Dated: 17 Nov 2001
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Their bloody record 1960-75 Vietnam: two million dead
"Our Friends." That's how US president George W Bush describes the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Britain's defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, says the Northern Alliance "are not nearly as bad as people have been suggesting".
War upon war, horror upon horror. That is what faces not only the long-suffering people of Afghanistan, but millions of others across the globe if the most powerful capitalist state in the world, the US, has its way.
Steelworkers are deeply saddened that three men died at the Corus plant in Port Talbot, South Wales, last week. Stephen Galsworthy, 26, and Andrew Hutin, 20, died instantly when tons of molten iron which was superheated to 1,000 degrees centigrade burst through the walls of the plant's number five furnace. Another man, in his fifties, died later.
Speculation was growing this week over who would be the next first minister of Scotland after the resignation of Henry McLeish. His downfall began in April when it emerged that McLeish had claimed full expenses from the taxpayer on his constituency office as a Westminster MP. At the same time he had been subletting it to private firms.
Socialist Worker, Britain's biggest selling left wing newspaper, has launched an appeal for £200,000. In just nine weeks our supporters have donated £131,516. Recent events have shown how important Socialist Worker is. There are the war in Afghanistan, the growing economic crisis, and New Labour's continuing attacks on ordinary people across Britain.
Global media owner Rupert Murdoch is cheering on the war in Afghanistan and at the same time attacking his own workers in Britain. Murdoch owns top Hollywood film company 20th Century Fox. Last week he was one of the movie executives invited to a meeting initiated by George W Bush to discuss how companies could help the war on Afghanistan with their films.
Hundreds of British Airways workers lobbied parliament last week demanding government action over the jobs crisis hitting the airline. The lobby was organised by the TGWU union. It was addressed by the union's leader Bill Morris and a string of Labour MPs. BA is cutting the equivalent of 7,000 jobs, and has held back a promised Christmas bonus of a week's pay for its 36,000 workers.
Armed government agents seized the coordinator of the Green Party in the US, Nancy Oden, as she boarded a plane in Bangor on the east coast of the US two weeks ago.
East London postal workers showed last week how to deal with managers who bully women workers. They struck in large numbers and forced a humiliating climbdown by the bosses. Up to 2,000 workers struck unofficially on Tuesday of last week in solidarity with workers on strike at South Woodford. At that office a woman worker had been reduced to tears by the verbal assault of a manager.
Workers who make egg cartons for the Omni-Pac company in Great Yarmouth staged their second one-day strike on Wednesday of last week. The 114 workers, members of the TGWU union, are striking against the imposition of new contracts which mean they could lose up to £40 a week.
Thousands of Inland Revenue workers in the PCS union held a flexi-protest over pay on Wednesday of last week.
"I have nothing to lose. If I have to live in one of those detention centres again they might as well kill me."
Workers at Scottish Power and Manweb are to be balloted this week on management's latest offer.
Around 100 people attended the National Civil Rights Movement annual general meeting last weekend. Kwesi Menson, the brother of Michael Menson, Sukhdev Reel, the mother of Ricky Reel, and Doreen Lawrence were among the many relatives of victims of racism who spoke at the event.
The No Place in Burnley for the BNP campaign was launched at a press conference last week in the run-up to the council by-elections set to take place on Thursday 22 November. A representative from Burnley Football Club signed up to the statement, as well as local trade unionists, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors, clergy, residents, and a visitor to Burnley who was a refugee from Nazi Germany.
Over 2,500 people marched in Leicester in a local demonstration against the war last weekend. Peace groups, trade unionists, Muslim organisations, socialists and others united in one of the biggest demonstrations in Leicester for years.
"We've beaten the bosses twice!" That was the reaction of medical secretaries in Glasgow this week as their indefinite strike action forced management to back down for the second time. The 300 medical secretaries, all low paid women workers, have shown how determined and all-out action can win. Last month, after just two days of indefinite strike action, the workers had appeared to win a victory when bosses struck a deal that conceded to their demands to be put on a higher grade.
Over 1,000 people attended a marvellous meeting in east London last week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO). TELCO is a coalition of faith, school and community organisations as well as trade union branches, working together for social justice. The meeting, entitled "Solidarity in action", was packed with a range of strikingly diverse people.
Community psychiatric nurses in Manchester are furious to hear that they are to be downgraded.
Over 400 people turned out for three and a half hours of debate, discussion and videos last week around the theme of "The case against the WTO", organised by Globalise Resistance.
Hundreds took part in the first ever strike by workers in the private gas company Transco on Wednesday of last week. Around 650 workers are involved in the dispute over pay.
Stagecoach bus workers in the north east of England held another one-day strike on Monday of this week to force the company to increase their pay. The workers in Teesside, Hartlepool and Darlington are due to be joined by fellow workers in the AEEU union who maintain the buses.
Council workers in Bradford are set to strike for half a day on Wednesday of this week. The strike comes after council workers, members of the UNISON union, voted to strike by 64.5 percent. Some 78.5 percent voted yes for action short of strike action.
Print workers at John McCormick's printers in Glasgow have won a victory. The management backed down after the 13 GMPU print union members had agreed to escalate their action from one to two-day strikes.
Council tenants on the Langley estate in Middleton, Rochdale, are fighting against the transfer of their homes to fat cat landlords. Langley is a Manchester City Council overspill estate. The council is trying to con tenants to vote in the ballot to transfer to a housing association.
Workers at British Energy are scheduled to take strike action on Monday 19 November, after voting overwhelmingly for action over pay. If the strike action goes ahead, it will hit Britain's biggest nuclear power producer.
Over 75,000 workers in job centres and benefit offices are being balloted to join a strike by 2,500 fellow workers across the country. It could be the biggest challenge from public sector workers that New Labour has faced since 1997.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his Liberal-National (Tory) coalition won the general election last Saturday, giving him his third term in government. Even in August few people were predicting Howard could win. His government was deeply unpopular. It had driven through massive attacks on workers, privatisation in the benefits system and education cuts. His supporters claim his popularity increased because he opposes refugees and is a vocal supporter of the US war on Afghanistan.
Despite the repression they suffer from the Taliban, Hilla says all women in Afghanistan oppose the US bombings:
Remember the military briefings and media headlines at the start of the war. All the talk was of "smart weapons"-supposedly infallible Cruise missiles and precision "bunker-buster" bombs.
Do you think ordinary people are being told the truth about the war in Afghanistan? Far from it. This is clear from material that emerged in the US recently. A lot of the military operations have been exaggerated, lied about and totally faked as a public relations exercise.
US Defence Secretary William Cohen claimed during the Balkan War two years ago that 100,000 Albanian men of military age were missing, adding, "They may have been murdered." The media, and even some people on the left, dutifully repeated the wartime propaganda.
Sections of the US media are trying to create a climate where the FBI and CIA can get away with torturing anyone they accuse of terrorism. Jonathan Alter, a columnist on Newsweek magazine, wrote earlier this month, "In this autumn of anger even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to torture." He added that he was not necessarily advocating the use of "cattleprods or rubber hoses"-only "something to jumpstart the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history".
The packed lecture hall could have been anywhere in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in similar meetings, counter-conferences and teach-ins to build an international anti-capitalist movement. What was crucial about the World Forum on the WTO in Beirut in Lebanon last week was that for the first time the anti-capitalist movement had come to the Middle East.
What happened on 11 September was a historic event-not, unfortunately, because of its scale. It is unpleasant to think about, but the scale was not that unusual. It's a historic event because there was a change in the direction in which the guns were pointed.
HAWAII, 1893: seizes by force.
Three decades ago a mass movement against the Vietnam War shook the US ruling class to its core. At its height 750,000 people marched in Washington and 100,000 in London. The growth of that movement holds vital lessons for the struggle against the US-led war on Afghanistan today.
In 1995, in the first wave of local elections after the end of apartheid, he was elected as an African National Congress (ANC) councillor for Pimville in the giant township of Soweto near Johannesburg. He served for four years, and was then suspended for speaking out against privatisation.
"Are you a socialist?" I asked a fellow speaker at an anti-war rally the other day. I knew the answer was yes. The speaker had taken the whole of his time exposing the dreadful gap between the world's rich and poor, between the handful of billionaires on the one hand and the "world pining in pain" on the other. He had said more than enough to convince me that he didn't believe these frightful facts were caused by accident or sent by god. On the contrary-they were connected. The poor are poor because the rich are rich, and vice versa.
The horror of the war has become clear in just the first few weeks. No one knows the precise course it will take. It is by nature unpredictable. But opposition to the war is developing internationally, and in Britain has already gone further than in the last two major US-led imperialist wars-in the Gulf in 1990-1 and in the Balkans in 1999.
Here in Ipswich in Suffolk we're campaigning in the first by-election since the general election in June. I'm standing again for the Socialist Alliance. In the general election the main plank of our campaign was opposing privatisation. Now it is opposing Bush and Blair's war.
Anji Hunter, a key aide and personal friend of Tony Blair, is set to become oil company BP's director of communications. She has just left her £120,000 a year post as New Labour's director of government relations.