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Europe: Enter at your Peril

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Tony Blair's government was due to announce the result of the Treasury's 'five economic tests on the euro' on 9 June, after bitter rows within New Labour.

We have come a long way since the Tories seemed to have a monopoly on being torn apart by arguments over the euro and Europe. Labour's official policy is that it will call a referendum and then argue for entry if it is 'in Britain's economic interest to do so'. The problem is that this supposedly 'economic' judgement on the five tests is in fact also about politics. And there are three deep splits behind the reluctance either to decisively reject the euro or to leap into the unknown of a referendum.

Prisons: Locked in a Crazy System

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The rooftop protests at Wealstun and Maghaberry prisons in June - although relatively minor and isolated - are expressions of a deeper, more general malaise gripping Britain's jails.

The prison population is growing at such a rate that the system is struggling to cope. It is currently 7,000 over capacity. The scale of the crisis has provoked dire warnings from organisations as diverse as HM Inspectorate of Prisons, the Prison Officers Association and the Prison Reform Trust.

Palestine: No Sign of Justice Yet

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Has US victory in Iraq set the scene for a revival of the misnamed Middle East 'peace process'? Although both Israeli and Palestinian governments have agreed to abide by the 'road map' peace plan, the chances of this latest round of negotiations producing lasting peace are very slim.

Many of the reasons lie in the 'road map' itself. The document sets out a three-phase plan for achieving 'a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict'. May 2003 was the target date for the completion of the first stage, which envisaged sweeping reforms of the Palestinian authority, including the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister for the first time, the dismantlement of all Israeli settlement outposts erected since May 2001, and an 'end to violence and terrorism'.

Education: Time to Teach Clarke a Lesson

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Education minister Charles Clarke's idea of school life as a 'magical experience' is not one that many school students - or their teachers or parents - would recognise.

His vision of education as a narrow instruction in the needs of big business lies behind both his attack on 'irrelevant' medieval history and his obdurate defence of Standard Attainment Tests (Sats).

Northern Ireland: State Sponsored Murder

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'A service to be proud of' declares the Police Service of Northern Ireland website. The RUC may have been renamed, but the 'service' this force provides is one of which only sectarian bigots can be proud, as the recent Stevens report concluded.

That collusion existed between Loyalist paramilitaries and the RUC is no surprise to anyone familiar with the British state's role in Ireland, but to read the clipped tones of one of its high ranking officers spelling it out is a revelation.

Israel: On a Road to Nowhere

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Yasser Arafat's appointment of Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister, and the acceptance of his demands for the make-up of the cabinet, have removed George Bush's last remaining excuse for not publishing his 'road map' for the Middle East peace process.

But while the hackles of some Zionists will inevitably be raised by the semantics of the deal, this is not a process designed to deliver the Palestinians the justice they have long fought for.

Iraq: Buried Beneath the Headlines

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While launching its witch-hunt against anti-war Labour MP George Galloway the 'Daily Telegraph' used the opportunity to 'bury' or ignore other news stories of considerably more significance.

The most important of these was the statement by the head of the UN weapons inspectorate Hans Blix that the US and Britain had used 'shaky' evidence, including forged documents, as a pretext for making war on Iraq.

Between the Lines

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Arms fair - BBC objectivity - US bosses and sugar

The sixth International Defence Exhibition and Conference took place in Dubai as war in Iraq was breaking out. The arms fair brought together some of the world's largest weapons manufacturers, mostly from Britain and the US. Visitors could browse stalls selling everything from guns to warplanes. They could also visit a firing range to try out the new weaponry, maybe watch a live demonstration...in nearby Iraq.

G8 Protests: Streaming into Evian

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On 1 June George Bush flies to 'old Europe' to meet the other seven 'great powers' at Evian in the French Alps at the G8 summit meeting.

In his mind's eye no doubt he comes as conqueror--in reality he will be flying into a few problems. Hundreds of anti-war activists and campaigners met at the end of April to ensure that Bush and the other warmongers will get a 'warm' reception.

Local Elections: 'Labour's Membership Has Gone Underground'

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'Many people have left the Labour Party. There are also large numbers who have let their membership lapse. In east Dorset, where I come from, there are only five Labour candidates put up for 34 seats. I have actually registered as Dorset Stop the War and we are fielding ten candidates.'

So said Damien Stone, a former Labour councillor who is standing in the local elections on 1 May. Some 10,000 seats are being contested, yet despite newspaper reports of a postwar surge in support for Blair and New Labour there are plenty of signs that they will face a difficult night on 1 May.

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