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Are You Sitting Comfortably?

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The web has a selective view of the election.

During last year's US election the two main parties put massive resources into 'new media' - websites, blogs and email. While the forthcoming general election in Britain will not have anywhere near the same amount of resources poured into the internet side of the campaign, there are some interesting plans afoot.

Both sides in the US election attempted to get voters to upload their films, debates and questions. For instance both sides put huge amounts of time and resources into short films to be downloaded and forwarded.

Chain Reaction

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Watching the televised congress of Italy's biggest far left party, Rifondazione Comunista, last month brought to mind a statement by its general secretary, Bertinotti, when he spoke at the SWP's Marxism two years ago.

The old debate between reform and revolution, he said, is no longer relevant at a time when reformists cannot deliver reforms and revolutionaries cannot bring about revolution.

It is an argument frequently heard in the global movement of the last five years. We can all see that neoliberalism and war are causing immense damage, it is argued, and we have to forget our differences in order to oppose them.

Half a World Away

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The latest royal doings provoke our columnist.

I'm sorry, but I can't resist it any longer. The royal family might be an embarrassingly easy target, but with home secretary Charles Clarke's suggestion for 'citizenship ceremonies' to swear allegiance to them, I can't hold back my treasonous thoughts any longer.

Let's swiftly pass over the small detail that you can't be a citizen and a subject simultaneously. Either we're all equal, or some are more equal than others. Retaining a monarchy clearly ensures the latter, and means that constitutional guarantees are little more than a gentlemen's agreement.

Start the Engine

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Corporations are finding new ways to dominate search indexes.

How big is the internet? How many websites are there? According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Google's search index searched over 4 billion pages in early 2004. By the end of last year the number of pages had doubled to over 8 billion. Given such a vast amount of information, successfully searching the internet becomes a task in itself - and the search engines allowing you to do this have become hotly contested areas for business and other websites.

America's Black Shining Prince

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Mike Davis pays tribute to Malcolm X, killed forty years ago

Forty years ago, in the winter of 1964-65, I was one of the teenage kids working in the New York City national office of Students for a Democratic Society. Most of my friends in the office were working 16-hour days to organise the first march on Washington DC (17 April 1965) to protest against Lyndon Johnson's escalation of US intervention, especially his brutal bombing campaign against North Vietnam.

A Taste of Things to Come

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New Labour is presenting its attack on pensions as a necessary response to the ageing of the population. But in reality something else is at stake - the latest stage in ratcheting up the stakes in intercapitalist competition.

Three years ago the leaders of Britain, Italy and Spain established the Blair-Berlusconi-Aznar axis to give an added push to the copying throughout Europe of the attacks on workers' conditions and rights pioneered by Reagan and Thatcher in the US and Britain. Aznar fell off the axis a year ago, but the push has been joined by the French government with its renewed attacks on pension rights and its rescinding of the 35-hour week, and by the German government with its slashing of unemployment benefits.

A Tale of Two Chiles

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Chile still has lessons for us today.

'Working class scum... ignorant peasants... children of whores...' So we were greeted by the snarling mob of rich Chileans as we arrived at the court in September 1999. Dodging their spit, we were told how our families had deserved to die. I've never felt such vitriolic class hatred before or since.

A decade after the end of his brutal dictatorship, Augusto Pinochet was finally facing legal sanction. In what was to prove an uncharacteristic moment of principle, home secretary Jack Straw had concluded that he was fit to stand trial on murder charges filed by a Spanish judge.

A Rainy Day in Tijuana

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There is nothing inevitable about an increasing number of deaths in natural disasters.

Juana Tapia lost her two daughters - Matha, eight, and Maria, 13 - to the sudden rush of water and debris. It blew their shanty apart like an explosion. The little girls didn't have time to scream. Neighbours helped Juana and her husband claw through the muck, but they couldn't locate the children. Later bomberos (firefighters) came and dug out the crumpled bodies. The neighbourhood was chaos, mud and inconsolable grief. A few blocks away a five year old boy had also been swept away and drowned. Hundreds of homes had been damaged or destroyed.

That's Entertainment

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The battle for the future has begun.

There is a major battle going on in the technology industry. On one side, we have companies like Sony and Philips siding with movie studios like Fox and Disney. On the other, NEC and Toshiba have joined forces with Warner Home Video.

The battle is about the future for DVD technology. Basically there are two competing technologies - Blu-Ray, backed by the Sony side of the argument, and HD DVD backed by the others. Both offer massive increases on storage volume - approximately five times the size of current DVDs in the former case.

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