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Football World Cup 2006—a multibillion-euro business

By Marianne Arens, 31 May 2006

Less than two weeks before the 18th soccer world championship kicks off, public life in Germany has been overcome by an unparalleled World Cup mania. No city centre, station forecourt or public square, no shop window, no newspaper, no television station and hardly a single programme, let alone any adverts, are without the obligatory reference to the forthcoming games, with their footballs and goals, waving flags and jubilant fans.

SEP candidate responds on Iraq war stance of California Democrat Adam Schiff

By , 31 May 2006

We are publishing here a letter from the SEP candidate in California’s 29th Congressional District, John Burton, to El Vaquero, the school newspaper at Glendale Community College in suburban Los Angeles. The newspaper published the letter on May 26, under the headline “Schiff Opponent Responds to Article.”

Mass rioting reveals depth of Afghan opposition to US occupation

By Bill Van Auken, 31 May 2006

The mass rioting that broke out in the Afghan capital of Kabul Monday has exposed the intensity and breadth of popular opposition to the four-and-a-half-year US-led occupation of Afghanistan and the fragility of the hold on the country by Washington and the puppet regime of President Hamid Karzai.

Québec Solidaire: a new mechanism for tying workers to the Parti Québécois

By Richard Dufour, 31 May 2006

Québec Solidaire—the party founded in February through the merger of Amir Khadir’s Union des Forces Progressistes (UFP) and Françoise David’s Option Citoyenne—made its entry onto the electoral stage last month, finishing a strong third in a by-election in the impoverished Montreal riding of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques.

Germany: Deportations increase as asylum applications plummet

By Elisabeth Zimmermann, 31 May 2006

Policies of the former Social Democratic Party-Green Party government and the current Grand Coalition have resulted in an unprecedented decline in the numbers of asylum-seekers in Germany. In 1998, some 98,644 refugees applied for asylum. By 2005, it was a mere 28,914.

Solomon Islands: Australia’s neo-colonial “model” for East Timor?

By Mike Head, 31 May 2006

Twice in the past six weeks, Australian troops and police have been dispatched to Asian-Pacific states to put down serious unrest and reinforce Australian economic and diplomatic interests. Last month, hundreds of soldiers were sent to bolster the three-year-old Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), followed by last week’s military intervention in East Timor.

Cindy Sheehan condemns Australian prime minister as an “illegal combatant”

By Richard Phillips, 31 May 2006

US antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan denounced the Australian government for its participation in the Iraq war and called for the release of David Hicks from Guantánamo Bay and the closure of the notorious US military prison camp at a demonstration in Melbourne last Friday.

Letters from our readers

By , 30 May 2006

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

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 30 May 2006

Latin America

Canada-US softwood lumber pact paves way for greater co-operation between Harper and Bush

By Guy Charron and Richard Dufour, 30 May 2006

Canada’s minority Conservative government and the Bush administration reached a tentative agreement on April 27 under which Washington will end duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the United States.

South Africa: Factional war intensifies between Mbeki and Zuma supporters in ANC

By Barbara Slaughter, 30 May 2006

On May 8, Jacob Zuma, former deputy president of South Africa, was acquitted of the charge of rape in the Johannesburg High Court. The accusation against him was made last December, causing him to step down from the office of vice president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) until a verdict was reached.

Sri Lankan government bans local film Aksharaya (Letter of Fire)

By Wije Dias, 30 May 2006

In a serious attack on freedom of speech, Sri Lanka’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government has banned screenings of Aksharaya (Letter of Fire) and threatened legal action against the film’s producers.

Sri Lankan filmmaker Asoka Handagama speaks with the WSWS

By Panini Wijesiriwardane, 30 May 2006

Sri Lankan film director Asoka Handagama spoke recently with the World Socialist Web Site about the censorship of Aksharaya or Letter of Fire, his latest movie. The ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government of President Mahinda Rajapakse has banned the film and threatened legal action against the director.

Why Australia wants “regime change” in East Timor

By Nick Beams, 30 May 2006

If one were to believe the official version, the intervention of Australian troops into East Timor is driven by the purest motives. They are there simply to restore peace and stability after the collapse of government authority. But this political fiction has been increasingly exposed by events of the past few days as the power struggle which sparked the crisis comes to the surface.

Scottish Socialist Party leader jailed

By Julie Hyland, 29 May 2006

Alan McCombes, policy coordinator for the Scottish Socialist Party, was imprisoned May 26 for 12 days after refusing to surrender the minutes of a party leadership meeting to the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The following day, the SSP’s offices and McCombes’s home were searched by court officers.

The Enron verdicts: corruption and American capitalism

By Joe Kay, 29 May 2006

The guilty verdicts handed down by a Houston jury last week against former Enron chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling provide an opportunity to evaluate the significance of the company’s rise and fall within the context of American capitalism.

Earthquake kills more than 5,100 on Indonesian island of Java

By Peter Symonds, 29 May 2006

A major earthquake struck the heavily-populated Indonesian island of Java early on Saturday morning, leaving a terrible trail of death and destruction near the city of Yogyakarta. Major buildings and thousands of homes have been flattened, rail and road transport disrupted and the city’s international airport was closed after the runway cracked.

US Marines to stand trial for massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha

By Tom Carter, 29 May 2006

US Marines involved in a massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November will stand trial for murder and dereliction of duty. Twelve soldiers have been returned to Camp Pendleton to await charges in a military trial, and are forbidden to speak to the press.

El marxismo, el arte y el debate soviético sobre la "cultura proletaria"

By , 29 May 2006

WSWS : Español

Local election results in Sri Lanka reflect widespread fears of war

By Sarath Kumara, 29 May 2006

The outcome of the final round of voting in Sri Lanka’s local elections on May 20 proved a blow to the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance’s (UPFA), despite a major campaign to secure a decisive win. Of the 20 local councils at stake, the UPFA was able to win only five and, moreover, failed to win the prestigious Colombo municipal council.

Lopsided vote in US Senate to confirm NSA spy chief to head CIA

By Kate Randall, 29 May 2006

General Michael Hayden was confirmed as the next CIA director on Friday by a 78-15 vote in the US Senate. Twenty-six Democrats and 1 independent joined 51 Republicans in a bipartisan show of support for George W. Bush’s nominee to head the spy agency. Hayden replaces Porter Goss, who resigned under pressure from the White House earlier this month.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 27 May 2006

Police fire on striking Bangladeshi garment workers

Australian military occupation of East Timor proceeds “full steam ahead”

By Peter Symonds, 27 May 2006

As Australian troops pour into East Timor and take control of the capital Dili, the neo-colonial character of the operation is becoming increasingly evident. Under the pretext of preventing civil war and helping the Timorese people, Australian imperialism has moved to reassert its dominance in East Timor, to install a compliant regime and to protect its economic and strategic interests.

Canadian Prime Minister Harper attempts to muzzle the press

By Keith Jones, 27 May 2006

Canada’s new Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is refusing to meet the country’s national press.

El marxismo, el arte y el debate soviético sobre la "cultura proletaria"

By , 27 May 2006

WSWS : Español

Blair joins Bush to defend Iraq occupation and back preemptive action vs. Iran

By Chris Marsden, 27 May 2006

President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair utilised their latest summit meeting to insist that the occupation of Iraq be maintained and the campaign of provocations against neighbouring Iran be stepped up.

US Senate passes Democratic-backed version of anti-immigrant legislation

By Patrick Martin, 27 May 2006

The Senate voted by 62 to 36 Thursday to approve anti-immigrant legislation based largely on the policies of Senate Democrats, who joined forces with a minority of the Republican caucus to win approval for the legislation.

Montenegro: Independence vote completes dismemberment of Yugoslavia

By Paul Bond, 27 May 2006

The fracturing of the Balkans reached a new stage with the May 21 vote supporting Montenegro’s separation from Serbia. The tiny republic voted narrowly in a referendum to secede, bringing to six the number of countries formed from the former territory of Yugoslavia.

Other European and Asian films

By David Walsh, 26 May 2006

This is the fourth and final part of a series of articles on the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival, held April 20-May 4. The first part was posted May 13, Part 2 May 19 and Part 3 May 22.

Constitutional crisis over FBI raid on US congressman

By Joe Kay and Barry Grey, 26 May 2006

The conflict between the US Congress and the Bush administration over the FBI raid on US Representative William Jefferson’s congressional office has rapidly escalated into a constitutional crisis. The episode highlights the contempt with which the Bush administration views such fundamental issues as the separation of powers and the autonomy of the legislative branch. It also reveals the atmosphere of crisis and tension which pervades the American political system.

El marxismo, el arte y el debate soviético sobre la 'cultura proletaria'

By , 26 May 2006

WSWS : Español

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 26 May 2006

Norway’s public sector union in pay dispute

Australia: Inquiry into Beaconsfield mine tragedy already smells of cover up

By Terry Cook, 26 May 2006

Even before proceedings get underway, the so-called “independent” inquiry commissioned by the Tasmanian state Labor government into the fatal accident at the Beaconsfield Gold Mine smells of cover up. A massive rock fall at the mine on April 25 resulted in the death of miner Larry Knight and trapped his co-workers Todd Russell and Brant Webb underground for two weeks.

Two more US coal miners killed in Kentucky and West Virginia

By Jerry White, 26 May 2006

The almost daily toll of deaths and injuries in US coal mines continued this week with the loss of two young miners in Kentucky and West Virginia, just days after five coal miners were killed in a mine explosion in eastern Kentucky. The latest deaths bring the number of coal industry fatalities in the first five months of the year to 33, well over the 22 miners killed in all of 2005.

Fiji’s election results in unstable coalition government

By Frank Gaglioti, 26 May 2006

The ruling Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewe ni Vanua (SDL) Party won a majority in Fiji’s closely-fought election last week, enabling incumbent prime minister Laisenia Qarase to claim victory on May 17. But the racially polarised outcome has only set the stage for further political turmoil.

Germany: Christian Democrats and Greens form coalition government in Frankfurt

By Helmut Arens and Dietmar Henning, 26 May 2006

The German state of Hesse and the city of Frankfurt were always a stronghold of the Greens and have played a trailblazing role in the history of the party. It was in Frankfurt that Joschka Fischer (later to lead the Greens in the federal coalition government) and his “Sponti” group engaged in street battles with the police. Here the radical ecologists around Jutta Ditfurth (the so-called “Fundis”—fundamentalists) set the tone for the Greens. Here, also, they were displaced by Fischer and the “Realos” (the pragmatists) inside the Green Party. And in 1985, it was here that Fischer was the first Green politician to take the oath of office and join the Social Democrat Party-led state government under Holger Börner.

The Da Vinci Code, novel and film, and ‘countercultural’ myth

By David Walsh, 25 May 2006

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, New York, Anchor Books 2006 [first published by Doubleday in 2003], 489 pages.

Machinists union reaches tentative agreement with Northwest Airlines

By Ron Jorgenson, 25 May 2006

The leadership of the International Association of Machinists (IAM), representing 5,600 ramp workers and baggage handlers at Northwest Airlines, said over the weekend it will support a $190 million concessionary agreement to help bail out the bankrupt airline.

How right-wing ideologues stand reality on its head

By Nick Beams, 25 May 2006

Since the revelations of shocking sexual abuse of Aboriginal children were broadcast on the ABC program “Lateline” last week, the airwaves and newspaper pages have been filled with comments and articles demanding strong measures.

India’s toilers should reject framework of reservation debate

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 25 May 2006

The plans of India’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to expand caste-based reservations in central government-funded universities, including a series of elite professional schools, have provoked widespread student protests and an outcry from the corporate media and big business. Doctors in Delhi, Mumbai and many other cities have mounted walkouts in support of the students and the Indian Medical Association has lent its voice to the protests.

Australian troops deployed to occupy East Timor

By James Cogan, 25 May 2006

In a blatant act of neo-colonialism, the Howard government is sending up to 1,300 Australian troops to re-occupy East Timor. Special Air Service commandos are already in the capital Dili and advance units of infantry are expected to deploy by air and join them this evening. The main force, consisting of more infantry and armoured vehicles, is aboard warships which have been hovering in Australia’s northern waters for the past two weeks, awaiting orders. They will arrive within 48 to 72 hours.

Sri Lankan government drafts new Patriotic Act in preparation for war

By Nanda Wickremasinghe and K. Ratnayake, 25 May 2006

One of the clearest indications that the Sri Lankan government is preparing to launch a renewed civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is its plans for wide ranging legislation to impose compulsory military conscription, tough media censorship and other anti-democratic measures.

Democrats ensure confirmation of NSA spy chief to head CIA

By Joe Kay, 25 May 2006

The US Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday gave its support to General Michael Hayden, the principle architect of recently exposed domestic spying programs, to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Israel: Bush endorses Olmert’s West Bank land grab

By Rick Kelly, 25 May 2006

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met US President George Bush in the White House on May 24. Olmert also spoke with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Stephen Handley during his four-day tour of Washington. The Bush administration again confirmed its support for Israel’s land grab in the West Bank and backed the ongoing Israeli siege of the Occupied Territories.

US military massacres 80 villagers in Afghanistan

By Tom Carter, 25 May 2006

In the latest atrocity in the US occupation of Afghanistan, US warplanes massacred at least 80 villagers in the southern province of Kandahar early Monday morning. As many as 350 people have been killed this past week in Afghanistan in an explosion of violence, the most severe since the US invasion in October 2001.

El marxismo, el arte y el debate soviético sobre la "cultura proletaria"

By , 25 May 2006

WSWS : Español

German cabinet agrees on military operation in the Congo

By Andreas Reiss and Peter Schwarz, 25 May 2006

During the nineteenth century, when Africa was divided among the colonial powers, Germany came too late onto the scene and had to make do with smaller pieces of the African cake such as Togo and Namibia, which it then lost during the First World War. Now, a new race for Africa has begun, and Germany does not want to be left on the sidelines again.

IMF cuts off credit to Bolivia

By César Uco, 24 May 2006

Bolivia is South America’s poorest country. Every night, 615,000 Bolivian children under 13 years of age go to bed hungry, according to a recent report by the United Nations World Food Program. Life in the countryside has changed little since colonial times, and cities lack basic public services. Clearly, there is an urgent need for infrastructure investments to help raise the living standards of the people in the Andean country.

Letters from our readers

By , 24 May 2006

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

FBI stages unprecedented raid on congressman’s office

By Kate Randall, 24 May 2006

The FBI conducted a search of the office of Louisiana Representative William Jefferson over the weekend in what is the first such intrusion by an agency of the executive branch into the office of a sitting congressman in US history. In a press conference on Monday, Jefferson, a Democrat, denounced the raid as an “outrageous intrusion into the separation of powers.”

Germany: Election Alternative leaders purge regional executives and withdraw candidates

By Ulrich Rippert, 24 May 2006

On the weekend of May 13-14, the national executive of the Election Alternative—Labor and Social Justice (WASG) dismissed the regional leaderships of its organization in the states of Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and replaced them with so-called “commissarial national co-coordinators.” The first measure taken by the new commissioners was to withdraw the applications made by the state branches of WASG to participate in regional elections this autumn.

Britain’s “Euston Manifesto”: Ex-liberals for imperialism and war

By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 24 May 2006

On May 25, the “Euston Manifesto” is to be officially launched at a rally in London. Described by its authors as the basis for a “new progressive democratic alliance,” it is being depicted by the British media as a major political and intellectual event.

Lack of oxygen supplies killed three in Kentucky mine disaster

By Samuel Davidson, 24 May 2006

Preliminary autopsy results shows that three of the five miners who died in Saturday’s mine disaster in eastern Kentucky survived the initial blast, but died of carbon monoxide poisoning as they tried to escape. The findings underscore the likelihood that the three miners in Kentucky, like most of the West Virginia miners killed at the Sago Mine in January, would still be alive today if they had been given adequate oxygen supplies instead of outmoded respirators that provide at best one hour of clean air to trapped miners.

World’s largest steelmaker in $33 billion takeover bid for the second largest

By John Ward, 24 May 2006

A massive takeover bid, upped last week by 34 percent to 25.8 euros ($US33 billion), is currently underway by the world’s largest steel producer, Mittal Steel, for the world’s second largest, Arcelor. If successful, the massive new conglomerate would have an annual output of around 110 million tonnes or about 10 percent of world steel production—three to four times that of its nearest rivals. With annual sales of $69 billion and 320,000 employees worldwide, it would be the leading steelmaker in five of the world’s nine major markets.

Fractured new Iraqi regime: a prelude to deepening sectarian violence

By Peter Symonds, 24 May 2006

After months of factional infighting and intense pressure from Washington, a new Iraqi cabinet headed by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was finally ratified by parliament and sworn into office on Saturday in the heavily-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

Why Canada’s Conservative government chose to celebrate Australia’s John Howard

By John Mackay, 23 May 2006

Canada’s new Conservative government accorded Australian Prime Minister John Howard the honor of being the first foreign head of government to visit Canada under its watch. That it did so speaks volumes about the Conservatives’ intentions to shift Canada far to the right.

European governments cover up illegal CIA abductions

By Martin Kreickenbaum, 23 May 2006

Alleged terror suspects have been kidnapped in the European Union (EU) by the CIA and taken to third countries where they have been subjected to torture. The European governments knew of these illegal actions and were even involved in them.

Cost-cutting and poor planning behind New Orleans levee failures

By Joe Kay, 23 May 2006

The Independent Levee Investigation Team released a draft report Monday on the failure of the New Orleans flood protection systems during Hurricane Katrina, which struck Louisiana and Mississippi in the southern US on August 29, 2005. The report is an indictment of the American political and social system, concluding that much of the damage and loss of life caused by the hurricane could have been prevented with better planning and more resources.

Australian government moves to abolish Aboriginal “land rights”

By Erika Zimmer, 23 May 2006

Over the past year the Howard government has sent a series of signals indicating its intention to dismantle Aboriginal “land rights”, a policy framework introduced by the Whitlam Labor government in the 1970s, and continued in one form or another by successive governments over the past three decades.

Supporters of SEP campaign meet in Michigan

By our reporter, 23 May 2006

Supporters of the Socialist Equality Party’s election campaign in Michigan attended a public meeting at Macomb County Community College in Warren on May 18. The meeting, addressed by Jerome White, the SEP candidate for US Congress in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, discussed the purpose of the party’s campaign in the 2006 elections within the context of the Bush administration’s growing attack on democratic rights and corporate assault on workers’ jobs and living standards.

Democrats’ liberal icon justifies wage cuts for workers, bonuses for CEOs

By Bill Van Auken, 23 May 2006

It would be hard to find more compelling evidence of the bankruptcy of Democratic Party liberalism and the fundamental hostility of this big business party to the interests of the working class than an opinion column published in Monday’s Los Angeles Times under the byline of former South Dakota Senator George McGovern.

English council elections: “Fascist threat” exaggerated to channel support back behind Labour

By Paul Mitchell, 23 May 2006

Leading Labour politicians have exaggerated the threat represented by the fascist British National Party (BNP) to try to channel support back behind Tony Blair’s discredited government.

New School University students protest commencement speech by John McCain

By Sandy English, 23 May 2006

Dozens of students and faculty at the New School University commencement, held Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York City, protested the presence of keynote speaker Senator John McCain (Republican of Arizona).

Unanswered questions remain about the killing of Sri Lankan foreign minister

By K. Ratnayake, 23 May 2006

With the eruption of open fighting between the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), it is timely to reexamine a key turning point in the slide towards renewed civil war—the assassination of former Sri Lankan foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, by unidentified gunmen on the night of August 12 last year.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 23 May 2006

Latin America

John Negroponte y la latinoamericanización de la política de Estados Unidos

By , 22 May 2006

WSWS : Español

Britain: Blair pledges to override Human Rights Act

By Robert Stevens and Julie Hyland, 22 May 2006

The Blair government’s ongoing offensive against civil liberties escalated this week with the declaration that it wants to override a range of existing laws such as the 1998 Human Rights Act. This followed a High Court ruling earlier this month that the government was guilty of an “abuse of power” in its efforts to subvert the rule of law.

Kosovo “final status” talks break up without agreement

By Tony Robson, 22 May 2006

Ongoing talks over the future of Kosovo have once again highlighted the predatory character of the NATO-led war on Serbia in 1999. Having transformed Kosovo into a “UN Protectorate” under the guise of protecting ethnic Albanians, the major powers are now seeking to formalise its “final status” as an “independent” state subservient to their interests and demands.

Bush administration defends US military aid to Egypt

By Rick Kelly, 22 May 2006

The Bush administration has adamantly defended its annual outlay of nearly $2 billion in military and economic aid to Egypt in response to a Congressional debate on the issue. The White House has insisted that US strategic interests in the Middle East would be harmed by any reduction in its assistance to Egypt’s dictatorial regime.

Political exposures and more ... or less

By Joanne Laurier, 22 May 2006

This is the third part of a series of articles on the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival, held April 20-May 4. The first part was posted May 13 and Part 2 May 19.

Munich: El poder humanizador del arte

By , 22 May 2006

WSWS : Español

Putin’s speech to the nation: Tensions increase between the US and Russia

By Patrick Richter, 22 May 2006

The timing could have hardly been more apposite for addressing the increased tensions between Russia and the US. On May 10, one day after ceremonies to mark the 61st anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared in his annual speech to the nation, “The stronger our military is, the less temptation there will be to exert such pressure on us.” He continued, “As the saying goes, Comrade Wolf knows whom to eat. He eats without listening and he’s clearly not going to listen to anyone.”

Five miners killed in Kentucky explosion

By Samuel Davidson, 22 May 2006

Five coal miners were killed in an explosion that ripped through an eastern Kentucky mine early Saturday morning. The fatal blast took place at about 1:00 a.m. at the Darby Mine No. 1 in Harlan County, killing five of the six men on a maintenance crew at the mine, located near the Virginia border.

Official response to Aboriginal child sexual abuse in Australia: more law and order

By Susan Allan, 22 May 2006

Graphic details about the rampant sexual abuse of Aboriginal children and babies in central Australia, broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) “Lateline” program last Monday, are being utilised to justify a vicious new government assault against the country’s impoverished indigenous population.

Cuts to NASA budget gut space research

By Frank Gaglioti, 20 May 2006

In a far-reaching reorientation of its programs, the US National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) budget has effectively capped science spending for the five-year period from 2007 to 2011. Programs designed to investigate more fundamental scientific questions about the character of the solar system and the universe are being sacrificed to enable NASA to carry out President George Bush’s grandiose scheme to establish a permanent settlement on the moon in preparation for a manned mission to Mars.

Prodi government takes power in Italy: a right-wing regime with a left fig leaf

By Peter Schwarz, 20 May 2006

Five and a half weeks after parliamentary elections, a new Italian government was sworn into office Wednesday.

Guantánamo prisoners clash with guards after new rash of suicide attempts

By David Walsh, 20 May 2006

The US military has provided conflicting reports of a clash that took place Thursday between guards and prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba internment camp. Initially, a spokesman reported that inmates, wielding improvised weapons, had confronted guards when the latter attempted to prevent another detainee from committing suicide. The suicide attempt was said to be the fourth of the day.

US Senate declares English the “national language”: a boost to chauvinism and racism

By Socialist Equality Party, 20 May 2006

The Socialist Equality Party unequivocally condemns the vote by the Senate on Thursday to make English the “national language” of the United States. The measure, added to the Senate immigration “reform” bill, is but the latest in a series of reactionary, ignorant and short-sighted moves aimed at shoring up the right-wing base of the Bush administration and the Republican Party, with the most far-reaching and anti-democratic implications.

US Marines killed Iraqi civilians “in cold blood”

By Kate Randall, 20 May 2006

US Congressman John Murtha said on Wednesday that a Pentagon investigation into the deaths of civilians in Haditha, Iraq, last November will show that US Marines “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” Murtha (Democrat, Pennsylvania) was referring to a probe launched into a November 19 incident in which at least 23 civilians—including seven woman and three children—were gunned down by US troops. Haditha is a predominantly Sunni town 200 kilometers northwest of Baghdad in Anbar province.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 20 May 2006

Vietnamese garment workers strike

Reports expose myth of upward social mobility in US

By Peter Daniels, 20 May 2006

Several recent studies have punctured the conception, assiduously fostered by the media and political defenders of the profit system, that American capitalism makes possible the rapid acquisition of wealth for anyone motivated to work for it.

The Australian media and the Beaconsfield mine rescue

By Richard Phillips, 20 May 2006

The extraordinary rescue on May 9 of Todd Russell, 34, and Brant Webb, 37, trapped almost a kilometre underground for two weeks following a massive rock fall at the Beaconsfield gold mine in Tasmania, reveals much about the debased state of the mass media in Australia.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 19 May 2006

Europe

A letter and reply on Britain’s “New Labour” Party

By , 19 May 2006

The following is an exchange of letters concerning the article “Britain’s Compass group: Former Blair acolytes seek to rescue New Labour,” by Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, posted May 17, 2006 on the WSWS.

German secret service spies on journalists, employs Stasi methods

By Martin Kreickenbaum, 19 May 2006

Germany’s secret service has systematically spied on journalists for years. The Federal Information Service (BND) not only used its own agents, but also other journalists who were paid to supply reports to the secret service and shadowed colleagues who investigated the work of the BND. The actions of the BND represent a massive assault on the constitutionally protected freedom of the press. Moreover, the BND, whose activities are strictly limited to foreign intelligence matters, has substantially exceeded its authority. The actions were ordered and covered up at the highest government levels.

Reports expose myth of upward social mobility in US

By Peter Daniels, 19 May 2006

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SEP candidate Bill Van Auken to speak at NYC meeting Saturday

By , 19 May 2006

The Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for US Senate from New York, Bill Van Auken, will speak on “Hillary Clinton, the Democrats and the Iraq war: A socialist alternative” at a public meeting in New York City this Saturday, May 20.

Sri Lankan Central Bank attempts to cover up deepening economic contradictions

By Saman Gunadasa, 19 May 2006

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka Annual Report 2005 issued on May 1 painted a rosy picture of the country’s economy and government policies. It emphasised that the growth rate of 6 percent last year had “exceeded expectations” and backed government forecasts of even higher growth rates for 2006 and beyond. Inflation was down and the balance of payments was in surplus.

Britain: Vauxhall axes 900 car jobs

By Niall Green, 19 May 2006

On Wednesday Vauxhall, the British mark of General Motors’ main European operation Opel, announced that 900 jobs would be lost at its factory in Ellesmere Port, Northwest England. The factory currently employs 3,000 workers making the Astra model. The jobs are to go in August when the plant reduces its three-shift system to two.

Canada dramatically escalates its military intervention in Afghanistan

By Keith Jones, 19 May 2006

Canada’s minority Conservative government is dramatically expanding the scope and scale of the Canadian Armed Forces’ counter-insurgency operation in southern Afghanistan. Indeed, the steps announced by the government this week will make the Canadian military’s Afghanistan mission far and away its biggest overseas intervention since the Second World War.

Senate hearing on CIA nominee: Democrats rubberstamp Bush police-state spying

By Patrick Martin, 19 May 2006

The Senate hearing Thursday on the nomination of General Michael Hayden to head the Central Intelligence Agency demonstrates the bipartisan congressional support for the Bush administration’s assault on the democratic rights of the American people.

A turbulent week on global financial markets

By Nick Beams, 19 May 2006

A correction or the start of something much bigger? That is the question hanging over financial markets following a major sell-off in currency, commodity and equity markets over the past few days.

Creditable works

By David Walsh, 19 May 2006

This is the second part of a series of articles on the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival, held April 20-May 4. The first part was posted May 13.

Slaughter and ethnic cleansing accelerates in Iraq

By James Cogan, 19 May 2006

The new Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, declared this week that a “government of national unity” would be announced over the weekend, comprising representatives of all the various ethnic and sectarian factions represented in the parliament. For the mass of the Iraqi people, both the event and the talk of unity will be meaningless. Thousands of people are being slaughtered every month in a vicious civil war between the Shiite fundamentalist parties that dominate the US puppet government and rival Sunni Islamic militias.

Massive bad debt highlights China’s financial instability

By John Chan, 18 May 2006

China’s financial system continues to be burdened by a mountain of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the state banking system, despite government promises to take action to reduce it. In its annual report on global debt released on May 3, the accounting firm Ernst & Young highlighted the dangers of China’s bad debt, estimated at a staggering $US911 billion.

Solomon Islanders hostile to Australian “bullying”

By a correspondent, 18 May 2006

The following report was sent to the WSWS by a Solomon Islands correspondent, who conducted extensive interviews with local residents about last month’s eruption of demonstrations, rioting and looting in the country’s capital, Honiara, and the dispatch of more than 400 Australian-led troops and police to quell the unrest. Many of the interviews were with people from the “settlement areas”—the sprawling squatter camps around Honiara.

Pipeline explosion highlights legacy of imperialism in Nigeria

By Brian Smith, 18 May 2006

The tragic death of more than 200 people in a pipeline explosion in a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, is an expression of the desperate poverty facing the vast majority of the population in this country. Despite the huge risk involved, tapping holes into fuel lines—in this case carrying gasoline from the port to inland depots—and siphoning off the fuel into jerry cans is relatively common in Nigeria.

Brazil: The social contradictions underlying the violent eruption in Sao Paulo

By Hector Benoit, 18 May 2006

For the past five days, chaos and terror have reigned in São Paulo, Brazil’s financial capital and South America’s largest city, due to the armed actions of the powerful PCC (First Command of the Capital) crime organization.

US offers closer defence links with New Zealand

By John Braddock, 18 May 2006

The United States has signalled that it wants to revive its military ties with New Zealand by putting aside a 20-year dispute about visits by nuclear-propelled warships to the country’s ports. In an interview published in the Australian Financial Review on May 8, Christopher Hill, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, foreshadowed a stronger relationship with New Zealand under the ANZUS alliance, which also covers Australia.

US: Pentagon prepares for “use of force” on Mexican border

By Bill Van Auken, 18 May 2006

In the wake of President George W. Bush’s White House speech on immigration Monday night announcing the deployment of National Guard troops to the Mexican border, the Pentagon has revealed that the US military, the federal government and state authorities have drawn up a policy under which guard units will be allowed to use deadly force against undocumented immigrants seeking to enter the US.