Socialist Worker

Is this what Bush defends?

Issue No. 1814

ONE DEATH will be forgotten in the commemorations by the New York authorities of the events of 11 September. Jason-Eric Wilson was 16 years old when he killed himself in a homeless shelter in New York two weeks ago. He died tragically after swallowing every pill he could find in his family's room.

Jason and his ten year old sister were being raised by their father, who had been diagnosed with leukemia. His father's illness became acute in the last year after the family were evicted from their home.

Last month they ended up in New York's appallingly overcrowded shelter system. The family, like hundreds of others, had to spend two days and a night sleeping on the floor of the Emergency Assistance Unit. Jason-Eric's father applied for food stamps on 30 July. He has been unable to work since a bone marrow transplant. The request was refused.

The authorities demanded that he produced legal documents including birth certificates. All had been lost when the family were evicted. They were in a shelter, but on 4 August they were given a deadline of 5.30pm to produce the documents the following day or be kicked out. They spent 5 August going from one office to another trying to get duplicate documents.

They could not find them. Jason-Eric's father says, 'Jason panicked. He said, 'Dad, what we going to do?'' He found his son surrounded by empty medicine bottles at 4pm.

Writing for Hitler

NOVELIST P G Wodehouse was knighted just before his death thanks to the personal intervention of the then Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson, in 1974. This was revealed in government papers released last week.

The creator of the upper class twit character Bertie Wooster gave a series of interviews for the Nazis' German radio station during the Second World War while stranded in occupied Europe. Wodehouse also wrote for the French paper Gringoire before the war. This was a virulently anti-Semitic rag linked to the fascist Action Francaise organisation.

THE Liberal Democrats in Islington have just appointed a new council chief executive. It's Helen Bailey. The council's recruitment consultant said she was not the strongest candidate. Bailey was until recently a member of the Liberal Democrats' Federal Executive.

Return to sender

THERE MAY be something to Elvis sightings after all. Last week, the 25th anniversary of his death, brought an intriguing announcement from a Tennessee University official in Elvis's hometown of Memphis. Dan Goldowitz revealed that the Genome Department is looking to clone the King from a 'bread bag' full of his hair.

'We can do it,' says Goldowitz. 'There's a tendency for genetic abnormality to occur. 'We'd get an Elvis, but maybe he would just want to deliver the mail.'

SWANSEA College bosses are sharp. The scissors at the college's learning centre had a habit of disappearing. Management decided the only way to stop that was to tie them down to the counter...with a long piece of string.

They are now looking for half a long piece of string with some scissors attached.

Crime record of US torture

REMEMBER how US and British intervention was going to liberate the people of Afghanistan from religious fanaticism? The press here was full of stories of the activities of the Taliban's religious police in the Department for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Now, under the pro-Western government of Hamid Karzai, the department is being re-created.

Earlier this year US forces raided two Afghan villages and killed ten policemen belonging to the Karzai government. Even Western officials in Afghanistan said the US troops 'gave the prisoners a thrashing'.

US forces are now leaving the torture to their favoured Afghan thugs. Journalist Robert Fisk reports, ''It's the Afghan Special Forces who beat the Pashtun prisoners for information now - not the Americans,' a Western military man told me in Kandahar. 'But the CIA are there during the beatings'.'

Should Afghan torture fail, the US can always use its camp at Guantanamo Bay where 564 prisoners are already held. The US military has just constructed a bigger camp to detain hundreds more 'indefinitely', away from the prying eyes of TV crews.

Express yourself

THE REFUGEE-bashing Daily Express pictured sixth formers celebrating successful A-level results. Somehow they did not include one 17 year old who did extraordinarily well. Perparim Shehu from North London will be going to university to study medicine. Perparim arrived in Britain at the age of 14 without his family.

He was unable to speak English, and was denied a school place for six months. He is a refugee from Kosovo.

Tory fat cats back

A business forum with George W Bush in Waco was designed to restore faith in the honesty of US capitalism.

Journalists at the event were treated to luxurious facilities. They included a swimming pool complex sponsored by...Arthur Andersen.

GERALD CORBETT fancies a return to the limelight. The former Railtrack boss bagged huge payouts despite the Hatfield crash and the collapse of the rail network. He is now chairman of Woolworths and wants to become a Tory MP.

According to the Financial Times, 'Those close to him say he is frustrated by the plight of the Tories.'

Things they say

'THERE IS still some leakage.'
DAVID TRIESMAN, the Labour Party's general secretary, on the party's loss of membership, down from 400,000 in 1997 to 280,000 in January

'ONE OF the things that we heard today is that our economy has strengths that are greater than the challenges.'
GEORGE BUSH, 13 August

'FOR the foreseeable future the risks are weighted mainly toward conditions that may generate economic weakness.'

'PEOPLE MAY have been known to splash out this kind of money to see Liza Minnelli on stage, but a live performance by Iain Duncan Smith is a rather different proposition.'
TORY PARTY MEMBER on plans to charge £500 to hear the Tory leader

'IT IS a double garage that is being split down the middle. We have received several offers but all below the asking price.'
SPOKESPERSON for a man selling half his garage in upmarket Notting Hill in west London for £150,000

'THERE IS real alarm that relations could break down totally if Woodley or Camfield get in. They have to be stopped. Dromey is the least worst option.'
SENIOR DOWNING STREET SOURCE on Tony Blair's fears for the upcoming election in the TGWU union

'WHILE I regret that I, like many others, failed to predict the collapse of the telecommunications sector, I am nevertheless proud of the work I did.'
JACK GRUBMAN, Wall Street analyst leaving his firm with a $32 billion payoff. He was a key figure in helping WorldCom. He is under multiple investigations

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 24 Aug 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1814
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