Opinion

Unfree and Unfair

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The aims of fair trade face a hostile system.

There are still people who see lack of clarity in the anti-capitalist movement as a positive thing. Even someone who has played such an important role as Vittorio Agnoletto of the Genoa Social Forum praises the lack of 'ideology'. But sometimes lack of clarity leads straight into traps set by the movement's bitterest opponents.

A Tale of Two Logos

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With the Johannesburg summit on sustainable development happening at the beginning of September, there are a number of websites giving alternative views to an event which will see large amounts of hot air coming from politicians as they clamour to show their green credentials.

There are many sites dedicated to exposing the real issues behind the summit and climate change in general. Greenpeace have been having fun with their Stop Esso campaign. The website was originally hosted in France. Esso mannaged to get an injunction to stop Greenpeace using their spoof E$$O logo on the Stop Esso website www.stopesso.org. But things are not always that simple in cyberspace--Greenpeace moved the website to a host based in the oil rich state of Texas--where the injunction isn't valid.

Ken and Barry Go Off

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Who will miss the trade unions' lousiest right wing double act?

So, off you go then Ken and Barry, quite possibly the lousiest double act ever to have trodden the boards. Mercifully yanked off stage by the great umbrella handle of history. All that's left is to look forward to your villas in Marbella, your bolthole of choice. The rather flustered-looking stage manager, Mr Blair, will no doubt be hoping that the rest of us put the miserable duo to the back of our minds ASAP.

The Recession Strikes Back

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Chris Harman wonders whatever happened to the US economy's 'new paradigm'.

Some people lose valued possessions. Some people lose their memories. But it is not often that people lose an economic crisis. Yet this is what happened to many mainstream economic commentators a few months ago. Now they have found it again, and some are absolutely terrified.

Travelling Lite

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Holidays promise imagined places but only give us the familiar.

The postcards have started arriving--and it's incredible how similar they look to the covers of holiday brochures. The single palm bending slightly over a coconut or two, the still lake with snow peaks standing out against a blue, almost cloudless sky. Or there are the views of cathedrals, monuments and museums--the Amsterdam Van Gogh, the Louvre, the Bilbao Guggenheim. The bizarre thing is how close these views are to what we see on the endless holiday programmes where bronzed TV newsreaders take a holiday in the Bahamas and try very hard to look as though it's hard work.

The Great Firewall of China

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The Guardian has been running a series investigating the extent to which our lives are recorded and analysed (see www.guardian.co.uk/bigbrother/privacy).

Of particular interest is the capabilities of governments and companies to view and read e-mails, and to log websites visited. Several e-mails have asked about the hushmail e-mail account I use for this column. Well, www.hushmail.com offers a free e-mail service with the ability to encrypt and protect your e-mails so that they can't be read.

Public Money, Private Grief

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Will the last privatisation fiasco please turn off the lights?

For how much longer, one wonders, can New Labour cling to its fixation with privatisation? In the last year alone we have had two really spectacular disasters--with Railtrack steaming off into oblivion and the part-privatisation of National Air Traffic Services taking a nosedive within weeks of taking off. But we have also watched incredulously a whole procession of PFI calamities, of which a Capita-inspired cock-up over the vetting of teachers and a complete balls-up over A-level results are but two examples in the past few weeks.

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