National News

Housing Bill to limit council tenancies

HOUSING Minister Brandon Lewis took advantage of the focus on the parliamentary vote to bomb Syria earlier this month to slip through an amendment to the Housing Bill that will limit secure council tenancies to five years maximum.

After that tenancies will have to be reviewed to see if the tenants still really need them: whether they can be pressured to try to buy their own home, look for private rented accommodation or “more appropriate” council accommodation — perhaps in places hundreds of miles away.

If the Bill is passed these conditions will apply to new tenancies — existing tenants are excluded. But in the cases where a tenancy is inherited by a family member who is living in the house that person will be treated as a new tenant and have to face the five-yearly reviews.

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Stop bombing Syria

THOUSANDS of peace protesters from all over Britain assembled last Saturday outside the BBC building in Portland Place, London, for a march to Downing Street and a rally to protest at the British involvement in bombing in Syria.

The protest closed streets as it weaved along Regent Street, past Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. The crowd chanted: “Stop bombing Syria, no more war” and “They say warfare, we say welfare”.

Slogans like: “MPs who voted to kill people #stop bombing Syria”, “Bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity,” and “Syrian lives matter”, were visible on flags and banners carried by the marchers.

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Tories blow hot and cold on climate change

THE AGREEMENT reached last week at the Paris COP 21 summit conference on global warming will set David Cameron’s government a serious challenge and demand the reversal of huge cuts that have been made to investment in renewable energy by the Tories.

The agreement reached by 196 countries is to limit the rise in carbon dioxide emissions so that global temperatures will rise no more than two degrees Celsius. It will be binding on all countries except the United States because the conference acknowledged it would be impossible to get the US Congress to endorse the policy.

But our government hypocritically endorsed the agreement at the same time as it is planning a new big round of cuts in “green” investment. This included a 90 per cent cut in solar subsidies and further cuts in the technology for harvesting wind power.

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Rise in domestic violence leaves police ‘overwhelmed’

A RECORD rise of 31 per cent in reports of domestic violence has left police forces in England and Wales on the verge of being “overwhelmed” according to inspectors.

The rise, which follows drastic cuts to local women’s services, legal aid and the closure of many women’s refuges, has led to “excessive” workloads, and has affected the quality and speed of investigations in some forces. Meanwhile, a separate report from Zoe Billingham, the HM Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC), found 31 out of 43 forces must improve their protection of vulnerable people.

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Opposition peers fail to defend bank regulations

LABOUR and Liberal Democrat peers last Tuesday narrowly failed to overturn Government proposals to push through a relaxation of banking regulations.

As a growing number of economists are predicting a new banking crash approaching because of escalating levels of toxic debt, the opposition peers claim that Osborne’s Bill will make it easier for senior bankers to escape prosecution following a financial crash.

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Israeli arrested for war crimes

AN UNNAMED retired officer of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) was arrested in Britain for alleged war crimes committed in Gaza during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, according to a report last Sunday in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

The man, who was in London on a business trip, was arrested upon arrival after a complaint was lodged against him for war crimes committed during the 50-day war.

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Shaker Aamer seeks inquiry

SHAKER Aamer, released just two weeks ago from imprisonment in the United States illegal detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, last week told interviewers that he is not seeking to prosecute British intelligence officers he says were aware of him being tortured. But he does want an inquiry.

After 14 years being held without charge or trial and being declared innocent seven years ago, Aamer said: “I don’t believe the court will solve this problem.”

He told the interviewer from the Mail on Sunday that Tony Blair and Jack Straw were aware that he was being tortured while they were in office.

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Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political correspondent

THE SNP’s attempt to unseat the Liberal-Democrat Orkney and Shetland MP Alastair Carmichael came unstuck when the Election Court in Edinburgh threw it out last week. The judge accepted that Carmichael had told a “blatant lie” in a Channel Four interview but that “section 106 of the Representation of the People Act did not apply to lies in general”.

The case arose when the then Secretary of State for Scotland Alastair Carmichael leaked a memo about a conversation shortly before the General Election between the Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador, which recorded her ladyship’s view that she would prefer David Cameron in Downing Street rather than Ed Miliband, whom she said was not prime-ministerial material. This was in stark contrast to her publically stated view that the best result would be a minority Labour government dependent on SNP votes in the Commons, so unsurprisingly it caused something of rumpus after it was published in the Daily Telegraph.

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International News

COP 21: A hollow victory or a day to remember?

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

SINCE the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 there have been twenty-one Conferences of Parties — Paris is COP 21 — that to-date have established agreements, whilst little was done in concrete terms to reduce emission of Greenhouse Effect Gases. Why is COP 21 different? Or is it?

Global warming. Melting Polar ice caps. Rising ocean levels. Massive flooding. Shorelines receding tens or hundreds of kilometres. Whole countries disappearing. Flood and drought cycles. Famine. Catastrophe. Climate Change. Let there be no doubt that events of this magnitude bring the world together and make us all forget our petty differences which see us squabbling and bickering day after day.

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French NF flops

Xinhua

THE far-right National Front (FN), which scored an historic victory during first round of the French regional election last week, failed on Sunday during the final round of the run-off.

Based on pollster’s partial vote count, National Front leader Marine Le Pen failed to take France’s northernmost area, Nord- Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region where the Republicans’ candidate Xavier Bertrands had won 57.7 per cent of the votes.

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What is the “SOHR”?

Sputnik

MAJOR Western media sources repeatedly quote the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which is usually portrayed as a Syria-based group of highly skilled professionals. Alas, the facts prove otherwise, Scottish geopolitical analyst Steven MacMillan notes.

When Russia began its military operation in Syria it immediately came under attack from Western media outlets claiming that the Russian Air Force strikes had resulted in the deaths of hundreds of peaceful civilians; remarkably, these reports were not confirmed by any actual evidence, let alone video or photo images, said MacMillan. “One of the most widely cited

‘organisations’ in the Western media pertaining to the Syrian conflict is the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)’. As Tony Cartalucci astutely noted back in 2012, in an article for New Eastern Outlook, the reality on the ground proves the opposite.

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Kim Jong Il always with us

by Andy Brooks

OUR PARTY joined millions of Koreans and millions of communists all over the world last week in recalling the outstanding achievements of dear leader Kim Jong Il on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of his passing.

Four years have passed since the loss of dear leader Kim Jong Il, who dedicated his life to the revolutionary movement that was founded by Kim Il Sung, and the young militants around him, to fight the Japanese colonialists and build a modern communist party that would lead the Korean workers and peasants to a new life under socialism. Building a guerrilla army that took on the might of the Japanese Empire, great leader Kim Il Sung mobilised the masses in a struggle that ended in victory in 1945 and the establishment of a people’s government in the north of the country.

The Workers’ Party of Korea, with Kim Il Sung at the helm, led the battle for land reform, education and socialist construction in the 1950s and 1960s, and then pushed forward on the engineering, technical and scientific fronts to build a modern socialist republic where every individual worker is master of his or her own life. The DPRK stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the peoples of the Third World struggling to break the chains of colonialism, and gave technical and economic aid to their new republics to defend their freedom and independence.

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Features

Capitalism and dying early

by Rob Gowland

THE MAIN publicity shouters for capitalism — “government spokespersons” or PR firms, depending on whether you are referring to the parrot or its trainer — have for the last century proclaimed the USA to be at the forefront of global development. The American people are constantly told that they live in “the greatest country on Earth” and that the rest of the world’s population envies them their comfortable even luxurious lifestyle. It’s been drummed into them so constantly that most Americans, even poor Americans, actually believe it, despite the very visible signs that should tell them it is not true.

A huge, and growing, number of Americans only survive because of government food stamps (a peculiarly American form of the dole). Homelessness and soup kitchens are everywhere. The “greatest country on Earth” boast is looking more and more hollow every day. With poverty and hopelessness on the rise in the USA there is disillusionment among middle-aged white middle class and working class Americans who were raised in the ‘50s and ‘60s and told that the “American dream” was peculiarly applicable to them. They not only now see it passing out of their reach; they also realise that it never really was within their reach.

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“Islamic State” or international criminal organisation?

Sputnik

IT HAS BEEN a tough year for Syria, according to Jim W Dean, a US columnist and managing editor of Veterans Today, in respect of the US-led coalition’s war against “Islamic State” (ISIS) in a report that has recently come into light. Dean notes, adding that at the same time a lot of fraud related to the US-led coalition’s war against IS has recently come into light.

ALL SEEMED lost back in December 2014: Nato and the European Union were setting a trap for Moscow in Ukraine, the Donbas republics were suffering heavy losses, the Russian currency was plummeting and it seemed that nothing could save Syria from Islamists. But it wouldn’t stay dark forever Jim W Dean said.

“We had gone past a rekindling of a new Cold War to a ‘warm war’ with the Malaysian MH17 shoot down and the attempt to blame it on Russia with no proof whatsoever. A year after that it would be a Russian tourist plane that was blown from the skies in Egypt in what we still feel was done by IS supporters using the jihadis as a convenient smokescreen. It all sounds like the script for a Hollywood thriller movie, but has all been too real, especially for the victims,” Dean writes in his recent article for New Eastern Outlook.

But were we right while qualifying the offensive launched by Islamic State as a “jihad” — a religious and a sectarian war?

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