Dated: 10 Nov 2001
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Pretence of 'smart' bombs abandoned Now they just blast the lot The US began carpet-bombing Afghanistan with B-52 bombers last week. It is a tactic straight out of the US war on Vietnam over 30 years ago. It exposes Bush and Blair's claims that this war would be different, using "smart" bombs.
Socialist Worker supporters raised £10,453 last week towards our appeal for funds. The total is now £119,662, over halfway towards our target of £200,000. That money is vital to continuing our anti-war coverage.
Over 5,000 people marched through London last Saturday in protest at the way the world trade system works against poor people and the environment. The demonstration was young-about half were under 30 and a significant number under 20. It was also very lively and angry. Sara Henderson, a 17 year old from Walthamstow in London, told Socialist Worker:
Major mobilisations against the war were due to take place across the world this weekend and next. In Italy three days of action described by the Il Manifesto newspaper as "against the war and the World Trade Organisation" were planned, culminating in a national march in Rome.
Strikers in the government's new Pathfinder job centre and Benefits Agency offices are continuing their determined action. New Labour has launched attempts at strikebreaking and union busting. Around 2,500 civil servants in the PCS union are on all-out strike against the government's plans to remove screens in the new amalgamated offices. Screens are important for staff supplying benefits because of the increased harshness of the government's system.
Postal workers across much of east London poured out in an angry unofficial strike on Tuesday. By midday workers at the giant EDO mail centre in Whitechapel, and at offices in Bethnal Green, Hackney, Homerton, Bow, Clapton, Poplar and elsewhere, were out in a brilliant act of solidarity with strikers at South Woodford.
Council workers in Newcastle have been boosted in their fight to beat off threats of privatisation. One of the key companies involved in the privatisation has pulled out.
Up to 150 members of the UNISON public sector workers' union met in Manchester last weekend to launch UNISON United Left. The organisation brings together all those on the left within the union, and represents a significant step forward. There were speakers from Sefton, where union members have won a victory in a fight over care home closures, and from the Glasgow medical secretaries' strike.
Stewards reject deal Shop stewards at Scottish Power have rejected management's latest offer. However, the new offer will be put to a ballot of union members. The workers, who are members of the AEEU, GMB and TGWU unions, have been fighting management's plans to transfer workers in the "wire business" to a new company.
Furious medical secretaries in Glasgow have walked out again on indefinite strike action after management reneged on their recent offer. The 300 secretaries, all low paid women workers, had unanimously voted to suspend their strike two weeks ago.
Anger is bubbling among Stagecoach bus workers, who face long hours and low pay while the company reported an operating profit of £197.8 million earlier this year. Over 100 Stagecoach workers in Hastings went on a one-day strike on Friday of last week to fight a management-imposed 3 percent pay rise. The workers, members of the TGWU union, had demanded a 10 percent rise and a reduction in shift hours.
The Socialist Alliance is to contest a by-election in Ipswich. The parliamentary seat was made vacant by the recent death of Labour MP Jamie Cann.
Job cuts and pay cuts for us, bonanza for the bosses. That's the reality of what's happening across Britain as the recession gathers pace. Thousands more workers learned last week that they face the dole. Tens of thousands more were told their pay will be cut. Yet Britain's bosses were celebrating a year of record pay rises, and City money men cheered as shares in many firms pushing through job and pay cuts surged upwards.
US and British government representatives will make decisions this week which will kill poor people as surely as they are doing in Afghanistan. The key votes will come at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar. This is a meeting designed to defend and extend the multinationals' stranglehold on production and trade.
Gordon Brown's speech to the Confederation of British Industry last Sunday attracted media attention because it hinted that Brown was more hostile to Britain joining the euro than Tony Blair. This latest move in a tediously long-running saga that obsesses the chattering classes diverted attention from a much more interesting question-what happened to "no more boom and bust"?
"It was necessary to destroy the town in order to save it." They were the words of an American major in 1968 after the US military demolished the town of Dentre in South Vietnam. The same crazy logic that was used to defend the Vietnam War is being used again today.
The movement against the war is spiralling. Even the mainstream media feels forced to reflect the growing opposition to Bush and Blair. Meetings and protests took place in cities and towns across Britain last week. All were focused on raising the anti-war banner locally, and mobilising single-mindedly for the mass national anti-war demonstration in London a week on Sunday.
George W Bush and Tony Blair say they are waging war against "terrorism" and for "democracy" and "civilisation". In private their language and motives are very different. Long before 11 September the US state was clear that its real aims are those of global military and economic dominance.
"Saudi Arabia is a good and dependable friend to the civilised world." That is how Tony Blair referred to the West's key ally in the Middle East last week. The US is desperate to maintain that relationship with Saudi Arabia during the war on Afghanistan.
German socialist Karl Liebknecht stands out as one of the most inspirational figures in the history of the socialist movement. He spent much of his life on the extreme left of the Social Democratic Party, the German equivalent of the Labour Party, before breaking from it and helping to found a revolutionary organisation.
Software Giant Microsoft launched the latest version of its Windows software on 25 October. Sting played a special gig in New York to launch Windows XP. London's Royal Festival Hall was booked for the European launch. Behind the hype Windows XP highlights Microsoft's obscene rush for profits. Company founder Bill Gates is already worth £41 billion-over £6 for every person on the planet. His company reckons that Windows XP can increase that even further.
The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker is a powerful set of novels based around the real experiences of individuals during the First World War. Regeneration begins in Craiglockhart Military Hospital. It is the job of army psychologist Dr Rivers to rehabilitate officers who are shellshocked. The high profile poet and officer Siegfried Sassoon has been sent there because he has publicly denounced the war.
The war against Afghanistan has been going badly for the US and its allies. Every day last week brought news of another setback for Bush and Blair. Tony Blair's tour of the Middle East to shore up support for the "coalition against terrorism" was a complete fiasco.
I will be on the anti-war demonstration in London on 18 November, and I hope there are tens of thousands of others who will be as well. This is not just some routine march. I really feel that this is a crucial moment for all of us to do something about the war.
The media is playing a key role in the war. Almost all the mainstream media have churned out endless pro-war coverage, routinely repeating government propaganda. But how powerful is the media in persuading people to accept this message? Exactly that question was posed at a local anti-war meeting I attended last week.
New light was shed on the connections between big business and the US government in an article in the Guardian last week. It exposed the activities of the Carlyle group-or what it dubbed "the ex-presidents' club".