National News

Thousands of firefighters march and strike for sacked Ricky Matthews

FIREFIGHTERS in England last Tuesday (8th December) began a 24-hour strike and the following day marched in their thousands through Aylesbury in protest at the illegal sacking of Rickey Matthews by Buckinghamshire Fire Service.

The strike was part of the long-running battle to defend fire fighters’ pensions from Government plans to force firefighters to work longer and pay more for the pensions.

But the most iniquitous part of the change is to cut the pensions of those who cannot remain fit to do the job up until they are 60.

Firefighting is an arduous and dangerous job that takes its toll on firefighters’ health. Very few will be able to sustain the high level of fitness until they are 60.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Legal aid for domestic violence victims

WOMEN members of the GMB general union joined a demonstration of many women’s groups outside the High Court in London on Friday 12th December for the hearing of the Judicial Review granted to Rights of Women in Sept 2014 to challenge part of the Legal Aid Act which came into effect in April.

This clause in the Act prevents women who are victims of domestic abuse being eligible for legal aid.

Taranjit Chana, GMB London Regional Equality Forum, said: “GMB is supporting the legal challenge against the Government changes to access to justice by women experiencing domestic violence.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Sanctioned for being pregnant

CAMPAIGNERS staged a two-day protest outside Ashton- under-Lyne jobcentre last week after Eleanor Coulthard, a 19-year-old girl, had her benefits withdrawn because she was pregnant.

She had been on an unpaid job placement at the DIY chain store B&Q but the company said it no longer wanted her services after she told them she was 23 weeks pregnant.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Campaigners demand publication of death inquiries

THE DEPARTMENT of Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out at least 60 internal reviews following deaths of benefit claimants.

Disability rights campaigners and mental health charities say this number is probably the tip of a much bigger iceberg and are calling for the results of these inquiries to be published because many of these deaths are believed to be directly linked to cuts in benefits.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Disabled ‘losing choice and control’

JOHN Kelly, a prominent disabled campaigner and musician from Wimbledon, last week declared that he was “gutted” a High Court ruling the Government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was lawful.

The Con-Dem Coalition has argued ILF funding is not needed because disabled people are already supported through the adult social care system. The fund is due to close on 30th June next year.

Speaking after the decision, Kelly said: “I feel angry more than anything because it proves that the Government actually knew that the decision they were making would have a detrimental impact on disabled people.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Stop Lambeth evictions

HOUSING campaigners in Lambeth are fighting plans by the council to force people from their homes — where some have lived for 40 years or more — in order to sell off the homes and solve some of the council’s budgeting problems.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Jimmy Mubenga campaign to fight on

THREE G4S guards were cleared of manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga last Tuesday but his wife, friends and supporters have vowed to fight on for justice for Mubenga.

Jimmy Mubenga was killed on board a plane at Heathrow airport that was bound for Angola in October 2010. He was being deported from Britain and there was a struggle.

Other passengers on the plane reported hearing Mubenga call for help, saying: “I can’t breathe,” as the guards, Terrence Hughes, Colin Kaler and Stuart Tribelnig, used heavy restraint locks to force him into his seat and hold him down, even though he was already handcuffed from behind and had his seatbelt on.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish News

by our Scottish political correspondent

ON SATURDAY morning white puffs of smoke arose from the Scottish Labour Party’s HQ to announce that, as expected, the new Scottish Labour leader is to be Jim Murphy, who gained 55.77 per cent of the vote on paper, comfortably defeating left candidate Neil Findlay who had 34.99 per cent and also-ran Sarah Boyack, who trailed a bad third with 9.24 per cent.

In the straight fight for the deputy leadership Lothian MSP Kezia Dugdale defeated left-winger Katy Clark, the North Ayrshire and Arran MP by 62.89 to 37.11 per cent.

Tellingly the actual numbers of those voting have not been published; it is more than likely that fewer than 30,000 people voted. But it is more likely that in the popular vote the result could have been different, or at least the result more of a hairsbreadth than a landslide.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Kim Jong Il’s Immortal Works and Life

by New Worker correspondent

FRIENDS of Korea met in London’s historic Marx House on Sunday to mark the third anniversary of the passing of Kim Jong Il. In the hallowed hall of the building where Britain’s first Marxists worked and provided Lenin with rooms to edit and print the underground Russian paper, Iskra, when he lived in exile in London, British communist leaders and Korean solidarity activists paid tribute to the Korean revolutionary leader who died at his post on 17th December 2011.

This was no solemn occasion but a celebration of the life and times of the Korean leader who devoted his life to the Workers Party of Korea and the democratic people’s republic that has been a red bastion in Asia since its foundation in 1948.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The Degeneration of Dr Who

by Dermot Hudson AS A CHILD Saturday nights always held the promise of great excitement in the form of Dr Who, the classic British sci-fi programme. It was always a great feeling when the distinctive Dr Who theme blared out from the TV heralded the start of another adventure in time and space!

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Libya plunges into chaos

by Zhang Yuan and Chen Xiangyang in Tripoli

LIBYA seems to be heading towards outright civil war as the Islamist armed alliance Libya Dawn and the pro-secular national army battle for control over the oil-ports, army supply lines and strategic posts in the last couple of weeks.

On Monday the Brigades of Libya Dawn continued the assaults to try to seize Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, Libya’s vital seaports for exporting crude oil. Meanwhile, Libya’s national army mounted attacks along the western coast line, aiming to outflank Libya Dawn and cut off their life-lines.

The Libyan media has dubbed these manoeuvres “the biggest and potentially the most decisive” between the two rival factions, but none has predicted the results or which side will gain the upper hand.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

SAS veteran Andy McNab defends Britain’s use of torture

by John Hedges

SAS HERO and best-selling author “Andy McNab” — who served in Ireland during the conflict — has defended the use of torture by British crown forces.

The special forces soldier was speaking after a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigation last week revealed that brutal techniques used by CIA agents against Al-Qaeda suspects in the wake of the 9/11 bombings failed to produce useful intelligence.

The SAS “legend” says there are a number of “quick, harmful, painful techniques” he would use on a captive.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The hypocrisy of the Americans who posed as human rights police

by Wang Shang

THE HEGEMONY it has exercised, the inquisition by torture it has practised, and the profound racial inequalities in America all point to the sheer hypocrisy of the United States as a defender of human rights.

One day before the annual World Human Rights Day, a report detailing tortures and abuses conducted by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) against prisoners in Guantanamo and Afghanistan has provoked strident criticism throughout the world.

The US government loves to decorate itself as a vehement watchdog of human rights on the world stage. On too many occasions, US troops, upholding their proud American flags, invaded countries which stood no chance against their cutting-edge weapons, just in order to shed “the light of civilisation” to every corner of the world.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Castro wins Chinese Peace Prize


FIDEL Castro has been recognised for promoting peace both as president of Cuba, and in retirement.

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro received China’s Confucius Peace Prize last week for his contributions to advancing world peace.

“While in office, Castro did not resort to violence or force to settle disputes in international relations — especially with the United States,” prize co-founder Liu Zhiqin stated.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Latin America: the most violent region in the world

by David Corcho

LATIN America tops the world list of the most violent regions in the world, according to a report by the United Nations Programme for Development (UNDP).

According to UNDP data, in the last decade more than 430,000 homicides occurred throughout the continent, a number that it says has alarmed governments and the international community.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


‘Kill the Messenger’ — Gary Webb told the truth

by Stephen Millies

GARY WEBB told the truth about CIA-backed contra terrorists selling drugs to finance their dirty war against Nicaragua in the 1980s. The courageous journalist was hounded to death for linking the crack epidemic with Reagan’s drive to overthrow the Sandinista government.

Ten years after Webb’s death on 10th December 2004 in an apparent suicide, the film Kill the Messenger captures the story. Jeremy Renner plays Webb while Rosemarie DeWitt is his partner, Susan Webb. Although it’s largely gone from the screens, you can see the film on DVD.

As a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, Webb spent a year investigating the CIA-contra-crack connection. His three-part series, entitled Dark Alliance, created a sensation when it was published in 1996.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

A concept that continues to live

by Rob Gowland

LOOKING through Gleebooks Summer Reading Guide, distributed with The Sydney Morning Herald, I noticed that the new summer releases from Penguin Pocket Classics include The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. (It’s priced at $16.99 from Gleebooks in a handsome hard-backed edition designed by graphic designer Coralie Bickford-Smith and is being touted as a “great Christmas gift”.

But if you just want the Manifesto without the fancy wrappings, the Communist Party of Australia sells it for $5 plus postage). In the Summer Reading Guide it’s lumped in with other “classics” by such Woody Allen favourites as Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Freud (not to mention Marcus Aurelius and Machiavelli), but the significant point is that only Marx and Engel’s work has been subjected to a deliberate effort to erase its content from human consciousness.

From the moment it appeared, before the middle of the 19th century, The Communist Manifesto has been subjected to unprecedented denunciations, bans, wholesale book burnings and criminalisation, as well as a never-ending campaign of vilification, distortion and misrepresentation. Some of the worst misrepresentation came from people who were galvanised by its revolutionary message but could not be bothered (or did not want) to comprehend the elaboration of the authors’ ideas in their other writings.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

A once in a lifetime opportunity to build a socialist state in Europe

Interview with Spanish antifascist volunteers in the Donbas MANY volunteers from all over Europe have answered the call to join the resistance movement against Poroshenko’s coup regime and have arrived in the Donbas to defend Novorossiya. Among them is a group of volunteers from Castile and Catalonia, who have joined the Prizrak Brigade from the Vostok Battalion to serve under the charismatic Aleksey Mozgovoy. After a brief stay with the brigades continentales, the Spanish antifascists have joined other young revolutionaries in the Red Squad 404, a communist unit within the Prizrak Brigade. We caught up with Sergio, Héctor, Miguel and Oriol to learn about their life with the 404 and about their role in the popular resistance of Novorossiya.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]