Barry Sheppard

An estimated 500,000 people, largely youth, demonstrated in Washington, DC on March 24 against the continued mass shootings at schools across the country.  Hundreds of thousands more mobilised in about 800 cities and towns.

The spark that lit the pent-up tinder of anger against school shootings — of which there have been 18 since January — was the response to the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida.

The recent victorious strike by teachers in West Virginia, which was organised bottom up by rank-and-file teachers, 75% women, has demonstrated the truth of what worker militant and songwriter Joe Hill wrote: “There is power in a band of working [people], when they stand hand in hand!”

Five months after Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, 25% of the US colony’s people are still without electricity. No state in the US has ever experienced such a long blackout.

The most effective way to counter US President Donald Trump’s reactionary policies is through mass action.

The Democratic Party, however, hopes to steer movements and individuals opposed to Trump into support of its candidates. While this trap of “lesser evil” politics has proved to be a failure over and over again, there is another, outright reactionary, content to the Democrat’s current anti-Trump campaign.

In his now infamous statement on immigration last month, Trump expressed his views clearly: He doesn’t want immigrants from “shithole” countries in Africa, Haiti and El Salvador — Black and Latina — to be let into the US.

On the other hand, he wants to encourage immigrants from predominantly white nations like Norway.

Erica Garner, Black Lives Matter activist and daughter of African American victim of police murder Eric Garner, died on December 30 aged 27.

The proximate cause of death was a heart attack, extremely rare in one so young. The underlying cause was the trauma-induced stress (PTSD) she and her family suffered because of Eric’s murder in 2014, the exoneration of the killer cops, and the callous way the Garner family was treated by city authorities, including Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The demonstrations that erupted in Iran on December 28 and continued for days appeared to have died down. There have been clashes with the repressive forces, and more than 20 people have been killed and many arrested (there are widely divergent figures).

The US State Department has endorsed the outcome of the November 26 elections in Honduras, which was surely the most farcical electoral process in recent history.

The elections were organized by US-backed dictator Juan Hernandez in hopes of polishing his image. He ran against Salvador Nasralla, the candidate of the Alliance to Oppose the Dictatorship.

As Israeli troops violently suppress Palestinian protests, the road forward for the Palestinian struggle is again being seriously discussed.

An article in the December 8 New York Times with a headline “Two State Option, a Mideast Keystone, Is Sent Askew,” begins: “President Trump, in formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, declared that the United States still supported a two-state solution to settle the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, provided it was ‘agreed to by both sides.’

Hardly a day goes by without much of the mainstream media concentrating on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. This includes any news about the various investigations into the question, much blowhard opinionating by talking heads, charges that Russia sought to collude with Donald Trump’s campaign, and more.

It is probably true that Russia would seek to influence US politics to the extent it thought it could. But to keep a sense of proportion, we should recall that the world’s foremost “meddler” in other people’s politics and elections is Washington itself.

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