National News

EDL disappointed at low turnout

by New Worker correspondent

THE ISLAMOPHOBIC English Defence League boasted it would march thousands strong through Leicester last Saturday in a national rally but struggled to get 700 to the event.

It was countered by two anti-fascist demonstrations organised by Unite Against Fascism.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Liberty defends Abu Qatada release

THE CIVIL rights pressure group Liberty last week issued a statement defending the release on bail of alleged terrorist Abu Qatada on human rights grounds despite a huge campaign by the Government and the media attacking this move. Liberty gave a summary of the facts of the case, which are seldom mentioned.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “Outrage at the ruling that Abu Qatada will have to be freed on bail after nearly seven years of detention without charge is predictable.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Poor banished from Croydon to Yorkshire coast

RISING private sector rents, housing benefit cuts and failure to meet mortgage costs are rendering growing numbers of families homeless in the London area.

Croydon council last week proposed that it might house homeless families in Yorkshire’s seaside towns, such as Scarborough.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Government to use private debt collectors

THE CIVIL service union PCS last week warned that a Government announcement about collecting money owed to it using private sector debt collectors will mean more private companies profiting from public debt.

A Cabinet Office report makes it clear that an ongoing review by ministers will almost certainly lead to an increased use of private debt collectors.

The union says this will do nothing to solve the scandal of more than £120 billion being lost to our public finances every year, mostly through tax evasion and avoidance by the very wealthy, and that this should be the Government’s central focus.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Police failed hacking victims

THE METROPOLITAN Police apologised last week after a judicial review ruled that it had failed to warn people they were the victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.

The Met Commissioner accepted that the failure to warn victims was unlawful.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, Labour MP Chris Bryant, ex-Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick and two others had pushed for the review.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Equal pay victory in Bury

UNISON, the public sector union, and Bury Council, last week announced they had reached an agreement to settle nearly 1,000 low paid women council workers’ equal pay claims.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Reuter’s journalists to strike

JOURNALISTS employed by Thomson Reuters have voted to strike over a below-inflation pay offer, the first industrial action at the news agency in more than 25 years.

The National Union of Journalists said in a statement that its members at the company voted “overwhelmingly” for a 48-hour walkout next week, coinciding with the release of Thomson Reuters’ full-year financial results.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Bloody Sunday book launch

by New Worker correspondent

A NEW book recounting the remarkable story of the campaign fought by the Bloody Sunday families has been published to mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre.

Setting the Truth Free: The Inside Story of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign was launched in London last Friday at the Bookmarks Bookshop in Bloomsbury by the author, Julieann Campbell, and leading Human Rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International law and justice

by New Worker Correspondent

CAN THERE be true international justice when different countries and systems have such different values and concepts of justice?

This was the theme of an enlightening debate among senior international lawyers and scholars last Friday evening at the Brunei Gallery lecture theatre at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas). The debate, entitled “International justice: between impunity and show trials” was chaired by Dr Stephen Hopgood of Soas.

The main speaker was Stephen Kay QC — the man who had been appointed by the Court at The Hague to defend Slobodan Milosevic, much against Milosevic’s will because he had wanted to defend himself.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Strikes sweep Greece as debt talks continue

by Maria Spiliopoulou

GREECE was paralysed on Tuesday by a 24-hour nationwide general strike as Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and leaders backing his transitional government meet to decide on a new bailout to prevent a default in March.

Greek politicians are under increasing pressure from EU and IMF lenders to pass new austerity measures in exchange for a second €130 billion rescue package. Leaders failed to reach an agreement with EU, IMF auditors in Athens on Sunday and Monday. Pressure is also being mounted by Greek society, struggling with record high unemployment rates and deep recession since the start of the debt crisis in late 2009.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Algeria shows Nato the door

by Sergei Balmasov

OVER the past 20 years Algeria had become a leading partner of the West in the fight against terrorism. Now relations with Nato have soured following what happened to Libya last year. Algeria more or less openly supported Colonel Gaddafi during the conflict and that has seriously complicated the relationship with the Nato powers.

Nato repeatedly asked the Algerian leadership to explain why they supported the Gaddafi government. In November, soon after the death of Gaddafi, relations took a turn worse when Algeria banned American and French drones from flying over its territory.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Struggle for the release of the Cuban Five reaches the Antarctic

by Leandro

THE DEMAND for the release of the five Cuban counter-terrorism fighters imprisoned in United States will reach the white shores of the Antarctic on 24th February.

That’s the day a multicultural polar expedition is expected to arrive in the southern ice continent. Vladimir Koshliev, head of the polar expedition, told reporters that the solidarity group will install a banner portraying the images of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez at the airport of King George Island.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


Hurrah for a free press!

by Rob Gowland

The owners of the corporations that control “free enterprise” news media make a big song and dance about their “independence and freedom” being a cornerstone of democracy, but the last thing they want is for the news media to be taken over by the people, no matter how democratic that might be.

No, monopoly control over access to news is in fact a cornerstone of monopoly class rule, and the ruling class has no intention of giving up that control. In fact, maintaining private, for-profit control over the mass media is fundamental to capitalism.

Of course, the ruling class cannot expect much support from the mass of the people for that argument, so they dress it up in high-sounding phrases about “free speech” and the benefits of a “free press”, meaning free of government or community control, not free of corporate control.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Spain behind bars

by Sergio A Gómez Gallo

THE NUMBER of prisoners in Spain has dramatically increased during the last 10 years and currently stands at more than 77,000, thus placing this nation among European Union countries with the highest rate of inmates per total population.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

1912: The Tories stir sectarianism in Ireland

THE YEAR 2012 marks the centenary of the escalation of what was known as the Home Rule crisis, during which the opposition Conservative and Unionist Party in Britain ruthlessly stoked Ulster unionist sectarianism. The Tories went so far as to threaten civil war in order to topple the Liberal Government and to prevent any measure of even limited Irish autonomy.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]