Trade unions in Italy continue mobilizations against government’s labor policies, support to Ukraine war

Working class sections have demanded an increase in wages and pensions at par with inflation, including raising the minimum wages to 10 euros (10.87 US$) per hour, and additional investment in public health, education, transport, and infrastructure

Peoples Dispatch | May 16, 2023

Mobilization in Milan. (Photo: via CGIL)

Mainstream trade unions in Italy, including the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL), the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (CISL), and the Italian Labor Union (UIL), organized a major demonstration in Milan on Saturday, May 13. The unions denounced the economic policies of the right-wing government led by Giorgia Meloni, including proposed cuts to public services and social welfare programs, along with lack of investment in job creation. Cadres from various political groups including the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) also participated and expressed solidarity with workers. According to the unions, around 40,000 people participated in the demonstration. Earlier, on May 6, a major mobilization was held in Bologna. Another round of mobilization is scheduled in Naples on May 20. 

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Ukraine war: The short view

M. K. Bhadrakumar

Indian Punchline | May 12, 2023

Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky has somewhat eased the suspense by his remark to the western media on Thursday that his army needs to wait and still needs “a bit more time” to launch the much-anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces. 

He acknowledged that Ukraine’s combat brigades are “ready” but would reason that the army still needed “some things,” including armoured vehicles that were “arriving in batches” from NATO countries.

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NATO Is Creeping Into Asia, Warns North Korea

Countercurrents | May 16, 2023

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has claimed NATO is seeking to increase its influence in Asia, citing growing “military collusion” with Japan, which hosted a delegation from the military alliance last month to discuss ways to step up cooperation.

In comments carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday, an official with the Foreign Ministry’s Japan Research Center, Kim Seol-hwa, said Washington is gradually pushing NATO into Asia through partnerships with regional powers.

“It is an open secret that the United States has been trying to create a military alliance like this in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said, adding that the “recent unprecedented military collusion between Japan and NATO is arousing great concern and alertness in the international community.”

Kim went on to cite recent reports that NATO is now in talks to open a “liaison office” in Japan, its first such facility in Asia. The office would be used to “conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners in the region such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand,” according to the Nikkei Asia news website.

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The United States of America and its Failed Democracy

Darío Machado Rodríguez

RESUMEN | May 16, 2023

That the history of the United States of America can be told by the common thread of violence is something few dispute. This characteristic of U.S. society is a constant threat to the country’s own citizens, but it also spills over its borders and is expressed in its foreign policy. Financing for violence, arms shipments, covert troops, open wars, unilateral sanctions, have made this a more insecure world in the name of U.S. national security.

Last Sunday, President Biden declared five days of national mourning for the victims of a mass shooting that took place on Saturday, May 6, in a shopping mall in Allen, Texas, in which 8 people were killed and the attacker, who fired indiscriminately with an assault rifle of which -according to data from the last 5 years- more than one and a half million have been sold in the country, was shot and killed. The shooting killed a five year old child, as confirmed by the President himself, who lamented that the greatest cause of death of children in the United States is precisely gun violence.

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On the matter of Prigozhin’s “outburst” and Artemovsk (Bakhmut)

Are we looking at well-orchestrated deception? All is possible in war.


Since it is being widely discussed right now, I decided to also express my opinion about what is going on with Prigozhin. A little remark before I start: Since I am very short of time, I decided to write a very small opinion piece, not an analysis. I did no research for this. Hence, take it for what it is. An opinion and NOT an analysis. So, let’s start.

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Mr. Guaidó Goes to Washington

Roger Harris

Counterpunch | May 05, 2023

Photograph Source: Leo Alvarez – CC BY-SA 4.0

Juan Guaidó continues to advocate punishing the Venezuelan people with US coercive economic measures. Recently shipped to Washington DC, the former “interim president” of Venezuela pleaded, “You can’t use a kind or soft approach,” such as easing the suffering, because it would “normalize dictatorship.”

Guaidó was livestreamed May 3 from the quasi-governmental Wilson Center. Located in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC, the Wilson Center is a think tank established by the US Congress, which “conducts research to inform public policy” in service of the US empire.

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International Diplomatic Rules Tested in Alex Saab Case

The Alex Saab case highlights changing international norms regarding diplomatic immunity, as the U.S. government has decided not to recognize his professed immunity, despite being designated a special envoy by the Venezuelan government.

L. Todd Wood

New Thinking | May 04, 2023

As war continues to rage in Ukraine and conflict in the Pacific cannot be ruled out, it is obvious that our geopolitical institutions are being tested. Many wise men have asked in recent years—where are the diplomats during times of war? The case of Alex Saab is a perfect example of changing international norms, as the U.S. government has made a decision not to recognize professed diplomatic immunity in the case.

Saab was designated a diplomatic special envoy by the Venezuelan government to travel to Iran to discuss a series of commercial transactions. While en route to Iran, his aircraft stopped for fuel in Cape Verde. There, Saab was detained and extradited to the United States to stand trial on one federal count. Many current and former members of diplomatic circles believe Saab was entitled to diplomatic immunity as a designated Venezuelan special envoy, no matter his lack of a diplomatic passport, the stop in a third-party country, or the commercial nature of his travel.

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Robert Lucas: the rationality of capitalism

Michael Roberts Blog

Robert Lucas has died at the age of 85.  Lucas was a leading mainstream neoclassical economist at the University of Chicago – the bastion of neoclassical equilibrium economic theory.  In 1995, Lucas received a ‘Nobel prize’ for his theory of ‘rational expectations’.  He was regarded by Greg Mankiw, the author of the main mainstream economics textbook used in universities, as “the most influential macroeconomist of the last quarter of the 20th century.”

It is an irony, given the body of his work, that when Lucas started studying economics, he considered himself a “quasi-Marxist” because he reckoned that it was the economic foundation of society that was the driver of history, not the ideas of individuals.  The irony is that his main contribution to mainstream economics was eventually to present a theory that economic change was driven by the ‘rational’ action of ‘agents’ i.e, individuals as consumers.

What is ‘rational expectations’…

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Air pollution is a hidden pandemic in Africa — tips on how to reduce your exposure and help combat it

Most strategies being used to tackle air pollution focus on household air pollution compared to outdoor air pollution, study found

Gabriel Okello, Meelan Thondoo

Down To Earth | May 11, 2023

Children and elderly people are vulnerable to air pollution. Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP from Children and elderly people are vulnerable to air pollution. Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP from

Rapid urbanisation in Africa is worsening air pollution levels. There are economic as well as health consequences.

Air pollution threatens human health, health systems and economic activity. It is the second leading risk factor for death across Africa, contributing to an estimated 1.1 million deaths on the continent in 2019.

The continent has an urban population of over 500 million. This is projected to be over 700 million by 2026. In the face of such enormous numbers and a seemingly insurmountable problem, it can feel difficult for ordinary people to protect themselves or make a difference.

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