International News

The many faces of Greece's Yanis Varoufakis

He is an economist, academic, poet, blogger, video game consultant, libertarian Marxist, motorbike rider and accidental fashion icon. Now he’s the holder of possibly the most difficult job in the world: Greece’s finance minister.

Meet Yanis Varoufakis, SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s right hand man and the key negotiator between Greece and its creditors.

In downtown Athens, Varoufakis is well liked among the public. He is the definitive cosmopolitan, self-made man who sees himself as a citizen of Europe as much as Greece.

Obama vetoes tar sands pipeline bill

US President Obama vetoed a Republican bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline on February 24. Both houses of the Republican-dominated US Congress had passed a bill that approved building the highly controversial pipeline designed to bring crude from Alberta's tar sands in Canada to refineries in the US South.

Letter from the US: Largest civil rights march insists #BlackLives Matter, #MuslimLivesMatter

Tens of thousands gathered in the North Carolina capital of Raleigh on February 8 for what organisers called the largest civil rights rally in the South since the famous Selma march in 1965.

The Mass Moral March has been held annually to protest the right-wing state government’s attacks on voting rights, education, the environment, healthcare and women’s rights.

Ecuador: Chevron-Texaco profits from ecocide

The huge multinational US oil corporation Texaco operated in Ecuador from 1964 until 1992 (Texaco merged with Chevron in 2001).

The corporation poured 72 billion litres of oil waste and 45 million litres of crude oil over 2 million hectares of land in Santa Elena province — land which included the Amazon rainforest, rivers and agricultural land.

Texaco just poured the oil into ground-connected pipes which just poured oil directly into the rivers and forests.

Greece: Neo-Nazi threat is growing

In Greece's January 25 elections, 388,000 people voted for the fascist, neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.

The election was largely fought as a contest of hope and solidarity against fear and austerity. Radical left party SYRIZA defeated right-wing establishment party New Democracy.

SYRIZA placed first in the popular vote with 36% of votes, but the openly fascist party Golden Dawn took third place in the poll with 6.3%.

This is significant for three reasons:

Greece should expect foreign intervention

If history is any guide, it is reasonable to assume that Greece’s recently-elected left-wing SYRIZA government will be subjected to a foreign-backed destabilisation campaign and possible attempts to install a new right-wing authoritarian regime.

There is a long history in Greece of the left being suppressed by the oligarchy collaborating with outside forces.

El Salvador: Left leads polls ahead of vote

Political parties in El Salvador formally wrapped up their campaigns on February 25 ahead of local and legislative elections schedule for March 1, with polls showing the left-wing Farabundu Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) ahead of right-wing rivals.

Electors in Latin America's smallest country will head to the polls to elect mayors as well as representatives to the country's Legislative Assembly.

SYRIZA's support grows, laws targetting social crisis drafted

Support for the Greek government headed by radical left party SYRIZA is growing, new polls show. The polls also found high support for SYRIZA's negotiations with its creditors, which secured a deal to extend its loans package by four months.

The deal came with significant concessions to the institutions that have imposed austerity on Greece, which led to strong criticisms from SYRIZA's Left Platform.

United States: Radical mayor candidate comes second in Chicago

Radical candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus Garcia finished in second place in the first round of the city’s election on February 24.

Incumbent Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff for President Barak Obama from 2008-2010, failed to reach the 50%-plus-one threshold, so there will be a runoff election.

The New York Times said: “It was a serious blow after a campaign in which Mr. Emanuel had a huge fundraising edge over lesser-known opponents, not to mention an in-person endorsement last week from President Obama in his adopted hometown.”

Barack Obama's plans for Cuba

A second round of talks between US and Cuban diplomats began in Washington on February 27, with the aim of restoring diplomatic relations.

US President Barack Obama announced, in what he termed the most significant Cuba policy shift in more than 50 years, that he will pursue diplomatic relations and urge Congress to dismantle the US blockade of Cuba.

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