National News

New Era tenants march to save their homes

HUNDREDS of tenants living on the New Era estate in Hackney, east London, last Monday rallied in Berkeley Square outside the London offices of the American-owned company that is threatening to evict them and then marched to Downing Street to hand in a petition.

The estate was built in the 1930s by a philanthropist to provide affordable homes for London workers but the bubble in housing prices in Britain but especially in London has seen the value of their flats rocket.

The estate was sold last March by a consortium of charities and private investors to Westbrook Partners, based in New York, who want to raise rents to the “market value” — three times what the tenants currently pay and well over the threshold that would be covered by housing benefit.

Ninety-three families now face eviction because they will not be able to afford the new rents. Many have lived there all their lives and they include elderly people, disabled individuals, single parents and NHS workers. They have accused the investors of “social cleansing”.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Anti-fascists block Golden Dawn supporters

by New Worker correspondent

ANTI-fascists gathered in Holland Park opposite London’s Greek embassy last Saturday to anticipate and oppose a demonstration by an assortment of English, Polish and Greek fascists in support of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

Golden Dawn is the third largest party in the Greek Parliament. Around 50 of its leading members, including MPs, are currently awaiting trial in Athens for a series of crimes outlined in a 700-page document prepared by a Greek Public Prosecutor.

These crimes include murders, weapon offences, violent attacks on immigrants and others, and the use of a party structure as a political front for the operation of a criminal organisation.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

UK Border Agency turns landlords to racism

A NEW requirement imposed by the Home Office and UK Border Agency on landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants is likely to lead to landlords preferring only white tenants with English names in order to avoid to avoid immigration red tape, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has warned.

Almost two million buy to- let property owners will be responsible for checking the immigration status of potential tenants, with fines running into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law. The new requirements — which are now on trial in the west Midlands — are part of the Government’s attempts to cut down on migrants coming to Britain.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Fitness test still terrorising the disabled

THE mother of a severely-disabled Bradford teenager with a mental age of five is facing the prospect of a 12-month delay in receiving some of her benefits while an assessment is carried out to see if her daughter is fit to work.

Ellie McDonald, 19, of Leafield Grove, Eccleshill is one of only 13 people in the world known to suffer from the rare genetic disorder Chromosome Seven Deletion.

She was born with a part of a chromosome missing and is living with one kidney, 70 per cent curvature of the spine and other conditions including a tethered spinal cord that has left her with bowel and bladder paralysis.

Her brain injury means she has to be sedated to sleep every night. She also cannot read or write. Now she must undergo a medical assessment at home — the fitness test or Work Capability Assessment (WCA) — to prove she needs to receive the full amount of Employment Support Allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions — a decision condemned as “absurd” by one Bradford MP.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Half-blind widow kills herself after benefit cut

JACQUELINE Harris, a partially-blind widow, who suffered crippling back pain for over a decade, committed suicide after her incapacity benefit was cut because state assessors claimed she was fit to work.

Following a two-minute assessment, private firm Atos Healthcare concluded Jacqueline Harris was fit to work despite the fact she had trouble walking and suffered constant, excruciating back pain. Her incapacity benefit was subsequently axed by the government, which pays the firm to conduct fitness-for-work assessments.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

202 McVitie’s job losses

GMB, the union for staff at United Biscuits, has condemned the company’s announcement of 202 job losses at the McVitie’s factory in Toll Cross in Glasgow on Friday 28th November.

Earlier this month the company MURAT Ülker took over the McVitie’s factory.

Harry Donaldson, secretary of GMB Scotland, said: “The chief executive, Martin Glenn, met with each shift at Toll Cross today starting at 5am. He delivered devastating and wholly unexpected bad news that there would be 202 job losses out of the 700 jobs at the plant.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Petition to rescue IWM library petition

THE CIVIL service union Prospect has launched a petition to save the library of the Imperial War Museum, which is under threat from cuts in Government spending.

The library, which acquired its first item in 1917, is part of the museum that reopened in July 2014 after a £40 million refurbishment.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Northern Line action rock solid

MICK CASH, general secretary of the transport union RMT, last Monday commended his members employed on the London Underground Northern Line over victimisation of a union activist.

He said: “Our members are standing rock solid, shoulder to shoulder with their victimised colleague and as we have said all along the union is determined to secure a just and fair outcome to this dispute.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

A new workhouse?

A HALF-derelict former bus station in Blackburn town centre could be brought back into life as a charity and recycling centre. Up 10 otherwise homeless people would live at the site under supervision.

The garage in Manner Sutton Street in Eanam closed in 2011. It was bought by Blackburn with Darwen Council and now the borough is poised to sell it to a Lancashire-based charity which helps “marginalised people back into stable, independent living”.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

London’s killer pollution

AROUND 60,000 people may be dying prematurely every year as a result of air pollution caused by “dirty diesel”, according to a panel of scientific experts quoted in the Sunday Times.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish News by our Scottish political correspondent

NEW FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made her priorities clear in a speech to Scotland’s business class at the Glasgow headquarters of one of the “Big Six” energy firms and in an earlier interview to the Financial Times. Her well-heeled audiences were informed that: “I want them to know that they have got nothing to fear from me”.

Claiming to be a social democrat pursuing “greater equality and tackling social justice” she added: “You can’t do that unless you have got a strong economy, unless you have got a vibrant business base earning the wealth that makes that possible.” This is very reminiscent of Britain’s first woman prime minister’s point about the Good Samaritan needing money before he can do good deeds.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Ferguson killing a miscarriage of justice


THE JUSTICE system plays a crucial role in meting out punishments to underpin democracy. So when a grand jury declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson who shot dead an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, the whole controversy around the incident should have been settled.

But on the contrary, the ensuing disturbing scenes of an outraged public crying foul nationwide, as well as outspoken criticisms from other judicial experts and staff, indicated a rather uncomfortable truth happening in America, a democracy with a propensity to blame others for being undemocratic: the acquittal of Wilson was unjustified.

While Brown’s death has become a symbol of simmering mistrust and racism, the recent ruling not to indict Wilson made a mockery of a justice system that apparently lacks justice.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Teachers’ strike spreads in China

by Liang Jun and Zhang Qian

STRIKES by thousands of primary and high school teachers over underpaid salaries and a controversial pension system have spread to more cities and counties in north-east China’s Heilongjiang province since last week, after a similar protest in Zhaodong took place two weeks ago.

Protests by thousands of teachers in Yilan county entered their fifth day after they gathered in front of the county government building on Wednesday. A teacher in Yilan who requested anonymity said that they have not heard of colleagues being arrested or fired.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Bahrain Riot Police attack protesters

by Ivan Martínez

FRESH clashes have broken out between Bahraini regime forces and the demonstrators who were out to show their dissatisfaction with the parliamentary elections recently held in the Arab kingdom.

Riot police fired teargas to disperse the outraged protesters in different regions across the Persian Gulf state, including Sitra, Sanabis, Daih and Ma’ameer. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) said more than 50 people had been detained during the elections, with some of them being tortured behind bars.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Lebanon denies British troops claim

NO BRITISH troops but only “technical teams” are present in Lebanon to help monitor the border with Syria against the infiltration of Islamic State (IS) militants, a high-ranking military source said on Tuesday, denying earlier reports.

The source, quoted by the Beirut al-Joumhouria (The Republic) daily, said that the British team has only helped the Lebanese army in building 12 towers to facilitate the monitoring of the border near the Christian town of Ras Baalbek in the eastern Bekaa region.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Mexico’s drug wars: made in USA

by Jim McMahan THE DISAPPEARANCE and presumed murder of the 43 Mexican students of Ayotzinapa exposed to the world the relation between drug cartels and the violence of the state apparatus in capitalist Mexico. What is not publicised in the corporate media is the US role in corrupting and impoverishing Mexico — and in causing the drug war that has taken 100,000 lives. Today, the masses there are rising up in protest.

Crushing poverty was imposed on the rural Mexican people in 1994 by the so-called North American Free Trade Agreement pushed by Washington. Its provisions destroyed the rural economy and ended the livelihoods of many farmers, as the invasion of US corporations and their commodities began. This fuelled the rise of the drug cartels. Another factor in their ascent has been the strong demand for drugs and drug profits coming from the US side of the border.

But the forcible intervention of US arms traffickers and repressive forces in Mexico has only escalated this conflict, so it has now spread countrywide. The US has invaded Mexico and violated the country’s sovereignty and security for years.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Syrian museums still in good condition

by Rawaa Ghanam

OVER THE past three years, Syrian archaeological sites and artefacts have been one of the targets of the foreign- backed terrorist groups’ attacks. Many historical and archaeological sites were vandalised or destroyed and many precious artefacts have been smuggled out, causing a big loss to the thousands-years-old Syrian archaeological heritage.

On the other hand, the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums has spared no effort to maintain the safety of the Syrian museums and historical monuments.

The Director of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, Mamoun Abdulkarim, who was recently awarded the Cultural Heritage Rescue Prize in Italy, talked to the Syrian media about the efforts exerted by the directorate in cooperation with other concerned government parties to rescue the Syrian archaeological heritage.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


Donbas: A fighter from Afghanistan

Komsomolskaya Pravda

A fighter from Donetsk’s Vostok Brigade told us how he was sent to the USSR on a semi-secret programme, called Watan, and why he came to the Donbas.

WE BECAME acquainted with Abdullah at Saur-Mogila, a strategic height recently liberated by the partisans. Meeting extraordinary people in war is always a random affair. They cannot be invented; there is no schedule for meeting them. They just appear in your way, painting the harsh greyness of combat with unexpected tones.

In the Donbas, wearing beards is fashionable among the Militia. Thus we did not immediately recognise the swarthy lad with a sub-machine gun as a native of sunny Afghanistan. The more so because he spoke Russian fluently.

“Where are you from?” asked the writer, Alexander Prokhanov, at the top of Saur-Mogila. Abdullah was accompanying him as one of his guards.

“I am a Pashtun from the Alokozai tribe,” smiled the bearded guy. “It is from near Waziristan.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Ukraine: behind the crisis: Provoking Putin

At the roots of the crisis in Ukraine is the West’s backing for neo-Nazis and narrow Ukrainian nationalists to provoke Putin into a new Cold War

by Prof Vladimir Shubin

THE EVENTS in Ukraine in the last 10 months or so have been widely covered by the “international mass-media”, but as in a number of other cases — Libya and Syria in particular — the picture they paint is greatly distorted. Let us try to put the record straight.

The political crisis in Kiev began in November 2013. At that time the Ukrainian government led by President Victor Yanukovych announced it was postponing the signing of a document proclaiming association with the European Union. The idea to associate with the European Union was popular in Ukraine especially in the western regions of the country. Many people naively thought it would bring economic prosperity to Ukraine. However, at the last moment the Yanukovych government, which initiated the process, understood that it would bring disaster to the Ukrainian economy and damage its economic ties with Russia.

The decision not to sign the agreement with the EU coupled with anger at widespread corruption led to protests and demonstrations, especially in Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan).

[Read the complete story in the print edition]