Dated: 24 Nov 2001
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The warmongers aim at new victims The US is preparing to attack more countries even as the chaos and horror in Afghanistan unfold daily. "There are 40 to 50 countries which harbour terrorists and which could be targeted for diplomatic, financial or military action," said US vice-president Dick Cheney last week.
BT has thrown down the gauntlet to its workers' CWU union. BT completed its termination of the contracts of 279 London engineering workers last week. BT plans to close its FirstCall division next March, where over 1,000 permanent BT staff have been redeployed after cuts elsewhere in the company.
Workers at a south coast factory are furious at the company's plans for compulsory redundancies, and also at their AEEU union leaders' pathetic response. BOC Edwards in Shoreham-by-Sea is part of the major BOC company. The factory employs some 700 workers, mostly AEEU members.
Journalists at the Independent newspapers were celebrating an astonishing vote in their fight for union rights. A whopping 99.6 percent of journalists at the Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers voted yes to union recognition in a ballot. Eighty percent of all staff eligible to vote turned out.
Over 350 people joined a march in Edinburgh against privatisation on Saturday of last week. There was a strong delegation of over 100 postal workers, a group of medical secretaries who have just won a major battle against low pay, civil servants and others.
Workers at the world's biggest fish and chip shop chain, Harry Ramsden's, went on an eight-hour strike two weeks ago for better pay and conditions. The strike involved 40 workers at Harry Ramsden's in Guiseley, near Bradford. The workers are members of the TGWU union. They held a lively picket line outside the restaurant holding placards saying, "We want a batter contract."
In three weeks time tens of thousands of people are planning to join major protests in the Belgian capital, Brussels. The protests will focus anger at the job losses mounting right across Europe as global recession bites. And they will also voice fury at European leaders' backing for the US-led war on Afghanistan.
Tony Blair, George W Bush and their media cheerleaders are hailing "liberation" in Afghanistan. But the record of the Northern Alliance forces which took control of much of the country last week is every bit as bad as the Taliban regime the West is out to crush.
Anti-war demo sweeps London Even the mainstream media was forced to acknowledge Sunday's marvellous anti-war demonstration in London. TV news and papers had to carry images of the tide of people from all over Britain who poured on to the streets. Yet alongside those images almost all the media repeated the absurd police claim that only 15,000 people had joined the march.
Where could ordinary people be arrested and locked up indefinitely without a trial and without being told the charges against them? Britain, under home secretary David Blunkett's new anti-terrorism laws. It exposes the "democracy" Britain and the US claim they stand for around the world.
Tony Blair was cheered when he spoke at the Labour conference of taking action over the "slums of Gaza" and stressed that "the Palestinians must have justice". Yet during the war on Afghanistan Blair and Bush have allowed the Israeli state to launch a new and bloody reign of terror against the Palestinians.
The official figures admitted last week that unemployment is rising. The count which the government prefers (the number of people claiming benefit) rose by 4,300 to 951,000.
"Coming just a day after the advances in Afghanistan, it signals the determination of the world's community to fight terror with trade, as well as arms." These are the worlds of Patricia Hewitt, New Labour's trade and industry secretary, celebrating the outcome of the World Trade Organisation meeting last week in Doha, Qatar.
"We experimented with the futures of thousands of children all for the sake of free market dogma. And the experiment failed." Education minister Stephen Timms did not admit that last week. But he should have as he announced that Education Action Zones are to be phased out.
The national ballot of 75,000 job centre and Benefits Agency workers in the PCS union was delayed last week due to technical difficulties. The new ballot will now start on Wednesday of this week, ending on Monday 3 December. The 75,000 workers are being balloted to join a strike by 2,500 civil servants across Britain.
OVer 1,000 striking council workers attended a rally in Bradford on Wednesday of last week. The workers struck for the day against Bradford's Tory/Liberal coalition council, which is pushing privatisation through.
The opposition to the Nazi British National Party (BNP) in Oldham, in Greater Manchester, stepped up last week with the launch of the Coalition Against Racism.
Backstage staff at the Royal Shakespeare Company, based in London, have voted to take strike action at Christmas. The workers, members of the BECTU union, voted by nine to one in favour of strikes.
Supporters of the Socialist Alliance have been out campaigning on the streets of Ipswich in the run-up to the parliamentary by-election which was to take place on Thursday of this week. It is the first by-election of Labour's second term. Local campaigner and former builder Peter Leech is standing for the Socialist Alliance. Peter's campaign has centred round opposing the war in Afghanistan.
Thousands of students have demonstrated for free education across Britain over the last two weeks. The National Union of Students (NUS) has organised regional rallies to call on the government to reintroduce grants.
Around 160,000 postal workers will soon start a strike ballot over pay. The CWU union's deputy general secretary, John Keggie, announced the move at an anti-privatisation rally in Edinburgh on Saturday. Basic starting pay for a delivery postal worker is as little as £145.66 per week before tax. The top basic pay is £242.76 before tax outside London. Even with the maximum inner London allowances, the basic pay is a maximum of £291.58 a week before tax.
A spirited march of 5,000 people took place in Ottawa, the hastily chosen site of the slimmed down summit of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, on Saturday of last week.
About 250,000 striking engineers took part in a national demonstration in Rome, Italy, last week. Strike action shut dozens of major workplaces up and down the country. Officially, the strike was over a £10 a month pay increase, but in the highly politicised atmosphere of Italy it was about much more than getting a pay rise in line with inflation.
Harold Macmillan, the Tory prime minister of the late 1950s and early 1960s, put me off Anthony Trollope. He said that reading the Victorian novelist was his favourite pastime, and that was enough to create a reading block.
J K Rowling's bestselling series of books based upon the adventures of an 11-year old wizard, Harry Potter, have become a worldwide phenomenon. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has sold over 100 million copies in over 46 languages.
The new film Gabriel and Me is set in Newcastle against the backdrop of derelict shipyards. The story revolves around Jimmy Spud and his family. Jimmy's ambition is to become an angel to "save people from the intolerable burdens society places on their shoulders".
A new video from the US called 9.11 produced by Indymedia is now available. It is an alternative insight into the immediate response of New Yorkers to the events of 11 September and to the threat of US military retaliation. It begins the very next day after the attack, where the people of New York gather in Union Square to share experiences.
I am Somali woman living and working in London who decided to join Health Workers Against the War. I took that decision after my seven year old daughter came home from school and said it is not right that poor children should be bombed in Afghanistan. If only Bush and Blair had the same morality as a child!
The US and British bombing of Afghanistan has unleashed a bitter scramble for power between rival military commanders, mostly based on different ethnic groups. Each of them has support from the competing states which border Afghanistan. This will create turmoil. Some people see the United Nations (UN) as being an independent force that can help bring peace to Afghanistan. But any UN intervention will be Western destruction in another guise.
Clare Short announced a £20 million package to help poor countries "engage in the World Trade Organisation" during its meeting in Qatar last week. Trade minister Baroness Symons claimed this was a "package of new measures".