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Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 31 August 2002

Korean security guards assault hospital workers

Correspondence on Madagascar

By , 31 August 2002

Subject: “Madagascar: Ravalomanana takes control with US support”, (9 July 2002)

Immediate flood catastrophe averted in China, but dangers remain

By James Conachy, 30 August 2002

According to government and aid agency reports, the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers and soldiers have thus far prevented catastrophic flooding around Lake Dongting in China’s central Hunan province and further down the Yangtze River.

Bush threatens to use troops against West Coast dockworkers

By David Walsh and Ron Jorgenson, 30 August 2002

The far-reaching threats made by the Bush administration against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in the event of a West Coast dock strike or work slowdown reveal the essential class character of the government’s “war on terrorism.” In the name of national security and its open-ended global war, the White House is threatening to use military force to destroy the basic rights of workers to organize and fight for decent wages and conditions.

An exchange of letters on government suppression of evidence in 9/11 lawsuits

By , 30 August 2002

We reprint below a letter received on the August 2 WSWS article “Bush administration moves to stifle discovery in 9/11 lawsuits” followed by a reply by the article’s author, Walter Gilberti.

Candidates debate on German TV: Schröder and Stoiber advance similar right-wing policies

By Peter Schwarz, 30 August 2002

For the first time in a German election campaign, the two top candidates of the main parties met for a televised debate. For 75 minutes last Sunday, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD—Social Democratic Party) and his challenger Edmund Stoiber (CSU—Christian Social Union) appeared on two of Germany’s main private television channels and answered questions posed by two political journalists.

Caspian Basin oil pipeline company founded

By Paul Stuart, 30 August 2002

On August 1, after eight years of bitter political intrigue, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company (BTC Co.) was founded during a document signing ceremony in London. Witnessed by representatives of the pipeline’s host countries Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, the new corporation marks a major step in the opening of a new export route for Caspian Basin oil resources to the United States, Israel and Western European markets.

Sri Lankan family alleges woman victim of human organ theft

By Joanne Laurier, 30 August 2002

One of the most gruesome expressions of international social inequality is the trade in human organs and, more particularly, the murder and dismemberment of poor and defenseless people for their organs.

Sweden: IMF and OECD demand deeper social cuts

By Niall Green, 29 August 2002

Recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports on the Swedish economy have called for a deepening of the decade-long assault on social redistribution. With a general election on September 15, international and domestic capital is signalling that there will be no let up in the drive to increase profits at the expense of the living standards of broad sections of Swedish society.

Is the US economy heading into deflation?

By Nick Beams, 29 August 2002

When the US economy went into recession last year, the initial concern among those economists who disagreed with the scenario of a rapid V-shaped recovery was that the recession would be somewhat prolonged, or that, even if a recovery did occur, the economy would quickly slide back again—giving rise to a so-called “double dip.”

Canada’s prime minister to quit in 18 months

By Keith Jones, 29 August 2002

Jean Chrétien announced last week that he will step down as Canada’s prime minister in February 2004. By declaring he will not contest a fourth general election as Liberal Party leader, Chrétien hoped to put a quick end to the leadership crisis that has rocked his government since he fired his chief rival, long-time Finance Minister Paul Martin.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 29 August 2002

TV technicians strike in France

Indonesian court acquits military of East Timor atrocities

By Peter Symonds, 29 August 2002

The outcome of the first trials by an Indonesian court over the massacres in East Timor in 1999, prior to and following the UN-sponsored vote on independence, has proved to be a farce. According to UN figures, at least 1,000 East Timorese were killed by pro-Indonesian militia groups, backed by the Indonesian armed forces (TNI), in an effort to intimidate and terrorise pro-independence supporters.

Letter from a Portland protester

By , 29 August 2002

On August 22, about 500 demonstrators outside a downtown Portland, Oregon hotel were assaulted by riot police, who attacked the protesters with batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, bean-bag rounds and “pepper balls” The demonstrators had gathered to protest Bush’s environmental and economic policies and the administration’s war threat against Iraq. The WSWS received the following letter from a protester whose family was pepper-sprayed during the demonstration.

Ullico: The AFL-CIO’s corporate scandal

By Joseph Kay, 29 August 2002

A new corruption scandal has emerged that involves not another giant corporation, but that other bulwark of American capitalism, the AFL-CIO. The scandal, involving the union-owned company Ullico, casts a revealing light on the true social character of the American trade union bureaucracy.

Swedish general election campaign focuses on immigration

By Steve James, 28 August 2002

Opening exchanges in the Swedish general election, to be held on September 15, have centred on immigration. Lars Leijonborg of the small Liberal Party, one of the four right-wing parties that constitute the alternative coalition to the ruling Social Democratic Party (SAP), called for large numbers of guest workers to be imported. Leijonborg told Radio Sweden, “You have to be an American data engineer with a job at IBM to possibly get a work permit, otherwise this kind of job-related immigration hardly exists at all.... This hampers Swedish growth and Swedish welfare.”

Behind the defeat of Georgia congresswoman: Republican right, Israel lobby unite to silence criticism of "anti-terror" war

By Patrick Martin and Barry Grey, 28 August 2002

From the standpoint of the interests of the working class, there is no essential difference between incumbent Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and former judge Denise Majette, who defeated McKinney in the August 20 Democratic primary election. Both Democrats are bourgeois politicians who defend the profit system. Neither offers a serious alternative to the growth of militarism and the intensifying assault on democratic rights and working class living standards.

Seventh House impeachment manager ousted from US Congress

By Patrick Martin, 28 August 2002

The August 20 Georgia primary had one other notable result, besides the defeat of Cynthia McKinney: the ouster of four-term Republican congressman Bob Barr. A vitriolic right-winger with links to white racist groups such as the Council of Conservative Citizens, Barr was the earliest proponent in Congress of impeaching Clinton, introducing a motion to launch impeachment hearings in 1997, before Monica Lewinsky had come to public notice.

British Guardian backs CIA dirty tricks in Zimbabwe

By Ann Talbot, 28 August 2002

In its most outspoken statement yet on Zimbabwe, the Bush administration has made it clear that it is taking steps to bring down President Robert Mugabe’s government. US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner announced the shift in US policy in a statement on August 21. He told reporters that Mugabe’s government was “illegitimate and irrational.”

Bankers’ bank sounds some warnings

By Joe Lopez and Nick Beams, 28 August 2002

Central bankers generally try to put an optimistic gloss on their reports on the state of the economy and the financial system lest any critical comments undermine the confidence that is so crucial to the maintenance of stability. So it is not surprising that the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS), sometimes known as the central bankers’ bank, published in July its annual report containing a generally upbeat assessment of the state of the world economy.

Sri Lankan plantation unions call off wage campaign

By Vilani Peiris, 28 August 2002

The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) has rapidly shut down its campaign for increased wages among plantation workers in Sri Lanka. The union action, which was limited to a go-slow, began on July 31 and ended on August 7 with none of the wage demands being met. Discussions are still continuing between trade union leaders and the Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) but no pay rise has been agreed to.

Enron executive pleads guilty

By Joseph Kay, 27 August 2002

Michael Kopper, a former financial executive at collapsed energy giant Enron, pleaded guilty on August 21 to charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud. He is the first Enron executive to admit guilt in connection with the corruption scandal that broke last winter, and is the first to be indicted on criminal charges by the Justice Department.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 27 August 2002

Chilean workers denounce Lagos government, IMF

Germany: A balance sheet of the Social Democratic-Green education policy

By Lena Sokal, 27 August 2002

If one looks at the developments in the field of education under Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green Party coalition government, two aspects immediately catch the eye: the increasing financial pressure and enforced cuts under which educational institutions are suffering and the continued subordination of the educational sector to the criteria of the market and profitability.

Indonesian parliament puts a democratic gloss on an autocratic constitution

By John Roberts, 27 August 2002

Indonesia’s People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), which met in Jakarta August 1-11, has approved a series of constitutional changes that are aimed at ending some of the more blatantly anti-democratic provisions of the country’s political system. The changes, however, remain superficial and allow for the continuing dominance of the current ruling elites, including the military, which holds key positions in the administration of President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Zambia: poverty and backwardness made in London and Washington

By Jean Shaoul, 27 August 2002

No amount of statistics relating to poverty in Africa prepares the visitor for the sensuous impact of the appalling social conditions to be found in Zambia, in Southern Africa. Home to 10 million people, some of the poorest on earth, Zambia ranks as 153rd out of 176 countries in terms of poverty.

Families devastated by Dresden flood forced to shift for themselves

By a reporting team, 26 August 2002

In the second week of August large areas of Europe were hit by the severest floods to affect the continent in 150 years. Reporters from the WSWS visited the southern German city of Dresden on the Elbe River on August 21 to speak to those affected.

German chancellor lines up with US critics of Bush war plans vs. Iraq

By Ulrich Rippert, 26 August 2002

Since Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD-Social Democratic Party) spoke out earlier this month against participation in a possible US war against Iraq, the dispute has developed into an open conflict between the American and German governments.

The end of consensus politics in the Netherlands

By Wolfgang Weber, 26 August 2002

This is the last part of a three-part article on the political background to the decline of social democracy and the rise of the right-wing populist movement headed by the late Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands. Part one appeared on August 23 and part two appeared on August 24.

New Zealand Labour forms government with support of right-wing party

By John Braddock, 26 August 2002

In a distinct turn to the right, New Zealand Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark announced in early August that she had formed an alliance with the United Future Party, a right-wing formation with close attachments to a grouping of fundamentalist and evangelical Christian churches.

Behind the official debate, US builds up forces for attack on Iraq

By Patrick Martin, 24 August 2002

While a highly publicized debate continues in the pages of the American press on the subject of when and how—rather than whether—to launch a war with Iraq, the US military is pushing ahead with the logistical and technical preparations for the invasion and occupation of the Middle East country.

Amram Mitzna: Israeli left lines up behind yet another former general

By Chris Marsden, 24 August 2002

Israel’s social democratic left has again demonstrated its strange penchant for former military figures by embracing Amram Mitzna, an ex-general who has announced his candidacy for leadership of the Labour Party.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 24 August 2002

Indonesian police gun down protestors

The end of consensus politics in the Netherlands

By Wolfgang Weber, 24 August 2002

This is the second part of a three-part article on the political background to the decline of social democracy and the rise of the right-wing populist movement headed by the late Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands. Part one was posted on August 23. The final part will appear next week.

Police attack anti-Bush demonstrators in Portland

By Kate Randall, 24 August 2002

Black-helmeted police in riot gear attacked protesters with batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, bean-bag rounds and “pepper balls” Thursday evening in Portland, Oregon. The police assault took place outside a downtown hotel where President Bush was holding a fundraiser.

Correspondence on the privatisation of Britain’s postal service

By , 24 August 2002

Dear Mr Lee,

Letters to the World Socialist Web Site

By , 23 August 2002

Correspondence on the Middle East

Australian families of Guantanamo Bay prisoners denounce US court ruling

By Richard Phillips, 23 August 2002

Lawyers and families of Guantanamo Bay detainees are preparing appeals against a July 31 US District Court decision upholding the Bush administration’s illegal detention and interrogation of hundreds of prisoners at the US military base in Cuba.

Did Mayor Giuliani’s policies contribute to loss of life on September 11?

By Bill Vann, 23 August 2002

Two reports issued this week on the response of rescue workers to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center failed to spell out much more than what was already known by those familiar with the tragic events of that day. Acts of individual heroism by firefighters and other emergency workers occurred in the midst of a chaotic and uncoordinated response from the top.

The end of consensus politics in the Netherlands

By Wolfgang Weber, 23 August 2002

This is the first of a three-part article on the political background to the decline of social democracy and the rise of the right-wing populist movement headed by the late Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands. Parts two and three will appear over the next several days.

British establishment divided over US war against Iraq

By Julie Hyland, 23 August 2002

Unease is growing over possible British involvement in a renewed US war against Iraq. But as the ranks of former military, diplomatic and political advisers critical of a potential military strike swell, it is clear that there is not a shred of principle in their opposition. It is motivated purely by political expediency and concern for Britain’s own imperial interests.

West Nile Fever spreading throughout US

By Walter Gilberti, 23 August 2002

The outbreak of illnesses associated with the West Nile virus has reached epidemic proportions, with new cases reported in Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, New York City, Michigan and Georgia. In Georgia two men, a 51-year-old and a 76-year-old died, on Thursday.

Occupational hazards kill thousands of US workers every year

By Tim Tower, 22 August 2002

National and international media attention focused last month on the successful rescue of nine Pennsylvania miners, who had been trapped in a tiny pocket of air after a wall burst, flooding the mine. There was no attempt, however, to use the Quecreek mine disaster to expose a critical aspect of life in America, namely, the extraordinarily high rate of job-related accidents and deaths which claim the lives of thousands of workers each year.

The danger of war on the Indian subcontinent

By Richard Phillips, 22 August 2002

War and Peace, a three-hour documentary directed by Anand Patwardhan on the danger of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, is one of the few Indian anti-war films. Screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival, Patwardhan’s film skillfully uses war-mongering speeches by political leaders and the mass media in India and Pakistan to highlight the serious dangers posed by the chauvinist sentiment whipped up by governments on both sides of the border.

The social costs of Argentina’s crisis

By Rafael Azul, 22 August 2002

The effect is not immediate; it takes a visitor to Buenos Aires a few hours to discern the devastating impact that Argentina’s economic depression is having on that country’s social fabric. In the evening, as the hustle and bustle common to any large metropolis dies down, the signs of the crisis emerge: parents begging with their children; hungry people eating restaurant refuse; the homeless settling down for the night. In the very center of town three- and four-year-old children play little musical instruments as they beg. In the wealthier neighborhoods, nine- and ten-year-olds offer to watch one’s automobile parked on the street.

Australian High Court ruling highlights denial of refugee rights

By Jake Skeers, 22 August 2002

A decision by Australia’s High Court on August 8 has underscored how far successive Australian governments have gone to abolish the basic democratic rights of asylum seekers.

European Union seeks to dampen separatist pressures in Montenegro

By Paul Bond and Chris Marsden, 22 August 2002

Barely three months after the Yugoslav parliament voted to abolish the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and replace it with a looser union between its remaining members, the extent of Western pressure in determining the shape of the region can be clearly seen.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 22 August 2002

Postal workers strike in Ireland

Flood catastrophe in Europe

By Ute Reissner, 21 August 2002

Over the past two weeks large parts of central and eastern Europe have suffered the worst flooding to affect the region in 150 years.

Australian union test case enshrines long working hours

By Terry Cook, 21 August 2002

For nearly three years, one of the main activities of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has been to conduct a campaign for “reasonable working hours”. It commenced with a survey completed in October 1999, which linked the sharp increase in working hours over the past two decades with stress-related illnesses and workplace accidents.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 21 August 2002

Brazilian truckers to strike August 25

Canada’s Liberal government proposes 84-hour workweek for truck drivers

By David Adelaide, 21 August 2002

Under pressure from the trucking industry, Canada’s Liberal government is pressing ahead with a proposal to lengthen the workweek for truck drivers. Claiming a shortage of qualified drivers and using the pretext of an antiquated regulatory regime, the trucking companies are seeking changes that would gave them the power to compel drivers to be on the road 84 hours a week. This would have catastrophic safety implications for both the country’s 225,000 truck drivers and the general public. As it is, on average more than 130 trucks are involved in accidents on Canada’s roads every day.

US firefighters protest Bush’s veto

By Jeremy Johnson, 21 August 2002

Delegates to the convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), representing more than 240,000 professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel in the US and Canada, voted August 14 for the union to boycott an upcoming appearance by President George W. Bush at a memorial honoring firefighters killed in the September 11 attacks. The president has been invited to address the October 6 annual ceremony of the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation in Washington DC, which will pay tribute to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City, as well as more than 100 additional firefighters killed responding to other emergencies.

Bosnia: The United Nations, human trafficking and prostitution

By Tony Robson, 21 August 2002

There is mounting evidence that the United Nations has carried out a cover-up of the role played by its personnel in human trafficking and prostitution in Bosnia—a trade that has grown astronomically since the establishment of the Western protectorate seven years ago.

Threat of Middle East war spurs grab for West African oil

By Trevor Johnson, 20 August 2002

With a US-led war on Iraq looming that could disrupt oil supplies from the Middle East for many years to come, the question of securing alternative sources has become a vital concern for both the US and Europe.

2,000 immigrants perish crossing US-Mexico border since 1994

By Kim Saito, 20 August 2002

Beginning this summer, tourists lining up in their cars returning to California from Mexico through the San Ysidro border crossing see an unusual billboard on the roadside. Some might pause for thought. It features a simple migrant’s grave, one of hundreds in an Imperial Valley cemetery. On the cross are the words, “No Olvidado” (not forgotten), and then the question, “Who cares about the 2,000 dead migrants?” in English and Spanish. The billboard is sponsored by human rights groups on both sides of the US-Mexico border.

British media publicise anti-immigration outfit

By Liz Smith, 20 August 2002

Migration Watch UK, a newly formed anti-immigration group, was able to grab the media headlines this month by stating that the level of immigration into Britain will run at nearly 250,000 a year, more than two million a decade, for the foreseeable future.

Unstable government formed in Papua New Guinea

By Will Marshall, 20 August 2002

Papua New Guinea’s longest serving politician, Sir Michael Somare, has emerged as prime minister after the most violent and corrupt elections in the country’s 27-year history. Heading an unstable coalition of 13 parties and 20 independent MPs, he immediately confronts demands from business and Australia, the former colonial ruler, for drastic austerity measures that will lead to further social breakdown.

Second-largest US airline threatens bankruptcy, demands concessions

By Allen Whyte, 19 August 2002

Only three days after US Airways, the country’s sixth largest air carrier, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, United Airlines (UAL), the second largest in the US, announced August 14 that it too will file for bankruptcy protection unless it wins huge concessions from its workers.

White House uses FBI to intimidate congressional probe of September 11

By Peter Daniels, 19 August 2002

The FBI investigation of members of the US Senate and House Intelligence Committees to determine the source of a leak of classified information in connection with the September 11 attacks is the latest effort by the Bush administration to establish an authoritarian presidency and overturn the traditional balance of powers in the US. The FBI request that Congressmen subject themselves to lie detector tests and other questioning is a transparent attempt to intimidate the Democratic and Republican politicians who have called for a probe of intelligence “lapses” in connection with September 11.

French government launches new legal attacks on young people

By Marianne Arens, 19 August 2002

Under the newly-elected right-wing Gaullist majority, the National Assembly has passed a law that sets aside constitutional safeguards, some of which have been in force since the French Revolution.

New Zealand sawmill workers’ health problems caused by chemical poisoning

By John Braddock, 19 August 2002

A survey released last month of 60 former New Zealand sawmill workers and families of deceased workers found many suffering a wide range of illnesses, including cancer. The report blames chemicals commonly used at sawmills until the late 1980s for the chronic illnesses.

CNN documentary on Mazar-i-Sharif prison revolt: film footage documents US war crimes

By Kate Randall, 17 August 2002

“House of War: The Uprising at Marzar-e-Sharif,” broadcast August 3 on CNN, documents the events at the Qala-i-Janghi prison fortress in northern Afghanistan last November. Broadcasting footage shot by German, American and other film crews, much of which has never been seen by a US audience, the program records events that, by their conclusion, would leave at least 400 captured Taliban soldiers dead.

Bush’s economic forum: a stage-managed farce

By Jerry Isaacs, 17 August 2002

The economic forum held this week in Waco, Texas was a display of the perplexity and desperation of the Bush administration in relation to the deepening US economic downturn, the wave of corporate scandals and $7 trillion sell-off on the stock market. Billed as a serious discussion with ordinary Americans about the country’s economic problems, the event was a stage-managed media affair aimed at bolstering the president’s sagging poll standings and promoting his reactionary agenda of tax cuts and other handouts for big business.

Spanish government moves to ban Basque separatist party

By Vicky Short, 17 August 2002

The Basque separatist group, ETA, has threatened reprisals against Spanish MPs who vote to ban Herri Batasuna, the organisation’s political wing. The proposal to declare Herri Batasuna illegal comes after a series of terrorist outrages.

Colombia’s new president declares state of emergency

By Jeremy Johnson, 17 August 2002

Only five days into his term of office, Colombia’s right-wing President Alviro Uribe Vélez declared a state of emergency Monday, allowing him to rule by decree and restrict basic civil liberties. The declaration signals the launching of an all-out war against the 38-year-long guerilla insurgency, as well as stepped-up attacks on workers and peasants who resist the crushing poverty that government policies impose.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 17 August 2002

Indonesian plantation workers strike

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East and Africa

By , 16 August 2002

Bank workers in Berlin, Germany strike

Did the Australian government deliberately allow 353 refugees to drown?

By Linda Tenenbaum, 16 August 2002

Having maintained a stony silence on the fate of SIEV X and its 353 victims once the Senate inquiry began, by June 20, Prime Minister Howard felt obliged to speak.

Malnutrition widespread amongst Palestinian children

By Harvey Thompson, 16 August 2002

A study released August 5 reveals a drastic deterioration in the health of thousands of Palestinian children since the beginning of the Israeli military crackdown.

Bush presses ahead with "enemy combatant" detentions

By John Andrews, 16 August 2002

Casting fundamental constitutional guarantees aside, the Bush administration is pressing forward with its policy of detaining people indefinitely, and without charges or access to legal counsel, as part of its so-called war on terrorism. Despite growing opposition to its policy, the Bush administration is preparing to expand the practice by allocating additional cells in military prisons and camps for detainees, including US citizens.

Texas executes Mexican national despite international protests

By Kate Randall, 16 August 2002

Rejecting international protests and a direct appeal from the president of Mexico, the state of Texas put to death Javier Suarez Medina on Wednesday evening. The 33-year-old Mexican national was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m. following an injection of lethal chemicals as he was strapped to a gurney in the death chamber at the Huntsville prison facility. Reports from the execution were broadcast live on national Mexican radio.

Did the Australian government deliberately allow 353 refugees to drown?

By Linda Tenenbaum, 15 August 2002

Rear Admiral Bonser, a serving officer of the RAN, became director general of Coastwatch, a division of the Australian Customs Service, in August 2001. In his testimony of May 22, 2002 to the Senate inquiry he declared that the primary function of Coastwatch was to “conduct coastal and offshore surveillance in order to generate information on potential or actual breaches of legislation as they relate to Australia’s maritime zones.”

The 401(k) scam: How American workers have been robbed of their retirement benefits

By Elisa Brehm, 15 August 2002

A retirement crisis of staggering proportions faces millions of American working people. The plunge in the stock market has profound implications in a country where most pensions and savings are not based on fixed benefits paid by employers, but instead are dependent on voluntary contributions made by workers to be invested on Wall Street.

Crisis of Parti Québécois regime heralds coming political upheavals

By Guy Charron, 15 August 2002

A series of by-elections have revealed a dramatic drop in popular support for the Parti Québécois, the pro- indépendantiste party that has formed Quebec’s provincial government since the fall of 1994.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 15 August 2002

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

South Africa: ANC stalls on anti-retroviral AIDS drugs

By Barry Mason, 15 August 2002

The African National Congress government is continuing its campaign to deny anti-retroviral drugs to the South African population.

France: Raffarin government begins budget-cutting measures

By Alex Lefebvre, 14 August 2002

Having promised major budget cuts, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, French President Jacques Chirac’s prime minister, has failed thus far to clearly outline his government’s spending program and has mainly revealed details on decisions involving relatively modest sums. Even the small bits of news that the government emits, however, continue to turn public opinion against it.

Did the Australian government deliberately allow 353 refugees to drown?

By Linda Tenenbaum, 14 August 2002

There is compelling evidence that the scenario suggested by Tony Kevin in his submissions to the Senate inquiry on “A Certain Maritime Incident” formed the backdrop to the sinking of SIEV X. From Indonesian and Australian media reports at the time of the tragedy, as well as testimony from survivors, recounted by Kevin in his two submissions, the following appears to be what happened.

New fossil may revise the timeline for hominid evolution

By Walter Gilberti, 14 August 2002

A new fossil discovery has thrown the widely accepted time and place for the divergence of the evolutionary lines of humans and chimpanzees into somewhat of a turmoil. Working in southern Chad in central Africa, a team of researchers led by French paleontologist Michel Brunet has uncovered the nearly complete cranium and lower facial fragments of a creature that appears to reside almost at the point of transition between apes and hominids. Hominids are primates that exhibit erect posture and bipedal locomotion, a category that includes humans and their evolutionary forebears.

US welfare "reform" forces more children to separate from their parents

By Debra Watson, 14 August 2002

In the two years that followed the ending of the guaranteed welfare benefits by the Clinton administration, one half million more children in the US were added to the nearly two million already living without either of their parents. By 1999 as many as 2.3 million children were in foster care or living in the homes of grandparents, other relatives or friends, according to a recent report by the RAND Corporation, the National Bureau of Economic Research and the University of California.

Michigan migrant workers face deportation after exposing abusive conditions

By Shannon Jones, 14 August 2002

Two migrant workers are facing possible deportation to Mexico after exposing abusive conditions at the Pontiac, Michigan landscaping firm Torre and Bruglio. They are being defended by the Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project, which is aiding migrant workers in a lawsuit against the landscaper.

Did the Australian government deliberately allow 353 refugees to drown?

By Linda Tenenbaum, 13 August 2002

From evidence presented to a Senate inquiry during the past four months, it appears that the Australian government may have been directly implicated in the deaths of 353 asylum seekers, including 146 children, as a result of its anti-refugee campaign aimed at winning last year’s November 10 general election.

US Airways files for bankruptcy

By Jerry Isaacs, 13 August 2002

US Airways, the US’s sixth largest air carrier, filed for bankruptcy protection Sunday in a move which sets the stage for a further assault on the living standards and jobs of workers throughout the airline industry. The collapse is the latest in a wave of recent corporate bankruptcies, including Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom and Kmart, underscoring the financial instability of the US economy.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 13 August 2002

Government and Peruvian rice farmers end violent clash

Britain: Enron-style accounting conceals financial collapse of health service

By Jean Shaoul, 13 August 2002

Britain’s Labour government boasts of its increased spending since April 1999 on the National Health Service (NHS), but a recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) reveals a very different picture. Far from increasing resources in ways that increase and improve front line services, the government’s actions have only postponed the NHS’ financial collapse while at the same time reducing access to healthcare.

Youth commits suicide in New York City homeless shelter

By Peter Daniels, 13 August 2002

The tragic death of 16-year-old Jason-Eric Wilson in a homeless shelter in Harlem last week provoked anger as well as sadness among millions who heard of the event.

German chancellor speaks against US war vs. Iraq

By Ulrich Rippert and Peter Schwarz, 12 August 2002

In a number of public speeches and interviews, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (Social Democratic Party, SPD) and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Green Party), as well as other leading government politicians have spoken out against German participation in an attack on Iraq. Their opposition also applies if such an attack were backed up by a United Nations mandate. Regardless what the UN decides, “Germany should decide its own course,” SPD Secretary-General Franz Muentefering said at a press conference last week.

Australian maritime union "victory" opens further attack on seamen’s jobs and conditions

By Terry Cook, 12 August 2002

Barely three months after the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) claimed to have scored a victory in a dispute with Canadian-based shipping company CSL, the agreement it brokered has begun to unravel. In May, the MUA abruptly ended a 13-day occupation organised by crew members on CSL’s bulk carrier the Yarra to oppose the company’s decision to re-flag the ship in the Bahamas and hire a Ukrainian crew on lower wages and inferior working conditions.

Corporate Netherlands mounts anti-immigrant witch-hunt

By Steve James, 12 August 2002

Representatives of Dutch business have been emboldened by the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Netherlands’ political parties to mount their own racist witch-hunt to divert blame for deepening social and economic problems onto the most oppressed layers.

O’Neill's Latin tour sparks protests as IMF grants record loan

By Bill Vann, 10 August 2002

A tour by US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill of three of Latin America’s most crisis-ridden countries was overshadowed August 7 by the International Monetary Fund’s announcement of a record $30 billion rescue package for the Brazilian economy.

Britain: "Left" union leader pledges loyalty to Blair

By Julie Hyland, 10 August 2002

The first act of Derek Simpson, the newly elected general secretary of the Amicus trade union, was to pledge his loyalty to Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 10 August 2002

South Korean bank workers plan anti-merger strike

Letters on the Fort Bragg murders

By , 10 August 2002

The following is a selection of letters from our readers on the August 2 article “The Fort Bragg murders: a grim warning on the use of the military.”

Signs of sharp downturn in US economy

By Jerry Isaacs, 10 August 2002

A series of dismal economic reports and new job-cutting announcements by US corporations have led to warnings that the American economy is heading back into recession. They also provide further evidence that the much- vaunted economic recovery in the US has never materialized.

US behind peace deals in Sudan and Congo

By Chris Talbot, 9 August 2002

Two recently brokered peace agreements in Africa, in Sudan and the Congo, are extremely tenuous. Many experts have considered them unlikely to bring the conflicts to an end in the near future. In both cases there has been no cease fire and fighting continues. Nevertheless, taken together with the peace agreement made in Angola earlier this year, it demonstrates a marked change in the involvement of the Western powers in Africa, particularly the United States.

Toxic chemical spill kills and maims east African dockworkers

By our correspondent, 9 August 2002

The British Government has ordered the return of a shipment of more than 300 tonnes of chemicals plus 2,000 tonnes of contaminated soil from the city-state port of Djibouti on the Horn of Africa to the United Kingdom. The highly toxic chemical, which arrived in Djibouti in January, contains chromic acid and arsenic and was bound for Ethiopia via the Ethiopian Shipping Line.

Congress fails to adopt prescription coverage for the elderly

By Patrick Martin, 9 August 2002

The US House and Senate recessed for the month of August after failing to agree on a plan to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare, despite the promises by both the Democratic and Republican parties during the 2000 election campaign.

Australian government backs a US war against Iraq

By Mike Head, 9 August 2002

Even as discussions continue in Washington over the scale and possible pretext for a military attack on Iraq, the Australian government has already telegraphed its willingness to participate.

Political standoff in Sri Lanka threatens to precipitate fresh elections

By Nanda Wickramasinghe, 9 August 2002

The decision of the ruling United National Party (UNP) to issue an ultimatum to Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga over the functioning of parliament threatens to precipitate a fresh political crisis and lead to the third national election in just two years. The UNP is the major party in the United National Front (UNF) coalition government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.