National News

Battle for independent living goes to Appeal Court

FIVE DISABLED people who last week lost their High Court challenge to the Government’s abolition of Independent Living Allowance (ILA) will take the case further to the Appeal Court.

ILA has been paid to people with severe disabilities, regardless of whether or not they are in work, in recognition that coping with disability imposes extra costs and that they are as entitled to live independently as anyone else.

The Government wants to replace ILA with Personal Independent Payments (PIPs). These will be administered by local authorities and will be means tested. Each of the 19,000 claimants will be visited and their needs assessed.

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Cross Atos and be arrested

A NOTTINGHAM man with mental health problems was arrested and has been held in jail for two weeks after comments he made during a Work Capability Assessment interview with the notorious private agency Atos.

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Peace protesters march on RAF drone base

HUNDREDS of anti-war protesters marched on the RAF Waddington airbase near Lincoln last Saturday, after the first unmanned drone missions were carried out against the Taliban from British soil.

Members of the Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want marched from Lincoln to nearby RAF Waddington in the first national demonstration against the use of drones in Britain

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Living wage dispute at Scots National Trust

WORKERS employed by the conservation charity, the National Trust for Scotland, are balloting for strike action against low pay.

This could lead to industrial action at dozens of major historical venues and follows after a report from representatives of the union Prospect to its members that management imposed a real-terms pay cut of two per cent, which had already been rejected by 91 per cent of members in February.

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Miliband supports living wage

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband given support to the living wage, claiming that Labour would offer tax rewards to companies who began paying their workers the increased rate.

He told the Guardian newspaper that companies could be offered lower business rates or tax relief on training programmes in return for boosting their staff wages.

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Shale gas ‘may not lower prices’

SHALE gas in Britain, extracted by the controversial technique known as fracking, could help secure domestic energy supplies but may not bring down prices, according to the parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee.

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Call for ban zero hours contracts

SHADOW Health Secretary Andy Burnham last week called for Labour to promise to ban zero- hours contracts at the next election.

These are employment contracts that do not specify any hours but the worker has to be available at all times if called in. And they only get paid for the hours they are given to work so they can never be sure what their wage packet will be.

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Rally for Whittington Hospital

CAMPAIGNERS protesting at plans to sell off large parts of Whittington Hospital in north London rallied outside the hospital last Wednesday 24th April as members of the hospital board walked out of their monthly meeting.

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Treasury too close to accountants

THE PARLIAMENTARY Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week warned that close working and cooperation between the “big four” accountancy companies and the Treasury — with staff from the accountants being seconded to the Treasury — is helping the accountants to advise their clients on how to avoid paying their taxes.

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UKIP ‘Bloomin ridiculous’

TUC GENERAL secretary Frances O’Grady last week described claims by Godfrey Bloom, MEP for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) regarding women’s rights at work were “Bloomin’ ridiculous”.

Bloom told radio listeners that women of childbearing age should not be employed because maternity rights are too “draconian”. He made the comments on Radio Five Live’s John Pienaar programme.

Frances O’Grady said: “Godfrey Bloom should know better than to encourage employers to break the law. Maternity rights are neither draconian nor political correctness gone mad — they are elementary justice for working mothers.”

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Bedroom tax in Birmingham

THE BEDROOM tax is in the process of being implemented throughout the country. A report presented to last week’s Birmingham City Council Cabinet paints a grim picture of the real effects of the tax on tenants claiming housing benefit who are deemed to have more bedrooms that they need.

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Free Shaker Aamer now!

by New Worker correspondent

PROTESTERS demonstrated outside Parliament last week demanding the release of Shaker Aamer, a British resident who has been held in the illegally occupied US Guantánamo Bay base in Cuba since 2002. The protest on 24th April followed a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall in the morning.

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A manor in a housing estate

Reviewed by Carole Barclay

FOR SOMEONE who grew up in Dagenham, Valence House has always had a special place in my heart and is a reminder of a rural Dagenham long since forgotten. It is the only manor house left in the borough and within its walls are relics and mementoes from Roman days right up to the 21st century.

Some parts of the house date back around 700 years and it was most recently a working farm run by the May family until it was compulsorily purchased in 1921 to make way for the building of what was to become the largest council estate in Europe.

Valence House Museum Becontree Avenue Dagenham RM8 3HT Phone: 020 8227 5293 or 2034

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International News

US: thousands of homeless live in tunnels

Granma

IN THE principal cities of the United States, one of the most prosperous countries in the world, thousands of people live beneath the streets, in underground tunnels.

Underneath Kansas City, police discovered last week a group of homeless persons living in tents, in deep underground tunnels. They were removed because of the “insecure environment.” The authorities reported that these individuals lived in misery surrounded by piles of garbage.

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Russia ratifies its support for Cuba

by Lena Valverde

RUSSIA’S Foreign Ministry ratified its support of Cuba’s struggle for the immediate lifting of the over-50-year US economic, commercial and financial blockade of the Caribbean nation.

Most countries of the world have backed Cuba’s demand against this measure, said the Russian Foreign Ministry, which described the US measure as a relic of the Cold War period.

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Eurozone jobless hits record high

by Ed Newman

A RECORD high unemployment rate and a faster-than-expected slowdown in inflation to a three year low, amid easing economic sentiment across the Eurozone, have intensified the pressure on the European Central Bank to ease monetary policy and revive the economy, which is reeling under the recession.

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ANC leaders visit Nelson Mandela

by Ed Newman

NELSON Mandela has been visited at home by leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), who said later he was “in good shape and in good spirits”. The first pictures of the former South African president since he recently left the hospital show him surrounded by well-wishers at his home in Johannesburg.

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Washington promotes war on Syria

by David Sole

THE UNITED States government is increasing its leading role in the war to topple the government of Syria. At the 20th April meeting of the 11-member “Friends of Syria” held in Istanbul, Turkey, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a doubling of US aid to the Syrian rebels. An additional $123 million in “non-lethal” aid will be provided for the imperialist-backed military forces.

The US diplomat also exposed Washington’s guiding hand in the entire war when he reported that: “All aid from the ... Friends of Syria would now be channelled through the Turkey-based Free Syrian Army group.”

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Japanese PM’s cowardly philosophy

by Yan Hao

HISTORY is not written by politicians. But they are responsible for upholding a humanistic and morally sound philosophy regarding history.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier this week that the word “aggression” has no established international definition, adding that situations that occur between different nations look different depending on which side they are viewed from.

But there is a clear definition of the word, at least in academic terms. One definition of the word, as provided by the Merriam- Webster dictionary, describes it as: “The practice of making attacks or encroachments, especially an unprovoked violation by one country of the territorial integrity of another.”

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Features

William Lindesay and the Great Wall

by Mark Graham

Not even a Chinese knows the Great Wall of China as well as this British adventurer and writer. Mark Graham talks to the man who has spent much of his life exploring the whole length of mankind’s most ambitious building project.

When, as a schoolboy, William Lindesay announced grand plans to explore the Great Wall, nobody took him too seriously. But Lindesay achieved his goal — and much more — by running the length of it, spending four years of his life on the iconic structure and becoming one of the world’s foremost experts on its rich history.

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Ho Chi Minh City marks Liberation Day

A solemn ceremony was held in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday to mark the 38th anniversary of South Vietnam Liberation and national Reunification Day on 30th April.

Former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh, and Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Le Thanh Hai attended the event, among others.

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Who’s to blame as hundreds die in Bangladeshi factory collapse

by Kathy Durkin

IN SAVAR, an industrial suburb of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, at least 300 workers, mostly women, died at the Rana Plaza garment factory building collapse on 24th April. In addition to the appalling number of deaths, more than 1,200 were injured there in the worst industrial disaster ever to befall this country.

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Libya: another nightmare

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

LIBYA , another nightmare after Iraq, after Kosovo and before Syria, Iran and the DPR Korea? Perhaps not. Was Libya the line in the sand, is Syria where the Axis of Evil (Nato and the France, UK and US FUKUS alliance) crossed it and in so doing, delineated their demise? Whatever the case, it is time for some home truths on Libya.

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Stalingrad through the eyes of foreign journalists

by Margarita Bogatova and Igor Siletsky

A PRESENTATION of a new book, entitled The City of Steel took place in Moscow on 26th April. This book is a collection of articles by British and American journalists who were witnesses of the battle of Stalingrad. Namely, these journalists worked for the London- based Times, New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe.

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