National News

Cambridge picnic against racism

ANTI-RACISTS in Cambridge last weekend organised a mass “anti-racism picnic” in a local park where, last month, a young Muslim mother and her child were terrorised by a gang of white racist thugs.

Samrah Sehar, who wears a hijab, was abused by a gang of young white men at the play park off Mill Road, close to the junction with East Road. Around half a dozen youngsters gathered at the playground’s fence and started shouting racist words at her and her one-year-old daughter, and asking whether they would join the terrorist group Isis.

She later told the Cambridge News the event left her “genuinely scared they might resort to physical violence”. She also told the paper she was upset that none of the passers-by in the park came to her aid.

But, in a bid to show solidarity with Sehar, campaign group Cambridge Unite Against Fascism hosted a public rally in the park on Saturday.

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Brixton housing campaigners target estate agent

HOUSING campaigners in Brixton, south London, last Sunday camped on the pavement outside Foxton’s estate agents after the local council agreed a £50 million 10-year partnership deal with Foxton’s to manage all future housing needs in Brixton.

Foxton’s will now become the Sustainable Housing Co-operative Partner for Lambeth Council. The council has suffered a £90 million cut in its budget from central government.

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Racists outnumbered in London and Oxford

by New Worker correspondent

THE GERMAN based Islamophobic organisation Pegida joined forces with English racists and fascists held a small static rally in Whitehall, London, while the English Defence League staged a march in Oxford attended by just over 100 supporters.

In both cases the racists were well outnumbered by around 300 anti-fascists.

In London a handful of Pegida supporters and friends assembled behind a banner while about 100 metres away around 100 supporters of Unite Against Fascism assembled with banners, placards, and literature stalls.

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Back-to-work fraudsters convicted

TEN WORKERS for an agency that claimed to be helping the unemployed back into work but who committed large scale fraud to win Government money were convicted of large scale fraud last week and sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison.

The agency, A4e, was set up by Emma Harrison, an advisor to David Cameron and dubbed the “jobs Tsar”.

She appeared on television promoting her hard regime imposed on job seekers. Vulnerable single parents were bullied to chase any job at all no matter what the hours or whether they even had the fares to get to the workplace, with no regard to the feasibility of finding childcare provision. Many were bullied into completely unsuitable jobs that did not last more than a few days.

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Glasgow says scrap Trident

AROUND 8,000 peace campaigners marched through the centre of Glasgow last Saturday to a rally in George Square to demand the scrapping of Trident.

The demo was loud, colourful and militant. Opposition to Trident and anger over the British state’s role as the US’s junior partner in wars around the world was a thread that ran through the debate and discussion leading up to the referendum in September 2014.

As soon as the referendum was over the Scrap Trident Coalition, which includes Scottish CND, Stop the War, Trident Ploughshares and a number of other organisations, started to organise around a strategy to ensure that Trident and opposition to Trident replacement remained high up the agenda in the run up to the General election.

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Charlotte Monro wins reinstatement

ST BATHOLOMEW’S Hospital Trust last week invited union activist and anti-cuts campaigner Charlotte Monro to return to her old job with them after a long industrial tribunal, in which the trust had tried to smear her.

Charlotte issued a statement, saying: “I am really happy to be returning to work with my team and the rest of the staff at Whipps Cross Hospital, and Barts Health NHS Trust.

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A&E waiting time targets breached again

WAITING times in Accident and Emergency units in England are increasing as just 91.8 per cent of patients were seen within four hours for the past three months.

The target is that 95 per cent should be seen within four hours; under the previous Labour government the target was 99 per cent.

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NHS workers lazy, say Tories

ALL HOSPITALS and GP practices in England will provide a seven-day NHS by 2020 under a future Conservative government, David Cameron has said.

Tory voters have complained they are unable to obtain elective and other non-emergency treatments, such as breast augmentation, at the weekends.

In the pre-election press conference a party spokesperson said: “NHS Staff simply do not work hard enough. It is completely unacceptable that staff get days off and nobody bothers to come to work at the weekend.

“Currently lazy NHS staff only provide a full service five days a week with only life-saving and emergency treatment available at weekends.

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Scottish News

from our Scottish Political Correspondent

TRUTH is a complex concept which philosophers have debated for millennia. Sometimes something which is technically true can be also be false, or vice versa. For instance the claim that “I am not a drinker” could be refuted by seeing the speaker have a small sherry before Sunday lunch.

But the speaker could also legitimately argue he was not a drinker in the sense of being a regular or never had more than a small sherry before Sunday lunch.

Thus Nicola Sturgeon’s assertion that: “The Story is categorically, 100 per cent untrue” with reference to the Daily Telegraph reporting of the famous Scotland Office memo that she told the French Ambassador to Britain she wanted David Cameron to remain as Prime Minister is likely to be true in the sense that it is unlikely that she is so entirely stupid to make such a statement, which would naturally be recorded.

Interestingly she did not deny the bit about describing Ed Miliband as not being of “prime minister material” nor did she challenge her alleged comment that she had no idea “what kind of mischief Alex Salmond would get up to”.

But the basic fact of the matter is that the Scottish National Party do indeed want to see the Tories back in power. Every serious journalist knows that is what many leading SNP leaders think even if they do not put it on record.

Having the Tories in power is good for them. Every pantomime needs a villain, and being posh Englishman makes David Cameron a far more convincing Sir Jasper than Ed Miliband.

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Wales against the Bomb

by Ray Davies

THE 2015 General Election has provided an opportunity for us in the peace movement to highlight the issues of nuclear war, and the scars it has left on humanity since the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This debate is made more urgent with the upcoming decision on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system, a tragic and criminal waste of resources in a time of austerity. The campaign for a nuclear free world began in the 1950s, and gained huge momentum in the 1980s. We kicked nuclear missiles out of Greenham Common and reclaimed it for the people. In the 1982 Labour party conference, we won a two-thirds majority for unilateral disarmament.

Wales became the first nuclear free country when every county council signed the nuclear free declaration.

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Britain to bring western opera to China

by Zhang Jianhua

WATCHING highbrow opera performances can be costly, but a group of British artists have come up with a smart strategy to help opera lovers spend less and enjoy more: selecting the best bits of many classic operas and putting them together into a single show.

This ambitious project, named Opera Scenes,” is currently undertaken by more than a dozen young artists from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, as part of the celebrations of the first Year of Cultural Exchange between China and Britain in 2015.

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International News

What does the Iranian nuclear deal mean?

by Lyuba Lulko

UNITED States President Obama is very proud of his achievement — the agreement with Iran on its nuclear programme. The White House called the agreement “historic”. Yet the Iranian Foreign Minister also looked very pleased while commenting on the agreement. This is somewhat strange.

The agreement on limiting Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual withdrawal of international sanctions was signed on 2nd April in Lausanne as part of six-sided talks between international mediators (US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany).

Iran agreed not to build new uranium-enrichment facilities for 15 years, to reduce the number of centrifuges three times and put the rest of them under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran agreed not to enrich uranium to a level of more than 3.67 per cent for a period of 15 years, and pledged not to build any new “heavy water” reactors.

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Cuba’s chair at OAS will always remain empty

Prensa Latina

FIFTY-THREE years ago, the Organisation of American States (OAS) expelled Cuba under the pressure from Washington, and although in 2009 the organisation changed its decision, Cuba maintains its firm stance not to return to the OAS, an issue that now surfaces with the approach of the Summit of the Americas.

Cuba has many reasons to reject going back to the OAS, but they can be summarised just by recalling the role played by that organisation during decades by acting as a platform for Washington to attack, occupy and exploit Latin American and Caribbean countries.

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The situation in Yemen explained


YET ANOTHER Middle Eastern country is facing foreign intervention. While the conflict is now largely portrayed as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there are myriad internal actors all vying for control of Yemen. While al-Qaida hopes to use the conflict to seize new territory, a southern secessionist movement aspires to resurrect the defunct state of South Yemen. Oil is also a major concern. Rising oil prices are likely to financially benefit all petro-states for now, but could undermine Saudi Arabia’s long game to starve competitors out of the market with dirt cheap prices.

Yemen’s turmoil is driven primarily by internal politics. But Saudi Arabia is depicting the Houthi takeover as a ruthless Shia attack on a Sunni region, turning it into a sectarian clash between Sunnis and Shias. In recent years, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have demonstrated that their interest lies in consolidating power and keeping the keys to the Middle East in their pockets, thus reassuring their western allies of the stability of the oil-richest region in the world.

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Life in the Hall of Mirrors

by Steve Hanson

Afzal Amin, the Tory candidate for Labour marginal seat of Dudley North, was accused in March of secretly conspiring with the English Defence League to stage a fake racist march which would then be scrapped with Amin taking the credit for defusing the situation. He has now resigned.

THE ALLEGED plot Afzal Amin hatched with the English Defence League (EDL) is currently attracting all kinds of commentary: Arguments over whether Amin is actually to blame and the EDL were misled victims; whether or not the EDL should be off-limits to the political mainstream or not. I will leave it to others to debate those details. The contradictions and tensions are clear, a far right party concealing their xenophobia, allegedly making deals with a man who has Asian roots.

But I am not surprised. In my book on small towns, I tracked a white neo-Nazi, running for local councillor, for a tiny, far right cult of a party. He brought a female east-Asian fascist into town to canvass, talking to Pakistani market traders, posing for photographs, which he posted on his blog. Because of this, he was immediately expelled from his own party, and eventually arrested for election fraud. This man and Afzal Amin reflect each other in the warped hall of mirrors that is contemporary politics. But I want to argue that they are both figures through which we might think about the wider, contemporary social world as well.

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Instability in Libya and Tunisia caused by US and Nato

by Abayomi Azikiwe

JUST TWO days before the 59th anniversary of Tunisia’s national independence from France in 1956, gunmen took over the Bardo Museum in Tunis, a major tourist destination. The resulting police response led to the deaths of 24 people, 20 of them foreign nationals from Poland, Germany, Spain, Italy and other states.

News reports say that at least two groups, including the Islamic State known as ISIS, have claimed credit for the 20th March attack. This high-profile incident has been used in the West to escalate the so-called “war on terrorism” in North Africa.

Although often cited by the western media as the most stable state among those that had upheavals and regime changes in 2011, Tunisia has experienced political unrest and assassinations. Two leading left-wing politicians, Mohamed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid, members of the same Popular Front alliance, were killed by gunmen just months apart during 2013.

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Wacko rag of the week?

by Timothy Bancroft- Hinchey

AND NOW, ladies and gentlemen, prize for wacko rag of the week goes to the American Newsweek magazine, more specifically its edition of 27th March, whose central pages are dedicated to the piece called “Crimea One year on”. The six-page piece by one Marc Bennetts includes references from Putin’s “little green men” to references to “missing persons”.

Let us get the history straight. Last February an illegal putsch orchestrated from Washington ousted the democratically elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, without any of the legal precepts for an impeachment being present. Therefore under the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, with the maximum legal entity removed (the President), the body with powers to enforce the law was its Legislative Assembly, or Parliament. It was this body that organised the election in which a huge majority of Crimeans voted to return to Russia.

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