THE EVENTS of 11 September in the US changed the world. George Bush used the tragic deaths of over 3,000 people killed in the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon to "rally the world against international terrorism" by announcing that "you are either with us or you are with the terrorists".
THE RAIL network stands on the brink of yet another fatal disaster, despite reassurances from rail bosses and the government following the Hatfield crash in November 1999. The entire system is in an even worse state than it was before that crash. That is the conclusion of one of the few top managers at Railtrack who has any great experience of the industry.
The report on Oldham, whose economy centred on textiles, goes some way to acknowledging how racial segregation has happened over the last three decades. It describes how in the 1960s mill owners found it harder to "recruit people for anti-social work such as night shifts.
Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, is holding Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hostage in his own home. And the US backs this to the hilt. Israeli tanks surrounded Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday of last week. They were still keeping him trapped as Socialist Worker went to press.
Residents woke just after midnight to the dull sound of the Apache helicopter gunships swooping low across the city. Without warning bombs suddenly began ripping into buildings-factories, offices and residential districts.
It is clear to anyone who looks around the world today that religious ideas still retain huge influence among millions. Why do people still look to religion, and what attitude should socialists take? Religion "is the opium of the people" is one of the most famous quotes from Karl Marx.
Commentators like Polly Toynbee in the Guardian praised Gordon Brown's pre-budget statement last week for its "admirable next phase of increases for the poor".
The Socialist Alliance in England held its biggest ever conference in London last Saturday. Nearly 700 people came together to discuss how to turn the Socialist Alliance into a more effective, outward looking organisation. The day kicked off with an anti-war rally. There was an enthusiastic reception for guest speaker Gennoro Highore from the left wing Communist Refoundation in Italy.
Just how bad is the economic situation?
It is very, very serious indeed. You have for the first time in 20 years a simultaneous downturn in all three major sections of the advanced capitalist world. That is a recession in the US, a recession in Germany and across continental Europe, and a recession in Japan.
We saw the pictures of the victims of the 11 September suicide attacks. We heard the stories of their lives and glimpsed the pain of their relatives.
We may never know how many women have been blown to pieces in Afghanistan by B-52s and cluster bombs. That has not stopped Laura Bush and Cherie Blair proclaiming that their husbands' war in Afghanistan is motivated by the high ideals of women's liberation.
Remember the military briefings and media headlines at the start of the war. All the talk was of "smart weapons"-supposedly infallible Cruise missiles and precision "bunker-buster" bombs.
Do you think ordinary people are being told the truth about the war in Afghanistan?
Far from it. This is clear from material that emerged in the US recently. A lot of the military operations have been exaggerated, lied about and totally faked as a public relations exercise.
US Defence Secretary William Cohen claimed during the Balkan War two years ago that 100,000 Albanian men of military age were missing, adding, "They may have been murdered." The media, and even some people on the left, dutifully repeated the wartime propaganda.
Sections of the US media are trying to create a climate where the FBI and CIA can get away with torturing anyone they accuse of terrorism. Jonathan Alter, a columnist on Newsweek magazine, wrote earlier this month, "In this autumn of anger even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to torture." He added that he was not necessarily advocating the use of "cattleprods or rubber hoses"-only "something to jumpstart the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history".
The packed lecture hall could have been anywhere in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in similar meetings, counter-conferences and teach-ins to build an international anti-capitalist movement. What was crucial about the World Forum on the WTO in Beirut in Lebanon last week was that for the first time the anti-capitalist movement had come to the Middle East.
What happened on 11 September was a historic event-not, unfortunately, because of its scale. It is unpleasant to think about, but the scale was not that unusual. It's a historic event because there was a change in the direction in which the guns were pointed.
HAWAII, 1893: seizes by force.
Three decades ago a mass movement against the Vietnam War shook the US ruling class to its core. At its height 750,000 people marched in Washington and 100,000 in London. The growth of that movement holds vital lessons for the struggle against the US-led war on Afghanistan today.
In 1995, in the first wave of local elections after the end of apartheid, he was elected as an African National Congress (ANC) councillor for Pimville in the giant township of Soweto near Johannesburg. He served for four years, and was then suspended for speaking out against privatisation.