all eyes on oakland as the struggle continues

4 11 2011

Donagh Davis reports from Occupy Oakland on how things have developed, from the shooting of Scott Olsen, the strike, the shutting down of the port, up to the violence surrounding the occupation of a building this morning.

Since the tents were pitched just over three weeks ago, Occupy Oakland has come out of Occupy Wall Street’s shadow to assert itself as a major social movement phenomenon in its own right – as well as a major world news story. Like many other ‘Occupies’ around the country, the Oakland occupation started as an attempt to emulate the Wall Street phenomenon. Three weeks later, it is way beyond that.

Occupy Oakland shut down the USA's fifth busiest port

A crucial watershed came a week ago, when the Oakland mayor, Jean Quan, made good on her threat to evict the Occupy Oakland encampment – no doubt a major eyesore for her, sitting directly outside City Hall, on Frank Ogawa Plaza – dubbed ‘Oscar Grant Plaza’ by the Occupiers, in memory of a young man shot dead by police on the local BART subway system in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »





the land of the free

5 10 2011

Sharon Borthwick writes on the race and class prejudice behind the US death penalty, in the aftermath of the state killing of Troy Davis

At the South Carolina State Penitentiary on 16th June, 1944, 14 year old, George Junius Stinney, was strapped to the electric chair. Securing him to the frame holding the electrodes proved difficult as the child was so slightly built and merely 5’1”, a reason to suspect it wasn’t he who had wielded the huge railroad spike, the weapon used in the killing of two white girls. In a locked room with only white officers bearing witness, Stinney confessed within an hour of his arrest. The court-appointed defence lawyer, did not call any witnesses and as the Stinney family were moneyless, an appeal could not be raised.

Another harrowing and messy murder took place towards the end of World War II, when 24 year-old Eddie Slovik was strapped to a post and shot by firing squad, eleven bullets entering his body, but not immediately killing him. The appointed executioners were reloading their weapons when Slovik finally died: “They’re not shooting me for deserting the United States Army, thousands of guys have done that. They just need to make an example out of somebody and I’m it because I’m an ex-con. I used to steal things when I was a kid, and that’s what they are shooting me for, they’re shooting me for the bread and chewing gum I stole when I was 12 years old”, Slovik had told them. Stinney was black and Slovik white. They had in common their poverty and thus their utter powerlessness, as simultaneously, the allies allegedly fought for freedom. Read the rest of this entry »





what’s wrong with kansas? russia iran disco suck

10 11 2010

Sharon Borthwick writes on the meaning of the success of right-wing ‘Tea Party’ candidates in the United States midterm elections

Shocking as it may be, the Tea Party movement has been a great success. This ‘grass roots’ conservative activism is not a new phenomenon and it would be interesting to look at its recent history.

Thomas Frank’s 2003, What’s the Matter with Kansas? proves a useful tool in that regard. Frank himself, grew up in Kansas and was a deeply conservative adolescent who hero-worshipped Ronald Reagan. He learnt from older men an anger that was “endless, implacable, spectacular”. Read the rest of this entry »





rank and file organising: it could happen here too

20 05 2010

by Sheila Cohen

April 2010 saw the biggest conference ever for Labor Notes, the US-based rank and file trade union newsletter and network which celebrated its 30th birthday last year. Over 1200 activists gathered in the (unionised) hotel just outside Detroit where corporate blandness was set off by the T-shirted exuberance of American workers not shy of yelling a slogan or two – especially when workers on strike against a non-unionised branch of the same hotel chain came forward to tell a familiar story of rank injustice and betrayal.

It’s impossible to take in everything at a Labor Notes conference (especially if you’re jet-lagged) but I followed my main interests in attending a chain of workshops addressed to union organising and membership participation (or lack of it). The first of these – “Innovative Organising Strategies” – was if anything the most inspiring, featuring the crucial dynamics of organising a union “before the union came along”, as some US activists have put it. Read the rest of this entry »





arizona passes racist law attacking immigrants

6 05 2010

Kasandra Dalton reports on the situation in the United States as Arizona passes a law allowing the arbitrary arrest of immigrants

Last week the state legislature in Arizona and the Republican governor Jan Brewer signed the anti-immigrant law SB 1070. This is essentially a racist law to criminalise immigration and creates the legal power for police to arrest people upon mere suspicion of illegal immigration status.

There has been significant political fallout from this quasi-fascist decisión on the part of the Arizona Republicans. Even Barack Obama, Mexican president Felipe Calderón, the Bishop of Los Angeles and Shakira have protested and made their views public. Read the rest of this entry »





obamacare: the nuns strike back

28 03 2010

by Ernie Haberkern
Berkeley, California

The Health Care Reform bill has finally made it through the archaic legislative labyrinth our slave-owning founding fathers left us. Our modern corporate capitalists have found this unrepresentative system as useful as the slave owners did. One of features of the system is that it facilitates behind-closed-doors dealing that makes it extremely difficult for the average voter, or even the fairly well-informed voter, to find out what exactly the effect of the legislation will actually be. In fact, the result is usually so complicated that it often has consequences unforeseen and unintended by the authors of the legislation.

So what does this ‘reform’ actually amount to? In the first place, there is no regulation of the cost of drugs. In particular, the current twelve year monopoly granted to companies for brand name drugs remains in effect. This deal was made last August and in return the pharmaceutical industry, which played a major role in the defeat of Bill Clinton’s attempt to pass a health care bill, actively lobbied in favor of Obama’s plan. Read the rest of this entry »





dawn of the crisis generation in california

15 03 2010

On 4th March thousands of workers and students across California took action in protest against budget cuts, lay-offs and fee hikes caused by the state’s financial crisis. This article from Indybay was written after 157 people were arrested for occupying the I-880 motorway.

“Why the hell did you get on that highway?” asked the cops, our cell mates, our coworkers, our classmates. There are many responses that could be given that have been outlined by banners, occupation demands, student leaders, or budget statistics, but none of them really connect to why one would take over a highway. Obviously there are no libraries on a highway. The funding for schools isn’t going to be found on any one of those lanes of oncoming traffic. And, in fact, a lot of people who were arrested on the highway were not students or teachers. This is because the highway takeover is an action against a power structure that is much larger than this year’s budget crisis. Read the rest of this entry »





crisis ploughs on in united states

25 02 2010

by Dennis Marcucci
from Philadelphia

Worst than expected economic reports and job cut announcements show that the prospects for working people in the USA and around the world are going to worsen. After all, most of the world is capitalist, and most of the world is poor. So what does that tell you about this canker sore of an economic system?

Wall Street economists had said that unemployment claims would fall below 450,000. They were wrong. There was only a slight decrease to 470,000. Any reports have to be viewed with suspicion. I was speaking to an “expert” economist on a radio talk show two weeks ago who was telling the audience how claims for unemployment fell. I said that what is not being reported is (i) workers who exhausted their benefits and are now off the rolls and are viewed as employed. (ii) workers who were collecting benefits and found part time minimum wage employment and (iii) workers working temp jobs or contract work. Read the rest of this entry »





what the TV doesn’t tell us about haiti

30 01 2010

by Claudio Testa
Socialismo o Barbarie

The world’s TV is showing, as we might expect, a false picture of reality. In the case of Haiti, this is all the more outrageous given the circumstances. With barely disguised racism they paint the picture of a people who are suffering but “ignorant” and “barbarous”, incapable of “keeping order” by themselves after the earthquake, necessitating a renewed colonial occupation, with a fresh US invasion.

Of course, no-one mentions the two-hundred-year sentence capitalism and imperialism imposed on the Haitian people for having carried out the only successful slaves’ social revolution in history. Still less do they tell us about recent events, like the significant workers’, students’ and peasants’ struggles against colonial occupation and Preval’s puppet government which developed in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »





solidarity with the people of haiti – US troops out!

25 01 2010

by Claudio Testa
Socialismo o Barbarie

Much of the media has portrayed Haitians "looting" - the US has intervened to "restore order"

Although UN troops have been occupying the country for six years, the USA has decided to engage in a second invasion of its own, without even going through the farce of “consulting” previous occupiers. Read the rest of this entry »





anger over obama healthcare bill creates uncertain future

23 01 2010

Jane Slaughter looks at the US healthcare debate and the Democrats’ defeat in this week’s Massachusetts senate vote (from Labor Notes)

A Massachusetts local union president called it before the January 19 vote for senator: “I’ve never seen this much anger at the Democrats from union people,” said Jeff Crosby, president of a General Electric factory local near Boston, as he prepared a last-minute leaflet to hand out in the plant. “It’s worse than NAFTA.”

Top union leaders had bargained a compromise slowing down the health care benefits tax President Obama insisted on, but it was not enough to placate union members—and others—infuriated that Obama had broken his campaign promise not to tax benefits. Read the rest of this entry »





barack obama’s first year in charge

18 01 2010

by Ernie Haberkern
from Berkeley, California

The enormous enthusiasm that the election of the bright, well-spoken, African American woke in the liberal left is fading fast. Of course, much of that enthusiasm was a result of the justified revulsion provoked by the Cheney-Bush presidency and as that bad memory fades liberals are forced to face the current reality. Read the rest of this entry »





honduras elections after the coup: for an active boycott

28 11 2009

on the elections in Honduras, taking place six months after a military coup against centre-left president Manuel “Mel” Zelaya – by José Luis Rojo

What was bound to happen all along has now materialised: Mel Zelaya, the bourgeois leader of the resistance to the Honduran military coup, has ended up giving up everything in exchange for nothing. Signing the “Gaymuras-San José” accord (supervised by the Obama administration) he has capitulated. It is clear that the the US government proposed him a ‘double standard’ deal: Zelaya had to sign the deal, the other side only to make a vague promise eventually to “reinstall” him.

But the ‘letter’ of the deal does not oblige post-coup president Micheletti to reinstall him: this is at the mercy of the same pro-coup Congress which voted to depose Zelaya in late June. The Congress has no need to hurry either: “This crucial aspect (his supposed reinstallment) was placed as the fifth of seven items, not the first, and was drafted ambiguously, showing that Zelaya made too many concessions as he signed the accord”.[1] Read the rest of this entry »





the shipwrecked (part III): anti-fascist refugees during world war II

27 10 2009

“Save one million Jews! And to do what with them? Where will we put them?” Third in a series by João Bernardo: see here for parts one and two.

baselitz1987

I mentioned in the previous article that, during the time of the German-Soviet Pact, the Polish Jews that managed to escape from the Nazi-occupied areas of Poland to the areas occupied by the Red Army were deported or put in concentration camps, a sad fate, but at least they were accepted and nobody ever sent them back across the border. Far more sinister was the UK’s and the USA’s attitude. Read the rest of this entry »








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,847 other followers