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David Walsh selects his favorite films of 2007

By David Walsh, 31 December 2007

American films, which largely continue to dominate the globe, remain quite poor in general. The trivial and the anti-social predominate. The reality of an immensely complex society receives very little serious attention. Honorably (or, in a few cases, less so), a number of filmmakers have attempted to confront the endless brutal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, even here, there is very, very far to go.

Britain: Arts Council to cut funds to 194 organisations

By Paul Bond, 31 December 2007

The funding body Arts Council England (ACE) has told nearly 200 organisations that their funding will not be renewed beyond March 2008. The news has had an immediate impact, with theatre staff being put on redundancy notices, shows being cancelled, and the future of festivals in doubt.

Australian Labor government steps up vendetta against former Solomon Islands attorney-general

By Patrick O’Connor, 31 December 2007

Julian Moti, a well-known international constitutional lawyer and former attorney-general of the Solomon Islands, was arrested and detained by Australian Federal Police on December 27 following his extradition from the Pacific nation. He now faces seven charges under the Child Sex Tourism Act, carrying a maximum penalty of 17 years imprisonment. Moti appeared before the Brisbane Magistrates Court last Friday, but the case was adjourned until January 4 to allow him to secure legal representation. The former attorney-general remains behind bars after his legal aid representative made no bail application.

US presidential candidates pledge support to Pakistani dictator

By Patrick Martin, 31 December 2007

The response of the leading US presidential candidates to the December 27 assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto has been to pledge continued American support to the Musharraf military dictatorship, with little more than lip service to the democratic rights of the people of Pakistan.

Aguda escasez de alimentos y los aumentos de precios amenazan a la población mundial

By , 31 December 2007

WSWS : Español

¿Qué ha logrado la escalada militar estadounidense en Iraq?

By , 31 December 2007

WSWS : Español

Pakistan: Violent state repression of protests over Bhutto assassination

By Keith Jones, 31 December 2007

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday ordered the military and other security forces to take whatever measures were necessary to quell rioting sparked by last Thursday’s assassination of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, former prime minister and current prime ministerial candidate Benazir Bhutto.

Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

By David Walsh, 31 December 2007

Screenplay by John Logan, based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler

Germany: PSG election meeting in Giessen

By our correspondent, 31 December 2007

The Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG, Socialist Equality Party) held a public meeting on December 18, 2007 to discuss the party’s socialist programme for the Hesse state election. The meeting was attended by a number of supporters and readers of the World Socialist Web Site.

El informe sobre el uso de esteroides en el béisbol de Estados Unidos refleja un orden social enfermizo

By , 31 December 2007

WSWS : Español

Turkey continues its incursions into northern Iraq

By Justus Leicht, 29 December 2007

Over the weekend and again on Tuesday and Wednesday, Turkey carried out new air raids against Kurdish areas in northern Iraq. According to a representative of the Kurdish Peschmerga, villages in the province of Dohuk were bombed on Wednesday. There are as yet no reliable reports on the number of victims or the material damage from the attacks.

Bhutto assassination heightens threat of US intervention in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 29 December 2007

With Pakistan erupting in violence over the assassination of its former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and amid conflicting accounts as to both the identity of her assassins and even the cause of her death, official Washington and the American mass media have coalesced around a version of events that has been crafted to suit US strategic interests.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 29 December 2007

Indian teachers protest

Danish elections: Government remains dependent on far right

By Jordan Shilton, 29 December 2007

The Danish Liberal-Conservative coalition, supported by the anti-immigrant nationalist Danish People’s Party (DPP), achieved the slimmest of majorities in the November 13 elections. The snap poll was called by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen two years ahead of schedule. In the 179-seat parliament, the alliance achieved 90 seats, one of those made up by the Unionist Party from the Danish Protectorate of the Faroe Islands.

US occupation prepares Basra operation following British withdrawal

By James Cogan, 29 December 2007

In the wake of the formal conclusion on December 17 of day-to-day policing by British troops in the Iraqi city of Basra, there are signs that the US military and the Iraqi government are preparing a new operation to shatter Shiite fundamentalist influence in the city and its surrounds, including the oil industry and the country’s only port, Umm Qasr.

US mayors’ report: Hunger and homelessness intensify in US cities

By Debra Watson, 29 December 2007

The number of people hungry and homeless in US cities rose dramatically again in 2007, according to the annual report on hunger and homelessness from the US Conference of Mayors.The 23-city Hunger and Homelessness Survey was released in late December.

Turkey: 15-month strike ends with betrayal by union bureaucracy

By Sinan Ikinci, 28 December 2007

On December 18, the Union of Petroleum, Chemical and Rubber Workers of Turkey (Petrol-Is) and the management of German-Italian owned Fresenius Medical Care signed a contract covering some 300 workers at Novamed, a manufacturer of bloodline and kidney dialysis equipment located in the Antalya Free Trade Zone of Turkey.

Scores killed in Indonesian Boxing Day landslides

By Will Marshall, 28 December 2007

Major landslides in Indonesia’s Central Java province on December 26 have killed at least 70 people and left thousands displaced. The tragedy struck during the early hours of Wednesday morning—the third anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami which claimed the lives of over 167,000 Indonesians in 2004 after a massive earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra.

In wake of assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Bush administration rushes to defense of Musharraf

By Keith Jones, 28 December 2007

Pakistan People’s Party “life chairperson” and prime ministerial candidate Benazir Bhutto was assassinated early Thursday evening, Pakistani time, while campaigning for national and provincial assembly elections scheduled for January 8.

The reality behind Britain’s claims of military success in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Harvey Thompson, 28 December 2007

On December 17, the British Army transferred formal control of Basra province to Iraqi authorities, four-and-a-half years after the US-led invasion of the country.

Germany: BMW announces 8,000 job cuts

By Markus Salzmann, 28 December 2007

On December 21, Bavarian auto manufacturer BMW announced plans to implement several thousand redundancies in the coming year. The slashing of jobs is part of an extensive savings programme aimed at boosting the company’s profits. Between now and 2012, BMW plans to achieve savings amounting to approximately €6 billion.

Soaring inflation sparks social unrest in China

By Carol Divjak, 28 December 2007

China’s annual inflation rate surged to an 11-year high of 6.9 percent in November, provoking protests by working people over rising food, fuel and housing costs and growing nervousness in Beijing over the prospects of further unrest.

Bob Dylan as a psychological pastiche: I’m Not There

By James Brewer, 28 December 2007

I’m Not There, for better or worse, is a film not so much about singer-songwriter Bob Dylan as about the idea of Bob Dylan. More precisely, it is about several different such ideas. It was directed and co-written by Todd Haynes (Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven). Six actors play six characters, each with a different name, who represent different facets or incarnations of Dylan.

US agency OKs slashing of health benefits for over-65 retirees

By Bill Van Auken, 28 December 2007

Using the slow period between Christmas and New Year’s as cover, the US federal agency charged with enforcing laws against discrimination issued a controversial new ruling that allows employer and union-run health-care plans to reduce costs by slashing or totally eliminating benefits for retirees once they turn 65.

WSWS speaks to workers and youth about Keerthi Balasuriya

By our correspondents, 28 December 2007

WSWS correspondents spoke with a number of people attending the recent public meeting held by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) in Sri Lanka to mark twenty years since the death of Keerthi Balasuriya. Keerthi was general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), the forerunner of the SEP, from its founding until his sudden death from a massive heart attack on December 18, 1987. He played a leading role in the post-war international Trotskyist movement. We publish below interviews with participants in the Colombo memorial meeting.

Letters from our readers

By , 27 December 2007

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

Russia-Belarus talks signal renewed cooperation against US

By Niall Green, 27 December 2007

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Minsk December 13 for two days of talks with the president of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko. Their meeting came just prior to a session of the Russia-Belarus Union, a body established in the 1990s to encourage integration between the two countries.

Record fall in US home prices

By Barry Grey, 27 December 2007

US home prices fell by more than 6 percent in October from their October 2006 levels, according to a closely followed home price index, recording the biggest annual decline since the index began in 1987. It was the tenth consecutive month that the Standard &Poor’s/Case-Shiller index showed a year-to-year fall in existing home prices.

Commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the death of Keerthi Balasuriya

By our correspondents, 27 December 2007

The Sri Lankan Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) held a powerful public meeting on December 23 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of Keerthi Balasuriya. Keerthi was general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), the forerunner of the SEP, from the time of its founding in 1968 until his untimely death at the age of 39 from a massive heart attack, while working at the RCL’s Colombo offices on December 18, 1987.

US prepares to increase occupation forces in Afghanistan

By Joe Kay, 27 December 2007

The Bush administration is preparing to significantly increase US troop levels in Afghanistan in an attempt to quell growing popular hostility to the US and NATO occupying forces. It is doing so with full confidence that it will face no significant opposition from the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Record Christmas bonuses on Wall Street

By Naomi Spencer, 27 December 2007

As millions of US households struggle with unmanageable mortgage payments, falling home values and foreclosure, Wall Street executives are awarding themselves record year-end bonuses.

Greetings to Colombo memorial meeting for Keerthi Balasuriya

By , 27 December 2007

We are publishing below messages to the memorial meeting in Colombo on December 23 from the Socialist Equality Parties of Germany and Britain. A message from the National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia, Nick Beams, was published in the WSWS report of “Sri Lankan SEP Marks 20th anniversary of Keerthi Balasuriya” on December 20. On December 18 and 19, a two-part article by David North, National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of the US and Chairman of the International Editorial Board of the WSWS was published, “Twenty years since the death of Keerthi Balasuriya.”

Australian Labor government endorses further punitive measures against David Hicks

By Richard Phillips, 24 December 2007

The new Rudd Labor government has lost no time in making clear that the assault on democratic rights carried out by the former Howard government will continue unabated. This was demonstrated two weeks ago when Attorney-General Robert McClelland backed Australian Federal Police (AFP) moves for a control order on former Guantánamo Bay prisoner David Hicks, who is due to be released from a South Australian prison on December 29.

White House, CIA hid torture tapes from 9/11 Commission

By Joe Kay, 24 December 2007

The CIA withheld videotapes of the abuse of suspected Al Qaeda members from the 9/11 Commission despite repeated requests for information on interrogations directed to top CIA and White House officials, according to the executive director of the commission. The CIA has acknowledged that in November 2005, more than a year after the requests were made, it destroyed tapes of CIA interrogations of two alleged Al Qaeda leaders, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Letters from our readers

By , 24 December 2007

On “Report indicates White House encouraged torture tape destruction”

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 24 December 2007

Argentina: Casino workers protest

Israel says strikes on Gaza will be ongoing

By Jean Shaoul, 24 December 2007

Israeli military incursions into Gaza and targeted assassinations of militants have become an almost daily occurrence since last month’s Annapolis summit. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in such attacks.

European Union sends “rule of law” mission to prepare for Kosovan independence

By Paul Mitchell, 24 December 2007

Last week, the European Union (EU), under pressure from the United States, sent a 1,800-strong “rule of law” mission—the largest in the bloc’s history—to replace the United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The EU mission’s job is to reform the police, prisons and judiciary and pave the way for Kosovan independence, which the US wants the provincial government to declare early next year.

Right-wing candidate wins South Korean presidential poll

By Peter Symonds, 24 December 2007

For the first time in more than a decade, the candidate of the right-wing Grand National Party (GNP), Lee Myung-bak, won last week’s South Korean presidential election. Far from being a vote of confidence in the GNP, however, the outcome reflected broad hostility towards the current president Roh Moo-hyun, particularly over his pro-market policies and commitment of South Korean troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

FBI’s Hoover proposed internment of 12,000 “disloyal” Americans in 1950

By David Walsh, 24 December 2007

Government documents released last week reveal that J. Edgar Hoover, longtime FBI director, proposed the internment of 12,000 Americans and the suspension of habeas corpus in 1950, at the outset of the Korean War. The proposal was included in a collection of documents declassified December 21 by the US State Department.

The Walker: A shamefaced political critique

By Joanne Laurier, 24 December 2007

Written and directed by Paul Schrader

An analysis of the 9/11 Commission memo on interrogation tapes

By Joe Kay, 24 December 2007

The memo written by the executive director of the 9/11 commission, Philip Zelikow, is only the latest indication that the concealment and destruction of videotapes depicting the interrogation of CIA prisoners are part of a conspiracy involving high-level officials in the White House and the CIA. (See “White House, CIA hid torture tapes from 9/11 Commission.”)

What has the US “surge” in Iraq accomplished?

By James Cogan, 24 December 2007

The fall in US military and civilian casualties over the past several months has seen supporters of the Iraq occupation claim that the Bush administration’s boost of troop numbers to over 160,000 this year—the so-called “surge”—was a total success.

South Africa: conflict in ANC signals deepening social tensions

By Chris Talbot, 22 December 2007

The election of Jacob Zuma as president of the African National Congress (ANC) over current South African President Thabo Mbeki expresses the growing social tensions in South Africa. But neither Mbeki’s nor Zuma’s faction has any answers to the problems that face the mass of the population.

Thai military junta stages carefully managed election

By John Roberts, 22 December 2007

Thailand’s national election takes place tomorrow under the firm grip of the country’s military junta, known as the Council for National Security (CNS). On the pretext of “maintaining order”, some 200,000 police and soldiers have been mobilised to supervise the poll. Martial law is still in place in 31 of the country’s 76 provinces, enabling the military to ban political gatherings, censor the media and detain people without charge.

One-day general strike in Greece

By Markus Salzmann, 22 December 2007

On December 11-12, a 24-hour general strike paralysed large areas of Greece. Air traffic and shipping were almost brought to a standstill. Many of the Greek islands were cut off from the external world for the duration of the walkout. It was the biggest strike in Greece in more than 10 years.

Severe food shortages, price spikes threaten world population

By Naomi Spencer, 22 December 2007

Worldwide food prices have risen sharply and supplies have dropped this year, according to the latest food outlook of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The agency warned December 17 that the changes represent an “unforeseen and unprecedented” shift in the global food system, threatening billions with hunger and decreased access to food.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 22 December 2007

Chinese riot police use electric prods against strikers

German train drivers union announces new strikes

By Ulrich Rippert, 22 December 2007

On December 19, the German train drivers union GDL (Deutsche Lokomotivführer) broke off contract talks with the management of German Railways (Deutsche Bahn—DB) and two other railway unions—Transnet and the GDBA—and announced its intention to carry out new, unlimited strikes starting from January 7. This represents a significant intensification of the train drivers’ contract dispute, which has now been going on for nine months.

New Orleans police attack residents protesting public housing demolition

By Jeff Lassahn, 22 December 2007

On Thursday, New Orleans police attacked demonstrators attempting to gain entrance to a city council meeting scheduled to discuss and vote on the destruction of 4,500 units of public housing. The proposed demolition is part of the effort to utilize the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to bring about permanent demographic change in New Orleans, aimed at preventing the return of poor and primarily black residents.

Zuma’s election heralds instability

By , 22 December 2007

On December 14, more than 4,000 African National Congress (ANC) delegates in the city of Polokwane in Limpopo Province cast their votes at the ANC’s 52nd annual conference to decide between the two candidates standing for president of the organisation, South African President Thabo Mbeki and ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

Britain: Northern Rock crisis deepens

By Ann Talbot, 21 December 2007

What began as a crisis of liquidity for one bank has become a major political crisis for the British government. The failure of the attempt to bail out Northern Rock has led to serious political recriminations and conflicts among the political and financial elite as the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown finds itself pouring money into a bottomless pit.

The debate in Germany over executive compensation and the minimum wage

By , 21 December 2007

“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole.” (Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1)

Film and television writers confront big political and cultural issues

By David Walsh and Marc Wells, 21 December 2007

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

Australian media uses Aurukun Aboriginal child rape case to push right-wing agenda

By Susan Allan, 21 December 2007

In the wake of the election of the Rudd Labor government, the Murdoch media has launched an extraordinary campaign to extend the Howard government’s military-police intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. This time, the target is the remote indigenous township of Aurukun on Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 21 December 2007

Workers in Hungary strike to protest government attacks on health

Woman accuses US contractors in Iraq of rape as Justice Department shuns hearing

By Kate Randall, 21 December 2007

A woman testified before a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, charging that she was drugged and brutally raped by co-workers at a contracting firm in Iraq two years ago. After the attack she says she was held by her employer, contractor KBR, under armed guard without access to food, water or a phone, to prevent her from reporting the attack.

US Federal Reserve’s subprime regulations shield Wall Street banks

By Barry Grey, 21 December 2007

The US Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday proposed new regulations on subprime home loans that would ban or limit some of the most egregious predatory lending practices, while leaving undisturbed many others. Most significantly, the proposals shield US banks from any liability for their role in profiting from the victimization of home buyers and creating the housing bubble that has now imploded.

Keerthi Balasuriya as revolutionary fighter during 1970-1971

By Vilani Peiris, 21 December 2007

Keerthi Balasuriya was the general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), the forerunner of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), from its founding in 1968, until his premature death on December 18, 1987, at the age of 39. His death deprived the Trotskyist movement of one of its most brilliant representatives of the post-war period.

One year of the Democratic 110th Congress: A record of duplicity, cowardice and political reaction

By Patrick Martin, 21 December 2007

The Democratic-controlled US Congress ended its first year in office Wednesday with a record of capitulation to the policies of the Bush administration all down the line. In the main areas where voters expected a change when they brought the Democrats to power in November 2006—the war in Iraq, the deterioration of working class living standards and social services, the mounting attacks on democratic rights—the Democrats have proven to be Bush’s collaborators, not his opponents.

New York Times bows to White House pressure over CIA tapes story

By Bill Van Auken, 21 December 2007

The decision by the New York Times to bow to White House pressure and publish a correction of the sub-head on its December 19 story linking senior Bush advisors to the destruction of CIA torture tapes has been hailed by the Republican right—echoed by large sections of the media—as a major political victory.

Record inequality in the US: Billions for Wall Street bosses as workers’ share of income shrinks

By Patrick Martin, 20 December 2007

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable US investment bank, will distribute a staggering $12.1 billion in bonuses this month, up from $9.9 billion last year. The company will pay $20.2 billion in all forms of compensation, up from $16.5 billion last year.

Britain: Socialist Equality Party condemns arrest of Tommy Sheridan on perjury charges

By by Socialist Equality Party (Britain), 20 December 2007

The Socialist Equality Party condemns the arrest and perjury charges levelled against Tommy Sheridan, convenor of the Solidarity-Scotland’s Socialist Movement.

Russia orders closure of British Council offices

By Niall Green, 20 December 2007

Amidst a further deterioration of diplomatic relations between Russia and the United Kingdom, the Russian government has ordered the closure of two offices of the British Council.

Sri Lankan SEP marks 20th anniversary of Keerthi Balasuriya’s death

By our correspondents, 20 December 2007

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka held a short ceremony on December 18 at the graveside of Keerthi Balasuriya to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. Keerthi Balasuriya was the founding general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), the forerunner of the SEP. He died in 1987, at the age of just 39, of a massive heart attack while at work in the RCL offices.

Report indicates White House encouraged torture tape destruction

By Joe Kay, 20 December 2007

At least four top White House lawyers knew about the existence of videotapes documenting the torture of prisoners held by the US Central Intelligence Agency, according to a report published Wednesday. One source has said that several officials strongly encouraged the destruction of the tapes to eliminate evidence of the interrogations.

Inflation surge hits consumers, compounds global banking crisis

By Barry Grey, 20 December 2007

Amidst mounting losses by major US and European banks and extraordinary measures by central banks to avert a financial meltdown, a dramatic increase in US inflation has further roiled global markets, raising the specter of a slide into “stagflation”—economic slump combined with sharply rising prices.

Letters from our readers

By , 20 December 2007

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

France: A sharp increase in police repression

By Antoine Lerougetel, 20 December 2007

Since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy to the presidency of the French Republic last May, there has been a tangible rise in the repressive activity and brutality of the police. This is how his right-wing Gaullist government aims to deal with resistance to his programme of destruction of the social and democratic rights of workers, youth and immigrants. In so doing, Sarkozy aims to create the conditions for an increase in the profitability and competitiveness of French big business in the global economy.

Homeowners in Detroit suburb demand protection from foreclosures

By Nancy Hanover, 20 December 2007

A stormy town hall meeting was held in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Michigan December 17, as hundreds of residents sought information on how to forestall home foreclosures. The following day mortgage-finance company Fannie Mae listed Michigan the number 1 state with the largest credit loss through September 30 of 2007.

JVP assists the Sri Lankan government to pass its war budget

By K. Ratnayake, 20 December 2007

The Sri Lankan government managed to pass its war budget in the third and final parliamentary vote last Friday. To do so, it depended on the support of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which came to the rescue of the shaky ruling coalition by abstaining rather than voting against the budget, as it had done in the second round.

Germany: The sale of SachsenLB bank—bailing out speculators at public expense

By Peter Schwarz, 19 December 2007

It is not necessary to be an economic expert to comprehend the connection between the explosive increase in the incomes of German managers and the portfolios of the rich on the one side and declining average earnings and social welfare benefits on the other. The simple rules of arithmetic are sufficient. That which accumulates in the accounts of the wealthy elite has been taken from the pockets of the ordinary citizen.

Reports document deepening social catastrophe in Afghanistan

By Oscar Grenfell, 19 December 2007

More than six years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, two recently released reports have again demonstrated the falsehood of the Bush administration’s claims to be helping the Afghan people. The social indices on literacy, life expectancy and food availability contained in the reports provide an insight into the terrible social crisis confronting millions of Afghans.

British students respond to ISSE showing of From Tsar to Lenin

By Paul Stuart, 19 December 2007

Dozens of students attended film showings at Glasgow, Manchester and Sussex of Herman Axelbank’s From Tsar to Lenin, organised by the International Students for Social Equality to mark the 90th anniversary of the October 1917 Russian Revolution.

US backs Turkish military attacks on northern Iraq

By Peter Symonds, 19 December 2007

With the backing and assistance of the Bush administration, the Turkish military has launched two attacks in the past three days on Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. While targetted against the guerrilla forces of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the operations are threatening to provoke a broader conflict involving Turkey and Iraq.

UN representative expresses “grave concern” over CIA torture, Guantánamo hearings

By Naomi Spencer, 19 December 2007

Following a visit earlier this month to the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, a United Nations human rights representative reported ongoing abuse, drumhead judicial proceedings, and other violations of international law. The report by the UN official, charging the US government with widespread criminality, has been almost entirely ignored by the US media.

Blair’s international donors’ conference: Another conspiracy against the Palestinian people

By Jean Shaoul, 19 December 2007

Monday’s conference in Paris of potential donors to the Palestinian Authority, chaired by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, had nothing to do with the development of the Palestinian economy or the alleviation of the appalling suffering of the Palestinian people. Rather, it will serve to increase unemployment, poverty and oppression.

Congress votes to fund war, bows to Bush on domestic policy

By Bill Van Auken, 19 December 2007

The Democratic-led US Senate voted by a wide margin Tuesday night to approve $70 billion to continue funding the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, without seeking to impose any conditions or pass any proposals for withdrawing a single soldier from either country. The vote came as the body also approved a $516 billion domestic budget bill passed a day earlier by the House.

Detroit: second highest foreclosure rate in US

By Elisa Brehm, 19 December 2007

The US subprime mortgage crisis is hitting Detroit with particular ferocity. The home foreclosure rate in the hard-hit industrial city is now the second highest in the country, affecting one out of every 21 homeowners—eight times the national average.

Twenty years since the death of Keerthi Balasuriya

By David North, 19 December 2007

This is the concluding part of a two-part article. The first part was posted Tuesday, December 18.

Letters from our readers

By , 18 December 2007

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

Corporate oil giants scramble to plunder Iraq’s energy reserves

By James Cogan, 18 December 2007

When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally sent the so-called “oil law” to be passed by the parliament in July, George Bush phoned to congratulate him personally. Maliki’s failure to push the legislation through had been a source of growing frustration and anger in Washington for more than a year. The law was needed to legitimise one of the main aims of the illegal US invasion of Iraq—to allow foreign corporations to assume control over the country’s state-owned energy resources on the most lucrative of terms.

Canada: Judge rules the return of political refugees to the US illegal

By Guy Charron, 18 December 2007

This article first appeared in French on December 12, 2007.

South Korean presidential election: right-wing candidate poised to win

By John Chan, 18 December 2007

After a more than a decade of so-called “democrats”, the candidate of the right-wing Grand National Party (GNP), Lee Myung-bak, appears poised to win tomorrow’s presidential election in South Korea. The GNP is the party most closely connected to the military dictatorship that dominated the country for much of the post-World War II period until the late 1980s.

Australia: Socialist Party lashes out at the SEP’s election intervention

By the Socialist Equality Party, 18 December 2007

A significant feature of the recent Australian federal election was the unwavering promotion of Labor and the Greens by the so-called radical “left”. In one way or another, the various protest organisations claimed that these two parties represented a “lesser evil” to the Howard government. They either openly called for a Labor victory and increased Greens representation in the Senate, or, in somewhat more muted tones, proposed “putting the Liberals last”—calling on supporters to direct their preferences accordingly. In the final analysis, given the nature of the anti-democratic preferential voting system, where virtually all votes cast for candidates in the lower house of parliament end up with either Labor or Liberal—both positions amounted to exactly the same thing—namely, a vote for Labor.

Dresden: Over 10,000 students rally against new state education law

By our correspondents, 18 December 2007

On December 13, more than 10,000 students demonstrated in the German city of Dresden against a new education law planned by the state of Saxony. The state government is a coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led by Prime Minister Georg Milbradt of the CDU.

UK water companies fined millions after fiddling accounts

By Mark Daqua, 18 December 2007

Companies supplying water to more than half the population in England and Wales have been fined millions of pounds this year, after fiddling their accounts and cheating customers.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 18 December 2007

Latin America

Switzerland: Right-wing populist Blocher voted out of government

By Peter Schwarz, 18 December 2007

The voting out of Justice Minister Christoph Blocher augurs the end of the Swiss system of government that has been in place over the last 48 years.

Lieberman’s endorsement of McCain exposes bipartisan support for war

By Bill Van Auken, 18 December 2007

The endorsement of a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries by a former Democratic candidate for vice president is a political event with little, if any, historical precedent in the United States.

Russian President Putin names his putative successor

By Vladimir Volkov, 18 December 2007

The December 10 announcement proclaiming Vice-Premier Dmitri Medvedev the Kremlin’s leading candidate for the post of president was aimed at ameliorating the protracted crisis in the upper echelons of the Russian political establishment. The aim is to find a successor to President Vladimir Putin who can consolidate the various groupings within the ruling elite. Medvedev’s candidacy was supported by four parties and quickly received the backing of Putin.

Ladrón que roba a ladrón: película en español de mucha perspicacia pero no del todo coherente.

By , 18 December 2007

WSWS : Español

New Jersey abolishes the death penalty

By Kate Randall, 18 December 2007

New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine on Monday signed into law a measure repealing the death penalty, making the state the first to abolish capital punishment since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the practice in 1976.

Twenty years since the death of Keerthi Balasuriya

By David North, 18 December 2007

This is the first of a two-part article. The second part will be posted Wednesday, December 19.

Das Reichsorchester—The Berlin Philharmonic and the Nazis

By Verena Nees, 18 December 2007

For 60 years the role of the renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra during the period of Nazi power has remained in obscurity. In Hitler’s Third Reich the orchestra was known as the “Reichsorchester” and functioned under the control of Joseph Goebbels as part of his notorious Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Impasse in writers’ strike poses need for new political struggle

By Andrea Peters, 17 December 2007

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Scottish human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar prosecuted

By Niall Green, 17 December 2007

Scottish lawyer Aamer Anwar is due to appear before the High Court in Edinburgh in January 2008 on charges of contempt of court, relating to statements he made following the conviction of his client on terrorism charges in September.

Bush administration moves to block inquiries into CIA’s destruction of torture tapes

By Joe Kay, 17 December 2007

The Bush administration has taken aggressive steps to undermine congressional and judicial inquiries into the CIA’s destruction of videotapes showing the torture of at least two prisoners. The move is only the latest demonstration of the administration’s lawlessness and contempt for democratic and constitutional norms.

Bali climate conference ends in farce as US vetoes emission targets

By Patrick O’Connor, 17 December 2007

The UN-sponsored climate change conference held on the Indonesian island of Bali ended on the weekend without any agreement on combatting global warming other than vague generalities. A last-minute, face-saving communiqué was issued but, at the insistence of the Bush administration and its allies, it made no mention of specific carbon emission reduction targets. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had recommended a cut in carbon emissions of 25 to 40 percent in the advanced industrial countries by 2020 and a total world emissions reduction of 50 percent by 2050.

Australia: Labor government proceeds with pro-business industrial relations agenda

By Terry Cook, 17 December 2007

Since the Australian federal election on November 24, the new Labor government has repeatedly made clear it will continue to fashion its industrial relations (IR) policy in accordance with the needs of big business.