Dated: 13 Apr 2002
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"The Israeli soldiers just kept firing at us, even though people had been hit, even though people were backing away." So says entertainer Jeremy Hardy about a peace march through Jerusalem on Monday of last week.
A call has gone out to trade unionists to "Make May Day our day". The appeal is from former Labour MP Tony Benn, and Mark Serwotka, general secretary elect of the PCS civil servants' union. It slams New Labour's privatisation plans and anti trade union laws. It also points out how the government's war plans against Iraq are opposed by the majority of the population.
War criminal Henry Kissinger is planning to be wined and dined by corporate fat cats in London later this month. His visit has outraged the large numbers of people who know of the death and destruction Kissinger brought to hundreds of thousands around the world. The campaign to protest against his visit is gathering pace and involving a wide variety of people. On Sunday of last week some 30 artists gathered to make banners and puppets that will show the murderer and his friends what we think of them.
Steel boss Sir Brian Moffat has collected a 130 percent pay rise. This is the same man who sacked 10,000 steel workers. He grabbed £580,000 last year as the firm slashed a third of its workforce. David Morgan, a steel worker at Llanwern near Cardiff, told Socialist Worker, "This man has set in motion the meltdown of the entire industry. He wanted to impose a pay freeze on everyone who works here, but he is grabbing a fortune himself."
Man from Pru gets £18 million THE CHIEF executive of the Prudential insurance company has certainly made sure of his own future. Jonathan Bloomer could be in line for £18 million over the next three years. The pay deal is designed to give top managers "the necessary incentive" to improve the company's performance.
The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is encouraging every member who can to attend an unprecedented meeting in London this Sunday. It has booked the Palace Theatre, one of London's largest venues. "We've called a meeting for every member, rather than simply for delegates, so as many people as possible can debate and discuss the transformed political situation," says Socialist Workers Party national organiser Chris Bambery.
New Labour is having problems getting its campaign for the 2 May local elections up and running. "Going knocking on doors for the Labour Party is not a popular activity at the moment," said one Labour MP.
THERE WERE 15 people at the Marxist forum in Canterbury on Thursday of last week on "Israeli terror and the new intifada: can Jews and Arabs live in peace?" One of those there writes:
THE NAZI British National Party is standing 50 candidates in the local elections on 2 May. This is double the number of candidates it has ever stood before in a local election.
THOUSANDS OF people across Britain have taken to the streets to show their anger against Israel's military onslaught against Palestine. In London hundreds gathered outside the Israeli embassy, the US embassy and Downing Street nearly every day last week.
TEACHERS IN England and Wales are on course for a major conflict with the government. Their three TUC-affiliated unions, the NUT, NASUWT and ATL, all passed a joint resolution at their Easter conferences pushing for a 35-hour week and drastic cuts in workload.
Saturday 13 April Demonstrate for the Palestinian people. Assemble 2pm, Hyde Park, London, for march to Trafalgar Square.
Blowing the horn for refugees SOME 80 campaigners protested outside Dover Young Offenders Institution on Monday of last week. This was the day it was taken over by the Immigration Service to become Dover Removals Centre.
HOSPITAL BOSSES in South Durham crumbled in the face of a threatened three-day strike by medical secretaries last week. Bosses gave in to the women workers' demand for regrading. Workers accepted the deal at a mass meeting on Friday of last week. This is the second NHS trust to back down.
WORKERS AGAIN halted flights out of Manchester airport on Friday of last week when they began a 24-hour strike over pay and conditions. This was the latest in a series of strikes by 350 security workers at the airport against plans to introduce new security contracts that cut workers' wages and conditions.
A NATIONAL lobby of parliament by around 1,000 post workers was scheduled to take place this week. It came as heated arguments split the union's leadership over the response to the Post Office's announcement of mass job losses. The CWU union's top leaders support a deal to accept up to 30,000 job cuts as long as they are "voluntary".
"WE ASKED them nicely for a living wage and they replied with a big stick. We've got to take that stick off them and beat them with it." That's how young journalists on the newspapers in Greater Manchester owned by the Guardian Media Group described their decision to hold three two-day strikes over pay and derecognition.
Domestics and porters at Glasgow Royal Infirmary won a swift and important victory on Tuesday of last week over the multinational company Sodexho. Some 120 workers, members of the Unison union, walked out in a mass unofficial protest.
WE ARE building support across London for a yes vote in the forthcoming strike ballot over pay that will begin on Friday of next week. We could be out on strike on 14 May. There has already been a six to one vote in a consultative ballot by London council workers, who are members of the Unison union.
GOVERNMENT MINISTERS were "stunned" and their housing policy was "hurled off course" this week when Birmingham tenants voted by 67 percent to 33 percent against housing privatisation. This was a key test case for New Labour's policy of destroying council housing. The vote shows how the gut feeling that people have against privatisation can be mobilised and focused by a strong campaign.
One lasting memory of last July's massive protests at the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, was the sheer number of supporters of Rifondazione Comunista, the Refounded Communist Party. After the police killing of Carlo Guiliani the party's general secretary, Fausto Bertinotti, issued an appeal for every party member to get to the city to join the protest. Tens of thousands responded.
ONE OF the tricks played by the news media is to present events as if they can be explained by pictures of gun battles and two-minute interviews with spokespeople. Nine times out of ten this suits the oppressor, not the oppressed. It shows the resistance of the oppressed as "terrorism" and the actions of the oppressor as "peacekeeping".
The Guardian last Saturday tried to explain the decision by George W Bush and his advisers to reverse their previous policy and demand that Ariel Sharon pull Israeli troops out of the West Bank:
THERE IS a very simple reason why Arabs and Jews have been unable to live in peace together for the past 100 years, and it is summed up in the phrase "the Iron Wall". The Iron Wall is the title of Professor Avi Shlaim's exhaustive and brilliant history of Zionism. Jabotinsky, a right wing Zionist leader and fan of the Italian fascist Mussolini, coined the phrase in the 1920s.
Yasser Arafat's story mirrors that of the Palestinian people. He was born in 1929 into a middle class Palestinian family and spent his early years in Jerusalem which, like the rest of Palestine, was then under British rule. Jews and Arabs had long lived in Palestine, but tensions were increasing as the Zionist movement, which wanted to create a Jewish state in Palestine, grew in strength.
LEADERS ACROSS the Middle East are terrified that Israel's war on the Palestinians will provoke wide scale revolt. Representatives from Egypt and Jordan have pleaded with Bush to help them quell unrest by appearing to check Sharon's excesses. Anne Adams has just visited Egypt. She says the Arab rulers are right to be fearful of the pro-Palestinian movement.
EVERYONE IS wondering what will happen next in Argentina. It is a country where everybody is talking politics. Fifteen weeks ago a popular uprising overthrew the president, De la Rua. His successor was forced from office a week later. Since then the country has been run by a coalition of the two traditionally powerful parties, the Peronists and the Radicals. The coalition is presided over by the Peronist Duhalde. But this has not brought stability. Argentina has been hit by an economic crisis not experienced by any industrial country since the 1930s.
THE STAKES are rising in the rail industry. Three strikes last week showed the growing readiness of rail workers to fight the private bosses who run the fragmented industry. That is combined with a deepening hostility to New Labour, which continues to get thousands of pounds from the rail unions.
THE NEW film Bend It Like Beckham is a funny, entertaining look at multiracial relationships and football. Jess, a young Sikh woman, is obsessed with football, especially "that skinhead boy", as her parents call David Beckham.
WHY DID you write Fast Food Nation?
PAUL ROBESON Jr is presenting a new series, Lena Horne: A Force of Nature, on Radio 2. It looks at the black woman described as a living legend. The programme is great-a real musical feast, and much more. It describes the life of Lena Horne, the performer, artist and singer. There are real gems of information about the influence of the organised black middle class in the US.
The US government was trying to pose as a peacemaker in the Middle East last week. What a nerve. US Secretary of State and supposed "peace envoy" Colin Powell said he wouldn't even consider cutting back on the $2.7 billion the US government gives in "aid" to Israel every year.
How long to reign over us? Our headteacher called us all into the school hall one day and said she had something very grave to announce. King George VI had died. The whole nation was placed in mourning. Most people felt a high degree of reverence towards the monarchy, and as a mark of respect people didn't go out in the evenings.
Desmond's lies invade Express The Express under millionaire boss Richard Desmond has been at the forefront of whipping up anti-refugee feeling. It recently ran an article with the headline "Migrant Wave Swamps Tunnel". A picture appeared to show two refugees crawling through the fence near the Channel Tunnel terminal in France.
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