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December 22, 2003 Features

Understanding Cuba

Revolution and Misinformation
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    Cuba: A revolution in motion
    by Isaac Saney
    Fernwood Books 2003
Cuba. A small island nation. Cigars that Americans have to smuggle into their own country; sublime music played by old men; Caribbean vacations; quaint old buildings. They had a revolution, years ago. Some guys named Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were involved. There were others, but what were their names again? They overthrew Batista, the guy with the solid gold telephone in The Godfather: part II. They seemed to have good ideals at the beginning, but eventually turned into yet another corrupt communist dictatorship. Castro the despot rules with an iron fist, jailing those who dare to defy him. The country remains poor due to outdated, inefficient socialist policies. The US and others are biding their time, waiting for Castro to die so that democracy can be restored, and the Cuban people freed from his authoritarian grip.

Aside from the cigars and music, these are a few of the well-worn images of Cuba that Isaac Saney, a history professor at Dalhousie, would like you to reconsider.

- Reviewed by Dru Oja Jay -

Revolution and Misinformation

December 1, 2003 Features

Israelis Criticizing Israel

The occupation of Palestine from the inside, out

bulldozed_fp.jpg Public debate about Israel tends to be framed in terms of Israel as a unified country and its foreign opponents, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic and otherwise. Widely ignored are the Israeli intellectuals and leaders who are strongly opposed to their country's actions, and the accounts that inspire their strong opposition.

Independent Canadian journalists Jon Elmer and Valerie Zink are currently reporting from the West Bank and Gaza. The following is a series of excerpts from interviews they have conducted with diverse critical voices within Israel. The full interviews and other coverage can be read on their web site, FromOccupiedPalestine.org.

The occupation of Palestine from the inside, out

November 10, 2003 Features

Freedom of the Press is for Those Who Own One

irving_fp.jpgThe Irving Media Monopoly in New Brunswick

Living in New Brunswick where all of the English language daily papers are owned by one company means that there is very little variety in the type of news that is available to New Brunswick readers. We face classic problems of monopoly media ownership in which homogeneity and a narrow range of opinion are common features of the news media.

- by Erin Steuter -

The Irving Media Monopoly in New Brunswick

October 20, 2003 Features

"Anybody but Bush"

Canada-US relations and the next Presidential election

anyonebushbush_fp.jpgThe relationship between Canada and the US has been rocky since George W. Bush took office. Some have blamed this on a personal disconnect between Jean Chretien and President Bush. For example, in March 2003 Liberal MP David Pratt said "I don't think things will change until our leadership changes"--i.e., when Chretien leaves office. Many pundits and politicians agree with Mr. Pratt.

But is this realistic? Exactly how does the relationship between a Canadian Prime Minister and a US President affect Canada-US relations--and how might upcoming federal elections in both countries change the situation?

- by Susan Thompson -

Canada-US relations and the next Presidential election

September 27, 2003 Features

The "Piquetes"


buenos-aires_fp.jpgWhen Argentina's economy collapsed in January of 2002, thousands of Argentinians lost their jobs, and others lost their life savings when foreign banks closed suddenly. In the face of massive unemployment which existed well before the collapse, unemployed workers formed collectives to democratically petition the government for temporary employment ("plans"). After being consistantly ignored, the poorest of the unemployed, often starving, began to set up roadblocks (piquetes) on important Argentinian roads in support of their demands for work. They have also set up bakeries, bartering systems, and occupied abandoned factories and restarted business as usual--without the owners and with a radically democratic model of organizing.

A conversation between the Situaciones Collective and multiple members of the Unemployed Workers Movement of Solano. Translated by Ivan A. and eleusa.

Argentina's unemployed build direct democracy for basic needs

September 12, 2003 Features

The Gathering Storm in Mexico

Under NAFTA, Mexican farmers move from ejido to foreign finca*

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On the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force, January 1, 1994, a group of Mexican peasants marched out of the mountains and the jungles and directly into the media spotlight. At the time, President Carlos Salinas was celebrating Mexico's new status as a "first world" nation and basking in the glory of his own sudden prominence as a major world leader alongside United States President Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney. It was only the peasants who recognized NAFTA for the disaster that it was destined to be, and said !Basta!, - enough is enough.

- by Paul Harris -

Under NAFTA, Mexican farmers move from ejido to foreign finca*

August 23, 2003 Features

How the Liberal Party Works

We hold elections, but do our political parties practice democracy?

ballot_fp.jpgIn November 2003, Paul Martin will--barring unimaginable circumstances--be chosen as Canada's next Prime Minister. Legally and politically, this choice is not made by the Canadian public at large, but rather by a private club known as the Liberal Party of Canada. Even given that the Liberal Party has over 500,000 members (according to recent reports, a larger membership than any political party in Canadian history), most Canadians will not have a say in this decision. Indeed, it is already too late for anyone who wanted to vote in the party's leadership election -- to vote, members had to join by last June. And if you had the foresight to join the party four months before the election, you also have to pay a membership fee, and be prepared for a potentially long journey on voting day in order to cast a ballot.
- by Dru Oja Jay -

We hold elections, but do our political parties practice democracy?

August 8, 2003 Features

One Citizen, One Vote: Towards Proportional Representation

An interview with Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote CanadaLarryGordon_fp.jpg

Fair Vote Canada (FVC) was formed in August of 2000 as a multi-partisan citizen's campaign to reform Canada's voting system. FVC promotes the adoption of a system that is proportional, uses positive, effective votes, and results in a stable and accountable government. The organization does not recommend a specific type of proportional representation, but calls for a public process which will allow Canadians to learn about voting system alternatives and choose a new one.
- by Susan Thompson -

An interview with Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada

July 26, 2003 Features

The Conceited Empire

A historian credited with predicting the downfall of the Soviet Union in the 1970s now says that the US has been on its way out for the last decade

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The power and influence of the United States is being overestimated, claims French historian and demographer Emmanuel Todd. "There will be no American Empire." "The world is too large and dynamic to be controlled by one power." According to Todd, whose 1976 book predicted the fall of the Soviet Union, there is no question: the decline of America the Superpower has already begun.

NZZ: Mr. Todd, you write that America is economically, militarily, and ideologically too weak to actually control the world. This would gladden many anti-Americans. But how is this anything but the wishful thinking of an intellectual who is the product of the French US critical tradition?

ET: This is neither wishful thinking nor anti-Americanism. Why would I have been so prominently criticised by the left? The French career anti-American paper "Le Monde diplomatique", was the only major paper that remained conspicuously silent on my book. The over-estimation of America is fundamental to these people. It is on this topic that they agree with the American ultra-conservatives: the former to demonize, the latter to aggrandize. - by Martin A. Senn and Felix Lautenschlager -

A historian credited with predicting the downfall of the Soviet Union in the 1970s now says that the US has been on its way out for the last decade

July 11, 2003 Features

Social Torment: Globalization in Atlantic Canada

Excerpts from Thom Workman’s book on neoliberal policy and its effect on workers

/img/features/quebec_fp.jpgAt its core, Thom Workman's thesis is simple: labour is a major cost for businesses of all kinds, and thus an impediment to profits. As such, "transnational capital" seeks constantly to lower the cost of labour; when they do this by breaking down "trade barriers" to gain access to cheap labour or invoke international competitiveness to roll back wages, the process is called globalization. In Social Torment, Thom Workman starts by outlining the history of this shift from the "class compromise" of the twentieth century to the newly invigorated attacks on unions and the working class. And then he does something interesting; rather than spinning together a series of anecdotes to support his case, Workman looks at the numbers.

Excerpts from Thom Workman’s book on neoliberal policy and its effect on workers

June 26, 2003 Features

Gouging Together a Living

How banks get away with making you pay for your savings account

bank_fp.jpgMost Canadians don't need to be told that bank fees are rising, while interest rates paid on deposits--even in long term savings accounts--have diminished to the point of being inconsequential. Since the early nineties, the "big five" banks in Canada (Toronto Dominion, Royal Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Bank of Montreal) have been accelerating a collective move away from traditional retail banking, which is based on the premise that depositors lend their money to a bank and receive interest and certain services in return.Instead, the trend has been to charge increasing service fees while moving customers into areas more lucrative for banks such as credit cards, mutual funds, money market accounts, and stock market investments. Simply storing money in chequing and savings accounts is no longer a considered as a mutually beneficial arrangement; it is now a service to be paid for. - by Dru Oja Jay -

How banks get away with making you pay for your savings account

May 16, 2003 Features

"A Dream Only American Power Can Inspire"

pnac_sm.gifCritics of US foreign policy no longer need to make the argument that the US is trying to undermine the UN and international law, while making active use of global military dominance; the Project for the New American Century is doing it for them. Founded in 1997 on the premise that "too few political leaders today are making the case for [American] global leadership", the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a right wing, Washington-based think tank committed to "promoting the idea that American leadership is good both for America and for the world." - by Dru Oja Jay -

Faces of the New American Century: Francis Fukuyama, William Kristol, Dick Cheney

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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