National News

Tax credit cut victims’ suicidal calls

CONCENTRIX, the United States-based company hired by our Government to oversee tax credit claimants, has been receiving calls from people who are suicidal after having their tax credits cut, according to a whistleblower employed by the company’s call centre.

He told the BBC that staff at the centre had no training in how to deal with suicidal calls but were instead told: “Have a smoke... you’ll be fine.”

Concentrix has saved the treasury millions in tax credit payments and is paid by results. But it seems to have failed to check its findings and has made thousands of mistakes. One of the most common is accusing claimants of being cohabitees with previous occupants of their homes — including previous tenants who are now dead.

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Britain blocks inquiry into war crimes in Yemen

THE BRITISH government last week blocked a proposal from the European Union (EU) for an independent inquiry into claims by Yemen human rights groups of war crimes against civilians by Saudi bombings.

The proposers, from the Netherlands, have accused Britain of giving priority to arms sales to Saudi Arabia before human rights.

The Netherlands had hoped to win broad support for its proposal that the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva set up an inquiry to examine civilian deaths in Yemen, where the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is accused of committing war crimes.

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Campaign to save Sheffield Mental Health Action Group

CAMPAIGNERS are fighting to preserve the local Mental Health Action Group Sheffield (MHAGS) from closure after funding cuts from the local authority.

Mental Health Action Group Sheffield is a user-led organisation run by and for mental health service users, at every level including office staff. There is nowhere else like it locally and there are currently 250 people on their register.

Two weeks ago the MHAGS Chairs were summoned to a meeting with the Council and were told that their funding will end as the current grant agreement states, in April 2017.

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Manchester fire service drops plans for sackings

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) last Tuesday welcomed Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s (GMFRS) withdrawal of proposals to sack its 1250 strong firefighter workforce.

The service withdrew its plans to issue Section 188 notices that would have terminated the firefighters’ contracts of employment — only those who agreed to the new 12-hour shift patterns would have been re-employed.

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Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political correspondent

Labour Party

RECENTLY things have not been going well for Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale. Her preferred choice for leader of the UK Labour Party came a bad second. Her own choice was not reflected by the broader membership, who contrary to some claims voted for Jeremy Corbyn as strongly as in the rest of the country.

In the space of a few days she publically held different views on the chances of the victorious Jeremy Corbyn winning a General Election. At the time of going to press she maintains that Corbyn is actually capable of winning a General Election, which is doubtless a great relief.

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Air Miles

by our Scottish political correspondent

BRITAIN’S airlines are presently experiencing a boom in internal business class travellers. Particularly high growth has been recorded on London to Scotland routes since the middle of last year.

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Job Losses

by our Scottish political correspondent

ACROSS Scotland many workers are facing the dole. The collapse in oil prices has not only seen 120,000 North Sea related jobs vanish in recent years but also drastic cuts in the conditions of the remaining workforce. Industry body Oil & Gas UK reports that the costs of extracting a barrel of oil have fallen by 45 per cent. Unite the Union has said this has been at the expense of workers. It has deplored “a race to the bottom, with companies competing with each other to slash pay and conditions and turn livelihoods upside down. It’s bad for the industry, it’s bad for our members and it’s bad for the wider UK economy that relies on their income.”

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Building the Chinese dream!

by New Worker correspondent

NCP LEADER Andy Brooks joined Government ministers, academics and members of the business community celebrating China’s National Day in London on Tuesday. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whose wife is Chinese, were amongst the guests, which also included General Sir Christopher Deverell and members of London’s diplomatic corps, at a reception at the Langham Hotel in London’s West End to mark the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming opened the formal part of the celebrations with a welcome speech that covered the growing links between China and Britain over the years. He said: “... a great deal can happen in six years and a great deal can be achieved. Over the past six years China has made tremendous progress both at home and in its ties with the world.

“We have put forward the ‘two centenary goals’ aimed at building the ‘Chinese Dream’.

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Partying for our Paper

by New Worker correspondent

COMRADES and friends travelled to Charlton last Saturday for the Metropolitan NCP Cell and Supporters’ Group annual garden party in south London. This has been a regular feature in London Party life for more years than many of us can remember. As usual, the table was loaded with good food made by one of our local Charlton comrades and there were plenty of soft drinks, beer and cider to wash it all down with. No New Worker event ends without an appeal for the fighting fund. This time NCP leader Andy Brooks was tasked with taking the collection, which raised £190 for our communist weekly!

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International News

French workers demand repeal of labour law

by G Dunkel

IN THE big French cities of Paris, Lyons, Tours and Nantes — and in 110 communities in all — 170,000 workers and students came out on 15th September to demand repeal of the new labour law, which was pushed through Parliament without a vote and went into effect on 21st July.

This was the 15th national demonstration and strike against the law, the first since the summer vacation. Some trains, mass transit and airline flights were impacted by the strike, and some sharp skirmishes were held between demonstrators and the police, who were very aggressive.

The struggle of French workers against this repressive labour law has won a great deal of international solidarity. Workers’ organisations in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, Réunion, the Comoros and Argentina have sent messages of solidarity, according to the CGT, one of five French labour confederations.

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Rosetta tragedy fresh reminder of Western responsibility

by Wu Zhiqiang

The death of more than 160 people in the sinking of an overloaded ship off Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Rosetta has once again focused world attention on the plight of refugees and migrants. And on the causes behind tragedies like this.

The refugees, or migrants, however you describe them, were fleeing war and poverty for a safer, better life somewhere else.

A multitude of reasons may be given as to what caused the wars and the poverty, but the West cannot shirk their responsibility.

Colonial rule by western powers in past centuries and their interventionist policies in recent decades both played a part.

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Russian campaign’s most important achievement


MAINTAINING Syria’s statehood and identity is the most important achievement of the Russian aerial anti-terrorist campaign in the Arab country, says the Syrian State Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar.

“Maintaining the state with its identity and its current functions, determined by the Syrian people, and with the leadership elected by the Syrian people, is the most important achievement after one year of Russian troops’ involvement [in the operation],” Haidar said. He added that Russia had also played a crucial role in the establishment of truces and provision of humanitarian aid to the crisis-torn Syria’s regions.

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Mother Theresa

by Rob Gowland

I SEE the Catholic Church has created yet another saint to add to its enormous collection of accredited miracle workers. The curious idea that certain pious individuals can do the impossible, namely work miracles, dates back to the so-called “dark ages”, a period in European history when learning was under the domination of the Church and ignorance was rife. Science was virtually non-existent and everything — whether natural phenomenon or human condition — was explained as the act of an omniscient and omnipotent God.

Beliefs that were prevalent in the 6th or 7th century are still to be found today amongst masses of otherwise intelligent, educated people.

In conditions of ignorance, superstition flourishes, so it was hardly surprising that deeply religious monks and nuns venerated artefacts and “relics” and imbued them with magical qualities. These beliefs were in turn fostered amongst the mass of the people, who looked to the Church for knowledge and guidance. Religious hysteria was never far below the surface, leading to ecstatic reports of encounters with angels, visits from the mother of God and all sorts of assorted other “miracles”.

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Mike Baird

Guardian - Australian communist weekly

I SEE that a couple of opinion polls show that the popularity of the Baird Liberal Party government in New South Wales (NSW) has suffered a slide. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be because of the arrogant way Mike Baird rode roughshod over widespread community opposition to his forced amalgamations of local councils. Amalgamating councils struck at the very essence of local government.

There was no community pressure for it — there was plenty of pressure for it from property developers however. Cutting down the number of councils significantly reduces the opportunities for community influence to be brought to bear on development projects.

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Hindutva surge hurts India’s peace & progress

by Baldev Padam

EARLIER we pointed out the mess in which Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of secular democratic India and also an admirer of Hindutva (India a Hindu Nation) ideology, has placed himself. The Hindutva tattooed all over his torso goes deeper into his soul, even though India’s constitution expects him to stay secular.

Hopes of growth and development on which he won federal polls stand belied, as Modi’s various foreign trips holding the “Make in India” logo in his hands failed to generate international investments and employment opportunities. Foreign Direct Investors and multinational corporations want Indian authorities to enact tax laws suitable for them, and also to ensure a peaceful environment for security of their investments and industrial infrastructure. Such guarantees are not easy for anyone to offer under the present disturbed environs in India, Modi included!

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Washington offers pittance for monstrous crimes against Laos

by Chris Fry

“We flew in real low, in front of that bastard’s house, and I threw the head so it bounced right on his porch and into his front door.” Anthony “Tony Poe” Poshepny, quoted in Asia Times, July 8, 2003.

TONY POE was a CIA operative who was part of US imperialism’s “secret war” in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s. Not only did he hurl severed heads of Pathet Lao liberation fighters out of aircraft, he also placed their heads on spikes to spread terror.

Poe paid a dollar for every severed ear that his mercenaries collected. He placed them in plastic bags and sent them to the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos’s capital. For his efforts, Poe twice received the CIA Star — the agency’s highest award.

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