National News

March against the drones

PEACE activists marched through the centre of London to the United States embassy last week to protest at the use by the imperialist powers of unmanned drones to bring death, injury and terror to people living in Pakistan, Somalia and other places.

The demonstration was organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Stop the War as part of a worldwide series of protests against drones, the biggest protest being in Pakistan.

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We are Wakefield opposes EDL march

HUNDREDS of people gathered in Wakefield last week end to oppose a protest by the Islamophobic and far-right English Defence League.

Community group We are Wakefield staged a multi-cultural celebration as a counter-protest to an EDL demonstration in the city centre.

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TUC accuses Coalition over green targets

THE TUC last week said the Con-Dem Coalition is “dithering” on climate targets and investment is putting thousands of green jobs at risk.

Campaigners have warned that commitments to tackle climate change are under threat after moves to reduce carbon emissions were blocked at the Warsaw Climate Conference and the news the Prime Minister has told aides to “get rid of this green crap” from energy bills.

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Construction workers win 6 per cent rise

AROUND 500,000 construction workers have won a pay rise of six per cent after unions negotiated a new deal with industry bosses.

GMB, Ucatt and Unite have recommended their members who operate under the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) accept an improved offer of a three per cent rise from June 2014, with a further three per cent increase from June 2015. There will also be an increase in a number of allowances. Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy said: “This is the best offer which could be achieved through long and arduous negotiations. This is an improvement on previous offers from the employer’s side.

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Gallery staff in zero hours protest at Tate Modern

WORKERS from London’s galleries and museums protested last Tuesday against the use of zero hours contracts in the culture industry.

The protesters unfurled a banner on Millennium Bridge near the gallery at lunchtime.

Zero hours contracts are believed to be rife in many of the capital’s most prestigious cultural attractions, including the Tate, and Victoria and Albert, Science, and British museums.

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Half a million seriously ill face losing benefits

WORK and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is said to be unhappy with the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) system because of the length of time seriously ill people are claiming benefit under the WRAG system.

The WRAG system is supposed to train the sick and disabled to be fit enough to seek employment — when they would be transferred to a lower level of benefit. These are the people judged by the Department of Work and Pensions, assisted by the notorious Atos company to be well enough to train and prepare for work. They are paid benefits if they carry out training or practice interviews.

But since the whole point of the exercise is to get most claimants off of sickness benefits many of the people assigned to WRAG and seriously ill and have little or no hope of being able to a job, even if they could find one in the current employment climate.

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Firefighters attack Boris’s cuts

THE FIRE Brigades Union last weekend attacked plans by the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, to cut 10 fire stations along with many jobs and a reduction of the number of fire engines serving London.

FBU London secretary Paul Embery said: “These cuts are reckless, wrong and will seriously endanger lives across the capital.

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Rowan Williams says ban benefit cuts

THE RETIRED Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams last week said that state benefits should be fixed by law so no Government can cut them.

He said welfare handouts should be ‘ringfenced’ so claimants would not have to worry about losing them or seeing them reduced.

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Fuel Poverty Action targets NPower

by New Worker correspondent

PENSIONERS, people in wheelchairs, students and other activists gathered by the City of London’s Royal Exchange last Tuesday to protest at the outrageous prices of domestic fuel charged by the “Big Six” energy companies.

The event was organised jointly by Fuel Poverty Action, UK Uncut, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association and Disabled People Against Cuts. Hundreds of protesters set off slowly, with many pauses to allow those less mobile to keep up, to the nearby headquarters of NPower in Threadneedle Street, causing traffic chaos as they went.

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International News

Iran: next months crucial

by Matthew Rusling

AFTER a preliminary deal on Iran’s nuclear programme was reached in Geneva early on Monday, the next six months will be crucial as the West will monitor Tehran’s progress in halting its controversial nuclear programme, US experts said.

Experts and US officials say the agreement, which involves six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany (P5+1) — represents the first step in curbing Iran’s controversial nuclear programme in exchange for easing the sanctions that have crippled the Islamic republic’s economy.

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Guantanamo must be returned to Cuba

by Juan Leandro

PEACE activists and world personalities gathered last week in the eastern Cuban city of Guantanamo, where the United States has illegally maintained a military base for more than a century now, to participate at the 3rd International Seminar for Peace and the closing of foreign military bases.

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Syria: plight of refugees and their uncertain future

by Manuel Vázquez

THEY lived for generations in their ancestors’ land but they had to leave it, as well as their properties, and often not even that since they were destroyed by the war. They also left behind relatives, or just their remains. It’s just the beginning of the drama of war refugees in Syria. According to figures from the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), more than six million Syrians have fled the combat zones, where they had lived and worked, mainly for fear of dying.

Of those, about 4.25 million have done so within the limits of their country, while another 2.2 million Syrians have chosen to move primarily to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, and some further, to Egypt. On their trip to uncertainty, most took only the clothes they were wearing.

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Voice of angels in Hong Kong

by Rebecca Lo

HAYLEY Westenra’s pitch-perfect pipes propelled her to international stardom at the age of 16. Rebecca Lo catches up with the London-based singer as she prepares for her debut concert in Hong Kong next weekend.

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The Comintern and Africa

reviewed by Andy Brooks

Pan-Africanism and Communism; The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939: Hakim Adi, Africa World Press 2013,pbk, illus, 446 pp, £28.99

Dr Adi says that the aim of the book is to promote discussion and combat some of the disinformation that surrounds the Communist movement and its connection with Africa and Africans during the period. He looks at the role of controversial figures like George Padmore, the pan-African writer who broke with the communist movement in 1934, and the part played by communists in the metropolitan heartlands of the British and French empires.

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Israel: Bedouin punished for saving his village

by Dr Yeela Raanan

IT WAS all in a day’s work: Courts and the members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, working to legislate and implement policies of destruction and concentration of Bedouin Arab villages in Israel’s Negev desert region...

The judge ruled that Sheikh Sayah, the leader of the village of El Araqib, should pay 10,000 shekels bail and must stay at least two kilometres away from his home. And what did Sheikh Sayah do to deserve this punishment? Nothing. Well he did — he is resisting the government’s wish to destroy his village.

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Jack London, writer and socialist

People’s World (US)

JACK LONDON, novelist and passionate advocate of labour unions, socialism, and the rights of workers, died aged 40 from kidney failure on 22nd November 1916. Best known to US readers as the author of Call of the Wild, London also wrote several powerful works dealing with workers, capitalism and socialism — these include his famous dystopian novel The Iron Heel, his non-fiction critique of capitalism and poverty The People of the Abyss, and an essay collection titled The War of the Classes.

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Killer Capitalism

by Rob Gowland

UNDER the headline “The Stealthy Killer That Is Capitalism”, US college lecturer and author Paul Buchheit wrote an article in Common Dreams on 11th November 2013, about the growing ill effects of capitalism on American people’s well-being. “The process is gradual, insidious, lethal. It starts with financial stress in various forms, and then, according to growing evidence, leads to health problems and shorter lives”, he wrote.

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Libya sends waves of violence around the world

Voice of Russia

After Muammar Gaddafi’s assassination Libya failed to create a stable government. A “group of political action for the benefit of Libya”, headed by Ahmed Muhareb Gaddafi, a relative of the deceased leader of the Jamahiriya promises to restore order in the country. Under the Gaddafi government he worked as an investment manager abroad. In the last months of the civil war in 2011, he served as the Libyan leader’s personal assistant, trying to establish contacts with the heads of European states, as well as the members of the Transitional National Council of Libya in order to terminate of hostilities. This month he told the Voice of Russia about the situation in the country and how the organization plans to peacefully transform Libya.

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