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New report suggests link between power lines and risk of childhood leukemia

By Kaye Tucker, 31 March 2001

For decades controversy has persisted about the health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by the transmission of electricity through power lines. Now an independent advisory group to Britain's National Radiation Protection Board (NRPB) has released a wide-ranging review of relevant scientific research. The group's chairman, Sir Richard Doll, was the first scientist to link cigarette smoking with lung cancer more than 30 years ago,

Job cuts continue as US economic growth slows to lowest rate in five years

By Jerry White, 31 March 2001

The US Commerce Department reported Thursday that the nation's economy grew at an annual rate of just 1 percent in the last three months of 2000, the weakest performance in more than five years. The decline in the growth rate of Gross Domestic Product—down from a 2.2 percent increase in the third quarter of 2000—occurred as US corporations continued to announce lower corporate profits and mass layoffs.

Israel steps up military offensive against Palestinians

By Chris Marsden, 31 March 2001

The Likud-Labour coalition government led by Ariel Sharon is intent on provoking a major escalation in Israel's ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

Britain: Calls mount for Blair to delay general election due to foot and mouth crisis

By Julie Hyland, 31 March 2001

After more than one month, the spread of foot and mouth disease throughout the UK shows no sign of abating. Following weeks of press debate on the issue, pressure is mounting for Tony Blair to rule out a general election on May 3. On Thursday, Conservative Party leader William Hague said the prime minster should not go ahead with any May poll.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 31 March 2001

Workers in China demand pay and pensions

The limitations of Ed Harris's Pollock

By David Walsh, 31 March 2001

Pollock, directed by Ed Harris, screenplay by Barbara Turner and Susan Emshwiller, based on the book, Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

Veteran Indian Trotskyist dies in Calcutta, aged 82

By Nanda Wickramasinghe, 31 March 2001

Veteran Trotskyist Dulal Bose died in Calcutta on March 21 at the age of 82. He joined the Trotskyist movement in 1939 as a young man, fought tenaciously for its program in the Indian working class and remained committed to its principles throughout his entire adult life. In 1991, he joined the Socialist Labour League in India, which is in solidarity with the International Committee of the Fourth International, and devoted the last decade of his life to translating the works of Leon Trotsky into Bengali.

Indonesian president moves one step closer to impeachment

By Peter Symonds, 30 March 2001

In a formal reply to the Indonesian parliament on March 28, President Abdurrahman Wahid denied any involvement in two financial scandals and insisted that his parliamentary censure on February 1 was unconstitutional. The speech, which was read in the lower house (DPR) on Wahid's behalf by Justice Minister Baharrudin Lopa, has done little to appease the president's critics, who are expected to take the next step toward removing him from office by voting for a second censure on April 30.

Japanese insurance firm collapses and more could follow

By Joe Lopez, 30 March 2001

The collapse of the insurance firm Tokyo Mutual Life, Japan's 16th largest, is a further indication of the enormous crisis gripping the country's banks and financial institutions.

Germany: Record abstentions in recent state elections

By Peter Schwarz, 30 March 2001

State elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate last weekend were regarded as an important test for the Bundestag (federal parliament) elections in 2002. Although no change of government in the state legislatures was forecast—in Baden-Wuerttemberg the Christian Democrats (CDU) are in coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP) and in Rhineland-Palatinate the Social Democrats (SPD) govern with the FDP—the two polls were expected to provide a clue to the balance of power at federal level. Accordingly, the various spokesmen at party headquarters in Berlin endeavoured to interpret the results of the elections in their own favour.

Ralph Nader's political olive branch to Bush

By Barry Grey, 30 March 2001

Earlier this month former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader co-authored a column that appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. Entitled “Ending Corporate Welfare as We Know It,” the article by Nader and Robert Weissman (editor of the Nader-backed Multinational Monitor magazine) presented a generally positive picture of the newly installed administration of Republican President George W. Bush.

Kenya: School fire kills at least 59 students

By David Rowan, 30 March 2001

At 1.40am on March 26, fire swept through a dormitory of the Kyanguli Secondary School in Machakos, 30 miles (65 km) to the southeast of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, killing at least 59 male students between the ages of 15 and 19.

Acclamation of new Quebec premier underscores crisis in separatist movement

By Guy Leblanc, 30 March 2001

Bernard Landry was acclaimed president of the Parti Québécois at a meeting of its National Council March 9, thus paving the way for his subsequent swearing in as premier of Quebec, Canada's only majority French-speaking province. Landry succeeds Lucien Bouchard who held the posts of PQ leader and Quebec premier for five years.

Reports reveal systematic abuse in Australia's refugee detention centres

By Jake Skeers, 29 March 2001

Three recent reports confirm that a systematic culture of abuse exists within Australia's refugee detention centres. While none of them question the Howard government's mandatory detention policy itself, they have added weight to a campaign being conducted by the media, community groups and churches to pressure the government into changing the image of the country's notorious immigration system.

Letters on the Academy Awards

By , 29 March 2001

I enjoyed your Academy Awards review—26/03/01. It's refreshing to see the awards in context with normal life. Bread is denied but the circuses are relentless.

Spanish government imposes labour reforms

By Vicky Short, 29 March 2001

The rightwing Popular Party (PP) government has pushed through a drastic reform of the Spanish labour market. This breaks a long standing agreement with the trade unions, and seems to go against existing European Union (EU) policy for member countries to achieve the fullest participation of the “social partners” (EU jargon for the employers and unions).

Workers Struggles: Europe, the Middle East and Africa

By , 29 March 2001

Transport workers in France strike to demand better pay and retirement packages

Solomon Islands faces economic and social disintegration

By Peter Byrne, 29 March 2001

Just five months after an Australian-sponsored ceasefire between rival ethnic militias, the tiny South Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands is on the brink of collapse. Not only has last October's peace deal, signed in the Australian city of Townsville, failed to halt the fighting but it has effectively sanctioned the division of the country along ethnic lines, creating an economic and social disaster.

California to hike electricity rates by 40 percent

By Gerardo Nebbia, 29 March 2001

By a 5-0 vote March 26, California's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved an electricity rate increase that will hike rates by as much as 42 percent for some Southern California Edison customers and 46 percent for certain customers of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. PUC officials calculate that the overall rate hike will average around 40 percent.

New York: Forced labor program for tenants

By Fred Mazelis, 29 March 2001

Public housing residents in New York City are outraged over the requirement in recently enacted federal legislation that they be forced to perform eight hours of unpaid “community service” each month if they wish to remain in their apartments.

Argentina: Congress grants Cavallo emergency powers

By Bill Vann, 28 March 2001

After nearly three years of recession and facing a desperate foreign debt crisis, Argentina's Congress has voted to grant emergency powers to Domingo Cavallo, the newly installed economy minister and author of previous economic plans that plunged the country into a downward spiral of poverty, unemployment and homelessness.

Bill 112: the Ontario Tory government and the McMichael Art Gallery

By our correspondent, 28 March 2001

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection Amendment Act (Bill 112), passed in November 2000 by the Ontario Tories, hands substantial control over the provincial McMichael Art Gallery back to its wealthy founder, Robert McMichael. McMichael has made no secret of his intention to see that the gallery discards many of its 6,000 works of art.

Sri Lankan plantation unions shut down wage campaign to forestall government crisis

By W.A. Sunil and Nanda Wickremasinghe, 28 March 2001

The leaders of the major trade unions in the Sri Lankan tea and rubber plantations signed a wage agreement on March 15 to end a three-week satyagraha or protest action that was threatening to spiral into a major confrontation with employers and the Peoples Alliance (PA) government. The deal provided estate workers with a pittance and helped the government out of what was looming as a serious political crisis.

Bosnia-Herzegovina faces dissolution

By Tony Robson, 28 March 2001

Just five years after its creation, the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) faces the prospect of dissolution. The ultra-nationalists of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in Bosnia have declared a government of self-rule. This effectively ends the Croat-Muslim Federation and brings into question its union with the other autonomous entity within BiH, the Republika Srpska.

US prison population to reach a record two million by year's end

By Kate Randall, 28 March 2001

The US prison population will reach two million late this year, according to a report by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. Last year the number of inmates in the nation's prisons and jails reached nearly 1,932,000, a record number. While the US accounts for just 5 percent of the global population, 25 percent of the world's prisoners are in American prisons and jails.

Correspondence on economic recession in the US

By , 28 March 2001

To the WSWS,

US campaign finance reform: the substance behind the "democratic" hype

By Patrick Martin, 28 March 2001

As the US Senate enters the second week of debate on the McCain-Feingold bill—hailed as a major step for campaign finance reform by its supporters, damned as an assault on free speech by its opponents—a powerful element of farce pervades the proceedings. Senators who last month gave standing ovations to the undemocratically installed President George W. Bush, as he gave his budget address to a joint session of Congress, now profess deep concern for democracy and political freedom.

The 73rd Academy Awards: Hollywood displays its wares

By David Walsh, 27 March 2001

The most positive development associated with the 73rd Academy Awards ceremony was the news that television viewership fell 8 percent from 2000, that this year's award show received the lowest rating since at least 1986 and that, once the full national ratings are released, it stands a chance of being the lowest-rated awards telecast in history.

UWS students condemn lack of resources

By , 27 March 2001

In comments given to the WSWS, students at the University of Western Sydney condemned the inadequate conditions at UWS, the role of the university's administration and the federal government's commercialisation of tertiary education.

Australian-sponsored Bougainville settlement breaks down

By Frank Gaglioti, 27 March 2001

Talks arranged by the Australian government to finalise a settlement between the Papuan New Guinea government and pro- and anti-secessionist factions on the island of Bougainville broke down on February 27, despite Canberra's considerable efforts to secure an agreement.

US Air Line Pilots Association strikes Comair

By Shannon Jones, 27 March 2001

Members of the Air Line Pilots Association struck Comair, the second largest US regional airline, at 12:01 a.m. Monday after the collapse of contract negotiations. The walkout by 1,350 pilots forced the airline to shut down its entire operation.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 27 March 2001

General strike shakes Argentina

Britain: Report links CJD cluster to local farming and butchery practices

By Paul Mitchell, 27 March 2001

An official investigation of a cluster of five deaths from variant Creutzfeldt Jacobs Disease (vCJD) in the village of Queniborough concludes that local farming and butchery practices were the most likely source of the infection.

Students protest lack of funding at University of Western Sydney

By Tom MacDonald, 27 March 2001

A student meeting at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) Campbelltown campus voted last week to organise a UWS-wide protest rally on April 5 against over-crowded classes and inadequate facilities. The rally will consider calling a student strike and will march to a nearby university oval with shovels to dig up some of the 10,000 books that UWS authorities buried five years ago in order to save money.

On the fighting in Macedonia

By , 26 March 2001

Dear editors,

Italian elections: Berlusconi presents himself as the employers' man

By Peter Schwarz, 26 March 2001

Following the dissolution of the Italian parliament and the fixing of the general election for May 13, the campaign is now proceeding at full pace. The first confrontation between the two leading candidates—Silvio Berlusconi of the right-wing “Pole of Liberty” and Francesco Rutelli of the centre-left “Olive Tree” coalition—took place the weekend of March 17-18 at the conference of Confindustria, the main Italian employers' association. Berlusconi and Rutelli delivered speeches on separate days.

An uncertain future for Malaysia's prime minister

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 26 March 2001

The 20-year rule of Malaysia's 75-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is looking increasingly uncertain. Over the last few months, Mahathir has been criticised over the outbreak of racial violence on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and from within his own United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) for corporate bailouts. He has cracked down on opposition parties, as well as trying to woo them into talks. In the background, the country's economic position is deteriorating.

Some rare photographs but a flawed approach

By Richard Phillips, 26 March 2001

World Without End: Photography and the 20th Century, a recently concluded exhibition of 200 works by 42 photographers at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), was billed as the largest photography exhibition ever mounted by an Australian state-owned gallery. While the show contained some rare and unusual pictures from the vast archive of photographic work produced over the last 100 years, many seminal photographers were not represented.

Letters on the California energy crisis, the US stock market fall

By , 26 March 2001

I just finished reading and enjoying your article “What underlies the energy crisis in California?” I'd like to know the answer to a similar question about natural gas. There has been a lot of media attention on California and their power crisis but there has been very little focus on the natural gas crisis. I live in Tennessee and have TVA power as well as being served by a publicly owned municipal power company so I have some of the cheapest power in the country ... or did until this winter. I am fairly frugal, but my natural gas bill quadrupled. The natural gas price adjustment on my utility bill was 12 times what it was a year ago and 20 times what it was last summer. I know my municipal power company was not at fault. They even took a voluntary 10 percent cut in prices. I know people who received $800 utility bills when normally their bill was $200 a month.

Union pay case will entrench poverty level wages for Australian workers

By Noel Holt, 24 March 2001

A wage case being conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in the Industrial Relations Commission has dragged on for nearly three months and no decision is expected until May. The annual litigation, entitled the “Living Wage Case,” determines pay increases for 1.5 million low-paid workers.

British Telecom confronts falling share prices and £30bn debt

By Mike Ingram, 24 March 2001

British Telecom (BT), once the pride of the Tory privatisation program and a flagship of the Thatcherite myth of popular capitalism, is reeling under a mountain of debt and share prices that have slumped to less than a third of what they were a year ago.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 24 March 2001

More police attacks on Daewoo protestors

Just how important is ethnic identity?

By Bernd Rheinhardt, 24 March 2001

A beautiful day is the final part of a trilogy by German filmmaker Thomas Arslan (b. 1962), following Brothers and Sisters (1997) and Dealer (1999). Arslan's latest film deals with people of Turkish origin who have grown up in Germany. The film's central character is a young woman who is not depicted in typical fashion as a mere victim, but is instead a self-confident, independent person. The discussion of a generation usually described as culturally torn between two identities is given an unusual treatment in the film.

Indian government reeling after website exposes high-level arms procurement corruption

By Sarath Kumara, 24 March 2001

The Indian government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has been plunged into a major political crisis following revelations last week by the Internet site, Tehelka, of high-level graft in the country's procurement of arms. Defence Minister George Fernandes, whose Samata Party is an important component of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has been forced to resign. Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly has quit, as has Bangaru Laxman, president of the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), the leading party in the NDA.

US Supreme Court strips workers of right to sue for discrimination

By John Andrews, 24 March 2001

The same 5-4 Supreme Court majority that stopped the vote count in Florida in order to install George W. Bush as president ruled March 21 that workers have no right to sue for on-the-job discrimination and harassment if the employer includes a boilerplate arbitration provision in the employment application. Demonstrating once again that its decisions are determined by a right-wing political agenda rather than respect for legal precedent or accepted forms of logical argument, the majority opinion was based on reading a 76-year-old act of Congress to mean the opposite of what its authors clearly intended it to mean.

"New wave of pessimism" about US economy, as job cuts deepen

By David Walsh, 24 March 2001

The economic news has been dominated in recent weeks by slumping stock markets, but even as share prices continue to fall, dozens of US firms have announced layoffs.

Tamil detainees in Sri Lanka appeal for support for their release

By Vilani Peiris, 23 March 2001

Six young Tamils from the plantation districts of Sri Lanka, who have been held in detention for more than two years without trial, have written to the Socialist Equality Party thanking the party for its campaign for their release. The six appeared in court last month, only to have their trial delayed again for another 11 months until next January.

France: Government parties experience substantial losses in local elections

By Francis Dubois, 23 March 2001

The “Plural Left” government coalition has suffered substantial losses in the local elections, despite winning control of Paris and Lyons from the Gaullist right.

Nothing to boast about

By David Walsh, 23 March 2001

Last Resort , directed by Pawel Pawlikowsky, written by Rowan Joffe and Pawel Pawlikowsky; When Brendan Met Trudy , directed by Kieron J. Walsh, written by Roddy Doyle

Nigeria's fuel protests gather support

By Our correspondent, 23 March 2001

Workers and students in Nigeria took to the streets on March 20, at the start of a nation-wide protest against a rise in petrol prices. Several thousand protesters marched through the northern Nigerian city of Kano to the residence of its Governor, Musa Kwankwaso, to denounce President Olusegun Obasanjo's plan to deregulate petrol prices.

Germany: Green party moves further to the right

By Dietmar Henning, 23 March 2001

The most remarkable feature of the recent Green party congress in Stuttgart was that almost no discussion took place. All disagreements and conflicts had been settled in advance. What remained were clichés. Following the innumerable political twists and turns this party has carried out, it has become a master at churning out meaningless phrases and formulaic compromises. What was sold as “unanimity” was the absence of any political debate.

Britain: Foot and mouth disease "an epidemic waiting to happen"

By Richard Tyler, 23 March 2001

After nearly a month, there is no let up in the spread of foot and mouth disease in the UK. At the time of writing over 435 outbreaks have been diagnosed, with most being in the south west of England and in Scotland. However, occurrences also exist in many other regions, including Wales and Northern Ireland.

Right wing in German CDU senses new opportunities

By Ulrich Rippert, 23 March 2001

In the first communal elections to be held in the German state of Hesse since the eruption of a finance scandal inside the CDU (Christian Democratic Union), the Christian Democrats, led by Minister President Roland Koch, increased their vote considerably. The official result of the election, held March 18, is still not available due to a new, complicated system of voting, and will only be announced in the next few days. Nevertheless, the initial projections by the State Office for Statistics in Wiesbaden identified a clear trend. According to their figures, the CDU has increased its vote by 6.6 percent to 39.6 percent, and has in all probability supplanted the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as the strongest political force in the communes of Hesse.

China's optimistic economic plans undermined by looming global recession

By James Conachy, 23 March 2001

The mounting signs of global recession place serious question marks over the Chinese government's new five-year economic plan and budgetary policy.

Britain: Unions agree to Vauxhall/GM restructuring programme

By Tony Robson, 22 March 2001

Unions at General Motors' British subsidiary Vauxhall in Luton have agreed to restructuring plans that will see an end to car production at the plant. The Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU), the smaller engineering union (AEEU) and the white-collar MSF have ruled out any further industrial action to prevent job losses and wound down their “Save Vauxhall Jobs” campaign.

Western powers reject NATO intervention against Albanian insurgency in Macedonia

By Chris Marsden, 22 March 2001

The United States, the European Union and Russia are bereft of a response to the danger of yet another Balkan war being provoked by the fighting between ethnic Albanian separatists and the Macedonian government.

Week-long military revolt shakes Papua New Guinea government

By Will Marshall and Peter Symonds, 22 March 2001

The position of the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government remains precarious after a tense week-long standoff in the capital of Port Moresby with hundreds of rebellious troops. The soldiers have reportedly agreed today to end their mutiny and hand back weapons after Prime Minister Mekere Morauta withdrew the government's proposed defence force restructuring plan and promised an unconditional amnesty to those involved.

Sri Lanka's budget: hoping for peace and planning for war

By K. Ratnayake, 22 March 2001

In presenting the Sri Lankan budget on March 8, Deputy Finance Minister G.L. Peiris managed to highlight a central contradiction that runs through government policy as a whole. Since coming to power in 1994, the Peoples Alliance (PA) government has promised to end the country's protracted civil war, which has had such a devastating impact on all aspects of social and economic life, but instead has continued and intensified the conflict.

What underlies the energy crisis in California?

By Andrea Cappanari and Gerardo Nebbia, 22 March 2001

More than 1.5 million California residents lost power Monday and Tuesday as state officials ordered 90-minute rolling blackouts to cope with electricity shortages caused by the deregulation of the state's energy market. The blackouts—the first since mid-January—began with virtually no warning Monday morning and left schools, businesses, traffic lights and elevators without power. San Francisco, Sacramento and other cities, from the Oregon border in the north, to San Diego in the south, were affected, including Los Angeles, which lost power for the first time since the outages began several months ago.

Britain: Vauxhall worker condemns restructuring agreement

By Our Correspondent, 22 March 2001

Paul, a production operator at Vauxhall's Luton plant, spoke to the World Socialist Web Site about the consequences of the unions' decision to abandon any fight against job losses.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 22 March 2001

Transport workers strike in Greece

Tuberculosis on the rise in the Washington DC area

By Kate Randall, 22 March 2001

The rate of tuberculosis infection is increasing in the Washington DC area, according to figures for the year 2000 from the US Centers for Disease Control. The number of TB cases in Washington rose by 21 percent over 1999 rates and in Northern Virginia the number was up 5 percent.

US, Japan interest rate cuts point to global problems

By Nick Beams, 21 March 2001

It is a measure of the rapid slowdown in the world economy that the central banks of the two largest countries are slashing interest rates in an increasingly desperate attempt to boost growth.

Italian elections set for May 13

By Peter Schwarz, 21 March 2001

Italian voters will be subjected to intensive electioneering over the next eight weeks. On March 8, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi dissolved the Italian parliament. New elections are to be held on May 13. On the same day, local authorities will be voted into office in 1,300 municipalities, including the major cities of Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin.

Middle class voters desert Liberal government in Australian by-election

By Linda Tenenbaum, 21 March 2001

In the third electoral contest in Australia in just six weeks, the Howard Coalition government has suffered yet another rout. Following major swings against the conservative Liberal-National Coalition parties in two state elections last month, a by-election in the federal seat of Ryan has witnessed a further outpouring of anti-government sentiment.

Why did the US media black out the Civil Rights Commission report on the Florida vote?

By Jerry White, 21 March 2001

It would seem elementary that a report from a federal civil rights agency charging widespread voter disenfranchisement in the pivotal state of Florida during the 2000 US presidential election would be a major news item. Not so, according to the decision-makers at the US broadcast media and some of the most influential newspapers.

The flawed legacy of Scottish popular historian John Prebble

By Steve James, 21 March 2001

Journalist and writer John Prebble died January 30 this year at the age of 85. He leaves a flawed legacy. Obituaries have focussed on Prebble's script for the 1964 film Zulu, but he will mostly be remembered for popularising episodes of Scottish history. His most famous works are Culloden and The Highland Clearances, published in 1963 and 1965 respectively. Over the next decades he wrote on an inter-tribal massacre at Glencoe, a failed Scottish imperialist effort in the late 17th century, a history of Scotland, a travelogue, and, in 1988, The Kings Jaunt.

Letters on US politics

By , 21 March 2001

Dear Mr. Walsh:

Arms corruption scandal erupts in South Africa

By Barbara Slaughter, 20 March 2001

A series of major corruption scandals have rocked the South African government in the past few months. High-ranking members of the ANC government are accused of taking "kick-backs" and of funnelling lucrative contracts to companies in which they or their families have a personal interest.

US: third major Amtrak accident in three months

By Joanne Laurier, 20 March 2001

One woman died and 96 other people were injured when Amtrak's California Zephyr train, traveling from Chicago to Emeryville in northern California (near Oakland), derailed in rural Iowa Saturday night. Aboard the train were 196 passengers and 15 Amtrak employees.

Workers Struggles

By , 20 March 2001

Argentine unions to strike for 36 hours on April 5

Continuing government cover-up of asbestos health disaster in Australia

By Margaret Rees, 20 March 2001

Despite decades of inaction and coverup by successive governments, the ravages caused by asbestos to the health of an Australian regional community are beginning to come to light. A recent documentary, screened on ABC television's Four Corners, reviewed the experiences of residents in the Latrobe Valley—the site of several power stations, 160 kilometres from the Victorian state capital, Melbourne—and their struggle to have their voices heard.

Further court delay to Sri Lankan legal challenge of film ban

By Waruna Alahakoon, 20 March 2001

A fundamental rights hearing in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court over the government's ban of the film Purahanda Kaluwara (Death On a Full Moon Day) has been postponed, for a second time, until May 28. The film, which shows the impact of Sri Lanka's long-running civil war on Sinhalese villagers, has been screened in a number of countries and has won several international awards.

US stock market slide: a turning point in American and world politics

By the Editorial Board, 20 March 2001

US stock market investors suffered their greatest ever one-week losses during the week of March 12-16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced three sharp declines in five days, including a drop of over 400 points on Monday and a 227-point drop on Friday, with a total weekly decline of 821 points—a loss of 7.70 percent. The S&P 500, a broader average of Wall Street stocks, showed a 7 percent decline, while the high tech-dominated NASDAQ index fell 8 percent.

Respiratory physician calls for mass screening of asbestos victims

By Margaret Rees, 20 March 2001

The World Socialist Web Site interviewed Dr Tony Sasse, a respiratory physician working in the town of Traralgon in Australia's Latrobe Valley, where diseases associated with asbestos contamination in the Valley's power stations have reached epidemic proportions. Dr Sasse has publicly declared that no higher health risk group exists anywhere in the country and has called for the urgent mass screening of former State Electricity Commission (SEC) employees, who worked in the power stations.

Socialist Equality Party of Germany holds memorial meeting to honour Ernst Schwarz

By our reporter, 20 March 2001

On March 10 the Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (Socialist Equality Party) of Germany held a meeting in Dortmund to pay tribute to Ernst Schwarz, a long-time member of the Trotskyist movement who died of a heart attack on January 13. Comrade Schwarz was 43 years old.

Once more, the emperor's new clothes

By David Walsh, 20 March 2001

A favorite ploy of American film industry types, when pressed about the generally dreadful state of contemporary filmmaking, is to blame the public. “It's not our fault!” they protest. “We simply give audiences what they want.” This rings a little hollow when the limits of what audiences are permitted to see (and therefore able to “want”) are set almost entirely by large conglomerates with definite economic requirements and social interests. As long as moviemaking continues to be a business, artistry will remain subordinate and essentially hostage to profit. No discussion of cinema has meaning unless it takes this reality into account.

Fiji's illegal government reinstalled

By Tim Joy, 19 March 2001

Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, himself newly re-appointed by the unelected Great Council of Chiefs, has reinstalled the military-backed government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, which was declared illegal by Fiji's Court of Appeal on March 1.

New issue of World Socialist Web Site Review now available

By , 19 March 2001

WSWS : Mehring Books

Ugandan elections: Museveni holds onto power

By Chris Talbot, 19 March 2001

President Yoweri Museveni won the presidential elections in Uganda by a substantial majority. He gained 69.3 percent of the vote, whilst his main opponent Dr Kizza Besigye won 27.8 percent. Turnout was 70.3 percent, and the other four contenders won 3 percent between them.

Germany: Still no compensation for Nazi forced labour victims

By Ute Reissner, 19 March 2001

Representatives of German industry continue to look on callously as the last surviving Nazi forced labour victims die off. With their insistence on “legal guarantees” before paying out a penny, the German companies are making clear that their avowals of “moral responsibility” are utterly hypocritical.

US Senate passes bankruptcy "reform"

By Barry Grey, 17 March 2001

In a lopsided vote, Senate Democrats joined with Republicans on Thursday to pass a bill that will change the bankruptcy code, making it more difficult for financially overwhelmed consumers to erase debts owed to credit card companies, auto firms and other lenders.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 17 March 2001

Indonesia hotel workers prepare for strike-breaking

South Korean president boasts to US investors of crackdown on Daewoo workers

By Terry Cook, 17 March 2001

For months now, Daewoo Motors workers in South Korea have been involved in a bitter struggle against layoffs and possible plant closures. The administration of President Kim Dae-jung has repeatedly mobilised thousands of heavily armed police against protests and demonstrations in order to push ahead with his plans to sell-off the financially-crippled Daewoo, the country's third ranking carmaker.

Correspondence on global recessionary trends

By Nick Beams, 17 March 2001

Dear Mr. Beams,

Britain: Teachers take industrial action over staff shortages

By Liz Smith, 17 March 2001

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) are taking action in protest against staff shortages in London and Doncaster, Yorkshire. It is the first major teachers' dispute since the rolling strikes of 1985-86.

France: First round in local elections reveals political turmoil

By Francis Dubois, 17 March 2001

The first round of the local elections held on March 11 has revealed a degree of political turmoil in France. In what many commentators regard as the most important poll since the Socialist Party-led coalition came to office in June 1997, the government parties made only slight gains against the rightwing opposition.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 16 March 2001

“US media seize on partial Florida vote recount to bolster Bush”—excellent reportage. If I was a multibillionaire media mogul, I'd give you people a whole news network for yourselves. Then we could get some REAL truth to crack through this Disney World coma we are living in.

Australian dollar falls below 50 US cents amid growing signs of recession

By Mike Head, 16 March 2001

The Australian dollar fell below 50 US cents this week, its lowest level since the currency was floated in 1983, adding to fears of recession following the 0.6 percent economic contraction in the December quarter. On Friday, the dollar slid to 49.02 cents, a 26 percent decline since January 2000, and just over half its 1983 price of 91.20 US cents.

Fighting in Macedonia threatens wider Balkan conflict

By Chris Marsden, 16 March 2001

Fighting between ethnic Albanian separatists and the Macedonian army has intensified this week. Eight hours of skirmishes on Wednesday on the outskirts of Macedonia's second largest city Tetovo left one dead and 13 wounded. Tetovo lies more than 70 kilometres (40 miles) from the Kosovo-Macedonia border.

Nineteen US death row inmates executed so far this year

By Kate Randall, 16 March 2001

Nineteen people have been put to death in the US since the beginning of the year, bringing to 702 the number of executions since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Another five men are scheduled to be executed before the end of the month. The executions of two other men were halted by court rulings only hours before they were set to die.

Indian government hands down a budget to please big business

By Deepal Jayasekera, 16 March 2001

India's Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha brought down a national budget on February 28 containing a raft of economic “reforms” that will significantly intensify the social crisis confronting millions of people throughout the country. The budget will cut public spending, slash agricultural subsidies, implement further privatisations and introduce changes to India's labour laws that will lead to a fresh round of sackings. At the same time, it will offer a raft of new financial incentives to foreign investors.

Germany: Christian Democratic leader seeks ban on political activity by asylum-seekers

By Ulrich Rippert, 16 March 2001

At the end of February, the xenophobic campaign being waged by Germany's Christian Democrats reached a new high point. As news reports surfaced that right-wing extremist violence had almost doubled over the past year, Friedrich Merz, leader of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group in the Bundestag, called for a ban on political activity by asylum-seekers. Throughout the entire period of their asylum proceedings in Germany, which often drags on over several years, asylum-seekers would be denied the fundamental right to freely express opinions and political criticism.

A new round of school shootings in the US

By Kate Randall and Barry Grey, 15 March 2001

Recent days have witnessed another eruption of shootings at high schools in the US. The latest deadly rampage took place March 5, when 15-year-old Charles “Andy” Williams opened fire at Santana High School in Santee, California, killing two students and injuring another thirteen.

British ban on LTTE strengthens Sinhalese extremists in Sri Lanka

By K. Ratnayake, 15 March 2001

The Peoples Alliance (PA) government in Sri Lanka has hailed the British decision on February 28 to put the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on its list of terrorist organisations as a “diplomatic triumph”. For months, President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her ministers have been waging a campaign for the proscription of the LTTE, which has been waging a war for the last 18 years for a separate Tamil state in the north and east of the island.

US networks, Congress whitewash media role in 2000 election

By David Walsh, 15 March 2001

The following is the conclusion of a two-part series. The first part was posted on Wednesday, March 14.

Trade barriers go up as foot and mouth disease spreads to France

By Mike Ingram, 15 March 2001

France confirmed an outbreak of foot and mouth disease Tuesday March 13, after widespread speculation that the disease had crossed the Channel from England.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 15 March 2001

Polish steelworkers stage hunger strike

Private school enrolments rise at expense of public schools

By Erika Zimmer, 15 March 2001

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released figures last month showing student enrolments in private schools have reached record levels. The figures testify to the success of a key strategy, pursued by Labor governments throughout the 1980s and early 1990s and the Howard government since 1996: the undermining of public education and the promotion of a “user-pays” system.

Berlin retrospective devoted to the films of Fritz Lang

By Stefan Steinberg, 15 March 2001

“I wonder what kind of films I would make today if I were able.... With the world the way it is, I think they would be very critical—very aggressive”—Fritz Lang in his last year.