National News

The dystopian world of Sports Direct workers

THE GIANT union Unite is planning a Day of Action with protests outside Sports Direct shops throughout the country demanding an end to zero-hours contracts and the draconian conditions that employees endure.

“It’s time for Sports Direct to restore dignity and security at work by paying a real living wage and putting all staff on permanent contracts,” said a report from Unite.

“Why is this important? Imagine being monitored every minute of the working day, ‘named and shamed’ over a tannoy system if your supervisor thinks you’re not working hard enough, and body searched after every shift.

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DWP agencies admit failures

AGENCIES contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions to assess claimants’ eligibility for disability benefits last week admitted they had made a lot of mistakes and provided a poor service — because they missed targets for saving money for the Treasury.

The three agencies — Atos, Maximus and Capita — were giving evidence to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee following a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) last month that was highly critical of their work.

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Hunt vetoed doctors’ strike deal

JUNIOR doctors were once again on the picket lines outside hospitals throughout the country on Wednesday in the latest 24-hour strike in their long running fight against the imposition of an unfair and unsafe contract.

The doctors had called off one of their series of strikes for negotiations at the conciliation service Acas and these had seemed to be going well.

But, according to sources close to the British Medical Association (BMA), a proposal that addressed pay for working evenings and Saturdays — the last major contentious issue — and which was cost-neutral for the Government, was blocked by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, despite negotiators from the NHS Employers organisation viewing it as an opportunity to resolve the dispute.

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Britain’s rightwing media

NEW RESEARCH by YouGov revealed last week that the British press is regarded as the most “right-wing” and “biased” in Europe.

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Cameron’s mother and aunt oppose cuts

DAVID Cameron’s aunt last week joined his mother in a petition against Oxfordshire council cuts.

If it wasn’t bad enough for David Cameron that his own mother has signed a petition against Government cuts to children’s services, it has emerged that she was persuaded to do so by his aunt.

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Biggest academy chain ‘failing’

THE LARGEST academy chain in England has been accused by Ofsted of “failing too many pupils”. Inspectors say that almost half of pupils at secondary schools run by the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) are in schools that are “less than good”.

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Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political correspondent

DRAWING upon his experience as a member of the Greater London Council in the 1980s at an Edinburgh Burns supper last weekend, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell attacked the First Minister saying that: “Nicola Sturgeon is treating local authorities in the same way Thatcher treated the GLC by bullying and threatening them with cuts to their funding. I served on the GLC and we were abolished because we fought to protect public services.

“The severe cuts in Scotland are reminiscent of the 1980s, and the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon are targeting education in the same way Thatcher did. The SNP are taking us back to the 1980s with this level of cuts.”

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Legendary Russian sailors honoured in Scotland

by Nikolai Gorshkov

THE PEOPLE of South Ayrshire have been celebrating the courage of Russian sailors during the Russian—Japanese war of 1904—1905. However incredible it may sound, an echo of that war in the Far East travelled across the globe and reached the village of Lendalfoot back in 1920.

It was the legendary Russian cruiser Varyag that refused to surrender to the Japanese Navy in February 1904, picked a fight with 14 enemy warships and was scuttled by the crew to avoid capture. Sold for scrap, it ended up in the Firth of Clyde in view of Lendalfoot.

A monument to the Russian sailors was erected in the village in 2007; the 9th February, the day of the 1904 battle, is marked as a Day of Remembrance of the Russian sailors.

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Down with the puppet regime!

by New Worker correspondent

KOREAN solidarity activists returned to the puppet south Korean embassy in London last week to protest against the latest round of repression against trade unionists and peace activists in the occupied south of the Korean peninsula. London comrades, including NCP leader Andy Brooks, took part in the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) demonstration together with other supporters of Democratic Korea to demand the release of all political prisoners in south Korea, and an end to the suppression of labour movement and pro-unification forces.

International News

Aleppo: not attack but liberation

by Alexander Mercouris

THE SYRIAN conflict has seen many media distortions but there is one especially with which I must take strenuous issue.

The news media in the West portrays the recent fighting around Aleppo as a Syrian army attack on Aleppo.

Sometimes there is an admission that the government controls part of Aleppo. But overall the impression given is that Aleppo is a rebel city and that the Syrian government’s army is attacking it.

This often comes with lurid claims of the Syrian air force terror bombing (“barrel-bombing”) its people — something that has now become part of the standard Western critique of President Assad. This is an inversion of the truth. Aleppo was previously Syria’s biggest city and economic capital. Until 2012 it was under the government’s control and reports from the city confirmed its people largely supported the government.

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A railway dream come true

by Pavel Jacomino

A MAJOR economic breakthrough is springing to life these days that could change the face of South America. The construction of a Central Bi-oceanic Railway Corridor linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans crossing Brazil, Bolivia and Peru is an initiative that no doubt will give a boost to the relations between the three countries and consolidate the integration of South America.

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Russia to host World Festival of Youth and Students in 2017

Radio Havana Cuba

YOUTHS from the all over the world will gather in Russia in 2017 to support the ideals of peace, social progress and anti-imperialist solidarity, during the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students.

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Day of the Shining Star

by Andy Brooks

MILLIONS of workers in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have been celebrating the giant strides their people’s government has taken in recent days. Last month the DPRK tested its first thermo-nuclear bomb. Last week they successfully launched a satellite into space. Next week they will pause to mark the anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong Il, who led the nation in overcoming the natural disasters and defeating the renewed imperialist offensive that came soon after the death of great leader Kim Il Sung in 1994.

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Donbas: cleanout the oligarchs in 2016!

by Victor Shapinov

THE STRUGGLE against the oligarchs has long been a popular slogan in Ukraine but there was little meaning behind the phrase. While the need for such a struggle was acknowledged by virtually all politicians and political forces, they also carried out numerous and costly election campaigns on the dime of the same big capitalists. Ukrainian voters simply stopped believing in anti-oligarchy slogans, preferring to vote for the protégé of “their” oligarch. The principle of “our son of a bitch” worked in all recent elections, where the final outcome came down to representatives of “Ukrainian” versus “Russian- speaking” oligarchs.

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Education for profit

by Rob Gowland

AUSTRALIA once had lots of government enterprises. Everything, from the electronics industry to the construction of locos and rolling stock, to oil refining (even petrol retailing) and production of basic building materials, was the stock in trade of federal or state government enterprises. Along with public transport, interstate airlines and (for a short time, until Liberal Party politicians got their mates in government to kill it) our own tourist industry company (the too successful AAT).

By successfully competing with the private entrepreneurs, these government enterprises forced them to keep their prices down. They are always trumpeting about the superior benefits of “competition”, but in reality bourgeois business types much prefer to avoid real competition, substituting gentlemen’s agreements on keeping prices above certain levels so as to ensure all the big companies can make a profit. (For all their talk about small businesses being the “backbone of the economy”, big companies are not the least bit interested in keeping small businesses afloat, which is one reason 60 per cent of them fail in their first year).

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French workers challenge ‘state of emergency’

by G Dunkel

FRANCE’S government, with the backing of the majority of the French ruling class, has used the reaction to two armed attacks in and around Paris last year, one that cost many lives, as a pretext to impose authoritarian rule through a state of emergency. The French working class has responded by resisting this rightward lurch by a government that is “socialist” in name only.

A reflection of this resistance was the 27th January resignation of Christiane Taubira, the Minister of Justice in Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ cabinet. Taubira said she resigned because she could not support the French government’s recent proposal to remove French citizenship from anyone convicted of a “terrorism- related” offence.

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