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By Kate Randall, 29 December 2001
Speaking with reporters on Friday, George W. Bush defended the US war in Afghanistan, making the case for an open-ended military campaign in the Central Asian country and giving no timetable for a withdrawal.
By Mike Head, 29 December 2001
For the third time in eight years, residents of Sydney find themselves surrounded by serious bush fires this week. More than 180 buildings, mostly homes, have been destroyed since Christmas Eve, hundreds of lives have been threatened, major road and rail links have been cut and thousands of hectares of national parks and other forests have been incinerated.
By , 29 December 2001
Below we post a selection of letters on “The New York Times and the case of John Walker”
By Tom Bishop, 29 December 2001
The state of Pennsylvania has taken over the management of the Philadelphia School District, the seventh largest in the United States. The takeover, the largest of its kind in the US, includes turning over management of 45 so-called failing schools to a private, for-profit company, Edison Schools Inc. The move affects 210,000 students and 27,000 public school employees in the district.
By David Walsh, 29 December 2001
By any serious standard, 2001 was a poor year in cinema, particularly for American filmmaking. In the past fourteen months the American population has experienced the hijacking of a national election, the takeover of the US government by the extreme right, a suicide bombing attack (whose circumstances have gone entirely uninvestigated) on the country’s largest city and the launching of a brutal and open-ended colonial war. Only a handful of US-made films even hint at the intensity of the social and political contradictions that have erupted to the surface. The exceptions might include Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, set in Britain in 1932, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux, made some twenty years ago.
By , 29 December 2001
Sri Lankan factory workers locked-out
By Keith Jones, 29 December 2001
India and Pakistan have rushed troops, tanks and missiles to their mutual border in anticipation of war. Meanwhile, diplomatic relations between the two nuclear-armed states continue to spiral downward. Despite pleas from the US, China and other major powers, India remains adamant that its Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, will not hold bilateral talks with Pakistani President General Musharraf during the January 4-6 SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit.
By Chris Talbot, 29 December 2001
A public row in the British government surrounded the granting of a licence to a British aerospace firm, BAE Systems, to export a $40 million air traffic control system to Tanzania. The purchase of the system was opposed by the World Bank, following its own research that showed it was unsuitable and that a system costing $10 million would be adequate.
By Michael G. Nastos, 28 December 2001
The following list of jazz and blues recordings for 2001 has been submitted to the WSWS by Michael G. Nastos, who hosts “Evening Jazz & Blues” weeknights on WEMU-FM, 89.1, in Ypsilanti, Michigan as he has for 23 of his more than 30 years in radio. Nastos has written for the Alchemist, the All Music Guide, the Ann Arbor News, Arts Midwest, the Blues Review, Cadence, Coda, Detroit Jazz, Downbeat, Jazz Journal International, Jazz Times, the Metro Times and Swing Journal magazines and the SEMJA (Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association) Update. He is past Jazz Chair of the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and edited author Robert Sweet’s Music Universe, Music Mind: A History Of The Creative Music Studio.
By Sokal Lena, 28 December 2001
At the beginning of December, an otherwise healthy young man from Cameroon died shortly after the legal authorities forced him to take an emetic. 19-year-old Achimedes J. was arrested by police in Hamburg on suspicion of possessing illegal drugs. After having been forcibly administered an emetic to reveal the contents of his stomach, the young man immediately fell into a coma and died shortly afterwards.
By Mauricio Saavedra, 28 December 2001
For the first time since the return to civilian rule in 1990, the ruling “centre-left” coalition in Chile polled less than half the votes in the December 16 parliamentary elections, allowing former military dictator General Augusto Pinochet’s political heirs to claim that they will return to power after the next elections.
By David Walsh, 28 December 2001
Gosford Park, directed by Robert Altman, written by Julian Fellowes
By Patrick Martin, 28 December 2001
The anthrax spores enclosed in envelopes mailed to two leading Senate Democrats in October are biologically identical to bacteria secretly manufactured at a US germ warfare facility during the last decade, according to press reports and an analysis by a leading microbiologist.
By R.M. Gunathileke, 28 December 2001
In a remote village of southeastern Sri Lanka, D.M. Karunawathie, a 36-year-old mother of six, last month drank a lethal concoction of pesticides in a cornfield near her house. She was rushed to the nearest rural hospital at Uraniya and then transferred to the main district hospital at Badulla. But the poison had already damaged her vital organs and the medical staff was unable to save her life. She died four days later.
By Mike Head, 27 December 2001
A further boost to Australia’s political police agencies, including unprecedented powers to secretly detain people without charge, has become a major item in the Howard government’s agenda for the new year. At its last cabinet meeting for 2001, on December 18, the government approved “a raft of measures” under the pretext of combatting terrorism. It also announced a summit of federal and state government leaders in March to strengthen and possibly restructure the police and intelligence forces.
By Jake Skeers, 27 December 2001
Over recent weeks, a number of media and other reports have shed light on the conditions for refugees under the Australian government’s so-called “Pacific solution,” which consists of militarily barring entry to asylum seekers and forcibly removing them to two remote islands—Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
By Keith Lee, 27 December 2001
Police officers who shot dead an unarmed man while he was walking home will not face charges. The ruling by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) follows a review of their original decision, made 12 months ago, not to prosecute the officers who shot the unarmed Harry Stanley as he was on his way home from a pub in Hackney, London.
By Steve Paulsen, 27 December 2001
A US bankruptcy judge has approved a plan that permanently closes all LTV steel mills, throwing thousands of steelworkers out of their jobs. The shutdown also cuts many benefits and paves the way for the elimination of health care for more than 50,000 retired and laid-off workers.
By Barry Mason and Chris Talbot, 27 December 2001
The South African government is to appeal a court decision instructing it to make the drug Nevirapine universally available in order to prevent maternal transmission of the HIV virus. It is appealing to the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest legal body, against the right of a judge to set government policy.
By Joseph Kay, 27 December 2001
President George W. Bush formally announced December 13 that the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
By Stefan Steinberg, 27 December 2001
The German television director Heinrich Breloer has made a series of three television programmes examining the history of Germany’s most celebrated literary family—the Manns. No other family so dominated modern German literature as the brothers Thomas and Heinrich Mann, who produced some of the most outstanding and enduring novels of the twentieth century. Thomas Mann’s son, Klaus, was also an outstanding novelist and daughter Erika, as well as being a gifted writer, also played a leading role in the anti-fascist cabaret troupe Peppermill.
By , 22 December 2001
Migrant workers demonstrate in Hong Kong
By Lee Parsons, 22 December 2001
Ralph Klein, the premier of Alberta and darling of Canada’s right, made a disgusting display of his contempt for the poor in a drunken, midnight visit to a homeless shelter in Edmonton last week.
By Rafael Azul, 22 December 2001
A mass upsurge developed in Argentina on Wednesday and Thursday when the working class and a radicalized section of the middle class took to the streets and toppled the government of President Fernando De la Rua.
By Ulrich Rippert, 22 December 2001
The following article was written just before the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS, the successor to the SED, the ruling Stalinist party in former East Germany) finally agreed to form a coalition government in the city-state of Berlin, following October’s poll. These elections had been forced when the SPD withdrew from the previous coalition with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), following a protracted crisis over city finances and corruption.
By David Walsh, 22 December 2001
The New York Times’ editors have brought the full breadth of their cynicism and inhumanity to bear on the case of John Walker Lindh, the 20-year-old American citizen captured fighting with the Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
By Peter Symonds, 22 December 2001
The new Afghan interim administration headed by Hamid Karzai is due to be sworn into office in Kabul today. While UN officials are withholding details of the two-hour ceremony for security reasons, it promises to be a low-key affair. To be held in the Interior Ministry auditorium, it will be attended by the 30-member cabinet, UN Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, US special envoy James Dobbins and a handful of other UN officials and diplomats, including the foreign ministers of Iran and Pakistan.
By Chris Marsden, 22 December 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision that the UK will assume the leadership of a multi-national security force in Afghanistan has sparked an unprecedented public row with British army chiefs.
By Julie Hyland, 22 December 2001
The US bombardment of Afghanistan has killed at least 3,767 civilians, according to the first independent study made into civilian casualties in the war-torn country.
By Jerry White, 21 December 2001
President Bush intervened on Thursday to block a strike by United Airlines’ 15,000 mechanics who have gone without a pay raise for seven years. Bush signed an executive order establishing a presidential emergency board and barring the workers from striking for at least another two months.
By Mike Ingram, 21 December 2001
The publication of an official report into the police investigation of the 1998 Omagh bomb, which killed 29 people, has provoked a flurry of criticism from the media, politicians and the police.
By Rafael Azul, 21 December 2001
President Fernando de la Rua fled the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace, aboard a helicopter December 20 after a day of violent clashes between riot police and thousands of workers and youth who defied a state of siege to protest the government’s economic austerity policies.
By Francis Dubois & Paul Stuart, 21 December 2001
On December 15, Pierre Henri Bunel, a former French military intelligence officer accused of passing on NATO war plans to Serbian intelligence in 1998, was found guilty of treason and sentenced by a military/civilian tribunal “Tribunal aux armees” (TPA). In court, Bunel was fervently denounced for his treachery and having disgraced France. However, the five-year sentence passed against him, with three years suspended, falls far short of the rhetoric. Having served ten months awaiting trial, Bunel will apply for an early release scheme called “conditional freedom”. According to his lawyer, Eric Najsztat, Bunel could be released within weeks. Up until 1981 the charges he faced still carried the death penalty.
By Ben Nichols, 21 December 2001
Some 300 subcontractors at Alcoa’s Kwinana alumina refinery near Perth in Western Australia went on strike late last month over the company’s cancer-causing emissions. Alcoa workers have been in dispute with the giant multinational since 1996 because more than 200 workers have suffered health problems, including nine cases of serious illness. The strikers have returned to work while Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) officials hold talks with management.
By Kate Randall, 21 December 2001
As the end of the year approaches, US companies continue to shed thousands of jobs. In the days leading up to the holidays, many workers received gifts from their employers in the form of pink slips, plant closures and uncertain futures.
By Terry Cook, 20 December 2001
A dispute at Qantas, Australia’s largest air carrier, could easily become the launching pad for an offensive by the Howard government, which is intent on advancing a new industrial relations agenda, paving the way for corporate job-shedding and sweeping cuts to working conditions.
By , 20 December 2001
Romanian morgue workers strike
By , 20 December 2001
To the editor,
By Joseph Kay, 20 December 2001
The US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has arrested and is detaining Rabih Haddad, a native of Lebanon and prominent member of the Arab-American community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Haddad, 41, is being held indefinitely and without bond for allegedly overstaying his tourist visa. INS agents arrested him in his home last Friday in front of his frightened wife and children, who were not told where he was being taken or why.
By Julie Hyland, 20 December 2001
The House of Lords finally agreed to the Blair government’s Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act in the early hours of December 14. In the Commons, MPs had to wait hours past the official close of business, in order to rush the bill onto the statute books before Christmas. The civil rights group Liberty said the act contained “alarmingly repressive measures”.
By David Rowan, 20 December 2001
Police in the African country of Malawi opened fire on a peaceful demonstration on December 11, critically injuring two people. One of those shot in Zomba, in the south of the country, some 68 kilometres east of Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, was Fanikiso Phiri (24), a third year Bachelor of Education student, who died in hospital from his injuries on December 14.
By , 20 December 2001
Below we post a selection of recent letters to the WSWS.
By Peter Symonds, 20 December 2001
Tensions between India and Pakistan are rapidly escalating in the wake of the December 13 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi. Five gunmen armed with automatic rifles, grenades and explosives killed nine people and wounded others before being killed themselves in a 45-minute battle with security forces outside the parliamentary building.
By Jerry White, 19 December 2001
A federal judge threw out Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence Tuesday, ruling that the former journalist and Black Panther member is entitled to a new sentencing hearing after spending nearly 20 years on death row for the December 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
By James Conachy, 19 December 2001
The December 1 legislative elections in the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan represented another milestone in the decline of the Kuomintang (KMT), which held power on the island from 1946 until its defeat in last year’s presidential poll. The KMT won only 31.2 percent of the vote and 68 seats in the 225-seat chamber, down from 46 percent and 123 seats in the 1998 election. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Chen Shui-bian, which only 14 years ago was illegal under KMT rule, won 87 seats and is now the largest parliamentary party.
By Neil Hodge, 19 December 2001
A December 11 decision by the UK Court of Appeal will make it more difficult for certain asbestos victims to claim compensation, and is sure to save insurers tens of millions of pounds.
By David Walsh, 19 December 2001
Intimacy, directed by Patrice Chéreau, written by Chéreau and Anne-Louise Trividic, based on stories by Hanif Kureishi
By Justus Leicht, 19 December 2001
On December 12, the Interior Ministry banned the Turkish Islamic group Kalifatsstaat (Caliphate State), along with 20 subsidiary organisations. The ban was imposed on what is officially called the “Federation of Islamic Associations and Communities” (ICCB), previously a legally registered voluntary society. The proscription comes only days after the introduction of changes to the law relating to voluntary societies and groups following specific religious or ideological aims, making their prohibition far easier.
By Chris Marsden, 19 December 2001
With the declaration last week that Israel would no longer recognise Yasser Arafat, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has publicly refuted the 1993 Oslo Accords and the perspective of achieving a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.
By Frank Gaglioti, 19 December 2001
Previously secret documents published by the National Security Archive at George Washington University prove that the United States government gave the green light for the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which resulted in the deaths of some 200,000 Timorese people over the ensuing quarter century.
By Kate Randall, 18 December 2001
Attorney General John Ashcroft is considering relaxing restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that limit spying on political organizations, churches and other groups in the United States. If put into effect, the change in FBI rules would constitute a fundamental loosening of curbs on the agency’s domestic intelligence operations, and would allow the government to spy on groups and individuals solely because of their political beliefs.
By , 18 December 2001
Unemployed seize food from Argentine supermarkets
By Rafael Azul, 18 December 2001
Argentina was paralyzed on Thursday, December 13 during the seventh general strike this year against the government of President Fernando De la Rua.
By John Braddock, 18 December 2001
The tiny Pacific kingdom of Tonga began moves last month to expel hundreds of its Chinese residents who are victims of a recent wave of ethnic violence. More than 600 Chinese storekeepers and their families are being given a year to leave once their work permits expire.
By Margaret Rees, 18 December 2001
Recent pointed comments by Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott regarding an industrial dispute in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley indicate that the Australian government is looking for a major confrontation to trigger a new assault on jobs and working conditions. Since its re-election on November 10, the government has put industrial relations at the centre of its third-term agenda.
By Chris Talbot, 18 December 2001
The Bush administration are still considering military action in Somalia, despite admitting that they have found no Al Qaeda training camps in the country. There are also plans for “hot pursuit” of Al Qaeda members fleeing to Somalia, and the US is said to be willing to use help from the Ethiopian military, or from the various militia run by warlords in Somalia, to snatch Al Qaeda members.
By the Editorial Board, 18 December 2001
The recently released videotape in which Osama bin Laden gloats over the World Trade Center atrocity and avows responsibility for it provides a graphic demonstration of the political bankruptcy of terrorism.
By , 17 December 2001
By Tony Robson, 17 December 2001
The most significant feature of November’s elections for the new assembly in Kosovo is the continued failure of the political successors of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to win any substantial support at the ballot box.
By Peter Symonds, 17 December 2001
The US military is continuing its relentless bombing of the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan after sabotaging a surrender deal negotiated last week between Afghani militia leaders and pro-Taliban fighters holed up in cave complexes in the rugged mountains. Claiming that it now has Osama bin Laden and other senior Al Qaeda figures cornered, the US is conducting what amounts to a systematic slaughter.
By Tom Bishop, 17 December 2001
December 9 marked 20 years since Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal was arrested and charged with the shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His case continues to draw national and international attention due to the denial of due process from judicial bias and police manipulation of evidence at his first trial in 1982. Former Governor Tom Ridge twice signed death warrants for his execution. He continues to sit on death row at the SCI Greene prison in western Pennsylvania.
By Julie Hyland, 17 December 2001
On December 12, the Community Cohesion Review (CCR) released its official report into the racial disturbances that broke out in a number of northern conurbations this year. The conflicts in Bradford, Oldham, Leeds and Burnley, were the worst in Britain for nearly two decades.
By Jerry White, 15 December 2001
In the aftermath of September 11 the Bush administration has carried out a sweeping attack on civil liberties. This has involved the detention of hundreds of immigrants, “voluntary” interviews of Middle Eastern men, the authorization of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, censorship of the press and the granting of increased powers to the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies. In the name of the “war on terrorism” the government has used these measures to crack down on political dissent and intimidate opponents of US militarism and foreign policy.
By , 15 December 2001
Below we post a selection of recent letters sent by workers in the US.
By , 15 December 2001
Auto workers strike in South Korea
By David Walsh, 15 December 2001
Retail sales dropped by a record 3.7 percent in the US in November, led by an 11.9 percent plunge in auto sales. The large declines followed big increases in October, when consumers responded to free financing offers from the automakers. Excluding the wide swings in auto sales, retail sales were still weak in November, dropping by 0.5 percent.
By Mike Ingram, 15 December 2001
The chief suspect in the murder of Irish civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane was gunned down outside his house on Tuesday evening in north Belfast.
By Perla Astudillo, 15 December 2001
Socialist Party leader Ricardo Lagos, who won the Chilean presidency as the candidate for the ruling Concertacion coalition in early 2000, is facing his first major electoral test in tomorrow’s congressional elections. After entering office with promises of dealing with the crimes of the military and former dictator General Augusto Pinochet, as well as providing better health care and working conditions, Lagos has delivered on none.
By Patrick Martin, 14 December 2001
It is a rare occasion in modern American politics when a government official makes a public statement that exposes, baldly and without artifice, the appalling cynicism and ignorance which characterize official Washington and the ruling circles as a whole.
By Peter Daniels, 14 December 2001
The just-concluded strike by 1,000 teachers in Middletown, New Jersey says much about the real state of class relations in the United States.
By Stefan Steinberg, 14 December 2001
At a conference held last weekend in Berlin to commemorate the work of the philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, Green Party leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit lashed out at German intellectuals who have spoken in opposition to the US-led war in Afghanistan. He singled out the writer and 1999 Nobel prize-winner Günter Grass, author of The Tin Drum. Cohn-Bendit likened the position adopted by Grass and others to the stance adopted by Britain and France in 1938, i.e. appeasement with fascism.
By Guy Charron, 14 December 2001
British Columbia’s six-month old Liberal government is moving at breakneck speed to ram through a right-wing agenda modelled after the Ontario Tories’ “Common Sense Revolution.” Responding to big business complaints that the 1990s were “a lost decade” for British Columbia, Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government has slashed corporate and personal income taxes, illegalized teacher strikes, and introduced anti-union amendments to the province’s labor code. Now it has begun implementing massive cuts to public and social services.
By Barry Jobson and Terry Cook, 14 December 2001
Corporate job destruction is gathering pace in Australia, giving the lie to efforts by the Howard government to claim that the local economy will somehow prove to be an exception to the global recession.
By David Rowan, 14 December 2001
Violent clashes broke out on December 4 between the people of the Nubian and Luo tribal groupings in Kibera, one of Kenya’s largest slums. Reports put the number of people killed at 15, with hundreds injured.
By K. Ratnayake, 14 December 2001
After seven years in opposition, the rightwing United National Party (UNP) has returned to power in Sri Lanka after winning a slim majority in the country’s December 5 general election. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Prime Minister last Sunday and his cabinet was appointed Wednesday. The election was called just 14 months after the previous one, after a group of parliamentarians deserted the ruling Peoples Alliance (PA), leaving the government in a minority and facing certain defeat in a no-confidence motion.
By Jerry White, 13 December 2001
Scores, if not hundreds, of Taliban prisoners of war suffocated to death inside metal cargo containers where they were imprisoned after surrendering to Northern Alliance and US forces in the Afghan city of Kunduz in late November. The Taliban prisoners, mostly foreign volunteers from Pakistan, died of asphyxiation and injuries inside the airtight shipping containers during a two or three day journey to a prison in the town of Sheberghan, according to a report in Tuesday’ s New York Times.
By David Walsh, 13 December 2001
The value of Halliburton Co. shares, the energy services, engineering and construction firm previously headed by US Vice President Richard Cheney, declined by nearly 43 percent on December 7, before recovering some lost ground the next trading day, December 10. Investors panicked in the face of several recent asbestos-related verdicts, valued at more than $150 million, for which Halliburton is liable. The episode helps shed additional light on the character of the Bush administration, and its intimate ties to predatory Big Oil.
By , 13 December 2001
Strike breakers used against airport baggage handler’s strike in Dublin
By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 13 December 2001
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has exploited the opportunity to establish a closer relationship with the US. She immediately condemned the attacks and gave full support to the Bush administration’s “global war on terrorism,” offering the use of the former US military bases—the Clark airfield and the Subic Bay naval facility.
By Mike Head, 13 December 2001
In a decision with far-reaching implications for democratic rights, the Australian High Court late last month sanctioned the Howard government’s continued use of military force to remove asylum seekers from territorial waters and transport them to detention camps on remote Pacific islands. A panel of three justices refused to consider an appeal from a split decision of the Federal Court allowing the expulsion of the 433 Afghan refugees aboard the Norwegian freighter, the Tampa, in September.
By Shannon Jones, 13 December 2001
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police departments have begun questioning some 5,000 recent Middle Eastern immigrants as part of the “anti-terrorism” measures ordered by the US Justice Department.
By Richard Tyler, 13 December 2001
December has seen over 40,000 job cuts announced in the UK.
By Chris Marsden, 13 December 2001
Britain’s foreign policy is in a state of utter confusion. This week it appeared that Prime Minister Tony Blair had achieved a small victory, when US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Number 10 and praised Britain for offering to lead an international military force in Afghanistan to enable the setting up of a Western proxy government.
By Debra Watson, 12 December 2001
On November 24 federal INS agents arrested Dr. Mazen Al-Najjar, a former adjunct professor at the University of South Florida, on a deportation order based on overstaying his student visa. The 43-year-old Palestinian immigrant had been released last December after spending three-and-half years in jail on the basis of supposed “secret evidence” linking him to terrorist organizations.
By Kate Randall and John Andrews, 12 December 2001
Amid growing disquiet over the Bush administration’s attacks on democratic rights following the September 11 attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 6. The hearing was called to discuss recent measures such as President Bush’s authorization of secret military tribunals to try alleged terrorist suspects. Displaying equal measures of arrogance and evasion, Ashcroft swept aside concerns for basic constitutional protections and charged that his critics “aid terrorists” and “give ammunition to America’s enemies.”
By Julie Hyland, 12 December 2001
Veteran British journalist Robert Fisk, who writes for the Independent newspaper, was attacked and beaten by Afghan refugees in Pakistan last weekend.
By , 12 December 2001
Below we post a selection of recent letters on the US massacre of POWs in Afghanistan.
By Nick Beams, 12 December 2001
The US Federal Reserve Board yesterday cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage points in the 11th reduction so far this year as it strives to bring about a recovery from the recession. The federal funds rate is now 1.75 percent, the lowest in more than 40 years, and below the inflation rate. But the central bank’s efforts to turn the US economy around have so far met with little success.
By Joanne Laurier, 12 December 2001
The US cable television channel American Movie Classics (AMC), devoted to broadcasting Hollywood films of the past, aired its own special on December 4. Into the Shadows: The CIA in Hollywood is as revealing for what it omits as what it presents. From its title and the breathless quality of the narration, the viewer might have reasonably expected an exposé of the filthy deeds of the spy outfit and its connections to the American film industry. Instead, however, the show, with its pseudo- film noir veneer, essentially depicts the CIA as a life-saving, humanitarian entity. The program amounts to little more than a propaganda piece to improve the agency’s image at a time when it is playing a central role in the US war drive. Indeed the show might rightfully be considered an element in one of the agency’s own “disinformation” campaigns.
By David Walsh, 11 December 2001
“I said, ‘I’m curious as to what it was you found so difficult, or unbearable when you were making The Underneath .’
By Jake Skeers, 11 December 2001
Yet another official inquiry—the sixth in 15 months—is to be held into the conditions inside Australia’s refugee detention centres. The government’s own Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has announced an inquiry into children being held in detention.
By Peter Symonds, 11 December 2001
The Taliban have abandoned their last remaining stronghold in southern Afghanistan in a deal brokered by the country’s interim prime minister Hamid Karzai. Last Friday militia groups from rival Pashtun tribes began taking over Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city, as well as other towns in the region.
By Patrick Martin, 11 December 2001
The American media has been focused for the last several days on reports from the Bush administration that it has in its possession a videotape of Osama bin Laden allegedly taking responsibility for the September 11 terrorist attacks. The White House has not yet released the tape, or even a transcript, but that has not stopped media pundits from parroting the government account.
By , 11 December 2001
Forty thousand teachers strike in southern Mexico
By Trevor Johnstone, 11 December 2001
A cholera epidemic has claimed over 1,000 lives in Nigeria. The disease has spread from Kano to a number of other states. No coordinated response has come from the federal government, and the state governments have been criticised for their slow and ineffective measures against the epidemic.
By Francis Dubois and Paul Stuart, 11 December 2001
Pierre-Henri Bunel, a former French intelligence officer, is appearing before a military tribunal charged with treason. Bunel is accused of handing over to Serbian intelligence secret plans for the Alliance’s air strikes on Yugoslavia, one year before the bombing campaign commenced in spring 1999.
By Mike Ingram, 10 December 2001
The Labour government has refused Amnesty International’s demand for an inquiry into the massacre of hundreds of Taliban prisoners at the Qala-i-Janghi fortress in late November.
By John Roberts, 10 December 2001
After more than a year on the run, Hutomo “Tommy” Mandalaputra, son of the former Indonesian strongman Suharto, was finally “captured” by police at a Jakarta hideout last month. He went underground after being convicted last year of fraud in relation to an $11 million land deal and sentenced to 18 months in jail.
By Keith Lee, 10 December 2001
At the end of November, dock company Euromin and its general manger were cleared of corporate manslaughter for the death of casual worker Simon Jones. Simon was killed on April 24, 1998, his first day at Euromin’s Shoreham docks, when a crane decapitated him. The Old Bailey jury found the company guilty of two breaches of health and safety regulations, and it was ordered to pay a fine of just £50,000, with £20,000 costs. Under the current law, a business can only be found guilty of corporate manslaughter if a “controlling mind” of the company is found guilty as an individual.
By David Walsh, 10 December 2001
The New York Times returned to the question of the Bush administration’s police-state measures in an editorial December 2 (“War and the Constitution”).