United States of America

The uprising of the 30,000

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Migrant workers have historically found it difficult to organise and fight. John Newsinger writes of a furious strike over conditions in New York, 1909, waged by newly organised migrant women garment workers who fought bitterly to the brink of victory, despite hired thugs and conservative union leaders

The Local 25 branch of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) had some 2,000 members working in the shirtwaist trade in 1909. They were mainly young Jewish women, immigrants from Tsarist Russia. On the evening of 22 November the branch organised a mass rally at New York's Cooper Union hall. The turnout took the organisers completely by surprise. Thousands came, both union members and non-members, and overspill meetings had to be arranged hastily in another half a dozen halls.

Class war at Christmas

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A Woody Guthrie song commemorates the heroic attempts by Michigan copper miners to achieve union recognition in 1913. The bosses resorted to any murderous means they could and in one incident 62 children were crushed to death. John Newsinger looks at how class war was waged in the US.

Take a trip with me in 1913
To Calumet, Michigan in the copper country
I'll take you to a place called the Italian Hall
And the miners are having their big Christmas ball

Woody Guthrie, The 1913 Massacre

People burn here

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Fires in California hit the headlines with stories of Arnold Schwarzenegger giving hope to his super-rich friends. But the real victims weren't those who lost a wing of their mansion, writes Mike Davis.

The most heartbreaking sign in California can be found at Doghouse Junction, near the craggy summit of fire-scarred Otay Mountain, overlooking the gorge of the Tijuana River. It is a simple, chilling image of a woman desperately fleeing flames. Anyone likely to encounter the sign - that is to say, mostly border patrol agents and their furtive prey - will instantly understand its meaning: People burn here.

When the Gringos Go Down South

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These days the visitor crossing from the Mexican city of Tijuana to San Diego in California is immediately slapped in the face by a huge billboard screaming, "Stop the Border Invasion!" Sponsored by the rabidly anti-immigrant vigilante group, the Minutemen, the same truculent slogan reportedly insults the public at other border crossings in Arizona and Texas.

The Minutemen, once caricatured in the press as gun-toting clowns, are now haughty celebrities of grassroots conservatism, dominating morning hate radio programmes as well as the even more hysterical ether of the right wing blogosphere. In heartland as well as border states, Republican candidates vie desperately for their endorsement.

With the electorate alienated by the dual catastrophes of Baghdad and New Orleans, the Brown Peril has suddenly become the issue through which the Republicans hope to retain control of Congress in next month's elections.

Alternative America

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Studs Terkel is the historian of the "Other" America - the America of radicals and dissenters. He spoke to Ed Rampell about the work of an oral historian.

With his trusty microphone, 93 year old lifelong leftist Studs Terkel has covered a broad swathe of the 20th century, giving voice to the common man and woman. Terkel's broadcasting, recording and numerous books have preserved spoken histories for more than half a century. Together they reveal the unofficial hidden history of America's progressive politics. He chronicles, and is himself part of, a radical history of resistance to the rule of a rich minority.

Bush's Crisis: A Steady Course to the Rocks

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Alexander Cockburn explains how domestic opposition to Bush's war on Iraq is beginning to bite.

The stench of panic in Washington hangs like a winter fog over Capitol Hill and drifts down Pennsylvania Avenue. The panic stems from the core concern of every politician in the nation's capital-survival. The people sweating are Republicans, and the source of their terror is the deadly message spelled out in every current poll - Bush's war on Iraq spells disaster for the Republican Party in next year's mid-term elections.

New Orleans, Old Prejudices

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Mike Davis finds that every aspect of the response to Hurricane Katrina disaster was shaped by race and class.

The tempest which destroyed New Orleans was conjured out of tropical seas and an angry atmosphere 125 miles offshore of the Bahamas. Labelled initially as 'Tropical Depression 12' on 23 August, it quickly intensified into 'Tropical Storm Katrina'. Making landfall near Miami on 24 August, Katrina had grown into a small hurricane - 'Category 1' on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Crossing over Florida to the Gulf of Mexico where it wandered for four days, Katrina underwent a monstrous and largely unexpected transformation.

Ecology against Capitalism: Slum Ecology

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Urban poverty and climatic hazards are a deadly cocktail for millions, as Mike Davis explains.

A villa miseria outside Buenos Aires may have the world's worst fenshui: it is built 'over a former lake, a toxic dump, and a cemetery, and in a flood zone'. But then a hazardous, health-threatening location is the geographical definition of the typical squatters' settlement: whether it is a barrio perched precariously on stilts over the excrement-clogged Pasig River in Manila, or the bustee in Vijayawada where 'residents have door numbers written on pieces of furniture because the houses, along with the doors, [are] washed away by floods every year'.

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