National News

Bus strike brings chaos to London

THOUSANDS of London bus drivers took strike action on Tuesday, bringing transport chaos throughout the capital.

The drivers, members of the giant union Unite, are demanding a single pay and conditions agreement covering the whole of London.

London buses, privatised by the Tories in the 1990s, are run by a number of different companies and each of them has different wages, terms and conditions.

Pay can differ by up to £3-an-hour, making over £100 difference in the weekly pay. Unite said with no collective pay deal there were 80 different pay rates for drivers doing the same job.

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Stop dumping sewage on the tracks!

THE RMT transport union last week renewed its demands for urgent Government action to end the shocking practice of train companies dumping human sewage on the railway tracks.

The issue has once again been brought to public attention with BBC’s [Inside Out] programme on Monday, highlighting the fact that one in ten trains are still dumping human waste on the tracks and that exposure to the excrement has serious health implications for rail workers.

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Privatisation fails: Circle to abandon Hinchingbrooke Hospital

CIRCLE Holdings, the private company that just three years ago was the first to take over the management of an NHS hospital, has decided to withdraw from the contract claiming it could not make enough profit.

Circle Holdings, which operates Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, said its franchise is “no longer viable under current terms”.

It cites increased pressure on Accident and Emergency services, Government cuts to funding and a dispute with local GP commissioning bodies over costs and profits.

The hospital has also been placed in special measures following a recent Care Quality Commission inspection.

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Success for TTIP activists

A PROPOSED free trade deal between the European Union and the United States has suffered a huge setback after the most controversial element was taken off the negotiating table in the face of huge public opposition in Britain and other parts of Europe.

Plans to protect foreign investors from decisions by national governments have been set aside by negotiators after an unprecedented 150,000 objections in an EU-wide consultation exercise. Funeral costs put the living in debt

MORE than 100,000 people in Britain are in in debt after paying for a funeral as a result of steeply rising funeral costs.

The annual Royal London Funeral Cost Index found that the average funeral now costs £3,551. And that significant cost has put 109,000 people in debt to a total of £142 million — an average of £1,305 each.

struggle

Of the people who struggled to pay funeral costs 35 per cent used their savings to help pay for funerals, 28 per cent borrowed money from friends and family and 20 per cent got in to debt by using a credit card or loan. Some people even sell their possessions to meet costs. Only 11 per cent chose a cheaper funeral to minimise costs.

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Scottish News

by our Scottish political correspondent

THE SCOTTISH legal profession is in for a treat as a result of the SNP’s much heralded land reform proposals. The SNP is backtracking from its original plans to allow tenant farmers a right to buy their farms against the wishes of their landlords.

This is because it has dawned on them that their back-of-the-envelope plans are in conflict with European Human Rights legislation that makes it a very serious offence indeed to deprive the rich of their property without handing over vanloads of money to compensate the poor darlings for their losses.

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International News

Workers in Germany challenge Amazon

by G Dunkel

THE CHRISTMAS spirit doesn’t suspend the class struggle. German workers and their union, Ver.di, want a higher minimum wage and better working conditions. Ver.di, formed in 2001, is a union with 2.4 million members, mostly in the service sector.

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China team cures Ebola patients

by Yao Xinyu and Huang Jin

THE CHINA-financed Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Liberia discharged three Ebola patients on Monday after they all tested negative for the virus twice, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

The three patients, two women and a seven- year-old boy, were found to be infected with the virus in December, spokesperson Hong Lei said, adding that after 20 days of treatment at the Chinese facility all three were given the all clear.

China is encouraged by these success stories, Hong said, adding that it was willing to work closely with the international community to help those West African countries struggling to contain the outbreak of Ebola, Hong said.

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Fascists firebomb Ukrainian communist office

ON THE NIGHT of 10th January 11 masked thugs smashed a window and threw a molotov cocktail at the offices of the Svyatoshinskiy district of the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU). The KPU stated: “On the night of 10th January 11 masked thugs smashed a window in a building on the boulevard Vernadsky and threw a Molotov cocktail.

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Peace on Korean Peninsula needs reciprocal actions

by Tian Dongdong

WASHINGTON’S flat refusal on Saturday to Pyongyang’s proposal of temporarily suspending nuclear tests in exchange for a halt to joint military exercises by the US and south Korea does no good to trust-building and realisation of peace on the divided peninsula.

In fact the offer, which the United States deemed as “implicit threat”, is kind of a goodwill released by the Democratic People’s Republic Korea (DPRK) for a peaceful solution to the decade-long crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

The proposal is the latest tension-easing effort made in recent months by the Kim Jong Un administration towards trust-based dialogue or detente with the United States and south Korea. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears.

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Obama doesn’t need Congress to end sanctions

by Ivan Martínez

WHEN US President Obama announced on 17th December that he would direct his administration to start normalising relations with Cuba, there was one big obstacle: the blockade on Cuba would still remain in place. As Obama stated, the blockade has been codified in legislation. He announced his intention to engage with Congress about lifting the blockade. But with both chambers of Congress now in the hands of the Republican party, it doesn’t appear likely.

But the reality is that Obama doesn’t need Congressional permission. As he did when he announced he would defer deportation for certain undocumented residents, Obama can — and should — act on his own, said Matt Poppe in an article published in the US Counterpunch magazine.

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Chinese veteran abridges Das Kapital

by Yang Yi

A FARM machinery expert in China’s Shanxi Province undertook the bold task of shortening Karl Marx’s iconic book Das Kapital from more than 1.8 million words to 340,000.

Li Zhongliang, a 73-year-old pensioner, spent 11 years abridging the Chinese version of Marx’s critical analysis of political economy, which helped set the groundwork for economic laws in capitalist society. His shortened version was published last June.

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Features

Ukraine antifascists, supporters welcome release of activists

by Greg Butterfield

FOUR Ukrainian anti-fascist activists detained in the Donetsk People’s Republic for two weeks were freed on 3rd January and have now safely returned to Crimea in the Russian Federation. Meanwhile an Odessa activist tortured and held for almost four months by the US-backed Ukrainian regime was freed on 26th December in a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and people’s militias in the Lugansk People’s Republics.

All five are members of the revolutionary Marxist organisation Union Borotba (Struggle).

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Can Russia retrieve Sovietera influence in Vietnam?

by Yury Kondratyev

Russia’s turn to the East is not a plan of action under the sanctions of the West. Russia’s most loyal allies are situated in the East — they are Vietnam and India. Candidate of historical sciences and the independent expert Ilya Usov shares his views on how Russia may develop its ties with these countries.

“The foundation for Russia’s eastern vector was laid long ago. Russia’s current activities in the east are not related to the events in Ukraine. Russia has been moving in this direction since the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. It was written in documents of state importance, in energy policy and in Russia’s national strategy in general. Today Russia should diversify its foreign policy from the Euro-Atlantic area to the East.

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Islamic State: the hand behind the terror

by Roberto Castellanos Fernandez

AFTER the terror unleashed in Syria and Iraq by Islamic State (IS) there lies a structured machinery for years with one goal: to implement its radical vision of Islam with blood and fire. After the dazzling offensive of the terrorist organisation in extensive areas of both countries numerous news outlets and spy services tried to reveal the wheels of IS.

But the inability to enter the areas it controls and its secrecy caused all sorts of hypotheses on the subject, often conflicting with each other.

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