National News

Don’t equate immigrants with freeloaders

THE JOSEPH Rowntree Trust last week responded to David Cameron’s speech on further restricting the rights of immigrants from Europe to benefits and healthcare with a call for more clarity.

“The response to immigration risks equating migrants with freeloaders,” said spokesperson Emma Stone.

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Holding black-listers to account

THE GENERAL union GMB is to launch a High Court action involving over 100 GMB members and plans to step up the campaign to get named managers and human resources professionals involved with blacklisting in construction to apologise for their role in blacklisting, to come clean and tell what they know about it.

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Barnet Spring people’s revolt

THE PEOPLE of Barnet were on the march last Saturday, despite unseasonal snow and freezing winds, to defend their public services from their council’s decision to outsource just about everything under a scheme called One Barnet.

Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) is challenging the decision in the courts and added to the pressure by organising the “Barnet Spring” march.

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Britain selling gas cheap, buying it dear

AN INVESTIGATION conducted jointly by Greenpeace and the Guardian newspaper last week revealed that Britain is selling its own natural gas to Europe while importing gas at a higher price from Qatar.

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Easier to sack workers

WHILE all eyes were on press regulation, a week ago, MPs quietly voted to halve the consultation period for redundancies from 90 days to 45.

While the Commons noisily debated press regulation, MPs elsewhere in the House quietly signed away workers’ rights. On a delegated legislation committee (a backdoor means of sneaking through contentious amendments), nine Conservatives and two Liberal Democrats voted to reduce the consultation period for collective redundancies from 90 days to 45.

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Government refuses to meet disabled activists

MARK HOBAN, Minister of State for Work and Pensions, has refused to meet Labour MP Michael Meacher to talk about the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and he flatly refused to meet representatives of We Are Spartacus, a group that campaigns for the rights of disabled people, because of one line in the guest foreword of a review of the WCA.

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Job centre staff under pressure to cut off claimants

THE DEPARTMENT of Work and Pensions has been accused by staff at Walthamstow Job Centre of putting them under pressure to exclude a greater number of Job Seekers’ Allowance claimants from the benefit.

And, they say, they have been encouraged to use entrapment to cause claimants to make mistakes so they can be disqualified.

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Ukip wins by-election

THE UNITED Kingdom Independence Party last Thursday won a by-election in the Gooshays ward of the London Borough of Havering. Lawrence James Webb, who was UKIP’s candidate for Mayor of London in 2010, won the northeast London seat with 39 per cent of the vote in a 20.6 per cent turnout.

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Thousands celebrate Newroz in London

DESPITE the freezing weather, thousands of members of the Kurdish community came out to celebrate Newroz, Kurdish New Year, in Finsbury Park last Sunday.

“Free Ocalan and Status for the Kurds,” was the slogan for the day, it was chanted by the crowds and a huge banner at the front of the stage proclaimed the same message.

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International News

Russia ready to help EU settle Cypriot crisis

by Kirill Bezverkhy

RUSSIA will help the European Union in settling the financial crisis in Cyprus. President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government and Finance Ministry to renegotiate the terms of the existing €2.5 billion loan to Cyprus.

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Preparations for World Youth Festival begin

by Lena Valverde

CUBA IS committed to the success of the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students, as the island is participating in the first preparatory meeting in Pretoria, South Africa for the important international youth forum.

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Hunger strike in Guantánamo Base increases


THE MILITARY authorities at the US prison on the illegally held Guantánamo Naval Base, have acknowledged on 24th March that the number of prisoners on hunger strike has risen to 28. The prisoners’ protest is against their indefinite incarceration and violations to which they are subjected within the detention centre.

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Behind the selection of a new Pope

by Deirdre Griswold

THERE ARE many different religions in the United States and also a large number of people who adhere to no religion.

The Catholic Church’s efforts to deny its members the right to birth control, divorce and abortion have caused many to leave its fold. The hierarchy’s insistence that women cannot be priests and their opposition to same-sex marriage have divided the church’s own ranks.

The persistent call for justice and reparations for the sufferings of those who were sexually abused by priests has further added to the church’s decline in numbers and revenue.

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China perfects its revolution

by Claudia Fonseca Sosa

DURING the first sessions of the 12th National Assembly of the People’s Republic of China, which took place on 17th March in Beijing’s Peoples Palace, President Xi Jinping expressed with conviction the intention to continue promoting the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and to attain the dream of national rejuvenation, “without complacency or negligence”.

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Russia to supply Cuban oil to USA?

by Maria Snytkova

THERE WAS concern in the west when it was said that Russia was forgiving Cuba nearly $30 billion of debt. What a gesture of good will! Journalists speculated that Russia had thus received access to the Cuban shelf. Afterwards, Russia will be able to explore and extract mineral resources in Cuban waters.

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Stepping up Anti-Poverty Programmes in Nicaragua

by María Julia Mayoral

IF GOVERNMENT decisions were compared to chess moves, then the Daniel Ortega administration recently decided to “castle” a number of programmes, as a way of confronting the difficult challenge of eliminating structural poverty.

Ortega’s decision was to come out in defence of social programmes that have proved to be popular among citizens in exercising their human rights to health and education, ameliorating asymmetries and stimulating culture.

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The middle “class”

Part one by Neil Harris

“THERE’S nothing wrong with trying to better yourself”, has been the battle cry of the upwardly mobile for more than a century. From the Victorian era and Samuel Smiles’ self-help movement onwards, it produced a world of mechanics’ institutes, correspondence courses, night schools and even elocutionists.

Today a whole industry exists to offer extra tuition to children to get them into the right school or university and all of this just to keep them out of the working class. This desire to be “middle class” was the appeal, if not the real power behind Thatcherism and that mattered because it brought about the destruction of the post-war social-democratic consensus in the 1980’s. It also matters because the middle class is such an important part of the social base of fascism.

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