National News

Private landlords double gains from housing benefit

RISING housing costs and soaring rents in the private sector have doubled the amount of taxpayers’ money ending up in the pockets of private landlords through the housing benefit system to £9.3 billion, according to a report published last week by the National Housing Federation (NHF).

The number of housing benefit recipients in the private rented sector has risen from just over one million in 2008 to almost 1.5 million in February this year.

The NHF said that this particular group of people had grown by 42 per cent since 2008. In 2006 £4.6 billion in housing benefit was paid to private landlords, a figure which had more than doubled by 2015.

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Celtic fans stand by Palestinian flag

FANS of Celtic football club have raised more than £136,000 and rising for Palestinian charities after the club was charged by UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) because fans displayed Palestinian flags when their side played the Israeli team Hapoel Beer Sheva in the first leg of the Champions League play-off.

Hundreds of Scottish fans waved Palestinian flags around Celtic Park during the Champions League match last Wednesday night as an act of solidarity and opposition to the Israeli Occupation.

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London bus workers strike

LONDON bus workers, who are members of the giant union Unite at the bus operator Tower Transit, will be staging the first of two 24-hour stoppages this Friday 26th August over the imposition of roster changes and a failure by an increasingly hard-line management to commit to constructive industrial relations.

Over 1,000 drivers, engineers and controllers at the Atlas Road bus depot in Park Royal, the Westbourne Park bus garage and the Lea interchange bus depot are involved in the dispute that affects 28 bus routes and follows an 89.8 per cent vote in favour of strike action.

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Special prison units for ‘extremists’

THE JUSTICE Secretary, Liz Truss, last week announced plans to create specialist units inside prisons in England and Wales to house inmates convicted of terrorism-related offences and deemed to be extremists, in order to keep them separated from general prisoners.

The reason given for this change of policy is to prevent these inmates indoctrinating and recruiting amongst the general prisoners.

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Tories’ 7-day NHS faces staff shortages

THE JUNIOR doctors in dispute with the Government over its plans for NHS seven-day-working have been vindicated as the Government’s own confidential review has revealed that the plan faces serious shortages of staff and other resources.

The review has identified 13 risks, according to the Guardian and Channel Four News. These include concerns over a shortage of doctors and other health staff.

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GMB fights cuts to Brighton nursery services

THE UNION GMB, which represent many nursery staff, has issued a response to Brighton and Hove Council’s proposed changes to nursery provision and services.

The union says this will leave the low-paid, predominantly female workforce unable to cope with devastating cuts to pay, working hours, and employment terms and conditions.

The GMB has revealed that nursery staff and practitioners will lose between £3,300 and £10,500, depending on current pay grades and hours reductions, as a result of the council’s proposed changes and cuts.

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Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political correspondent ZOROASTRIANS are likely to be the only people who would welcome the news that since its formation by the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 2013 the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has suffered the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs.

Formed as part of the SNP’s campaign to destroy local accountability by creating a centralised service, the SFRS originally employed 8,547 staff. It now has 7,491. The losses include 667 full-time or retained fire-fighters and 289 support or control room workers. There was also an 18 per cent drop in the number of volunteers from 417 to 342. The SFRS said that these figures reflected “planned organisational structure changes to deliver a more effective and efficient service across Scotland.” Strangely enough a recruitment drive is taking place late this year, suggesting that the “efficient service” has some gaps.

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No to Sanctions! No to War!

by New Worker correspondent

SOLIDARITY activists were out in force on Tuesday, scoring a double-whammy with afternoon protest pickets outside both the puppet south Korean embassy in Westminster and the centre of US imperialism in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square.

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Day of Liberation

by New Worker correspondent

FRIENDS of the Korean people met in central London last weekend to celebrate Songun Day and the liberation of Korea by the Korean People’s Army commanded by great leader Kim Il Sung.

The Korean Friendship Association (KFA) meeting, at the Chadswell Centre on 20th August, was opened by Dermot Hudson and followed by keynote openings from Alexander Meads and Professor Harish Gupta, the director general of the International Institute of the Juche Idea and head of the Asian Regional Institute for the Study of the Juche Idea.

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Liverpool remembers odious trade

by Larry Neild

TRIBAL chiefs stood on the banks of the famous River Mersey here on Tuesday as Liverpool led commemorations to mark UNESCO’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

Dressed in traditional costumes, they cast flowers onto the river where, in the 1700s, ships left Liverpool for an estimated 5,000 voyages that would transport around 1.5 million slaves from Africa to the Americas.

National Museums Liverpool, who run the International Slavery Museum on the city’s waterfront, has organised three days of events to mark the city’s links with the slave trade.

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International News

Israeli Assault on Gaza worst since 2014

by Pavel Jacomino

PALESTINIAN sources in the Gaza Strip report that up to 50 Israeli air-strikes took place in the territory on Sunday night. The strikes were carried out after a rocket was fired earlier in the day from the embattled strip, landing on the border settlement of Sderot in an open area and injuring no one.

The Israeli assault, carried out through air and artillery strikes, demolished several civilian sites in the Gaza Strip and injured two, including a 17-year-old boy, according to a Palestinian Health Ministry official. Gazans on social media noted that air-strikes were taking place all over the strip. The Israeli military earlier confirmed it had struck two camps of the Hamas movement, which controls the strip.

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Korean traitor flees to Seoul

by our Asia Affairs correspondent

A DEMOCRATIC Korean envoy based in London who disappeared last month resurfaced in south Korea last week spouting the usual Cold War drivel about choosing “freedom” for the benefit of his new puppet regime handlers. But the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) says that Thae Yong Ho fled after being recalled to answer charges of selling state secrets, embezzling state funds and raping a minor.

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Washington “Galvanised” Kurds to Attack Syrian Army

Sputnik

The USA has pitted the Syrian Kurds against Damascus-led forces in the north-eastern city of Hasakah in a bid not to lose regional influence should Turkey, Russia and Iran create an alliance to resolve the Syrian conflict, analyst and journalist Hüsnü Mahalli says, adding that recent clashes are part of the West’s “geopolitical games”.

“Up until now Russia and Iran have helped to maintain cordial relations between the Syrian Kurds from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Damascus. The PYD made a mistake when it opted to cooperate with the USA.”

Kurdish militias, assisted by the USA, have been trying to push radical groups, including ISIS and al-Nusra Front from northern Syria, and secure the porous border with Turkey. At the same time, the Kurds have established a de-facto autonomy in the areas under their control.

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International solidarity with Palestinian prisoners

by John Hedges

WEST BELFAST Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann — a former political prisoner — and Limerick Sinn Féin and trade union activist Senator Paul Gavan travelled to Palestine last week to meet with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Palestinian prisoners, their families and legal representatives.

The Sinn Féin representatives will also visit Bilal Kayed, who went on hunger strike on 15th June in protest against being held without charge under what the Israeli authorities term “administrative detention”.

They are travelling at the request of Palestinian support group Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

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Features

Searching for the White Working Class

by Zoltan Zigedy

THE Wall Street Journal calls them the “forgotten Americans.” Others see them as racist and xenophobic. Then aspiring-President Obama characterised them in 2008 in the following way: “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Whether they are forgotten, dismissed, or demonised, the “white working class” has been discovered this election season. As with any new species, researchers are scrambling to probe, dissect and analyse white workers; pundits are spinning theories about their habits and dispositions; and politicians are searching for keys to unlock their votes.

Arguably, no social segment has been under the sociological microscope this intensely since US elites and their intellectual courtiers “discovered” African-Americans some sixty years ago. Class, like race, must force itself on to the stage before notice is taken.

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The film-making business

by Rob Gowland

CINEMA is an art form, “the art form of the 20th century” those of us involved in studying and promoting it as an art form declared proudly. It began simultaneously as a fairground novelty and a scientific tool, but its artistic potential was very quickly grasped.

DW Griffith’s 1915 classic The Birth of a Nation proved conclusively that the dramatic arts had a new and powerfully expressive medium in which to operate. Its bigoted, racist version of the causes and effects of the American Civil War also showed what a powerful propaganda weapon cinema could be.

The extraordinary ability of the “moving picture” to present fiction as though it were reality was recognised early by people involved in making films as a business. Others, such as British documentary film-maker John Grierson, saw that cinema had a unique ability to present reality itself to a wide audience. His Drifters revealed the drama and the skill in the working lives of North Sea fishermen.

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The remorse of a dissident

Alexander Zinoviev on Stalin and the dissolution of the USSR ALEXANDER Zinoviev (1922—2006) was a Russian philosopher, sociologist, mathematician and writer. He is an extraordinary case of a dissident in the Soviet Union who later apologised for his anti-Sovietism and anti-Stalinism. In his youth, in 1939, he was arrested for allegedly bring involved in a plot to assassinate Joseph Stalin. As a head and professor of the Logic Department at Moscow State University, Zinoviev acquired a dissident reputation. In 1978 he left the Soviet Union; he lived in Western Europe until 1999.

Having the opportunity to live in both the socialist system in the USSR and Western Europe’s capitalism, Zinoviev made a U-turn in his thoughts after the counter-revolutionary events in the Soviet Union (1989—1991). He profoundly regretted his previous anti-Soviet stance and even asked the Russian people to forgive him for it.

He wrote in one of his books:

“...communism was so organic for Russia and had so powerfully entered the way of life and psychology of Russians that the destruction of communism was equivalent to the destruction of Russia and of the Russian people as a historic people. [...] In a word, they [Western cold warriors] aimed at communism but killed Russia.” Alexander Zinoviev (2002), Russkaya tragediya.

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Petition demands justice for Ethel Rosenberg

by Mike Kuhlenbeck

THE ROSENBERG Fund for Children (RFC) is petitioning the White House to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg. Along with her spouse Julius Rosenberg, Ethel was executed on 19 June 1953, after being convicted of trumped-up charges of committing “espionage” for the Soviet Union.

The RFC co-founder Robert Meeropol and his brother Michael Meeropol have addressed an open letter to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and President Barack Obama, asking for a formal acknowledgement of the miscarriage of justice suffered by their mother, Ethel Rosenberg.

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