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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 April 2010

News in brief

Lacking reserve

'DRILL BABY, drill' was the clarion call of oil hungry Republicans during the last US presidential election. But having lost to Barack Obama these Republicans now must be driving around in their SUVs hooping and a hollering with delight after the White House announcement that the president would allow oil drilling along the Atlantic coastline of the US and in large tracts of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska.

Obama, like his predecessor George Bush, says he wants to reduce the US's energy dependence on foreign sources. However, US oil reserves are only 2% of the world's total reserves and the Atlantic coastline accounts for only 6% of the 2%.

In reality, Obama is attempting to assuage conservative Democrats and some Republican congressmen so they back his climate bill. He has already made significant concessions on coal and nuclear power to woo Republicans.

Apart from disillusioning his environmentalist backers, Obama may find that 'appetite grows from eating' and that the Republican appetite for exploiting fossil fuels is insatiable.

Isa rip-off

IN THE run up to the end of the tax year (Easter Monday), the banks and building societies have been blitzing the TV and newspapers with glossy ads to entice customers to shovel more cash into Isas (individual savings accounts - introduced by Gordon Brown in 1998).

One-third of adults - around 15 million people - own an Isa. However, it seems that the greedy banks are taking savers for a ride. According to Consumer Focus (previously known as the National Consumer Council) Isa savers are being denied interest payments amounting to 1.5 billion-3 billion each year.

The government and the financial industry have been pushing the tax breaks available on Isas but conveniently downplaying the pitiful rate of interest paid on them. The average cash Isa pays only 0.41% interest despite inflation running at 3%+.

The biggest issuer of Isas is Lloyds banking group (42% owned by the government) that has 12 million such accounts, but its Cheltenham and Gloucester cash Isa only pays 0.05% interest.

Another ruse by banks is the placing of hidden obstacles in the way of customers trying to switch Isas, with 33% of switches taking longer than five weeks.

High flyers

AS BRITISH Airways cabin crew prepared to take strike action in defence of jobs, pay and working conditions last month, seven BA executives were awarded share options worth almost 3 million. This is despite the airline pleading poverty.

The most highly rewarded director under the scheme is Keith Williams, the chief financial officer, who was awarded share options worth 812,807, on top of his 440,000 basic salary.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 7 April 2010:

Defend jobs and services - Fight for a workers' alternative - Vote TUSC

General Election 6 May: A Socialist Challenge


Socialist Party editorial

Mobilise to defend the right to strike

London Underground workers balloting


Socialist Party election campaign

Stand up for the millions, not the millionaires!

Reject the parties of cuts and privatisation

Socialist Campaign launched in Coventry

New Labour meltdown in Stoke

Making an impact in Huddersfield

Hazel Must Go! opposes cuts to Salford NHS

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition


Socialist Party campaigns

Cuts bite in north west

March to defend the welfare state

Tories reveal yet more anti-gay bias

'Free schools' or free-for-all?

News in brief


Socialist Party workplace news

NUT conference again calls for action on workload

Ex-Visteon workers continue fight for pensions

Industrial news in brief


Socialist Students

Mobilise students and workers to defeat cuts and tuition fees


International socialist news and analysis

Kazakhstan: "change the politicians - or they will change you!"

Mass protests and strikes continue to shake Algeria

Tekel workers brutally attacked by police


Comment

The real lessons of the poll tax


 

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