National News

‘Turning back the clock’ on mental health care

THE ROYAL COLLEGE of Nursing last week warned of “turning back the clock” in mental health care. In a report published last weekend RCN said mental health services across Britain are under unprecedented strain, with a steep fall in nurse numbers and available beds at a time of rising demand.

Despite pledges to improve mental health care, and in particular move towards more community services, the last four years have seen a drop of more than 3,300 posts in mental health nursing across in Britain, with more experienced nurses disproportionately lost and the expectation of more to come as older nurses retire. Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: “The fact that mental health services are now facing staff cuts and bed shortages is a shocking tragedy which is having a real and lasting impact on those who desperately need the right care and support.

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Journalists challenge police ‘domestic terrorism’ database

SIX MEMBERS of the National Union of Journalists have discovered that their lawful journalistic and union activities are being monitored and recorded by the Metropolitan Police.

They are now taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Home Secretary to challenge this ongoing police surveillance.

The NUJ members involved in the legal challenge include Jules Mattsson, Mark Thomas, Jason Parkinson, Jess Hurd, David Hoffman and Adrian Arbib.

All of them have worked on media reports that have exposed corporate and state misconduct and they have each also previously pursued litigation or complaints arising from police misconduct.

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IWW wins restaurant dispute

STAFF at the Greedy Greek restaurant in Sheffield are now working in a significantly improved work environment thanks to a six-week long Sheffield IWW campaign that saw widespread support from the local community.

Whereas before the initiation of action against the shop, boss Dennis Mouzakis would routinely insult and abuse staff, he is now treating workers with basic dignity and respect.

Furthermore although Dennis is refusing to provide back pay for unpaid trials, he has now ended unpaid work and is paying staff for their full hours. This is a victory gained through coordinated direct action by the IWW union.

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Unions welcome NHS Bill vote

UNIONS and health campaigners last Friday hailed the House of Commons vote in favour of Labour MP Clive Efford’s private member’s Bill to roll-back the privatisation of the NHS.

MPs voted by 241 to 18 in favour of the National Health Services (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill, promoted by Efford.

The Bill is aimed at ridding the NHS of the worst parts of the Government’s pro-privatisation Health and Social Care Act 2012, by rewriting the rules that force competitive tendering of NHS services.

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Young people in poverty

THE ANNUAL report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion published last Monday shows a dramatic change in who is most at risk of poverty compared to 10 years ago. It highlights:

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Duncan Smith targets pensioners

MANY pensioners, reading in the week’s Joseph Rowntree Trust report that young people are suffering most severely from Con-Dem Coalition austerity at the moment, while pensioners have not been hit so hard [relatively], will have heaved a sigh, guessing at what will inevitably come next.

And yes, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is now targeting pensioner benefits: free travel passes, TV licences for the over-75s and winter fuel allowances in particular for a new round of cuts.

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Port Sunlight workers battle for living wage

WORKERS at Unilever’s Port Sunlight plant in the Wirral are fighting to get all their contractor work colleagues, such as cleaners, security guards and canteen workers, a pay rise to the ‘living wage’ — currently £9.15 in London and £7.85 for the rest of the UK.

Unite members have launched a “living wage” campaign, with support from all Unilever sites (Purfleet, Burton, Gloucester, Crumlin, Warrington, Manchester, Leeds, Norwich, Port Sunlight and R&D), including hundreds of petition signatures.

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Gender pay gap highlights part-time pay penalty

TUC GENERAL secretary Frances O’Grady last week commented on the latest annual pay statistics published on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which show that the full-time median gender pay gap reduced to 9.4 per cent in 2014 (from 10 per cent the year before).

She said: “It’s good to see the gender pay gap narrowing again. But after last year’s widening we’re only back to where we were in 2012.

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Retired police back victim’s claims

TWO FORMER Scotland Yard detectives last week supported evidence given by the abuse victim known as Nick that paedophile politicians at Westminster murdered young boys at sex orgies.

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Tube drivers to strike

RMT TUBE drivers, operating out of the Northern Line’s Morden Traincrew Depot, are to take strike action following the dismissal of a colleague in what the union says is a blatant and clear cut case of victimisation and abuse of procedures.

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Cameron on report

LIVERPOOL City Council is to report David Cameron to the United Nations, claiming that his government could be breaking international rules on keeping people out of poverty.

Authority bosses believe the coalition — through its controversial policies such as the hated bedroom tax — could be in breach of the UN economic and social rights convention that sets out minimum standards for access to food, clothing and housing.

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Scottish News

by our Scottish political correspondent

AFTER her swearing in as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took speedy action to clear out some of Alex Salmond’s more incompetent cronies and replace them with some of her own.

As this purge was carried out to ensure that the Cabinet contained five women and five men this was deemed to be a political masterstroke by the chattering classes.

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DPRK is defending socialism

by New Worker correspondent

NEW COMMUNIST Party leader Andy Brooks welcomed comrades and friends to the Party Centre last week for the third in a series of seminars called by the NCP and the Juché Idea Study Group on Juché and Songun politics that are the basis of Korean-style socialism.

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Britain hosts exhibition to celebrate Chinese thinker Yan Fu

by Zhang Jianhua

THE OLD Royal Naval College has opened Britain’s first major exhibition on the life of Yan Fu, a renowned Chinese thinker, educator and translator who served as a cultural bridge between China and Britain more than 100 years ago.

Yan Fu, born in 1854, was one of the first ever Chinese students to study in Britain. In 1877, he was sent to the then Royal Naval College in Greenwich in London to study naval expertise and went on to become one of the intellectuals in modern China.

The exhibition, named Yan Fu and Chinese Imperial Students at the Royal Naval College, showcased a myriad of historical documents, books, artefacts and photographs, seeking to portray the life and times of this extraordinary thinker and his fellow Chinese schoolmates.

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International News

Ferguson rage at killer cop ruling


THOUSANDS of people in Washington, New York, Boston and a dozen other cities across the United States are continuing protests against Monday’s decision by a Missouri local grand jury not to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American youth.

African-American youth. From the country’s capital to the commercial metropolis, protesters marched and chanted their discontent with the grand jury’s decision, but the demonstrations remained peaceful, compared with the violence that marked the outrage in Ferguson.

It’s in this small city in Missouri State where Michael Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson on 9th August. Violence erupted on Monday night in Ferguson after the announcement that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

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Talks only way out

by Chen Shilei

AS HOPES for a comprehensive deal on the Iranian nuclear issue are fading, due to gaps on key aspects among the related parties, negotiations instead of threat of sanctions still remain the only way out of the standoff.

Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — began their latest round of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna Tuesday.

It is hoped that a comprehensive deal would be reached by Monday that would ensure the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear programme, while in return western states would phase out sanctions that have severely damaged the gulf nation’s oil-dependent economy.

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General’s release at risk

by Ivan Martínez

COLOMBIA’s main guerrilla group issued a statement on Sunday saying the release of a Colombian general captured last week was at risk and could be delayed due to the intensive military operations taking place in the area where he is being held captive.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said their fighters noted continued: “Landing of troops, bombings, intelligence flights, and measures restraining the circulation of civilians in the area, essentially indigenous and afro-descendant populations. These communities have been practically besieged by the army.”

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MH17: Secret agreement remains secret

by Zowi Milanowi

ONE THE 7th August, three weeks after Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over East Ukraine, a secret agreement was signed between the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Ukraine about the investigation into the disaster. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service was to lead the investigation, as two-thirds of the victims had Dutch nationality.

Details about this secret agreement were revealed on 29th August by Eurojust. There appears to be a non-disclosure agreement in which one of the four countries has the power to veto the publication of results of the investigation. It appears that Malaysia also participated in the talks about forming a joint investigation team (JIT), but refused to sign the agreement. The result is that Malaysia now is only part of the technical investigation team, and not part of the team behind the criminal probe.

The exact reason for this is not clear. The facts are that the Malaysian researchers were the first on the ground, and the Malaysians immediately contacted the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in order to acquire the black boxes of the crashed air plane and arrange the collection of the remains of the victims into a train with refrigeration system, so they could be flown to the Netherlands. Meanwhile the Dutch government refused to have any contact with the DPR, because of its own strong ties with the Kiev government. The non-aligned Malaysians played a key role in the research.

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Remembering the Past German aid for Irish Rising

by Peter O’Rourke

OVER the years, almost every generation of republicans has sought to enlist foreign support for the struggle in Ireland.

In the years prior to 1916 the assistance of Germany in supplying arms and ammunition for the Irish Volunteers was essential for the planning of the Easter Rising.

Following the success of the Howth gun-running in July 1914, when munitions were landed from the yacht Asgard and the outbreak of the war in Europe the following month, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) lost no time in establishing direct contact with the German authorities.

Later that month the first official overture to the German Government was made in New York, when John Devoy headed a Clan na Gael delegation to meet Count Von Bernstoff, the German Ambassador to America. Devoy told him that the Irish revolutionaries would take advantage of the war to strike for independence and would need arms and trained officers. This request was sent immediately to Berlin.

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Young Communists hit the streets

by Luis Raúl Vázquez Muñoz

THE YOUNG Communists Union (UJC) in the city of Ciego de ávila has initiated a cultural project entitled Soy Cuba, in response to the concerns of Cuban youth about the need for more recreational options, above all in communities located far from cultural centres and services.

Maykel Pérez Valdés, member of the UJC Provincial Bureau, reported that this effort is being discussed during the movement’s evaluation process, consisting of UJC assemblies and Necessary Connections committees — spaces of debate between members and non-affiliated young people.

A key issue emerging in these encounters, being held through December, is the need to increase and organise recreational spaces. Strong discussion regarding employment is also taking place, he stated.

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Leslie Feinberg — A communist who revolutionised transgender rights

by Minnie Bruce Pratt

Many readers will remember Leslie Feinberg’s groundbreaking articles on socialism and the LGBT movement that were published in the New Worker in the 2000s.

LESLIE Feinberg, who identified as an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, died on 15th November. She succumbed to complications from multiple tick-borne co-infections, including Lyme disease, babeisiosis and protomyxzoa rheumatica, after decades of illness.

She died at home in Syracuse, New York state, with her partner and spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt, at her side. Her last words were: “Hasten the revolution! Remember me as a revolutionary communist.” Feinberg was the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “transgender liberation,” and her work impacted popular culture, academic research and political organising.

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Little man drowning in big politics

by Anna Pha

THE PAST week has not been a good one for Australian premier Tony Abbott or his mate Joe Hockey. Abbott attempted to throw his weight around, using Australia’s position as host of the G20 leaders’ summit to impose his own domestic agenda on world leaders.

He appeared completely lacking in diplomatic skills, demonstrated little understanding of international relations and seemed to have lost his way on other occasions. He hardly did Australia or the Australian people any credit. The Australian media focused on Abbott and Putin rather than the real issues.

“I’m going to shirtfront Mr Putin. You bet you are — you bet I am,” PM Tony Abbott vowed in the lead-up to APEC and the G20, much to the amusement of overseas media. The “shirt-fronting” threat was intended for domestic consumption, but it took off around the world making a complete fool of Australia’s so-called leader.

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A saviour called Jyoti Basu

by Gurpreet Singh

IT WAS January 2010. I was on my first visit to Kolkata. Previously known as Calcutta, the city is the capital of West Bengal state of India. The province was under Communist rule when I was travelling in that part of my home country. I went there mainly to visit Budge Budge, the site where the Komagata Maru ship passengers were shot in September 1914.

The Japanese vessel carrying over 300 South Asian passengers was forced to return by the Canadian government under the discriminatory continuous journey law, designed to stop Indian immigrants from permanent settlement in British Columbia. Following a scuffle with the British India police at Budge Budge shore, the deported passengers were shot at, leaving many dead. A Sikh temple in memory of the deceased passengers greets visitors in the town.

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