Friday, May 14, 2010

Inaugural post

I hope to use this blog to improve my thinking and my writing, and to do more than function as a link repository for things I read; that may be harder than it sounds. It may turn out that reading my blogroll will be more efficient that coming here. We'll see.

The Obama administration is defending the Bush administration today, as it has so often in the past, arguing that the people who arranged for the rendition and torture of Canadian citizen Maher Arar do not need to be held to account. I wish this were surprising.

Jonathan Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution has just seen Food, Inc.: "[I]t definitely reinforced my impression that factory meat farms are basically concentration camps where the Nazis eat the prisoners." The comments are filled with additional horror about the way what we eat is produced.

lenin has a post on the Tory–LibDem coalition and what it means for British workers. Hint: massive cut in education, welfare, and transportation. NHS, however, is safe for now. It seems Trident will survive, despite the LibDems' former demands, but elections for Parliament will now come every five years, rather than at the whim of the Prime Minister. Alternative Vote (AV), which is far weaker than proportional representation, may be implemented in the future. UK involvement in the war in Afghanistan will continue, as will privatization. Workfare schemes will probably be implemented, without minimum wage or protections for those hounded into work. The lie that the Liberal Democrats are a "progressive" party should at least be squashed for now, and voters who voted LibDem to keep out the Tories will be furious. The best possible thing would probably be for this government to fall or fracture as soon as possible, but there's no guarantee that Labour is going to improve any as a party in opposition. I can imagine something similar happening to the "ratchet effect" in US politics, where whenever the Democrats don't win they use it as an argument that they need to move further right. There is popular anger, but the labor movement is nowhere near as strong as it was twenty years ago and the near future looks grim.

In Thailand, the military has finally been set on the red-shirt protesters again, following a period without shooting after the last crackdown, killing eight and wounding over one hundred. The major-general advising the protestors, Khattiya Sawasdipol, was shot in the head by a sniper (but apparently not killed), forecasting the government's future intentions for those who fail to comply. Presumably Abhisit won't be made to look ineffectual any longer. The commercial district where the protesters have been camped out is under siege, with electricity cut. Emergency law has been declared in seventeen provinces.

Chomsky has a new book coming out soon. Here's an interview with some fairly basic questions.

Here's an event I never heard about. Eleven days after the Kent State shootings, and forty years ago today, two men were shot and killed at Jackson State University, and twelve others injured, by police during a protest. Phillip Gibbs was a 21-year-old law student, married with an eleven-month-old child. James Green was a seventeen-year-old high school student, just passing through. Jackson State is a historically black school, and relatedly, I'd never heard of this massacre until now.

From commenter Emma at ATR, I've just heard learned about the Orangeburg massacre: "What about the Orangeburg massacre at South Carolina State, which preceded Kent State by several months. Three students murdered by local police firing into a crowd of peaceful protestors, a pregnant person beaten until her baby died, and 31 injured. It was pretty much ignored by the national media at the time and I guess it still is."

I've been reading for a few hours now, and am tired, but I'm not nearly done.

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