Opinion

Thirsty for Profit

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How water turns to gold for the city corporations.

Jollied along by city pundits, a not very convincing raggle-taggle of New Labour goons has recently been finding itself thrust in front of a totally unconvinced public to have another go at privatisation of the water industry in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Like the Tories before them, this government have already had a number of tries at doing this, only to be rebuffed by an impressive combination of dogged resistance from the unions and public outrage. If the early signs are anything to go by, resistance is likely to be every bit as fierce this time round.

A Blast from the Past

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Correct revolutionary theory requires correct revolutionary practice.

One of the great things about the anti-capitalist and anti-war movements has been the refusal of people to take old certainties for granted. You cannot seriously contemplate changing the world unless you are prepared to critically examine every accepted dogma. If you try, you end up rather like those 17th century clerics who tried to cling onto the 2,000 year old Aristotelian notion that the earth was the centre of the solar system.

A Right Royal Con Trick

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Whether it's the monarchy or the new celebrity aristocrats, we should sharpen our guillotines.

The queen's latest state visit was to Legoland. Meanwhile the other princelets visited sites of national significance. William attended the Toytown annual parade, Edward visited the Bassett's liquorice allsorts museum annual open day and Anne opened the International Velvet pony retirement home.

Hit Them David One More Time

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David Aaronovitch spends much time attacking the left. So it's time we fought back.

The National Union of Students has a lot to answer for. The New Labour benches are packed with former NUS executive members. There is minister of war Jack Straw. There is the blustering buffoon who is currently trying to wreck education, Charles Clarke. In Blair's early summer reshuffle two more former NUS types emerged into ministerial glory, Fiona MacTaggart and Phil Woolas, while on the backbenches we see Stephen Twigg, whose finest hour was beating Portillo, but who is now probably to the right of Portillo.

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.

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