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Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France emerged from negotiations in Minsk, Belarus on the morning of February 12, after 16 hours of talks, and announced that agreement had been reached for a ceasefire in Ukraine's civil war. The conflict has divided Ukraine since the overthrow of the unpopular, but democratically elected, president Viktor Yanukovich in February last year.
The statement below was published on Transform-network.org on February 3. It has been signed by seven out of nine presidents of Germany's trade unions, all members of the executive boards of DGB and IG Metall, and mainly Social Democratic Party politicians in Germany's parliament and the European Parliament, including two vice-chairs of SPD, as well as numerous academics. * * *
If anyone was still wondering whether European politics and a Europe-wide class struggle actually exist, reactions from all quarters to the first two weeks of Greece’s new SYRIZA-led government would have cleared up any doubts. The conflict between Europe’s ruling elite and the new Greek anti-austerity administration, headed by radical left party SYRIZA, reached a high point on February 4-5.
Germany sending refugees to Nazi concentration camps On January 27, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camp Auschwitz, the German city of Augsburg decided to turn a branch of the former concentration camp at Dachau into a refugee centre. The asylum seekers will live in a building where thousands of slave labourers suffered and died under the Nazis.
Venezuela's left-wing government has congratulated Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's radical left SYRIZA party, who won a huge victory in Greece's parliamentary elections on January 25, TeleSUR English reported. A Venezuelan government statement said: “Venezuela warmly congratulates the Syriza coalition party and Alexis Tsipras for their historic victory, wishing them success and complete solidarity and support.”
A demonstration organised by a new right-wing movement in Germany against the “Islamisation” of Europe on January 12 drew 25,000 people in Dresden ― the largest such march yet. However, anti-racist counter-rallies drew 100,000 people across Germany the same night, and 35,000 in Dresden just two-days earlier to reject the racists. Since October last year, Germany has become increasingly polarised by weekly marches against “Islamicisation by the new right-wing movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA).
Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It? John Green & Bruni de la Motte Artery Publications, 2009 50 pp., $7.25 Red Love: The Story of an East German Family Maxim Leo Pushkin Press, 2013 272 pp., $31.60 The German Democratic Republic (GDR) disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.
Nearly twenty-five years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, socialist party Die Linke (“The Left”) looks set to form government in the eastern German state of Thuringia for the first time. After two months of uncertainty following September 14 state elections, the way was cleared for Die Linke to head a coalition government in December, alongside the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, on November 4 when nearly 70% of SPD members in Thuringia voted to enter the coalition.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is determined to blame the Russian government for the tragic deaths of 298 civilians, including 38 Australians, when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Abbott went as far as to threaten to “shirtfront” Russian President Vladimir Putin during the November 15 and 16 G20 Summit in Brisbane.
For all the supposed faults of Keynesian economics, the so-called cure of neoliberalism is proving far worse than the counter-cyclical spending disease so despised by conservatives. From the early years of the Industrial Revolution, a cycle of “boom and bust” was identified as a distinctive feature of capitalism after the first global slump in 1860. It was these crises, expected to be repeated every seven to 11 years, which led Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to predict that they would bring about the destruction of the system that engendered them.
For 48 hours, it looked as if Thursday, October 16, 2014 might join similar October Thursdays in 1907, 1929 and 1979 as another dramatic moment when sharemarket panic triggered economic downturn. However, it was not to be. The US$3 trillion slump in world sharemarket values in the first two-and-half-weeks of October had, by October 24, been partially reversed by a coordinated effort of “calm engineering” by central bankers. But how long can that treatment ― whose message to the gambling fund managers is that interest rates will stay low ― succeed?
Under the unfortunately red-hot slogan: “Stand up for Peace — In Solidarity”, about 300 participants and many day guests from nearby Berlin and Brandenburg came together from July 23 to 27 for the Ninth Summer University of the European Left. Constructive, concentrated, and communicative, people from at least 32 countries worked together during this unique annual event of the Party of the European Left and Transform! Europe.
The Ghetto Fights, Warsaw 1943-45 Marek Edelman Bookmarks, 2013 98 pp., $14.00 “Through the din of German cannons, destroying the homes of our mothers, wives and children; through the noise of their machine guns, seized by us in the fight against the cowardly German police and SS men; through the smoke of the Ghetto, that was set on fire, and the blood of its mercilessly killed defenders, we, the slaves of the Ghetto, convey heartfelt greetings to you.”
One hundred years ago, fighting broke out among the great powers of Europe, launching what has become known as World War I. The brutal conflict, which lasted more than four years, proved to be a decisive turning point for humanity and the socialist movement — its effects still felt strongly today.
The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler Ben Urwand Belknap, 2013 327 pages, $39.95 (hb) Throughout the 1930s, movie-goers all over the world got to see the German Nazi’s cut of every Hollywood film. Any movie touching on Germany contained no mention of Nazism or Jews. Both these silences, as Harvard University’s Ben Urwand unearths in The Collaboration, were the result of a remarkable agreement allowing the Nazis to dictate Hollywood movie content in return for Hollywood studios keeping their access to the lucrative German market.
About 300 West African refugees reached the German city of Hamburg early last year after a long and perilous journey from Libya. They had, like countless other refugees travelling from north Africa, crossed the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa the name that the group of 300 later adopted for themselves. The refugees had hoped to receive refugee status from the German state. However, authorities, deferring to European Union guidelines, refused to provide them with any sort of accommodation and tried to expel them from Hamburg.

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