National News

The curse of B&B life returns

MANY OF the social horrors of the Thatcher years are returning with a vengeance: savage cuts in social services, soaring unemployment and dozens of homeless people in sleeping bags along the streets of London’s West End.

But one of the worst is the soaring number of families made homeless and forced to live in Bed-and-Breakfast (B&B) accommodation. This is supposed to be an emergency temporary measure used by councils to look after families who have just lost their homes until a proper home can be found. There is an official six week limit on the time a council can keep a family in such accommodation.

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Stop the great fuel robbery

by New Worker Correspondent

CAMPAIGNERS against the profiteering of the Big Six energy companies at the expense of people who need to keep their homes warm last Saturday succeeded in blocking Whitehall, many of them in wheelchairs which they parked across the road.

The campaigners included many disabled people and pensioners — those who suffer most from the constantly rising costs of keeping their homes warm. The protest was called by Fuel Poverty Action, supported by: All African Women’s Group, Climate Justice Collective, Disabled People Against Cuts, Frack Off (London), Global Women’s Strike, Greater London Pensioners’ Association, National Pensioners’ Convention, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, Red Pepper, Single Mothers’ Self Defence, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group, WinVisible.

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Olympic heroes on the dole

DOZENS of Olympic athletes who competed in last summer’s games in London are now facing the harsh reality of unemployment. At least 64 of the 553 who were part of “Team GB” have been forced to quit their sports and are in serious financial difficulties.

Volleyball player Rachel Laybourne said: “I am 30 and financially crippled. London 2012 feels like a million years ago.”

For Laybourne, whose side beat Algeria at the Games but lost four other matches and subsequently £3.1 million of funding, a career in sports education beckoned.

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FBU opposes ‘blue light’ merger

THE FIRE Brigades Union in Northamptonshire is extremely concerned at reports suggesting a possible merger of the fire and rescue service and the police, which firefighters believe will damage the service to the public.

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Theresa May attacks judges

HOME Secretary Theresa May last week accused judges of “ignoring” the law on the deportation of foreigners who have been convicted of serious crimes.

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BBC journalists strike

JOURNALISTS working for the BBC took strike action last Monday, following a work-to-rule in a dispute over job cuts.

The National Union of Journalists is now battling to save jobs at BBC Scotland, Newsbeat, Five Live, at the Big Screens, Asian Network and the World Service which are due to go within months. In all, the BBC plans to cut 2,000 jobs. And the corporation has already lost more than 7,000 jobs since 2004.

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Bedroom Tax update

THE CAMPAIGNING group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) last week warned that the “Bedroom Tax” — a big cut in housing benefit for claimants who have a bedroom more than they are deemed to need — will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants.

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Anti-fascists thwart neo-Nazi gig

THE ANTI-FASCIST magazine Searchlight last week received a tipoff that Nazi bands were due to play at the Boleyn Tavern in Newham, east London, on Saturday.

Searchlight immediately contacted Unite Against Fascism and other anti-fascists to alert them, as well as people from the Asian community who live or work in Newham and Redbridge.

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Carers to lose benefits

THOUSANDS of people caring for the long-term sick and disabled will lose their allowances when new rules begin concerning disability claims.

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Recalling a great Korean leader

by New Worker correspondent

COMRADES and friends met in central London on Saturday for a second meeting to commemorate the 71st anniversary of dear leader Kim Jong Il and to celebrate the DPR Korea’s latest outstanding scientific achievements in atomic power.

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Hands Off Syria!

by New Worker correspondent

PEACE campaigners gathered on a cold evening last Friday outside Downing Street to protest against western intervention and arming of the opposition in Syria, to demand the withdrawal of western troops from Mali, and to call for an end to the seemingly endless spread of war around the globe.

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International News

Left leader sweeps poll in Ecuador election

by Ed Newman

ECUADOR’S National Electoral Council (CNE) has confirmed President Rafael Correa’s victory in Sunday’s presidential election after about 71 per cent of the ballots were counted.

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Irish unity — let the people decide

An Phoblacht

IRISH REPUBLICANS have argued for Irish unity since partition.

Fifteen years ago, in the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin secured the removal of the Government of Ireland Act by which the British claimed ownership of the Six Counties.

This was replaced with a commitment to a Border poll that allows the people in the North decide democratically if they want an end to the Union and partition.

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Egyptian communists back protests

People’s Voice (Canada)

SHARP political struggles continue in Egypt, where the democratic and progressive goals of the uprising against the Mubarak regime are under pressure by the Morsi government.

The Egyptian Communist Party, which was finally able to function legally after the 2011 uprising, issued a statement titled Continuing the Revolutionary Struggle against Opportunism and Forces of the Fascist Religious Right on 31st January.

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Chávez returns

by Berta Joubert-Ceci

IN THE early morning of Monday 18th February, a surprising tweet from chavezcandanga, the twitter account of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, announced his return to Venezuela:

“We have returned to our Venezuelan homeland. Thank you my God! Thank you beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment.” Two more tweets followed, thanking Fidel and Raúl Castro and the Cuban people for the medical treatment received on the island of Cuba.

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Iraq: a decade after invasion

by Ramzy Baroud

SOON AFTER the joint US-British bombing campaign “Operation Desert Fox” devastated parts of Iraq in December 1998, I was complaining to a friend in the lobby of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

I was disappointed that our busy schedule in Iraq — mostly visiting hospitals packed with injured or Depleted Uranium Victims — left me no time to purchase a few Arabic books for my little daughter back in the United States. As I got ready to embark on the long bus journey back to Jordan, an Iraqi man with a thick moustache and a carefully designed beard approached me. “This is for your daughter,” he said with a smile as he handed me a plastic bag. The bag included over a dozen books with colourful images of traditional Iraqi children stories.

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French imperialism moves deeper into Mali

by Abayomi Azikiwe

SINCE 11th January, when France launched bombing attacks and a ground invasion into the resource-rich African country of Mali, Paris has declared that the intervention in its former colony is limited and that it will leave in April, after the establishment of a regional force from the Economic Community of West African States.

But several thousand troops from various African states, including Chad and Nigeria as well as the national army of Mali, have already entered the battle alongside France. And France is continuing to deploy additional troops to Mali, said to now number 4,000.

What is not being said is that these military operations, ostensibly to push back a fundamentalist Islamic group, are really designed to secure the country’s resources for the benefit of Western imperialists.

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Irish troops to aid Mali regime

by Mark Moloney

IRISH and British soldiers will for the first time take part in a joint operation as part of a European Union training mission in Mali.

Irish Minister for Defence Alan Shatter said yesterday the move was part of the “normalisation” of relations between Ireland and Britain.

Britain would lead the joint deployment of eight Irish and 18 British soldiers under the First Royal Irish Regiment as part of the EU mission, he said.

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Israel fuels the Syrian flames

by Nicola Nasser

THE TIMING of the Israeli air raid early on 30th January on a Syrian target, that has yet to be identified, coincided with a hard-to-refute indications that the “regime change” in Syria by force, both by foreign military intervention and by internal armed rebellion, has failed, driving the Syrian opposition in exile to opt unwillingly for “negotiations” with the ruling regime, with the blessing of the US, EU and Arab League, concluding, in the words of a German Deutsche Welle radio report on 2nd February, that “nearly two years since the revolt began, Assad is still sitting comfortably in presidential chair”.

Nonetheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps saying that Israel is preparing for “dramatic changes” in Syria, but senior Israeli foreign ministry officials accused him of “fear-mongering on Syria” to justify his ordering what the Russians described as the “unprovoked” raid, according to The Times of Israel on 29th January. Another official told the Israeli daily Maariv (Evening) that no Israeli “red lines” were crossed with regard to the reported chemical weapons in Syria to justify the raid.

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