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July 16, 2016

British rail minister Claire Perry steps down

British rail minister Claire Perry steps down

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

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British Rail minister Claire Perry resigned on Thursday evening, after continuing problems with Southern Rail.

File photo of Claire Perry, 2015.
Image: Paul Bigland.

Southern has an ongoing dispute with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) about increasing driver-only services, without conductors or guards. The union objected, citing concerns about job losses and driver safety.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said “This utter mess is now an embarrassment to our city” and that he was “calling on the government to strip Southern of its franchise and take over the temporary responsibility of running these services.” Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin focused instead on the union, saying “Most industrial disputes are about threats to employment or conditions so the RMT’s attitude is absurd. There is no threat to safety, no threat to jobs, no threat to pay and yet they continue disrupting passengers’ lives on a daily basis.”

In an attempt to reduce cancellations and delays, on Monday the company cut 341 trains a day, in light of the current staff shortages. They said since this change the trains’ reliability improved from 60% on-time to 80%.



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June 13, 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, May 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, May 2016

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Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 United States presidential election
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The following is the first edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: a former Republican congressman briefly joins the Libertarian Party and runs for vice president; the Democratic Party names its National Convention Platform Drafting Committee amid controversy; and Wikinews interviews a candidate who had a surprisingly strong performance in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary.

Summary

On the campaign trail in early May, the Republican Party primary race grew more contentious as it reached its final stages. On the same day as the May 3 Indiana primary, Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who held a sizable delegate lead over his two remaining primary challengers, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, cited the National Enquirer to accuse Cruz’s father of involvement in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Cruz, whom Trump branded as “Lyin’ Ted,” attacked Trump as a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer.” Trump won Indiana by a large margin, prompting the second place Cruz to end his campaign. Thereafter, both the media and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus christened Trump as the presumptive nominee, even though he had yet to secure the requisite number of National Convention delegates. The next day, Kasich finally suspended his candidacy. As Trump pivoted into general election mode, he faced a vocal Stop Trump movement within the party and a significant polling deficit against the Democrats. A national CNN/ORC poll showed Trump trailing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton by double digits. Nevertheless, unlike the GOP, the outcome of the Democratic primary race remained undecided. Although Clinton maintained a significant delegate lead, a CNN poll showed her ahead of sole rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, by only eight points. In fact, Sanders won the Indiana Democratic primary, making nine victories out of the latest fourteen contests to that point.

Donald Trump with a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo.
Image: Donald J. Trump on Twitter.

Commencing his general election campaign, Trump announced he would participate in fundraising after self-funding his primary campaign. He named former presidential rival, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head a group to search for a running mate. And, in a show of pro-Hispanic sentiment, he tweeted a photo of himself with a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo. Still, the Republican Party remained divided. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he would not commit to endorsing Trump. He called for Trump “to set aside bullying, […] belittlement, and appeal to higher aspirations.” Ryan’s comments drew criticism from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, among others. However, former candidates Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush, as well as former Presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush, all said they could not support Trump’s candidacy. 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol both called for an independent presidential candidate to run as an alternative to Trump. Ryan called this “a disaster,” and sought unity by inviting Trump to a Republican congressional leadership meeting and offering to step down as chair of the GOP National Convention if Trump so desired. Despite the internal strife, Trump continued his focus on the general election, branding Clinton as “crooked Hillary,” and attacking her for “want[ing] to abolish the Second Amendment.” He also pivoted on policies, advocating for a rise in the federal minimum wage and taxes on the wealthy. The campaign announced that five or six names were on the vice presidential shortlist including former presidential candidate Chris Christie. Quinnipiac polls showed Trump leading or close behind Clinton in head-to-head match ups in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Clinton won the caucus in Guam and the campaign shifted to West Virginia and Nebraska. On the eve of the May 10 primaries, Cruz, still on the ballot in Nebraska, announced he might restart his campaign if he won the state. Instead, Trump won Nebraska by a wide margin and won West Virginia by an even wider margin. On the Democratic side, Sanders won West Virginia as voters turned on Clinton after she expressed unencouraging views about the coal industry. ABC News exit polling there revealed nearly half of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Trump if Clinton won the nomination.

Vice President Joe Biden, who had been expected to mount a 2016 campaign until he ruled it out in late 2015, admitted in an interview with ABC that he had planned to run for president in 2016 but the plans derailed upon the death of his son Beau. He revealed Senator Elizabeth Warren as his preferred running mate and endorsed her for the Democratic vice presidential nomination. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada cautioned Democrats against nominating a sitting Senator like Warren to avoid decreasing the number of Democrats in the Senate. Trump launched an assault on Warren, referring to her as “goofy” and Pocahontas for a previous claim of Amerindian ancestry. On May 12, Trump had his much anticipated meeting with Ryan. Afterwards, the two issued a joint statement calling the meeting “a very positive step toward unification.” Ryan still withheld his endorsement though Trump asked Ryan to remain as chair of the National Convention. Polls from mid-May showed Trump edging closer to Clinton in national head-to-head match ups, as Trump faced a barrage of controversies. Both Clinton and Romney called on Trump to release his tax records. He said he might release them, but maintained it was “none of [the public’s] business.” Media reports also scrutinized Trump for allegedly acting as his own publicist in the early 1990’s. He denied the allegations outright. Next, The New York Times published an exposé about Trump’s treatment of women throughout the years. The validity of the story came into question when the lead interviewee claimed The Times had taken her account out of context. On May 17, Trump easily won the Oregon primary. The next day, for the first time in months, a Fox News poll showed him with a national lead over Clinton. That same day, he released a list of eleven judges whom he would consider nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court. He later received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association. In the Democratic race, Sanders won the Oregon primary and narrowly lost to Clinton in Kentucky. He was also able to add five of his supporters to the Democratic National Convention platform drafting committee, ensuring greater influence over the party platform. Clinton rejected a debate with him and announced there would be no further primary debates. Trump offered to debate Sanders, which Sanders accepted, though Trump later backed out. Clinton went on the offensive against Trump for his past business bankruptcies, saying he “could bankrupt America like he’s bankrupted his companies.” She won the Washington primary on May 24. However, the next day, an Inspector General report said she did not comply with State Department policy when she sent official e-mails on a private server while Secretary of State.

Following a victory in the Washington Republican primary, Trump traveled to New Mexico, where the sitting Republican governor Susana Martinez snubbed his event. Trump attacked Martinez during the rally, later asking, “If I have a Republican that’s not on my side, why should I be particularly nice to that person?” Shortly thereafter, during a speech in California, he renewed attacks against Romney, Cruz, Kristol, and Jeb Bush. Former rival Marco Rubio announced he would release the delegates he won during the primary to support Trump and said he would be willing to go on the campaign trail for Trump, if asked. Rubio also apologized to Trump for derogatory comments he made earlier in the campaign. Trump mathematically secured the Republican nomination, when an uncommitted slate of delegates in North Dakota committed to supporting him. Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party commenced its National Convention and nominated for president, on the second ballot, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee. Also on the second ballot, for vice president, the party nominated Johnson’s pre-selected running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, who had just left the Republican Party to become a Libertarian. Trump called Johnson a “fringe candidate.” Johnson was not the last such candidate introduced in late May. Seemingly ending his search for an alternative to Trump, Kristol tweeted that he had found an “impressive” independent candidate. Bloomberg reported the candidate was little-known writer David A. French of the National Review. On the final day of May, Trump held a press conference in which he revealed the veterans charities he donated to after raising $5.6 million during a fundraiser he held in January in lieu of attending a debate. Trump excoriated the national press for its coverage of his campaign and referred to one reporter as “sleaze.” With the June 7 California primary ahead, Clinton received the endorsement of California Governor Jerry Brown. The latest polls showed her with a two point advantage over Sanders in the state. In the Real Clear Politics average, she led Trump in the general election nationally by 1.5%.

Ex GOP congressman joins LP, seeks VP, then leaves

As soon as Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, Libertarian Party (LP) membership applications doubled. Longtime Republican consultant Mary Matalin, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, and former Congressman Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, were among those who left the GOP in May to find a new home in the LP. While Matalin enthusiastically backed Libertarian presidential runner-up Austin Petersen, and Weld won the party’s vice presidential nomination; Bentivolio, who had endorsed Dr. Ben Carson for president before joining the party, had a much different experience.

Congressman Bentivolio
Image: United States Congress.

“It was suggested by a few supporters I run [for vice president] as a libertarian,” says Bentivolio, a teacher and veteran of the Vietnam and Iraq wars, who earned the moniker “the accidental Congressman” after his surprising 2012 election, “I briefly entertained the idea of running and spent time investigating the party.”

Bentivolio, 64, unexpectedly won the Republican nomination to represent Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in 2012, after the sitting Congressman, Thaddeus McCotter, a 2012 presidential candidate, was unable to run for re-election after his petitions to qualify for the primary ballot were deemed fraudulent. Upon his victory in the general election, Bentivolio went to Washington, joining the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He took an active role in introducing and sponsoring successful legislation, becoming, according to an historian of the House, one of the most effective freshmen Congressmen of recent times. GovTrack listed him as the most transparent Republican freshman in the 113th United States Congress. Nevertheless, during his single term, he frequently bucked the party leadership, voting against a resolution to the 2013 government shutdown, calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama, and agreeing to seek congressional hearings over chemtrails. In 2014, Bentivolio lost his seat to attorney Dave Trott, a primary opponent with a fundraising edge and the backing of the Republican establishment. After leaving Congress, Bentivolio suffered financial difficulties and had to file for bankruptcy in 2015, partly the result of his expensive primary campaign against Trott.

When Bentivolio joined the LP in May, he filed a Form 2 with the Federal Election Commission to run for vice president. Libertarian national chairman Nicholas Sarwark encouraged Bentivolio to run for his old congressional seat in addition to vice president. This was not well received by the local Libertarian Party, which feared such a run would violate Michigan’s sore-loser law; the same law that prevented Gary Johnson from appearing on the ballot in 2012. As a consequence, the local party nominated another candidate to run for the seat.

“The district delegates [five in total] voted for another as the House candidate”, recounts Bentivolio, “[the candidate’s] wife was the deciding vote.”

Afterwards, Bentivolio expressed doubt about the party platform, saying it amounted to “judicial supremacy,” which he rejects, referencing the 1857 Dred Scott case, which affirmed the rights of slaveholders. He added, “I am 100% pro-life and an abolitionist and many in the Libertarian Party are pro-choice and support slavery in their immigration policy.” He cited these as his reasons for ending his vice presidential campaign.

After Gary Johnson and William Weld won the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominations at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention, Bentivolio offered his perspective on Johnson and Weld. Though he considered Johnson, “a nice guy and honest,” he felt Johnson “thinks government has all the answers.” In contrast, Bentivolio said he personally believes “government is the problem” and only supports “a government within the strict limitations clearly expressed in the Constitution.” He described Weld, a Council on Foreign Relations member who proposed strict gun control measures as governor, as someone who “supports big government.”

Bentivolio has left the LP and now is an independent. He remains undecided on whether to support Donald Trump for president. To help him decide, he is currently researching claims of a woman named “Katie Johnson” who filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of rape. Trump’s attorneys dismiss the suit as a hoax.

DNC aims for unity with Platform Drafting Committee picks; controversy ensues

Every four years, the Democratic Party holds its National Convention, nominating a presidential ticket and conducting official business. One important item is the drafting of a party platform to express the party’s principles and vision for the future. A special committee is formed to draft the document. In May, fifteen individuals were named to the committee. Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz selected four of the members while the two presidential candidates picked the remaining eleven in proportion to the votes each candidate received in the primaries. Hillary Clinton, the party’s presidential front-runner, selected six. Bernie Sanders chose five, though the DNC rejected one of his original picks, a union leader, leading to charges of anti-union bias in the DNC. Still, upon the release of the names, The Nation magazine argued Sanders’ input provided the committee with a “progressive majority.” Wikinews was able to reach out to one of Sanders’ picks to see what he planned for the platform.

McKibben in 2008.
Image: Hotshot977.

For the committee, Wasserman Schultz tapped Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is to serve as the head; Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the only returning member from 2012; former Congressman Howard Berman; and Bonnie Schaefer, former Chief Executive Officer of Claire’s. Clinton selected Ambassador Wendy Sherman; Neera Tanden, head of the Center for American Progress; Ohio Representative Alicia Reece; Carol Browner, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Congressman Luis Gutiérrez; and union leader Paul Booth. Sanders picked Dr. Cornel West; Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress; James Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute; Deborah Parker, a Native American activist; and Bill McKibben, a renowned environmentalist.

Sanders speaks at a May 18 rally in Vallejo, California.
Image: Shelly Prevost.

McKibben, a Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College who co-founded the climate change awareness organization 350.org, tells Wikinews that his Vermont roots may explain why Sanders selected him for the committee. However, McKibben has worked with Sanders previously on climate and energy issues, and The Boston Globe has described him as “probably the nation’s leading environmentalist.”

“I’d like to see [the platform] reflect the fact that since the last election the planet’s climate has deteriorated dramatically, with record temperatures, melting ice, and dying coral”, says McKibben, “So that means we need to move more aggressively, both to cut our reliance on fossil fuels and to boost renewable energy.”

McKibben is not the only member who prioritizes environmental issues. Browner, who headed the EPA during the entire presidency of Bill Clinton, has worked under President Obama as the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy. While the environment is given a strong emphasis, Sanders has raised the point that labor representation on the committee is lacking.

In 2012, union leaders Donna Harris-Aikens of the National Education Association and Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO were on the committee. This year, the only union leader is Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Sanders attempted to include National Nurses United executive director RoseAnn DeMoro, but Wasserman Schultz vetoed the pick. Sanders, in a press conference, accused the DNC of “not want[ing] representatives of labor unions on the platform drafting committee.” The DNC rejected the charge.

“We worked carefully with both campaigns to ensure overall balance and representation,” says DNC spokeswoman April Mellody, “[we] have 100% confidence that the views of our allies in the Labor community will be well represented in our Party’s platform as they have always been.”

Amid the division, McKibben expresses hope that though the platform is often “forgotten not long after it’s written,” perhaps the 2016 platform “will play a role in uniting the party.”

The committee is set to convene at the 2016 Democratic National Convention July 25–28 in Philadelphia.

DNC Platform Drafting Committee


Interview with overachieving West Virginia Democratic protest candidate

In the May 10 West Virginia Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton 51.4 percent to 35.8 percent. Of the remaining 13 percent, nearly nine went to little-known protest candidate Paul T. Farrell Jr., a Huntington, West Virginia attorney who entered the race to challenge President Obama’s energy policies. Wikinews reached out to Farrell to ask a few questions about the campaign.

Results by county for Paul T. Farrell Jr.

██  5%

██ 5–10%

██ 10–15%

██ 15–20%

██  20%

Image: MB298.

During the campaign, Farrell did not hold any fundraisers and his only spending was the $2,500 filing fee to appear on the ballot. He believes Obama’s policies, which Clinton supports, have hurt the coal industry, a major sector of West Virginia’s economy. Many West Virginians, even Democrats, share this view. While mining still makes up 17 percent of West Virginia’s gross domestic product (compared to 3 percent nationally), since 2009, coal production has declined around 45 percent in the south part of the state. 332 mines have closed and almost 10,000 jobs or 35 percent of those in the industry, have been lost. West Virginia’s unemployment is the worst in the nation. According to ABC News exit polls from the primary, only 26 percent of West Virginia Democrats want to continue Obama’s policies.

Although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans roughly 577,000 to 378,000 in West Virginia, Republican presidential candidates have won the state in every election since 2000. ABC exit polls indicate a third of Democrats plan to vote in November for Trump, who has campaigned in favor of the coal industry. Trump is popular in West Virginia, having won 77 percent in the state’s GOP primary. He holds a 27 point lead over Clinton in the latest Public Policy Polling head-to-head match up.

West Virginia Democrats have a history of going against the national party establishment. Notably, prison inmate Keith Russell Judd won 41 percent in the 2012 primary against Obama, who was seeking re-election. Judd was on the ballot again in 2016, but received only 1.8 percent of the vote. Judd’s 2012 performance was one of the reasons Farrell cited for entered the race. In addition, he told the Charleston Gazette–Mail back in January that the candidates running did not share “West Virginia values.” He had hoped to secure some national convention delegates but just fell short. He was able to come in second place in the coal-rich Mingo County, where he outpaced Clinton 23.7 percent to 21.4 percent.

With Wikinews, Farrell discusses, his specific problem with Obama’s energy policy, what he is looking for in a presidential candidate, and his views on Trump.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png How were you able to get over 8% of the vote in the West Virginia Democratic Primary?

Farrell: The 2016 Democratic nominees for President of the United States support President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan executive order which we disparagingly refer to as the “war on coal.” West Virginia voters take exception to abruptly bankrupting our economy without a comprehensive plan to rebuild our infrastructure. The presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, lost all 55 counties in West Virginia. Voters did not cast a ballot for me; they cast a ballot for the candidate with “WV” listed after his name in protest to Mrs. Clinton’s energy policy.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png Do you plan on supporting the Democratic presidential nominee come November?

Farrell: No. I will support the candidate that adopts a platform that rebuilds our economy which President Obama dismantled and pledges to pass legislation during his/her first “100 days.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump?

Farrell: Mrs. Clinton made the campaign promise to put “coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Mr. Trump says he will fight for West Virginia. Even if Mr. Trump is full of shit, I choose to fight rather than surrender. Most of the southern coal fields of West Virginia stand with me.



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January 21, 2016

Detroit teachers stage sickout to protest working conditions as Obama visits

Detroit teachers stage sickout to protest working conditions as Obama visits

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A majority of Detroit public schools were closed yesterday due to a coordinated “sickout” of teachers. This work stoppage was the latest in a series of showdowns with state government and was timed with an arrival by the President to attend an auto show. Activists used the opportunity to hold rallies to air their grievances publicly.

Educators have staged several work stoppages to protest the dilapidated state of public schools as well as Governor Rick Snyder‘s plan for the schools, which involves spliting the school district in two. Yesterday’s protest closed over 85 schools and followed last week’s efforts which shut down more than 60 and prompted visits to school sites by Mayor Mike Duggan and inspectors. Detroit Public Schools is several hundred million dollars in debt and has been under the administration of emergency manager Darnell Earley for a year.

The “sickout” strategy attempts to sidestep Michigan law which prohibits teacher strikes. Schools have been found with mold in walls, crumbling infrastructure, and infestations.

In response to the sickout, the school district has filed a lawsuit and sought an injunction against the union as well as individual activists and teachers.



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May 17, 2015

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

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Jim Murphy yesterday announced he intends to stand down as Scottish Labour Party leader next month, after narrowly surviving a no confidence vote. Murphy said he will present a list of suggested reforms to be made to the party, including changing the system for electing party leader to one member, one vote, upon offering his resignation at the next meeting of its national executive in June. Murphy also said he will not stand for the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016 and will “do something else”.

Jim Murphy in 2009.
Image: Steve Punter.

At a meeting in the Scottish city Glasgow yesterday, the party’s national executive held a vote of no confidence in Murphy; he won by 17 votes to 14. “Today I received more support in the executive vote than I did from members of the executive when I stood for election five months ago”, Murphy said. Murphy became Scottish Labour leader in December 2014, following Johann Lamont‘s resignation from the role. Until Scottish Labour holds a fresh leadership election — its sixth in a span of eight years — Kezia Dugdale, currently the party’s deputy leader, is to assume the role of acting leader for the time being. Murphy cited concerns about Scottish Labour being divided as a contributory factor to his decision. “Scotland needs a strong Labour party; Scotland needs a united Labour party”, he said yesterday. “We have been the greatest force for change in our nation’s remarkable history. The Scottish Labour party will rise again. It will be under someone else’s leadership and I am confident about my party’s future.”

The announcement came nine days after the party lost all but one of its 41 Scottish seats, including Murphy’s East Renfrewshire constituency, to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in a UK general election, and eight days after Ed Miliband said he would stand down as leader of the UK Labour Party.

There was controversy regarding whether Murphy should retain his role following this performance. Labour Party supporters were reportedly asked to sign a letter supporting Murphy’s leadership, to be presented at the executive meeting yesterday. Calls for Murphy to resign came from multiple quarters, including trade unions Unite and ASLEF, as well as Labour MSPs Alex Rowley and Elaine Smith. Earlier in the week, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said “the anti-Scottish card that was played by Lynton Crosby and the Conservatives” had caused them to win a majority in the general election, before going on to say: “I lay the blame for that very squarely at the feet of Scottish Labour. Not only have they lost Scotland but I think they’ve been responsible for making certain that the Conservatives were back in power in Westminster.” However, trade unions USDAW and Community were amongst those supporting Murphy’s continued leadership.

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In a speech, Murphy suggested he did he did not want the party to be divided as a result of his leadership. “It is clear that the small minority who didn’t accept my election as party leader by the majority five months ago also won’t accept the vote of the Executive today and will continue to divide the party if I remain”, he said. Murphy singled out McCluskey for criticism, claiming to have “been at the centre of a campaign by the London leadership of the Unite union in blaming myself and the Scottish Labour party for the defeat of the UK Labour party in the general election. That is a grotesque insult to the Scottish Labour party.” He went on to criticise what he called McCluskey’s “destructive behaviour”, commenting that: “Whether in Scotland, or in the contest to come across the UK, we cannot have our leaders selected or deselected by the grudges and grievances of one prominent man. The leader of the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t serve at the grace of Len McCluskey and the next leader of the UK Labour Party should not be picked by Len McCluskey.”

Reacting to the news, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “I wish Jim Murphy all the very best for the future. Leadership is not easy and he deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in.” Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “Credit to [Murphy]. He stepped up and energetically campaigned for his beliefs. I wish him the best for the future.” Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the UK Labour Party, said Murphy had been a “hugely important figure” for them, adding: “Jim has given so much to the Labour Party over the last twenty years. He, I know reluctantly, took the responsibility for leading Scottish Labour at the most difficult election they have ever faced. He did so with incredible energy, purpose and dignity […] He leaves with the best wishes and thanks of our movement.”

Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie was more critical in his response, arguing the Greens should be the opposition of the Scottish Parliament instead. Harvie said Murphy’s resignation was “almost inevitable, but even as he announced it he promised to further weaken Labour’s relationship with the wider labour movement. People haven’t left Labour because of the trade unions, but because the party itself long ago strayed from its principles. Without a clear sense of purpose, it has seemed to care only about holding office instead of creating new ideas for a better society. It’s clear that the Scottish Parliament needs an opposition that’s creative and challenging, but which can act constructively too.”

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “Jim Murphy announces a managed exit in order to help the party, which is to his credit. But leaves a tough gig for whoever comes next.”

Wikinews asked Unite the Union to comment on the story and has yet to receive a response. However, Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scotland leader, earlier stated: “Jim has done the decent thing. Scottish Labour needs to recover, re-engage and reform. It can now begin that process.”

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March 11, 2014

British trade union general secretary Bob Crow dies at 52

Filed under: Archived,Bob Crow,Europe,Labor,Obituaries,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

British trade union general secretary Bob Crow dies at 52

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Bob Crow in 2012.
Image: Jarle Vines.

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the United Kingdom’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers — better known as the RMT — died today aged 52 from a suspected heart attack. Crow is widely known for leading numerous strikes by workers that led to disruption of public transport services in the United Kingdom.

After leaving school at 16, Crow started working on the London Underground fixing railway lines and felling trees. He joined a union shortly afterwards. In 1991, Crow was elected assistant general secretary of the RMT. Following the death of Jimmy Knapp in 2002, he was made general secretary. Under his leadership, the union’s membership numbers increased by more than a quarter, to 80,000 workers.

The current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said in a statement: “I’m shocked. Bob Crow was a fighter and a man of character. Whatever our political differences, and there were many, this is tragic news. Bob fought tirelessly for his beliefs and for his members.”

The current Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband said in a statement: “Bob Crow was a major figure in the labour movement and was loved and deeply respected by his members. I didn’t always agree with him politically but I always respected his tireless commitment to fighting for the men and women in his union. He did what he was elected to do, was not afraid of controversy and was always out supporting his members across the country. He was a passionate defender of and campaigner for safe, affordable public transport and was a lifelong anti-fascist activist.”

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone praised Crow, in a remark to Sky News: “He fought really hard for his members. The only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London are his members.”



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August 30, 2013

UK beer, soft drinks delivery drivers vote to strike

Filed under: Labor — admin @ 5:00 am

UK beer, soft drinks delivery drivers vote to strike

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Workers including drivers for Kuehne and Nagel Drinks Logistics (KNDL) have voted in favour of striking. KNDL, which delivers beer and soft drinks to about 30,000 locations in the UK, was in talks with Unite yesterday to try and resolve the dispute.

Trailers belonging to the firm, from file.
Image: G®iffen.

The vote is a response to a proposed restructuring in which a number of operations currently performed at the firm’s 29 distribution centres would be relocated to three new ‘super-hubs’. Although no distribution centre closures are currently planned, the union says workers fear future job losses, and are also concerned products will spend more time on the road, spoiling the taste of beer.

A Unite official said “We have tried to engage with the company but they have repeatedly failed to resolve this dispute.” A KDNL spokeswoman said “We are committed to continuing dialogue with Unite in order to reach a resolution before any action is taken.” She also pointed out Unite is yet to decide dates for the strike; Unite has described “one final chance” to resolve the dispute.

A Unite ballot of 970 KNDL employees produced a turnout of 64% of which 85% voted to strike. The distribution centres involved are mostly in England, but sites in Aberdeen, Dundee, Bathgate, and Inverness in Scotland and Swansea in Wales are also affected.

KNDL delivers high-profile brands including Britvic soft drinks and and Heineken, Kronenbourg, and Fosters beer. Customers include chains Weatherspoons, Enterprise Inns, and Trust Inns, and airports, cinemas, and leisure centres. Even Premier League football clubs are among KNDL’s delivery rounds.


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August 16, 2013

Ryanair sack, sue pilot over participation in safety documentary

Ryanair sack, sue pilot over participation in safety documentary

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Aviation

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Irish budget airline Ryanair have dismissed pilot John Goss, who has worked with the airline for 25 years, over remarks he made in a documentary about safety at the airline. Ryanair issued a statement confirming legal proceedings have been begun against Goss.

A Ryanair Boeing 737 pictured in 2006.
Image: WikiABG.

The airline is already suing the UK’s Channel 4 over Monday night’s broadcast of Secrets of the Cockpit, part of the Dispatches series, in which Goss appeared. The programme discussed the airline’s safety with a focus on fuel policy, investigating allegations Ryanair uses a bare minimum of fuel and intimidates pilots who raise concerns.

Goss, who had been due to retire in October, is a key figure of Ryanair Pilots Group (RPG), which conducted a survey of more than 1,000 flight crew. According to the RPG survey almost 90% of respondents said the safety culture was nontransparent. Two-thirds said they felt uncomfortable raising safety issues. Ryanair had told pilots anybody signing a “so-called safety petition” might be dismissed.

Pilots interviewed for the programme said they felt pressured to save fuel, the cost of which has hit Ryanair’s profits. Following an incident in Spain in which three Ryanair flights declared fuel emergencies after being diverted to Valencia the Spanish Air Authority described Ryanair flights usually landing with a bare minimum of fuel, in a report the airline dismissed as “manifestly inaccurate and factually untrue”.

One anonymous pilot interviewed by Channel 4 accused the airline of “threats and bullying”. Over 90% of those surveyed wanted a regulatory inquiry, with RPG saying the survey results were passed to the airline and the Irish Aviation Authority. RPG is not recognised by the airline which calls the group “[lacking] any independence, objectivity or reliability” and a union front.

The other pilots interviewed by Channel 4 chose to remain anonymous, with only Goss identifying himself. The airline says RPG only conducted their survey to unionise Ryanair pilots and issued a statement describing the documentary as “based on nothing more than anonymous hearsay claims made by individuals whose identity was concealed, and/or by representatives of pilot unions of Ryanair’s competitor airlines masquerading as a non-Ryanair Pilot Group”.

Ryanair claim Goss wrote to the airline saying he had no concerns about safety, stating “We will not allow a Ryanair employee to defame our safety on national television just three weeks after he confirmed in writing to Ryanair that he had no concerns with safety and no reason to make any confidential safety report”. The airline further say they “look forward to correcting Mr Goss’s defamatory claims in court”.

Channel 4 have previously stated an intent to defend the legal action against them.


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  • “Ryanair threaten legal action after documentary on fuel policy, safety” — Wikinews, August 14, 2013

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February 5, 2013

UN adds to criticism of Australian offshore centers

UN adds to criticism of Australian offshore centers

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) echoed criticism from other human rights groups yesterday as its new report called on Australia to cease the practice of holding asylum seekers in an uncertain status in its offshore facilities.

The UNHCR spent three days in January at an Australian facility located on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Following Australian mandatory policy, the more than two hundred detainees held there were detained upon requesting asylum. More than 30 children are being held at this Australian facility. The UNHCR report raised the crowded conditions at the camp as a cause for concern, as well as the impact isolation could have on the children. Australia has another facility for asylum seekers on the island of Nauru. The UNHCR report made clear Australia does not have a process for clearing the asylum seekers, which means their detention in the camps is indefinite and a violation of international human rights.

Caught in the middle of the debate is the new immigration minister Brendan O’Connor. O’Connor was named immigration minister this weekend. The following night, a boat load of 60 refugees who were approached near Christmas Island sought asylum. Monday, the UNHCR issued its report. Union leaders, amongst them Brendan’s brother Michael O’Connor who is national secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, are calling for and end to current migration deals.

A report from Monash University found immigrants have taken 200,000 jobs created during the last two years, depressing employment of young, lower skilled Australians. Polls show a 70 percent majority of Australians stand opposed to the growth in population that will result from immigration.

Amnesty International points out that those migrants held in offshore processing facilities are not typical immigrants but rather asylum seekers. It says the latter category accounts for only three percent of Australia’s influx from immigration. Moreover, Amnesty International says the practice of offshore facilities for asylum seekers runs afoul of Australia’s own international agreements, such as the UN Refugee Convention, and laws, Australian Migration Act 1958.

In August, Prime Minister Julia Gillard indicated in talks with Nauru and Papua New Guinea that Australia was interested in quickly processing the asylum seekers.



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February 4, 2013

UN adds to criticism of Australian offshore immigration centers

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Monday, February 4, 2013

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is echoing criticism from other human rights groups on Monday and its new report calls on Australia to cease the practice of holding asylum seekers in offshore facilities.

The UNHCR spent three days in January at an Australian facility located on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Following Australian policy of mandatory detention, the 221 detainees held there were immediately sent to the island upon requesting asylum. More than 30 children are also being held at this Australian facility. The UNHCR report raised the crowded conditions at the camp as a cause for concern, as well as the impact that isolation could have on the children. Australia has another facility for asylum seekers on the island of Nauru. The UNHCR report made clear that Australia does not have a process for clearing the asylum seekers, which means that their detention in the camps is indefinite and a violation of international human rights.

Caught in the middle of the debate is the new immigration minister Brendan O’Connor. O’Connor was named immigration minister this weekend. The following night, a boat load of 60 refugees that were approached near Christmas Island requested asylum. Monday, the UNHCR issued its report. Now union leaders, one of whom is his brother Michael O’Connor, who is national secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, are calling for and end to current migration deals, a stand that is increasingly popular among Australians.

A report from Monash University found that immigrants have taken 200,000 jobs that were created during the last two years and those were jobs that could have gone to young, lower skilled Australians. Polls show that a 70 percent majority of Australians stand opposed to the growth in population that will result from immigration.

Yet Amnesty International points out that those migrants held in offshore processing facilities are not typical immigrants but rather asylum seekers. It says the latter category accounts for only three percent of Australia’s influx from immigration. Moreover, Amnesty International says that the practice of offshore facilities for asylum seekers runs afoul of Australia’s own international agreements, such as the UN Refugee Convention, and laws, Australian Migration Act 1958.



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April 13, 2012

Nine Peruvians rescued from collapsed mine

Nine Peruvians rescued from collapsed mine

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Friday, April 13, 2012

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  • 13 April 2012: Nine Peruvians rescued from collapsed mine
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Ica, Peru is 300km from Lima, which is the capital.
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Nine Peruvian miners were extracted from a collapsed copper mine Wednesday morning after spending six days underground. They were trapped under the Cabeza de Negro mine in Ica, Peru since the cave-in last Thursday.

Cquote1.svg It’s pretty ugly inside. Cquote2.svg

—Freed miner

The rescue operation over the weekend was delayed by another cave-in. Workers used shovels, pickaxes, and wheelbarrows to remove more than 26 feet of earth. The only source of communication and provisions including food, water, and oxygen was a tube set in place before the shaft collapsed. Inside the mine, the men told jokes to maintain their spirits. “It’s pretty ugly inside,” said Edwin Bellido, one of the freed miners. “We slept on the ground on muddy plastic.”

President Ollanta Humala welcomed the miners as they ascended from the mine. The event rekindled Humala’s efforts to convert Peru’s illegal mines into government-recognized entities that could be regulated for safety. “This should lead us to reflect that we have to avoid these kind of risks because the results will not always be like today,” said Humala.

The nine men trapped in the southern mine will be alright after they get over dehydration and dizziness, the president said. Mining accidents killed more than 50 individuals last year in Peru’s illegal mines.



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