National News

Fracking Cameron offers bribes to councils

PRIME Minister David Cameron last week promised councils in England that support fracking in their locality will be able to keep all the business rates collected from shale gas schemes in order to boost this potentially dangerous and very controversial form of drilling for hydrocarbon fuels. Previously councils had been promised only 50 per cent of the business rate revenues.

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Teachers wary of new MOTs

THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers said it will oppose Labour plans to introduce regular testing of teachers — referred to as teacher MOTs — if they are used to further denigrate teachers.

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt late last night announced proposals to licence teachers every five to seven years. He says it will make it easier to sack bad teachers while helping others to receive more training and development. Responding on Twitter last week, NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “If Labour is re-introducing the classroom MOT that they abandoned previously that will be very bad.

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Firefighters weep as fire stations close

LONDON firefighters embraced each other and wept last Thursday at 10 fire stations, including the oldest in Britain, closed for the last time due to cuts pushed through by London Mayor Boris Johnson to make £45 million worth of savings.

The closures went ahead in the face of active and bitter opposition from the elected fire authority, the Fire Brigades Union and local residents.

There are fears that the closures will endanger the public; along with the closure of the stations 552 firefighter jobs are being lost and 14 engines. Clerkenwell station, which is 140 years old, closed after Green Watch attended their final call: a blaze at block of flats in Regents Park near King’s Cross station.

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Children facing increased racist abuse

THE NUMBER of children seeking help for racist bullying increased sharply last year, as campaigners warn that the heated public debate about immigration is souring race relations in the classroom.

More than 1,400 children and young people contacted ChildLine for counselling about racist bullying in 2013, up 69 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Islamophobia is a particular issue in schools, according to the charity, with young Muslims reporting that they are being called “terrorists” and “bombers” by classmates.

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Demands to reinstate NHS union activist

REPRESENTATIVES of three health service campaigns joined forces last Wednesday to demand the reinstatement of Charlotte Monro, an occupational therapist and trade union activist, who dared inform a local authority about the detrimental effects of proposed health cuts at Whipps Cross Hospital, where she was employed.

Reps from We are Waltham Forest — Save Our NHS, Newham Save Our NHS and Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public confronted Barts Health NHS Trust health board members and demanded Ms Monro’s reinstatement at a meeting on Wednesday at Newham University Hospital.

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Unite community members in action

THE GIANT union Unite is in the process of setting up community branches to support and campaign among those hardest hit by the Government austerity measures.

And last week members of Barnsley Unite Community Branch took to the streets to let people know how the branch can help them.

In a two-day event they campaigned first from a stall in Peel Square and the next day toured the town centre and local estates to spread a positive message of hope offered by trade unions.

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No funding for firefighters’ flood

FIREFIGHTERS across Britain attended nearly twice as many flooding incidents in 2012 than in 2011, according to new figures obtained by the Fire Brigades Union under the Freedom of Information Act.

Fire and rescue services from around the country were called to 22,518 flooding situations last year compared with 13,042 the year before: a 75 per cent increase. But the Government has still not given the fire service a legal duty to respond to floods in England and Wales.

The fire services in Scotland and Northern Ireland are legally required to deal with flooding incidents, but in England and Wales there is still no requirement on any service to respond to them.

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Hundreds at Mark Duggan vigil

A VIGIL for Mark Duggan last Saturday, outside Tottenham Police Station, the site of protests after his death at the hands of police in August 2011, which exploded into rioting across the country, passed off peacefully and the 400-strong crowd dispersed without incident.

Nevertheless feelings were running high but the family of Mark Duggan had appealed for a peaceful protest but vowed to continue their fight for justice after the remarkable inquest verdict that he had been lawfully killed, even though he was unarmed at the time.

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Police evidence against students ‘blown out of the water’

POLICE allegations against two students at a tuition fees demo were thrown out after YouTube film and photographs showed “shocking” inconsistencies in Met officers’ accounts of the incidents.

In both cases the students were wrestled to the ground, arrested, strip-searched, fingerprinted and faced charges that could have damaged their careers.

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Glasgow homecare workers strike

CARE WORKERS in Glasgow City Council’s residential homes went on strike for two days earlier this week to resist new job roles, longer shift patterns and pay cuts of up to seven per cent.

Unison City of Glasgow branch secretary Brian Smith explained: “We have not taken action lightly, but have no alternative. Again, we ask Glasgow City Council to work with us to reach an agreement.

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Tube workers vote for action

THE RMT transport union last week confirmed a massive vote for action on London Underground over attacks on jobs and safety.

RMT confirmed on Monday that a ballot of members across London Underground in a dispute over jobs, services and safety has recorded a massive vote for both strike action and action short of a strike.

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Food for Thought

reviewed by Ray Jones

Revolutionary Democracy vol XIX no 2 Sept 2013 £5 post free from NCP Lit PO Box 73 London SW11 2PQ.

REVOLUTIONARY Democracy is an Indian orientated Marxist journal but it always contains useful coverage of events from around the world, important historical pieces and deep theoretical contributions.

In this issue Tahir Asghar provides in interesting update on the situation in Russia with particular reference to the de-industrialisation going on there. Eygpt and Turkey also get coverage.

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Traditional Chinese dance drama debut

by Zhu Ningzhu

THE CHINESE dance drama Flower Rains along Silk Road made its debut on Saturday night in London, bringing oriental artistic experience to British audiences.

The 34-year-old drama was performed by Gansu Dance Drama and Opera Ensemble at the Peacock Traditional Chinese dance drama debut Theatre of the Sadler’s Wells group, Britain’s leading dance venue.

Another two shows will be given in London and Manchester this week.

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International News

South Korea: rail strike ends, struggle continues

by John Catalinotto

THOUSANDS of south Korean railway workers ended their strike on 30th December after three weeks of intense struggle against the right-wing, anti-union regime of President Park Geun Hye. It was the longest railway strike in the history of Korail, the national rail company. This intense class conflict has now moved to parliament, where a committee made up of the government and opposition parties will make decisions.

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British intelligence out to snatch Snowden in Russia

Voice of Russia “BRITAIN’S spy-infested embassy in Moscow has taken the lead among the ‘Five Eyes’ signals intelligence allies in the hunt to locate the whereabouts of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden in Russia,” says Wayne Madsen, an investigative journalist and former US Naval Officer.

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Ariel Sharon his Sabra and Shatila legacy an eye witness account

by Felicity Arbuthnot

AS ISRAEL buried Ariel Sharon amid eulogies from world figures, Tony Blair, a Butcher of Baghdad, paid a tribute to the Butcher of Beirut which included the line that Sharon: “didn’t think of peace as a dreamer, but did dream of peace”. Also that: “ ... he sought peace with the same iron determination” as he had fought (read slaughtered, across the Middle East). Re-writing history does not come more blatant but Blair was ever good at fantasy, think “weapons of mass destruction” and “forty five minutes”.

Surgeon, Dr Swee Chai Ang went to help the wounded of Beirut after the 1982 Israeli invasion and witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre of unarmed men woman and children, Palestinian and Lebanese, between the 15th-18th September,1982. In her book From Beirut to Jerusalem, she describes the reality:

“As I walked through the camp alleys looking at the shattered homes (many of these houses had just been rebuilt following earlier bombardments by Israel) I wanted to cry aloud, but was too exhausted emotionally even to do that. How could little children come back to live in the room where their relatives were tortured and then killed? If the Palestinian Red Crescent Society could not function legally, who was going to look after the widows and orphans?

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South Sudan: Communists speak out on crisis

by Emile Schepers

THINGS have been going downhill fast in South Sudan, Africa’s newest country. In spite of efforts to get talks going, and attempts at mediation by South Sudan’s neighbours, fighting continues between factions aligned with President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar. Up to 200,000 have fled within South Sudan or across the border to neighbouring states. Many civilians have died.

The conflict is a power struggle among different factions within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the revolutionary force which, having fought against the Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al Bashir, ended up ruling South Sudan when it got its independence in 2011.

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Workers’ struggle in Cambodia: the background story

by Deirdre Griswold

WHEN THE police in Cambodia shot and killed four people on 3rd January during a workers’ demonstration calling for higher wages in the garment industry, it got the attention of the media in the imperialist world. The story, as they presented it, was a simple one: The Cambodian government was repressing workers seeking a living wage.

Garment workers in Cambodia earn $80 a month for a six-day, 48-hour week. They are demanding their pay be raised to $160 a month.

The reports all added that the head of the opposition party supported the workers’ demand. But what is the back story that the media have ignored so far?

First, there is no mention that Cambodia was invaded and bombed many times by US forces during the Vietnam War. The infamous fatal shootings of unarmed students in the US in May 1970 at both Kent State in Ohio and Jackson State in Mississippi by National Guards and police, respectively, took place during demonstrations against the war’s expansion into Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon had finally made public just days earlier.

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