Dated: 29 Jan 2005
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THE ELECTION in Iraq this weekend is nothing but a fraud. I have registered as eligible to vote, but will not be voting. What right have I, living in relative safety in Britain, got to decide what goes on in Iraq? Anyone whose father is Iraqi can vote, while many in Iraq cannot. Does this sound like a free and fair election?
Tony Benn led the line-up of speakers at a meeting packed with over 400 students hosted by the Goldsmiths College Student Union Peace Campaign, and the Islamic Society last week. Also speaking at the south London university were Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition, Pat Arrowsmith from CND and Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain.
Trying not to get punched Ticket inspectors on London’s new "bendy" buses could ballot for industrial action in a row over safety.
NEW LABOUR is to go into May’s expected general election with an eight-year promise to bring in laws against companies that kill their workers still unfulfilled.
A MEETING of PCS civil service workers’ union reps in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last week voted in favour of a deal in our pay dispute. This will now be put to the membership, with the union recommending acceptance. The pay offer is over 4 percent for each year of the deal and is weighted towards the lowest paid. But there are still some major problems and PCS members should reject the deal. The DWP will still have more people on poverty pay than many departments. The main problem is that there will still be an appraisal system based on quotas.
THE Threat of more strike action by journalists in the NUJ union at the Enfield Advertiser in north London has won concessions from their Trinity Mirror bosses.
LIVERPOOL Labour MP Bob Wareing has backed the battle against the local council’s assault on union rights. The council, controlled by the Liberal Democrats, has turned on activists in the wake of the recent dispute involving social workers.
THE EASTERN region of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to donate £1,000 to Respect’s general election campaign. FBU regional official Adrian Clarke told Socialist Worker, "We invited Respect to our meeting before Christmas and following that we had a request for a donation. That has now been voted through.
BALLOT PAPERS for the Unison general secretary election went out this week. National executive member Jon Rogers is standing as the candidate of the Unison United Left. He told Socialist Worker, "The campaign is going well—we’re demonstrating that we have an alternative network inside the union.
THE POSTAL workers’ CWU union has received information that Catford and Lewisham Crown post offices in south London are being considered for privatisation. The prospective buyers have visited the offices to measure them up and assess the viability of the proposed sale.
CAMPAIGNERS IN Glasgow last week secured the release of Pastor Mikielokele Daly and his family from Dungeval detention centre, and a judicial review of the whole case. The Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and the Pentecostal Church of Redemption worked together calling four large demonstrations over the normally quiet Christmas and new year fortnight.
In a typically New Labour Blunketty, weaselly way, the chief inspector of schools, David Bell, managed to sound both tolerant and intolerant in the space of several minutes, when he attacked the separateness of "faith" schools. He said, "I worry that many young people are being educated in faith-based schools with little appreciation of their wider responsibilities and obligations to British society."
There is much talk in the media about the dangers of civil war in Iraq if US and Brtish troops are withdrawn. But we have to ask, who is talking about civil war, and why are they talking about civil war? There are political and class conflicts in Iraqi society. These conflicts impinge on the question of how to resist the occupation, and what form the resistance should take.
Polls carried out for the occupation authorities have consistently shown that Iraqis reject the occupation on principle and have little faith in US-appointed rulers.
Four British citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay were set to be released this week. Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen, is also due for release. A recent interview with his lawyers, by Socialist Worker’s sister paper in Australia, gave an insight into the conditions suffered by the detainees.
Activists from around the globe gathered in Brazil, for the World Social Forum. Full report next week. Picture: Jess Hurd <a href="http://www.reportdigital.co.uk" target = "_blank">www.reportdigital.co.uk</a>
Police are preparing to use submachine guns and rubber bullets to defend George Bush and the G8 leaders who meet at Gleneagles, Scotland, in July. They are carrying out training in a mock-up village built on the site of a closed down hospital. Anti-capitalist and anti-war campaigners are already organising huge demonstrations and protests to greet Bush and the G8 leaders, starting with a Make Poverty History demo on 2 July, the Saturday before the summit.
Is the CIA too open and accountable? The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, thinks so. It was revealed last week that the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), which is under his direct control, has been running clandestine operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries for the past two years.
GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair claim the elections in Iraq will usher in the rule of democracy. But we know who will run Iraq even before the results come through—the US is determined to keep control in Iraq.
SOME 67,000 lecturers in further and higher education in the Natfhe union are set to ballot for a one-day strike against New Labour’s plans to make us work five extra years. The Natfhe further and higher education sectors’ executives both voted unanimously on Friday of last week for action this term.
THOUSANDS MORE public sector workers could be balloting for strikes against the great pensions robbery.
EVERY CITY, town and village should be aiming for rallies and strike action on the TUC day of action on Friday 18 February. In Manchester, we have booked Albert Square—the city’s biggest central space—for a lunchtime rally called by Manchester Trades Council in liaison with the North West TUC. Many union branches have already said they want to take part.
MEMBERS OF the TGWU and Amicus unions lobbied parliament on Monday of this week in protest at their employer, US telecoms firm APW, robbing them of their pensions. Some 1,200 staff and pensioners have lost around 80 percent of their pensions after the company wound up its pension scheme.
ABOUT £4 billion of taxpayers’ money is to be doled out to the rich for their pensions in the same year that New Labour plans to rob every public sector worker of £20,000 from their pension. Under new pension rules coming into effect in 2006, the rich will be able to stash up to £215,000 tax free every year.
"Look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list. The Israelis might well decide to act first."US vice-president Dick Cheney on the possibility of war on Iran
POLITICIANS OF all parties rushed last year to denounce the brutalities of Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe. Now they are united on forcibly deporting Zimbabwean refugees back to torture and possible death.
EARLIER THIS month $300 million was taken out of the Iraq Central Bank in cash, and secretly flown to Beirut, Lebanon, in a chartered jet. The defence minister in Iraq’s interim government, Hazim al-Shalaan, authorised this withdrawal.Talking from Beirut, an aide to al-Shalaan explained the money was needed to buy arms from Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Ukraine and the US and that it was approved by prime minister Iyad Allawi.
Is something changing on the front line of social movements and workers’ struggles in France?
A popular left wing leader in the assembly of the Indian state of Jharkhand was assassinated by gunmen on 16 January. Mahendra Singh, a leading member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), was killed as he prepared to run for his fourth successive term in office.
WHAT CHANCE is there of a gay, communist poet winning an election in a deeply Catholic country?
"Same car, different driver" is a phrase you can hear on the streets of the West African country of Sierra Leone every day. It sums up our bitter feelings about the government which has ruled since civil war began in 1991.
NO ONE can accuse George Bush of setting his sights low. His inaugural speech last week — delivered to what amounted to a mass rally of the Christian fundamentalist right — promised more of the neo-conservative medicine that gave us the conquest of Iraq.
THE LAST century was the bloodiest in history. The Holocaust, the Nazis’ attempted annihilation of Jews and other "sub-humans", claimed 12 million victims and was its most brutal act. It was not the only genocide. There was the attempt by the fledgling Turkish state to wipe out the Armenians from within its borders in the second decade of the 20th century. In the last decade there was the slaughter in Rwanda.
WESTERN governments today often try to justify tightening controls on immigrants and refugees by claiming that their acceptance of escaping Jews in the 1930s shows they have no problem with those "genuinely" seeking asylum.
"NOT ESPECIALLY inhumane." This was French fascist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen’s recent verdict on the wartime occupation of France. During the Second World War over 60,000 resisters and 75,000 Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps from France. Fewer than 3,000 Jews returned. These deportations were made easier by the willing participation of Marshal Pétain’s Vichy regime, which governed the part of France not immediately occupied by the Germans following France’s defeat in 1940. Vichy drew up lists of Jews resident in France and then played a full role in their persecution.
ON 3 March 1959, 85 internees at the Hola Detention Camp in Kenya refused to take part in forced labour and sat down in protest. Internees in the camp had been refusing to work for nine days and now these men were to be made an example. When the camp commander, G M Sullivan, blew his whistle over 100 guards attacked the prisoners with clubs and rifle butts, killing one of them.
A NEW book by Caroline Elkins underlines just how vicious British rule in Kenya was.
Wednesday 26-31 JanuaryWorld Social Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil. For details go to <a href="http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br" target = "_blank">www.forumsocialmundial.org.br</a>
Robert Burns lived in the last third of the 18th century, a time of the most rapid change in Scottish history. The agrarian revolution was squeezing the peasantry, the class into which he had been born, out of existence. The industrial revolution was underway.
SidewaysDirected by Alexander PayneReleased Friday 28 January
End of the century — the story of the RamonesDirected by Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia
MICHAEL HOWARD marked the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by calling for the reintroduction of quotas on refugees—the same policy that denied thousands of Jews refuge from persecution and the death camps.
THE PROBLEM of debt repayment is at its most acute in Africa where countries already blighted by war are also forced to spend billions repaying or simply servicing debt. This means that there is no investment in infrastructure, education or health. As a campaigner for refugees in Glasgow I have been working with the African community to stop deportations.
The new bumper issue of International Socialism is out this month.
"WE WORRY about so many dangers to our children — drugs, perverts, bullies-but seldom notice the biggest menace of all: the multibillion-dollar marketing effort aimed at turning the kids into oversexed, status-obsessed, attention-deficient little consumers. Like her earlier books, Juliet Schor’s Born to Buy is a brilliant exposé and call to action." Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
After the tsunami…
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