National News

200 hours a year extra work to make good benefit cuts

IAIN Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, last month admitted that planned changes to universal credit will see many families worse off — but suggested that they could make up the difference with, on average, an extra 200 hours work at the new national “living wage” (really the minimum wage) rate.

He seemed to think this extra four hours work per week was no big problem as though workers are not already working the maximum hours they can; as though employers are all willing and ready to pay the extra hours and as though this will incur no extra travel or child care costs.

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Corbyn and rail unions protest at fare rises

by New Worker correspondent

RAIL union activists were out in force at major stations throughout the country early on Monday morning protesting as the latest rise in rail fares came into effect.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined the Aslef protesters at Kings Cross in London, while senior RMT officers Alex Gordon and Eddie Dempsey were out at Paddington.

A recent survey has shown that rail travellers in Britain pay around six times as much for travel as their counterparts in most of Europe.

Passengers in Britain are currently spending 13 per cent of their wages on travel while Italian commuters pay two per cent, Spanish pay three per cent and Germans pay four per cent. At the same time, a significant part of the British rail system is owned by the publicly owned railways of Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and China.

Commuters are now paying 25 per cent more on average for their season tickets since David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010. Workers’ transport costs have risen three times faster than wages have in the last five years.

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RMT salutes Welsh strikers

THE RAIL union RMT last week saluted rock solid strike action on Arriva Trains Wales. On 4th January RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT salutes our driver members on Arriva Trains Wales who are standing rock solid, shoulder to shoulder with ASLEF colleagues in the action this morning which has closed down all services.

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BMA calls for support for junior doctors

JUNIOR doctors throughout England will begin their first day of industrial action on Tuesday 12th January.

Their union, the British Medical Association (BMA), is opposing this government’s attempt to impose an unsafe new contract on the medical profession.

A BMA statement issued on Tuesday said: “It is our view that the proposed contract represents an existential danger to the NHS as an institution.

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Tory mayor candidate would ban Tube strikes

THE RMT rail union has condemned a campaign leaflet issued by Tory London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith in which he claimed he would ban Tube strikes.

The leaflet is being distributed as RMT and sister transport unions step up their campaign against cuts to jobs and safety, and stand alongside passenger groups in the fight against relentless fare increases.

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Spontaneous housing protest

HOUSING protesters brought traffic in Westminster to a standstill last Tuesday when a rally opposite the House of Commons against the Tories’ Housing Bill turned into a spontaneous march on Downing Street.

The new laws, which will mean mass social housing sell offs, vicious rent hikes for families on even modest incomes and the scrapping of lifetime tenancies have been called the end of genuinely affordable housing in Britain.

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International News

Miami Five thank the world for their support

by Ivan Martínez

ONE year after the remaining three Cuban anti-terrorists — Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero — returned home from unjust imprisonment in the United States, they gathered in Havana on the 17th December, along with their brothers in struggle Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez. They celebrated their return and thanked all of those men and women around the world — but especially Cuban Leader Fidel Castro — for the long battle waged for their final liberation from unjust confinement in the United States.

The Miami Five had been imprisoned for infiltrating US-based terrorist groups and reporting on their plans to attack Cuba.

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Soviet Deterrent Saved Europe

Sputnik

RECENTLY released US nuclear plans from 1959 to destroy population centres throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were deterred by the countervailing Soviet nuclear force academics versed in nuclear deterrence issues said this week.

“It may be that it is the Soviet deterrence and diplomacy during the Cold War that saved us, Europeans, from major disasters,” said Professor Jean Bricmont of the University of Louvain in Belgium, author of Humanitarian Imperialism.

The US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has released for the first time a detailed list of Strategic Air Command potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, also showing targets in Eastern Europe and China.

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Agent Orange War crimes continue to kill

by Paddy Colligan

“WHO will take care of them? That is my question.” Tran Thi Hoan posed this on World Human Rights Day on 10th December. This computer science professional from Central Vietnam toured the United States (US) with a delegation from the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA).

VAVA is a mass organisation in Vietnam with over 300,000 members working to raise awareness and to gain necessary assistance for the Vietnamese people suffering the effects of Agent Orange/dioxin exposure during and since the US used it in its unsuccessful war to destroy the country. Exposure has caused illnesses or birth defects in an estimated three million Vietnamese; some 50,000 have been born with birth defects that are often staggering in their severity.

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What does the Financial Times know about Chinese sex life?

by Jiang Bin

THE Financial Times published an article entitled “Wanted: more people to make babies in China” on its website on 23rd November, saying that China is suffering a “sex shortage”, because its “white collar workers slave so long in the office that half said they had intercourse less than once a month”.

It says: “Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that a large proportion of 20-somethings still live with their mother (and for that matter, their grandmothers) in cramped urban flats. Surely that’s better than the best contraceptive.” The article eventually draws a conclusion that China’s new two-child policy is doomed to fail in producing more babies. Leave aside the obviously missing logic in this article. Let’s take a look at some Chinese netizens’ reactions:

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‘Hands off Syria’ youth call in Damascus

by Hamda Mustafa

AN INTERNATIONAL Youth Forum for Solidarity with Syria kicked off on Tuesday under the slogan “Hands off Syria”.

Youth movements from 20 Arab and foreign countries took part in the two-day event, in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which was organised by the Revolutionary Youth Union (RYU).

As part of the forum’s activities, delegations from Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Democratic Korea, Turkey, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Libya, Jordan and the Comoros will visit the Ummayyad Mosque, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East in Damascus, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the School of the Martyrs’ Sons.

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Features

The MI6 Wyman spy network in Dublin

by Peter O’Rourke

IN DECEMBER 1972 the extent of the British Intelligence spy network in Ireland and their infiltration of Irish police force, the Garda Síochána, was dramatically exposed by the arrest of John Wyman and Patrick Crinnion.

Wyman (alias “Douglas Smythe” and also known as “Michael Teviott”), a member of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, was an important cog in the well-oiled machine of British Intelligence in Ireland.

During the 1960s, especially following the beginning of the most recent phase of the struggle, Wyman’s network expanded. He recruited a number of Gardaí and Irish Special Branch officers as agents, the most important being Garda Detective Sergeant Patrick Crinnion.

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War on the Arabs

by Glen Ford executive editor of Black Agenda Report

THEY cluster on the prosperous, Christmas- themed streets of Beirut: Syrian mothers and their children begging from passers-by until deep in the night; young girls holding infant siblings; pre-teen boys with shoe shine cans who persist for blocks before finally taking no for an answer; grandmothers tapping on the windows of traffic-trapped cars. One million Syrians have descended on neighbouring Lebanon, a tiny nation of only four million people that now hosts the highest percentage of refugees in the world.

When Syria held presidential elections in June of 2014, so many refugees rushed to vote at the Syrian Embassy, located high on a hill (everything is high on a hill or low in a valley in Lebanon), that many had to abandon their cars and walk several kilometres to cast their ballots, according to Eva Bartlett, a member of our small delegation in solidarity with Palestine. We were hoping to spend a few days in Syria before participating in the Third Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine, at a grand hotel in southern Beirut from 8th December through to the 10th. The problem was nobody in the Syrian ambassador’s office had been informed of our urgent need for visas and soon our time would run out.

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