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Record losses for US automaker Ford

By Jerry White, 31 January 2007

Ford Motor Company announced last week that it lost $12.7 billion in 2006, making it the worst year in the company’s 104-year history. The massive losses are a further blow to Ford, which is already engaged in a retrenchment program that includes a series of plant closings, mass layoffs and employee buyouts designed to transform the former US industrial icon into a relatively marginal competitor in the US and world auto market.

Tens of thousands affected by Sri Lankan floods and landslides

By Ananda Daulagala and G. Senaratne, 31 January 2007

Tens of thousands of people were displaced by floods and landslides in mid-January in southern, central and eastern Sri Lanka. According to the Ministry of Disaster Relief Services, more than 80,000 people were forced to shelter in 80 makeshift refugee camps. Just 5 million rupees (about $US50,000) were allocated last week to the relief effort.

Libby perjury trial puts spotlight on US Vice President Cheney

By Patrick Martin, 31 January 2007

Testimony in the opening week of the perjury trial of former top White House official I. Lewis Libby has focused attention on the central role played by Vice President Dick Cheney in the Bush administration’s efforts to suppress political opposition to the war in Iraq.

Japan’s defence minister strikes an anti-US posture

By John Chan, 31 January 2007

Just weeks after being installed as Japan’s first post-war defence minister, Fumio Kyuma has openly criticised the US over the war in Iraq. The comments are at odds with Japan’s previous wholehearted support for the Bush administration’s “war on terror” and the deployment of Japanese troops to Iraq—a move that was deeply unpopular.

Letters from our readers

By , 31 January 2007

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

Violence escalates against students and teachers in Iraq

By Sandy English, 31 January 2007

The kidnapping of three law professors and a student on Monday and the deaths on Sunday of five students at a girls’ secondary school underscores the collapse of the Iraqi educational system brought on by the American invasion.

Poland: Archbishop’s resignation exposes crisis of Catholic Church

By Marius Heuser and Peter Schwarz, 31 January 2007

The recent resignation of Stanislaw Wielgus as the archbishop of Warsaw has served to reveal the profound crisis of the Catholic Church in Poland. The church, which has traditionally formed a bulwark of reaction in Poland and played a significant role in channelling mass opposition to the Stalinist regime behind capitalist restoration, is increasingly losing influence.

Iraq’s colonial occupier, the US, denounces “foreign meddling”

By David Walsh, 30 January 2007

In recent weeks US government and military officials, aided and abetted by the American media, have stepped up the war of words against Iran. As they did precisely four years ago, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the political and media establishment is attempting to build up a case for military action against a country that has no designs on American territory and represents no threat to the US population.

Australian court upholds unbridled right to hire and fire

By Terry Cook, 30 January 2007

In what the Howard government and employer groups have hailed a “landmark” decision, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) has overturned a successful unfair dismissal claim by Village Roadshow employee Warren Carter, 51.

US Army officer faces court martial for refusing Iraq deployment order

By Naomi Spencer, 30 January 2007

On January 16, a US military judge ruled that an officer cannot justify resisting deployment to Iraq by demonstrating the illegality of the war. This significant pre-trial decision was delivered as Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first military officer to refuse orders to serve in Iraq, faces up to six years in prison when he is court-martialed next month.

Hundreds die as US military steps up operations in Iraq

By James Cogan, 30 January 2007

The US military is stepping up its attacks on both Sunni and Shiite opponents of the occupation of Iraq as the Bush administration’s plan for an increase in US troop numbers and an offensive in Baghdad is put into motion.

Repression in Brazil: University students sentenced for protest against Lula government

By Júlio Mariutti, 30 January 2007

The sentencing of two students from the University of Sao Paulo (USP) to prison for political activity is a stark indication of the escalation of repression on Brazil’s university campuses. Similar actions have been carried out at various universities recently, but the court decision handed down last December against the USP students is distinguished by its arbitrary character and the fact that it involves the most important university in the country, where until just a few years ago the military police did not dare to intervene.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 30 January 2007

Latin America

Britain: OECD rebukes Blair government for dropping Saudi bribery investigation

By Julie Hyland, 30 January 2007

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has expressed “serious concerns” about the Blair government’s decision to call off the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into allegations of multibillion-pound bribery of the Saudi ruling family by British Aerospace (BAe), Britain’s leading defence contractor.

Canada’s Liberals make pro-war Ignatieff their second-in-command

By Richard Dufour, 29 January 2007

Michael Ignatieff—the former Harvard professor who has written extensively in support of “pre-emptive” war, the curbing of democratic rights, and torture—has been confirmed as the number-two man in Canada’s Liberal party.

Italian court considers trial against CIA agents in rendition case

By Marianne Arens, 29 January 2007

Four years ago, Muslim cleric Abu Omar was kidnapped in Italy by US intelligence agents and transferred to an Egyptian torture prison. A hearing is currently taking place in Milan over the possible trial of those responsible for Abu Omar’s rendition. Public prosecutor Armando Spataro is seeking to bring charges against the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Italian military secret service SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare).

Organizers channel antiwar protest behind Democrats

By Barry Grey in Washington DC, 29 January 2007

Tens of thousands rallied in Washington DC on Saturday to protest the Bush administration’s military escalation in Iraq and demand an end to the war and withdrawal of US troops. Students and youth from many parts of the country attended. There was also a significant representation of Iraq war veterans as well as families of soldiers who have been killed or wounded in Iraq and of men and women presently deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Several dozen active duty soldiers participated.

China’s anti-satellite missile test points to developing space weapons race

By John Chan, 29 January 2007

After a lengthy silence, the Chinese government finally admitted last week to having tested an anti-satellite missile by destroying one of its aging weather satellites on January 11. While insisting that it still opposed the militarisation of space, China’s move is clearly a step in the opposite direction. The anti-satellite test was the first since both the former Soviet Union and the US carried out similar experiments in 1980s.

Bush authorizes shoot-to-kill policy against Iranians in Iraq

By Jerry White, 29 January 2007

The Bush administration has authorized US military forces in Iraq to hunt down and kill Iranian government personnel operating in that country, according to a report that first appeared in the Washington Post last Friday. The newspaper said President Bush authorized the new “kill or capture” program last fall during a meeting with his most senior advisors, which also resulted in the approval of a series of other measures aimed at destabilizing the Iranian regime.

Belgium Volkswagen workers resume strike

By a correspondent, 29 January 2007

On the evening of Wednesday, January 24, workers at the Volkswagen Forest factory in Brussels resumed their strike.

Students, veterans, workers denounce Iraq war at Saturday protests

By Samuel Davidson, Tom Carter and Ramon Valle, 29 January 2007

At the January 27 demonstration in Washington DC, organized by United for Peace and Justice, members and supporters of the Socialist Equality Party intervened distributing the ICFI statement, “For an international mobilization of workers and youth against the war in Iraq,” as well as a statement appealing for students to join and build the International Students for Social Equality.

The struggle against war requires a break with the Democrats

By the Editorial Board, 27 January 2007

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

Freedom Writers: Truly no child left behind

By Joanne Laurier, 27 January 2007

Freedom Writers written and directed by Richard LaGravenese, based on the book, The Freedom Writers Diary, by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

Top Volkswagen executives on trial for corruption in Germany

By Ludwig Niethammer, 27 January 2007

The trial of the former Volkswagen human resources executive Peter Hartz ended on Friday, January 26, with Hartz receiving a two-year suspended sentence and a fine. His case has drawn crowds of journalists and camera teams, with angry workers also protesting outside the court in the town of Braunschweig. Hartz was a former top Volkswagen manager and is still a member of the IG Metall trade union and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). As special advisor to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), Hartz had devised the draconian labour market reforms that bear his name. As he went into court he was greeted with calls of “scoundrel,” “traitor” or “put Hartz in jail.”

El gobierno de Bush amenaza al Primer Ministro de Irak mientras prepara un baño de sangre en Baghdad

By , 27 January 2007

WSWS : Español

Le Carré points to looting of Congo by mining corporations

By John Farmer and Chris Talbot, 27 January 2007

In December, the writer John Le Carré along with Jason Stearns, analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank, wrote about the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They noted that the recent swearing in of Joseph Kabila as president of the Democratic Republic ended a peace process that had followed seven years of war. Close to 4 million people have died and even now, on average, 1,200 people a day are dying from disease and malnutrition that are the result of the war and logistical collapse.*

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 27 January 2007


The background to the murder of Turkish journalist Hrant Dink

By Sinan Ikinci, 27 January 2007

On January 19 Hrant Dink, the well-known Turkish journalist of Armenian origin, was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Istanbul by a right-wing assassin. Dink’s murder is the tragic result of a wave of nationalism and chauvinism spearheaded by the Turkish military, supported by its “civilian partners,” which has terrorized the country over the last few years.

A letter on popular opinion, the media, and Bush’s plans for escalation in Iraq

By , 27 January 2007

The following letter was sent by a WSWS reader in response to the article, “In defiance of 2006 vote, Bush will escalate Iraq war”

Study finds substantial rise in cigarette nicotine content

By Naomi Spencer, 27 January 2007

Newly published research from the Tobacco Control Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) documents a substantial increase in nicotine content in major brand name cigarettes over the past decade. The findings indicate that, in the face of numerous legal defeats and a declining national market, the tobacco industry has focused on increasing the addictiveness of its products.

In the face of mounting opposition, Australian government backs new Guantánamo courts

By Richard Phillips, 26 January 2007

Last week the Pentagon presented a 238-page manual for its new Guantánamo Bay military trials to the US Congress for approval. Drawn up after the US Supreme Court ruled last year that the previous commissions violated the Geneva Conventions and the American constitution, the manual cynically claims to establish “judicial guarantees which are recognised by all civilised people”.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 26 January 2007


Letters from our readers

By , 26 January 2007

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

German chancellor assures Bush of “broad support”

By Ulrich Rippert, 26 January 2007

On Sunday, January 21, the news magazine Der Spiegel published an interview with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Following visits to a number of Middle East countries, Rice made Berlin her first European port of call and held talks with both the German foreign minister and the chancellor, Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union—CDU).

Global poll condemns Bush administration on Iraq war and global militarism

By Kate Randall, 26 January 2007

The global view of the role of the US in world affairs has dramatically deteriorated over the past year, according to a BBC World Service poll released Wednesday. The study documents mounting hostility to US foreign policy, its destabilizing effect on entire regions of the world, as well as growing awareness of the threat posed to the environmental health of the planet.

Amusing, but no triumph—Almodóvar’s Volver

By Lee Parsons, 26 January 2007

Volver, written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Britain’s senior prosecutor: no such thing as a “war on terror”

By Julie Hyland, 26 January 2007

Britain’s director of public prosecutions has publicly called into question claims by Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government that the country is engaged in a “war on terror.”

US: Threadbare “college affordability” bill passes in the House

By Naomi Spencer, 26 January 2007

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill January 17 proposing a halving of interest rates on federally subsidized student loans. Part of the Democrats’ vaunted “first 100 hours,” HR5 is supposed to represent the fulfillment of a campaign promise to rein in spiraling education costs and debt burden.

West Bengal Left Front’s pro-investor land grab results in deadly clashes

By Arun Kumar, 26 January 2007

West Bengal’s Left Front government has temporarily suspended its policy of expropriating large tracts of agricultural land on behalf of domestic and foreign investors after violent clashes erupted at Nandigram that resulted in up to a dozen fatalities.

European Union demands speedy formation of unity coalition in Serbia

By Julie Hyland, 25 January 2007

The European Union has called for the formation of a pro-Western coalition government in Serbia as soon as possible following Sunday’s elections.

Sri Lankan military captures strategic eastern town from LTTE

By Sarath Kumara, 25 January 2007

After imposing a siege lasting months, the Sri Lankan security forces finally took the key eastern coastal town of Vaharai last Friday in what is a significant blow to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Vaharai is the latest in a series of LTTE strongholds that have fallen to government troops since July.

A warning from Senator Webb: Democrat cites danger of deepening “class lines” in America

By Patrick Martin, 25 January 2007

The official Democratic Party response to President Bush’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night was delivered by newly elected Senator James Webb of Virginia, a former Republican and secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration.

Western powers accuse Iran and Syria of masterminding Lebanese general strike

By Chris Marsden, 25 January 2007

Lebanese opposition parties and the trade unions called a halt yesterday to a general strike that had resulted in violent clashes with supporters of the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

After Stephen Colbert’s performance in 2006: White House press corps learns its lesson

By David Walsh, 25 January 2007

The decision by the White House Correspondents’ Association to invite impersonator Rich Little to provide entertainment at its annual dinner in April captures something essential about the American media.

Germany’s former SPD-Green government blocked release of Guantánamo prisoner Murat Kurnaz

By Justus Leicht and Peter Schwarz, 25 January 2007

The Social Democratic-Green coalition government led by Gerhard Schröder (SPD) not only refused to assist German-born Murat Kurnaz while he was subjected to four years of detention in the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but it also worked energetically to block his release and to keep the public in the dark about his case. This is what has clearly emerged from new revelations made in the course of Kurnaz’s testimony last week before two parliamentary committees of inquiry.

Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler: Ignorance of the subject is not a good starting point

By Stefan Steinberg, 25 January 2007

Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler, written and directed by Dani Levy

Iranian president faces mounting internal opposition

By Peter Symonds, 24 January 2007

As the US administration intensifies pressure on Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing growing criticism at home from sections of the country’s ruling elite over his uncompromising statements on Iran’s nuclear programs as well as over his populist economic measures.

The surface of a frantic, unusual adolescence: Running with Scissors

By Jeff Lassahn, 24 January 2007

Running with Scissors, written and directed by Ryan Murphy, based on the book by Augusten Burroughs

Nathaniel Abraham released from state custody in Michigan

By Larry Roberts, 24 January 2007

Nathaniel Abraham—arrested at the age of 11 and one of the youngest children in the US ever convicted as an adult for murder—was released from state custody on January 18, one day before his 21st birthday. Abraham, who was involved in the accidental shooting death of an 18-year-old youth in Pontiac, Michigan in 1997, was convicted two years later during a trial in which the prosecution and media demonized him as a vicious killer who deserved to be in prison for the rest of his life.

Observations on Washington-style democracy

By Barry Grey in Washington and D.C., 24 January 2007

Political life in the US capital is increasingly an exercise in deceit and self-delusion. It does not take long for an objective observer to discern that behind the traditional forms of parliamentary democracy—congressional debates, floor votes, hearings, etc.—the machinery of a presidential dictatorship is being consolidated and already operating in key areas of policy, both foreign and domestic.

European Union announces new energy strategy

By Niall Green, 24 January 2007

The European Commission published a white paper on the future of energy policy within the European Union on January 11. Although largely presented by the EU and in many media commentaries as an attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the new energy strategy is driven primarily by the need for the European powers to reduce their dependence on unstable oil and gas imports.

Brazil: The WTO and Lula’s “struggle” for the G-20

By Jadir Antunes, 24 January 2007

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorin, the president of the G-20 (the group of 21 “developing” countries formed to defend their agricultural interests in international trade talks) told the press late last year that he would fight at all costs to restore credibility to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This “struggle” has become necessary following the collapse last year of the Doha round of negotiations on trade liberalization begun in Cancun in 2003. No concrete results were obtained out of this round after years of negotiations.

Bush’s State of the Union speech highlights crisis of US ruling elite

By Bill Van Auken, 24 January 2007

President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address was delivered Wednesday in an atmosphere of crisis and demoralization gripping not only his own Republican administration, but the entire American political establishment.

79th Academy Award nominations: a disparate group of films

By David Walsh, 24 January 2007

The Academy Award nominations announced Tuesday morning confirm a recent trend: a growth in the overall seriousness of international filmmaking, in response to events, combined with significant limitations and confusion.

Musharraf’s reform of Pakistan’s rape law-a cynical manoeuvre

By Vilani Peiris, 24 January 2007

Last month Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf signed into law the Protection of Women Bill approved by the parliament in November 15. The legislation was to amend the three decades old oppressive Islamic religious law known as the Hudood Ordinance.

The Trial of Tony Blair: What would it take to put the prime minister in the dock?

By Paul Bond, 23 January 2007

At one point in Alistair Beaton’s latest political satire, The Trial of Tony Blair, Cherie Blair (Phoebe Nicholls) rounds on husband Tony (Robert Lindsay) saying, “The world’s changed and you don’t get it.” Where Beaton falls down is in his depiction of how this change manifests itself and leads to Blair standing in the dock facing war crimes charges.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 23 January 2007

Latin America

Questions and answers at David Walsh’s talk at York University in Toronto

By David Walsh, 23 January 2007

Students and faculty members attended the talk on “Film, history and socialism” given by WSWS arts editor David Walsh at York University in Toronto, January 17. The following is an edited version of the question-and-answer period that followed Walsh’s presentation.

Germany: War, social cuts and the role of the Left Party-PDS

By by Socialist Equality Party, 23 January 2007

The Left Party-Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the WASG (Election Alternative) group organized a conference January 19-21 at Frankfurt University under the slogan “Get up, stand up.” The aim of the conference was to create “a new left university federation.” The Socialist Equality Party intervened with the following statement to expose this attempt to establish a new left cover for the right-wing policies of the Left Party.

Somalia: African Union force agreed

By Ann Talbot, 23 January 2007

The African Union has agreed to send a 7,600-strong peacekeeping force to Somalia to replace the Ethiopian troops who invaded the country in December. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has insisted that his forces will withdraw in a matter of days.

US political crisis mounts over Iraq war escalation

By Patrick Martin, 23 January 2007

The Bush administration is pushing ahead with its plans to intensify the war in Iraq despite daily evidence of the overwhelming opposition to this escalation on the part of the American people. A new opinion poll released Monday, the day before Bush’s State of the Union Speech, showed two-thirds of the public against the Iraq war, with more than 60 percent opposing Bush’s decision to send additional US troops into combat.

US occupation turns 3.7 million Iraqis into refugees

By James Cogan, 23 January 2007

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported this month that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has forced one out of every eight Iraqis to flee their homes—more than 3.7 million people. The agency described the refugee crisis caused by the Iraq war as the worst in the Middle East since the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. The Zionist military and paramilitary death squads drove an estimated 711,000 Palestinian Arabs from their land.

Film, history and socialism

By David Walsh, 23 January 2007

We are posting here the concluding part of a talk given by David Walsh, arts editor of the World Socialist Web Site, to a meeting organized by graduate film students January 17 at York University in Toronto, Ontario. The first part was posted January 22. Also see “Questions and answers at David Walsh’s talk at York University in Toronto.”

The Gates Foundation and the rise of “free market” philanthropy

By Andre Damon, 22 January 2007

A number of revealing details have surfaced in recent weeks concerning the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest charitable concern.

Prisoners continue hunger strike at Canada’s Guantánamo

By François Tremblay, 22 January 2007

Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei—who have been imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial under a Canadian government “national security certificate”—are continuing a hunger strike to protest their inhumane conditions of detention.

For an international mobilization of workers and youth against the war in Iraq

By the World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, 22 January 2007

The World Socialist Web Site and the International Committee of the Fourth International call on all socially conscious workers, students and youth throughout the world to dedicate 2007 to the development of an international mass working class movement against the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sri Lankan unions end pay campaign in the interests of “national security”

By W.A. Sunil, 22 January 2007

Union leaders called off a strike by Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) employees for better pay and the defence of jobs after the Colombo District court imposed an interim injunction banning industrial action on the grounds that it would threaten the economy and security of the country.

US auto union tells members to “expect sacrifices” in new contracts

By Jerry White, 22 January 2007

The United Auto Workers (UAW) bureaucracy has added its voice to the chorus of auto industry executives, analysts and news reporters demanding that American autoworkers accept the elimination of their hard-fought gains in order to “save” the US auto industry.

Film, history and socialism

By David Walsh, 22 January 2007

We are posting here the first part of a talk given by David Walsh, arts editor of the World Socialist Web Site, to a meeting organized by graduate film students January 17 at York University in Toronto, Ontario. The second and concluding part will be posted Tuesday, January 23.

Pentagon official witch-hunts Guantánamo detainees’ lawyers

By Kevin Kearney, 22 January 2007

On January 13 the New York Times reported that the senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees accused of terrorism, Charles D. Stimson, had publicly attacked lawyers representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, saying he was dismayed that attorneys at many of the nation’s top firms were representing “terrorists.” He encouraged the firms’ corporate clients to protest by taking their business elsewhere.

The coronation of Nicolas Sarkozy

By Peter Schwarz, 20 January 2007

The January 14 anointing of French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy as the presidential candidate of the governing Gaullist party, the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), in this year’s elections was a chilling spectacle.

Grand coalition government formed in Austria

By Markus Salzmann, 20 January 2007

Three months after the Austrian parliamentary elections in October 2006, a new government has been sworn in. While Social Democrat Alfred Gusenbauer has replaced Wolfgang Schüssel of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) as chancellor, everything otherwise remains the same. Gusenbauer leads a grand coalition that is dominated by the ÖVP and that will consistently pursue the policies of its right-wing predecessor.

To speak the truth without being afraid: My Name Is Rachel Corrie on stage in New York

By Sandy English, 20 January 2007

My Name Is Rachel Corrie by Alan Rickman and Katherine Vinter, directed by Alan Rickman, at the Minetta Lane Theatre, New York City, October 15—December 30, 2006.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 20 January 2007

Striking workers picket Nestlé factory

Informe de la ONU: más de 34,000 muertos iraquíes civiles en 2006

By , 20 January 2007

WSWS : Español

Britain: New crime bill flouts presumption of innocence

By Julie Hyland, 20 January 2007

This week the Home Office published its proposed Serious Crime bill. Under the guise of tackling “serious and organized crime,” the Blair government is to further erode the presumption of innocence, so that people who have not been charged—let alone convicted—of a criminal offence can be subject to draconian restrictions on their freedom of movement.

The war in Iraq and American democracy

By the Editorial Board, 20 January 2007

The Bush administration’s decision to press ahead with the escalation of the war in Iraq, despite overwhelming public opposition and increasing criticism in Congress, demonstrates the extent to which the executive branch of the US government now functions as an unaccountable force, disregarding the checks and balances of the traditional constitutional structure and ignoring public opinion.

Thai junta under fire over economic policies

By John Roberts, 20 January 2007

Just four months after seizing power, Thailand’s military junta or Council for National Security (CNS) is on the defensive after protests at home and internationally. Far from resolving the country’s political crisis, the September 19 coup has been followed by sharpening divisions in Thai ruling circles, particularly over the direction of economic policy.

Canada’s social democrats lend support to the Conservative government in the name of the environment

By Richard Dufour, 20 January 2007

A little over a year has passed since Canada’s social democratic party—the New Democratic Party or NDP—sided with Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in making Liberal government corruption the principal issue in the January 2006 federal election, thus helping Harper camouflage his neo-conservative views and pave the way for a minority Conservative government.

Australia: Labor refashions industrial relations policy to suit big business

By Terry Cook, 19 January 2007

Within weeks of winning the leadership of the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP), Kevin Rudd and his deputy Julia Gillard are already moving to refashion industrial relations (IR) policy in line with the demands of big business.

Sri Lankan police drag out their inquiries into the murder of SEP supporter

By by Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka), 19 January 2007

More than five months after the murder of Socialist Equality Party (SEP) supporter Sivapragasam Mariyadas in the eastern Sri Lankan town of Mullipothana, the police investigation has failed to identify the killers, let alone arrest and prosecute them. The police involved are more preoccupied with avoiding responsibility for the case than in conducting any serious inquiries into the most likely culprits—the country’s security forces.

Rice’s Middle East tour: Arab regimes back US war drive in Iraq and Iran

By Jean Shaoul and Chris Marsden, 19 January 2007

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the Emirates have all signed up to the Bush administration’s escalation of its aggression against Iraq and its plans for a military attack on Iran.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 19 January 2007

Greek students and education workers continue protests

Bush administration gets secret court’s sanction for illegal spying operation

By Bill Van Auken, 19 January 2007

Faced with imminent Congressional and judicial review of an illegal warrantless wiretapping operation conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) for more than five years, the Bush administration has sought and received approval from a secret court for continued eavesdropping.

Japan establishes first postwar defence ministry

By John Chan, 19 January 2007

In a step towards the revival of Japanese militarism, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government on January 9 set up the country’s first defence ministry since the end of World War II. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the new defence minister, Fumio Kyuma, attended the official ceremony to rename the previous defence agency headquarters as the new defence ministry.

Volkswagen workers in Belgium end their strike and occupation

By Marianne Arens, 18 January 2007

After a seven-week strike and occupation of their factory, Volkswagen workers on January 8 resumed work at the Forest plant in Brussels. A strike ballot held on January 5 failed to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary for a continuation of the strike.

The significance of Venezuela’s and Ecuador’s nationalizations

By Bill Van Auken, 18 January 2007

Presidential inaugurations in Venezuela and Ecuador over the past week were marked by calls for “socialism” and “revolution.”

China’s defence report highlights growing dangers of war

By John Chan, 18 January 2007

China’s military and strategic assessment, “National Defence in 2006”, published in late December, is a highly political document that reflects Beijing’s reaction to growing Great Power rivalry.

Letters from our readers

By , 18 January 2007

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

Britain: Leaked report details plans to cut jobs and pay in National Health Service

By Robert Stevens, 18 January 2007

The Labour government in Britain is preparing huge cuts in the workforce of the National Health Service. Excerpts from a leaked draft workforce strategy for 2008-11 by the Department of Health (DoH) were published in the Health Service Journal this month.

UN report: More than 34,000 Iraqi civilian deaths in 2006

By Kate Randall, 18 January 2007

The United Nations reported Tuesday that 34,452 Iraqi civilians died in 2006 as a result of bombings, extra-judicial executions and other forms of violence.

Australian PM outlines indefinite military agenda in South Pacific

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 18 January 2007

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has revealed the real motivations behind his government’s interventions in the South Pacific and foreshadowed permanent military operations there. Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph on December 31, Howard acknowledged his concern that hostile rival powers, such as China and Taiwan, could “take over” the region. The prime minister also pointed to Washington’s expectation that Australia would take responsibility for maintaining “stability” in an area US imperialism regards as its own sphere of influence.

Two more barbaric state executions in Iraq

By James Cogan, 17 January 2007

The latest executions in Baghdad exemplify the barbarism that prevails in US-occupied Iraq. Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the 56-year-old half-brother of Saddam Hussein and former head of his regime’s intelligence service, and Awad Hamed al-Bander, the 61-year-old former chief judge of the Baathist Revolutionary Court, were hung in the early hours of Monday morning.

Civilian contractors in Iraq placed under US military law

By Jerry White, 17 January 2007

Under a new law written into the 2007 military spending bill last year, private contractors working in Iraq will now be subject to US military law. The provision, which was slipped through at the end of the last congressional session with virtually no debate, will for the first time place civilians working with the military under the jurisdiction of courts-martial and strip them of the constitutional right to a trial by a jury of their peers.

James Brown, one of the greats of post-war American popular music

By Richard Phillips, 17 January 2007

Last month saw the passing of James Brown, a giant of American rhythm and blues and a key initiator of the soul, funk and rap music genres. Brown was admitted to an Atlanta hospital on December 24 and died, aged 73, on Christmas morning from congestive heart failure caused by pneumonia.

Germany: How “Socialist Alternative” blocks the building of an independent socialist movement

By Lucas Adler, 17 January 2007

The SAV (Socialist Alternative) group, the German affiliate of Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party in Britain, regards as its main task the prevention of an independent movement of the working class. This was made clear at its recent national conference to determine its attitude to the Left Party, which will be formed in 2007 from a merger of the Left Party-Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the so-called “Election Alternative—Jobs and Social Justice” (WASG).

Washington admits role in illegal war: US troops took part in invasion of Somalia

By Ann Talbot, 17 January 2007

Pentagon officials have confirmed for the first time that the United States has troops on the ground in Somalia. This amounts to an admission that the Bush administration is a co-belligerent with Ethiopia in its illegal war in the Horn of Africa. It is the first time that Washington has acknowledged having forces in Somalia since it pulled out in 1994 after the infamous “Black Hawk down” incident.

David North to address WSWS/SEP Sydney public meeting on Bush’s Iraq escalation

By , 17 January 2007

The World Socialist Web Site and Socialist Equality Party (Australia) will hold a public meeting in Sydney on Wednesday January 31, 2007 to oppose the illegal US-led occupation of Iraq, to discuss the escalating social and political crisis wracking both the US and Australia, and to outline a socialist perspective against militarism and war.

Hillary Clinton: Congressional debate on Iraq is over means, not ends

By Bill Van Auken, 16 January 2007

During a Sunday breakfast meeting with members of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton told the troops that however sharp the differences expressed in the debate over the Bush administration’s war policy, Democrats and Republicans share the same essential aims.

Poll shows 82 percent of Germans feel politically disenfranchised

By Dietmar Henning, 16 January 2007

The gulf between official political life and the German population has reached proportions without precedent in the post-war period. According to a Forsa opinion poll on behalf of the Stern magazine, 82 percent of the German population believe they are politically disenfranchised. An ever-greater percentage doubt that any change can be achieved through elections.