austerity

Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Shock followed by surprise followed by upset. The French presidential election, whose first round is April 23, is yet another expression of the political volatility produced by the aftershocks of the biggest economic recession since the 1930s and the incapacity of both neo-liberalism and social democracy to maintain support for their pro-austerity governments.

Participants at the Party of the European Left's Third Mediterranean conference in Malaga.

The Party of the European Left (PEL), which is made up of left groups across Europe, held its Third Mediterranean conference in Malaga, on the southern coast of Spain, from March 31 to April 2.

The three-day gathering brought together left-wing, socialist, anti-imperialist and anti-austerity parties from across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The movement behind weeks of social unrest in French Guiana, a French colony in South America of about a quarter of a million people, said on April 17 it would extend protest actins until the government signs a draft accord on an emergency financial package and reopens talks on further funds.

The Collective to Get Guiana Moving summed up its demands in a seven-page draft sent to the government on April 16. If accepted the movement said it would “suspend the movement in its present form”.

Presenting himself as a genuine alternative to the far-right candidate National Front and free-market candidates Francois Fillon and Emmanuel Macron, left-winger Jean-Luc Melenchon who has surged into third sport in France's presidential race, whose first round is set for April 23. The Left Party's Melenchon pitched himself as the candidate for peace and solidarity across borders at a mass meeting on April 8 attended by 70,000 supporters in Marseille.

According to federal government ministers, Medicare is unsustainable. The aged pension is also unsustainable. The NDIS is unsustainable. Many other social services are unsustainable. However, billions of dollars of tax cuts to big Australian companies are perfectly sustainable.

In the short term, the government will be stealing $5.2 billion from the public purse and handing it over in the form of tax cuts to companies with an annual turnover of up to $50 million. In the medium term the cuts go further and will cost $24 billion.

Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution is set to continue for another four years after the candidate for the socialist-leaning ruling party, Alianza Pais, Lenin Moreno, won the April 2 presidential elections run off.

With 51.16% of the vote, Moreno defeated Guillermo Lasso, managing director of Ecuador’s third-largest bank and unsuccessful candidate in the 2013 elections.

In her first address to the National Press Club as ACTU secretary on March 29, Sally McManus repeated her earlier statement that it was right to break unjust laws.

She said Australia’s workplace laws were broken and that “wage theft” had become the new business model for too many employers. McManus also set out the ACTU’s case for a $45 a week increase in the minimum wage.

US President Donald Trump promised to cut through the disarray in the two parties of capitalism in the US by forcing on them a new strongman – himself – who knows how to get things done and make deals.

But the Republican health insurance debacle, with Trump’s replacement to Obamacare being withdrawn due to lack of support in Congress, not only cut him down to size, but represented the triumph of that very disarray over the new president. The strongman proved to be not so strong and the dealmaker could not close the deal.

Here we go again. The second version of the Omnibus bill that the Turnbull government is trying to drive through parliament — the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017 — promises yet more savage attacks on welfare recipients and the working poor, and we haven't even seen the 2017–18 budget yet.

Rene Perez, aka Residente, co-founder and lead singer of Puerto Rican band Calle 13, has slammed the United States for being one of the most “racist” countries on the planet. 

“[US president Donald] Trump helped identifying the racists, you can see them with the little cap,” Residente said this month, alluding to the red “Make America Great Again” headwear that is popular with Trump supporters.

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