National News

New tribunal stages come into force

WORKERS wanting to complain about unfair and/or discriminatory practices by their bosses will now not only have to pay to take their cases to an industrial tribunal but also they will have to first notify the conciliation service Acas to see if the dispute can be resolved.

The aim of the legislation, which came into force at the beginning of this month, is to reduce the number of workers seeking redress through tribunals.

Ministers said the changes would help avoid “stress, time delays and excessive costs”.

The charges — up to £1,200 per case — for taking a case to tribunal were introduced last year. This led to a 79 per cent fall in the number of applications but was strongly criticised by trade unions.

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Glasgow’s Roma day of celebration

HUNDREDS of people took to the streets of Glasgow’s Govanhill last weekend to celebrate International Roma Day.

Friends of Romano Lav, a group for Roma people, held a march and cultural activities in Govanhill to celebrate Roma culture and people in Scotland.

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Curbing rogue bailiffs

NEW LAWS to control the way bailiffs can enforce the repayment of debts came into force last Sunday.

They include a ban on bailiffs entering homes at night and from using physical force against debtors. Bailiffs will also be prevented from entering homes when only children are present, and from taking household essentials such as washing machines.

But the Citizens’ Advice Bureau said the rules needed to go further, and called for greater accountability in the industry, including mandatory training.

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DWP ducks assessment of impact of benefit

THE REFUSAL by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out an assessment of the impact of all benefit cuts on disabled people has been exposed as a sham after new research was announced by the equality watchdog.

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Thatcher in a kilt

by our Scottish Political Correspondent “Thatcher in a kilt if you ever saw one” was George Galloway’s recent ungentlemanly description of Scotland’s de facto deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Well known for his colourful way with words, at first sight this might seem to me little more polemical point scoring than a strictly factual observation.

After all, according to its website the Scottish National Party is “a social democratic political party committed to Scottish independence”. It must be recognised that this statement contains the about same percentage of truth as that of Conservative Party chair Grant Shapps when he claimed his party was the: “Workers’ Party — not defending privilege, but spreading it.”

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Gove panics over failing academies

EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove is struggling to cope with the number of his flagship “free schools”, also known as academies that are being judged as failing.

A secret document for academies minister Lord Nash has been earmarked for fast-track for attention by the Government because of the potential serious political embarrassment for Gove if a significant number of these independent academies fail and a discussion on how to limit the political damage.

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Met Police under ‘culture of fear’

THE METROPOLITAN Police Federation claims that police officers in London work under a “culture of fear” because of the “draconian” use of performance targets.

The federation has produced a report based on a survey with interviews of 250 officers which produced descriptions of the targets as “meaningless”, “unrealistic” and “disguised”.

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EDL supporters admit violent disorder

A GROUP of five supporters of the Islamophobic English Defence League last week in court admitted to violent disorder, according to a report in the Northern Echo.

The disorder took place at an EDL rally in Birmingham last year. Michael Wilson, James Olley-Shields, Phillip Collins, Christopher Layton and Michael Dyer all admitted the charge during a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court.

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International News

Spain rejects Catalan referendum

by Mu Xuequan

THE SPANISH Congress has voted against a proposal to allow an independence referendum in the Catalan region in the north-east of the country.

The proposal, which had been presented by the Catalan Regional Parliament, was rejected by an overwhelming majority of 299 to 47 with one abstention on Tuesday.

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Cuba marks World Health Day

by Juan Leandro

WORLD Health Day is held every 7th April to draw attention to particular priorities in global health and this year it was dedicated to the control of vectors that transmit diseases.

World Health Day 2014 spotlighted some of the most commonly known vectors — such as mosquitoes, sand-flies, bugs, ticks and snails — responsible for transmitting a wide range of parasites and pathogens that can cause many different illnesses.

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Benghazi controversy overshadows Hillary’s presidential run

by Fu Peng

THE 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya could hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House run, but only if the Republican Party (GOP) continues to push the issue and keeps its message simple.

The 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, which led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, has been repeatedly used by the Republicans to attack Clinton over her performance as a secretary of state.

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Will Russia protect its culture from Western rubbish?

by Igor Bukker

LOW-QUALITY film products conquer children’s immature minds. Parents may try to protect the younger generation from poor quality food or harmful toys, but it is hard to protect individuals from watching low-grade films. Will Russia change its cultural policy because of yet another stand-off with the West?

This issue affects many spheres of life in Russia, not only ideology or, if you like, good taste. Who should decide what people should watch? Should it be government officials? Or will film distributors dictate their tastes — their bad taste, as it often happens? Probably, the most productive approach to the problem will be based on the assumption that restrictive measures are not the way forward.

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Cumann na mBan celebrated 100 years on at its birthplace

by Mark Moloney

IT WAS standing room only in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin last week when over 150 people attended a celebration of the founding of the revolutionary women’s organisation Cumann na mBan exactly 100 years ago to that exact date, 2nd April, in that very same building.

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Royals, aristocrats and unearned income

Rob Gowland

THOSE assorted rightwing pooh-bahs who like to sound off in the media about left-wing bias at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) had better investigate the journalist who did the report on Venezuela in a recent Foreign Correspondent.

It was a startlingly honest appraisal of the situation in that country, where carefully orchestrated right-wing groups have been staging “popular” demonstrations in an attempt to bring down the government of Nicolás Maduro and end the Bolivarian Revolution. The ABC’s reporter, however, pointed out that the overwhelming mass of the people did not support the “protesters”. Instead, they saw them as trying to “wreck the country”.

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Iran Celebrates 63rd anniversary of oil nationalisation

by Firouzeh Mirrazavi

TO MANY Iranians the 20th March is the reminder of an event that changed the course of history for their country; it was on this day back in 1951 when Iran’s then parliament voted unanimously in favour of the nationalisation of oil in Iran.

The idea was introduced in a bill to the parliament by Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh with the support of his nationalist party and religious groups led by Ayatollah Kashani.

The legislation put an end to four decades of British control over Iran’s oil that was conducted by the Anglo Persian Oil Company, which became the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in 1935. Prior to the act AIOC exploited Iran’s crude oil and gave only a fraction of its revenues to Iran.

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