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:
New Labour was falling apart last weekend. The leaders of the project that was supposed to have transformed politics for all time were tearing each other apart. New Labour's sleaze is a result of the way it has sold itself to business, put company chiefs at the centre of decision making, and allowed firms to rake in profits from the NHS.
There is a new sense of fightback in the air. Workers' anger at job cuts, planned factory closures, rotten pay deals and long working hours runs deep. In some areas it is beginning to bubble over. Last Saturday's demonstration against General Motors shutting down the Vauxhall car plant in Luton showed that spirit.
Africa over the past generation has proved to be a tragic continent, plagued by war, famine and the AIDS epidemic. Perhaps no country sums up this tragedy more starkly than the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), whose president, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated last week.
The case of the "internet twins" has provoked cries of outrage from politicians and press alike. The tabloid press have portrayed the Kilshaws, the British couple who bought the six month old twin girls on the internet for £8,200, as eccentric and unfit parents. The twins' biological mother has been called "shameful" and "grasping". The Kilshaws may not be particularly appetising people. He is a well-off solicitor and belongs to a far right fragment, the Democratic Party. But most people who are desperate for children are not like this. The same politicians and newspapers that have been in uproar over the "internet twins" have helped create a situation that drives such people to
Every day this year a new scandal explodes and fuels the bitterness people feel with New Labour. This week millions of people were sickened by the shocking picture of bodies dumped on the floor of a hospital chapel because cost cutting meant the mortuary was closed.
George W Bush's inauguration this weekend may not go according to plan. "Bitter Protests May Mar Bush's Coronation", the Financial Times predicted last Saturday.
The widely touted 1980s revival should send shivers down everyone's spine. Jason Donovan and The A Team were bad enough first time round. So was the fear that a madman in the White House might trigger a nuclear war (out of forgetfulness or plain fanaticism).
Just two weeks after the Christmas holiday period we can already see the coming together of the issues that will dominate British politics for the next four months. The main parties are shadow boxing in expectation of an election in May. But on the ground there is growing opposition to the policies they agree with each other on.
There is a growing sense that different struggles around the world are closely connected. The Palestinian intellectual Edward Said recently wrote that the new intifada against Israel "is another example of the general discontent with the post Cold War order (economic and political) displayed in the events of Seattle and Prague".
Any day now I'm expecting someone in the culture business to tell us that history is the new rock & roll. It's everywhere. One moment it's Simon Schama in his History of Britain series, standing on the battlements, the next it's Tony Robinson and the Time Team in a ditch.
PRESS REPORTS this week claimed that Tony Blair was waiting for one crucial endorsement before he could think about launching a general election campaign. It wasn't from a union leader or a pensioner or a student, or any of the people New Labour promised to help in 1997.
"WE'VE had a good run. Enjoy it while it lasts because you cannot always expect it to be as good." So warned Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England, just before the new year. He spoke as a mood of deep gloom was spreading among the world's capitalists at the thought that the US boom of recent years might be collapsing. The Financial Times reported:
A FORMER spy for the British secret service and a product of the establishment has written a brilliant novel that rails against the power of multinationals. John Le Carré is best known for books of British and Russian government intrigue during the Cold War like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.
THE economic boom is passing millions of workers in Britain by. That is the conclusion of a study in the Financial Times this week. For some people this is proof that there is a growing "north-south divide" in Britain.
An outbreak of Loyalist in-fighting in Northern Ireland hit the headlines this week as two Loyalists were killed and British troops were returned to the streets.
"The great movement which began in Seattle has grown massively." That's the verdict of Todd Chrétien of Socialist Worker's US sister organisation on last week's demonstrations outside the Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles.
KOSOVO. THREE men in a car hurl a grenade at a group of children playing basketball and then speed off.