National News

Bills rise to pay for nuclear power

THE GOVERNMENT is planning to subsidise the building of new nuclear power generators from a tax to be levied on electricity bills according to reports in the press last week.

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South Yorks Firefighters strike

FIRE CREWS across South Yorkshire staged a 24-hour strike, beginning last Monday evening, in a dispute over job cuts and shift changes.

The Fire Brigades Union had offered to cancel the strike if the employers had withdrawn plans to sack 744 firefighters to force through shift changes.

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Five union reps sacked in race insult dispute

THE POULTRY processor, Two Sisters, has sacked the union convenor and four shop stewards on the eve of the demonstration outside the main Marks & Spencer shop in Birmingham.

The demonstration was been called to highlight the sacking of 54 innocent workers for challenging racism and defending their union reps. One of the shop stewards sacked is the individual who was originally racially abused.

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Not enough staff for patient care

THE ROYAL College of Nursing last week published the results from its 2009 Employment Survey, which highlights how pressures on workload and staffing levels can impact on patient care.

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BA talks with union

WILLIE Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, last week held “open and frank” talks with union leaders to try to avoid cabin crew balloting for strike action.

The two sides have been locked in a row about BA’s plans to cut 1,700 jobs and reduce pay and conditions.

Unite has said it will have no option but to ballot for industrial action if BA’s changes are imposed on staff.

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Renationalise East Coast mainline!

THE TRANSPORT union RMT last week called for end to National Express rail shambles and early renationalisation after a takeover bid collapsed.

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Welfare benefits still in danger

THE GOVERNMENT is still considering abolishing Disability Living Allowance (DLA and Attendance Allowance, both administered by the Department of Work and Pensions, and transferring the funding to local social service departments.

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Elderly face ‘workless limbo’

THE TUC last week warned that proposals to raise the pension age to 70 would leave older people facing a workless limbo. Responding to the Institute of Directors’ (IOD) report on retirement published on Monday, which calls for the state pension age to be raised to 70, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said:

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Ex army chiefs attack BNP use of war images

FOUR retired senior army chiefs last week, in a letter to the Times, attacked the use of images of Winston Churchill and Spitfires by the neo-Nazi British National Party on their propaganda.

They warned that the reputation of the armed forces is being tarnished by right-wing political “extremists” and accused “those who seek to hijack the good name of Britain’s military”.

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RMT slams Boris’s fare hike

TRANSPORT union RMT last Thursday slammed confirmation from Mayor Boris Johnson that Tube fares will increase by 3.9 per cent from next year and bus fares by over 12 per cent as “dire news in the middle of a recession which will be deeply damaging to passenger numbers and revenue income.”

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Scotland scraps right to buy

THE SCOTTISH government last week announced plans to abolish the right to buy for council tenants, which was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s and has been responsible for a massive reduction in the total council housing stock. This has caused a shortage of affordable rented housing.

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Government delays agency worker protection

THE TUC last week condemned a Government decision to defer enforcing European Union agency staff rules to the latest date possible. Unions had pushed to get more rights for temporary staff enforced sooner.

“It is extremely disappointing that temps will have to wait so long for these rights to come into effect,” said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

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Vietnam comes to London

by Andy Brooks

LONDONERS will get a taste of Vietnamese culture this month with the screening of three major Vietnamese films, including the internationally acclaimed Don’t Burn It, which has been officially chosen to represent Vietnamese cinema in the best foreign language film category at the 2010 Oscars in Los Angeles next March.

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International News

Palestinian protester confronts Blair

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

TONY BLAIR, now masquerading as a Middle East peace envoy, got a taste of what the Arabs really think of him when a Palestinian managed to slip past his security cordon to hurl abuse at the former British premier in Hebron, before being dragged away by security guards.

“You are a terrorist and you are not welcome in the land of Palestine,” the Palestinian shouted before being bundled out of Hebron’s ancient Ibrahimi mosque in occupied Palestine on Tuesday.

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Karzai accepts run-off election

UNDER heavy pressure from the Barack Obama administration, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has conceded that he fell short of a first-round victory in the occupied nation’s fraud-filled presidential election.

Officials said Karzai has moved toward accepting the findings of a United Nations audit that stripped him of nearly a third of his votes. This leaves Karzai below the 50 per cent threshold that would have allowed him to avoid a run-off and declare victory over his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah.

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No “Plan B” if climate change agreement fails

THE PRESIDENT of the Maldive Islands, Mohamed Nasheed, along with all of his government ministers clad in wetsuits, held a meeting in the ocean to call the world’s attention to the future of this archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which is condemned to disappear under water if the current climatic conditions stay the same.

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Crisis boosts China’s financial clout

by Han Shide

The concept of a multi-polar world is becoming more widely accepted, and the status of developing countries represented by China is rising. But developed countries, lead by the US, have no wish to see China and other developing countries grow in strength, because this undermines their right to determine policy and defend their political and economic interests around the world.

The trend since the end of the Cold War has been for the unipolar world led by the US to lose its grip on global production, trade and finance. The role of the dollar as international reserve currency is weakening. China recently signed currency swap deals with South Korea and Japan, and the Chinese Renminbi (RMB) settlement accounts were established for trade with Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. These are signs that the hegemony of the US dollar is collapsing.

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Last of China’s old guard dies

LU ZHENGCAO, the last of New China’s first 57 generals, was cremated in Beijing on Tuesday after he died on 13th October at the age of 106.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, former president Jiang Zemin, and other senior leaders attended the cremation ceremony, which was held on Tuesday morning at the hall of the Beijing Babaoshan Cemetery.

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Plaque honouring Connolly unveiled in West Belfast

A NEW plaque bearing the image of James Connolly was unveiled at Sinn Féin’s Upper Falls constituency office, Connolly House, on Friday 9th October by party President and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams.

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The plague of the 21st century

THE PRESENT world economic and financial crisis, which has exposed the fragility of the capitalist system, has thrown more people into starvation. Therefore, starvation has become the Black Plague of the 21st century, despite efforts to eradicate it.

According to the 2009 World Starvation Index more than one billion people on this planet do not have enough food to support a healthy existence, and more than half of those people are women and children.

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John Brown: Courage and clarity changed history

OCTOBER 16th 2009 will mark exactly 150 years since 21 brave revolutionaries launched an attempt to seize the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, and spark a slave uprising in the United States. After 36 hours of hard fighting, most of the raiders were killed or captured. The raid failed — in the military and tactical sense. In the moral and strategic sense, it was ultimately a resounding success.

The raid and the subsequent execution of John Brown and six of his comrades deepened the split between the North and the South, a situation which led directly to the Civil War. Given this, it is important that we ponder the lessons of Harpers Ferry for today.

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Ambulance wars hit Israel

by David Harris in Jerusalem

ISRAEL’S national ambulance service Magen David Adom (MDA) is accusing “pirate” ambulance crews of stealing its potential patients in order to make a fast buck.

In at least one case, a crew posing as paramedics clearly had no medical knowledge, according to MDA. Police investigation is reportedly already underway.

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