National News

More cuts to school music budget

EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove last week announced that he was going to send a copy of the King James Bible to all English schools.

At the same time he has just greatly reduced the long-term funding for an important music plan — based on the Venezuela youth orchestra.

The Venezuelan El Sistema programme, working with children from poor backgrounds, teaching them to play musical instruments, has produced great youth orchestras, including the one led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel, which has amazed music lovers all around the world.

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Livingstone Fare Deal campaign launch

by Theo Russell

KEN LIVINGSTONE, Labour’s London mayoral candidate, last week told his first major campaign rally, in Camden, that transport fares must be cut “on transport grounds to make the system more attractive, but also on economic grounds to put ordinary Londoners first by putting money back in the pockets that will boost the London economy.”

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BNP disruption closes school Christmas fair

GRENOSIDE Primary School in Sheffield was conducting a consultation exercise with parents over proposals to extend sex education classes to younger pupils when the local BNP waded in and forced the school to close its planned regular Christmas fair.

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Women council workers win equal pay claim

A GROUP of 174 women who used to work for Birmingham City Council last week won a landmark equality case at the Court of Appeal after being told their claims were outside tribunal time limits to pursue actions for compensation.

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Miliband on the fence

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband has regrettably failed to support this week’s massive national public sector strike.

But he has also refused to condemn the strike.

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Osborne in a tailspin

CHANCELLOR George Osborne’s infrastructure plans to rescue the British economy is “too little, too late”, according to a statement from the giant union Unite issued last Tuesday.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “George Osborne is like a pilot who has put his plane into a tailspin and is now wrestling desperately with the controls as the aircraft rapidly loses height.

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OECD defends NHS

THE ORGANISATION for Economic Cooperation and Development — a think tank funded by wealthy governments — last week published a report into international health care and treatment that found Britain’s NHS doing very well. It concluded that the last thing the NHS needs now is a major structural reform as is contained in the health care Bill now going through Parliament.

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Balfour Beatty workers vote for strike against de-skilling

MEMBERS of the giant union Unite employed at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services have given an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote for strike action, as the union begins immediate preparation to ballot two other construction companies that are involved in the termination of long-held agreements and the de-skilling of craft workers.

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Trafficked people are not criminals

PEOPLE who have been trafficked, including those trapped as unpaid domestic servants and women forced into the sex industry, are being treated unfairly as criminals and illegal immigrants according to a report published last week be the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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International News

Syria defies imperialist aggressors

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

MILLIONS of Syrians took to the streets on Monday to condemn imperialist-inspired Arab League sanctions and show their support for their Baathist-led popular front government.

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Russia rejects arms embargo on Syria

Xinhua news agency

RUSSIA rejects any arms embargo imposed on Syria and Moscow would try to avoid a repeat of the Libyan scenario in the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

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Thousands of Libyans in prison without trial

Prensa Latina

ABOUT 7,000 people remain in prisons and improvised detention centres in Libya without due process while the Tawergha community is the target of revenge killings, according to a United Nations report released on Monday.

The United Nations said that much is yet to be done to end arbitrary detention, prevent abuses, release people whose imprisonment should not be prolonged and ensure that arrests are made under the law.

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Eurozone ministers discuss struggling economy

by Juan Leandro

EUROZONE finance ministers met in Brussels this week to discuss ways of expanding the region’s bailout fund and to save its currency, as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned that a break-up of the single currency zone can no longer be ruled out.

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Russia’s new radar to monitor all Europe

Pravda.ru

A NEW radar station in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad began monitoring missile launches across the entire European continent this week. The new station will play a significant role in the complex of measures that Russia has taken in response to the growing power of the US missile defence system.

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Cuba’s outstanding advances in agricultural biotechnology

by Eduardo José González

SINCE the early 1980s Cuba has bet heavily on the development of biotechnology and currently exhibits remarkable advances in the field of health — beneficial not only Cubans, but many others around the world.

But with climate change and adverse economic conditions, Cuba has also dedicated its efforts to consolidate agricultural biotechnology to ensure food security for all Cubans, an essential of the revolutionary government.

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Trotsky as I knew him

Reviewd by Andy Brooks

Leon Trotsky As I knew him: M N Roy, 32 pp, Second Wave Publications, London 2011

DO NOT be misled by the title or the flattering portrait on the cover into thinking that this is yet another paean of praise for Leon Trotsky. Don’t dismiss it out of hand because it was written by another one-time revolutionary who fell by the wayside. This paper is, in fact, a biting critique from someone who had been in Trotsky’s camp but ended up voting with all the others in 1927 to expel him from the Communist International.

Manabendra Nath Roy was the movement name of Narendra Nath Bhattacharya, a militant Indian nationalist who embraced Marxism and helped found the communist parties of India and Mexico and later sat on the presidium of the Comintern from 1921 until he too was expelled in 1929 for supporting the Right Opposition of Bukharin and the German communist Heinrich Brandler.

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Features

Drug lords of Mexico and the United States

by Anatoly Miranovsky

DRUG CARTELS rule Mexico. These criminal structures are like transnational corporations. They produce and distribute drugs and enjoy supreme power in the country. But the Los Zetas cartel is a particularly Mexican phenomenon because it was literally created and developed by US special services.

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Smokin’ Joe Frazier, one of a kind

by Larry Hales

RELENTLESS, overused and indeed clichéd, but “Smokin’” is the most suitable word to describe Smokin’ Joe Frazier in the boxing ring. The fighter, who passed away on 7th November at the age of 67, nearly two months after being diagnosed with liver cancer, was never big for a heavyweight, especially by today’s standards, and at five feet 11 inches had an average weight of around 205 pounds.

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Qatar: no World Cup without labour rights

Australian communist weekly

The International Trade United Confederation (ITUC), the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and the Swiss Union Unia have met with FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke at FIFA headquarters, to inform him that unless Qatar upholds labour rights, the international trade union movement will campaign against the 2022 World Cup being held there.

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