Andrew Stone

Interview: Going from Bad to Worse

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The coming few months are crucial ones for all those opposed to war and imperialism, as Lindsey German explains to Andrew Stone.

What do you think we can expect from the elections in Iraq at the end of the month?

Nothing will fundamentally change as a result of the elections. If they go ahead - and it looks like they will - very large parts of the country will be effectively excluded. Sunnis in particular feel very disaffected and want to boycott. There are many other parties who've also called to delay the elections. And most of the people who want to go ahead are doing so because they feel that this will then put them in a position to tell the Americans to leave.

A Disaster Made So Much Worse

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Andrew Stone looks at the hypocrisy behind the tragedy.

Last June the UN's Oceanographic Commission discussed the danger of a giant tidal wave sweeping through the Indian Ocean. It concluded that the 'Indian Ocean has a significant threat from both local and distant tsunamis' and needs to set up a warning network like the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii. This was just the latest of many such proposals and the meeting broke up with no action resolved. Tens of thousands of lives were thus abandoned to the elements for the sake of the £5 million the system would have cost.

The Drag Factor

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'We accept an interest in people's health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business.' Who might have made such an altruistic statement of intent? A health food store? A bicycle company? Well, no. This was the Tobacco Industry Research Committee.

To be fair to them, that was 50 years ago. Since then the devastating health effects of smoking have become ever more apparent. According to The Tobacco Atlas by Judith Mackay and Michael Eriksen, cigarettes kill half of all lifetime users. So there are half a billion people alive today who will eventually be killed by tobacco.

Fair Trade: The Premiums on Profits

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Has Nestlé finally joined the ranks of the fair trade movement?

Last month Socialist Review reported the widespread criticism of the food multinational for its refusal to do just that. Within a matter of days proposals emerged to produce 'ethically aware' brands by both Nestlé (maker of Nescafé) and fellow coffee roaster Kraft (which makes Maxwell House and Kenco).

Blue Velvet

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The post-Soviet world is still waiting for the promised freedom and democracy.

Fifteen years ago, East and West Germans proved the pessimists wrong. With a mixture of joy and relief, they pulled down the Berlin Wall, and with it the edifice of the Soviet empire. Stalinist tyranny, which had seemed so immovable, disintegrated. It was the most rapid transformation of Europe since the First World War.

Homophobia: Heaven and Hell on London's Streets

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When Nazi nail bomber David Copeland blew up the Admiral Duncan pub in 1999, barman David Morley escaped with minor burns. Last month he was murdered in what the police treated as a homophobic hate crime.

He and a friend were brutally beaten on London's South Bank on 30 October. Six others - five men and one woman - were hurt in assaults by two youths within a 15-minute period. Several of the victims were walking to Waterloo from Heaven, a gay nightclub near Charing Cross.

Some Mother's Son

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'Cocky, aloof and arrogant' was how the Guardian described him. 'A preening male chauvinist pig' was the opinion of the Independent on Sunday's editorial. A Tory columnist summed him up in just four letters that sadly never made it onto Radio 4.

And if Sir Mark Thatcher's contemporaries shed no tears at the news of his recent pyjama-clad arrest, or for the theft of his shoes, jacket and mobile phone from his prison cell, how much more the rest of us laughed. How sweet it was to hear of just a little discomfort experienced by someone who is not just the heir of the most vindictive prime minister in living memory, but who has repeatedly traded on that ruthless reputation for his own enrichment.

Going through the Motions

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Andrew Stone questions the claims of some dubious representatives of the Iraqi working class.

Rarely have a people been so patronised as the Iraqis. They want us to bomb them, the shock and awe liberals told us, they will greet us with flowers. And when this didn't happen? They want us to stay, Blair's bombers insist, despite all poll evidence and a rising tide of resistance suggesting the contrary.

Earth from the Air

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Review of photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, and Birmingham Victoria Square

Yann Arthus-Bertrand's photographic portrait of our planet, Earth from the Air, has been shown in 52 cities since its launch in 1999. This open air exhibition contains a range of stunning images from over 100 countries. Each image has a story to tell - most with ecological or social themes, which when viewed collectively present the ecosystem and our relationship to it in all its complicated glory.

A Ring and a Prayer

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Forget Glastonbury, the Olympics and the Edinburgh Festival: the real event of the summer had no need for sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

The Silver Ring Thing, the virginity cult born in the Bible Belt of the US, recently came to sermonise to British kids about the evilness of sex. Because obviously none of our self-appointed moral guardians have thought of that before.

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