National News

Blacklist victims try to arrest McAlpine

A GROUP of workers from the Blacklist Support Group last Friday entered the London headquarters of McAlpine Limited and tried to make a citizen’s arrest of the company’s chief executive officer, Callum McAlpine.

They came with reporters and photographers from Reel News — a cooperative of leftwing London photographers — proclaiming loudly why they were there but were unable to locate McAlpine — if he was there he was hiding.

Last weekend was the 5th anniversary of the raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office that discovered the illegal building industry blacklist.

The arrest warrant cited breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Data Protection Act.

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Criminalising homelessness in London

THE METROPOLITAN Police force intends to make “rough sleeping” a crime in six London boroughs as part of “Operation Encompass”.

The affected boroughs will be Camden, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster, and Croydon.

Housing activists are planning a protest rally against the measure on 26th February outside the GLA’s City Hall.

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Tories want to scrap Human Rights Act

THE TORIES plan repeal the Human Rights Act if they are re-elected in 2015 and they are prepared to withdraw from the European Convention on Human rights, “If that’s what it takes to fix the law,” Home Secretary Theresa May told a Conservative Party conference.

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Emergency hardship fund to be axed

LOCAL authorities last week warned that vulnerable people will face hunger and destitution following a decision by ministers to scrap a £347 million scheme to help individuals who face emergencies or have fallen on hard times.

They have been taken by surprise by the move to axe the Local Welfare Assistance Fund, which pays for food and shelter for people facing short-term crises such as being flooded out of their homes, suffering ill-health or being forced to flee a violent partner.

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‘Sections of police still racist’

BARONESS Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence and indefatigable campaigner against police racism, last week warned that some sections of the police “are still racist”.

Speaking 15 years after the Macpherson Report branded the Metropolitan Police force “institutionally racist”, Baroness Lawrence said some attitudes “haven’t changed much”.

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Academy chain loses 10 schools

THE PRIVATE company E-Act is to lose control of 10 of its 24 academy schools after Ofsted inspections raised serious concerns — a serious blow to Education Secretary Michael Gove’s flagship policy of turning all state schools into “academies” — Government funded but run by the private sector.

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Boris’s scab army

LONDON Mayor Boris Johnson is to pay £22,000 in bonuses to staff on London Underground who agreed to cross picket lines and report for work during the 48-hour strike three weeks ago.

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Landlords’ housing benefit jackpot

PRIVATE landlords in Britain are growing rich and fat on housing benefits paid to their tenants to help them pay soaring rents.

A new GMB study, published on 24th February, shows the top 20 company landlords in each of 311 out of 380 councils in Great Britain that receive housing benefit direct from councils for tenants renting their properties.

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The power of Her Majesty

MANY people believe we live in a constitutional monarchy where the Queen is a symbolic figurehead who has very little real power.

But recently published Whitehall documents show that the Queen and Prince Charles are using their little- known power of veto over new laws more than was previously thought At least 39 bills have been subject to Royal approval, with the senior royals using their power to consent or block new laws in areas such as higher education, paternity pay and child maintenance.

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Tolpuddle anniversary

THE TOLPUDDLE Martyrs were arrested 180 years ago last Monday 24th February. South We s t TUC launched “live” Twitter feed reporting on the arrest and trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

The six farmworkers were arrested on 24th February 1834 and taken to Dorchester where they were charged with having participated in the administration of an illegal oath. They were tried, found guilty and transported to Australia for seven years.

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Nepali communists combat opportunism

by Theo Russell

THE COMMUNIST Party of Nepal-Maoist, which broke with the revisionist leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in 2013, has emerged greatly strengthened after a successful mass boycott of imperialist- backed elections last November, Peter Tobin, a freelance journalist and sympathiser with the CPN-M, told a New Worker discussion meeting in London last week.

Tobin gave an eye-witness report on the complex situation in Nepal after spending six months there, during which a warrant was issued for his arrest for interfering in the election process after he spoke at a CPN-M election boycott rally. He began by explaining the background to current developments.

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International News

Cypriot workers clash with police

by Fu Peng

HUNDREDS of Cypriot workers clashed with police on Monday in the first serious strike action against privatisation plans stipulated by a bailout programme introduced 11 months ago. Electricity Authority employees skirmished with police outside parliament as its finance committee considered framework legislation outlining the procedure of privatising seven out of a total of 44 state-owned corporations.

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Vain hopes about the Dalai Lama

by GaoYinan and Liang Jun

UNITED States Obama and the Dalai Lama held a private meeting in the White House in Washington on 21st February. This is the third time the two men have met.

The US claims that these meetings show its concern for Tibetan human rights and respect for the religion and culture of Tibet. But the truth is quite different.

The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long been engaged in anti- China separatist activities. His trips to the US are aimed either at seeking support for Tibetan independence or damaging Sino-US ties.

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An obstacle to peace and reunification

by Ri Song Ho

A REUNION of separated families and relatives is under way on Mt Kumgang, a celebrated mountain in Korea.

The atmosphere of the improved inter-Korean relations should be further enhanced and the dialogue and cooperation between the north and the south should be expanded.

But an obstacle is still standing in the way of the improvement. The US is going to stage Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint war exercises in south Korea from 24th February in defiance of the strong protest of the Korean people and world public opinion.

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Ukraine: a call for responsibility

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

CALLING for the West to act responsibly is arguably the same as asking a bawling drunkard screaming obscenities to be quiet after a skinful of spirits and paramount to requesting a serial rapist to just stop. However this is no time for quips and very much the time for some skilful diplomacy over early recognition of actors in a putsch.

The last week has shown that the law is only enforceable when it has a consensus to support or respect it. We saw how the kidnapping and illegal detention of Slobodan Milosevic took place against international, Yugoslav Federal and Serbian National law after a decision was made by a fraction of the parliament; we see a copy-paste of the same situation in Ukraine, where another hasty decision was made by parliament without the presence of the largest political party.

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Cuba: combating the drug trade

by Juan Leandro

THE WORLD has witnessed a rapid increase in the number of people who consume illegal substances. Drug trafficking is a profitable business, generating billions of dollars as it claims thousands of lives around the globe.

This is a reality from which Cuba has not been able to escape. Because of its geographical position, right on the path of the drug route from South America to US shores, drug laden planes cross Cuban air space every day and vessels approach the thousands of miles of the Cuban coast line, searching for a place to land and hide some of their illegal cargoes.

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British master teaches Chinese Tai Chi

by Yang Yi

ROSE OLIVER started out like many other foreigners whose perceptions of kung fu were taken directly from movies. But now, the 50-year-old British woman is teaching Chinese people authentic tai chi, a form of Chinese martial arts that is often practised for its health benefits.

“I enjoy being involved in cultural exchange, because you are giving. I like to give. I’m not so interested in receiving,” she said.

On a chilly spring morning in a Shanghai park, Oliver demonstrated tai chi moves to scores of disciples, who range in age from old to young.

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Features

Mugabe celebrates milestone 90th birthday

Xinhua news agency

ZIMBABWE’S veteran President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 90th birthday last Sunday with tens of thousands of Zimbabweans, a milestone that no other founding fathers of African independence has achieved in office.

One of Africa’s most prominent anti-apartheid fighters, Mugabe has been the leader of Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, and having ruled 34 years, he is Africa’s oldest leader and one of the continent’s longest reigning presidents.

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Exorcising the public broadcasting demon

by Rob Gowland

THERE are many very clever people in the United States of America — brilliant scientists, writers of great talent and imagination, extremely talented performing artists of every type, highly skilled engineers and technicians of every type. And, at the same time, something like 37,000 gun deaths last year alone, and more loonies and purveyors of ignorance not only running around loose but commanding audiences and airtime than any sane person can conceive of.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has broadcast a programme called Teen Exorcists about three teenage American girls from Scottsdale, Arizona, who have been raised to be a crack team of exorcists. Yes, exorcists. These unfortunate girls are the daughters of the Reverend Bob Larson, one of those loony American preachers who think “the Devil” is a real person, and that demonic possession is not only possible but that it happens all the time.

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South Africa miners strikes, poverty and elections

by Abayomi Azikiwe

NATIONAL elections will be held in the Republic of South Africa on 7th May. The ruling African National Congress, after two decades in power, hopes to maintain control of the post-apartheid state.

The ANC, a liberation movement turned into a political party, has held enthusiastic rallies in various parts of the country. An election manifesto calls for creating six million jobs and accelerating land reform, which has been stalled since 1994.

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