The question here wasn’t if the building was going to collapse, but when, and how many workers would be trapped when it did.
Today marks International Workers’ Day, and many marches, actions, and activities around the world as most of the globe’s workers and families celebrate labour and fair rights for workers. (The glaring exception being, of course, the US, which observes a separate Labour Day in September rather than joining in with May Day celebrations.) Tremendous strides have been made in the field of labour rights in the last century, but in other ways, it seems like workers are stuck on a treadmill, unable to progress much further from where they were in 1913, or 1863, for that matter.
The raw sentimentality in all of these spots speaks to a country of people living in fearful, restless times who want some kind of reassurance that the American Empire is not yet dead
Last night marked one of the biggest annual sporting events in the US, a collection of glitz and glamour on the gridiron. This year’s event had some additional fireworks in the form of a halftime show by Beyoncé that brought down the house and a 35 minute power outage in New Orleans’ Superdome that attracted more attention than the prolonged infrastructure problems New Orleans is still experiencing in a post-Katrina world, let alone the post-Sandy damage the East Coast is still recovering from. Let us ponder, for a moment, the absurd grossness involved in the expenditure of vast sums of money by organisers and attendees for the Super Bowl when many communities in the region still lack basic needs.
Downton presents a world in which some people are in service and others are not, and this is an entirely appropriate and even desirable inequality, one that makes the world right and good.
With the release of Downton Abbey in the US comes a new tide of commentary about the British drama, which seems to be captivating audiences on both sides of the pond in addition to ushering a new era of class dramas on television. Upstairs, Downstairs has been revived while Boardwalk Empire plays with similar themes in the US, and Ripper Street takes US viewers to Whitechapel during a notorious era this weekend. Amongst all that nostalgia for a bygone age come some fascinating social attitudes, as Veronica Horwell discusses in a superb piece for Le Monde Diplomatique exploring the British obsession with class dramas.
Where is the rage, here? Where is the justice? And why is the US still relying on charity to provide critically needed services?
The time of year has come for the general population to be reminded that homeless people, disabled children, and other people who have ‘fallen on hard times’ exist. Bell-ringers torment shoppers in urban areas with their demands for money, heart-warming stories fill the newspaper, and shelters suddenly swell with volunteers eager to do their duty by the less fortunate. It is the time for holiday charity, for a warm bath of pity porn, to be followed by a return to normal after the tree has been taken down and the wrapping paper bundled up and taken to the recycling along with the boxes from everyone’s electronic toys and cheap plastic goodies.
Could sustained direct action begin to match or eclipse the influence that uber-rich donors like the Waltons and the Kochs exert on politicians?
The New York Times recently published two of the year’s most important stories. For those who were too distracted by Hurricane Sandy or election activities to read them, allow me to sum up:
This was an election about the economy, but not in the sense that many seemed to think. This was an election about austerity.
With the reelection of President Barack Obama on Tuesday night along with the election and in some cases reelection of a number of notable women including Tammy Duckworth, Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, and Maggie Hassan, the US electorate displayed quite a split in sentiment about the direction of the nation. A nation struggling in the depths of an economic meltdown expressed intense dissatisfaction with both major Presidential candidates—the President actually lost vote share from 2008, which is unusual—while still sending a message that it was fed up with the tone of politics in the US.
Australia shares a possible future with Greece in the steady cuts to public services, in the continual diminishing of our expectations for government to foster the conditions that promote a good life for its people.
It might have escaped your notice, but apparently a Mediterranean climate and robust olive oil are not the only things Australia has in common with Greece. This week, prominent Australian banker David Murray told the ABC’s 7:30 report that it is “easily possible” that Australia could experience a similar downturn to Greece, sparking a flurry of controversy.
Downton Abbey is a show that may have become trapped by its own success, because few viewers want to see Fellowes pull the plug on the golden age.
Downton Abbey is back on the airwaves after entirely too long away, just in time for a big round of Emmy nominations (and, sadly, relatively few wins). The ITV drama won’t be hitting US shores until January, when it will be back on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre, but in the UK, viewers are already raving about series three, which takes us to the Roaring Twenties, where there are some serious roadbumps ahead for our manor family amidst the drop waists and cloches.
It may well be that the wealthiest 1% of people have been surprised to learn of our conflict, much as Marie Antoinette was doubtless surprised when the sans-culottes showed themselves reluctant to eat her bread.
As a first-birthday gift, Occupy Wall Street was treated to a hefty round of dismissals, roasts and obituaries from the mainstream media, none of whom saw fit to hire journalists to, say, report on it. The New York Times’ Wall Street stenographer, Andrew Ross Sorkin memorably described Sunday’s Hundreds-of-Arrests-Thousand-of-Participants day’s worth of actions as a “fizzle.” The Wall Street Journal declared the tea party the victor in the battle everyone knows it has going with Occupy Wall Street. However, it was Bloomberg View’s editors who concocted the most instructive and provocative thesis: “How Mitt Romney and Occupy Wall Street Are Alike.”
The realities of the current election do not exactly point towards a massive turn to the left but rather, towards a fragmented voter base with a preference for varying degrees of leftist agendas.
On September 12 The Netherlands is voting and several opinion polls have pointed to a strong possibility of a government with left inclinations. On Sunday, Guardian correspondent in The Netherlands Julian Coman wrote “Dutch embrace radical left as European dream sours”. However, the realities of the current election do not exactly point towards a massive turn to the left but rather, towards a fragmented voter base with a preference for varying degrees of leftist agendas.
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