National News

Asylum shelter forced to scrap compulsory wristbands

A PRIVATE company employed by the Government to accommodate newly arrived asylum seekers has been forced to abandon forcing them to wear shiny coloured wristbands to qualify for three meals a day. The highly visible wrist bands had made them vulnerable to racist attacks and discrimination.

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Social housing benefit cap will close sheltered accommodation

GOVERNMENT plans to put a cap on socially rented housing from April will leave thousands of tenants homeless according to the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents English housing associations.

This will affect many very vulnerable people — including the elderly in sheltered accommodation, victims of domestic violence and people with mental illness. This will put around 82,000 specialist supported homes at risk of closure because the people who need them will not be able to afford to live in them.

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Rise in mental health deaths coincides with fall in mental health nurse numbers

THE NUMBER of deaths per year among people with mental illness in England has risen from 1,412 to 1,713 over the last three years — a rise of 21 per cent — according to figures obtained by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb under the Freedom of Information Act.

This coincides with a report from Alan Simpson, professor of collaborative mental health nursing at City University London.

The report says that mental health provision has returned to the crisis point it was in more 30 years ago, with nursing staff facing “intolerable pressures”. Cuts in funding and qualified staff and the merging of some services have contributed to strains on services at levels of severity not seen since the 1980s.

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Left Unity meeting in Braintree

by New Worker correspondent

LEFT-wing activists from a range of parties and groups met in Braintree last Saturday to form the Mid-Essex Left Unity Group.

Officers were elected, members being of the New Communist Party and the Labour Party with support of the Colchester Trades Council.

The meeting agreed that it would affiliate to the national organisation. A delegate will be sent to the next Labour Representation Committee in London.

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Support for EDM on the banning of the Ukrainian Communists

CAMPAIGNERS supporting anti-fascist resistance in the Ukraine are calling on all anti-fascists to urge their MPs to support a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) expressing concern at the banning of the Communist Party of Ukraine.

EDM 973 is sponsored by Paul Flynn MP and supported by Kelvin Hopkins, Paul Monaghan, Ronnie Campbell and Chris Law.

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Litvinenko’s brother accuses Britain

MAXIM Litvinenko, brother of the murdered agent Alexander Litvinenko, last week claimed that is was the British intelligence services who wanted Alexander dead, according to a report in the Daily Mirror.

Last week the British claimed that President Putin was “probably” behind the murder by Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, who were under the direction of Moscow’s FSB intelligence service, when they poisoned Alexander with radioactive polonium 210 at London’ Millennium Hotel.

But Maxim says his brother was not killed by Russian spies and instead blames British security services who wanted him dead.

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Scottish Political News

ELECTIONS to the Scottish Parliament take place on the 5th May (alongside the London Mayoral, Welsh Assembly and local elections in England and Wales). Every government action therefore, or more likely inaction, is taken with an eye to the ballot box.

One such issue is fracking. Whereas the SNP are publically opposed to fracking, the SNP government, particularly Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, is very keen on it and set to allow it to go ahead once the troublesome elections are out of the way. Licences for exploration have been issued to the owner of the Grangemouth refinery, which is already equipped for ethane gas. Owner Jim Ratcliffe, who has had close contacts with Nicola Sturgeon, previously declared himself unconcerned about the timescale. Tellingly he has not made any complaints about the SNP’s policy that would cost him millions if taken at face value.

The SNP has strictly forbidden any discussion of the topic at its forthcoming spring conference by banning a motion from over 20 branches demanding “a permanent ban on the exploitation of unconventional oil and gas”. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It is disgraceful that the SNP have rigged the agenda of the spring conference to avoid a debate that would embarrass the leadership.”

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International News

Chinese President backs Palestinian cause

by Omer Othmani and Osama Radi A RECENT visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Middle East is very important for the Palestinian cause and will boost the historical ties between the Arab countries and China, Palestinian analysts and observers have agreed.

In his speech at the Arab League in Cairo, President Xi made clear his country’s stance towards finding a fair solution to the Palestinian cause: “The Palestinian cause is a basic issue for peace in the Middle East. If the international community wants calm and an end to the conflict, it must help resume the peace talks, implement peace agreements and be committed to achieving fairness and justice.”

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Israel tops the list for poverty levels


ACCORDING to a recently published Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report regarding income inequality and the gap between the richer and the poorer segments of society in member states (the advanced capitalist countries), Israel is now ranked in first place.

Israel now has the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line, over 21 per cent, leading Mexico, Turkey, Chile and even the United States. On its way to this dubious distinction, the percentage of Israel’s population living in poverty has an increased more than seven per cent since the 1990s.

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French minister resigns over emergency terror powers


CHRISTIANE Taubira, the French Justice Minister, has resigned after clashing with President François Hollande over his state of emergency powers — due to be extended on Wednesday — which she says are “completely useless.”

Hollande declared a state of emergency following the 13th November attacks in Paris in which a group of terrorists killed 130 and injured hundreds more in the name of “Islamic State”, also known as ISIS. The measures including banning public gatherings, house searches and plans to strip French nationality from dual-citizens who are convicted of terrorism.

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What’s happening in Moldova?

by Greg Butterfield

ON 20th January the world saw images of protesters and police clashing inside the parliament building in Chisinau, capital of this former Soviet republic, located between Ukraine and Romania. Pro-Western oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, who has pulled the strings of key government agencies behind the scenes for years, recently assembled a parliamentary majority allowing his Democratic Party to rule openly.

Plahotniuc’s plan was blessed by the United States and Nato member Romania on Monday, during a meeting between notorious US State Department operative Victoria Nuland and President Klaus Iohannis.

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The Easter Rising, Sinn Féin and the Irish Daily Mail

by Mark Maloney

SOME PEOPLE may have been puzzled to see Thursday’s edition of the Irish Daily Mail claiming that “Sinn Féin are hijacking the Proclamation” and the Easter Rising by including the 1916 Proclamation on some of the party’s leaflets. Seasoned republicans may not have been so surprised.

In a poorly researched piece for the Irish stablemate of Britain’s most rabid newspaper, Political Editor Senan Molony goes on to claim that Sinn Féin is the only major party whose founders were not involved in the Rising.

This is complete nonsense of course; two of the party’s founding members were actually executed by the British Army after the uprising.

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Vietnam: Bristolian digs up buried history

by Luong Thu Huong

REMARKABLE landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City, such as Sai Gon Notre Dame Basilica or Caravelle Hotel, are familiar to many tourists, but the history behind each building often remains a mystery, even to local people.

But writer-historian Tim Doling from Bristol in Britain, author of the popular heritage blog Historic Viet Nam and the new walking tour guidebook Exploring Ho Chi Minh City, knows these stories well.

With his thorough understanding of the city’s history, Doling runs Heritage Tours, which introduces a wealth of lesser-known places of interest, alongside the city’s better-known historic sites.

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Cuba: Geraldine Chaplin — lover of Latin American cinema

Havana Reporter

GERALDINE Chaplin returned to Havana last December, invited to the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema and very excited by the idea of being a judge for the biggest cinematographic event in Cuba. “Now, when I saw this festival’s catalogue, I immediately realized that there are marvellous movies, I want to see the productions of this continent and here I will be served”.

The British American actress claimed that the most interesting cinema is that which is created in Latin America because there is very little novelty in Europe. “I love being a judge but the only disadvantage is that at the end you have to choose, it’s as unavoidable as death and that’s when the bad moment comes.”

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OscarsSoWhite decries Hollywood racism

by Monica Moorehead

ON 14TH JANUARY much of the world watched in shock and anger the announcements of the nominations for the upcoming 88th annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, which recognised virtually only white acting performances.

The year and 2015-2016 was the first time since 1997- 1998 that not one Black actor was nominated for either a best actress, best actor, best supporting actress or best supporting actor award in consecutive years.

Most notable snubs included Will Smith for Concussion, Michael B Jordan in the title role of Creed, Samuel L Jackson for The Hateful Eight and Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation. On top of these gross omissions, not one Black director was nominated, including, for instance, Ryan Coogler for Creed. The only actor nominated for Creed was white actor Sylvester Stallone.

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The year that was

by Rob Gowland

WELL, we survived last year, and now we’re back to see what calamities and catastrophes the capitalist system has in store for those of us who are not super-rich! The last-named are the infamous one per cent who own most of the world’s wealth. They used to be called the ruling class, but “the one per cent” at least recognises that, numerically, they’re a lot smaller than the working class. Not a fact I suspect that they want us common folk to dwell on lest we decide to do something about it.

Of course something else they don’t want us to think about too much is the grim fact that a lot of people did not even survive the year. They were victims of war, terrorism or raging poverty. The imperialist powers instigated wars beyond number in their profit- driven quest to take over global resources, destroy regimes trying to be independent of imperialist control, or just to secure their own corporate investments.

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Litvinenko inquiry raises more questions than answers


THE INQUIRY by Sir Robert Owen into the death of a former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko has ruled that he was murdered “probably” on orders from the Russian FSB state security service with approval from none other than President Putin.

The inquiry’s conclusion was expected, given the long-running trial of Russia by the British media and politicians but it had raised more questions that is had answers. The devil is in the detail, as the saying goes, and because the inquiry was not entirely public, with the British government refusing to disclose the nature of Litvinenko’s relationship with its security services, how can the public be sure that the most important details were not withheld from the inquiry?

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