National News

Met chief wants CCTV in every home

METROPOLITAN Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe last week called on all householders and businesses to install CCTV cameras in their homes and premises to help the police catch burglars.

He has even suggested the cameras be set at head height rather than higher up because pictures of tops of heads are not so good at capturing facial identities.

Civil rights campaigners are alarmed that this could be the final step towards the dystopian society portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984. And although the cameras would be there ostensibly to catch illegal intruders, they could also be used to monitor people in their own homes.

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Coalition betrays disabled students

THE GOVERNMENT has announced a further delay to its proposals to restrict the funding that helps disabled students attend university, days after two young people won permission to challenge its plans in the courts.

Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced this week that changes relating to “accommodation, peripherals and consumables” would now not be introduced into the disabled students’ allowance (DSA) system until 2016.

It is the second batch of DSA proposals to be postponed for a year by BIS in the wake of fierce criticism from disabled campaigners and students, and means that only one of the promised measures — disabled students having to contribute the first £200 towards the cost of a DSA-funded computer if they need it solely because of their impairment — is guaranteed to go ahead this September.

DSA is a non-means-tested grant that assists with the extra costs a disabled student faces during higher education study, but the BIS proposals only apply to students from England.

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RMT warns of chaos in taxi driver licence control

TRANSPORT union last week wrote to the Government to demand an end to the chaotic mismanagement of driver licensing which, the union says, is putting members’ livelihoods at risk at a time when the trade is coming under unprecedented pressure and attacks.

A licence to operate a taxi is issued by the driver’s local authority. As part of being licensed, taxi drivers are required to have their good character verified via an enhanced criminal records check.

In the capital, Transport for London (TfL) previously had responsibility for administering all aspects of the licensing process. But the criminal record check for London taxi drivers recently was transferred and is being carried out by the Home Office’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

This is a service for which taxi drivers pay a substantial fee (around £60). But the union has found out that DBS is understaffed or otherwise unable to process checks promptly and a substantial backlog (estimated at around three months or 36,000 applications) has arisen.

Without a licence, a taxi driver cannot legally operate their cab. The financial consequences for the individual and their family of a delay in renewal of a licence can therefore be severe.

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Labour to end tampon tax

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls last week promised to end VAT on tampons and sanitary towels after a vigorous campaign by women’s rights activists.

Women have been campaigning on this issue since 1973 when VAT on sanitary protection was introduced and in 2001 succeeded in getting the tax reduced to five per cent.

But it remains essentially a tax on being a woman because they are a basic necessity for women, not an optional luxury.

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Tony Blair to be sacked?

RUMOURS are currently rife that Tony Blair is about to resign from his role as a “peace envoy” from the Quartet — a peace process-oriented bloc composed of Russia, the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

It was formed in 2002 to address escalating conflicts in the Middle East. Speaking on Blair’s record in the role, a former US official told the Telegraph that the former PM was widely held to be “a standing joke”.

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Domestic workers fight modern slavery

DOMESTIC workers donning suffragette costume staged a demonstration outside Parliament on Tuesday as MPs debated the crunch amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill, which reinstates the right of domestic workers to change employers.

Migrant Domestic Workers, part of Justice 4 Domestic Workers (J4DW) and the giant union Unite, as well as Kalayaan and Anti-Slavery International opposed the introduction of the tied visa system three years ago, which ties migrant domestic workers to their employer — a “form of modern day slavery”.

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Values, not money

IT’S ABOUT values, not money: Unite the union responded to an offer of a one-off donation from businessman Assem Allam to the Labour Party of £500,000 on 16th March — calling for the party to weaken its links with the trade unions.

Allam has pledged a further £500,000 on the absurd condition that Unite withdraws funding to Labour, breaking the vital link between the trade union movement and its party.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Assem Allam seems to want to replace Unite, but support for Labour is about values far more than money. Will Allam pay the £1.5 million annual affiliation fee that underpins the day-to-day running of the party?

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Barking and Dagenham bin strike

STRIKING refuse collectors in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham are planning strike action on 18th, 19th and 20th March with a further two days on 7th and 8th April over a £1,000 pay cut for refuse drivers.

An overwhelming 75 per cent of the local community support the decision of members to take strike action to defend their wages says their union, GMB.

Keith Williams, GMB Senior Organiser said “Local residents were asked to respond to an independent online survey conducted by the [Barking & Dagenham Post] on Barking & Dagenham Council’s decision to cut pay of refuse/ cleansing drivers by £1,000 a year.

“An overwhelming 75 per cent of the local community support the decision of GMB members to take strike action to defend their wages.

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Police spy ‘infiltrated 6 unions’

PETER FRANCIS, a former Special Demonstration Squad officer, has increased the pressure on Home Secretary Theresa May to widen inquiry into undercover policing after admitting to infiltrating six trade unions.

Unions want Home Secretary Theresa May’s inquiry into undercover policing to cover a wider remit after Francis’s allegations.

Campaigners and union leaders are calling for a judge-led public inquiry, claiming this is the only way to discover the extent of police involvement and collusion in the blacklisting of thousands of construction workers.

Theresa May earlier this week ordered an investigation into undercover police work and the SDS over the last 40 years by Appeal Court judge, Lord Justice Pitchford.

Speaking at a House of Commons reception, Francis admitted that he spied on the National Union of Students, Unison, the National Union of Teachers, the building workers’ union Ucatt, the firefighters’ union FBU and the Communication Workers’ Union.

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Bedroom tax impact on tenants’ health

TENANTS hit by bedroom tax suffer range of health problems, according to a study published last Monday in the Journal of Public Health.

It revealed stress, anxiety, hunger, ill-health and depression are all experienced by people who have been affected by the controversial welfare policy.

“It’s all stress,” said George, 56, an unemployed warehouse worker from Newcastle-upon-Tyne who saw his £72-a-week income dip to £47 after the so-called bedroom tax kicked in.

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Karl Marx remembered ...

.... At the Party Centre

by New Worker correspondent

Comrades and friends returned to the New Communist Party’s London Centre on Saturday to recall the outstanding achievements of Karl Marx.

Marx spent most of his active life in Britain working with Frederick Engels building the international working class movement and writing a corpus of books that provides the basis for scientific socialism.

Throughout the world communists and progressives commemorate the immense contribution to the socialist movement on the anniversary of his death on 14th March 1883.

And this was reflected in the tributes from a large spectrum of the communist movement in Britain at the NCP’s annual reception in honour of the Marx and the philosophical thinking that inspired the great revolutionary movements of the 20th century.

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.... By Marx’s Tomb

by New Worker correspondent

Karl Marx died in his study at half-past two on the afternoon of Wednesday 14th March 1883. He was buried three days later at Highgate Cemetery. To commemorate his passing the Marx Memorial Library has for many decades held an annual graveside oration at his burial place in the cemetery in North London. The Marx Memorial Library is the trustee of the Marx monument in the cemetery where over 100 comrades gathered around the tomb on Sunday to celebrate the life-time achievements of the founder of scientific socialism.

The event was organised by the committee of the Marx Memorial Library, and conducted by Library chair Alex Gordon, a former president of the RMT transport union, who welcomed everyone to the commemoration and introduced the speakers.

This year the graveside oration was given by Yuri Emilianov, a Soviet academician and a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and Jean Turner of the Communist Party of Britain.

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International News

No peace without Palestinian state

Xinhua A SENIOR Palestinian official has stressed that without establishing a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital: “There will be no peace in the Middle East.”

The Palestinians didn’t care who the Israeli prime minister is, Nabil Abu Rdineh said. What is needed is an Israeli commitment to the two-state solution.

Abu Rdineh’s remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won the highest number of seats in the Israeli general election this week. On the eve of the poll, Netanyahu repeated his rejection of a Palestinian state and said he considered Jerusalem the united and eternal capital of the state of Israel.

Meanwhile, Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary- general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said that Likud’s victory was “a victory of racism and for the occupation and settlement”.

He slammed the right wing in Israel as sick society similar to the minority white community in South Africa, adding: “The Palestinians shouldn’t be panicked or confused, because we have our means of response.

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Putin says US plotted coup in Ukraine

by Ivan Martínez RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has accused Washington of organising what he describes as an armed coup in Ukraine, saying Moscow saw through the US ploy of hiding behind Europe in the bid to overthrow the former Ukrainian government.

“The trick of the situation was that outwardly the (Ukrainian) opposition was supported mostly by the Europeans. But we knew for sure that the real masterminds were our American friends,” Putin said in an interview for a documentary dubbed [Crimea — The Way Home] that was aired Sunday by Rossiya 1 news channel.

“They helped train the nationalists, their armed groups, in Western Ukraine, in Poland and to some extent in Lithuania,” he said, adding that “they facilitated the armed coup,” which eventually led to the removal of then-President Viktor Yanukovych.

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Venezuela hopes for the best, prepares for the worst


LAST SATURDAY Venezuela began some of its largest military drills in recent years. Along with the navy, army and air force, the voluntary militia forces and general public have all been invited to take part in a series of military exercises aimed at testing Venezuela’s defensive abilities.

Visiting Russian forces will also join a number of exercises, including anti-aircraft drills. The Russian navy will also pay a friendly visit to Venezuelan ports. The Russian visit is no surprise. The backbone of Venezuela’s air defence system is its pair of Russian made S-300VM air defence systems, purchased in April 2013 from Moscow. Widely considered among the most effective mobile air defence systems in the world, the S-300VM can blast missiles and aircraft out of the sky from a distance of up to 200 km.

Saturday’s exercises will be the first time the Venezuelan military will use the S-300VMs in such large scale drills. Given that the S-300VM was developed and sold by Russia, it’s no surprise Venezuela is happy to have Russian troops on hand.

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Crimea: One year as era, 23 years as bad dream

by Andrei Mikhailov

A YEAR has passed since the reunification of the Crimea and Sevastopol with the Russian Federation. No one doubts that this event will surely go down in history of not only Russia, but of the whole world. Remarkably many Crimeans think of this year as a whole era of their life, although 23 years of living in Ukraine was something like living in a bad dream for them. It appears that many people woke up and started living a year ago. What has changed for the Crimea and its residents?

Today all Crimeans think of themselves as Russians in the first place, although they do not have an aversion to Ukraine. This is a conclusion that I can make after one year of communication with my Crimean friends over the Internet. Yet many despise the Kiev junta. Amazingly they feel sorry for their now-neighbours.

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The sacred war of humanity

by Dr Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

ROBERT FISK recently in the Independent described the situation in Syria as a “revolution four years on”. I wonder if he can help readers by giving a definition for such a fucking “revolution” which consists of nothing more than slaughter, destruction, blasphemy and throat-slitting!

It is not even a rebellion; it is according to the simplest definition, the third world war of terrorists and countries against the thousands of terrorists from more than 80 countries, armed to teeth, financed by all, are active in Syria trying to sink and destroy the Syrians’ ship and with it, their civilisation, secularity and their captain, Bashar al Assad, who refused to let his people to die at the hands of ISIS, the Wahhabis, al-Nusra Front and the Nato war-mongers.

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The latest in the US Secret Service’s long list of scandals


FOR A UNITED States federal agency with a name that suggests secrecy, putting itself repeatedly in the limelight for negative news coverage is quite a bitter irony.

The Secret Service, widely perceived as the most elite law enforcement team in the United States that protects the US president and the First Family, landed itself in hot water again after US media revealed that two top Secret Service officers barrelled through the scene of an active bomb investigation near the White House earlier this month in a government car after a late-night party and ended up crashing into a White House barricade.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, is currently conducting an investigation into the incident. The two agents involved are Mark Connolly, the second-in-command on the incumbent President Barack Obama’s personal protection team, and George Ogilvie, a senior supervisor in the Washington field office.

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Washington’s unreal ‘debate’ over arming Ukraine

by Greg Butterfield “

WATCH what they do, not what they say” — the old adage is always good advice when dealing with US imperialism. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Washington’s current “debate” over arming Ukraine.

The media depict a dispute over whether the US should provide “lethal weapons,” heavy weaponry, and offensive weapons to Ukraine for its war against “pro-Russian separatists,” as the anti-fascist resistance in Donbass is usually labelled.

For example on 6th March, leading Congressional Republicans and Democrats, headed by House Speaker John Boehner, urged President Obama to provide “lethal defensive weapons” to Kiev due to Russia’s “grotesque violation of international law”. The White House states that it is still “considering” whether to provide so-called lethal aid. But top administration officials, from Secretary of State John Kerry on down, have voiced their support.

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US intelligence working to topple Brazilian President Rousseff

by Lyuba Lulko

IN BRAZIL the opposition is going to hold protest marches against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Protest actions are expected to take place in more than 25 cities across the country this week. In SÃo Paulo, a 200,000-strong rally is expected under the slogan “Down with Dilma”. Is it possible to mobilise the population against the party that has been able to significantly raise the living standard in the country during 12 years of rule?

It is quite possible that the CIA is involved in the plan to stage riots in Brazil nationwide. In the recent years, BRICS (the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South African economic bloc) has become the main geopolitical threat to the United States. One of today’s top issues for the western press is to retrieve balance in the global monetary and financial system. This is a potent threat that BRICS poses to the US and the US dollar.

The US has been trying to destroy and crush Russia through the crisis in Ukraine, sanctions and collapsing oil prices. They tried to destabilise China through the “revolution of umbrellas” in Hong Kong. In India the Common Man’s Party is trying to make its way to power. In Brazil the Americans try to implement the scenario of a “Latin American spring”, similarly to what they are doing in Argentina and Venezuela.

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Burkina Faso to allow exhumation of Sankara’s remains

by Abayomi Azikiwe

CAPTAIN Thomas Sankara, martyred Burkinabe revolutionary Pan-Africanist and Marxist leader, was assassinated in a coup on 15th October 1987. Sankara, president of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, was only 37 years old.

Elections will be held later this year in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country of 17 million people in West Africa. It remains to be seen how well the parties committed to Sankara’s ideals fare in the process. Sankara’s views on self-reliance and anti-imperialism are essential during this period of escalating French and US military intervention in Africa.

Sankara came to power during a critical period in the transition to a new phase of imperialist exploitation and oppression of emerging African states. The role of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other global financial institutions was generating tremendous social restructuring and consequent political debate and struggle.

Born in 1949, Sankara grew up during the turbulent 1950s and 1960s when independence struggles swept many African states. He joined the Upper Volta military at a young age and was stationed in Madagascar where he witnessed a popular left-leaning uprising that toppled a neo-colonialist regime in 1970.

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