National News

City Link sacks 2,727 on Christmas Day

MICK CASH, general secretary of the RMT transport union, described the action of the parcel delivery firm City Link to announce on Christmas Day that it was making its 2,727 workers redundant as “an absolute disgrace”.

The company is owned by investment firm Better Capital, controlled by City financier and prominent UK Independence Party supporter Jon Moulton, who didn’t even bother to tell his employees — most of them found out via the press that they will be receiving no more pay after the 31st of December.

Moulton is a former Conservative Party donor, who decided to transfer his allegiance to UKIP after criticising Tory chancellor George Osborne for not cutting hard enough Mick Cash said it was “shocking” to have “sprung this announcement once all the Christmas deliveries have been completed”.

The Coventry-based firm, which employed 2,727 staff, made the move on Christmas Eve after “substantial losses”. Yet parcel is an expanding industry as more and more people turn to the internet to do their Christmas shopping. Other parcel delivery firms were reporting a shortage of delivery drivers to cope with the rush.

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Clapton Ultras defy fascists

CLAPTON FC is a small football club in a very diverse area of East London, playing in the Essex Senior League. For three seasons now they have gathered an enthusiastic and dedicated following calling themselves the “Clapton Ultras”.

This dedicated anti-racist, anti-fascist and pro-working class group of fans has resulted in Clapton seeing some of the highest turnouts for matches in their league, drawing in people fed up with the extortionate price and soulless atmosphere of many major-league clubs.

The “Ultras” have also got involved with the local community, supporting the Focus E15 mothers, anti-immigration raids campaigns and collecting donations for local food-banks.

Somewhere along the line this development attracted the attention of the extreme right-wing internet group of want-to-be football hooligans “Casuals United”, who, taking great objection to there being a group of overtly anti-racist, anti-fascist football fans, started encouraging their internet followers to go and attack the Clapton Ultras.

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Four arrested at killer drones protest

FOUR campaigners belonging to End the Drone Wars were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass last weekend at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

The group had penetrated the base as part of a protest against the use of armed drones, controlled from that base, which have caused many civilian casualties.

The four were Chris Cole, 51, from Oxford, Katharina Karcher, 30, from Coventry, Gary Eagling, 52, from Nottingham and Penny Walker, 64, from Leicester.

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Charges for appeals against benefit decisions?

A LEAKED document from the Department of Work and Pensions has revealed that the Government is considering introducing charges if claimants who have been stripped of their benefits want to appeal against the decision.

This follows the introduction last year of charges for workers to bring cases against their employers for unfair treatment to an industrial tribunal.

These charges have led to a great reduction in the numbers of cases going to industrial tribunals as workers who are not members of trade unions can now rarely afford to bring a case.

This leaves employers knowing that now they can get away with unfair treatment because, unless there is a union involved, they are unlikely to be held accountable.

Benefit claimants will be even worse off. By definition they are poor and if it costs money to challenge a wrong decision they will be unable to do so.

At the same time there have been swingeing cuts to legal aid so they will not be able to seek justice through the courts. In the leaked document about the department’s internal finances, officials say the “introduction of a charge for people making appeals against [DWP] decisions to social security tribunals” would raise money.

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Cuts to home care

THE CON-DEM Coalition’s austerity cuts have led to a reduction of nearly 300,000 in the number of pensioners getting vital care in their own homes.

Experts warn that this is leading to increased pressure on overstrained Accident and Emergency units as neglected pensioners are increasingly needing emergency care.

According to figures from the Health and Social Care information Centre, 294,080 fewer people over 65 are getting state-funded social care compared to when Cameron became Prime Minister.

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Scottish News

by our Scottish political correspondent

THE SIGHTING of the first of the new season Easter eggs in the shops marks the official start to the 2015 general election campaign. Thus newspaper stories about how the police are investigating the case of a lamb which lost an ear in an attack by a dog on Hawick moor no longer make the front pages.

But the burghers of that Borders town provide political enlightenment.:. An SNP councillor for the Borders town has also been in the news. Alastair Cranstoun is a master at creative expenses claims.

Not only did he have the brass neck to claim £6.45 in mileage allowance for attending the funeral of a fellow councillor, he made another for going to sign the condolence book.

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Disabled lobby to defend ILF

by New Worker correspondent

THE CAMPAIGN group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organised a lobby of Parliament on Tuesday to defend the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which gives regular money to disabled people to enable them to live an independent life outside of institutionalised care.

The Government plans to abolish this benefit as from next June and to replace it with a personal allowance administered by local authorities.

But the funding for this local care is much reduced and it has not been ring-fenced. Local authorities under pressure in all directions may not pass all of their allotment on to those who are about to lose ILF.

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International News

Portuguese communists demand change

by Luan

PORTUGAL’S Communist Party leader Jeronimo de Sousa says he has “hope” and “confidence” in the country’s future and his party was ready to take on all the country’s responsibilities.

In a New Year message, Jeronimo de Sousa said he disagreed with the ruling party’s “right-wing policy”. He added that “another patriotic and leftwing policy” was possible in order to “respond to national problems”.

He pointed out that the country could count on the party’s fight for legal rights, employment and public services and said the party had proposals to respond to the population’s aspirations.

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High time for Tokyo to face history

by Luo Jun

AS THE world gears up to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, it is high time for the Japanese government to adopt a correct attitude toward history and act in good faith to help maintain the post-war order.

A host of global and regional events have been planned to commemorate the hard-won peace after the bloodiest war in human history and draw lessons from that heart rending and thought-provoking chapter of human civilisation.

Like Nazi Germany, militarist Japan back then inflicted unbearable losses upon many nations and committed horrendous atrocities against humanity. But unlike today’s Germany, Abe’s Japan remains unrepentant and even bent on whitewashing the past war crimes.

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Venezuela offers US exchange

by Ivan Martínez

VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that he would consider the release of the jailed far-right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez if the United States agreed to release Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist currently held in a US prison.

Leopoldo Lopez was arrested in February after he helped launch a three month wave of violent opposition demonstrations seeking Maduro’s ouster. Streets were blocked by violent masked protesters and dozens were killed, mostly at the hands of extreme right-wing terrorists.

Maduro suggested he could send Lopez to the United States if Washington secured the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was convicted in 1981 of conspiracy along with other militants who sought to secure Puerto Rican independence.

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Palestinians charge Israel with war crimes

Prensa Latina

THE PALESTINIAN Authority has applied for membership of the International Criminal Court despite American attempts to prevent this and threats of reprisals by Israel which will be taken to court for war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The Israeli military aggression committed against Gaza last year will be one of the first accusations that the Palestinians will submit to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Democratic Korea calls for peace

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, outlines the DPRK’s call for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula in his New Year address on 1st January 2015. SEVENTY years have passed since our nation was divided by outside forces.

In those decades the world has made a tremendous advance and the times have undergone dramatic changes, but our nation has not yet achieved reunification, suffering the pain of division. It is a deplorable fact known to everyone and it is lamentable to everyone. No longer can we bear and tolerate the tragedy of national division that has continued century after century.

Last year we put forward crucial proposals for improved inter-Korean relations and national reunification and made sincere efforts for their implementation. Our efforts, however, could not bear due fruit owing to the obstructive moves by the anti-reunification forces within and without; instead the north-south relations have been on a headlong rush to aggravation.

Democratic Korea calls for peace

London DJ stays in Hanoi for bun cha

by Minh Thu

IF SOMEONE asks Vaughan Evans about his favourite thing in Vietnam, he will name bun cha without a doubt. The dish of paddy noodles served with grilled fatty pork dipped in sauce and herbs made him decide to stay in Hanoi.

“I don’t think I can go more than a week without eating it,” said Evans, “I enjoy it at least once a week at the familiar stall on Pham Ngoc Thach Street. I love it like crazy.”

After working for two years as an IT technician, he was fed up and wanted a change. He decided to pack a bag and travel. Evans had always wanted to travel throughout Southeast Asia, but was particularly interested in Vietnam after reading Chef Anthony Bourdain’s book A Cook’s Tour.

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Features

Victory! Miami 5 are reunited and free at last

by Cheryl LaBash

THE GOVERNMENT of the United States has done what it repeatedly swore it would never do: It has freed the last of the Miami Five. On 17th December Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández were finally released from US jails after more than 16 years of unjust imprisonment. René González and Fernando González had already served their full prison terms and returned to Cuba.

Those whom René González termed “the jury of millions” — who had organised, picketed, written letters, signed petitions, collected money for newspaper ads, investigated, inveighed on parliamentarians, climbed mountains, rode bicycles, tweeted, wrote poems, plays, songs and more in every corner of the globe — rejoiced. The steadfast Cuban people joyfully welcomed their heroes: the five men who sacrificed so much to protect them from terrorist attacks launched from US territory during the 1990s.

We can only imagine the joy of their families. A Miami court and the US government had expected Gerardo to die in prison after he was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International students send aid to Donbas

International Students’ Aid to Donbas (ISAD), based in Wroclaw, Poland, is one of many aid groups springing up across the world in solidarity with the ongoing resistance and the victimised people of Eastern Ukraine. Last month Fight Back! interviewed one of the founders of ISAD, who wished to remain anonymous.

Fight Back!: Can you explain about the student organisation generally?

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The Christmas Truce 1914 — 100 years on

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

THE CHRISTMAS Truce celebrated among soldiers from both sides along the Western Front at the beginning of the First World War in 1914 was in fact a series of spontaneous acts along the Front before, during and after Christmas, in which men came together to sing, play and chat instead of killing one another.

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