By Christopher Kerr

July 12, 2008, Seoul -- The neo-conservative regime of President Lee Myungbak has been humbled by the spontaneous emergence of a mass movement — sparked by female middle and high school students. This movement has resulted in the largest and longest sustained demonstrations since the fall of the military dictatorship. 

The mass protests have been primarily against the imposed resumption of the importation of US beef but have, in the course of their development, tapped into latent anger against the implementation neoliberal policies.

In April, Lee, before meeting US President George Bush at his Texas ranch, agreed to lift all existing bans on US beef imposed in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was detected.

The move was unpopular due to the perceived scientific risks that it posed to the Korean population and because the Korean market already substituted for US beef by consuming its own produce along with Australian imports.

By Barry Healy

[This is the text of a talk presented at the Marxism Summer School conducted by the Australian Democratic Socialist Perspective in January 2005. The pope referred to is the then-reigning Pope John-Paul II. The current Pope Benedict XVI is mentioned, being Cardinal Ratzinger at the time this talk was presented. See the appendices for more on Ratzinger and his background.]

I have an acquaintance who is a staunch supporter of the Liberal Party and a fundamentalist Christian, she occasionally gives me a lift to the railway station in the morning, which I appreciate. I didn’t know her religious bent until one morning she started regaling me with her opinion of Marxism, which was entirely based on the one sentence written by Marx that she knew: “Religion is the opium of the people.”

I don’t think she could even give a coherent explanation of the sentence, let alone an understanding of its context. She just knew that it was godless communism and that was enough for her.

By Lalit de Klas

July 16, 2008 -- According to attorney-at-law Robin Mardemootoo, who represented the Chagos Refugee Group at the House of Lords Judicial Committee, which acts as the ultimate court of appeal in London, last week, the Mauritian revolutionary organisation Lalit was referred to during one hour of pleadings by the UK government legal representative Jonathan Crow, QC. There are not official transcripts of this kind of hearing.

By Adam Hanieh

July 15, 2008 -- Over the last six months, the Palestinian economy has been radically transformed under a new plan drawn up by the Palestinian Authority (PA) called the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP).

By Susan Austin

Tasmania, Australia -- It’s easy to get confused about the issue of forests and climate change. Climate scientists say that preserving our forests is a quick, easy and cheap way to prevent further global warming, and Australia’s previous federal government allocated A$200 million towards preserving forests in South-East Asia. Yet both the federal government and the Tasmanian state government are overseeing the continuing destruction of Tasmania’s old-growth forests to feed a profitable wood-chip export industry and a soon-to-be-built pulp mill. And what’s more, they say that the industry is carbon-positive and sustainable. What’s really going on?

By Tony Iltis

July 12, 2008 -- The visit to Sydney for World Youth Day (WYD), July 15-20, by Pope Benedict XVI and 300,000 Catholic pilgrims is set to become the scene for protests. Ironically, the protests are being fuelled by the clumsy efforts of the NSW state Labor Party government to suppress them — passing laws making it illegal to “annoy” pilgrims and defining “annoy” broadly enough to include having signs, or even wearing t-shirts, with messages that the doctrinally rigid pope or his followers disapprove of.

* * *

No to Pope Rallies, July 19, 2008

The British socialist newspaper Socialist Resistance on June 28, 2008, sponsored a fascinating day of discussion and debate on building broad left parties across Europe, attracting a comprehensive list of speakers from key left unity projects. The videos of the following talks were recorded on the day. They include speakers from the Left Bloc Portugal, Respect in Britain, the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, Die Link in Germany, Sinistra Critica (Italy) and the European Greens. They are reposted from Liam Mac Uaid's essential weblog, with permission. More videos of the day are available there.

By Stalin Perez Borges

July 14, 2008 -- In recent elections in the Sindicato Nacional Fuerza Magisterial (Sinafum -- National Union of Teachers' Force), which groups an important section of teachers, a slate headed by Orlando Pérez, a supporter of the proposal that Sinafum remain affiliated to the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT, National Union of Workers), won by a wide margin. Elections have been announced for October 1 in the Federación Nacional de Trabajadores del Sector Empleados Públicos (Fentrasep, National Federation of Public Sector Workers), to which more than 90% of public servants are members. The national coordination of the UNT has set dates in September for the holding of a new congress and elections.

By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York

* * *

A report of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements, Moscow

By Vasily Koltashov

Translated by Renfrey Clarke, Links – International Journal of Socialist Renewal (http://links.org.au)

Moscow, June 9, 2008 -- In the early weeks of 2008 virtually all Russian and foreign experts viewed the situation in the world economy favourably. Warnings from a few analysts that a major economic crisis lay ahead were not taken especially seriously by optimistic-minded populations.

On January 22 the stock exchanges were shaken by the first slump, followed by a series of new collapses. The world’s share markets were destabilised. Inflation accelerated, with food prices beginning to rise sharply. A number of American and European banks announced colossal losses in their results for 2007. The scale of the economic problems in the US became evident. A new world crisis had begun. The emergence of its first symptoms provoked numerous questions concerning the nature of the crisis, the reasons behind it, and the logic shaping its probable development.

G8 Action Network statement

July 9, 2008 -- The G8's communique regarding their action on climate is actually inaction being masked as movement. It is a great fraud being perpetrated on the global community that would significantly reduce its capacity to contain climate change. We fully agree with the statement of the Government of South Africa that "[W]hile the Statement may appear as a movement forward, we are concerned that it may, in effect, be a regression from what is required to make a meaningful contribution to meeting the challenges of climate change." [Click pic for BBC footage of G8 protests.]

Retreat from Bali