Barry Sheppard

The world has been focused on the spectacle of the “Troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Union and the European Central Bank crushing the Greek people, but it is far from the only example of strong nations using a “debt crisis” to extract more wealth from those that are weaker. A case in point is the US colony of Puerto Rico. In a June 28 New York Times interview, the governor of the Caribbean archipelago nation declared its debt of US$73 billion “is not payable. There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics. This is math.”
In the wake of the political assassination of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17 by a white supremacist, racial tensions remain high. Since that incident, seven Black churches in the South have suffered fires, recalling many such incidents in the past.
The original African Methodist Episcopal church, Charleston, which was burned down by a white mob after Denmark Vesey's planned slave uprising in 1822. The mass murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white racist on June 17 has been widely denounced. But to understand this hate crime — a terrorist attack — it has to be put into the broader political context.
A Black Lives Matter protest last August in New York. Photo by Edward Leavy.
The mass murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina by a white racist has been widely denounced. But to understand this hate crime – a terrorist attack – it has to be put into a broader political context.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated between the US and 11 other Pacific Rim nations — including Australia — is a treaty covering regulations and investments. It is being negotiated in secret from the peoples of the affected nations, but not from the corporations that are set to benefit from the deal — as chapters leaked by WikiLeaks reveal. For the US side alone, about 600 corporate representatives are neck deep in the negotiations.
Since the 1973 United States Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision in legalising most abortions, there has been a steady erosion of women’s abortion rights in the US - with the complicity of both major capitalist parties. A new wave of restrictions spearheaded by Republicans has developed in the past three years, gaining more traction in the past year.
In an atypical move in cases of police killings of unarmed African Americans,‭ ‬six police officers in Baltimore have been charged with serious crimes over the‭ ‬death of‭ ‬25-year-old African American man Freddie Gray last month. Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the charges on May‭ ‬1,‭ ‬which include second-degree murder against one officer.
Khury Petersen-Smith is a 32-year-old African American activist based in Boston, who is actively involved in the growing “Black Lives matter” struggle sweeping the US. I was able to speak with Petersen-Smith, a member of the International Socialist Organization, at the Marxism 2015 conference organised by Socialist Alternative in Melbourne over Easter, at which he was a featured guest.
Democrat Hillary Clinton has finally announced she is running for United States president in next year's elections. In the goof-ball electoral farce that US elections have evolved into, the electoral campaign actually began shortly after the 2012 election. So it is not odd that the campaigns of both the Republicans and Democrats are now in earnest, nineteen months before the actual election — something not seen in any other “advanced” country.
A new police murder of an unarmed Black man in the United States has received global attention. It comes as the #BlackLivesMatter movement has swept the country since the police murder of an unarmed Black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri last August. On April 4, officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, shot 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he was fleeing. The police initially tried to whitewash the incident, with the all-too-familiar assertion that Slager was assaulted by Scott and feared for his life. So the killing was justified. Q.E.D.
The small, majority-Black town of Ferguson, Missouri has once again become the flash point of a new movement against the oppression of African Americans and the racist response. US Attorney-General Eric Holder recently released a Department of Justice (DOJ) report detailing the systematic oppression of the Black community in Ferguson by city authorities, the police department and the courts.
The 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, one of the greatest leaders of the Black liberation movement of the 1960s, was marked on February 21. Russian revolutionary VI Lenin once wrote: “During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander.
Tens of thousands gathered in the North Carolina capital of Raleigh on February 8 for what organisers called the largest civil rights rally in the South since the famous Selma march in 1965. The Mass Moral March has been held annually to protest the right-wing state government’s attacks on voting rights, education, the environment, healthcare and women’s rights.
This year’s celebrations of civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, a national holiday on January 19, were quite different from the staid affairs in recent decades. Tens of thousands of protesters across the country held more than 50 actions, marches and civil disobedience, reclaiming his radical legacy and condemning the police killings of unarmed African Americans.
The struggles against police murders of African Americans have spread nationally since the events in Ferguson, Missouri last August, when the police murder of an unarmed Black teenager sparked angry protests. A nascent new movement of Black people is being formed, with young Black women and men in the vanguard. A racist backlash centring on defense of the police, a reactionary counter-movement, has also developed, which has strong support in the ruling class.
The news came through on December 3, as I write this, that another grand jury has refused to indict a white cop for murdering an unarmed Black man. In this case, the murder was caught on video in New York City on July 17. The widely watched video, taken by a bystander, showed 43-year-old Black man Eric Garner being set upon by a group of cops for selling individual cigarettes on the street. One cop is seen putting Garner in a chokehold. The other cops pile on, and Gardener is choked to death. The cops then arrested the man who shot the video and his girlfriend.

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