Dated: 05 Apr 2003
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British soldiers jailed for telling truth about war AT LEAST two British soldiers are facing a court martial and imprisonment because they do not want to fight in a war that kills innocent civilians. They have been sent back to Colchester to await disciplinary action and a possible two years imprisonment.
THE BOMBING of Basra put 100,000 children under the age of five at imminent risk of killer diseases from unsafe water, says the United Nations Children's Fund. Those lives and many more hang by a thread as the US and Britain turn to the cruellest and crudest form of warfare, the siege.
"THERE HAVE been massive spontaneous demonstrations throughout the Middle East over the last ten days. Around 15,000 people protested in the city of Alexandria in Egypt on Sunday. There have been regular clashes with the police.
TENS OF thousands of people took to the streets of Britain last Saturday as part of the Stop the War Coalition's day of action. "Over 15,000 marched in Edinburgh," says Mick Napier. "The mood was determined. Speaker after speaker called for the immediate end to the invasion. Susan Karim, an Iraqi, used information from her relatives inside Iraq to describe the horrors being visited on the heads of ordinary Iraqis by the invading American and British forces."
LONDON POSTAL workers have this week started an unofficial ballot for action to win an improved London weighting. The decision, which was provoked by the failure of the CWU union's pay campaign to deliver results, has caused fierce argument inside the union. Even branches and individuals who would normally back militant action have criticised London for "trying to take money from the rest of the country".
FIREFIGHTERS in Newcastle remain determined to win a decent pay increase. A national activists' meeting has been called to organise to reject the latest terrible offer from the employers: 1pm, Wednesday 9 April, United Services, Gough Street, Birmingham.
ANTI-NAZI campaigners in outer east London are mobilising against a British National Party (BNP) candidate standing in a council by-election in Barkingside on Thursday of next week. The Nazis are trying to gain publicity in the run-up to local council elections in England and national elections in Scotland and Wales on 1 May.
LAST YEAR some 15,000 people from Iraq fled to Britain and applied for asylum. At last count, only 700 had received refugee status. In early March the Home Office deported to Spain an Iraqi family that had come to this country in 1999.
WORKERS AT Arriva Trains Northern have compiled an "e-book" telling the story of their year-long dispute. Trouble at the TOC (train operating company) explains what went right and wrong in what became the longest running rail dispute in history. The dispute started in January of last year after guards were offered a derisory 3 percent.
NURSERY NURSES in Kirklees schools have voted overwhelmingly to strike over a regrading claim. The first strike was set for Friday of this week affecting over 70 schools, followed by three days of action next week. The Unison union lodged the regrading claim nearly three years ago.
BALLOT PAPERS will start going out next week for elections to the national executive of Britain's biggest union, Unison. The union has members in local councils, the health service, schools, higher and further education, as well as in areas like the gas, water and electricity industries.
THE MOST coordinated strike action on the railway since privatisation forced train operating companies to cancel up to 90 percent of services across nine firms this Monday and on Friday of last week. Some 3,000 guards in the RMT union held two 24-hour strikes over a long-running safety dispute. Further action is planned for Thursday 17 April. Despite government support for strikebreaking, management on the nine companies admitted the strike's success.
WHATEVER THE eventual outcome, the war's first two weeks saw a defeat for those who pushed most vehemently for unleashing the barbarity - the hard core around Bush and Rumsfeld in the White House. That is the significance of the criticisms of Donald Rumsfeld's - and Tony Blair's - strategy by high placed US and British generals.
TONY BLAIR and his media henchman, Alastair Campbell, are going into overdrive to peddle lies to justify the war. The Independent reported on Monday, "The government's chief spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, is said to have ordered the Whitehall press machine to counter individual stories from the field with the wider overview of the Ministry of Defence."
THE ANTI-war movement is everywhere, hundreds of millions strong worldwide. It has changed the face of politics. What yesterday seemed impossible is today commonplace. Just look at Britain. During the last six weeks we have been part of the biggest demonstration ever, followed by the largest demonstration during a war. The Labour Party is in its deepest crisis for over 70 years.
THE US and Britain claim they are fighting in Iraq to liberate people like the Kurds. The leaders of the two factions that rule the Kurdish area in northern Iraq are cooperating with the US. But the whole history of the Middle East is one of great powers promising the Kurds liberation, and then betraying them.
THE LAND that is today Iraq is home to some of the greatest achievements of human civilisation. The south of modern Iraq is littered with magnificent ruins of the first real cities in human history - places like Uruk, Lagash, Nippur, Kish and Ur (from which the biblical Abraham supposedly came).
THE TURMOIL inside the Labour Party over the war was on display at last Saturday's conference of Labour Against the War. Around 300 anti-war Labour Party members gathered to discuss how to stop the war and what to do about the leadership. Every speaker was bitterly critical of Blair and the war. George Galloway MP posed some stark questions.
WAR, TERRITORIAL conquest, violence. Nothing we can do about that mate, it's human nature. That stock pub argument sums up the BBC's new Walking with Cavemen series on human evolution. The first episode looked at one of earliest apes to walk on two legs, a small animal called Australopithecus afarensis.
"THE WORLD is becoming a more frightening place." Few would disagree with Alex Callinicos's assertion in his new book, An Anti-Capitalist Manifesto (Polity, £12.50). And the challenge he poses: "What do we do about it?" is a question that will have been asked by everyone in the anti-war movement and the anti-capitalist movement from which it grew.
THE CLASH OF FUNDAMENTALISMS Tariq Ali, Verso (£10)
THE WAR against Iraq is about brutal occupation, not liberation. And every honest commentator admits it's going to get worse. More death, more destruction. Yet the government and its friends in the media say that having started this war, we have to finish it.
THE Marxist economist Michael Kidron, who died last week at the age of 72, made an enormous contribution to the Socialist Workers Party's development during the early years of our tradition in the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Cape Town in 1930, Mike emigrated after the Second World War to Palestine, where he became an anti-Zionist socialist. He moved to Britain in the mid-1950s.
OPPOSITION TO this US war and an increasing fury at our own government's complicity have been growing in our PCS union branch. Our motion was carried at the 2002 PCS conference. It committed the union to a strong anti-war stance.
ARE YOU suspicious about reports of pro-war demonstrations? You're absolutely right to be, as shown by recent news in the US. The British press widely reported demonstrations where people smashed CDs by the group Dixie Chicks after lead singer Natalie Maines spoke out against the war. But most of the US pro-war demos have been organised by radio industry bosses who have close links to Bush's administration.