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Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 29 February 2000

Nicaraguan teachers on strike

La segunda bomba de ETA mata a un líder del partido socialista en España

By , 29 February 2000

WSWS : Español

Other letters from WSWS readers

By , 29 February 2000

Congratulations on a thorough and well-researched article on the execution of Betty Lou Beets (26 February 2000). Although the mainstream media reported on the story extensively, your article is the only one I've seen that accurately identified all of the complex issues raised by this profoundly troubling case.

The rehabilitation of Stalin—an ideological cornerstone of the new Kremlin politics

By Vladimir Volkov, 29 February 2000

The replacement of Boris Yeltsin by Vladimir Putin as president of Russia signifies not only a change in the personal composition of the Kremlin leadership, but also a shift in political emphasis. By forging an alliance with the Duma (Russian parliament) Communist Party faction under Gennady Zyuganov, the Kremlin has departed from its official liberal-democratic orientation, and now regards Stalin's heirs as its strategic partners.

Bangladesh government introduces harsh new security laws

By Y.A. Dharmasena, 29 February 2000

Bangladesh President Shahabuddin Ahmed signed into law a Public Safety (Special Provisions) Bill on February 14 giving sweeping powers to the police. Under the pretext of dealing with criminals and terrorists, Prime Minister Sheik Hasina's government will use the new law to witchhunt the political opponents of the ruling Awami League regime and to suppress social unrest by workers and the poor.

Letters on the Amadou Diallo verdict

By , 29 February 2000

I've just learned of the pathetic verdict concerning these undercover policemen shooting and killing an innocent (very young) black boy. I am completely amazed at the fact that the jury didn't take into account the great amount of time it would have needed to discharge 41 shots into this poor defenseless young man. I'm not black and I'm certainly against the death penalty, but in this case these gun-happy policemen (like many of your countrymen) should have been put away for a very long time!

How war has shattered the life of a Sri Lankan village

By Piyaseeli Wijegunasinghe, 29 February 2000

Prasanna Vithanage's film Pura Handa Kaluwara has been shown at film festivals in North America, Europe and Asia but has yet to be released in Sri Lanka where it is certain to provoke controversy. The reason is clear. Pura Handa Kaluwara (Death on a Full Moon Day) deals with the devastation of people's lives caused by the brutal 16-year war carried out by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamils living in the North of the island.

Acquittal of New York City police: court sanctions murder of Amadou Diallo

By the Editorial Board, 28 February 2000

The not guilty verdicts announced February 25 in the police killing of Amadou Diallo were both outrageous and predictable.

Religious conflicts in Nigeria

By Barry Mason and Chris Talbot, 28 February 2000

Violent religious clashes broke out in the city of Kaduna in northern Nigeria on February 21 and have continued throughout the week. Kaduna is the second largest city in the north. The clashes followed a march by tens of thousands of Christians to protest the proposal to introduce Muslim sharia law as the criminal code throughout Kaduna state.

Archaeological find opens the pages of Ancient Greek history

By Sandy English, 28 February 2000

Archaeologists have announced that a discovery in 1998 of a mass grave of 200-250 cremated bodies at a construction site in Athens may contain the remnants of soldiers who fought for democratic Athens against oligarchic Sparta in the opening years of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), the prolonged struggle between the two great powers of ancient Greece that ended in defeat for Athens.

World Socialist Web Site issues appeal: Oppose Hindu extremist attacks on Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta

By the Editorial Board, 28 February 2000

The World Socialist Web Site denounces the Hindu fundamentalist campaign in India to stop production of Water, Deepa Mehta's latest film, and calls on filmmakers, artists, intellectuals and workers internationally to take a firm stand against this attack on democratic rights.

The Amadou Diallo case: The social and political roots of police violence

By the Editorial Board, 28 February 2000

The four New York City police officers acquitted February 25 in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo may still face departmental trial and could be removed from the force if it is found that the shooting violated police department guidelines. In addition, Diallo's parents intend to file a civil suit against the police and the city, and the Justice Department announced, through the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, that it would review the case “to determine whether there were any violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws.”

Report documents widespread abuse in British children's homes

By Julie Hyland, 26 February 2000

The Lost in Care report published last week by the Waterhouse Inquiry into the sexual abuse of young children in local authority care in Wales recommended a major overhaul of the system.

Britain's Police Federation forces shutdown of Internet web site

By Chris Marsden, 26 February 2000

Earlier this month the Police Federation of Britain forced the shutdown of the "Portia" web site, which champions the cases of those said to be wrongfully imprisoned in the UK. The focus for the action was Portia's hosting of the Eddie Gilfoyle Campaign's story entitled "Eddie Gilfoyle is Innocent".

Sri Lankan budget: increased defence spending and further IMF restructuring

By K. Ratnayake, 26 February 2000

The sixth budget of the People's Alliance (PA) government in Sri Lanka was presented to the parliament on February 14, increasing the country's defence expenditure, continuing IMF restructuring and providing further concessions to big business, particularly foreign investors. The budget was due last November but was postponed because of the snap presidential election held in December.

Texas executes 62-year-old great grandmother Betty Lou Beets

By Jerry White, 26 February 2000

The state of Texas executed Betty Lou Beets, a 62-year-old great grandmother, Thursday evening at Huntsville prison. Beets was the second woman to be put to death in Texas in the last two years—Karla Faye Tucker was executed in February 1998—and the fourth woman to die in the US since executions resumed in 1976.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 26 February 2000

Unions end 13-day Indian coal strike

The tension between cinematic vision and life itself

By Stefan Steinberg, 26 February 2000

This is the second in a series of articles on the recent 50th Berlinale, the international film festival, held February 9-20. The festival is one of the largest in the world, with more than 300 films screened. Subsequent articles will review a number of the most interesting works, including a new film by German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff, as well as documentaries on the Kosovo war and conditions in post-Soviet Russia.

Bush debacle in Michigan primary election deepens crisis in Republican Party

By Patrick Martin, 26 February 2000

The upset of the Republicans' supposed presidential frontrunner, Texas Governor George W. Bush, in the February 22 Michigan primary election has intensified the crisis of the Republican Party and prolonged the contest between Bush and his opponent for the party's nomination, Arizona Senator John McCain. Despite a huge financial war chest and all-out support from the Republican Party establishment, Bush suffered a humiliating defeat.

Labour Party rigs candidate selection process for London mayor

By Tony Hyland, 25 February 2000

This week the Labour Party leadership succeeded in blocking Ken Livingstone as its candidate for London Mayor, but only by rigging the selection proceedings. In the process, the political credibility of the Labour government was delivered a further blow.

250,000 demonstrate in Vienna against new Austrian government

By Patrick Richter and Andy Niklaus, 25 February 2000

On February 19 some 250,000 people rallied in Vienna's Heldenplatz square to demonstrate against the new Austrian government formed by the conservative Austrian Peoples Party (ÖVP) together with the ultra-rightwing Freedom Party (FPÖ).

Marxist internationalism vs. the perspective of radical protest

By Nick Beams, 25 February 2000

The World Socialist Web Site is publishing here the third and final part of a three-part article by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia and member of the WSWS editorial board, replying to an article by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, “Seattle and beyond: disarming the New World Order,” which was posted by the WSWS on January 15, 1999. Beams is the author of numerous articles and lectures on modern capitalist economy, including Marxism and the Globalisation of Production and The Significance and Implications of Globalisation: a Marxist Assessment.

Growing concern over Internet privacy

By Mike Ingram, 25 February 2000

A number of lawsuits currently underway in the US have drawn attention to privacy issues raised by the use of “cookies” or strips of data sent to an Internet user's browser by a web site.

April 18 trial set for Nathaniel Abraham on new assault charges

By Larry Roberts, 25 February 2000

Nathaniel Abraham, the 14-year-old Michigan boy convicted of second degree murder last November, will face a new trial on assault charges in connection with an alleged incident at the Children's Village youth detention facility where he was imprisoned for two years. At a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, February 22, Oakland County Probate Judge Eugene Moore set April 18 as the trial date for Nathaniel and two other boys—Thomas Lundy, 16, and Quante London, 15—on assault and battery charges, stemming from a scuffle on a basketball court at the detention facility.

UN aid coordinator for Iraq resigns in protest at "human tragedy" of sanctions

By Chris Marsden, 25 February 2000

The resignation of two senior United Nations officials this month, in protest against the continuation of economic sanctions on Iraq, has caused political embarrassment to the US and British governments and their policy of maintaining the embargo on the Persian Gulf nation. It has once again brought to public attention the enormous suffering being inflicted on the Iraqi people by the administrations of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton.

"Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?": US television hits bottom, for now

By David Walsh, 25 February 2000

With the February 15 broadcast of “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” on Fox, American network television unquestionably descended to a new low point. The 2-hour program in which a concealed “multimillionaire” chose a bride from a group of fifty women and married her in a civil ceremony, after the contestants paraded around in bathing suits and semifinalists answered questions (for example, how would they spend his money?), was a thoroughly degrading spectacle.

NATO troops clash with Kosovan Serbs and Albanian protesters in Mitrovica

By Julie Hyland, 24 February 2000

NATO's KFOR troops confronted up to 50,000 ethnic Albanian protestors in the northern Kosovan town of Mitrovica on Monday. At one point, British, Canadian and French troops used tear gas against several hundred protestors who were attempting to storm the Ibar Bridge into the mainly Serb-inhabited north of the town. The protestors were part of a march which had set out that morning from the Kosovan capital, Pristina, demanding an end to the de facto partition of Mitrovica into Albanian and Serb enclaves.

Parliamentary elections in Iran: victory for "reformers" masks social contradictions

By Ute Reissner, 24 February 2000

The coalition of 18 groups and parties supporting the Iranian President Mohammed Khatami garnered almost two thirds of the votes in the first round of parliamentary elections.

New figures show Australian union membership in free-fall

By Terry Cook, 24 February 2000

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last week show that the decades-long decline in Australian union membership continues unabated, despite the efforts of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the country's peak union body, to stop the slide.

Colonial-era laws invoked to gag government officials in Sri Lanka

By Wije Dias, 24 February 2000

A set of regulations contained in Sri Lanka's Establishment Code, long believed to be defunct, were resurrected by the Peoples Alliance (PA) government on February 1 to prevent government officers from criticising the administration. The regulations were formulated by the former British colonial rulers.

Norway intensifies persecution of asylum seekers

By Simon Wheelan, 24 February 2000

Following a meeting between the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and the Aliens Directorate earlier this month, Norway is to withdraw the right to free legal aid for asylum seekers.

The 50th Berlin film festival: pomp and paucity

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 24 February 2000

This is the first in a series of articles on the recent 50th Berlinale, the Berlin film festival, held February 9-20. The festival is one of the largest in the world, with more than 300 films screened. Subsequent articles will review a number of the most interesting works, including new films by German filmmakers Wim Wenders and Volker Schlöndorff, as well as documentaries on the Kosovo war and conditions in post-Soviet Russia.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 24 February 2000

Ford salaried workers take nation-wide strike action in Britain

Marxist internationalism vs. the perspective of radical protest

By Nick Beams, 23 February 2000

The World Socialist Web Site is publishing here the second part of a three-part article by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia and member of the WSWS editorial board, replying to an article by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, “Seattle and beyond: disarming the New World Order,” which was posted by the WSWS on January 15, 1999. Beams is the author of numerous articles and lectures on modern capitalist economy, including Marxism and the Globalisation of Production and The Significance and Implications of Globalisation: a Marxist Assessment.

Joerg Haider's Canadian friends

By Keith Jones, 23 February 2000

What the Austrian ultra-rightist Joerg Haider did during his visit to Canada last week and whom he saw remains clouded in mystery. One thing is certain, however. Haider's ostensibly “private visit” was motivated by a very definite political agenda. The head of Austria's Freedom Party now wants to refashion his public image, so as to take the sting out of the charge he is a Nazi apologist and a racist.

Citizen group campaign throws South Korean elections into chaos

By Luciano Fernandez, 23 February 2000

An alliance of nearly 500 citizens groups has thrown national elections in South Korea into turmoil after publishing last month for the first time a “black list” of 164 politicians. These groups described those on the list as "corrupt, lazy and incompetent" and "unfit" to be in office.

European Union annual report: signs of growing racism and xenophobia

By Lucas Adler, 23 February 2000

A few weeks ago the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) published its first annual report (for 1998). Entitled “Looking Reality in the Face”, part 2 of the report is intended to portray the current spread of racism and xenophobia in the countries of the European Union.

Ford announces 1,500 job losses at its biggest UK plant

By Robert Stevens, 23 February 2000

Ford revealed February 18 that it was to shed 1,500 jobs at its UK production plant in Dagenham. The company simultaneously announced that its largest German plant in Cologne would become the main location for the manufacture of its new Fiesta range from November 2001.

Clinton pushes $1.6 billion military plan for Colombia

By Bill Vann, 23 February 2000

The Clinton administration last week intensified its campaign to win a massive increase in funding for US-directed military operations in Colombia.

TV documentary presents case of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Tom Bishop, 23 February 2000

On Wednesday, February 16 the US cable network Arts & Entertainment presented the documentary "Death Row Radical: Mumia Abu-Jamal" as part of its American Justice series. Mumia has been on death row for the past 18 years after being framed up in connection with the shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer. Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania has signed two death warrants for his execution.

Study shows higher cardiac death rates in major US cities, rural South

By Fred Mazelis, 22 February 2000

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia has found death rates from heart disease for US women to be highest in four major cities as well as in the rural South.

The European Union's sanctions against Austria

By Peter Schwarz, 22 February 2000

For the first time in the history of the European Union (EU), diplomatic sanctions have been imposed on a member state. The 14 other EU countries reacted to the entrance of Joerg Haider's extreme right-wing Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ—Austrian Freedom Party) into the Austrian government by freezing bilateral relations with the alpine republic. There will be no more contacts or ambassadorial meetings at an inter-governmental level, and Austrian candidates will not be supported when EU international offices are assigned.

Australian prime minister under siege

By James Conachy, 22 February 2000

Australian Liberal Party prime minister John Howard is under siege from leading sections of the media and financial elite over his attempts to shore up his government's flagging electoral support with rural and regional voters. The catalyst for the latest round of criticism has been Howard's intervention to ensure that a group of rural workers be paid all their entitlements after the company for which they worked went bankrupt.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 22 February 2000

Salvadorean police seize hospitals and clinics to end doctors' strike

Quite obedient really

By David Walsh, 22 February 2000

It seems to me difficult to make a compelling film about the advisability of “breaking the rules,” when as an artist you aren't prepared to break any.

Zimbabwe: Referendum defeat for Mugabe shakes Zanu-PF government

By Barbara Slaughter and Stuart Nolan, 22 February 2000

Last week voters in Zimbabwe rejected the new constitution being proposed by President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF). In a result that surprised most commentators, the vote was 578,000 in favour of the new constitution and 697,754 against. Turnout was low at just over 20 percent. Voters in the cities, like Harare and Bulawayo, voted No by three to one, whilst in the rural heartlands that were expected to vote Yes there were widespread abstentions.

Amadou Diallo murder trial drawing to a close

By Fred Mazelis, 22 February 2000

After only three weeks, the trial of the four police officers accused in the killing of Amadou Diallo last year is moving rapidly toward its conclusion.

Spanish left agrees to electoral pact

By Vicky Short, 21 February 2000

The Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar, leader of the right-wing Popular Party (PP), last month announced early general elections for March 12. Aznar took power from the Socialist Workers Party of Spain (PSOE) in the summer of 1996. About 90 parties have presented lists of candidates to the different Provincial Electoral Councils.

Marxist internationalism vs. the perspective of radical protest

By Nick Beams, 21 February 2000

The World Socialist Web Site is publishing here the first part of a three-part article by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia and member of the WSWS editorial board, replying to an article by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, “Seattle and beyond: disarming the New World Order,” which was posted by the WSWS on January 15, 1999. Beams is the author of numerous articles and lectures on modern capitalist economy, including Marxism and the Globalisation of Production and The Significance and Implications of Globalisation: A Marxist Assessment.

Defeat of Indian power strike opens door for privatisations

By a correspondent, 21 February 2000

The defeat of a major strike by power workers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in late January has strengthened the hand of Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to press ahead with its plans for privatisation and pro-market economic reforms.

Eyewitness account of Yugoslavia after NATO bombardment: "People are preoccupied with day-to-day survival"

By Keith Lee, 21 February 2000

Pavel Popovic works as a courier in central London. He went back to Yugoslavia in August for a month and a half to visit his relatives. The World Socialist Web Site interviewed him on the situation facing the Serbian people in the aftermath of the US-led NATO bombardment.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 19 February 2000

Public sector strike continues in India

The Alaska Airlines crash: signs point to a wider crisis in air safety

By Jerry White, 19 February 2000

By now there is overwhelming evidence that the January 31 crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 that killed all 88 people aboard was the result of a catastrophic mechanical failure. As the two pilots struggled to keep the plane stable, they told mechanics on the ground that they could not control the horizontal stabilizer, the small wing on the tail that directs the plane's pitch. The flight data recorder recovered after the crash caught the sound of two loud noises from the rear of the plane, including one just before the plane plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

Public outcry in Australia over jailed Aboriginal boy's suicide

By Mike Head, 19 February 2000

The suicide of a 15-year-old orphaned Aboriginal boy in a northern Australian detention centre has provoked a public outcry over the mandatory sentencing laws under which he was incarcerated. According to the authorities, “Johnno” Warramarrba was found in his cell, hanged by a bed sheet on February 9. He had been taken from his remote community in the Northern Territory and imprisoned 800 kilometres away in Darwin—for stealing property worth less than $90.

Once again, on the rush to judgment in the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990

By Jerry White, 19 February 2000

In light of the events surrounding the Alaska Airlines crash it is worthwhile to reexamine the case of EgyptAir Flight 990, which plunged into the Atlantic Ocean last October 31, killing 217 people.

True to form: Clinton rejects moratorium on death penalty

By Kate Randall, 19 February 2000

At a press conference on Wednesday, President Bill Clinton rejected calls for a national moratorium on capital punishment. Clinton had been urged by death penalty opponents to call a halt to federal executions in light of last month's decision by Illinois Governor George Ryan to stay executions in that state.

Amnesty International calls for new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Tom Bishop, 19 February 2000

At a press conference in New York City on February 17 Amnesty International called for a new trial for Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. Jamal has been incarcerated for 18 years, and had death warrants issued twice, after being framed-up for the December 9, 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia. His case is currently at a crucial stage before the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia where Jamal is appealing for a new trial.

US stocks fall sharply after Greenspan warning

By Patrick Martin, 19 February 2000

US stock markets fell heavily on Friday, reacting to the warning by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan that US monetary authorities were prepared to raise interest rates repeatedly in the coming months, beginning with the upcoming meeting of the Fed's Open Market Committee March 21.

Indian film societies federation protests attacks on artistic freedom and democratic rights

By , 19 February 2000

Internationally-known director Deepa Mehta's efforts to make her film Water in Uttar Pradesh in northern India have come under attack by Hindu fundamentalists, with the tacit or open support of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), the main party in India's National Democratic Alliance government and the party in power in Uttar Pradesh.

Leaked medical evidence aimed at thwarting Pinochet's extradition

By Richard Tyler, 18 February 2000

On Tuesday the London High Court ruled that medical evidence showing that former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet was unfit to stand trial should be given to the four countries seeking his extradition.

Thai hospital shootout punctures government's democratic pretensions

By Sarath Kumara, 18 February 2000

Thai special forces last month stormed a hospital being occupied by armed Karen guerrillas from neighbouring Burma. The attack in Ratchaburi, 95 km west of Bangkok, was over quickly; none of the patients or staff were injured and the Thai troops sustained only minor wounds. All 10 of the guerrillas were killed, some apparently executed on the spot after being captured.

Glasgow pushes the privatisation of schools and housing

By Steve James, 18 February 2000

Glasgow City Council's Labour administration is pushing through the multibillion-pound privatisation of school construction and maintenance, and social housing.

Ford Europe unveils restructuring strategy

By Robert Stevens, 18 February 2000

The Ford Motor Company has set out plans to drastically restructure its entire European operations, including reducing the costs of its supply and distribution network.

The 35-hour workweek in France: how a progressive idea was distorted beyond recognition

By Françoise Thull and Marianne Arens, 18 February 2000

February 1, 2000: During the truck blockade of the Europe Bridge between France and Germany, a journalist asks a truck driver why he is taking part in the blockade. “We're here because we're against the 35-hour week,” he replies. Another trucker chimes in: “No, we're for it! But that doesn't matter, because it's out of the question for us anyway.”

Montreal Internet service provider raided by FBI

By Mike Ingram, 18 February 2000

In the wake of a series of attacks blocking access to some of the largest and best known Internet web sites, the US government is seeking to use popular concern over the denial of services to push through new legislation that could affect the democratic rights of millions.

Australian banks return record profits and axe thousands of jobs

By Janine Harrison, 18 February 2000

Nowhere is the direct correlation between the destruction of jobs and basic services, and the growth in corporate profit more apparent than in the banking industry. Australia's four major banks, ANZ, Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank posted record profits in 1998-99 by slashing thousands of jobs, and increasing fees and charges. Their combined profits topped $7 billion.

Nick Beams replies to Michel Chossudovsky's "Seattle and beyond: disarming the New World Order"

By , 17 February 2000

From next Monday, the World Socialist Web Site will publish a three-part reply by Nick Beams, a member of the WSWS Editorial Board, to “Seattle and beyond: disarming the New World Order” by Professor Michel Chossudovsky. Nick Beams is the National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in Australia and an international authority on Marxist political economy who has lectured on the subject in Europe, Asia and America as well as Australia.

Israeli reprisals hit Lebanese civilians

By Jean Shaoul, 17 February 2000

Israeli air raids have left much of Lebanon without power. The attacks were carried out in violation of the 1996 April Understanding, the American-brokered rules of war on the protection of civilians in Lebanon and Israel.

Indonesian president's backflip over the fate of General Wiranto

By Peter Symonds, 17 February 2000

After performing a full political somersault, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid signed a decree on Sunday night “suspending” his Coordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs General Wiranto from cabinet, pending an investigation by the Attorney General into Wiranto's responsibility for pro-Indonesian militia atrocities in East Timor last year.

Reform Party in US lines up behind ultra-rightist Patrick Buchanan

By Patrick Martin, 17 February 2000

Last weekend's upheaval in the Reform Party—the ouster of Chairman Jack Gargan, the takeover by supporters of right-wing presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, and the resignation of Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura—marks a major turning point in the political trajectory of this organization.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 17 February 2000

Hungarian rail strike ends as union calls off dispute

Sacked South African Volkswagen workers appeal for international support

By our correspondent, 17 February 2000

In his recent State of the Nation speech, South African President Thabo Mbeki attacked the 1,300 striking Volkswagen (VW) autoworkers. The strikers, employed at the company's factory in Uitenhage, near Port Elizabeth, were defending 13 democratically elected shop stewards who had been suspended from office by their union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). The union has collaborated throughout with VW management, who said they would sack the striking workers for refusing to attend work when instructed. Mbeki backed VW's action and said that the ANC government also would not be "held hostage by elements pursuing selfish and anti-social purposes".

US occupation force evacuates Haiti, leaving a country in ruins

By Jacques Richard, 17 February 2000

In September 1994, a 20,000-strong US occupation force landed on the Caribbean Island of Haiti and returned to power Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the elected president who had been overthrown three years earlier in a bloody military coup. Two weeks ago, "Operation Restore Democracy" came to an inglorious end. The remaining 300 US troops stationed in Haiti have left for home even as criminal gangs, largely comprised of personnel from the disbanded Haitian army, terrorize the populace in broad daylight and politically-motivated violence escalates in advance of next month's parliamentary elections.

Academy Award nominations: a large dose of philistinism, some hopeful signs

By David Walsh, 17 February 2000

This year's Oscar nominations, announced Tuesday, suggest some of the tensions at work in the American film industry as well as a great deal of its confusion.

Thousands demonstrate in Berlin in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Andy Niklaus, 17 February 2000

A demonstration took place February 5 in Berlin in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the US death row political prisoner framed up more than 17 years ago in connection with the shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer. Protesters demanded Abu-Jamal's freedom and an end to the death penalty.

Giordano Bruno, philosopher and scientist, burnt at the stake 400 years ago

By Frank Gaglioti, 16 February 2000

Four centuries ago today, on February 16, 1600, the Roman Catholic Church executed Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher and scientist, for the crime of heresy. He was taken from his cell in the early hours of the morning to the Piazza dei Fiori in Rome and burnt alive at the stake. To the last, the Church authorities were fearful of the ideas of a man who was known throughout Europe as a bold and brilliant thinker. In a peculiar twist to the gruesome affair, the executioners were ordered to tie his tongue so that he would be unable to address those gathered.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 16 February 2000

Protests continue after police crackdown at Mexico university

Refugees resort to hunger strike in remote Australian prison camp

By Regina Lohr, 16 February 2000

In a last ditch effort to draw attention to their plight, asylum-seekers imprisoned at a remote camp in Australia's far north-west have resorted to sewing their lips together to protest the deplorable conditions and denial of basic legal and democratic rights.

The Bruehl train accident—German rail safety on the decline

By Hendrik Paul, 16 February 2000

With the tragic June 1998 Eschede accident still fresh in mind, in which of one of Germany's high-speed ICE trains crashed killing 101 persons, Germany's Deutsche Bahn AG rail corporation has once again placed itself at the centre of public attention with a new disaster.

Suspension of Northern Ireland Assembly reveals undemocratic nature of "peace process"

By Chris Marsden, 16 February 2000

Westminster's decision to suspend the nine-week-old Northern Ireland Assembly and reinstate direct rule from Britain has thrown a question mark over the future of the so-called “peace process”.

Government crackdown against the Hezbollah in Turkey

By Justus Leicht, 16 February 2000

For weeks state security forces in Turkey have been carrying out an extensive operation against the Islamic terror organisation Hezbollah (Arabic for the “Party of God”). The group does not have a mass base in Turkey and reportedly has no ties to the one operating in Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries under the same name.

Struggle of Russian workers for control of Vyborg Cellulose Combine

By Vladimir Volkov, 16 February 2000

A number of significant workers struggles took place in Russia in 1999. One that attracted most attention was a conflict at the Vyborg Cellulose and Paper Combine (ZKB), where workers took over control of the factory, organising production themselves for nearly a year and a half.

Moroccan immigrant workers strike in southern Spain

By Vicky Short, 16 February 2000

Following the outburst of racist violence last week in the Spanish town of El Ejido, Almería, which lasted for three days and nights, [See Racist violence injures 50 in Almeria] Magreb agricultural workers organised a strike on Tuesday, February 8. The spontaneous action, which began when workers failed to turn up for work for fear of being attacked, soon developed into a full-blown industrial stoppage.

Sunday Times alleges Britain's MI6 played role in Gadhaffi assassination attempt

By Trevor Johnson, 15 February 2000

A front-page story in the Sunday Times of February 13 alleges that the British government and secret services played a role in a 1996 plot to assassinate Colonel Muammar Gadhaffi of Libya. The London-based Times quotes extensively from a document published on a Yahoo Internet site which reveals that in November 1995 links were established between one of the prospective assassins and “HMG”—Her Majesty's government.

New York City transit workers ratify contract

By Alan Whyte, 15 February 2000

New York City transit workers accepted a contract that was negotiated by the leadership of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Deepa Mehta speaks out against Hindu extremist campaign to stop her film

By Richard Phillips, 15 February 2000

Deepa Mehta, the Indian born, internationally acclaimed film director has been subjected to a series of vicious attacks by Hindu fundamentalists who, working hand in hand with the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), have shut down production in Uttar Pradesh of Water, her latest film. The BJP is the main party in India's National Democratic Alliance government and holds power in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Sri Lankan security forces continue witchhunt against Tamils

By Vijitha Silva, 15 February 2000

The Sri Lankan government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga has responded to a series of bomb attacks, military reversals and its own deepening political crisis by lashing out at the minority Tamil population with a wave of police harassment and repression. Both the government and the Colombo media base themselves on the racist premise that Tamils as a whole are responsible for the actions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whose perspective is a separate Tamil state.

Cyanide spill "a catastrophe of European dimensions"

By Julie Hyland, 15 February 2000

A poisonous chemical spill has destroyed wildlife and fish stocks and threatened the water supplies of 2.5 million people in central Eastern Europe. Romania's River Somes, Hungary's River Tisza and Yugoslavia's Danube, Europe's largest waterway, have all been catastrophically polluted. The Black Sea is also expected to be affected by the spillage, which originated at the Baia Mare gold mine in northern Romania.

California's "three-strikes" law boosts prison population-two cases in point

By Kim Saito, 15 February 2000

As a result of its “three-strikes-and-you're out” law, the state of California has one of the fastest growing prison populations of any state in the US. The law imposes an automatic 25-years-to-life prison term if a person is convicted of three felonies. According to the latest figures from the California Department of Corrections, a record 162,381 people inhabit the state's prisons. Two recent cases are noteworthy in illustrating what the courts consider third-strike offenses.

Australian government secures new East Timor oil treaty

By Mike Head, 15 February 2000

In a little reported ceremony, UN and Australian government representatives signed a new Timor Gap Treaty in Dili last Thursday, securing control over the substantial oil and natural gas reserves under the Timor Sea. The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has now officially replaced Indonesia as Australia's partner in exploiting these reserves, valued at between $11 billion and $19 billion.

Anwar's resumed trial produces further evidence of a political frame-up

By John Roberts, 14 February 2000

The trial of Anwar Ibrahim, former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, resumed in Kuala Lumpur on January 25 after a two-month recess. Anwar, who is already serving six years on trumped-up charges of corruption, is being tried under Malaysia's anti-homosexual laws on charges of sodomy and faces a further 20 years in jail if convicted.

Toronto police suspend campaign targeting "anti-cop" politicians

By Keith Jones, 14 February 2000

A public outcry and the threat of legal sanctions have compelled the Toronto Police Association to suspend Operation True Blue—a campaign to raise funds from the public to bankroll the Association's efforts to unseat "anti-police" politicians.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 14 February 2000

Dear Editor,

Human Rights Watch says NATO killed over 500 civilians in air war against Yugoslavia

By Julie Hyland, 14 February 2000

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) charges the NATO alliance with violating international human rights law during its 78-day war against Serbia last year. The report is the first independent investigation into the number of civilians killed by NATO air strikes on the former Yugoslavia from March through June last year.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 12 February 2000

Coal miners strike across India

Israel admits stockpiling nuclear weapons

By Jean Shaoul, 12 February 2000

At the beginning of February, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) held the first public discussion on the country's nuclear arms programme for nearly 40 years. It was greeted with deafening silence by the international establishment.

Hindu chauvinists block filming of Deepa Mehta's Water

By Richard Phillips and Waruna Alahakoon, 12 February 2000

Deepa Mehta, director of the films Fire and Earth, has been forced by Hindu communalists in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to halt production of Water, the third in her trilogy, and look for a new shooting location. The movie was due to commence production in Varanasi on the Ganges River on January 30.

Clinton's final budget calls for military buildup, fiscal austerity

By Patrick Martin, 12 February 2000

The fiscal 2001 budget unveiled February 7 by the Clinton White House is a remarkable demonstration of how far to the right the American political establishment in general, and the Democratic Party in particular, have shifted over the past quarter century. While projecting record government revenues and large surpluses, the Clinton administration proposes as its principal priorities to pay down the national debt, enact a major tax cut and beef up the Pentagon.

Patients and health care advocates in Michigan protest Medicaid cuts

By Elisa Brehm, 12 February 2000

More than 300 physicians, patients, hospital workers and health care advocates participated February 2 in Medicaid Access Day at the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan to protest the lack of funding for the state's failing Medicaid program. Those who spoke stressed the suffering of the uninsured as well as the urgent need for solutions to combat hospital closings, cuts and consolidations.

Britain's Vodafone swallows Germany's Mannesmann

By Peter Schwarz, 12 February 2000

"Fortress Germany falls", "the end of Rhenish capitalism" and "twilight of the gods for Germany Inc." read the headlines with which the German press commented on the take-over of Mannesmann by the British mobile telephone enterprise Vodafone.