United States of America

The gathering storm

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The depth of the devastation of ordinary American lives means that the divisions between workers and protesters that existed in the 1960s have collapsed, writes Megan Trudell

It could be argued that it's been a long time coming. For 30 years, US capitalism's answer to falling rates of profitability has been to restructure - cutting manufacturing jobs, relocating operations from former industrial heartlands to the much more weakly unionised South and West, intensifying work processes, deregulating industry, privatising services and extending working hours while chipping away at wages and holiday and sickness benefits.

USA: Revolt of the 99 %

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Eric Fretz reports from New York on how the Occupy movement has transformed the mood in the USA.

"We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent." So runs the statement on the werarethe99percent website.

Class war in the USA

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This September marked the third year of the deepening global financial crisis. It also marked the emergence of a fresh wave of resistance to global corporate greed, the now international movement "Occupy Wall Street".

What started out as 150 activists occupying the privately owned Zuccotti park in Wall Street in mid-September has turned into the permanent occupation of the renamed "Liberty Plaza". The occupation's main slogan, "We are the 99 percent", has caught the imagination of people around the globe.

On 15 October the demonstration in Times Square in New York swelled to over 100,000. The protests have drawn inspiration from the revolutions across the Arab world - in particular, the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt which helped to bring down the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.

Austerity USA

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Last month Obama and the Republicans agreed a last minute compromise on the US national debt ceiling.

To explain why this happened, it's useful to begin by looking the peculiarities of the US political system. The US does not have a parliamentary system where the parliament elects the government. Instead, a president is elected every four years. There are elections every two years for Congress - the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The war that became a revolution

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The US Civil War began 150 years ago in April 1861. It ended with the abolition of slavery in the Southern states. Mark L Thomas spoke to historian James McPherson about this turning point in US history


To what extent was the Civil War a war to preserve the Union and to what extent was it a war to abolish slavery?

It was primarily a war to preserve the Union and that was the sole objective at the beginning of the war for the North. Indeed President Lincoln said on many occasions in the first year and a half of the war that it was not a war to abolish slavery.

Letter from United States

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Attacks on state employees in Wisconsin by Republican governor Scott Walker has reignited the class struggle, reports Phil Gasper

When I moved to Madison, Wisconsin four years ago, I didn't dream that it would become the site of a rebirth of the US labour movement. But since February that is what has happened.

Doobie do or doobie don't?

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During last month's midterm elections in the US Californian voters narrowly rejected a proposal to legalise cannabis. But what does this mean for the policy of prohibition?

As voters across the US went to the polls last month for the midterm elections, Californians voted on whether cannabis should be made legal to buy, sell and grow in the state.

While the Proposition 19 vote failed, it was significant. Overall, 46 percent of voters called for legalisation, with 54 percent against. This was despite both the Democratic and Republican contenders for Congress opposing legalisation, and warnings that ending prohibition would be legally problematic as it would have clashed uncomfortably with federal law.

Pins and Needles

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The Cock Tavern Theatre, Kilburn, London, until 11 December

Every catastrophic global financial crisis has its bright side. In London glaziers are doing overtime and a smash-hit Broadway cabaret, written during the last global bout of austerity, finally gets a British premiere in a small theatre in north London. In 1937 the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) asked Harold Rome to write a cheap show that could be performed by the workers on two pianos.

Standing on the shoulders of jazz giants

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New Orleans is often regarded as the birthplace of jazz. Martin Smith spoke to jazz musician Christian Scott about growing up in the city, the devastation after Katrina and making music to move the listener.


A young 27 year old black man found himself driving alone through New Orleans on his way back from the Mardi Gras at around 2am one night. As he looked in his rear view mirror, he saw a car tailing him with its lights off. For eight blocks the blacked out car followed him. His life flashed before him: was it a gang out to rob him, or, even worse, a lynch mob?

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