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America’s Largest Pension Fund Pulls Out of Hedge Funds September 16, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in International Finance, United States.
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Fascinating story from gawker. Here’s the first paragraph

CALPERS is America’s largest pension fund, with $300 billion in assets. It just announced that it is pulling all of its money out of hedge funds. Why? Because everyone knows that hedge funds are a ripoff.

Mother Jones Festival, Cork, 31st July – 2nd August July 16, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in Commemoration, History, Trade Unions, United States.
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The 175th anniversary of the birth of the legendary trade union activist and “Miner’s Angel”, Mary Harris Jones is being celebrated in Cork by the Mother Jones Festival, following a motion from Ted Tynan (WP) for a memorial to her to be erected being passed by the City Council. The website of the broad-based committee responsible for putting together the Festival is here. The Festival has a wide range of sponsors, including the City Council, SIPTU and UNITE.

Highlights from the very impressive programme include

31st July with Irish premier of film “Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman” with talk by film producer and writer Rosemary Feurer (USA).

1st August Opening of the Mother Jones Exhibition on 1st August at 12.15pm at the Firkin Crane Centre

1st August, the Inaugural mother Jones lectures and discussion with Prof. Elliott J. Gorn (Brown University), whose books include Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America and Marat Moore, herself a former coal miner, union activist and writer. She was a founder of the Daughters of Mother Jones who played a big role in the Pittston Mine Strike in 1989, and is the author of Women in the Mines.

1st August Official Unveiling of the Mother Jones plaque at John Redmond Street

1st August “Freedom Bells” concert with Andy Irvine

Full details of the various events and venues can be found in the programme.

The Logical Outcome of Tory Education Reforms June 25, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in United States.

Tory education reforms stress handing over control of schools to those willing to fund them, and freedom for schools to teach what they want. Is this where we’re heading?

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to…Doc Watson (1923-2012) June 2, 2012

Posted by yourcousin in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to..., United States.

First with sincere apologies to WBS who had a fine TWIMBLT lined up as always, but with the passing of Doc Watson this week at the age of 89 I felt the need to celebrate his life and music.\

[Apology accepted, 🙂 I was away from my computer until this evening and had already scheduled the Hawkwind post so I didn’t realise this was posted, so I’m bouncing this up the page so more people see it. Great post with a great topic – wbs]

I remember as a small child being entranced by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s album “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” LP which adorned my dad’s dresser. The concept of the album was to showcase traditional music and to show the comraderie among musicians as well as bridging a gap between generations (the Nitty Gritty were of my parent’s generation while the big names were of my grandparent’s+ generation). This was my first introduction to Doc Watson, along with many other classic musicians.

Renowned as a picker, guitarist, and singer. I find it odd to see him remembered as a “folk singer” because in any sense of the word he was first, foremost and lastly a country music icon. It is telling that his passing was not mentioned on modern country radio stations aside from as part of the news.

I don’t see the point in me rewriting his obituary, those can be found easily enough. If you’re familiar with his work then let this be a moment to reflect and remember. If you haven’t heard Doc yet then take some time and give a listen, it is most definitely worth your time.


Old US Presidential Campaign Commercials May 29, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Imagery, United States, US Politics.

With the US Presidential Campaign getting into gear a reminder of some previous US Presidential election Commercials.

One site with hundreds of them is The Living Room Candidate  which the blurb says…

The Living Room Candidate contains more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952, when Madison Avenue advertising executive Rosser Reeves convinced Dwight Eisenhower that short ads played during such popular TV programs as I Love Lucy would reach more voters than any other form of advertising. This innovation had a permanent effect on the way presidential campaigns are run.

“The most famous of all campaign commercials, known as the “Daisy Girl” ad, ran only once as a paid advertisement, during an NBC broadcast of Monday Night at the Movies on September 7, 1964. Without any explanatory words, the ad uses a simple and powerful cinematic device, juxtaposing a scene of a little girl happily picking petals off of a flower (actually a black-eyed Susan), and an ominous countdown to a nuclear explosion. The ad was created by the innovative agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, known for its conceptual, minimal, and modern approach to advertising. The memorable soundtrack was created by Tony Schwartz, an advertising pioneer famous for his work with sound, including anthropological recordings of audio from cultures around the world. The frightening ad was instantly perceived as a portrayal of Barry Goldwater as an extremist. In fact, the Republican National Committee spelled this out by saying, “This ad implies that Senator Goldwater is a reckless man and Lyndon Johnson is a careful man.” This was precisely the intent; in a memo to President Johnson on September 13, Bill Moyers wrote, “The idea was not to let him get away with building a moderate image and to put him on the defensive before the campaign is old.” The ad was replayed in its entirety on ABC’s and CBS’s nightly news shows, amplifying its impact”

The Freedom Riders and more ….. January 11, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Imagery, United States.

Was browsing The Denver Posts Photo Blog and found these wonderful galleries.

Firstly a pictorial history of the “Freedom Riders” who tried to break segregation on buses 51 years ago. There is a background to the Freedom Riders and each picture has its own story.
The 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders

Then these photos show the places of Depression Era America
Color Landscape of the depression era

and finally another gallery from a similar period
America in Color 1939 to 1943

The Forgotten Emigrants – Irish American Radicals in the early 20th century January 6, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in United States, US Politics.

Fascinating article over at the Irish History Podcast site.
The Forgotten Emigrants – Irish American Radicals in the early 20th century.

“Reports from the coalfront” January 2, 2012

Posted by yourcousin in Unions, United States, US Politics, Workers Rights.

This post started as a response to CMK’s question on the Sean Garland thread, but as the response got bigger and bigger I thought that a new post might be more appropriate than a response to a dead thread.  On a personal note, I appreciate the support, I am working and doing well.

I do think that the traditional relationship with Labor serving as the foot soldiers for the Democratic Party is fraying.  Obviously the Wisconsin protests were huge, but when the Democrats tried to channel that energy, it fizzled for them.  The grassroots campaigns in Ohio trying to get a referendum to over turn the anti-union legislation is seems to indicate that support for unions surpasses the support for Dems (obviously).  There were calls for a general strike in Wisconsin, but it fizzled as labor leaders were anxious that things “not get out of hand” and promised relief through the Dem’s tactics, which included the recall campaigns and (off hand) a state supreme court election (which Republicans won btw).  One of the interesting things is that the Firefighters stopped contributing to the national Dems and said that they would selectively target local/state elections.  I believe they just recently reversed that decision within the last month or so.

The Occupy movement was also a catalyst of sorts, at least in the beginning.  The sight of hundreds of uniformed pilots marching in protest, was impressive even to my cynical eyes. 


Or maybe I just never got over seeing people in uniform stick it to the man.  The point there was that these were everyday people venting their rage at the system that controls both political parties.  When “normal” people take to the streets, not so much to protest abstract concepts so much as to protest for it means its touching a chord.  It is also happening at a time that no one within the established political movement will actually doing anything in support of the marchers other than try to pander for a few votes.  I predict that after 2012 you’ll see Dem hopefuls listing their involvement in say a human microphone on their resumes once it is “safe” for them to do so.  “Progressive” city councils and mayors coordinated the removal of encampments like the ones in Oakland and Denver.  So to me the chances of the occupy movement having an impact in that sphere aside from possibly staying home on election day or being more cynical of the dems is slim for right now.  But with the coming of election season Obama is definitely polishing up his populist (and I mean this in the good sense of the word) credentials.  So he and the Dems will have to walk a very fine line of trying to motivate folks to vote for him but not ask too many questions about the economic system.  But in his favor he’s got the current batch of Republicans to go against so that may help.  I mean the House had their run and I think that the debacle with the pay roll tax cut may be the beginning of their decline. 

Something else that may work in his favor is people’s sheer desperation.  A lot of people are living on the edge of disaster.  So while many folks may not be enthusiastic about him like they were two years ago the idea of people who would hang pictures of Ayn Rand in their offices totally running the place is too much to even think about.  And that’s pragmatics not “change we can believe in”.  My brother is just as militant as me, but since he doesn’t have a union job, no insurance and has an injury from a work accident (third degree burns on the inside of right elbow and arm leaving him with some substantial nerve damage) he is on the very edge of destitution due to so much of his meagre pay check going to pay for medical bills and medication.  It’s because of him that I support Obama care.  He said flat out that he will vote for Obama because he has no choice.  I hope my dad will remember that when polling day comes because I could see him falling for Romney’s bullshit.   I don’t thinkthat our story is that unique either. 

If I were try to predict where the labor movement is going (something which I’m loathe to do) I would simply highlight two trends.  The first is the traditional role of labor as booster of the the Dems, but in a more frenzied fashion and dropping things like the Employee Free Choice Act which might upset the apple cart.  I view this kind of like Dev’s “labor must wait”.  Or like a popular front action where it’s all hands on deck in defense of basic civil society.  And I agree with this branch in as much I think government ought to defend civic society from capital. 

The other branch which exists and is growing however slowly with fits and starts is the old school unionism which existed in the shadows until the late seventies.  While it might take full advantage labor law it relied upon traditional solidarity and direct action.  The thing that I think alot of people don’t understand about this current is that these folks in many facets appear reactionary.  A prime example of this is a guy I currently work with.  He’s a straight up conservative/reactionary.  We almost came to blows over his justification of the Iraq war and Saddam’s WMD being the gassing of the Kurds.  I about came out of my seat and folks came out of the trailers due to the yelling.  But he is as steadfast a union man as one could want.  Once during a wobbled job (ie during an unofficial work stoppage) he happened to show off a new M-14 to a co worker in view of the superintendent.  Of course the police were called and came guns drawn but as he hadn’t threatened anyone with it and it isn’t illegal to have a rifle in your trunk he was left alone and the pay dispute was resolved quickly there after.  He was also part of a “clearing crew” during an official strike.  The “clearing crew” were guys who would wait until work started and any scabs who crossed the line were at work.  At this point the “clearing crew” would enter the site with baseball bats and clear the job out.  The guy who trained me to do doors and hardware saw his first strike in the army during his tour of Vietnam.  He knew of a carpenter’s strike in the mountains where the scabs spent the entire day pinned down by a sniper who promptly wrapped up his sport shooting at the end of shift.  It isn’t all violence but these examples told to me by first person participants and witnesses highlights labor’s untold story of declared Republicans and decorated vets (my guy came back from ‘nam with a bronze star which is a whole other story) who are “upstanding Americans” who are also part of the army of labor. 

This back story of sorts is simply used to highlight the legacy of direct action up through the Reagan years as a connection the actions which took place in the Pacific Northwest where back in Sept. hundreds of longshoremen stormed a grain terminal, dumped grain on the tracks, cut brake lines and walked off the jobs in other ports after the president of their local was arrested for blocking the tracks during a dispute with the operator of the terminal.  They were accused of holding six security guards hostage though it was later revealed that the guards simply hid out for a number of hours in their shack rather than face hundreds of angry longshoremen.  Even the police backed down and retreated when called out.  The sherriff although largely hostile made a unique comment as to why no arrests were made during and after the terminal storming after which the longshoremen simply returned to their hall unmolested with threats of further action.  He pointed out the fact that the longshoremen were members of the local community and that he could understand their anger at their liviehoods being threatened during these difficult economic times and while condemning their actions refused to condemn them.  The irony is that while the ILWU (west coast longshoreman’s union) has a known history and reputation for militance and political actions this was a new front and one which was done with absolutely no fanfare or rhetoric, indeed even members who I know personally and who have stayed in my home were extremely tight lipped about the action and others that might happen.  I can of course understand because as Jimmy Diamond once told me, “whatever you say, say nothing” (circa 2007).

As I see it as the “respectable” wing of labor continues to lose ground I see more and more workers turning to the more direct approach.  Obviously my examples highlight a very specific demographic that is unfortunately a shrinking part of the American workforce.  That being said solidarity unionism, direct unionism or whatever you want to call it remains a viable form of resistance to capital, indeed it is, I would argue one of the fundamental pieces of resistance to capital.  Far outweighing any Political adventurism that may be put forward.  It should also be noted that union bosses vhemently oppose direct unionism and as was the case in Wisconsin rather see their unions destroyed than give up control to “irresponsible” forces.  The largest challenge for the labor movement (note the lower case “l” denoting an all encompassing movement rather Organized Labor) is to bridge the chasm from the shrinking demographics of the trade union movement (though as Wisconsin demonstrated can still be impressive) to the growing working poor and private sector who never really thought about the class war until it arrived on their doorstep.


As for mortgages and what not.  I’m sure there are groups out there that do help people, but the sad reality is that many, many people stopped viewing their home as a place to live and viewed homes as commodities.  Many like my friend took out lines of credit on their homes and second mortgages.  Indeed I bought my home as a foreclosure learning only after closing that the house in question was previously owned by my uncle’s girlfriend who took out a second mortgage to pay for heart surgery to repair a defect.  The surgery wasn’t successful and she lost the house.  I just don’t see any grouping with the political will let alone the knowledge and finances to challenge many of the foreclosures.  Also the fact that at best the challenges would be addressing some of the foreclosures for errors, not challenging the idea of throwing people out of their houses due to their inability to pay is another major shortcoming in my eyes.  So no, I have no hope of outflanking capital on that front and I foresee the rise and return of the landlord class as a new enemy for the working class to face off against in the foreseeable future.







Frontier Life images…. December 1, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in United States.
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Growing up watching Westerns, playing Cowboys and Indians led to a fascination with the colonization of North America and the stories of the various tribes .(At a young age my old Ladybird books on “The Indians” and “Battle of the Little Big Horn” and even John Fords ‘Cavalry Trilogy’ or some John Wayne classics were foisted on my children 🙂 ) . ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ led to reading more histories and books on the Native Americans and The Wild West. The colossal impact of the White Man on the landscape in a short period of time.
So I was delighted recently to find this fantastic selection of 66 photographs

Described as …

Between 1887 and 1892, John C.H. Grabill sent 188 photographs to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Grabill is known as a western photographer, documenting many aspects of frontier life — hunting, mining, western town landscapes and white settlers’ relationships with Native Americans. Most of his work is centered on Deadwood in the late 1880s and 1890s. He is most often cited for his photographs in the aftermath of the Wounded Knee Massacre on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

And then as I reached the last photo I figured I’d look at the comments section. Maybe get a bit more information on different photos or the events surrounding them…..

I was sorry I looked.

The first comment was

How far we as a country have fallen.

Back in those days, if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. Now, if you don’t work the government sends you a check.

It went downhill from there….

We’ll give you Unemployment Benefit ….if you give us spending cuts and tax cuts for high earners…. December 6, 2010

Posted by irishelectionliterature in United States.

This Story caught my eye.

There is some horse trading going on in the US Congress between extending the time period for unemployment benefit versus Spending cuts and Tax cuts for the wealthy.

With the unemployment rate at 9.6 percent, Democrats argue that jobless Americans are suffering due to no fault of their own. State-administered unemployment insurance provides benefits for up to 26 weeks, but the federal government can extend help for up to 99 weeks, and routinely does so during economic hardship. Congress has passed eight such extensions during the current economic downturn, most recently in July, but missed the Tuesday deadline to pass another extension.

Republicans argue that any extension should be offset by spending cuts to avoid adding to the deficit. Democrats call that hypocrisy, since Republicans are insisting on an extension of the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans without paying for them at a cost of $700 billion over 10 years….

you really couldn’t make it up.

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