The 1937 Memorial Day Massacre: ‘We don’t want fascism in America’ – by Chris Mahin

The 1937 Memorial Day Massacre:

‘We don’t want fascism in America’

by Chris Mahin

[Chris Mahin is an independent scholar and historian who concentrates on labor history.  His essay on the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912 can be found on this blog. – editor]

The policeman wearing Badge #7181 pulled Earl Handley out of a car marked with a Red Cross sign, a makeshift ambulance. The 37-year-old carpenter for Inland Steel was

Labor Violence (1937) “The Memorial Day Massacre” — police battle strikers at the Republic Steel Plant in Chicago. SOURCE: Library of Congress.

bleeding profusely, but the cop dragged him along like a drunk. Handley died because his wounds were not treated.

Meyer Levin saw the police prevent Burnside Hospital ambulances from taking the wounded to the hospital. Patrolman Walter B. Oakes attacked Joseph Rothmund and then killed him, shooting Rothmund in the back as he fled.

May 2010 marks the 73nd anniversary of “the Memorial Day Massacre.” Ten people were killed and 90 wounded that day when the police attacked a peaceful march outside the Republic Steel plant in South Chicago . All the dead were shot in the back or the side.
The march came just days after the beginning of a strike called by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) against Republic Steel and two other companies. During the 1930s, Republic Steel was known as one of the worst places to work in the steel industry. The company paid low wages, drove its workers hard, and provided no medical care or pension plan. Republic Steel fought unionization even after the largest employer in the steel industry – the U.S. Steel Corporation, known as “Big Steel” – agreed to unionization in early 1937.

The Republic Steel Corporation spent tens of thousands of dollars to stockpile machine guns, rifles, revolvers, tear gas, and bombs in the weeks before the strike began. It also established a private police force of close to 400 men.

The strike involving 85,000 steelworkers began at the 11 p.m. shift change on May 26, 1937. Confrontations between workers and the police began even before the official start of the strike, as police prevented mass picketing in front of the main entrance of Republic’s South Chicago plant. The union called for a mass meeting at Sam’s Place, an abandoned tavern serving as union headquarters, for Sunday, May 30 — Memorial Day.

Memorial Day 1937 was a hot, sunny day with temperatures reaching 88 degrees. By about 3 p.m., some 1500 strikers and their supporters had gathered at Sam’s Place. About 15 percent of the crowd was made up of women and children. After two CIO leaders spoke, union organizer Joe Weber read several resolutions to be sent to government officials protesting  police misconduct at Republic Steel. The resolutions were approved by acclamation. A member of the crowd then made a motion that a march be undertaken to the plant gate to establish mass picketing. The motion carried.

About 1,000 people formed up behind two American flags and began to march south toward the main entrance to the plant, chanting, “CIO, CIO!”

As the marchers approached the plant, they found about 400 cops waiting for them, in double file, with their billy clubs drawn.

The marchers urged the police to let them through to set up their picket line. A stand-off ensued for several minutes. Some marchers were beginning to move back toward Sam’s Place when a stick rose from the rear of the marchers’ line and flew toward the police. Almost simultaneously, tear gas bombs were thrown by police at the marchers. Then the police drew their revolvers and fired point blank into the retreating marchers. Within 15 seconds, about 200 shots were fired.

The police literally threw the wounded into patrol wagons, stacking them like firewood on top of each other. None of the wounded received first aid before being tossed inside.

Reasonable Force? Source: NEIU archive

Patrol wagons designed to hold eight prisoners were filled with twice that many. The most seriously wounded were taken to a hospital at least 30 miles away.

The Chicago police department, the Republic Steel Corporation, and anti-union publications like the Chicago Tribune tried to justify the killing, claiming that the strikers were armed and attempting to seize the plant. A Paramount News camera was mounted on a truck directly behind the police. The Paramount film clearly shows the peaceful nature of the march and the police responsibility for the violence.

Within weeks of the tragedy, a U.S. Senate committee issued a scathing report which placed responsibility for the violence squarely on the shoulders of the Chicago police.

While the strikers were forced to return to work in mid-June 1937, they ultimately succeeded in their campaign to unionize Republic Steel. The company was eventually   forced to sign a union contract just months after the United States entered World War II.

The anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre should remind us how much sacrifice was required to win labor rights in this country. One of the key lessons of that struggle was expressed well that day by a talented organizer from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America who was assisting in the long, bitter campaign to organize the steel industry. He was an ACWA vice-president named Leo Krzycki. By 1937, Krzycki had earned his reputation as an eloquent “labor orator” and he addressed the rally which preceded the march to Republic Steel. In a prophetic speech given only about an hour before the massacre began, Krzycki told the strikers, “Violence against peaceful picketing must stop. Republic Steel must abide by the Wagner Act. We don’t want fascism in America.”

The most anti-union leader of the group of steelmakers called “Little Steel” was Tom M. Girdler, the Chairman of Republic Steel.

Fascism is a system of government in which workers are denied any rights. That’s what Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy had become before World War II. Back then, there were forces who wanted to turn America into a fascist police state too. These forces wanted to crush the union organizing drives which swept across this country during the 1930s.

Today, the working class is again faced with the challenge of standing up to a systematic attempt to deny us our most basic human rights. After years of plant closings and anti-union legislation and court rulings, the percentage of American workers organized into unions is lower today than during the 1930s. It’s a very sad state of affairs when a smaller portion of the work force is in unions than it was when workers in a big city could get shot in the back for demonstrating near a plant gate!

The seriousness of the current situation should remind us that Leo Krzycki’s message still rings true: We don’t want fascism in America !

Further Reading:

Ohio’s Steel Mill War

NEIU archive

Economic Populist: The Memorial Day Massacre

It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way: The Energy Industry and the Future — from the editors of the People’s Tribune

[Note: The following editorial will appear in the June issue of the People’s Tribune.]

People’s Tribune Editorial: Nationalize the Energy Industry
May 25, 2010

The catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico makes more clear than ever that we have to nationalize-take over-the giant corporations, including the energy industry, in the interests of the people before the corporations destroy the earth itself with their lust for profits. To do this the people are going to have to get control of the government.

Estimates of the amount of oil pouring into the Gulf each day have ranged from 210,000 gallons up to 2 million gallons. It reportedly takes only one quart of motor oil to make 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife. Scientists say that if the spill is left unchecked it could destroy the world’s oceans and thus threaten all life on earth.

How is it that one corporation is allowed to have such power over the rest of us? Clearly the corporations have merged with the state-the government is nothing more than an instrument in the hands of the corporations. Evidence of this abounds. Countries like Norway and Brazil require deep-sea oil drillers to have in place a $500,000 piece of equipment that helps prevent blowouts like the one that produced the catastrophe in the Gulf. The U.S. government has exempted firms drilling in American waters from this requirement. And in the month following the spill, the government has granted to firms wanting to drill offshore 27 exemptions to the requirement that an environmental impact study be conducted. And when the U.S. Senate recently tried to consider a bill that would have increased the maximum liability for oil companies after an oil spill from the current $75 million to $10 billion, a single senator from an oil-producing state-Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)-was able block the bill.

The oil companies could easily have afforded the $10 billion limit. In the first three months of this year, the top five oil companies amassed $25 billion in profits. (BP, the company in charge of the rig that exploded in the Gulf, had $6 billion in profits in the year’s first quarter.) These oil companies are on the road to make perhaps $100 billion in profits this year. It’s no wonder that they jealously guard their ability to make money, and no wonder that they have the influence that they do.

BP, Halliburton and the banks and investors that finance them have made clear by their actions that they don’t care about their impact on the environment or the future of humanity. All they care about is money and power. The production and distribution of energy is too important and too potentially dangerous to be in private hands. The energy companies cannot even guarantee a reliable supply of energy to us at a price we can afford.

The energy industry has to be nationalized in the interests of the people. Of course this implies that the people must assert their control over the government. With the bailout of the banks and the auto industry, we have already seen that the corporate government that rules our lives is fully ready to nationalize or partially nationalize industries in the interest of the corporations. We need nationalization in the interests of the people. The question that is more and more coming to the fore is, whose interests will the government serve-the corporations or the people?

In the long run, we are fighting to build a new society free of corporate domination, where no one is denied what they need to live and prosper. Nationalization of the giant corporations in the interests of the people-and the related fight to get our government out of corporate hands-is the next step along the path to that new society.

This article originated in the People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 800-691-6888, Feel free to reproduce unless marked as copyrighted. Please include this message with reproductions of the article.

The Gulf (The World) in Crisis: The BP Index

[Note: since this index was published 10 days ago, the figures are much worse.  Still, the figures are staggering enough.]

INSTITUTE INDEX – Gulf in crisis

Estimated gallons of oil that have spilled into Gulf of Mexico from the BP/Transocean disaster, in millions: 5 to 25

Estimated gallons of oil that spilled in 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, in millions: 10.8

Barrels of oil used in the U.S. every year, in billions: 7.6

Amount of known oil reserves known to exist in U.S. ocean areas now prohibited from offshore drilling, in billions: 18

Number of years of U.S. oil supply that opening these areas to offshore drilling would provide: 2 years, 5 months

Amount that rig owner BP says it had spent to contain and clean up the spill: $450 milion

Number of days it takes BP to make that much in profits: 5

Number of years ago that Congress passed the Limitation of Shipowner’s Liability Act, which holds that a company is only responsible for liability up to the value of their vessel, including an oil rig: 151

Amount that Transocean has valued its failed Deepwater Horizon rig and therefore the maximum liability they claim responsibility for from oil spill damages: $27 million

Amount Transocean had valued the rig before the spill: $650 million

(Click on figure to go to original source.)

The Memorial Day Massacre

[The last Monday in May is celebrated to commemorate those who died in war.  What most Americans overlook is that for the working class Memorial Day has a special significance.  It commemorates the battle against “Little Steel,” in which Chicago police killed 10 workers at Republic Steel.  Here is the brief account and a link to a more complete one, from the Illinois Labor History Association:]

Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

Ten demonstrators were killed by police bullets during the “Little Steel Strike” of 1937. When several smaller steelmakers, including Republic Steel,

The sculpture was created by Ed Blazak, a former employee of the Republic Steel company. It was originally sited on the property of Republic Steel near Burley.Ave. The sculpture, with its ten steel pipes, represent the smoke stakes of the ten steel mills within the area, now closed. They can also be Representative of the slain ten demonstrators.

refused to follow the lead of U.S. Steel (Big Steel) by signing a union contract, a strike was called by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

As a show of support, hundreds of SWOC sympathizers from all around Chicago gathered on Memorial Day at Sam’s Place, where the SWOC had its strike headquarters. After a round of speeches, the crowd began a march across the prairie and toward the Republic Steel mill. They were stopped midway by a formation of Chicago police. While demonstrators in front were arguing for their right to proceed, police fired into the crowd and pursued the people as they fled. Mollie West, a Typographical Union Local 16 member and a youthful demonstrator at the time, still recalls the command addressed to her: “Get off the field, or I’ll put a bullet in your back.”

Here is the article by William Bork that gives the background information on this strike and massacre:

Massacre at Republic Steel

by William Bork

The 1930’s was a period of great economic hardship for the American people, a period of upheaval in the social and political structure. Streets were filled with hungry people waiting in breadlines. During the Great Depression, workers also walked the picket lines demanding their rights under laws passed during the New Deal.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), passed in 1933, contained a section guaranteeing to workers a right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining. Several large and sometimes violent strikes occurred in 1934 involving unions struggling for recognition as collective bargaining agent under the NIRA. Toledo, Minneapolis, and San Francisco were scenes of three of the best known strikes.

The level of strike activity was the highest in American history. Between May, 1933 and July, 1937, 10,000 strikes took place involving some 5,600,000 workers. It was a period of bitter conflict between Capital and Labor.

In May 1935, the NIRA was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Its labor provisions, however, were replaced on July 5, 1935 by the National Labor Relations Act, popularly referred to as the Wagner Act. Click here to read the entire article.

To get to the site of the 1937 battle, you can follow these directions, also from the ILHS site:

A single frame from the Paramount newsreel of the Memorial Day Massacre. ILHS sells a video program containing the entire newsreel footage. See the ILHS bookstore link.

By automobile, from the Chicago Loop to the former USWA local 1033 headquaters at 11731 Ave. O, take I-90/94 (Dan Ryan Expy) South and merge with the I-94 (Bishop Ford Fwy). Then, exit at 103rd .St and turn East to Torrence. Ave, and turn South to 106.St and turn East to Ave. O. Then, drive South to 117th .St and stop at 11731 Ave O, enter the parking lot. Memorial sculpture is to the North at 117TH. St by the fire station (this was dedicated in 2008).

From here you can reach the Pullman community in ten minutes. Backtrack to 103rd and Torrence. Ave and trun West on 103rd. Then, turn South on Cottage Grove. Ave and 111.St, the Florence Hotel is in site to the East.

Planning to Change the World

Planning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers 2010-2011

Edited by Tara Mack and Bree Picower
Published by NYCoRE and the Education for Liberation Network in partnership with Rethinking Schools
ISBN: 0942961900

plan book 2010-2011 Planning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers 2010-2011 is a plan book for educators who believe their students can and will change the world. It is designed to help teachers translate their vision of a just education into concrete classroom activities.

Pre-order your copy through Rethinking Schools by June 30, 2010 for the discounted price of $14 ($13 for bulk orders), plus shipping and handling (Retail bookstore price $18). Your order will be shipped to you in mid-July.

The newest edition has all the things you would expect in a lesson plan book plus:

  • Weekly planning pages packed with important social justice birthdays and historical events
  • References to online lesson plans and resources related to those dates
  • Tips from social justice teachers across the country
  • Inspirational quotes to share with students
  • Thought-provoking essential questions to spark classroom discussions on critical issues
  • Reproducible social justice awards for students
  • and much more

The 2010-2011 edition is the third in the Planning to Change the World series. Click here to view samples pages from the 2009-2010 edition.

This year’s calendar features all new historical anniversaries and birthdays. How is it that Planning to Change the World has new events and birthdays each year? Learn more about the 10 Year Rule and get a sneak peak at some sample dates from the 2010-2011 calendar.

For more information, including a video presentation and comments from educators, click here.

Listen: A Video From Sacramento’s Safe Ground

I’m often asked about the connection between labor and art, and what is that.  Here is a concrete manifestation of that:

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing requested a statement from Safe Ground Sacramento. This is their statement, “Listen”, as presented to the U.N. in November 2009, a film by Costa Mantis, written by Mona Tawatao, Joan Burke and John Kraintz.

Chicago Public Schools Accounting 101: Less Is More – Ben Joravsky in The Reader

Less Is More at CPS

Schools CEO Ron Huberman says he’s cut 50 administrators from the central office. But records show he’s added almost as many—at higher salaries.

By Ben Joravsky

The Chicago Public Schools is a system so broke it can’t afford sophomore sports, wants assistant coaches to work for free, and has summoned hundreds of teachers to the principal’s office to let them know they’ll be laid off over the summer. But it can still afford to pay 133 central office officials more than $100,000 a year.


That’s what budget reform looks like to schools CEO Ron Huberman.

About two months ago, when Huberman and the Board of Education cut sophomore sports, they said the district, roughly $900 million in the red, could only afford to let freshmen, juniors, and seniors play after-school sports—even after laying off dozens of well paid administrators.

It irked me that a city so rich it could afford to shower subsidies on profitable corporations such as United Airlines and MillerCoors to the tune of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars couldn’t afford to let sophomores play. Click here to read entire article.

May 23 Automation and Robotics News from Tony Zaragoza

Automation and Robotics News–May 23, 2010

Highlights: Teleprescence robots, Marketing automation, Robot marries couple, Automation industry growth, arguments for and against robots taking jobs, robot kindergarten teachers, US, European and Japanese space robots, more on X37B, ONION: Robot March on Washington, DARPA’s “Minority Report” Fantasies, DNA robot, and a FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD.

Click the Archives for links to articles below:


  • DNA robots spin gold in molecular factory

Tim Hornyak Fri May 14 2010

Scientists have developed microscopic bots composed of DNA that can follow instructions and work together like an assembly line.

  • The telepresence robots are coming

Daniel Terdiman, Tue May 18 2010

A $15,000 robot from Anybots called QB is designed to help companies with remote offices save on communications costs.


  • Human error hounded poll automation

BusinessWorld Online – 5/16/10

“Automation was never really autonomous from human participation… That’s [human participation] where the errors are cropping up.

  • Comelec proves critics wrong


May 11, 2010, 7:51pm

They were criticized, they were under extreme pressure, and they were almost ostracized. But in the end, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), its officials and staff had the last laugh. Doomsayers and critics were silent – at least for now – as their worst predictions that there would be massive cheating and failure of elections in the May 10 polls did not come to pass.

  • Ind. seeks OK to double size of hybrid area

The Associated Press – Ken Kusmer – May 11, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s human services agency hopes to receive federal approval soon to roughly double the size of the area where it is adding welfare workers to fix problems with its privatized, automated intake system, a spokesman said Tuesday. The Family and Social Services Administration wants to add 11 western and southern counties to what it calls its “hybrid” solution of using more face-to-face contact to complement the call centers, document imaging and other automation that many welfare clients have had problems with.What Is Marketing Automation, and Why Does It Matter to You?

  • (subscription) – Jep Castelein – May 11, 2010

Recently, a new type of online marketing system, marketing automation, has become popular. What is it, how does it work, and should you adopt it?

  • Robot Pharmacists Are Picking Your Medications—Literally

Singularity Hub (blog) – Christopher de la Torre – May 9, 2010

Dispensing medicine is about to get more efficient. New Jersey’s Holy Name Hospital is using robot pharmacists to package, store and dispense medications, while an automated system at an Ohio children’s hospital is preparing I.V. drugs for patients. Automation in medicine is reducing human error and cutting costs, and because these robots can handle pills in a fraction of the time it takes humans, we should be noticing a lot more of them around real soon. Be sure to check out one of these robo-pharmacists in the video below. Robot pharmacists are doing what humans can do, and better—at least when it comes to sorting medication. Augmenting human abilities and performing critical daily functions are nothing new for robots—in fact, that’s usually what artificial intelligence is built to do, and it’s how automation is gaining ground in medicine. General Electric has developed software that can track patients’ history and suggest treatments in real time. Intuitive Surgical’s DaVinci robot regularly performs prostate removals and hysterectomies, albeit under the guidance of human hands. Meanwhile, doctors can now monitor their patients’ hearts and review exam results with smart phones, and recently we told you about how a California medical center ordered 100 iPads to keep its personnel current. All of these technologies are aimed at  increasing efficiency and reducing mistakes. Robot pill-pickers can’t claim the sleekest of designs—some look like computers before IBM invented desktops—but they do get the job done.

  • Bringing Automation to Solar Manufacturing

IndustryWeek – May 11, 2010

While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not. The U.S. has set 2015 as a goal to reach grid parity, which means the point in which solar electricity is equal to grid electricity. Many other nations predict reaching it as soon as 2010. But no matter what your thoughts on regulatory involvement, it is clear there will be a resurgence in investment, development and innovation within the photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing community throughout the world—and it will largely be driven by technology. Finding the most effective tools and processes is paramount. While the significance of robot automation in the manufacturing of solar cells is obvious, determining which fits a specific process may not.  Robotic Automation’s Impact Robots in the photovoltaic manufacturing process are important due to their ability to significantly reduce costs while continuing to increase their attractiveness compared to manual labor. Richard Swanson, CTO of SunPower, a large-scale manufacturer of solar technology, described automation’s impact through the prism of economies of PV manufacturing in terms of labor.

  • Tokyo couple married by robot

BBC News – 5/16/10

The couple decided to use the robot as they are both connected with Japan’s thriving robotics industry. Since robots had brought them together in the first …

  • ‘Phantom Ray’ robot stealth jet rolls out

Register – Lewis Page – May 11, 2010

US arms’n’aerospace goliath Boeing yesterday held a public unveiling of its “Phantom Ray” jet-fighter sized robot …

  • Robots bring telepresence to stay-at-home workers

Times Online – May 11, 2010

Mr Goecker does not need to be there in person – he lives thousands of miles away in Indiana – because his robot is there every day, acting as his eyes,

  • Robot With Laser to Zap Weeds Automatically in Chemical Free Control of Pesky …

Before It’s News – Alton Parrish – May 9, 2010

No more chemicals for fighting weeds in professional gardening! A fully automated unit drives over a field, a camera recognizes weeds sprouting up and a laser beam takes care of the rest. This science-fiction scenario is actually being researched at the Zentrum Hannover eV (LZH) and the Institute for Biological Production Systems (IBPS) at the Leibniz University Hannover.

  • Automation will return to double-digit growth in 2010

Drives & Controls – May 19, 2010

Sales of industrial automation equipment during the first quarter of 2010 probably grew by 25% more than a year before, according to a new analysis by IMS Research. It expects an equally strong second quarter – buoyed by robust order books resulting from restocking and new orders – and predicts that even a flat second half of the year will result in close to double-digit revenue growth for most product areas. According to a new type of assessment by IMS – looking for the first time at the entire global market for industrial automation  equipment, including motors – revenues dropped by around 14.3% last year to $74.9bn, from $87.4bn in 2008 (with market shares of the leading players shown below).

  • Computers To Take Human Jobs, Shutdown Global Economy? Get Ford’s Book Free

Singularity Hub (blog) – Aaron Saenz – May 21, 2010

I got my copy of The Lights In The Tunnel for free, and now you can too. Martin Ford’s recent book discusses the growing capability of artificial intelligence and robotics to replace workers at all salary levels and what a sharp rise in automation may mean for the global economy. Ford believes that without drastic adjustments to the way the market is structured, automation could bring the whole system crumbling down. In the interest of boosting sales and spreading the message, The Lights In The Tunnel is now being offered free for download as a PDF via its website. As I mentioned upon reviewing the book this past winter, I don’t agree with Ford’s conclusions, but I do think he is one of the few authors spending time exploring the long term and potentially extreme consequences of what automation could mean. That’s important.

  • Robot subs deployed in search for oil under gulf’s surface – Sara Kennedy – May 18, 2010

Scientists at Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on Monday were in the process of launching the first of three torpedo-shaped robots equipped to hunt for oil underwater in the Gulf of Mexico. The robots, measuring about six feet long and with little wings, have in the past been used to search for red tide, but now will be hunting for oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, according to Gary Kirkpatrick, a Mote senior scientist.

  • Robot Teachers Introduced In South Korean Kindergartens

NTDTV – May 20, 2010

Lucky students at 50 kindergartens in South Korea have the opportunity to test out the latest educational aid – robot teachers. Known as the “R-learning”

  • Ingestible Surgical Robots—Hard To Swallow Concept?

Singularity Hub (blog) – Christopher de la Torre – May 20, 2010

Medical robots are advancing at phenomenal speed, and within years micro-sized robots could be assisting surgeons with operations from inside their patients. Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s CRIM Lab in Italy has developed a robot called ARES (Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical System) that will be assembled inside the human body. This modular design is leading the way for a new breed of device that may one day take the place of our most trusted surgeons’ hands. ARES may only be a concept at present, but the project represents amazing new possibilities in the field of robotic surgery.

  • Efforts to Field New Kinds of Ground Robots Have Had Little Success

National Defense Magazine – Stew Magnuson – May 17, 2010

The life-saving qualities of ground robots have been touted since explosive ordnance disposal teams began widely using them at the outset of the Iraq invasion in 2003. But since then, other applications for the potentially life-saving technology have not reached Iraq or Afghanistan. Their predicted influx into the battlefield has stalled. That’s not to say that research into myriad applications hasn’t continued. But so far, the experiments have not made the transition to the current fights. Acceptability on the part of senior military leaders is one of the major roadblocks, officials said at the National Defense Industrial Association ground robotics conference in Miami.

  • Europe Sends Huge New Robot Space Freighter to Launch Site – May 17, 2010

Europe’s second robotic space cargo vessel is headed for its South American launch site in preparation for a delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. The Automated Transfer Vehicle 2, or ATV-2, a cargo ship built by the European Space Agency (ESA), is slated to launch toward the station in December. ESA has named the new spacecraft after German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. The first in the disposable robotic cargo ship fleet was named Jules Verne. It flew a successful debut flight in 2008 and destroyed itself intentionally at the end of its mission.

  • Japanese space yacht Ikaros launches on Venus mission

Daily Mail – Claire Bates – May 21, 2010

The space agency has proposed that the Japanese government send a wheeled robot to the moon in five years and build the world’s first lunar base by 2020.

  • Is it dangerous to let unmanned drones fight our wars for us? – P.W. Singer …

Slate Magazine – P.W. Singer – May 19, 2010

As I sat there trying to piece it all together, it felt like I, Robot (the Isaac Asimov novel, not the crummy Will Smith movie) had come true.

  • Singer Versus Smith on “Robot Rights” and Human Exceptionalism

First Things (blog) – May 18, 2010

Back in December, Peter Singer and Agata Sagan wrote a piece in the Guardian arguing on behalf of robot rights.  I took exception here as SHS, my headline being, “Robots Will Never be People and Should Never Have Rights.” Singer and Sagan have now taken exception to my exception in the humanist magazine, Free Inquiry (no link), with “No Rights for Robots? Never?” (June/July 2010).

  • Robot military shuttle X37B- More questions than answers – Paul Wallis – 5/23/2010

While the furor has raged around the scrapping of the space shuttles, the military shuttle X37B has been percolating in the background. It looks like a shuttle, but smaller. It’s a very functional design, too. Some amateur space watchers spotted the highly unpublicized X 37B in its 255 mile high orbit, producing a grudging amount of semi-information. It actually took off last month, and the silence on its mission and uses has been thunderous. The information about X37B available so far indicates the thing has an endurance of up to nine months. That’s huge, by spacecraft standards which have measured flights in no more than weeks in the past. X37B also has its own slightly coy Wiki. For a spacecraft described as an orbiter, it has a lot of grunt, even in theory. It can carry “a payload”, which is sort of in the “Duhhh…” range as information, but it’s also configured like the shuttle payload bay.

  • Robots Speak Out Against Asimov’s First Law Of Robotics

The Onion (satire) – May 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC—More than 200000 robots from across the US marched on Washington Monday, demanding that Congress repeal Asimov’s First Law of Robotics.

  • The Army’s First Combat Robot – Operational by 2015

Defense Update – May 18, 2010

According to Lt. Colonel Jay Ferriera, Product Manager Unmanned Ground Vehicles, a key system for the ARV-A-L is the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) being developed by General Dynamics Robotics Systems. ANS is scheduled to be ready for Integrated Qualification Testing on these robotic vehicles in 2012, anticipating initial operational capability with an airborne, air-assault or light brigade by 2014.  Featuring an integrated weapons and reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) package the ARV-A-L (designated XM1219) will support the dismounted infantry’s efforts to locate and destroy enemy platforms and positions. This robotic platform will support both anti-tank and anti-personnel weapons systems that to be remotely operated by network linked soldiers.


  • AUTOMATICA, the International Trade Fair for Automation and Robotics will Open its Gates Again!

Posted: 05/12/2010

From June 8 to 11, 2010 AUTOMATICA will bring all areas of robotics and automation under one roof. The aim of the trade show is to present the entire value-added chain in robotics and automation. Only here you can meet the experts and decision makers from all around the world.


Do Robots Take People’s Jobs?

Jeanne Dietsch // Tue, May 11, 2010

Technology taking jobs is a notion that probably dates back to the invention of the wheel. After all, it took four bearers to carry the emperor and only one to pull a chariot! The problem is that most people stop thinking after the first domino falls instead of following the chain of events further on. Let’s continue the chain: Once the wheel is invented, more people can travel comfortably, goods can be carried farther, better roads are built and commerce thrives. A few bearers of the ruling class have to find new work, the remainder of the world benefits and thousands of jobs are created.


  • Artificial echolocation

Markus Waibel on 21 May 2010, 08:37

In a first step, the team mounted miniature wireless microphone sensor on six Egyptian fruit bats. This allowed them to record the bats’ double-click echolocation calls, and its returning echoes, during the bats’ flight.  The team then went on to create an ultrasonic loudspeaker and electronics that accurately reproduces the bats’ clicks. Their system recreates the bats’ natural acoustic gain control which allows bats to emit high-intensity calls, while still hearing the weak echoes returning from surrounding objects.

WIRED–Danger Room

  • Darpa’s Self-Learning Software Knows Who You Are

Katie Drummond, May 21, 2010

Software systems could one day analyze everything from blurry war-zone footage to the subtle sarcasm in a written paragraph, thanks to two unassuming scientists who are inspired by biology to make revolutionary strides in intelligent computing. Yann LeCun and Rob Fergus, both computer science professors at New York University, are the brains behind “Deep Learning,” a program sponsored by Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research agency. The idea, ultimately, is to develop code that can teach itself to spot objects in a picture, actions in a video, or voices in a crowd. LeCun and Fergus have $2 million and four years to make it happen. Existing software programs rely heavily on human assistance to identify objects. A user extracts key feature sets, like edge statistics (how many edges an object has, and where they are) and then feeds the data into a running algorithm, which uses the feature sets to recognize the visual input.

  • Darpa Wants Code to Spot ‘Anomalous Behavior’ on the Job

Noah Shachtman, May 20, 2010

Can software catch a cyberspy’s tricky intentions, before he’s started to help the other side? The way-out researchers at Darpa think so. They’re planning a new program, “Suspected Malicious Insider Threat Elimination” or SMITE, that’s supposed to “dynamically forecast” when a mole is about to strike. Also, the code is meant to flag “inadvertent” disclosures “by an already trusted person with access to sensitive information.” “Looking for clues” that suggest a <>turncoat or accidental leaker is about to spill (.pdf) “could potentially be easier than recognizing explicit attacks,” Darpa notes in a request for information. But even that simpler search won’t be easy. “Many attacks are combinations of directly observable and inferred events.” Which is why SMITE’s program managers are interested in techniques to figure out “the likely intent of inferred actions, and suggestions about what [that] evidence might mean.” That goes for “behaviors both malicious and non-malicious.” Step one in starting that process: Build a ginormous database to store all kinds of information on would-be threats. “The next step is to determine whether an individual or group of individuals is exhibiting anomalous behavior that is also malicious.” That’s a toughie — something anomalous in one context might be perfectly normal in another. One possible solution, the SMITE paper adds, could be detecting “deceptive” activities, which are a sign of cyberspying. Or cheating on your taxes. Or carrying on an office affair. Or playing World of Warcraft on the job. Depending on the situation.

  • Pakistani Site: Drones Only Killed One Terrorist in 2010 (If You Don’t Count Taliban)

Noah Shachtman, May 18, 2010

Read one American analysis, and you’ll be told that U.S. drones haven’t killed a single civilian in Pakistan this year. A look through one pair of local eyes yields a very different result, however. According to the website Pakistan Body Count, America’s drones have only hit a single terrorist in 2010, while slaying dozens and dozens of innocents.

  • Israeli Microbot Fires Pencil-Sized Rockets to Stop Bombs

Noah Shachtman, May 17, 2010

This teeny little robot is the size of a toy truck — just 50 square inches. It’d be cute, almost, if it wasn’t armed with “dozens” of eight-inch rockets. The world’s militaries have been gun-shy about letting armed robots roam around the battlefield; they’re always a danger the machines will malfunction and ruin some pesky human’s day. But Rafael, Israel’s state-owned arms-maker, is betting that its miniature Pincher robot might be allowed into warzones as a tool for neutralizing roadside bombs.

  • Gitmo Shutdown Means More Drone Strikes, Officials Claim

Noah Shachtman, May 19, 2010

The White House has essentially forced the Pentagon and the CIA to fire off more and more drone strikes in Pakistan, because of “executive orders to ban secret CIA detention centers and close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.” It’s one of a number of remarkable assertions military and intelligence officials make to Reuters’ Adam Entous in this monster of an article.

  • Report: Secret Space Plane Likely an Orbiting Spy

Noah Shachtman, May 14, 2010

When the U.S. Air Force launched its secret space plane last month, speculation about the X-37B’s true purpose ran wild.  Some conjectured that it might be a prototype for an orbiting bomber. Others warned of “a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy.” Prominent members of the Russian military establishment screamed that Moscow needed to build up its own space arsenal, ASAP. The British press, meanwhile, made dark insinuations about “the testing of new laser weapon systems” in space. The reality is probably less exotic. In all likelihood, the space plane is another way for the American military to spy on its foes from on high. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Secure World Foundation, provided to Danger Room.


  • Work Anywhere: Robots to Replace Business Travel Telepresence goes mobile withe introduction of Anybots QB.

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.19.2010 — Anybots enters the mobile telepresence market with QB, a web accessible mobile platform that provides a physical presence for remote workers.

  • Welcome to the Age of Interactive Robotics and Entertainment

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.19.2010 — What is robotic dinosaur museum installations could interact with visitors? What if the dinosaurs stalked the visitors? Visit the Field Museum in Chicago to find out. On May 26, 2010 KumoTek Robotics will launch a first of its kind interactive robotics exhibit at the historical Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. The exhibit will feature huge life-like dinosaurs manufactured by Kokoro Japan and integrated with the latest in interactive robotics technology from KumoTek.  Visitors will experience firsthand what it’s like to be stalked by prehistoric creatures of varying proportions, and can even bear witness to an interactive robotic performance between predator and prey.

  • Synchronized Swimming for Submarines

By Robotics Trends Staff

05.18.2010 — Clark School of Engineering studies schooling fish to improve motion coordination in unmanned vehicle teams. Nature shows and Caribbean vacation commercials often depict a school of fish moving as a single entity to avoid obstacles and elude prey. Engineers hope to give unmanned mini-submarines, mini-helicopters and other autonomous vehicles the same coordinated movement.


  • They Walk. They Work. New DNA Robots Strut Their Tiny Stuff.


For the first time, microscopic robots made from DNA molecules can walk, follow instructions and work together to assemble simple products on an atomic-scale assembly line, mimicking the machinery of living cells, two independent research teams announced Wednesday.

  • Robots Have a Place When Used by Trained Surgeons

05/10/10, Opinion

New surgical innovations are always highly prized. However, your article “Surgical Robot Examined in Injuries” (page one, May 5) illustrates that the evaluation of the virtues of new instruments takes time and effort.

The Threat of Technocapitalism: A New Book by Luis Suarez-Villa

This note from Tony Zaragoza:

A new book, Technocapitalism: A Critical Perspective on Technological Innovation and Corporatism (by Luis Suarez-Villa) published by Temple University Press, addresses the emergence of a new form of capitalism, grounded in technology and science and in corporate power, from the perspective of

Luis Suarez-Villa

radical political economy.  Among its many features, it deciphers the common threads of power and organization that drive the corporatization of new technology sectors, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, biopharmacology, biomedicine, the social pathologies their corporatization creates, and how a new reality is being imposed that may influence most every aspect of human existence in the twenty-first century.

Here, taken from the Temple U. Press site, is a quote from Robert McChesney about the book:

“In an era when technology is routinely treated as magical and liberatory, Luis Suarez-Villa has written the long overdue and necessary antidote to such flabby analysis and ludicrous self-congratulation. Technocapitalism is an outstanding book that should be read by all students, scholars and citizens who need to understand technology in the real world of capitalism and corporate power rather than the fairy tale world of the upper-middle class individuals doing their own thing in the sacred free marketplace. Our species faces extraordinarily serious issues in the coming generation, and an honest assessment of the political and economic forces around us is the necessary place to begin.”
—Robert W. McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

For All The World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights curated by Maurice Berger

This New York exhibit looks extraordinary, and the promotional material itself is instructive.  Click here to view.  The cover photograph, from which the detail below comes, is credited to Ernest C. Withers (Sanitation Workers Assemble in Front of Clayborn Temple for a Solidarity March, Memphis, Tennessee, March 28, 1968 © Ernest C. Withers, Courtesy Panopticon Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

M A Y   2 1  –  S E P T E M B E R   1 2,   2 0 1 0
For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights explores the historic role of visual culture in shaping, influencing, and transforming the

For All The World To See: Catalog of the Exbhibit (Yale U. Press, paper, $39.95)

fight for racial equality and justice in the United States from the late 1940s to the mid 1970s. This exhibition of 230 photographs, objects and clips from television and film looks at the extent to which the rise of the modern civil rights movement paralleled the birth of television and the popularity of picture magazines and other forms of visual mass media.