Opinion

Data is Power

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'Distributed Computing' is one of the most interesting computing phenomena of recent years. Millions of people voluntarily take part in projects that use their computers to aid scientific research.

The original, and by far the widest used, is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, with over 4.5 million users worldwide. You can find out more at http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/.

Other projects involve the analysis of genes in the search for cancer cures at www.chem.ox.ac.uk/curecancer.html and mathematical data to model climate change at www.climateprediction.net.

Dreams on Screen

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'It's been said that dreams are our road maps to the future. If so, where are we headed?' So starts the 'About Us' section of the Common Dreams website, www.commondreams.org

Since 1997 the people behind the website have been 'working to bring progressive Americans together to promote progressive visions for America's future'. They believe in 'using the internet as a political organising tool - and creating new models for internet activism'.

With this in mind, Common Dreams has created a daily news service that brings together a wide range of articles (mainly from mainstream US media, but with a smattering of other papers from across the world) of interest to the activist community.

Closer to the Tipping Point

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The only way to win a union election is to berate New Labour.

Like his heroine, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair is clearly so taken with himself that it might not be long before he also finds himself bundled into the limo of obscurity. Since the start of the occupation of Iraq, the government spin machine has desperately tried to convince the rest of us that a month or so of wanton destruction has done the PM's popularity no end of good. Which may true among New Labour lickspittles and Tory MPs. But you would be hard pressed to find much evidence for this claim outside of parliament.

Crying Out for Leadership

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The recent election in Argentina teaches us lessons on how to organise.

No one likes to be proved wrong. But sometimes it is more painful to be proved right. At the end of January I took part in a debate with Michael Hardt, the co-author of Empire, over 'The working class or the multitude' at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. Only a minority of those in the room agreed with what I had to say. Most agreed with contributors from the floor who came in again and again with the same refrain. Argentina, they said, showed how wrong 'Leninists' were to go on about 'vanguard parties' and 'industrial workers'.

Cuba on My Mind

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Socialism without freedom is not worthy of the name.

My e-mail has been full to overflowing recently as the grandees of the international and Latin American intelligentsia lined up to defend Cuba. Some weeks ago, the Cuban government tried and summarily executed three hijackers who had seized a Cuban ferry. In the same period, 70 people were arrested and tried for opposition to the Cuban state and sentenced to jail terms of up to 20 years.

Peace at Stake

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Britain's filthy role in Northern Ireland is exposed by the Stakeknife affair.

Tom Lehrer, the brilliant American musical satirist of the 1950s and 1960s, famously announced that he was retiring from satire after the warmongering monster Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When the world was satirising itself in such a way, what was there left for him to say, he asked.

Senseless and Selfish Carnage

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The war will not lead to the liberation of ordinary Iraqis.

As I watched the statues crash to the ground I felt a strange sadness, and a real anger. Back in 1978 I was on the executive of the National Union of Students. I remember voting for a motion condemning the Ba'athist regime in Iraq. At the time, no one in the British establishment gave a damn about democracy in Iraq, the fate of the Iraqi people or what weapons the regime had.

Memories Were Made of This

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If we can explain and understand the past, we will then be able to shape the future.

In the last few weeks the Spanish government has begun to excavate graves where civilian prisoners were buried during, or immediately after, the Spanish Civil War. It might seem an odd thing to do, so long after the event, when even the relatives will barely remember their lost husbands or wives, or cousins, or parents. Yet the families of those murdered by paramilitary gangs or off-duty soldiers in country after country have fought relentlessly for the right to know where and when their dead were buried, and by whom.

Only the Beginning

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The US military may have succeeded in Iraq but now the problems are beginning to mount up.

Defeating Saddam Hussein's armed forces was the easy bit for US imperialism, even if victory was not quite as quick as the White House had hoped. Its real difficulties start now.

Already there are signs of massive resistance to the continuing US occupation of Iraq on the one side, and of splits over what to do next within the US administration on the other. To understand why, it is necessary to be clear what the war was about.

Camp X-Ray on the NHS

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Look which US company is at the front of the queue for Iraq contracts.

What connection could there be between Texas, Vietnam, Camp X-Ray, US vice-president Dick Cheney and computerisation of the National Health Service? The answer, of course, is Halliburton--the US corporation which has been handed one of the first contracts for 'reconstruction' in Iraq and which the folks back in England are only just beginning to find out about.

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