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Still Producing Hot Air

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'Green Monday', went the Downing Street spin last month as Tony Blair introduced the government's new energy white paper. Unfortunately there was enough hot air in it to power a turbine.

The media headlines were filled with a government commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This waste product--caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal--is one of the major causes of the 'greenhouse effect'. This warming of the earth's atmosphere produced a 0.6°C average temperature rise last century, and this could increase by a further 6°C by 2100-- leading to devastating floods, hurricanes and droughts--unless urgent action is taken. Unfortunately, the white paper was vague on urgent action.

International Protests: The Next Step to Stop the War

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Where do you go when you've brought 2 million onto the streets?

That's the challenge facing the anti-war movement in the weeks following the great international protests of 15 February and as we face an increased build-up to war. The Stop the War Coalition hosted an international meeting of anti-war activists on 1 March to discuss this question, which called for a rolling programme of activity.

Between the Lines

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Kansas creationists - Over 7 million pay too much for mobiles - Amazon.com recommends anal sex to Christians

In the US state of Kansas a 'one size fits all' answer for school children makes scientific controversy a thing of the past. In response to religious right challenges, if a child asks why scientists and ministers disagree on the age of the earth, how the Grand Canyon formed, or whether light was refracted before Noah, the curriculum tells teachers to give the simple reply 'just because'.

Firefighters: Reignite the Anger

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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is committed to two 48-hour strikes from 28 January and 1 February should talks with the employers set to take place in January fail.

The government is determined to impose the attacks that are contained in the Bain report, released shortly before Xmas. The report suggests large job losses and attacks on conditions and fire cover as the future for the fire service. The solid strikes before Xmas along with a high level of popular public support points the way to a firefighters' victory. With the employers still appearing set on taking a hard line, and with many firefighters angry and determined to achieve a decent pay rise, this is a dispute that is far from over.

Anti-War Demonstration: A Day to Change the World

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In a time when politicians and advertisers have devalued the word 'historic' to another piece of hyperbole, 15 February looks set to reclaim it with full force.

On that day hundreds of thousands of people will protest in London against war on Iraq. As if potentially the largest demonstration in British history was not remarkable enough, it takes place as part of an international day of action encompassing millions of protesters in 57 cities as we go to press.

The scale of the mobilisation has forced the media to acknowledge 15 February in a way that it has not done for a demonstration in years. This has included a Guardian leader column and an active campaign and petition by the 'Daily Mirror'.

Tube: Problems Underground

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Years of underfunding combined with New Labour's obsession with privatisation are to blame for the near disaster when a London Underground train derailed at Chancery Lane last month.

The RMT and Aslef have been warning for years that the disasters we've witnessed on the privatised national rail network will replicate themselves on the tube. Both unions have also taken industrial action over the issue of safety and privatisation. Staff have been reporting suspect motors--the cause of the Chancery Lane incident--for a long time. Indeed last year there was a similar derailment at Loughton.

Between the Lines

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Tories campaign for tax handouts - New Labour Can't Count - Crime Worst in Vatican - Adverts Against Junk Email

Supporters of Nuclear Energy have been lobbying for the lame duck company to be bailed out by the taxpayer. Subsidies to this privatised utility are, apparently, 'in the national interest'. Among the signatories to this campaign are Lord (Cecil) Parkinson and Sir Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary. U-turn if you want to...

New Labour's numeracy strategy obviously has a long way to go. The 'five ways to help Labour win' on their official website gives six suggestions.

Kenya: The Safest Pair of Hands

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Kenyans had good reason to cheer when Uhuru Kenyatta was heavily defeated in the presidential election at the end of last year.

Kenyatta was the chosen successor of Daniel arap Moi, the man who ruled the country for 24 years from 1978. It was probably a surprise to many people that Moi did not fiddle the result this time--as he did in 1992 and 1997. Such blatant rigging was passed over by Moi's western backers, who saw him as a valuable agent of 'stability' in the region. Moi got on very well with the British Tories. Kenya's prestigious Moi University proudly boasts the Margaret Thatcher library. During the first Gulf War in 1991 against Iraq, Moi lined up completely with US demands.

Pensions: From Final Salary to the Final Straw

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When is a fraud not a fraud? This is a question that millions of people will be asking themselves as increasing numbers of employers reduce, or default on, pensions that workers have been paying into for years.

One of the major causes of the growing pensions crisis is the closure of 'final salary' schemes. Fifty six percent of companies which have reviewed these in the past five years have closed them to new applicants according to consultants Watson Wyatt, and many existing employees have been switched to more risky 'money purchase' schemes. On average bosses pay half into these schemes what they would to final salary pensions.

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