STRIKES AND protests are erupting across France in the run up to Christmas. The implementation of the new 35 hour week law lies behind many of the disputes. Workers are demanding that bosses pay for the hours cut.
TONY BLAIR'S key ally in Europe had to turn away from New Labour's policy of letting the free market rip through the economy last week. Pressure from workers and trade unions forced German leader Gerhard Schröder to stump up £80 million of government money to save 28,000 jobs.
NEW ZEALAND'S Tories were booted out of office at the weekend as voters rejected 15 years of free market madness. In 1984 the country's Labour government let the market rip. It sold off public services, passed vicious anti-union laws and doled out tax cuts to the rich. The nine year National (Tory) government that followed carried on in Labour's footsteps. The gap between rich and poor increased more in New Zealand than in any other Western country. Today one in ten households are forced to ask for food handouts.
AN APPEAL court in Turkey upheld the death sentence on Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan last week. The five judges said Ocalan's original trial had been "conducted in accordance with legal procedures".
POLICE DRENCHED the centre of the Greek capital, Athens, with teargas to disperse mass demonstrations against US president Bill Clinton on Friday of last week. Over 30,000 people battled to get near government buildings and the US embassy. They chanted anti-NATO slogans and denounced Clinton as the "Butcher of the Balkans" for ordering the bombing of Yugoslavia earlier this year.
SOME 9,000 protesters demonstrated outside the US Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, last Saturday. The school has been used by the US military to train brutal right wing death squads.
A RASH of strikes swept France last week, hitting national TV and radio stations as well as public transport in the country's three biggest cities. Car workers and postal workers also took action. The strikes come against the background of a continuing political radicalisation in France.
"The financial crisis in December 1998 led to the intervention of the International Monetary Fund. They insisted on more privatisation and on letting ailing businesses close. That led to soaring unemployment in a country which, although fully industrialised, has scarcely any welfare provision."
The threat of mass demonstrations forced US president Bill Clinton to postpone his planned visit to Greece last week. That Clinton did not dare spend two days in Athens is an inspiration to everyone who opposes the US military bullying its way around the world. In a humiliating address to people in Greece, Clinton conceded that the threat of protests had kept him away.
Some 6,000 nurses, two thirds of the national total, began a strike in Zimbabwe last week. This came a few days after striking doctors went back to work, victorious after a long strike. The striking nurses are demanding better pay after doctors won their fight for better pay and conditions for staff and patients.
RUSSIA IS pursuing a brutal and relentless war in Chechnya, deliberately copying the tactics used by NATO to devastate the Balkans. Last weekend Russian leaders ordered the entire population of Grozny, the Chechen capital, to leave the city. The military is ready to destroy the entire city. The evacuation of the city will add tens of thousands of refugees to the 300,000 already fleeing the fighting.
RIGHT WING forces celebrated last weekend as they heard the result of the Australian referendum on whether the queen should remain the country's head of state. Australian voters narrowly rejected a proposal to establish a republic, headed by a president, by 54 to 46 percent. In Britain the vote was enough to convince many of Prince Charles's advisers that he can look forward to renewed public support in this country if he becomes king.
Doctors in Zimbabwe, southern Africa, have won big concessions from the government after a strike lasting over a month. They fought not only for better pay, but also for better patient care. Zimbabwe's health service is in crisis. The government's pro-market policies and its attempts to cut back on welfare mean the most basic equipment is in short supply.
Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians struck and demonstrated on Wednesday of last week against unemployment and recession caused by the government's free market policies. The strike and protests were organised by the CUT union federation and involved students and landless farmers as well as workers.
BOMBS SMASHED into a refugee convoy, slaughtering at least 25 civilians and injuring over 150 people. This could have been a scene of horror from NATO's war in the Balkans. But the bombing happened last week - the latest atrocity in Russia's increasingly horrific war against Chechenia. The Red Cross said the refugee convoy was clearly marked and visible from the air. Two Red Cross workers were also killed in the bombing.
A JUDGE has ordered a stay of execution for Mumia Abu Jamal, the former Black Panther on death row in the United States. Mumia, who was framed for the killing of a police officer, had been given a date for execution, 2 December. But now Judge Yohn has allowed additional hearings to be allowed.
THE HORRIFIC result of NATO's war in the Balkans continues. Last week a column of Serb refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing was set upon by Albanians. Dutch troops stopped the attack. But a UN representative with the Serb convoy said, "I'm surprised I wasn't burned alive in my car."