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Iraq elections set stage for deeper crisis of US occupation regime

By Patrick Martin, 31 January 2005

The election January 30 in Iraq marks a further intensification of the contradictions confronting American imperialism, both in Iraq and at home. It will neither resolve the crisis of the American stooge regime in Baghdad, hated and despised by the vast majority of the Iraqi people, nor legitimize the US occupation in the eyes of the world and among large sections of the American public.

Sri Lankan president imposes anti-democratic emergency laws

By K. Ratnayake, 31 January 2005

In a fundamental attack on basic democratic rights, Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga responded to the disastrous December 26 tsunami by secretly promulgating emergency regulations in 14 of the island’s 25 districts. The measures, which include powers for the police, army and officials to suppress political criticism or opposition, have been in force since January 4, but were only made public on January 25.

By , 31 January 2005

In a show of bravado, Pakistan’s military-dictator president quipped he had nine lives after two sophisticated attempts on his life in December 2003. Yet 12 months later, Pervez Musharraf reneged on his pledge to step down as head of Pakistan’s armed forces by the end of 2004 and announced he shall remain chief of Pakistan’s Armed Services, as well as the country’s president, till at least 2007. Clearly the general—a man the Bush administration has repeatedly touted as a key ally in the “war on terrorism”—doubts he has many lives left.

Germany: behind the ultra-right provocation in Saxony’s parliament

By Ulrich Rippert, 31 January 2005

There was widespread indignation last Friday when deputies of the neo-fascist National Party of Germany (NPD) demonstratively left the floor of the Saxony state parliament during a minute’s silence called for the victims of war and the Nazi dictatorship. In later contributions in the parliament chamber, NPD deputies equated the destruction of the Jews by the Nazi regime with the Allied bomb attacks on German cities, which they characterised as a “bombing holocaust.”

By Justus Leicht and Peter Schwarz, 31 January 2005

Following his January 23 inauguration as Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko travelled to Moscow for his first official visit and assured his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that Russia would remain Ukraine’s “eternal strategic partner.” These words were largely a matter of diplomatic protocol, however, motivated by Ukraine’s heavy dependence on the economy of its biggest neighbour. Russia has long been Ukraine’s most important economic partner.

El marxismo, el Comité Internacional y la ciencia de la perspectiva: un análisis histórico de la crisis del imperialismo estadounidense

By , 31 January 2005

WSWS : Español

US group files war crimes complaint in Germany against Rumsfeld

By Justus Leicht, 29 January 2005

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may be forced to skip a major international security conference in Munich next month as a result of a legal action charging him with war crimes.

Court martial of British soldiers hears allegations of abuse orders

By Mike Ingram, 29 January 2005

The ongoing court martial of three British soldiers charged with abusing Iraqi civilians at an aid camp in southern Iraq has heard accusations of abuse that go beyond the current allegations.

Report documents torture by US-backed Iraqi police

By Joseph Kay, 29 January 2005

A new report published by Human Rights Watch, “The New Iraq? Torture and Ill-treatment of Detainees in Iraqi Custody,” documents the systematic torture of prisoners in the hands of Iraqi police. As the headline of the report suggests, it questions whether the new force set up and trained by American advisers (including, among others, former New York City police chief Bernard Kerik) represents a significant change from the methods which prevailed under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Germany: redundancies loom at Opel

By Dietmar Henning, 29 January 2005

“The most important aim of all works committees, to ensure there will be no sackings, has been achieved.” Klaus Franz, chairman of the Opel joint works committee

Congressional Democrats line up behind Bush request for $80 billion in war spending

By Kate Randall, 29 January 2005

In a statement issued Tuesday, President Bush announced he will request more than $80 billion in new funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This request is expected to face little opposition from congressional Democrats, who have gone out of their way to reaffirm their continued support for the Iraq war.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 29 January 2005

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Cheney at Auschwitz: an insult to the memory of Nazism’s victims

By Bill Van Auken, 28 January 2005

Auschwitz “reminds us that evil is real,” US Vice President Dick Cheney declared in addressing a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Nazi death camp’s liberation by troops of the Soviet Red Army.

Britain: government proposes house arrest of terror suspects

By Richard Tyler, 28 January 2005

On Wednesday January 25, the Blair government announced its most draconian attack on civil liberties to date.

Eleven dead in southern California train derailment

By Rafael Azul, 28 January 2005

The worst train accident in the US since 1999 occurred January 26 in southern California when a southbound three-car commuter train jumped the tracks and collided with two other trains. Eleven people, nine men and two women, were killed and 180 people were injured, nine critically. Two of the trains were part of the Metrolink suburban commuter system that links the city of Los Angeles with its suburbs. The third was a freight train.

Anger over Sri Lankan government’s “rehabilitation” plans

By Panini Wijesiriwardana, 28 January 2005

A month after the tsunami struck Sri Lanka, the breadth of the devastation is still unfolding. Extensive damage has been done to towns and cities along the eastern and southern coasts of the island. Whole villages were swept away, along with many of their inhabitants. Among the survivors seeking to cope with the losses, there is growing anger over the chaotic and limited character of the government’s relief operations.

Australia’s tsunami aid package: neo-colonialism laced with hypocrisy

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 28 January 2005

The $A1 billion “Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development” pact that Prime Minister John Howard announced with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta in early January was motivated by considerations that have nothing to do with humanitarianism. On the contrary, the Australian government has seized on the terrible impact of the Asian tsunami as the pretext for furthering its economic and strategic interests in Indonesia and throughout South East Asia.

Letters from our readers

By , 28 January 2005

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

Workers Struggles: Europe, the Middle East & Africa

By , 28 January 2005

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Iraq crisis dominates Bush press conference

By Patrick Martin, 27 January 2005

The first presidential news conference of the Bush administration’s second term was dominated by the subject Bush sought to avoid in his inaugural address: the growing crisis of the US occupation regime in Iraq.

Russia: wave of protests against welfare cuts

By Stanislav Smolin and Vladimir Volkov, 27 January 2005

Since the beginning of January, a growing wave of protests has developed in Russia against the so-called monetarisation of social security benefits.

Australia: Labor’s crisis deepens as its new leader resigns, and quits politics

By Terry Cook, 27 January 2005

Yet another leadership change is underway in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) following the resignation of federal Labor Opposition leader Mark Latham on January 18. The change will be the third since former Labor leader Kim Beazley resigned after the ALP’s federal election defeat in 2001.

Druba Jyoti Majumdar: pioneer Indian Trotskyist dies

By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Ganesh Dev, 27 January 2005

On the morning of Sunday, January 16, pioneer Indian Trotskyist Druba Jyoti Majumdar died at his home in Katwa, West Bengal, of asthma. He was 75.

Abkhazian elite come to settlement with Kremlin

By Simon Whelan, 27 January 2005

After a debacle lasting three months, a new government has finally been established in Abkhazia. Georgian authorities, including President Mikhail Saakashvili, denounced the elections as unlawful, but the Putin government in Russia congratulated the new incumbent Sergei Bagapsh, who takes over from Vladislav Ardzinba.

The dawn of reformism in the US

By Tom Mackaman, 27 January 2005

Triangle: The Fire that Changed America, by David Von Drehle (2003, Atlantic Monthly Press, New York)

The Iraq election: a travesty of democracy

By James Cogan, 27 January 2005

The January 30 elections in Iraq have nothing to do with democracy. To claim a “free” election can take place in Iraq is no different to asserting that the French, Yugoslav or Greek people could have elected a representative government in 1942 while living under the jackboot of Nazi rule.

Two reports expose social conditions in Oregon

By Noah Page, 27 January 2005

As the Oregon Legislature convenes this month for its 73rd biennial assembly, two reports issued recently on social conditions in this state of 3.5 million represent an indictment of a political establishment that is clearly incapable of and unwilling to address the needs of poor and working-class citizens.

Sharp divisions in Jakarta over foreign presence in Aceh

By John Roberts, 26 January 2005

In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, divisions have opened up in Indonesian ruling circles over the policy to be pursued in the hard-hit province of Aceh in northern Sumatra. As of yesterday, officials lifted the death toll to a staggering 228,000. At least 500,000 people are homeless, the province’s limited infrastructure has been shattered and the threat of widespread disease remains.

Washington backs kidnapping of Colombian guerrilla exile in Caracas

By Bill Van Auken, 26 January 2005

The barrage of US provocations against Venezuela since the beginning of the year is a clear indication that the oil-rich South American country will be one of the principal targets in the global war on “tyranny” elaborated by George W. Bush in his inauguration speech last week.

David North to speak at Sydney bookshop event

By , 26 January 2005

On the evening of Wednesday February 2, World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board Chairman David North will speak at an event sponsored by the well-known Sydney bookshop, Gleebooks, to mark the publication of his new book, The Crisis of American Democracy. Included in the book, which is now available from most major bookshops, are four major lectures by North on the political and historical significance of the 2000 and 2004 US presidential elections.

Letters from our readers

By , 26 January 2005

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

Academy fails to nominate Fahrenheit 9/11: Hollywood’s olive branch to Bush

By David Walsh, 26 January 2005

The 77th Academy Award nominations, announced Tuesday in Beverly Hills, revealed once again the unseriousness and spinelessness of the majority of Academy voters. Two deeply false films, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator and Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, received 18 nominations between them, while Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 failed to be nominated in the best picture category. The award ceremony will be held February 27.

US occupation damages ancient sites at Babylon

By Harvey Thompson, 26 January 2005

US-led occupation forces in Iraq have inflicted widespread damage and severe contamination to the remains of the ancient city of Babylon, according to a British Museum-commissioned report released this month. Ignoring protests by archaeologists, US and Polish forces have used the world-renowned site as a military depot for the past two years.

Cuando más pudo haber sido más

By , 26 January 2005

WSWS : Español

American media whitewashes Bush’s global bullying

By Patrick Martin, 25 January 2005

If the president of China, Russia, Japan or Germany had given a major speech in which he claimed the divinely ordained right to remake the entire world as he saw fit, the American media would lose little time in denouncing that individual as a megalomaniac and threat to world peace. There have been no such blasts from US newspaper and television pundits, however, against George W. Bush, whose inaugural address put forward just such a perspective.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 25 January 2005

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Why has India blocked foreign tsunami aid to the Nicobar and Andaman islands?

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 25 January 2005

The remote Andaman and Nicobar group suffered a devastating blow from the December 26 tsunami. The low-lying and mostly uninhabited chain of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal was the closest Indian territory to the epicentre of the massive earthquake. As well as being swamped by the sea, it was hit by a series of substantial aftershocks.

Film on African catastrophe conceals more than it reveals

By Peter Daniels, 25 January 2005

Hotel Rwanda, directed by Terry George, written by Keir Pearson and Terry George

France: strikes reveal lack of programme to fight austerity measures

By Antoine Lerougetel, 25 January 2005

A series of one-day strikes last week against the French government’s programme of dismantling the welfare state and reducing the cost of labour demonstrated the breadth of opposition to the policies of President Jacques Chirac and the administration of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. [See “Mass strikes by French public sector workers”] At the same time, they revealed the lack of a programme for workers to fight these policies.

The Asian tsunami disaster: causes and consequences

By , 25 January 2005

The Asian tsunami has claimed more than 200,000 lives in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and other countries, and left a trail of destruction in its wake. Although the tsunami had natural causes, the scale of the catastrophe was by no means inevitable.

Beijing on heightened alert after the death of Zhao Ziyang

By John Chan, 25 January 2005

The death of former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Zhao Ziyang on January 17 has generated a tense and potentially explosive political atmosphere in Beijing.

Europe alarmed by US threats against Iran

By Peter Schwarz, 25 January 2005

Reports of American war preparations against Iran have provoked consternation within European political circles.

British court martial bares war crimes against Iraqi civilians

By Mike Ingram, 24 January 2005

Three British soldiers went before a court martial in Germany last week on charges of indecency, assault and sexually humiliating Iraqi civilians at a storage depot outside the southern city of Basra in May 2003. The trial has been described as Britain’s Abu Ghraib, with the alleged offences recalling the earlier exposure of abuse at the US prison in Iraq.

US and Australian governments delay release of Guantánamo detainee

By Richard Phillips, 24 January 2005

While Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was officially informed early last week that he will be freed without charge from Guantánamo Bay, US and Australian authorities have been involved in a series of crude manoeuvres designed to delay his repatriation.

UK Labour government wracked by Blair-Brown feud

By Ann Talbot, 24 January 2005

Ever since Labour came to office in 1997, there have been rumours of conflicts and rivalries between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown. But over the last few weeks that rivalry has broken out into the open as never before and is causing serious concern in ruling circles.

Sri Lanka: the JVP’s bogus appeal for “unity” and “voluntary labour”

By K. Ratnayake, 24 January 2005

In the wake of the tsunami disaster, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)—the second largest party in Sri Lanka’s ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA)—has issued a plan that would seriously undermine basic democratic rights and put the burden of rebuilding onto the backs of working people.

The absence of democratic sensibility in American filmmaking

By David Walsh, 22 January 2005

Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Paul Haggis, based on stories by F.X. Toole

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 22 January 2005

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The death of Mandela’s son and the ANC’s AIDS policy

By Patrick O’Keeffe, 22 January 2005

On January 6, a frail and grief-stricken Nelson Mandela announced that his son, Makgatho Mandela, had died of AIDS. Makgatho, 54, was Mandela’s only surviving son. His first son, Madiba Thembekile, died in a vehicle accident in 1969 while Mandela was still in prison.

The logic of the irrational: Bush’s inaugural address and the global strategy of American imperialism

By David North, 22 January 2005

However personally insignificant the man himself, the inaugural address delivered Thursday by President George Bush is a major political statement and must be taken with deadly seriousness. As an expression of the global strategy of the United States, the speech presages a massive escalation of military operations all over the world.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 22 January 2005

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Britain: rise in “superbug” cases linked to decrease in hospital cleaning staff

By Brian Smith, 22 January 2005

Britain’s largest union, UNISON, has drawn attention to the dramatic decrease in the numbers of cleaning staff in the country’s hospitals and the corresponding rise in the incidence of the so-called “superbug,” MRSA.

Mass strikes by French public sector workers

By our correspondents, 22 January 2005

More than five million public sector workers throughout France have held strike action and organized demonstrations this week in a movement that expresses growing anger at the policies of the Chirac government. Tens of thousands of teachers, hospital, postal, electricity and gas workers marched through Paris in defence of the public services, pay and jobs. One of their banners read: “For a quality public service, raise salaries.”

The social roots of the tsunami disaster

By the Editorial Board, 22 January 2005

The devastation caused by the Asian tsunami was not inevitable. On the contrary, it constitutes a powerful demonstration of the irrational and inhuman nature of the profit system. It is true that the immediate causes lay in forces of nature currently beyond the power of mankind to control. But it was entirely within the bounds of modern technology to prevent the vast majority of the suffering, death and damage that has occurred.

Spain: National talks break down as big business demands offensive on wages

By Paul Mitchell, 22 January 2005

National wage talks in Spain have broken down as big business demands an offensive against workers’ wages and conditions. The talks have collapsed over proposals to index the minimum wage (Salario Minimo Interprofesional, SMI) to inflation. The SMI is currently 490 euros a month ($636)—about 35 per cent of the average wage—and is paid to half a million workers. It has an important indirect effect on setting nationally agreed pay rates, social security benefits and pensions.

America’s day of shame

By David Walsh, 21 January 2005

In yesterday’s inaugural address, George W. Bush gave notice to the world that American imperialism intends to press forward with its drive for world domination. The US president issued a call to arms, a jihad, making clear that no country or government will be permitted to stand in America’s path.

Four Britons released from Guantanamo

By Niall Green, 21 January 2005

After being held for almost three years in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, four United Kingdom citizens are to be released. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that Moazzam Begg, from Birmingham, and Martin Mubanga, Richard Belmar and Feroz Abbasi, all from London, would return to Britain “within weeks.”

Tens of thousands protest Bush inauguration in Washington

By a reporting team, 21 January 2005

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Washington Thursday to protest the inauguration of George W. Bush for a second term as US president. Many lined the route of the inaugural parade, booing and jeering as Bush’s limousine made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue. “Not our president,” some chanted.

Tsunami survivors in southern India speak to the WSWS

By Ram Kumar and Sasi Kumar, 21 January 2005

Ten days after tidal waves hit south India on December 26, corpses were still being recovered from the sand and wreckage in Nagapattinam district when World Socialist Web Site reporters visited the area on January 6.

By , 21 January 2005

With the start of the new year, the series of wide-ranging “reforms” to the German labour welfare system, packaged in what is known as the Hartz IV Law, came into effect. The tsunami catastrophe in South Asia has—to the delight of the German Social Democratic (SPD)-Green Party coalition government—pushed the issue of Hartz IV into the background. However, it does not alter the fact that the greatest attack on social conditions in the history of the German Republic is now in place. Bit by bit, the unemployed and poor are starting to feel the full force of drastic cuts in social welfare.

Australia: Labor opposition caves in on unfair dismissal legislation

By Terry Cook, 21 January 2005

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has wasted no time in accommodating itself to the newly reelected Howard government.

New Yorker journalist corroborates murder allegations against Iraq’s prime minister

By James Cogan, 20 January 2005

Jon Lee Anderson, a correspondent for the New Yorker magazine, provided further substantiation this week for allegations made last July that Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi carried out the extra-judicial execution of at least six prisoners being held in Baghdad’s Al-Amariyah security centre.

Germany: another African immigrant dies in police custody

By Lena Sokoll, 20 January 2005

Once again, an African immigrant has died in Germany following the forcible use of an emetic, a medicinal substance used by police to induce vomiting by those accused of ingesting evidence, such as illegal drugs. The use of emetics by the police is widely considered inhuman, medically dangerous and unnecessary as a means of securing evidence. Although this practice has already led to two deaths, the authorities in the German city of Bremen have announced their determination to continue doing it.

Bush inauguration: corporate America throws a party

By Kate Randall, 20 January 2005

Events surrounding this week’s swearing in of George W. Bush for his second term in office have taken on a particularly grotesque character. While lavish spending on the presidential inauguration and its related festivities is nothing new—Bill Clinton’s second inauguration cost $29.6 million—there is something obscene in this year’s proceedings that goes beyond the estimated $40 million that will be spent on inaugural balls, parties and the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The “City of Mosques” has become the “City of Rubble”

By Harvey Thompson, 20 January 2005

Channel Four News in Britain recently broadcast a short film report from inside Fallujah, showing the massive devastation wreaked on the city in last November’s US-led assault.

Inauguration Day 2005: imperial delusions and political reality

By Barry Grey and David North, 20 January 2005

The following statement is also posted in PDF format.

US carrying out acts of war against Iran, magazine reports

By Patrick Martin, 20 January 2005

According to an extensive report by the well-connected journalist Seymour Hersh published in the New Yorker magazine last weekend, US military forces have been staging commando operations in Iran for months, preparing the way for air strikes against suspected weapons facilities or even a full-fledged invasion of the country. The article, titled “The Coming Wars,” cites multiple sources whom Hersh describes as “former high-level intelligence officials”—most likely CIA officials forced out over the last seven months in the Bush administration purge of the agency—as well as Pentagon consultants and others in a position to know.

Australian policeman murdered in the Solomon Islands

By Will Marshall, 20 January 2005

The murder of Australian Protective Service officer Adam Dunning in the Solomon Islands has highlighted simmering discontent towards the Australian-led intervention in the tiny Pacific island state. Dunning was killed in the early hours of December 22, while on patrol in the capital Honiari. He was hit in the back by two of six rounds fired from a high-calibre rifle at the Toyota Land Cruiser in which he was travelling.

Bush tells Washington Post he is not accountable for Iraq war lies

By Patrick Martin, 19 January 2005

In an interview published Sunday with the Washington Post, President George W. Bush defended his administration against charges that the rationale for its war with Iraq had proven false, and claimed that the 2004 presidential election constituted an endorsement of his war policies by the American people.

Abu Ghraib abuse trial shields Pentagon, White House war criminals

By Joseph Kay, 19 January 2005

Specialist Charles Graner Jr. was found guilty on January 15 of five counts of assault, maltreatment of detainees and conspiracy. The first of the US troops involved in torture at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison to face a full court martial, Graner was sentenced by a jury of soldiers to 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

Fredric Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated

By David Adelaide, 19 January 2005

At Venice’s Teatro Fondamenta Nuove on January 13, composer and pianist Fredric Rzewski gave a remarkable performance of his composition, The People United Will Never Be Defeated. Rzewski’s work is a set of 36 variations, spanning 50 minutes, on Chilean composer Sergio Ortega’s El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido—the song most closely associated with the resistance of the Chilean working class to the 1973 coup that installed the 17-year military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Australia: James Hardie signs non-binding agreement on asbestos victims’ claims

By Terry Cook, 19 January 2005

Giant building company James Hardie Industries (JHIL) signed a “Heads of Agreement” with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and asbestos victims groups at the end of December to provide an amount in the vicinity of $A1.5 billion to $A4 billion to fund the claims of thousands of people suffering asbestos-related diseases.

South Indian fishing villages devastated by tsunami

By Ram Kumar and Sasi Kumar, 19 January 2005

Cuddalore, a coastal district 175 kilometres south of Madras, the Tamil Nadu state capital, was one of the areas worst affected when the tsunami hit India’s east coast on December 26. According to official reports, 51 villages were seriously damaged, 15,000 dwellings wiped out and 615 killed in the already poverty-stricken district. Another 214 were injured and an estimated 99,700 people have been displaced by the disaster.

Massive police presence for Bush inauguration

By Jamie Chapman, 19 January 2005

The second inauguration of George W. Bush will be held Thursday under a massive and pervasive police/military presence. The conditions of virtual martial law that are being imposed for the event bespeak more the coronation of a besieged autocrat than the swearing in of a democratically elected president.

Letters on a review of Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator

By , 19 January 2005

The following is a selection of letters received by the World Socialist Web Site on David Walsh’s review of The Aviator, “Why this dishonest portrait of a despicable figure?”

Klansman arrested in 1964 killings of civil rights workers

By Peter Daniels, 19 January 2005

More than 40 years after the killings of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi—an atrocity that made the town a symbol of racism in the bitter struggle to dismantle Jim Crow segregation in the United States—the first murder charge has been brought in the case. A longtime leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Edgar Ray Killen, now 79 years old, was arrested early this month. Killen has been freed on $250,000 bail, and his trial has been set for March 28.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 18 January 2005

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

Christian right forces attack “blasphemous” British television comedy

By Paul Bond, 18 January 2005

British right-wing Christian groups have mobilised against the BBC’s recent screening of the musical comedy Jerry Springer—the Opera. Members of BBC staff have been threatened, and their home addresses published on evangelical websites. One organisation has said it will mount a private prosecution of the BBC for blasphemy.

China’s tsunami aid: political interests not humanitarian concern

By John Chan, 18 January 2005

In the lead up to the UN-sponsored tsunami summit in Jakarta on January 6, the Beijing bureaucracy announced, with considerable fanfare, an unprecedented assistance package totalling $83 million for the victims of the disaster.

Modigliani—an artist between worlds

By Lee Parsons, 18 January 2005

Modigliani: Beyond the Myth, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, October 23, 2004 to January 23, 2005

Letters from our readers

By , 18 January 2005

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

US officially ends hunt for Iraqi WMD

By Joseph Kay, 18 January 2005

Ever so quietly, the Bush administration acknowledged last week that it had officially abandoned its search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Thus, with only the most perfunctory notice in the US media, one of the greatest lies of modern politics limped to its ignominious end.

Hospital staff in tsunami-hit eastern Sri Lanka speak of their experiences

By M. Aravindan and Sarath Kumara, 18 January 2005

From the earliest hours of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, the medical staff in the hospitals of Sri Lanka’s eastern Ampara district—doctors, nurses, paramedics, health workers and cleaners—engaged in remarkable efforts to provide urgent treatment to the victims in the country’s worst hit region.

Rights group urges prosecution of Bush officials responsible for Iraq torture

By David Walsh, 17 January 2005

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its annual world survey released January 13, sharply criticized the US government for its record of torture and mistreatment in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo and called for the prosecution of those high-level officials in the Bush administration responsible for the abuse.

Thai government puts tourism ahead of the poor in tsunami relief effort

By John Roberts, 17 January 2005

In the wake of the December 26 tsunami, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawarta has focused his government’s efforts on restoring the lucrative tourist industry, which contributes 6 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The suffering of those who have lost friends and family members, together with the plight of villagers who have lost their homes and possessions, has been relegated to second place.

The invasion of Iraq and the crisis of American and world capitalism

By Nick Beams, 17 January 2005

On the weekend of January 8-9, the Socialist Equality Party held a meeting of its national membership in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We are publishing here the remarks of Nick Beams, national secretary of the SEP of Australia and member of the World Socialist Web Site editorial board, who brought greetings from the Australian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Portugal: political crisis deepens ahead of February elections

By Daniel O’Flynn and Mike Ingram, 17 January 2005

Elections due to be held next month in Portugal will take place amidst a deepening political crisis unleashed by the resignation of Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso last year. Barroso (Social Democratic Party—SDP) resigned in July 2004 to take up the post of president of the European Commission (EC), leaving behind him what the media called “Portugal’s gravest political crises since the 1974 revolution.”

Canada to lead chorus of support for sham election in Iraq

By Keith Jones, 17 January 2005

At the behest of the federal Liberal government, Canada’s election commission has created and now leads an International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE). The IMIE’s ostensible purpose is to determine whether the January 30 vote for a 275-member provisional Iraqi National Assembly and subsequent votes to ratify a new constitution and elect a fresh National Assembly before the year’s end are free and fair. But the IMIE’s real mandate—as the mission’s origins, composition, and conduct demonstrate—is to drum up international support for the sham elections the US is staging in Iraq so as to lend legitimacy to the continuing military occupation of the oil-rich country.

Sri Lanka: the day the tsunami devastated Hambantota

By a correspondent, 17 January 2005

The following article is an eyewitness account from a resident of Hambantota, the south coast Sri Lankan town that was severely damaged by the December 26 tsunami. Located about 240 kilometres from Colombo, the district is one of Sri Lanka’s poorest. The writer describes the destruction and loss of life, the lack of government assistance and the difficulties now confronting local residents.

“Suicide by cop”: Marine provokes police shootout to avoid return to Iraq

By Kevin Kearney and John Andrews, 15 January 2005

On January 8, 19-year-old Andres Raya, a US marine, killed one police officer and seriously wounded another before being shot dead in his hometown of Ceres, a small agricultural community near Modesto in northern California. The apparent motive was Raya’s determination not to return to duty in Iraq.

Australia’s disability pensioners to be “coerced” to work

By Erika Zimmer, 15 January 2005

In the lead-up to Christmas, Prime Minister John Howard’s government utilised the results of a six-month pilot study to step up its vilification of Australia’s 670,000 disability pension recipients and to threaten the use of “coercion” to force them into low-paid work.

White House blocked Senate ban on torture

By Bill Van Auken, 15 January 2005

The Bush White House intervened late last year to kill a piece of Senate legislation that would have barred the US Central Intelligence Agency from torturing foreign prisoners, the New York Times revealed Thursday. The White House action followed an intervention by the Pentagon six months earlier to quash a similar measure prohibiting the US military’s use of abusive and inhumane treatment in the interrogation of detainees.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 15 January 2005

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

Mbeki facilitates US-Sudan peace deal

By Barbara Slaughter, 15 January 2005

On January 1, South African President Thabo Mbeki made an extraordinary speech before the Sudanese parliamentary assembly. The meeting was held to celebrate the 49th anniversary of Sudanese independence and was on the day after the signing, in Naivasha, Kenya, of the peace accord between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M).

España: comisión confirma conspiración de engaño para justificar guerra contra Irak

By , 15 January 2005

WSWS : Español

Brazil: profit and poverty fuel Amazon deforestation

By John Levine, 15 January 2005

Deforestation in Brazil destroyed nearly 8,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest in 2004. In 1970, only 1 percent of the Brazilian Amazon had been deforested. By now, between 15 and 25 percent has been lost, with an estimated 1 percent disappearing every year. The area of forest overrun in three decades equals the size of France.

After the 2004 US elections: the Socialist Equality Party and the struggle for the political independence of the working class

By Barry Grey, 15 January 2005

On the weekend of January 8-9, the Socialist Equality Party held a meeting of its national membership in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We are publishing here the second and concluding part of a report given by Barry Grey, a member of the World Socialist Web Site editorial board, on the political situation in the aftermath of the US 2004 elections. The first part was published January 14.

En Uruguay la izquierda triunfante se vira vigorosamente hacia la derecha

By , 15 January 2005

WSWS : Español

Bush nominates Chertoff to head Homeland Security Department

By Joseph Kay, 14 January 2005

In the wake of the spectacular collapse of Bush’s nomination of Bernard Kerik as the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, the administration has selected a replacement: Michael Chertoff. Like Kerik, Chertoff is an appropriate choice for an agency dedicated to deepening the attacks on the democratic rights of the American people.

Detroit mayor demands mass layoffs and cuts in city services

By Kate Randall, 14 January 2005

On Wednesday evening, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick laid out a sweeping plan for mass layoffs, pay and benefit cuts for city employees, reductions in city services, and tax increases targeting working people and small businesses. In his 15-minute televised speech, the Democratic mayor said the city faced a $230 million shortfall in the 2005-2006 fiscal year, which begins July 1, and he was intent on eliminating the deficit.