GEORGE BUSH promised to root out all 'evildoers' in his war on terror. Two US-backed terrorists responsible for the murder and torture of thousands of people got a small part of their comeuppance last week. Carlos Casanova and Jose Guillermo Garcia, two US-trained former generals, were ordered to pay $54.6 million in compensation for their part in massacres and torture in El Salvador in the 1980s.
They were both trained at the School of the Americas in Georgia. The school trained a generation of right wing paramilitary groups who carried out human rights abuses throughout Latin America. Anti-war activists describe it as the 'School of the Assassins'.
Casanova and Garcia were found guilty of allowing their soldiers to torture Juan Romagoza Arce and Carlos Mauricio and to repeatedly rape Neris Gonzales who was eight months pregnant. Her child died two months after it was born. Casanova and Garcia were centrally involved in the mass murders of thousands of men, women and children.
They were welcomed to Florida when they retired from the military, where they joined hundreds of other murderers and terrorists who found safe haven after carrying out the US's bloody bidding around the world. John Negroponte, George Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, organised right wing terrorists in Latin America when he was the US ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s. The Guatemalan government is planning to give $2,500 each to members of the paramilitary groups who killed around 200,000 people between the 1960s and 1996.
Barred by bigots
WESTERN countries pride themselves on their supposedly liberal acceptance of different cultures. Fereshta Ludin is a teacher in Germany. Five years ago she was barred from teaching in Baden-Wurttemberg state after she refused to take off her headscarf in class.
Now Germany's highest administrative court has ruled that Muslims cannot wear headscarves while teaching. 'Pupils have a right not to be subjected to the influence of an alien religion,' said the judge. Of course, Christian nuns and priests can continue to wear religious clothes in schools in a show of religious tolerance!
SPIN doctors working for Tony Blair cost £5 million a year. The government employs 64 'special advisers', including 25 who work directly for Blair. Ministers spent £5.6 million on foreign travel. Government departments' spending on marketing has risen by 146 percent since 1997 to £273 million.
Taking the pee
ORGANISERS of the demonstration at the Labour Party conference in Brighton last year were forced by the local council to provide toilets at the assembly point of the march. The council worked out 36 toilets were required for up to 10,000 people who would be in a park for up to two hours.
At the recent Fat Boy Slim beach party, the same council's calculations must have gone wrong somewhere. For the 200,000 people who attended, the council predicted 60 toilets would be sufficient for their five or six hour stay on the beach.
Is Brighton council in any way politically motivated when it comes to toilets, or is it happy for people to go in the sea?
Thanks to Guy Taylor in south London for this story.
THE Israeli state confirmed last week that it refuses to accept that Palestinians have the right to a homeland.
Ilan Biran, chief executive of Bezeq Israel Telecom, organised a boycott by Israeli companies of Air France after one of its pilots announced that Tel-Aviv was in 'Israel-Palestine'. This forced Air France to apologise.
Off the grid
THE PRIVATISED National Grid, which runs Britain's electricity, seems to have been engaged in some wholly legal creative accountancy. Its annual report documents on page one an operating profit of £874 million for 2001-2. Directors awarded themselves massive pay rises and bonuses of 22 percent for this success.
Chief executive Roger Urwin grabbed £794,000-up from £436,000. But if you flick over to page 19 of the report you will read a different story. It says, 'The results for 2001-2 include net exceptional pre-tax losses of £953.5 million.'
This reflected losses arising from different sources, including 'the group's Latin American telecoms investments amounting to £290.4 million pre-tax'.
Profits all round
ACCOUNTANTS Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) are getting the best of both worlds from the government's PFI privatisation scheme. They profit from both the buyers and sellers. PWC advised councils in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and Balfron to hand their secondary schools over to a consortium led by private firm Amey in a deal worth £1.2 billion.
Since the sell-off games halls and classrooms have been closed. There have been health and safety incidents. PWC immediately went on to work for a private consortium led by Amey that bid successfully to run Edinburgh's schools.
PWC advised Waltham Forest council in east London to hand its schools over to a consortium led by Amey.
THE UK regional rail conference in York in September claims that it 'will offer an invaluable insight into the way forward for regional rail services'. For £323, delegates can hear Ray Price, managing director of Arriva Trains Northern.
His company cancelled thousands of trains last year and was fined £2 million for poor performance. Arriva workers are continuing to strike for better pay-but they wouldn't spend it on this conference.
Things they say
'THE THING I want to impress on people is the horror of what happened back then. War is a disaster and a terrible thing.'
JACK DAVIS, 107 year old First World War veteran
'WE were desperate for someone a little more receptive to New Labour in charge of the GMB.'
SENIOR MINISTER on why the government offered to make New Labour critic John Edmonds of the GMB union a lord. He rejected it
'I WAS assured by the Met that they would promptly relocate myself and my family for security reasons. I am still waiting.'
DC REID, victim of a race attack by two of the Stephen Lawrence suspects, on his 'shabby' treatment by his own police force
'AFTER ALL, the queen has her own jet and the prime minister has use of a jet.'
International development secretary CLARE SHORT justifies Tanzania's president buying a £15 million jet. The country receives £270 million in aid from Britain
'He said, 'You're Charles Dunstone, aren't you? Can we put you down for a million?''
CHARLES DUNSTONE about being nobbled by Labour fundraiser Lord 'Cashpoint' Levy at one of the Blairs' parties
'IF WE want to stop the defence industry operating in this country we can do so. The result would be that someone else supplies the arms.'
TONY BLAIR explains Britain's ethical foreign policy
'THEY WON'T force me out. It won't be like Zimbabwe.'
BRUCE FORSYTH reacts to a burglary at his home
'PETROL rather than water would be poured on the flames and Al Qaida would gain more recruits.'
Former chief of defence staff LORD BRAMALL on the problems with attacking Iraq