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A selection of links to political news. The lobbying bill discussed in Parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday has not been addressed by corporate media.

Firefighters to stage five-hour strike next week

“No firefighter wants to strike, and it’s desperately disappointing that governments in Westminster and Cardiff continue to deny reality over pensions costs and the need for a pension scheme that reflects the job firefighters do.

“Firefighters simply cannot be expected to fight fires and rescue families in their late 50s and into their 60s.” …

UK asylum seekers ‘told to prove they are lesbian or gay’

In the report produced by the Home Affairs Committee, they expressed concerns over the way the UK Border Agency made decisions and highlighted the 30 per cent of appeals against initial decisions approved in 2012.

They noted the 32,600 asylum cases backlogged from 2011 which had yet to be resolved, with some waiting up to 16 years in extreme cases.

They also focused on the way asylum seekers who claim to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex are treated. The report found they faced “extraordinary obstacles” in persuading immigration officers of their case.

In the report, it said: “The battleground is now firmly centred in ‘proving’ that they are gay. In turn, this has led to claimants going to extreme lengths to try and meet the new demands of credibility assessment in this area, including the submission of photographic and video evidence of highly personal sexual activity to caseworkers, presenting officers and the judiciary.”

The committee stressed “it is not appropriate to force people to prove their sexuality if there is a perception that they are gay.”

Its chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, told BBC News: “It is absurd for a judge or a caseworker to have to ask an individual to prove that they are lesbian or gay, to ask them what kind of films they watch, what kind of material they read. …

Royal Mail share buyers profit as price soars

… Royal Mail shares, which the government sold at 330p, started trading at 450p on Friday morning and peaked as high as 459p before settling at 445p at 9am.

The steep share price rise will heighten accusations that the government “massively shortchanged” taxpayers by significantly undervaluing the 500-year-old national institution.

Royal Mail’s market value has risen by more than £1.1bn to £4.5bn. The government valued the company at a maximum £3.3bn, and attacked analysts who valued Royal Mail at £4.5bn as “way out”. …

Driving age could be raised to 18 in UK – with a curfew and strict rules for recently-qualified drivers

The driving age in the UK could be raised to 18 and a curfew introduced for newly-qualified drivers, under recommendations put forward in research commissioned by the Government.

Under the proposals, prospective drivers would have to be 17 before they could begin a 12-month “learner stage”, during which they would need to complete more than 100 hours on the road and fill out a log-book recording their progress.

A “probationary” licence – and a mandatory “P” plate to go on their car – would be given only once the driver had turned 18, completed the first stage and passed their tests.

For a further 12 months the young person would be subject to a number of new restrictions, including a curfew from 10pm to 5am unless they were accompanied by an adult over 30, a ban on carrying any passengers at all under the age of 30, and stricter rules on mobile phone use (even hands-free) and alcohol consumption.

Only once all these stipulations were met would a person be granted a full licence and unrestricted driving.

Energy price rise sparks new political row over power bills

Miliband said the SSE announcement highlighted the need for a price freeze. He tweeted: “New electricity and gas prices announced today show the need to freeze bills.”

In a second tweet, he wrote: “We need an energy market which works for ordinary families and businesses.”

The SSE announcement, which prompted the Tory energy minister Michael Fallon to express his disappointment, comes at a politically sensitive moment on the issue of fuel prices. …

Guardian’s NSA revelations: spies to go under spotlight


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

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