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We Were Soldiers and the battle for Hollywood


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.

Look to new alliance not the old enemies


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.

The US breaks its own rules


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.

Boxing off the proles


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.

After protest build bigger movement


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.

Fury with warmakers


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.

Mike Rosen on Tests, tales and failure


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

The good reasons to bury liar Byers


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.

Is there worse still to come?


There is a debate going on among establishment economists over the recession that hit the US last year. Many of them claim that it is already over. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve board (the US central bank), told a Senate committee last month that economic activity was "beginning to firm".

An audience with Tony Benn


"This is not political – this is entertainment," said the man who refused my leaflet for the Stop the War demo. Then as if to confirm his point the tannoy system announced, "The Tony Benn show will start in five minutes."

March next week against Bush's war


George Bush has lit the fuse for war on Iraq, a war that will kill thousands of innocent people. Next weekend is your chance to protest against this rush to mass murder. The bombing of Afghanistan has been horrific, killing more civilians than died in the World Trade Centre. War against Iraq will be far worse.

Critics slam US war drive


Amid the uproar caused by George W Bush's "axis of evil" speech, one voice has not been raised in criticism-that of Tony Blair. Bush's apparent extension of the "war against terrorism" to include Iran, Iraq and North Korea caused outrage in the European Union (EU).

EastEnders, but with jobs


IT IS rare for a television drama to be set in an ordinary workplace. Clocking Off is, and has attracted audiences of around 11 million. This is the third series of the award-winning BBC drama set in a Manchester textile factory.

MMR debate


I am the father of two young children, one five, one nearly two. After some anxiety, my partner and I decided they should have the MMR vaccination. I believe that was the right choice, and that scientific evidence supports that view. But I can equally well understand why many, many parents do not trust MMR or government advice about it.

The insult that won't go away


"Tony Blair talks about public sector workers putting scars on his back, and then calls us wreckers. I think public sector workers should be a boil on Tony Blair's nose." Julie Pih, a Rochdale homecare worker, is furious with the government, especially after Blair's "wreckers" insult. She is one among millions. Julie was one of the delegates who expressed their anger at last week's Unison women's conference.

Trading under African skies


Tony Blair has been strutting around abroad again, posing as the saviour of the world. This time Africa has been the victim of his attentions. When Blair pledged to "reorder the world" at the Labour Party conference last October he claimed to have Africa especially in his sights. He called the continent a "scar on the conscience of the world".

We need deeds to match the words


"I am under pressure from rank and file members of my union to disaffiliate from the Labour Party." That was the message from Dave Prentis of Unison to his fellow union leaders last week. Both Unison and the GMB union have launched big advertising campaigns in response to Blair's "wreckers" insults. They rightly point out that public sector workers are not wreckers.

This is end of the truce


The rows at Labour's spring conference in Cardiff last weekend signal the end of the truce between the government and certain union leaders that has existed since 11 September. Remember the morning of that day? Delegates were gathering at the Trades Union Congress and preparing for a huge battle over public services. Tony Blair was to speak, and union leaders were lined up to condemn privatisation and savage the government's priorities.

Unreserved judgement


I guess readers of this paper were delighted to read that 50 reservist Israeli army officers had refused to serve in the West Bank. They have signed a petition saying, "We will not fight beyond the Green Line Israel's 1967 border with the West Bank in order to rule, expel, destroy, blockade, assassinate, starve and humiliate an entire people."

Who pulls Labour's strings?


The scandal surrounding the collapse of giant US corporation Enron is coming closer to the heart of New Labour. The party received £36,000 from Enron after coming to office in 1997. As Socialist Worker reported last week, a string of meetings between ministers and Enron bosses followed.

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