I RECENTLY attended a press conference at Birmingham Town Hall to announce the result of the council housing sell-off ballot. On my way in a press officer, power dressed in the way that only New Labour types seem to think looks good, asked me to sign the book of condolence for the Queen Mother.
The US government was trying to pose as a peacemaker in the Middle East last week. What a nerve. US Secretary of State and supposed "peace envoy" Colin Powell said he wouldn't even consider cutting back on the $2.7 billion the US government gives in "aid" to Israel every year.
The Guardian last Saturday tried to explain the decision by George W Bush and his advisers to reverse their previous policy and demand that Ariel Sharon pull Israeli troops out of the West Bank:
ONE OF the tricks played by the news media is to present events as if they can be explained by pictures of gun battles and two-minute interviews with spokespeople. Nine times out of ten this suits the oppressor, not the oppressed. It shows the resistance of the oppressed as "terrorism" and the actions of the oppressor as "peacekeeping".
The British media has absolutely sickening priorities. Newspapers have filled page after page with "tributes" to the Queen Mother. The TV and radio programmes at first ditched part of their schedules. There has even been a ridiculous spat over the BBC's "loyalty" to the royal family because a news presenter wore a burgundy tie instead of a black one.
"The mother of all bank holiday protests." That is how the Independent described the plans for protests in London on 1 May. The article reflects the constant alarm in the press about anti-capitalist protests.
The Queen Mother was a racist snob who excelled in extravagant living. Amid all the grovelling, hypocritical tributes paid to her this week, here are some facts to remember. The Queen Mother referred to black people as "nig-nogs" or "blackamoors". She backed white minority rule in Rhodesia. She criticised Lord Mountbatten, viceroy of India, "for giving away the empire" and his wife because "her mother was half-Jewish".
The Oscars won by black actors at the recent Hollywood awards have opened up a huge debate about race in the US. Some of the press claimed the Oscars were a sign of the progress black people have made.
The US has a new bestseller-and it's not about wars, Marines, or the glories of the US. In fact, it's about Stupid White Men, and especially one stupid, white man, George Bush. The author is US writer and film, maker Michael Moore.
Sacha Baron Cohen has always walked a razor's edge between satire and reaction. In his new film he has come down on the side of reaction. My first warning of this came from one of the black students I teach at college. He announced that Ali G was a fool, but then added quietly that when he saw the film in the West End he felt people were laughing at him.
IT WON'T just be George Bush choking on his pretzels after the events of last week. Three months ago Bush, Blair and their media supporters were declaring victory after victory.
Tony Blair took time off from the Barcelona summit to attack TUC general secretary John Monks for criticising his alliance with Silvio Berlusconi. "A large part of Europe's centre left take a more modern view of this," he said. Blair had proved the modernity of his own outlook two days earlier. During question time in the House of Commons he defended the creationist gang who are imposing a medieval view of the world on their pupils at Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead.
I had the misfortune of going to see Mel Gibson's latest movie, We Were Soldiers, last week. It depicts the first major battle in Vietnam between the US army and the Viet Minh in 1965. Lines in the film like "I'm glad I died for America" will have you reaching for the sick bag.
Union leaders exploded in fury at the Labour government last week. "The time has come for Tony Blair to stop bowing down to big business," said GMB union leader John Edmonds. Blair had launched a pamphlet on public services side by side with Chris Garnet. Garnet is chief executive of the GNER rail company and the brother of ex Tory health secretary Virginia Bottomley.
George Bush's decision to impose tariffs (taxes on imports) on steel entering the US from abroad has shocked many people. The US government is central to "the Washington consensus" of "neo-liberalism"-the doctrine that says governments must not interfere with the free flow of trade, capital and profit. Yet it has done precisely that.
BBC4, the new digital channel, sells itself with the slogan "Everybody needs a place to think." But most of us will have to make do with the bathroom as our thinking place, because we certainly aren't going to see BBC4.
Some 20,000 people joined an anti-war march through London last Saturday. How right they were to protest has been underlined by events in the last week. First Tony Blair cheered on US president George Bush's plans to launch a new war against Iraq. Then the war in Afghanistan erupted in some of the heaviest fighting yet seen.
Anyone who was on last Saturday's 20,000-strong demonstration will have been delighted at the size of it. It showed that there is an impressive movement ready to oppose the warmongers and their threats against new targets, especially Iraq.
Imagine some New Labour minister, press puppet or government geek steps up at a press conference and makes a statement: "Our job in education has always been seen as raising standards. This remains absolutely and unequivocally our policy. To bring this about, many ways have been tried-hiring extra staff, putting money into schools in areas where there is poverty, and supporting children with special needs, whether those are due to deprivation, disability or speaking another language. Sometimes what's been tried is ending the way children are selected for this or that school, or this or that stream. The idea here was that we would treat school students as people who would discover their
If you sacrifice public interest for private sector gain you have to bury bad news every day. That simple truth lies at the root of the row surrounding transport secretary Stephen Byers. The media and mainstream parties are focusing solely on the tale of who said what to who.