By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Michael Lebowitz will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets. Find other articles by Michael Lebowitz HERE.]

Unemployed workers in China at a train station, waiting to return to their rural areas. 

By Reihana Mohideen

[Reihana Mohideen will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

February 23, 2009 -- Recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports on global and regional employment trends paint a stark picture of rapidly increasing unemployment in 2008; the situation is expected to worsen in 2009 with the prediction of massive job losses. The message is clear: workers and the poor are already paying heavily for the capitalist economic crisis. Especially hard hit are working-class and poor women and young people.

Venezuelan newspapers report the victory of the constitutional referendum.

By Gonzalo Villanueva

Venezuela’s February 15 constitutional amendment referendum, which proposed to modify the existing constitution to allow politicians to stand for re-election without restrictions, was triumphant. However, the referendum was more than a legal amendment – the removal of term limits – it was a political issue: to continue the revolutionary project or not? The Venezuelan people have convincingly signalled their desire to continue with the Bolivarian process, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez. The victory undoubtedly opens a path to advance and deepen the Bolivarian Revolution.

The amendment achieved a significant 6.3 million votes (54% of the vote). These latest electoral result confirms that the chavista camp has recovered significantly from the 2007 constitutional referendum defeat of 4.4 million votes (49.29%), a trend also followed in the 2008 regional elections. However, there is still a shortfall in comparison to the 2006 presidential elections that achieved 7.3 million votes (62.84%).

Protests in Iceland brought down the government.

By Kavita Krishnan

[Kavita Krishnan will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

February 25, 2009 -- The people of the United States (through their vote for US President Barack Obama and ``change'') and Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi alike may have given George W. Bush (and all he stood for) the boot – but India's Congress Party wants to give Bush the Bharat Ratna![1] Congress Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, addressing the annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), declared, “Give Bharat Ratna to Bush. I don't know what the rules are but I will officially do something.”

February 6, 2009 -- The International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe (ISOZ) has consistently argued for the last few years that the poor and working people would pay dearly if they naively followed the false calls for “change” championed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its imperialist-supported civic society allies, and subordinated their organisations to the same.

We called for the urgent establishment of a radical and anti-neoliberal united front of working people's organisations, to spearhead the struggle even when the opposition leadership eventually sold out. We argued that the MDC was preparing for a sell-out deal with Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) as a junior partner and that Mugabe was now ready to accept this. Three years ago, we wrote:

By Ibrahim Abraham

February 17, 2009 -- When one thinks of the Palestinian struggle, the topic of tennis doesn't readily come to mind. The only connection I can think of is Bjorn Borg attracting the violent ire of Baader-Meinhof (or was it the Japanese Red Army?) when he dressed up in an Israeli army uniform back in the 1970s. However, the liberal decentists are up in arms over the UAE's denial of a visa to an Israeli tennis player. "The United Arab Emirates' decision to refuse a visa to the Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer demands a strong response from the international sporting community" wrote Richard Williams in the British Guardian.

And you know what? He's right; it does demand a strong response. Israel must be banned from all international sporting competitions until it complies with international law and withdraws every soldier and settler from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Shebaa Farms, and ends the blockade of the Gaza Strip, or, it abandons its apartheid policies and becomes a democratic state granting equal rights to all regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Major Jason Aquino (left) and Peter Boyle in Camp Aguinaldo detention centre.

By Peter Boyle

February 19, 2009 -- Major Jason Aquino is one of the 28 officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines charged with allegedly attempting a mutiny in February 2006. Aquino was detained on February 22 that year and held incommunicado in a windowless cell for five months.

I met Major Aquino and several other detained rebel officers in Camp Aguinaldo in early February 2009. They were all outspoken against the grossly corrupt government of Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, and their years of incarceration (as yet without being convicted of a single crime) have only deepened their politicisation. But Major Aquino -- who has studied the speeches and writings of Fidel Castro and read everything he can get his hands on about the revolution in Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez -- wanted to make it clear a that he was “not a reformist”.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe at the signing ceremony for the unity government in September 2008.

By Tendai Dumbutshena

February 2, 2009 -- After the June 27, 2008, putsch by Zimbabwe ruler Robert Mugabe signs were always there that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was headed for surrender. It officially happened on January 30, 2009, when the party hoisted a white flag on top of its Harvest House headquarters. What followed was a pathetic attempt by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to portray this decision to join the unity government without any of the MDC's conditions being met as some sort of victory.[Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on February 11, 2009.]

Equally pathetic was a plea to Mugabe to be treated as an equal partner. There is a fat chance of that happening. The old tyrant must have chuckled when he heard this.

Hugo Chavez addresses thousands of Venezuelans from the `Balcony of the People' following the referendum victory.

[Click HERE for more coverage of the referendum campaign.]

A statement from the Australia–Venezuela Solidarity Network

February 17, 2009 -- On Sunday, February 15, Venezuelans voted in a referendum to change the country’s constitution to allow elected officials to re-stand for election without restriction. Previously, Venezuela’s constitution allowed elected officials, including the president, to stand for only two terms.

With 94.2% of the votes counted, the National Electoral Council announced that the “Yes” vote had won with 6,003,584 votes (54.36%). The “No” vote received 5,040,082 votes (45.63%). Dozens of election observers from international bodies such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States verified that the referendum was free and fair.

Obama visits US troops in Afghanistan during the 2008 presidential campaign.

February 14, 2009 -- With US President Barack Obama to visit Ottawa, Canada, on February 19, renowned writer and anti-war campaigner Tariq Ali shares his thoughts on the new administration's foreign policy. In his recently published book, The Duel, Tariq Ali argues that expanding the war in Afghanistan will only sow more destruction in that long-suffering Central Asian country, and aggravate the already volatile situation in Pakistan.

In this interview, which first appeared at the progressive Canadian website rabble.ca, Ali discusses with rabble's editor Derrick O'Keefe the war, prospects for Palestine under Obama's watch and the rising left-wing tide in Uncle Sam's backyard. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with O'Keefe's permission.

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January 26, 2009 -- Against the dramatic background of a profound global food and general economic crisis the Spanish government organised the “High Level Ministerial Meeting on Food Security for All” on the January 26-27, 2009, in Madrid.

The emergency of today is rooted in decades of neoliberal policies that dismantled the international institutional architecture for food and agriculture and undermined the capacity of national governments to protect their food producers and consumers. The central cause of the current food crisis is the relentless promotion of the interests of large industrial corporations and the international trade that they control, to the detriment of food production at the local and national levels and the needs and interests of local food producers and communities. At the World Food Summit in 1996, when there were an estimated 830 million hungry people, governments pledged to halve the number by 2015. Today, in the midst of a terrible food crisis, the figure of hungry people has risen to well beyond 1 billion.