LUIS INACIO "Lula" da Silva came within a hair's breadth of winning the Brazilian presidential election on Sunday. The former left wing socialist and strike leader got 47 percent of votes, almost double that of any other candidate. Lula fell just short of the 50 percent he needed to win outright, and will now face a run-off on 27 October against Jose Serra.
UP TO 500,000 workers demonstrated in Madrid in Spain last Saturday against the right wing government's attacks on workers' rights. The demonstration is a continuation of a struggle that included a general strike in June. Spanish leader Jose Maria Aznar is a key ally of Blair in Europe.
HUNDREDS OF thousands of workers went on strike across South Africa against the policies of the ANC government last week. Bosses and the government claimed the strike was a flop but the Cosatu union federation, which called the action, disputed their figures. Cosatu leaders said that up to 60 percent of their members had taken part in the strike.
German Social Democrat leader Gerhard Schröeder has edged ahead in the polls by opposing George Bush's war drive in the run-up to Germany's general election on Sunday. Three polls at the end of last week put Schröeder, leader of the German equivalent of the Labour Party, a couple of points ahead of his challenger Edmund Stoiber, a hard right Tory.
AUSTRIA IS heading for a general election in November following the collapse last week of the Tory/far right government. The coalition's collapse is the result of a deepening polarisation between left and right.
THE SPANISH government this week won a parliamentary vote to make the Basque nationalist political party Batasuna illegal. Batasuna is the political wing of the ETA armed group. We spoke to INAKI ORTIZ of Socialist Worker's sister paper in Spain, En Lucha.
NEW LABOUR, the Tories and the US government are all trying to blame Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, for famine in southern Africa. They use the same language of "regime change" that we hear used about Iraq. On Wednesday of last week George W Bush's top adviser on African affairs said that the US wants Mugabe out, and that he had "stolen an election". This is breathtaking hypocrisy from the people who are in the White House because they stole the Florida election for Bush.
WORKERS ACROSS Uruguay halted the Latin American country in a general strike on Thursday of last week in protest at the economic meltdown. There is a run on the country's currency, and the much vaunted financial sector is crippled.
THE FAR right in Turkey held a demonstration last weekend against the government's proposals to lift the death penalty and ease restrictions on Kurdish speakers. It is a sign of the deepening crisis inside the country. The prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, is putting the changes forward as part of Turkey's bid to join the European Union (EU).
POLICE IN the Philippines violently broke up protests against the government on Monday 22 July. Over 5,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Manila. They surrounded the government's legislature building as the president, Gloria Arroyo, was due to give a state of the nation address outlining her government's agenda. Protesters denounced US troops being deployed in the Philippines and training the army.
THE ATMOSPHERE in Venezuela today is very much like what it must have been in Chile in the middle of 1973. That was when General Pinochet, backed by the US, organised a coup to crush a democratically elected left wing government.
IN THE week before the bombing of Gaza City, a delegation of health workers, students and academics from Britain visited the West Bank and Gaza to show solidarity with the Palestinians. Nothing quite prepared our delegation for the everyday oppression. The bombing of civilians and children in Gaza was a consequence of the collective punishment Israel metes out to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
OVER 150,000 anti-capitalists rallied in Genoa in Italy last Saturday, marking a year since the protests against the G8 summit when Carlo Giuliani was killed by the police
Council workers in South Africa have won big concessions over pay after a national strike lasting almost three weeks. The Samwu municipal workers' union won a £14 a month increase in the minimum wage and a 9 percent increase for most of its members. The employers' body had earlier refused to budge from 8 percent.
AROUND 150,000 people marched through the Italian city of Genoa last weekend to mark the first anniversary of the anti-capitalist protests against world leaders at the G8 summit. In a moving show of defiance and solidarity, protesters commemorated the police killing of protester Carlo Giuliani last year. "Carlo is alive and fighting through us," was one of the march's slogans. Students occupied the Diaz school, where police viciously attacked sleeping protesters last year, for three days before the protest.
THE HEAD of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sensationally admitted last week that international bankers had forced a desperately poor African country to sell grain just as a famine began. They demanded that the life-saving grain was sold in order to repay debts.
OVER 100,000 South African council workers started their second week on all-out strike on Tuesday. They are fighting for a minimum wage of £150 a month. At present the minimum wage is £125 a month.
THE GOVERNMENT of Turkey, a key US ally, stands on the brink of collapse. A string of cabinet ministers and leading MPs have resigned from the Democratic Left-the party of Turkey's prime minister, Bulent Ecevit-over the last two weeks. Now a group of nine dissident party members are demanding radical change and the removal of Ecevit, its veteran leader.
THE DEBATE at a Tower Hamlets council meeting in east London last week took an unusual turn. Campaigners took advantage of a little used procedure to table a motion calling for the council to officially "twin" with the Palestinian town of Jenin.
IN RECENT months metal workers, postal workers, print workers, construction workers, bank workers, telecoms workers and others have been on strike. It is amazing that these strikes are happening just months before a general election, with an SPD (Labour-type) government in office and the Tories ahead in the polls.