Dated: 15 Dec 2001
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Chaos in Afghanistan 1 in 3 children in Britain live in poverty
New Labour is to pour public money into grammar schools in a move that John Major's Tory government would have been proud of. The government's schools minister Stephen Timms made the announcement last Sunday.
Socialist Worker asks our readers to send cards, letters or messages of support to people who are unjustly locked up in prison this Christmas. Among the miscarriages of justice are:
Some 700 council workers in the east London borough of Waltham Forest struck for 24 hours on Tuesday of last week. The action, by workers in the social services department, was against cuts planned by the Labour council, and in defence of jobs. There were good picket lines, and a lobby of the council was planned for this week.
Around 1,000 people demonstrated in support of the Palestinians and against the Israeli state when former US president Bill Clinton visited Glasgow on Monday. Clinton was in the city to raise money for the Jewish National Fund, a Zionist organisation.
Many strikers in the Pathfinder offices are angry and disappointed about their national leaders sending the majority of them back to work on Friday of this week. Because every striker received 85 percent strike pay the PCS's strike fund was drained.
Around 150,000 postal workers were waiting this week to find out whether they would start ballots for a national strike for better pay and against job losses linked to privatisation.
Around 80 workers in Ashfield council walked out of work for 20 minutes on Monday in protest at the sacking of a fellow worker. Kevin Shillitto was sacked over a timekeeping matter, without even so much as an informal warning before being dismissed.
A thousand people marched in Birmingham last Saturday against the war. The march was organised by Birmingham Trades Council and supported by the Stop the War Coalition. A rally heard speakers from a range of organisations and campaigns. Later Artists Against the War held an inspiring social with African drummers and visual projections.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside a meeting of Islington council in north London on Monday against plans for a new Arsenal football club stadium. The proposals are about big business trampling over the needs of ordinary people.
Students and Revolution, a lively conference organised by student members of the Socialist Workers Party, took place in London last weekend. Around 180 students signed up for the event, which included rallies and workshops.
Tens of thousands of civil servants were due to strike this week. Behind the strikes is a fight to stop government attacks on the welfare state. Workers in benefits offices and job centres across Britain were set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday, after PCS union members voted 16,770 to 14,659 to strike against the government's decision to remove safety screens.
Over 1,500 power workers in Scotland, Merseyside and North Wales struck for two days this week. They are fighting for job security and decent conditions against their Scottish Power bosses.
A series of reports into the background to riots in the north west of England earlier this year were released on Tuesday, as Socialist Worker went to press. Days earlier home secretary David Blunkett had told journalists that immigrants must try to be more "British" and that they should "accept our norms".
"A war on the public sector." That is how GMB trade union leader John Edmonds described New Labour's new plans to send NHS patients for treatment in private hospitals or abroad.
Tony Blair attempted to spread New Labour style festive cheer last week by declaring the success of the government's Rough Sleepers Unit. The unit claims the number of people living on the streets has been reduced by 71 percent over the last three years.
"Nobody knows if they will have a job tomorrow or when they will be paid. People are almost paralysed by fear." This was what an Argentinian psychologist told journalists last weekend. No wonder. Argentina, an industrial country that once boasted a living standard as high as that of Italy, has been hit by an economic crisis.
Charles Clarke, chairman (unelected) of the Labour Party, last week declared his love for the US under George W Bush. In his youth, he admitted, "I was a strong opponent of the foreign policy of the US," and campaigned over issues such as US support for fascist states in Greece, Spain and Portugal, US support for dictatorships in Latin America, and the use of US troops in Cambodia and Vietnam.
"Top of the world, Ma!" shouts James Cagney at the end of the movie White Heat, just before he blows himself to smithereens. George Bush could cry the same now, having seen the Taliban crumble beneath US air power.
Residents woke just after midnight to the dull sound of the Apache helicopter gunships swooping low across the city. Without warning bombs suddenly began ripping into buildings, factories, offices and residential districts.
It is clear to anyone who looks around the world today that religious ideas still retain huge influence among millions. Why do people still look to religion, and what attitude should socialists take? Religion "is the opium of the people" is one of the most famous quotes from Karl Marx.
Baby Boy is the latest work from John Singleton -the maker of the film Boyz 'n the Hood, made in 1991. With an all black cast, the movie is aimed at a black audience. Singleton says Baby Boy is his version of "What's Goin' On". However, unlike the song by Marvin Gaye that challenged 1960s America, this movie is described by its maker as "like watching the soul of a black man on screen".
Alem is 14. He is both Eritrean and Ethiopian, and Eritrea and Ethiopia are at war. Alem's father finds that his family is unwelcome in either country. He brings Alem to Britain and leaves him there, where he thinks he will be safe. The book follows Alem as he gets to grips with England, the weather and the immigration system. He suffers many major setbacks.
Recent polls by Waterstones and other bookshops found that Lord of the Rings was the most popular book of the 20th century. The book (or three books) has stayed in print for almost 50 years and sold more than 50 million copies.
"George Bush's war is the opportunity of a generation to cut jobs without the risk of strikes." This is what top managers at British Airways (BA) have written in a secret document, obtained by the Observer, as they prepare to axe 10,000 jobs. This is on top of the 7,000 redundancies they have already announced. It is one sign of how rotten the system is that Bush and Tony Blair have gone to war to defend.
The Taliban surrender of the last city they controlled last week was, according to Tony Blair, a "total vindication" of the two-month US-led war in Afghanistan. But it is not any justification for George Bush and Tony Blair's claims to be leading the world to greater liberty and prosperity.
Wrong strategy to take on PFI Health Secretary Alan Milburn's announcement that private company BUPA is to be given a key role in the NHS has shocked many health workers. It was also cynically timed to overshadow the TUC's Positively Public rally against privatisation in central London on the same day.
The escalation of violence in the Middle East over the last two weeks has led to calls for the leaders of Israel and Palestine to sit down and resume peace negotiations. The Mirror's front page on Tuesday of last week showed pictures of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Arms manufacturers will find their profits are safe under New Labour's Export Control Bill, which was debated in parliament recently. Many campaigners hoped that the legislation would herald the end of arms sales to military regimes.