National News

Education Cuts Hit Scotland

From our Scottish Political Correspondent

EDUCATION has been in the Scottish news recently. Education is obviously an important issue, but it also gives us a chance to examine how it is governed. An important report published by the Accounts Commission of Scotland drew ire from both Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute for Scotland and Scottish Labour Party leader Johana Lamont.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said “This report highlights the significant real terms cuts to education budgets over the past few years”.

He also deplored target- setting and excessive benchmarking of schools as profoundly unhelpful and deplored the effects of budget cuts over the past three years, which have resulted in declining numbers of teachers shouldering heavier workloads.

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Gerry Conlon: victim of British injustice

GERRY Conlon, the victim of one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice in British history when he was wrongly jailed for the 1974 IRA attack on a pub in Guildford, died at his Belfast home last weekend after suffering from cancer.

He, Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong — the “Guildford Four” — served 14 years of a life sentence for the attack which killed five people before their convictions were overturned in 1989.

MP Jeremy Corbyn announced the sad news to the crowd in Parliament Square at the People’s Assembly march and rally against austerity last Saturday. He went on to praise the work Conlon had done after his release campaigning tirelessly for other victims of miscarriages of justice.

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BBC deaf dumb and blind to mass protest

By Adrian Chan-Wyles and New Worker correspondent

AROUND 50,000 protesters against the Con-Dem Coalition’s brutal and ever-deepening austerity cuts gathered in London last Saturday in Portland Place, the doorstep of the BBC, for a march to Parliament Square and a mass rally.

The assembly point was chosen by the organisers — the People’s Assembly — to make sure the BBC could not pretend it did not know the event was happening.

But the corporation, true to form, demonstrated its incorrigible anti-working class bias by completely failing to report it in broadcast news bulletins. And most of the rest of the media were nearly as bad.

ITN and Channel Four carried very brief reports later that day in their London region news. Meanwhile international news agencies such as Russia Today and Al Jazeera carried full reports of the march.

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More battles to come over Orgreave

AROUND 1,500 people gathered on 14th June for a giant picnic in a community park next to the site of the infamous Battle of Orgreave 30 years ago, where police carried out a savage attack on striking miners, injuring many and arresting dozens on trumped up charges.

At the mass picnic, organised by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC), the atmosphere was positive and very friendly, making an enjoyable day for all who came — in sharp contrast to the event they were commemorating.

But the battle will not be over until the full truth of what happened that day comes out and the state makes a full apology to the victims.

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MPs attack benefit delay ‘fiasco’

GOVERNMENT changes to benefits paid to disabled and long-term sick people have resulted in a “fiasco” according to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. And this fiasco is causing hardship and unnecessary distress to thousands of people.

The committee said the new Personal Independence Payment scheme had been "rushed" through, with a "shocking" impact on claimants.

"Many" faced six-month delays, with terminally ill people waiting a month on average for the payment, it said.

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Rabbit hutch Britain

MILLIONS of people in Britain are living squeezed into homes that are too small for them, according to new research which reveals that more than half of all dwellings are failing to meet minimum modern standards on size.

The poorest households are being hit hardest, with estimates suggesting that four-fifths of those affected by the Coalition’s “bedroom tax” are already forced to contend with a shortage of space, the Cambridge University study found.

The findings will put pressure on the Government, which announced it was to develop a national space standard — although this will only be enforced where it does not impinge on development.

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Sunday Times attacks the mentally ill

THE MEDIA team from the charity Rethink Mental Illness (RMI) last week responded to a shocking article in the Sunday Times that attacked people with mental health problems and warned employers not to take on workers with a history of mental ill-health.

The extremely worrying article said employers should weed out potential new employees with a “dark-side” or “abnormal” personality traits. The newspaper headline alone (the online version has a different one) had RMI worried: “I’m sorry, he’s not a differently gifted worker — he’s a psycho.

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Police attack protesting pensioners

SOUTH Yorkshire police last Monday (23rd June) added to their bad reputation by attacking a group of 60 pensioners who were protesting at Sheffield railway station at the withdrawal of free travel permits by the South Yorkshire Public Transport Executive (SYPTE).

They also threatened to arrest a local reporter under the Prevention of Terrorism Act who had taken pictures of the protest.

The event was one of a long series of peaceful protests about the cuts in free travel for the elderly and disabled in South Yorkshire.

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“Sinister forces” backfire as Sinn Féin advances across Ireland

By a New Worker Correspondent

ONLY five weeks ago, “sinister forces” were at work to stem Sinn Féin’s steady electoral advances in both parts of Ireland, when Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was arrested under the terrorism act and questioned for four days in the midst of the local and Euro election campaigns.

Yet, as newly elected County Mayo Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway Walsh told a packed meeting of supporters at Westminster last week, the party made stunning gains in both the north and the south last month.

The crude tactics of the forces opposed to the peace process had spectacularly backfired.

In the European elections Martina Anderson topped the poll in the North with 25.5 per cent of votes to take one of three seats, ahead of the DUP’s Diane Dodds on 20.9 per cent, while in the South Sinn Féin came second behind Fine Gael, taking three Euro seats.

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Festa Comunista on London’s South Bank

By New Worker correspondent

ITALIAN, Greek and British comrades came together on London’s South Bank last weekend for the Festa Comunista, organised by members of the Italian Partito Comunista living in Britain.

In addition to lively and jovial debates, the comrades discussed the political situation and communist movements in Italy, Europe and Britain, and solidarity work with Democratic Korea.

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International News

Gaza enters eighth year of crippling Israeli blockade

Xinhua News Agency

TUESDAY marked the eighth year of a rigid Israeli blockade against the Gaza Strip that led to a sharp economic decline, as well as high levels of poverty and unemployment, and many observers have been calling for an end of the "collective punishment”.

The blockade is the longest ever imposed on a territory in modern history, Robert Turner, operational director of the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian refugees, told reporters in Gaza.

Israel began to impose a tight blockade on the coastal enclave, considering it a hostile entity after the Islamist Hamas movement violently seized control of the territory in June 2007.

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Iraqi jets hit ISIS guerrillas

By Juan Leandro

IRAQI warplanes have pounded several areas in the strategic oil town of Baiji, killing over a dozen Islamist militiamen and injuring several others. The causalities come after warplanes targeted guerrilla hideouts in the town of Baiji and its surroundings on Tuesday.

Iraqi media reports say at least 17 others were severely injured in the raids.

Meanwhile Iraqi officials say 19 people including civilians have been killed as a result of the ongoing violence in the same troubled region.

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Global meaning of China-Britain cooperation

By Kang Yi

CHINA and Britain have recently signed dozens of government and non-government agreements, totalling more than $30 billion and covering energy, finance, high-speed rail, nuclear power and other fields.

This reflects the results of a policy of the two parties complementing each other's strengths to the mutual benefit of both. It has profound global significance because of the extent of cooperation and the two countries' status.

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Prensa Latina: The lighthouse of revolutionary journalism

By Alberto D. Pérez

THE SIXTEENTH of June marked 55 years since the start of the first experiment — in Latin America and the Caribbean — of an international news agency not manipulated by the United States.

On this date, in a 5th floor office of the centrally located Retiro Médico building, in Havana’s Vedado neighbourhood, Argentine journalist Jorge Ricardo Massetti and a small group of Latin American and Cuban reporters embarked upon a journey across the seas of information, committed to reporting with the strictest truthfulness and honesty.

Only a few months had passed since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution but the island was already being subjected to a fierce bombardment of lies, against which Prensa Latina’s revolutionary identity of was forged.

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Why General Haftar is no Colonel Gaddafi

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

THE NAME of a man who claims to be on a mission to drive out “Islamists and terrorists” from Libya, was mentioned as early as 22nd February 2011 — only five days after the start of the Nato-led rebellion against the Jamahiriya — as the possible leader of “post-Gaddafi Libya”. And not without reason.

The main purpose in the life of General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar was to feed and express his grudge towards the leader of the Libyan Al-Fatah revolution. Once part of the Free Officers Movement that overthrew the corrupt regime of King Idris and its western imperialist supporters, Haftar betrayed the revolution in the 1980s, when he cut a deal with anti-Gaddafi forces in the neighbouring country of Chad during the Chadian-Libyan conflict.

In exchange for being freed from the Chadian prison that kept him locked up with about 600 other Libyan fighters, he vowed to set up the anti-Gaddafi Libyan National Army (LNA). This army was founded on 21st June 1988 — but not without the vast support of the Central Intelligence Agency, under the approval of then president Ronald Reagan, who had bombed the Libyan capital of Tripoli two years earlier in an attempt to kill the Gaddafi family.

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Anti-war protests in Ukraine expose bogus ‘ceasefire’ plan

by Greg Butterfield

AN ANTI-WAR protest by 100 women shut down the Chernivtsi-Zhitomir highway near the town of Mahala in western Ukraine on 19th June. The women — mothers of Ukrainian soldiers — demanded that the government in Kiev withdraw their sons from the fratricidal war to suppress the anti-fascist uprising in south-eastern Ukraine.

A day earlier, hundreds of miles to the east, in the capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic, thousands of mineworkers and their families marched to demand an end to the junta’s “anti-terrorist operation”. Workers from 16 regional mines downed tools to join the protest.

The miners issued an ultimatum to Kiev: “Withdraw your troops within 48 hours or we will take up arms and join the people’s militias defending Donetsk and Lugansk.”

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The sacrifice of 27 million

by Rob Gowland

D-Day has been much in the news lately, because of the anniversary, of course. Significantly, the coverage ignored the military/ historical picture of the time and chose instead to concentrate on D-Day as if it was the “turning point of the war”. It was not. The turning point of the Second World War occurred a year earlier on the Eastern front when the Red Army — in Churchill’s words — “tore the guts out” of Hitler’s forces, on a massive scale that makes D-Day look relatively small.

During the War and immediately afterwards — before the Western Allies launched the Cold War — public and politicians alike recognised the magnitude of the Russian effort in the War.

From 1941 until 1944, the brunt of the war against Nazi Germany was borne by Russia: most of the German forces were on Russian soil, most of the German planes, tanks and guns were in action against Russia.

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