Date Archives April 2007

Remembering Haymarket

I am often too cynical for my own good. So I am taking time to reflect on the fact that on 1st May 1886, thousands of workers in Chicago went on strike to demand an eight-hour day. The police attacked them, their leaders were hanged, and the bosses went on the offensive. They must have thought they had achieved nothing. But then the newly-formed American Federation of Labor took the cause forward, publicized the Haymarket massacre, and a couple of years later the Second International in Paris heard about them… Read More

American left-wing blogs are myopic

I’m very new to blogging. I go out into the world and look for blogs that I might be interested in — things that are left-wing, radical, socialist, environmentalist, anarchist, etc. The name “LeftAlign” is a clue to my general outlook. To my surprise, I discover that: 1. 90% of the blogs I find are American. 2. 90% of the posts I read start with “The Bush Administration….” The first part I’m not so bothered about. As I get used to navigating the world of blogs (sorry, I can’t bring… Read More

International Workers’ Memorial Day

Thanks to Aotearoa-based Spanblather, I have discovered very belatedly that it’s International Workers’ Memorial Day today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 5,734 fatal occupational injuries in the USA in 2005. In my time as a journalist in the US I used the databases available online at OSHA to get stories of horrific workplace accidents – workers with limbs caught in machinery, crushed under forklift trucks, poisoned due to inadequate safety gear, etc etc. The companies were often found liable, and fined a few hundred dollars. Yes,… Read More

Library cuts

I love libraries. Always have. I could spend all day in a library, working my way through the stock. I even love the weird library smell (what is that? It’s not the smell of books, because bookshops don’t smell like that). So I was upset to see my local library in Crouch End, London borough of Haringey, featured in a Socialist Worker article about library cuts. Here’s an anonymous Haringey librarian quoted in the piece: “It’s about deskilling – getting rid of professional librarians. I think this is preparing the… Read More

Strange experience in a public toilet

I was coming out of a public toilet in central London today (Paternoster Square, near St. Paul’s, if anyone’s interested), when I saw a strange sign on the door: “Images are being recorded for security purposes…” (so far so good) “…and for possible marketing and advertising by vicinitee.com” (erm, what?). Will I soon be starring in a TV commercial as “guy standing at urinal”??? I’ve emailed the company to ask, so stay tuned to find out… (A side issue: upon seeing that sign, for the first time in my life… Read More

Rip Your Heart in Two

The Sunday papers often have sad stories. People with cancer, children needing transplants. Tug-at-the-heart-strings-over-your-tea-and-Cornflakes stuff. This Sunday’s Observer was different, though. The story of Noel Martin doesn’t tug at your heartstrings — it rips them out of your body, shreds them and stuffs them in your face as you bawl steaming hot tears of pain and anguish. Titled “Why I just can’t go on living“, it tells how Martin, a Jamaican-born Brit, was chased by neo-Nazis shouting “nigger piss off” as he was driving through Mahlow, a small town south… Read More

Good on you, Hugh!

It’s not often that I support violence, but in this case I completely support Hugh Grant, who is in trouble for throwing a tub of food at a photographer. I mean, seriously, how many photos of celebrities leaving their houses do we really need? Is it necessary to put these people through hell just so that the newspapers and gossip mags can have a few more non-stories to fill the gaping void for the 53 pages between the attention-grabbing front-page piece and the sport on the back page? And is… Read More

If it’s good enough for Einstein…

It’s funny how conservatives always complain about left-wing thought dominating academia. They set up absurd organisations like Campus Watch dedicated to rooting out liberal bias, and hound anyone who dares to criticise capitalism, the government or the status quo in general. Could it be that there is in fact no “sinister” conspiracy to subvert our youth? Could it be, in fact, that intelligent people – people who teach at university level – are drawn to socialism/liberalism/leftist ideology because it makes sense? Could it be that these same intelligent folk reject… Read More

Land Day

Apparently it was Palestinian Land Day a few weeks ago. Palestinian blogger LamaK has a very poignant take on it, pointing out how close Land Day is to April Fool’s Day. on the 31st you celebrate the Lands day, to remember how your country (or palestine in case your not Palestinian), has been ravaged as a land, stolen as a country, confiscated as an identity, so you celebrate the day, as away to say NO, to say i do NOT accept, i will NOT surrender…Then on the 1st of april,… Read More