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United States

American Notes

 Only a few years ago articles were appearing in the press of the U.S.A., informing all and sundry that there would be no more crises like there had been in the past. Lord bless you, No! The capitalists here had solved the problem, they had adopted a new method, known as mass production and standardisation. Wages were no longer to be based on the cost of production of the labour-power of the worker (in other words, the cost of enabling the wage-worker to be an efficient wealth producer and to keep him in that condition), they were now to be based on the worker’s output. The instalment plan was also boosted as a way to get rid of surplus products. Lots of propaganda was broadcasted for the wage-slaves’ especial benefit; we were given to understand that there were no classes in this great country and at the same time that any worker who had a little ambition and grit could get out of his class with very little effort.

Editorial: 'Might is Right' - Famous Last Words?

When the  Russian bloc collapsed, it was widely believed that the Cold War had ended and that the danger of a global nuclear war had passed. Since the 9/11 attacks, the received wisdom is that the threat to humanity lies not so much in a war between the major powers, but in acts of  terrorism carried out by groups, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Yet, here we are, in the 21st Century, facing a nuclear confrontation between the United States and North Korea. Much of the discussion has focused on the volatile behaviour of the two protagonists. In response to  threats made against the US by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean president, Donald Trump's reply -- 'fire and fury like the world has never seen' --  signals that he is prepared to nuke the country with the potential loss of millions of lives.  Kim Jong-un has countered by threatening to fire four missiles towards the sea around Guam, a US territory.

Material World: Migration - Internal and External

Material World

It is hard not to take notice of the building of fences and walls to keep out unwelcome foreigners, like Trump's Mexican Wall to stop Hispanics and Fortress Europe's barriers to repel those who seek a better life. The media thrives on feeding the fear of invading and swarming hordes of fellow human beings, who maybe are part of our common humanity but for the xenophobes and nationalists, not deserving of a humanitarian reception or a compassionate welcome.

Book Reviews: 'A Farewell to Ice', 'The End of Protest', & 'Negroland'

Changing climate

'A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic'. By Peter Wadhams. Penguin Books, 2016.

Peter Wadhams is a professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge and former director of its Scott Polar Research Institute. Over 47 years as a polar researcher he has been on many expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic.

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