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One earthquake could leave two-thirds of Californians without drinking water

By Kevin Kearney, 30 November 2005

On November 1, 2005 California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued a report stating that a simple 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Northern California’s Delta region could produce more than 30 levee breaches on 16 Delta islands. This would flood tens of thousands of homes and a massive area of productive farmland, causing around $30 billion in damages. However, the most alarming news, by far, was the realization that such an event could render unusable the drinking water supply of two-thirds of all Californians.

US-backed government in Iraq: “The same as Saddam’s time and worse”

By James Cogan, 30 November 2005

Former Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s recent declaration that the extent of human rights abuses in Iraq is the “same” as under Saddam Hussein is a devastating indictment of all those, including Allawi himself, who planned, organised and collaborated with the illegal US conquest of Iraq.

India in quandary over US-Iran conflict

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 30 November 2005

India’s United Progressive Alliance government made it known early last week that, when the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met in Vienna November 24, it would oppose referring charges that Iran has failed to fulfill its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations to the United Nations Security Council.

Australian government deserts young man due to hang in Singapore

By Mike Head, 30 November 2005

A young Australian man will almost certainly be hanged in Singapore at 6 a.m. this Friday after the Australian government made it plain it was prepared to sacrifice his life to bolster its economic and strategic relations with the anti-democratic south-east Asian regime.

Clinton paints false picture of “progress” for Sri Lanka’s tsunami victims

By Panini Wijesiriwardena, 30 November 2005

During a visit to Sri Lanka yesterday, former US President Bill Clinton praised the government for making “real progress” in assisting the victims of the December 26 tsunami. “Ninety percent of children are back in school, epidemics have been prevented and transitional shelter has been provided to almost all internally displaced people,” he declared.

50,000 Katrina evacuees without permanent housing

By Elisa Brehm and Dan Caldwell, 30 November 2005

More than 50,000 people are still living in hotel rooms three months since the devastating consequences of Hurricane Katrina displaced as many as one million people. The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently funding hotel stays for the evacuees who have not been able to find housing. After the next round of deadlines, FEMA will no longer pay the hotel bills.

Saddam Hussein trial resumes: a grotesque display of imperial justice

By Bill Van Auken, 30 November 2005

The second session of the trial of Saddam Hussein convened and closed after barely two-and-a-half hours Monday, ample time to expose the farcical and illegal character of the US-orchestrated prosecution of the deposed Iraqi head of state.

Israel: Behind Sharon’s break with Likud

By Jean Shaoul, 30 November 2005

The decision by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to break with the Likud party that he helped to form 30 years ago is the latest expression of a political crisis that is unfolding in Israel.

Canada’s Liberal government falls, setting stage for January election

By Keith Jones, 29 November 2005

Canada’s minority Liberal government fell Monday night, when the three opposition parties—the right-wing Conservatives, the pro-Quebec independence Bloc Quebecois, and the social-democratic New Democratic Party—voted in favor of a Conservative non-confidence motion.

Australia: Telstra to slash 12,000 jobs

By Terry Cook, 29 November 2005

On November 15, in a six-hour briefing to market analysts and media representatives, Telstra’s chief executive Sol Trujillo announced plans for a radical restructuring of the Australian telecommunication company’s operations, including major job shedding. In all, Telstra will axe 12,000 jobs over the next five years, around 23 percent of its current workforce of 46,000. Some 8,000 jobs will be cut within the first three years.

Sri Lankan newspaper advocates anti-democratic restrictions for future elections

By Saman Gunadasa, 29 November 2005

In the aftermath of the November 17 presidential election in Sri Lanka, an editorial appeared in the newspaper Lakbima last Sunday endorsing a proposal by the election commissioner to limit the number of contenders in the future. While its headline was “Let us stop ridiculing democracy,” the thrust of the comment was decidedly anti-democratic, reflecting concerns in ruling circles about the emergence of political challenges to the existing bourgeois parties.

The death of China’s “red capitalist” and the 1949 revolution

By John Chan, 29 November 2005

On October 26, Rong Yiren, a prominent member of the pre-1949 Chinese capitalist elite who supported the Communist Party government established by Mao Zedong, died in Beijing at the age of 89. Better known as the “red capitalist”, Rong’s life epitomised the close relations that existed from the outset between the Stalinist regime and sections of the Chinese bourgeoisie.

The Abramoff affair: Corruption scandal threatens Republican control of US Congress

By Patrick Martin, 29 November 2005

Michael Scanlon, a Republican political operative, publicist and former press spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, pled guilty November 21 to conspiring with lobbyist Jack Abramoff to bribe a Republican congressman and cheat several American Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars.

The Abramoff affair: Snapshots from an empire of corruption

By Patrick Martin, 29 November 2005

Many episodes in Abramoff’s relations with various congressmen have already been given considerable exposure in newspaper accounts and court filings. What follows is a summary of the most revealing:

Letters from our readers

By , 29 November 2005

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

Guardian newspaper forced to retract Noam Chomsky interview

By Robert Stevens, 29 November 2005

On November 17, Britain’s Guardian newspaper ran a statement in its Corrections and Clarifications column announcing the removal from its website of an interview with Noam Chomsky.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 29 November 2005

Latin America

French Socialist Party congress backs government repression

By Stephane Hugues and Antoine Lerougetel, 28 November 2005

At an emergency congress of the French Socialist Party held in Le Mans November 18-20 the party’s various factions united in order to defend the French state.

Australia: “Welfare to work” Bill will enforce cheap labour

By Tania Kent, 28 November 2005

Legislation that will impoverish the most vulnerable sections of society—single parents and the disabled—is due to be pushed through the Australian parliament this week. Faced with ongoing opposition to its measures, the Howard government gave a Senate committee just a few days last week to make final cosmetic adjustments.

Military trial of David Hicks and other Guantánamo prisoners deferred

By Richard Phillips, 28 November 2005

A US federal court judge this month placed an indefinite stay on the scheduled November 18 military trial of Australian citizen David Hicks who, with backing from the Australian government, has been incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay since January 2002.

Larger mysteries left unsolved

By Joanne Laurier, 28 November 2005

Where the Truth Lies, written and directed by Atom Egoyan, based on the novel by Rupert Holmes

Kashmir earthquake fails to advance India-Pakistan cooperation

By Sarath Kumara, 28 November 2005

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Kashmir on October 8, there was a flurry of speculation by political figures and the media in India and Pakistan, suggesting that the tragedy would enhance the “peace process” between the two countries.

Merkel elected as Germany’s chancellor: grand coalition to implement social cuts

By Ulrich Rippert, 26 November 2005

On November 22 Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel was elected chancellor in the plenary hall of Berlin’s Reichstag. She received 397 votes of the 448 deputies belonging to the grand coalition of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Fifty-one deputies from the “Union” and SPD factions refused to support her.

Peruvians demand extradition of ex-president Fujimori

By Cesar Uco, 26 November 2005

Thousands of angry workers, students and human rights advocates marched in Lima last week demanding the extradition of former president Alberto Fujimori from Chile. If returned to Perú, Fujimori would face trial on 22 criminal charges of corruption and human rights abuses. The charges carry sentences of up to 30 years in jail and $29 million in fines.

Behind the LTTE’s boycott of the Sri Lankan election

By M. Vasanthan and S. Jayanth, 26 November 2005

In the wake of the November 17 Sri Lankan presidential election, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been compelled to issue a statement denying that it organised a boycott of the poll. LTTE political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan told the Tamilnet website on Tuesday that the low turnout in the North and East of the island was “a reflection of prevailing Tamil sentiment towards Sri Lankan leaders” and had not been instigated by his organisation.

Violence against occupation opponents continues in lead-up to Iraq election

By James Cogan, 26 November 2005

In contrast to Washington’s propaganda that a stable democracy is emerging in Iraq, a campaign of terror and intimidation is continuing against opponents of the US occupation in the weeks leading up to the December 15 election.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 26 November 2005

Protesting farm workers massacred by army

Bush administration plays to religious right in delaying contraceptive approval

By Naomi Spencer, 26 November 2005

A new report from the US Government Accountability Office into deviations in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) procedure reveals ideological meddling by high-ranking officials in the Bush administration. The administration has stonewalled the review process of the emergency contraceptive Plan B for the past two years to appease the administration’s religious base, trampling on science and the agency’s own procedure.

Letters from our readers

By , 25 November 2005

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

APEC: mass protests and political tension in South Korea

By John Chan, 25 November 2005

Angry protestors clashed with police outside the 21-nation Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting held in the South Korean port city of Busan last weekend. Like protests against Bush’s recent visit to Latin America, the demonstrations of South Korean workers and farmers expressed widespread hostility to the global capitalist order and Washington’s criminal war in Iraq.

Brutal clampdown by Ethiopian regime

By Chris Talbot, 25 November 2005

Earlier this month at least 46 people in Ethiopia were shot dead, including women and children, and hundreds of others were wounded in a police crackdown on protests supporting the main opposition grouping, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD).

Thousands arbitrarily deprived of vote in Sri Lankan presidential election

By W.A. Sunil, 25 November 2005

Foreign and local election monitoring groups have hailed the November 17 presidential election in Sri Lanka as “free and fair”, except in the North and East where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) imposed an informal boycott. However, there are reports from a number of different sources that tens of thousands of eligible voters had their names removed from the electoral roll in other parts of the island, potentially affecting the election outcome.

Australian “terror” raids target Tamil groups

By Mike Head, 25 November 2005

For the second time this month, Australian police and security agencies have carried out politically-timed raids under the cover of combatting terrorism. On Wednesday, federal and Victorian state police raided an undisclosed number of homes and premises in Melbourne allegedly linked to Tamil organisations. They detained five people for interrogation before releasing them without charge.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 25 November 2005

Europe

The implications of Bush’s diplomatic debacle in Asia

By Barry Grey, 25 November 2005

President Bush returned to Washington November 21 after a week-long, four-nation tour of Asia that underscored the crisis of his administration both at home and abroad. At the same time, Bush’s visit highlighted the US government’s determination to continue its aggression in Iraq and a diplomatic and military strategy aimed at countering the growing economic and political influence of China—a strategy that leads in the direction of a military confrontation with the rising Asian power.

French unions seeking end to national rail strike

By our correspondent, 24 November 2005

French trade unions were set to end a nationwide rail strike at the time of posting, after talks with the SNCF—the French national railway—over pay and pensions.

Sri Lanka: unemployed youth speak to WSWS

By Priya Darshana Meddawatta, 24 November 2005

In the course of the Sri Lankan presidential election, Mahinda Rajapakse, the victorious candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), promised to create 2.4 million jobs over the next six years. His rival, Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP), matched him with a pledge of “millions” of jobs. Interviews with working class youth—the social layer bearing the brunt of Sri Lanka’s endemic unemployment—reveal there is widespread scepticism and distrust toward these promises.

Indictment of Jose Padilla: another chapter in Bush’s war on democratic rights

By John Andrews and Barry Grey, 24 November 2005

On Tuesday, six days before the Bush administration faced a deadline to file legal arguments with the Supreme Court in the case of Jose Padilla, a US citizen named by Bush as an “enemy combatant” and held for three-and-a-half years in a military brig, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that Padilla had been indicted on terrorist charges and would face trial in criminal court.

Poignant cries for freedom

By Gabriela Zabala-Notaras, 24 November 2005

Another Country is a valuable collection of writings by asylum seekers and refugees who have been held in Australian immigration prisons under the government’s mandatory detention policies. Edited by acclaimed local novelist Thomas Keneally (Schindler’s List) and Rosie Scott, a New Zealand writer, the book was initiated by the Sydney branch of PEN, the international association of poets, essayists and novelists formed in 1921 to defend freedom of expression.

British government threatens prosecution to suppress claim that Bush sought to bomb Al Jazeera

By Julie Hyland, 24 November 2005

The British government has threatened editors with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if they publish further details from a top secret memo that apparently records US President George W. Bush’s desire to bomb the headquarters of Arab TV station Al Jazeera in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Qatar.

Report: Steep decline in Illinois workers’ income

By Tom Mackaman, 24 November 2005

The median income of families in the state of Illinois has declined by an astounding $6,000, or 12 percent, since 1999, according to a recently issued report by Northern Illinois University and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability in Chicago. Adjusted for inflation, the median family income in Illinois is approximately $46,000. In real terms, the study shows that household incomes have declined to 1989 levels.

SPD party congress united behind Germany’s grand coalition

By Ulrich Rippert, 24 November 2005

In any initial appraisal, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) party congress, held in the German city of Karlsruhe last week, appears simply bizarre. Although the party lost its government majority in elections in September and its chairman at the beginning of November, the conference was characterised by demonstrative unanimity, instead of any critical or self-critical debate.

20,000 demonstrate against US military torture training center

By Patrick Martin, 24 November 2005

Some 20,000 people, the vast majority of them college and high school students, demonstrated Saturday and Sunday outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, demanding the shutdown of the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, the new nameplate of the School of the Americas, a notorious US training center which has educated two generations of Latin American military dictators and torturers.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 24 November 2005

Asia

Growing international tension over the Arctic

By Niall Green, 23 November 2005

Strained relations between Norway and Russia in the Arctic region have in recent months produced a series of territorial and environmental disputes. Though this has mainly expressed itself in conflicting claims over fishing rights, both countries are vying to control oil and gas extraction and transportation rights in the still largely pristine Arctic Ocean.

La contraofensiva de Bush en cuanto a las armas para la destrucción en masa

By , 23 November 2005

WSWS : Español

Study documents exploitation in Indian call centres

By Jake Skeers, 23 November 2005

The Indian media and business elite never tire of enthusing over India’s growing role as an IT and business-processing outsourcer to the world. Yet a recent study of working conditions in Indian outsourced call centres has pointed to the high levels of labour exploitation in the industry—including constant surveillance, long hours, health problems and burnouts.

Los Angeles Times fires liberal columnist Robert Scheer

By Ramón Valle and Richard Adams, 23 November 2005

On Friday, November 11, the Los Angeles Times announced that it has fired longtime liberal columnist Robert Scheer. In an effort to disguise the obvious political implications of removing its most vocal editorial critic of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, the newspaper also dismissed its conservative editorial cartoonist, Michael Ramírez, and right-wing op-ed contributor David Gelertner, a Yale computer science professor.

La tragedia de El Salvador: presentada no explicada

By , 23 November 2005

WSWS : Español

GM job cuts will devastate North American cities

By Joseph Kay and Barry Grey, 23 November 2005

General Motors’ plan to eliminate 30,000 hourly jobs by 2008, announced Monday in Detroit, will have devastating consequences for cities in the United States and Canada, and its ripple effects will hit working class communities throughout the two countries. The closure of twelve facilities will reduce the auto maker’s manufacturing jobs in North America by nearly a third.

Francia extiende estado de emergencia por tres meses

By , 23 November 2005

WSWS : Español

Australia: right-wing columnists label political dissent akin to “terrorism”

By Rick Kelly, 23 November 2005

Right-wing media commentators in Australia have responded with bewilderment and ill-concealed fury to the overwhelmingly sceptical response of millions of ordinary people to the Howard government’s announcement on November 8 that it had disrupted an imminent terrorist attack. Two of the country’s most prominent op-ed writers, Miranda Devine and Greg Sheridan, have gone so far as to declare that opposition to the government represents a threat to national security.

US secures continued control of Internet naming system

By Mike Ingram, 23 November 2005

A last-minute agreement reached November 15 on the eve of the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society left control of the Internet’s naming system in the hands of the United States, despite opposition from more than 100 countries.

Senado de Estados Unidos prohíbe la revisión de detenciones en Guantánamo

By , 23 November 2005

WSWS : Español

Sri Lanka’s new president faces crisis over forming a government

By K. Ratnayake, 23 November 2005

The newly elected Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapakse, confronts a political crisis within days of being sworn in last Saturday. Far from the conflicts and tensions wracking the Sri Lankan ruling class being resolved by his narrow victory in the November 17 election, they have immediately re-surfaced as he attempts to form a government.

German trade unions rally to the grand coalition

By Ludwig Niethammer, 22 November 2005

Even before negotiations over the program of Germany’s new grand coalition government had been completed, the country’s trade unions were avidly offering their cooperation and support.

After the Sri Lankan election: what next for the working class?

By Wije Dias, 22 November 2005

The following statement was written by Wije Dias, who was the candidate for the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in the November 17 presidential election in Sri Lanka.

General Motors to close 9 plants, slash 30,000 North American jobs

By the Editorial Board, 22 November 2005

General Motors announced plans Monday to close or eliminate shifts at nine assembly, stamping and powertrain plants and cut 30,000 hourly workers’ jobs in the US and Canada by the end of 2008. The cost-cutting measures by the world’s largest auto maker will have a devastating impact on workers, their families and communities across North America.

India: removal of foreign minister points to struggle over extent of US ties

By Arun Kumar and Keith Jones, 22 November 2005

The “temporary” removal of Natwar Singh as India’s external affairs minister underscores that a furious struggle is now under way within the Indian elite over the extent and nature of India’s ties to the US. And that the faction in the ascendance wants to clutch with both hands the Bush administration’s offer to assist India in becoming a world power.

France: Gaullist officials stoke up racism to justify state of emergency

By Antoine Lerougetel, 22 November 2005

Ministers and deputies of the ruling Gaullist party, the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), have issued statements calculated to whip up anti-immigrant and racist sentiment in order to justify the government’s unprecedented imposition of a three-month state of emergency.

Witnesses at Australian Senate hearings warn: “terror” laws aimed at dissent

By Mike Head, 22 November 2005

Three days of hearings held by an Australian Senate committee last week into the Howard government’s unprecedented Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 provided a partial glimpse of the extent of public opposition to the Bill.

The return of Dickensian London

By Marcus Morgan and Vicky Short, 22 November 2005

The last two decades have witnessed an enormous rise of inequality in London. The gap between rich and poor has reached unprecedented dimensions. While those with money live a life of fabulous luxury and efforts are made to attract more and more international multimillionaires and billionaires to the capital, hundreds of thousands of people live in indescribable poverty.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 22 November 2005

Latin America

Letters from our readers

By , 21 November 2005

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

New revelations of US military use of white phosphorus in Iraq

By Tom Carter, 21 November 2005

A week after RAI, the Italian state television network, aired footage of the American military deploying white phosphorus munitions against the population of Fallujah and their grisly effects on innocent residents, more evidence has come to light confirming that the US is using chemical weapons against the Iraqi people. The report on Italian television sparked angry protests outside the US embassy in Rome.

Spain: labour reforms threaten “winter of discontent”

By Keith Lee and Paul Mitchell, 21 November 2005

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government is pressing ahead with planned labour reforms. The trade unions are seeking to smooth the way for this by bringing to an end several nationwide strikes, including the explosive miners’ strike.

More rural suicides in Sri Lanka

By G.G. Senaratna, 21 November 2005

Four tragic suicides by farmers in the north-central province of Sri Lanka during the lead-up to the presidential election have highlighted the plight of many small farmers, who face mounting debt, rising costs and insecure incomes. Despite efforts by the candidates of the two major parties to win rural votes with various promises, hostility towards them on the part of the rural poor is growing.

Solomon Island prisoners accuse Australian authorities of abuses

By Will Marshall, 21 November 2005

Inmates at the Rove Prison in the Solomon Islands have blamed Australian officials for a major disturbance that erupted in mid-October. For three nights, 200 prisoners refused to return to their cells, insisting that the police minister accept a petition. The standoff ended on October 14 after prison guards and Australian-led Regional Assistance to the Solomon Island (RAMSI) officers used tear gas to quell the unrest.

Uproar in US Congress over Iraq withdrawal vote

By Bill Van Auken, 21 November 2005

The US House of Representatives was thrown into an uproar Friday when the Republican majority forced a vote on a sham resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.

US House of Representatives approves $50 billion in social cuts

By Joseph Kay, 19 November 2005

In the early hours of Friday morning, the House of Representatives passed a budget reconciliation bill that includes cuts of nearly $50 billion over five years, primarily in social programs for the poor. At the same time, Congress is considering extending tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy in the amount of $60 billion-$70 billion over the same period.

German coalition government accord: a declaration of war on working people

By Dietmar Henning, 19 November 2005

On November 14 the party congresses of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), who make up Germany’s new “grand coalition” government, voted in favour of an agreement that had been made public just two days previously. It is titled: “Together for Germany—with courage and humanity.” Its contents represent a declaration of war on working people—in both an economic and political sense.

Sri Lankan election: Wije Dias speaks at poll declaration

By our correspondent, 19 November 2005

The formal declaration of the poll in the Sri Lankan presidential election took place at 1.30 p.m. yesterday at the Election Commissioner’s office in Colombo amid a heavy military presence. The ceremony was broadcast live on state-owned radio and TV and on many of the private TV channels.

Iraq fraud arrests expose criminality of US occupation

By Bill Van Auken, 19 November 2005

The arrest this week of a private contractor and a former US government official in connection with a multimillion-dollar contract-rigging and bribery scandal has exposed a piece of the corruption and criminality that is pervasive in America’s continuing military occupation of Iraq. It has likewise offered a glimpse of the layer of con men and profiteers who have flooded into the country in the name of reconstruction and democracy.

Rajapakse narrowly wins Sri Lankan presidential election

By K. Ratnayake, 19 November 2005

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, the candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), emerged yesterday as the narrow winner in Thursday’s Sri Lankan presidential election. Rajapakse secured 4,880,950 votes or just 50.29 percent of the total against his main rival Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP), who received 4,694,623 votes or 48.4 percent. The new president will be sworn in within the next 14 days.

Basque separatist leader faces jail for “insulting” the king

By Paul Stuart, 19 November 2005

In a major attack on the right to free speech the Spanish Supreme Court has sentenced Arnaldo Otegi, spokesman for the outlawed Basque party Batasuna and a former deputy, to 12 months in jail for allegedly slandering King Juan Carlos. This overturned a decision last March of the Basque High Court that Otegi’s remarks were not slanderous, but protected by the constitutional right to free speech.

Delphi plans to cut 24,000 US auto jobs

By Jerry Isaacs, 19 November 2005

The United Auto Workers union (UAW) revealed November 16 that Delphi Corporation plans to eliminate 24,000 of its 34,000 US factory jobs over the next three years. The drastic downsizing plan was part of Delphi’s “final offer” to the UAW and several other unions representing workers at the largest US auto parts manufacturer, which declared bankruptcy October 8.

Political conflict intensifies over Bush’s Iraq war lies

By Patrick Martin, 19 November 2005

The political conflict within US ruling circles over the debacle resulting from the American intervention in Iraq intensified sharply this week. Vice President Dick Cheney denounced Bush’s critics as “reprehensible,” saying they were “playing politics in the middle of a war,” while a leading Democratic war hawk, Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, startled official Washington on Thursday by calling for the immediate withdrawal of US troops in Iraq.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 19 November 2005

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High inflation follows Indonesian president’s fuel price hike

By John Roberts, 18 November 2005

A surge in prices and interest rates has followed the Indonesian government’s October 1 reduction in the fuel price subsidy. The sharp rise in the costs of essential goods and services constitutes a severe attack on the living standards of the archipelago’s impoverished urban and rural poor.

Right-wing smear campaign against antiwar vet Jimmy Massey

By Jeff Riedel, 18 November 2005

Former Marine Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, an outspoken opponent of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, has become the target of a smear campaign by right-wing activists, who claim that he was lying when he reported atrocities committed by US forces there.

When is an ‘antiwar film’ not an antiwar film?

By Joanne Laurier, 18 November 2005

Jarhead, directed by Sam Mendes, screenplay by William Broyles Jr., based on the book, Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles by Anthony Swofford

Torture centre discovered in Baghdad

By James Cogan, 18 November 2005

The exposure of a secret Iraqi government torture centre in the very heart of Baghdad is damning confirmation that the US-led occupation is being accompanied by a dirty war of extra-judicial killings and torture.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 18 November 2005

Europe

The JVP and the political crisis in Sri Lanka

By Nanda Wickramasinghe, 18 November 2005

A key factor in the Sri Lankan presidential election has been the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which has used the campaign to further integrate itself into the official political establishment. The reliance of the Sri Lankan ruling elite on this unstable Sinhala chauvinist and populist formation is a clear sign of the deep impasse that bourgeois politics has reached.

Sri Lankan voters reveal deep disaffection

By our correspondents, 18 November 2005

Growing political tensions surrounded yesterday’s presidential election in Sri Lanka. It is expected that the results will be announced today. Whichever candidate of the two main capitalist parties—Mahinda Rajapakse of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP)—wins the ballot, the stage is set for a deepening political crisis and major class battles.

FEMA to evict tens of thousands of Katrina victims

By Tom Carter, 17 November 2005

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Tuesday that it would stop paying for housing for most of the nearly 60,000 families left homeless by Hurricane Katrina who are staying in government-paid hotel and motel rooms. The cutoff will be effective December 1.

Political issues facing US auto workers discussed at Kokomo meeting

By a WSWS reporting team, 17 November 2005

Representatives of the World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party participated in a meeting of auto workers in Kokomo, Indiana on November 15. The meeting was called to oppose the drastic job- and wage-cutting demands of US auto parts manufacturer Delphi Corporation. It was attended by some two hundred workers, including Delphi, General Motors and other auto workers from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Sri Lankan election: Vote for Wije Dias and the Socialist Equality Party

By the Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka), 17 November 2005

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) calls on working people in Sri Lanka to vote for Wije Dias in the presidential election today to demonstrate their support for a socialist alternative to war and social inequality. The SEP is the only party offering a program of struggle to unite working people—Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher, young and old, men and women—to fight for their social needs and democratic aspirations.

France: state of emergency extended for three months

By Pierre Mabut and Antoine Lerougetel, 17 November 2005

The decision of the French government to extend a state of emergency, imposed November 9 for a 12-day period, for an additional three months is a grave threat to democratic and civil rights. There is no modern precedent in France for such an arrogation of emergency powers.

Quebec public sector workers launch rotating strikes

By Richard Dufour, 17 November 2005

The Common Front—a coalition of unions representing hospital workers, public school board employees, CEGEP (junior college) personnel, and other provincial public sector workers affiliated with the Confederation National Trade Unions (CNTU) and the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ)—has launched a series of one-day regional walkouts.

Police claims raise new questions about “terrorist” raids in Australia

By Mike Head, 17 November 2005

For the past 10 days, Australian media outlets have bombarded the public with lurid headlines and reports designed to justify last week’s massive raids by state and federal police and intelligence agencies on homes in Sydney and Melbourne.

American artists and American tragedy

By David Walsh, 17 November 2005

Capote, directed by Bennett Miller, written by Dan Futterman, based on the book by Gerald Clarke

Memo exposes anti-democratic agenda of US Supreme Court nominee

By John Andrews and Barry Grey, 17 November 2005

A 1985 job application submitted by Samuel Alito, then seeking a promotion within the Reagan administration, demonstrates that President Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court is a life-long political reactionary committed to dismantling the social and legal gains achieved in the United States during the decades following World War II.

Students, parents rebuff US military recruiters

By Kate Randall, 17 November 2005

Students and parents are reacting to increasingly aggressive tactics by US military recruiters on high school campuses across the country. Unable to meet recruitment quotas and facing growing opposition to the war in Iraq, the Pentagon has boosted its advertising budget, launched a new TV ad campaign, and contracted a private firm to compile a massive database of potential recruits, some as young as 16 years old.

German parliament snubs Left Party’s chairman for fourth time

By Ulrich Rippert, 16 November 2005

In an act that exposed the undemocratic character of the German parliament (Bundestag), the candidature of Lothar Bisky of the new Left Party/Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) was rejected last week for one of the six posts of Bundestag deputy president. This marked the fourth consecutive time that Bisky was snubbed for the post.

“Only the SEP advances a clear program against war and social inequality”

By our correspondents, 16 November 2005

World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke to a number of those who attended the final Socialist Equality Party (SEP) meeting last Saturday for the November 17 presidential election in Sri Lanka.

Writing off Europe

By Gabriela Zabala-Notaras and Ismet Redzovic, 16 November 2005

Dead Europe, by Christos Tsiolkas, Sydney: Random House, 2005, 411 pp.

Senate Democrats back Iraq war, Guantánamo prison camp

By Patrick Martin, 16 November 2005

Senate Democrats went on record Tuesday to support the war in Iraq and the continued operation of the US concentration camp at Guantánamo Bay. A large majority of the 44 Senate Democrats lined up with the Republican majority and the Bush administration in key amendments to the defense appropriations bill. The Senate session culminated in a bipartisan 98-0 vote to approve the nearly $500 billion budget for the Pentagon.

Australian workers denounce new industrial laws

By our correspondents, 16 November 2005

A broad range of industrial and office workers, state and federal public servants, bank employees, teachers, self-employed workers, pensioners and students spoke with World Socialist Web Site reporters in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth yesterday during the mass demonstrations against the new industrial relations laws. (See “Australia: 500,000 workers demonstrate against Howard's industrial legislation”)

Colombo meeting concludes Sri Lankan SEP election campaign

By our correspondent, 16 November 2005

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka held its final public meeting for the November 17 presidential election in Colombo on Saturday afternoon. More than 150 workers, students, intellectuals and housewives came to hear the SEP candidate and general secretary Wije Dias. A number had travelled for hours from Kandy and Bandarawela in the central hills districts and from Ambalangoda in the south of the island.