I CAME face to face with the global ruling class last week. Along with others from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, I was sitting in the annual general meeting of Britain's biggest corporation, BP. We became BP shareholders to protest at the company's role in Colombia. Alongside the protest, the event shattered the myths that supporters of capitalism push about how their system works.
LONDON AND Glasgow are not yet Rome and Barcelona. Nor is Britain yet seeing the kind of militant industrial struggle witnessed in the Italian general strike on Tuesday. Italian workers are fighting the government of Tony Blair's right wing friend Silvio Berlusconi, who is pushing through a major attack on workers' rights. But Britain is not immune from the mood of resistance.
ONE MOMENT summed up for me the enormous tensions that George W Bush's administration is creating with its support for Ariel Sharon's reign of terror in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. US Secretary of State Colin Powell spent a week dawdling around the world before arriving in Israel on his supposed "peace mission".
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.