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David Walsh picks his favorite films of 2003

By David Walsh, 31 December 2003

There were certain encouraging signs in 2003, both in the US and international cinema. A number of filmmakers revealed a serious attitude toward their times and the human situation generally. There were even critical voices in the US.

Blair caught out again over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction

By Julie Hyland, 31 December 2003

Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under renewed attack for his support for the US-led war of aggression against Iraq, following a damning admission by Paul Bremer, US head of Iraq’s puppet Provisional Authority, that US and British troops have found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Kissinger and Argentina: a case study in US support for state terror

By Bill Vann, 31 December 2003

Only days before the US government and media launched their propaganda campaign over the capture of Saddam Hussein, the US State Department was obliged to release a set of 27-year-old, previously classified documents. These documents provide a revealing glimpse into the real attitude of successive US governments toward dictatorships and terror.

Gas explosion turns Chinese villages into “a death zone”

By John Chan, 31 December 2003

A toxic gas blowout at a drilling well in the municipality of Chongqing in south-west China on the night of December 23 has killed at least 233 people. More than 9,000 people have been treated for gas poisoning after inhaling hydrogen sulphide—also known as rotten egg gas. It causes skin burns, eye irritation and respiratory problems at low levels and is lethal at high concentrations.

Milosevic trial sets precedent: US granted right to censor evidence

By Paul Mitchell, 31 December 2003

Earlier this month the US government demanded and received the right to censor testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Nauru hunger strikers left to face death

By Jake Skeers, 31 December 2003

Despite a doctor’s warning that asylum seekers could soon die if they continue their 20-day-old hunger strike in an Australian-financed detention camp on the Pacific island of Nauru, the Howard government has hardened its stance, insisting that it will not make the slightest concession to the desperate prisoners. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone declared this week: “The government has made it very clear all along that it’s no way to get a visa in terms of starving yourself to death.”

US: Hundreds denied early retirement at Verizon telecommunications

By Samuel Davidson, 31 December 2003

Hundreds of employees at telecommunications giant Verizon were denied an early retirement package last month and forced at the last minute to decide whether to retire without the extra incentive or continue working.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 30 December 2003

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature by emailing information to:

A song, an era that still haunt us

By Joanne Laurier, 30 December 2003

Gloomy Sunday [Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod], directed by Rolf Schübel, written by Schübel and Ruth Toma, based on the novel by Nick Barkow; In America, directed by Jim Sheridan, written by Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan and Kirsten Sheridan

Georgia: “Rose revolution” destabilises southern Caucasus

By Simon Wheelan, 30 December 2003

The following is the conclusion of a two-part series on the US-backed coup in Georgia and its aftermath. The first part was posted December 29.

Earthquake kills tens of thousands in Iran

By David Walsh, 30 December 2003

The earthquake that struck the city of Bam in southeastern Iran December 26 is a human tragedy of historic proportions. Estimates of the final death-toll range as high as 40,000. More than 25,000 bodies have already been retrieved, many of those subsequently buried in mass graves dug by bulldozers. Tens of thousands of people were also injured in the quake, which measured 6.7 on the Richter scale and released energy roughly equivalent to a one-megaton hydrogen bomb. The earthquake was the world’s most deadly in at least a decade.

Australian detainee at Guantanamo Bay pressured to plead guilty

By Richard Phillips, 30 December 2003

After two years’ illegal detention without charge or trial, David Hicks, one of two Australian citizens held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is being pressured to plead guilty to conspiracy. In a direct violation of Hicks’s basic democratic rights, the Pentagon has appointed a military defence lawyer, Major Michael Mori, and indicated that unless the 28-year-old Australian admits to conspiracy there will be no trial.

Libyan government assists US aggression in the Middle East

By Steve James, 30 December 2003

Libya’s declaration that it will abandon its “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) ends a long process through which the regime of Colonel Muammar Gadhaffi has sought to accommodate itself to the United States’ plans for a redivision of the world.

SEP holds public meeting on the political crisis in Sri Lanka

By our correspondent, 30 December 2003

In the midst of the ongoing political crisis in Sri Lanka, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) held a public meeting in Colombo on December 18 to explain its perspective and program. The working class could not stand passively on the sidelines as events unfolded but had to intervene independently into the political situation on the basis of its class interests, SEP General Secretary Wije Dias stressed in the course of his report.

Letters from our readers

By , 29 December 2003

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

Georgia: “Rose revolution” destabilises southern Caucasus

By Simon Wheelan, 29 December 2003

The following is the first of a two-part series on the US-backed coup in Georgia and its aftermath. The concluding part will be posted tomorrow, December 30.

Behind the India-Pakistan ceasefire

By Keith Jones, 29 December 2003

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of initiatives aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan, nuclear powers that in 2002 came to the brink of all-out war.

Australia: New fare hikes and job cuts in NSW public transport

By Terry Cook, 29 December 2003

The Labor government in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, has exploited a report on the parlous condition of the state’s public train, bus and ferry services to drive up fares and initiate a new round of job cuts.

Fuel shortages, blackouts heighten Iraqi opposition to American occupation

By Kate Randall, 29 December 2003

More than nine months after the US invasion, the Iraqi people enter the new year facing rolling electricity blackouts, fuel rationing, a devastated communications system and a general crisis in the country’s infrastructure.

Australian government joins Bush’s “missile defence” system

By Mike Head, 29 December 2003

Despite sharp opposition expressed by European and Asia-Pacific powers, including Russia, China, Indonesia and New Zealand, the Australian government ended 2003 by formally committing itself to joining the Bush administration’s so-called missile defence system. Coming in the wake of its participation in the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, the decision is another turning point in the Howard government’s unconditional alignment with Washington.

More letters on the capture of Saddam Hussein

By , 27 December 2003

Below we post a recent selection of letters on “Saddam Hussein’s capture will not resolve Iraqi quagmire,” “The official US response to the capture of Saddam Hussein: a degrading spectacle,” and “Day three of US media coverage of Hussein’s capture: no let-up in the hysteria.”

Hunger and homelessness in US continue to rise in 2003

By Jamie Chapman, 27 December 2003

Hunger and homelessness in the United States continue to rise at double-digit rates in 2003, according to a December 18 report released by the US Conference of Mayors (USCM). In the 25 cities that responded to its survey, requests for emergency food assistance were up 17 percent over last year, while requests for emergency shelter increased by 13 percent on average.

US Justice Department admits abuse of immigrant detainees after September 11

By Peter Daniels, 27 December 2003

The inspector general of the US Department of Justice has documented the systematic physical and verbal abuse of scores of immigrants detained in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 27 December 2003

Textile workers arrested in Thailand

Britain: Senior politicians condemn internment of foreign terrorist suspects

By Richard Tyler, 27 December 2003

A committee of senior politicians has called for anti-terror legislation permitting indefinite detention without trial to be replaced.

Washington scuttles six-nation talks over North Korean nuclear crisis

By Peter Symonds, 27 December 2003

Attempts to negotiate an end to the ongoing confrontation over North Korea’s nuclear programs have effectively been scuttled by US Vice President Richard Cheney in a move that threatens to significantly raise tensions in North East Asia next year.

An exchange on Bolshevism and revolutionary violence

By , 27 December 2003

Below we are posting a letter from a WSWS reader on the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks and the execution of Czar Nicholas II and his family, followed by a reply by Peter Daniels.

Lithuanian president faces impeachment

By Niall Green, 27 December 2003

Following a parliamentary inquiry into allegations of fraud against Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas, the country’s parliament has moved to impeach him.

US media, government scramble to obscure criminal dealings with Hussein

By Joseph Kay and Alex Lefebvre, 24 December 2003

Despite the orgy of self-congratulation that greeted the capture of Saddam Hussein, this is yet another “victory” that is proving to have unforeseen and bitter consequences for the Bush administration.

Sri Lankan political crisis heightens tensions in Jaffna

By Sri Haran, 24 December 2003

A recent incident in the Sri Lankan town of Jaffna points to the sharp tensions that have developed in the north of the island as a result of the political standoff in Colombo between President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the United National Front (UNF) government.

Orange alert in US—terrorizing the American public again

By Bill Vann, 24 December 2003

For the first time in six months, the Bush administration has raised its “terrorist attacks threat advisory” from elevated, or “Code Yellow”—its default status—to high, or “Code Orange.”

US voting machines: Will 2004 elections be electronically rigged?

By Alex Lefebvre, 24 December 2003

Recent revelations about US voting machinery companies and their products raise serious questions about the integrity of the electoral process in the US, as well as in other countries. These companies, which have intimate ties to the US right wing, operate with no real outside supervision. According to information that has emerged, their products’ safety designs are so poor that they offer many opportunities to rig elections, especially for well-connected insiders.

California Governor announces millions more in cuts

By Andrea Peters, 24 December 2003

In an unprecedented use of executive power, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on December 17 that he was bypassing the legislative process and imposing by fiat $150 million worth of additional cuts in the state budget.

Howard Dean rejects Washington Post charge that he is “beyond the mainstream”

By David Walsh and Barry Grey, 24 December 2003

Howard Dean, a leading candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, published an opinion piece in the December 21 Washington Post replying to a December 18 Post editorial that criticized his positions on the Iraq war as “beyond the mainstream.” (See “Howard Dean and the shrinking US political ‘mainstream,’” WSWS, December 20, 2003.)

Israel: Elite commandos refuse to serve in Occupied Territories

By Julie Hyland, 24 December 2003

The refusal of thirteen reservists in Israel’s elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, to serve on missions in the Occupied Territories is the latest expression of the growing opposition within the armed forces to the Sharon government’s repression of the Palestinian people.

Deaths in Sydney hospitals used to boost private health care

By Erika Zimmer, 24 December 2003

Over the past four months barely a day has passed without media reports detailing one horror story after another of terrible deaths and mishaps within public hospitals in Sydney, the capital of Australia’s most populous state.

Pakistan’s military dictator survives assassination attempt

By Keith Jones, 23 December 2003

Pakistan’s military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, narrowly escaped assassination December 14 when a bridge was almost levelled by multiple bombs just seconds after his motorcade passed over it. In a show of bravado, Musharraf has downplayed the seriousness of the assassination attempt, but its sophistication strongly suggests the involvement of elements within Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment.

Australia’s next neo-colonial intervention begins in Papua New Guinea

By Will Marshall, 23 December 2003

The first contingent of 12 Australian police officers arrived last week in Papua New Guinea (PNG) as part of a far-reaching intervention by Canberra to effectively take charge of key elements of the country’s administration. As part of its “enhanced cooperation package,” Australia is sending 230 police, as well as civil servants, to take up top positions in PNG’s police force, court system, finance and planning agencies, customs and civil aviation.

Ireland: Barron report confirms British collusion in 1974 Dublin bombings

By Steve James, 23 December 2003

The Irish government has approved the publication of a report into the origins of bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974. Thirty-three people were killed in the atrocity, the single most bloody event in the entire period of the “Troubles” in Ireland, and the lives of hundreds more were marred by injuries to themselves, friends and family members.

Two appellate courts rule against Bush administration detentions

By John Andrews, 23 December 2003

Two separate appellate court panels—one on the east coast and the other on the west—last week ruled 2-1 against the Bush administration’s policy of indefinitely imprisoning people it deems “enemy combatants.”

The anti-Semitism and anti-Bolshevism of the German Nazis: a letter and reply

By , 23 December 2003

The following letter was written in response to the article “Germany: MP’s anti-Semitic speech exposes ugly face of the CDU,” posted by the World Socialist Web Sitelast November 14. The letter was originally circulated via a mailing list of disgruntled supporters of the German Greens. We publish it with a reply by the WSWS.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 23 December 2003

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature by e-mailing information to:

Nick Beams: “The program of the ICFI has stood the test of time”

By , 23 December 2003

The Socialist Equality Party in Australia held a public meeting in Sydney on December 21 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). The meeting was part of a series held internationally over the last two months to review the significance of the ICFI’s protracted struggle against the opportunist tendency led by Michel Pablo and Ernest Mandel that definitively broke with the fundamental principles of the Trotskyist movement in 1953. A broad cross-section of party supporters, WSWS readers, students, workers and pensioners attended the Sydney meeting.

European battle over software patents

By Kerem Kaya and Mike Ingram, 23 December 2003

The long-running battle over patents for computer software has reached a new stage in Europe. An amendment [1] submitted on a Directive proposal [2], already approved by the European Parliament (EP) about three months ago, includes significant limits on software patentability. It makes software explicitly unpatentable and regulates safeguards such as freedom of publication and interoperation. The EP’s Directives can become law only with the approval of the European Union (EU) Council. The approved Directive is then relayed to the Member States for local approval.

Bush placates China over Taiwan, for now

By John Chan, 22 December 2003

The Bush administration made a significant overture to Beijing during the four-day visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Washington from December 8 to 12. Under conditions of heightened tensions between China and Taiwan, Bush publicly criticised Taiwan’s president Chen Shui-bian and opposed his plans to hold a referendum that could lead to a declaration that the island is not part of China.

Influenza nearing epidemic levels in the US

By Debra Watson, 22 December 2003

Influenza outbreaks continue to progress across the United States with the disease widespread in 36 US states, up from 24 in early December. The Centers for Disease Control now characterize the flu outbreak as a likely epidemic.

US military metes out collective punishment to Iraqi city

By Peter Symonds, 22 December 2003

Despite the attempts of the Bush administration and international media to claim the capture of Saddam Hussein as a major breakthrough in suppressing armed resistance, events on the ground in Iraq speak otherwise. As the attacks on US troops and Iraqi collaborators continue unabated, the response of the US military has been to intensify its heavy-handed repression aimed at terrorising the Iraqi people into submission.

On the social crisis in Oregon—and the political malaise in the US

By Noah Page, 22 December 2003

In 2002, the Pacific Northwest state of Oregon emerged in the regional and national media as the embodiment of a deepening economic and social crisis in the US. This was because, according to official figures, it had the highest unemployment rate and the highest level of hunger of any of the 50 states.

A crude attempt to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism

By Jean Shaoul, 22 December 2003

A recent article in the British newspaper, the Guardian, provides a noxious example of the concerted effort being orchestrated by the Zionist political establishment to rubbish all criticism of its murderous policy towards the Palestinian people.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 20 December 2003

Indian petroleum workers strike against privatisation

Britain: Labour Party leadership paves way for the return of Ken Livingstone

By Julie Hyland, 20 December 2003

London’s mayor Ken Livingstone could be readmitted to Labour Party membership within months under a deal struck between the former MP and party officials.

Wall Street Journal’s Robert Bartley dead at 66

By David Walsh, 20 December 2003

Robert Bartley, editor emeritus of the Wall Street Journal, died in New York City December 10 after a battle with cancer. He was 66. Bartley became editor of the Journal’s editorial page in 1972. During his tenure in that position, which lasted nearly three decades, the newspaper’s editorial page became notorious as the sounding-board of extreme right-wing and fascistic elements in the Republican Party.

Australian Labor backs call for execution of Hussein

By Richard Phillips, 20 December 2003

Predictably, Australian Prime Minister John Howard was among the first in the world to join the lynch mob demanding the execution of Saddam Hussein. After an early-morning phone call from US President Bush on Monday, Howard appeared on local radio and television networks supporting any future death sentence for the former Iraqi leader. He later told CNN’s Larry King Live program that if an Iraqi trial ordered Hussein’s execution he would support it “absolutely”.

The slight and the reprehensible

By David Walsh, 20 December 2003

Something’s Gotta Give, written and directed by Nancy Meyers; The Last Samurai, directed by Edward Zwick, written by John Logan, Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz

Detroit Symphony Orchestra faces $2 million deficit

By Joanne Laurier, 20 December 2003

Joining the ranks of top-flight symphony orchestras in America spilling red ink, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has posted a combined deficit for the last two years, totaling $2.16 million. The $387,000 shortfall for 2000-2001 more than quadrupled in the fiscal year 2002-2003, reaching $1.78 million.

Howard Dean and the shrinking US political “mainstream”

By Bill Vann, 20 December 2003

With Howard Dean the front-runner in the polls as the Democratic Party prepares for next month’s Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire presidential primary, the drumbeat of attacks from both his Democratic rivals and significant sections of the media, portraying the former Vermont governor as irresponsible and even extremist, is intensifying.

Spain marks 25th anniversary of democratic transition

By Paul Mitchell, 20 December 2003

Twenty five years after Spain’s transition to democracy and the creation of a constitution, celebrations of the end of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco have been decidedly muted.

Muerte de un joven marino de guerra en Irak

By , 20 December 2003

WSWS : Español

The sculpture of Edgar Degas

By Lee Parsons, 19 December 2003

The current exhibition of bronze sculpture at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto cast from the works of French artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is a welcome opportunity to study the often overlooked sculptural achievement of that great artist. Regarded as one of the most influential painters of the modern period, his sculpture, though less known, is an equally vital contribution to the impressionist movement of the late 19th century and in its bold expression forms a pivotal development in modern sculpture.

Pentagon fired military lawyers assigned to defend Guantánamo prisoners

By Jamie Chapman, 19 December 2003

Pentagon officials have reportedly dismissed the first crew of military lawyers recruited last spring to defend prisoners being held incommunicado in the US detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

World hunger report: 842 million starve in the midst of plenty

By Barry Mason, 19 December 2003

World hunger is increasing, with an estimated 842 million people going to bed hungry every night. Most people suffering from hunger live in Africa and Latin America, but 34 million are in the former Soviet Union and 10 million live in the rich industrialised countries.

Desperation fuels hunger strikes in Australian refugee camps

By Mike Head, 19 December 2003

For the fifth time in four years, sheer desperation at their indefinite incarceration and repeated acts of official brutality have led asylum seekers to resort to hunger strikes at Australian detention centres. Refugees locked in isolation cells at the remote Port Hedland prison camp in northern Western Australia began refusing to take food or water in early December. On December 10, detainees launched similar action on the tiny Pacific Island of Nauru, where Australian military ships transported them more than two years ago.

Deadline passes with no sign of any end to the Sri Lankan political crisis

By K. Ratnayake, 19 December 2003

The deadline for a deal to end the current political standoff between the Sri Lankan president and the government came and went on Monday with no sign of any compromise.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra faces $2 million deficit

By Joanne Laurier, 19 December 2003

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Canada’s Liberal government veers right

By Keith Jones, 19 December 2003

Paul Martin has used his first week as Canada’s Prime Minister to steer the ten year-old, federal Liberal government sharply to the right.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 19 December 2003

Railworkers in Italy strike

Australian parliament adopts legislation to restructure universities

By Mike Head, 18 December 2003

On December 4, the Howard government finally succeeded in pushing though parliament one of its central agenda items—the restructuring of Australian universities into businesses that will be forced to survive by attracting full fee-paying students and corporate sponsorship. Just before going into Christmas recess, the Senate rubber-stamped Education Minister Brendan Nelson’s Higher Education Reform Bill, with all its essential features intact.

British Columbia: Unions suppress ferry and forest strikes

By David Adelaide and Keith Jones, 18 December 2003

The union leadership has suppressed two pivotal strikes in British Columbia, inviting arbitrators to dictate their members’ collective agreements and under terms set by the violently anti-working-class Liberal provincial government.

Russian elections: Putin consolidates regime of “managed democracy”

By Vladimir Volkov, 18 December 2003

The December 7 elections to Russia’s State Duma gave a sharply distorted expression to the dissatisfaction felt by tens of millions of citizens with the conditions created by more than a decade of “market reforms.” The popular vote showed that the population is increasingly hostile to the ongoing destruction of social welfare, collapsing living standards and growing social inequality. At the same time, it is left without any real political alternative in a system that is crudely manipulated by ex-Stalinists and the rising class of criminal businessmen.

Afghanistan’s loya jirga convened to rubber-stamp an anti-democratic constitution

By Peter Symonds, 18 December 2003

The loya jirga or grand tribal council currently underway in the Afghan capital of Kabul is a thoroughly cynical political exercise. For all the hype about consulting the Afghan people, a select group of 500 delegates has been convened to endorse an undemocratic constitution and to consolidate the position of Washington’s political puppet—President Hamid Karzai.

Spain: Prime Minister Aznar may face slander charges

By Paul Stuart, 18 December 2003

Spain’s right-wing Popular Party prime minister José Maria Aznar faces charges of slander brought by 16 North Africans detained by anti-terror police in raids across northeastern Spain on January 25. Those detained were accused of being an Al-Qaeda cell planning terrorist attacks in Spain. On March 21, 14 were released by Madrid’s High Court judge due to insufficient evidence against them. They remain under investigation and must report each day to court officials in Barcelona and surrounding towns.

Bush calls for Hussein’s execution: a portrait of sadism and ignorance

By Bill Vann, 18 December 2003

Media reports on the nationally televised interview with George W. Bush broadcast by ABC News Tuesday night focused on the American president’s call for the execution of Saddam Hussein. “Zap rat Saddam, sez Prez,” was the way the New York Daily News summed up the contents of Bush’s remarks.

US: Another Senate Democrat steps down to aid Republicans

By Patrick Martin, 18 December 2003

Senator John Breaux of Louisiana, a leading figure in the right wing of the Democratic Party and a frequent ally of the Bush administration, announced his retirement December 15, an action which seems calculated to cement Republican control of the US Congress.

Day three of US media coverage of Hussein’s capture: no let-up in the hysteria

By David Walsh, 17 December 2003

The hysteria of the American media’s coverage of the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and its aftermath shows no signs of letting up. On the contrary, having failed so far to contaminate the public at large with its own bloodlust, the media has lost all sense of restraint, not to mention decency.

Thailand: 295 workers strike Nasawat Apparel factory

By , 17 December 2003

The following statement was sent to the World Socialist Web Site by the Action Network for Migrants and Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association.

Other letters from our readers

By , 17 December 2003

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

National tensions sink agreement on European Union constitution

By Chris Marsden, 17 December 2003

The failure of European Union leaders to reach agreement on a constitution at the December 13 Brussels summit threatens a political fracturing of Europe.

French students protest university reforms

By Antoine Lerougetel, 17 December 2003

On December 3, a national day of strikes and demonstrations took place against proposals by the conservative government of President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to “modernise” France’s universities and bring them into line with new guidelines for European higher education.

Arrest of Zak Mallah: test case for Australia’s anti-terror laws

By Richard Phillips, 17 December 2003

In a joint state and federal police operation, Zak Mallah, a 20-year-old unemployed youth, was arrested in southwestern Sydney on December 3 under the Howard government’s new anti-terror laws. Mallah, a Muslim, is accused of preparing to commit a terrorist act. He could be jailed for life if found guilty.

Letters on the capture of Saddam Hussein

By , 17 December 2003

Below we post a selection of letters on “Saddam Hussein’s capture will not resolve Iraqi quagmire” “The official US response to the capture of Saddam Hussein: a degrading spectacle”

Bush administration embroiled in Boeing scandal

By Joseph Kay, 17 December 2003

Top officials in the Bush administration—including the president himself—are implicated in the expanding scandal surrounding airplane manufacturer and defense contractor Boeing. The case provides a revealing glimpse into the extent to which US military policy is subordinated to brazen profiteering by defense contractors and the government officials who enjoy their patronage.

Military’s “espionage” case against Guantanamo chaplain collapses

By Joanne Laurier, 17 December 2003

The US military’s attempt to charge Captain James Yee, a Muslim army chaplain stationed at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with espionage in connection with the illegally held detainees housed there has collapsed ignominiously.

Sri Lankan health workers picket parliament

By Ajitha Gunaratna, 17 December 2003

Nearly 80,000 public hospital employees across Sri Lanka submitted sick notes and did not turn up for work on Monday as part of their ongoing campaign for a 40 percent pay increase. Some 15,000 workers took part in a mass picket outside the parliamentary building, a significant number of them travelling long distances to reach Colombo from outlying areas.

Brazil’s Workers Party government expels ‘left’ legislators

By Bill Vann, 16 December 2003

On the eve of the first anniversary of forming its first government, Brazil’s Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores/PT) carried out the expulsions of a leading national senator and three national deputies for opposing the right-wing economic and social policies introduced under President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva.

The official US response to the capture of Saddam Hussein: a degrading spectacle

By David Walsh, 16 December 2003

The official American response to the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein must provoke feelings of deep disgust. It requires a political and media establishment from whom all traces of democratic or humane instinct have been eradicated to react with a display of such ignorance, vindictiveness and sadism.

Legal observer details police violence against FTAA protesters in Miami

By Suzanne Smither, 16 December 2003

The following article was submitted by Suzanne Smither, a journalist who worked with the Miami Activist Defense (MAD) and served as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild during last month’s demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Miami.

The political crisis in Sri Lanka: the way forward for the working class

By , 16 December 2003

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is holding a public meeting in Colombo to examine the roots of the present crisis of bourgeois rule in Sri Lanka and to advance an alternative socialist perspective for the working class. The six-week political standoff between the president and the government is the product of an intractable and intense conflict within the ruling class. Neither the faction pursuing the so-called peace process in the hope of transforming the island into a cheap labour platform, nor its opponents who would plunge the country back into civil war have anything to do with the interests of the working class.

The Thatcherisation of the German CDU

By Ulrich Rippert, 16 December 2003

The recent national conference of the German conservative CDU (Christian Democratic Union) in Leipzig ushered in a further shift in German politics. With an overwhelming majority—just four delegates opposed—the conference agreed to a fundamental change to the German welfare system. The vote represented a victory for the free-market wing of the party led by fraction chairman, Friedrich Merz. The new party policy envisages a radical transformation of the German welfare state without the slightest consideration given to the interests and requirements of the population at large.

Democrats praise Bush after capture of Hussein

By Patrick Martin, 16 December 2003

The applause for the capture of Saddam Hussein from the Democratic presidential candidates punctures the pretense that the Democrats are opposed to the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq. All six of the leading Democratic candidates issued statements hailing the “success” of the US military occupation force in seizing the deposed Iraqi president.

Quebec: Mounting opposition to Liberals’ class war agenda

By a reporting team, 16 December 2003

Hundreds of thousands of Quebecers, from all parts of the province—hospital workers, civil servants, municipal workers, construction and aluminum industry workers, teachers, and day care workers, as well as the parents of thousands of day care children—participated in demonstrations, study sessions, and information picket lines last Thursday to protest against the Quebec Liberal government’s assault on public and social services and worker rights.

Koizumi sends Japanese troops to Iraq

By James Conachy, 16 December 2003

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his cabinet voted on December 9 to deploy Japan’s ground, air and maritime self-defense forces (SDF) to participate in the US-led occupation of Iraq. The decision is a definitive turning point and has been recognised as such in Japan. For the first time since World War II, Japanese troops will enter what is unambiguously a war zone, with the expectation of seeing combat.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 16 December 2003

Protests against US trade policy in El Salvador

US and European leaders court North Africa

By Brian Smith, 15 December 2003

Last week European and North African leaders met in Tunisia at the latest 5+5 Conference. This was immediately preceded by US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s whistle-stop tour of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.

Saddam Hussein’s capture will not resolve Iraqi quagmire

By the Editorial Board, 15 December 2003

The capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, hidden in a hole at a farmhouse outside the central Iraqi city of Tikrit, has been the occasion for full-throated exultation on the part of the Bush administration, the US occupation authorities in Iraq and the American media.

Berlin: 40,000 demonstrate to defend education and social programs

By our correspondents, 15 December 2003

Student protests, which have been taking place for a number of weeks in Germany, reached a high point Saturday with the biggest demonstration so far by an estimated 40,000 students in Berlin (organisers put the crowd at 50,000). In addition to students from Berlin’s three main universities, the protest was joined for the first time by representatives of other welfare activist groups and trade unions. In the event, the participation of the trade unions was very limited.

US occupation authority suppresses study of Iraqi civilian casualties

By Peter Symonds, 15 December 2003

In a crude effort to cover up the extent of its crimes in Iraq, the US occupation authority has brought pressure to bear on the country’s health ministry officials to halt a count of civilians killed and injured during the US-led invasion in March and subsequently.

Germany: education is a fundamental right—not a commodity

By , 15 December 2003

The following is the text of the statement issued by the Socialist Equality Party (Germany) and distributed by supporters at Saturday’s demonstration in Berlin protesting cuts in education and social programs. [See “Berlin: 40,000 demonstrate to defend education and social programs”]

No resolution to Sri Lankan political crisis

By K. Ratnayake, 15 December 2003

The fourth round of talks to resolve the six-week standoff between Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the government failed last Wednesday to reach any compromise. As a result, the deadline set by Kumaratunga for a deal on December 15, that is today, appears unlikely to be met.

Australia: NSW teachers endorse 48-hour strike in February

By Erika Zimmer, 13 December 2003

Public school and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers across the state of New South Wales held stopwork meetings over their salaries claim last week, voting to endorse a union recommendation for a 48-hour strike on February 11 and 12, early in the new school year.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 13 December 2003

Workers in China arrested for forming union