Anti-Le Pen protests continue in France
At least 200,000 protesters marched in Paris and other French cities April 27 as demonstrations continued to grow against Jean-Marie Le Pen, the extreme right leader who placed second in the first round of the presidential election, thus qualifying for the May 5 run-off election against incumbent President Jacques Chirac. Demonstrators in Paris chanted “Down with the National Front,” Le Pen’s fascistic, anti-immigrant party.

Turkish police arrest 248 Communists
As the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and its supporters were preparing for May Day with posters and fliers throughout the country, Turkish police instituted a sweep, taking 248 TKP members into custody in Istanbul alone. Usually those arrested are released after 24 hours; this time, however, the court is threatening them with sentences of between eight and 14 months.

The TKP called the country’s working people together to “give an ‘ultimatum’ to the ruling classes that are waging an open war against the poor and the oppressed.” The party said over 100,000 posters were mounted on walls and even more fliers were circulated.

“It was not a surprise that the police forces were alarmed and tried to prevent the propaganda work,” the TKP said. “But this threat did not stop the TKP members, and even the Head of the General Staff Kivrikoglu could not escape from the posters!”

Timor president wins landslide victory
Independence leader Xanana Gusmao last month was elected the first president of the new Democratic Republic of East Timor by a landslide 83 percent of the vote. The new state will officially be born on May 20.

East Timor is one of the world’s poorest nations. About 40 percent live in poverty, 80 percent are illiterate and unemployment runs 85-90 percent.

Some 200,000 East Timorese lost their lives in the struggle for freedom and independence after Indonesia invaded the country in 1975. Each family has lost at least one member.

After the 1999 referendum, in which people overwhelmingly voted for independence, the Indonesian military unleashed their regular forces and militias against the people and against the country’s physical structures. The Indonesian occupying forces did not educate or promote the advancement of the local people.

Anti-privatization victory in Canada
After weeks of public protest, an Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that the government does not have the right to sell HydroOne, which owns the province’s transmission grid and half the municipal distribution utilities.

The victory was announced on April 19, just two weeks before the May 1 scheduled market commencement date when electricity is to become a tradeable commodity, rather than a public service. It is not clear what effect failure to privatize HydroOne will have on this plan.

The right-wing Tories are continuing to support the private companies, including substantial non-Canadian interests planning to gain ownership with the protection of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Since early April over two dozen major cities have passed resolutions calling for delaying or cancelling the deregulation of electricity, and many more resolutions are pending.

German workers call general strike
IG Metall, Germany’s largest industrial union with 2,560,298 members, voted to strike for higher wages on April 30. Workers voted overwelmingly, by an 85 percent margin, to shut down Europe’s largest economy beginning May 6.

Economists are expecting that the strike will spread, shutting down the entire country by next week.

Negotiations between IG Metall stalled, then collapsed, forcing workers into a corner. German workers have born the brunt of the country’s recession.