National News

Fuel poverty soaring

MORE THAN one quarter of households in England and Wales are officially categorised as being in fuel poverty — in other words the total household heating bill is more than 10 per cent of its total income, according to a report published last Friday in the Guardian.

This is a huge rise in fuel poverty and affects more than five million homes, much higher than the Government’s previous predictions of 4.1 million.

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Invitation to Clarkson

THE PUBLIC sector union Unison last week responded to Jeremy Clarkson’s remark on the BBC One Show in which he said he would have all those who took part in last week’s massive strike “taken out and shot in front of their families” by inviting Clarkson to join some of the public sector workers on Britain’s hospital wards doing the tasks they do every day.

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Oppressive policing provoked riots

HEAVY handed policing and the use of the stop-and-search laws — reintroduced under the Blair government as an anti-terrorism measure — against young black people fuelled much of the anger and rioting that flared suddenly last August.

This was the conclusion of a lengthy study by the London School of Economics and the Guardian newspaper that interviewed 270 rioters.

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Cancer patients to face fitness for work tests

CANCER patients will not be excused the “fitness for work” tests that are being imposed on all long-term sickness benefit claimants and will have to prove they are too sick to work to keep their benefits.

Cancer charities have warned that a report from Government advisor Prof Malcolm Harrington contains proposals for the testing benefit claimants to include cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

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London surgeons resign over cuts

THE ROYAL College of Surgeons is investigating the resignation of five surgeons at the Royal London Hospital in Tower Hamlets and one surgeon from Bart’s Hospital over cuts in resources which, they say, endanger patients’ safety.

A lack of plastic surgeons, anaesthetists, beds and equipment meant patients with non-life threatening injuries routinely had operations cancelled.

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New peace camp ban

THE LONDON Borough of Westminster last Wednesday passed a new by-law in order to demolish the Parliament Square peace camp and to ban protesters from a large part of central London.

The council aims to clear the area in time for the Olympics.

The by-law gives Westminster council the power to clear 15 streets around the square as well as other nearby footways, pavements and gardens.

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Death of patient confidentiality?

PRIME Minister David Cameron last week announced new plans for commercial healthcare companies to be given access to anonymous NHS patient records and other NHS data under new plans.

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Kraft to cuts another 200 Cadbury jobs

THE GIANT union Unite last week expressed “great concern” over the decision by US-based food giant to cut another 200 jobs at Cadbury factories after its takeover last year.

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Goodbye Barcelona

Reviewed by Theo Russell

Goodbye Barcelona: a stirring anti-fascist musical

IT IS ALMOST unheard of these days on the London theatre scene to come across a committed anti-fascist musical, in which there are two renditions of The Internationale, as well as No Pasaran! and A valley in Spain called Jarama.

Goodbye Barcelona runs at the Arcola Theatre until 23rd December (box office 0207 503 1646). Entrance on Tuesdays is pay what you can afford.

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International News

American style killing machines

by Claudia Fonseca Sosa

WITH the drone bombing attacks the United States government is carrying out in tribal regions of Pakistan, it’s hard to know what to believe. An article in the Wall Street Journal summarises the situation this way; “Combatants of terrorist groups are fired upon, but their identity is not always known.”

A report from the Conflict Monitoring Centre indicates that the recent strikes in Pakistani territory have a “punitive” objective since they are intended to punish Islamabad for its alleged collaboration with the Haqqani network. It is, in effect, an undeclared war, which has civilians as its principal victims.

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Playing the anti-China card

by Li Wei

UNITED States President Barack Obama has pinned his re-election hopes on a change of policy that threatens trade ties between the two countries and recent China-targeted initiatives have soured Sino-US relations.At the just-concluded East Asian Summit, Obama reiterated an increased US presence in Asia and announced a stance on the South China Sea disputes that is at odds with the diplomacy of Beijing on the issue.

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European workers resist bankers’ takeover

by John Catalinotto

MORE THAN three million workers in Portugal walked off the job on 24th November to protest against austerity measures and the takeover of their country’s economy by the “Troika” — the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This has been done with the collusion of the big Portuguese capitalists and their political parties.

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Russia to develop defence project in America’s backyard

by Dimitri Sudakov

RUSSIA has decided to resume defence cooperation with the country that remains in conflict with the United States, even though it is situated very close to the US borders. It is, of course, Cuba.

Russia will resume cooperation with the island against the background of the rising tensions in US-Russian relations. Russia’s defence export giant Rosoboronexport has signed a contract with Havana for the purchase of the processing line for the manufacture of 7.62-mm rifle rounds, which were first produced in 1943.

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Fox News or faux news?

by Rob Gowland

ANYONE who has enjoyed the dubious benefits of a Foxtel contract for even a short time will be aware that Fox News is a truly diabolical excuse for a news service: inaccurate, rabidly biased, and dedicated to the Rupert Murdoch mantra (as he once told the editorial staff of The Australian) that his newspapers and TV news channels are not in the news business but “the entertainment business”.

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The Compton Report — a whitewash for torture

An Phoblacht

TORTURE of detainees by Nato forces has been widespread during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Forty years ago torture by the government of a supposedly liberal “Western democracy” required a hasty cover-up. The government in question was “Her Majesty’s Government” in London and the torture victims were Irish citizens detained without trial in the Six Counties.

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