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New date to be set for execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Fred Mazelis, 30 January 1999

A new date for the execution of former Black Panther and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is expected to be set some time in the next month. Abu-Jamal's attorney Leonard Weinglass estimates that all appeals could be exhausted by this coming May. Abu-Jamal, convicted in the shooting death of a Philadelphia policeman, has already spent more than 16 years on death row.

Some interesting films on US television, January 30-February 5

By Marty Jonas (MJ) and David Walsh (DW), 30 January 1999

Asterisk indicates a film of exceptional interest. All times are EDT.

Australian textile strike enters second month

By Chris Sinnema, 30 January 1999

A strike by 80 workers at the Australian Dyeing Company (ADC) in Clifton Hill, Victoria is about to enter its second month. Members of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union decided to strike at the beginning of December after the company refused to continue negotiations on a new workplace agreement.

Sydney revelations deepen Olympics corruption scandal

By Richard Phillips, 30 January 1999

Attempts by international and Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) officials to maintain a "squeaky-clean" image for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games collapsed dramatically last week when AOC president John Coates released documents revealing that he, and other officials, had been involved in extensive votebuying in 1993 to secure Sydney's Games' bid.

US-EU banana dispute intensifies world trade tensions

By Steve James, 30 January 1999

The unresolved dispute between America and the European Union over bananas is assuming the character of an international line-up--for or against the US. The combatants are also increasingly challenging the mechanisms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in pursuit of their competing goals.

Ambon rioting leaves 100 dead in Indonesia

By Gadis Mardai, 30 January 1999

Rioting by Christian and Muslim gangs on the Indonesian island of Ambon over the last week has left at least 100 people dead and 140 injured according to local aid groups. Thousands of riot police and troops have been deployed to the islands of Ambon, Sanana and Seram in the Maluku province of Indonesia, located about 2,300 kilometres east of Jakarta. Major General Amir Sembiring last Saturday ordered troops to shoot on sight anyone carrying weapons and refusing to surrender them.

The racist and anti-Semitic subtext of the Senate impeachment trial

By Barry Grey, 30 January 1999

Why Sidney Blumenthal, Vernon Jordan and Monica Lewinsky?

Impeachment trial procedure violates due process

By the editorial board, 30 January 1999

There comes the time in any major political struggle when a correspondence begins to emerge between the goals of those waging the struggle and the means which they employ to achieve their ends. The right-wing campaign to depose the Clinton administration is a political coup d'etat, cloaked in quasi-constitutional garb, whose goal is to impose new forms of rule on the American people. The character of these new forms of rule can now be glimpsed in the anti-democratic methods used by the Senate Republican majority in the trial of the President.

China's first major financial bankruptcy

By John Christian and Peter Symonds, 30 January 1999

China's first major bankruptcy of a financial institution--the Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corporation (Gitic) in mid-January--underscores the fragility of the country's financial system and the likelihood of further major restructuring and closures as the growth rate continues to decline.

Asia and Australia

By , 30 January 1999

Software layoffs

Weak and weaker

By David Walsh, 29 January 1999

Hilary and Jackie, directed by Anand Tucker, screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce; Gloria, directed by Sidney Lumet, screenplay by Steve Antin

Britain: Labour pushes ahead with privatisation of education

By Liz Smith, 29 January 1999

The Labour government has outlined further measures to extend its plans for the privatisation of education in Britain. Private companies and consortiums have been invited to bid for contracts to run services currently operated by Local Education Authorities (LEA), including schools. David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education, told the North of England Education Conference he would not rule out a private company taking over the whole of an LEA's education services.

A letter on the worldwide plight of heart patients

By , 29 January 1999

Dear editor,

Former UN official calls for an end to sanctions on Iraq

By Mike Ingram, 29 January 1999

An audience of around 140 people in Sheffield, England were recently presented with a devastating exposé of the role of British and US imperialism in Iraq.

In response to the article: "Intellectual property and computer software"

By , 29 January 1999

Dear editors,

Appeals court reinstates tax case against Webster Hubbell

By Barry Grey, 29 January 1999

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's relentless pursuit of recalcitrant witnesses was given a boost Tuesday by a Federal appeals panel, which reinstated Starr's criminal tax fraud case against Clinton associate and former Justice Department official Webster Hubbell.

Earthquake tragedy compounds social misery in poverty-stricken Colombia

By Jerry White, 29 January 1999

In the aftermath of Monday's earthquake, which devastated cities and towns across Colombia's coffee growing region, thousands of working class and poor residents reacted in anger over delays in government relief. They have ransacked food stores and other locations and clashed with soldiers and police in a desperate search for food and water. President Andres Pastrana has responded by dispatching 2,000 soldiers and 700 extra police to the area.

Australian teacher to challenge frame-up

By Linda Tenenbaum, 29 January 1999

The frame-up and ousting of teachers in the state of Victoria, under the auspices of Teaching Service Order 140 (TSO 140), the notorious legislation enacted by the conservative Kennett state Liberal government in 1993, is being openly challenged in a legal action brought by secondary school teacher, Geraldine Rawson.

Tensions mount in the German PDS

By Ulrich Rippert, 29 January 1999

Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the SED regime, conflicts inside the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism, successor to the ruling Stalinist party [SED] in the former German Democratic Republic [GDR]) are taking sharper and sharper forms. The breach between the PDS's role as an opposition in words and a government party in deeds is becoming increasingly difficult to span.

Pinochet hearing hinges on permissibility of torture

By Chris Marsden, 28 January 1999

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's defence team made an explicit call for torture to be recognised as a legitimate function of a head of state. Focusing her argument against Pinochet's extradition on his claim to sovereign immunity, Clare Montgomery told the Law Lords that only Chile could mount a prosecution. "We would contend that where torture is committed within the context of the military enforcing some internal security policy ... it still falls within the definition of sovereign or government functions. And sovereign or public acts are entitled to immunity.''

Paul Wellstone on "Larry King Live": a revealing exchange

By , 28 January 1999

On January 23 Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat from Minnesota, appeared as a guest on the "Larry King Live Weekend" program on CNN. The television program was devoted to a discussion of the Senate trial of Bill Clinton and, in particular, the issue of whether witnesses should be called to testify. When host Larry King fielded questions from callers, the following exchange took place:

Striking Australian coal miners sacked

By Barry Jobson and Terry Cook, 28 January 1999

Coal Operations Australia sacked the entire 42-member workforce from its Chain Valley Bay underground coal mine near Newcastle, New South Wales last week. The miners, who have been on strike for nine weeks against the company's attempts to cut wages and slash conditions, were informed that the mine would close on February 15, leaving only eight people from middle management to carry out care and maintenance.

Conyers defends Democrats' silence on impeachment conspiracy

By Jerry White, 28 January 1999

At a forum held last Sunday at Michigan State University, John Conyers, a senior Democratic Congressman from Detroit, acknowledged that the Senate impeachment trial is the outcome of an immense political conspiracy, but that he and his fellow Democrats have decided to conceal their knowledge of this plot from the American people.

US Supreme Court overturns sampling in Census

By Martin McLaughlin, 28 January 1999

The US Supreme Court gave a limited victory to right-wing opponents of a more accurate Census count of the poor and minorities, with a ruling January 25 which restricts the use of sampling methods in the population count to be conducted in the year 2000.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa

By , 28 January 1999

German engineering workers to strike for higher pay

Australian agents spied for US in Iraq

By Mike Head, 28 January 1999

Australian spies working as United Nations (UNSCOM) weapons inspectors in Iraq supplied intelligence directly to the United States in the leadup to last December's bombing of Iraq, a former US-appointed UNSCOM leader, Scott Ritter, has told the Canberra Times.

Crisis in Kosovo intensifies

By Justus Leicht and Peter Schwarz, 28 January 1999

Three months after the Kosovo peace deal brokered by US representative Richard Holbrooke and Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic, the threat of war in the Balkans looms once again.

What is happening in Yemen?

By Barbara Slaughter, 27 January 1999

Relations between Britain and Yemen continue to deteriorate daily. On January 25, Yemen made an official request for the extradition of Muslim cleric, Abu Hamza al-Masri, amidst claims that Britain had a long record of harbouring terrorist groups intent on destabilising the Yemeni government. The official Yemeni news agency said a letter from President Saleh addressed to Tony Blair "expresses the discontent of the Yemeni Government with the terrorist activities led by the terrorist Abu Hamza al- Masri and other people from British territory."

Canadian telecommunications giant to slash jobs and wages

By a correspondent, 27 January 1999

Two subsidiaries of Canadian telecommunications giant BCE, one of Canada's most profitable companies, have begun the new year by unveiling restructuring plans that will adversely affect thousands of workers in Canada and abroad.

Senate impeachment trial: a conspiracy of silence

By Martin McLaughlin, 27 January 1999

As the Senate trial of President Clinton moves towards a decision, the policy of the White House and the Senate Democrats is to keep hidden from the American people the true implications of the political crisis that has dominated Washington for over a year.

Surge of job cuts by US retailers

By Shannon Jones, 27 January 1999

US corporations announced major job cuts over the past several weeks, continuing the rapid pace set in the fourth quarter of 1998. Retailers Montgomery Ward and Caldor Corp. led the way, announcing scores of store closings in the wake of disappointing Christmas sales.

US high court upholds death sentence of Canadian on death row in Texas

By Kate Randall, 27 January 1999

The Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal by Joseph Stanley Faulder, a Canadian citizen on death row in Texas. Faulder, 61, was sentenced to death for a 1975 murder. The high court had issued a rare, last-minute stay of execution in the case last December while it considered the Jasper, Alberta native's claims that his rights had been violated under international law. This latest ruling means that Texas can now reschedule the execution.

Cast adrift

By David Walsh, 27 January 1999

A Simple Plan, directed by Sam Raimi, adapted by Scott B. Smith from his own novel

Unions protest Australian government ban on Tamil socialist

By Linda Tenenbaum, 27 January 1999

The Australian Education Union (AEU) and the Plantation and Industrial Workers Union of Sri Lanka (PIWU) have called on the Australian High Commission in Colombo to reverse its decision barring Tamil socialist Rajendiram Sutharsan from entering Australia.

"Made to look silly and laughable"--the PDS in Germany reacts to the erection of a statue of Rosa Luxemburg

By Stefan Steinberg, 27 January 1999

On 10 January Lothar Bisky, Gregor Gysi and other leading members of the German Party of Democratic Socialism marched to the resting place of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht and laid wreaths on their graves at the Lichtenberg cemetery in East Berlin. (The Party of Democratic Socialism [PDS] is the successor party to the ruling Stalinist party [the SED] in the former German Democratic Republic [East Germany]).

Stars and celebrity

By , 26 January 1999

Dear David Walsh,

Japanese finance minister attacks "Washington consensus"

By Nick Beams, 26 January 1999

Japan's vice-finance minister for international affairs, Eisuke Sakakibara, often described as the country's top financial diplomat, has warned of a major meltdown unless the international financial system is reformed. He attacked what he called "American dominance" of the International Monetary Fund.

The Americas

By , 26 January 1999

Mexican government arrests leaders of teachers union

Cutbacks to New Zealand fire services

By a correspondent, 26 January 1999

The long-planned restructuring of the New Zealand Fire Service began this week with the loss of 100 firefighters' jobs nationwide and the decommissioning of fire appliances in the major cities of Wellington and Dunedin. The result will be a significantly depleted service with increases in workload and levels of danger for the remaining 1,500 firefighters.

MI6 involved in spying against Iraq through UNSCOM

By Julie Hyland, 26 January 1999

An investigation by the Independent newspaper disclosed on Monday, January 25 that British secret intelligence agents worked as part of the United Nations teams of arms inspectors (UNSCOM) in Iraq.

Clinton proposes huge police buildup

By Martin McLaughlin, 26 January 1999

In a speech January 22 to the National Academy of Sciences, President Clinton announced a $10 billion plan to strengthen the repressive powers of the federal government, in the name of waging war against "terrorism." Combined with $6.6 billion in new spending on anti-missile systems and a $110 billion increase in the Pentagon budget over the next six years, the Clinton administration will launch the biggest military-police buildup since the heyday of Ronald Reagan.

The new "White Australia" Policy

By Mike Head, 26 January 1999

The Australian government's decision to refuse a visitor's visa to Rajendiram Sutharsan, a Tamil member of the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka, is part of a wider crackdown against not only visitors but also refugees and immigrants from Sri Lanka and other impoverished, particularly Asian, countries.

"The film has no precedents that I know of"

By , 26 January 1999

Thank you, David Walsh, for your extraordinary review of The Thin Red Line.

The Clinton trial

By , 26 January 1999

I agree completely with your reasoned arguments regarding the right-wing attack on President Clinton. Why is it that the mainstream press is more interested in hearing the views of their standard "talking heads" than providing a true analysis of the illegality of the actions taken against our President? What can any of us do that are not in the political power structure to help stop this tawdry and illegal action by the Congress? Also, the latest and most ridiculous claim by the Republican majority to date is that they will decide on whether or not witnesses are to be called after they hear both sides of the argument. Any thinking person knows they decided that immediately after the house right-wing advocates told them they must allow witnesses to be called. The vote to call witnesses will be pretty close to 55 to 45 in favor. If any perjury is being done it is being done by the Senate Republicans at this time.

US officials admit missiles hit Iraqi residential areas

By David Walsh, 26 January 1999

US military officials acknowledged Monday that missiles fired by American warplanes may have struck residential neighborhoods in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, resulting in the death and wounding of dozens of civilians. Pentagon officials privately told journalists, according to the Associated Press, that the planes misfired and at least two missiles might have caused the deaths. Publicly, US officials refused to admit responsibility. A military spokesman, Navy Capt. Michael Doubleday, told reporters, "We're still assessing the site damage," and could not say whether civilians were hit because "we don't have any details."

New York: Nassau County jail guards stomp man to death

By Alan Whyte, 26 January 1999

Thomas Pizzuto, age 38, entered the Nassau County jail in Garden City, New York on January 8 to serve the first day of a 90-day sentence for a traffic violation. Five days later he was dead. Mr. Pizzuto, a part-time deliveryman for the New York City school system, was originally arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and leaving the scene of an accident.

Starr intervenes to salvage House Republicans' case against Clinton

By Barry Grey, 25 January 1999

Republican House prosecutors, acting under the auspices of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, questioned Monica Lewinsky behind closed doors on Sunday in a transparent effort to coerce testimony damaging to the White House's defense in the ongoing Senate impeachment trial.

The Senate impeachment trial: White House lawyers expose legal frame-up

By Barry Grey, 23 January 1999

In three days of pointed arguments, White House lawyers presented a devastating rebuttal of the articles of impeachment against President Clinton. One after another, the attorneys dismantled the entire edifice of the Republican case. They demonstrated that the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were based on the falsification of evidence, misrepresentation of testimony and groundless speculation.

Detroit Medical Center begins layoffs

By D'Artagnan Collier, 23 January 1999

The day after President Bill Clinton said in his State of the Union address that the poor should have greater access to emergency medical care and closer hospitals, hospital workers and residents in Southeastern Michigan received another blow from the healthcare industry.

Labour's proposed changes to House of Lords are undemocratic

By Tony Hyland, 23 January 1999

The Blair Labour government this week issued a short bill and an accompanying 50-page White Paper entitled: "Modernising Parliament: Reforming the House of Lords". The former contains proposals to remove the majority of the 750 hereditary peers from Britain's second chamber by autumn this year. The latter is a series of proposals for what will replace the current setup, to be finalised before the next election in 2002. These are referred to as Stage 1 and 2 of the process.

The view from outside the Pinochet hearing

By Vicky Short, 23 January 1999

Britain's Law Lords ended their first week of hearing evidence in the extradition case against General Augusto Pinochet Thursday. Whilst dozens of journalists and TV cameras have relayed images of the composed proceedings within the House of Lords, little has been shown of events outside. Here the mood is of extreme tension.

East Timor and the politics of oil

By Mike Head, 23 January 1999

Rarely does a veteran diplomat reveal the real concerns driving the foreign policy manoeuvres of a government he has served for decades. Such is the case, however, with an article that appeared in the Australian Financial Review this week written by Richard Woolcott, a former Australian ambassador to Indonesia and then secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Storm clouds gather over US economy

By Nick Beams, 23 January 1999

The New York stock market ended the week with a 143 point fall amid rising concerns over the Brazilian financial crisis, whether the Internet stock bubble has finally burst and the long-term prospects for the continued expansion of the US economy.

New land laws in Vietnam will lead to greater rural poverty

By Andrew Sinnema, 23 January 1999

At the end of last year, the National Assembly in Vietnam adopted new land legislation. It was part of five draft laws demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to facilitate private business and encourage international investment. Other legal revisions are due to be implemented by early 1999, including changes to legislation on peoples committees and councils, education and the criminal code.

Australian authorities silent on exclusion of Tamil socialist

By Linda Tenenbaum, 23 January 1999

Australian immigration authorities have so far failed to acknowledge, let alone reply to, any of the letters, faxes and emails sent from around the world, protesting the government's denial of a visitor's visa to Tamil socialist Rajendiram Sutharsan.

Doctor opposes firing of medical journal editor

By , 23 January 1999

To the editor,

Asia and Australia

By , 23 January 1999

Unemployed workers protest

Romanian miners' protest ends

By Jerry White, 23 January 1999

Romanian Prime Minister Radu Vasile announced an agreement Friday with protesting coal miners marching on Bucharest to press their demands for wage increases and the reopening of closed pits. Earlier in the week between 7,000 and 10,000 demonstrators armed with Molatov cocktails, clubs and shovels clashed with riot police and special interior ministry forces and twice broke through concrete-reinforced barricades to continue their march. The striking miners had marched nearly 100 miles from the central Jiu Valley coal region and were within 110 miles of the capital when the deal was struck.

A horrible state of war

By , 23 January 1999

The Thin Red Line, written and directed by Terrence Malick, based on the novel by James Jones

Some interesting films on US television, January 23-29

By Marty Jonas (MJ) and David Walsh (DW), 23 January 1999

Asterisk indicates a film of exceptional interest. All times are EDT.

Ashdown resignation a blow to Blair

By Chris Marsden, 22 January 1999

The announcement by Paddy Ashdown that he will stand down as leader of the Liberal Democrats after the European election in June is a blow to Prime Minister Tony Blair's plans for closer ties with Britain's third biggest party.

IMF "mistakes" part of a long-developed program

By Nick Beams, 22 January 1999

Press reports that the International Monetary Fund has admitted to "substantial mistakes" in its response to the Asian financial crisis appear to be somewhat wide of the mark.

Social tensions rise in China

By Peter Symonds, 22 January 1999

Reports from human rights groups of protests by workers and small farmers in China over the last month provide a glimpse of the social tensions being produced by a slowdown in the economy, large-scale layoffs from state-owned enterprises and high levels of unemployment.

Prosecution argues for international law at Pinochet hearing

By Julie Hyland, 22 January 1999

Prosecution lawyers have continued giving evidence to support the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet before Law Lords in London.

"Out of Sight, Out of Mind?"

By Andrea Peters, 22 January 1999

In 50 major cities in the United States--in places as distant as Fresno, California and Buffalo, New York--for the past several years city legislators have expended concentrated efforts to mobilize the legal system in the service of various "urban renewal" projects. One goal of such activity has been the attempt to physically remove a very visual urban "blight"--the homeless.

Greek students protest against PASOK government

By Jean Shaoul and Liz Smith, 22 January 1999

For the past two months, thousands of school students throughout Greece have carried out occupations, roadblocks and demonstrations against the PASOK government's proposals for "improving the efficiency and effectiveness" of education.

The new "White Australia" Policy

By Mike Head, 22 January 1999

The Australian government's decision to refuse a visitor's visa to Rajendiram Sutharsan, a Tamil member of the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka, is part of a wider crackdown against not only visitors but also refugees and immigrants from Sri Lanka and other impoverished, particularly Asian, countries.

Montreal firefighters suspend pressure tactics

By a correspondent, 22 January 1999

Under threat of punitive action by Quebec's Essential Services Council and the placing of their union under state trusteeship, Montreal firefighters have suspended pressure tactics aimed at forcing the city to live up to a minimum staffing agreement.

UK admits hostages in Chechnya were asked to report sensitive information

By Mike Ingram, 21 January 1999

Reports last week shed new light on the brutal killing of three Britons and a New Zealander in Chechnya at the end of last year. The four engineers, Rudolf Petschi, Stanley Shaw, Daren Hickey and Peter Kennedy, were kidnapped in Grozny in October while working for Granger Telecom installing a mobile communications system.

The failed vote of no-confidence in the European Parliament

By Peter Schwarz, 21 January 1999

Just two weeks after the introduction of the euro as the unified European currency a serious crisis has shaken the institutions of the European Union.

A Civil Action: a compelling tale loses much of its impact

By Kate Randall, 21 January 1999

A Civil Action, written and directed by Steven Zaillian, based on the book by Jonathan Harr.

US medical journal editor fired in cave-in to the right

By David Walsh, 21 January 1999

Dr. George D. Lundberg was fired January 15 as editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), after 17 years in the post, following the magazine's publication in its most recent issue of a survey of sexual attitudes of US college students. The brief study indicated that 59 percent of those questioned did not define oral-genital contact as "having sex." Bill Clinton advanced the same view in rejecting the accusation that he lied about the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Australian waterfront workers face further job cuts

By Terry Cook, 21 January 1999

Australia's largest stevedoring company, P & O Ports, is demanding the elimination of 520 jobs from its 1,300-strong national workforce, together with sweeping changes in working conditions. According to union officials the job cuts at the company's Sydney terminal at Port Botany, the second biggest in the country, will far exceed 40 percent.

The worsening state of working America

By Nick Beams, 21 January 1999

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club earlier this month US president Bill Clinton greeted news of a fall in unemployment by declaring that the economy was now a "rising tide that is lifting all boats." The phrase was a throwback to the claims made by Kennedy in the early 1960s, at the height of the post-war boom, when it did indeed appear that economic growth and increased business profits went hand in hand with improved living standards for working class and middle class families.

White House Counsel refutes case against Clinton

By Martin McLaughlin, 21 January 1999

The opening statement by White House Counsel Charles C.F. Ruff in the Senate trial of President Clinton combined effective legal and constitutional arguments with veiled hints to his audience of 100 senators that a full-scale trial, with witnesses and intensive cross-examination, would have politically explosive and unpredictable results.

The euro's launch heralds major economic and social conflicts

By Chris Talbot and Chris Marsden, 21 January 1999

The launch of the euro this month, unifying 11 economies in a common currency zone, creates a market of nearly 300 million people, second in importance only to that of the United States. The world's governments and the financial press have been dominated by one question: "Will the euro challenge the pre-eminence of the dollar?"

Europe, Africa and the Middle East

By , 21 January 1999

Dutch teachers strike for pay increases

Clinton's State of the Union address: a speech in full denial

By Barry Grey, 21 January 1999

"To describe the State of the Union, I suppose I must begin by noting that I am the first elected president in the history of the United States to be impeached, and even as we meet more than half of the senators who are in this chamber are planning to convict me in the trial that is presently under way. This trial is the product of a political conspiracy aimed at removing the government by means of a pseudo-legal coup d'etat. This situation, clearly, does not indicate that the State of the Union is all that healthy. Rather, to be blunt, our Union is a very sick one."

Julie Hiatt Steele to fight Starr's indictment

By Jerry White, 21 January 1999

Julie Hiatt Steele told a federal judge Tuesday that she was "absolutely not guilty" of the charges brought by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr of obstruction of justice and making false statements. Following her not guilty plea Steele told reporters outside the Alexandria, Virginia courthouse that she would fight the Independent Counsel's indictment with "every last breath in my body."

Banana war threatens jobs and heralds wider trade conflicts

By Steve James, 20 January 1999

Thousands of jobs are threatened by the escalating trade war between the US and Europe, as the US government moves to impose sanctions that would double the price of a range of European Union (EU) produced luxury items.

The new "White Australia" Policy

By Mike Head, 20 January 1999

The Australian government's decision to refuse a visitor's visa to Rajendiram Sutharsan, a Tamil member of the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka, is part of a wider crackdown not only against visitors but also aimed at refugees and immigrants from Sri Lanka and other impoverished, particularly Asian, countries.

Retreat by prosecution in Pinochet extradition case

By Julie Hyland, 20 January 1999

The Chilean military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet was responsible for torturing its opponents with flamethrowers, crushing their bones and using dogs to rape women, lawyers acting on behalf of the Spanish government told the Law Lords on Monday.

Castroism at forty: the dead-end of petty-bourgeois nationalism

By Bill Vann, 20 January 1999

With the beginning of the new year, Fidel Castro marked the fortieth anniversary of his coming to power. He has outlasted eight US presidents. Each maintained a policy of strangling his regime, either by military force, CIA-backed subversion, economic pressure or the assassination of the Cuban president himself.

Pennsylvania mother charged in the fire deaths of her four children

By Paul Scherrer, 20 January 1999

The mother of four children who died in a tragic house fire in Farrell, Pennsylvania on November 30 has been arrested and charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of children. Farrell is a small town northwest of Pittsburgh with a population 8,600.

Sri Lankan newspapers report Australian government exclusion of Tamil socialist

By Linda Tenenbaum, 20 January 1999

Two Sri Lankan newspapers have carried reports on the decision by the Australian High Commission in Colombo to deny a visitor's visa to Tamil socialist Rajendiram Sutharsan, a member of the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka.

"One must see nature as no-one has seen it before"

By Adrian Falk, 20 January 1999

Anyone visiting Sydney before February 28 should take advantage of this unequalled opportunity to see 82 works by one of the very greatest artists. The exhibition is the product of eight years' planning, with pictures loaned from many public and private collections. It is intelligently curated and beautifully presented. To describe it as a "once in a lifetime" experience would not be an overstatement.

A curious silence

By David Walsh, 20 January 1999

A significant aspect of the ongoing drive to oust Bill Clinton has been the virtual silence of the American mass media, particularly the major networks, on the links between leading Republicans in the House and Senate and extreme right-wing and racist organizations.

A materialist examination of human consciousness

By , 20 January 1999

Daniel C. Dennett's book Consciousness Explained, published in 1991, has been at the center of a large body of debate. Aimed at both the lay person and the scientist, the book became a bestseller and was described by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of that year.

Clinton silent on the impeachment conspiracy

By Barry Grey, 19 January 1999

On the eve of the State of the Union address, White House spokesmen have made it clear that Bill Clinton intends to make no mention of the Senate impeachment trial. In what could be his last opportunity to publicly counter his accusers before a mass television audience, Clinton will do what he has done consistently since the present crisis erupted nearly a year ago--sidestep a confrontation with the right-wing forces pressing for his removal.

American retailers involved in sweatshop racketeering on US-Pacific territory

By Cory Johnson, 19 January 1999

Three lawsuits filed January 13 in California state court on behalf of 50,000 foreign garment workers charge major US retailers with "racketeering conspiracy" for producing clothing with indentured labor under sweatshop conditions on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US Commonwealth in the South Pacific.

Hunger will increase in 1999, UN warns

By Debra Watson, 19 January 1999

The head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has warned that 1999 will be another year of dramatic increases in world hunger levels. On the eve of the new year Executive Director Catherine Bertini warned: "Forecasts for 1999 show there will likely be an increase in the number of countries suffering emergencies and the number of people needing humanitarian assistance. We have to enter 1999 with an understanding that we may face an increased threat of famine, malnutrition and endemic hunger."

Police officers evade disciplinary charges in racist killing of Stephen Lawrence

By Tony Hyland, 19 January 1999

The only senior officer to face disciplinary charges arising from the police handling of the murder investigation into the 1993 racist killing of 18-year-old black student Stephen Lawrence is to retire. The news broke only 20 hours after the publication of a report by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) which stated that the officer--Detective Inspector Ben Bullock--was to face an internal tribunal over seven counts of neglect of duty.

World scientists meet to discuss Coto de Doñana disaster

By Vicky Short, 19 January 1999

Nine months after the ecological disaster that hit Europe's biggest natural park, the Coto de Doñana in the south of Spain, 60 scientists from Europe, the US, Chile and South Africa met to discuss how to treat the heavy metals remaining in the area. Sponsored by the European Foundation for Science and the Scientific Investigations High Council--Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cient'ficas (CSIC)--they held a four-day conference in a Seville hotel.

"The persuasive power of your articles lies in your insistence on upholding the highest journalistic standards"

By , 19 January 1999

At a time in this country when we are sorely lacking in heroes, you ladies and gentlemen have distinguished yourselves as such in the truest sense of the word. You have my sincerest thanks, as well as that of, I would hope, millions of Americans across the nation. Your courage in bringing the truth to the people, as well as your journalistic standards and integrity, clearly put you in a class by yourself.

The Americas

By , 19 January 1999

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature by e-mailing information to editor@wsws.org

"Week one of the impeachment trial"

By , 19 January 1999

To the editor:

Appreciation for the commentary on Michael Jordan's retirement

By , 19 January 1999

David Walsh has written one of the most accurate assessments of sports-crazed America that I have read. The fascination with sports figures has long concerned me, and perplexed me. I did not understand this. But, he is correct, we do live in a moral and intellectual vacuum and there are no legitimate figures in our society that offer hero status. The moral and intellectual vacuum will exist as long as the useless politicians refuse to raise education to its proper level in capitalist America.

New Zealand government boosts security agency powers

By a correspondent, 19 January 1999

In mid-December, New Zealand's minority National Party government rushed legislation through parliament, as a matter of emergency, to give the country's Security Intelligence Service (SIS) retrospective powers to break into private homes and remove documents, personal belongings and communications material, including computer hardware and software.

1990s-style student unionism

By Laura Mitchell, 19 January 1999

A recent spate of disciplinary actions against student clubs and societies at the University of Melbourne in Australia has highlighted the way in which student unions have become increasingly integrated with university management and government. Repeated attempts to block the affiliation of the Socialist Equality Party Student Club provide the most graphic example of this process.

International protests against Australian government exclusion of Tamil socialist

By , 19 January 1999

Further protests from Europe, the United States, New Zealand and Australia have been sent to the Australian government, demanding the reversal of its racialist and politically-motivated decision to bar Tamil socialist, Rajendiram Sutharsan from visiting the country.