Dated: 16 Mar 2002
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The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has unleashed slaughter on the Palestinian people. Look at the pictures on this page. They show Israeli soldiers executing 23 year old Palestinian Mahmoud Salah on a Jerusalem Street on Friday of last week.
Fear and anger has swept the globe after the revelations of George Bush's latest warmongering plans. Leaks from the US military's Nuclear Posture Review show plans to use nuclear weapons against China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria and Libya. It seriously talks about more Hiroshimas, more Nagasakis, more wars which could destroy all life on the planet. And for Bush's gang it is now not a matter of if but when and how the war with Iraq will begin.
"We are falling into an abyss of murder and mayhem," the Sun newspaper screamed last week. The news is full of lurid stories about gun-toting teens and old people imprisoned in their homes by their fear of thugs. The right wing tabloids are demanding more police powers and more prisons.
Italian Prim Minister Silvio Berlusconi stands accused of letting more than 50 refugees drown when their ship sank off the ItaIian coast last week. The right wing Berlusconi is Tony Blair's closest political ally in the European Union.
Revelations about Gateshead's Emmanuel College shows where school privatisation leads. The college has been teaching fundamentalist Christian creationism and undermining the scientific teaching of biology. It hosted a conference on creationism last week, and senior staff have given lectures urging teachers to promote creationism instead of evolution.
Chris Woodhead, the former head of the Ofsted schools inspectorate, this week became the latest to try to profit from the government's drive to privatise our schools.
Will a multinational construction firm be given prime land and allowed to shut down a hospital to make way for building luxury flats and houses? New Labour health secretary Alan Milburn gave the go-ahead last month to the biggest Private Finance Initiative scheme in the NHS at east London's Royal London Hospital.
Safety campaigners are calling for an investigation into Shoreham dock, run by the Euromin firm, following a major fire there last week. The dock was where casual worker Simon Jones was killed four years ago. Last year Euromin and its manager, Richard Martell, were fined £50,000 plus £20,000 costs for breaches of health and safety law after Simon's death.
Up to 100 disabled people from Hackney, east London, held a successful rally and advice meeting on the steps of Hackney Town Hall on Friday of last week. We were protesting about the implementation of new criteria for qualifying for a "freedom pass", which enables disabled people to travel on public transport in London.
The Socialist Alliance's campaign is taking off across England in the run-up to the local elections in seven weeks on 2 May. The alliance is hoping to stand over 100 candidates in London and over 300 across England. The mood for a socialist alternative to New Labour was seen in Scotland last week. The Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Alliance's sister organisation, won 16 percent in a local by-election.
THE ISSUE of pay electrified the first day of the annual conference of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) held in Eastbourne last week. Successful strike action by workers at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus group of papers has been a major boost to the fight against low pay. Conference delegates greeted Sarah Walsh, a leading member of the Bradford NUJ workplace union chapel, with massive applause.
LECTURERS AND technical support staff in the Natfhe union at Southampton City College struck for the whole of last week over pay and increasing workload. There was bitterness on the picket line towards the college principal, who derecognised the union at her previous college.
UNISON UNION members in Cardiff council are balloting for action in support of a union activist. Cardiff council sacked worker Charles Faber after he spoke to the BBC about the council's lack of resources in children's services.
STRIKERS FROM all over Britain lobbied the national executive meeting of the civil servants' PCS union last week. They were representing 750 people who work in the government's trial Pathfinder scheme which merges job centres and benefits offices. They have been on all-out strike since at least last October.
MEDICAL SECRETARIES in Sunderland were out in numbers on the picket line on Tuesday of this week. They have escalated their action to a four-day strike. The 136 women NHS workers are determined to up the pressure on their trust bosses to put them on a higher grade.
LEADERS OF the CWU postal workers' union were set this week to recommend that workers accept a new pay offer in a postal ballot. The deal is a disgrace which will open the way to new assaults on jobs and conditions.
THE NAZI British National Party (BNP) hopes to make a historic breakthrough in the local council elections in seven weeks time on 2 May. Anti-Nazi activists are mobilising to stop it. The annual conference of the Anti Nazi League (ANL) was held in Manchester last Saturday.
SIR KEN Jackson, Tony Blair's favourite union leader and arch right winger, is being forced to fight an election for general secretary for the first time in seven years. "It's like a thunderbolt for Ken Jackson to be challenged by anyone to the left of him," says Willie Black, a member of the AEEU section of Amicus.
"IT'S FLEXIBLE working for the company, not for us. People are so fed up with it," said an MG Rover worker in Longbridge, Birmingham. Workers in the plant are voting this week in a ballot for action over pay and flexible working.
LIFT WORKERS employed by Otis, Britain's biggest lift manufacturer, began an national overtime ban last week over pay.
UNION LEADERS are to reballot hundreds of BT workers instead of calling the strikes the workers have voted for. Over 300 workers in the D&DS internal computer system support section of BT voted for action. They are opposing plans to hand them to contractor ComputaCenter. Transfer threatens workers' pay and conditions, and union organisation.
Train drivers on ScotRail struck on Wednesday of last week and on Monday, bringing services across Scotland to a halt. At the same time non-drivers on Arriva, which runs trains across the north of England, were preparing for action over Easter. This is part of their fight over pay.
POSTAL WORKERS in the CWU union will take to the streets in London on Saturday to say no to privatisation. Postcomm, the postal regulator appointed by government, has proposed that private firms should be allowed to grab almost half the mail in Britain from April.
Over 40,000 London teachers in the NUT union were set to strike for one day on Thursday of this week. This is the first strike by London teachers since 1972. More than 1,000 teachers have joined the NUT over the last few days in order to take part in the strike. They are joining the 41,000 NUT members who have already voted to strike by nine to one.
The only certainty about politics in Zimbabwe is that there is a stormy time ahead. Socialist Worker went to press before any voting figures had been announced for the presidential election. Whatever result is finally announced will be hotly contested by the losing side.
The racist far right has made a frightening breakthrough in local elections in Holland. Supporters of Pim Fortuyn, who put forward anti-immigration policies, took a third of the vote in the country's second city, Rotterdam.
George Bush's decision to impose tariffs (taxes on imports) on steel entering the US from abroad has shocked many people. The US government is central to "the Washington consensus" of "neo-liberalism"-the doctrine that says governments must not interfere with the free flow of trade, capital and profit. Yet it has done precisely that.
BBC4, the new digital channel, sells itself with the slogan "Everybody needs a place to think." But most of us will have to make do with the bathroom as our thinking place, because we certainly aren't going to see BBC4.
The US government is unleashing a flood of lies to pave the way for attacks on Iraq. We are told that Iraq threatens the world with weapons of mass destruction. But a US State Department official revealed four weeks ago that the US wants war even if Iraq allows weapons inspectors in. He said of discussions between Iraq and United Nations officials over inspections, "We will not take yes for an answer."
This month sees key battles in a largely unreported war over the future of one of the pillars of the welfare state. Tenants of Britain's two biggest landlords, Birmingham and Glasgow councils, will vote on New Labour plans to hand their homes to private housing companies. Thousands of tenants in Crewe are already voting in a similar ballot, and Bradford council tenants will also vote this month.
Why should we continue to fund those who support privatisation? Hundreds of trade unionists will be debating this question on Saturday at what promises to be one of the biggest rank and file trade union conferences for years.
DO YOU feel tempted to write a satirical novel about Blair's Britain, as you did Margaret Thatcher's Britain? I AM looking forward to writing that. It is where the sequel to my current novel The Rotters' Club is going. The horrible young Thatcherite in the new book will grow into a Blairite whizz-kid MP for a West Midlands constituency.
Socialist Worker sellers were out last week campaigning against Sharon's onslaught on the Palestinians. In just three days over 500 copies of Socialist Worker were sold on the streets in central London. In Kensington on a new sale nine sellers (including five new members) received a brilliant reception-160 copies of Socialist Worker were sold and four people joined the SWP.
ANTI-CAPITALIST protests are back on the agenda. After last month's 70,000-strong gathering in Brazil at the World Social Forum, thousands of protesters were set to hit the streets of Barcelona in Spain this week.
Around 150 activists from all over Europe met in Brussels, the Belgian capital, last weekend to plan a European Social Forum. This will be modelled on the World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The World Social Forum was a great gathering of the worldwide movement against global capitalism.
Two hundred medical students turned up to a meeting last week to hear George Galloway MP speak out over the war drive against Iraq. It was the first political meeting for years on a site of University College London where medical students at Guy's Hospital, south London, have lectures.
Union leaders exploded in fury at the Labour government last week. "The time has come for Tony Blair to stop bowing down to big business," said GMB union leader John Edmonds. Blair had launched a pamphlet on public services side by side with Chris Garnet. Garnet is chief executive of the GNER rail company and the brother of ex Tory health secretary Virginia Bottomley.
Don't give them more power I am appalled by recent comments from Mike Best, who is the editor of the Voice, a newspaper aimed at Britain's black people. He said that most black people would welcome the police increasing the number of stop and searches.
In our recent series on class we argued that the vast majority of people are working class. So who are the minority in the ruling class? Most of us rarely have any contact with this group of people. The papers run articles about the lifestyles of the super-rich.
Postwatch regularly pops up in the media as "the voice of the post user". It boasts particular concers for the interests of those "in rural areas", "the disabled" and "the poor".