National News

Benefit cuts based on ignorance

THE CON-DEM Coalition relies on general public ignorance about benefit levels and entitlements to get away with the horrendous cuts it has imposed on all benefit claimants, according to a survey conducted for the TUC by YouGov.

The survey found that voters least able to give accurate answers about benefits are the most likely to back the Government’s policy on cutting benefits. The poll shows that once people learn that the benefit up-rating cap will hit workers in low-paid jobs, support moves away from the government, with 40 per cent overall opposing the cap on low-paid worker benefits and only 30 per cent backing them.

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Bradley Manning’s motive

by New Worker correspondent

THE SIGHT of film footage of United States armed forces firing from a helicopter and deliberately gunning down children in Iraq was the motivation that inspired US serviceman Bradley Manning to leak hundreds of secret electronic communications to the Wikileaks website.

Manning has been held under arrest since 2010 and in London last Tuesday around 25 protesters braved the weather to demonstrate outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square calling for his release.

Manning was an intelligence analyst giving him access to thousands of emails and other electronic communications between the US government and its embassies around the world — some of which have proved very embarrassing to the US government and its allies after Wikileaks published them for all the world to see.

The protest coincided with a preliminary hearing in the run-up to Manning’s court martial, due to begin in March.

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EDL leader sentenced

THE LEADER of the notoriously violent Islamophobic English Defence League last Tuesday was sentenced to 10 months in prison for passport fraud.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who is better known to his followers as Tommy Robinson but also uses a number of other aliases, had tried to enter the United States using the passport of a friend, Andrew McMaster, who has a similar appearance — after he had been banned from that country because of his criminal record. Stephen Lennon, 30, pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with improper intention, contrary to the Identity Documents Act 2010, at Southwark Crown Court.

He was detected by US customs officials who found his fingerprints did not match the passport.

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Save Lewisham Hospital march

THE CAMPAIGN to Save Lewisham Hospital is planning another mass march in defence of the hospital’s Accident and Emergency and Maternity services, which are threatened with cuts.

Last Tuesday Matthew Kershaw, the special administrator brought in to sort out the financial mess caused by the bankruptcy of the neighbouring South London Hospital Trust, wants to rearrange all hospital services in south London, including Lewisham Hospital, which does not have financial problems of its own.

Kershaw’s plan involves leaving the area, with a population of 750,000, with just one A&E unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Woolwich Common, which is already overloaded and struggling to cope. He would also cut Lewisham’s maternity services.

Other measures he has already implemented within the bankrupt trust include merging gynaecology services at Queen Mary’s Hospital Sidcup with the men’s surgical ward.

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Private firm wrongly tells migrants to leave

THE COMPANY Capita, which has been subcontracted by the UK Border Agency to carry out some of its functions, including the removal of migrants, recently sent letters and texts to people telling them to leave the country immediately, even though many were entitled to stay.

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Gove wants Mary Seacole removed from history

EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove is proposing to remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum.

Mary Seacole was a young Jamaican woman at the time of the Crimean War who, when she heard of the terrible sufferings of wounded soldiers on the battlefields, made her own way unaided to Crimea and provided food, nursing and other basic comforts to wounded troops using both official and traditional Afro-Caribbean medicines.

After the war her role was recognised by Queen Victoria, who awarded her a medal and her name became well known to the Victorian public.

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Angry farmworkers lobby Paterson

FARM workers, who have been suffering disproportionately from Government cuts because of their traditionally low levels of pay, last week protested in Oxford at a conference being addressed by Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

They were protesting against the pre-Christmas announcement that the Government plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Aboard — where ministry officials, farmers and farmworkers’ union representatives negotiate pay rates.

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Comrades and friends

by New Worker correspondent

NCP comrades joined friends from the RCPB (ML) at the social held at the John Buckle Centre in south London last month to welcome the New Year in style.

In his welcoming toast RCPB (ML) leader Michael Chant said: “I want to raise a glass to all our friends who are here: friends from the New Communist Party; friends from the anti-fascist movement; friends from the movement for rights, and so on. It is very important to get together on such occasions, not only to be convivial and to develop fraternal unity and the unity of the people’s movement, but also to assess what the tasks are as we go into the New Year, the tasks that the communist and the workers’ movements and people’s movements are faced with. For us 2012 was a year of consolidation for RCPB (ML): we consolidated ourselves on various fronts (particularly on the journalism front); on the front of a technical base of our new paper and also on the front of mobilising the youth for modern communism, which we think is very important”.

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A Masterly Performance

Reviewed by Carole Barclay

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is at the Barbican Theatre in London until 19th January and tickets range from £16

MIKHAIL BULGAKOV is one of those Soviet authors who only achieved international acclaim long after his death. Because he was not openly anti-Soviet he was never lionised by the bourgeois media that embraced Boris Pasternak and Anna Akmatova and international recognition only came long after his death. In fact his seminal work, The Master and Margarita, was never published in his lifetime. But it is now regarded as one of the classics of the Stalin era, even though the Soviet leader rarely approved of Bulgakov’s literary output.

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Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution

Reviewed by Alan Stewart

Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution: Richard Gott,pbk, 368 pp, Verso Books, London, 2011, £10.99.

IN 1958 — a year before Castro’s victory in Cuba radical elements in the Venezuelan military, based in Maracay, staged a revolt.

There was also rioting in the capital Caracas. When a left wing Patriotic Junta appealed for a general strike the dictator Marcos Perez Jiminez resigned. But when the dust settled it was Romulo Betancourt and his US backed Accion Democratica party who held the reins of power.

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International News

Mass rally for Chavez in Caracas

by Xelcis Presno

THE UNITED Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has called a mass demonstration in Caracas, on 10th January, in support for the government of President Hugo Chavez.

PSUV deputy leader Diosdado Cabello said that faced with the opposition’s moves, the people will take to the streets knowing they must assume responsibility for the future.

Cabello, who also serves as President of the National Assembly, said that rightwing opponents have gone on the offensive following the two important electoral victories the socialist forces achieved last year.

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Cuban health system with positive results in 2012

Radio Havana Cuba

THE CUBAN Public Health System reported positive results in 2012, marked by efficiency and effectiveness in meeting the needs of the population. This fact was presented at the First International Convention on Health recently held in Havana, which was attended by over 1,500 experts from 67 countries, including 25 health ministers.

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Kim Jong Un celebrates birthday

Democratic Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrated his birthday on 8th January by sending a kilogram of sweets to every child in the DPR Korea. In a televised New Year address the DPRK leader said that the single-hearted unity of the army and people around the Party is our strongest weapon and a powerful propellant for the building of a thriving socialist country.

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Shun Unionists’ Dublin flag demo call

by John Hedges

PEOPLE have been urged by Sinn Féin to avoid Saturday’s proposed unionist demonstration at the Dáil, the Irish parliament, and just go about their usual business rather than be provoked by “this publicity stunt designed to ratchet up tension and trouble in Dublin”.

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China to surpass United States by 2049

EXPERTS at a Beijing think-tank say that China is likely to surpass the United States in an all-around way by 2049, the year the People’s Republic of China will celebrate its centennial anniversary.

According to a report released on Tuesday by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be realised and the country will surpass the US as long as it nurtures sound “national health”.

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Vietnam: the lives and loves of a gay community

VNS

A NEW photo exhibition offers a closer look into the daily lives and feelings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Vietnam who continue to suffer from discrimination. The exhibition entitled Mo-Bang-Yeu (Openness- Equality-Love) opened in Hanoi last week gathering photos from three prior exhibitions on the lives of the nation’s LGBT community.

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Features

Horrific rape sparks mass protests in India

by Heather Cottin

AN OUTRAGED mass movement has brought hundreds of thousands, mainly women, into the streets of India to protest against rape and government inaction toward the perpetrators. This explosion of anger and despair was ignited by a horrendous incident in Delhi, which was fuelled by many years of rising violence against women.

On 16th December a young woman student boarded a bus in Delhi accompanied by a male friend. The bus kept circling a 20-mile area in South Delhi while six men inside the vehicle raped her and also beat her and her friend with iron rods. The bus’s tinted windows concealed the savagery within as it rolled, unstopped, through a series of police checkpoints.

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A Sandy Hook solution?

by Juana Carrasco Martín

THE RESPONSE was to be expected, a timely entrepreneurial one, meant to reap profit and create a “need” to consume: buy a bulletproof backpack for your little one. Good businessmen don’t miss an opportunity.

This kind of protection from the criminal minds of a sick society has occurred to companies like Amendment II, a cynically selected name referring to the US Constitution’s Second Amendment which grants private citizens the right to bear arms, 300 million of whom, within a population of 350 million, do so.

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2013, the Mayan Calendar and the end of the world

by Lisa Karpova

THE MAYAN calendar that many say predicted the end of the world this December of 2012 was a little off. Actually, it was quite late. In truth, the world ended approximately two decades ago. Oh yes, we are still physically here and breathing. But what are we? Who are we? Is this really the phenomenon that we call living?

Back then we had a fairly balanced world. We had progress in human relations, respect for the human dignity of others, people becoming free from oppression.

We had the rule of law, international law. We had a semblance of civilisation. We had human rights.

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