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Between the Lines

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Most company boards ignore social and environmental issues - London Eye and British Airways debt problems - US Justice Department Loses Computers and Weapons

A Blairite Institute for Public Policy Research survey for the Institute of Directors (IOD) found that six out of ten company boards never discussed social or environmental issues--and eight out of ten don't publish reports on their social or environmental impact. Overcome with rage at this report, IOD head of policy Ruth Lea said, 'This is our survey. We paid for it. These things cost about £15,000 to £20,000' and refused the think-tank permission to publish the report.

Brazil: Don't Be 'Lite' on the Bosses

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The landslide victory of the Workers Party (PT) candidate, Lula da Silva in the Brazilian presidential election in October, was of historic significance.

The landslide victory of the Workers Party (PT) candidate, Lula da Silva in the Brazilian presidential election in October, was of historic significance. The first Brazilian from a working class background to be elected to the post, the vote of 61.4 percent was also the first time a workers-based party has won national elections in Latin America since 1970.

Russia: The Theatre of War

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The brutal storming of a Moscow theatre by Russian forces last month led to the deaths of 117 hostages and all 50 hostage takers.

At least 113 of the hostages were killed, not by gunshot wounds, but by the deadly poison gas the Russian forces pumped into the theatre. The symptoms of the survivors led scientists such as Professor Steven Rose to conclude that the gas used was a variant of the nerve gas BZ developed by the US military in the 1970s. Some have since argued that the gas may have been a derivative of heroin. Whatever it was, the Russian authorities refused to disclose what gas was used, even to the doctors treating the victims, citing reasons of national security.

Socialist Alliance: Pretty Bubbles Everywhere

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We're all still bubbling with excitement in Hackney Socialist Alliance after the Foot for Mayor campaign, despite our collective exhaustion.

Why are we excited? After all, in the three other mayoral elections in October, Labour was beaten, while in Hackney the leader of the Labour council--which has one of the worst records nationally of privatisations, corruption, racism, cuts to services and sell-offs--won the election easily.

European Union: Larger than Life

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The froth surrounding the potential 'rebranding' of the European Union should not distract from the real economic and political issues being hammered out behind closed doors.

The proposed expansion of the union--adding ten member states to the current 15--has been couched in the idealist language of uniting east and west Europe. What lies behind it is a harder-headed assessment of extending the influence of European capital on the world market.

Brazil Election: Life Before Debt

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Some 115 million Brazilians go to the polls on 6 October to elect a new president, and various federal and state deputies. The frontrunner for president is the Workers Party (PT) candidate, Lula, with 40 percent support in the polls.

All four candidates call themselves 'social democrats'. However, the 1 million member PT is the only political force closely linked to the unions and popular movements. For this reason Wall Street and the IMF have expressed strong reservations about a PT victory. Despite Lula's agreement with recent IMF dictates to increase debt payments, the international financial community fears he will increase spending, potentially threatening the stranglehold the IMF has on Brazil.

Tax Havens: Breaking Their Own Rules

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An increasing number of government agencies are using tax havens such as Guernsey to avoid paying the higher rate of tax in this country, according to a recent report in the Observer (22 September 2002).

Network Rail, London Underground and the Strategic Rail Authority are all funnelling millions to the island where insurance costs less and tax is lower.

The Association for Accounting and Business Affairs, a pressure group made up of Labour MPs and tax experts, has argued it would be unnecessary to raise taxes for ordinary people if corporations were prevented from channelling millions into offshore tax havens.

Between the Lines

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Psychiatric tests for politicians? - Sweets firm in music charts - Coke and Pepsi fined for defacing the Himalayas

Argentinian senator Jorge Capitanich ruffled a few feathers recently, when he proposed that all political candidates in future elections submit to psychiatric and neurological tests. Maybe this would be a good idea for some of our own cabinet ministers.

A Europe against Capital and War

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The European Social Forum in Florence from 6 to 10 November will be a crucial staging point for the anti-war movement.

Organisers have called a huge demonstration against the war and neoliberalism on the evening of Saturday 9 November. This will be the first pan- European anti-war action, and the Italian organisers are expecting at least 200,000 to march. On top of that, Florence is an opportunity to discuss the experience of the anti-war movements and to organise more cross-European action. This is important because the experience up to now across Europe has been so patchy.

Letter from Israel: A Cell is Still a Cell

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Israeli defence minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer recently reached an agreement with Palestinian interior minister Abdel Razak Yehiyah called the 'Gaza, Bethlehem First' plan.

Israeli forces will evacuate Bethlehem and Palestinian-populated areas in the Gaza Strip while the Palestinian Authority will take on the responsibility of policing the inhabitants. Accordingly, Israeli soldiers and tanks have moved to the outskirts of Bethlehem, allowing the residents who have been under curfew for nine weeks to leave their homes. The tight military blockade around the city continues, however, Bethlehem has been transformed into an island.

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