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The politics of US Medicare “reform”: cynicism, cowardice and social reaction

By Kate Randall, 30 June 2003

Only the incurably naïve could believe that the most reactionary administration in American history, and a Congress controlled by a party that has opposed Medicare from its inception, have suddenly embraced a huge expansion of the federal program that pays for medical care for the elderly and disabled. Yet that is the picture being presented by the American media, which has largely hailed Friday’s passage by the House and Senate of conflicting bills establishing a limited prescription drug benefit under Medicare.

SARS reveals public health breakdown in Taiwan

By John Chan, 30 June 2003

Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) lifted its SARS (serious acute respiratory syndrome) travel advisory on Taiwan on June 17, the island’s people are still bearing the cost of an epidemic that resulted directly from the erosion of conditions in the public health system. By mid-June, 698 people, many of them medical personnel, had been infected and 83 had died.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 30 June 2003

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

Washington presses India to send troops to Iraq

By K. Ratnayake, 30 June 2003

India is under pressure from the Bush administration to make a substantial commitment of troops to assist in shoring up the US occupation of Iraq. As US troops come under hostile fire, Washington is eager for other countries to join the so-called stabilisation force in Iraq, both to bear the burden of suppressing the growing resistance and to provide a veneer of international support.

El imperialismo en Iraq: lecciones del pasado

By , 30 June 2003

WSWS : Español

Bush packs US federal courts with right-wing ideologues

By Patrick Martin, 30 June 2003

Largely shielded from public attention by the war in Iraq and its aftermath, the Bush administration is pushing ahead with plans to pack the federal judiciary with extreme right-wing nominees. It aims to consolidate a sweeping legal retrogression, shredding the gains in democratic rights made in the 1950s and 1960s in such landmark decisions as Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, the Miranda case and those cases establishing the principles of one-man, one-vote and the right of poor defendants to government-paid legal counsel.

Ireland: Ulster Unionist Party could split

By Steve James, 28 June 2003

David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and First Minister of the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly, narrowly won a majority in his own party to avoid a rejection of the April 2003 Joint Declaration of the British and Irish governments. At a special June 16 meeting of the party’s leading body, the 860-strong Ulster Unionist Council (UUC), Trimble defeated his long-standing opponent Jeffrey Donaldson by 54 to 46 percent.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 28 June 2003

Indonesian oil workers demand contract extensions

Rising popular anger behind attack on British troops in southern Iraq

By Chris Marsden, 28 June 2003

The killing on June 24 of six British soldiers at a police station in a village near Amara, 100 miles north of Basra, is a wake-up call to the political realities of the imperialist occupation of Iraq.

Quebec: Liberal budget initiates new anti-working class offensive

By Guy Charron, 28 June 2003

In the name of “reinventing the state,” Quebec’s two month-old Liberal government has launched a new drive to slash public and social services, gut labor and environmental standards and dramatically cut the taxes of the rich and super-rich.

New formula to further cut financial aid for US college students

By Joseph Kay, 28 June 2003

A change in how the US federal government determines financial need will have serious consequences for the amount of aid made available to college students. The little-noted alteration occurs as public and private institutions are sharply increasing tuition across the country, further restricting access to higher education for all but the more wealthy sections of the population.

What is the US military doing on the Iraq-Syria border?

By Peter Symonds, 28 June 2003

For more than a week, the Bush administration has refused to provide any detailed account of a provocative US military attack on a convoy of vehicles in a remote area near the Iraq-Syrian border.

France: Court dismisses charges in tainted blood scandal

By Alex Lefebvre, 28 June 2003

On June 18, France’s highest appeals court sustained a decision to dismiss for lack of evidence the trials of all those accused in a scandal involving the distribution of AIDS-contaminated blood to the French public. The ruling by the Court of Cassation put the finishing touches on the official cover-up of one of the most horrifying crimes of the Socialist Party (PS) government that ruled France in the early 1980s. The politically explosive character of the case stemmed not only from the justified outrage of the victims’ families, but also from the fact that the highest levels of the political and business elite were implicated in this social crime.

European Union sends troops to Congo

By Andreas Reiss, 27 June 2003

The Europe Union (EU) has launched military operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On June 10, the first French soldiers arrived in the contested region around Bunia. Altogether, 1,400 soldiers are to be stationed in the central African theatre of war.

Britain: Why Blair has delayed again on the euro

By Julie Hyland and Chris Marsden, 27 June 2003

The Blair government has again postponed a decision on abandoning the pound and adopting the European single currency, the euro.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 27 June 2003

French workers continue protests against attack on pensions

New York Times reporter Judith Miller accused of “hijacking” military unit in Iraq

By Bill Vann, 27 June 2003

Three months into their occupation of Iraq, US military forces have failed to find any evidence of the supposed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that Washington claimed as the principal justification for invading the country. It is no longer possible to conceal the fact that the Bush administration lied to the American people to promote an unprovoked war of aggression.

Australia: Opposition parties head off genuine probe into the government’s WMD lies

By Terry Cook, 27 June 2003

Last week, the Australian Senate voted to establish an inquiry into the intelligence used by the Howard government to justify its decision to join the US-led war on Iraq. While the minor parties—the Greens and Australian Democrats—had originally moved a resolution for a full Senate inquiry, they rapidly capitulated to the Labor Party’s proposal for the investigation to be shunted into a parliamentary committee that oversees Australia’s security agencies.

Burmese junta refuses to release opposition leaders

By Sarath Kumara, 27 June 2003

Despite mounting international pressure, the Burmese military junta has refused to release opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained more than three weeks ago with other National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders. Her ongoing incarceration and isolation makes a mockery of official claims that she is being held in “protective detention” for her own wellbeing.

American military morale shaken by Iraq quagmire

By James Conachy, 27 June 2003

The daily attacks and acts of sabotage against American and British forces in Iraq testify that the real war of liberation has begun—a protracted struggle by the Iraqi people to drive the foreign invaders out of their country. If US control over Iraq is to be secured, it will require an indefinite occupation by tens of thousands of troops that will result in thousands of American casualties.

Austrian government imposes cuts in pensions

By Markus Salzmann, 26 June 2003

In defiance of the largest strike and protest movement in 50 years, the right-wing government of Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel pushed massive cuts in the pension system through the Austrian parliament on June 18.

Chris Marsden addresses London meeting: “A turning point for class relations in Europe”

By Chris Marsden, 26 June 2003

We are publishing below the speech given by Chris Marsden to a public meeting of the World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party held June 22 in London. Marsden is a member of the WSWS International Editorial Board and the national secretary of the SEP in Britain. The topic of the meeting was “Lessons of the Iraq war: the tasks of the European working class.”

Spain: Post-election horse-trading exposes rampant corruption

By Vicky Short, 26 June 2003

Negotiations between the major parties following the May 25 municipal and autonomous elections in Spain have exposed the prevailing corruption and anti-democratic nature of official politics.

Fijian Vice President faces trial on coup charges

By Frank Gaglioti, 26 June 2003

Fiji’s Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli, two government ministers and four other leading participants in the May 2000 racialist coup mounted by George Speight, are due to re-appear in court in the capital Suva on July 23, charged with engaging in a seditious enterprise. They are also charged with taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence, and face possible life imprisonment.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 26 June 2003

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

Bush administration targets Iran for US aggression

By Peter Symonds, 26 June 2003

The Bush administration last week clearly marked out Iran as a prime target for US aggression. While stopping short of formally declaring “regime change” in Teheran to be official policy, Washington ratcheted up the pressure over Iran’s nuclear program, repeating its unsubstantiated claims that the country was secretly building nuclear weapons.

WSWS/SEP London meeting: “The working class needs its own international strategy”

By our correspondent, 26 June 2003

On Sunday June 22, the World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) of Britain held a public meeting in London to discuss the lessons of the Iraq war and the tasks of the European working class.

Jordan: Elections provide a fig leaf for unpopular regime

By Jean Shaoul, 25 June 2003

The Jordanian parliamentary elections present any serious political commentator with something of a dilemma. It is after all customary when writing about the outcome of an election to explain the nature of the parties seeking office, how the people voted, which party won, who will form the next government and the policies that the new government is likely to pursue.

German Green Party backs cuts in social programs

By Ludwig Niethammer, 25 June 2003

At a special party conference of the German Green Party, held June 14-15 in Cottbus, more than 90 percent of the 700 delegates voted for Social Democratic (SPD) Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s so-called “Agenda 2010.” In so doing the Greens have unambiguously backed the political course of the chancellor and cleared the way for historically unprecedented cuts in Germany’s social welfare system.

Australian government prepares intervention in Solomon Islands

By Mike Head, 25 June 2003

Just three months after the Howard government joined the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, a government think tank has produced a report calling for Canberra to take semi-colonial control over the small, impoverished Pacific nation of Solomon Islands. The plan will be the inaugural test of a far-reaching shift in foreign policy in the wake of the Iraq war, asserting Australia’s right to intervene throughout the Asia-Pacific area.

US Supreme Court upholds affirmative action

By Joseph Kay and John Andrews, 25 June 2003

On Monday the United States Supreme Court decided the constitutionality of affirmative action, upholding 5-4 the use of race as a factor to achieve “diversity” in college admissions. In a companion case, the High Court struck down 6-3 an admissions process that automatically granted a preference to applicants from certain minority groups, claiming the specific method employed was too broad and mechanical and consequently violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution.

US: New coal dust standards mean increased black lung for miners

By Paul Sherman, 25 June 2003

The Bush administration is proposing changes to safety measures for coal miners that will result in the additional deaths of hundreds if not thousands of miners from black lung each year.

Father protests indefinite detention of son at Guantanamo Bay

By Richard Phillips, 25 June 2003

It is 19 months since American military authorities began jailing prisoners captured in the US-led war in Afghanistan at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, where they are denied all access to lawyers and their families. Among more than 660 prisoners from 42 countries in the concentration camp-style jail are two Australians, 27-year-old David Hicks and 46-year-old Mamdouh Habib.

Bush invokes “enemy combatant” rule against defendants

By Bill Vann, 25 June 2003

In the wake of a federal appeals court ruling earlier this month affirming the US government’s right to conduct secret arrests, the Bush administration has announced a series of measures that significantly escalate the police-state powers it has assumed in the name of a “war on terrorism.”

Israel: Privatisation drive follows government’s austerity plan

By David Cohen, 25 June 2003

Israel’s Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has pledged to privatise the two major banks—Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank—within a year, as part of a mass sell-off of state assets.

California budget targets health care

By Nick Davis and Rafael Azul, 24 June 2003

Last November, the California government announced the most severe budget crisis in California’s history—a budget shortfall of $38 billion for fiscal years 2003 and 2004. One month later, Governor Gray Davis imposed emergency budget cuts of $10.2 billion. These cuts are exacerbating a chronic health care crisis affecting nearly all counties in California.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 24 June 2003

Colombia: national strike by public employees

Spain extends military presence in Iraq

By Keith Lee, 24 June 2003

In breach of its repeated assurances that it would not do so, the Spanish Popular Party government recently announced it will contribute 1,100 soldiers to an 8,000-strong military force to be deployed in central Iraq by September. This brings to 2,000 the total number of Spanish troops in Iraq.

Iraq and Al Qaeda: another lie unravels

By Bill Vann, 24 June 2003

According to press reports, some US soldiers in Iraq carry pictures of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers inside their Kevlar vests to convince themselves that the killing of Iraqi civilians and the continued military occupation the country are justified by the slaughter of thousands of civilians in New York City on September 11, 2001.

Indonesian military intensifies operations in Aceh

By John Roberts, 24 June 2003

Despite scant media coverage of its operations in the north Sumatra province of Aceh, evidence is emerging that the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) is engaged in forced evacuations and extra-judicial executions as part of its campaign to terrorise the local population and wipe out the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Ben Jonson’s Volpone: black comedy from the dawn of the modern era

By Stephen Griffiths, 24 June 2003

In response to the Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) production of Ben Jonson’s Volpone last year, I determined to undertake a study of the life and work of this extraordinary playwright and poet. Although his work is seldom performed these days, Jonson was one of the leading protagonists in the most vibrant period of early English theatre. For a time, he was considered the virtual Poet Laureate of England. His literary stature rivalled, and for the century after his death, even overshadowed that of Shakespeare.

Software giant Oracle bids for right to destroy jobs

By Patrick Martin, 24 June 2003

One of the largest software companies, Oracle, has launched a hostile takeover bid for a major competitor, PeopleSoft, for the avowed purposed of putting its rival out of business and wiping out the jobs of nearly all PeopleSoft employees.

Another day of action in France

By Antoine Lerougetel, 23 June 2003

On June 19, France witnessed another day of action to protest the plans of President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to reduce pension benefits and decentralise the education system. It was the eighth such day of protest in the public and private sector as a whole, and the twelfth in the education service since the end of the summer holidays last September. Most of the protests have taken place over the last two months.

US appeals court approves secret roundup of immigrants

By John Andrews, 23 June 2003

A panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has given another green light to the Bush administration’s attacks on democratic rights. It voted 2-1 to reverse a lower court order compelling Attorney General John Ashcroft to identify hundreds of people from the Middle East rounded up by the government in the immediate aftermath of September 11. None of those imprisoned in the course of this dragnet has been charged with any crime relating to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Letters to the WSWS

By , 23 June 2003

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

Terrorism and the origins of Israel—Part 2

By Jean Shaoul, 23 June 2003

This is the conclusion of a two-part series. Part one was posted on June 21.

US proconsul cancels municipal election in Iraq

By Peter Symonds, 23 June 2003

The cancellation of an election for the post of mayor in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf demonstrates once again that the Bush administration has no intention of allowing even the semblance of democracy in the country.

Sydney Opera House architect wins major international award

By Paul Bartizan, 23 June 2003

On April 7, Jørn Utzon, the architect who designed the Sydney Opera House, was awarded the 2003 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Utzon’s son Jan, also an architect, accepted the honour and a $US100,000 cheque on behalf of his 85-year-old father at a ceremony at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid on May 20.

Three hundred years of Petersburg—festival’s facades hide destitution

By Julia Denenberg, 21 June 2003

From May 23 to June 1, St. Petersburg celebrated its 300th anniversary. Preparations for this event were conducted over the course of the past two years. The scope and scale of the arrangements, which were widely reported in the Russian press, suggested that in May of this year both visitors and residents of St. Petersburg could expect something unprecedented and impressive—the city itself would be unrecognizably transformed. In reality, the Jubilee celebration was more of a vulgar window-dressing for Russian and Western officials. For the ordinary residents of this “Northern Capital”, the festivities largely passed by as little more than an unpleasant burden.

Housing crisis deepens in Detroit

By Debra Watson and with photographs by Mary Moore, 21 June 2003

It has been a decade since Leroy Lyons and Shereese Williams lost their seven children in a tragic house fire on Detroit’s East Side. On a February afternoon in 1993, a raging inferno devoured the 130-year-old wooden frame home where the family lived.

Communist Refoundation: Italian Stalinism’s new “experiment” with electoral opportunism

By Christopher Sverige, 21 June 2003

If a lesson can be drawn from the recent administrative elections in Italy, it is that opportunism is alive and well in the remnants of the Italian Communist Party (PCI).

Terrorism and the origins of Israel—Part 1

By Jean Shaoul, 21 June 2003

The following is the first of a two-part series. The concluding part will be published June 23.

Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: Bush’s “big lie” and the crisis of American imperialism

By the editorial board, 21 June 2003

More than two months after the US occupation of Baghdad, and three months after the onset of the American invasion, the Bush administration has been unable to produce any evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. It is increasingly obvious that the entire basis on which the White House and the American media “sold” the war was a lie.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 21 June 2003

Bank workers strike against government sell-off

New Zealand military to join occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan

By John Braddock, 21 June 2003

Following a series of high-level rebukes and trade retaliation by the Bush administration over critical statements made by the New Zealand prime minister of the Iraq war, the Labour government has decided to send troops and army engineers to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Canada: State vendetta against anti-poverty activist to continue

By Keith Jones, 21 June 2003

The Tory-led Ontario government is continuing its vendetta against Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) leader John Clarke. Toronto’s Chief Prosecutor Paul Culver announced Wednesday that Clarke must again stand trial on charges of “counselling to participate in a riot” and “counselling to assault police”—charges that could result in a five-year prison term.

Massive police presence in Michigan town

By Kate Randall, 20 June 2003

Benton Harbor, Michigan remained generally calm Wednesday night, as a massive police presence deterred protesters after two previous nights of rioting. Heavy rain also contributed to preventing any new disturbances. Angered over the death of a man pursued in a high-speed police chase in the early morning hours Monday, hundreds of city residents had taken to the streets Monday and Tuesday nights.

EU expansion worsens Portugal’s economic crisis

By Daniel O’Flynn, 20 June 2003

Portugal’s economy contracted by 1.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier in real terms, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). Gross domestic product (GDP) was down due to weak domestic demand, which contracted further after a decline observed during the previous quarter.

New reports on criminality at WorldCom

By Joseph Kay, 20 June 2003

One year since the accounting fraud perpetrated by telecommunications giant WorldCom first emerged, two reports related to investigations into the company’s practices have been released, shedding further light on the machinations of former CEO Bernard Ebbers and other top executives.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 20 June 2003

Firefighters’ dispute ends in the UK

American troops shoot down two Iraqi protesters

By Mike Head, 20 June 2003

In an incident that will further fuel popular hostility to the American occupation of Iraq, US troops killed at least two men in Baghdad on Wednesday when they opened fire on a protest outside the US administration’s headquarters.

England: Wedgwood cuts 1,000 jobs, as unemployment rises

By Harvey Thompson, 20 June 2003

“You cannot drink tea out of a teacup without the aid of the Five Towns... you cannot eat a meal in decency without the aid of the Five Towns.”

US prepares military blockade against North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 20 June 2003

US Secretary of State Colin Powell signalled this week that the Bush administration intends to press ahead with plans to impose what amounts to a military blockade of North Korea—an action that threatens to plunge North East Asia into war.

Thousands protest against Iranian government

By Justus Leicht, 20 June 2003

For over a week, several hundred students have taken part in daily demonstrations in Teheran against the Iranian Islamic government. The students were joined by thousands of city residents, who became embroiled in battles with the police and fanatical groups of thugs loyal to the government.

One-third of US children born in 2000 at risk for diabetes

By Joanne Laurier, 19 June 2003

One in three Americans born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes if current trends continue, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

Still no answers on Freddie Mac crisis

By Nick Beams, 19 June 2003

A week, it is said, is a long time in politics. It can be even longer in the world of finance where billions of dollars churn through the markets every hour. That being so, it is noteworthy that ten days after the turmoil which saw the ousting of three of its top officials, there is little information on the crisis at the US home-mortgage financier Freddie Mac.

Sharon blows up the “Road Map”

By Chris Marsden, 19 June 2003

The June 4 Aqaba summit has been followed by two weeks of bloody conflict. Over 60 died in one seven-day period—the highest weekly death rate since the present Intifada began. The carnage has shattered the credibility of the Bush administration’s so-called “Road Map” for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Rioting in Michigan town exposes social tensions

By Kate Randall, 19 June 2003

Rioting continued for a second night on Tuesday in Benton Harbor, Michigan, as hundreds of area residents protested the death of a motorcyclist who crashed during a police chase early Monday morning. A state of emergency was declared in Benton Harbor and Berrien County following angry protests and clashes with the police that resulted in at least 15 injuries and seven arrests. At least five homes were set ablaze in the course of the social unrest.

Four German soldiers killed in Kabul attack

By Ludwig Niethammer, 19 June 2003

The terrorist attack on a unit of the German army in Kabul two weeks ago, killing four soldiers and wounding 29, refutes the official propaganda of the German Social Democratic/Green government that the international peacekeeping force ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) will bring peace and political stability to Afghanistan. The opposite is the case.

Why the LTTE has targetted SEP members in northern Sri Lanka

By K. Ratnayake, 19 June 2003

Over the past nine months, there has been a series of extraordinary delays in three court cases involving threats and violence by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) against members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) on the island of Kayts in northern Sri Lanka. The drawn-out legal proceedings reveal a close collaboration between the LTTE and the state apparatus in covering up the attacks and preventing any action being taken against the individuals responsible.

50 years since the execution of the Rosenbergs

By Peter Daniels and Bill Vann, 19 June 2003

June 19 marks the 50th anniversary of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union.

Australia: Lack of monitoring highlights health dangers at Alcoa plants

By Celeste Lopez, 18 June 2003

The Western Australian Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the state government’s environmental watchdog, has admitted that smelting giant Alcoa has deliberately covered up the extent of toxic emissions from its Wagerup plant in the state’s southwest.

Arrest of Portugal’s elite in paedophile scandal

By Paul Mitchell, 18 June 2003

A scandal concerning the abuse of children in care homes has led to the arrest of several members of Portugal’s social and political elite. The arrests include an ex-Portuguese ambassador, a TV games show host and the employment minister in the former Socialist Party government. A minister in the current Social Democratic Party/Peoples Party coalition government has also been implicated.

“Kwinana is the cancer capital of Western Australia”

By Celeste Lopez, 18 June 2003

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to several residents in Western Australia who have been pressing for action to be taken over emissions from Alcoa’s plants at Kwinana and Wagerup.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Manchester, England

By Robert Stevens, 18 June 2003

US singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are currently on the European leg of their world tour following the release of their latest album, The Rising. The album and the tour mark a “return to form” and importantly mark the reuniting of Springsteen and the E Street Band following an 18-year hiatus.

Attac holds G8 counter-summit in Geneva

By Marianne and Helmut Arens, 18 June 2003

Parallel to last month’s G8 summit in Evian, the Attac Network organised a counter-summit in Geneva on May 30. The gathering in the Maison Faubourg was held under the slogan “Another world is possible.” (Attac stands for “Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens.”)

Washington’s war of terror in Iraq

By the editorial board, 18 June 2003

A series of sustained counterinsurgency operations by US troops has signaled a new stage in the US occupation of Iraq. Faced with escalating armed resistance and growing hostility from the Iraqi people, Washington has decided to use overwhelming force to suppress and terrorize the country’s 24 million people.

US marines sent to Liberia

By Chris Talbot, 18 June 2003

A United States naval vessel carrying 1,500 marines, 1,200 sailors as well as attack helicopters returning from Iraq is being diverted to the West African country of Liberia, raising the possibility of US military intervention. The diversion comes after an escalation of the civil war in Liberia, with the capital Monrovia surrounded by rebel forces that now control most of the country.

Unexploded cluster bombs blanket Iraqi cities

By Jeremy Johnson, 17 June 2003

New evidence emerged this month of the widespread use by US and British forces of deadly cluster bombs in densely populated areas of Iraq. On June 1, the London-based Observer newspaper published a map produced by the US/UK military-run Humanitarian Operations Center (HOC), based in Kuwait, showing the location of unexploded bombs and land mines throughout the devastated country. [The map can be accessed at http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Observer/documents/2003/ 05/31/landmines2.pdf.]

Failed coup attempt in Mauritania

By Brian Smith, 17 June 2003

Mauritania’s president Maaouya Sid’Ahmed Ould Taya has survived an attempted coup, though his pro-Western government remains vulnerable.

European Union plans drastic restraints on right to asylum

By Martin Kreikenbaum, 17 June 2003

If the British government is to have its way, the European Union (EU) is set to become “devoid of refugees” for some time into the future. British Home Office plans, currently under discussion in the EU Commission and at a ministerial level with EU partner states, are proposing the future deportation of refugees seeking sanctuary in the EU to refugee reservations “close to their countries of origin.” In addition, the EU is to be empowered to combat the causes of refugee flight where they occur and to do so pre-emptively through military intervention.

Australian government resumes push for detention without trial

By Mike Head, 17 June 2003

Having joined the Bush administration’s illegal war on the Iraqi people, the Australian government is renewing its assault on democratic rights at home.

Tokyo aid conference fails to restart Sri Lankan peace process

By Wije Dias, 17 June 2003

An aid conference held in Tokyo on June 9-10, with the participation of 51 countries and 20 international finance agencies, granted $US4.5 billion to Sri Lanka spread out over four years. More than expected, the money pledged was, however, conditional on the success of peace negotiations between the Colombo government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which have recently stalled.

London public meeting of the World Socialist Web Site and Socialist Equality Party

By , 17 June 2003

Sunday, June 22, 2:00 p.m.University of London Union, Room 3A Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY (nearest Underground stations: Euston Square & Goodge Street)

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 17 June 2003

Colombian unions to strike against layoffs

Hundreds of jobs cut in Belfast

By Steve James, 16 June 2003

Two of the Northern Ireland’s oldest and most famous manufacturing companies, Short Brothers and Harland and Wolff, have announced drastic cuts in their workforces.

Investigating the foundations of equality

By Ann Talbot, 16 June 2003

Professor Jeremy Waldron’s latest book is an examination of the theory of equality put forward by the seventeenth century English philosopher John Locke. This is a subject that is highly relevant today as the widening social gulf between the super rich and the rest of the population increasingly undermines the political institutions that have been based on the maintenance of at least a measure of social and economic equality.

Papua New Guinea liquidity crisis sees new calls for Australian intervention

By Will Marshall, 16 June 2003

The Papua New Guinea economy is headed for its fourth consecutive year of contraction, producing a full-blown liquidity crisis for the government of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare. Treasury and Finance Minister Bart Philemon last month told the Business Council of PNG that the economy was still shrinking despite his previous forecast of two percent growth.

Argentina’s Kirchner: caught between the IMF and social unrest

By Rafael Azul, 16 June 2003

Nestor Kirchner assumed power in Buenos Aires on May 25. Backed by powerful oil and mineral interests and by his predecessor, President Eduardo Duhalde, Kirchner had campaigned on a platform that was critical of both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the social catastrophe created by capitalism in Argentina.

Australian government bans Sydney Film Festival movie

By Richard Phillips, 16 June 2003

In a major attack on artistic freedom and democratic rights, Australia’s censor board has banned screenings of the US film Ken Park at the June 6-20 Sydney Film Festival. The decision was made by the government’s Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) and is the first time a movie scheduled for a local festival has been banned in Australia for almost a quarter of a century.

The death of Jürgen Möllemann and the decay of German politics

By Ulrich Rippert, 14 June 2003

On June 5, Jürgen W. Möllemann, until recently a leading member of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), plunged to his death in the course of a parachute jump. Möllemann, 57, was an experienced parachutist.

Australian Labor mired in leadership turmoil

By Terry Cook and Linda Tenenbaum, 14 June 2003

Eighteen months after its third consecutive federal election defeat, the opposition Australian Labor Party is embroiled in a squalid leadership row. The conflict is symptomatic of a deep-going and terminal malaise within the party once considered to be the “natural home” of the working class.

US suffers Latin American rebuke at OAS meeting

By Bill Vann, 14 June 2003

US Secretary of State Colin Powell came away empty handed from the annual meeting of the Organization of American States held earlier this week in Santiago, Chile.

BBC and Guardian cover up US role in Iraq looting

By Ann Talbot, 14 June 2003

Looting of archaeological sites and regional museums is continuing in Iraq despite the responsibility under international law of the US as the occupying power to protect cultural sites.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 14 June 2003

Indian tanker drivers continue indefinite strike

England’s schools in funding crisis

By Liz Smith, 14 June 2003

When Prime Minister Tony Blair came to power in the 1997 general election one of his main themes was “Education, education, education.” Yet, after six years, schools in England face a funding crisis unprecedented in the postwar period.

French protesters speak out on pension cuts

By A WSWS reporting team, 14 June 2003

Millions of French government workers, joined by private-sector employees, participated in a one-day strike June 10 to protest a government bill to cut pension benefits for millions of workers.

US launches major military offensive in “liberated” Iraq

By James Conachy, 13 June 2003

Two months after the fall of Baghdad, the American military has been forced to launch a major assault on an area to the northwest of the Iraqi capital in a desperate bid to suppress mounting resistance to the US occupation.

Indonesian prosecutors attempt to link Muslim cleric to terror network

By John Roberts, 13 June 2003

Late last month, prosecutors in the trial of Muslim fundamentalist cleric Abu Bakar Bashir placed four men, all accused of the participating in the terrorist attack in Bali on October 12, on the stand as witnesses in the Jakarta trial.

France: Millions join one-day strike against pension cuts

By a WSWS reporting team, 13 June 2003

French government workers, joined by sections of private-sector employees, disrupted or halted public transport, the postal service and other basic services in a massive one-day strike on June 10. The strike—the third such one-day labour mobilisation in the past month—was called to coincide with the opening of debate in the National Assembly on the government’s bill to slash pension benefits for millions of workers.