National News

MPs call for benefit deaths watchdog

THE HOUSE of Commons Pensions Select Committee, chaired by Dame Anne Begg, last week called for the next government to create a new benefit deaths watchdog “modelled on the police complaints watchdog” to investigate the deaths of benefit claimants and the effects of benefit sanctions.

The committee said that such a body should conduct reviews “at the request of relatives, or automatically where no living relative remains, in all instances where an individual on an out-of-work working age benefit dies whilst in receipt of that benefit”.

Such an organisation would operate under the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and should ensure “that the role of all publicly-funded agencies involved in the provision of services or benefits to the individual is scrutinised” and that recommendations for improvements are produced.

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Royal staff pay dispute

WORKERS employed by the Royal Family at Windsor Castle are contemplating taking industrial action over pay and allowances.

It would be the first such action specific to the Royal Households and comes after years of pay restraint has left loyal workers paid below the widely- recognised living wage, with new recruits starting on as little as £14,400 a year.

Despite this, staff are expected to carry out extra unpaid duties, including giving tours of the castle, even though visitors are charged for these, and acting as language interpreters and first aiders.

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No more ‘gold plated’ human rights

THE GOVERNMENT last week instructed local authorities and police to be more active in stopping protest camps, including those against fracking.

In a letter last week, two government ministers urged public bodies not to “gold-plate” human rights law when dealing with camps.

The local government minister, Brandon Lewis, and the policing minister, Mike Penning, told police and local councils to use the “strong powers” they had to stop camps forming. Over the past two years anti-fracking campaigners have set up camps outside many exploratory oil and gas sites across Britain.

One of the first was set up outside Cuadrilla’s site at Balcombe in West Sussex in July 2013. And one of the most recent is the current camp at Europa’s site at Kiln Lane, near Immingham in Lincolnshire.

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Boy fighting leukaemia dependent on food banks

THE FAMILY of seven year- old Tommi Miller, who is fighting leukaemia, are depending on friends and food banks to feed them after all benefits to them were stopped.

His parents, Ruth and Kevin, were getting £700 a month so they could stay at home and look after him until last April when he was given the all-clear from the disease.

But it has returned and in a more virulent form Ruth and Kevin stopped work to care for him. They hoped the Department for Work and Pensions would restart the payments. But officials said No.

With no income for six months, the family have relied on foodbanks to eat. They have struggled to pay gas bills, been threatened with eviction and could only celebrate Christmas after friends raised £1,200.

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Scottish News

from our Scottish political correspondent

LAST weekend Glaswegians in search of a spot of weekend fantasy had two options. They could either go and see Disney on Ice or watch the nearby Scottish National Party Spring Conference. Occasional observers of the Scottish political scene have long been forgiven for not knowing the name of the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. In recent weeks they may be confused as to just who is the actual leader of the SNP.

Every time First Minister goes near a microphone she has to remind us that she is the actual leader. David Cameron does not need to do that, nor does Ed Miliband, unless he is confused with his brother.

To Sturgeon’s thinly disguised exasperation Alex Salmond seems to have forgotten that he is no longer in charge. The conference was the occasion for delegates approving a motion which would ban MPs and MSPs from criticising the leadership.

It also sought to devolve control of BBC Scotland so that government ministers could stop journalists asking government ministers tough questions.

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Leading the fight-back in Greece

by New Worker Correspondent

A WIDE spectrum of communists in London last Saturday joined London- based Greek communists in a packed meeting at the Marx Memorial Library to hear Ioli Gkouma speak on behalf of the KKE about her party’s line on the way forward for Greece.

The KKE has been criticised by some for refusing to support the current government led by the democratic left party Syriza, or to join it in a coalition.

Syriza came to power on a popular pledge to renegotiate the extreme austerity measures imposed on Greece by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund but has failed to win any concessions.

Ioli pointed out that Syriza, while claiming to be left-wing, nevertheless supports the EU and is not seeking to remove Greece from either the EU or the Eurozone.

Under these circumstances it is impossible to escape from the austerity regime and to join with Syriza would make the KKE guilty of promoting a lie and deceiving the workers of Greece.

She said the root cause of the problem is capitalism and Greece can only escape through a socialist revolution that will free Greece, not only from and IMF oppression but all capitalist oppression.

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Standing for peace in north Wales

by Ray Jones

JOHN REES, co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition, gave a detailed and powerful talk in Llandudno on Saturday pointing strongly to the conclusion that imperialism is the root cause of most of the “terrorism” in the world today.

Facts show that terrorism seriously increased after the West started to militarily intervene in the Middle East in the 2000s after remaining at a more or less constant level for decades. They also show, as opposed to what our media that would have us believe, that the vast majority of people killed by “terrorists” have been Muslims, thus destroying the theory that this terrorism is only a war against the Christian West.

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Down with the puppet fascist regime!

by New Worker correspondent

KOREAN solidarity activists returned to the south Korean embassy in London last week to protest against the US military exercises in the occupied south and the current imperialist hate campaign that the Americans are focusing against Democratic Korea.

New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks joined comrades and friends protesting outside the puppet regime embassy in Westminster against the “Foal Eagle” and “Key Resolve” drills that have heightened tension on the divided Korean peninsula.

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International News

Ireland: the trouble with the euro

by Eoin ó Murchú

AS RELATIONS between Greece, under its new anti-austerity government, and the major powers of the Eurozone (particularly Germany) continue to deteriorate, the future of the troubled currency looks increasingly shaky.

The problem is that the currency was flawed — probably fatally flawed — from the start because it was a political project rather than an economic one, with the participating states being forced into a straitjacket of fiscal policy laid down by Germany.

Ireland’s membership of the euro played a major part in creating the housing bubble and the financial and economic crisis that produced. It did this because, at a time when our economy needed higher interest rates in order to dampen house prices, German policy dictated that there would be lower rates.

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Putin letter triggers strong Saudi attack

Novorossiya Today

SAUDI Arabia accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of hypocrisy on Sunday, telling an Arab summit that the Russian leader should not express support for the Middle East while fuelling instability by supporting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

In a rare move, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that a letter from Putin would be read out to the gathering in Egypt, where Arab leaders discussed an array of regional crises, including conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

“We support the Arabs’ aspirations for a prosperous future and for the resolution of all the problems the Arab world faces through peaceful means, without any external interference,” Putin said in the letter.

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Cuba-Russian relations grow

by Ivan Martínez

CUBAN ambassador to Russia Emilio Lozada said in Moscow this week that Cuba is interested in taking economic and academic relations with Russia to the levels that existed during the Soviet era.

The diplomat’s statements were stressed by the NSK 49 TV channel in the city of Novosibirsk during the visit there by Dr Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, scientific advisor to the Cuban Council of State.

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Syria: fighting terrorism on behalf of whole world

by Basma Qaddour

OVER THE past few weeks the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” also known as ISIS has escalated its attacks on several areas in the oil-rich north-eastern Syrian province of al-Hassaka, killing and wounding scores of innocent civilians.

On 20th March the ISIS terror organisation planted two car bombs in the al-Mufti quarter of Hassaka city during the Kurdish Newroz New Year festivities killing at least 37 and wounding 96 others.

On 23rd February ISIS terrorists raided several Assyrian villages on the outskirts of Tal Tamr, which lies near Ra’as al-Ein city, in the western countryside of Hassaka and abducted 220 Assyrian Christians, who were reportedly taken to al-Shdadi city, which is the main ISIS stronghold in the Hassaka countryside.

“Nearly 900 Assyrian families — 5,000 people — fled the villages during the attacks and they headed to Hassaka and Qameshli cities and to Lebanon,” Catherine Deeb, a member of Syria’s parliament, the People’s Assembly, declared.

She asserted that none of the Assyrian Christians fled to Turkey because they know that Turkey is the source of terrorism and that it facilitates the flow of sectarian Takfiri terrorists to wreak havoc in Syria.

“Everyone knows well that the Saudi, Qatari and Turkish regimes are the main supporters of all the armed terrorist organisations, including ISIS and its affiliates. These regimes implement the policy of their American and Israeli masters,” the MP for the Hassaka region added.

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Australia: Higher education denied

by Rob Gowland

ONE OF the most popular acts of the Whitlam Labour government in the 1970s was the abolition of university fees. It met one of the most general (if often least recognised) demands: that education should be free, secular and universal.

As capitalism developed during the Industrial Revolution it quickly became clear that modern production methods required at the very least a literate workforce. Equally clear were the profits that could be made by exploiting the discoveries and achievements of scientists and inventors. Education (including higher education) was thus good for business!

Governments took on the responsibility for providing that educated workforce and research community that capitalism needed. And although the ruling class used their wealth to provide themselves with the “best” schools and access to the best universities, working class people increasingly saw education as their ticket to a better future, as the key to escaping from poverty.

In the decades after the Second World War, capitalism in the industrialised countries boomed. But it was a boom based on exploiting the resources and — to a limited extent — the market provided by the developed countries’ colonial possessions. But first the Russian Revolution and then the anti-fascist coalition of the Second World War led to an upsurge in the national liberation struggle and former undeveloped countries began to develop.

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Golan Heights: Agonies caused by Israeli Occupation

by Dr Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

THE ISRAELI occupation of the Syrian Golan has caused a lot of misery, suffering and agony for Syrians, especially those living under occupation.

According to an earlier report by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Israel’s occupation of the Golan severely restricts the ability of its Arab residents to go about their daily lives. In addition, many have relatives across the ceasefire line in Syria whom they have not seen for years.

Haniya Saleem Bader Eldeen Shams is 59 years old. She has lived in the occupied Golan since 1968 when she came to be married. Her son, Youseef Hussein Shams, explains that his mother’s family live on the other side of the demarcation line.

“She used to be as healthy as a horse,” he says, “but since 2003 she has suffered a heart attack and has been hospitalised three times. She is always in tears, sad and depressed.”

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