SAUDI ARABIA is at the centre of US policies in both the Middle East and Central Asia. This Western ally, one of the world's biggest oil producers, is ruled by the royal family-and there is no democracy whatever. The US and Britain armed Saudi Arabia, and used it as the key military base in the war against Iraq.
TENS OF thousands of Italian activists are heading to Naples in the south of Italy two days before the Washington events to protest against a NATO summit. The authorities' fear of the protests means that the summit has been moved to an air force base six miles outside the city. Despite the police repression in Genoa, activists are determined to keep up the pressure on Italy's right wing government.
"TENS OF thousands of people plan to turn the nation's capital into a melting pot of dissent." That is how the Washington Post describes the anti-capitalist mobilisation set for Washington DC in the US in two weeks time. "We are planning large scale, well organised, high visibility actions to protest at the IMF/World Bank meetings on 29-30 September," says the Movement for Global Justice, one of the leading groups behind the protest.
THE AUSTRALIAN government has set new standards for callous treatment of refugees. Its attitude to the 460 desperate refugees rescued by the Norwegian freighter Tampa from their sinking boat on Sunday 26 August was "let them drown". John Howard, the Liberal (Tory) prime minister of Australia, has ignored the refugees' pleas to be allowed to come to Australia.
ISRAEL IS stepping up its assassination of Palestinian activists, ten months into the Palestinian uprising against Israeli brutality. The assassination policy has been endorsed by George Bush's number two, Dick Cheney.
ONE OF Spain's longest running industrial disputes has ended in victory for the workers. Telephone engineers celebrated in the centre of Madrid last weekend after their fight forced the country's Tory government to concede most of their demands.
TONY BLAIR toured Latin America last week preaching the virtues of the market and neo-liberal economic policies. As he did, those very policies were bringing misery to millions across the continent. But workers and the poor are fighting back.
Over 4,000 riot police stormed into a Daewoo Motors plant in South Korea last week. They stormed the building to smash up a four day long sit-in by 700 sacked workers and their families fighting for their jobs. The security forces broke down barricades with forklift trucks and excavators.
Revolt against the "neo-liberal" policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) swept the South American country of Ecuador last week-and won. Thousands of indigenous people from the countryside marched on the capital, Quito, and occupied the city's university and the headquarters of a visiting IMF delegation.
When the leaders of the IMF and World Bank arrive in Nigeria, West Africa, next Wednesday they might find up to two million protesters on the streets across the country. One of the biggest demonstrations will be against job losses and workers being forced to pay for the country's crisis. Nigeria is in turmoil.
The discussions between Ariel Sharon, the new right wing prime minister of Israel, and leading figures of the Israeli Labour Party show how neither main Israeli party wants peace with the Palestinians.
At the recent Globalise Resistance conference in London one of the packed workshops was about what is happening in the South American country of Colombia. The discussion was introduced by JONATHAN NEALE, author of a book on the US war in Vietnam. He spoke of how the Colombian and US governments were pushing their Plan Colombia. The plan involves billions of dollars and US military "aid" to Colombia.
Workers and bosses in France were set for a major trial of strength on Thursday. All the country's major union federations have called for strikes and demonstrations against a "frontal assault" on workers' pension rights. It comes as the social and political temperature in France is rising. Strikes and demonstrations have been multiplying in recent weeks. Now the Les Echos business paper worries that bosses are playing "a dangerous game". Thursday's action centres around a provocative move by the Medef employers' organisation.
Tens of thousands of people protested against the inauguration of US president George W Bush last weekend. They took to the streets in Washington, Florida and Seattle to show they are opposed to how Bush and the Republicans stole last November's election.
Mass demonstrations forced the resignation of the president of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, on Friday of last week. Over 200,000 people took to the streets of the capital, Manila, for several days last week after court proceedings against Estrada over corruption effectively collapsed.
Bill Clinton was attempting to secure a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as Socialist Worker went to press. But many Palestinians are suspicious of a deal.
Lawyers, doctors and human rights activists in Turkey are cataloguing hundreds of reports of torture and assaults on left wing political prisoners-despite state censorship.
Around 100,000 Czechs demonstrated in Prague's Wenceslas Square last week in support of striking journalists at the state-owned television station. The journalists have been occupying the studios of the station since Christmas Eve in protest at the appointment of Jiri Hodac as the new director general. A parliamentary committee appointed Hodac, who is close to the pro-business leader of the opposition, Vaclav Klaus, who wants to privatise state television. Hodac has already sacked key managers in his attempt to control the content of news broadcasts.
WHILE BILL Clinton, the outgoing US president, attempted to broker a new peace deal between Israel and Palestine over Christmas and the new year, Israeli troops continued their brutal murder of Palestinians.
YOUNG WORKERS at McDonald's in France have shown how to take on the fast food multinational and win. McDonald's workers struck and occupied the Boulevard St German outlet in the centre of Paris just before Christmas. Their 15-day occupation won huge support.