United States

As the mainstream press frets that the much-touted “economic-recovery” appears to have lost steam, the economic crisis continues to escalate for ordinary people. With official unemployment holding steady at 9.5% (real unemployment is much higher), and with the state budget cuts producing yet more tuition increases, a growing phenomenon is sweeping the nation: homeless and hungry college students.
The Gulf of Mexico is still threatened with an ecological catastrophe, but the US government and British Petroleum (BP) are trying to cover up the scale of BP’s Macondo oil well disaster. About 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped into the sea after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. BP capped the well on July 15, but work on the relief well to permanently plug the spill is expected to be delayed until early September, Bloomberg.com said on August 20.
To give yourself a stressful and futile day, try telling people there are no plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero. You’ll get nowhere, although the truth is there are plans to build an Islamic centre, with a swimming pool open to everyone, two blocks away from Ground Zero site of the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in New York.
The introduction in May of a racist law targetting immigrants in the US state of Arizona has sparked a powerful movement from wide sections of US society. It has also sparked the biggest movement of musicians in the US since the times of South African apartheid, with a growing number of artists refusing to play in Arizona in protest. The musicians are organised through Sound Strike, an organisation initiated in May by Rage Against the Machine (RATM) lead singer Zach de la Rocha and film-maker Michael Moore.
Trans-Continental Hustle Gogol Bordello Colombia/ DMZ Review by Mat Ward Gogol Bordello have always said their aim is to smuggle Roma music into mainstream Western society. Their latest album, produced by former Beastie Boys DJ-turned-super-producer Rick Rubin, might just do that. The US-based band, whose music combines elements of traditional Romani music with punk rock, is largely made up of Eastern European Roma immigrants who understand the long-standing persecution of their people.
On August 24, New York cab driver Ahmed Sharif was viscously assaulted by a passenger in his cab, who asked him if he was a Muslim before attacking him with a knife. Sharif was hospitalised but survived. The NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia released the statement below on August 25. It is abridged from the website of the Coalition to Stop Islamophobia in America. * * *
In Australia, the question of environmental protection has increasingly been linked to the need to reduce or contain the nation’s population level size. This is often tied to the argument that the high level of consumption in First World countries is unsustainable.
The Gaslight Anthem must be sick of the Springsteen references by now. Ever since bursting into international consciousness a few years back, there’s been no shortage of critics willing to draw the connections between them and the Boss.
The US emission trading scheme in sulphur dioxide (SO2) — the gas that causes acid rain — is widely held as proof that the market can cut pollution. Pro-market commentators point to the success of this “acid rain market” as evidence that similar kinds of carbon trading schemes are the best way to tackle climate change. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said on April 11 the scheme showed “that it is generally best to rely on a market-based approach”. But this poster child for emissions trading has now collapsed in a heap.
In Fremont, Nebraska in the US mid-west, some of the biggest names in indie rock played a sold-out pro-immigrant benefit gig on July 31 titled “Concert for Equality”. Omaha.com said on August 2: “The theme of the day — and the reason for the show — was to fight Fremont’s recently passed immigration ordinance, which would fine employers and landlords who hire or rent to illegal immigrants.” All proceeds from the gig were offered to the American Liberties Civil Union to assist its fight against the law, Pollstar.com said on August 4.

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