links for 2011-07-15

  • The [Great Railroad Strike of 1877] didn’t last too long (45 days) and the workers didn’t succeed. Nonetheless, it is one of the most important events in labor history for two reasons. It was the first mass action of industrial workers in American history, which scared the hell out of the capitalists. It now seemed America was susceptible to what were considered foreign ideologies from Europe. Second, the capitalists set the tone for dealing with striking labor throughout the Gilded Age–crush it with violence.

    Wrote an anonymous Baltimore merchant, sympathetic to the strike: “The strike is not a revolution of fanatics willing to fight for an idea. It is a revolt of working men against low prices of labor, which have not been accomplished with corresponding low prices of food, clothing and house rent.”

  • Canadian foreign minister John Baird's announcement that Canada would boycott the United Nations Conference on Disarmament so long as North Korea was serving as president has resonated across the country…

    …An examination of the situation with an eye to history, however, suggests that the international organization is working exactly the way its founders intended…

    …The United Nations is nothing more than a framework through which its members can sort out their political, economic, and security-related disagreements. It cannot do the negotiating for them, but it can make it easier to negotiate when the time is right.

  • 'Pop-up' urban planning gives cities the freedom to experiment with projects on a temporary basis, allowing innovative ideas a trial run without expensive commitment of taxpayer money. Cities around the world are embracing the idea, leading in many cases to permanent changes in the urban landscape
    (tags: urbanism)
  • An Exxon Mobil pipeline that ruptured, leaking oil into Yellowstone River, may have sometimes carried a heavier and more toxic form of crude than initially thought, federal regulators said on Thursday.

    The U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration spokeswoman Patricia Klinger said her office had learned that the pipeline may have been used to carry heavier crude.

    "I just found out that apparently, and the regional folks just found out, there is an interconnect on the pipeline that possibly does carry some oil out of Canada," she said in response to a question about tar sands crude in the pipeline.

    That a pipeline thought to transport only "sweet," low sulfur crude could have carried so-called tar sands crude from Canada raised concerns by health and environmental officials, even as Exxon officials said the heavier oil was not flowing through the Silvertip pipeline when it broke on July 1.