National News

Colchester vigil for Michael Lyons

by New Worker Correspondent

MEMBERS and supporters of Stop the War, the Labour Party, the Morning Star and the New Worker gathered outside the punishment wing of Colchester barracks last Saturday to express solidarity with Michael Lyons, a young naval medic imprisoned inside for refusing to do rifle training in Afghanistan.

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Equality watchdog threatened with closure

THE CIVIL Service union PCS last week warned that proposals to scrap the Equality and Human Rights commission are “misguided and dangerous”.

A report published on Monday by the Civitas think-tank, and supported by right wing Tory backbench MPs, criticises the commission for the way it reports on and tackles inequality.

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Con-Dems plan to cut maternity pay

THE GOVERNMENT could be accused of using the media pre-occupation with turmoil in our inner cities and in the finance markets to sneak out further attacks on the working class, hoping they will pass without notice.

But the TUC has noticed and reacted to plans to turn back the clock on women’s rights and in particular to cut women’s entitlement to maternity pay.

Half of all working mothers could see their maternity pay cut under proposals from the Coalition and other changes to workplace laws could also allow employers to refuse “out of hand” requests for flexible hours.

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Lloyds Banking to cut 1,300 jobs

THE GIANT union Unite last week reacted to an announcement by the Lloyds Banking group that 1,300 jobs are to be cut.

David Fleming, Unite national officer, said: “Workers at Lloyds Banking Group have today heard that their employer is to shed 1,300 staff as part of 15,000 job losses announced for the strategic review. This latest decision is astonishing and will send ripples of shock across the entire business as it signifies the reality and misery that faces hard working staff.

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Britain’s policy on torture

THE GUARDIAN newspaper last week revealed reports from a top-secret leaked document on Britain’s policy on interrogation and the role of MI5 and MI6 in torture and rendition.

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Major supermarket supplier breached labour guidelines

THE GANGMASTERS Licensing Authority (GLA) last week concluded its investigation into agency labour suppliers at the Kent-based agricultural producer Thanet Earth and found that legal guidelines have been breached.

The union Unite welcomes this investigation, but calls on the supermarket clients — including Asda, M&S and Sainsbury’s — to go further and uphold the commitments they have signed up to under the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).

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Libraries to depend on volunteers?

THE PUBLIC sector union Unison is warning that community groups are being held to ransom by Government plans, to force them to take over their libraries, or lose them.

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International News

Huge protests rock Israel

Xinhua news agency

MORE THAN 300,000 Israelis took to the streets across the country on Saturday night to protest against high living costs.

Some estimated 200,000 people flooded the streets of Tel Aviv chanting “the people demand social justice,” and holding signs calling for cabinet members to resign.

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Syrian rebel admits terror acts in Hama

by Fadi al Lafi in Damascus

A captured terror gunman has confessed on Syrian television to acts of sabotage and taking part in the massacres of troops and security personnel in the provincial capital of Hama, a centre of violent opposition to the Baathist-led government that was firmly suppressed in an army raid last week.

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Human Rights Watch: biting the hand that feeds it?

by Manuel E Yepe

YES IT IS news when Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International touches Washington with more than a flower petal.

In a 107-page document, the current July Human Rights Watch reports that it has obtained convincing evidence about the torture of prisoners and abuse of detainees around the world by the George W Bush administration between 1999 and 2008.

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Uncertain days for US in Afghanistan

by Yan Liang in Kabul

THIRTY-ONE members of the US special forces have been killed in a Nato helicopter crash in east Afghanistan, which makes the most tragic day for the US since 2001 and more uncertain days ahead for Afghanistan.

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The truth behind China’s train tragedy

by Stephen Millies

A TERRIBLE train crash occurred on 23rd July in China’s Zhejiang province near Wenzhou, about 220 miles south of Shanghai. Thirty-nine people were killed and 200 injured as a moving train crashed into a stalled train. Passenger cars were thrown off a viaduct.

People around the world were saddened by the loss of life in China’s train disaster. Many Chinese are upset over this tragedy and are wondering how it could have happened. The railway line opened in 2009.

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Obama’s “withdrawal” all smoke and mirrors

by Rob Gowland

UNITED STATES President Barack Obama, in announcing that 10,000 US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of this year and a further 23,000 by the end of the summer of 2012, strove carefully to give the impression that this was “the beginning of the end” for US involvement there.

Getting the US out of the deadly Afghan quagmire was a campaign pledge that helped get Obama elected to the White House, and it is not without significance that under the timetable Obama recently announced, the largest number of US troops would be withdrawn on the eve of the next US Presidential election.

But would this really mean the end of US military involvement in Afghanistan?

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Features

Stalin’s wars

Stalin’s wars: From World War to Cold War 1939-1953. Geoffrey Roberts: Yale University Press 2008, 496 pp, illus. £15.20.

Reviewed by Eric Trevett

THE BOOK Stalin’s Wars is a valuable contribution to the discussion around getting a clearer assessment of Stalin and the Soviet Union.

The book covers the years 1939-53 and includes a detailed account of the major battles of the Great Patriotic War, which started in Russia in 1941.

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