THE INQUIRY into Bloody Sunday, the day in January 1972 when British paratroopers killed 14 unarmed civilians, continues to expose the violence and lies at the heart of the British state.
Last week Major General Pat MacLellan, the commander of British troops in Derry on Bloody Sunday, slipped out that the paras attacked the peaceful civil rights march without any evidence that they themselves were under attack.
The general was trying to exonerate himself from any blame for the killings by claiming that the paras disobeyed orders for a 'limited arrest' of 'yobbos'. During the course of questioning he agreed that the soldiers had 'started a running battle'.
The general admitted that troops did not enter the Catholic Bogside area, where the civil rights march was taking place, in response to being shot at from that area. This contradicts other evidence given by other army witnesses at the inquiry.
Moreover it blows a hole in the whole story which has been concocted by the British army for the last 30 years. The top brass of the British army and establishment has continued to peddle the lie that the paratroopers were responding to shots from the Bogside which they attributed to the IRA.
WTO is revolting
THE WORLD Trade Organisation (WTO) is currently trying to push through massive privatisation and attacks on workers' rights worldwide. But the WTO has trouble closer to home -its own staff have begun a pay revolt. Staff at the WTO have begun a work to rule in a fight for an 8 percent pay increase.
The action means there are currently little or no staff available for WTO committee meetings, to provide translations and to distribute the organisation's documents.
PHILIP Bassett is one of Tony Blair's key advisers and heads the Downing Street Strategic Communications Unit. He's the man in Number Ten responsible for rubbishing the Fire Brigades Union. Bassett used to be the labour editor of Rupert Murdoch's anti-union Times newspaper.
He also was the author of Strike Free, a book which heaped praise on the no-strike deals of the Thatcher era in the 1980s.
A day at the races
TORY MP Greg Barker recently made a fierce attack on plans to change parliament's hours to end evening sittings to make it more 'family friendly'. Barker's own constituents had expected him at an important local meeting recently, but he couldn't make it because of important 'Westminster duties' that evening.
Barker did not take part in any Commons votes that night. He was travelling back from Plumpton Racecourse where his horse Party Games had been running in the 4.05 race (it came fifth).
PEOPLE IN Argentina are starving to death because of the dictates of the IMF and World Bank. Over half the 36 million population of Argentina has already been plunged into poverty.
The BBC reported last week, 'The front pages of the country's press have been dominated in recent days by the deaths of at least eight children who died from hunger in an impoverished province.' A new government decree means the cost of basic services will rise by another 10 percent to secure new international loans.
Yet this is in a country which is rich in food production. Argentina is the world's fifth largest exporter of agricultural products. Last week the IMF praised the Argentinian government for agreeing to spending cuts. But it is demanding still more savage budget cuts.
And it wants a 30 percent rise in prices before it is prepared to refinance any loans owed to it by the country. This can only mean that more people will starve to death.
Bosses with a record
HEALTH secretary Alan Milburn boasted this summer that he was inviting the US health firm Johnson & Johnson to run hospitals in Britain. Johnson & Johnson has since been involved in a series of corporate scandals in the US.
Its shares began to fall after a former employee sued the firm, claiming that he was sacked for 'whistleblowing'. He alleged that Johnson & Johnson's Eprex drug, used to treat anaemia in kidney patients, was making people ill and that results had been falsified. The US Food and Drug Administration launched a criminal investigation. Johnson & Johnson denies the claims.
Back in 1995 a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson had to pay a $7.5 million fine to the Food and Drug Administration. The firm had promoted without a licence its anti-acne drug Retin-A as a cure for wrinkling skin.
Thanks to Solomon Hughes for this story.
IT'S TIME for Christmas presents. The Financial Times 'How to Spend it' magazine shows what the rich will be buying:
- A pink tourmaline and white diamond watch for £32,400, or a white, gold and diamond Gondolo watch for £34,360.
- A diamond watch with a burgundy crocodile leather strap is just £27,050.
- A gold and diamond bracelet priced £20,895.
A whole year's earnings for a firefighter would barely stretch to any of these gifts.
'THE ROOM is chaotic. Paper, clothes, dust and cotton cover every inch of the workshop. The ventilators are blocked, and roof tiles have caved in and have been replaced by paper and cardboard. In the corner the fire exit was locked and blocked by old metal machinery. Protruding from the walls were live wires. The four employees are all extremely nervous, and say their boss will be angry if they talk to us.'
It sounds like a sweatshop in Indonesia or Mexico, but it's actually one of the many sweatshops in east London's Whitechapel. The workers were making clothes for the Arcadia retail giant, which owns Topshop, Burton, Miss Selfridge and Wallis. Arcadia expects its pre-tax profits to hit £100 million this year - double the amount made last year.
Things they say
'LOOK FOR the union label...and run the other way.'
Investment bank Morgan Stanley telling its clients to pull out their money from unionised industries
'A SICK society and a ruling class that are sons of bitches, all of them, myself included.'
Anibal Fernandez, Argentina's production minister, on what's behind the country's child death rate
'FIREMEN ARE an exceptional case and require exceptional treatment.'
John Prescott in Hull Daily Mail, 1977
'JOINING THE Iraqi opposition cannot be a get out of jail free card.'
Human Rights Watch on former Iraqi general now courted by the US who has been charged in Denmark for suspected war crimes
'IN THE market in which I'm operating it's below what I would be paid elsewhere.'
CBI boss Digby Jones moaning about his £310,000 income
'IF THERE'S a message to put across to allay the fears of middle class families, it's that they don't have to pay. It's their children in the future.'
David Greenaway, economics professor at Nottingham University, who argues students should take out loans for market-rate university fees
'INCREASING the top rate of income tax would cover the gaping hole in higher education funding and help provide a proper student support system.'
Will Straw, son of Jack Straw and president of Oxford University student union
'HE WISHES to find a new and wider challenge.'
Equitable Life spokesman on why boss Charles Bellringer, finance chief of the crisis-ridden pension firm, has suddenly quit his £210,000 a year job