Dated: 26 Apr 2003
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U.S. 'Liberators' fire on Iraqi demonstrators
TEACHERS STOOD up this week to the way the government's constant testing is destroying children's education and health. The largest teachers' union, the NUT, moved to boycott the national SATs tests for seven, 11 and 14 year olds at its conference in Harrogate. They are absolutely right. The SATs were introduced by the Tories in 1992.
SCRAPPING THE SATs tests would benefit, not harm, children's education. That's the clear evidence from Wales, where the Assembly has scrapped the tests for seven year olds. Over the last year inspectors, head teachers and various forms of assessment all point to rising standards in Welsh schools.
BLACK PEOPLE are 27 times more likely to be stopped by police than white people. That's the findings of new research into how the police use the powers they got under the 1994 Criminal Justice Act. The act was aimed at tackling football hooligans or illegal ravers.
OVER 3,000 guards on 12 train operating companies struck on Thursday of last week in the third day of action over safety called by the RMT union. The strike was again solid and highly effective, despite coordinated attempts by train companies, including those not involved in the strike, to use managers to scab.
JOURNALISTS IN the NUJ union are stepping up their fight against the US-owned Gannett newspaper publisher, which owns Newsquest. They are striking for better pay. Bradford Newsquest strikers went back onto the picket line from Wednesday of last week.
ACTIVISTS IN the Fire Brigades Union are finding deep opposition in stations and control rooms to their national leaders' attempts to push through support for a proposed settlement to the dispute.
LOW PAID health workers at Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals took to the picket line in force again on Wednesday of last week. The 400 porters, domestics, laundry and catering workers in North Lincolnshire are the latest group of health workers to take on the low pay, bullying and exploitation of their private contractor bosses.
THE ELECTION for general secretary of the 900,000-strong TGWU union is set to be another major test of strength for both Tony Blair and the left in the unions. Tony Blair will be hoping that the TGWU can become a bulwark against the rise of the so-called awkward squad of left wing union leaders.
POSTAL WORKERS across Britain are voting on who should be their union's next deputy general secretary (postal). It is important that John Keggie, the candidate supported by the Blairites in the union, is soundly defeated.
HACKNEY COUNCIL in east London is pressing ahead with its disciplinary of Unison union branch officer John Page. In December 2002 Hackney council suspended Unison branch officers John Page, Brian Debus and Will Leng after they raised concerns about racism in a draft report to the council.
THE GAP between the New Labour government and trade unions was strongly underlined at the Scottish TUC in Inverness last week. Some of the strongest criticism of Tony Blair came over the war. A series of speakers condemned the government for taking Britain into the war.
TRADE UNIONISTS and campaigners were set to march through central Manchester on Saturday in a united protest against racism. The demonstration and rally was called by the TUC and the Unison union, and backed by the Anti Nazi League. It is a recognition of the danger posed by the British National Party (BNP), which has been targeting the north west of England.
THREE CHEERS for the protesters who gave Tony Blair and the other pro-war prime ministers such a hot time when they visited Athens for the European Union summit last week. At the beginning of June George Bush will attend the Group of Eight (G8) meeting in the French city of Evian, just over the border from Geneva in Switzerland.
SARS. IN a few weeks the word has rolled around the world, bringing panic and fear. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. By the start of this week it had killed at least 200 people in seven countries and infected thousands more. The World Health Organisation warns, "SARS could become the first severe new disease of the 21st century with global epidemic potential."
THE US is succeeding in uniting Iraqis in hatred of the invasion. On Friday of last week around 20,000 people left Baghdad's Abi Hanefah Nouman mosque. They marched through the streets waving Korans and carrying banners in Arabic and English reading, "Leave our country. We want peace".
THE BRITISH state is guilty of murder and terrorism. That is the only proper conclusion to be drawn from Metropolitan Police chief John Stevens' report, which was published last week. It uncovered state collusion with Loyalist death squads in Northern Ireland.
'IRAQ WAS only the first hurdle." That was what one government source said to the press last Saturday. New Labour is facing deep discontent at home as Blair tries to push ahead with hugely unpopular policies like foundation hospitals and student top-up fees.
WHY ARE some of the leading figures who gather around President Bush talking about attacking Syria? After all, Syria voted on the UN Security Council last year to support the anti-Iraq Resolution 1441. It also sent 17,000 troops and 300 tanks to support the US in the war against Iraq in 1991.
THE NUT conference, which took place over Easter, revealed growing opposition to the government on every front. Delegates representing local associations of the largest teachers' union voted unanimously for a ballot to boycott the SATs national tests for school children. NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy captured the mood of teachers, especially those who voted Labour. He talked of "a creeping McCarthyism in government" and "a sinister lack of tolerance".
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THE WAR on Iraq was based on blatant lies, and the warmongers are still lying today. The pro-war press owners are trying to smear George Galloway MP and, through him, the anti-war movement.
TEN THOUSAND demonstrators fought off police attacks on workers from the Brukman tailoring factory in the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, on Monday night. The factory was being run successfully under workers' control after the boss tried to close it down 16 months ago.
"THE PAST few months have seen Tony Blair unshakably hold to the courage of his convictions. He is entitled to receive recognition of his single minded determination." So ran the Daily Mirror's editorial on Thursday of last week. This is the same paper that during the early part of this year ran page after page which tore apart Bush and Blair's case for war.
ACTIVISTS IN Burnley were celebrating last week after the court of appeal halved the sentences of five Asian men jailed after the Burnley "riots". The defendants had taken to the streets to defend their areas from Nazi attack 18 months ago.
"THE RETURN of democracy to countries like Iraq does not mean that people can then vote for, say, an Islamic party which will abandon that democracy." So said Francis Fukuyama on BBC2 last week.
JAPANESE electronics giant Sony has patented the term "shock and awe" for a computer game. Sony registered the term with the US patent office just one day into the war. It wants to use it for computer and video games, as well as broadband games played over the internet by Sony PlayStation users.