National News

Commuters plan judicial review of Southern Rail

THE ASSOCIATION of British Commuters (ABC) is preparing for a crowd-funded judicial review of the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise to run Southern Rail following months of drastic cuts to services, strikes and other problems, only to learn that the company is making record profits for shareholders.

Earlier this year the company cut 300 services per week from Southern Rail, which operates through south London, Surrey and Sussex, in an effort to reduce costs.

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Black Lives Matter target City Airport

NINE activists from the Black Lives Matter campaign were arrested at London City Airport just before dawn on Tuesday after erecting a tripod, chaining themselves together and lying down on the runway. The campaign posted images of protesters lying on the runway after unfurling banners.

All flights had to be cancelled whilst police tried to negotiate with them to leave.

Black Lives Matter UK said the action was taken in order to “highlight the UK’s environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally”.

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Sports Direct changes ‘not enough’

THE GIANT high street retailer Sports Direct last week admitted that the working conditions at its Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire were unacceptable following an inquiry conducted by the company’s law firm, RPC.

It has apologised for conditions at the warehouse, which have been likened to those of a Victorian workhouse, where workers feared to be off sick or were afraid to take time off to use the toilets. Lengthy end-of-shift searches of staff reduced their hourly pay rate to below the minimum wage.

It also promised to offer casual retail staff at least 12 guaranteed hours per week instead of zero-hour contracts. But almost all staff at the Shirebrook warehouse are agency workers, making them ineligible for the new contract.

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New grammar schools plan leaked

GOVERNMENT plans to open new grammar schools were leaked last week when a photographer captured images of a document being carried openly in Downing Street.

It was a memo from a senior civil servant in the Department for Education that revealed a new consultation process initiated by Education Secretary Justine Greening that will include the option of “new grammars”.

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Security staff at Met police control centres may strike

METROPOLITAN Police control centres in London face disruption as security guards, members of the PCS civil service union, who are working for a private contractor have set strike dates over a pay dispute.

The guards, who work for private company Engie, are planning walkouts over four days in the coming weeks from this Friday.

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TUC condemns a boss taking worker’s rep seat

THE TUC on Monday condemned the Government’s appointment of a former employer and business leader to a seat on the board of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that is reserved for a representative of workers’ interests.

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires the Secretary of State to appoint three members of the HSE after consulting organisations representing employees and three members after consulting employers’ representatives.

But the Government announced on Monday that one of the employee representative seats is to be is to be filled by an employer representative, who has no background representing workers and was neither nominated nor supported by any bodies that represent workers.

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FBU outraged by 96-hour shift proposal

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) has slammed fire chiefs in Cambridgeshire for attempting to introduce a Victorian shift system that would see fire-fighters working 96-hour shifts at a time.

The system, known as day crew plus, would mean the hours a fire-fighter works in one week would double and their hourly salary would be one of the lowest in any fire service in the country.

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Tata Steel and the unions

TRADE unions involved with Tata Steel — Unite, Community and GMB — and its plans to close its plants in Britain last week met the management of the company to discuss the situation with the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS). Following the meeting they issued a joint statement:

“During the meeting, Tata made it clear that the previous proposals to amend scheme benefits in order to avoid entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) now appeared as if they would be difficult to deliver.

“This leaves the BSPS facing the very real possibility of being dumped entirely into the PPF as part of Tata’s plan to divest its UK assets.

“All trade unions involved have previously made it clear that such an outcome would be unacceptable. Tata management expressed a desire to explore other options for the BSPS, however the unions are clear that no such further discussions can take place until Tata clearly sets out its long term commitment to the UK industry.

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Scottish Political News

SCOTTISH politics are coming back to life after the long summer break. On Tuesday afternoon First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave Holyrood’s equivalent of the Queen’s Speech, the Programme of Government.

Although lacking the pomp of the real thing at Westminster, it was similarly long on pious phrases and short on detail. She announced a “Scottish Growth Scheme”, a £500 million fund to help those Scottish businesses who cannot get bank loans.

Government guarantees for bank loans, and in some cases direct lending, will be offered. Ironically this is just the sort of state aid that the European Union (EU) she is so deeply attached to is institutionally opposed to. Businesses who qualify for a slice of this cake will doubtless be those that have made a substantial donation to Scottish National Party (SNP) campaign funds.

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Corbyn joins Burston march

by New Worker correspondent

THE BURSTON Rally has for many years been an important political event in the calendar for progressives within the Labour Movement. Each year thousands gather on the village green next to Burston Strike School, now a museum, that was the setting for the longest running strike in British history. Many colourful stalls representing trade unions, political parties and other workers’ organisations are put up each year.

Two progressive teachers, Tom and Kitty Higdon, arrived in Burston during 1911. Most of the school pupils were children of farm labourers earning less than 14 shillings per week. This contrasted with the lifestyle of the Reverend Charles Tucker Eland, with a salary of £581 per annum and living in a large comfortable rectory. Eland had been appointed chairman of the School Management Body. Tom gained respect from the labourers he organised and was elected to the Parish Council in 1913. Eland had expected to win but came bottom of the poll.

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Brexit now — invoke Article 50

by New Worker correspondent

MORE than 100 people gathered on Monday evening opposite the House of Commons to demand that the Government sign Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty at once, to initiate the process of Britain leaving the European Union (EU).

The referendum on 24th June gave a clear majority in favour of leaving the EU, but as time drifts on so the signing of Article 50 seems to be postponed more and more.

Many suspect the Government, which was taken by surprise by the referendum result, is deliberately dragging its heels and may end up permanently postponing the implementation of the people’s verdict.

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International News

Chavista mobilisation foils coup plan

by Dilbert Reyes Rodríguez

WITH an impressive mobilisation in the streets of Caracas, the capital city, the revolutionary people of Venezuela confirmed their support to the Bolivarian government and rejection of violence, frustrating a coup offensive announced for 1st September by the opposition leadership. A number of counter-revolutionaries have been arrested, including 92 Colombian paramilitaries camped just 500 metres from Miraflores Presidential Palace.

“Peace has triumphed once again. They threatened to assault Caracas and the people of Caracas came out onto the streets by the thousands,” President Nicolás Maduro said, as he addressed the Chavista crowd that filled Bolívar Avenue and other principal streets. The President reported that the coup attempt was turning out to be a fiasco, as several plans for violence by paramilitaries around the country were dismantled, whilst recognising the sensibility and adherence to constitutional law shown by those participating in the opposition march of 30,000 held in the capital.

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CIA’s dirty war

by Thomas C Mountain

IT’S THAT simple — the war in South Sudan is about denying China access to Africa’s oil.

The CIA is funding a dirty war in South Sudan. The war in South Sudan is little different than the wars the CIA funded in Angola and Mozambique, to name but two of their most infamous operations.

The CIA is using a mercenary warlord named Reik Machar, who has a long history of ethnic massacres and mass murder to his credit, to try to overthrow the internationally recognised government of President Salva Kiir for the crime of doing business with rivals of Pax Americana, the Chinese.

It is in the “national interests” of the USA to deny China access to African energy resources, and the Sudanese oil fields are the only Chinese-owned and operated ones in Africa. It’s that simple — the war in South Sudan is about denying China access to Africa’s oil.

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The G20


PLACING reform and innovation at the top of its agenda, the G20 summit will bring new opportunities for not only China but also the world at large.

“Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy” is the theme that China, the host country, chose for the summit held in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou this week.

With the global economy still in the doldrums, innovative growth was conspicuously put on the G20 agenda for the first time.

Such a theme charts a clear course for the growth of the world economy and helps countries worldwide to embrace the historical opportunities brought by a new round of technological and industrial revolution.

As an old Chinese saying goes: “to cure a disease, one should treat its root causes; to fix a problem, one should target its source.”

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What Fidel can teach us in the age of the war on terror

by Naomi Cohen

The liberation fighter loyal to Fidel’s teachings can ultimately overcome and vanquish imperialism through weapons of ethics and morality.

THE WAR on terror, at least in terms of the way it’s been framed, leaves no room for heroes. On one side are the imperial powers, fighting to preserve their self-proclaimed “modern” order. On the opposite side of the spectrum are “bloodthirsty” jihadists, anti-modern and against “our essential values.” In this false and violent dichotomy, liberation fighters wanting to maintain their integrity cannot afford to be positioned on this lose-lose spectrum.

“So why not start with somebody who actually did it right?” asks Dayan Jayatilleka, a former Sri Lankan diplomat and academic who became involved in radical politics from a young age. “Fidel proves that this can be done. You can fight without losing your soul. Even if you lose militarily, you win morally and eventually politically.”

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Perverting culture for propaganda

by Rob Gowland

EVERYTHING is political. Culture, sport, you name it, it has a political edge. Look at the way the Olympics were consistently used for provocations against the countries of the Socialist camp, including a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games (and now anti-Russian provocations and slurs).

When the Soviet Union sought to buy American films for its cinemas the US authorities would only permit them to buy carefully vetted titles that presented life in the West in a favourable (ie rosy, uncritical) light.

Before Gorbachev facilitated the takeover of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) by its West German capitalist neighbour, East German citizens used to be able to enjoy their own television programmes but also to tune in to all the channels emanating from West Germany. Conscious of the political capital to be made from this, West German TV — like the films the US allowed to be exported to the USSR — was almost exclusively made up of programmes and commercials featuring flash cars, posh houses and luxury living in general.

The living conditions of the poor were studiously and deliberately avoided. The image of the West to be fostered in the minds of East Germans who might be susceptible to defecting was of a land where unemployment simply did not exist, neither did poverty, bosses were benign and everyone lived well.

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Bilal Kayed wins promise of release

by Joe Catron

PALESTINIAN political prisoner Bilal Kayed ended his 71-day hunger strike on 24th August after securing an agreement that Israel will free him when his current “administrative detention” order, issued by an Israeli military commander in the occupied West Bank without charge or trial, ends on 12th December.

The deal, announced by Kayed’s party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and his legal counsel, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organisation, confirms that Kayed’s detention will not be renewed.

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The two things China really wants in Syria


CHINESE Admiral Guan Youfei visited Syria last month. Few details were made available on the specifics of Beijing’s cooperation agreement with the Syrian military, but the pact itself represents a landmark shift both in the military sense and from the perspective of international geopolitics, says French political analyst Thierry Meyssan.

In an informative analysis published in the independent geopolitical analysis website, Meyssan explained that whilst details of the Chinese—Syrian military cooperation agreement remain murky, Beijing’s motivations for increasing its involvement in the conflict are not.

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Billions spent...on football players

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

HUNDREDS of refugees die in the Mediterranean every week in a desperate attempt to cross into Europe to find what they perceive as a decent and safe living. Many are buried beneath the waves without so much as a tombstone to mark their existence, others make it dead to the shore to be given a wooden cross with one word “Unknown”.

Meanwhile the soccer transfer market has gone crazy. The English Premier League alone has spent over a billion pounds on players, the British transfer record being set by José Mourinho’s Manchester United FC with £89 million being paid for Paul Pogba, the world record-breaking move coming from Juventus.

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