National News

Save Apna Haq

by New Worker correspondent

A LARGE group of women from South Yorkshire came to London last Saturday to hand in a petition at Downing Street against the threatened closure of the Apna Haq women’s refuge, which specialises in helping women in the black and Asian communities in Rotherham.

Campaigners say that Apna Haq provides the only ethnic minority support group in Rotherham offering help against domestic violence and assisting the women in breaking free from abuse.

The town of Rotherham in Yorkshire is sadly now well known for one reason more than any other — the horrific child sexual exploitation that has taken place in the town over the last few years.

Many men have gone to prison with long sentences for rape and other crimes, and the council and police were slammed in several damning reports that exposed how they had turned a blind eye and done little to protect vulnerable girls from abuse.

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Rise in malnutrition cases

NHS HOSPITALS treated more than 2,000 cases of malnutrition last year, a rise of more than 250 cases compared with three years ago, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

Salford Royal Hospital alone treated 193 cases in the past 12 months according to the NHS foundation trust’s own figures. And Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester has become the first hospital to set up a permanent food bank on site, after medical staff reported a significant increase in the number of malnourished patients turning up for treatment and care.

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IDS ducks equality watchdog

IAN DUNCAN Smith, the Secretary for Work and Pensions, last week dismissed an offer from the equality watchdog to understand better the impact of the Welfare Bill on disabled people and other vulnerable groups.

Letters between the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Duncan Smith were published last week on the commission’s website, following a Freedom of Information request. They show that Duncan Smith snubbed an offer from the commission to “work more closely” on the equality impact assessments his department had already published alongside his Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

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Trade with Israel stinks

CAMPAIGNERS from Palestine Solidarity assembled last Thursday morning, 19th November, outside the home of London Mayor Boris Johnson, to protest at his recent trade visit to Israel and his dismissal of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Activists dumped symbolic sacks of rubbish on Johnson’s doorstep, blocking his door. Slogans on the bin bags read: “Trade with Israel stinks”, “Apartheid is rubbish” and “Bin your support for racist Israel.”

The action was in response to Johnson’s comments during a trade visit to Israel last week, when he claimed a boycott of Israel was “completely crazy”.

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Royal powers revealed

THE EXTENT of the powers of the Queen and Prince Charles to veto new laws was exposed last week after Downing Street lost its battle to keep information about its application secret.

Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals’ little-known power to consent to or block new laws. They also reveal the power has been used to torpedo proposed legislation relating to decisions about the country going to war.

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Scottish News

THE STRATEGIC Defence and Security Review has sent the Scottish Nationalist Party into a fine old tizzy. As is their custom the SNP complain that levels of military expenditure are all wrong; simultaneously they think it is both far too high and far too low.

The SNP has a strong partial dislike of Trident. It wants rid of it, but is strongly in favour of membership of the nuclear armed Nato. It also has a particular fondness for the RAF, it cannot get enough of fighter aircraft based in Scotland and patrolling the Scottish coasts. It also has a Nelsonian enthusiasm for a big Navy, just so long as the ships are built on the Clyde.

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Shortage of doctors in Scottish hospitals

by our Scottish political correspondent

ONCE UPON a time Scotland’s medical schools exported doctors across the globe. Nowadays the SNP’s handling of the NHS means that it has to import them from as far afield as New Zealand and South Africa. Sometimes at £3,341 per shift, as in the case of a lucky (but doubtless exhausted) locum employed by NHS Lothian for one 18 hour shift.

Figures from Audit Scotland have shown a huge increase in expenditure on locums; an increase from £88.2 million in 2013—2014 to £107.5 million this year is due. In the same time vacancies for consultants had increased by about a quarter from 325 to 408.

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Scottish teachers excessive workload

by our Scottish political correspondent

THE EDUCATIONAL Institute of Scotland, the main teachers’ union, is balloting members on industrial action over the excessive workload generated by the SNP government’s mishandled introduction of a new system of qualifications.

Teachers are furious that after two years of talks nothing has been done to address the question. Whilst not planning a strike, teachers will be working to contract and boycotting any additional work relating to the new qualifications. The union claims that assessments and the verification of the scheme mean that almost as much time is spent testing rather as teaching and is “excessive and unsustainable” for teachers.

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Love it or lose it, save the BBC

by New Worker correspondent

THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists (NUJ) has thrown its weight behind the campaign: “Love it or lose it — save the BBC”, along with other broadcasting unions Bectu, Equity and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB).

And last Monday all these unions, along with a selection of stars from Doctor Who and the National Pensioners’ Convention, were out in force with banners to protest outside the BBC at Portland Place against threats to force the BBC to become a commercial service or go under.

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Lesbians and Gays support migrants

by New Worker correspondent

A GROUP called Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) held a surprise creative action protest outside the Home Office on Saturday to call for open borders.

LGSMigrants describe themselves as: “A group of queer activists who creatively challenge the right-wing media narrative around migrants and to stand in solidarity with migrants entering the UK.”

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Eyewitness Korea!

by New Worker correspondent

COMRADES and friends braved the cold weather in London last weekend to hear an eye-witness report of life in Democratic Korea (DPRK) and to demonstrate their solidarity with the bright red bastion of socialism in Asia. Dermot Hudson, who took part in the celebrations in October to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea, talked about the massive parade and pageant that he saw in the capital, Pyongyang, as well as the immense achievements of the Korean people who are constantly threatened by US imperialism and its south Korean puppets.

He also talked about the day-to-day life of the people in the land of Juché, where everyone has a job and no-one is homeless, where there is none of the drunkenness and drug-taking that so sadly typifies life in London and the other centres of the imperialist world. “It was a great visit and I was very disappointed to leave to go back to the capitalist world where everything seems so depressing and miserable,” he said, a view echoed by the other speakers that included Thae Yongho from the London embassy of the DPRK, NCP leader Andy Brooks and Sean Pickford from the Juché Idea Study Group of England.

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International News

Macri’s victory pushes Latin America to the right

by Isaac Bigio

IN THE final round of the Argentine presidential election last weekend Mauricio Macri, Mayor of Buenos Aires, won by less than two points. He won 51.4 per cent against the 48.6 per cent won by Daniel Scioli. A new political force comes into being in Latin America.

Cristina Kirchner, who succeeded her husband Nestor as President, was unable to stand for a third presidential term.

Macri is a new political phenomenon in Argentina. For seven decades the A Presidential Palace Casa Rosada has zig-zag between representatives of two movements: the Peronists and the radicals. Macri has never played any part in any of these two movements.

Unlike Peronism and radicalism that initially had a ‘leftist’ or rebellious nature, Macri is a millionaire who has always been a right-wing militant.

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Tenth Anniversary of FTAA’s Defeat

by Ivan Martínez

THE FREE Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), or in Spanish: Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA), was a proposed agreement to eliminate or reduce the trade barriers between all countries in the Americas, excluding Cuba.

In the last round of negotiations trade ministers from 34 countries met in Miami, Florida, in November 2003. The proposed agreement was an extension of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico and the United States. Opposing the proposal were Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominica and Nicaragua, all of which entered the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas in response, and Mercosur member states.

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South Africa: US trade demands compound domestic problems

by Abayomi Azikiwe

THE SOUTH African government is facing three serious economic issues. Parliamentary workers have been on strike for higher wages since 9th November, preventing routine legislative work. The current drought, which is likely to cut agricultural production, has caused periodic power shortages and outages, cutting revenues to the state-owned utility. In addition President Obama’s administration is demanding changes in Pretoria’s trade policy that endanger the country’s sovereignty.

Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union are defying an injunction to end their strike. NEHAWU is an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). The government claims the strike is illegal because the workers perform “essential services”.

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Features

If it flies or runs or hops or walks, blow it away!

by Rob Gowland

DID YOU see the photo of Australian Senator Bridget McKenzie on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald at the end of October? It was quite fetching: the Senator, in jeans and an open-necked shirt, was smiling, a shotgun broken open and carried nonchalantly over her shoulder. Why a shotgun? Because the Senator enjoys killing wildlife and thinks that people who don’t share her view of the “sport” are displaying “snobbery and elitism”.

Humans evolved as hunter- gatherers, combining a diet of berries and nuts, fruit and roots, insects and grubs, eggs and seeds, with meat and fish. To obtain the latter two required hunting, the rest could be gathered. But with the domestication of livestock and the discovery that certain plants that produced grain could be cultivated, the uncertainty of hunting and gathering could be avoided.

Although no longer necessary, humans continued to hunt: to vary their diet, to conserve their limited stock of domestic animals, or with some people, just for fun. Fishing was often indulged in (and still is) for the sheer pleasure of it, although what was caught was generally eaten, if not by the fisherman’s family then by friends and neighbours.

When land, and the right to hunt or fish on it, became the property of the ruling class, the poor often had to hone their hunting skills if they were to avoid starvation. But hunting really took off with the invention of the gun. The ability to kill with accuracy from a distance made hunting almost a leisure sport and members of the ruling class took it up with gusto. Wherever people of wealth lived, whether in Britain, France, Russia or the USA, they developed a culture — and a mystique — around hunting as a recreational sport.

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The GDR’s Margot Honecker: ‘The Past Was Brought Back’

PART 1

Concerning the counter revolution in 1989 in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the return of capitalist disorder after its demise, holding a scientific world outlook, and the struggle of the Greek people against the dictatorship of the monopolies. An interview with Margot Honecker and Antonis Polychronakis.

Margot Honecker, born in 1927, former minister of education of the GDR and widow of long-time Socialist Unity Party (SED) Secretary General and GDR State Chairperson Erich Honecker (1912—1994), had not commented publicly for a long time from her self-chosen place of exile near Santiago de Chile. Translation from German into English by Greg Butterfield and John Catalinotto of Workers World (US), published in two parts by the New Worker.

Antonis Polychronakis (AP): How did the events of 1989 come about? How did you and your spouse personally experience them?

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