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Britain: National Health Service faces funding crisis

By Robert Stevens, 31 December 2005

The Labour government has plunged the National Health Service (NHS) into a budgetary crisis. On December 2, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt ordered “hit squads” into 50 health authorities and trusts in England to prevent further “overspending.”

Canada: Liberal campaign side-swiped by insider-trading allegations

By Keith Jones, 31 December 2005

The Liberals’ re-election campaign has been sideswiped by allegations that some Bay Street firms and traders may have profited from prior knowledge of a government announcement concerning the taxation of corporate profits and stock dividends.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 31 December 2005

Asia

Germany: a revealing debate on Sudan military deployment

By Marius Heuser, 31 December 2005

The debate in the German Bundestag (parliament) on December 16 over the German army’s (Bundeswehr) deployment in the Sudan cast a revealing light on the role of the so-called parliamentary opposition. While the governing coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) constitutes 73 percent of all deputies, the three opposition parties—the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Left Party and the Greens—provide, at best, a pseudo-democratic fig leaf.

One year after the Asian tsunami: an indictment of the profit system

By Wije Dias (General Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka)), 31 December 2005

A year has gone by since the December 26 tsunami devastated the coastal belts of 12 countries from north Sumatra in South East Asia to Somalia and Kenya on the west coast of Africa. But a man-made disaster of massive proportions continues to blight the lives of the millions of survivors who still languish in appalling conditions without proper shelter, jobs, health care or education facilities for their children.

New reports expose extensive illegal spying by US government

By Joe Kay, 31 December 2005

Recent articles in the US media indicate that the illegal spying organized by the Bush administration has extended far beyond what was initially reported. It is becoming increasingly clear that the US government has been engaging in a massive operation that violates fundamental democratic and constitutional rights.

David Walsh picks his favorite films of 2005

By David Walsh, 30 December 2005

I include two lists below. The first contains what in my opinion were the best films shown in a cinema in the US in 2005 (although, in some cases, this might have meant only a limited run in New York and Los Angeles, for example). The second list includes films that I saw in 2005, at film festivals, for example, which I thought significant but which have not yet received a showing in an American movie theater.

Historical and political issues behind Iranian president’s anti-Semitic campaign

By Justus Leicht and Stephan Steinberg, 30 December 2005

In recent months, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly gone public with anti-Semitic declarations. He has described the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews during the Second World War as a “myth” concocted to justify the existence of Israel, refused to accept the claim that “Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews,” called for the state of Israel to be “wiped off the map” and demanded that Jews currently living in Israel be moved to Canada or Alaska.

Eugene McCarthy, dead at 89, played pivotal role in 1968 political crisis

By Patrick Martin, 30 December 2005

The death December 10 of former senator and US presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy provides an occasion for reviewing one of the most important chapters in recent American history—the political crisis that erupted in 1967-1968, shattering the administration of President Lyndon Johnson and giving a powerful impetus to the long-term decline and political decay of the Democratic Party.

Art as humanization

By David Walsh, 30 December 2005

Munich, directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, based on Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, by George Jonas

Indonesian court implicates intelligence agency in murder of human rights activist

By John Roberts, 30 December 2005

Pollycarpus Budihari Priyato, a pilot for the Indonesian state airline Garuda, was found guilty on December 20 of the murder of the internationally respected Indonesian human rights activist Munir Said Thalib and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment by the Jakarta Central District Court. The court dropped a political bomb shell, however, when it implicated members of the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the murder despite neither the prosecution case nor the accused himself making such a claim.

Pre-election terror and repression in Haiti

By Jonathan Keane, 30 December 2005

While the Bush administration and the US mass media focused enormous attention on the recent elections in Iraq—promoting them as supposed proof of Washington’s “democratizing” mission—preparations for another vote taking place in another invaded and occupied country just a few hundred miles off US shores are virtually ignored, and for good reason.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 30 December 2005

Europe

India’s tsunami victims abandoned

By T. Kala and Ram Kumar, 30 December 2005

One year after the tsunami devastated southern Asia, millions of people in the southern and eastern coastal areas of India are yet to return to their normal lives. Contrary to the big promises made by the national and Tamil Nadu state governments, relief and rehabilitation measures largely remain in the distant future.

Israel mounts air attacks on Gaza and Lebanon

By Chris Marsden, 30 December 2005

The Israeli government has dramatically escalated its offensive against the Palestinians, with war planes mounting attacks on the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon. Both attacks were carried out on the pretext of responding to rockets fired by Palestinian militant groups.

Maruthamunai: a tsunami-devastated village in Sri Lanka

By A. Shanthakumar and W.A. Sunil, 29 December 2005

Last week a WSWS reporting team visited Maruthamunai, one of the villages in Sri Lanka most affected by the tsunami last December. It is situated in the Amparai district, about 260 kilometres from Colombo in the war-ravaged eastern province.

Tentative contract a setback for New York City transit workers

By Bill Van Auken, 29 December 2005

The tentative settlement announced by Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 President Roger Toussaint Tuesday night represents a significant setback not only for New York City’s 34,000 bus and subway workers who struck the city’s transit system for two-and-a-half days last week, but for the working class as a whole.

Letters from our readers

By , 29 December 2005

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

Sri Lankan SEP to commemorate anniversary of Keerthi Balasuriya’s death

By , 29 December 2005

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka will hold a public lecture to commemorate the eighteenth anniversary of the death of Keerthi Balasuriya, the founding general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), the SEP’s forerunner. Comrade Keerthi died of a sudden heart attack on December 18, 1987 at the age of just 39. His untimely death was a great loss to the RCL and to the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) as a whole.

Harold Pinter’s artistic achievement

By Paul Bond, 29 December 2005

When playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October 2005, it produced anxiety within government circles in Britain. Pinter’s determined opposition to US and British foreign policy, and his resistance to the renewed imperialist carve-up of the globe centring on the war against Iraq, have brought attacks on him from many quarters. His fellow playwright David Hare noted that not a single party leader in Britain had congratulated Pinter on the award. This was hardly surprising, given the support the major parties in Britain gave to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

One year after the tsunami, Sri Lankan survivors still live in squalour

By W.A. Sunil, 29 December 2005

On the anniversary of the December 26 tsunami, the Sri Lankan government called for two minutes silence nationwide in “commemoration of the dead,” for prayers by people of all religions and for the organised giving of alms. Given that many tsunami survivors are still living in squalid temporary accommodation, the whole exercise was a sham.

New Orleans police gun down mentally ill man

By Joanne Laurier, 29 December 2005

A New Orleans man, described by relatives as mentally ill, was gunned down by police on Monday. Anthony Hayes, 38, was killed after allegedly lunging at police with a three-inch blade. Three bystanders videotaped part of Hayes’s confrontation with some 18 police officers, three of whom fired nine shots at the man.

US, UN dismiss claims of electoral fraud in Iraq

By James Cogan, 29 December 2005

The Bush administration, with the endorsement of the United Nations, has dismissed out of hand claims by a range of Sunni Arab-based political parties that the December 15 elections were rigged by the ruling Shiite fundamentalist United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) and the Kurdish Alliance (KA).

Liberal philistinism revisited: Richard Cohen on Syriana

By David Walsh, 28 December 2005

In a particularly swinish column published December 13, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post attacked the film Syriana, directed by Stephen Gaghan and featuring George Clooney (who was also executive producer). Cohen accuses the Gaghan-Clooney film of being incomprehensible, clichéd and simplistic in its highly critical view of US foreign policy in the Middle East.

California Democratic Party works to prop up Schwarzenegger administration

By Andrea Peters, 28 December 2005

In the aftermath of November’s California Special Election, the Democratic Party is acting as a critical prop for the beleaguered administration of Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Democrats responded to Schwarzenegger’s political debacle in the Special Election, in which all of his favored ballot initiatives were defeated, by calling for a new spirit of bipartisanship. The governor responded by appointing a prominent Democrat as his new chief of staff.

Spain: Auto unions agree redundancies at SEAT

By Daniel O’Rourke and Paul Mitchell, 28 December 2005

After months of talks and a series of militant strikes, unions at Volkswagen’s Spanish subsidiary have agreed to hundreds of redundancies. Some 686 workers will lose their jobs at SEAT, which employs about 16,000 autoworkers, mainly at the Martorell complex in Barcelona.

The futile pursuit of reformism

By Clare Dennis, 28 December 2005

Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, by Barbara Ehrenreich, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt 2005

British court rules Guantánamo detainee David Hicks entitled to UK citizenship

By Richard Phillips, 28 December 2005

In a politically embarrassing decision for the Australian government, a British High Court has ruled that Australian citizen David Hicks, who has been incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay for almost four years, has the right to a UK passport.

Signs of social and economic crisis across Pacific Island states

By John Braddock, 28 December 2005

A wave of political and industrial struggles has broken out in small Pacific Island states during the last quarter of 2005. These clashes are a sign of deepening social tensions throughout the region as global economic uncertainty and the impact of the agenda of market reform buffets Pacific micro-states.

Germany: Court penalises Opel worker

By Ulrich Rippert, 28 December 2005

On December 19, the Labour Tribunal in Hamm (North Rhine-Westphalia) found against Opel worker Richard Kaczorowski in a judgement that makes a mockery of any serious judicial procedure. The court sided unconditionally with the auto concern, Adam Opel AG, whose management had summarily dismissed Kaczorowski last year as an example to all those who had participated in the week-long strike in October 2004.

Latin American mercenaries guarding Baghdad’s Green Zone

By Cesar Uco, 28 December 2005

Wilder Gutierrez Rubio, 38, died a few hours after arriving in Lima, Peru on December 6. Days before, he had been diagnosed with severe leukemia at Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad and immediately flown back to his home country.

Bush employs “Big Lie” technique to defend illegal spying on Americans

By Barry Grey, 24 December 2005

The Bush administration is employing its standard tactics of fear-mongering, intimidation and lies to defend its illegal spying on Americans. Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration spokesmen repeatedly assert that Bush’s secret authorization for the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor international telephone calls and email messages sent from the US without obtaining court-issued warrants does not violate either legal statutes or the Constitution.

New York City transit worker speaks: “They’re churning up the next American revolution”

By Jerry Isaacs, 24 December 2005

The World Socialist Web Site spoke with a New York City transit worker after the leadership of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 called off the strike by 34,000 workers Thursday without attaining a contract.

Marx and democratic rights

By Ann Talbot, 24 December 2005

Tony Evans, The Politics of Human Rights: A global perspective, Pluto Press, 2005

New York City transit strike was quashed by the unions

By Bill Van Auken, 24 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

International donor group for Sri Lanka issues menacing threat to LTTE

By K. Ratnayake, 24 December 2005

The co-chairs of the Sri Lankan donors’ group—the US, EU, Japan and Norway—met on Monday and “strongly urged” the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to hold “immediate talks” to review the current ceasefire agreement “without further delay or prevarication.”

New York City transit strike was quashed by the unions

By Bill Van Auken, 24 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

Global criminality

By James Brookfield, 24 December 2005

Syriana, written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, based on See No Evil by Robert Baer

Worst hospital fire in China since 1949

By John Chan, 24 December 2005

A fire on December 16 in a major hospital in Liaoyuan, a city in China’s northeastern Jilin province, killed at least 39 people and left over 180 injured.

India’s foreign policy struggle intensifies

By Arun Kumar, 24 December 2005

The removal of Natwar Singh from the Congress [party] Steering Committee and the Union cabinet is further evidence of the fierce struggle within India’s political and economic elite over the country’s foreign policy. At the center of this struggle is the extent of India’s military and geopolitical ties with the United States, a country which during the Cold War was firmly aligned with India’s traditional arch-rival, Pakistan, and repeatedly tried to bully New Delhi into serving its interests.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 24 December 2005

Indian workers protest provident fund cuts

East Asian Summit plagued by tension and rivalry

By John Chan, 23 December 2005

The first East Asian Summit (EAS) held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on December 14 left a big question mark over whether the project for an “East Asian Community” will even get off the ground.

EU budget talks reveal mounting European conflicts

By Peter Schwarz, 23 December 2005

After thirty hours of marathon negotiations, European Union government leaders at a late night meeting on December 16 agreed on an EU budget for 2007 to 2013.

Letters on the New York transit strike

By , 23 December 2005

The following is a selection of letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on the New York transit strike. We encourage transit workers and supporters to continue send in comments and reports on the strike.

The sudden end of the New York transit strike: A preliminary assessment

By the World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, 23 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

Billions in bonuses for Wall Street execs, mayor denounces “selfish” transit workers

By Jerry Isaacs, 23 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 23 December 2005

Europe

Sydney’s racial violence: a warning from Sri Lanka

By Wije Dias and general secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka, 23 December 2005

The working class in Australia and internationally must take serious warning from the racial violence that erupted in the suburbs of Sydney on December 11. The events of that day reveal how base racialist instincts are aroused and manipulated by the political establishment to further its broader agenda of destroying the democratic rights of all working people, irrespective of their background.

Quebec government adopts draconian law against half-million public sector workers

By Richard Dufour, 23 December 2005

An extraordinary session of the Quebec National Assembly, on Thursday, December 15, rammed through a Liberal government law that decrees the wages and working conditions of 500,000 hospital workers, teachers, civil servants, school support staff and other provincial public-sector employees until March 2010.

US Senate passes budget bill slashing social programs

By Joe Kay, 23 December 2005

The US Senate finished up the final days of its session for the year by pushing through a top priority measure—a budget reconciliation bill that will cut spending in entitlement programs for students, the poor and the elderly. Once the bill is signed into law, it will mark the first cutback in entitlement spending in nearly a decade.

Behind the media onslaught on the transit workers

By Peter Daniels, 23 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

Letters on three months since Hurricane Katrina

By , 22 December 2005

The following is a selection of letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on the article, “Three months after the Katrina disaster: New Orleans left for dead” .

New York transit strikers confront escalating attacks

By the World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, 22 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

India: Dozens killed in second stampede at Chennai flood relief centre

By Arun Kumar, 22 December 2005

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 42 people were killed, including 23 women, and 37 injured in a stampede at an emergency flood-relief distribution centre in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The tragedy took place as flood victims queued to receive food aid at the Arignar Anna Model Higher Secondary Corporation School in MGR Nagar, in Central Chennai. The stampede was the second at an aid centre in Tamil Nadu since floods devastated areas of the state in October. On November 6, six women were trampled to death and 20 others injured in Vyasarpadi, north Madras.

Time names super-rich trio as 2005 “Persons of the Year”

By Kate Randall, 22 December 2005

The past year witnessed a number of horrific human tragedies. As 2005 began, South Asia was reeling from the powerful tsunami that struck December 26, 2004, washing away the lives of hundreds of thousands in a matter of minutes and ravaging an entire region of the globe.

Letters from our readers

By , 22 December 2005

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

The class issues behind Australia’s race riots

By the Socialist Equality Party, 22 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

New York City transit workers defiant

By a WSWS reporting team, 22 December 2005

On the second day of the strike by 34,000 New York City transit workers, they expressed defiance in the face of threats of massive fines, the media campaign to vilifying them and the treachery of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) International leadership. Picket lines have been set up at train and bus depots throughout the five boroughs of the city, in neighborhoods where transit workers live and are well known.

Northern Ireland spy scandal: Questions Sinn Fein must answer

By by Socialist Equality Party (Britain), 22 December 2005

The exposure of leading Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson as a British spy raises profound questions.

Court rules teaching of Intelligent Design unconstitutional in public schools

By Joe Kay, 21 December 2005

A US district court in Pennsylvania ruled on Tuesday that the teaching of Intelligent Design is unconstitutional in public school science classrooms. In a strongly worded decision, Judge John Jones III found that ID is a religious conception, and that a pro-ID policy developed by the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

German Interior Minister Schäuble wants to lock up “dangerous people”

By Peter Schwarz, 21 December 2005

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democratic Union—CDU) wants to tighten up the country’s anti-terror laws and amend the constitution to allow the deployment of the armed forces during the football World Cup in 2006.

Sri Lankan military fires on Jaffna university protest

By our Jaffna correspondents, 21 December 2005

On two successive days this week, the Sri Lankan security forces have fired on and assaulted unarmed protesters from Jaffna University. These provocative actions have further inflamed an already tense situation in northern Sri Lanka and threaten to undermine the three-year ceasefire between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

New York transit workers set up picket lines: “Today’s strike is for all working people”

By a WSWS reporting team, 21 December 2005

Tens of thousands of New York City transit workers walked off the job Tuesday morning and set up picket lines at bus barns and train yards scattered throughout the city, shutting down operations that move some seven million passengers daily, the largest mass transit system in the US.

Britain: Facts and myths about Turner’s plans for pensions

By Jean Shaoul, 21 December 2005

This is the conclusion of a two-part series examining Lord Turner’s proposals for reforming Britain’s pensions. The first part was posted December 20.

Australia: Beach suburbs “locked down” in weekend police blitz

By Terry Cook, 21 December 2005

Repressive new laws rushed through an emergency session of parliament in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) last Thursday were immediately put to use over the weekend on the pretext of countering further outbreaks of racial violence.

The New York transit strike: A new stage in the class struggle

By the World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, 21 December 2005

This article is available as a PDF leaflet to download and distribute

With the White House defiant on illegal spying: Why no outcry for Bush’s impeachment?

By Patrick Martin, 21 December 2005

Despite the brazen declaration by President Bush that he authorized illegal electronic eavesdropping on Americans and will continue to do so, in defiance of clear legislative prohibitions, the response in official Washington has been remarkably muted. There has been some verbal condemnation and calls for congressional hearings on the secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), but no serious consideration of the constitutional remedy for presidential lawbreaking: impeachment.

After the Iraq election: Washington steps in to shape the next government

By James Cogan, 21 December 2005

The first results for the December 15 election in occupied Iraq indicate that the largest block of the 275 seats in the next parliament will be once again held by the Shiite fundamentalist United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), with most of the remainder held by other explicitly sectarian formations—the Kurdish Alliance (KA) and coalitions of Sunni Arab parties.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 20 December 2005

Latin America

Australia: Major companies continue layoffs as economy slows

By Terry Cook, 20 December 2005

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello recently seized on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour force figures for November showing a 0.1 percent fall in the unemployment rate to claim “better was to come”. “Prospects for jobs creation continuing into the future are strong,” he glowingly declared.

Britain: Facts and myths about Turner’s plans for pensions

By Jean Shaoul, 20 December 2005

This is the first of a two-part series examining Lord Turner’s proposals for reforming Britain’s pensions.

New York City transit workers defy threats and strike

By Bill Van Auken, 20 December 2005

New York City’s 34,000 bus and subway workers, defying threats of fines and imprisonment, walked off the job at 3:00 a.m. Tuesday morning after their union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, rejected the demands of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for sweeping concessions on pensions, health care and working conditions.

An interview with Tolga Ornëk, director of Gallipoli: The Front Line Experience

By Richard Phillips, 20 December 2005

Turkish director Tolga Ornëk has made six major documentaries since he began filmmaking in 1998. These include, Atatürk (1998), Mount Nemrud: The Throne of the Gods (1999), Eregli: The Heart of Steel (2002) and The Hittites (2003).

Bush uses lies, fear-mongering to defend war in Iraq, police state measures at home

By Bill Van Auken, 20 December 2005

In his nationally televised address from the White House Oval Office Sunday night, George W. Bush reprised the barefaced lies, distortions and appeals to fear and political backwardness that characterized the last such speech delivered by the US president, announcing the onset of the unprovoked US “shock and awe” onslaught against Iraq 33 months ago.

Indian government steps into Nepalese political crisis

By W.A. Sunil, 20 December 2005

The visit last week by Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran to Kathmandu highlights New Delhi’s growing concern over political instability in Nepal and its impact on Indian interests. Saran put pressure on King Gyanendra to restore parliamentary democracy and to begin negotiations to end the civil war with Maoist guerrillas.

Germany: Sacked Opel worker appeals to Industrial Court

By Wolfgang Weber, 20 December 2005

More than a year after the one-week strike by Opel workers at the Bochum factory against massive job cuts and plans by Opel’s parent company, General Motors, to close plants, a fresh appeal has been lodged in the state Industrial Court in the city of Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia, against the subsequent sacking of a worker.

US House passes draconian anti-immigrant bill

By Joe Kay, 19 December 2005

The US House of Representatives passed a sweeping anti-immigration bill on December 16, laced with measures that, if passed, would create a virtual military-police zone along the US-Mexican border. The bill would criminalize all undocumented immigrants, would vastly expand the powers of the state to target these immigrants, and poses serious threats to the democratic rights of all workers in the US.

Australia: Unions isolate locked-out Boeing workers

By Noel Holt and Terry Cook, 19 December 2005

Engineering workers locked out by Boeing Australia at the Williamtown air force base near Newcastle have been left on a picket line for months by the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

New York City transit workers on brink of class confrontation

By Peter Daniels, 19 December 2005

The following article is available in PDF format. We urge all transit workers and their supporters to download and circulate it widely.

Bush defends illegal spying on Americans: the specter of presidential dictatorship

By Barry Grey, 19 December 2005

President George Bush’s defense of his illegal authorization for the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor phone conversations and email in the US without court approval is an assertion of unchecked executive power.

Germany: Social inequality is constantly growing

By Dietmar Henning, 19 December 2005

A new report has found that the gap between rich and poor in Germany has grown considerably and will continue to do so. The report, published recently by the Economics and Sociological Institute (WSI) of the trade-union financed Hans Böckler Foundation, was titled “Life is good for the wealthy.”

France: New law requires teachers to present a “positive” account of French colonialism

By Antoine Lerougetel, 19 December 2005

On November 29 the French National Assembly confirmed its support for a law that glorifies French colonial conquest and the French empire and makes it obligatory for teachers to give a favourable gloss to the history of this brutal past.

WTO talks keep trade round on life support

By Nick Beams, 19 December 2005

In the end an agreement was reached and outright collapse avoided, but the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Hong Kong could do nothing to disguise the deep divisions within the world economy. And the agreement itself is something of an absurdity.

McCain-Bush “anti-torture” measure gives legal cover for continued abuse

By Joe Kay and Barry Grey, 17 December 2005

The agreement reached between the Bush White House and Senator John McCain on a measure ostensibly banning torture does nothing of the kind. The official disavowal of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of alleged terrorists held by the US is a ploy to cover up Washington’s past defiance of international laws banning torture and provide a pseudo-legal cover for the continuation of the same methods.

German government complicit in the criminal activities of the CIA

By Elizabeth Zimermann and Ulrich Rippert, 17 December 2005

After considerable hesitation and a string of excuses, three German ministers made statements on Wednesday on the kidnapping of German citizen Khalid al-Masri by the US secret service, the CIA. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democratic Party, SPD) gave a report to the Foreign Affairs Committee, Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries (SPD)—who occupied the same post in the previous government led by Gerhard Schröder—answered questions in the Legal Affairs Committee, and Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) reported to the Interior Committee.

Document proves European Union agreed to CIA rendition flights

By Chris Marsden, 17 December 2005

Attempts by European governments to deny knowledge their airports were used by the CIA to fly detainees to facilities where they could be tortured has unravelled. A document obtained by the civil rights group Statewatch confirms that the European Union (EU) agreed to such flights as part of a wider programme of joint security operations with the Bush administration in 2003.

Australian government unveils military restructure and new callout powers

By Mike Head, 17 December 2005

At a media conference staged in a Sydney military barracks this week, Prime Minister John Howard and Defence Minister Robert Hill released plans to expand and restructure the Australian armed forces for greater use against civilians, both at home and abroad.

Sri Lanka: police raids against CWC leaders

By S. Jayanth, 17 December 2005

Two police raids against the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) in the past three weeks appear to be part of a political operation by the newly elected President Mahinda Rajapakse to split the party and gain the support of some of its MPs to shore up his weak minority government.

Letters from our readers

By , 17 December 2005

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

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 17 December 2005

Workers protest factory fire deaths

New York City transit union calls selective strikes

By Bill Van Auken, 17 December 2005

After continuing negotiations for four and a half hours after the expiration of its old contract, Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100, representing 34,000 New York City bus and subway workers, declared on Friday morning that it had rejected what management described as its “final offer.”

Letters on the killing of Rigoberto Alpizar

By , 16 December 2005

The following is a selection of letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on the killing of Rigoberto Alpizar by US air marshals in Miami, Florida.

Israel: Shimon Peres joins Sharon’s new party

By Rick Kelly, 16 December 2005

Former Israeli Labour Party leader and ex-prime minister Shimon Peres held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on December 4 to formally announce that he was quitting Labour to join Sharon’s new Kadima (“Forward”) Party. Peres’s defection follows that of two other Labour cabinet ministers, Haim Ramon and Dalia Itzik.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 16 December 2005

Europe

New Zealand: new Labour-led government under pressure for more market reform

By John Braddock, 16 December 2005

New Zealand’s new Labour-led government has begun its term in office under increasing pressure to implement a new round of austerity measures aimed at attacking the living standards of working people while handing out tax breaks to business and the wealthy.

By , 16 December 2005

On December 14 officials from the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) and Irish Ferries reached an agreement to an end the 20-day-long industrial action at the company, following all-night talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) in Dublin.

Canada: Martin wraps himself in the Maple Leaf after scolding from US envoy

By Keith Jones, 16 December 2005

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has increased the volume and intensity of his nationalist rhetoric following a mid-election campaign scolding from the US ambassador.

The political issues confronting New York City transit workers

By Bill Van Auken, 16 December 2005

The confrontation between New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the city’s 38,000 bus and subway workers poses in the sharpest manner critical political questions facing transit workers and working people generally in New York and throughout the US.

Iraqi election to rubber-stamp continued US occupation

By Patrick Martin, 16 December 2005

The Bush administration and the American media are, predictably, hailing the December 15 election as a giant step towards democracy in Iraq. In reality, as they well know, Thursday’s balloting only provides a parliamentary screen—and a very thin one—for continued US occupation and domination. Whatever the outcome of the voting, real power in the oil-rich country will remain firmly in the hands of the American military and the chief US representative in Baghdad, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

Chinese police massacre protestors in Guangdong

By John Chan, 15 December 2005

In a vicious attack on protesting farmers and fishermen in the southern province of Guangdong, Chinese paramilitary police opened fire with pistols and automatic rifles and killed at least four people during two nights of clashes on December 6 and 7. The bloody repression took place in Dongzhou, a community of 10,000 rural residents near Shanwei city.