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Clinton signals a shift to a wider war against Serbia

By the Editorial Board, 31 March 1999

Amid reports that the air bombardment of Serb forces has been far less effective than originally claimed, President Clinton on Tuesday indicated that the United States is preparing to vastly expand its military offensive in Serbia.

Britain's Home Secretary considers freedom for Pinochet

By Chris Marsden, 31 March 1999

On Monday, lawyers for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet were empowered by the High Court to challenge Home Secretary Jack Straw's decision last December to authorise extradition proceedings against him. Pinochet faces extradition to Spain on charges of murder, torture and other crimes against humanity.

Yugoslav immigrant condemns US bombing

By , 31 March 1999

Erik Siljak, a Yugoslav immigrant to the US, is the host of Global Kitchen, a weekly program on KVMR, Nevada City (89.5 FM) and Sacramento (99.3 FM), California, which may be heard in Real Audio at He has written the following letter to the World Socialist Web Site:

NATO attack on Serbia has repercussions for Europe as a whole

By Peter Schwarz, 31 March 1999

Little more than a week of intensive air attacks against Serbia has resulted in numerous military and civilian facilities and factories going up in flames and the deaths of an untold number of human beings. Also included amongst the first casualties of the war is what remained of the world order that provided Europe with a certain degree of stability over the past five decades.

Sri Lankan bank workers defy court injunction

By a correspondent, 31 March 1999

Over 4,000 commercial bank workers in Sri Lanka staged a noontime picket and a half-day walkout on March 25, defying a district court order. On the same day more than 20,000 state bank workers also went on a half-day strike in support of their wage demands. These commercial and state bank employees are members of the Ceylon Bank Employees Union.

Canada: Liberals adopt emergency law to end federal workers strike

By Paula da Luz, 31 March 1999

The Liberal government rushed emergency legislation through Parliament last week to put an end to a campaign of rotating strikes by the federal government's 14,000 blue-collar workers.

New York welfare policy claims a second infant's life

By Alan Whyte, 31 March 1999

When Tabitha Walrond, a 19-year-old welfare recipient in the Bronx, gave birth she decided to breast-feed her son Tyler. Seven weeks later her child died of malnutrition.

Interview with an actor on the Elia Kazan controversy: "I think it was one of the darkest periods in our history"

By , 31 March 1999

Victor Contreras is a film, television and stage actor, residing in the Los Angeles area, who appears in both English and Spanish-language productions. He is a former national and local board member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). WSWS arts editor David Walsh interviewed Contreras recently on his attitude toward the lifetime achievement award bestowed on director Elia Kazan, renowned for his role as an informer during the anticommunist witch-hunts of the 1950s, at the March 21 Academy Awards ceremony.

Amnesty International condemns US for executions and police brutality

By Kate Randall, 31 March 1999

At the opening of the United Nations Human Rights Commission's annual session last week, the human rights group Amnesty International denounced the United States for police brutality and its violation of human rights standards through the use of the death penalty.

Michigan fireworks factory cited for repeated safety violations before fatal blast

By Jerry White, 31 March 1999

The Michigan fireworks factory where an explosion Monday killed five people was guilty of "serious and willful safety violations" according to state officials who investigated an earlier blast at the plant that left seven workers dead. A forthcoming Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) report on the December 11, 1998 explosion cited Independence Professional Fireworks Co. for violations that posed a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm to workers.

Ireland: Report cites Royal Ulster Constabulary hostility to murdered civil rights lawyer

By Mike Ingram, 31 March 1999

In the aftermath of the loyalist car bombing that killed civil rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson on March 15, attention has focused on allegations of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) collusion in this and other murders.

Three day strike by New Zealand nurses

By a correspondent, 30 March 1999

About 1,800 nurses in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand went on strike for three days last week over their employment contract. The strike was the first industrial action taken by the region's nurses for 10 years, and the first of such duration in their history.

Rallies in Australian cities denounce NATO attack

By James Conachy, 30 March 1999

Thousands of people, predominantly from the Serbian community, demonstrated outside US consulates in major Australian cities on Sunday, venting their outrage at the NATO attack on Yugoslavia. Eight thousand rallied in Sydney and 6,000 in Melbourne. Smaller rallies were held in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart.

Worldwide protests against US-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia

By Jerry White, 30 March 1999

Tens of thousands of people participated in worldwide protests over the weekend against the US-NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. Serbian émigrés as well as other workers and students opposed to the war protested in demonstrations held in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Fictitious capital and the rise of the Dow

By Nick Beams, 30 March 1999

As the Dow Jones industrial index edged towards 10,000 in Wall Street trading earlier this month, a commentator on the CNBC business channel was heard to remark: "Let us wait a while and see if we can add some more value."

Explosion at Michigan fireworks factory kills at least four workers

By Jerry White, 30 March 1999

At least four people were killed Monday in an explosion and fire that tore through a fireworks factory near Osseo, Michigan where seven other workers perished in a similar blast three months ago.

US, NATO prepare public opinion for ground war against Serbia

By the Editorial Board, 30 March 1999

Less than one week ago, according to no less an authority than President Bill Clinton, most Americans had never heard of Kosovo and would not know where to find it on a world map.

Support for old parties plunges

By Mike Head, 30 March 1999

A collapse in support for the opposition Liberal-National Party Coalition saw the Australian Labor Party government of Premier Bob Carr returned with an increased majority in the New South Wales state election last Saturday. Labor's vote only rose by 1.4 percentage points to 42.7 percent but it will hold a majority of at least 13 seats in the 93-member lower house, the Legislative Assembly, compared to a margin of just three seats before the election.

Thousands demonstrate in Germany against NATO military strikes

By Stefan Steinberg, 30 March 1999

Demonstrations against the NATO military action in Yugoslavia took place in a number of German cities last Saturday. In Stuttgart a 3,000-strong demonstration, predominantly Serbs, marched through the city centre carrying placards denouncing the role of the German, European and Clinton governments in supporting the bombing in Yugoslavia. A total of 800,000 Serbs live today in the German republic.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 30 March 1999

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

British Liberal media and ex-radicals declare support for bombing of Kosovo

By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 30 March 1999

Though the Labour government again refused to allow a vote on NATO's war against Serbia at the end of a parliamentary debate on Thursday, March 25, this would have been won comfortably. There was near unanimity on the Labour benches and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both pledged their support.

An oddly human work

By , 30 March 1999

True Crime, directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Larry Gross, Paul Brickman and Stephen Schiff, based on the novel by Andrew Klavan

Stanley Kubrick--an appreciation

By Marty Jonas, 27 March 1999

Stanley Kubrick, who died of a heart attack outside London on March 7 at the age of 70, was one of the outstanding film directors of his generation. A perfectionist, his output was very low compared with others in the industry--in 39 years he made only 13 films, 6 of those in the last 35 years. But what he made was influential, unique and uniformly excellent. Kubrick was independent-minded and unbeholden to any studio or media conglomerate.

Political police will hack into computers

By Mike Head, 27 March 1999

Australia's political intelligence agency will be able to hack into computers via the Internet, plant tracking devices on people and obtain emergency warrants to enter and search premises under a new Bill introduced by the Howard government on Thursday. These provisions have serious implications for free speech and the right to political discussion, particularly in relation to use of the Internet.

One in five British adults have serious problems reading and counting

By Tania Kent, 27 March 1999

A report published by the Blair Labour government on Thursday has revealed high levels of illiteracy and innumeracy amongst Britain's population. Seven million adults in Britain have serious problems with reading and maths skills, a bigger proportion than in any other country in Europe apart from Poland and Ireland.

US military uses Yugoslavia as testing ground for high-tech weaponry

By Jerry White, 27 March 1999

The US military has welcomed the confrontation with Serbia as an opportunity to test its arsenal of high-tech weaponry and to train American military personnel in a new theater of war.

War dominates the European Union summit in Berlin

By Ulrich Rippert, 27 March 1999

As the heads of state of the 15 EU countries met in the German capital Berlin last Wednesday, the crisis of the European Union was painfully evident.

General strike by Israeli public sector workers

By a correspondent, 27 March 1999

Four hundred thousand public sector workers, members of the Israeli Trades Union Federation (Histadrut), commenced a general strike on Wednesday. The action was started after negotiations with the treasury had failed. It was preceded by a civil servants strike and work to rule by schoolteachers a few days before. The Histadrut is demanding 14 percent compensation for inflation both in 1998 and 1999. The Treasury, headed by the newly appointed minister Me'ir Shitritt, has refused to pay the workers more than a 3.1 percent increase, claiming the value of their real wages has kept up, despite the 8.6 percent inflation in 1998.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 27 March 1999

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

Some interesting films on US television, March 27-April 2

By Marty Jonas (MJ) and David Walsh (DW), 27 March 1999

Video pick of the week--find it in your video store

Britain's anti-terror squad arrest Abu Hamza al-Masri

By Barbara Slaughter, 26 March 1999

Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, the Muslim cleric from Finsbury Park Mosque, London, whose son is currently on trial in Yemen, was arrested in a dawn raid in London on Monday, March 15. Two other men were also arrested, including Yasir al-Sirri, an Egyptian asylum-seeker who runs the London-based Islamic Observer Centre, a registered charity for the defence of human rights.

Angolan civil war escalates

By Chris Talbot and Stuart Nolan, 26 March 1999

The remaining United Nations peacekeeping force has pulled out of Angola, following its failure to stop the resumption of the civil war that originally began 23 years ago. In 1992 the UN first began negotiating a settlement between the Unita rebel movement of Jonas Savimbi and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the governing party since independence in 1975. In 1994 the UN brokered the Lusaka Peace Accord between Unita and the MPLA, and a "government of national reconciliation" was created, monitored by UN troops.

Another victim of welfare reform: 11-month-old baby dies in Pennsylvania house fire

By Paul Scherrer, 26 March 1999

An 11-month-old baby became the fifth fatality in Western Pennsylvania directly attributed to welfare reform laws that drastically cut benefits for young mothers.

Indian budget lauded by big business

By Deepal Jayasekera, 26 March 1999

Indian big business has for the most part enthusiastically welcomed last month's budget, the second to be presented by the shaky, Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government. "I would rate this budget at 9, on a scale of 1 to 10," declared the chairman of Bajaj Auto, a major car and motorcycle manufacturer. "Overall it is a good budget," said Tarun Das, secretary general of the Confederation of Indian Industry. The head of India's largest private steel maker, Jamshed Irani, praised Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha for trying "to give something for everybody under very difficult conditions."

McDougal trial exposes Starr-media conspiracy

By Shannon Jones and Martin McLaughlin, 26 March 1999

Testimony in the trial of Susan McDougal in Little Rock, Arkansas this week has dealt a blow to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and produced major revelations about the role of Starr's office, the media and right-wing elements in Arkansas in engineering the impeachment campaign against Bill Clinton.

Whom will the United States bomb next?

By the Editorial Board, 26 March 1999

Also in Serbo-Croatian

British Lords issue ruling on Pinochet appeal--stage set for further litigation in extradition case

By Chris Marsden, 25 March 1999

The panel of seven Law Lords decided by a majority vote of 6-1 to overturn the earlier decision by the High Court that former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet enjoyed immunity from arrest and extradition as a former head of state.

House Republicans block vote to condemn racist group

By Martin McLaughlin, 25 March 1999

The Republican majority in the US House of Representatives is using parliamentary maneuvers to prevent a vote on a resolution condemning the white supremacist views of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Several Republican congressional leaders have had close ties with the organization, including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.

US-NATO bombs fall on Serbia: the "New World Order" takes shape

By the editorial board, 25 March 1999

Also in Serbo-Croatian

Australian state election reveals youth opposition to Labor

By , 25 March 1999

Many questions are raised by the deliberate lighting of two fires in the campaign office of Tony Stewart, the Australian Labor Party candidate for Bankstown in the New South Wales state election.

Victorian Labor Party pitches for big business support

By Peter Byrne, 25 March 1999

In an attempt to improve its poor electoral prospects, the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party installed a new parliamentary leader this week. The previous lacklustre leadership of John Brumby had become an issue in bitter factional divisions, culminating in a walkout by trade union delegates at last month's state ALP conference.

Workers struggles: Europe, the Middle East and Africa

By , 25 March 1999

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

Letters from WSWS readers on Elia Kazan and the Oscars

By , 25 March 1999

To Whom It May Concern:

Election slump for Finnish social democrats

By Steve James, 25 March 1999

The outcome of Sunday's general election to Finland's single chamber parliament, the Eduskunta, proved humiliating for the Finnish social democrats, the SPD. Although the SPD remains the largest party, it lost 12 seats compared with the previous election in 1995, slumping to 51 seats out of 200, just three seats ahead of its closest rival. The party's overall vote fell from 28.3 percent to 22.9 percent.

Lafontaine's resignation: how German business pressured the government to change course

By Ulrich Rippert, 24 March 1999

"Money rules the world" is an oft heard expression. The phrase assumes new meaning in light of the events of the past weeks. In the days following the spectacular resignation by German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine from all political offices, new details have emerged which verify the enormous pressure exerted by leading members of the employer organisations, company chiefs and the business lobby in an effort to impose their course on the government.

In a fresh attack on Kurdish democratic rights, UK watchdog shuts down Med TV station

By Mike Ingram, 24 March 1999

Within weeks of the mass protests throughout Europe over the forced extradition of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, new protests took place in London yesterday. This time protestors were demonstrating against the Independent Television Commission (ITC), the TV watchdog, that closed down a Kurdish satellite television station.

Dayton Accord near collapse: the political crisis in Bosnia

By Justus Leicht, 24 March 1999

As NATO prepares to impose the so-called Dayton II model for Kosovo by military force, Dayton I--the "peace accord" for Bosnia adopted four years ago--is falling apart.

Account of McCarthy period slanders socialist opponents of Stalinism

By Shannon Jones, 24 March 1999

Many are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America by Ellen Schrecker, Little, Brown and Company, 1998, 573 pages

European Human Rights Commission challenges UK sentencing procedures in the Jamie Bulger case

By Julie Hyland, 24 March 1999

"A community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment, than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime" (The Soul of Man under Socialism, by Oscar Wilde).

New Zealand firefighters' union gives go-ahead for job cuts and restructuring

By a correspondent, 24 March 1999

The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union struck a new deal last week with the chief executive of the country's fire service over its long-planned restructuring program, which will result in the slashing of firefighters' jobs and the introduction of measures to boost "productivity".

The British working class and the Pinochet affair: what accounts for labour's silence?

By Chris Marsden, 24 March 1999

The British House of Lords ruling on whether the former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet enjoys sovereign immunity from arrest is to be delivered at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24. This will determine whether he can be extradited to Spain where he faces charges of involvement in the torture and deaths of over 3,000 people while he was in power.

Clinton at the Gridiron Club: making light of a political coup

By Martin McLaughlin, 24 March 1999

The Gridiron Club dinner, sponsored by the Radio & Television Correspondents' Association, is an annual ritual of the Washington establishment. Two thousand journalists, politicians, judges, lobbyists and assorted celebrities gather for an evening of humorous speeches and skits.

Liberals embrace the right's social agenda

By François Legras, 24 March 1999

The Youth Criminal Justice Bill introduced in Parliament by Justice Minister Anne McLellan March 11 represents a further lurch to the right in Canada's social policy.

Labor's jobs program--no hope for the unemployed

By , 24 March 1999

In the final days of the campaign for this Saturday's election in the Australian state of New South Wales, Labor Party leader and current state Premier Bob Carr has suddenly declared that one of his main concerns is "jobs, jobs, jobs". Not only does he claim that his government is presiding over the lowest unemployment rate in Australia--6.7 percent--but that he has a plan to create 200,000 jobs in the state over the next four years.

Tensions high on Indonesian island of Ambon

By Peter Symonds, 23 March 1999

Tensions remain high on the Indonesian island of Ambon, after two months of clashes between armed Christian and Muslim gangs that have left at least 200 dead and many more injured, and devastated large sections of Ambon City and other areas.

World Bank chief sounds the alarm

By Nick Beams, 23 March 1999

Concerns are growing in the leadership of some of the major institutions of world capitalism that the economic devastation, which has swept the East Asian region in the past 18 months, will have major political consequences.

Dayton, Ohio union officials defend KKK member

By Jim Lawrence and Larry Roberts, 23 March 1999

The leadership of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 in Dayton, Ohio has come to the defense of a union member fired for distributing white supremacist propaganda while on the job. Clarence Webb, a bus driver, was fired by the Miami Valley Transit Authority last December after several passengers complained he was distributing membership cards for the Ku Klux Klan-associated Knights of the White Kamellia and advertisements for a rally scheduled in nearby Kettering, Ohio.

War in Kosovo draws nearer

By Peter Schwarz, 23 March 1999

Following the renewed breakdown of the Kosovo conference in Paris, the danger of a bloody war in the Balkans, with incalculable consequences, draws nearer. Despite intensive last minute diplomatic efforts to avoid a military conflict, the logic of events is leading inevitably to war.

A letter from South Africa

By , 23 March 1999

South Africa

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 23 March 1999

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

The Academy Awards: Hollywood at its worst

By David Walsh, 23 March 1999

The 71st Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night was a relatively unpleasant spectacle for the most part: a celebration of conformism, vulgarity and mediocrity. It seemed appropriate that the Hollywood establishment chose this night, on which it displayed its worst possible self, to honor Elia Kazan, the film director who turned informer in 1952 to save his career.

Statistics point to increased incidence of brain-wasting disease in Britain

By Barry Mason, 23 March 1999

A research letter published in the Lancet medical journal points to a possible increase in the rate of people dying from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD), a fatal brain-wasting disease also called Human BSE.

Death penalty opponents speak in Detroit

By Jerry White, 23 March 1999

On March 18 speakers from the anti-death penalty organization "The Journey of Hope ... from Violence to Healing" addressed law students and others at Detroit's Wayne State University. The organization presented a unique perspective of those who have experienced the murder of a family member, but who strongly oppose the death penalty.

Indonesian bank workers protest closures and job losses

By Keith Morgan, 20 March 1999

Bank workers across Indonesia have begun protest action following the government's closure of 38 banks last Saturday. According to the newspaper Kompas, 17,000 workers found themselves redundant and their entitlements slashed when they turned up for work on Monday. In banks where they have been locked out, workers staged sit-ins and made up placards attacking bank owners for refusing to pay adequate redundancy packages.

More protests against exclusion of Tamil socialist

By Linda Tenenbaum, 20 March 1999

More than two months after the first complaints were formally lodged, the Australian government has yet to respond to demands from both within the country and abroad that it reverse its decision to exclude Tamil socialist, Rajendiram Sutharsan, from visiting Australia.

Some interesting films on US television, March 20-26

By Marty Jonas (MJ) and David Walsh (DW), 20 March 1999

Video pick of the week--find it in your video store

Britain: Labour's budget sets stage for further attacks on welfare

By Jean Shaoul, 20 March 1999

Gordon Brown's third budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer was greeted enthusiastically by most political commentators. It was almost universally acknowledged that he had squared the circle--combining redistribution of income with a business-friendly budget.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 20 March 1999

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

US, NATO threaten bombing in Yugoslavia

By Martin McLaughlin, 20 March 1999

NATO warplanes could strike targets in Yugoslavia within a week, US and European officials warned Friday after the collapse of talks outside Paris over the future of Kosovo province. Some 400 US and European warplanes are being readied to launch the air strikes, which would follow cruise missile launches from half a dozen US warships in the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas. The US planes, which make up fully half the NATO force, would include B-52 bombers equipped with additional cruise missiles.

A law and order bidding war against the youth

By our correspondents, 20 March 1999

The law & order auction continues

Socialist opponent of Stalinism dies in New York

By Helen Halyard, 20 March 1999

WSWS : Obituary

Political observations from Bandung, Indonesia

By , 20 March 1999

The following personal observations were sent to the World Socialist Web Site from a reader in Bandung, Indonesia's third largest city, after Jakarta and Surabaya. With a population of more than two million, Bandung has a substantial working class and student population at the long-established Institute of Technology and other universities. The reports provide an insight into the conditions facing workers and the discussion taking place in the lead-up to national elections scheduled for June 7.

Registration of Political Parties Act used to disbar Socialist Party in British elections

By Mike Ingram, 19 March 1999

In a blatant attack on democratic rights, the Registration of Political Parties Act introduced by the Labour government last November has been used to prevent the Socialist Party from standing in elections under its own name.

Witnesses undermine Starr case against Susan McDougal

By Martin McLaughlin, 19 March 1999

The trial of Susan McDougal on criminal contempt and obstruction of justice charges continued this week in Little Rock, Arkansas with prosecutors from the Office of Independent Counsel increasingly on the defensive. McDougal, who has already served nearly two years in prison for two previous Whitewater-related convictions, faces yet a a third trial which could result in a prison term of 10 years and $750,000 in fines.

Social Democrats implemented measures to forcibly sterilise 62,000 people

By Steve James, 19 March 1999

For over 40 years, young socially marginalised working class women in Sweden faced the danger of forced sterilisation. This was carried out under laws intended to purify the Swedish race, prevent the mentally ill from reproducing and stamp out social activities classed as deviant. The last sterilisation took place in 1975.

State Labor government seeks to balance budget at the expense of public health

By Joe Lopez, 19 March 1999

Public health care in the Australian island state of Tasmania is to be the major casualty in plans by the recently-elected state Labor government to produce a surplus budget by May.

Mahathir crows over Sabah election win

By Peter Symonds, 19 March 1999

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has hailed the results of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in last week's election in the state of Sabah as a "clear victory," saying he was "ecstatic". Mahathir, who visited the northern Borneo state four times during the campaign, has been under considerable political pressure following his sacking and expulsion of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim last September.

World Poetry and the English language

By , 19 March 1999

Dear Editor,

Tourist murders expose Ugandan success claims

By Chris Talbot, 19 March 1999

The murder of eight Western tourists at the Bwindi National Park, Uganda earlier this month has highlighted the growing instability of a country deemed an African "success story" by the United States and Europe. Far from resolving the problems of poverty, repression and the brutal atrocities that were associated with the regime of Idi Amin in the 1970s, Western "support" has resulted in a rapid deterioration of conditions.

Canadian Parliament debates motion to study scrapping national currency

By Keith Jones, 19 March 1999

By a vote of 175 to 67, Canada's House of Commons rejected Monday a motion to study the creation of a North American monetary union--i.e., to consider scrapping Canada's national currency, the Canadian dollar.

Media sensationalises Sydney hearing

By Cheryl McDermid, 18 March 1999

The unprecedented media coverage of the recent committal hearing of a 10-year-old Sydney boy, the youngest person to be charged with manslaughter in Australia, was marked by complete indifference to the social conditions underlying the drowning death of 6-year-old Corey Davis. The Children's Court hearing, as yet unconcluded, is to decide if the youngster should stand trial. If convicted, he could face a 25-year jail term.

Ecuador on brink of civil war as government deepens austerity measures

By Bill Vann, 18 March 1999

Ecuador drifted closer to the brink of civil war over the past week. Following a two-day general strike, the government of President Jamil Mahuad deepened economic austerity measures and ordered the virtual militarization of the country. Food and gasoline prices more than doubled overnight, bank accounts were frozen and proposals were advanced for drastic tax increases, sweeping privatizations of state-owned enterprises and the layoffs of thousands of public employees.

Michigan judge condemns 16 year old to life sentence with no parole

By Jerry White, 18 March 1999

On March 12 a Wayne County Family Court judge ordered 16-year-old Gregory Petty to spend the rest of his life in jail, without the chance of parole. Last January Petty was convicted for the 1998 murder of a barber during a robbery in Highland Park, an impoverished working class suburb of Detroit. Prosecutors said Petty, 15 years old at the time, gave a gun to then- 12-year-old McKinley Moore and told him to shoot and rob the man.

At least 11 deaths in Amtrak collision in Illinois

By Kate Randall, 18 March 1999

At least 11 people have died and others remain unaccounted for following the collision late Monday night of an Amtrak passenger train with a semi-trailer truck at a railroad crossing 55 miles south of Chicago, in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Of the 217 passengers and crew members on board, 116 were injured. Close to half of them were still hospitalized as of Wednesday.

Political and social tensions mount in South Africa

By Helen Halyard, 18 March 1999

Army troops and additional police have been sent to the Nyanga township, just outside Cape Town, following a wave of violence linked to the upcoming national elections. The repressive exercise, codenamed Operation Chaka, means an indefinite period of occupation for the township.

Australia's richest man cleared of breaching media laws

By Mike Head, 18 March 1999

The extraordinary degree of control of Australia's mass media by two tycoons--Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer--is likely to tighten further after a remarkable decision by the Australian Broadcasting Authority on March 8 to clear Packer of breaching media ownership laws.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East and Africa

By , 18 March 1999

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

Sweden edges towards adopting the euro

By Steve James, 18 March 1999

The Swedish coalition government of the Social Democratic Party, the Left Party and the Greens faces two strategic decisions. Within a short period, months at most, the government will have to make clear how it intends to take Sweden into the single currency "euro-zone". At the same time, in April's budget, the government will set out plans to radically decrease taxes on private and corporate wealth and to privatise 25 of 59 remaining nationalised industries.

UN talks propose autonomy ballot for East Timor

By Peter Symonds, 17 March 1999

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced last Thursday that Portuguese and Indonesian representatives had agreed to a "direct" ballot for the people of East Timor to decide on an autonomy plan being drawn up by the Indonesian regime. If the autonomy proposals are rejected, Indonesian President Habibie has stated that Indonesia will withdraw from the former Portuguese colony, which it invaded in 1975 and annexed in 1976.

Universe expanding faster than expected

By Peter Symonds, 17 March 1999

"There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet, Act 1, Scene V

Five million US families without safe and affordable housing

By Paul Scherrer, 17 March 1999

This past October President Bill Clinton signed the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (QHWRA). Four years in the making, this bill will have a devastating impact on the ability of the poor and elderly to obtain housing assistance.

Background to the recent Nigerian elections

By Elizabeth Liagin, 17 March 1999

Elizabeth Liagin is an independent journalist who has done extensive research into General Olusegan Obasanjo, who won the recent presidential election in Nigeria. She submitted the following commentary in response to the 5 March article "Nigerian election fraud leaves elite in control" by Chris Talbot

The resignation of German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine--the end of Bad Godesberg

By Peter Schwarz, 17 March 1999

Oskar Lafontaine, the chairman of the SPD and finance minister in the government of Gerhard Schröder, abruptly resigned from both posts last Thursday and also relinquished his mandate as a parliamentary deputy. His sensational resignation from politics is indicative of a profound change in the political development of Germany.

Civil rights lawyer murdered in Northern Ireland

By Mike Ingram, 17 March 1999

The brutal murder of 40-year-old lawyer and human rights defender Rosemary Nelson on March 15 has raised fresh allegations of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) intimidation of lawyers in Northern Ireland and their collusion with Unionist paramilitaries.

Former UN relief coordinator speaks in Detroit

By Shannon Jones, 17 March 1999

The former coordinator of the United Nations "oil for food" program in Iraq, Denis Halliday, spoke in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Michigan on March 14 to an audience of about 500 people. The public meeting was part of a nationwide speaking tour opposing the economic sanctions that have inflicted untold death and suffering on the Iraqi people.

An important test case for teachers' rights

By Linda Tenenbaum, 17 March 1999

Victorian school teacher, Geraldine Rawson's legal action against the Department of Education has been adjourned from early March to May 17 on the grounds that the hearing will take longer than originally anticipated. Australian Industrial Relations Commissioner Frawley ruled that, given the number of witnesses being called to testify, and the complexity of the case, at least five days would be needed, as opposed to the three originally set down.

Mass resignation by European Commission

By Chris Marsden, 17 March 1999

The resignation of all 20 members of the European Commission has plunged the European Union into the worse crisis of its 42-year history. It came after an emergency meeting late on Monday night of the Commission, the unelected executive body of the European Union (EU), discussed a report into allegations of fraud, corruption and mismanagement.

Japanese contraction reveals global tendencies

By Nick Beams, 16 March 1999

The latest figures on the Japanese economy, showing a contraction for the fifth quarter in a row and the most severe downturn in the post-war period, have major implications, not only for that country. They point to underlying recessionary tendencies within the global economy as a whole.

Dancemaker: A Tribute to Paul Taylor

By Andrea Peters, 16 March 1999

The recent documentary film Dancemaker, featuring the work of Paul Taylor and his company, provides an important, if limited, window into the creative life of one of modern dance's most accomplished choreographers. While for the most part the film is grounded in unabashed adulation for this creative genius, it allows one to see certain aspects of the artistic life of Paul Taylor, as well as the larger reality encompassing modern dance as a whole.

Big business demands a corporate Olympics

By Richard Phillips, 16 March 1999

The international media, not known in the past for its criticism of the International Olympic Committee, has over the past six months been the vehicle for seemingly endless exposures of corruption affecting the IOC--with each new revelation more damning than its predecessor.