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Britain's official inquiry into BSE/Mad Cow Disease finds no one to blame

By Richard Tyler, 31 October 2000

Over 80 people in Britain have already died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the fatal brain-wasting illness that comes from BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) or Mad Cow Disease in cattle, and the eventual toll could run into thousands.

Big business renews pressure on New Zealand government as economy falters

By John Braddock, 31 October 2000

A series of poor economic indicators over the past month has pushed the New Zealand dollar into a downward spiral, dragging the share market with it and producing increasing alarm in ruling circles over the parlous state of the economy.

Dancer in the Dark, written and directed by Lars von Trier

By Bernd Rheinhardt, 31 October 2000

Danish director Lars von Trier's latest film is the final part of a trilogy (including Breaking the Waves [1996] and The Idiots [1998]), whose basic motif is that of a fairy tale. The little girl “Goldenheart” is so good-hearted that she is prepared to sacrifice all she has for other people.

Philadelphia teachers union calls off strike

By Jerry White, 31 October 2000

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers called off a strike by 21,000 teachers and other school employees early Monday morning before classes in the country's sixth largest school district were disrupted. The PFT leadership called the walkout at the end of the school day Friday, October 28, after waiting nearly two months since the membership voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the school board's take-away demands.

Sharp slowdown in US growth rate

By Nick Beams, 31 October 2000

While last Friday's announcement of a slowdown in economic growth produced the biggest rise on Wall Street for five months, there are indications that the US economy may be entering troubled waters in the months ahead.

Austria: heavy losses for Haider's party in provincial elections

By Marcus Salzmann, 31 October 2000

The results of the Steiermark (Styria) Province parliamentary elections have triggered a crisis in the Austrian federal government and within Jörg Haider's Freedom Party.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 31 October 2000

Ecuadorean health workers fight corruption

60 years after the assassination of Trotsky The contemporary significance of Leon Trotsky's life and work

By , 30 October 2000

Las agresión bélica de Israel y el patrimonio del sionismo

By , 30 October 2000

WSWS : Español

Philadelphia teachers strike

By Jerry White, 30 October 2000

Twenty-one thousand teachers and other school employees, members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), went on strike at the close of the school day Friday, October 27 after talks between the PFT and school and city authorities failed to result in an agreement for a new contract. Negotiations continued throughout the weekend and as this article was being posted no settlement had been reached.

Two boys imprisoned for killing British toddler Jamie Bulger face possible release

By Chris Marsden, 30 October 2000

The British legal system was forced to publicly acknowledge one of the worst judicial abuses of recent years last week, when the two boys convicted in 1993 of killing toddler Jamie Bulger were deemed eligible for release.

Colombia civil war intensifies as US escalates intervention

By Patrick Martin, 30 October 2000

The Colombian military suffered its worst setback of the year in the ongoing civil war against several peasant-based guerrilla groups, as 54 soldiers and national policemen were killed in a three-day battle earlier this month in the northwestern state of Antioquia, near the border with Panama. Almost half of the casualties came when guerrillas shot down a US-made Black Hawk helicopter with 22 soldiers on board.

Competitive pressures drive Chevron-Texaco mega-merger

By Joe Lopez, 30 October 2000

The planned $35 billion merger of the Chevron Corporation and Texaco announced earlier this month will create the world's fourth largest oil company. More than 4,000 jobs will be cut from their combined workforce, with the merged companies expecting annual cost savings of $1.2 billion within six to nine months of closing the deal.

A reply to a supporter of the World Socialist Party of the USA

By , 30 October 2000

Letter to from a supporter of the World Socialist Party USA

Reuniones en Berlín y Londres Atraen a un Público Agradecido

By , 28 October 2000

WSWS : Español

The Croatian experience belies Western promises of prosperity for Yugoslavia

By Tony Robson, 28 October 2000

Europe and America's promises to lift economic sanctions if the electorate voted Slobodan Milosevic out of office was an influential factor in gaining popular support for his removal at the beginning of this month.

Readers write in on WSWS coverage of the Middle East crisis

By , 28 October 2000

The following is a selection of letters sent in reply to the October 16 WSWS article “Israel's war measures and the legacy of Zionism”

Sri Lankan government ally suspected in murder of BBC's Jaffna correspondent

By Our Correspondent, 28 October 2000

More than 4,000 mourners participated in a funeral procession for Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, 36, a well-known journalist who was shot and killed by a gang of unidentified gunmen in his home in Jaffna town, in northern Sri Lanka, on the night of October 19.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 28 October 2000

State workers stage protests in western India

US independent counsel issues Travelgate report: an ignominious end to another anti-Clinton scandal

By Kate Randall, 28 October 2000

On October 18 Independent Counsel Robert Ray released his final report on the White House travel office investigation. “Travelgate,” as it has come to be known, concerned the role of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the May 1993 firings of seven White House employees responsible for making travel arrangements for reporters who travel with the president.

The significance of Leon Trotsky's thought for Africa today

By Chris Talbot, 28 October 2000

At two meetings commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, speakers illuminated the contemporary significance of Trotsky's work. The International Committee of the Fourth International and the World Socialist Web Site hosted the meetings in Berlin and London in September. Chris Talbot, a regular contributor to the WSWS from Britain, gave the following speech on September 24 in London. This concludes our coverage of the Trotsky anniversary meetings in Europe.

Impeachment not revisited

By Joanne Laurier, 28 October 2000

The Contender is a political drama, obviously inspired by the 1998 impeachment crisis surrounding US President Bill Clinton. Writer and director Rod Lurie, a former film critic and entertainment journalist, describes himself as a “political junkie.” He says that “Presidential election years are like football seasons to me. I watch the events unfold with great excitement.” Remarkably, however, Lurie has made no reference to the impeachment crisis in either his production notes or his comments to the press. This refusal to address the Clinton scandal directly, mirroring the silence of the major presidential candidates on the issue, is telling. As an examination of the film will demonstrate, Lurie is a Hollywood liberal, with all the opportunism and superficiality that all too often implies.

General Guei ousted in Côte d'Ivoire clashes

By Chris Talbot, 28 October 2000

General Guei, who seized power in a coup last Christmas Eve in Côte d'Ivoire, was forced to quit after thousands of protesters took to the streets of Abidjan, the capital. This followed presidential elections last Sunday in which Guei excluded most of the candidates and had expected to top the poll.

Ethnic violence and mass deportations of immigrants in Libya

By Trevor Johnson, 28 October 2000

Beginning in September, African immigrants living in Libya have been routinely set upon and killed by gangs of Libyan youths, with no action taken by the security forces to prevent the attacks. Immigrants, including thousands of Nigerians and Ghanaians and many from Chad, Niger, the Gambia and Sudan have since been forcibly removed from Libya as part of an organised repatriation in the wake of the widespread violence. Some of the deportees said they had suffered beatings, while others said they had been robbed or had their homes burned down.

Canada's "mini-budget" lets rich appropriate still greater share of social wealth

By Keith Jones, 27 October 2000

Big business, the corporate media, and the political right have lavished effusive praise on the Liberals' October 18 federal “mini-budget.” Even Ontario Premier Mike Harris—who has repeatedly chastised the Liberals for not financing steep tax cuts through further cuts to public services—enthused, the federal government “is talking my kind of language.”

Canadian election campaign kicks off: Liberals offer tax cuts to the rich and populist demagogy to working people

By Keith Jones, 27 October 2000

Canada's governing Liberals tabled a “mini-budget” October 18 that they touted as providing the largest tax cuts in history and which the press almost uniformly said was cribbed from the platform of the right-wing Canadian Alliance. Then, four days later, Prime Minister Jean Chretien kicked off the Liberal campaign for the November 27 federal election with populist denunciations of the Alliance.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 27 October 2000

French airline pilots continue strike over 35-hour week

Study finds largest US corporations avoiding billions in taxes

By David Walsh, 27 October 2000

A study carried out by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a liberal think tank based in Washington DC, reveals that large US companies are paying billions of dollars less in corporate taxes than federal law supposedly requires. The figures are quite staggering.

Tamil detainees hacked to death in Sri Lanka by organised racist mob

By our correspondents, 27 October 2000

On Wednesday morning, an organised mob of Sinhala racists burst into a government detention centre for suspected members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Bindunuwewa and attempted to hack to death all 41 young Tamil detainees. So far 28 are dead—24 were killed on the spot and another four have died of their injuries. Most of the remaining internees are in hospital in a critical condition under tight police guard. A few have been reported as missing. Bindunuwewa is near the town of Bandarawela, 210 kilometres from Colombo in the central hill region of the island.

The US elections: What accounts for the anti-Nader hysteria of the New York Times?

By Barry Grey, 27 October 2000

Less than two weeks before the November 7 election, the New York Times has published yet another editorial attack on the campaign of Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Having denounced Nader's campaign in June and weighed in last August to urge his exclusion from the televised presidential debates, the Times printed an editorial on October 26 branding Nader's campaign an illegitimate intrusion into the contest between Democratic Vice President Al Gore and Republican Governor George W. Bush.

The Reith telecard scandal: another ultimatum to the Australian government

By Linda Tenenbaum, 27 October 2000

Not for the first time in Australian politics, the media has seized upon a relatively minor incident involving a government minister and transformed it into a major scandal.

Trotsky's struggle against Stalin and the tragic fate of the Soviet Union

By Vladimir Volkov, 27 October 2000

At two meetings commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, speakers illuminated the contemporary significance of Trotsky's work. The International Committee of the Fourth International and the World Socialist Web Site hosted the meetings in Berlin and London in September. WSWS Editorial Board member Vladimir Volkov gave the following speech on September 23 in Berlin. Tomorrow we will post the speech by Chris Talbot, a regular contributor to the WSWS from Britain, concluding our coverage of the meetings.

US elections: Democrat Gore advances pro-corporate economic agenda

By Shannon Jones, 26 October 2000

Early last month Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore published a 191-page economic plan entitled Prosperity for America's Families. The document is aimed primarily at assuring big business that a Gore administration will do nothing to disrupt the laissez-faire economic polices that have generated unprecedented profits for Wall Street while dramatically increasing the level of social inequality in the US. It underscores the hypocrisy of the populist rhetoric that has become a feature of Gore's campaign speeches.

Nobel prize awarded for research into the nervous system, memory and mood

By Perla Astudillo, 26 October 2000

This year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three prominent scientists—Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel—for their ground-breaking work in unravelling the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Their discoveries have deepened our understanding of how nerve cell signals are processed, and hence how signal disturbances in nerves give rise to neurological and psychiatric diseases such as Parkinson's Disease, depression and schizophrenia. This research has already led to treatments for these debilitating conditions and may bring scientists closer to finding cures.

The difference between feeling and playing at feeling

By David Walsh, 26 October 2000

So many art and independent filmmakers seem to be reaching out of the screen and telling you why you should like their films and think well of them. You can feel them straining to be the toughest, the coldest, the most matter of fact—or, alternately, the simplest, the most understated. The sense of strain, at any rate, is all too common.

Italy's centre-left coalition chooses Francesco Rutelli as its leading candidate

By Peter Schwarz, 26 October 2000

Italy's governing “Olive Tree” alliance has nominated Francesco Rutelli as its leading candidate for the next parliamentary elections. Rutelli, who is mayor of Rome, was chosen at a convention held along American lines to contest the poll that will presumably take place in the coming spring.

Britain: After the Hatfield rail crash—are accidents good for business?

By Mike Ingram, 26 October 2000

In the aftermath of the Hatfield rail tragedy—in which four people were killed and dozens more were injured as an unrepaired broken track derailed a high-speed train—many expected that the company responsible for track maintenance would face a tough time. Gerald Corbett appeared before television cameras looking suitably humbled after having tendered his resignation from his £400,000 a year post as Railtrack Chief Executive. With the victims of the October 17 crash barely laid to rest, top company executives do not face any penalty, moreover Railtrack has been rewarded with a £4.7bn cash injection from public funds.

Sri Lanka: the life and legacy of Sirima Bandaranaike

By the Editorial Board, 26 October 2000

To review the life of former Sri Lankan prime minister Sirima Bandaranaike, who died on October 10, is to undertake an examination of the central political issues which have shaped the island nation since it obtained formal independence from Britain in 1948. This is doubly necessary because, of the 52 years since independence, one or another member of her family has been head of state for 22 and leader of the opposition for 20.

The contemporary significance of Leon Trotsky's life and work

By Peter Schwarz, 26 October 2000

At two meetings commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, speakers illuminated the contemporary significance of Trotsky's work. The International Committee of the Fourth International and the World Socialist Web Site hosted the meetings in Berlin and London in September. Peter Schwarz gave the following speech on September 23 in Berlin. He is the secretary of the International Committee the Fourth International and a member of the editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site . Over the next two days we will post the speeches by WSWS Editorial Board member Vladimir Volkov and Chris Talbot, a regular contributor to the WSWS from Britain.

Timor Gap dispute highlights motives behind Australian intervention

By Mike Head, 25 October 2000

An impasse in negotiations between Australia and the UN over the future of the immense oil and natural gas deposits beneath the Timor Sea has thrown a new spotlight on Australia's claim to have sent troops to East Timor last year for humanitarian reasons.

The 2000 Olympics: a comment on the behavior of the US sprinters

By Larry Roberts, 25 October 2000

Thirty-two years ago, on October 16, 1968, an action by two black US sprinters at the Mexico City Olympics shook the sporting world and to this day remains a symbol of the struggle against oppression.

Anti-Jewish attacks mount in Britain and France

By Francis Dubois, 25 October 2000

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East has led to anti-Semitic attacks in Europe. The near-fatal stabbing of David Myers, a 20-year-old Hasidic theology student, by an Algerian man in London is one of the single most appalling results. But the tensest situation exists in France, which has a Muslim population of 5 million, mostly Arabs, as well as 700,000 Jewish citizens.

Deconstructing History

By Ann Talbot, 25 October 2000

Historian Norman Davies's latest book claims to offer an approach to the history of the British Isles that challenges traditional nationalist readings of British history by “integrating” the British Isles into Europe. What the reader actually gets is a deconstruction, not just of British history, but also of the discipline of history itself, as Davies dispenses with all of the concepts that have been developed by historians in the last two centuries.

German post-Stalinists poised to enter the "mainstream"

By Ulrich Rippert and Peter Schwarz, 25 October 2000

Eleven years after it was founded, the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor to the ruling Stalinist party (SED—Socialist Unity Party) in the former East Germany, has dropped its image as a left-wing protest party once and for all. In the future, it intends to play a “state-supportive” role as a regional party in the east of Germany, similar to that played by the conservative CSU (Christian Social Union) in Bavaria. That is the essential outcome of the PDS's latest party conference, held in the eastern German city of Cottbus.

Los Angeles police attack protesters outside LAPD headquarters

By John Andrews, 25 October 2000

Squads of riot-clad Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers attacked a crowd of over 1,000 people who were peacefully demonstrating against police abuse and the death penalty outside LAPD headquarters last Sunday. The scene was reminiscent of the actions taken against protestors at the Democratic National Convention last August.

A letter on "After the Slaughter: Political Lessons of the Balkan War"

By , 24 October 2000

Dear editor,

Insights into the faded hopes of the 60s generation

By Kaye Tucker, 24 October 2000

Australian playwright Hannie Rayson's Life After George, which premiered at the Melbourne Theatre Company in January this year and is now being performed in Sydney, is an absorbing investigation into the life of Peter George, a recently deceased university professor. The gregarious professor, a defender of academic excellence and liberal humanism, had been under siege from the commercially oriented university administration. Rayson's play is a witty and insightful comment the general loss of hope amongst a section of the intellectual milieu.

Solomon Islands peace agreement entrenches ethnic divisions

By Peter Byrne, 24 October 2000

After six days of talks in the northern Australian city of Townsville last week, rival ethnic militia leaders from the Solomon Islands signed an agreement to temporarily disarm in return for promises of separate economic development.

After the Arab summit: Israel escalates attack on Palestinians

By Chris Marsden, 24 October 2000

The Israeli military used helicopter gunships to attack the West Bank town of Beit Jala near East Jerusalem late Sunday, blowing up a local factory. On Monday morning Israeli army units encircled the town, as the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, following the Arab League summit in Cairo, escalated its three-week-long military assault on the Palestinian masses.

Tentative agreement reached in US commercial actors strike

By Jerry White, 24 October 2000

Negotiators representing 135,000 striking commercial actors reached a tentative agreement with US advertising agencies Sunday evening to end the longest talent strike in Hollywood history. The walkout by members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), which began May 1, centered on the industry's 50-year-old pay-per-play formula, which compensates actors each time one of their commercials airs on television.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 24 October 2000

Truck operators strike in Chile

By , 23 October 2000

Filipino president faces calls for resignation over gambling payoffs

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 23 October 2000

Last Wednesday an impeachment motion was formally filed in the Philippine congress against President Joseph Estrada over alleged payoffs of more than $US8 million from an illegal gambling racket known as jueteng. Heherson Alveraz, secretary-general of the main opposition party Lakas-NUCD, who filed the motion along with 40 other congressmen, accused Estrada of bribery, graft, corruption and the betrayal of public trust.

Interviews with Singing Chen (Chen Xinyi), director of Bundled, and Kim Sang-Jin, director of Attack the Gas Station

By , 23 October 2000

David Walsh: Why did you decide to make this particular film?

The Internet: US Congress to consider Web filtering in schools and libraries

By Mike Ingram, 23 October 2000

Support is said to be growing within the US Congress for a bill requiring schools and libraries with Internet access to install software to lock out sites deemed to contain pornographic, obscene or other material considered harmful to minors. If passed the bill would require schools and libraries that receive funding under the E-rate program, which provides subsidies for Internet connection, to install filtering software or lose financial support.

Less and more interesting films

By David Walsh, 23 October 2000

“What do you do if I make an unintelligible utterance to you? You question me, is that not so? Why should we not do the same thing to the dreamer—question him as to what his dream means ?”-Sigmund Freud, c. 1916

One hundred years since the death of Friedrich Nietzsche: a review of his ideas and influence—Part 3

By Stefan Steinberg, 23 October 2000

The following is the conclusion of a three-part series.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 21 October 2000

Indian council workers continue strike

Kumaratunga appoints an unstable coalition cabinet in Sri Lanka

By K. Ratnayake, 21 October 2000

In the wake of last week's election, the political situation in Sri Lanka remains highly unstable. After a week and a half of backroom haggling, the Peoples Alliance (PA) has formed a fragile coalition government with two minor parties—the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP). But none of the issues that sparked the early poll have been resolved.

Australian military policy reappraisal amid new regional uncertainties

By Mike Head, 21 October 2000

Confronted by growing instability throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian government is in the final stages of drafting a Defence White Paper that will boost military spending and prepare for new regional interventions.

The final US presidential debate and beyond: Gore limps toward the finish line

By Barry Grey, 21 October 2000

The final presidential debate, held October 17 in St. Louis, highlighted the political cowardice and reactionary underpinnings of Vice President Al Gore's campaign—a combination that could very well hand victory in November to his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, virtually by default.

One hundred years since the death of Friedrich Nietzsche: a review of his ideas and influence—Part 2

By Stefan Steinberg, 21 October 2000

The following is the second of a three-part series. The concluding part will be posted tomorrow.

The contemporary significance of Leon Trotsky's life and work

By , 21 October 2000

The World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party in Australia invite WSWS readers to attend a public meeting in Sydney to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of Leon Trotsky's assassination.

Deadly Ebola outbreak spreads in Uganda

By Chris Talbot, 21 October 2000

Deaths from Ebola, one of the most deadly viruses known to man, now total 41 in Uganda. 17 new cases were reported in a 24-hour period up to October 18. The first instances of the disease were reported at one of the hospitals in Gulu, a town in northern Uganda, where three nursing students died. Both hospitals in Gulu, already overstretched and under funded, are now attempting to deal with the disease with assistance from World Health Organisation (WHO) experts.

Texas death penalty report details racial bias and prosecutorial abuse

By Kate Randall, 21 October 2000

A report issued October 16 on the death penalty in Texas details “a thoroughly flawed system” marred by “racial bias, incompetent counsel, and misconduct committed by police officers and prosecutors.” The 200-page study—“A State of Denial: Texas Justice and the Death Penalty”—was compiled by the Texas Defender Service, a group of lawyers that helps death row inmates appeal their sentences.

UN report on least developed countries shows worsening poverty and debt

By Trevor Johnson, 20 October 2000

A new UN report on 48 of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)—mainly in sub-Saharan Africa—reveals the devastating result of Western policies towards the world's poorest countries over the last decade.

Death of four in Hatfield train derailment highlights safety issues on Britain's railways

By Mike Ingram, 20 October 2000

Just one year after the Paddington rail disaster, Britain was again alerted to the appalling lack of safety on the rail network as a train travelling from London to Leeds derailed at 115mph near Hatfield on Tuesday October 17.

India creates first new states in 30 years

By Ganesh Dev, 20 October 2000

Three new states will come into existence in India on November 1. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal are to be carved out of the larger states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh respectively. The legislation to create these new entities, the first in 30 years, was pushed through the upper and lower houses of the Indian national parliament in August in a matter of days.

Britain: Financial scandal surrounding Peter Mandelson returns to haunt Labour government

By Julie Hyland, 20 October 2000

Britain's government has again been mired in scandal over the £375,000 loan made by multimillionaire Geoffrey Robinson, formerly Labour's Paymaster General, to his cabinet colleague Peter Mandelson to purchase a Notting Hill residence.

Australian Reconciliation Minister's comments denounced

By Janine Harrison, 20 October 2000

Racist comments about Aborigines made by the Federal Minister for Reconciliation, Philip Ruddock, in two interviews with the international press have received considerable exposure in the Australian media in recent weeks. In the aftermath of the Olympic Games, which focused heavily on the issue of Aboriginal reconciliation, the remarks have been used to renew attacks by sections of business on the Howard government, and to foster the illusion that something positive is being done to address Aboriginal oppression.

One hundred years since the death of Friedrich Nietzsche: a review of his ideas and influence—Part 1

By Stefan Steinberg, 20 October 2000

The following is the first of a three-part series. The remaining parts will be posted over the next two days.

Australian government caught in a bind over Telstra privatisation

By Terry Cook, 19 October 2000

The Howard government's plan to privatise the remaining 51 percent of Telstra, Australia's major telecommunications carrier, ran into further problems last week with the release of a report from an inquiry examining the state of services in regional and rural areas.

Drama, protest, sensuality

By David Walsh, 19 October 2000

“But with the true artist, the social formula that he recommends is a matter of secondary importance; the source of his art, its animating spirit, is decisive”—Rosa Luxemburg, 1918

Democrats, AFL-CIO pressure Los Angeles transit strikers to accept contract concessions

By Jerry White, 19 October 2000

Los Angeles transit workers returned to their jobs Wednesday and Thursday after union leaders, working in tandem with Rev. Jesse Jackson and other Democratic Party officials, pushed through a pro-management agreement to end the 32-day walkout by 4,400 bus and train operators. Shortly after workers voted to accept the deal Tuesday night, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) officials, led by Republican Mayor Richard Riordan, gloated that they had achieved the $23 million in savings they had demanded from the outset.

Belgium's extreme right Vlaams Blok increases vote in regional elections

By Richard Tyler, 19 October 2000

In recent regional and local elections, the xenophobic Vlaams Blok (VB) became the strongest party in Antwerp. The VB advocates the separation of the northern Flemish-speaking region of Flanders from French-speaking Wallonia, which together with the bi-lingual capital Brussels and a small German-speaking area comprise the modern Belgian state. Strongly anti-immigrant, it calls for the immediate repatriation of all so-called illegal immigrants.

Euro resumes its downward slide

By Nick Beams, 19 October 2000

Less than a month after intervention by the central banks of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations, the value of the euro has again fallen to near-record lows against the US dollar. The immediate impetus for the plunge, which sent the euro to below 85 cents after rising to 89 cents following the G-7 intervention, was provided by remarks made by European Central Bank head Wim Duisenberg in an interview with the Times on Monday.

France: finance scandal rocks the Fifth Republic

By Peter Schwarz, 19 October 2000

For three weeks now, France has been in the throes of a finance scandal that has dragged French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin into the mire. There is more at stake in this affair than merely the fate of individual politicians or the demise of one or several political parties. The scandal reflects a profound crisis in the entire system of France's aged Fifth Republic. The methods by which the ruling class has exercised power for the past 40 years are no longer functioning.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 19 October 2000

Italian transport workers continue strikes over contracts

Australian government to pour billions into private schools

By Erika Zimmer, 18 October 2000

The Howard government's States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Bill 2000, set to be passed by the end of the year, delivers a calculated blow to public schools and further encourages the privatisation of education. Multi-million dollar handouts will be extended to Australia's wealthiest private schools, the Bill's major beneficiaries. Religious schools will also receive significant funding increases. Government schools, on the other hand, will continue to face declining budgets.

Former East German Stalinist leader and PDS head Gregor Gysi discovers the nation

By Ulrich Rippert, 18 October 2000

At the beginning of October, during a special parliamentary sitting marking the tenth anniversary of German unification, Gregor Gysi delivered his farewell speech as chairman of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) faction in the federal parliament. Gysi, a leading official at the end of the 1980s of the Stalinist ruling party of East Germany, the Socialist Unity Party (SED), became SED general secretary at the end of 1989, just as the East German state was collapsing. In advance of the 1990 elections that set the stage for German reunification, Gysi presided over the transformation of the SED into the PDS.

The Internet: US court challenges online anonymity

By Mike Ingram, 18 October 2000

A Florida appeals court ruled Monday that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must divulge the identities of people posting messages on their servers that are deemed to be defamatory.

Uneasy ceasefire announced at US-Israeli-Palestinian summit

By Chris Marsden, 18 October 2000

US President Clinton on Tuesday announced a last-minute agreement between Israel and Palestine to end the past 20 days of fighting and return to the status quo between the two sides prior to the present conflict. But tensions remain high, and there is every chance that even the limited cease-fire agreement may not hold.

A reader writes in praise of Bahman Ghobadi's A Time for Drunken Horses

By , 18 October 2000


Violent juvenile crimes in Japan point to a deeper social crisis

By Amanda Hitchcock, 18 October 2000

A series of violent crimes perpetrated by young people in Japan over the last year has generated considerable public discussion and concern. As in other countries, the response in the media and official circles has been to demand harsher penalties and to prosecute young offenders as adults. But a closer look at the cases reveals that these outbursts of violence have their roots in the growing social dislocation in Japan that has left many young people adrift, alienated and in some cases, deeply disturbed.

Signs of disintegration in Papua New Guinea security forces

By a correspondent, 17 October 2000

So far this year two of the three largest island nations in the South Pacific have become engulfed in political turmoil. Both the attempted coup in Fiji and the ousting of the government in the Solomons have exposed the advanced state of decay in the state structures of these countries. In the former, an elite anti-terrorist group was involved in taking the entire government hostage; in the latter the police force collapsed with its members defecting to rival ethnic-based militia gangs.

Letters protesting government ban on Sri Lankan film

By , 17 October 2000

We reprint below a selection of letters sent to the Sri Lankan government protesting its decision last July to ban Pura Handa Kaluwara ( Death on a Full Moon Day), the internationally acclaimed film written and directed by Prasanna Vithanage. It is the first Sri Lankan film to be banned under the government's emergency laws, which were promulgated in May following its military debacle on the Jaffna peninsula.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 17 October 2000

Venezuelan oil workers strike for five days

What is the significance of the delay in the Napster ruling?

By James Brewer, 17 October 2000

An October 2 hearing to decide whether to lift a stay on the injunction against Napster, the Internet music sharing service provider, concluded without making a decision, stating the need for further information and deliberation. Whatever the final outcome of the case, the delay in the ruling will provide time for deals to be struck by financial interests that have a stake in the dispute.

Lockerbie-Pan Am 103: Prosecution case evaporates

By Steve James, 17 October 2000

After six months, the prosecution case in the trial of the two Libyans accused of blowing up Pan Am 103 on December 21 1988 has all but evaporated. The defendants, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, are being tried at a special court in Camp Zeist, a former US military base in the Netherlands, which was designated as Scottish territory for the purpose of the proceedings.

Row over policing reform in Northern Ireland continues

By Julie Hyland, 16 October 2000

Talks are continuing between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Irish Premier Bertie Ahern, and the Unionist and Republican parties to try and resolve the row over policing reform in Northern Ireland.

A conversation with film critic Robin Wood

By David Walsh, 16 October 2000

In my view Robin Wood is one of the most perceptive and admirable film critics of the past thirty-five years. Born in Britain in 1931 and educated at Cambridge, Wood first came to my attention with his book on American filmmaker Howard Hawks, published in 1968. The book was noteworthy for the seriousness (still rare in those days) with which it approached a Hollywood director, its moral rigor and its emotional honesty, and its enthusiasm. I think these have been hallmarks of Wood's work throughout his career. Even when one disagrees with his views, and I sometimes do, one never doubts the sincerity of the opinion. Wood is the opposite of a poseur.

Britain: Memorial meeting held for socialist playwright Jim Allen

By our correspondent, 16 October 2000

A celebration of the life and work of the socialist playwright and scriptwriter Jim Allen was held in Manchester on October 6. The meeting coincided with what would have been his seventy-fourth birthday.

Israel's war measures and the legacy of Zionism

By Chris Marsden and David North, 16 October 2000

As US President Bill Clinton arrives in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt to take part in an emergency summit aimed at halting two-and-a-half weeks of fighting, the policies of the Israeli regime increasingly resemble those of a military camarilla that has lost any sense of political reality. Despite the best efforts of the apologists of the Israeli regime to place the onus on Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Chairman Yassir Arafat, it is obvious from the circumstances leading up to the past two weeks of bloodshed that the violence was provoked by right-wing forces within the Israeli establishment, to which Prime Minister Ehud Barak capitulated.

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World Socialist Web Site correspondent Barbara Slaughter speaks at Jim Allen memorial meeting

By our correspondent, 16 October 2000

Barbara Slaughter spoke on behalf of the World Socialist Web Site at a recent commemoration of the life and work of the socialist playwright Jim Allen. [ See: “Britain: Memorial meeting held for socialist playwright Jim Allen”] The following article contains extracts from her comments to the memorial meeting.

The second US presidential debate: Gore throws himself on the mercy of the media

By Barry Grey, 14 October 2000

The performance of Vice President Al Gore in the second presidential debate, held October 11 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, revealed a basic truth about the US election campaign. There are, in effect, two campaigns—the appeal by the candidates for the votes of the general electorate, and their appeal for the backing of the corporate and political elite that dictates, through the media, official public opinion.

US threats in response to bombing of American ship in Yemen

By David Walsh, 14 October 2000

The US government responded with threats and vows to retaliate in the wake of an apparent suicide bombing attack on a US Navy vessel in the port city of Aden in Yemen on Thursday, which left 7 sailors dead, 10 missing and presumed dead and 33 wounded. The USS Cole, a 505-foot vessel carrying a crew of 350, was attempting to refuel at the time of the blast. The ship was reportedly heading for anti-Iraq sanctions duty in the Persian Gulf. A small boat assisting in mooring the vessel allegedly triggered the explosion.

Extreme right make significant gains in Sri Lankan elections

By K. Ratnayake, 14 October 2000

The results of general elections held in Sri Lanka on Tuesday reveal widespread disaffection with the major parties generated by the country's protracted civil war, falling living standards and the growth of unemployment and poverty. But the main beneficiaries have been the Sinhala extremist parties—Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Sihala Urumaya Party (SUP).

Lithuania: Ruling Homeland Union suffers election collapse

By Steve James, 14 October 2000

Ten years after Lithuania unilaterally declared its independence, the ruling conservative Homeland Union has suffered a huge defeat in last Sunday's elections. Having won close to 40 percent of the vote in 1996, and 70 seats, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius's Homeland Union won a mere 8 percent and 8 seats in the 141-seat Seimas [parliament].

Australian union manoeuvres with BHP in coal mine stoppages

By Barry Jobson, 14 October 2000

Coal mines owned by Australian mineral company BHP have been hit by a campaign of industrial action in recent weeks involving a claim for a 15 percent pay increase over two years and new work agreements.