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A reply to readers’ letters on “The New McCarthyism: the witch-hunting of Ward Churchill”

By David Walsh, 28 February 2005

The World Socialist Web Site has received numerous letters in response to the article, posted February 11, on the witch-hunting of radical, pro-Native American activist Ward Churchill. (See “The new McCarthyism: the witch-hunting of Ward Churchill”) The University of Colorado professor has come under fire for his essay, “‘Some People Push Back’—On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” written in reaction to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC.

Four films on Africa and the Middle East

By Stefan Steinberg, 28 February 2005

This is the second in a series of articles written in response to the recent 55th Berlinale—the Berlin film festival—February 10-20

US-Russian strains dominate Bush-Putin meeting in Bratislava

By Justus Leicht, 28 February 2005

President Bush’s European tour ended as it had begun. Despite all the overt demonstrations of friendship between “George” and “Vladimir,” the meeting between Bush and Russian President Putin in the Slovakian capital Bratislava could not mask the growing tensions between the two governments. Washington is demanding the subordination of Russia to US foreign policy interests and the complete opening up of the Russian economy to international capital.

Readers’ letters on “The New McCarthyism: the witch-hunting of Ward Churchill”

By , 28 February 2005

It was a disappointment to me that you half-heartedly supported Ward Churchill. You are incorrect in your assumption that the American people do not know what is going on. They know just as all the meat eaters know that animals are tortured and mistreated, and you know what? They don’t give a damn as long as they get theirs.

Australia: teenagers killed in high-speed police chase through working class suburb

By Mike Head and Socialist Equality Party candidate for Werriwa, 28 February 2005

Two teenagers from Macquarie Fields died in a terrible car crash on Friday night as the result of a high-speed police chase through the Sydney south western suburb. Matthew Robertson, 19, and a 17-year-old young man, were killed just before 11 p.m. when the car in which they were travelling slammed into a tree in Eucalyptus Drive, one of Macquarie Fields’ main residential streets. The driver of their vehicle escaped from the scene and is now the subject of a police manhunt.

Letters on artistic questions

By , 28 February 2005

The following is a selection of letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on three articles recently published dealing with questions of art and culture.

Australia: SEP launches Werriwa by-election campaign

By Richard Phillips, 28 February 2005

The Socialist Equality Party (Australia) officially launched its campaign for the March 19 Werriwa by-election with a successful public meeting in Ingleburn on Friday night. The by-election in Werriwa, a mainly working class electorate in western Sydney with high levels of unemployment, was called after the sudden resignation of Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham in January, just three months after leading Labor to its fourth consecutive election defeat since 1996.

Conflict over Sudan on United Nations Security Council

By Brian Smith, 28 February 2005

A power struggle is developing on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) between the US, the European powers and China over the issue of Sudan.

Western Australian election: a campaign of diversions

By Joe Lopez, 26 February 2005

The election being held today in the state of Western Australia (WA) has been dominated by voter disinterest and popular hostility towards official politics. Neither the ruling Labor Party nor the Liberal/National Party Coalition has addressed the concerns and needs of ordinary people. Instead, the campaign has been narrowly focussed on “law-and-order” and a handful of promises pitched at key swinging voters. Neither side has even referred to the broader issues—including the involvement of Australian troops in the illegal occupation of Iraq, on which both Labor and the Coalition fundamentally agree.

Germany: 15,000 demonstrate in Mainz against Bush visit

By our correspondents, 26 February 2005

A security lockdown tantamount to a state of emergency prevailed in the German city of Mainz on Rhine on Wednesday, February 23. All major access routes and motorways to the town were re-routed or closed for US President George Bush’s visit. Heavily armed policemen patrolled bus and railway stations, and many trains were cancelled. The whole city centre was hermetically sealed off and snipers were stationed on the roofs in all those areas where official motorcades passed. Local residents were not allowed to go onto their own balconies or leave their homes. The city resembled a ghost town.

Bush in Germany: smiles cannot mask US-European conflicts

By Ulrich Rippert, 26 February 2005

With each day of President George W. Bush’s sojourn through Europe, it became clearer that the smiles for the cameras and declarations of mutual friendship could not hide the increasing transatlantic conflicts.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 26 February 2005

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

“High Ideals, Low Pay”—how the University of California exploits its employees

By Kevin Kearney, 26 February 2005

While salaries for University of California (UC) President Robert C. Dynes and campus administrators consistently rise, many UC service employees are struggling to survive. According to a report released last Tuesday by the National Economic Development and Law Center (NEDLC), UC devalues the contribution of those that clean and maintain its nine campuses and five medical facilities throughout California. In the report entitled “High Ideals, Low Pay: A Wage Analysis of UC Service Workers,” NEDLC demonstrates that the wages of most UC service workers don’t even provide for basic needs such as rent, food, child care, health care and transportation.

Town hall meeting on Social Security: Michigan Democrat seeks to contain popular anger

By Joseph Kay, 26 February 2005

Throughout the country, Congressmen from both the Republican and Democratic parties are holding “town hall” meetings on the Bush administration’s plans for the introduction of individual private accounts to replace government-guaranteed Social Security pensions. The meetings—even those held by Republican politicians—have generally been an occasion for the venting of popular opposition to the reform of Social Security, the linchpin of the limited welfare system in the United States.

Torture charged in US case alleging plot against Bush

By Bill Van Auken, 26 February 2005

The US government made headlines this week by announcing its indictment of an American citizen for allegedly plotting with Al Qaeda to assassinate President Bush. The man who is accused in this document, however, has been the subject of a lengthy—though less publicized—legal battle in which the government is itself accused of having him arrested, detained without charges and tortured abroad, out of the reach of the American courts.

Turkey: paper workers occupy factory

By our correspondent, 25 February 2005

More than 700 workers together with family members have occupied the Turkish Cellulose and Paper Factories (SEKA) in Izmit, northwest Turkey, since January 20. The SEKA workers oppose the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government’s plan to shut down the plant and turn it over to the local council. There is also strong community support for the action undertaken by the SEKA workers.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 25 February 2005

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

Australia: former leading intelligence official exposes government lies

By Terry Cook, 25 February 2005

Like all regimes involved in criminal activity, systematic lying is now the modus operandi of the Howard government. It is a well-established fact that the government lied to parliament about “weapons of mass destruction” to create the pretext for Australian involvement in the criminal and illegal invasion of Iraq, and lied when it claimed that before the release of the horrific images of torture in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison it had no knowledge of the abuse of Iraqi detainees.

German army to relieve US troops in Afghanistan

By Lucas Adler, 25 February 2005

The US government has recently announced plans to pull out large numbers of its 10,000 troops currently stationed in Afghanistan and redeploy them in Iraq to fight that country’s resistance movement. To fulfil this aim, Operation Enduring Freedom—the official name of the US forces in Afghanistan—will be merged with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO mission providing security services to the Kabul regime.

Financial markets shaken by US dollar scare

By Nick Beams, 25 February 2005

The fragility of the international currency and financial markets has been underscored by the turbulence which followed reports that the Bank of Korea might be looking to lessen its holdings of dollar-based financial assets.

Support the socialist alternative in Werriwa

By by Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 25 February 2005

The Socialist Equality Party (Australia) calls on all working people, students, unemployed and retirees to support our campaign for the March 19 by-election in the federal seat of Werriwa. The SEP is standing Mike Head as its candidate in the outer suburban Sydney electorate in order to present a progressive and socialist alternative to the program of war, mounting social inequality and the destruction of democratic rights pursued by Prime Minister John Howard’s conservative Liberal-National Party Coalition government and the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP).

Recruit’s death highlights brutality of Marine training

By Clare Hurley, 25 February 2005

On February 8, US Marine recruit Jason Tharp, 19, from Sutton, West Virginia, died during a training exercise at the Parris Island, South Carolina, Marine base. Under normal circumstances, the tragic drowning of the teenager during the Combat Water Survival Training phase of boot camp might have remained a family tragedy recorded only in military statistics. However, video footage taken February 7 by a local television station turned up documenting physical abuse of the young recruit by his drill instructor. Picked up from local NBC affiliate WIS-TV in South Carolina, the clip aired on the “Today” show on February 18, provoking an outcry and demands for an investigation by his family.

Bush in Brussels: US steps up threats of wider Mideast war

By Patrick Martin, 24 February 2005

George Bush began his European tour in Brussels with a series of bellicose pronouncements, putting his hosts on notice that the United States intends to push ahead with new military threats and provocations that could expand the current war in Iraq into a wider conflagration embracing much of the Middle East.

Michigan artist sentenced to jail over mural nudity

By Joanne Laurier, 24 February 2005

In a particularly philistine and backward act, artist Edward Stross was sentenced to prison last week for his mural depicting a bare-breasted figure on a building in Roseville, Michigan, in suburban Detroit. The artist was ordered by District Judge Marco Santia to serve 30 days in jail, do two years of probation and pay a fine of $500 for his variation of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man,” illustrating a half-naked Eve. Stross was also mandated to alter the fresco, which he painted on the outside of his art gallery in 1997.

Australian government’s “terror alert” in Aceh backfires

By Mike Head and Socialist Equality Party candidate for Werriwa, 24 February 2005

Since September 11, 2001, one of the standard operating procedures of the Howard government has been to ramp up fears of terrorism whenever it has been in political trouble.

Asian tsunami disaster: the political issues

By , 24 February 2005

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka is holding a public meeting in Ambalangoda, one of the south coast towns hard hit by the December 26 tsunami, to discuss the historical and political issues raised by the disaster.

Further opposition to Australia’s takeover in the Solomon Islands

By Will Marshall, 24 February 2005

In another sign of growing tensions in the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza has dismissed two ministers over their criticisms of the Australian-led intervention force and, on February 9, survived a no-confidence vote in his government.

UK charities say Blair government contravening children’s rights

By Harvey Thompson, 24 February 2005

A coalition of the UK’s five largest children’s charities released a report February 1 stating that the British government is violating internationally agreed standards on children’s rights.

Germany: expansion of DNA testing—a step towards genetic registration

By Martin Kreickenbaum, 24 February 2005

When observing the latest discussions by German politicians and the media about widening DNA testing, one is reminded of the techniques of conditioned reflexes and the experiments undertaken by the famous Russian scientist, Ivan Pavlov. Like the dog that automatically starts to salivate at a signal that food is present, the German political elite starts to drool each time a crime wins public attention in order to demand tougher laws and penalties and expand mass surveillance of the population. The recent murder of celebrity boutique owner Rudolph Mooshammer is a case in point. The police were able to quickly identify the murderer via a DNA sample, and now the use of DNA analyses is to be drastically increased by the authorities.

Spain: record abstention in referendum on European Union constitution

By Julie Hyland, 23 February 2005

The European Union’s (EU’s) proposed new constitution passed its first hurdle on February 20 in Spain’s referendum, with an overwhelming majority of voters supporting the constitution. But the result was something of pyrrhic victory for Spain’s official parties and much of Europe’s ruling elites, as fewer than half of those able to vote participated in the referendum—the lowest electoral turnout since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975. Of the 42 percent of eligible voters who took part, 77 percent voted for the new constitution, with 17 percent against, and 6 percent returning spoilt ballots.

Social life and history intrude

By Stefan Steinberg and Bernd Reinhardt, 23 February 2005

This is the first in a series of articles written in response to the recent 55th Berlinale—the Berlin film festival—February 10-20

Quebec: government funding of private schools provokes public outcry

By Jean-François Girard, 23 February 2005

The Quebec nationalist daily Le Devoir revealed January 13 that the province’s Liberal government was going to give $10 million to five private Jewish schools in the Montreal region. The additional funding would have increased the province’s per student funding of the Jewish private schools from 60 percent of the funding given public schools to 100 percent, or from $3,120 per student per year to $5,200.

New evidence of US torture in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Kate Randall, 23 February 2005

New evidence of US mistreatment and torture of detainees and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan has emerged in government documents obtained by both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Associated Press. The documents also reveal a pattern of cover-up by the military in connection with the abuse.

India’s tsunami victims left without government assistance

By Sasi Kumar and M. Kailasam, 23 February 2005

Nearly two months after the tsunami struck the southern Indian coast, thousands of the survivors are living in difficult conditions. Having lost family members, houses, possessions and in many cases their livelihoods, they are struggling to cope day to day. Those who spoke to the World Socialist Web Site expressed their resentment and anger at the failure of authorities—local, state and national—to alleviate their suffering.

Australian government commits more troops to Iraq

By Peter Symonds, 23 February 2005

The Australian government’s decision yesterday to dispatch 450 more soldiers to Iraq has further underscored the criminal, neo-colonial character of the US-led occupation and Canberra’s involvement in it. The deployment is aimed at shoring up the Bush administration’s disintegrating “coalition of the willing” and at the same time securing Australian interests in the Asian region through closer ties with Japan.

Letters from our readers

By , 23 February 2005

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

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 22 February 2005

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

New Year for China’s rural migrant workers

By John Chan, 22 February 2005

At this year’s official Chinese New Year celebrations, Premier Wen Jiabao pretentiously declared to an assembly of top bureaucrats in Beijing: “Let all the people share the social wealth created by [market] reform and development.”

World Socialist Web Site Review: March-May 2005 issue now available

By , 22 February 2005

WSWS : Mehring Books

An “uplifting” diversion in New York’s Central Park

By Peter Daniels, 22 February 2005

“The Gates,” the temporary installation of saffron-colored nylon fabric panels suspended between more than 7,500 sets of vinyl poles stretched along 23 miles of footpaths in New York’s Central Park, has been treated as a major national event and generally hailed in the media and official circles. The ballyhoo is out of place. The significance of this project is more political and sociological than it is artistic.

NAACP resists investigation by IRS, charges political motivation

By Lawrence Porter, 22 February 2005

In a clear case of political vendetta, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has threatened the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with loss of its tax-exempt status. Last summer, its chairman, Julian Bond, criticized the Bush administration’s war policy and its attitude to the conditions facing black Americans at the organization’s national convention, sparking the IRS action.

Bush signs bipartisan bill to curb class action lawsuits

By Joseph Kay, 22 February 2005

On February 18 President Bush signed into law a measure that will severely curb the ability of consumers and workers to use class action lawsuits to seek damages for corporate malfeasance. The bill, the first piece of legislation signed by Bush during his second term, easily passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives with significant support from the Democratic Party.

Bush in Europe: tensions boil beneath talk of transatlantic unity

By Bill Van Auken, 22 February 2005

On the first leg of his five-day European tour, President George W. Bush delivered a speech to NATO and European Union (EU) leaders in Brussels that called for a revival of the transatlantic alliance, while delivering implicit threats of new US unilateral aggression.

Britain: radio programme exposes corruption and theft in Iraq

By Barry Mason, 22 February 2005

On February 1, BBC radio’s “File on 4” programme detailed the plundering of Iraq’s oil by the US government, its allies and big business. Money that was supposed to be used to renew the infrastructure of the country and provide the country’s population with the necessities of life was simply stolen.

Trans-Atlantic tensions over EU plan to lift arms embargo on China

By John Chan, 21 February 2005

The growing tension between the major European powers and the US was highlighted on February 2, when the US House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the European Union’s intention to lift its arms embargo, imposed on China following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. While dressed up with expressions of concern about “human rights in China”, the resolution itself points to deep concerns in US ruling circles about any threat to American interests in North East Asia.

Egyptian government suppresses opposition while US turns blind eye

By Rick Kelly, 21 February 2005

A number of prominent Egyptian opposition figures have been arrested in recent weeks. On January 29 state security arrested Ayman Al Nur, a member of parliament and leader of the recently established Al Ghad (Tomorrow) Party. Security officers reportedly assaulted Nur during the arrest. The former journalist is accused of forging more than 1,000 signatures used to register his party.

NAACP resists investigation by IRS, charges political motivation

By Lawrence Porter, 21 February 2005

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El partido Socilaista por la Igualdad y la lucha por la independencia política de la clase trabajadora

By , 21 February 2005

WSWS : Español

Sri Lanka: tsunami survivors in Jaffna criticise government

By Thirugnana Sambandan, 21 February 2005

Nearly two months after the December 26 tsunami, people affected in the coastal areas of the Jaffna peninsula in northern Sri Lanka are angry about the lack of help from the government or other organisations.

Arthur Miller, an American playwright

By David Walsh, 21 February 2005

Death puts an end to the ongoing effort that most artists consider a “work in progress” until the final moments. The body of work, like it or not, is then a finished product, vulnerable to evaluation as a whole. The commentators, for better or worse, will have their day.

Extraordinary security measures for Bush visit to Germany

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 21 February 2005

In advance of Wednesday, February 23, a virtual state of emergency is being imposed in the Rhine-Main area, one of the most heavily populated regions of Germany.

Letters from our readers

By , 19 February 2005

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

Kerry proposes 40,000 more troops, as Democrats back Bush war spending

By Patrick Martin, 19 February 2005

Led by Senator John Kerry, the defeated presidential candidate, leading congressional Democrats said this week they would support the $82 billion supplemental funding bill proposed by the Bush administration to finance its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike previous votes on Iraq war spending, not a single prominent Democrat has come out in opposition.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 19 February 2005

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

US intelligence officials play the terrorism scare card, and make a damning admission

By Patrick Martin, 19 February 2005

The testimony Wednesday before Congress by CIA Director Porter Goss and an array of other top intelligence, military and homeland security officials was a further attempt to panic the American people with vague and unsubstantiated claims of new and imminent terrorist threats against the United States.

Vote “no” in Spanish referendum on European Union constitution

By Socialist Equality Party (Britain)/ Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (Germany), 19 February 2005

The following statement is available to download in PDF format.

El Partido Socialista por la Igualdad y la lucha por la independencia política de la clase trabajadora

By , 19 February 2005

WSWS : Español

Mounting concerns over fate of tsunami victims in Aceh

By John Roberts, 19 February 2005

Poor coordination, disorganised logistics and the militarisation of resettlement camps have created a potentially dangerous situation for the survivors of the December 26 earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia’s Sumatran province of Aceh.

Canada: Martin and Chrétien testify in corruption scandal

By Keith Jones, 19 February 2005

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien, his predecessor as head of the Liberal government, testified under oath last week at a public inquiry investigating alleged government corruption. Only once previously did a sitting or past Canadian prime minister give public testimony in a like judicial proceeding. That was in 1873, when Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, responded to charges his government had awarded a railway contract in return for massive election campaign contributions to his Conservative Party.

30 years in prison for crime committed by 12-year-old

By Kate Randall, 19 February 2005

On February 15, Christopher Pittman was convicted in Chester County, South Carolina, of the November 2001 murders of his grandparents. Pittman has admitted to the crime, which was undeniably violent and brutal. Pittman fired on the two with his father’s shotgun as they lay sleeping in their beds, then set their home on fire and fled the scene in his grandfather’s truck with cash and weapons.

CNN news chief steps down: right-wing purge continues in US media

By Patrick Martin, 18 February 2005

The February 11 resignation of CNN Executive Vice President Eason Jordan is another scalp for the right-wing campaign to purge the American mass media of even the slightest criticism of the Bush administration’s policy of global aggression. Jordan, the top CNN news official, quit after a week of hammering by talk radio hosts, National Review, Fox News and right-wing bloggers over his remarks during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 27.

Bush names Negroponte as national intelligence director

By Bill Van Auken, 18 February 2005

President Bush’s nomination Thursday of John Negroponte as US director of national intelligence serves as another warning that his second term will be marked by an escalation of military aggression abroad and attacks on democratic rights at home.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 18 February 2005

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

NHL owners cancel North American ice hockey season

By Jerry White and Keith Jones, 18 February 2005

The National Hockey League (NHL) announced the cancellation of the 2004-2005 season Wednesday, five months after team owners locked out their players, demanding unprecedented reductions in salaries and other concessions. The owners acted ruthlessly, dismissing several efforts by the players’ association to save the season, including the union’s decision earlier this week to drop its opposition to a salary cap, and a previous agreement to accept a 24 percent cut in the average salary of the league’s 700 professional players.

Social Democrats routed in Danish election

By Helmut Arens, 18 February 2005

A right-wing government has been voted back into office for the first time in Denmark’s history. The coalition of the Venstre Party and the Conservatives, supported by the xenophobic Danish People’s Party (DF), emerged as the clear victor in the February 8 general election.

Film on the verge of a nervous breakdown

By Joanne Laurier, 18 February 2005

La mala educación (Bad Education), written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Schröder demands role for Germany as world power

By Peter Schwarz, 18 February 2005

From a formal point of view, the 41st Munich Security Conference was characterised by conciliatory gestures, but increasing transatlantic tensions nevertheless made themselves felt at the assembly held last weekend in the Bavarian capital.

China’s worst mine explosion in more than 60 years

By John Chan, 18 February 2005

At least 212 Chinese coal miners died in a massive gas explosion at Sunjiawan coal mine near Fuxin City in the northeastern province of Liaoning on Monday afternoon. Three workers are still missing despite frantic rescue efforts and hopes for their survival are diminishing. Another 29 miners were rushed to hospital with burns, broken bones and gas poisoning. At least 30 traumatised family members have also been hospitalised.

Mamdouh Habib indicts Australian government

By Richard Phillips, 18 February 2005

Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib’s first media appearance since his release without charge from Guantánamo Bay on January 28 has opened up a can of worms for the Howard government. Habib’s testimony, his first opportunity to challenge a protracted campaign of malicious allegations and lies, provides further damning evidence that the Howard government, in alliance with the Bush administration, is guilty of war crimes.

Mahmoud Abbas and the degeneration of the Palestinian national movement

By Jean Shaoul and Chris Marsden, 17 February 2005

The following is the conclusion of a two-part series. The first part was posted February 16.

France: high school students demonstrate against education “reforms”

By a WSWS reporting team, 17 February 2005

One hundred thousand French high school students struck and demonstrated on February 10 to oppose the law on education reform introduced by François Fillon, education minister in the right-wing government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The number of students participating is even more significant given that nearly half the high schools in the country are currently closed for vacation.

Is this a novel of genuine anguish?

By Sandy English, 17 February 2005

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, New York: Doubleday, 2003, 376 pp.

New Zealand government extends military deployments in Afghanistan

By John Braddock, 17 February 2005

Late last month, Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark announced an extension of New Zealand’s military deployments in Afghanistan and, for the first time, the deployment of police personnel to that country. The decision widens the government’s original troop commitment, guaranteeing a further 12 months’ presence at least through to September 2006.

The assassination of Rafiq Hariri: who benefited?

By Bill Van Auken, 17 February 2005

The US media has responded predictably to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, echoing the bellicose threats of the Bush administration against Syria and amplifying unsubstantiated charges that the regime in Damascus was the author of the killing.

Striking Sri Lankan bus workers defy government threats

By Saman Gunadasa, 17 February 2005

Tens of thousands of workers from Sri Lanka’s state-owned Regional Transport Companies (RTCs) launched a national strike on February 14, to fight for long-promised pay increases. The stoppage, which erupted despite the opposition of the trade unions, is the first major workers’ struggle since the coalition government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga came to power last April.

Britain: Labour to privatise remains of public housing

By Simon Whelan, 17 February 2005

The Blair government is to exacerbate the already acute crisis in public housing by encouraging families to purchase shares in newly built so-called affordable housing and existing housing association properties.

Two mysterious deaths in Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” regime

By Patrick Richter, 16 February 2005

On the night of February 3, 41-year-old Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was found dead at the home of a friend and fellow party member, 25-year-old Raul Yusupov. Apparently, he had indicated he would stay “only briefly” in the flat, but then failed to make contact for a number of hours. His bodyguards, who were waiting outside, made their way into the dwelling and found the two dead, the friend lying in the kitchen, Zhvania in an armchair in the living room.

Sri Lankan refugees speak out over inadequate aid

By Shantha Kumar and Priyadarshana Meddawatta, 16 February 2005

This is the last in a two-part series by World Socialist Web Site correspondents who visited Ampara district in the east of the Sri Lanka and spoke to the victims of the December 26 tsunami. Part One was published on February 15.

US legislation targets immigrants, refugees in “terror war”

By Bill Van Auken, 16 February 2005

The US House of Representatives passed legislation February 10 that would intensify a repressive crackdown against immigrants and refugees under the pretext of combating terrorism.

Iraq election results reflect broad hostility to US occupation

By Peter Symonds, 16 February 2005

The official results of the Iraq election have exposed much of the hype that emanated from the Bush administration and the media in the wake of the poll.

US engineers provocation following assassination in Lebanon

By Joseph Kay, 16 February 2005

The provocative steps taken by the American government following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri are an ominous indication that Washington is preparing for a military intervention in Syria and Lebanon.

Mahmoud Abbas and the degeneration of the Palestinian national movement

By Jean Shaoul and Chris Marsden, 16 February 2005

The following is the first of a two-part series. The concluding part will be posted tomorrow, February 17.

New evidence of over-marketing of Vioxx and other anti-inflammatory drugs

By Joseph Kay, 16 February 2005

The case of Vioxx calls attention to an important feature of the pharmaceutical industry in the United States: the vast amounts of money spent on marketing drugs. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to promote “blockbuster” drugs, which are essential for maintaining the profits of the major drug companies. What should be a scientific question—whether a drug should be provided to a particular patient to help meet a particular illness or disease—is thoroughly corrupted by the influence of money.

US multinationals awarded huge tax break on foreign earnings

By Jamie Chapman, 15 February 2005

Under the guise of a provision to create jobs, the US Congress passed a revision to the tax code allowing an 85 percent reduction in taxes on foreign earnings of many of the country’s largest corporations. The reduction applies to profits made and held by overseas subsidiaries. Instead of requiring the companies to pay the standard 35 percent top corporate tax rate on these earnings, the rate on such earnings “repatriated” to the US parent will go down to a mere 5.25 percent for one year.

Howard Dean named Democratic chairman: cosmetic change for a right-wing party

By Patrick Martin, 15 February 2005

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, whose front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was derailed by opposition from the party establishment a year ago, was elected chairman of the Democratic Party on Saturday. Dean was elected by a voice vote of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), after a two-month contest in which six other candidates—none of them nearly as well known nationally—dropped out one by one.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 15 February 2005

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

Growing dissatisfaction in eastern Sri Lanka over lack of aid

By Shantha Kumar and Priyadarshana Meddawatta, 15 February 2005

This is the first in a two-part report by World Socialist Web Site correspondents who visited Ampara district in the east of the Sri Lanka and spoke to the victims of the December 26 tsunami.

US secretary of state offers Europe a “partnership”

By Ulrich Rippert and Peter Schwarz, 15 February 2005

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” This line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet comes to mind when one studies the speech given by the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, February 8 in Paris. Her appearance in the venerable auditorium of the elite Institute of Political Sciences (known in France as “Sciences Po”) before 500 politicians, intellectuals and a handful of students, came as the climax of her one-week tour of seven European capitals, in addition to stops in Tel Aviv and the occupied territories.

Socialist Equality Party to contest Australian by-election

By the Socialist Equality Party, 15 February 2005

The Socialist Equality Party will contest the March 19 by-election for the western Sydney electorate of Werriwa, in order to present a socialist alternative to the program of war and social reaction advanced by the conservative Liberal Party government of Prime Minister John Howard and the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP).

Japan outbids China for Siberian pipeline

By John Chan, 14 February 2005

Russia signed an agreement with Japanese interests on December 30 for the construction of a 4,130 kilometre oil pipeline from Taishet in eastern Siberia to Nakhodka, a port city on the Pacific coast opposite Japan. The agreement was regarded in Tokyo as a political coup. For well over a year, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has sought to outbid a rival pipeline plan that would have transported Russian oil to China.

North Korea pulls out of nuclear talks

By Peter Symonds, 14 February 2005

North Korea effectively scuttled attempts to restart six-party talks on its nuclear programs with a statement last Thursday declaring that it had “manufactured nukes for self-defence” and was suspending participation in negotiations “for an indefinite period”. No date had been set for a new round of talks involving China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, as well as the US and North Korea, but Washington had been pressing for an early resumption and a tougher line on Pyongyang.

Huygens probe lands on Titan: a scientific leap for mankind

By Robert Stevens, 14 February 2005

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”—Sir Isaac Newton

New York civil rights attorney convicted on frame-up terror charges

By Peter Daniels, 14 February 2005

The conviction of New York civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart on charges of aiding terrorism is a travesty of justice. It is a major blow against the right of criminal defendants to defend themselves, a right provided by the Sixth Amendment of the US Bill of Rights.

Divisions among union officials over “reform” of AFL-CIO

By Jerry White, 14 February 2005

The last several months have witnessed some stirrings within the usually lifeless body of the AFL-CIO labor bureaucracy. On the eve of the winter meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, scheduled for March 1 in Las Vegas, the leaders of the American trade unions are engaged in a series of frantic behind-the-scenes maneuvers to “reform” their dying institution.

The further hemorrhaging of Detroit—city to shut 34 public schools

By Kate Randall, 12 February 2005

Detroit parents, students and teachers reacted with shock and anger to Thursday’s announcement that 34 of the city’s public schools will close their doors this June. More than 10,000 of the district’s 140,000 students will be uprooted and shifted to different schools when the academic year ends and the facilities are shut down.

Britain: report documents widespread forced migrant labour

By Rick Kelly, 12 February 2005

A study released February 3 documents the widespread use of forced migrant labour in Britain. Its findings reveal that the use of such labour is by no means confined to the criminal or semi-criminal fringes of economic life. Rather, many immigrant workers, legal and illegal, are trapped in abusive arrangements that exist in a number of Britain’s major economic sectors—including the publicly run National Health Service (NHS).

Letters from our readers

By , 12 February 2005

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

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 12 February 2005

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

Britain: cancer death rates reflect social divide

By Liz Smith, 12 February 2005

A report from the all-party Public Accounts Committee, Tackling cancer in England: saving more lives, shows that survival rates from cancer in England are well below the best in Europe, especially for people living in the most deprived areas. The report does not cover Wales and Scotland, which if factored in would show an even greater discrepancy.

New Zealand wages stagnate while share market booms

By John Braddock, 12 February 2005

A number of reports and news items released last month give a glimpse of the inexorable deepening of social inequality in New Zealand. A tiny wealthy minority is prospering more than ever at the expense of ordinary working people. The impoverishment of the working class and the transfer of wealth to the upper layers of society, which has resulted from the “pro-market” offensives of the past two decades, is not only continuing. It is intensifying.