Letter from

Letter from Italy

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With Silvio Berlusconi's government embroiled in fresh controversy, new struggles are taking off, writes Phil Rushton.


Photo: Elizabeth Austen

In the months after the election of the Berlusconi government in 2008 an overwhelming sense of gloom took over the Italian left. But in recent months those clouds of despondency have been progressively blown away. That's not to say that there's been a wholesale recovery of the kind of optimism that pervaded the left during the growth of the anti-capitalist and especially anti-war movements between 2001 and 2003, but in the space of a year things have changed markedly.

Letter from South Korea

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The recent artillery exchanges in the Korean peninsula come after a period of escalating tension in the region, reports Kim Ha-young.

At the end of November, North Korea fired artillery shells into Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, killing four people, including two innocent civilians. It is claimed that South Korea retaliated with its own artillery, resulting in major damage to North Korea. A North Korean broadcast reported, "The enemy fired artillery shells indiscriminately, even to residential areas."

Letter from Greece

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The recent council elections in Greece saw a surge in support for anti-capitalist candidates, reports Petros Constantinou.


The success of Antarsya, the anti-capitalist electoral slate, in Athens was an important step forward for the left. It was a message sent by the thousands of militants who took part in the general strikes, in the revolt of December 2008, in the struggles of students and teachers, in the resistance against racist and fascist attacks in our neighbourhoods, and in the fight to defend our services against the cuts.

Letter from Australia

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Australian voters delivered a vote of no confidence in both major political parties at the recent election, resulting in a hung parliament, writes Judy McVey.


Photo: Mystifyme Concert Photography

Labor prime minister Julia Gillard has scraped back in by forming a minority government supported by the one Green Party MP and three independents. Despite the close call, with Tony Abbott's Tories almost taking power, larger numbers than ever signalled their desire for a left wing alternative.

Letter from Turkey

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It has been a hot summer in Turkey. For two months it hasn't dipped below 30°C even in the cooler parts of the country, but the political temperature has been even higher.

Two issues have dominated: the government's attempt to amend 26 articles of the constitution, and the hotting up of the Kurdish national struggle.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), conservative, neoliberal, and from an Islamic tradition, has continued its attempt to break the stranglehold of the rabidly nationalist, aggressively secularist bureaucracy on the country's political life. The military, the judiciary, much of the media, and parts of academia have been resisting.

Letter from China

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After the recent suicides of ten Foxconn workers, Li Qiang reports on conditions at the iPhone sweatshop.

Yet another Foxconn worker jumped to his death in June, bringing the total number of suicides at the company this year to ten. In the light of these events, some have denounced Foxconn, makers of Apple's iPad and iPhone, as a "sweatshop". Others argue that, compared to similar manufacturers, Foxconn can boast relatively humane management and fairly good benefits.

Letter from the Netherlands

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After the longest strike since 1933, cleaners, most of them from migrant backgrounds, won, writes Willem Dekker.

Competition in the cleaning sector, fully privatised by the end of the 1990s, has been driving wages down and work pressure up. In the summer of 2009 cleaners, most of whom come from a migrant background, launched a campaign for higher wages, better working conditions and more respect from management. The campaign raised the stakes of industrial conflict. If cleaners could get a raise - why couldn't other workers? The campaign became a model for multicultural resistance against the cutbacks.

Letter from the United States

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In recent months a populist right wing movement has taken to the streets. Chip Ward reports on the mad hatters at America's Tea Party

In the US you can witness how the unfettered culture of capitalism unfolds. Here we are free to profit from anything. On Wall Street, or hedge-heaven as I like to call it, brokers bet on bets on bets on bets. This hasn't worked out so well but they are still at it.

Letter from Palestine

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Last month the Israeli government approved plans to build a synagogue next to Al-Aqsa mosque. This is part of Israel's strategy to drive native Palestinians out of Jerusalem, writes Abdul Wahab Sabbah

Last month the Israeli government gave the green light for settlers to open the Hurva synagogue in east Jerusalem next to the Al-Aqsa mosque. The mosque is one of the most important sites in the world for Muslims.

Letter from Spain

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In the wake of controversial proposals by the Spanish government, Tamara Ruiz reports on the fight for abortion rights

Controversial proposals by Spain's Socialist Party (PSOE) government to modify the country's abortion legislation have led to waves of protest both by the right, which wants them withdrawn altogether, and by a revitalised women's movement which points to their severe limitations.

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