Nato's undeclared bombing war was an illegal act of aggression against a sovereign state which had neither attacked, nor threatened to attack, any other country. Nato's only pretext was to point to the unfortunate casualties of the fighting in Kosovo between separatist rebels and Yugoslav troops justifiably trying to defend the unity of their country.
Nato propaganda has tried to give the impression that the war was fought on behalf of the Kosovan Albanian refugees. We are told that Nato has been trying to make Kosovo safe for the refugees to return to their homes.
But this rubbish has been exposed by the United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) who report that its first registered refugees outside of Kosovo arrived on 27 March -- three days after the Nato bombing began.
Now Nato should pay up and make reparations for the destruction it has caused. And Nato should do this without any pre-conditions or any form of pressure or blackmail aimed at changing Yugoslavia's government or leadership.
Nor should Nato be allowed to overstep the terms that have been agreed -- it is not pax-Americana or pax-Britannia but a Peace process agreed by the United Nations that must involve non-Nato countries and in which the Serbian people should be afforded the same protection as everyone else.
Fortunately the Russian forces have acted to make these points
clear and they have stood their ground despite Nato displeasure. Russia's
stand is to be welcomed.
The loud silence
THE parties can put whatever spin they like on the recent European election results, but none of them can ignore the fact that three quarters of the electorate didn't vote at all -- even though the introduction of a form of proportional representation was expected to raise the public's interest.
Most of the working class -- including a majority of Labour supporters -- voted with their feet. The electorate treated the European Parliament with the contempt it deserves, since it's no secret that the EU parliament has no power to legislate and is a parliament in name only.
The Tories claim the election was a good result for their party. Yes, they made gains over Labour. But there was nothing tq suggest an increase in support for Tory politics as such -- only a fairly good turnout of William Hague's Euro-sceptic followers.
In short it was a bad day for Tony Blair and that section of the ruling class which wants full monetary union with Europe. The electors gave the thumbs down to both the Euro currency and the fake Euro parliament.
Blair, of course, will not change his policy. But he will rethink his tactics, and possibly his timetable. Labour's right-wing leaders are now more likely to seek comfort from their pro-European friends in the Liberal-Democrat Party and the propaganda machine will be cranked up to sell us the Euro in time for the planned referendum.
No wonder there are rumours of Peter Mandelson's return to earth!
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NATO troops are pouring into Kosovo as fast as the Yugoslav army withdraws together with bands of frightened members of the Serb minority fearing the tender mercies of the Western powers and the thugs of the "Kosovan Liberation Army".
Behind the scenes Russian diplomats are demanding ths West honours the peace deal they helped broker to end the war, which provided for overall United Nations control of the Yugoslav province and a substantial zone of control for the Russian contingent in the KFOR "peace-keeping" force.
But the smile was wiped off the face of Blair and Clinton last Saturday when they found out that a Russian unit had already moved into the Kosovan capital of Pristina before them staking out a claim for the airport and part of the city.
The Russians, part of the contingent stationed on similar duties in Bosnia, dashed through Serbia to take control of the key Pristina airport. Pristina's Serbs cheered them on hoping the Russian armoured unit would deter the "KLA" gangs also on their way.
Nato's initial response was to try and bully Moscow into pulling back its troops while ordering Romania, Hungary and Ukraine to deny the Russian airforce overflight to resupply its contingent directly. It was met by a rare response of defiance in the Kremlin.
President Yeltsin let it be known that he personally ordered his men in, promoting their commander, Viktor Zavarzin, to general on Sunday just in case the point was missed. This seems to have worked. Ukraine has now agreed to allow Russian overflights and Moscow is now seeking Bulgaria's okay for direct flights into Pristina.
A new Russian supply convoy from Bosnia has arrived at the airport with fresh supplies for their troops as Russian premier Sergei Stepashin repeated Moscow's demand for a "substantial" role in KFOR together with troops from other non-Nato countries, under the auspices of the United Nations.
While the West stalls on the Russian zone it's lost no time in carving up Kosovo into British, American, French, Italian and German zones under the provisional command of the British General, Sir Mike Jackson who set up camp in Pristina this week.
While the Russians have confined their actions to blocking the airport to anyone else the Nato troops have done nothing to honour the other parts of the peace deal, which called for the disarming of the "KLA" gangs and the protection of the Serb community in what is still, after all, a province of Yugoslavia.
Trigger-happy Nato troops have killed at least one Serb and wounded another. KLA gunmen have murdered a Serb policeman, two Yugoslav soldiers and a Serb civilian and nothing was done about it. Over 11,000 Serb civilians have already fled. The other 200,000 Serbs may soon follow unless the Russians are given the task of protecting the Serb areas.
Labour MP Alice Mahon, speaking for the Committee for Peace in the Balkans gave total backing for Russia's demand on Monday.
"The international forces deployed under the auspices of the United Nations in Kosovo speiifically include a Russian contingent. It is quite clear that the Russians should have a separate area covering areas in which the Kosovo Serbs constituted the majority of the population prior to the Nato bombing.
This would correspond to the obvious need to reassure the Serbs that they will be protected from the KLA and their legitimate concern that states which have been recently bombing them cannot be seen to be impartial. It would also correspond to the stated desire of many Kosovo Albanians not have Russian troops in control of areas in which they predominate," she said.
troops out now
The peace movement must step up the pressure on Blair to honour the peace deal with Yugoslavia. We must demand the withdrawal of all British troops from the Balkans now!
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by Caroline Colebrook
THE GOVERNMENT last week unveiled a new plan for teenage mothers which would involve denying them rights to council housing and obliging them to live in special hostels.
The plan is actually not so new. A very similar plan was mooted in 1996 by Tory Cabinet Minister John Redwood. Only then, speaking for Labour, John Prescott described it as a "return to the workhouse"
It is the government's response to statistics showing that Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in western Europe.
The plan has six main points:
* A publicity drive to raise awareness among teenagers of the hardships involved in early parenthood;
* A national campaign to help parents talk to their children about
* pilot schemes in 20 areas to introduce "pregnancy advisers" for teenagers;
* school-age mothers to be required to return to school after 18 weeks' birth leave and the schools obliged to take them back;
* the Child Support Agency to put more energy into chasing the fathers of the babies;
* and single mothers to be offered only special hostel accommodation and no rights Co council housing.
Most of these proposals amount to hot air and much ado about nothing.
The Child Support Agency already rigorously pursues absent fathers but it is impossible to get money out of penniless schoolboys or unemployed youths who do not even get any unemployment benefits because they are too young.
And even if the CSA did screw some money out of these youngsters, it would go to the Treasury to offset the costs of the benefits the young mother is entitled to -- the mother and baby would see none of it.
Government publicity campaigns are rarely properly funded or sustained, for example campaigns against smoking.
Children need a much higher standard of sex education than many of them are getting. They also need future prospects of decent jobs and careers so they've got a good reason to plan and care about their own futures.
And teenage pregnancies are nothing new. Only a generation ago, the great and the good were wringing their hands about the alarming rise in teenage weddings.
A large proportion of these were triggered by unplanned pregnancies and were ill-advised and hasty. At least today's youngsters have more sense than to be bullied into shot-gun weddings.
The other remedy in those days for an unplanned pregnancy was to coerce the mother to give the child up for adoption -- a solution that was cruel to both and has mercifully been abandoned.
And there have always been a proportion of people who have chosen to settle down and start a family while young. The important thing is that this should be an informed and conscious decision, not an accident.
The government is knocking up a smokescreen over teenage single parents getting council houses. Only a tiny, desperate proportion are housed this way.
Public Health Minister Tessa Jowell admits that the vast majority of pregnant teenagers are living at home with their own parents and being supported by them.
And the government is guilty of absolute hypocrisy in its treatment of young families.
Young workers have a lower level of the minimum wage, they get lower levels of the Job Seekers' Allowance, of housing benefit and so on. Affordable housing is nigh on impossible to get.
Support services for young parents, like health visitors, clinics and so on have been subject to wave after wave of cut-backs. And there is negligible affordable childcare provision for young parents who want to work.
So whether the young parents are single or in couples, whether their babies were planned or accidents, there is now far less state support and help for them to do a good job of raising their babies. It is just as well that in most cases the grandparents step into the breach.
Putting a few lonely and deserted young girls into special hostels will appease the rightwing moralists but it will do nothing for the real problems.
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.SOUTH KOREAN warships attacked two north Korean torpedo-boats on Tuesday sinking one and badly damaging another in a new act of aggression that threatens to plunge the peninsula into renewed conflict. The clash took place off the coast of Democratic Korea in a zone the puppet government in Seoul claims is theirs.
Last week the Seoul regime ordered its warships to harass north Korean fishing boats. On Tuesday they tried to ram them. When northern navy ships approached they were met with a torrent of fire. Over 150 shells and 7,000 machine-gun bullets raked the two north Korean ships sinking one and damaging three others, one severely.
The south Korean provocation shows the true nature of the puppet regime which talks about reconciliation and a "sunshine policy" towards the north while preparing for war. The clash took place only days after a north-south agreement for talks in Beijing to lessen tension on the Korean peninsula.
At the standing talks at the armistice line crossing point at Panmunjom, the chief delegate of the Korean People's Army told his American counterpart that war could break out at any time because of Seoul's reckless attitude.
Ri Chan Bok said the main responsibility for the incident rests with the rulers of south Korea. These provocations were committed with the connivance of US hard-line conservatives who were trying to aggravate tensions on the Korean peninsula.
These provocations are timed to coincide with the end of the US-led warofaggression against Yugoslavia Ri said demanding a full apology from the United States and the south Korean regime. The US representative then walked out of the talks.
The Foreign Ministry of the Democratic Republic of Korea has re-affirmed that it will never accept the south Korean claim of a "northern boundary line" in the West (Yellow) Sea. The armistice agreement which ended the Korean War in 1953 clearly limits the south to just five islets. South Korea must apologise for the serious consequences of their armed provocations, mindful that if they continue, they will meet a thousand-fold retaliatory blow.
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TENS OF THOUSANDS of demonstrators gathered in London last week to demand that the British government and other members of the G8, richest countries cancel the Third World debt.
At one point they linked hands to form a three-mile human chain around the banks and bridges of the Thames.
The demonstration was part of a global campaign to highlight the impoverishing effects of the extortionate debt repayments for poor countries and put pressure on this weekend's G8 summit conference in Cologne.
Another 10,000 gathered in Edinburgh.
Union, leaders, religious leaders and TV celebrities took part in the demonstration organised by Jubilee 2000 which campaigns for the dropping of the Third World debt.
As it finished. a group of representatives bearded a barge on the Thames to set sail for Cologne to carry the message to the G8 conference.
Organiser Stephen Rand said: "Two years ago people thought this issue was too complicated for the public to understand, but with 70,000 people in Birmingham last year to protest during the G8 summit and the numbers here today it shows how people have latched on to the basic message.
"Today has reminded the politicians of how important this is. It should strengthen the argument of those in the G8 who are trying to do something significant rather than cosmetic."
As the demonstrators first assembled in Trafalgar Square they were address by George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He began by paying tribute to freedom fighter Nelson Mandela and added: "Jubilee 2000 is all about freedom for people who suffer from a form of slavery no less evil than in Admiral Nelson's time and that Nelson Mandela fought against."
And the campaigning has prompted Chancellor Gordon Brown to ask multinational companies trading inthe Third World to make donations to cover a $50 billion debt relief package for the world's poorest countries.
Jubilee 2000 welcomes this as a first step.
But the coalition of charities and church groups that is Jubilee 2000 are naive if they think capitalism will stop exploiting the Third World just because it is asked nicely.
Finance exploitation is the essence of what capitalism is. The big banks and multinationals cannot grow rich except at the expense of others growing poor.
Any charitable donations they make are a cosmetic sop and a smokescreen to mask what they are really about.
It is reminiscent of remark by Russian writer Leon Tolstoy a century ago that the wealthy exploiting classes will do anything they can to help the downtrodden and overburdened peasant except get off his back.
But the Jubilee 2000 campaign is valuable in raising public awareness of the way the debt works in enslaving poor countries and holding them in poverty and deprivation.
Communists and socialists should be aiming to raise that awareness further, to the realisation that the working classes in Third World and nearer to home can only achieve justice by the overthrow of the capitalist system.
* As we go to press anti-capitalist activists in over 40 countries are planning a "major disruption" as part of a "carnival of resistance" to put pressure on the G8 summit.
In Bangladesh, the 1.5 million-strong garment workers' union will stage a day's strike, along with postal workers in Canada.
In Uruguay, mock banks will be set up for the poor to "deposit" their misery and unemployment.
Participants of Reclaim the Streets describe the world financial markets as "a giant casino where the chips are human lives, jobs, eco-systems and the entire economies of some countries".
They are calling on 250.000 City workers to take the day off and disruptive actions are planned in some 20 towns throughout Britain. Banks and other financial institutions are preparing for a day of problems.
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