DIDN'T YOU feel sorry for Stella Rimington, that selfless public servant, who has been ostracised by the British establishment for telling us about her struggle to preserve freedom and democracy against the forces of darkness? The Guardian last week tried to hook us on its serialisation of Rimington's MI5 memoirs of how she "tracked, trailed, bugged and burgled some of the most ruthless spies, drug-runners, subversives and terrorists of her generation". Rimington was the first woman to head MI5 and the first security service chief to be named in public.
THE SPEECHES by union leaders at and around the TUC this week were among the angriest and most confrontational ever under a Labour government. It was not an industrial issue like wages or a single piece of legislation like a proposed anti-union law which was in the spotlight. It was the whole relationship between trade unions and New Labour.
SURPRISE AND, at least initially, euphoria greeted the agreement on Zimbabwe's future that was struck last week in Abuja, Nigeria. President Robert Mugabe's government quite unexpectedly agreed that it would stop illegal seizures of white-owned land.
THE DEVASTATING attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the US have seen politicians and press unite to denounce those responsible as "evil terrorists" with no regard for "the sanctity of human life".
HUNDREDS OF Albanian football supporters travelling to watch their team play England in a World Cup qualifier were banned from entering the UK last week. Were these football hooligans intent on causing trouble? No.
"THE WORST is yet to come." They were the words of a City economist as British manufacturing industry was officially declared to be in recession. Figures released this week showed the biggest fall in manufacturing output for a decade.
I DO sometimes wonder whether someone as successful as Tony Blair can really be as stupid as he often seems. The Financial Times carried an astonishing article last week that plainly came straight from the great man himself:
"FOR THE past ten to 15 years we've been asleep. I hope we are once again awakening." These are the words of Gillo Pontecorvo, who at the age of 82 was one of the oldest protesters in Genoa.
Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee spent 1,200 words last week attacking the Socialist Alliance. That she had to do so is a sign of the resonance the Socialist Alliance is getting among thousands of people. Toynbee is a staunch defender of New Labour, although she sometimes criticises aspects of its policies.
The other day I heard George Robertson, secretary general of NATO and British defence secretary during the 1999 Balkan War, say, "We didn't wage war over Kosovo in order to replace ethnic cleansing by Serbs with ethic cleansing by Albanians."
Foot and mouth disease has dominated the press and TV for the last week. The disease is highly infectious, and action is needed. But it is not like BSE, mad cow disease, which passed to humans with devastating consequences. There is little risk to humans from foot and mouth disease. No one is likely to die or even get ill.
Turkey has become the latest country to fall victim to the whirlwind of financial speculation. A huge outflow of money forced the government of Bülent Ecevit to announce on Thursday of last week that it was allowing the Turkish currency, the lira, to float freely on the foreign exchange markets. Within two days the lira had been devalued by 36 percent.
New Labour's ten-year crime programme, released on Monday, was full of "get tough" policies. It centred on 2,500 new prison places, 9,000 more police, allowing juries to see details of a defendant's convictions during a trial, and an army of private security guards backing up the police.
"The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonalds cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas. The hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US army, air force, navy and Marine Corps."THOMAS FRIEDMAN, right wing US journalist
Labour's spring conference in Glasgow last weekend was a chance to see what is going on at the heart of the Labour Party. It brought together 3,000 Labour members from all over Britain to hear a series of speeches and, for all practical purposes, to hear the leadership launch the election campaign.
A trial judge at Newport Crown Court recently claimed there was no racial motive in the horrific murder of Jan Marthin Passalbessy on 20 June 2000. This was despite hearing evidence that the four killers convicted of the murder had called their victim "nigger" and "black bastard" during the attack.
Nuclear weapons were suddenly back on the political agenda this week. They were in focus because of the determination of protesters at Faslane, and because the government is ready to do the bidding of the US and spend billions more on new missiles that could destroy the earth. The outcry against nuclear weaponry runs deep. At the Faslane protest police arrested over 370 people, including Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan, Labour MP George Galloway and Green MEP Caroline Lucas. Nuclear weapons show Labour's priorities.
I'm sure I'm only one of many thousands of anti-capitalist activists who bitterly regret having missed the World Social Forum (WSF) at Porto Alegre. At the end of last month 12,000 people from all over the world packed the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul to attend this event. It was planned as an alternative to the bosses' shindig in Davos, the World Economic Forum.
What a delicious week! The fallout from the Human Genome Project has quite simply shattered the central claim of those who say human behaviour is determined by our genes. Even sweeter is that among those who have disproved this notion are the very people who have been its champions.
You can tell an election is on the way. Last Monday's Guardian signalled that Gordon Brown is planning a £3 billion package aimed at families with children. Some believe there's more to this than just the usual hustling for votes. Roy Hattersley argues the New Labour project was already dead before Peter Mandelson's fall: