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Refugees need our support this winter

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The refugee crisis has not gone away and the need for solidarity and aid is as great as ever. The destruction of the the “Jungle” last autumn, however, has meant that the issue has drifted down the news agenda. Now as winter approaches thousands of refugees face the prospect of sleeping in the woods around Calais and Dunkirk, under the motorways of Paris and in the parks of Brussels.

We visited these sites with Care4Calais in August and September. This is what we found:

Build on crucial anti-racist conference

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There have been growing signs that forces on the far right are reorganising and making gains of late.

The idea you could go to protest racism and be killed by a Nazi in a vehicle reverberated around the world after Charlottesville in August. At the end of September the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) had 94 MPs elected in Germany. In October the fascist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) came third, winning just one seat fewer than the Social Democratic Party.

US-North Korea standoff adds to instability

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North Korea’s latest ballistic missile tests prompted US president Donald Trump to respond with threats of “fire and fury”. The heightened state of tension in the Korean peninsula is unlikely to lead to an immediate war. However, it is certain to add to the instability in the region, at the root of which lies growing rivalry and bickering among imperialist powers.

Wishy-washy review won't fix gig economy

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What has happened to employment in the modern era of the “gig economy” and “zero hour contracts”? And what should be done about it?

The Taylor Review, or “Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices” to give it its full title, was supposed to answer these questions. However, its arrival on 11 July was something of a damp squib.

After Grenfell: joining the dots

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Grenfell Tower was a disaster waiting to happen. I’ve been responsible for looking after council tower blocks in the past, including some with cladding. I shudder to think about it now.

Grenfell could have happened anywhere. The lack of adequate fire safety is a deadly symptom of how council housing has been neglected for decades. Its mismanaged decline is the result of deliberate government policies of underinvestment and denigration.

Middle East spins deeper into crisis

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Foreign intervention is pushing the Middle East into a series of wars with no end in sight.

The war in Syria and Iraq is threatening to spill into a war between the Saudis and Iran, Turkey is preparing to crush the restive Kurdish regions, while the prospect of a defeat for ISIS threatens a deeper and bloodier struggle over its old strongholds.

Hurricane Katrina and the 'cleansing' of social housing

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Grenfell has been referred to as a “Katrina moment”. Care must be taken with that comparison. But the reaction of the establishment would certainly be recognised by working class people in New Orleans.

Theresa “Antoinette” May’s detachment and ignorance call to mind Barbara Bush’s comment in 2005 that for people who lost their home after the hurricane and were living in shelters things were “working very well” because they were “underprivileged anyway”.

Editorial: Class war at the polls

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On Monday 22 May, a few days before we went to press, Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people. The horror of this attack, targeting young people attending a concert, pulled the general election campaign to a sudden halt.

Theresa May’s immediate response was to announce that the terror threat level had been raised to “critical” and to put 5,000 troops on the streets of Britain, as well as formally suspending national political campaigning for the rest of the week.

Proposed social care plan 'worse than US Medicaid'

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The Tory social care funding plans aim to extend to care in your own home, charges which individuals already have to pay if they move into residential care.

As it stood before the election, anyone with assets over £23,250 had to pay the full cost of their care if they move to a care or nursing home. Care costs in homes are high, with one in ten older people spending more than £100,000 in their lifetimes; £700 per week for residential care or an average of £1,000 per week for a nursing home place.

Tory NHS spending is a bung to privatisers

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In the days following the publication of the Tory manifesto the Telegraph trumpeted “Tories pledge £8bn rise in NHS spending.” It added, “Conservatives would also triple the fees charged to migrants for using the NHS, to help raise more funds from overseas patients.”

The overt racism of this proposal shouldn’t surprise us. But what of the £8 billion pledge? The figure is over the course of the next government, so roughly £1.6 billion per year.

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