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Iraqi puppet parliament adjourns in disarray

By James Cogan, 31 March 2005

Two months after the January 30 elections in Iraq, the Bush administration is no closer to establishing a pro-occupation regime in Baghdad. The formation of a government has been postponed again, after the second sitting of the new Iraqi National Assembly on March 29 broke up in disarray.

Germany: parliament curbs freedom of speech and assembly

By Justus Leicht, 31 March 2005

In the name of the “fight against right-wing extremism,” the Bundestag (Germany’s parliament) voted March 11 for sweeping restrictions on the right of association and freedom of expression. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) voted to extend laws covering incitement as well as those banning or restricting demonstrations. Only the liberal Free Democratic Party voted against the new laws.

“Reality television” and the American reality that produces it

By Noah Page, 31 March 2005

It is tempting to suggest that large portions of American television programming have reached such an advanced state of decay that subjecting them to serious analysis, or even satire, is invariably to encounter the law of diminishing returns.

US Secretary of State presses India and Pakistan to abandon Iranian gas pipeline

By K. Ratnayake, 31 March 2005

During her first trip to South Asia as US secretary of state in mid-March, one of Condoleezza Rice’s top priorities was to pressure India and Pakistan to abandon plans for a major gas pipeline from Iran. While the project promises significant benefits for both countries, it cuts across the Bush administration’s aggressive campaign of economic isolation and military threats against Tehran.

Jesse Jackson at the Schiavo hospice: Democrats make common cause with Christian right

By Patrick Martin, 31 March 2005

The appearance by the Reverend Jesse Jackson in Florida, in support of the right-wing religious hysteria over Terri Schiavo, was a public demonstration of the position taken by virtually all the leading figures of the Democratic Party. On an issue where the actions of the Bush administration and the congressional Republican leadership are opposed by the vast majority of the American people, the Democrats have abandoned any pretense of being an “opposition” party and joined forces with the ultra-right.

New malaria study reveals huge underestimation of disease

By Barry Mason, 31 March 2005

A new study using epidemiological, geographical and demographic data has demonstrated that there are over 500 million cases of malaria each year. This figure is more than double that previously estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of around 210 million. Of these cases, 70 percent occur in Africa and 25 percent in Southeast Asia. Around 2 billion people, i.e., a third of the world’s population, are at risk of contracting the disease.

Crisis of labor bureaucracy dominates US union summit

By Shannon Jones, 31 March 2005

The AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting held February 28-March 3 in Las Vegas highlighted divisions within the leadership of the labor federation over the allocation of its dwindling resources. The American unions are reeling from decades of membership loss that have reduced the rate of private-sector union organization to the lowest level since 1901.

More letters on the Terri Schiavo case

By , 31 March 2005

Below, we continue to post letters received on WSWS articles concerning the Terri Schiavo case, including: “Right-wing propaganda and scientific fact in the case of Terri Schiavo”, “‘Culture of life’ or culture of lies: an exchange with WSWS readers on the Terri Schiavo case”, “The Schiavo case: Bush and Congress trample on science and the Constitution”, “Democrats complicit with Christian right, Republicans in Schiavo case” and “Bush, Congress intervene in Terri Schiavo case: political thuggery in the service of reaction”.

Jesse Jackson at the Schiavo hospice: Democrats makes common cause with Christian right

By Patrick Martin, 31 March 2005

The appearance by the Reverend Jesse Jackson in Florida, in support of the right-wing religious hysteria over Terri Schiavo, was a public demonstration of the position taken by virtually all the leading figures of the Democratic Party. On an issue where the actions of the Bush administration and the congressional Republican leadership are opposed by the vast majority of the American people, the Democrats have abandoned any pretense of being an “opposition” party and joined forces with the ultra-right.

Letters on “Right-wing propaganda and scientific fact in the case of Terri Schiavo”

By , 30 March 2005

The following is a selection of letters received by the World Socialist Web Site in response to the article by David North, “Right-wing propaganda and scientific fact in the case of Terri Schiavo” . The article was written in response to a reader, CR.

Philippine police crush jail rebellion

By Dragan Stankovic and Peter Symonds, 30 March 2005

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reacted with undisguised triumph on March 15 to the news that police paramilitary units had stormed the Camp Bagong Diwa prison and killed 22 prisoners involved in a jail uprising. Among the dead were three jailed leaders of the Islamist militia group Abu Sayyaf, who were awaiting trial on charges of terrorist bombings and kidnappings.

The Terri Schiavo case and the crisis of politics and culture in the US

By , 30 March 2005

The Socialist Equality Party in the US will be holding public meetings in Ann Arbor, Michigan and New York City on March 31 and April 3 respectively. The main report at both meetings will be delivered by David North, chairman of the editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site and national secretary of the SEP (US).

Government crisis in Poland—prime minister to resign

By Marius Heuser, 30 March 2005

Ten months after taking power, the Polish government, led by Prime Minister Marek Belka (Democratic Left Alliance—SLD), threatens to collapse. Belka announced that he will resign on May 5 and has spoken out in favour of new elections on June 19. From this point onwards, he wants to engage himself actively in the election campaign on behalf of the newly created Democratic Party (DP).

Indonesia hit by another devastating earthquake

By Peter Symonds, 30 March 2005

A massive earthquake off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra has left hundreds of people confirmed dead and thousands homeless. News of the quake late on Monday night (local time) and fears of a repetition of the December 26 tsunami triggered a mass exodus from coastal areas in Indian Ocean countries.

New documents confirm widespread US abuse of Iraqi prisoners, implicate top general

By Joseph Kay, 30 March 2005

A new series of documents released over the weekend provides fresh evidence of the pervasive US military abuse of prisoners in Iraq. The documents were released by the Pentagon in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Constitutional Rights and other organizations.

US increases pressure on Lebanon amid growing instability

By Chris Talbot, 30 March 2005

United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield has insisted that Lebanon’s general election, scheduled for May, must go ahead so as to create a “different political environment.”

American media silent over mass protest in Bahrain

By Bill Van Auken, 29 March 2005

The hypocrisy of Washington’s self-proclaimed crusade for democracy in the Middle East found damning expression this week in the nearly total silence of the US government and the American media over a demonstration that brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets of Bahrain last Friday demanding democratic reforms.

China: Shenzhen protest highlights frustration among unemployed graduates

By John Chan, 29 March 2005

At a job fair in China’s Shenzhen Special Economic Zone on March 19, frustrations boiled over into an angry protest of 6,000 job seekers—mostly college and high school graduates—over the management of the event. A thousand riot police were finally brought in to break up the demonstration, which reflected far wider concerns among young people desperate to find a job.

Further letters on Terri Schiavo

By , 29 March 2005

The following letters were sent to the World Socialist Web Site in response to “‘Culture of life’ or culture of lies: an exchange with WSWS readers on the Terri Schiavo case” and “More letters on the case of Terri Schiavo”. Later in the week we will publish letters in response to “Right-wing propaganda and scientific truth in the case of Terri Schiavo”.

New cases of bird flu underscore dangers of a global pandemic

By Dragan Stankovic, 29 March 2005

The appearance of new cases of the bird flu virus HIN5 among poultry and humans in Asia has prompted urgent warnings about the potentially catastrophic consequences of a deadly worldwide pandemic. At present, the virus is transmitted to humans via infected birds. With the virus entrenched in parts of Asia, what concerns scientists and health workers is the possibility that a mutant strain will emerge that can spread directly from human to human.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 29 March 2005

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

By , 29 March 2005

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board ruled last Thursday against granting US war resister and Army “deserter” Jeremy Hinzman political refugee status—a decision that, if upheld by Canada’s courts, will in all likelihood result in Hinzman being deported to the US and jailed for his opposition to the US’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

North Carolina man arrested for soliciting Michael Schiavo’s murder

By David Walsh, 29 March 2005

An increasingly prominent element of the frenzy whipped up by the Christian right in connection with the case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman on life support for the past decade and a half, is direct or indirect incitement to violence. These fanatical elements have fanned a “flood of fury,” in the words of one press account, against Schiavo’s husband Michael, Circuit Court Judge George Greer and others who have prevented them from having their way.

CR letter to the WSWS

By , 28 March 2005

Below is the original letter written by reader CR to the WSWS in response to the article “Bush, Congress intervene in Terri Schiavo case: political thuggery in the service of reaction”

Letters from our readers

By , 28 March 2005

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

Right-wing propaganda and scientific fact in the case of Terri Schiavo

By David North, 28 March 2005

The following is a letter from a reader of the WSWS on the case of Terri Schiavo and a reply by David North, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (US). The reader, CR, wrote the letter in response to Patrick Martin’s article, “‘Culture of life’ or culture of lies: an exchange with WSWS readers on the Terri Schiavo case”. Martin was replying to an earlier letter from CR, among others.

New details of Australian involvement in the torture of Mamdouh Habib

By Richard Phillips, 28 March 2005

Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib, who was freed without charge from Guantánamo Bay on January 28, has provided further information implicating the Howard government and Australian intelligence officers in his illegal detention and extraordinary rendition (the transfer of detainees to other countries for torture). He made the allegations on SBS television’s “Dateline” program on March 9.

Kyrgyz president forced to flee as opposition seizes power

By Andrea Peters, 28 March 2005

On March 24, rioting protesters forced Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev to flee the small Central Asian republic over which he has presided for 15 years. In the wake of his departure, a loose coalition of opposition forces under the leadership of Kurmanbek Bakiyev seized power, setting up an interim government in the capital city Bishkek. New presidential elections have been scheduled for June.

American media silent over mass protest in Bahrain

By Bill Van Auken, 28 March 2005

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Italy: Rifondazione joins with Prodi

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz, 28 March 2005

The sixth party congress of Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) has finally dispelled the illusion that this party in any way represents a socialist alternative to the bourgeois parties.

US money and personnel behind Kyrgyzstan’s “Tulip Revolution”

By Andrea Peters, 28 March 2005

The interim government established in Kyrgyzstan in the aftermath of the overthrow of the regime of President Askar Akayev is largely the product of US intervention (See: “Kyrgyz president forced to flee as opposition seizes power”).

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 26 March 2005

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

More letters on the case of Terri Schiavo

By , 26 March 2005

The following is a selection of letters received by the World Socialist Web Site in response to the article, “‘Culture of life’ or culture of lies: an exchange with WSWS readers on the Terri Schiavo case”

Britain: government refuses to release information on Israeli killing of UN worker

By Rick Kelly, 26 March 2005

The Blair government has turned down a request from the British Broadcasting Corporation to release official information on the death of Iain Hook.

Pentagon chief escalates threats against Venezuela

By Bill Van Auken, 26 March 2005

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used his brief three-nation tour of Latin America this week to step up US threats against Venezuela and pressure the region’s governments into joining Washington’s campaign to isolate the government of President Hugo Chavez.

Britain: Conservative Party promotes racist campaign against gypsies

By Julie Hyland, 26 March 2005

The Conservative Party has embraced a racist media diatribe against gypsies and travellers as a central plank of its campaign for the general election, expected May 5.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 25 March 2005

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

Deadly explosion at Texas oil refinery part of a broader pattern

By Joseph Kay, 25 March 2005

On Wednesday afternoon, an explosion ripped through a BP oil refinery in Texas City, Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring over 100. This was the latest in a series of deadly accidents at the BP plant and other facilities on the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico, near Houston.

Letters from WSWS readers on the Schiavo case

By , 25 March 2005

Following are some of our readers’ responses to “The Schiavo case: Bush and Congress trample on science and the Constitution,” “Democrats complicit with Christian right, Republicans in Schiavo case” and “Bush, Congress intervene in Terri Schiavo case: political thuggery in the service of reaction”

“Culture of life” or culture of lies: an exchange with WSWS readers on the Terri Schiavo case

By Patrick Martin, 25 March 2005

The World Socialist Web Site has received numerous letters in response to articles on the Terri Schiavo case posted on March 21 and March 23. (See “Bush, Congress intervene in Terri Schiavo case: political thuggery in the service of reaction,” “The Schiavo case: Bush and Congress trample on science and the Constitution,” “Democrats complicit with Christian right, Republicans in Schiavo case”).

US-EU deal on Iran: a step towards confrontation, not a negotiated settlement

By Peter Symonds, 25 March 2005

Far from representing a softer US stance on Iran’s nuclear programs, the Bush administration’s decision earlier this month to “cooperate” in the European Union (EU) negotiations with Iran has only increased the likelihood of a breakdown in discussions and open confrontation.

Germany: Interior Minister Schily bans Turkish newspaper

By Justus Leicht, 25 March 2005

At the end of February, in an overnight operation, Germany’s interior minister Otto Schily (Social Democratic Party-SPD) banned the company Yeni Akit, which is based in the German state of Hesse and publishes the Islamic newspaper Anadolu Vakit (Anatolian Times). The assets of the company were also confiscated.

A sign of desperation: Beijing ousts Hong Kong’s chief executive

By John Chan, 24 March 2005

After weeks of media speculation, Hong Kong’s chief executive Tung Chee-hwa formally resigned his post on March 10 in the course of the National Peoples Congress in Beijing. Despite official denials and Tung’s declaration that he had stepped down for health reasons, there is no doubt that he was pushed out of the top post.

Ukrainian President Yushchenko presses for closer ties with European Union

By Patrick Richter, 24 March 2005

New Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko visited Berlin two weeks ago, under conditions in which the foreign policy of the German government of Gerhard Schröder, with its orientation towards Russia, is coming increasingly under pressure. A section of the ruling elite in Germany and Europe as a whole wants to use the change of government in Kiev to prosecute, alongside the US, a more aggressive foreign policy in eastern Europe.

Top insurance company mired in allegations of accounting fraud

By Joseph Kay, 24 March 2005

On March 14, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg resigned his position as CEO of American International Group (AIG) amidst allegations of fraud and accounting manipulations at the world’s largest insurer. In an attempt to contain an escalating scandal, the company fired two more top executives on March 21, including the chief financial officer, Howard Smith.

Letters from our readers

By , 24 March 2005

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

Israel to build thousands more settler homes in West Bank

By Rick Kelly, 24 March 2005

On Monday, the Israeli government announced the expansion of the Maaleh Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem. With 30,000 residents, the settlement is the single largest in the Occupied Territories. The government of Ariel Sharon recently confirmed that its separation barrier will be constructed around the area.

Former Clinton aide and Kerry adviser hails choice of Wolfowitz for World Bank

By Barry Grey, 24 March 2005

In an op-ed piece in the March 22 issue of the New York Times, James Rubin enthusiastically endorses President Bush’s choice of Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense and a leading architect of the Iraq war, to head the World Bank.

American war resister in Canada speaks with WSWS: “The wealthy oil people are making money off of this”

By Lee Parsons, 24 March 2005

Early in 2005, Daryl Anderson came to Canada as a deserter from the US Army. He followed the example of Jeremy Hinzman, who became the first soldier to apply to Canada as a political refugee since the beginning of the Iraq war.

Australian by-election: a microcosm of political alienation and hostility

By our reporters, 23 March 2005

Werriwa residents spoke with World Socialist Web Site reporters on a wide range of political issues at polling booths last Saturday in the western Sydney federal electorate, one of the poorest areas in Australia. The by-election revealed deep-seated anger against the major political parties, growing concern over increasing poverty and unemployment, and a willingness to debate and discuss the Socialist Equality Party’s program.

Portugal: New Socialist Party government intensifies social attacks

By Paul Mitchell, 23 March 2005

Portugal’s new Prime Minister Jose Socrates has chosen an executive for his Socialist Party (PS) government that will intensify the social attacks required by big business and international financial institutions.

Indian budget: a balancing act that cannot long be sustained

By Deepal Jayasekera, 23 March 2005

The budget that India’s Congress-led coalition government presented February 28 shrouded neo-liberal measures in populist rhetoric and gestures.

Democrats complicit with Christian right, Republicans in Schiavo case

By Joseph Kay, 23 March 2005

The Democratic Party has once again demonstrated its complicity in the assault on democratic rights in the United States and its prostration before the Republican right. Congressional Democrats were instrumental in ensuring passage Monday morning of legislation overriding the rulings of the Florida courts in the case of Terri Schiavo, bringing the family dispute over the severely brain-damaged woman into the federal courts.

Minnesota: Ten killed in deadliest school shooting since Columbine massacre

By Kate Randall, 23 March 2005

A high school sophomore in Minnesota went on a shooting rampage on Monday, killing nine people before taking his own life. The shootings took place on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, a poor and remote area in Northern Minnesota about 300 miles north of Minneapolis and 75 miles south of the Canadian border.

The Schiavo case: Bush and Congress trample on science and the Constitution

By Patrick Martin, 23 March 2005

The case of Terri Schiavo seems likely to return to the US capital within days, either in the form of an appeal to the Supreme Court or a further effort by the congressional Republican leadership and the Bush administration to impose an outright legal ban on disconnecting the severely brain-damaged woman from life support.

Australia: Werriwa by-election result no great boost for Labor

By the Editorial Board, 23 March 2005

The by-election for the outer Sydney seat of Werriwa last Saturday resulted in a win for the Australian Labor Party (ALP), but the party can draw little joy from the outcome. Its candidate Chris Hayes, a former union official turned private industrial relations consultant, gained 55.53 percent of the primary vote—an increase of 2.89 percent over the ALP result in the federal election last October. The ALP victory is deceptive, however, disguising a profound alienation with Labor among broad layers of voters in a seat that the party has held for 71 years.

Funding cuts undermine Sri Lanka’s public hospitals

By Ajitha Gunaratna, 22 March 2005

The Sri Lankan government has imposed drastic funding cuts to public hospitals and health services for the payment of overtime or extra duty allowances. The decision has not been publicly announced, but was leaked to the media in late January. Its far-reaching impact on public health care, which is already in crisis, has been largely covered up.

Australia: economic slowdown threatens to push up unemployment

By Terry Cook and Barry Jobson, 22 March 2005

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello has seized on another reduction in the official unemployment rate to try and dampen down concerns about stalling economic growth. Labor force figures just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the unemployment rate remained at 5.1 percent in February, the same level as the previous month, and down from 5.2 percent in December.

Rallies in Australia, New Zealand and Asia demand troops out of Iraq

By our correspondents, 21 March 2005

Demonstrations were held in major cities in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in Asia over the weekend to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and demand an end to the US-led occupation of the country.

Bush, Congress intervene in Terri Schiavo case: political thuggery in the service of reaction

By the Editorial Board, 21 March 2005

The intervention of Congress and the Bush administration into the case of Terri Schiavo—the Florida woman on life support for the past 15 years—is an act of unmitigated political thuggery, exploiting a family tragedy for the most reactionary political purposes. It is both a moral abomination and a frontal assault on basic democratic rights.

Europe: tens of thousands protest on second anniversary of Iraq war

By our correspondent, 21 March 2005

Across Europe, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in major cities on the second anniversary of the US-led war on Iraq to demand an end to the occupation of the country.

Northern Ireland: McCartney murder used to increase pressure on IRA to disband

By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 21 March 2005

The feting of the family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney by the Bush administration is a cynical exercise in political manipulation. McCartney’s murder has been seized upon by the US, British and Irish governments to step up pressure on Sinn Fein to back the demand for the Irish Republican Army to disband. Sinn Fein, which officially denies any ties to the proscribed IRA, has long been considered the political wing of the republican paramilitary organisation.

Iraq war veterans, military families hold protest in North Carolina

By a reporting team, 21 March 2005

Nearly 3,000 antiwar demonstrators, including Iraq war veterans, families of soldiers killed in the war and high school and college-aged youth, held a march and rally Saturday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to mark the second anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and demand an end to the war.

Canada: protests against US occupation of Iraq in 40 cities

By a reporting team, 21 March 2005

Demonstrations and rallies marking the second anniversary of the US’s illegal invasion of Iraq and demanding the withdrawal of US occupation forces were held Saturday in at least 40 Canadian cities. The largest protests were in Toronto and Vancouver. Each numbered about 5,000-strong. In Montreal between 2,000 and 3,000 people marched.

Iraq’s national assembly shows its subservience to Washington

By Peter Symonds, 21 March 2005

For all the rhetoric about “democracy”, the first session of Iraq’s National Assembly last Wednesday could not hide the body’s subservience to the US occupiers, its impotency and its deep-seated factional differences.

Thousands in cities across US demand an end to the Iraq war

By a reporting team, 21 March 2005

Demonstrations marking the second anniversary of the Iraq war were held in cities and towns across the US over the past weekend. Although far smaller than those held on the eve of the war in February 2003, hundreds of protests took place, according to event organizers.

Brussels: workers from East and West demonstrate for a “social” Europe

By Dietmar Henning, 21 March 2005

On Saturday, some 60,000 people from throughout Europe demonstrated in the Belgian capital Brussels against welfare cuts. The demonstration, which was mainly supported by trade unionists from various European countries, had been called by the European Trade Union Federation under the slogan, “More and better jobs, Defend Social Europe, Stop Bolkestein.”

The latest Bush provocation: Wolfowitz named to head World Bank

By Kate Randall, 19 March 2005

George W. Bush’s nomination Wednesday of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank is a belligerent move, underscoring that the Bush administration has no intention of retreating from its unilateralist, militarist policy of global domination. The nomination of the man rightly despised around the world as a major architect of the illegal war against Iraq—and looked on as a war criminal—is a political provocation, particularly against America’s European allies.

US Congress witch-hunts players in baseball steroids scandal

By David Walsh and Barry Grey, 19 March 2005

Hypocrisy and vindictiveness held center stage in Washington on Thursday at the House Government Reform Committee’s televised hearing into the use of steroids in baseball. The attacks on former player Mark McGwire, in particular, which continued in the media on Friday, amounted to little more than a witch-hunt.

Socialist Alliance promotes Australian Greens as “a progressive alternative”

By Jake Skeers and Peter Symonds, 19 March 2005

The Socialist Alliance in Australia—an unstable coalition of various middle class protest parties—has taken a further step in its uncritical embrace of the Greens. After deciding not to field a candidate in the by-election for the seat of Werriwa, the Socialist Alliance national executive wrote to the Greens last month declaring their full political support for its candidate and their willingness to “offer practical support to your Werriwa campaign, in particular on polling day.”

Workers Struggle: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 19 March 2005

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

France: Chirac government, Socialist Party close ranks on European constitutional referendum

By Richard Dufour, 19 March 2005

Popular anger at the policy of social demolition carried out by the ultraconservative government of Jacques Chirac overflowed into the streets of France last week—for the third time since the beginning of the year, following two days of mass protest January 20 and February 5.

Washington’s criminal war against Iraq enters its third year

By the Editorial Board, 19 March 2005

Today begins year three of the US intervention in Iraq, with its tragic consequences for both the Iraqi and American people continuing to multiply.

Germany: Foreign Ministry under fire in “visa affair”

By Martin Kreickenbaum, 19 March 2005

For several months, the German media has focused on the so-called “visa affair.” The scandal began with allegations against the former minister of state at the Foreign Ministry, Ludger Volmer (Green Party). Volmer was accused of having abused his office for private business purposes. It was then claimed that a visa regulation he had issued five years earlier had encouraged prostitutes and illegal workers from Ukraine to enter Germany.

French referendum on European constitution set for May 29

By Richard Dufour, 18 March 2005

The date of the referendum on the European constitutional treaty has recently been the subject of considerable speculation in the French press. According to reports, ruling circles are divided. There are the advocates of a “lightning campaign” that would attempt to steamroller the “No” vote and capitalise on the “Yes” vote in Spain, and advocates of a longer, “educational” campaign, necessitated by the undeniable fact that there remains widespread popular opposition to the treaty.

Ebbers found guilty in WorldCom fraud: a case study of US corporate criminality

By Patrick Martin, 18 March 2005

Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers was convicted Tuesday on nine counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and filing false documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The jury in the Manhattan trial held Ebbers responsible for fraudulent practices that culminated in the biggest bankruptcy in US corporate history.

Unite European workers and youth against militarism and social reaction

By Socialist and World Socialist Web Site, 18 March 2005

The following leaflet will be distributed at demonstrations to be held throughout Europe on March 19 to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

GM announces sharply lower profit figures

By Joseph Kay, 18 March 2005

General Motors announced Wednesday that it faces a huge loss for the first quarter of the year and much lower profits than previously projected for all of 2005. The news from GM, the world’s largest auto manufacturer by sales, provoked a sell-off of the company’s shares on Wall Street.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 18 March 2005

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

A record number of candidates, but no policies for working people

By Richard Phillips, 18 March 2005

The four-week campaign for the Australian seat of Werriwa, a mainly working class electorate located in Sydney’s outer western suburbs, has further highlighted the moribund character of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the rightward degeneration of Australian parliamentary politics.

Indonesian cleric convicted of conspiracy in Bali bombings

By John Roberts, 18 March 2005

Under considerable international pressure, an Indonesian court convicted Islamic extremist cleric Abu Bakar Bashir on March 3 of the charge of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings. Bashir was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment, but acquitted of the more serious charges of ordering the bombings in Bali and on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in August 2003.

Bush administration defends use of covert propaganda in US

By Bill Van Auken, 17 March 2005

The Bush administration last week instructed US government agencies to ignore a ruling by the comptroller general of the United States barring the dissemination of “covert propaganda.”

Australian government appoints Murdoch hack to ABC board

By Richard Phillips, 17 March 2005

The Howard government’s appointment of Janet Albrechtsen to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s board of directors on February 24 is another demonstration of Canberra’s efforts to transform the network into a mouth-piece for pro-government propaganda. Albrechtsen, a corporate lawyer and columnist for Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper, is infamous for her right-wing views and hostility towards the ABC.

The media, the entertainment industry and Michael Jackson

By David Walsh, 17 March 2005

The prosecution’s case in the Michael Jackson sexual molestation trial, now in its third week in Santa Maria, California, appears to have been seriously damaged by the alleged victim’s own testimony on March 14. The 15-year-old boy acknowledged under questioning by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. that he had told a school official the popular singer had not molested him.

Israeli security wall to encircle East Jerusalem

By Rick Kelly, 17 March 2005

On March 14, Israeli government officials released details of the final route of the so-called security barrier that cuts through the West Bank. The wall, whose construction is expected to be finished by the end of the year, will encircle East Jerusalem and divide the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

To “hold the world but as the world...”

By Joanne Laurier, 17 March 2005

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, directed by Michael Radford, screenplay by Radford

Australia strong-arms East Timor over new oil and gas plan

By Will Marshall, 17 March 2005

The latest round of talks between Australia and East Timor over the division of disputed Timor Sea oil and gas reserves broke up last week without any agreement.

Bush defends rendition of detainees to torture regimes

By Barry Grey, 17 March 2005

At a White House press conference Wednesday, President George W. Bush flatly defended his decision to expand the practice of turning over alleged terrorists to governments that are notorious for torturing prisoners. The rendition of detainees to such regimes is a brazen violation of international law, as well as US laws banning torture.

Britain: BBC documentary exposes abuse of asylum seekers

By Robert Stevens, 16 March 2005

Britain’s immigration procedures, and the harsh treatment meted out to those who seek to enter the country were subjected to a damning indictment in a BBC One documentary entitled Detention Undercover—The Real Story, broadcast March 2.

Kosovo prime minister charged with war crimes

By Paul Mitchell, 16 March 2005

Kosovo’s former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj is on trial at the United Nations tribunal at The Hague, charged with 37 counts of war crimes. He faces 17 counts of crimes against humanity for murder, rape, persecution, inhumane acts, unlawful detention, deportation or forcible transfer of civilians and 20 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war for cruel treatment, murder and rape.

Germany: Opel works committee signs a “Pact for the Future”

By Dietmar Henning and Peter Schwarz, 16 March 2005

On October 19 of last year, trade unions and works committees representing all workers at the various European subsidiaries of General Motors called out their members on a day of action to protest the announced destruction of 12,000 out of a total of 63,000 jobs.

China’s “anti-secession law” adds to tension in North East Asia

By John Chan, 16 March 2005

At the final session of China’s National Peoples Congress (NPC) on Monday, the handpicked delegates assembled in the Great Hall of the People passed an “anti-secession law” that outlaws any declaration of independence by Taiwan. The legislation formalises China’s longstanding threat to use military force in the event of any Taiwanese breakaway.

Iraq, Macquarie Fields and Australia’s “History Wars”

By Nick Beams, 16 March 2005

Below are the remarks delivered by Nick Beams, the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) and a member of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site, to the SEP election meeting in Green Valley on Sunday, March 13, 2005.

Violent eruptions in Wisconsin and Georgia: the pathology of a society in crisis

By Patrick Martin, 16 March 2005

The bloody incidents last Friday and Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia and Brookfield, Wisconsin have dominated the American media for the past week. And with reason: the killing of seven people at a Wisconsin church service and four people in and around an Atlanta courtroom are the latest expressions of an increasingly common and troubling phenomenon in America: eruptions of apparently random and self-destructive violence.

An epidemic of murder-suicide in the US

By , 16 March 2005

According to a 2002 report by the Violence Policy Center, at least 662 people died in murder-suicides in the United States over a six-month period the previous year—an average of nearly two murder-suicides each day, every day. Seven states had more than 10 murder-suicides during the study period: Florida (35), California (29) and Texas (29), Pennsylvania (17), New York (14), Virginia (12), and Ohio (11).

Turkey: union leadership intervenes to end paper workers’ struggle

By our correspondent, 15 March 2005

The 51-day workers’ occupation of Turkish Cellulose and Paper Factories (SEKA) in Izmit, northwest Turkey, came to an end March 11, after some 700 factory workers accepted an offer by the Turkish government.

Berlusconi government in predicament over US shooting of Italian journalist

By Peter Symonds, 15 March 2005

The right-wing Italian government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was in trouble last week following the March 4 attack by US solders on a car carrying freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad airport. US soldiers opened fire on the vehicle wounding Sgrena, a journalist for the leftist Il Manifesto newspaper, and killing Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence agent responsible for negotiating her release.

Quebec: Student strikes exemplify mounting social discontent

By Keith Jones, 15 March 2005

Eighty thousand university and junior and vocational college (CEGEP) students are on strike in the province of Quebec and the movement is expected to swell in the next few days. With students at Montreal’s Concordia University, the École Polytechnique de Montréal, and other institutions having voted to stage a one-day walkout Wednesday, some 200,000 post-secondary students will be on strike March 16. There have also been walkouts at several high schools in working-class districts of Montreal.

SEP holds second public meeting in Australian by-election

By James Cogan, 15 March 2005

On March 13, the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) held the second public meeting of its campaign in the by-election for the western Sydney seat of Werriwa. The meeting, which took place in the suburb of Green Valley, was addressed by the SEP’s candidate, Mike Head, and SEP national secretary Nick Beams.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 15 March 2005

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