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Some thoughts about the 1998 Winter Olympics

By David Walsh, 28 February 1998

A commentary on the Winter Games held in Nagan, Japan in 1998.

Protests defy Suharto’s repression

By Peter Symonds, 28 February 1998

Indonesia is in political and social turmoil in the lead-up to next week’s meeting of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR).

Not by nature's hand alone

By Shannon Jones, 28 February 1998

Despite the substantial media coverage, one question has not been asked. How is it possible that despite all the advances in technology thousands of people were left defenseless and unprepared for such an event?

What is the meaning of the political warfare in Washington?

By Editorial Board, 28 February 1998

The past week has seen an escalation of political conflict within the highest echelons of the American capitalist state that is without precedent. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's attempt to silence public criticism of his tactics by hauling Clinton administration aides and investigators before his grand jury is a flagrant violation of First Amendment rights.

Starr’s attack on First Amendment rights

By Martin McLaughlin, 27 February 1998

The decision of independent counsel Kenneth Starr to subpoena White House officials about their contacts with the press raises a direct challenge to First Amendment rights.

Italian PDS founds new party

By Wolfgang Weber, 27 February 1998

A three-day meeting in mid-February saw the founding of a new party, the Democratici di Sinistra (DS–Left Democrats). The ceremony was presided over by the ex-Stalinists of the PDS (Partito Democratico della Sinistra–Democratic Party of the Left) together with the remains of the former Christian Democrats and the Socialist Party, and a few other left-wing groups. Two-thirds of the 1,800 delegates gathered in Florence were from the PDS and its leader, Massimo D'Alema, was elected as the new party's first chairman.

Scabs begin training on Australian waterfront

By Terry Cook, 27 February 1998

Encouraged by the acquiescence of the trade union movement, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) has successfully begun training a strike-breaking force of scabs at Melbourne's Webb Dock, in the middle of Australia's largest industrial port.

No power in New Zealand's largest city

By Peter Symonds, 26 February 1998

An extensive and lengthy power blackout has hit Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, often hailed as a "model" of economic deregulation. For five days, electricity has been virtually cut off to the city's central business district.

Electricity shutdowns in Australia

By , 26 February 1998

Electricity blackouts throughout the Australian state of Queensland confirm that the power failure in New Zealand is anything but an isolated case.

US leads attack on Japan at G-7 meeting

By Mike Head, 26 February 1998

The G-7 finance ministers, meeting in London last week, were unable to produce any plan to resolve the economic meltdown centred in East Asia.

Labour Party lefts boost illusions in UN "peace" deal

By Julie Hyland, 26 February 1998

A section of the British Labour Party, together with the Greens and Communist Party Stalinists, are seeking to utilise the United Nations deal with Iraq to boost the "peace-loving" credentials of the UN.

GM threatens Dayton plants

By Larry Roberts, 25 February 1998

The head of General Motor’s Delphi Automotive Systems, J. T. Battenberg III, convened joint meetings of managers and union officials in Dayton, Ohio, in mid-February to inform them that two brake plants would be closed and 600 jobs would be cut at a third parts plant unless drastic measures were taken to improve profitability. The proposal affects nearly 4,000 workers in the Dayton area.

Five-year-old arrested in Florida on felony charges

By Walter Gilberti, 25 February 1998

The felony arrest of a five-year-old kindergarten student in Florida, Chaquita Doman, accused of biting and scratching a support teacher, once again throws the spotlight on the ignorance and callousness that characterizes official social policy in the United States.

Five-year-old arrested in Florida on felony charges

By Walter Gilberti, 25 February 1998

The felony arrest of a five-year-old kindergarten student in Florida, Chaquita Doman, accused of biting and scratching a support teacher, once again throws the spotlight on the ignorance and callousness that characterizes official social policy in the United States.

Readers respond to David Walsh’s review of Titanic

By , 25 February 1998

The WSWS has received dozens of letters on its review of the move Titanic. Here we publish some of the recent ones.

What is the UAW and whom does it represent?

By Jerry White, 25 February 1998

The Caterpillar workers’ rejection of the contract signed by the United Auto Workers underscores the antagonism between the interests of rank-and-file workers and the official union organizations that claim to represent them. The brazenly pro-company deal agreed to by the UAW is only the most recent in a long line of union-management agreements undermining the jobs, working conditions, wages and benefits of workers while boosting the profits of the corporations.

The capitulation of the South Korean unions

By Peter Symonds, 25 February 1998

Over the past decade the emergence of a mass, semi-legal, militant trade union movement in South Korea has been cited by various radical and "left" tendencies around the world as evidence that trade unionism is a viable perspective in today’s global economy.

Titanic: An exchange of letters between David Walsh and a reader

By , 25 February 1998

David Walsh’s review of Titanic generated a large number of letters as well as the following exchange.

Titanic as a social phenomenon

By David Walsh, 25 February 1998

James Cameron’s Titanic is a massive global success. The film is taking in millions of dollars a week, on its way apparently to the one billion dollar mark. Even Cameron claims to be "a little bit mystified." What is behind this remarkable phenomenon?

Clinton issues new war threats

By the Editorial Board, 24 February 1998

The agreement between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Saddam Hussein, announced February 22, is a political setback for American imperialism and the Clinton administration’s plans for an air war against Iraq. It by no means, however, ends the danger of US aggression in the Persian Gulf, or a general growth of militarism among the major capitalist powers.

Quebec’s winter storm: the social issues

By Francois Legras, 24 February 1998

The ice storm that struck a major portion of Quebec, southern Ontario and a section of the United States in January raised a number of important social questions.

British Labour Party continues coverup of Hillsborough football disaster

By Robert Stevens, 24 February 1998

Nine years after 96 Liverpool football club supporters died in the worst disaster in British sporting history, the Labour government has ruled that there will no new public inquiry into the event. This decision comes in the face of a mass of new evidence refuting the original verdict, which absolved the South Yorkshire police of all responsibility.

How the US has "protected" the Iraqi people

By Bill Vann, 24 February 1998

Some of the most stinging criticism of US policy at last week's "town meeting" in Columbus, Ohio concerned the impact of Washington's actions on Iraq's civilian population. There was particular anxiety that the planned bombardment of the country would result in a massive loss of life.

Australian Constitutional Convention

By , 21 February 1998

Extraordinary efforts have been made by politicians and media commentators in Australia to depict the Howard government's Constitutional Convention as a healthy and vigorous exercise in democracy. The highly-orchestrated two-week gathering voted in favour of shifting the form of rule from a monarchy to a republic.

Who is the “repeat offender”?

By Martin McLaughlin, 21 February 1998

In reply to the question of why Iraq has been singled out to be bombed, among all the dictatorial regimes which possess chemical and biological weapons, Clinton administration officials have taken to referring to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a "repeat offender."

A political system in crisis

By Editorial Board, 21 February 1998

The February 18th "International Town Meeting" at Ohio State University was a political debacle for the Clinton administration. Intended to demonstrate popular support for the impending air war against Iraq, the meeting instead revealed widespread disquiet about a new military assault, as well as resentment and suspicion toward the government and the media.

A telling saga of cancer and the courts

By Book Review By Peter Stavropoulos, 21 February 1998

This book, though written as a gripping novel, is a true story. It chronicles the tortured history of a court case mounted against three major US companies. They were accused of dumping poisonous chemicals that caused leukaemia deaths and severe health problems among children and entire families in the town of Woburn, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.

Nigerian military topples Sierra Leone junta

By Bill Vann, 21 February 1998

Following a nine-day offensive and a bombardment of the city of Freetown, Nigerian military forces succeeded in toppling the military junta which seized power in the West African state of Sierra Leone in May of last year.

Workers Must Oppose the Gulf War

By Desert Slaughter, 20 February 1998

This Special National Congress declares the opposition of the Workers League to the mobilization of US military forces in the Middle East and pledges all the efforts of the party to rally the working class against the bloody crimes being prepared by US imperialism.

A political vacuum in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 20 February 1998

For three decades, since coming to power in one of the bloodiest military coups of the 20th century, the Suharto regime has ruthlessly maintained its grip over Indonesia.

SEP speaker addresses antiwar protest

By , 20 February 1998

Nearly one hundred protesters held an hour-long march and rally prior to the "Town Meeting" in Columbus, Ohio, to oppose preparations by the Clinton administration to launch a war against Iraq. The protest was called by the Middle East Peace Committee, a campus group.

A shabby pretense of democracy

By Shannon Jones, 20 February 1998

There was unintended irony in the statement by Secretary of Defense William Cohen describing the town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio as "a tremendous example of what democracy is all about." While vocal opposition was expressed to the Clinton administration's plans to bomb Iraq, this took place despite a systematic effort to stage-manage the meeting and suppress any serious criticism of US foreign policy.

CIA and MI6 plot to assassinate Hussein revealed

By Julie Hyland, 19 February 1998

The US and British intelligence agencies, the CIA and MI6, plotted together to assassinate Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 1995. Senior US intelligence officers confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the CIA and MI6 worked through opposition groups in northern and southern Iraq -- providing them with intelligence, finance and arms -- in preparing several attempted coups and bombing campaigns.

British Parliament rubber-stamps war

By Chris Marsden, 19 February 1998

On Tuesday evening the Labor government in Britain secured a massive parliamentary majority for military action against Iraq. Despite claims that Britain was pursuing all diplomatic channels, the government's motion made clear that the end result would be air strikes. In moving it, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook went so far as to warn of a nuclear attack on Baghdad.

A litany of deception

By , 18 February 1998

Washington has substituted ultimatums, threats and provocations for diplomacy and negotiations. The US has thus far rejected all offers by Iraq to allow the inspection of sensitive sites by UN arms inspectors.

Amistad: Some historical considerations

By Helen Halyard, 18 February 1998

Amistad, the film directed by Steven Spielberg, places before a large audience a glimpse of the brutality of the African slave trade. For four centuries the traffic in human cargo transported tens of millions of people from the coast of Africa to the Americas to labor in diamond mines and sugar cane, tobacco and cotton fields.

Air disasters mount in East Asia

By Martin McLaughlin, 18 February 1998

At least 203 people were killed February 16 in the crash of a China Airlines jet which was attempting to land at Taipei International Airport in Taiwan.

The truth behind the White House lies

By the Editorial Board, 18 February 1998

The Clinton administration is preparing a cowardly attack on the people of Iraq in which countless innocent lives will be sacrificed to further the interests of American big business.

International Labour Organization study

By David Walsh, 18 February 1998

A new study conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that the United States, Australia and New Zealand are the only industrialized nations that do not provide paid maternity leave and health benefits by law.

Amistad’s failings

By David Walsh, 18 February 1998

Steven Spielberg's subject in Amistad is a worthy one, but the artistic treatment it receives at the director's hands is, for the most part, dreadful.

Blunt IMF warning to Suharto

By Peter Symonds, 17 February 1998

In what appears to be a closely coordinated operation, the US administration and the International Monetary Fund have warned the Suharto regime in Indonesia to drop plans to peg the rupiah to the American dollar.

Tensions rise over European Monetary Union

By Julie Hyland, 17 February 1998

The attempt to integrate capitalist Europe is deepening antagonisms between the various powers on the continent, as well as between Europe and the United States.

Once again on "weapons of mass destruction"

By , 17 February 1998

The World Socialist Web Site has frequently pointed out the fraudulent character of the Clinton administration's claim that its motivation in the conflict with Iraq is to prevent Saddam Hussein's government from acquiring or making use of "weapons of mass destruction."

Clinton's countdown to war

By the Editorial Board, 17 February 1998

With the military buildup against Iraq nearly complete, the next phase of US war preparations will be launched February 17 with a televised speech by Clinton, delivered from the Pentagon.

Inspectors or spies -- is there a difference?

By , 17 February 1998

Iraqi government claims that United Nations weapons inspectors are really spies for the US government have been brushed off by the Clinton administration, the UN and the American media.

Unions call off strike by plantation workers in Sri Lanka

By Wije Dias, 17 February 1998

All workers on tea, rubber, and coconut plantations throughout Sri Lanka launched an indefinite strike on February 5. They demanded a wage increase of 50 percent from the present daily wage of 83 rupees ($US1.40).

Antiwar protest grows in Britain

By Tony Hyland, 17 February 1998

Public meetings and demonstrations opposing a renewed military attack on Iraq and calling for an end to economic sanctions have drawn greater numbers than anticipated by their organizers.

Corruption scandal engulfs New York union officials

By Bill Vann, 14 February 1998

District Council 37, the parent union with jurisdiction over 120,000 New York City municipal workers, has been thrown into a deep crisis over revelations concerning corruption within the top levels of the union bureaucracy. Prosecutors have already launched official investigations into the affairs of 7 of the council’s 56 locals, subpoenaing financial records and documents from both these locals and the council itself.

A quarter of school children working

By Vicky Short, 14 February 1998

One in four children under the age of 16 are working in low-wage jobs paying as little as 33 pence an hour (US$.53), according to two recent surveys. While previous research suggested that up to 2 million school-age children in the UK had some form of employment, new figures indicate that the numbers are even higher.

Hard lessons from the Liverpool docks lock-out

By Chris Marsden, 14 February 1998

There are crucial lessons to be learned from the bitter end of the long-running industrial dispute on Liverpool's Mersey docks. The action by 329 stevedores, locked out for 28 months, ended on January 26 after they agreed to a meagre £28,000 (US$46,000) settlement from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC). The men were sacked in September 1995 for refusing to cross a picket line mounted by 80 of their co-workers, sacked previously by Torside, a labour contracting company.

The social roots of the Clinton crisis

By the Editorial Board, 14 February 1998

The present furor over an alleged White House sexual liaison is only the latest in a string of scandals and investigations that date back to Clinton’s 1992 election campaign and have dogged his administration from its inception.

Behind Indonesia’s anti-Chinese riots

By Peter Symonds, 14 February 1998

In recent weeks riots have erupted across Indonesia in response to a sharp rise in prices produced by the collapse of the national currency, the rupiah, and the country’s deepening economic crisis.

Brazilian workers demonstrate against social security cuts

By Bill Vann, 13 February 1998

On February 11 the lower house of the Brazilian parliament approved sweeping cuts in Brazil's social security system while thousands of workers confronted heavily armed police outside the parliament building in Brasilia.

Interior secretary to face prosecutor

By Martin McLaughlin, 13 February 1998

Attorney General Janet Reno formally requested February 11 the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate charges of corruption and perjury against Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

South Korea unions abandon strike

By , 13 February 1998

Only three days after rejecting an agreement to legalize mass layoffs, officials of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions called off a general strike that had been set for February 13 to demand new talks with president-elect Kim Dae Jung. As many as 100,000 workers were expected to join the strike, hitting the most important sectors of South Korean heavy industry, including auto, shipbuilding, steel and electronics.

Sam Marcy, an apologist for bureaucracy

By Fred Mazelis, 13 February 1998

Sam Marcy, who died February 1 at the age of 86, was one of the last of an older generation who were trained in the Trotskyist movement and then repudiated the principles of socialist internationalism in the period following the Second World War.

Employers seek to smash conditions on Australian waterfront

By Terry Cook, 12 February 1998

Backed and financed by Australia's major employers, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) has launched a full-scale offensive at Melbourne's Webb Dock in a bid to shatter working conditions on the waterfront.

Teamsters sign pro-company deal with trucking companies

By Jerry White, 12 February 1998

The Teamsters union signed a tentative agreement with four major trucking companies February 9 which will result in a further reduction of real wages and a worsening of working conditions for 120,000 drivers and warehousemen covered by the national Master Freight Agreement.

Downsizing continues as stock market soars 

By , 12 February 1998

The corporate assault on jobs continues with new job cuts announced over the past week in finance, retailing, transportation and manufacturing. 

Why is Canberra backing the US in the gulf?

By Mike Head, 11 February 1998

The Australian government of Prime Minister John Howard has formally announced its participation in Washington's plans for a large-scale military attack on the Iraqi people.

US steps up war preparations against Iraq

By the Editorial Board, 11 February 1998

Washington is escalating its preparations to launch multiple air strikes on Iraq, even as the pretense of broad international support grows increasingly threadbare. With the bulk of governments in the Persian Gulf and Europe on record opposing US plans for a sustained aerial assault, the role of the United States as the main instigator of military violence around the world emerges ever more clearly.


By Marty Jonas, 11 February 1998

Eisenstein was probably the greatest director ever to work in the film medium. He was an innovator, a teacher, a theoretician, and, above all, a practical worker in films.

Near nuclear strike on US revealed

By World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, 10 February 1998

The Russian military came within minutes of launching a full-scale nuclear strike on the United States three years ago, the CBS television news magazine 60 Minutes revealed on Sunday.

Social unrest undermines Suharto regime

By Peter Symonds, 10 February 1998

The Indonesian junta last weekend staged a huge military parade in the center of Jakarta in a bid to intimidate opposition groups and prevent further demonstrations against Suharto prior to the presidential election set for March 11.

On their moral high horse

By , 10 February 1998

How is the following anomaly to be explained? Despite the massive coverage given to Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual improprieties over the past few weeks, his popularity, as registered in opinion polls, has risen sharply.

Korean unions agree to mass layoffs

By , 10 February 1998

In the early hours of February 6, after haggling over details in an all-night negotiating session, the two South Korean union federations agreed to a deal with representatives of big business and president-elect Kim Dae Jung to legalize mass layoffs for the first time in decades.

US agribusiness attempts to silence debate on BSE

By Julie Hyland, 10 February 1998

The $12 million defamation suit brought by Texas cattle ranchers against talk show host Oprah Winfrey and one of her guests, Howard Lyman, is reaching its conclusion. The case, which is being heard in Amarillo, Texas, centers on comments made during Winfrey’s April 15, 1996 show that discussed the “mad cow” epidemic in Britain. Mad cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, became epidemic in Britain's herds in the 1980s.

Germany: Protests spread as unemployment tops 6 million

By Wolfgang Weber, 10 February 1998

On February 6 some 40,000 people nationwide took part in demonstrations held outside unemployment offices. Their protests coincided with the release of the latest official unemployment figures, which registered a total of 4,823,000 jobless workers, or 12.6 percent of the working population.

Clinton crisis exposes threat to democratic rights

By the Editorial Board, 7 February 1998

At week’s end the conflict between the Clinton White House and Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr intensified, as Starr escalated his offensive with new leaks of grand jury testimony, and Clinton officials threatened to retaliate with legal action against the independent counsel’s office.

Child labor soars in African continent

By Helen Halyard, 7 February 1998

A report prepared by the International Labor Organization entitled: "Child Labour in Africa—Targeting the Intolerable" estimates that at the current rate of increase the number of child laborers in the world's poorest continent will swell from 80 million to over 100 million by the year 2015.

Asylum seekers testify of brutality by jail guards 

By Jerry White, 7 February 1998

Immigrant asylum seekers gave testimony this week detailing the brutal treatment they received from New Jersey correctional officers at the Union County Jail in June 1995. The group of immigrants was transferred to the jail after an uprising by hundreds of detainees against abusive and inhumane conditions at the nearby Immigration and Naturalization Service Detention Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

The toll of death and suffering from US-backed sanctions

By Shannon Jones, 7 February 1998

Over 1,000 Iraqi-Americans attended a candlelight vigil in Southfield, Michigan February 5 to oppose US military action against Iraq. The event was sponsored by the Chaldean Archdiocese of America and was addressed by religious and community leaders.

The Reagan airport

By Martin McLaughlin, 6 February 1998

Congress passed a resolution Wednesday to rename Washington National Airport after former President Ronald Reagan.

Why is Tony Blair backing Clinton's war policy in the Persian Gulf?

By Chris Marsden, 6 February 1998

The visit by British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair to Washington confirms his role as President Clinton's main international ally.

Federal mediation in Twin Cities Teamsters strike

By Corey Johnson, 6 February 1998

A federal mediator called on Teamsters union officials and company representatives to meet Thursday in the fourth day of a strike by 2,500 workers against the Honeywell corporation.

Work for the dole in Australia

By Mike Head, 5 February 1998

With the open support of the Labor opposition, the Australian government is establishing a scheme of civil conscription to force increasing numbers of youth and workers into cheap labor conditions. Prime Minister Howard announced a compulsory “work for benefit” scheme for all young unemployed people on January 30.

The question remains: something or nothing?

By David Walsh, 5 February 1998

A difficulty in writing about Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown is that one could repeat much of what one said about his previous film, Pulp Fiction: “The film is above all intended to make an impression on the spectator. One is not meant to know something more about the world by the end of the film—or it’s perhaps an accident if one does—but to develop a certain attitude toward the filmmaker. Every grimace and every laugh, especially every knowing laugh, is a personal triumph for Quentin Tarantino.

The “people’s party” image begins to crumble

By , 5 February 1998

The carefully cultivated image of the British Labour government as the “People’s Party” is crumbling. 

US Congress brays for war 

By the Editorial Board, 5 February 1998

The US Congress has given overwhelming bipartisan support to the Pentagon’s plans for a massive and sustained bombing attack on the civilian population of Iraq. On Wednesday Democrats and Republicans alike swept aside the latest concessionary proposal from Iraq as well as objections from Washington’s allies to the impending bloodbath. 

The Labour government’s agenda in the Irish peace process

By Chris Talbot, 4 February 1998

The British Labour government's proposal for an inquiry into the 1972 shooting of Catholic demonstrators, known as Bloody Sunday, is part of a "peace process" that lacks any basis for providing genuine peace in the north of Ireland.

The Brutal Society

By the Editorial Board, 4 February 1998

The execution of Karla Faye Tucker on Tuesday evening has evoked intense feelings of revulsion all around the world, and a fair amount of shame among not a few Americans. Throughout the day countless millions of people followed the news reports of the last desperate and futile legal maneuvers to save Tucker’s life, horrified by the relentless and remorseless determination of the federal and state authorities to put this woman to death.

Meeting honors Jean Brust: “Jean lives on in all of us”

By , 4 February 1998

The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and the Australian Socialist Equality Party held an international school in Sydney last month on the topic of Marxism and the fundamental problems of the twentieth century. One evening was devoted to a public meeting at which leaders of the ICFI from around the world paid tribute to Jean Brust, a life-long revolutionary who joined the American Trotskyist movement in the 1930s. Comrade Jean died of a stroke on November 24, 1997 at the age of 76.

Karla Faye Tucker: Another victim of state killing

By the Editorial Board, 3 February 1998

The decision of the state of Texas to execute Karla Faye Tucker sets the stage for another state murder. The unanimous decision of the Board of Pardons and Paroles to carry out the first execution of a woman in Texas since the Civil War underscores the increasing resort to capital punishment nationwide.

Clinton budget belies reformist rhetoric

By Martin McLaughlin, 3 February 1998

The $1.7 trillion federal budget submitted by the Clinton administration Monday provides for minimal increases in spending on domestic social programs, while maintaining a massive military establishment and considerably increasing the manpower of federal police agencies.

Why is the US going to war in the Gulf? 

By the Editorial Board, 3 February 1998

The United States government is in the final stages of the buildup for a new war in the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon has deployed two aircraft carriers, numerous warships armed with cruise missiles and a contingent of more than 300 advanced warplanes, ready to launch bombing raids on Iraq on a few hours’ notice.