United States of America

The Truth That Can't be Spinned

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On 1 September 1934 millions of cotton spindles stopped spinning.

Across the Southern Piedmont mill whistles blew, but workers didn't come to work. The most exploited industrial workforce in the US - the 'lint heads' of the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama - was on strike.

As mill owners appealed frantically for injunctions, teargas and the National Guard, a vast peaceful army of textile workers demolished the image of Southern labour as culturally servile and unorganisable. With voices honed to spare beauty in the choirs of mountain Baptist churches, they sang powerful hymns of solidarity instead.

US Elections: Nader the Twain Shall Meet

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Viewers of HBO's flagship talk-show, Real Time with Bill Maher, were in for a treat a few weeks ago. Sharing the desk with Maher were Michael Moore and Ralph Nader.

Moore, after supporting Nader in 2000, is a convert to the cause of John Kerry. At first confidently predicting a Kerry victory, Moore, his Anybody But Bush arguments faltering, was reduced to begging on his knees for Nader not to stand. Not an edifying spectacle, and all the stranger given Moore's confidence of an anti-war vote turning out for a pro-war candidate. Only last month the man Moore supports for president claimed that, 'even knowing what we know now', he would still have voted to back the invasion of Iraq, as he did in 2003. He is no better on other issues.

Oedipus Bush

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Thought Ronald Reagan was dead and buried? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Ronald Reagan was notoriously shrewd at diverting public opinion whenever his administration was imperilled. A famous example was his invasion of the tiny island of Grenada just 48 hours after a truck bomb destroyed the US Marine barracks at Beirut airport in 1983. An unprecedented defeat for US intervention in the Middle East was cunningly transmogrified into a cheap victory for counter-revolution in the western hemisphere.

The View from Hubbert's Peak

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Diminishing oil supplies have epochal implications for the world economy.

Angry truckers celebrated this May Day by blocking freeways in Los Angeles and container terminals in Oakland and Stockton. With diesel fuel prices in California soaring to record levels in recent weeks, the earnings of independent container-haulers have dropped below the poverty line.

The Pentagon as Global Slumlord

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US military planners are discovering that slums are the new centres of resistance.

The young American Marine is exultant. 'It's a sniper's dream,' he tells a Los Angeles Times reporter on the outskirts of Fallujah. 'You can go anywhere and there are so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are.

'Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies. Then I'll use a second shot.

'To take a bad guy out', he explains, is an incomparable 'adrenaline rush'. He brags of having '24 confirmed kills' in the initial phase of the brutal US onslaught against the rebel city of 300,000 people.

Jumping Off the Bandwagon

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Mike Davis assesses the options for the left in the coming US elections.

Is the Pentagon too small, the war on terrorism too meek, and the Department of Homeland Security too underfunded?

John Kerry thinks so. In recent days he has repeatedly attacked the Bush administration for failing to put sufficient troops in the field or move aggressively enough against Al Qaida and North Korea.

Inside the Sunshine Gulag

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Allegations of corruption and murder are rocking California‘s penal system.

Khem Singh was little more than a shrivelled skeleton when he died of starvation in early February while on hunger strike in California‘s notorious Corcoran State Prison. The 72 year old Sikh priest, who spoke almost no English, had been given a draconian 23-year sentence in 2001 for ’inappropriately touching a young girl‘.

Although he had been on hunger strike for weeks, and had shrunken to less than 80 pounds, prison staff failed to monitor Singh‘s decline or move him into intensive care. Guards told a reporter that they ’didn‘t notice that the prisoner was wasting away‘.

Low Pay: Underbelly of the Beast

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Chanie Rosenberg looks at a new book exposing the scandal of the US working poor.

In the richest country in the world, the US, the working poor number 30 million and, with the families they struggle to support, millions more.

A low wage job in the US is one insufficient to meet the basic needs of the workers' families. But inadequate wages are only the beginning. Low wage jobs also mean few or no benefits, rigid schedules, late night shifts, unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and lack of respect. It is this 'piling on' that makes low wage jobs not just quantatively different than better paying jobs, but qualitatively different.

The Pied Piper of Vermont

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US Democrats want to use anti-war feelings to boost their ratings.

The rapidly growing list of US casualties from the invasion of Iraq now includes the names John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and Wesley Clark. Not ordinary 'grunts' but official Democratic frontrunners, they were severely wounded, if not outright killed in action, on 9 December in Harlem when Al Gore endorsed the candidacy of Howard Dean, the anti-war insurgent from Vermont.

Gore's embrace of Dean, which seemingly caught the other Democrats by complete surprise, was remarkable in at least two respects.

Letter from the US: The Scalping Party

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Mike Davis tells the story of a US army responsible for sickening war crimes in Vietnam.

In his dark masterpiece Blood Meridian novelist Cormac McCarthy tells the terrifying tale of a gang of Yankee scalp-hunters who left an apocalyptic trail of carnage from Chihuahua to southern California in the early 1850s.

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