Against the Current 115

— The Editors
THE IMPERIAL INVESTITURE of George W. Bush was celebrated with corporate-financed balls through the night.  Half a world away in Iraq, the empire burned, and bodies from the Indian Ocean tsunami continued to be retrieved from the surf and the muck of shattered villages from Aceh to Sri Lanka to India to Somalia.  The cost of the coronation, a few tens of millions of dollars (but who's counting?), could have paid for a warning system to save the lives of many of the 250-300,000 victims.
— Gilbert Achcar
ANYONE WATCHING THE message on Iraq in George W. Bush's February 3 State of the Union address must be convinced that members of both Houses of Congress, starting with Dick Cheney himself, are definitely making the physical effort needed to sustain their cardiac health.  The frenzied rhythm of their standing ovations indeed equaled the most intensive aerobics.
— Mark Brenner
THIS JANUARY, THE U.S. Supreme Court started what may prove to be a fundamental overhaul of criminal sentencing in federal jurisdictions.  In two interrelated cases, Booker and Fanfan, the court struck down key elements of the current federal sentencing system, put in place over twenty years ago when Congress passed the Sentencing Reform Act.
— Mike Davis
LAUPAHOEHOE IN HAWAIIAN means “foot of lava.” Thousands of years ago, lava cascaded down a steep canyon on the side of mighty Mauna Kea and created a flat shelf between the towering cliffs of the Hamakua Coast on the eastern shore of the island of Hawaii. Laupahoehoe Point became a ceremonial center of great importance to native Hawaiians as well as the only canoe landing along fifty miles of rugged coast.
— John-Paul Himka
ALTHOUGH THE UKRAINIAN presidential elections were front-page news for the last two months of 2004, and no event in the history of Ukraine has ever attracted so much media coverage and analysis, what happened, why, and its significance are questions impossible to answer with certainty.
— Peter Camejo
ONE PECULIAR EVENT around the 2004 elections received almost no analysis or discussion: The overwhelming majority of the supporters of John Kerry disagreed with their candidate on most major issues. This simple fact tells how deep the corruption of the American political system has become. Even in countries with completely distorted electoral systems, where money dominates and manipulates, it is quite unusual to see people massively voting for some one they consciously disagree with.
— interview with Adolph Reed, Jr.
Dr. Adolph Reed, political scientist, author and activist, is the national spokesperson for the Free Higher Education Campaign, which calls for free tuition and fees for all students who meet admissions requirements at all two and four-year public colleges. Between November 16 and 18, 2004 Dr. Reed visited Minnesota and presented three public talks about the campaign, one at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul and two to groups at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
— Barri Boone
I JOINED “THE crips” 13 years ago, upon being forced to quit work due to toxic exposure at my workplace. “The crips” are not a group you really fight to get into, but they can have excruciating initiation rites, worse than to get into “Skull and Bones.” And you don’t have to come from a rich family; in fact, membership almost always insures that you become poor, and very quickly!
— Dianne Feeley
LYNNE F. STEWART, 65, a lawyer noted for representing political defendants, was convicted on February 10th of five charges: two counts of conspiracy, a count of providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity and two counts of making false statements.  Convicted of felony charges, Stewart was immediately disbarred.  She is out on bail until her July sentencing date; her lawyers will file an appeal in early March.
— George Fish
POPA CHUBBY IS a well-accomplished blues-rock guitarist, vocalist and songwriter in New York City, and on his CD “Peace, Love & Respect” (Blind Pig BPCD 5089), he’s angry. Angry at the war in Iraq, and its waste of young lives. Angry at Bush and his assault on all of us except the very rich. Angry at the frustration and rage he sees in the ordinary people all around him. Angry at the social pathology that’s his daily lot in New York City, and anymore, seemingly...
— Focus on the Global South
In the December 2004 issue of Ang Bayan, the principal organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Walden Bello was singled out as a "counterrevolutionary."  His name was listed alongside fourteen other names of individuals who are either living or dead.
— Walden Bello
JOSE MARIA SISON must take us for fools. He and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leadership compile a list of living and assassinated “counterrevolutionaries,” disseminate it among CPP members, then claim this is simply a harmless exercise in information dissemination!
— Johanna Brenner and Nancy Holmstrom
SINCE 9/11 THE United States has been obsessed with "security" in a very particular sense—protection from intentional threats to our safety and well being, as in "Office of Homeland Security," "our national security," "the conflict between civil liberties and security considerations," "security was tightened," or, more mundanely, "security guards."
— Global Women's Strike
[This contribution by Global Women’s Strike (womenstrike8m@server101.com) is adapted from an unpublished article by Selma James and Nina Lopez-Jones. The Global Women’s Strike’s connection with Venezuela began when GWS was invited by the Venezuelan Women’s Institute to attend the first Women’s International Solidarity Conference in July 2002, and again in 2003 for the first anniversary of the reversal of the coup.
— Christopher Phelps
[Editors’ note: Upton Sinclair’s classic novel about an exploited immigrant meatpacking worker in Chicago, The Jungle, began serial publication exactly one hundred years ago (in February 1905) in the pages of the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason. The following year, The Jungle was published in book form and became a bestseller, prompting the reform of food inspection law. Against the Current advisory editor Christopher Phelps is the editor of a new edition of The Jungle to be...
— Paul Buhle
THE COVER OF this Against the Current issue features something new that is also a century old: a Wobbly icon. This one is an image, on a banner (one of twelve made by labor muralist Mike Alewitz), foregrounding the old “Sabo-Tabby” of sabotage, backgounding the striking coal miners’ tactic of putting nails in the path of cars and trucks bringing scabs to work.
Note that both reflect nonviolent tactics, more or less similar to the syndicalist vision of workers bringing...
— Michael Löwy
Joe Hill, The I.W.W. and the Making of a Revolutionary Working-class Counterculture.
Franklin Rosemont
Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 2003, 639 pages, $30 (cloth), $19 (paper).
THIS IS NOT only a wonderful biography of Joe Hill (1879-1915), folk hero and symbol of the revolutionary labour movement, but also an outstanding study of the insurgent culture of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
— Sonya Huber
Fighting For a Living Wage
by Stephanie Luce
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004. 221 pp., $18.95 paper.
THINK BACK TO the last time you read a book filled with charts and tables and detailed data analysis that also made you want to run into the street, screaming “Wait! You’ve got to read this!” — in short, an academic book that also gave you renewed energy to organize.
Still thinking? You can stop.
— David Finkel
Eastern Cauldron
Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq in a Marxist Mirror.
Gilbert Achcar
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004. 287 pp., $18.95 paper.
THE PAST THREE decades of Middle East history present a process of what I sometimes call “permanent counterrevolution,” unfolding under the ever-present reality of imperial domination, rivalry and of course the politics of oil.
— Jack Ceder
FIRST, I WOULD like to challenge the following statement, written by David Finkel in response to my review article “Another Look at 9/11:” “I believe that some (though certainly not all) of the 'scam theory' allegations — notably that flight 93 was shot down, and that the WTC Twin Towers couldn’t have collapsed from structural damage caused by the fires from the crashing planes — have been fairly refuted.”