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Beijing’s new moral model: from peasant soldier to middle class consumer

By John Chan, 30 March 2006

For generations of Chinese, Mao Zedong’s slogan of “learn from Comrade Lei Feng”—a peasant soldier who symbolised Maoist “morality”—has been an ever-present component of their education and lives. This year, Beijing is suddenly updating Lei’s image transforming him into a new moral model more conducive with “market reform” and its ideological needs to appeal to the rising middle class.

France: Unions appeal to President Chirac to resolve “First Job Contract” crisis

By Rick Kelly and Antoine Lerougetel, 30 March 2006

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s strikes and demonstrations in France, the trade unions are redoubling their efforts to end the mass movement against the “First Job Contract” (CPE) and stabilise the administration of President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. The CPE legislation, which allows young workers to be sacked without cause during a two-year period, has become a focal point for opposition to the government’s right-wing programme by French workers and youth.

German coalition parties hail state elections as mandate for anti-social “reforms”

By Ulrich Rippert, 30 March 2006

Leading Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politicians have announced they will speed up “reforms” following the first state elections since the Grand Coalition of the CDU and Social Democratic Party (SPD) assumed office in Berlin last autumn.

Letters from our readers

30 March 2006

The following is a selection of recent letters to the World Socialist Web Site.

Local government elections in Sri Lanka heighten political instability

By K. Ratnayake, 30 March 2006

Elections for local government bodies are to take place in Sri Lanka today. While normally a rather mundane affair, these “mini polls” have been bitterly fought, as all of the major parties vie for position in the increasingly unstable political situation surrounding the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government.

Miles de estudiantes abandonan sus escuelas en el sur de California para manifestarse en contra de la legislación anti inmigrante

30 March 2006

WSWS : Español

Narrow victory for Kadima in Israeli elections

By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 30 March 2006

The victory of Kadima in Israel’s general election has been hailed as a popular mandate for the unilateral redrawing of the country’s borders by 2010 and the creation of a new “political centre-ground.” In reality, the vote reveals a deeply fractured society that is politically, economically and socially unstable.

Political crisis deepens in Brazil: The rise and fall of Palocci

By Mário Y. de Almeida, 30 March 2006

The Brazilian government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, having seemingly survived a series of corruption scandals that appeared on the verge of bringing it down last year, was wracked once again this week by the resignation of its finance minister, Antônio Palocci Filho, amid a scandal involving bribes, payoffs and prostitutes.

Puerto Rico sues FBI for stonewalling probe of independentista’s murder

By Bill Van Auken, 30 March 2006

The government of Puerto Rico went to federal court last week, accusing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Justice Department of obstructing justice by stonewalling a local investigation of the FBI’s killing of a leading figure in the island’s independence movement during a raid last September.

Thousands of students walk out of schools in Southern California to protest anti-immigration legislation

By Ramón Valle, 30 March 2006

On the heels of the massive march in Los Angeles last Saturday to defend the rights of immigrants, some 40,000 high school students walked out of classes throughout southern California Monday to protest legislation pending in Congress that would criminalize undocumented workers and those who aid them. The walkout continued on Tuesday.