anyone who stands in the way is a "terrorist" who is a "security risk" to Canada's "national interests."

The whole movement against Bill C-51 and to Defeat Harper in the 2015 federal elections has brought Aboriginal peoples, the Canadian people and the Quebec people into closer united action because the fight of the Aboriginal peoples and the fight of the Canadian people and the Quebec people is one fight -- the fight for political and constitutional renewal so that the rights of all can be guaranteed in a new and modern constitution that respects, upholds and guarantees the rights of all. The 18th century colonial racist state in Canada is blocking the forward movement of society for which Aboriginal peoples, the Canadian and Quebec working class, youth, women and all the collectives of society aspire.

On the occasion of National Aboriginal Day, Aboriginal peoples are waging a principled and courageous fight from coast-to-coast-to-coast for their hereditary, treaty and constitutional rights and against the threats and perfidy of the Canadian state under the Harper Conservatives. The time is now for the working class and peoples of Canada and Quebec to work together with the Aboriginal peoples for a profound renewal of the political arrangements in the society and to deprive the authorities of their power to deprive the people of their rights. The peoples themselves must be empowered to take control of their economic, political and social affairs. Constitutional and political renewal is the pre-condition for true reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples, Canada and Quebec.

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Celebrating Quebec Nationhood, June 24

Quebec's National Holiday

Quebec's National Holiday on June 24 is an opportunity to celebrate -- with music and song, meetings, parades and neighbourhood activities -- who we are as a people, where we have come from and where we are going. This is a multi-faceted celebration, similar to the ancient summer solstice and harvest festivals, recognizing the need to come together to collectively celebrate our common history.

It is also a political celebration, a quality that varies in its expression depending on the times and circumstances. It is an occasion to reflect on the conduct of our leaders and discuss the state of the nation. This need to collectively take stock of the situation grows with the marginalization of the people from political power.

That sense of not being able to exercise control over our lives, of being unable to solve society's problems, has never been greater. Yet, by drawing on our rich history, unique experience of living together and relying on the youth to question all dogmas, the Quebec people are at the dawn of a profound renewal of the society. The primary problem to grapple with is the question "Who decides?" Settling this question in the people's favour is the most unifying endeavour today, one that is directly descended from the struggle of the Patriots of 1837-1838 for a Republic of Quebec.

Today the governments of Canada and of Quebec turn the question of who decides into a matter of avoiding quarrels. Under the pretext of dealing with the "real issues" they impose the agenda of private economic interests. This is possible because of a corrupt electoral process that allows the rich minority to usurp decision-making power, while they sow division in the body politic based on old prejudices.

In his inaugural speech, Premier Philippe Couillard said that the election of the Liberal Party was a "victory for diversity" (as opposed to what the Liberals and Conservatives call "xenophobia"). Yet two paragraphs later he reveals his concept of "diversity" to be precisely the same as has been used to divide the body politic for the last 200 years. Couillard says his ancestors came from Brittany in 1613 then claims that we are all equal insofar as we demonstrate "a commitment to our shared values." According to him these are: "French as the common language of our public space, while respecting the rights and historical contributions of our Anglophone compatriots." One cannot find a more narrow and archaic conception of rights.

The reality is that the old Anglo-Canadian and European models of multiculturalism and integration are racist to the core and are in crisis. Couillard's words show that the refusal to settle the question of who decides and the imposition of backward models only make things worse. Only a modern nation-building project based on a modern definition of rights will solve the identity crisis and open society's path to progress. Membership in the body politic is a matter of right and rights belong to people by virtue of their being human; they are not based on their values or beliefs.

It is urgent to respond to this present situation of disempowerment and governments that serve private interests with full cognizance of Quebec's historical path. Quebec's National Holiday is another opportunity to review our historical journey and see how at all the major historical milestones, the defenders of the rich minority in Quebec and Canada use crises to block the efforts of the people to take their affairs in hand, so as to confound the spirit of renewal and maintain their stranglehold on power.

On the occasion of Quebec's National Holiday, at all the public gatherings, let us consider how to organize ourselves politically and together decide our fate. How can we unite in citizens' committees for democratic renewal in neighbourhoods and workplaces to keep the initiative in our hands and take the lead in deciding all the affairs of Quebec?

(Originally published in TML Daily, June 24, 2014.)

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Origins of June 24 Celebrations

The origins of celebrations on or around June 24 are ancient and varied. Among the pagans the summer solstice (which according to the Julian calendar falls on June 24), was celebrated with bonfires symbolizing the life-giving power of the sun. In addition to being a ritual to mark the change of seasons, the ancient celebrations were also a milestone in the agricultural production cycle -- the beginning of arduous work on the land to be completed at the end of summer. Today, these bonfires persist as the oldest symbol of these celebrations.

In Catholic France during medieval times, the celebration was known as Saint John the Baptist Day, taking its name from the sanctuaries established by the Catholic Church to fight paganism. It was brought to the colonies of the French empire in opposition to the summer solstice celebrated by the Aboriginal Nations around the same date. The church, through the Council of Trent (1545-1563) attempted to Christianize that custom, a celebration of light around a joyous bonfire, by replacing it with a portrayal of submission in the person of Saint John the Baptist, "the lamb of God." In the same vein, Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier, in his 1702 Catechism for the Diocese of Quebec directed at the Canadiens, noted that the Catholic Church in the New World considered the ceremony acceptable so long as the "dances and superstitions" of the Natives were banished.

In 1908, Pope Pius X, advocating the division of the Canadian people into so-called French Canadians and English Canadians that the British empire was so determined to impose, named Saint John the Baptist as the patron saint of "French Canadians."

The celebration regained its popular character at the end of the 1960s with the resurgence of the movement for Quebec's independence and the people's sovereignty. The symbol of division and submission was swept aside and once again people danced joyfully around a bonfire. June 24 was renamed Quebec's National Holiday by a National Assembly resolution in May 1977.

It is also noteworthy that since 2004 on National Aboriginal Day, which falls around the same time of year, a "Solstice of the Nations" is held by the First Nations in Quebec, along with a "Fire Ceremony." These events are "an expression of exchange and friendship amongst nations living in Quebec" so as to "encourage closer ties amongst the peoples living on Quebec's territory."

Today the celebration of June 24 rejoins another modern and forward-looking tradition established some 180 years ago -- the celebration of the Quebec nation and all its inhabitants. On March 8, 1834, 19th century revolutionary and progressive patriots founded the Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera Society ("God helps those who help themselves"). The aim of that patriotic institution was to "provide a designated place for thought (to all those who recognized the necessity for change) to discuss the country's state of affairs" and "to rekindle the burning desire of love of country, either by shedding light on the deeds of those governing us, or by paying a fair tribute of praise to the eloquent and brave defenders of our rights." It was that society, led by elected representative Ludger Duvernay, publisher and editor of the patriot newspaper La Minerve, which on June 24, 1834 organized the banquet in the garden of the lawyer Jean-François-Marie-Joseph MacDonell to institute a national celebration for Canadiens of all origins. Today, the term Quebeckers of all origins is used.

June 24: 1834: Ludger Duvernay and the members of the Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera Society
institute June 24 as Quebec's National Day. (www.fetenationale.qc.ca)

What was established on June 24, 1834 by Ludger Duvernay, his fellow patriots and the elected members of the Patriot Party was a national celebration. As for the original proposal, what Ludger Duvernay, the patriots and their political party organized was the celebration of the Canadiens, today the Quebec nation. Thus, it was the first celebration of the people of that nation, where Duvernay, the patriots, the elected patriots and their party recognized the people as "the primary source of all legitimate authority," and in doing so also recognized their sovereignty.

This nationality was constituted in the course of the people's opposition to the British empire's military aggression and occupation of their homeland, against the destruction and domination of their national economy by the monopolies of the British empire, such as the British American Land Company by oligarchs such as McGill, Molson and Moffat. Known as the Chateau Clique, they controlled the Bank of Montreal, imports and exports, naval and railway construction and transportation, the mining and metallurgical industry, the Montreal Gas Lighting Company, and McGill University, amongst other things. It was these forces who were served by the suppression of the nascent Quebec republic.

The members of that nation included indigenous peoples and those who hailed from Brittany, Normandy, France, Ireland, Scotland, England and other European countries. Canadiens were considered all those descended from the people of this new nation which constituted itself over time through the struggle for its independent development and the defence of its right to sovereignty. In undertaking their nation-building project, patriots of all backgrounds and their Patriot Party never acted in a sectarian manner based on language, religion or national origin. Never did they declare that they were "French Canadians," nor did they ever declare or take up the defence of "French Canadians." The writings of the patriots, the Patriot Party and its most distinguished leaders such as Nelson, De Lorimier, Chénier, Côté, Duvernay (La Minerve), O'Callaghan (The Vindicator) etc., never employed the "French Canadian" term or concept.

It should be remembered that the founders of associations based on the ethno-cultural, linguistic or religious origins during the 19th century were people such as McGill, Molson and Moffat. They used such associations to undermine the unity of the Canadiens in defence of their homeland, their national economy and the building of their republic.

This concept of "French Canadian," as well as today's concepts of "old stock Quebeckers" and "French Quebeckers," takes its origin from the colonial method of divide and rule. In this specific case, it originates with Lord Durham, the emissary and administrator of the British Empire who, following the suppression of the budding Quebec Republic through force, arbitrarily and unjustly divided the nation into "French Canadians" and "English Canadians." He falsified history for self-serving purposes. Durham claimed he found "a quarrel of two races," not the struggle of a people against occupation and domination by a foreign empire, against a state and an absolutist and tyrannical government and a struggle for an independent homeland and the establishment of a democratic Republic.

The real division was not between two imaginary "races" invented for all intents and purposes by the monopolists and capitalists of the British Empire and their administrators. It was between a nation in search of its independence and sovereignty, determined to establish its democratic republic, and a colonialist empire denying that nation's right to be.

The genius and force of character of that people which constituted itself the nation on these lands already inhabited by the Aboriginal Nations, was, amongst other things, such that they refused to accept the negation of their nationality by the British Empire. The British administrators and their collaborators and conciliators did everything to divide the people on an ethno-cultural and linguistic basis such as shamelessly calling them "French Canadians" and "English Canadians." The Canadiens refused the negation of their right to be a nation comprised of all members of their society, regardless of national origin, language and beliefs.

Instead, they adopted a name taken from a Native word, "kebek," thereby affirming their nationhood as the Quebec nation. (Kebek is an Algonquin word meaning narrow passage or strait in this case referring to the area of present day Quebec City and the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River at Cape Diamond).

The celebration of Quebec's National Day includes the celebration of our 19th century patriots, Nelson, De Lorimier, Côté, Chénier, Duvernay, O'Callaghan, etc. -- all those who fought to establish an independent homeland and republic which vests sovereignty in the people. It includes celebrating all those who have espoused and continue to espouse the cause of the Quebec Patriots, in particular all those committed to elaborating a nation-building project in conformity with the needs of the times.

Today once again the nation is called on to define itself in the context of the global turmoil of neo-liberalism. The resolution of this historical problem can only be guided by modern definitions as inspired by the patriots of the 19th century, in opposition to today's versions of the same old dogmas inherited from the colonial past. The nation-building project is once again intimately linked with establishing who decides and smashing the outmoded and archaic structures of the past. This is what will open a bright future for a modern Quebec nation that defends the rights of all.

(Originally published in TML Daily, June 24, 2014.)

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Fourth National Day of Action for Refugee Health Care

Health Care Workers and Allies Demand Harper Government Restore Funding for Refugee Health Care

Toronto, June 15, 2015.

On June 15, Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care (CDRC) and other health care professionals and their allies held the fourth annual National Day of Action, the largest to date, in 20 cities across Canada to demand that the Harper Conservatives restore the funding that they have cut from health care for refugees. They denounced the Harper government's criminalization of refugees for making "bogus" medical claims without providing any proof that this is the case and its justification for the cuts on that basis. The actions were also to demand that the Harper government immediately comply with the Federal Court's July 2014 decision that calls for the reversal of cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program which provides funding for refugee health care, and describes these cuts as "cruel and unusual punishment"and a violation of Charter rights.


In Toronto, over 200 doctors, nurses, health care students, settlement workers and others took part in a lunch-time rally opposite the Immigration and Refugee Board office on Victoria Street in the city's downtown.

The emcee for the rally, Dr. Philip Berger, director of the Inner City Health Program at St. Michael's Hospital and co-chair of CDRC, denounced the Harper government for its "heartless and soulless" disregard for the health care rights of refugees as a basic human right. He said that the health care community and all Canadians are united in opposing the criminalization of refugees by the Harper Conservatives. Dr. Berger pointed out that the Harper government monitored the rallies that took place last year and information about the CDRC's political actions has been reported to the Government Operations Centre which is part of Canada's state security. He emphasized that it is the right of the medical profession and all concerned citizens to raise their voices against these brutal attacks on the right of refugees to health care and that the community will not be intimidated by these surveillance tactics.

The political unity of the medical community against the Conservative government's cuts to refugee health care was echoed by Dr. Meb Rashid, another co-chair of the CDRC and a physician at Women's College Hospital. Dr. Rashid condemned the Harper government for engaging in the politics of division to try to score cheap political points off the backs of refugees. He stated that broad sections of the Canadian people, including prominent authors, musicians and public personalities, have stood with refugees and demanded that the Conservatives respect their rights including their right to health care. He stated that instead of spending public funds to appeal the Federal Court's just decision, the government should use the $1.4 million and counting in public funds it has used to challenge the law, to simply provide refugees with the health care that they need.

Another speaker stated that the $20 million that have been cut from the Interim Federal Health Program amounts to the total cost of the Prime Minister's security detail.

Dr. Fatima Uddin, a family physician, whose family came to Canada as refugees from Bangladesh, noted that if not for the medical care her father received upon their arrival here, he would not have known that he had colon cancer and thanks to the treatment he received, her father was able to live for fifteen more productive years. Health care for refugees are life and death issues said Dr. Uddin and Canada has an obligation to ensure that the health care of refugees as part of the Canadian people, is upheld and fully funded.

Dr. Tatiana Friere-Lizama, whose family came to Canada as refugees fleeing the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile noted that one of the features of that dictatorship was to criminalize dissent and deny people's rights. She stated that it is unacceptable that the Harper government is trying to put a wedge between refugees and the rest of Canadians by criminalizing refugees. There is no such divide, we are all one, Dr. Friere-Lizama said.

Dr. Katherine Rouleau the Director of Global Health, Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto stated that the first duty of doctors and medical professionals is to the patient and it is unacceptable that the Harper Conservatives's health care policies are aimed at dehumanizing people. She stressed that it is the collective voice of the health care professionals and their allies gathered at the rally that is setting forth a national health care policy that respects human rights. She pointed out that the fall elections will be an opportunity for everyone to take a stand against these brutal and inhumane cuts and to hold the Harper government to account.

A representative of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), Tim Lenartowych, Director of Nursing and Health Policy, denounced the Harper government's cuts to refugee health programs and said that the unity of the health care community and all Canadians is decisive in winning this battle. He reported that the RNAO has intervener status at the upcoming appeal by the Harper government of the Federal Court ruling and that the organization will do everything it can to ensure that the appeal is defeated.

The last speaker, Executive Director of the Queen West Community Health Centre Angela Robertson, militantly condemned the Harper government for its anti-refugee attacks and called it an attack on all Canadians. "We are indivisible," she emphasized. Robertson stated that it is the broad unity of the people for the rights of everyone and their collective conviction to ensure that justice is done that will prevail. She called the Harper government's policies unjust and retrogressive and called on everyone to take action in the federal elections. She led the crowd in several chants including "What do we want! We want health care for refugees! We want health care for All!

Dr. Berger wrapped up the rally by stating that CDRC will be active in the fall election campaign dogging Conservative and other candidates to get them to commit to restoring full funding for refugee health care as soon as possible.









Moose Jaw


(Photos: TML, Halifax Media Coop, E. Robert, Somerset West CHC, J. Philpott, T. O'Shea, I. Wurmann, R. Meili, M. Wiedmeyer,  S. Doshi, C. Clark)

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Work to Promote Canada-Cuba Friendship

Cuban Hero Fernando González Warmly
Received in Toronto

Fernando González speaks to standing room only crowd at Steelworkers Hall, May 30, 2015.

Fernando González, one of the Five anti-terrorist heroes who was unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for 15 years, addressed friends, supporters and activists from the Cuba solidarity movement at a memorable gathering at the Steelworkers' Hall in Toronto on May 30. The Five were arrested in 1998 after informing U.S. authorities of the terrorist plots of anti-Cuba reactionaries based in Miami. They were held in prison for many years on false convictions due to the U.S. hostile policy toward Cuba, that has only recently begun to shift.

The event coincided with the 7th Biennial Convention of the Canadian Network on Cuba held in Toronto on May 30 and 31. It also marked the final stop on the cross-Canada tour of Cuban doctor José de Jesús Portilla Garcia to inform Canadians about the efforts of Cuba's contribution to the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

González received a standing ovation as he entered the packed hall, with shouts of "Viva Cuba!"; "Viva Fidel!" and "Viva Raúl!" Toronto lawyer Juan Carranza, the emcee for the evening, introduced the dignitaries seated with González and Dr. Garcia at the head table: Cuban Ambassador to Canada Julio Garmendía Peña; Consul General of Cuba in Toronto Javier Dómokos Ruiz; U of T Professor Emeritus Keith Ellis; and the co-chairs of the Canadian Network on Cuba, Elizabeth Hill and Isaac Saney. Martha Pardo, the Consul of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Toronto, was also recognized.

Fernando González is greeted enthusiastically as he enters the Toronto Steelworkers' Hall.

Dr. Garcia gave a brief overview of the scope of Cuba's internationalist medical assistance to the peoples of the world, especially in times of emergency (see the report on this tour below). He then ceded the floor to Fernando González.

González, who is now a Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), began by expressing the gratitude of the Cuban Five to all those who applied their "creativity and ingenuity" over the years to demand their freedom. He declared that the victory of December 17, 2014, when the last three of the Cuban Five were released, belongs to all those who contributed to these efforts.

He spoke to one of the questions on everyone's minds -- how did the Five withstand their long and harsh imprisonment? Gonzalez referred directly to Dr. Portilla's remarks, explaining that he drew upon the pride and honour of defending the Cuban Revolution as a source of steadfastness. He recalled a letter he received in prison from a Cuban doctor serving as part of a team in the small South Pacific island nation of Nauru, which raised his spirits and reminded him of what the Cuban Five were defending. González also revealed that he shared a cell for four years with Puerto Rican patriot Oscar López Rivera, who has now spent 34 years in U.S. prisons for the crime of advocating independence for Puerto Rico.

Professor Keith Ellis expressed the gratitude of Canadians for all that Cuba has done for people around the world. He pointed out that Cuba's response to people in need started at home, with help for the victims of Hurricane Flora in 1963. In 2005, the Henry Reeve Brigade was created to provide immediate relief for places in the world stricken by natural disasters. The brigade has since brought medical assistance to countries such as Pakistan and Haiti and now Nepal. Professor Ellis pointed out that a reliable way to help people in the world who are in dire need is to support Cuba's efforts. A collection was taken and more than $800 was raised at the meeting to support the Cuban medical team fighting Ebola in West Africa.

Tamara Hansen, from Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba, and Alison Bodine, of the Free the Five Committee --Vancouver, presented a special memorial book to González as a tribute to all of the Cuban Five. The book contains posters produced for the 110 monthly pickets held in front of the U.S. consulate in Vancouver to demand the release of the Five.

During the question period after the presentations, González was asked whether he had been offered any deals when he was unjustly arrested in 1998. He affirmed that this was the case, and that the FBI took him to the Federal Detention Center in Miami and tried to coerce him by saying, "You're missing the opportunity to stay in the land of the free." He was also warned, "Fidel Castro is not going to lift a finger for you." On hearing that, he had to laugh inside because he knew that Cuba has a history of "never leaving a soul behind." Following that, the prosecutors used the long period of isolation prior to the trial to try to break the will of the Five and get them to admit to the false accusations, but to no avail. Later, in 2009, when he and Antonio Guerrero were brought to court in Miami as part of the appeal process, the prosecution contacted Guerrero's lawyer to see if he wanted to talk about a deal. The others were approached too at times, but none of the Five would agree to say that they were guilty of any crime.

Regarding the U.S. change in policy toward Cuba, González stated that he is hopeful for the future. He explained that he grew up with U.S. hostility, the possibility of a military invasion and an economic blockade that still exists today, so he is vigilant because the aim of the U.S. remains to undermine the Cuban Revolution. "It's a challenge we're ready for," he said, acknowledging that the present circumstances are not that of a "shooting war." Instead, "the adversary comes disguised in certain ways, [making them] more difficult to identify." But Cuba has a long history of fighting and "we're going to win this one too," he said.

He noted that, since December 17, 2014, the U.S. and Cuban governments have been at the negotiating table but the blockade is still in full force, the Guantanamo Bay naval base is still illegally occupied and the fight to defend Cuba's sovereignty continues. His conclusion was that "life is struggle and that the horizon is always moving."

Promoting Cuba's Participation in 2015 Pan Am Games

Cuban Ambassador Julio Garmendía Peña (left) presents his country's blog for the 2015 Pan Am Games to the Canadian Cuba solidarity movement.

As part of closing remarks, Cuban Ambassador Garmendía Peña announced that Cuba will be bringing a delegation of more than 700 representatives, including more than 450 athletes, to the Pan American Games to be held in Toronto from July 10 to 26 and that a new trilingual blog (English, French and Spanish), Twitter and Facebook page have been set up to fully profile Cuba's participation. He appealed to everyone to support the athletes and also to enjoy the Cuban cultural activities that will be happening as part of Panamania, the arts and cultural program associated with the Pan Am Games. The website address is: cubapanam2015.ca, Twitter: @cubapanam2015 and Facebook: Cuba Pan Am 2015.

Professor Ellis encouraged everyone to attend a new multi-media theatrical production, "Niágara -- A Pan-American Story" that will premier in Toronto from July 23 to 26 as part of Panamania. The show is based on the life of José María Heredia, the Cuban poet who wrote the famous poem "Niágara" in 1824 as a reflection on his life in exile from his homeland. It is directed by Veronica Tennant, former prima ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, who is now a filmmaker, director and producer.

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Doctor's Tour Highlights Work of Humanitarian Brigades in Fight Against Ebola

Dr. José de Jesús García Portilla visits Vancouver, May 21, 2015.

From May 15 to 30, Cuban doctor José de Jesús García Portilla toured Canada and Quebec to present Cuba's role in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. Invited by the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC), he visited nine cities in 16 days -- Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston, Hamilton and Niagara. In Hamilton, a special session was organized for health care students and professionals in coordination with the McMaster Michael DeGroote School of Medicine's Global Health Committee and Infectious Diseases Interest Group. Those who attended found Dr. Portilla's presentations explaining Cuba's role to assist the peoples of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and many others around the world captivating and inspiring.

Dr. Portilla pointed out that in Cuba, "Health is not a business but a human right," guaranteed in the country's constitution. He outlined the development of the Cuban health system since the Revolution in 1959, explaining that the major focus of health care training, delivery, research, etc. is the prevention of illness.

He highlighted Cuba's progress in various health indicators, such as the significant decrease in infant mortality from 69 per 1,000 births in 1959 to 4.2 per 1,000 births in 2014. Cuba also has a high life expectancy of 79 years, the same as the United States. Since the triumph of the Revolution, 13 infectious diseases have been eliminated in Cuba.

Dr. Portilla's tour concludes in Toronto,
on May 30, 2015.

In addition to these achievements, at each stop along the tour Dr. Portilla explained with great pride that for almost 50 years Cuba has offered medical assistance to countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. He noted that there are currently 52,000 Cuban health workers serving in 67 countries and, over the years, there have been 140,000 who have provided internationalist medical aid in 108 countries in times of urgent need. The first Cuban medical mission was deployed to Chile after the Valdivia earthquake on May 22, 1960. His own involvement began in Africa, specifically Congo and Angola. He explained that Cubans feel they have a duty to go when people need help anywhere in the world and that "Cuba has never said no."

Regarding Cuba's role to assist in the Ebola crisis that began in 2014 in West Africa, Cuba once again rose to the occasion without any hesitation or reluctance when the request for assistance came from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan.

The intervention of Cuban medical personnel in collaboration with those from other countries and local health workers, lowered the Ebola mortality rate from 80 per cent to about 20 per cent. Counter to the disinformation spread by media monopoly about the impossibility of containing the scourge of Ebola, the Cuban medical brigade gained great practical experience. Cuba wasted no time in initiating an intensive training program to share its experience with medical personnel around the world.

On May 12, Cuba sent personnel to Nepal to assist in the wake of the April 25 earthquake, whereas Canada only sent personnel several days later. Dr. Portilla credited leader of the Revolution Fidel Castro for educating and imbuing the Cuban people with the spirit of internationalism.

Dr. Portilla's tour concluded in Toronto, on May 30 at an event where Cuban anti-terrorist hero Fernando Gonzalez was also a guest speaker and coincided with the seventh biennial convention of the Canadian Network on Cuba.

Dr. José de Jesús García Portilla visits Montreal, May 25, 2015.

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Canadian Network on Cuba Sets Work to End U.S. Blockade and Strengthen Canada-Cuba Relations

From May 30-31, the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) held its 7th Biennial Convention in Toronto. Delegates and alternate delegates from 19 member organizations participated.

Several important observers and invited guests were also in attendance, including His Excellency Julio Garmendía Peña, Ambassador of Cuba to Canada, Javier Dómokos Ruiz, Toronto Consul General of Cuba; and other Cuban diplomats. The Quebec-Cuba Solidarity Roundtable also sent representatives to the Convention.

The Convention welcomed Fernando González Llort of the Cuban Five. González participated in his capacity as Vice-President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). He was accompanied by Sandra Ramírez Rodriguez, Director of the North American Desk of ICAP.

Cuban doctor José de Jesús Portilla García was another important guest.

The CNC executive and CNC member organizations presented reports covering the two years since the 6th Convention. The reports illustrated the breadth and depth of Canada-Cuba solidarity activities from Vancouver to Halifax that encompassed the political, social and cultural spheres. The CNC's work included the very successful cross-Canada tours of Geraldo Alfonso and Dr. Portilla Garcia, as well as the international symposium "Africa's Unknown War: Apartheid Terror, Cuba & Southern Africa Liberation" held in Toronto, September 2013. Member groups reported on the struggle to free the Cuban Five and the tremendous joy at their liberation. The scope and diversity of this work encompassed a variety of arenas, from political work with parliamentarians and unions to cultural performances and festivals to ongoing information meetings, conferences, pickets and leafleting.

Recognizing that the movement in solidarity with Cuba has arrived at a new moment which poses specific challenges, CNC delegates resolved to mobilize Canadian public and political opinion to end the U.S. economic blockade of the island and its occupation of Guantanamo Bay and to challenge the disinformation campaign against Cuba. Based on the reports, discussions and deliberations, resolutions were adopted to strengthen and guide the CNC's work over the next two years and measures were taken to update the CNC's by-laws.

Special attention was paid to other areas of ongoing work, including the highly successful Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade and annual Pastors for Peace Caravan, and the work with Canadian parliamentarians. Delegates also pledged to mobilize support for the Cubans participating in the 15th Pan American Games that will be held in Toronto and its environs from July 10-26, 2015. The Convention committed to support a symposium in Toronto this year to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Operación Carlota, the beginning of Cuba's internationalist mission in Angola that was crucial to the success of the southern African national liberation and anti-colonial struggles.

A new CNC executive was elected to implement the Convention's decisions and realize the work plan for 2015-2017: Michel Dugre, Julio Fonseca, Don Foreman, Elizabeth Hill, Isaac Saney, Aaron Shields and Saleh Waziruddin. The executive subsequently selected Elizabeth Hill and Isaac Saney to continue as co-chairs. Isaac Saney was also re-appointed National Spokesperson and Elizabeth Hill Treasurer, with Saleh Waziruddin assuming the position of Secretary.

Founded in 2002, the CNC is "committed to the strengthening of friendship and solidarity between the peoples of Canada and Cuba. To this end, we work with the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and other international and national partners in order to promote social, cultural, political and economic relations between Canada and Cuba on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference."

The exciting and full two-day program reflected the rich, dynamic and spirited Canada-Cuba solidarity movement, which has been in existence for more than fifty years. It is a movement rooted in the overwhelming respect and admiration of Canadians for Cuba's considerable achievements and affirmation of its right to independence and self-determination despite facing the unceasing aggression of the United States. This respect and admiration have forged unbreakable ties of friendship and solidarity between the peoples of Canada and Cuba.

The Convention also included a series of panel discussions.

Planning for 2017: New Challenges New Struggles

This session was addressed by CNC Co-Chair Elizabeth Hill, Sandra Ramírez from ICAP and Tamara Hansen from Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba. Their presentations highlighted the challenges facing the Canada-Cuba solidarity movement in the coming period and the opportunities that exist to further strengthen it and expand its reach.

Canada-Cuba Solidarity and 70 Years of Canada-Cuba Diplomatic Relations

Former MP Jean Augustine and
Ambassador Garmendía Peña.

The Honourable Jean Augustine, born in Grenada and a former Liberal MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, began this panel discussion. Augustine was Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Speaker of the House of Commons in 2004. Her presentation focussed on the role of parliamentarians in fostering Canada-Cuba relations. She regaled the audience with vignettes of her trips to Cuba especially her various meetings with the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.

Ambassador Garmendía Peña then spoke, pointing out that despite the immense and historic victory of winning the freedom of the Cuban Five and the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba announced by Presidents Castro and Obama on December 17, 2014, the economic blockade is still in force. The work remains to end the blockade, the illegal U.S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay, and the U.S. policy of destabilizing Cuba that it continues under these new circumstances. The Ambassador emphasized the need to continue building and deepening the existing relations of friendship and cooperation that exist between Canada and Cuba.

Nino Pagliccia, editor of the recently released book Cuba Solidarity in Canada: Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations, outlined how Cuba's internationalism provides a foreign policy model in which solidarity is the fundamental principle.

Cuba, Today and Tomorrow: Renewal Change and Continuity Struggles

Left to right: Toronto Consul General of Cuba Javier Dómokos Ruis, U of T Professor Emeritus
Keith Ellis and CNC Co-Chair Isaac Saney.

At the Convention's final panel session, University of Toronto Professor Emeritus Keith Ellis, Consul General of Cuba in Toronto Javier Dómokos Ruiz and CNC Co-Chair Isaac Saney presented lively information on the ongoing renovation and updating of the Cuban economy and the significance of U.S. President Obama's new policy. The panel stressed that the economic measures being implemented by Cuba are taking place within the process of the renewal and continuity of the Cuban revolutionary and socialist project, and that while the people of Cuba welcomed the steps towards the possible normalization of relations with the United States, they will never renounce their independence, sovereignty or socialism.

(Canadian Network on Cuba)

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Peoples' Summit at CELAC-EU Summit in Brussels

An End must Be Put to Injustice Created by
an International Order, Which Is Increasingly
Unjust and Exclusive

Hall at EU-CELAC Summit in Brussells.

Speech presented June 11 by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, first Vice President of Cuba's Council of State and Ministers, who led the country's delegation to the 2nd Community of Latin American and Caribbean States-European Union (CELAC-EU) Summit and the Peoples' Summit, in Brussels.


Presidents, friends, dear participants in this Peoples' Summit:

I bring, above all, a greeting of solidarity from the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro (Applause and exclamations of "Fidel, Fidel, Fidel!"), as well as a greeting from our President Raúl Castro (Applause), heartfelt, warm greetings from the government and people of Cuba, (Applause) for you, organizers and participants in this important meeting.

With your profound reflections, you have contributed to sowing consciousness of the real problems which we face, and proposed ways to resolve them. We would now attempt, in a few minutes, to explain the ideas which Cuba defended in the CELAC-European Union Summit, as an active member of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Yesterday I recalled the first bi-regional Summit held in 1999, where the European Union proposed a "strategic partnership." Sixteen years later, this "partnership" has not been realized, because sovereign equality and mutual respect do not predominate in our relations, [which are] generally abusive and discriminatory, marked by asymmetries in development, and marginal economic-commercial and cooperation relations.

[What is] needed, therefore, is an end to injustice created by an international order, which is increasingly unjust and exclusive, as explained here by President Correa, which has generated unbridled consumerism, the destruction of the environment, financial speculation, and which is controlled by imperialism, by its oligarchic banks, and groups of powerful transnational corporations, for the benefit of only a few.

Current threats to the peace and security of nations does not come from the marginalized of the world capitalist system, but rather from those who impel nations into crisis by adopting programs of austerity which come at an incalculable human cost, and increasingly reinforce the differences between regions and the countries within them.

Nor do these [threats] come from students expelled from universities, unemployed workers, or thousands of youth of working age without jobs, the marginalized, the indignant, the women not receiving equal pay for equal work (Applause) or when pension funds and social security for the retired are bankrupted or cut.

Much less can minorities or national groups such as Afro-descendents, original peoples of Our America, or the Romani in Europe be held responsible, or immigrants blamed, those persecuted for racist reasons, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and the absence of [the] basic feeling of human solidarity. On the contrary, such conduct has led to the re-emergence of fascism, defeated on this continent 70 years ago, and a reality we must never forget. (Applause)

If we have learned something in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is that today's serious social and economic problems will not be resolved with the use of weapons and, much less, with dictatorships or terror, evils which we have suffered enough in Our America and in Europe.

What should be treated as a crime is initiating conflicts between countries, threatening peace and international security, NATO's advance toward Russia's borders -- providing weaponry or supporting military adventures beyond the Alliance's borders, parcelling out zones of influence, or sources of primary resources. (Applause) This only brings death, destruction, instability and more poverty, since the significant resources needed for development are used to finance new wars.

Dear compañeras and compañeros:

After decades of struggle against efforts to isolate our Revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean, we have taken new paths toward political, economic and social transformations to the benefit of our peoples. Several revolutionary and progressive governments -- those mentioned by Rafael Correa -- are working to reduce poverty and inequality, to strengthen political and economic independence, and promote Latin American and Caribbean integration.

We insist on justice and equality. We value the legitimate right of our societies to freely choose their own route toward development, without external pressure or crude interference by those who still refuse to accept the sovereign choices of our peoples, and attempt to reverse them.

We are working to consolidate our young Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, an organization through which the dreams of our liberators are taking shape, the visions of our most committed political leaders and the aspirations of the left, popular movements, trade unions, student organizations, campesinos, women and artists of the continent.

In this organization all sovereign nations of the region come together, united in diversity, to learn to confront the complex challenges of today's world and of the future. The Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, approved by the 2nd CELAC Summit in Havana, in January of 2014, reaffirms the principles which must govern relations between our countries, and the inalienable right to elect one's own political, economic, social and cultural system, as an essential condition for the assurance of peaceful coexistence among nations.

Nevertheless, these modest efforts are being heavily attacked by imperialist forces, as is occurring today with the sister Bolivarian and Chavista revolution of Venezuela. (Applause) There in Venezuela, the Venezuelan people and their constitutional government -- headed by their legitimate leader, President Nicolás Maduro Moros (Applause) and supported by a strong civil-military union -- are defending and consolidating a revolution which now belongs to all Latin Americans and Caribbeans: the revolution of Chávez, the revolution of Latin America. (Applause)

Today Venezuela is a symbol, and is therefore not alone. It has the support of our entire region, and is intent upon preserving the example of its founder and moral guide, the unforgettable commander and President, Hugo Chávez Frías, initiator of this change of era. (Applause) Of course, Venezuelans have all of our loyalty and yours, and Venezuela knows Cuba will never fail her. (Applause)

I reiterate our support to Argentina in its legitimate demand for sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands (Applause); to Ecuador, faced with the outrages of transnationals and media corporations; to the just claims of Caribbean nations for preferential treatment and compensation for the damages caused by colonization and slavery; and our unwavering commitment to Puerto Rican independence. (Applause)

Compañeras y compañeros:

Cuba is advancing in the updating of its economic and social model, to preserve the great conquests of the Revolution, to perfect our socialism, which we will never renounce, and to provide [a] sustainable higher standard of living for our people.

It was precisely the dignity and perseverance of Cubans which led the U.S. to recognize the failure of its policy toward Cuba, implemented over 11 administrations, and which facilitated the return to the Homeland of the five anti-terrorist fighters, (Applause) events which led to negotiations for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, which was also a result of the solidarity shown by all the peoples and many governments of the world, and also due to the solidarity with Cuba movement, of which you are a part, and why we have come to thank you. (Applause)

This step will be the first on the long, difficult path toward normalization of relations with this country, during which we will not concede a single one of the principles for which we have struggled and resisted for so many years. (Applause)

We will continue to demand an end to the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade of our country -- which remains intact -- and the return of territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base, against the will of the Cuban people. (Applause)

That is why we say that a better understanding of realities, and the search for solutions to the serious problems affecting men and women on both continents, are the raison d'être of these Summits of the Peoples, and the meetings of committed Parliamentarians and intellectuals, where solidarity predominates, which, as Che Guevara taught us, is the expression of tenderness and love among human beings. (Applause)

We are convinced that not only is a better world possible, but imperative for the survival of humanity. (Applause) Once again, I thank you, in the name of Cuba, for the respect, affection and solidarity you show us, day by day, in our battle.

Let us fight without pause for peace, justice and solidarity!

Long live the peoples!

And as we say in Cuba, ¡Patria o Muerte! ¡Venceremos!


(Granma International)

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People Unite to Defeat Anti-Government Violence

Mass rally and changing of the guard ceremony in Quito, June 15, 2015, expresses support
for the government of Ecuador President Rafael Correa.

Reactionary opposition forces are attempting to destabilize the democratically-elected government of President Rafael Correa in Ecuador by sowing disinformation about the government and its Citizens' Revolution, and inciting civil unrest and violence. President Correa alleges that the protests are part of a destabilization plan orchestrated by the local opposition forces backed by foreign support so as to remove him from office.

On June 5, President Rafael Correa submitted to Ecuador's National Assembly a draft of a new Law on Wealth Redistribution instituting an inheritance tax, "provoking immediate discontent among the richest sectors of this South American nation," Granma International reports.

"The backdrop [to the law] is a striking figure the President forcefully reiterated in recent days: 2 per cent of Ecuadoran families own 90 per cent of big business in the country," Granma International adds.

President Correa told the press, "Ownership concentration was revealed. This is bad; it is one of the sources of inequality in Ecuador and the world," clarifying that the tax is only "for large conglomerates that generate dynasties."

For direct heirs -- children, grandchildren, parents or grandparents -- the new legislation provides for a marginal rate of up to 47.5 per cent which applies only to the wealthiest 1 per cent. This percentage is lower than the marginal rates of Japan (55 per cent) and South Korea (50 per cent) and just a bit higher than in France (45 per cent) and the United States and Britain (both 40 per cent).

One of the first representatives of the opposition to express their disagreement with this measure was banker and former presidential candidate, Guillermo Lasso, former economic adviser and ambassador-at-large of the neo-liberal government of Lucio Gutiérrez.

Lasso condemned the new inheritance tax law stating that, "the State seeks to finish off the Ecuadoran family."

According to Ecuadoran economic analyst Juan Carlos Jaramillo, "with a marginal rate of 47.5 per cent, heirs never lose majority shareholder control over the companies of their parents, thus it is wrong to argue that with this rate the intention is to put an end to family businesses."

"Beyond the inheritance tax itself, what seems to be under discussion in Ecuador is to what extent the State can autonomously intervene in the economic arena," writes Granma. The item continues:

"It is an argument that is currently taking place across the rest of the countries home to post-neo-liberal governments, particularly at a time of slower economic growth throughout the region, due to a fall in commodity prices, but, above all, a reduction in growth forecasts worldwide.

"In short, the debate centers on sustaining -- and expanding -- the social programs implemented by these post-neo-liberal governments, for which resources are required.

"Lasso's argument -- not to raise taxes on the wealthiest, but rather reduce them -- is in line with proposals from other opposition leaders in the region, such as Mauricio Macri in Argentina and Aécio Neves in Brazil, who have announced that, on becoming president, they would continue with these social policies, but under no circumstances upset business interests. Where would they get the money, you ask. Who knows.

"Ecuador, at least, offers a realistic solution -- similar to that implemented in certain European and Asian States -- to continue with the social policy outlined in the National Plan for Good Living 2013-2017: that those who have more should contribute more, thus banking on redistribution guaranteed by the very Constitution of the country. The continental debate on this issue is only likely to intensify in the coming months."

Support for President Correa, Quito, Ecuador, June 15, 2015.

On June 16, President Correa said that in order to promote tranquility and calm above all prior to Pope Francis' arrival on July 5, he would withdraw temporarily the draft bill aimed at increasing taxes on inheritances and another targeting capital gains.

"In order to prevent [right-wing] groups from causing more violence, especially when we need for Pope Francis' visit an atmosphere of peace, rejoicing, reflection to welcome him, I have decided to withdraw temporarily the above-mentioned draft bills," he explained.

According to Correa, based on that decision, a large nationwide debate will be opened on the proposals, which, he repeated, will never affect either the poor or the middle class, as stated by their detractors.

"We want debates, not shouts; we want arguments, not manipulations," stressed Correa. In this regard, the president is addressing the broad masses of  Ecuadorans who brought his government to power on the basis of ensuring their own empowerment through new political arrangements and ending their marginalization and exploitation by the reactionary elites. It is these forces who are united in action to defeat the anti-government violence of the reactionaries.

(Granma International, Prensa Latina. Photos; M. Munoz, E. Santillan)

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Seeking a Solution for Greek Debt Crisis

Truth Commission Says Much of Greek Debt Is Illegal

A truth commission set up by Greece’s Parliament which investigated the Greek debt has handed in its findings, news agencies report. The report claims that much of the country's more than U.S.$364 billion debt was contracted illegally and should not be paid. Despite the fact that it was incurred illegally, those who benefitted continue to demand its repayment. Time is running out for Greece to strike a deal and avoid defaulting on a U.S.$1.8 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan due at the end of June, they say. This payment is the first in a series Greece will be expected to deliver.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde raised the stakes on June 18  by telling Greece there would be no grace period or delays permissible in repaying the money.

In a June 19 statement issued by the office of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras he stated, "The leaders' summit [June 22] is a positive development on the road toward a deal." He said, "All those who are betting on crisis and terror scenarios will be proven wrong." He added, "There will be a solution based on respecting EU rules and democracy which would allow Greece to return to growth in the euro."

Tsipras said that despite the country moving closer to the brink of default Greece would remain in the eurozone.

News agencies report that the talks over a cash-for-reforms deal for Greece remained at an impasse after a recent meeting of eurozone finance ministers. Bank withdrawals from Greek lenders have accelerated in the past week. People withdrew some U.S.$2.2 billion from banks between June 15 and 17 after negotiations in Brussels collapsed over the weekend of June 13 and 14, Reuters said citing senior banking sources. They added that if this continues at the present pace, Greece's government will be forced to impose a ration on cash withdrawals.

Prime Minister Tsipras has refused to submit to pressure by Greece's creditors demanding the Greek government make concessions over tax hikes and pension reforms -- in other words, further austerity measures the government vowed it would not accept.

According to Reuters, the European Central Bank's governing council was to hold a telephone conference June 19 to discuss extending emergency liquidity for the lenders.


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St. Petersburg Economic Forum and
EU's Bitter Predicament

Part One

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) kicked off on June 18 against the background of economic woes faced by Europe. While focussing on anti-Russia punitive measures, the EU is losing control over the European economy. President Donald Tusk convenes a Euro Summit on Greece Monday, June 22. He said the failure of EU finance ministers on Thursday evening, June 18, to agree on a deal to release desperately needed bailout aid meant it was now time to "urgently discuss" the Greek crisis "at the highest political level".

The chance to reach an agreement is slim. Pressure was also increased on Greece earlier on Thursday, June 18, when the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, warned there was "no period of grace" for Greece over its impending debt repayment deadline. She said Greece would be in default on its loans from the IMF if it failed to make a 1.6bn euro (£1.1bn; $1.8bn) payment on June 30. Before that the International Monetary Fund said it was halting bailout talks with Greece in a stark signal of its exasperation about a lack of progress toward a deal to avert a Greek default, as European leaders suggested negotiations were nearing their endgame. "There are major differences between us in most key areas," said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice in an unusual public statement aimed at heightening pressure on the left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. "There has been no progress in narrowing these differences recently ", he said. "Thus, we are well away from an agreement." He added that the IMF team negotiating with Greece had been pulled out of Brussels, though the fund remained ready to resume talks. "The ball is very much in Greece's court right now," he said.

Standard & Poor's lowered the rating of Greece's biggest four banks on Friday, June 19, two days after cutting its already deep-junk rating for Greek bonds. "The downgrade reflects our view that Greek banks will likely default within the next 12 months in the absence of an agreement between the Greek government and its official creditors while the end of the extension of the current program is approaching," the ratings agency said.

What consequences will the European Union face in case of default? The organization will have to admit the fact of failure to solve the problem. June 30 is a special date for Greece and the EU. The eurozone portion of Greece's 245 billion euro ($275.6 billion) bailout expires June 30, the same day it faces a 1.6 billion euro payment to the IMF -- which it won't be able to make without a new aid transfer. So far the attempts to bail Greece out ended up in failure: Greece is facing a default, the European Union urgently called a summit and the prospects for the eurozone itself are uncertain. Greece's central bank warned Wednesday, June 17, that failure to clinch a deal with international creditors on desperately needed funding could lead the country into an "uncontrollable crisis." "A manageable debt crisis, as the one that we are currently addressing with the help of our partners, would snowball into an uncontrollable crisis, with great risks for the banking system and financial stability" if a deal doesn't come through, the report said. That could bring a deep recession, a dramatic decline in income levels, an exponential rise in unemployment and a collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership, the report added.

Even if the report prepared by the Greek Central Bank is an attempt to exert pressure on the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund the situation is still really grave.

Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University, believes that Europe's demands -- ostensibly aimed at ensuring that Greece can service its foreign debt -- are petulant, naive and fundamentally self-destructive. In rejecting them, the Greeks are not playing games; they are trying to stay alive. According to him, "Conditions in Greece today are reminiscent of those in Germany in 1933. Of course, the European Union need not fear the rise of a Greek Hitler, not only because it could easily crush such a regime, but also -- and more importantly -- because Greece's democracy has proved impressively mature throughout the crisis. But there is something that the EU should fear: destitution within its borders and the pernicious consequences for the continent's politics and society." The American economist comes to the conclusion that "Unfortunately, the continent remains split along tribal lines. Germans, Finns, Slovaks and Dutch -- among others -- have no time for the suffering of Greeks. Their political leaders tend to their own, not to Europe in any true sense. Relief for Greece is an especially fraught issue in countries where far-right parties are on the rise or center-right governments face popular left-wing opposition ".

Summing it all up here's what we have: about 250 billion euros have gone down the drain, the collapse of the eurozone is looming and a ghost of a new Hitler appears to show up at the horizon. It's no better at the "eastern front." In the run-up to the EU June 25-26 summit, Die Welt reported that Europe may face huge losses if the anti-Russian sanctions continue. The European Union could lose up to 100 billion euros ($114 billion) due to the anti-Russian sanctions if things remain unchanged, a study by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) revealed Friday, June 19. Die Welt newspaper reported that the research, conducted exclusively for the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA), considered the worst-case scenario, if the sanctions remain in place. "If the situation does not change fundamentally, our most pessimistic scenario will come true ", one of the research authors Oliver Fritz was quoted as saying by Die Welt. According to the calculations, the current political situation can also affect over 2 million EU jobs because of the declining exports. In contrast to the analysts' forecast, the European Commission said that the losses incurred by the European Union were "relatively small and manageable," the newspaper points out.[1]

According to Die Welt, the conclusions of the Austrian Institute are much more pessimistic than the estimates made public by the European Commission which says that the damage from the sanctions war is insignificant and easy to make up for. The German newspaper believes that the European Commission makes a short-term forecast while WIFO experts take a look into a far more distant future.

According to WIFO's assessment, Germany will shoulder the main burden. A total of 500,000 jobs are under the threat of liquidation in Germany now. The German economy will lose 27 billion euros and its GDP will contract by 1% in the coming years, according to experts' estimates. Italy will lose over 200,000 jobs and 0.9% of GDP while France's losses will amount to 150,000 jobs and 0.5% of GDP. Poland, Estonia and Spain will suffer too. Germany has already lost 175,000 working places with 290,000 more to be lost if the sanctions war continues. The unemployment rate may increase by 185,000 in Poland, 135,000 in Italy, 115,000 in Spain, 95,000 in France, 80,000 in Great Britain and 75,000 in Estonia. Together with Switzerland, the European Union has already lost 950,000 working places. With the sanctions in force, unemployment will increase by 1.46 million.

These facts prove that the European Union faces the system's political and economic crisis with its leaders unable to control the situation. Many far-sighted and sober-minded European politicians and businessmen have set eyes on the East. The discussions at the Saint-Petersburg's event prove this fact too.

(To be continued)


1. Die Welt, 06. 19. 2015

(Strategic Culture Foundation, June 20, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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