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US executive compensation rose 16 percent in 2000

By Shannon Jones, 28 February 2001

The results of a study conducted by Pearl Meyers and Partners, a New York-based executive compensation consulting firm, show that salaries and other benefits for top US corporate officers, already at staggering levels, rose another 16 percent last year.

Scientists release a map of the human genome

By Frank Gaglioti, 28 February 2001

On February 12, scientists from the publicly-funded Human Genome Project (HGP) and Celera Genomics, a privately-funded biotechnology company, released what they termed “an initial working draft sequence” of the human genome. It is the first detailed map of the most significant human genetic structures, covering 90 percent of the gene-rich sections of human DNA. The HGP published its results in the Internet edition of Nature and Celera on the Science web page. A print edition of the journals was released on February 15.

Mozambique flood disaster returns

By Barry Mason, 28 February 2001

Mozambique once again faces a flood disaster. This impoverished African country is still suffering from the effects of last year's devastating floods, which left 700 people dead and half a million homeless. This year's floods have already carried away thousands of homes, inundated vast areas of farmland and destroyed 27,000 hectares of crops, including staples such as maize, rice and cassava. At least 400,000 have been affected, with more than 40 people killed and 77,000 made homeless.

Blair-Bush meeting highlights growing rift between US and Europe

By Julie Hyland, 28 February 2001

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the first European leader to meet US President George W. Bush. But last weekend's Camp David meeting, which Blair had hoped would provide him with some foreign and domestic kudos, only served to highlight the gaping holes in his government's international strategy.

AOL-Time Warner threatens children running Harry Potter fan sites

By Mike Ingram, 28 February 2001

A 15-year-old girl from West Yorkshire, England has found herself at the centre of a raging battle being waged by media conglomerate AOL-Time Warner against young fans of the “Harry Potter” books.

Australian academic dismissed for opposing falling university standards

By Mike Head, 28 February 2001

In a serious attack on academic freedom and the wider right to free speech, an Australian university has sacked an academic for publicly opposing the upgrading of substandard students. On Monday, the University of Wollongong dismissed biological sciences Associate Professor Ted Steele, because last month he told a journalist that the university had overturned expert markers in order to award higher grades to two honours students.

Racial killings in Borneo: a symptom of deep-seated social tensions

By Peter Symonds, 27 February 2001

Gangs of indigenous Dayaks have butchered hundreds of people over the last week in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan in a racially-motivated killing spree aimed at driving settlers from the island of Madura out of the Borneo region.

Germany: Violence against foreigners increases by 40 percent

By Dietmar Henning, 27 February 2001

Right-wing violence against foreigners in Germany has increased dramatically over the last year. The situation is particularly dangerous for foreigners living in eastern Germany—this was the conclusion drawn by Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (Social Democratic Party—SPD) in a recent press interview.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 27 February 2001

Argentine government calls on unions to cancel general strike call

Navy report confirms: civilians distracted crew of US sub

By Kate Randall, 27 February 2001

A confidential Navy report confirms that the presence of civilians on board the USS Greeneville distracted the commander and crew of the nuclear submarine in the period leading up to the February 9 collision between the sub and a Japanese fishing trawler off the Hawaiian coast.

Germany seeks to normalise relations with Iran

By Justus Leicht, 27 February 2001

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi paid a surprise visit to Germany on February 8. During the two-day trip he met with Foreign Affairs Minister Joschka Fischer (Green party), Federal Economics Minister Werner Müller (non-party), the chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Hans Ulrich Klose, as well as Bundestag (parliament) President Wolfgang Thierse and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (all Social Democratic Party—SPD).

Germany: State attorney launches investigation of Foreign Minister Fischer

By Ulrich Rippert, 27 February 2001

The public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt/Main has launched a criminal investigation into Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Green party). This signals a new stage in the continuing debate about Fischer's past as a “street fighter” in the militant demonstrations of the late 1960s and early 1970s. What becomes ever clearer is the direct political campaign being mounted by right-wing circles in the Christian Democratic Party aimed at forcing Fischer to resign and destabilising Germany's Social Democratic Party-Green party coalition government.

Sri Lankan government postpones local elections for 12 months

By K. Ratnayake, 27 February 2001

The Sri Lankan government has postponed elections for local governments, extending the life of existing administrations for one year through a gazette notification on February 3. As a result of this arbitrary act, elections will not be held for 311 local bodies, including 12 municipalities and 31 urban councils.

Canada rescinds ban on Brazilian beef

By Keith Jones, 26 February 2001

The Canadian government rescinded its ban on imports of Brazilian beef on Friday, February 23.

Union membership in US at lowest level in 60 years

By Jerry White, 26 February 2001

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that trade union membership in the US had fallen by another 219,000 workers in 2000, bringing the percentage of union members in the workforce to the lowest level in six decades.

The Jamie Bulger case: Press seek to thwart release of Robert Thompson

By Julie Hyland, 26 February 2001

Britain's leading tabloid newspapers have published letters and documents aimed at preventing the release of Robert Thompson on parole. Thompson was 10 years old when, together with 10-year-old Jon Venables, he killed toddler Jamie Bulger in 1992. Found guilty of murder, the two boys were sent to separate secure accommodation. Now 18 years old, they may be eligible for release later this year if it is considered they have been rehabilitated.

Papua New Guinea government overturns minimum pay rise

By Will Marshall, 26 February 2001

With his government under mounting pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta this month overturned a decision to increase the minimum wage of rural workers to 60.42 kina per week (about $US18). The government's own Minimum Wages Board had recommended a 160 percent increase from the current K24.2 ($7) minimum wage.

Why was Stanley Kramer so unfashionable at the time of his death?

By David Walsh, 26 February 2001

American film director and producer Stanley Kramer, who died February 22 in Woodland Hills, California, was one of those unfortunate once-prominent artists who are best known by the time of their death, fairly or unfairly, for their defects and limitations. The producer of Champion (1949), Home of the Brave (1949) and The Wild One (1954) and director of The Defiant Ones (1958), On the Beach (1959) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Kramer's reputation as the somewhat heavy-handed conveyor of liberal themes and sentiments attached itself to any discussion of his work. He was known for his concerns with racism (Home of the Brave, The Defiant Ones and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner [1967]), fascism (Judgment at Nuremberg, Ship of Fools (1965) and war (On the Beach).

Pakistani regime shuts newspaper and charges editors with blasphemy

By Vilani Peiris, 26 February 2001

Under the pressure of Islamic fundamentalist groups, Pakistan's military regime headed by General Pervez Musharraf has arrested the editor and other staff members of the English language daily, the Frontier Post, over the publication of an email insulting to Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Those arrested face the death sentence or life imprisonment under the country's reactionary blasphemy law.

Bush's first press conference: a craven media welcomes a political impostor

By Patrick Martin, 24 February 2001

The presidential press conference has traditionally played a distinctive role in the workings of American democracy. It represents, at least in theory, one of the few occasions when the proverbial “most powerful man in the world” can be challenged or questioned in a way that is not completely scripted.

Store guards kill another worker in Detroit

By Larry Roberts, 24 February 2001

For the second time in less than a year, security guards at a retail store in the Detroit metropolitan area have killed a shoplifting suspect following a confrontation. This time two security guards beat a shoplifter to death at a supermarket over two packages of meat.

Ontario, Canada: Union scuttles Falconbridge strike

By Lee Parsons, 24 February 2001

The strike by 1,260 production and maintenance workers at the giant Falconbridge nickel mining operation in northern Ontario was brought to an end last week with the ratification of a contract agreement which provides for workforce reductions of at least 10 percent. After over seven months of an often bitter stand-off, the agreement was reached in less than a week of new negotiations.

More works from the Berlin film festival

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 February 2001

The Tailor of Panama by John Boorman

South Korean government orders massive police assault on Daewoo workers

By a correspondent, 24 February 2001

The South Korean government this week launched a full-scale attack on workers at the Daewoo Motor Co., aimed at breaking resistance to mass layoffs and clearing the way for the sale of the bankrupt vehicle maker.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 24 February 2001

Company thugs bash striking Indonesian hotel worker

Napster offers record companies a new commercial arrangement

By Mike Ingram, 24 February 2001

The Internet music swap service Napster and its 50 million-plus users face a new court injunction that may effectively close down the service as it presently exists. Whatever the eventual fate of Napster, however, the naked economic interests that lie behind the invocations of artistic copyright and intellectual property on the part of the music industry giants are increasingly clear.

Submarine collision provokes anger and anti-US sentiment in Japan

By James Conachy, 24 February 2001

The February 9 collision of the US nuclear submarine Greeneville with the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru off the coast of Hawaii has produced an outpouring of outrage and anti-American sentiment in Japan. Nine people died because of the incident, including four 17-year-old boys. Their bodies are believed to be trapped within the ship's hull, 610 metres (2,000 feet) beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Israel's Sharon sets out militarist agenda in advance of talks with Colin Powell

By Chris Marsden, 24 February 2001

Prior to Sunday's meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon has outlined his hard-line military stance regarding the Palestinians.

Congo peace talks revived after Kabila's assassination

By Chris Talbot, 23 February 2001

Following the assassination of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Laurent Kabila last month, his son Joseph has been at the centre of Western-inspired peace initiatives.

De-Stalinisation and the German Democratic Republic

By Peter Schwarz, 23 February 2001

Stefan Heym's newly published novel The Architects tells the story of the married architect couple Arnold and Julia Sundstrom in the German Democratic Republic (GDR—East Germany) in 1956.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 23 February 2001

Below we post a selection of recent letters to the WSWS .

Conservative parties routed in another Australian election

By Linda Tenenbaum, 23 February 2001

Australia's two conservative parties have been dealt a second crushing electoral blow in as many weeks. Last Saturday, the state Labor government in Queensland swept back into office on a wave of voter resentment towards the Howard federal government and its pro-market policies, leaving the state Liberals and Nationals reduced to little more than a parliamentary rump.

Human rights groups condemn Israel for assassinations and indiscriminate killing

By Chris Marsden, 23 February 2001

Human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) has condemned Israel for operating a deliberate policy of assassinating leading figures in the Palestinian intifada.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 23 February 2001

Public sector workers to strike in Colombia

Corruption row sparks financial storm in Turkey

By Nick Beams, 23 February 2001

The decision by the Turkish government and central bank to float the lira is the latest twist in a political and economic crisis that has engulfed the country over the past four days.

A miserable gruel: European films at this year's Berlin Film Festival

By Stefan Steinberg, 22 February 2001

The presentation of the main Golden Bear award at the closing ceremony of the 51st Berlin Film Festival to the French film Intimacy was greeted by a mixed chorus of cheers and booing from a public consisting primarily of media representatives and film professionals. In the opinion of this reviewer, Patrice Chereau's new film (see below) was one of the worst of an extremely thin batch of European films to be shown in competition at this year's film festival. In fact the best contributions to the competition section, consisting of a total of 23 films, came from Asian countries. Some of the main Asian contributions will be dealt with in a further article.

Britain: New anti-terror law threatens basic democratic rights

By Julie Hyland, 22 February 2001

The Labour government's global anti-terrorism law came into effect Monday February 19. The sweeping measures it contains represent a significant undermining of civil liberties in Britain, and also have worldwide implications.

Pressure for Indian government intervention against Left Front in West Bengal

By Nanda Wickremasinghe, 22 February 2001

In the leadup to state elections in May, opposition politicians in West Bengal are stepping up pressure on the Indian government to intervene directly against the Left Front state government led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which has held power for the past 24 years.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 22 February 2001

Rail conductors in England threaten strike ballot to demand improved safety at work

Auto workers vote for strike action at Britain's GM-Vauxhall plants

By Keith Lee, 22 February 2001

Union members at General Motors (GM) Vauxhall car plants in Britain have voted for industrial action in protest at the closure of the Luton factory. Workers at GM's Luton and Ellesmere Port factories belonging to the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) voted by 58 percent for strike action. The strike began with the night shift on Wednesday, building up to a general walk out of all shifts on Friday February 22.

US embassy bombing case: conspiracy trial perverts judicial system

By Bill Vann, 22 February 2001

Four men are on trial in Manhattan federal court charged with conspiracy in connection with the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa. Held under extraordinary security in a fortified courthouse, the trial is centered on acts of terrorism that were carried out thousands of miles from US soil. While the media has focused its attention on sensationalist charges made by the one witness called thus far by federal prosecutors—a confessed embezzler who has to date received a payoff of nearly $1 million from US authorities—nowhere has a question been raised as to why this trial is even taking place in an American court.

New York City homelessness at highest level in more than a decade

By Fred Mazelis, 22 February 2001

The current census of homeless families and single adults in New York City's shelter system has reached the highest level since the late 1980s. The number of families applying for emergency shelter has risen 10 percent in the last year alone, a number which says a great deal about the nature of the economic boom of the last five years and what it has meant for the most vulnerable sections of the working class.

Workers fight union-busting at a Canadian metal fabricating plant

By Larry Roberts, 21 February 2001

One hundred eighty workers locked out since December 31 by the management of Star Metal Manufacturing in Windsor, Ontario began an occupation of the plant last week to demand the company return to the bargaining table.

US Navy to be sued for depleted uranium use on Caribbean island

By Harvey Thompson, 21 February 2001

The inhabitants of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques are to take the United States Navy to court for compensation over a claim that its use of depleted uranium (DU) shells has caused a cancer epidemic.

The USS Greeneville and the arrogance of power

By Kate Randall, 21 February 2001

It is by now abundantly clear that the February 9 collision of the nuclear sub Greeneville with a Japanese fishing boat off the Hawaiian coast was an entirely avoidable tragedy, the result of gross recklessness and irresponsibility on the part of the US Navy. Nine people on the Ehime Maru, including four high school students, were killed when the sub broke the surface as it completed an “emergency blow.”

Only self -important

By David Walsh, 21 February 2001

Cast Away, directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by William Broyles Jr.; Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hallström, written by Robert Nelson Jacobs, from the novel by Joanne Harris; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, directed by Ang Lee, written by Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus and Kuo Jung Tsai, from the novel by Du Lu Wang

Australian unions demand service fees from non-members

By Terry Cook, 21 February 2001

On February 9, Australian Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) vice president Tony McIntyre upheld enterprise work agreements struck between the Electrical Trades Union and 600 contractors in Victoria. He decided they were legal under the federal government's Workplace Relations Act, even though they allowed the ETU to impose a $500 annual service fee on non-union members.

US scandal over Marc Rich pardon: big money politics and right-wing provocation

By Patrick Martin, 21 February 2001

The political furor over the pardoning of wealthy speculator and oil trader Marc Rich—Bill Clinton's last act before leaving the White House—combines big money politics, media hypocrisy and right-wing hysteria in roughly equal proportions.

France seeks to block asylum for over 900 Kurdish "boat people"

By Richard Tyler, 21 February 2001

The French government is trying to avoid granting asylum to 908 Kurdish refugees, whose ship ran aground on the Côte d'Azur last Saturday.

New Thai cabinet loaded with businessmen, bureaucrats and ex-generals

By Carol Divjak and Peter Symonds, 20 February 2001

The new Thai cabinet headed by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was sworn in on February 18, more than a month after the Thai Rak Thai (Thais love Thai) party won the national elections. The coalition government, which includes the Chart Thai party and the New Aspiration party, has already come under fire in the local and international media for its associations with the so-called old guard of Thai politics—sections of big business and the state bureaucracy that forged close links with the armed forces under previous military dictatorships.

Germany: new law allows more extensive government monitoring of phone calls and email

By Alexander Boulerian, 20 February 2001

The Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green Party coalition government in Germany has agreed on a new law governing state organised wiretaps, bugging and the interception of e-mail.

Child victims of the industrial revolution

By Erika Zimmer, 20 February 2001

Robert Holden is an art historian and an authority on children's literature. The main focus of his recently published Orphans of History—The Forgotten Children of the First Fleet, is nine-year-old John Hudson, one of the child convicts transported from Britain to Australia over two centuries ago. Holden's achievement is that he has been able to transform what had been a government statistic into a clear and sympathetic picture of Hudson, a former London chimney-sweep, and reveal some of the social conditions facing working class children in Britain's industrial revolution.

US and Britain isolated over Baghdad raid

By Chris Marsden, 20 February 2001

The US-British air strikes against Baghdad on Friday were widely criticised by governments throughout the world.

Commando-style police raid in Sydney designed to intimidate youth

By Erika Zimmer, 20 February 2001

At 11.30 on the night of Saturday February 10, eighty heavily armed police staged a commando-style raid on an Internet café and pool hall in Sydney's busiest cinema and entertainment district. It was one of the largest and most aggressive police raids ever carried out in the city.

As layoffs continue, US consumer sentiment lowest since 1993

By David Walsh, 19 February 2001

According to an influential survey, American consumers have a dimmer view of their own economic condition and prospects for the future than at any time since the recession of the early 1990s. The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment, issued twice a month in preliminary and final forms, slipped to 87.8 in mid-February, the lowest rating since November 1993. The index has fallen more than 21 percent in 12 months from its high point of 112 in January 2000. As recently as November 2000 it stood at 107.6.

Indonesian leaders desperate to keep power struggle within ruling circles

By Peter Symonds, 19 February 2001

Indonesia is invariably described in the international press as “a fledgling democracy,” “a fluid democracy” or even “a struggling democracy”. But the events surrounding the recent attempts to oust President Abdurrahman Wahid once again highlight the fundamentally anti-democratic character of the country's political institutions, parties and leaders, including so-called reformers like Wahid himself, Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) chairman Amien Rais.

Correspondence on US recession

By , 19 February 2001

Dear Editors,

Concerns grow behind G-7 official optimism

By Nick Beams, 19 February 2001

The meeting of finance ministers from the major capitalist nations, held in Palermo Sicily on Saturday, concluded with an optimistic assessment of the state of the world economy, despite the downturn in the US and the continued stagnation of Japan.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 17 February 2001

Hong Kong truck drivers stage blockade

Australian professor warns that poor will have to pay more for drugs

By Margaret Rees, 17 February 2001

Professor David Henry, who was recently dismissed from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), spoke to the World Socialist Web Site about the implications of changes being made to committee by the Australian government. He and other former PBAC members have been highly critical of the appointment of Pat Clear, a former drug company executive, to head the committee. The PBAC selects drugs for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which has kept drug prices comparatively lower than other countries.

Corporate appointee undermines Australian drug advisory committee

By Laura Mitchell, 17 February 2001

The Australian government headed by Prime Minister John Howard confronts a political storm over its appointment of a former drug company executive to head the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). The selection of former Glaxo-Wellcome director Pat Clear is the latest example of the Howard government's open support for the multi-billion dollar private health industry.

In praise of classical guitarists Alexandre Lagoya and Ida Presti

By Tony Cornwell, 17 February 2001

Alexandre Lagoya (1929-1999) and Ida Presti (1924-1967) formed the greatest classical guitar duet in the world to date. This was not simply due to their technical excellence, but their subtlety and force in emotional expression. They also transcribed music for the instrument from many sources, most notably the harpsichord, violin and piano.

US-British air strikes on Baghdad: Bush draws first blood

By Barry Grey, 17 February 2001

In his first foreign policy decision, newly installed President George W. Bush authorized an unprovoked air attack on the outskirts of Baghdad, escalating the ongoing US war against the Persian Gulf country.

Canadian big business rattled by deteriorating economic situation

By Keith Jones, 17 February 2001

The federal opposition parties and much of the corporate media are urging Canada's Liberal government to introduce a new budget to arrest or at least counteract the slide into slump.

Tanzania: Brutal government clampdown on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba

By David Rowan, 17 February 2001

The Tanzanian government has carried out a brutal crackdown on its political opponents, involving the shooting of unarmed civilians. Human Rights Watch accused the Tanzanian security forces of going on the rampage and of using unrestrained force during recent demonstrations organised by the Civic United Front (CUF), the main opposition party in Zanzibar.

German Green party leaders suppress protests against transport of nuclear waste

By Dietmar Henning, 16 February 2001

Oh, to be a cabaret artist! The German Green Party is supplying material for a new theatre piece from the ecological madhouse. Satire at its best!

Japanese economy continues to stagnate

By Joe Lopez, 16 February 2001

In the wake of last month's dramatic fall in the stock market to a 27-month low, recently released figures show that the decade-long stagnation of the Japanese economy shows no signs of abating, and could even be worsening.

Media and business back Australian Labor Party in Queensland state election

By Mike Head, 16 February 2001

Voters in the northern Australian state of Queensland will go the polls this Saturday after Labor Party Premier Peter Beattie called a snap election late last month, allowing only 25 days for campaigning. This will be the second state election in a week, following the ousting of Richard Court's Liberal-National government in Western Australia last Saturday.

Labour and Likud seek national government as Israeli-Palestinian conflict intensifies

By Chris Marsden, 16 February 2001

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated further since Likud leader Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister last week. This has taken place against a background of negotiations between Likud and the Labour Party to form a national government, during which the Labour leadership has all but abandoned even the pretence of opposition to Sharon's militaristic agenda.

Kansas board of education restores teaching of evolution

By Joanne Laurier, 16 February 2001

In a significant defeat for Christian fundamentalist groups, the state board of education in Kansas voted February 14 to restore evolution as a central theory in the state's science curriculum. In a 7-3 vote the board approved new standards to replace ones adopted in August 1999 that deleted virtually all references to evolution, natural selection and the origins of the universe. The 1999 guidelines did not explicitly bar the teaching of evolution, but prohibited the inclusion of questions on school tests about evolution or the big-bang theory of cosmology.

Le Carré's new novel questions his previous Cold War certainties

By , 15 February 2001

John le Carré's latest novel The Constant Gardener tells the story of Justin Quayle, a British diplomat—and the constant gardener of the title—who after the murder of his wife devotes himself to tracking down her killers. It is a simple enough theme, but le Carré develops it into a satisfying novel that deals with a highly topical topic—the giant pharmaceutical companies use of third world countries for drug testing.

Another shock election result in Australia

By Linda Tenenbaum, 15 February 2001

Last Saturday's election in the state of Western Australia (WA) bore witness to the deep-going hostility felt by masses of ordinary people toward the political establishment. An unprecedented 30 percent of the population voted for minor parties or Independents, escalating a trend that has been developing for 15 years.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 15 February 2001

Taxi drivers in Dagestan strike over certification scheme

US Court rejects Napster appeal

By Mike Ingram, 15 February 2001

After three months of deliberation, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the major record labels that the online music swap service Napster must prevent its users from exchanging copyrighted material.

Britain calls for revision of Geneva Convention on asylum

By Julie Hyland, 15 February 2001

British Home Secretary Jack Straw renewed his attack on the right to asylum in a speech to the pro-Labour Party Institute of Public Policy Research in London last week. At the seminar, entitled “Modernising Asylum”, Straw called for a “revision” of the 1951 Geneva Convention, stating that the obligation it placed on the 137 signatory countries to provide asylum to refugees is “no longer working as its framers intended”.

New UN sanctions worsen plight of Afghanistan's people

By Vimal Fernando and Sarath Kumara, 15 February 2001

New UN-imposed sanctions came into force on Afghanistan's Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime on January 20. The UN resolution imposes an arms embargo on the Taliban, a ban on the sale of acetic anhydride used in the manufacture of heroin and extends an existing flight embargo on Afghanistan's Ariana Afghan airlines and a freeze on Taliban assets abroad. The new measures also ban all military contacts, close Taliban offices overseas and restrict travel by top Taliban officials.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 15 February 2001

Dear Sir,

Albanian separatists continue fighting in Kosovo buffer zone

By Harvey Thompson, 14 February 2001

The past few weeks have seen a series of clashes between NATO troops and Albanian separatist forces in areas close to the border with Serbia. Fighting has occurred in both the ethnically partitioned Kosovan town of Mitrovica and across the border in Serbia in the Presevo Valley.

Two decades after the Chrysler bailout: US auto workers face new assault

By Jerry White, 14 February 2001

The World Socialist Web Site is posting over the next several weeks a series of articles examining different aspects of DaimlerChrysler's decision to eliminate 20 percent of the workforce at its North American operations. This first article discusses the 1979-80 Chrysler bailout and its political lessons for the struggle of auto workers today.

Austria's right-wing government marks one year in office

By Markus Salzmann and Ulrich Rippert, 14 February 2001

When the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) entered into the Vienna government a year ago, it was widely predicted that this step would draw the teeth of Jörg Haider's extreme right-wing party—infamous for its racist propaganda—and rein it in to the system of “democratic responsibility”. One year on, it is clear that precisely the opposite has occurred.

The 2001 Academy Award nominations: all in all, not much

By David Walsh, 14 February 2001

Amidst the usual media fanfare, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for its annual Oscar awards Tuesday morning. The award ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on March 25.

Testimony highlights Greenspan's erratic course

By Nick Beams, 14 February 2001

In delivering public testimony on US economic policy Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, supported by a generally uncritical mass media, strives to create the impression that whatever the difficulties of the moment there is nevertheless a steady hand at the wheel.

California energy crisis continues as state moves to bail out utility firms

By Gerardo Nebbia and Andrea Cappannari, 13 February 2001

Despite extended negotiations and repeated state government interventions, California's energy supply remains in a precarious position. In an attempt to stabilize the ongoing crisis, a series of legislative actions and financial arrangements have been undertaken or proposed by the state over the past two weeks. While California Governor Gray Davis has expressed optimism, a number of pressing issues remain unresolved.

Strikes and demonstrations in France against raising the retirement age

By Marianne Arens and Françoise Thull, 13 February 2001

A wave of demonstrations and strikes has swept France involving hundreds of thousands of blue- and white-collar workers and bringing Paris and many other cities to a halt. In some places the demonstrations were larger than those in autumn 1995, when a strike wave led to the fall of the conservative government of Alain Juppé.

Mass protests against racist murder in Norway

By Steve James, 13 February 2001

Tens of thousands of Norwegian citizens took to the streets of the capital Oslo and several other major towns and cities on February 1 to protest the murder of a 15-year-old Ghanaian-Norwegian. Benjamin Labaran Hermansen was killed last month in the Holmlia area of Oslo. With 40,000 on the streets of Oslo alone, press reports estimated the turnout to be the highest seen since a demonstration against the European Economic Community (the predecessor to the European Union) in 1972. Norway's population numbers only four million. Memorial demonstrations were also held on February 6 in the neighbouring Scandinavian capitals of Stockholm and Copenhagen, to coincide with Benjamin's funeral.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 13 February 2001

Transport workers strike in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Bush bans strike by Northwest Airlines mechanics

By Alan Whyte, 13 February 2001

President George W. Bush will legally prohibit Northwest Airlines mechanics from striking if they do not reach a contractual agreement by March 13. This decision reverses a National Mediation Board (NMB) ruling that would have allowed union members to walk off the job that day. The presidential mandate extends the legally required “cooling-off” period for another 60 days, forcing workers to remain on the job through at least mid-May.

Bush's political honeymoon: why the Democrats are rallying behind an illegitimate government

By Patrick Martin, 13 February 2001

Two months after the Supreme Court stepped in to halt the counting of votes and Democratic candidate Al Gore conceded the presidency to George W. Bush, official Washington is moving towards a coalition government in all but name, with the Democrats playing the role of junior partners. The most bitterly contested election in more than a century has been followed by the Democrats' acceptance, without protest, of an illegitimate government and its program of social and political reaction.

Political tensions rise in Fiji ahead of court ruling

By Tim Joy, 12 February 2001

Political tensions are coming to a head in Fiji with the country's highest court—the Court of Appeal—due to sit on February 19 to rule on the legality of the interim government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. The police have banned all demonstrations on the day that the case opens.

Forensic report throws doubt on US/NATO claims of Racak "massacre"

By Richard Tyler, 12 February 2001

A forthcoming article by three Finnish pathologists throws further doubts upon official descriptions of a “massacre” in the Kosovan village of Racak in 1999.

More than 275,000 layoffs in the US in the last two months

By David Walsh, 12 February 2001

Most economic indicators now point to slowdown and slump in the US economy. While financial analysts report and comment upon the latest indices, the mounting layoffs threaten the most serious consequences for thousands of working class families.

Pontiac, Michigan shelter to close emergency center

By Larry Roberts, 12 February 2001

As of March 1, Grace Centers of Hope, formerly known as the Pontiac Rescue Mission, will close its 30-day emergency center that regularly houses 70 to 100 homeless people. The decision to close the center in Pontiac, Michigan, north of Detroit, follows a January 23 predawn raid on the shelter and a surprise inspection by the city's fire marshal one week later.

Another workplace shooting in the US: five dead at Chicago Navistar plant

By Kate Randall, 10 February 2001

On February 5, William D. Baker, 66, forced his way past security at the Navistar International Corporation diesel engine plant in suburban Chicago with a golf bag full of weapons. Once inside he shot and killed four workers, wounded four others and then shot himself to death.

Whither the Coen Brothers?

By David Walsh, 10 February 2001

Joel and Ethan Coen have collaborated on eight films since 1984, the former writing and the latter directing. By no stretch of the imagination could any of the films be considered entirely or even largely successful. Nearly every work has been marred by bursts of mean-spiritedness and cynicism, an inappropriate jokiness, that tend to undercut and detract from the more truthful or compelling moments. Yet virtually every one of the films has had a feature or the hint of a feature that suggested that the Coens might be on to something, or might at least be capable of being on to something.

Spanish government honours Franco's fascists

By Vicky Short, 10 February 2001

Spain's right-wing Popular Party government has recently posthumously decorated one of Franco's torturers, compensated the family of a high-ranking officer from the time of Franco's military dictatorship, and is considering awarding posthumous medals to other fascists.

Sri Lankan rupee plunges following currency free float

By K. Ratnayake, 10 February 2001

Two weeks ago the Sri Lanka government deregulated the rupee in a bid to avert the country's growing balance of payments crisis and shore up its low foreign reserves. Since then the currency has fallen sharply, adding to the pressure on the government to accelerate market reforms, cut its expenditure and negotiate an end to the country's protracted civil war.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 10 February 2001

Truck drivers strike against illegal levies in Aceh

Australian companies axe thousands of jobs amid signs of downturn

By Terry Cook, 10 February 2001

The onset of an economic downturn in the United States will increase pressure on Australian-based companies, particularly those in manufacturing and export, to scale back activity, cut costs and further downsize their workforces.

Australian central bank cites US slowdown in interest rate cut

By Nick Beams, 9 February 2001

The decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates by 0.5 percentage points, following last month's 1 percentage point cut by the US Federal Reserve Board, is a further example of how central banks and financial authorities worldwide have been caught unawares by the rapid slide in the US economy.

Disaffection and volatility dominate West Australian election

By our correspondents, 9 February 2001

This Saturday's election in the state of Western Australia is being approached nervously by both major parties—Labor and Liberal-National—nation-wide. The first of up to six state, territory and federal elections due in Australia this year, the WA campaign has been dominated by volatility and uncertainty.