THE BATTLE to defend workers' pension rights in France is at a critical stage this week. The Tory government has been rattled by last week's strikes and demonstrations. Up to two million workers joined marches across the country and many more walked out of work.
DEMONSTRATIONS took place in Germany on Saturday against government plans to cut unemployment and other welfare benefits. The government wants to make it easier for bosses to sack workers. Over 10,000 marched in Berlin. The protests came as strikes in key sectors hotted up over a demand to cut working hours.
Why support for the far right has grown
BELGIUM'S general election saw a terrifying surge in support for the far right Vlaams Blok (Flemish Block). The party is overtly racist and pushes savagely anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.
THE US has been caught out banging the war drum over North Korea. That threat has provoked such a strong public reaction that the governments of South Korea and Japan, both US allies, have distanced themselves from George Bush. The division of the Korean peninsula into two states is a relic of the Cold War. The US backed the South, while China and Russia at different times supported the North.
A POLITICAL explosion reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall is shaking Cyprus. It has the potential to overcome the tragic division of the island's people along ethnic lines-Turks in a state in the north, Greeks in the south. It could also challenge Greece and Turkey, which, along with former colonial power Britain, have fostered those divisions.
THE CARACAS city police shot dead Oscar Gomez and Jairo Moran on Friday of last week. Their "crime" was to demonstrate in support of the elected government against an upper middle class mob trying to besiege the Venezuelan capital's military barracks.
"MY GOVERNMENT will be for the excluded, the discriminated, the humiliated and the oppressed." Those were the words of Brazil's new president, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, who took office this week.
CARACAS, the capital of Venezuela, is a city divided along class lines. It is divided between the rich east central area and the western inner city area, which merges into the shanty towns around the city. Today the division is political as well as economic.
DECADES OF one-party rule in Kenya in East Africa ended last weekend and people came out onto the streets to celebrate. Election results showed that opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki had easily defeated Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta was the candidate of the outgoing leader, Daniel arap Moi. Moi became Kenya's ruler in 1978.
THREE DAYS of rage. Three days of hatred based on religious and ethnic differentiation. Three days of barbarism. That is all capitalism can offer the oil-rich and populous country of Nigeria, the world's sixth largest oil producer.
FRANCE SAW a wave of industrial protest this week in the biggest challenge to the country's right wing government since it came to office earlier this year. On Tuesday strikes and demonstrations took place across a range of public services.
THE VICTORY of Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador's presidential election on Sunday is another sign of the growing rejection of neo-liberal policies and associated austerity across Latin America. Some 13 million people live in Ecuador, and 60 percent of them exist below the official poverty line.
AUSTRIA'S FAR right Freedom Party saw its support collapse in the country's general election last weekend. The party caused shock across Europe when it won 27 percent of votes in the 1999 election and joined a coalition government with Austria's Conservative Party. Last weekend its support collapsed to 10 percent. The Freedom Party's key figure is Jörg Haider, who has praised Hitler's Nazis in the past.
IMAGINE IF an unarmed United Nations official was shot by Iraqi troops while he was inside a UN compound in Baghdad. Imagine if the Iraqi army then delayed an ambulance taking the official to hospital and the man died as a result.
OVER 100 people were killed by the gas which Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered to be pumped into the Moscow theatre siege last weekend. The horror of the siege's end gave a glimpse of the brutal methods used by the Russian state in Chechnya, methods which created the hostage crisis. Putin, along with Tony Blair and most of the British press, describe the Chechens as fanatical terrorists.
STRIKES ARE on the rise in Zimbabwe. Teachers, lecturers and health workers have all taken action over the last month as living conditions have deteriorated and rampant inflation has wiped out wage increases handed out before the presidential election. The Mugabe regime has responded with bitter repression, including torture and jailings. None of this is reflected in the British papers which are so quick to raise an outcry about the "sufferings" of white farmers
THE RESULTS of the general election set to take place in Turkey on Sunday are hard to predict, with opinion polls notorious for their unreliability. But the political instability gripping the country is likely to be reflected in the vote. It could be that none of the parties in the current coalition government will get a single seat in parliament. An election rule designed to prevent Kurdish parties getting parliamentary seats requires any party to get 10 percent of votes across Turkey to get any MPs.
MILLIONS OF workers struck across Italy on Friday of last week in the second general strike the country has seen in six months. They were protesting against attacks on workers by the right wing government of businessman and friend of Blair, Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi wants to make it easier for bosses to sack workers.
DOCKERS IN the US began their second week on the picket lines this week. This was in response to a lockout of over 10,000 dock workers. The dockers known as longshoremen are part of the powerful and progressive ILWU union on the West Coast of the US.
UP TO 80,000 workers marched through Paris last Thursday to protest against the French Tory government's plans to privatise key industries. The protest and strikes which accompanied it were the first major challenge to the Tories since they came to office earlier this year