National News

New round of NHS cuts in preparation

THE CAMPAIGN group 38 Degrees has rung the alarm bells that a new round of cuts to NHS services in England is being prepared and plans are being drawn up that are receiving “very little public or political scrutiny”.

The plans are being made under the aegis of essential efficiency savings — with a claim that £22 billion in such savings is needed by 2020—21.

The “sustainability and transformation plans” (STPs) are being prepared at local levels and are likely to propose ward closures, cuts in bed numbers, and “changes” to accident and emergency (A&E) and general practitioner (GP) care in 44 areas. They include further reductions in mental health in-patient care — which is already so low it is failing thousands of patients and leaving the police and prison services to pick up the pieces.

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Young people trapped in debt

YOUNG people are starting their adult lives trapped in debt and worrying about it according to a report released last week by the Money Advice Trust, which runs the National Debtline.

The charity’s new report, Borrowed Years, reveals that 18-to-24-year-olds are building up significant debts at a relatively early age and suffering widespread money worries, despite most trying to budget and actively manage their personal finances.

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Brexit lost in a brainstorm

PRIME Minister Theresa May last Tuesday gathered her Cabinet at Chequers for brainstorming session on how to go about disentangling Britain from the European Union.

The process will have to be started by Britain triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty but there are growing numbers from the “remain” camp claiming that the Prime Minister has no authority to do this without a Parliamentary majority in both houses of Parliament.

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Rise in numbers sacked for being pregnant

THE PARLIAMENTARY Women and Equalities Committee last Tuesday called for “urgent action” to give protection to new and expectant mothers at work after a steep rise in the number who are being sacked or discriminated against because they have, or are about to have a baby.

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Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political correspondent

TWENTY per cent of Scotland’s bus routes have vanished in the last 10 years according to an investigation by Scotland’s most serious Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Post, while fares have jumped by 18 per cent in the past five years, a period of low inflation. In the decade of Scottish National Party (SNP) rule passengers have been hit badly. But those running the bus services have done very well thank you very much, despite the number of bus journeys falling by 15 per cent. In the rest of Britain the fall in passenger numbers is a mere 10th of that figure.

Neil Bibby, Labour’s transport spokesperson, said: “It is unacceptable that big bus companies have been hiking fares at the same time as cutting crucial routes to maximise their own profits.” Calling for re-regulation, he added: “Instead of ‘siding’ with the big bus companies, it’s about time the SNP started standing up for passengers in Scotland.”

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Arctic Convoy veterans honoured in Scotland

“THEY ARE giants,” said the Consul General of the Russian Federation to Scotland, Andrei A Pritsepov, about the Scottish veterans who survived some of the harshest winter conditions on the Arctic Convoy missions to bring much needed supplies to the Soviet army during World War Two.

Over 40 veterans gathered on the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh on Tuesday as part of a series of commemorative events led by the Consul General, in a bid to preserve their legacy. Between 1941 and 1945 the Convoys sailed from Loch Ewe in Wester Ross and the River Clyde to the ports of Archangelsk and Murmansk in the far north of Russia, where temperatures could reach as low as minus 50 degrees centigrade.

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Oliver Cromwell 1599—1658

OLIVER CROMWELL, the leader of the bourgeois English Revolution, died on 3rd September 1658. Cromwell, the MP for Huntingdon, was the leading Parliamentary commander during the English Civil War, which began in 1642 and ended in 1649 with the trial and execution of Charles Stuart and the abolition of the monarchy. The Republic of England, or Commonwealth as it was styled in English, was proclaimed soon after.

In 1653 Oliver became head of state, the Lord Protector. By then the republic Cromwell led included England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well as colonies in New England and the Caribbean. During its brief life the Commonwealth became a force in Europe. Culturally it inspired the great poetry of John Milton and Andrew Marvell and other radical and pacifist religious movements like the Quakers who are still with us today.

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International News

Ceasefire in Colombia ends 52-year-long warGovernment

by Mark Moloney

A CEASEFIRE between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army (FARC—EP) came into effect at midnight bringing, what many hope is, a permanent end to one of the world’s longest-running armed conflicts.

The ceasefire came after the Colombian Government and FARC reached a major peace agreement after almost four years of negotiations facilitated by the Cuban Government in Havana.

More than 220,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the civil war between the Colombian Government aided by their paramilitary death squads, and the leftist guerrillas of the FARC-EP and also the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN).

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China lends helping hand to Africa

by Ahmed Hassan Omer

CHINA-AFRICA relations have reached a new historical starting point. Though problems and challenges exist, cooperation is creating significant opportunities for both sides.

Firstly, Africa has become one of the fastest growing areas in the world. Meanwhile, China’s economy will also maintain a strong momentum. Secondly, African countries will continue to adopt economic policies in favour of infrastructure construction, labour intensive manufacturing, agriculture, extraction and livelihood related sectors.

China and Africa will enjoy more cooperation opportunities in resource development, information communication and manufacturing. Thirdly, African economic integration will open new space for China-Africa cooperation at a higher level and in broader areas.

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Former Mossad chief warns of civil war


FORMER Israeli intelligence chief Tamir Pardo signalled on Tuesday that Israel is heading toward a civil war, as some elements of Israeli society are “more interested in emphasising what divides than what unites”.

“The internal threat must worry us more than the external threat,” Pardo said at a news conference in the Druze town of Daliyat al-Carmel. The former director of Mossad emphasised that it is not Iran that poses a threat to Israel, but an internal division within its society. “If a society crosses a certain line in its division and hatred, it is a real possibility to see a phenomenon like a civil war,” Pardo added.

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Borotba leader: Ukraine today

Following are excerpts from an interview with Alexey Albu, a coordinator of the Ukrainian Marxist organisation Union Borotba (Struggle) and survivor of the 2nd May 2014 Odessa massacre, who is currently living in exile. The interview was conducted by Dmitry Rodionov and published by the Russian Free Press news site on 4th August. Edited and translated by Workers World contributing editor Greg Butterfield.

How great is the pressure in Ukrainian society to reboot the regime?

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Russian Olympians work out at Syrian Air Base

A GROUP of Russian athletes, including some who won medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics, visited Hmeymim Air Base in Syria last week, where they met with Russian servicemen. One of them was Russia’s two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva. Others included sabre fencer Sofia Velikaya, foil fencers Arthur Akhmatkhuzin, Timur Safin and Alexey Cheremisinov, as well as wrestler Soslan Ramonov and rifle shooter Sergey Kamensky.

Isinbayeva, for her part, heaped praise on what she said was a fantastic trip to the Hmeymim base: “I never thought I would find myself here and see everything with my own eyes. We met with our soldiers, officers, generals, and they all are very easy to talk to. But at the same time, they are so self-assured and strong that one feels secure by their side.”

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Lies, damned lies and propaganda

by Rob Gowland

I KNOW it will probably shock you, gentle reader, but the sorry truth is that capitalist governments lie. They lie to the public and when they find it advisable they lie to the legislature. I’m truly sorry if I have shattered your illusions, but I think you have a right to know the truth.

They lie with particular intensity if they are engaged — or wanting to be engaged — in a war. Tony Blair lied outrageously to the British people and Parliament when he wanted Britain to join the US in the invasion of Iraq. He told whoppers about the government of Saddam Hussein possessing “weapons of mass destruction” that were in fact non-existent. In Australia, Johnny Howard — who now likes to play the role of revered elder statesman — used the same mythical weapons to justify catapulting Australia into that invasion.

Going back a bit further, remember when the American U2 spy plane was brought down in the Soviet Union? The US authorities blandly lied that there had ever been such a plane, denied that they had any programme of aerial spying on the USSR, and pretended that the whole thing was a Russian fabrication. Until the Russians produced the plane’s pilot, who had decided not to kill himself as expected, and had instead been captured. But lying about such things is the norm: the mantra is, “if caught out, deny, deny, deny”.

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Honduras and Israel: a new special relationship

by Belén Fernández

JUST AS it serviced murderous regimes in Central America in the 1980s, Israel will now be exporting forms of repression to the Honduras’ abusive government.

In the aftermath of the 2009 coup in Honduras, I had the opportunity to interview deposed President Manuel Zelaya, who, having been kindly escorted in his pyjamas to Costa Rica by the Honduran military, had then resurfaced in Tegucigalpa and taken refuge in the embassy of Brazil. The interview took place via an intermediary inside the embassy, who conveyed my questions to Zelaya.

One topic we touched on was a comment the left-leaning Zelaya had made concerning “Israeli mercenaries” operating in Honduras. This had unleashed a predictable hullabaloo in international media, with commentators tripping over each other to portray the besieged leader as an anti-Semite extraordinaire on some sort of permanent acid trip.

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Napper Tandy - Brave United Irishman and patriot

by Shane MacThomáis

TO MANY PEOPLE, the name of the leading United Irishman, James Napper Tandy, is one they hear or sing in the song The Wearing of the Green. Apart from that, he is often condemned by events to be eternally in the shadow of others such as Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell and Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

He has sometimes been dismissed as a drunk, a gossip unsuited to conspiratorial activity, another Irish failure without the saving grace of martyrdom. But he deserves much more.

Napper Tandy was the link between the upper-class Protestant leaders of the United Irishmen and the Catholic rank and file.

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