National News

Fracking proposals running out of steam

THE CON-DEM Coalition’s drive to cover the country with shale gas fracking rigs is running out of steam as currently only 11 new wells are planned. That is still 11 too many and protesters will be monitoring the situation closely.

In the run-up to the May general election fracking is an issue that could lose the Tories a lot of votes as fracking threatened to devastate the green and pleasant shires that are home to their strongest supporters.

But there are many factors involved in the unpopularity of fracking, including among the giant energy companies who see the profitability of fracking in decline as the global price of oil is falling.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Solidarity with Greek resistance to austerity

by New Worker correspondent

TRADE unionists and other progressives gathered last Saturday in Parliament Square to express their solidarity with the people of Greece and to call for a change to the failed austerity policies imposed on Greece by the IMF, European Central Bank and EU.

The protest was just one of many similar actions in major cities throughout Europe, timed for the run-up to elections in Greece on 25th January.

The centre-left party Syriza is expected to win on a promise to end the draconian austerity policies imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

But communists doubt they can achieve this without a break with the EU, which is not on Syriza’s programme.

The Greek communist party (KKE) is campaigning for a total break with Nato and the EU and it dismisses Syriza as just another social-democratic platform that merely seeks to make exploitation more acceptable to Greek workers.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Call for publication of review of benefit cuts suicide

THE SISTER of Tim Salter, a partially sighted man who killed himself after his benefits were cut is calling on the British government to publish details of its review into his case, one of 60 internal investigations of suicides linked to benefit cuts it has carried out since 2012.

Linda Cooksey has written many letters to the Department of Work & Pensions, seeking an independent investigation into its decisions.

She found the body of her brother, Tim Salter, 53, who was agoraphobic and suffered mental health problems, in his home in Stourbridge in September 2013.

There was no food in his house, no money in his bank account, and in the dustbin she found a letter from a housing association threatening him with eviction.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Durham Free School closed after Ofsted report

DURHAM Free School, one of the government’s flagship “independent” schools, is to be closed after a damning Ofsted report found it to be failing in all areas.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced she was terminating funding for the Durham Free School (DFS) just hours after the schools watchdog slammed its leadership and management, teaching and pupil achievement and behaviour rating, all four areas, as inadequate, the worst possible report.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Police staff threat to strike wins new pay offer

POLICE staff, angry at falling pay levels planned strike action for Friday 23rd January but called off the action after management came forward with a better pay offer.

The joint union action, involving Unite and Unison, was to demand a three per cent pay rise instead of the one per cent offered.

The strike, which could have involved up to 30,000 workers, has been called off following the offer of a 2.2 per cent rise. It is the second time in a month Unison has cancelled industrial action.

Ben Priestley, national officer of Unison, said: “The revised pay offer is an improvement for our members and is the result of negotiations with police employers over the Christmas and New Year period.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Benefits for Britons in Europe

BRITISH nationals living in mainland Europe are drawing much more in benefits and allowances in the wealthier EU countries than their nationals are claiming in Britain, according to a report last week in the Guardian.

This refutes the British government’s arguments about migrants flocking in to the country to secure better welfare payments.

At least 30,000 British nationals are claiming unemployment benefit in countries around the EU, research by the [Guardian] has found, based on responses from 23 of the 27 other EU countries.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish Burns Night news

Frae oor ain wee Scottish Political Correspondent

THE SCOTTISH National Party has repeatedly said that it would never enter into a coalition with the Tories at Westminster. It is a common misconception that is because the allegedly left-wing Nationalists think the Tories are far too right wing for their taste.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Another year of war

by New Worker correspondent

“WHEN WE defeat imperialism, then terrorism will start to evaporate.” Andrew Murray summed up the West’s “terrorism” crisis on Monday evening at the Stop the War Coalition’s first major London meeting of the year: “Terrorism may be wrong, but the biggest problem in the world is imperialism. When we defeat imperialism, then terrorism will start to evaporate.”

Dozens of people had to queue for up to 45 minutes for the meeting on the theme “Another year of War?” at the House of Commons offices, but even with a second room found and the speakers moving one to the other, some still failed to get in.

Murray said: “The West’s wars have killed hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, and have definitely displaced millions of people, while regimes have been toppled according to Washington’s taste.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Nothing funny about the Famine

by New Worker correspondent NEW COMMUNIST Party leader Andy Brooks and other comrades joined members of London’s Irish community to protest against attempts to portray the Irish famine as a comedy.

Some 30 demonstrators paraded outside the headquarters of Channel Four on Saturday to voice their anger at the company’s decision to televise a tasteless “comedy” series called Hungry about the famine in 19th century British- ruled Ireland.

The picket was called by the Campaign for the Rights and Ac- tions of Irish Communities (CRAIC), whose chair Austen Harney said: “It’s outrageous that Channel Four thinks it can get away with making a joke of the millions of people who died or were displaced as a result of the British society, they’re not really educated on the facts of the Irish Famine,” he said. “Irish history is a very minor role here in Britain but we need to make people understand the persecution and suffering that Irish people endured.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Israelis kill Iranian general in Golan Heights

by Ivan Martínez

A SENIOR Iranian officer and a number of other Iranian soldiers and members of the Lebanese resistance were killed in an Israeli air raid on Syria last weekend.

An Israeli helicopter gunship fired two missiles into Amal Farms in the strategic south-western city of Quneitra, situated some 60 km south of the capital, Damascus, on Sunday. The Israelis targeted two vehicles carrying Hezbollah fighters and Iranian soldiers on their way to the northern section of Quneitra. Twelve people were killed in the attack, six Iranian military personnel, in addition to the six Hezbollah activists, including Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammed Ali Allah Dadi.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Venezuela and China close $20 billion deal

PRESIDENT Maduro of Venezuela has recently been to China where he attended the first China- CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum. New directions in Venezuelan-Chinese relations have been opened by the recent visit to Beijing of President Nicolas Maduro, which resulted in $20 billion in funding for economic projects in the energy industry and for social programmes.

Maduro said that, as part of the agreements, the Asian giant will increase its participation in the Orinoco Hugo Chavez oil belt projects, where the largest crude oil reserves in the world are situated.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The world of the haves and the have-nots

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

ON A GLOBAL scale one in five adolescents is not currently attending a school or an education programme, according to the joint United Nations agency report released this week. Furthermore, the report demonstrates that poverty, marginalisation and exclusion from education walk hand-inhand: 2015 -- the world of the haves and have-nots.

According to the report Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children drawn up by UNESCO and UNICEF, 63 million adolescents worldwide (children aged between 12 and 15) and one in 10 children of primary school age are not attending school.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Mumbo Jumbo as science in the Indian Science Congress

by Prabir Purkayastha

THE 102nd Science Congress did not distinguish itself by inviting speakers who offered mumbo jumbo as science. It was not helped by the Indian Minister for Science and Technology, Harsh Vardhan talking about how India had discovered the Pythagoras “formula”, and algebra well before the Greeks and Arabs but generously gave them the “credit”. The past is no longer about scientifically discovering what really happened, but a race of who did what first.

An argument is being presented that the study of ancient Indian texts will reveal advanced science. This is the Batra science that is being taught in Gujarat schools; Batra is now advising NCERT and CBSE on revising the school syllabus.

The Batra “gems” include stem cell research in (the ancient Sanskrit epic) Mahabharata, repeated by premier Modi, and television during the Mahabharata festival. He is propagating the belief of the (reactionary nationalist) RSS that it is not necessary to learn science. Instead if we study ancient Sanskrit texts we will get advanced science from it, well in advance of what we have today.

It is in this “spirit” that a session was organised to present “Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit”. The purpose of linking science and Sanskrit is quite simple. One is to claim mythical advances in ancient texts as “science” and therefore claiming “firsts” for India in a game of hyper nationalism. The second is to help push Sanskrit and the “mother” of all Indian languages and make it compulsory — a part of the RSS agenda.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


French imperialism’s brutal colonial rule

by John Catalinotto

ON 11TH JANUARY the French imperialist bourgeoisie mobilised and manipulated a massive demonstration in all the country’s major cities under hypocritical slogans extolling western civilisation and alleged “freedom of speech”. Their goal — which they share with US and European Union imperialism — is a reactionary modern crusade against colonial peoples, mostly Muslims, in the guise of a “war on terror”.

One piece of French history that clashes with this ruling- class argument concerns the massacre of 17th October 1961. If you don’t know about this massacre, it is because the imperialist defenders of “French civilisation” have made every effort to keep it secret.

Between 1954 and 1962 French imperialism waged a bitter colonial war to hang on to its North African colony of Algeria. As is often the case with peoples of an imperial colony, many Algerian immigrants and their descendants lived in Paris in October 1961. Many sympathised with the National Liberation Front’s (FLN) struggle for independence in Algeria.

On 17th October some 30,000 protesters took to the streets in an unarmed demonstration in Paris to protest at a curfew imposed by occupation forces on “Muslim Algerians” in the colony.

Some 7,000 heavily armed French police — following direct orders of Paris prefect Maurice Papon — brutally attacked the peaceful demonstrators, trapping them on the bridges, beating, strangling and throwing them into the Seine River to drown. Papon told his officers he would stand behind their slaughter of the protesters.

Because so many bodies were lost in the Seine, there is uncertainty about the number of people the French police killed. Estimates range between 70 and 300. Thousands were injured and 11,000 arrested.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

‘In the basement’ in the Donetsk People’s Republic

Interview with Victor Shapinov, a leader of the Ukrainian left-wing Union Borotba (Struggle) movement, who travelled to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in Novorossiya. In late December he and a group of friends were detained by soldiers from the Vostok Battalion (Commander Alexander Khodakovsky) and spent almost two weeks in detention “in the basement”.

How did you get “in the basement” of the Vostok Battalion? What charges were brought against you?

[Read the complete story in the print edition]