Barry Sheppard

The attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 50 dead (including the shooter) and more than 50 injured was the largest single violent attack on LGBTI people in US history. It claimed more victims than the 1973 arson at another nightclub in New Orleans that killed 32 people.

This massacre punctuated the daily instances of violence, including murder, against LGBTI people that occur frequently in the US.

Three young African-American women started a blog in 2013 entitled “Black Lives Matter” in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a racist vigilante backed by the police, for the murder of unarmed Black youth Trayvon Martin.

The blog started a movement that took the same name, as young Blacks launched mass actions that broke through the wall of silence concerning police murders of Black people.

The three remaining presidential candidates — Republican candidate Donald Trump, and Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — have all come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in varying degrees.

The TPP, a “free trade agreement” involving 16 Pacific Rim nations (including Australia), is an undisguised corporate power grab. However, all candidates in the US presidential election stress a reactionary argument against it.

Last year, Puerto Rico's governor announced it simply did not have the money to repay its US$72 billion debt — on bonds owed mainly to US financiers. On May 2, the US's Caribbean colony defaulted on $400 million that was due on that day. A further $2 billion is due on June 1.

The divisions in the Republican Party over Donald Trump's candidacy in Republican primaries have been the subject of much commentary — and it remains to be seen how this will play out. We may not know until the Republican convention.

But the divisions in the Democratic Party due to the Bernie Sanders' candidacy in Democrat primaries are coming more and more to the fore — including in the capitalist press.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner came under fire on April 1 in a day of action by teachers and others who took to the streets to protest their austerity policies.

Revealing the bipartisan support for austerity un US politics, Emanuel is a Democrat who was Barack Obama’s White House Chief of Staff during his first term while Rauner is a conservative Republican.

At the recent meeting of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the three remaining Republican presidential candidates and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton vied to outdo each other as the most supportive of Israel and its right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

AIPAC is the powerful lobby in the US for the Israeli government and its policies. It exerts great pressure on all members of Congress.

Amid growing incidents of violence at rallies for Donald Trump and protests confronting the Republican presidential frontrunner, the Republican Party’s establishment has opened a campaign to try to deny Trump the party’s presidential nomination.

In a broadside attack on Trump, the Republican candidate in 2012 Mitt Romney launched a drive under the slogan “anyone but Trump.” He said a Trump presidency would be a disaster for “America” — strongly implying that voters should not support Trump in the general election if he wins the nomination.

Republican fears

Albert Woodfox was finally released on February 19 — his 69th birthday — from the notorious Angola state prison in Louisiana. He was jailed for 45 years, 43 of which were spent in solitary confinement in a two-by-three metre cell.

Solitary confinement is becoming widely recognised as a form of torture. Woodfox's ordeal was the longest time any prisoner in the US has been held in solitary.


Support for self-described socialist Bernie Sanders is based on his policies, such as supporting union campaigns for a $15 minimum wage.

It can be difficult to understand what capitalist elections say about the relation of class forces. This is especially true for the United States where there are no mass workers parties of any type. The two pro-capitalist parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, dominate.

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