There is a vast military complex deep in the hills of eastern Tennessee called "Y-12." This is where all of the highly enriched uranium is produced and stored for the production of the U.S. nuclear-warhead arsenal. It is in Oak Ridge, the city that was created practically overnight during the Second World War, that produced the uranium for the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Today, the facility, dubbed "The Fort Knox of Uranium," holds enough of the radioactive element to make 10,000 nuclear bombs.
"What do you hope to accomplish with this protest," I asked a 13-year-old girl marching in Staten Island, N.Y., last August, protesting the police killing of Eric Garner.
"To live until I'm 18," the young teen, named Aniya, replied. Could that possibly be the American dream today?
Aniya went on: "You want to get older. You want to experience life. You don't want to die in a matter of seconds because of cops." It's that sentiment that has fuelled the Black Lives Matter movement across the country.
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," reads the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service. We now can add to that "nor a national security no-fly zone," as demonstrated by mailman Doug Hughes. Hughes was doing what he felt was his duty, carrying letters. He had 535 of them: one for each member of Congress, and each signed by Hughes himself. He wrote about the corrupting influence of money in politics. Hughes chose a very high-profile method for delivering his letters, though. He piloted a bicycle-sized helicopter, called a "gyrocopter," 100 miles from Maryland, and landed on the west lawn of the U.S Capitol, passing through restricted airspace.
A jury in Boston has returned a guilty verdict on all 30 counts against the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Now the jury must deliberate on the punishment, which could be either life in prison or death. Capital punishment is outlawed in Massachusetts, but Tsarnaev was tried in federal court, where the death penalty is allowed. The jury will have to decide whether he lives or dies. The case provides a new reason to take a hard look at capital punishment, and why this irreversible, highly problematic practice should be banned.
The date was August 7, 1930. The place: Marion, Indiana. Three young African-American men were lynched. The horror of the crime was captured by a local photographer. The image of two hanging, bloodied bodies is among the most iconic in the grim archive of documented lynchings in America. Most associate lynching with the Deep South, with the vestiges of slavery and the rise of Jim Crow. But this was in the North. Marion is in northern Indiana, halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, and about 150 miles from Chicago. But intolerance knows no borders.
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.