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Australian Prime Minister backs down on stem cell research

By Frank Gaglioti and Peter Symonds, 30 April 2002

In the face of growing opposition, Australian Prime Minister John Howard has been compelled to back away from plans to severely restrict medical research involving human stem cells and to salvage a last minute compromise with state premiers at a recent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

Pakistan’s military ruler holds referendum to tighten grip on power

By Joseph Kay, 30 April 2002

With the support of the Bush administration, Pakistan’s military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, is staging a national referendum today to give a popular fig leaf to his continued rule.

SEP to hold May 12 meeting in London: "The perspectives for socialism in the 21st century"

By , 30 April 2002

On May 12, the Socialist Equality Party of Britain will be holding a public meeting, The perspectives for socialism in the 21st century.

Ericsson plan 17,000 more job losses

By Steve James, 30 April 2002

Swedish based telecom manufacturer Ericsson AB intends to slash a further 17,000 jobs over the next two years. Job losses will take effect both in Sweden and internationally, although as yet there are no further details of exactly where they will occur. The announcement came after Ericsson posted larger first quarter 2002 losses than expected, following 2001 figures which saw the 127-year-old company lose money for the first time in its history. In the first months of this year Ericsson lost $527 million, worse than their expected $469 million loss. Total sales fell from $4.86 billion, in last years opening months to $3.68 billion this year. New orders fell from $6.77 billion to $4.09 billion over the same period. News of the losses, along with falling sales predictions from rival Nokia, triggered a selling spree across the world’s technology markets. Ericsson stock fell 24 percent on the Stockholm stock exchange. Commentators suggested that Ericsson’s fall alone would have a significant effect on the Swedish economy, as the company accounts for 15 percent of Swedish exports.

Mass demonstrations against Le Pen throughout France

By Peter Schwarz in Paris, 30 April 2002

France has been in a state of turmoil ever since it became clear that Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the neo-fascist Front National, had finished second in the first round of the presidential election and would face the current president Jacques Chirac in the second round May 5. There have been mass demonstrations every day expressing popular opposition to Le Pen’s racist, ultra-right politics.

Israel on Jenin: "Nothing to hide"... but no one can look

By Barry Grey, 30 April 2002

The world is witnessing a grotesque diplomatic farce over the proposed United Nations investigation into Israeli atrocities at the Jenin refugee camp. A government that laid siege for eight days to a densely populated area with tanks, bulldozers, helicopter gunships and snipers; blocked ambulances from rescuing the wounded; fired on journalists seeking to enter the combat zone; and for a week after the assault refused to allow access to Red Cross medical teams or UN human rights observers, is blocking the implementation of a Security Council resolution calling for an investigation.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 30 April 2002

Social protests in Argentina

AOL Time Warner announces record loss

By Nick Beams, 29 April 2002

The extent of the financial bubble that developed in the US economy in the late 1990s and the scale of false accounting that accompanied it has been underscored by the announcement last week by AOL Time Warner, the world’s largest media conglomerate, of the biggest quarterly corporate loss in history.

German school shooting exposes widespread social tensions

By Ulrich Rippert, 29 April 2002

As the full extent of the tragic shooting in an Erfurt school in eastern Germany became clear last Friday, many people across the country were stunned as they followed the news. Robert Steinhäuser, a 19-year-old student who had been expelled a few months previously from the Gutenberg-Gymnasium in Erfurt, the main city of the east German state of Thuringia, shot dead 12 teachers, a secretary, two students and a policeman before shooting himself.

Camp Bondsteel and America’s plans to control Caspian oil

By Paul Stuart, 29 April 2002

Camp Bondsteel, the biggest “from scratch” foreign US military base since the Vietnam War is near completion in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. It is located close to vital oil pipelines and energy corridors presently under construction, such as the US sponsored Trans-Balkan oil pipeline. As a result defence contractors—in particular Halliburton Oil subsidiary Brown & Root Services—are making a fortune.

Bill Vann replies to a member of the International Socialist Organization

By , 29 April 2002

Dear World Socialist Web Site,

New York City mayor wants even bigger cuts

By Peter Daniels, 29 April 2002

New York City’s budget crisis continues to worsen, with the projected deficit for the fiscal year beginning on July 1 having grown from about $4.7 billion to $5 billion in the first three months of the administration of the city’s new mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

No to Chirac and Le Pen! For a working class boycott of the French election

By the World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, 29 April 2002

Download this statement as a PDF leaflet to distribute| PDF en français

Argentine president bows to IMF and banks

By Bill Vann, 27 April 2002

With his government in a shambles and Argentina’s economy at a virtual standstill, President Eduardo Duhalde has taken a series of measures aimed at winning the approval of the International Monetary Fund for a new loan of at least $9 billion to stave off a collapse of the country’s financial system.

British foreign policy adviser calls for a new imperialism

By , 27 April 2002

Foreign Office Adviser Robert Cooper’s call last month for the development of a “new imperialism” initially caused outrage amongst sections of the press and some Labour MPs. That one of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s closest foreign policy advisers could make such an unabashed appeal was considered at best ill-judged. Especially after the UK government, fresh from its involvement in the US led war against Afghanistan, was involved in talks with the Bush administration on renewing its war against Iraq.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 27 April 2002

Chinese chemical workers protest over severance pay

Letters to the WSWS

By , 27 April 2002

Below we reprint a selection of recent letters to the World Socialist Web Site .

US companies lay off thousands as jobless claims climb

By Paul Sherman, 27 April 2002

The number of workers receiving unemployment insurance continues to rise, hitting a 19-year high, as businesses slash more jobs despite claims of an economic recovery in the United States. Lucent Technologies, Ericsson and SBC Communications are among the companies that have announced thousands of additional layoffs this past week.

Illinois death penalty report reveals widespread abuse

By Kate Randall, 27 April 2002

On April 15, the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment issued a detailed report on the imposition of the death penalty in that state. The report was commissioned two years ago when Republican Governor George H. Ryan instituted a moratorium on the death penalty following a string of revelations of wrongful convictions in capital cases.

Australian Senate hearings reveal public opposition to "terrorism" laws

By Mike Head, 27 April 2002

Hearings before a Senate committee have demonstrated considerable opposition among ordinary people, as well as a broad range of organisations, to the package of “counter-terrorism” legislation that the Howard government will attempt to push through parliament next month.

The French presidential election: What the figures reveal

By Peter Schwarz and Patrick Martin, 27 April 2002

Surveys published since the first round of voting in the French presidential election make possible a more precise analysis of the result, which allowed the neo-fascist National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to emerge as the challenger in the second round to the current French president, Gaullist Jacques Chirac.

France: Anti-Semitic attacks complement anti-Arab racism

By Chris Marsden, 26 April 2002

An unholy alliance of hard-line Zionists and the fascist National Front of Jean Marie Le Pen is spearheading efforts to whip up already festering tensions between France’s Muslims and Jews. What amounts to a concerted political campaign is utilising a spate of anti-Semitic attacks perpetrated by disaffected North African youth in order to legitimise racist and nationalist policies and stringent law-and-order measures that are antithetical to the interests of Muslims and Jews alike.

Mounting international opposition to US steel tariffs

By Alex Lefebvre, 26 April 2002

The European Union (EU) is considering imposing trade sanctions on a list of US exports worth $2 billion, retaliating against tariffs imposed by the US government on steel imports in early March.

Why has South East Asia become the second front in Bush’s "war on terrorism"?

By Peter Symonds, 26 April 2002

Just months after the US military began bombing Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime, the Bush administration opened up what was dubbed in the American media “the second front” in the so-called global war against terrorism—South East Asia.

South Africa: Court ruling forces only tactical retreat over AIDS drugs

By Barry Mason, 26 April 2002

Following a five-hour cabinet meeting on April 17, the South African government announced it would make antiretroviral drugs available to victims of rape and would give the drug Nevirapine to pregnant women in order to prevent mother to child HIV infection.

Human organs: the next futures market?

By Joanne Laurier, 26 April 2002

Recent advances in human tissue transplantation have created an exploding commercial industry for the purpose of supplying hospitals and clinics with transplantable human tissue. The business of processing and storing human tissue used to treat a myriad of medical problems operates largely outside of any governmental control.

For a boycott of the French election

By International Committee Fourth International, 26 April 2002

Download this statement as a PDF leaflet to distribute| PDF en français

Howard government complicit in detention of Australian citizen by US military

By Richard Phillips, 26 April 2002

After months of phone calls and written appeals to the Howard government, Maha Habib, the wife of Mamdouh Habib, a 46-year-old Australian citizen currently held illegally by the US military in Afghanistan, has made a public call for the release and repatriation of her husband. Maha Habib, who has four children, has not heard from her husband for over eight months. She spoke with the World Socialist Web Site this week accusing the Howard government of racism for refusing to take any action to secure her husband’s release or uphold his basic legal rights.

Hearings reveal Enron at center of California energy crisis

By Andrea Cappannari, 25 April 2002

In a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on April 11, California Public Utilities Commission President Loretta Lynch and California Power Authority Chairman S. David Freeman charged that Enron Corporation’s manipulation of the energy market was at the root of California’s energy crisis last year. According to authorities, by late 2000 Enron oversaw 30 percent of energy bought and sold in the state’s deregulated market, giving it enormous leverage over supply and pricing. California is currently demanding Enron and other energy suppliers refund the state $8.9 billion because of unfair trading practices.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 25 April 2002

Greek workers hold protests against social security reform

Washington rolls out the welcome mat for Malaysia’s Mahathir

By John Roberts, 25 April 2002

The effusive praise heaped on Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last week by a senior US official is a sign of the warm welcome he is likely to receive in Washington next month—a marked shift from the cool relations that existed under the Clinton administration. In order to pursue closer ties with Malaysia’s rightwing ruler, Bush has all but buried the previous official expressions of concern about Mahathir’s anti-democratic methods and barely disguised frame-up of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Britain: Calls to appoint safety directors conceal government inaction

By Neil Hodge, 25 April 2002

Claims against directors for health and safety failures have risen by 175 percent in Britain since 1989. In the last year for which figures are available there were 656 deaths at work, with more than 180,000 injuries being reported to the Health and Safety Executive. There were also 600 deaths of individuals who had been exposed to asbestos during their working lives.

Israel reneges on investigation of Jenin atrocities

By Patrick Martin, 25 April 2002

After a Tuesday night cabinet meeting, the government of Ariel Sharon reversed its decision to cooperate with a UN investigation into the deaths of Palestinians at the refugee camp outside Jenin, on the West Bank. Cabinet spokesmen suggested the UN probe would have to shift its focus to include Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, or it might be barred from entering the devastated camp, which is still surrounded by Israeli troops.

"How can one live without hope for the future?"

By Stephen Griffiths and Ismet Redzovic, 25 April 2002

Film director Robert Guédiguian, who began making features in 1980, has a lot of compassion for his subjects. His movies—the best known outside France being Marius and Jeannette (1997), À la place du coeur (1998) and La ville est tranquille, his latest—are all set in his hometown of Marseilles. They deal with the lives, loves and aspirations of the inhabitants of that city, once a major shipbuilding and manufacturing centre but now beset with high unemployment, drug abuse, the rise of the racist National Front and other social problems.

German Social Democrats routed by conservatives in state election

By Ulrich Rippert, 24 April 2002

Only five months in advance of a national election, Germany’s ruling coalition parties, the SPD (Social Democratic Party) and the Greens, have suffered a dramatic defeat in elections held last Sunday in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The SPD, which governed the state in the eastern part of Germany for the past eight years, was catapulted out of office. It lost nearly two-thirds of its vote. In an election marked by a drastic decline in voter participation, the SPD won only 20 percent of the votes cast.

IMF says Japan’s economy is "serious concern'

By Joe Lopez, 24 April 2002

International Monetary Fund chief Horst Koehler has called on the Japanese government to speed up the implementation of economic reforms in order to revive its deteriorating economy.

Germany’s Green Party demands a powerful professional army

By Dietmar Henning, 24 April 2002

In the course of the current debate in Germany over the future of the country’s conscript army, the Green Party has emerged as the most vehement proponent of the re-emergence of German militarism and advocate of a professional army.

Britain: Tax loophole for super rich remains after budget

By Neil Hodge, 24 April 2002

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has failed to honour a pledge to close a tax loophole that allows foreign businessmen resident in Britain to avoid paying billions in tax.

Ten million Indian workers strike against economic reforms

By Deepal Jayasekara, 24 April 2002

A one-day national general strike brought much of India to a standstill on April 16 as 10 million workers demonstrated their opposition to government plans for further privatisation and changes to the country’s labour laws to facilitate retrenchments. The strike was the largest ever industrial action against the program of market reform and reflects a deepening hostility among broader layers of working people to the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

"Cover-up of Convenience—the Hidden Scandal of Lockerbie"

By Steve James, 24 April 2002

John Ashton’s and Ian Ferguson’s work on the circumstances surrounding the destruction on December 21, 1988, of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland is worthy of careful study. It raises serious doubts, not only regarding the recent conviction of the Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, now incarcerated in Barlinnie jail, Glasgow, but over the entire official presentation of events before and after the crash, from 1988 to the present day. They give indicators as to how the full facts regarding the atrocity which killed 270, perhaps 271, people might be uncovered and conclude with a series of searching questions which any genuinely independent inquiry into the Lockerbie disaster should direct toward various governments, intelligence services, and individuals.

Death toll in India’s communal violence continues to rise

By Arun Kumar and Sarath Kumara, 23 April 2002

Communal violence has continued unabated for nearly two months in the western Indian state of Gujarat, actively fuelled by Hindu extremist organisations and abetted by the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led state government. Hundreds of people have now been killed as Hindu mobs roam the streets of the state capital Ahmedabad and other towns attacking Muslims and burning homes and shops.

Australian protests against Israeli invasion of the West Bank

By our correspondents, 23 April 2002

Demonstrations were held around Australia over the weekend against the Israeli invasion of the West Bank. In the largest action, some 2,000 people assembled at Melbourne’s State Library on Saturday and marched on the Victorian state parliament.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 23 April 2002

The following is a selection of recent letters to the World Socialist Web Site .

Vote for National Front leader heightens political crisis in France

By Peter Schwarz, 23 April 2002

The result of the first round of the presidential elections in France amounts to a political earthquake. Against all prognoses, in the second round on May 5 the incumbent, Jacques Chirac (Gaullist), will be challenged not by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (Socialist Party), but rather by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the extreme right-wing National Front. Le Pen received 17.2 percent of all votes cast, which gave him a clear lead over Jospin (15.9 percent). Chirac received 19.4 percent.

Yugoslavia: Opposition grows to government collaboration with war crimes tribunal

By Tony Robson, 23 April 2002

The Belgrade government has rushed through domestic legislation allowing for closer cooperation with The Hague war crimes tribunal. This was passed only under duress, as the country, devastated by NATO bombs and a decade of economic sanctions, was threatened by a fresh embargo by the United States and the European Union.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 23 April 2002

Argentine oil workers threaten to strike

South Africa: Judge exonerates Dr. Death

By John Farmer, 23 April 2002

The last major trial relating to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) ended in a failure to prosecute on April 11. Dr. Wouter Basson, known as “Dr. Death”, a chemical weapons expert and head of germ warfare programme in the South African army during the Apartheid era, was cleared of 46 counts of murder, fraud and drug dealing. It was the longest and most expensive trial in South Africa’s history. South African government investigators had spent six years investigating Basson’s activities and called 153 witnesses during the case.

UNICEF documents failure to alleviate child poverty and disease

By Ben Nichols, 22 April 2002

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently released its report entitled The State of the World’s Children 2002, detailing the terrible predicament facing millions of children more than a decade after the organisation convened its World Summit for Children in 1990.

75,000 march in Washington against US militarism and Israeli aggression

By Jerry Isaacs, 22 April 2002

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington DC on Saturday to oppose US militarism and the Bush administration’s attacks on democratic rights, as well as Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. The Capitol Police said the protest was larger than anticipated, estimating 75,000 participants. It was the largest anti-war demonstration in Washington since the Gulf War more than a decade ago.

US belligerence encourages Japanese politician to rattle the nuclear sabre against China

By James Conachy, 22 April 2002

The aggressive actions of the Bush administration since September 11 in invading Afghanistan and declaring another three nations part of an “axis of evil” are provoking like-minded responses around the world. The most rightwing political tendencies are coming to the surface as the ruling classes conclude that they too will need to use military force to pursue their economic and strategic interests.

American college students graduate with record levels of debt

By Andrea Cappannari, 22 April 2002

American college students are graduating with record levels of debt. According to two recent reports released by a research wing of the State Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), not only are student loans growing, they are becoming increasingly unmanageable for greater numbers of people. During their college careers, most students are unaware of the full impact that these financial obligations will have once they finish university and the repayment process begins.

Broad support for the World Socialist Web Site at Washington demonstration

By , 22 April 2002

The Socialist Equality Party intervened at the April 20 demonstration in Washington against US militarism and Israeli aggression, fighting for a socialist and internationalist program against war and state repression.

Beijing to prosecute leaders of workers’ protests

By John Chan, 20 April 2002

Five leaders of last month’s demonstrations in China’s northern city of Liaoyang, the capital of Liaoning province, have been formally charged and will soon face trial. The arrested workers are Yao Fuxin, Xiao Yunliang, Pang Qingxiang, Wang Zhaoming and Gu Baoshu. All are former employees of the bankrupted state-owned Liaoyang Ferro-alloy Factory. The first four were detained by police during protests by up to 30,000 laid-off workers to demand unpaid wages and benefits and denounce official corruption. Gu Baoshu was seized this week, according to a press release by the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin.

Research suggests a more complex evolution and spread of modern humans

By Walter Gilberti, 20 April 2002

New research into the genetic pedigree of modern humans may lead to a modification of the widely accepted “out of Africa” theory that explains the origin and worldwide expansion of people, who looked and behaved much like ourselves.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 20 April 2002

Ten million Indian workers strike against economic restructuring

Britain: Media and big business denounce increase in public health spending

By Julie Hyland, 20 April 2002

Chancellor Gordon Brown’s decision to increase taxation in order to finance greater spending on the National Health Service (NHS) has created uproar. The media has described his April 17 budget, with its one percent increase in National Insurance (NI) payroll contributions, as a major “gamble”. Some even warning darkly that it marks a return to the days of “Old Labour” and squeezing the rich until the “pips squeak”.

Bush defends Sharon as Jenin massacre provokes international condemnation

By Chris Marsden, 20 April 2002

Denunciations of Israeli brutality in Jenin have been voiced throughout the world, with just one notable exception. The Bush administration has not only maintained its steadfast support for the government of Ariel Sharon, but has all but abandoned the pretence that it is seeking an Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank.

Police threats against Washington anti-war protesters

By Jerry Isaacs, 20 April 2002

Federal and local authorities have mobilized a massive contingent of police, with National Guard troops on standby, in advance of demonstrations to be held in Washington DC today to protest US and Israeli military aggression and the Bush administration’s assault on democratic rights. Tens of thousands of young people, students, Arab immigrants and others are expected to turn out for the first national anti-war demonstration since September 11 and the launching of Bush’s so-called “war on terrorism.”

Government indifference as a second toxic blaze threatens West Australian residents

By Celeste Ferguson, 19 April 2002

Just over a year after the worst toxic chemical fire in West Australian history, state government inaction has allowed another inferno to threaten the lives of residents in Perth, the state capital. A state Labor government has replaced the previous Liberal Party administration, but companies are still being given free rein to operate dangerous facilities, without monitoring them, near working class suburbs.

The myth of Camp David: part of the US-Israeli disinformation campaign

By Chris Marsden, 19 April 2002

Justifying the massacre of Palestinian men, women and children by the Israeli Defence Forces has required an extraordinary propaganda effort from the pro-Zionist US media. Lies have become the norm in an attempt to turn reality on its head, portraying the victims of state terror as the guilty party, and war criminals as the victims.

A socialist strategy to oppose war and defend democratic rights

By , 19 April 2002

The following statement is being distributed by supporters of the Socialist Equality Party at the April 20 demonstration in Washington DC, called to oppose the war in Afghanistan, the US-backed Israeli invasion of the West Bank and the assault on democratic rights.

Letters on the abortive coup in Venezuela

By , 19 April 2002

The following is a selection of letters on WSWS coverage of the recent developments in Venezuela.

Dutch government resigns after critical report on Srebrenica massacre

By Paul Mitchell, 19 April 2002

The Dutch government has resigned after the publication of Dossier Srebrenica, a report investigating the role of the Dutch Army during the massacre that occurred in the Bosnian town in 1995.

Michigan auto supplier robs workers’ wages, pensions, health benefits

By Elisa Brehm, 18 April 2002

When nearly 400 DCT, Inc. workers lost their jobs this past February, they quickly learned that any protection or safeguards afforded them by federal law abruptly ended when their company went bankrupt. Last year, the company (formerly known as Detroit Central Tool) had around 800 employees, down from 1,200 in 2000. It is now apparent that an entire community and thousands more workers and their families are suffering the impact of DCT’s demise resulting from dubious business practices.

What the New York Times "overlooked" in the Venezuelan events

By Bill Vann, 18 April 2002

The disarray within US ruling circles over the failed coup in Venezuela has found its most distilled expression on the editorial page of the New York Times.

New Zealand’s Alliance party splits

By John Braddock, 18 April 2002

At the beginning of April, the Alliance—the coalition partner in New Zealand’s Labour-led government—formally split into two separate camps. The split, just seven months out from the general election, erupted after six months of internecine warfare, brought on by the rightward trajectory of the coalition government; in particular, its craven support for the US-led war in Afghanistan.

Letters on "The Pickering nomination and right-wing threats of violence: Patrick Martin replies to readers’ letters"

By , 18 April 2002

Patrick,

Report shows impact of poor sanitation on world’s health

By Barry Mason, 18 April 2002

A report entitled “The Human Waste”, issued by the British charity Water Aid and Tearfund, a British relief and development agency, details the horrific consequences of poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water.

Powell ends Mideast trip: a US cover for Israeli war crimes

By Patrick Martin, 18 April 2002

US Secretary of State Colin Powell ended his week-long visit to the Middle East and returned to Washington Wednesday with Israel firmly entrenched in its military occupation of nearly every major Palestinian city and town on the West Bank. Israeli military forces have killed hundreds of Palestinians since the invasion began March 29. They have destroyed homes, water and electricity systems, and the infrastructure that sustains other public services.

US debacle in Venezuela: Bush administration backtracks on coup

By Bill Vann, 18 April 2002

The brief overthrow and subsequent restoration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has left that Latin American country in a state of deep political crisis. There are strong indications that, despite the humiliating debacle suffered by those who carried out an April 11 coup d’etat, new US-backed attempts to remove the elected government are in the offing.

Letters on "On Palestinian suicide bombings: letters to the WSWS and a reply by the editorial board"

By , 17 April 2002

Your response to the posts protesting the WSWS perspective on suicide bombers was excellent. The reaction of these correspondents to anything other than total support of Israel is typical of the low flash-point of many in the Jewish-American community.

Physiology, sociology and murder: a scientist looks at violence in America

By E. Galen, 17 April 2002

Base Instincts: What Makes Killers Kill? , by Jonathan H. Pincus, M.D., W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY, 2001

The case of Clifford Baxter: more questions raised over alleged suicide of Enron executive

By Patrick Martin, 17 April 2002

In the first major media inquiry into the alleged suicide of former Enron Vice Chairman J. Clifford Baxter, CBS News broadcast a segment April 10 which raised significant questions about the police handling of Baxter’s death.

Disaffection with major parties dominates French presidential elections

By Marianne Arens and Francois Thull, 17 April 2002

On April 21, the first round of the presidential elections takes place in France. Two weeks later, on May 5, the two best-placed candidates face a run-off ballot. In all probability, this will be between the Gaullist incumbent Jacques Chirac and the sitting prime minister, Socialist Party leader Lionel Jospin.

Eight-hour general strike in Italy

By Peter Schwarz in Florence, 17 April 2002

Large parts of Italy came to a standstill yesterday, when 13 million workers followed a call by the three main union federations for an eight-hour general strike. It was the first such national stoppage in Italy for twenty years. The entire transport sector, most public services and large parts of the private sector were on strike.

Father of Australian POW denounces illegal detention at Guantanamo Bay

By Richard Phillips, 17 April 2002

Terry Hicks, the father of 26-year-old David Hicks currently being held prisoner by the US military at Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, spoke to the World Socialist Web Site last week about his son’s detention.

Tamil separatist leader confirms readiness for deal with Sri Lankan regime

By our correspondents, 17 April 2002

At a press conference in northern Sri Lanka last week, Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), signalled his willingness to fall into line with the demands of the US and other major powers for negotiations to end the country’s long-running civil war.

A portrait of Italy’s Berlusconi government: "All for One, and One for Himself"

By Peter Schwarz, 16 April 2002

In June 2001, for the second time since 1994, a right-wing government led by the media mogul Silvio Berlusconi came to power in Rome. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale and the separatist Lega Nord formed a coalition that violates the political norms of what was considered normal and acceptable in post-war Europe. Below is the first part of a two-part article analyzing the ideological and political roots of Forza Italia. Further articles, dealing with the other parties in the coalition and the reasons for its accession to power, will follow later. The first part of this article was posted on Monday, April 15.

How Merrill Lynch boosted "junk" stocks

By Nick Beams, 16 April 2002

First it was Enron, once rated among the top ten US corporations. Then as questions were being asked as to how “off-balance sheet” dealings were used to boost profits, the company’s auditor, Arthur Andersen, among the top five US and global accounting firms, shredded Enron-related documents. Now the spotlight has been turned on one of the biggest names on Wall Street, Merrill Lynch.

European governments give Sharon a free hand against the Palestinians

By Peter Schwarz, 16 April 2002

The Israeli army’s brutal operation against the Palestinian territories has triggered an explosion of diplomatic activity in Europe. But neither the individual European governments nor the European Union (EU) has taken any measures to put pressure on Israel to withdraw its troops.

Israel: The show-trial of Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara

By Robert Stevens, 16 April 2002

On November 7 last year, the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted to lift the parliamentary immunity of Knesset Member (MK) Azmi Bishara. This was the first ever occasion that an MK has had his or her parliamentary immunity lifted so that the member could be put on trial for political reasons.

Protests in US against Israeli atrocities

By a correspondent, 16 April 2002

Thousands of opponents of Israel’s current military campaign against the Palestinians rallied on April 13 in several US cities. In New York City a crowd estimated at several thousand assembled in Manhattan’s Times Square to oppose the Sharon government’s assault on the West Bank. The protesters waved Palestinian flags, chanted slogans and held signs charging the Israeli prime minister with murder.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 16 April 2002

Argentine railroad strike

US military plans for a long-term presence in the Philippines

By John Roberts, 16 April 2002

When US troops started to arrive in the Philippines in February to extend the Bush administration’s “war against terror” into South East Asia the publicly announced terms of the “training exercise” forbade active US involvement in combat missions. The 660 US personnel were to train local troops and leave after six months.

A portrait of Italy’s Berlusconi government: "All for One, and One for Himself"

By Peter Schwarz, 15 April 2002

In June 2001, for the second time since 1994, a right-wing government led by the media mogul Silvio Berlusconi came to power in Rome. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale and the separatist Lega Nord formed a coalition that violates the political norms of what was considered normal and acceptable in post-war Europe. Below is the first part of a two-part article analyzing the ideological and political roots of Forza Italia. Further articles, dealing with the other parties in the coalition and the reasons for its accession to power, will follow later. The second part of this article will be posted on Tuesday, April 16.

Evading serious issues

By Gabriela Notaras, 15 April 2002

Kate Grenville is a critically acclaimed Australian novelist who briefly worked in the film industry before taking up writing seriously in the late 1970s. Most of her books attempt to explore inequality between the sexes in relationships, family life and society in general.

Papua New Guinea adopts Bougainville peace package

By Will Marshall, 15 April 2002

After more than five years of negotiations overseen by the Australian government, all factions in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) parliament came together on March 27 to vote unanimously for the Bougainville Peace Agreement , giving limited autonomy to the resource-rich island and the possibility of a ballot on secession in 10 to 15 years time.

The New York Times salutes a "democratic" coup

By Bill Vann, 15 April 2002

The Bush administration distinguished itself internationally with its laudatory pronouncements on the abortive military coup in Venezuela. Nowhere, however, did the arrogance and hypocrisy of the US ruling elite find a more finished expression than on the editorial page of the New York Times.

Abortive Venezuelan coup was made in the USA

By Bill Vann, 15 April 2002

The abortive attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has all the earmarks of a military coup made in the USA.

Israeli massacre in the city of Jenin

By David Cohen in Israel, 13 April 2002

Note from the editors:

A call to "burn out" the Palestinians: more filth from the Wall Street Journal

By Joseph Kay, 13 April 2002

There are certain articles that find their way into the American media that deserve to be noted simply for what they reveal about the character of the American ruling elite. Something extremely rotten is festering in the summit of American society. More and more a fascistic tendency is rearing its ugly head, particularly on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

The Angolan civil war and US foreign policy

By Ann Talbot, 13 April 2002

Africa’s longest running war was formally brought to an end on April 4 when the two sides in Angola’s civil war signed a peace deal after a 26-year conflict that began when the country was declared independent in 1975.

On Palestinian suicide bombings: letters to the WSWS and a reply by the editorial board

By , 13 April 2002

Your bias, and that of the WSWS, is coming through loud and clear! You have become a voice for Arafat! Where is your indignation regarding the killing of innocents eating pizza and engaged in religious ceremony? ... You should be ashamed of yourself!

Growing protests against Australian refugee detention camps

By Jake Skeers, 13 April 2002

Nearly 50,000 people have joined rallies across Australia in recent weeks against the Howard government’s policy of incarcerating asylum seekers. More than 3,000 detainees, many facing severe psychological trauma and health problems, are currently being held in prison camps, both within the country and on remote islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

US jobless claims hit highest level in 19 years

By Kate Randall, 13 April 2002

The number of US workers collecting unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 3.78 million for the week ended March 30, the highest level recorded in 19 years. First-time jobless claims for this week also soared to 460,000, increasing by about 64,000 applications.

Right-wing terror against New York family of Mideast activist

By Bill Vann, 13 April 2002

Death threats and harassment organized by right-wing Zionist thugs and abetted by the political establishment and the media have forced the family of an American humanitarian worker in the Middle East who spoke out against the Israeli military onslaught in the West Bank to flee New York City.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 13 April 2002

Japanese workers demonstrate against unemployment

Letters on the Middle East crisis

By , 12 April 2002

Below we post a selection of recent letters on the crisis in the Middle East.

US administration pushes for military presence in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 12 April 2002

Under the banner of its “global war on terrorism,” the Bush administration is pushing the Indonesian government to reestablish close military relations with the US, including the possible stationing of American troops in the archipelago. As US-Indonesian military cooperation remains the subject of a ban by US Congress, Washington’s moves have been relatively low-key but nonetheless concerted and insistent.

Sharon brandishes documents to justify slaughter of Palestinians

By Chris Marsden, 12 April 2002

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has this week given prominence to accusations that documents seized during the Israeli Defence Force’s invasion of the West Bank and Gaza Strip prove a direct connection between Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Yasser Arafat and terror attacks.