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Sri Lankan tsunami victims speak out

By our reporters, 30 December 2006

On the eve of the second anniversary of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster, a WSWS reporting team visited Matara to meet tsunami survivors. Matara, one of the worst hit areas, is a coastal town, 160 kilometres south of Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital.

Australian court orders re-trial on terrorist charges

By David Taylor and Mike Head, 30 December 2006

The same Victorian Court of Appeal that four months ago quashed two terrorist-related convictions against Melbourne man Jack Thomas, last week ordered a re-trial. In a case that has become a symbol of the determination of the Howard government and sections of the media to pursue the “war on terror” at all costs, the decision sets another dangerous precedent for flouting fundamental legal and democratic rights.

More US troops to Kuwait, as Bush moves to escalate the war in Iraq

By Joe Kay, 30 December 2006

The Pentagon announced December 27 that it will send 3,500 additional US soldiers to Kuwait in January, a clear step toward the increase in American combat troops and escalation of the war in Iraq that President Bush is expected to announce early in the new year.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 30 December 2006

Asia

Maryland Reservist killed by police after refusing deployment to Iraq

By a reporter, 30 December 2006

A 29-year-old ex-soldier who had served 12 months in Afghanistan, upset over orders to deploy to Iraq, was shot to death December 26 after a night-long standoff at a house in Maryland. James E. Dean was notified earlier this month to report to Fort Benning, Georgia, on January 14, 2007, for service in Iraq.

David Walsh picks his favorite films of 2006

By David Walsh, 30 December 2006

2006 was generally a poor year for US and English-language films. In 2005 a number of American films grappled with important problems—including Syriana (Stephen Gaghan), Munich (Steven Spielberg) and Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney)—with varying degrees of success. There was no such comparable work in 2006. A global radicalization in cinema, however, is undoubtedly under way. Given the state of the world, how could there not be?

Ethiopian troops occupy Mogadishu

By Ann Talbot, 30 December 2006

Ethiopian troops staged a triumphal entry into Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu on Friday. Thousands of fighters loyal to the United Islamic Courts (UIC) were left slaughtered in the wake of a rapid Ethiopian advance. Opposition crumbled after the Ethiopians pounded the Islamic forces with tanks, heavy artillery and fighter aircraft.

Government report concedes India’s Muslims are a socially deprived, victimised minority

By Deepal Jayasekera, 30 December 2006

A report prepared by a seven-member committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar has conceded that India’s Muslim minority faces appalling socioeconomic deprivation and is the victim of official neglect and frequent police harassment and violence.

The execution of Saddam Hussein

By the Editorial Board, 30 December 2006

The execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein serves not justice, but the political purposes of the Bush administration and its Iraqi stooges. The manner in which the execution was carried out—hurriedly, secretively, in the dark of night, in a mockery of any semblance of legal process—only underscores the lawless and reactionary character of the entire American enterprise in Iraq.

Blair government cancels British Aerospace-Saudi arms inquiry

By Jean Shaoul, 30 December 2006

This is the conclusion of a two-part article. Part one can be found here.

Germany: Left Party-PDS and Election Alternative agree on a common reformist program

By Hendrik Paul, 30 December 2006

On December 10 the executive committees of the Left Party-Party of Democratic Socialism and the Election Alternative—Labour and Social Justice (WASG) agreed to programmatic guidelines for the planned merger of the two organisations in the middle of next year. Under discussion was not a finished program for the new party, which is to be known simply as the Left Party, but rather programmatic points, which give some indication of the organization’s future political orientation.

Two years after the Asian tsunami: Sri Lankan survivors face civil war and squalor

By Panini Wijesiriwardane, 30 December 2006

It is two years since the Asian tsunami devastated large swathes of coastline in 14 countries, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. At least 230,000 people died and 1.7 million were left homeless after the huge waves swept away tens of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals. The poor were the hardest hit, losing their homes, family members, scanty possessions and livelihoods.

Belgian TV hoax exposes political tensions

By Paul Bond, 29 December 2006

La Une, the first channel of Belgium’s francophone public broadcaster RTBF, interrupted regular programmes earlier this month to announce that Flanders, the Dutch-speaking north of the country, had unilaterally declared its independence and that Belgium had ceased to exist as a nation. The broadcast was a hoax that had taken two years to prepare.

Workplace deaths soar in Canada

By Lee Parsons, 29 December 2006

An average of five workers died each workday in Canada last year from accidents and job-related disease, reports a study published earlier this month. This represents an increase of 18 percent over 2004 and an alarming 45 percent increase over the level in 1993.

New Year holiday publication schedule

By , 29 December 2006

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US-backed UN resolution heightens tensions with Iran

By Peter Symonds, 29 December 2006

Months after the expiry of a UN deadline for Iran to suspend its nuclear programs, the US finally pushed a resolution through the UN Security Council on Saturday imposing a series of sanctions on Tehran. While the resolution represents a compromise, there is no doubt that the Bush administration will exploit it to the hilt to fuel tensions with Iran.

Two years after the Asian tsunami: thousands still suffering in India

By Ram Kumar and T. Kala, 29 December 2006

On the second anniversary of the December 2004 Asian tsunami, many survivors in Indian coastal villages and the Andaman and Nicobar islands still face atrocious conditions, including lack of proper housing, sanitary conditions and livelihoods. The disaster killed around 14,000 people in India and another 2.7 million people were affected. Most of the victims were from fishing communities.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 29 December 2006

Europe

Blair government cancels British Aerospace-Saudi arms inquiry

By Jean Shaoul, 29 December 2006

This is the first of a two-part article

Financial Times cautions the “plutocrats”

By David Walsh, 29 December 2006

The Financial Times, Britain’s leading financial newspaper, published a remarkable editorial December 27 entitled “Seasonal cheers for new philanthropists.”

China admits to organ trade from executed prisoners

By Carol Divjak, 29 December 2006

After years of denial, the Chinese government finally admitted that China’s booming transplant business is heavily dependent on organs harvested from the country’s large number of executed prisoners.

Another deadly pipeline explosion in Nigeria

By Jerry White, 29 December 2006

Hundreds of people were killed December 26 when a gas pipeline exploded in a poor neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, the latest in a series of similar tragedies that have claimed the lives of thousands of people in the oil-rich yet impoverished African nation. The blast occurred as hundreds of residents of the Ebule Egba district of Lagos surrounded the punctured state-owned pipeline, and were collecting the gasoline in cans, buckets and plastic bags.

Former US President Gerald Ford dies

By David Walsh, 28 December 2006

Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States, died December 26 at the age of 93 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California.

Six-party talks on North Korean nuclear program reach dead end

By John Chan, 28 December 2006

Six-party talks in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear programs broke up on December 22 without any progress or any firm proposal to reconvene. The latest round of negotiations, which involved the US, China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and Japan, were the first since late 2005 and ended in deadlock after the US refused to budge on North Korea’s demand to lift financial sanctions.

Letters from our readers

By , 28 December 2006

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

Australia: A grim start to the summer bushfire season

By Margaret Rees, 28 December 2006

Bushfires in southeastern Australia over the past three weeks have ravaged more than 880,000 hectares or 2.1 million acres, damaging small towns and seriously impacting on local economies. Fortunately only one person has been killed, and a sudden burst of cold weather on Christmas Day helped to contain or put out several fires. However, the intensity and scope of the blazes and their early arrival indicates that Australia’s annual bushfire season—usually three or four months long—will be one of exceptional severity.

US backs Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia

By Ann Talbot, 28 December 2006

The Bush administration is openly backing Ethiopia’s invasion of its neighbour Somalia.

Fast Food Nation offers some bitter truths about America

By Peter Daniels, 28 December 2006

Fast Food Nation, directed by Richard Linklater, screenplay by Richard Linklater and Eric Schlosser

Bloc Québécois’ support for Canada’s Afghan war exposed

By Guy Charron, 27 December 2006

The Bloc Québécois (BQ), the federal party advocating the independence of Québec, has dropped its threat to force a non-confidence vote on the Afghanistan policy of the Conservative minority government, following a general outcry by the corporate media and the categorical refusal of the other opposition parties to lend their support.

Britain: Poorer student numbers fall as tuition fees are hiked up

By Robert Stevens, 27 December 2006

The number of undergraduates applying to enrol in university courses in England this year fell by 15,000 compared with 2005. The fall is almost entirely due to the September introduction of new tuition “top-up” fees of £3,000 a year. This amount replaces the previous system of fees introduced by the Blair government in which £1,000 was paid up-front.

Rollback of post-Enron corporate regulations in US

By Joe Kay, 27 December 2006

US government agencies have moved quickly following the November midterm elections to begin rolling back a number of regulatory measures put in place after a wave of corporate scandals in 2002. These steps have been taken under intense pressure from American corporations and Wall Street, which have raised their voices in opposition to the supposed “excesses” of business regulation.

Nanni Moretti’s The Caiman: in the end, a chilling exposure of Berlusconi

By Richard Phillips, 27 December 2006

The Caiman, directed by Nanni Moretti

A legal farce: Iraqi court confirms Saddam Hussein’s death sentence

By Peter Symonds, 27 December 2006

The confirmation yesterday of the death sentence against Saddam Hussein is the final act in a legal charade directed from Washington. The Iraqi Appeal Court upheld the verdict against Hussein and two of his co-accused—Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar—brought on November 5 for the execution of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail in 1982. With the only avenue of appeal exhausted, all three can be hanged at any time within the next 30 days.

German government considers deploying air force in Afghanistan

By Peter Schwarz, 27 December 2006

The German coalition government is currently preparing a major expansion of its military commitment to the war in Afghanistan. To this point the government has claimed that the only role of the German army in that country would be to help with reconstruction and assure the security of the Hamid Karzai puppet regime. To this end the German government limited the operations of its forces to the nation’s capital and the relatively calm northern part of the country. The recent decision to send six Tornado aircraft to Afghanistan would thrust German forces into the violent fighting taking place in the south.

Iran’s Holocaust conference and the dead end of bourgeois nationalism

By Bill Van Auken, 23 December 2006

In his year-end press conference, President George W. Bush once again condemned the Iranian government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the officially sponsored conference of Holocaust deniers convened in Teheran earlier this month, declaring that it “heralded a really backward view of the history of the world.”

Sri Lankan plantation workers angry at unions and government

By our correspondents, 23 December 2006

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to striking plantation workers in different areas in Sri Lanka over the past week as their pay campaign was sabotaged and finally shut down altogether by the leaderships of all the trade unions. The workers expressed their anger and opposition to the role of the unions and the failure of President Mahinda Rajapakse and his government to support their demands.

German Social Democratic Party chairman badmouths the unemployed

By Dietmar Henning, 23 December 2006

Kurt Beck, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and prime minister of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, is a media professional. It would be naïve to think that his recent badmouthing of an unemployed person before a crowd of journalists was some sort of thoughtless mistake.

Letters from our readers

By , 23 December 2006

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

Britain: Conservative Party feigns concern for the poor—the better to oppose welfare state benefits

By Julie Hyland, 23 December 2006

Last week the Conservative Party issued “Breakdown Britain—an interim report on the state of the nation.” The document was produced by the party’s Social Justice Policy Group (SJPG), set up by Conservative leader David Cameron and chaired by former leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 23 December 2006

Asia

US Marines charged in Haditha massacre of Iraqi civilians

By Jerry White, 23 December 2006

Four US Marines were charged Thursday with multiple counts of murder in connection with the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha on November 19, 2005. Military officials also charged four officers with dereliction of duty and other counts relating to the cover-up of the rampage. The killings in the predominately Sunni town, 200 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, were carried out after a roadside bomb struck a convoy, claiming the life of one marine.

Report exposes European complicity in CIA torture flights

By Niall Green, 22 December 2006

The European parliament has produced a report on the complicity of European governments in the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) practice of extraordinary rendition—the illegal transferring of detainees to locations where they stand a high risk of being tortured. Issued in draft form on November 28, the report will be debated in the European parliament in January 2007. It finds 11 European nations had knowledge of flights carrying detainees to secret prisons and overseas torture chambers, including Britain, Germany and Spain.

Berlin Senate adopts new austerity measures

By Lucas Adler, 22 December 2006

At the beginning of December, the Berlin Senate (city council), a coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Left Party-Party of Democratic Socialism, agreed on a financial plan covering 2006 to 2010. The axis of this plan is the continuation of the strict budget consolidation that has already created a social disaster in the capital, which is unparalleled throughout Germany.

Goldman Sachs boss gets $53.4 million bonus

By David Walsh, 22 December 2006

Investment bank Goldman Sachs rewarded its chief executive Lloyd Blankfein with a bonus of $53.4 million this week. Blankfein, who became the firm’s CEO in June 2006, received $27.3 million in cash and the rest in stock and options.

Fijian crisis drags on as military delays formation of interim administration

By Rick Kelly, 22 December 2006

More than two weeks after the Fijian military overthrew the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, no administration or junta has been formed. Power remains concentrated solely in the hands of Commodore Frank Bainimarama and his appointed interim prime minister, 77-year-old army doctor Jona Senilagakali.

The International Socialist Organization: A profile of middle class radicalism

By Jerry White, 22 December 2006

Last month the International Socialist Organization held an educational conference at the University of Illinois in Chicago entitled, “Fight the Right—Build a socialist alternative.” The event, which was attended by around 200 people, mostly college students, provided a political snapshot of the politics of the ISO.

Former Australian military chiefs challenge government over Iraq war

By Richard Phillips, 22 December 2006

In another sign of growing political tensions within Australia’s ruling elite, eight former senior military chiefs have spoken out against the US-led occupation of Iraq, describing it as a “failure”.

Notice to our readers

By , 22 December 2006

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Power struggle in Saudi Arabia: a sign of regional instability

By Peter Symonds, 22 December 2006

The abrupt resignation of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Prince Turki al-Faisal, last week is one more sign of a power struggle underway in Riyadh. While factional intrigues in the Saudi royal family are undoubtedly involved, the overriding factor is the deepening instability throughout the Middle East being fuelled by the aggressive intervention of the US, above all in Iraq. One consequence has been an intensification of the traditional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran for regional dominance.

The Robert Kennedy phenomenon goes unexplored in Bobby

By David Walsh, 21 December 2006

Bobby, written and directed by Emilio Estevez

Australia: one year after the Cronulla riots, racialist provocations continue

By Fergus Michaels, 21 December 2006

The anniversary of Sydney’s December 11, 2005 Cronulla race riot witnessed no serious incidents, but not for want of trying on the part of the media and political establishment.

US breast cancer decrease tied to drop in hormone replacement therapy use

By Joanne Laurier, 21 December 2006

A startling decrease in US breast cancer rates in 2003 may be attributable to the fact that millions of older women stopped using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in 2002, according to researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Britain: High Court rejects Jean Charles de Menezes family appeal

By Paul Stuart, 21 December 2006

On December 14, three High Court Judges unanimously rejected demands for a full investigation into the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to rule out criminal prosecutions of the police officers who shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes at a London Underground station on July 22, 2005.

Britain’s establishment mourns Chilean dictator Pinochet

By Paul Mitchell, 21 December 2006

The Conservative Party, big business, and sections of the British press mourned the death of Chile’s former dictator General Augusto Pinochet last week.

US: Hundreds sickened by contaminated food

By Naomi Spencer, 21 December 2006

Reports of food-related outbreaks in the US have become a regular occurrence in the past few months, raising concerns about the safety of the food supply. Since September, officials from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported seven major outbreaks implicated in more than 1,100 cases of food poisoning, hundreds of hospitalizations, and at least three deaths.

Bush sets stage for major escalation in Iraq

By Bill Van Auken, 21 December 2006

The remarks delivered by President Bush at a year-end press conference Wednesday, combined with a series of military and political developments, point inexorably to a major escalation of the US war in Iraq in the coming year.

Chronic drought conditions create hardship in Australian rural areas

By Alan Leigh, 21 December 2006

One of the worst droughts of the past century is having a devastating impact on farmers and rural communities across much of Australia.

Sri Lankan unions betray plantation workers strike

By K. Ratnayake, 21 December 2006

Just days after an angry meeting of Sri Lankan plantation workers demanded their pay campaign continue, union leaders have called off the two-week strike and accepted an offer that falls far short of their demands. All the unions—above all, the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), the Up-country Peoples Front (UPF) and the All Ceylon Plantation Workers Union (ACPWU)—bear responsibility for this betrayal.

Judge in Padilla case orders mental evaluation

By Tom Carter, 21 December 2006

On Monday, US District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke ordered an independent evaluation of the mental state of Jose Padilla, the US citizen who was held for years without charge as an “enemy combatant” and now faces trial in Miami on charges of providing aid to a terrorist organization.

Canada: The Arar Affair and the RCMP Commissioner’s resignation—the cover-up continues

By Richard Dufour, 20 December 2006

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli tendered his resignation December 6, one day after appearing before a parliamentary committee to retract a key element of his testimony before the same committee two months earlier: that he had known almost immediately that his agency was involved in the illegal deportation of Maher Arar and that he had advised leading political figures of this fact.

Blair’s Middle East tour: “Jaw, Jaw” in furtherance of “War, War”

By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 20 December 2006

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s tour of the Middle East has been used to back a constitutional putsch by President Mahmoud Abbas that threatens a Palestinian civil war, to trial plans for a massive increase in troop numbers in Iraq and to pave the way for hostile action against Iran.

US-China “strategic economic dialogue” underscores sharpening trade tensions

By John Chan, 20 December 2006

An unprecedented US delegation sent to Beijing for the first session of a proposed twice-yearly “strategic economic dialogue” on December 14-15 highlights the sharpening trade tensions between the US and China.

Darfur: Bush and Blair plan no-fly zone and consider air strikes against Sudan

By Ann Talbot, 20 December 2006

The Bush administration is considering imposing a no-fly zone over the Darfur region in western Sudan. It would be backed up by the threat of air strikes, a naval blockade and an extension of the existing sanctions regime.

Sellout at Brussels Volkswagen plant

By Marianne Arens, 20 December 2006

Over four weeks ago Volkswagen workers at the Forest plant in Brussels went on strike and occupied the factory to protest against management’s decision to transfer production of the company’s Golf model from Brussels to factories in Germany. However, the workers’ actions were unable to overcome the treachery of the trade union leaders and prevent the company from carrying out its plans.

Australia: High Court clears way for expansion of federal power

By Mike Head, 20 December 2006

The Australian High Court last month handed down a ruling that opens the door for a major restructuring of the national economic and political framework, accompanied by a further expansion of the federal government’s executive power. While the immediate effect of the decision in New South Wales v Commonwealth of Australia was to uphold the Howard government’s draconian WorkChoices industrial relations laws, the federal cabinet has also been handed almost unlimited power to override state laws, and to rule by executive fiat.

Deep divisions dominate European Union summit

By Stefan Steinberg, 20 December 2006

The 25 leaders of the nations currently comprising the European Union met in Brussels last Thursday and Friday to discuss its expansion. The summit was characterised by profound differences over the function and future of the EU.

Pentagon report paints grim picture for US in Iraq

By Patrick Martin, 20 December 2006

A report issued by the Pentagon Monday confirms the disastrous state of the American project for the conquest of Iraq and transformation of the oil-rich country into a semi-colony of the United States.

Argentina: landowners withhold meat supplies from country’s population

By Jadir Antunes, 20 December 2006

Since December 3, the major landowners in Argentina’s Liniers region have been to refusing to provide cattle to the country’s meatpacking houses. The boycott is a protest by the country’s agrarian bourgeoisie against restrictions imposed by the government on beef exports.

Thousands march in New York to protest police killing

By Sandy English, 19 December 2006

Thousands of people marched down New York’s Fifth Avenue and across 34th Street on Saturday, nine days before Christmas and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, to protest the police murder of Sean Bell and the serious wounding of two others in the borough of Queens on November 25.

Former Solomon Islands attorney-general acquitted of politically-driven charges

By Rick Kelly, 19 December 2006

Julian Moti, former Solomon Islands attorney-general, was acquitted on December 13 of illegally entering the country without a passport. The court ruling is a blow to the Australian government, which launched a sustained witchhunt against Moti as part of its campaign against the Solomons’ government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. Canberra has nevertheless made clear that it will continue to pursue Moti and maintain its pressure on Sogavare.

Australia: No charges against police for killing Aboriginal prisoner

By Mike Head, 19 December 2006

In a blatant whitewash, two agencies of the Beattie Labor government in the Australian state of Queensland simultaneously ruled last week that no charges will be laid against a police sergeant who bashed and killed an innocent Aboriginal man on Palm Island, near the northern city of Townsville, two years ago. The decision has caused outrage on Palm Island and throughout indigenous communities across the country.

US general issues warning: politics must not interfere with 100-year “war on terror”

By Bill Van Auken, 19 December 2006

One of the Pentagon’s senior uniformed strategists warned last week that the “global war on terror” will go on for another 50 to 100 years and voiced concern that “politics” not be allowed to interfere with the protracted struggle.

UK troops rampage through Kandahar

By Harvey Thompson, 19 December 2006

An official investigation was launched December 9 into allegations that British troops had opened fire indiscriminately at civilians in Kandahar city, southern Afghanistan, following a suicide car bomb attack on a NATO-led convoy.

Millions of Indian workers strike against Congress-led government’s economic policies

By our correspondents, 19 December 2006

Millions of workers throughout India participated in a one-day general strike on Thursday, December 14, to oppose the neo-liberal economic policies that have been implemented single-mindedly by the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government since it came to power in May 2004.

Strike by Sri Lankan plantation workers at the crossroads

By the Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka), 19 December 2006

Half a million Sri Lankan plantation workers have entered the third week of their strike for higher pay. Their determination stands in marked contrast to the efforts of the trade union leaders who are conniving with management and the government to wind up the strike as quickly as possible.

Wall Street awards itself billions in Christmas bonuses

By David Walsh, 19 December 2006

Wall Street is awarding itself tens of billions in bonuses this winter. The fantastic amounts of money being handed out to investment bankers, securities traders and the like is symptomatic of the vast social divide that blights every aspect of American life.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 19 December 2006

Latin America

Letters on art and culture

By , 19 December 2006

The following is a selection of recent letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on art and culture.

Britain: Still no compensation one year after Buncefield explosion

By Paul Mitchell, 18 December 2006

One year after Britain’s largest peacetime explosion, local residents are still waiting for compensation for the damage caused by the blast.

Executions on hold in two US states

By Kate Randall, 18 December 2006

On Friday, executions by lethal injection were suspended in Florida following a botched execution, and a federal judge in California ruled that the state must overhaul its death penalty methods, in effect halting executions there. These developments have focused increased scrutiny on the gruesome lethal injection procedure, which is the method of choice in 37 US states.

Abbas attempts a political coup on behalf of Washington

By Jean Shaoul, 18 December 2006

Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah president of the Palestinian Authority, has announced that he will dissolve the recently elected parliament and call new presidential and parliamentary elections. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo told Associated Press that the president would set the date within a week, and that new elections would be held within three months.

Bush administration elaborates plans for bloodbath in Iraq

By Bill Van Auken, 18 December 2006

Reports on the Bush administration’s discussions on a change of course in Iraq indicate that Washington is preparing a major new bloodbath as part of a desperate attempt to salvage its nearly four-year-old bid to conquer the oil-rich country.

Oregon lawyer wins lawsuit over false arrest for Madrid bombings

By Hector Cordon, 18 December 2006

Brandon Mayfield, the Portland area lawyer wrongfully jailed in connection with the March 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid, Spain, settled part of his lawsuit against the federal government late last month. The Department of Justice agreed to pay Mayfield and his family $2 million and to issue a formal apology for his arrest and detainment, as well as for the surveillance of his family.

Grupo de Estudio sobre Irak destaca la crisis del imperialismo norteamericano en Irak y el propio Estados Unidos

By , 18 December 2006

WSWS : Español

The German chancellor and the Baker-Hamilton report

By Ulrich Rippert, 18 December 2006

On December 7, the official German government web site posted the following comment: “The chancellor [Angela Merkel] welcomed the Baker Report on the situation in the Iraq. The commission of experts has supplied a very realistic presentation of the situation.”

Evidence surfaces that Indonesian military executed “Balibo Five” Australian newsmen in 1975

By Mike Head, 18 December 2006

The Howard government is trying to block the release of vital intelligence reports showing that the Indonesian military regime ordered the execution of five Australian-based newsmen in the lead up to the 1975 invasion of East Timor.

Babel: Humanity is not the prisoner of fate

By Ramón Valle, 18 December 2006

Babel, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, written by Guillermo Arriaga

Blair questioned in cash for peerages probe

By Chris Marsden, 16 December 2006

The interviewing of Prime Minister Tony Blair by two police officers in an ongoing criminal investigation into the alleged sale of honours is historically unprecedented.

Filmmakers turn their attention to Africa—with limited results

By Joanne Laurier, 16 December 2006

Blood Diamond, directed by Edward Zwick, screenplay by Charles Leavitt; The Last King of Scotland, directed by Kevin Macdonald, screenplay by Jeremy Brock, based on the novel by Giles Foden

Washington pushes ahead with plans for Iraq “regime change”

By James Cogan, 16 December 2006

Further evidence this week confirms that the Bush administration’s “change of course” in Iraq includes the installation of a new regime that will sanction a military crackdown on the Mahdi Army—the militia associated with supporters of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Shiite fundamentalist Da’awa Party are being presented with an ultimatum: abandon the Sadrists or go down with them.

Pakistan drops terrorism charges against key suspect in Heathrow bomb plot

By Julie Hyland, 16 December 2006

On December 13, in an extraordinary turn of events, a court in Pakistan dropped terrorism charges against British-born Rashid Rauf.

European disillusionment over the Baker-Hamilton report

By Peter Schwarz, 16 December 2006

The initial enthusiasm evoked by the US Iraq Study Group report in official European political circles has rapidly subsided. The first feelings of relief have been replaced by scepticism and reserve, with tensions simmering beneath the surface. What the European elites regarded as a possible light on the horizon has dissipated and now the prevailing view is that the report and its reception in America could prove to be the starting point for fresh inter-European and transatlantic tensions.

Israeli high court sanctions political assassinations

By Bill Van Auken, 16 December 2006

Israel’s high court Thursday ruled that the Zionist regime’s use of political assassination—so-called “targeted killings”—against members of Palestinian organizations in the occupied territories is not only justified but in conformity with international law.

Sri Lankan military launches new offensive in country’s east

By K. Ratnayake, 16 December 2006

The Sri Lankan military launched a fresh offensive over the past week to seize the Vaharai area in the island’s eastern Batticaloa district from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The aggressive new operations are another blatant breach of the 2002 ceasefire agreement, which the government still claims to uphold.

Letters from our readers

By , 16 December 2006

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

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 16 December 2006

Asia

US Supreme Court sloughs off right to fair trial in a murder case

By Don Knowland, 15 December 2006

The US Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling December 11, struck another blow at democratic and due process rights. The justices overturned a federal appeals court ruling, which had granted a new trial to a murder defendant whose victim’s relatives had sat in full view of the jury wearing buttons with the victim’s face on them. Not a single member of the US Supreme Court would rule Monday that such conduct was inherently prejudicial and rendered the trial of Mathew Musladin unfair.

Bush administration preparing to boost US troop strength in Iraq

By Joe Kay, 15 December 2006

During the past week, the Bush administration has given clear signs that it is preparing to increase the number of US troops in Iraq, as part of a bloody offensive against the Iraqi resistance. Such a move would be taken in direct opposition to the overwhelming and growing popular sentiment in the US against the Iraq war.

Obituary: Naguib Mahfouz, novelist of Egypt and humanity

By Sandy English, 15 December 2006

“There are many kinds of heroes in ancient Arabic literature, all of them horsemen, knights. But a hero today would for me be one who adheres to a certain set of principles and stands by them in the face of opposition”—Naguib Mahfouz, Paris Review interview

New Zealand opposition leader quits

By John Braddock, 15 December 2006

New Zealand opposition leader Don Brash quit politics late last month in the wake of damaging speculation over his future, and days before the release of a book that alleged links between him and the Exclusive Brethren religious sect. Brash had led the conservative National Party for three years, having been recruited from governorship of the Reserve Bank, but failed to oust the Labour government in last year’s election.