National News

Pay up for London Underground cleaners!

CLEANERS employed by London Underground held a protest rally outside City Hall last Thursday, 13th October, to protest at cuts to their pay and their numbers — with sub-contracted employers expecting fewer workers to do more work for less pay.

Every day more than 3,000 cleaning workers clean stations, depots, trains and other facilities to ensure that London Underground can run.

These workers are low paid and in unstable employment. Cleaning work on the Tube is outsourced, and the contractors — such as ISS and Interserve — sub-contract to agencies such as AGS, who pressure workers into registering as “limited liability companies”.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Pensioners’ mystery traveller test backs RMT fight

THE NATIONAL Pensioners Convention (NPC) last week published the results of a “mystery traveller” experiment showing that driver-only trains and unstaffed stations could be illegal under the Equality Act 2010.

Their findings totally validated the position of the RMT and other transport unions in fighting attempts by the privatised train companies — backed by the Tory government — to do away with the role of guards on trains.

The “mystery traveller” experiment was carried out in August this year. As part of the experiment backed by the NPC, three Persons of Restricted Mobility (PRM) on one day took a series of train journeys on Southern Rail, from East Croydon to Chichester and back again via a different route, to test the practicalities of travel.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Dentists protest at testing migrants’ teeth

THE BRITISH Dental Association (BDA) this week condemned a call from Tory MP David Davies to examine the teeth of refugee children coming into Britain unaccompanied in order to verify their age.

A small number of children from the “Calais Jungle” refugee camp who have relatives in Britain are currently being admitted to Britain.

Most of them are teenagers and there have been accusations that some may be adults posing as children.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

99 per cent drop in legal aid for social welfare cases

A REPORT published by Amnesty International this week has revealed the impact of the 2012 cuts to legal aid funding for cases involving welfare benefits law, debt, housing, employment, immigration and family law.

Amnesty interviewed 30 people who lost eligibility because of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), as well as lawyers, law centres and organisations offering advice — many of which have been forced to close.

The report found that LASPO led to a 46 per cent drop in the number of cases in which legal aid was granted, from 925,000 in 2012—2013 to 497,000 cases the following year.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Cameron’s £1 billion ‘troubled family’ scheme failed

A SCHEME launched by David Cameron in 2011, following the riots, to correct the behaviour of around 120,000 “anti-social” families and turn their lives around, “has had no discernible impact” according to a senior civil servant.

The troubled families programme, estimated to have cost more than £1 billion, including £450 million from central government, was launched by the former Prime Minister David Cameron with the aim of tackling “a culture of disruption and irresponsibility”by targeting households with high levels of crime, unemployment, pupil truancy and use of child welfare services.

But a devastating study concludes that after four years there is no clear evidence that the programme had any serious effect, despite persistent claims by politicians that it had “turned around”the lives of tens of thousands of families and saved over a billion pounds.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Refugees are welcome

PROTESTERS gathered in Parliament Square in Westminster last Saturday to demand Government action to help refugees held in France’s infamous “Calais Jungle” camp, in a protest organised by Stand Up To Racism.

The demonstrators marched through the streets of London holding anti-racism banners and chanting: “Refugees are welcome here.” An estimated 10,000 people are living in the refugee camp in Calais, known as the “Jungle”.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The SNP Rally

by our Scottish political correspondent

THE SCOTTISH National Party’s (SNP’s) Annual Rally, or National Conference as they choose to call it, has taken place in Glasgow. Although the pre-conference Daily Telegraph headline screamed “Sturgeon faces Momentum Style Rebellion” there was nothing of the kind. SNP members don’t do rebellions, standing ovations for their leaders are more their style.

The rally is a good money making scheme for the SNP, by ripping off charities who wished to have a stall at the rally. The grandest stalls of 6x8 metres for commercial organisations cost £19,896, so the SNP clearly want to keep the riff-raff in their place. The SNP boasted that there was a discount for charities but, even so, the cheapest price was £2,985 with a booking fee of £86.57 for a stall 3x2 metres. These prices were about four times those at the 2015 conference in Aberdeen. Liz Murray of the registered charity Global Justice Now lamented that the “sky high fees were in danger of excluding organisations and depriving delegates and elected representatives of access to political issues.” What did she expect from the SNP?

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Thousands march against Pinochet-era pension scheme

edited by Pavel Jacomino

TENS of thousands of Chileans in dozens of cities throughout the country marched on Sunday in the third day-of-action to demand the end of the private pension system, imposed on workers in 1981 during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

More than 70,000 people marched in the capital of Santiago alone, despite heavy rains. Luis Mesina, a spokesperson for the organisers, said that the demonstration was “an expression that Chile has definitely awakened and will not stop until we are finished with the pension system.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Legendary Donbas commander killed


ON SUNDAY night, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) militia commander Arseny Pavlov, aka Motorola, was killed in an explosion in a lift in a Donetsk high-rise. DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko called the attack a declaration of war by Kiev. Analysts warn that the brazen attack could lead to a resumption of hostilities.

Pavlov, the commander of the Sparta Battalion special forces unit, was killed after a remotely detonated improvised explosive device blew up in a lift shaft in the apartment building where he and his family lived. The DPR authorities suspect Ukrainian saboteurs to be behind the attack.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Overdue opportunity for China—Philippines relations

by Zhu Dongyang

AFTER YEARS of estrangement, the bad blood between Beijing and Manila has finally begun to give place to good faith, as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte embarked on an ice-breaking trip to China on Tuesday.

The visit surprises many around the world. It comes at a time when China—Philippines ties have nose-dived to an historical low because of the farcical South China Sea arbitration case brought by Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, against China.

In a reflection of his keenness to repair the seriously damaged relations, the new Philippine president chose China to be the first country he visits outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since taking office in June.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Hanoi life through the eyes of a British diplomat


THE STREET corners, street vendors, festivals and small hamlets of 1980s Hanoi were lively and truthfully depicted through the lens of photographer John Ramsden.

Decades later his images serve as a time capsule. Last week he released a pictorial book of about 100 monochrome photos of Hanoi, as well as others of the northern region and Ho Chi Minh City, from 1980—1982.

Ramsden was sent to Hanoi as part of the British Diplomatic Service’s mission. He travelled around Hanoi and the surrounding areas for three years to explore the life here, taking more than 1,800 photos of the daily life of Hanoians. He stored the photos for his memories. He later shared his Hanoi memories at an exhibition at the Museum of East Asia in Bath. These photos returned to Hanoi in 2013 for an exhibition.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

When coat hanger is art

by Sudeshna Sarkar & Yuan Yuan

ALTHOUGH Western audiences often get to see Chinese creations, it is an enlightening experience also for Chinese to see the works of popular Western artists. Scottish artist David Mach, who started as a sculptor and then included collage in his repertoire, is bound to come as an eye-opener to a nation where art has often been synonymous with priceless mediums, such as jade and gemstones.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Chinese archaeologist refutes BBC report


A CHINESE archaeologist has refuted a BBC report about northwest China’s Terracotta Warriors, saying that the article has quoted her out of context and overstated her remarks about western influence on the 8,000 life-sized figures.

The BBC report, released on the 12th October, said that archaeologists have found that inspiration for the Terracotta Warriors, found at the Tomb of the First Emperor near today’s Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, may have come from Ancient Greece.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


Black History Month

History will absolve her: little known revolutionary women

by Amílcar Sanatan

THERE is a “lost history” of radical women and women’s organising in the Caribbean for social and economic justice that changed our landscape for more than a century.

When we think of great leaders we think of presidents, prime ministers and heads of revolutionary movements. In our collective memory we sometimes forget the immense sacrifices of left organisers for social, economic and political change. Yet not all revolutionaries and martyrs are equal.

Working-class, non-white, activist and left women from the Global South suffer from the greatest invisibility. There is a “lost history” of radical women and women’s organising in the Caribbean for social and economic justice that changed our landscape for more than a century.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Lessons of the Clinton—Trump debate

by Teresa Gutierrez

CNN reported that the 26th September debate between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, was the most watched ever. Some 84 million people tuned in, according to Nielsen ratings. Those figures exclude the millions who watched from other countries.

In one way, it is difficult to understand why any thoughtful individual with a sense of justice, equality and peace, would bother to watch the spectacle. The two candidates are amongst the most hated presidential candidates in US history. Ever.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Boris Johnson’s Russophobic hysteria

Pravda Ru

RUSSIA’S Defence Ministry has rejected the accusations from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who claimed that Moscow was involved in the September bombardment of the UN humanitarian convoy in Aleppo, Syria. Igor Konashenkov, an official representative of the Russian Defence Ministry, demanded Johnson should back up his words with solid evidence.

According to Konashenkov, the “Russophobic hysteria” of several members of the British establishment does not impress anyone in Russia much. The Russian general called Boris Johnson’s statements “a storm in a glass of muddy London water.”

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Doctors not missionaries

by Rob Gowland

I SEE that, in Poland, the reality of what the overthrow of Socialism really means is finally beginning to sink in. About time, I hear you say? Well, yes, but remember the unfortunate history of the country, wedged between — and until the First World War, actually divided between — Czarist Russia, an expansionist Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The justly named Great War put an end to all three of those empires.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]