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Posted on 7 July 2010 at 11:49 GMT

Fast News

Looting Afghanistan

FACED WITH an ever-increasing number of deaths of UK soldiers and Afghan civilians, prime minister David Cameron says this is a price worth paying for 'good governance' in Afghanistan.

But to suggest that the Karzai regime in Kabul is anything but rotten and corrupt is pure fiction.

Apart from the cash Afghan government officials obtain from the opium trade, US investigators believe the same bureaucrats - who include the vice-president and the president's brother Mahmood Karzai - have diverted $3 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan out of the country to financial safe havens.

This cash is literally stuffed into suitcases and flown out of Afghanistan under the noses of Nato officials, typically to Dubai.

This rip-off is said to have occurred between 2007 and this year. However, new estimates suggest that more money may have been taken overland across into Iran and Pakistan.

This new figure could amount to a staggering $3.65 billion a year - in a country where the annual gross domestic product last year only totalled $13.5 billion.

Your pain, my gain

WITH THE likelihood of a 5 million cut in central government funding, Labour's executive mayor in the London borough of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, has hit on a novel fightback strategy for the hard-pressed local authority - increase his 80,000 annual salary by 4%!

In a lame attempt to justify Sir Robin's booty while at the same time imposing a two-year pay freeze on council workers, a Newham spokesman explained that the mayor's rise was forced upon him by an independent review panel. Oh the burden of leadership!

Vote rigging

GOVERNMENT MINISTERS are planning to further restrict the ability of trade unions to take industrial action in defence of jobs, pay, conditions and services.

According to media reports the government is considering taking on board suggestions from the employers' organisation, the CBI, that a strike ballot would only be valid if over 40% of those entitled to vote do so, instead of the current simple majority of those who vote.

If applied to general elections, the present government would be illegal!

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, slammed the proposals as a "declaration of war" on the trade union movement.

Health and wealth gap

THE LATEST statistics from the national audit office confirms previous reports (see issue 612, The Socialist) that the health gap between the social classes is widening.

Life expectancy is on average 77.9 years for men and 82 years for women but in areas of low income the respective figures drop to 75.8 and 80.4 years.

The National Audit Office reckons that insufficient resources have been used to improve health care in poorer areas and that some of the extra money allocated by the previous Labour government was absorbed by higher hospital costs in these areas.

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