Dated: 03 Nov 2001
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As Blair demands support for US war Picture of slaughter At last this week some sections of the British press gave a glimpse of the real horror of the war on Afghanistan. The Mirror, the Herald and the Daily Record showed pictures of the slaughter in Kabul when Gul Ahmed and his seven children were killed. Two youngsters were also killed in a nearby house.
New Labour finally caved in to pressure over one of its key policies towards asylum seekers this week. The home secretary, David Blunkett, announced the government is planning to scrap the voucher scheme that forces refugees to live off just £26.54 a week, plus £10 cash.
The Scottish legal system was slammed as incompetent and racist by two official reports last week. The reports gave damning evidence of the way the police and courts failed to bring justice to the family of a young Sikh murder victim in Lanarkshire, Surjit Singh Chhokar.
Patients are waiting longer than ever to be seen in hospital accident and emergency departments. That is the shocking state of the NHS after five years of the New Labour government, according to official figures released last week. Health secretary Alan Milburn's equally shocking response was to signal a major drive to privatise healthcare in Britain.
A brutal massacre carried out by a death squad. That is the only way to describe the Israeli army's attack on the Palestinian village of Beit Rima last week.
The rising opposition to this war has forced itself even into sections of the mainstream media. That should encourage everyone to redouble their efforts to build the anti-war movement.
Some 1,700 people marching through Sheffield, 2,000 demonstrating in Glasgow, 500 on a Preston march, around 1,600 at a public meeting in Birmingham. Those are just a few of the anti-war protests that have taken place in the last week.
"The fact is that, whether the government likes it or not, the people of this country remain distinctly unconvinced that bombing the hell out of Kabul will stop Bin Laden carrying out more atrocities." Those words were part of a Mirror editorial on Monday of this week which voiced growing doubts about the war.
Medical secretaries in Glasgow have won a brilliant victory. The 300 low paid hospital workers, all members of the UNISON union, won because they were prepared to stand up and all take indefinite strike action. The all-women workforce refused to be cowed by a management that issued threats and treated them as second class.
Post Office management suffered another humiliating blow last week when an employment tribunal ordered bosses to reinstate sacked worker Mick Doherty and pay him £15,000 compensation.
The strike for safety in job centres around Britain is hitting New Labour. The government is so worried about the effects of the strike that Tony Blair had to meet PCS leaders on Monday of this week.
Strike action by workers at Scottish Power and Manweb has been postponed again after management made a new offer. This was due to be put to a meeting of stewards from the AEEU, GMB, and TGWU unions on Thursday of this week.
THE PAY dispute in DEFRA, the former ministry of agriculture, entered its tenth week at the beginning of this week. A rolling programme of regional strike action, an overtime ban and a work to rule are starting to break the resolve of management.
Jeremy Dear has been elected as the new general secretary of the NUJ journalists' union. In the final count Jeremy got 3,437 votes, a clear victory over his nearest rival Bernie Corbett, who ended with 2,159 after transfers from other eliminated candidates had been taken into account.
Council Housing campaigners are stepping up their fight against New Labour's plans to sell off council houses across Britain. This comes after New Labour minister Stephen Byers' recent announcement that councils will be able to borrow money to improve their housing stocks.
Around 100 angry social services staff in the UNISON union stormed into Brighton and Hove City Council HQ on Wednesday morning of last week, and occupied the office of the director of social care and health.
Protesters have launched a campaign against racist treatment of asylum seekers by the US multinational Wackenhut. Under new arrangements asylum seekers within a 25-mile radius of the new Salford "reception centre" must report on the hour. Activists lobbied the reception centre on Thursday of last week.MARK KRANTZ
A virtual who's who of the music industry took to the stage last week at Madison Square Gardens and other venues across New York. They came together to raise money for the victims of the 11 September tragedy. This was no moving tribute. It was a carnival of reaction.
The number of people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia living on $1 a day or less leapt from seven million to 24 million from 1990 to 1998. That is the backdrop to the conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the Gulf state of Qatar next week.
"This is the beginning of the rebirth of the left in the Middle East." That is how a Lebanese socialist describes the atmosphere surrounding a major anti-capitalist conference taking place next week. For many, Beirut summons up images of shootings, kidnappings and seemingly endless civil war.
'The thought would turn my stomach. I will not talk to people who murder indiscriminately." That is how then Tory prime minister John Major responded in parliament on 1 November 1993 to suggestions that his government should talk to representatives of the IRA. Similar words about "not conceding to terrorists" came from every British prime minister in the previous two decades of conflict in Northern Ireland. But as Major spoke eight years ago, his government was already in secret discussions with IRA leaders.
Rock band Pulp have returned to form with their new album We Love Life, rediscovering the radicalism of their fantastic 1995 album, Different Class. Different Class propelled Pulp to the top of the charts, with anthems like "Common People" and "Disco 2000".
"We made it as part of the Media Workers Against the War contribution to the anti-war camp. It's 25 minutes long and made up of interviews and footage of speeches such as at the first stop the war meeting of 2,000 people at Friends Meeting House in London. People who couldn't go to that meeting or who don't live in London can begin to get a sense of the Stop the War Coalition. The video outlines the basic arguments against the war-on humanitarian grounds, it's illegal, counterproductive and it is leading to a worsening of the situation."
The war in Afghanistan has produced a torrent of maps in the media. The British Library's current free exhibition couldn't be better timed. Under the brilliant punning title "The Lie of the Land", it shows how the rich and our rulers have used maps.
Support for Bush and Blair's war against Afghanistan is ebbing fast. Tony Blair tried to claim that the bombing was "moral" in his speech to the Welsh assembly on Tuesday. But what is moral about slaughtering hundreds of people through aerial bombardment?
David Blunkett has finally been forced to accept that the government can't control people smoking cannabis, so he has had to make concessions. Stamping down on drugs hasn't worked. New Labour have now reclassified cannabis from a category B drug to a category C.
Capitalism produces war. But what produces capitalism? Isn't it just greedy human nature? That is certainly the view of human nature our rulers would like us to accept. But it scarcely explains how people behave under capitalism, let alone under different societies.
Suddenly the US government doesn't seem so keen on promoting big business use of patents. It threatened to override the patent on the antibiotic Cipro if its German manufacturer, Bayer, did not cut the price. Cipro can be used to treat some anthrax infections.