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Between the Lines

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DLR and Arms Fair - New Job for Nick Leeson - Boots Boss Hears Workers' Suggestions

Why was the Docklands Light Railway so keen to prevent protesters disrupting transport to the recent DSEi arms fair? Perhaps because the Serco group, which runs the DLR, was also a prominent exhibitor. Serco brags of providing ’life cycle value for money‘ training for the MoD, Nato and the US Department of Defence.


While it‘s generally good to hear of ex-prisoners being rehabilitated, news of Nick Leeson‘s new job should raise a few eyebrows. The infamous ’rogue trader‘ who broke Barings bank by gambling away £850 million has found a career in TV - as a financial tipster.

Corporate Talk Costs Lives

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The resort of Cancun seemed the perfect place for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to hold its talks.

The Zona Hotelera, where the convention centre lies, is a strip of land with beautiful beaches on one side and separated from the town by a crocodile-infested lagoon on the other. The Ritz, Sheraton, Meridian and dozens of other multimillion dollar hotels line the strip, and the street signs and shop fronts are written in English: ’liquor store‘, ’drugstore‘, ’T-bone steak‘. The Zona is a playground for the rich of the US, while half the population of Cancun (a town created solely to service the resorts) are without access to basic services such as clean water.

Appealing to Racists

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New Labour‘s descent into the gutter continues apace, with plans to further tighten already draconian anti asylum seeker legislation.

David Blunkett wants to reduce the right of appeal against the Home Office‘s notoriously arbitrary asylum decisions. Even with barriers such as the government‘s ’white list‘ of countries, which it automatically assumes never commit human rights violations, 21 percent of appeal cases are upheld. As Imram Hussein of the Refugee Council has commented, ’If any other government department had a failure rate of one in five that would be a significant cause for concern, and here you are often dealing with matters of life and death.‘

Colombia: Industrial Relations, Paramilitary Style

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War on Want and Justice for Colombia organised a mock execution of 13 British trade union leaders and several MPs outside parliament recently, in a demonstration of solidarity with the terrorised Colombian trade union movement.

Timed to coincide with a closed meeting of Colombian donors hosted by the British government, the event highlighted the plight of Colombian trade unionists, and asked why the British government has consistently chosen the wrong line on Colombia.

Last year 184 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia while 4,000 civilians were killed for political reasons. Around 400,000 people were also displaced with most forced into stark poverty. In education alone, 27 teachers and lecturers were assassinated in 1999, rising to 83 in 2002.

Weapons: The Scoop That Didn't Hold the Press

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Before the war, John Barry of Newsweek produced an amazing scoop. He obtained a leaked copy of the interview between General Kamal, Saddam's son in law, and the UN weapons inspectors.

Kamal was actually in charge of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme - his defection to the west in 1995 caused panic in Baghdad. Every single assertion about Iraq's WMD programme, every government dossier and major speech relies heavily on Kamal's evidence. However, Barry showed that while Kamal exposed Iraq's pre-1991 WMD programme - the chemical and biological weapons, the plans for nuclear bombs - he actually also said these programmes were destroyed after 1991, although some documents were retained.

Hutton Inquiry: Indecent Exposure

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Was Alastair Campbell responsible for the government's deliberate lies about Iraq's 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'? The Hutton inquiry evidence suggests not.

Instead the e-mails and memos show the whole government machine was behind the 'sexing up' of Saddam's threat. Campbell is there, but so too are Jonathan Powell, John Scarlett, Godric Smith and a host of press officers, all obsessively worried about the drafts and ever more melodramatic redrafts of the government's dossier. The initials 'TB' recur, showing the prime minister's close involvement in the propaganda programme and subsequent squeeze on Dr Kelly.

Socialist Alliance: A Real Alternative in Brent

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The decision taken by the Socialist Alliance at its annual conference in May to explore the possibilities of building a broader and more credible political coalition has provoked fierce debate in some quarters.

But the perspective of the 'task group' of national executive members charged with giving this project national leadership is very clear.

We intend to continue with the process of seeking to build the Socialist Alliance while actively exploring any possibility of boosting the general project of creating a left alternative to Blair. This means engagement with members of the Muslim community radicalised by the war, community activists and trade unionists.

Between the Lines

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Badge "endangers" aircraft - Cabinet Office IT company run by former Tory minister - New Labour schools minister can't do sums

Another battle won in the 'war against terrorism'. John Gilmore, attempting to fly from San Francisco to London on a British Airways flight, was told he would endanger the plane and commit a federal crime if he didn't take off a one-inch badge saying 'suspected terrorist'. When he refused, he was ejected.

Iran: Next in Line for Regime Change?

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The student protests in Iran in June were part of the pro-democracy movement, involving secular and religious women, workers, student and the youth, which has been evolving since the early 1990s.

The media attempts to show the protestors as sympathetic to Bush, but Israel and the US's policy of Middle East domination is extremely unpopular in Iran. People in Iran, as in the rest of the region, are fully aware of the repercussions of the US and British war in Iraq through the Al Jazeera television coverage. Moreover, 1 million Iranians died and 1 million were disabled in the war with Iraq (1980-88), and people have not forgotten that the US armed Iraq and turned a blind eye to the gassing of Kurdish people.

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