National News

Elderly asylum seeker ‘died in handcuffs’

HM INSPECTORATE of Prisons last week issued an alarming report on the Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, near Heathrow airport, citing a number of “shocking cases where a sense of humanity was lost” at the centre in west London.

In one case an 84-year-old immigration detainee suffering from dementia, who was declared unfit for detention, died in handcuffs, the report revealed. Doctors said the Canadian man was unfit for detention or deportation after diagnosing him with Alzheimer’s disease, but he was not released and no referral was made to social services.

Medical notes described him as “frail, 84 years old, has Alzheimer’s disease ... demented. Unfit for detention or deportation. Requires social care”.

He had been in handcuffs for almost five hours when he died, the report said.

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RMT accuses Boris

THE RMT transport union last week accused the Mayor of London of lying about job cuts, ticket office closures and fare increases, while uncovering a secret plan to raise fares by above inflation for the next seven years.

The union says it has found evidence, buried deep in Transport for London documents, saying: “The Mayor announced his decision on fare increases for January 2014 on 3rd December; this will be an average of RPI (Retail Price Index) plus zero per cent. For the purposes of this Business Plan, annual increases of RPI plus one per cent have been assumed for future years.

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Mother saved by threatened Welsh hospital

CAMPAIGNERS to save Withybush Hospital in west Wales are fighting to save their hospital from being downgraded, and in particular they are fighting against plans to reduce maternity services and warn that the lack of a consultant-led neonatal department could cost lives.

Just last week the existing maternity services at the hospital saved the life of a young mother who would probably have died if the unit had been closed.

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Police pursuing Stephen Lawrence whistleblower

A SENIOR police officer has demanded information and documents from the Channel Four Dispatches programme the whistleblower who revealed that undercover officers had spied on relatives of Stephen Lawrence.

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IWA-GB opposes immigration bill

by Joginder Bains

THE INDIAN Workers’ Association Great Britain (IWA-GB) has taken serious note of the new immigration Bill which proposes removal of article eight of the European Convention of Human Rights that protects an individual’s right in regard to private and family life.

If this Bill becomes an Act, the IWA-GB fears that it will add to the current legislative discrimination, further contribute to the breaking of families and deprive children of their parents’ love. The current legislation requires a British spouse to provide proof of an income of at least £18,600 before sponsoring his or her foreign spouse. This far exceeds the national minimum wage.

One may note that even a high dignitary like the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has criticised this unjust rule and asked the British government to urgently review it.

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Cameron told to apologise for Grangemouth smears

THE GIANT union Unite last Wednesday called on Prime Minister David Cameron to apologise over his smears against the union’s former Grangemouth convenor Stevie Deans and claims that he was a “rogue” official.

The call followed Tuesday’s news that Police in Scotland had found “no evidence of any criminality” in a cache of emails held on the work computer of Stevie Deans and puts pressure on David Cameron over his remarks.

On 30th October 2013 during Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron sought to exploit the Grangemouth dispute for political gain, using the dispatch box to claim: “We have a real problem with a rogue trade unionist at Grangemouth.”

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Cold comfort for food bank users

FOOD banks have begun to supply packages of food that can be eaten cold and does not need cooking because of the growing number of people in need of food who have no means to heat it except a kettle of hot water.

These specially prepared “kettle boxes” are supplied to clients who cannot afford to switch on their cooker to boil pasta or rice, in the latest sign of the cost of living crisis facing Britain’s poorest.

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New Gov attack on teaching unions

EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove last week launched a new attack on the rights of teachers to take time off for trade union activities. ‘Police broke teacher’s leg’

POLICE investigators, supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, are calling for witnesses to an incident in Whitehall last June where anti-fascists were trying to block a demonstration by the British National Party and one of the protesters suffered a badly broken leg.

Amy Jowett, a teacher, says a police officer deliberately kicked her three times below the knee with such force, it has left her facing “a lifetime of surgery.” She has already had three operations.

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Npower’s misleading report

THE ENERGY regulator Ofgem has condemned a report by power supplier Npower, claiming bills will rise due to higher energy distribution costs as “misleading”.

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Rewards for rejecting asylum claims

HOME Office officials are being rewarded with shopping vouchers for helping to ensure failed asylum seekers lose their attempt to stay in the country, according to new documents reported in the Guardian.

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Building workers win pay rise

FIFTY refractory maintenance workers, members of the construction workers’ union Ucatt, last week voted to accept an improved pay offer and call off plans for further strikes.

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London commemorates the Holocaust

by New Worker correspondent

VETERANS, schoolchildren, civic dignitaries, senior police officers and 32 mayors of London Boroughs on packed the main debating chamber at London’s City Hall on Monday to commemorate the Holocaust. And this year the theme was “journeys”. The ceremony was opened by the chair of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson.

This was followed by a testimonial from Stephen Frank, born in Amsterdam in the 1930s, of his experiences as a Jewish schoolboy during the Second World War.

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International Commission of Inquiry into Miami 5 case

by New Worker correspondent

Friends of Cuba were out in force to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Cuban revolution at the Simon Bolivar Hall in central London last Monday.

Cuban ambassador Esther Armenteros Cardenas welcomed guests who included NCP leader Andy Brooks and Central Committee member Daphne Liddle as well business people, academics and diplomats and representatives covering the whole spectrum of solidarity with the socialist island in Britain. And Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite and Prof Sue Michie of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign urged all those present to support an International Commission of Inquiry that will meet in March in London.

The two day International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Miami Five will take place on 7th and 8th March 2014, at the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL. Tickets for the Commission are £10 per day and available at: www.voicesforthefive. com/commission/ tickets/. Demand is expected to be high so please book as soon as possible.

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International News

Rioting erupts again in Kiev

Pravda.Ru THE UNITED States has accused the Ukrainian government of escalating violence in Kiev, where intense clashes between protesters and riot police took place on Sunday. The riots on 19th January were the largest during two months of the so-called Euromaidan protests.

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CELAC: a summit for unity amid diversity

by Juan Leandro

HAVANA’S Pabexpo Pavilion is ready to host the meeting of National Co-ordinators that will take place prior to the 2nd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

The National Coordinators will meet on 25th and 26th January followed by the meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for Monday 27th January, and the heads of state and government will meet on the 28th and 29th in what has been considered the most important institutional gathering in this part of the world in 100 years.

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China, Belarus pledge stronger ties

Xinhua news agency

CHINESE President Xi Jinping met with visiting Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich in Beijing on Tuesday and both pledged stronger bilateral ties.

Calling Myasnikovich one of the highest-profile foreign friends to be conferred the Friendship Award by the Chinese government, Xi spoke highly of his contribution to consolidating China-Belarus friendship over the years.

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DPRK: key industries get off to a good start!

by Jang Jong Ho

NOTABLE achievements have been made in the vanguard, basic industrial and other sectors of the national economy at the beginning of the New Year amid the fierce flames of innovations sweeping the whole country.

The workers of the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, a leading iron and steel producer, marked the New Year by performing the first tapping operation successfully at 0:00 on 1st January 2014.

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Chilean soccer team supports Palestine

by Chris Fry

THE CLUB Deportivo Palestino (Palestinian Sports Club), a first division football team in Chile, has found a novel and dramatic way to display their support for Palestinians living in occupied Palestine. The team, which plays in the highest division of the Chilean league, replaced all of the number “1”s on their kit with an iconic map of occupied Palestine.

Club Deportivo Palestino was founded on 20th August 1920 by a group of Palestinian immigrants in the capital, Santiago. Chile is home to the largest population of Palestinians outside of the Middle East, with 500,000 people of Palestinian descent living there.

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US: setback for Veolia boosts solidarity for bus union

by Tony Murphy

THE FIGHT to reinstate the wrongly fired leaders of United Steelworkers Local 8751, the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, got a boost on 8th January when Veolia Transportation lost the contract to run Massachusetts’ commuter rail system.

The loss by Veolia, the vicious French-based, global union- busting company that runs Boston’s school bus system, of the $4 billion contract is another blow against the company’s ability to do business in the area. Its vendor contract to run Boston’s school bus system is threatened by a series of hearings called by City Councillor Charles Yancey.

Yancey called the hearings because Veolia’s multiple violations of the school bus drivers’ contract put the company in breach of its vendor contract with the city.

Furthermore, the no-show at the first November hearing by Veolia executives, school department officials and former Mayor Thomas Menino was not lost on or appreciated by the city council members of colour who were there.

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Conflicts in Africa smooth imperialist intervention

by Abayomi Azikiwe

FIERCE battles took place in early January in two states of oil-rich South Sudan — Unity and Jonglei states, not far from Juba, the capital of the recently formed country.

The Ugandan military had crossed the border and was involved in the fighting on the side of the forces of President Salva Kiir.

The intervention of Uganda, a close political and military ally of the United States, may indicate which side in the conflict has Washington’s support. There has been increased military and political pressure on the rebel forces of ousted Vice President Riek Machar to drop demands for the release of political prisoners and to declare a ceasefire.

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Catalonia willing to say goodbye to Spain

by Oleg Obukhov

CLAIMS for independence: the authorities of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain, have called for holding a referendum on seceding from Spain. The majority of MPs voted in favour of the secession. Madrid is now to decide the outcome of the popular vote.

In less than a year Catalonia might become an independent state — the moment that the majority of the Catalans are longing for. Local MPs have already approved the referendum.

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US blockade hinders Cuban food imports

by Juan Leandro

THE UNITED States economic war against Cuba has a direct impact on the island’s food imports destined for schools, nursing homes, hospitals, daycare centres, and the general public. It is a blockade with a direct effect on the nutrition and health of all Cubans.

Although Cuba is a big market for produce and foodstuffs from the United States, Washington continues to thwart any normal commercial relations between the two nations. All Cuban purchases of food from the US undergo strict regulations according to a complicated system of licences. These govern both trips to Cuba by US business people and the signing of contracts, as well as shipment and payment for all transactions. Add to this Cuba having to pay in cash in advance for all commodities with no credit lines allowed, Further any ship bringing the products to Cuba from the US has to return empty.

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