United States

More than 200 US military veterans and active-duty troops from Iraq and Afghanistan will participate in a four-day event in Washington, to shed light on the atrocities committed by US occupation forces.

The following is an abridged statement from the US-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released on January 21.

Hollywood writers won gains following a 14-week strike against TV and film producers that ended with a new contract giving them a percentage of revenue for programs streamed on the internet — a demand that industry bosses had vowed to resist.

The pink slips are piling up, and jobs are getting a lot harder to find. That’s the unmistakable conclusion of the US government’s employment report for December.

During the war against Vietnam, it was not until 1970 that the US union movement took protest action in an organised manner. And even then, it was a pro-war demonstration called by New York’s Building Trades Council in support of President Richard Nixon. However anti-war unions responded to that demonstration — held on May 20 and drawing 50,000 workers (many of them paid to attend) — with a protest of their own. While it only drew half as many people, it was a significant milestone — it was the first time that US unions formally organised an anti-war demonstration.

The US Department of Energy announced January 30 that it is pulling out of the Futuregen Project in Mattoon, Illinois — the United States’ US$1.8 billion “clean coal” demonstration plant, scheduled to start construction next year. The DoE had committed to paying 74% ($1.3 billion) of Futuregen’s costs.

After starting contract negotiations on January 12, the Directors’ Guild of America reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on January 17. It was expected that the DGA and AMPTP would come to an agreement, but the swiftness of the deal was a surprise, especially because there were six months remaining on the existing contract.

The current crisis could well turn out to be the most devastating since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It manifests profound, unresolved problems in the real economy that have been — literally — papered over by debt for decades, as well as a shorter term financial crunch of a depth unseen since World War II.

As Hollywood enters its award season, the 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) continue their strike that has shut down the majority of the US film and television industry since November 5. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has also begun to renegotiate its contract.

Voters’ desire to see political change has become the undisputed theme of the 2008 US presidential election scheduled for November following a strong surge of support for contender for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama that has caused other candidates, even Republicans, to adopt similar rhetoric.

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