President Barack Obama and the Republicans in Congress are united. Yes, that's right. No, not on Obamacare, or on the budget, or on negotiations with Iran, or on equal pay for women. But on so-called free-trade agreements, which increase corporate power and reduce the power of people to govern themselves democratically, Obama and the Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder. This has put the president at loggerheads with his strongest congressional allies, the progressive Democrats, who oppose the TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the most far-reaching trade agreements in history. TPP will set rules governing more than 40 per cent of the world's economy. Obama has been negotiating in secret, and the Democrats are not happy.
Fifty years have passed since Bloody Sunday, that seminal event in United States civil-rights history when African-Americans and their allies attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., demanding the right to vote. As soon as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were violently attacked by the Alabama State Police, beaten with nightsticks and electric cattle prods, set upon by police dogs and tear-gassed. They were chased off the bridge, all the way back to Selma's Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, where the march began. News and images of the extreme and unprovoked police violence, in contrast to the conduct of the 600 marchers, who practiced disciplined non-violence, spread across the globe.
Robert Putnam thinks the USA can be fixed. His book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, released this week, offers a diagnosis of what has gone wrong in his homeland. He wants Democrats and Republicans alike to respond.
Equality of opportunity is supposed to be there for all, so Americans can rise above the station of their parents. It happened to Putnam and many of his high school classmates in Port Clinton, Ohio. It is not happening today in Ohio, or Michigan, or elsewhere in America.
March 5 marks an important but oft-overlooked anniversary. On a winter's day 245 years ago, in the year 1770, an angry crowd formed in Boston, then the capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. People were enraged by the extortionate taxes imposed by the British Parliament. In order to quell the public furor, the British sent troops, who violently quashed dissent. On that cold day, people had had enough. Word spread after a British private beat a young man with the butt of his musket. By late day, hundreds of Bostonians gathered, jeering the small crowd of redcoat soldiers arrayed with muskets loaded. The soldiers fired into the crowd, instantly killing Crispus Attucks and two others.
This week marks the 13th anniversary of the arrival of the first post-9/11 prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, the most notorious prison on the planet. This grim anniversary, and the beginning of normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S and Cuba, serves as a reminder that we need to permanently close the prison and return the land to its rightful owners, the Cuban people. It is time to put an end to this dark chapter of United States history.
In my October rabble column, I spoke about the horrible treatment of Abu Wa'el Dhiab, one of the Guantanamo detainees who was abusively force-fed by his American guards to dissuade him from continuing his two-year-long hunger strike. In that article, I wrote that Abu Wa'el Dhiab was another example of the collateral damage of the War on Terror, and indeed he was, as U.S. officials proved recently.