Opinion

New York, New York

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The city that has become an icon offers different views on life.

I remember arriving in New York and having the odd feeling that I'd been there before. Everything was familiar, even the faces on the street. But I'm not a believer in past lives, so I knew it was no echo from a previous existence. I had the same feeling recently watching 'Sex and the City', which now seems to be repeated eight times a week in various slots, and the return of 'NYPD Blue'--not to mention yet another 11 September documentary and 'Gangs of New York' reviewed on several pages of every Sunday paper.

Talking Rap

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Blaming hip-hop won't tackle gun crime.

I remember just after the Columbine massacre hearing some right wing American shock-jock being interviewed as to why the massacre had happened. The music of Marilyn Manson, video nasties, and lack of parental control were all cited. When the interviewer asked whether gun control might not help, the shock-jock dismissed this as so much liberal hooey.

Far Right: Left Pole of Attraction

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The growth of the anti-war movement means greater forces to deal with the dangers from the far right.

Two contradictory moods are sweeping Britain. There is the enormous movement against the war on Iraq. Not only has there been the biggest anti-war demonstration the country has ever seen, but the global anti-capitalist mood that emerged after Seattle has been getting a wide echo within the movement, feeding into the first real political student movement for years and creating a wide sense of solidarity with the firefighters' strikes at the end of last year.

Picturing the Horrors of War

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Picasso's 'Guernica' depicts the cost of conflict. Mike Gonzalez explains why it's time it was discovered again.

We are surrounded by images of war. Real, imagined or remembered conflict is a constant in the kind of films that are shelved under 'Action' at Blockbuster's. Very few computer games have gone beyond the simple binary of good and evil, friend or enemy. Newspapers regularly carry stark and terrifying photographs of the victims of war in some unnamed place--as if only fear and terror can really be dramatic. And then there is the machinery of warfare, drawn out in loving scientific detail on the nightly news. Thus war is made part of our natural experience.

Dumb and Dumber

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This is a war without reason, justification or explanation.

Tony Blair recently proclaimed that even if he were in a minority in the country he would still be committed to wage war on Iraq. Today it appears he is, so he's going to get the chance to prove it.

Never has a war seemed to have less reason, justice or explanation. It is impossible to find a single persuasive argument in its favour.

A Virtual World to Win

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If you were one of the tens of thousands of people who bought a computer game (or indeed other software) for Xmas, then you are probably still smarting from the price you paid.

One icy night in 1855, the celebrated street brawler John Morrissey walked into a Broadway saloon and spat in the face of Bill 'The Butcher' Poole, the even more renowned goliath of the New York streets. Poole, who led a murderous mob of anti-Catholic 'know nothings', was the arch-foe of Morrissey and other Irish gang leaders in the pay of Tammany Hall. Morrissey tried to blow Poole's brains out with his pistol but it misfired and Butcher Bill was preparing to 'bone the Irishman's cutlet' when the police intervened.

Striking a Bargain

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The role of the trade union leaders is complex and contradictory.

Arguments over reform and revolution are as old as the working class movement. That does not stop people repeatedly confusing the issues at stake. One of the most widespread confusions in Britain is the belief that reformism is embodied in one political formation, the Labour Party, and cannot exist outside it.

Great Polls and Ire

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The great and the good form a self-selecting club which ignores the rest of us.

'Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go' (Hamlet)

Recently, the air has been full of talk of greatness. Churchill, Brunel, Princess Diana, Darwin, Boy George were all candidates for the Great Britons award. It was predictable enough that Churchill ultimately won.

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