Solidarity 105, 25 January 2007

Religious Backwardness, Gay Rights, Civil Liberties: An Open Letter to Cardinal Murphy O'Connor (2007)

Published on: Fri, 09/03/2007 - 18:26

Sean Matgamna

Dear Mr Murphy O’Connor,

Courage in “Defence of the Faith” is, I suppose, a requirement of your office. Even so, I find it hard not to admire your courage — or bare-faced cheek — in attempting to “lay down the law” to the British government and the people it governs on what legal rights gay people in the UK should have and what legal rights granted to others should be denied to them.

You are joined in this by your “brothers in Christ” Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, Archbishops of Canterbury and York respectively.

You want the state to back you in forcing those who reject your religion,

Radical raps

Published on: Tue, 30/01/2007 - 15:37

There are plenty of blogs out there which give a left wing analysis of news and current affairs — or, at least, try to — so Pete’s Radical Poetry Site is a refeshing change. Run by Scottish socialist Pete Burton, the site aims to gather together radical and anti-establishment culture, from poetry to music to prose, in one handy place.

It’s a bit like Radio 4’s “Poetry Hour”, but it’s content is more likely to inspire you to overthow the system, which makes it a bit more interesting than Radio 4. Even though we’re in an age where culture is ten-a-penny, Pete brings together an interesting

Global heartache

Published on: Tue, 30/01/2007 - 15:36

Sofie Buckland reviews Babel

The latest effort from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, is over two-and-a-half hours of intense misery. Which would be fine, had Iñárritu not made it such hard work to empathise with a single one of his characters. A tale of emotional heartache centred around miscommunication (hence the title), the film drips with anguished expressions, heavy music and lingering shots of the desolate landscapes it’s set in, but somehow still manages to come across as very cold.

From the unbelievable opening sequence (where two Moroccan boys shoot at cars to “test”

Debate: A violation of human rights, TGWU-Amicus merger

Published on: Tue, 30/01/2007 - 15:35

I’d like to reply to Chris Leary’s article about Ashley X the severely disabled child who underwent radical medical intervention to keep body childlike (Solidarity 3-104).

The issue here is the violation of an individual; the denial of basic human rights to a human being. I disagree strongly with the use of the word “treatment” to describe what was done to Ashley — the procedure was not performed to “treat” an ailment but rather alter her state of being — to keep her small for the rest of her life.

The justification that “a smaller body and an absence of breasts mean that it is less likely

New Labour and BAE

Published on: Tue, 30/01/2007 - 15:33

By Mike Rowley

The extent of the pressure put on the Serious Fraud Office by Tony Blair’s government to drop its investigation last year into British Aerospace’s alleged systematic bribery of Saudi Arabian officials has finally come to light.

Robert Wardle, the head of the SFO, was pressured at least seven times to drop the investigation before Tony Blair asked for an end to it, citing “national security” — Blair was afraid the corrupt Saudi dictatorship would be upset if it was revealed that they take bribes, and that they might stop secret service cooperation with MI6.

And Attorney-General

A national campaign to save the NHS?

Published on: Wed, 24/01/2007 - 20:29

By a health worker

Two hundred people from trade unions and community campaigns attended the second national conference of Keep Our NHS Public on 19 January. But apart from Amicus’s Gill George there were not official representatives of the trade unions present.

Many community based activists attacked the trade union leadership for lack of action, in particular the failure of NHS Together to call a national demonstration on 3 March.

John Lister from KONP said the group’s steering committee had decided against calling for support for a national demo on 3 March, that activists should build the

Workers' News Round-up

Published on: Wed, 24/01/2007 - 20:16

By Pablo Velasco


Recently Hugo Chávez declared the nationalisation of telecom and electricity firms. Now the Venezuelan government has announced that this would not be the expropriation of capital without compensation. According to Steven Mather, writing on the Venezuelanalysis website: “The Finance Chairman of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Ricardo Sanguino, said… that his government would compensate those companies that are to lose out over the nationalisation plans of his government.”

Mather added: “It was unclear last week whether EDC [electricity company] would be included

Stop Oaxaca repression

Published on: Wed, 24/01/2007 - 20:15

The struggle in Oaxaca Mexico was one of high points of workers’ struggle anywhere in the world last year. Now the movement of teachers and others in APPO is facing savage repression.

The latest Mexican Labor News and Analysis reports on the findings of the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights which issued a preliminary report on 18 December, in which it concluded that 20 people had been killed, 370 injured and 349 imprisoned since 2 June 2006. The commission organised a delegation of trade unionists and lawyers to Oaxaca. They were told that many have disappeared or are in hiding. The

BA cabin crew strike against management bullies

Published on: Wed, 24/01/2007 - 20:08

By Anne Mack

British Airways cabin crew are set to strike for three days from Monday 29 January, after 96% of TGWU members voted for industrial action over pay, pensions and sick leave.

On 15 January over a thousand stewards and stewardesses gathered at a Heathrow hotel to hear the ballot result. Jack Dromey, Deputy General Secretary of the TGWU, told the meeting that “defeat was unthinkable” adding, “That would give the management the upper hand for a generation.”

Sickness policy is the key issue in this dispute. Over the last 18 months BA management have imposed a vindictive, small minded

Trade union link still threatened

Published on: Wed, 24/01/2007 - 20:06

By Jack Haslam

The Hayden Philips inquiry into party funding may not now be proposing drastic cuts to trade union funding of the Labour Party. The idea of putting a £50,000 cap on donations and affiliations looks to have been shelved. According to reports a new deal will be based on voluntary self-regulation of party finances.

But what are the implications of such a deal? Voluntary self-regulation of donations could be an ideal excuse for the National Executive of the Labour Party to set up a review into party organisation, finances, and the union link.
Such a review could become a mechanism

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