This paper had added its name to the international appeal for the release of the Il Manifesto journalist, Giuliana Sgrena. On Saturday we shared the joy at the reports of her release. That quickly turned to shock and anger as news came of the ambush of the car taking her to Baghdad airport.
The US army’s 3rd Infantry Division claimed in a statement that the car “refused to stop at a checkpoint”, that it was travelling at high speed and that it had ignored “warning signals, flashing white lights, and warning shots”. Only after all this, it was claimed, did soldiers shoot.
The statement did not explain how bullets supposedly aimed at the engine killed a secret serviceman, wounded another and injured Giuliana. Some reports say 300 shots were fired at the car. The car’s occupants denied that it was travelling fast or that it had received warnings.
It had already passed two US checkpoints and was nearing the US secured airport where a US colonel was waiting. The car was directly in touch with the highest circles in Rome.
Next to Britain, the Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is Bush’s most important ally in occupying Iraq. If this is how the US treats its friends, it speaks volumes about the daily reality of occupation suffered by Iraqis.
Tories’ only hope is New Labour betrayals
A poll this week suggested that the Tories were ahead of New Labour.
Naturally people are scared of Michael Howard entering Number 10. But the central point is that any possibility of the Tories winning rests on Labour voters refusing to vote.
The main reason for Labour haemorrhaging support lies with the war. But not far behind come privatisation, attacks on pensions, the erosion of civil liberties and disgust at New Labour’s shadowing of Howard on issues like immigration.
It might come as a shock to New Labour, but people often vote for them because, bottom line, at least they are not Tories. When that argument weakens, some will not vote for Blair.
The one result that would change politics in this country is if the left vote actually votes left. A Respect breakthrough would be the best blow against Tory policies — wherever they come from.
Both sides operate with dirty hands
The Tories and Labour were scrapping in the battle of Mrs Dixon’s shoulder last week — a pre-election wrangle over an issue on which neither party has any moral right to say a word.
Mrs Dixon’s operation, like many thousands of others, was repeatedly cancelled because emergency cases took priority. That is because the NHS no longer has the spare capacity to cope with both routine and emergency work.
The Tories — party of hospital and bed closures through the 1980s and 1990s — have a bloody nerve making a song and dance about this now.
Labour too should hang its head in shame. The NHS is forecast to be more than £500 million in the red by April. Hospitals are tackling the budget crisis in the traditional way — by closing beds and wards, and postponing operations.
The privatisers and marketeers of both parties share the blame for wrecking our NHS.