Daily Archives: 01/05/2011

(wikipedia) (…) In October 1884, a convention held by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions unanimously set May 1, 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard.[9] As the chosen date approached, U.S. labor unions prepared for a general strike in support of the eight-hour day.[10]

On Saturday, May 1, rallies were held throughout the United States. There were an estimated 10,000 demonstrators in New York City[11]and 11,000 in Detroit.[12] In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, some 10,000 workers turned out.[12] The movement’s center was in Chicago, where an estimated 40,000 workers went on strike.[13] Albert Parsons was an anarchist and founder of the International Working People’s Association (IWPA). Parsons, with his wife Lucy and their children, led a march of 80,000 people down Michigan Avenue.[13] Another 10,000 men employed in the lumber yards held a separate march in Chicago.[14] Estimates of the number of striking workers across the U.S. range from 300,000[13] to half a million.[14]

On May 3, striking workers in Chicago met near the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. plant. Union molders at the plant had been locked out since early February and the predominantly Irish-American workers at McCormick had come under attack from Pinkerton guards during an earlier strike action in 1885. This event, along with the eight-hour militancy of McCormick workers, had gained the strikers some respect and notoriety around the city. By the time of the 1886 general strike, strikebreakers entering the McCormick plant were under protection from a garrison of 400 police officers. Although half of the replacement workers defected to the general strike on May 1, McCormick workers continued to harass strikebreakers as they crossed the picket lines.

Speaking to a rally outside the plant on May 3, August Spies advised the striking workers to “hold together, to stand by their union, or they would not succeed.”[15] Well-planned and coordinated, the general strike to this point had remained largelynonviolent. When the end-of-the-workday bell sounded, however, a group of workers surged to the gates to confront the strikebreakers. Despite calls by Spies for the workers to remain calm, gunfire erupted as police fired on the crowd. In the end, two McCormick workers were killed (although some newspaper accounts said there were six fatalities).[16] Spies would later testify, “I was very indignant. I knew from experience of the past that this butchering of people was done for the express purpose of defeating the eight-hour movement.”[15]

Outraged by this act of police violence, local anarchists quickly printed and distributed fliers calling for a rally the following day at Haymarket Square (also called the Haymarket), which was then a bustling commercial center near the corner of Randolph Street and Desplaines Street. Printed in German and English, the fliers alleged police had murdered the strikers on behalf of business interests and urged workers to seek justice. The first batch of fliers contain the words Workingmen Arm Yourselves and Appear in Full Force! When Spies saw the line, he said he would not speak at the rally unless the words were removed from the flier. All but a few hundred of the fliers were destroyed, and new fliers were printed without the offending words.[17] More than 20,000 copies of the revised flier were distributed.[18]

Rally at Haymarket Square

This 1886 engraving was the most widely reproduced image of the Haymarket affair. It inaccurately shows Fielden speaking, the bomb exploding, and the rioting beginning simultaneously.[19]

The rally began peacefully under a light rain on the evening of May 4. August Spies spoke to the large crowd while standing in an open wagon on Des Plaines Street while a large number of on-duty police officers watched from nearby.[8] According to witnesses, Spies began by saying the rally was not meant to incite violence.[20] Historian Paul Avrich records Spies as saying “[t]here seems to prevail the opinion in some quarters that this meeting has been called for the purpose of inaugurating a riot, hence these warlike preparations on the part of so-called ‘law and order.’ However, let me tell you at the beginning that this meeting has not been called for any such purpose. The object of this meeting is to explain the general situation of the eight-hour movement and to throw light upon various incidents in connection with it.”[21]

The crowd was so calm that Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr., who had stopped by to watch, walked home early. Samuel Fielden, the last speaker, was finishing his speech at about 10:30 when police ordered the rally to disperse and began marching in formation towards the speakers’ wagon.[22] A pipe bomb was thrown at the police line and exploded, killing policeman Mathias J. Degan.[4] The police immediately opened fire. Some workers were armed, but accounts vary widely as to how many shot back.[23] The incident lasted less than five minutes.[24]

Engraving of police officer Mathias J. Degan, who was killed by the bomb blast.

Aside from Degan, several police officers appear to have been injured by the bomb, but most of the police casualties were caused by bullets, largely from friendly fire. In his report on the incident, John Bonfield wrote that he “gave the order to cease firing, fearing that some of our men, in the darkness might fire into each other”.[25] An anonymous police official told the Chicago Tribune, “A very large number of the police were wounded by each other’s revolvers. … It was every man for himself, and while some got two or three squares away, the rest emptied their revolvers, mainly into each other.”[26]

About 60 officers were wounded in the incident, along with an unknown number of civilians. In all, eight policemen and at least four workers were killed, including one policeman who died more than two years after the incident from injuries received that day.[4][27][28] It is unclear how many civilians were wounded since many were afraid to seek medical attention, fearing arrest. Police captain Michael Schaack wrote the number of wounded workers was “largely in excess of that on the side of the police”.[5] The Chicago Herald described a scene of “wild carnage” and estimated at least fifty dead or wounded civilians lay in the streets.

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( A member of a panel advising the government on reconstruction plans in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake told the Mainichi in an interview that he wants Fukushima Prefecture to abandon nuclear power generation.

“I want Fukushima to make the decision to abandon nuclear power, independent from government policy discussion,” the 57-year-old panel member, Norio Akasaka, told the Mainichi.

Akasaka, who also serves as curator of the Fukushima Museum, said that the prefecture has been left behind in efforts to recover from the March 11 quake and tsunami as it struggles with the continuing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

“The wounds inflicted by the nuclear power plant accident have left us a problem on a completely different level from that of the natural disasters,” he said.

Akasaka quoted an acquaintance working at a shelter in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Minami-Soma, which lies near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, as telling him, “To us, the idea of restoration to the old Fukushima seems very wrong. If we have anything, it will be a rebirth into a new Fukushima.”

Akasaka said the nuclear plant crisis had inflicted a damaging blow on the prefecture, but measures could be taken to turn the situation around.

“The agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries and the manufacturing industry have been hit at their roots. Prefectural residents have been the victims of discriminatory rumors while living in fear of radiation contamination. But only responding to that with criticism will cause a negative atmosphere to set in, and it takes time to clear that away.

“Instead, we can take a more positive approach, establishing research facilities to collect data related to radiation decontamination and people’s health over the long-term and to come up with practical responses to our problems. Furthermore, by positively investing in renewable energy research facilities for power and hospitals that specialize in radiation treatment as we work heal the wounds that the nuclear power plant inflicted, we will surely receive the world’s support, and others will help us.

“The Tohoku region has continued to serve as a base supplying Tokyo with food, human resources and electricity, but from now on we need to switch to a more independent model, and the people of the Tohoku region need to consider what kind of picture will be painted for the future.”


( The Egyptian authorities must abolish a recent law criminalizing peaceful protests and strikes, Amnesty International said ahead of tomorrow’s planned protests for International Workers’ Day in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

The organization called for workers’ rights to be protected, as protesters gather to demand the lifting of restrictions on forming trade unions, the introduction of an adequate minimum wage and the reinstatement of co-workers dismissed for their trade union activities.

“The authorities must seize this historic moment of reform in Egypt and commit to protecting workers’ rights in the country,” said Amnesty International.

“The protesters’ legitimate demands are not new, but this is a fresh opportunity for the Egyptian authorities to abide by their obligations and act positively on them”.

“A first step would be to scrap the law banning strikes and to allow independent trade unions to operate freely.”

Sunday’s gathering is being planned by trade unions, political parties and women’s groups, human rights organizations as well as the “popular committees for the defence of the revolution”.

Among the triggers of the 25 January uprising in Egypt that led to the fall of former President Mubarak were calls for an end to poverty, and demands for social justice and dignity.

During 2010, thousands of protests, strikes and sit-ins were staged by Egyptian workers in both the public and private sectors, protesting the rising cost of living and demanding better wages and working conditions.

But a new law which entered into force on 12 April this year criminalizes demonstrations and strikes and places protesters at risk of imprisonment and heavy fines.

Law No. 34 of 2011 stipulates a prison sentence and a fine of up to 50,000 Egyptian Pounds (about US$8,400) for anyone who takes part in or encourages others to join a sit-in or any other activity that prevents, delays or disrupts the work of public institutions or public authorities.

If there is any violence or if protests damage public and private property, lead to the “destruction of means of production” or cause harm to “national unity and public security and order” , the fine rises to 500,000 Egyptian Pounds (about US$84,000) with at least a year’s imprisonment.

Amnesty International said that such vaguely worded provisions were in breach of international law. The right to strike is guaranteed under Article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Egypt is a state party.

The organization said that the Egyptian authorities also have a duty to uphold the right to peaceful assembly under Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 “The adoption of this law at a moment where people are seeking to realize their demands for more human rights and dignity and preserve the achievement of the uprising is a major setback,” said Amnesty International.

“The law stands at odds with the demands of many Egyptians and Egypt’s international human rights obligation and must be repealed immediately.”

In its Egypt: Human Rights Agenda for Change, Amnesty International calls for workers’ rights to be upheld.


( Since February 21, the ten people locked up and awaiting trial for the “Bombs Case” used by the Chilean state to attack the anarchist struggle, have been on hungerstrike.

The week of April 14-21, they called for international solidarity actions, and were obliged in Seattle, Olympia, Montreal, Madrid, Barcelona, Nottingham, Krakow, Buenos Aires, Santa Cruz (Bolivia) and elsewhere.

On April 28, the Chilean consulate in Barcelona was occupied and hung with banners as another group of people cut the street outside. The police reacted forcefully and identified a number of people but in the end no one was arrested. The statement about the action concludes, “Finally, with this small gesture we wish to send warm greetings to the comrades in prison for the bombs case, to the Mapuche prisoners, and to all those who resist this prison society that tortures and murders.”

Around the same time, word arrived that the comrades in Chile were ending their hungerstrike. We are awaiting an official announcement from the prisoners themselves, but the news is good: their case has been closed, which means no one else can be charged in the “Bombs Case” and they will be released from prison awaiting trial, either to house arrest or provisional liberty.

Below are the names of the comrades who were on hungerstrike, and translations of communiques for several solidarity actions.

Andrea Urzúa
Mónica Caballero
Rodolfo Retamales
Felipe Guerra
Camilo Perez
Carlos Riveros
Omar Hermosilla
Vinicio Aguilera
Francisco Solar
Pablo Morales Read More

(antiwar.comAt least 22 Iraqis were killed and 27 more were wounded in a bombing and several targeted assassinations. Also, a U.S. soldier was killed during operations yesterday, making April the deadliest month for American troops November 2009. Meanwhile, parliament approved $400 million to compensate Americans used as human shields during the 1990-91 Gulf War.

In Mosul, a suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 20 others at an entry checkpoint to a market.

judge and two relatives were killed and two more relatives were wounded during a bomb attack in Taji. Earlier the gunmen killed the judge’s bodyguard at a nearby home.

Gunmen in Qadiriya attacked the home of an industry ministry official where theykilled him and his daughter. The neighbors killed one attacker before the others fled.Two neighbors were wounded.

In Baghdad, gunmen killed a colonel and wounded his wife, and perhaps also wounded his children, as they were driving on a highway; the colonel’s car theninjured two policemen when it crashed into a checkpoint. Uniformed men killed a Sahwa member and three relatives in Kadhimiyaone gunman also died.

No casualties were reported after a Katyusha rocket fell on a U.S. base nearDiwaniya.

by Margaret Griffis


( It turns out that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide might not be nearly as safe as people have thought, but the media is staying mum on the revelation.

Dr. Don Huber did not seek fame when he quietly penned a confidential letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in January of this year, warning Vilsack of preliminary evidence of a microscopic organism that appears in high concentrations in genetically modified Roundup Ready corn and soybeans and “appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably human beings.” Huber, a retired Purdue University professor of plant pathology and U.S. Army colonel, requested the USDA’s help in researching the matter and suggested Vilsack wait until the research was concluded before deregulating Roundup Ready alfalfa. But about a month after it was sent, the letter was leaked, soon becoming an internet phenomenon. Read More

( “Thailand and Cambodia have,” according to BBC News, “reached a ceasefire after a week of fighting along a disputed border … . Both countries said the truce was struck following talks between the two militaries.” The border between the two countries has been contested for years, and “nationalist sentiment” has continued to give rise to intermittent violence. In the past, elections have enkindled the ongoing, if sometimes dormant, dispute, and the latest skirmish comes with elections looming in Thailand.

The language of statism has a remarkable capacity for transforming a turf war between two gangs of thugs into an all-embracing conflict between two nations. The notion that the disputed land “belongs” to either state, that a government could possess rights in any legitimate sense, reveals the derisible assumption underlying the power of all ruling classes.

Because the state is simply systemized aggression, it cannot so much as exist without violating rights. Any claim of right it asserts, then, is an invasion, a trespass against true freedom, and — in the case of land — a theft. Through confrontations like the one between Thailand and Cambodia, crimes are ennobled as matters of national pride.

Politics is necessarily and inevitably divisive. Since political solutions are, perforce, coercive, they are not solutions at all, merely subjecting some to the will of others in violation of the latter group’s autonomy. The common man, the worker who goes about his life peacefully, producing and trading to fill his needs, should not at all identify his interests with those of his government. Appeals to patriotism are the gilding used by the political class to garner popular support for conflicts for power, stemming from power, with no mind to the woes of the productive class.

Rather than a specific implication of the same sort of pride one feels with regard to her familial group or community, patriotism stands opposed to the kinds of friendly ties that bind human beings. It asks Cambodians and Thai to hate one another because they stand on the opposite side of a line on a map, one that has been drawn arbitrarily by members of a ruling class that have no interest but to plunder the societies that exists within their own borders.

Besides its more obvious uses, war is of service to the elite in that it obscures the alignment of interests — across all national, cultural, religious and language divides — between all those who would use only nonviolent, voluntary means in their relations with others. Market anarchism, in advocating mutual respect for individuals’ rights and consensual exchange, does not prescribe a fixed or predetermined vision for society without the vulturine impositions of the state.

It asks only that the ruling class be forbidden from using the artifices of the legal structure, ultimately enforced at the point of a gun, to gain from the constructive achievements of others. Renouncing the hope that the state “could be made an instrument in the hands of the oppressed to alleviate their sufferings,” Lucy Parsons understood that governments are always a vehicle for “the machinations of the scheming few.” And those few do not stand in for the people of Thailand or Cambodia, for the land itself, for separate individuals, or for society at large.

The absurd nationalism at the heart of the Cambodia-Thailand clash, a needless waste of life for the elevation of governments — not people, displays the vile reality of statism. Thailand and Cambodia alike would be better off without their respective states, without a few malefactors exploiting people who could get along just fine without them.