Columnists

A Very Special Relationship

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Pat Stack's world exclusive on that affair.

The tabloids have been full of it, the eyes of the world have watched aghast, everyone is talking about it, but here - for the first time - one of the couple tagged the 'text bombers' tells us exclusively about the affair.

Stack on the Back: Tony, can I ask you how the affair started?

Tony Blair: It was funny really, because when I first met him I hardly noticed him - I was very much in love with Bill at the time. But as you know, Bill walked out of my life and there was this void, and suddenly George was there.

Urban Solitude and the Mobile Phone

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There are two sides to the communication revolution, as Mike Gonzalez explains.

Standing in baggage reclaim at Luton airport the other day, it struck me that almost everyone around me had taken out their mobile phone. The 'William Tell' overture vied for space with 'A Little Night Music', while everyone spoke at a rising volume to be heard above all the other people speaking at the same time. What was the urgency? From what I could overhear there were two basic conversations: 'I'll be out in a minute - I'm just waiting for the bags' was one. The other just announced a safe arrival.

The Clash of Fundamentals

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Finding the right response to neoliberalism is not always straightforward.

A comrade recently took issue with a short piece I wrote in Socialist Worker about the overthrow of Aristide in Haiti. He recognised that I was adamantly opposed to the entry of US troops and to the takeover of key cities by armed right wing groups that preceded it. But he claimed I failed to see that the whole opposition to Aristide was the work of the Haitian bourgeoisie and the US government.

The Pentagon as Global Slumlord

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US military planners are discovering that slums are the new centres of resistance.

The young American Marine is exultant. 'It's a sniper's dream,' he tells a Los Angeles Times reporter on the outskirts of Fallujah. 'You can go anywhere and there are so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are.

'Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies. Then I'll use a second shot.

'To take a bad guy out', he explains, is an incomparable 'adrenaline rush'. He brags of having '24 confirmed kills' in the initial phase of the brutal US onslaught against the rebel city of 300,000 people.

Time to be More Awkward

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Tony and Gordon's public pay policy problem

Before the Little Bliar set off to put an Easter tan on his flawless conscience in Bermuda, he must have thought that things weren't going too badly, all things considered. The fact that he was still in the job was little short of a miracle in itself. Then the Iraqi people go and decide to mount a major uprising on the first anniversary of the start of the war and back home three major trade union disputes rear up all at once.

Watch for the Googly

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Many people who work in computing find the fact that millions of people continue to use Microsoft's ubiquitous email service Hotmail a constant source of frustration and surprise.

Not only does it seem particularly prone to spam, but it has limited storage capacity and Microsoft has been accused in the past of passing email details onto other companies.

However Microsoft's near monopoly almost guarantees people will use its email service, and if they don't Microsoft makes it hard for them. The only type of web email that Windows' built-in email reader Outlook Express can automatically configure is - you guessed it, Hotmail.

Hostage to Misfortune

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The Guantanamo detainees are as much hostages as Terry Waite was, argues Pat Stack.

Hostage tragedy, hostage farce. That was the only way to describe the antics of the last few weeks.

Despite the appalling treatment that has been dished out by the US towards the hostages at Guantanamo Bay, the British tabloids have been happy to carry any old hogwash the US State Department may throw at them about those recently released British citizens. They were all Taliban and Al Qaida according to the Sun, relying directly on US information issued in retaliation for those hostages describing the horrors of the camp.

Sects, Lies and Virile Monks

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The history of decadent, out of touch rulers should worry Tony Blair, writes
Mike Gonzalez.

Listening to Blair's Churchillian blast at Labour's spring conference was a peculiarly unpleasant experience. As usual, he mobilised his two good old standbys - moralism and fear. Like Canute, Blair stood resolutely on the beach looking out across the water and commanded the waves to turn back. This was a man so obviously lying to himself and others - so obviously acting a part - that not even the toadies and sycophants lined beaming along the front row of the hall could have believed a word of it.

Jumping Off the Bandwagon

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Mike Davis assesses the options for the left in the coming US elections.

Is the Pentagon too small, the war on terrorism too meek, and the Department of Homeland Security too underfunded?

John Kerry thinks so. In recent days he has repeatedly attacked the Bush administration for failing to put sufficient troops in the field or move aggressively enough against Al Qaida and North Korea.

Why Numbers Matter

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Secondary picketing could have won the 1984-85 miners' strike.

Most press coverage of the 20th anniversary of the miners' strike has been pretty crass, turning it into nothing much more than a glorified punch-up. There was plenty of violence, of course, mainly courtesy of Maggie Thatcher's boot boys - entire regiments of coppers shipped into mining villages with ruthless instructions to spare no quarter. But the main reason for the eventual defeat of the miners a year later was that the tactics adopted by the miners 12 years earlier - in the fantastic strike of 1972 - were not replicated.

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