National News

Aamer to sue British spooks

SHAKER AAMER, a Saudi national who won the right to live with his family in Battersea but has spent the last 11 years in the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay without charge or trial, is suing British intelligence services for defamation, for telling lies about him that led to him being suspected of being a terrorist.

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Atos victim sues Government

PATRICK LYNCH, a former social care worker who is now a wheelchair user, is launching a legal action against the Government for being wrongly denied benefits after a work capability test conducted by the notorious private agency Atos on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

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Redundancy time cut

THE STATUTORY 90-day consultation period before large-scale redundancies can take place is to be cut to 45 days, under Government plans.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said the move was aimed at helping workers and businesses. Labour said the changes would not boost economic growth and the TUC said:

“Making it easier to sack people is the last thing we need.”

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Alarming evidence of hunger in schools

ALMOST half of teachers in England are seeing hungry children coming into school, our new report from the Children’s Society charity reveals.

Food for Thought, a survey on teachers’ views on school meals reveals alarming evidence of child poverty and hunger in schools in England. Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of teachers reported seeing children coming to school with no lunch and no means to pay for one.

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Fuel poverty to hit another 300,000

AROUND 300,000 extra households could be forced into fuel poverty within weeks, according to the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, which is calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to tackle what it describes as a “spiralling” problem.

Energy prices have risen by seven per cent on average this year, taking the average annual direct debit bill to £1,247.

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The myth of workless families

ARE THERE really families where three generations have never worked?

New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that “cultures of worklessness” was not a good explanation for unemployment.

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Hospitals full

A HEALTH TRUST last week asked general practitioners to consider not sending patients directly to a London A&E as it was overwhelmed with admissions, according to a leaked letter.

Maeve O’Callaghan- Harrington, head of emergency planning at North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, wrote to family doctors last week telling them the casualty units at Northwick Park Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital were full.

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The horror of Christmas

by Anton Johnson

WALKING through central London last Saturday following a union meeting I was struck by the crowds of people rushing about eager to consume, spend money they did not have on things they did not need, stepping over rough sleepers who were asking for money simply to have food.

The crowds seemed oblivious and spellbound by the bright Christmas lights in the shops and street.

Capitalism has adopted quasi religious festivals in order to get working people to consume and get into greater debt on belief that they will be happy if they have the next item. This has manifested itself into addictive behaviour an automatic response to a carefully orchestrated campaign by business, which starts in October when shops put up Christmas decorations and announcements.

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A Red Salute to Kim Jong Il!

by New Worker correspondent

FRIENDS of Democratic Korea returned to the Marchmont Centre in central London last weekend to mark the 1st anniversary of the passing of dear leader Kim Jong Il called by the Juché societies in Britain, electrified by the news that the DPRK had successfully put a satellite into Earth orbit.

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Railways and the workers who run them

Reviewed by Andy Brooks

Unity is Strength; The National Union of Railwaymen: 100 years of industrial unionism :

Alex Gordon, Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union 2012, illus, pbk, 72 pp, £3.00 (free to RMT members)

THOUGH most children prefer computer games to trainsets these days, interest in railways still has a place in the British psyche as a casual glance around any high street bookshop will show.

Magazines and books devoted to real or model railways still exist to cater for the needs of model makers and train-spotters young and old. Reams are written about the “age of steam” and the train routes that span the country. Sadly, few if any, ever bother to tell the story of the men and women who actually ran them.

This new publication from the biggest transport union in the country helps redress the balance. It has been written by RMT president, Alex Gordon, as part of the union’s celebration of the centenary of the founding of the National Union of Railwaymen in February 1913, which is the core component of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union of today.

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International News

Young Italian workers hard hit

by Eric J Lyman

ITALY’S economic recovery appears to be sidestepping the youngest Italians, according to information released on Tuesday by Italy’s National Statistics Institute, which said that the number of unemployed workers under the age of 35 has surpassed one million for the first time.

Unemployment rates in Italy have continued to rise this year, even as some signs — such as stock market performance, yields on government bonds, and consumer confidence — point to the start of a possible recovery. Last month, ISTAT, the statistics agency, reported that the country’s official unemployment rate reached 11.1 per cent in October, the highest since the current method for calculation was installed in 2004.

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Egyptian opposition steps up protests

by Ed Newman

EGYPT’S opposition launched new protests on Tuesday against an Islamist backed draft constitution that has divided the country but which looks set to be approved in the second round of a referendum next weekend.

Islamist President Mohamed Morsi obtained a 57 per cent “yes” vote for the constitution in a first round of the referendum on Saturday. It was less than he had hoped for. And the results have emboldened the opposition, which says the law is too Islamist. But they are unlikely to win this Saturday’s second round, to be held in districts seen as even more sympathetic towards Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

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Irish parliamentary committee to meet Finucane family

by John Hedges

THE IRISH parliament has taken up the Finucane case following the release of a report in London on the killing of the Belfast-based solicitor. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement is inviting the family of the late Pat Finucane to make a formal submission to it in the New Year after last week’s publication of the controversial de Silva report.

Seán Crowe TD, one of Sinn Féin’s representatives on the committee, said: “Many of us share deep concern over the de Silva report and the refusal of the British Government to hold a public inquiry.

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Councillors of the People

by Luis Chirino

THE CONSTITUENCY delegates of People’s Power (councillors) in Cuba, having no offices or facilities to meet with their voters,could be well described as a sort of travelling officials in the community.

Many times, indeed I would say most of the time, the councillors meet with their voters either at a street corner, in their homes, or just at any site in the neighbourhood, wherever they are called by the people.

For this reason these women and men democratically elected by the people are always at hand in their constituencies.

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Irish in Gaza: No one can stop change

An Phoblacht

CAITRÍONA RUANE is a MLA [Member of the Legislative Assembly] in the northern Ireland assembly who has just returned from a five-day fact finding visit to Gaza with other elected representatives from throughout Europe, including fellow Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan and Colum Eastwood MLA of the SDLP. There was also a solidarity delegation from Ireland led by Derry Friends of Palestine who attended some of the same meetings. Caitríona wrote this piece specially for An Phoblacht about her brief experience in what has been dubbed “the world’s largest openair prison”.

THE FIRST pictures of Palestinian children I saw were at the Egyptian border crossing to Gaza. We had been travelling for nearly two days by land and air. We had just crossed the Sinai desert, escorted by an Egyptian Army tank.

We arrived in Rafah and a delegation from the Gaza Government met with us. They showed us the pictures of the children who had been killed in the most recent bombing. I lost count of the number of children — so many children. I did not know how to feel. My mind shut down. There are no words to describe the pictures.

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Stand with Chávez and Venezuela

Workers World (US)

HUGO CHAVEZ’S extraordinary career as military rebel, people’s hero and agent of deep social change in Venezuela, as well as a leader of the anti imperialist struggle in Latin America, has inspired the world while putting fear in the hearts of the imperialists.

His announcement that his cancer has returned despite many efforts by Cuba’s stellar medical teams to cure him has shocked and saddened progressives everywhere, especially the masses in Latin America who have looked to the Bolivarian Revolution as a path to both independence from imperialism and to regional integration of their efforts for development with social justice.

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The Kurds and Human Rights

by David Morgan

THE KURDS constitute one of the world’s largest populations without a nation state of their own. This great injustice is the root cause of the abuses and discrimination to which Kurds are still subjected to at the present day. This occurs even though the Kurds are one of the oldest peoples of the Middle East and can trace their lineage back thousands of years; the first mention of the existence of Kurds is traced to reference to Karduchoi made by the classical Greek historian Xenophon in the Expedition of Cyrus.

Today the actual size of the Kurdish population is very hard to establish because of the difficult circumstances in which the Kurds find themselves, but the number is usually estimated at approximately 40 million. The majority of the communities of Kurds are distributed unevenly between the four states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The borders of these contemporary states only came into being following the First World War with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the reshaping of the region by the imperial powers.

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Social discontent erupts in Europe

by Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver

A EUROPE hit by debt crisis, unemployment and poverty has irremediably assaulted the media, given social protests by millions of Europeans, who took to the streets on 14th November to express their mounting anger at the harsh austerity and fiscal adjustment plans advocated by Germany, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.

The financial corporations are now determined to do away with the welfare state. But only a few years ago this model that guaranteed public education, universal health care, decent housing, a living wage or stable employment, was presented as a triumph of representative democracy, the paradigm of the European Union.

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