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China and India manoeuvre to secure energy supplies

By Parwini Zora and Niall Green, 31 January 2006

“We look on China not as a strategic competitor but as a strategic partner,” said the Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar during his January 10-13 visit to Beijing.

Hussein trial descends into a legal farce

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2006

When it resumed last Sunday, the trial of Saddam Hussein soon became a shambles, once again underlining the bogus character of the court set up and managed by the Bush administration.

Canadian mine rescue highlights failings of US mine safety

By Jerry Isaacs, 31 January 2006

The successful recovery Monday morning of 70 Canadian miners trapped underground for 24 hours provides a striking contrast to the backward and dysfunctional mine safety system in the US, where 15 miners have perished since the beginning of the year.

Letters from our readers

By , 31 January 2006

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

US military recruiters target rural and depressed areas

By Joe Parks, 31 January 2006

As the quagmire the US confronts in Iraq deepens and casualties continue to mount for US forces, the military’s ability to replace those fallen with fresh recruits from high schools, colleges and workplaces throughout America has become increasingly difficult. Military recruiters and their commanding officers are taking desperate measures to meet the recruitment numbers needed to sustain a war that is as rapidly losing support within the military as it has with the American public.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 31 January 2006

Protests in Venezuela over lack of housing

With the help of the Democrats, Alito to be confirmed as US Supreme Court Justice

By Joe Kay, 31 January 2006

The Senate voted by a 72-25 margin on Monday afternoon to close debate on the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito. The number voting for cloture was well above the 60 required to halt a filibuster. The 44 Democrats were divided nearly evenly, with 19 voting to close debate, while 25 voted to allow it to continue.

France: Students mobilise against destruction of working conditions for youth

By Antoine Lerougetel, 31 January 2006

Organisations representing French university and high school students (lycéens) have called for a week of mass meetings and mobilisations all over France, starting January 30, in preparation for a national demonstration February 7 against the proposed First Job Contract (CPE—Contrat première embauche). Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin’s project, supposedly a response to the youth disturbances that rocked the country for three weeks last October and November, will give employers the right to sack young workers without justification during the first two years after being taken on.

Australian state government set to dredge Melbourne’s bay despite opposition

By Perla Astudillo, 31 January 2006

Under intense pressure from the city’s business establishment, the Victorian state Labor government is preparing to carry out a major dredging operation in Port Phillip Bay despite considerable public opposition.

US, EU threaten cut-off of funds to Palestinian Authority following Hamas victory

By Chris Marsden, 30 January 2006

The election of Hamas has been met with threats by the United States, Europe and Israel to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Punishment Park—1970s radical protest film released on DVD

By Clare Hurley, 30 January 2006

Punishment Park, a film by veteran British director and political radical Peter Watkins (La Commune, Edvard Munch) that was made in 1970, was recently released on DVD by New Yorker Films. The film is a pseudo-documentary made amidst the escalation of the Vietnam War and the growth of the antiwar protest movement. Watkins was roused to make it by the Kent State shootings of four students by the Ohio National Guard in May 1970. The movie is an unrestrained depiction of a United States that has been turned into a police state in which all political dissent has been outlawed.

Sri Lankan government and LTTE agree to hold talks

By Sarath Kumara, 30 January 2006

After considerable international pressure, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last Wednesday agreed to hold talks next month in Geneva for the first time since April 2003.

Born into disadvantage—Australian children face growing inequality

By Erika Zimmer, 30 January 2006

Child health research professor Fiona Stanley, whom the Howard government named Australian of the Year in 2003, has co-authored Children of the Lucky Country? a work that brings together wide-ranging data concerning Australian children, including economic, physical and mental health indicators.

Diabetes in the US: a social epidemic

By Peter Daniels, 30 January 2006

A recent series of articles in the New York Times highlighted a phenomenon that has increasingly alarmed public health advocates in the United States: a virtual epidemic of Type 2 diabetes throughout the country, an epidemic that is growing at a faster pace in New York City than anywhere else.

Army court martial conceals CIA involvement in death of former Iraqi general

By Andre Damon, 30 January 2006

An army court martial convicted Chief Warrant OfficerLewis E. Welshofer of negligent homicide on January 22 for killing Abed Hamed Mowhoush, a former major general in the Iraqi military.

Bush defends NSA spying program at White House press conference

By Joe Kay, 28 January 2006

US President George W. Bush’s remarks at a White House press conference on Thursday, and in an interview with CBS News broadcast on Friday, are further indications that the administration is going on the offensive in support of one of its central tenets: an insistence on the unconstrained powers of the executive branch.

Spain: More military threats against Zapatero government

By Paul Stuart, 28 January 2006

Further military threats have been made against the Socialist Party (PSOE) government in Spain. Following Spanish General Mena’s threat to deploy the military to oppose the passing of a statute granting greater autonomy to Catalonia, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has attempted to downplay the incident as the actions of a maverick. But the British Financial Times reported that Captain González of the notorious Legionnaires has now published a letter attacking Zapatero and describing widespread hostility in the military to the Catalan Statute which he says threatens the unity of the Spanish “fatherland.”

General Motors lost $8.6 billion in 2005

By Jerry Isaacs, 28 January 2006

Calling it “one of the most difficult years in GM’s history,” General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner announced Thursday that the world’s largest automaker had lost $4.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005 and $8.6 billion for the entire year. The company has posted five consecutive quarterly losses and its first unprofitable year since the recession of 1992.

White House stonewalls official Hurricane Katrina inquiry

By Naomi Spencer, 28 January 2006

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British scientist challenges pharmaceutical company over research paper

By Chris Talbot, 28 January 2006

A British scientist, Dr. Aubrey Blumsohn, has criticised a major pharmaceutical company’s “unethical behaviour” for putting forward a research paper in his name without giving him proper access to the data on which the investigation was based.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia & the Pacific

By , 28 January 2006

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The Democrats and Alito’s Supreme Court confirmation

By Joe Kay, 27 January 2006

The US Senate’s all but certain confirmation of Samuel Alito as associate justice of the Supreme Court will shift the court even further to the right and facilitate the ongoing attack on democratic rights and social conditions in the United States.

George Galloway on “Celebrity Big Brother”

By Chris Marsden, 27 January 2006

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Lessons from the Great Flood of 1927

By Shannon Jones, 27 January 2006

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi flood and how it changed America, by John M. Barry, Touchstone 1998

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 27 January 2006

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Hamas victory in Palestinian election

By Rick Kelly, 27 January 2006

The Islamist organisation Hamas recorded a sweeping victory in Wednesday’s election for the Palestinian legislative council. With 95 percent of the vote counted, Hamas was projected to secure 76 of the 132 seats in the parliament.

Thousands of Sri Lankan garment workers retrenched

By Saman Gunadasa, 27 January 2006

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Bush mine safety official walks out of Senate hearing into Sago disaster

By Samuel Davidson and Jerry Isaacs, 27 January 2006

David Dye, the acting director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), walked out halfway through a two-hour Senate hearing Monday on the Sago Mine disaster, refusing to answer questions about his agency’s failure to enforce safety regulations that might have saved 14 West Virginia miners who were killed in two separate accidents this month.

German government blocking inquiry into secret aid provided for Iraq invasion

By Justus Leicht and Peter Schwarz, 26 January 2006

The German government is strenuously seeking to prevent a parliamentary committee of inquiry aimed at clarifying the role played by Germany’s former Social Democratic (SPD)-Green Party coalition in supporting the Iraq war and other illegal practices carried out by the US government. All of the parties in Germany’s current grand coalition elected last autumn—the SPD, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU)—are working in unison to prevent any parliamentary investigation.

What Al Gore’s speech reveals about the state of US politics

By Patrick Martin, 26 January 2006

In the ten days that have passed since the January 16 speech delivered by Al Gore in Washington charging President Bush with trampling on the Constitution in his conduct of the “war on terror,” the former vice president has been alternately vilified, ridiculed or ignored. There has been little serious discussion of his criticisms of the Bush administration, however, outside of the World Socialist Web Site. (See: “Bush administration domestic spying provokes lawsuits, calls for impeachment”)

France: Judge Bruguière—utilising anti-terrorism as a political instrument

By Antoine Lerougetel, 26 January 2006

On January 9, Nizar Sassi was released from jail on the orders of Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière. The young Frenchman, indicted for no crime, had been detained by the American authorities for two-and-a-half years and a further one-and-a-half years by the French.

Australian corporate executives rake in millions

By Barry Jobson and Terry Cook, 26 January 2006

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Letters from our readers

By , 26 January 2006

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

In the background of the Sago Mine disaster -- part 2

By Shannon Jones, 26 January 2006

The following is the second part of an article on the historic struggles of US coal miners.

Protests against UN and French occupation of Ivory Coast

By Ann Talbot, 26 January 2006

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US: New Medicare plan triggers health crisis for thousands

By E. Galen and Joanne Laurier, 26 January 2006

The debut of the new Medicare drug plan has been a disaster for tens of thousands of seniors and other eligible participants. Starting from the first week of its implementation on January 1, the program was so riddled by confusion and incompetence that more than two dozen states were forced to take emergency action to pay for prescription drugs that people were not able to obtain by using the plan. Low-income beneficiaries were often overcharged or arrived at pharmacies to discover their old drug benefits had been cancelled, but were not listed as eligible for the new program.

In the background of the Sago Mine disaster -- part 1

By Shannon Jones, 25 January 2006

The first in a two-part series on the social and political background to the Sago Mine disaster.

Bush administration launches campaign of lies in defense of government spying

By Joe Kay, 25 January 2006

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England and Wales lead Europe in imprisonment

By Harvey Thompson, 25 January 2006

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Canada’s new Conservative government will intensify assault on workers’ and democratic rights

By Keith Jones, 25 January 2006

Under the leadership of neo-conservative ideologue Stephen Harper, the Conservatives won a plurality of House of Commons seats in Monday’s general election.

Homeless suffer in Indian cold wave

By Deepal Jayasekera, 25 January 2006

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Germany: Workers strike at AEG’s Nuremberg plant

By Markus Salzmann, 25 January 2006

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Seven-year-old girl murdered in Brooklyn

By Sandy English, 25 January 2006

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China’s growing trade with Africa indicative of Sino-Western energy conflicts

By Brian Smith, 24 January 2006

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By , 24 January 2006

Latin America

Ford to cut 30,000 jobs in North America

By Joe Kay, 24 January 2006

Ford Motor Company announced plans on Monday to eliminate between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs by 2012. This amounts to more than 20 percent of the company’s North American workforce, and nearly 30 percent of its manufacturing jobs, where the bulk of the reductions will take place. The Ford plan is only the latest stage in a major assault by US automakers on the jobs, wages and benefits of their workers, an assault that is having devastating consequences throughout the US, Canada and other countries.

India: victims of Gujarat pogrom found in mass grave

By Jake Skeers, 24 January 2006

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SEP public meeting on Canadian elections

By David Adelaide, 24 January 2006

Canada’s federal election was held Monday, January 23. The World Socialist Web Site will post an initial assessment of the results on Wednesday, January 25.

Germany: Turhan Ersin wins case against dismissal at Opel

By Dietmar Henning, 24 January 2006

On Friday, January 13, Turhan Ersin won his case in the labor court in Bochum in Germany in his appeal against dismissal. His employer, the Adam Opel company, was seeking to sack Ersin who is a member of his factory’s works council. The court chaired by Judge Dieter Vermaasen threw out Opel’s request.

Northwest Airlines demands concessions, job cuts in bankruptcy court

By Ron Jorgenson, 24 January 2006

WSWS : Workers Struggles

New accident claims two more West Virginia coal miners

By Samuel Davidson, 23 January 2006

Tragedy again gripped the coalfields of West Virginia on Saturday, as the bodies of two miners trapped since Thursday night by a fire were recovered at the Alma No. 1 Mine in Melville, about 60 miles southwest of the state capital of Charleston, in Logan County. The two men had been making an effort to escape but were blocked by the intense heat and smoke, according to West Virginia state officials. The two men were identified as Don Bragg and Ellery Hatfield.

Palestinian election reveals widespread hostility to Abbas

By Rick Kelly, 23 January 2006

Elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, scheduled for January 25, are set to deepen the political crisis facing President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Public hostility to Abbas over its readiness to abide by the dictates of Washington and Tel Aviv has exacerbated the anger generated by the corruption and nepotism of the PA regime—manifest in the worsening social inequalities within the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Bush administration report defends spying, unconstrained executive powers

By Joe Kay, 23 January 2006

The Bush administration is responding to revelations of illegal government spying by mounting a campaign to defend its actions, employing the same arguments that have been used to justify a massive expansion of executive powers on a number of different fronts. Far from retreating in the face of media reports of the secret National Security Agency (NSA) program to spy on US citizens, the administration has declared that it cannot be constrained in carrying out these actions.

New York City transit workers reject contract

By Peter Daniels, 23 January 2006

This article is also available as a PDF download.

Por una alternativa socialista en los comicios del 2006 en Estados Unidos

By , 23 January 2006

WSWS : Español

California Democrats rally behind Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

By Andrea Peters, 23 January 2006

California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has started the new year by continuing his tactical turn toward the Democratic Party and the trade unions. Combining calls for the creation of an infrastructure-rebuilding program with proposals for a token increase in the minimum wage and spending on education, Schwarzenegger is crafting a 2006 policy agenda aimed at courting his so-called political opponents across the political aisle.

Two missing in fire at West Virginia coal mine

By Larry Porter and Jerry Isaacs, 21 January 2006

Less than three weeks after the Sago Mine disaster claimed the lives of 12 coal miners, two more men were trapped in a West Virginia mine Thursday night after a fire on a conveyor belt spread poisonous carbon monoxide throughout the mine. At the time of this writing, rescuers have not been able to reach the two miners, identified as Ellery Hatfield and Donald Bragg, who were separated from co-workers as they made the two-hour journey to escape the smoke-filled mine.

Not so much fun for Dick and Jane

By Joanne Laurier, 21 January 2006

Fun with Dick and Jane, directed by Dean Parisot, screenplay by Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller

US government demands Google hand over Internet search data

By Mike Ingram, 21 January 2006

The US Department of Justice has asked a federal judge in San Jose, California, to compel Internet search giant Google to comply with a subpoena issued last year to turn over records that detail millions of Internet searches.

Britain: Report into death of Jean Charles de Menezes handed to Crown Prosecution Service

By Chris Marsden, 21 January 2006

A report on the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the 27-year-old Brazilian man shot by police at Stockwell Tube station in London the day after the abortive July 21 bombings, has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 21 January 2006

Asia

French president Chirac threatens nuclear retaliation in the event of terrorist attacks

By Peter Schwarz, 21 January 2006

The French president, Jacques Chirac, has threatened states which support terrorist attacks on France and its strategic interests, or which contemplate the use of weapons of mass destruction, with retaliatory nuclear strikes. He announced this new definition of French defence strategy on Thursday at the nuclear powered submarine base, Ile Longue in Brittany.

The political issues behind the Iranian nuclear confrontation

By the Editorial Board, 21 January 2006

The escalating confrontation between Iran and the major powers over Tehran’s nuclear programs raises crucial political issues.

Germany: Finance Minister Steinbrück’s tirade against the welfare state

By Lena Sokoll, 21 January 2006

In a major speech to the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) last week, Federal Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrück (SPD) has again confirmed that the role of the Social Democrats in Germany’s current grand coalition with the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and CSU (Christian Social Union) is not to restrain its partner from excesses. Rather, the SPD plays the predominant role in demanding and implementing the destruction of Germany’s welfare state.

Canadian elections herald a dramatic intensification of class conflict

By Keith Jones, 21 January 2006

Whatever the results of Monday’s federal election, whichever party or combination of parties forms Canada’s next government, the coming period will see a dramatic intensification of class conflict.

Bush administration uses Gulf Coast reconstruction to push for dismantling of public education

By Andre Damon, 21 January 2006

Over the past four months, the Bush administration and sections of both the Democratic and Republican parties have used the devastation inflicted upon the Gulf Coast during last year’s hurricane season as a justification to push through a broad range of right-wing policies. Among these reactionary projects is the drive to undermine the public education system through the promotion of charter schools and voucher programs.

Letters from our readers

By , 20 January 2006

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

Who is Stephen Harper, the Conservative poised to be Canada’s next prime minister?

By Richard Dufour, 20 January 2006

The circumstances of the 2006 Canadian elections—12 years of uninterrupted Liberal rule, a growing sense of economic anxiety, a spate of corruption scandals—have been seized upon by Canada’s corporate elite as the long-sought opportunity to push politics far to the right. The media’s saturation coverage of the corruption issue, its unwillingness to scrutinize Conservative claims that they have adopted moderate policies, its lampooning of Prime Minster Paul Martin as a ditherer and a has-been—all are elements in a campaign aimed at bringing to power a Conservative government under Stephen Harper that will pursue closer cooperation with and, on many fronts, emulate the Bush administration.

American freelance journalist kidnapped in Iraq

By Joe Kay, 20 January 2006

The kidnapping and threatened execution of American journalist Jill Carroll is a reactionary act that will do nothing to advance the struggle against the American occupation of Iraq. Like previous kidnappings and executions carried out by some groups in Iraq, the killing of Carroll will serve only as a further pretext for the US military to continue the occupation and escalate the repression of the Iraqi people.

More evidence of European collaboration with CIA torture flights and prisons

By Robert Stevens, 20 January 2006

The efforts of the European powers to deny knowledge of CIA flights through Europe transferring prisoners to be tortured overseas—and even the existence of CIA torture facilities in Europe—have suffered further damning exposures.

Lack of decent-paying jobs drives workers into West Virginia mines

By Naomi Spencer, 20 January 2006

The recent deaths of 12 coal miners in Upshur County, West Virginia, exposed the hazardous working conditions that have long been a hallmark of the coal industry and a regular source of tragedy in the Appalachian coalfields. Like Hurricane Katrina and the spate of tornadoes that devastated communities throughout the Midwest last fall, the disaster in Upshur County also revealed the lack of resources, emergency funds and economic opportunity suffered by millions of Americans.

Australia: unsafe conditions cause another death on Sydney’s construction sites

By Terry Cook, 20 January 2006

The unsafe working conditions prevailing in many parts of Australia’s construction industry have claimed their first victim for 2006. Paul Hughes, a 41-year-old scaffolder and father of three, was killed on January 5. He plunged more than 30 metres from the top floor of a nine-storey inner city Energy Australia substation under demolition in Sydney.

Indonesian police detain eight Papuans over Freeport murders

By John Roberts, 20 January 2006

Indonesian police, in collaboration with the American FBI, detained 12 people on January 11 in the province of Papua over the murder of two Americans and an Indonesian in August 2002. Four of the arrested Papuans were later released.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 20 January 2006

Europe

US general withholds testimony in Abu Ghraib abuse trial

By Joe Kay, 19 January 2006

The decision by Major General Geoffrey Miller to withhold his testimony in a case involving abuse at Abu Ghraib highlights once again the complicity of top political and military officials in authorizing torture in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In spite of Miller’s role in the events leading up to the torture at Abu Ghraib, he has never been punished or even reprimanded, nor have any of those above him.

Community Colleges snubbed by Michigan Governor and state legislature

By Charles Bogle, 19 January 2006

Legislation passed last fall by the Michigan state legislature—with a unanimous vote in the lower house—and signed into law by Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, makes a mockery of claims by the Granholm administration that it seeks to improve community colleges in order to provide greater educational opportunities and better jobs for working people.

Northern Ireland: the Donaldson affair and the threat to democratic rights

By Steve James and Chris Marsden, 19 January 2006

The exposure of Denis Donaldson, one of Sinn Fein’s leading figures in the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly, as a British intelligence agent of 20 years standing tears a hole in the democratic facade behind which politics in Northern Ireland and Britain is conducted, and reveals the real attitude held by the British government and an array of its intelligence agencies to democratic rights. Secondly, it reveals an astonishing level of intelligence penetration of Sinn Fein and the IRA, which raises disturbing questions on their conduct over decades. The near-silence of the British media on this question serves to emphasise its own indifference to such fundamental issues affecting democratic rights.

Pakistan: anger mounts against Musharraf in wake of US air strike

By James Cogan, 19 January 2006

Outrage in Pakistan over the US air strike on the border village of Damadola, which killed as many as 18 men, women and children, has been aggravated by the reaction in Washington.

Ariel Sharon: a political assessment-Part two

By Jean Shaoul, 19 January 2006

This is the conclusion of a two-part article. Part one was posted on January 18.

Dreiser’s classic An American Tragedy is brought to the New York opera stage

By Fred Mazelis, 19 January 2006

The premiere of a new American opera is a relatively unusual occurrence. By one count, there have been about 200 such premieres in the past 15 years, but this compares with tens of thousands of performances of operatic classics during the same period by scores of opera companies, large and small, throughout the US. Moreover, of the 200 or so contemporary operas that have been produced, only a handful have been performed again since their original appearance. There is some hand-wringing, under these circumstances, over whether opera is a dying art form.

Thousands of Tamils flee from government-controlled areas in Sri Lanka

By S. Jayanth, 19 January 2006

As the danger of open civil war in Sri Lanka intensifies, thousands of Tamils in the North and East of the island have fled their homes to areas controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Several dozen people have also left for the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

European-wide dock workers strike against port deregulation

By Antoine Lerougetel, 18 January 2006

A demonstration of up to 10,000 dockers in Strasbourg, France on January 16 culminated in a violent clash with the police. The port workers were marching on the European Parliament to protest against the Port Package II bill that will deregulate ports in the European Union and lead to a severe attack on jobs, working conditions and living standards.

Geneticist Svante Pääbo speaks on chimpanzee genome

By Daniel Douglass, 18 January 2006

In the latest of several major advances in the field of biology and genetics, Svante Pääbo and his fellow researchers in Germany have performed a comparative analysis of the chimpanzee and human genomes. Their work further advances our knowledge of those genetic elements which may distinguish humans from other animals. His most recent data, first published in a paper last year, was presented on January 13 at the opening lecture of the University of Michigan’s “Distinguished Speaker Series,” a lecture series oriented to the public and part of Michigan’s “Evolution Theme Semester.”

Ariel Sharon: a political assessment

By Jean Shaoul, 18 January 2006

This is the first of a two-part article.

Bush administration domestic spying provokes lawsuits, calls for impeachment

By Patrick Martin, 18 January 2006

The Bush administration’s open defiance of federal law and the US Constitution, in proclaiming its right to conduct unlimited warrantless surveillance of telephone and email traffic, has begun to produce a political reaction within US ruling circles.

Germany: spying and discrimination against Muslims

By Lena Sokoll, 18 January 2006

Muslims living in the southwest state of Baden-Württemberg applying for a German passport now have to submit to unprecedented spying by the state that not only violates the personal rights of the individuals concerned, but also discriminates against all those of Islamic faith. Those suspected of not being “constitutionally loyal” can be interviewed and screened by government representatives—an act that openly contravenes rights of citizens under the German constitution.

New date set for Haitian vote as crisis mounts

By Jonathan Keane, 18 January 2006

For the fourth time in the last five months, the date has been reset for elections to replace Haiti’s interim government installed in a US-backed coup in February 2004. The new date—February 7—has been announced after Washington, the United Nations and the Organization of American States placed significant pressure upon the regime. The US is desperate to cloak the government it has installed in Haiti with some form of institutional legitimacy.

The Bloc Québécois: populism and nationalism in the service of the Québec bourgeoisie

By Guy Charron, 18 January 2006

If the opinion polls prove correct, the Bloc Québécois (BQ), the federal party which promotes the independence of Québec, will obtain its best ever result in next week’s election. When the federal elections were called, the BQ had 54 Members of Parliament—all of them from Quebec, which accounts for 75 of the House of Commons’ 308 seats.

Letters from our readers

By , 18 January 2006

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

A year after the Hacienda Luisita massacre in the Philippines—no one charged

By Noel Holt, 18 January 2006

It has been more than a year since the notorious Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2004. Twelve picketers and two children were killed and hundreds of workers badly injured when 1,000 police and soldiers stormed a blockade of 6,000 plantation workers and their families at the Hacienda Luisita sugar mill and plantation in Tarlac, Philippines.

Sri Lankan authorities mount increasing attacks on media freedom

By Nanda Wickremasinghe, 18 January 2006

Police and military harassment, intimidation and physical attacks directed against Sri Lankan media personnel, mainly targeting Tamil journalists, have been mounting since Mahinda Rajapakse assumed the presidency last November.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 18 January 2006

Latin America

Socialist-Christian Democratic coalition retains power in Chile

By Bill Van Auken, 17 January 2006

Sunday’s election victory of Michelle Bachelet, a leader of Chile’s Socialist Party, has been widely reported as another indication of a “turn to the left” in Latin America. Much of the media attention focused on the 54-year-old pediatrician becoming the country’s first woman president.

India: twelve protestors killed in police shooting

By Parwini Zora, 17 January 2006

Twelve tribal villagers in India were shot dead by police on January 2 during a demonstration against the development of the Kalinga Nagar steel complex in the eastern state of Orissa. The impoverished protestors were demanding a halt to construction by steel developers on their traditional land. A 13-year-old boy and three women were among those killed.

Memorial service for Sago miners preaches fatalism and submission

By Jerry Isaacs, 17 January 2006

An official memorial service was held on Sunday at the West Virginia Wesleyan College for the 12 coal miners killed after an explosion January 2 at the Sago Mine in nearby Upshur County, West Virginia. Some 2,000 people, including surviving relatives, co-workers and miners from several states, attended the event held at the Methodist school and messages of sympathy came from throughout the world.

US coal miners denounce deadly conditions

By Samuel Davidson, 17 January 2006

More than 2,000 people from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio and Alabama attended the memorial service at the West Virginia Wesleyan College chapel in Buckhannon, West Virginia, just a few miles from the Sago mine where 12 miners were trapped and killed after a January 2 explosion. (See “Memorial service for Sago miners preaches fatalism and submission”) Randal McCloy Jr., 26, the only survivor, remains in a coma at West Virginia University’s Ruby Memorial Hospital.

SEP (Canada) to hold Toronto meeting

By , 17 January 2006

The Socialist Equality Party (Canada) will hold a public meeting in Toronto on the afternoon of Sunday, January 22, to discuss the real issues in the 2006 Canadian elections.

Classic African films released on DVD: Ousmane Sembène’sBorom Sarret and Black Girl

By Joanne Laurier, 17 January 2006

Ousmane Sembène, Senegalese author, scenarist and film director, has been making films for over 40 years. New Yorker Video has recently released two of Sembène’s earliest and most remarkable cinematic works on DVD: one short film, Borom Sarret (1963), and Black Girl (1966), which also holds the distinction of being Africa’s first feature film.

California governor denies clemency—76-year-old dies by lethal injection

By Kate Randall, 17 January 2006

California death row inmate Clarence Ray Allen was put to death just after midnight Tuesday at San Quentin State Prison. His execution by lethal injection went ahead after Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied his clemency bid. He was the 14th person put to death in California since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, and the second person to be executed in little more than a month.

Beijing abolishes centuries-old agricultural tax

By John Chan, 17 January 2006

On January 1, the Chinese government officially abolished its agricultural land tax in a bid to defuse the growing unrest among the country’s 800 million peasants—the vast bulk of the population. Beijing hailed the decision as a historic one: the final end to the 2,600-year-old system of “imperial taxation” on Chinese farmers.