USA/Canada

Harvard students take on neo-liberal economics

On Wednesday 2 November there was a citywide education walkout in Boston against rising costs of education.

By Gabriel Bayard and Rachel Sandalow-Ash

On Wednesday 2 November there was a citywide education walkout in Boston against rising costs of education.

Student debt has just exceeded $1 trillion in the US, which is more than credit card debt.

We walked out of our course (Economics 10) because we found it was emblematic of the ideology that has created the economic collapse. Our tutor, Gregory Mankiw, was an advisor to Bush Junior and now advises Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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Oakland general strike: “a sense of the possible”

By Isaac Steiner (Solidarity USA)

On 2 November, tens of thousands of people responded to a call for a “general strike” from the General Assembly of Occupy Oakland in California, marching on the city’ s port and forming flying pickets which were respected by members of the International Longshore Workers’ Union.

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Réflexions sur la question nationale du Québec: contribution de discussion

Hugo Pouliot

Le Canada est un pays impérialiste fondé depuis 250 ans sur l’oppression nationale des Québécois, des Autochtones, des Acadiens et des autres communautés francophones réparties à travers le pays.

Pour l'auto-détermination, contre "la mentalité étriquée de petite nation"

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Airbrushed view of the Deep South

Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help has just been turned into a film. Both are enjoyable, but there are political problems with them and, in the case of the film, these problems are aggravated by conventional Hollywood presentation and story-telling.

A review of The Help.

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Violence in Oakland

Violence has increasingly marred anti-capitalist protests around the world as police have attempted to clear occupations away.

Last week Oakland in the US saw particularly coercive tactics deployed by the police, who used tear gas to break up hundreds of protesters marching on City Hall.

Police in Oakland in the US used tear gas to break up hundreds of protesters marching on City Hall.

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From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy America: The Emergence of a Mass Movement

A handful of young people started Occupy Wall Street in mid-September, as a protest against the banks and corporations that have grown rich while most Americans have grown poorer.

By Dan La Botz

A handful of young people started Occupy Wall Street in mid-September, as a protest against the banks and corporations that have grown rich while most Americans have grown poorer.

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US “occupy” movement spreads

American socialist Dan La Botz explains the mood behind the sit-in protests on Wall Street, New York which are now spreading across the US, including his home city, Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is a microcosm of the country.

Thousands of Cincinnatians face high unemployment, live in poverty, or lack of health insurance, while a handful of multimillionaires live in luxury on the salaries paid by the national and multinational corporations headquartered here.

American socialist Dan La Botz explains the mood behind the sit-in protests on Wall Street, New York which are now spreading across the US, including his home city, Cincinnati.

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Occupying Wall Street

A New York public sector worker and member of the US socialist group Solidarity reports on the round-the-clock protests at New York’s financial centre.

For the past week most of my coworkers and activist networks have been talking about “Occupy Wall St” (OWS) constantly. There’s definitely a buzz, and it extends beyond the “usual suspects” of New York’s progressive/left scene.

I went down to OWS on Thursday [29 September] (while the “grievances” were being debated) and again on Saturday [1 October], towards the end of the attempt to march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

A New York public sector worker and member of the US socialist group Solidarity reports on the round-the-clock protests at New York’s financial centre.

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Tea Party threat to healthcare

By Graeme Kemp

The so-called US Tea Party is indeed “chilling” (Solidarity 218). If the next US president is a Republican, the Tea Party will move closer to power.

Obama’s modest health care reforms will be rolled back. It will literally be “business as usual” as the heath care companies boost their profits even more. Yet the US health care system was always pretty costly and less efficient than its right-wing supporters claim.

The US Tea Party movement would roll back Obama's modest health care reforms.

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Come All You Coal Miners

This song was composed by Sarah Ogan Gunning. Sarah was born in 1910 in Bell County Kentucky. One of fifteen children she was the daughter of a coal miner who was a keen trade unionist.

In 1925 Sarah married Andrew Ogan. Andrew was a member of the (short-lived) Communist Party-led National Miners Union.

Unemployment hit the mining community of Kentucky and many migrated — the Ogans end up in the slums of lower East Side, New York City in around 1935. Sarah later married Joseph Gunning, a skilled metal polisher and migrated once again to Detroit in the early 1940s.

This song was composed by Sarah Ogan Gunning, the daughter of a Kentucky miner and trade unionist.

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US Tea Party's true colours

At a recent US Republican Party debate supporters of the ultra-right wing of the party, the Tea Party, could not contain their glee when certain facts about the Republican Governor of Texas were read out.

In his 10 years of office Rick Perry has overseen the execution of 234 death row prisoners. The was cause for “whoop, whoop” cheering by the TPers.

At a recent US Republican Party debate, supporters of the ultra-right Tea Party could not contain their glee when certain facts about the Republican Governor of Texas were read out.

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Behind Obama's Jobs Act

US President Obama outlined his new American Jobs Act before a packed Congress, more than half of whom believe the poor and jobless are undertaxed moochers and that the government does not create jobs. The Democrats will have their hands full.

The Obama speech signifies that he is again in campaign mode. He’s challenged the conservative contention that “the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle the government, refund everybody’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own…”

The US labour movement needs to identify and expose the weaknesses of Obama's jobs initiatives.

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Ten years after 9/11

Ten years ago this month al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger planes in the USA. They flew two of them into the “Twin Towers” buildings of the World Trade Centre in New York, another into the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a field after the passengers attempted to retake it. This AWL editorial, written two days after the attacks and before al-Qaeda had declared itself responsible, was our initial response.

Ten years ago, al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger planes and flew two of them into the World Trade Centre in New York. Only on the basis of a dehumanised, backward looking world-view could they have planned and carried out such a massacre. Such people are enemies of the working class and the labour movement as much as the US government is and, in fact, more so.

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Strike round-up: Oxfordshire council, First TransPennine Express, Northern Ireland health, Bombardier Canada, Verizon USA

Oxfordshire youth workers

A round-up of strike action at Oxfordshire County Council, First TransPennine Express, Northern Ireland health and education services, Bombardier Canada and Verizon USA.

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Verizon strike: as billions rolls in, workers walk out

Taken from the Labor Notes website here.

At Verizon locations throughout the Northeast, 45,000 workers started walking picket lines Sunday.

Their strike, brought on by a flood of concession demands the Communications Workers say will pick $20,000 from each worker’s pocket, is the largest the country has seen in four years.

The rank-and-file Labor Notes magazine reports on a strike of 45,000 workers at US telecoms giant Verizon.

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Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln

A review of An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln by Robin Blackburn

By Dan Katz
This book is available for a bit more than £8 on Amazon, which makes it a bargain.

The author — Robin Blackburn — is a former editor of New Left Review, and has previously written two good books on slavery (The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery and The Making of New World Slavery).

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US budget cuts: the class war is back

On Monday 1 August Democrat and Republican members in the US House of Representatives voted through a cuts package of more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. The deal ended weeks of wrangling that could have resulted in the US defaulting on its debts.

But these huge cuts at the state level follow cuts, and attacks on unions at a federal level. The following editorial* from the July-August edition of Against the Current, the journal of US socialist group Solidarity, describes the political lines of those attacks.

Democrat and Republican members in the US House of Representatives have voted through a cuts package of more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. The deal ended weeks of wrangling that could have resulted in the US defaulting on its debts.

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Popes of the market curse the USA's poor

Standard and Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s have got their way. Three relatively small New York finance companies have strong-armed the mighty US government into big cuts in social spending.

Standard and Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s have got their way. Three relatively small New York finance companies have strong-armed the mighty US government into big cuts in social spending.

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Somalia: blighted by Islamists and US

In 2005, the USA scraped together an alliance of warlords which it hoped would rule Somalia from the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalis despised the warlords, and the majority helped the Islamists of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) to oust them in 2006. The UIC offered peace to Mogadishu for the first time in 15 years, and established its rule in most of southern Somalia.

In 2005, the USA scraped together an alliance of warlords which it hoped would rule Somalia from the capital, Mogadishu.

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US debt: into the abyss?

“An August panic similar to those in 2007 and 2008 no longer appears far-fetched. Only this time, the global economy is far less well-equipped to cope...

“Another leg of the economic crisis which started in 2007 is a distinct possibility – and exchequers simply do not have the fire-power to offset another private sector panic”.

That is how the Financial Times summed it up (18 July), under the headline: “The abyss that awaits”.

A collapse of the dollar would mean chaos in international trade.

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The $1 bank robbery, or how to get free health care in the USA

A short article in the Guardian this week summed up the inequalities, injustices and downright craziness of capitalism and the free market.

It told the story of fifty-nine year old James Verone, an unemployed man in North Carolina who lost his job as a Coca Cola delivery driver after seventeen years and with it his health insurance. Suffering from arthritis and a slipped disc, he took matters into his own hands.

How an unemployed man in North Carolina who lost his job and with it his health insurance took matters into his own hands.

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The other America

In the Deep South and the Midwest of the USA, poverty is ubiquitous.

I have harboured the usual Hollywood and rock ‘n’ roll-inspired English white boy road trip fantasies ever since my teenage years, and a couple of weeks back, I finally found myself out on Highway 61.

As I approached the celebrated Interstate — top down on the bright red Mustang convertible hired for the occasion, the inevitable choice of Dylan CD blaring from the speakers — I was met by a sign reading “lane closures in both directions”. That’s not quite how I imagined it was going to be.

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Protest against Obama - but for the right reasons!

Protesting against Barack Obama when he visits Britain this week is right, but Stop the War's position on Libya is wrong.

When Barack Obama makes his state visit to Britain this week, there will be a demonstration organised by the Stop the War Coalition and others - in protest at what the US is doing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Protesting against Obama is, in itself, right, but we do not support Stop the War's protest. In particular, its attitude to Libya is shameful.

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Obama's peace plan for Palestine: going through the motions

Are the prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace any more immanent after President Obama’s recent speech? Does it break any new ground?

The short answer would have to be no. Not because American imperial interests would not be better served by a two state solution. Brokering such a deal would enormously enhance America’s prestige and credibility with an awakening Arab street, a public justifiably suspicious of Western intentions given imperialism’s history of sustaining their oppressors.

How significant is US President Barack Obama's explicit declaration of support for Palestinian independence? Will it put any meaningful pressure on the Israeli state to end its occupation and settlement-building programmes?

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The many sides of Malcolm X

A review of Manning Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention".

Manning Marable, US academic and longstanding member of Democratic Socialists of America, died on 1 April, three days before the release of his book Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Dan Katz looks at Marable’s account.


Malcolm X was gunned down by former comrades of the Nation of Islam (NoI) on 21 February 1965, aged 39.

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California dockers take action in solidarity with Wisconsin workers

Docks at Oakland and San Francisco were brought to a standstill on Monday April 4 as members of the International Longshore Workers' Union (ILWU) stopped work as part of an AFL-CIO day of action in solidarity with the Wisconsin workers' battle for trade union rights. No cargo was worked on any shift.

Dock workers take direct action in solidarity with the Wisconsin workers' battle for union rights.

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Wisconsin anti-union bill rammed through

When our last issue went to press, there was speculation about a compromise in the battle over union rights taking place in the US state of Wisconsin, allowing Republican governor Scott Walker to push through cuts in exchange for abandoning his attack on collective bargaining.

This would have been logical for the ruling class: “remove organised labour from the fight in order to consquer the rest of the working class”, as the US socialist group Solidarity’s Wisconsin blogger put it.

On 10 March, Republican legislators in Wisconsin passed the union-busting sections of the “Budget Repair Bill”.

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