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France: Pierre Lambert’s funeral underscores OCI’s long-standing opportunism

By our correspondent, 31 January 2008

On January 25 Pierre Lambert, the long-time leader of France’s Organization communiste internationaliste (Internationalist Communist Organisation—OCI) and today’s Parti des travailleurs (Workers Party—PT), was buried in the famed Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

McCain leads race for Republican presidential nomination after Florida vote

By Patrick Martin, 31 January 2008

Arizona Senator John McCain, the most fervent advocate of the US war in Iraq among the Republican candidates for the White House, took the lead in the campaign for the party’s presidential nomination with a closely contested victory in Tuesday’s Florida primary.

An exchange on “Kenya: Social disintegration in country touted as African ‘success’ story”

By , 31 January 2008

The following letter was received on “Kenya: Social disintegration in country touted as African ‘success’ story.” It is followed by a reply by the article’s author, Chris Talbot.

The Australian Labor Party and Indonesia’s dictator Suharto

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2008

Anyone who harbours any illusion that the current Labor government in Canberra will establish a more enlightened Australian foreign policy should examine the reaction this week of Labor ministers, past and present, to the death of former Indonesian military dictator Suharto.

US: Fed rate cut fails to stem recession fears

By Andre Damon, 31 January 2008

The US Federal Reserve cut its target Federal Funds rate by .5 percent Wednesday, following the release of weaker-than-expected US growth statistics and amid concerns that more debt write-offs are on the horizon. US stocks failed to respond positively to the announcement, which brought the Federal Funds rate down to 3.0 percent.

The world crisis of capitalism and the prospects for socialism

By Nick Beams, 31 January 2008

Below we are publishing the first part of the opening report given by Nick Beams to an international school held by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) in Sydney, Australia from January 21 to January 25. Beams is a member of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site and the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia.

Professor sentenced for criticising Turkish founder

By Sinan Ikinci, 31 January 2008

On January 28, Atilla Yayla, a professor of political science at Gazi University and the president of the Association for Liberal Thinking in Ankara, was sentenced to 15 months in jail for allegedly insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. The charge arose from a speech made by Yayla in Izmir more than a year ago.

Colombian rebel leader sentenced to 60 years over captured contractors

By Bill Van Auken, 31 January 2008

A Washington, DC federal court Monday handed down a draconian 60-year sentence against a leader and negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a guerrilla movement that has been in conflict with Colombian government forces for 40 years.

UNICEF report: Infant mortality rates still high

By Barry Mason, 31 January 2008

Nearly 10 million children under five died worldwide in 2006, according to a new report. That is a daily rate of 26,000 deaths.

Top West Virginia judge vacations with coal boss defendant

By Samuel Davidson, 31 January 2008

The insidious relationship between corporate elite and the US judicial system has long been a fact of American political life. There are, however, few more blatant examples of this cozy bond than what recently came to light in the coal mining state of West Virginia.

Heath Ledger dead at 28: a life tragically cut short

By Richard Phillips, 31 January 2008

The sudden death on January 22 in New York City of Australian actor Heath Ledger, best known for his role as Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, has seen an outpouring of heartfelt tributes by filmmakers, actors and movie fans around the world.

German state elections reveal pronounced shift to the left by electorate

By Ulrich Rippert, 30 January 2008

Elections held in the two German states of Hesse and Lower Saxony last Sunday revealed a pronounced shift to the left by the electorate.

US home foreclosures rise by 75 percent in 2007

By Jerry White, 30 January 2008

Nearly 1.3 million homes—or more than one percent of all US households—were in some phase of foreclosure in 2007, according to year-end data released Tuesday by RealtyTrac, an online real estate marketer. The number of homes receiving default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions rose by 75 percent between 2006 and 2007, the web site reported, with foreclosure filings reaching 215,749 last month, up 97 percent from the previous December.

Once again, the fundamental questions in the writers’ strike

By David Walsh and Dan Conway, 30 January 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Government leaders pay tribute to Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto

By Peter Symonds, 30 January 2008

The death of former Indonesian dictator Suharto on Sunday at the age of 86 has elicited a stream of tributes from world leaders and in the international press. There is something both disturbing and ominous about praise for a man who was responsible for the murder of at least half a million people in the 1965 coup that brought him to power and the deaths of another 200,000 following the 1975 Indonesian annexation of East Timor.

Filipino nurses face trumped-up charges in New York

By Peter Daniels, 30 January 2008

Ten Filipino nurses are facing trial on criminal charges of endangering patients at a nursing home in New York’s Suffolk County. The accusations stem from the nurses’ decision to walk off their jobs in April 2006 to protest broken promises and unacceptable working conditions at the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Smithtown, Long Island. The Suffolk County District Attorney admits that no patients suffered any harm and that such charges have never been brought against nurses in New York State.

Right-wing nationalist leads in Serbian presidential elections

By Paul Mitchell, 30 January 2008

Tomislav Nikolic of the extreme right-wing nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) won the first round of the voting in the January 20 Serbian presidential elections. The SRS, which formed a coalition with former president Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist Party during the 1990s in the period leading up to the West’s dismemberment of Yugoslavia, is the largest party in the country. Its president, Vojislav Seselj, is presently being tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague.

Indian prime minister’s visit to China seeks to boost bilateral ties, but tensions persist

By Deepal Jayasekara, 30 January 2008

Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister since May 2004, made his first official visit to China from January 13 to 15. At the conclusion of the visit, Singh declared, “I have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that India is not part of any so-called ‘contain China’ effort.”

Iraq: US military extends its offensive into the northern city of Mosul

By James Cogan, 30 January 2008

Since January 1, American and Iraqi government forces have been conducting a major offensive, codenamed Phantom Phoenix, against Sunni Arab-based resistance groups in northern Iraq. Operations have already been conducted in the province of Diyalah and in the Arab Jabour district to the south of Baghdad. They have been characterised by some of the heaviest aerial bombardments of the war and the mass round-up of anyone accused of being members or sympathisers of the Sunni fundamentalist organisation which calls itself Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Bush’s last State of the Union speech overshadowed by deepening crisis

By Bill Van Auken, 29 January 2008

George W. Bush used his eighth and final State of the Union speech Monday night to outline an agenda of continuing wars of aggression abroad together with social reaction and political repression at home that is certain to continue well past his leaving office a year from now, no matter which party wins the 2008 election.

South Africa hit by power cuts

By Chris Talbot, 29 January 2008

For more than two weeks, South African cities have suffered electricity power cuts lasting several hours. The mainly black townships have often had power cuts in the past, but the present round of blackouts is affecting all areas, including those of the mainly white middle class.

British plans to arm Afghan militias reignite tensions with US

By Harvey Thompson, 29 January 2008

Comments by a US general on British policy in Afghanistan have once again brought to the fore tensions between the two major occupation powers in the country.

UK minister resigns in another funding scandal

By Ann Talbot, 29 January 2008

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Peter Hain, who was also secretary of state for Wales, has been forced to resign as a minister after police began an investigation into the funding of his campaign for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party.

France: Trader accuses Société Générale of using him as a “smokescreen”

By Andre Damon, 29 January 2008

Lawyers for Jérôme Kerviel, the 31-year-old securities trader accused of being responsible for €5.3 billion in losses by Société Générale (SocGen), accused the bank Monday of seeking to use his transactions to hide its own losses. Elisabeth Mayer and Christian Charrière-Bournazel, Kerviel’s lawyers, said that SocGen sought to use him to create a “smokescreen that would distract the public’s attention from far more substantial losses that it had made in recent months, notably the unbelievable subprime affair.”

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 29 January 2008

Latin America

Two more elderly men die alone in Sydney

By Mary Beadnell, 29 January 2008

Two more lonely deaths in Sydney have shed further light on a disturbing social trend. Frail and aged, living alone, suffering from ill health and with few personal resources, increasing numbers of elderly working class people are being left to fend for themselves with little or no support, following years of government cuts to social welfare programs.

Letters from our readers

By , 29 January 2008

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

80th Academy Award nominations: a very poor showing

By David Walsh, 28 January 2008

The Academy Award nominations, announced January 22, are more or less representative of contemporary filmmaking; the problem does not so much lie with the nominations or the nominators as with contemporary filmmaking.

An interview with an Iranian activist on arrests of left-wing students

By , 28 January 2008

On January 15, the Iranian government arrested 10 students involved in left-wing protests against both the Iranian political establishment and US war plans. This followed the arrest of more than 30 students in December. (See “Iranian government intensifies crackdown on left-wing opposition.”)

Canadian university forces locked-out faculty to vote on “final offer”

By our reporter, 28 January 2008

St. Thomas University has invoked an anti-worker provision of New Brunswick’s labor code to force 160 full- and part-time faculty, now in their fifth week of a strike-lockout, to vote on its “final contract offer.”

Government crisis in Italy

By Marianne Arens, 28 January 2008

On January 24, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned following a vote of no confidence against his government in the Senate. This means an end to his centre-left government, which included in its ranks parties ranging from the Christian Democrats to the Communist Refoundation (Rifondazione Comunista).

Beleaguered Pakistani President visits Europe to shore up support for military regime

By K. Ratnayake, 28 January 2008

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been in Europe since January 21, on an eight-day trip aimed at ensuring continued Western support for his discredited and popularly-reviled military regime.

Obama wins South Carolina Democratic presidential primary

By Patrick Martin, 28 January 2008

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois won Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina by a decisive 2-to-1 margin over Senator Hillary Clinton, with former senator John Edwards trailing in third place. The defeat was a serious blow to the Clinton campaign, which had used former president Bill Clinton as a surrogate throughout most of the final week of the contest.

Continuing turbulence on Australian share markets

By Mike Head, 28 January 2008

Turbulence on Australia’s share market continued throughout last week, largely echoing the turmoil on US and international markets. At the same time statistics were released confirming that inflation was rising, producing fears of stagflation—that is, of a recession combined with inflation.

Iranian government intensifies crackdown on left-wing opposition

By Joe Kay, 28 January 2008

On January 15, as part of a brutal crackdown on domestic opposition, the Iranian government arrested another 10 members of the Students for Freedom and Equality in Iran (also known as the Radical Left). Two more students were arrested on January 24. More than 40 members of the group are now behind bars at Iran’s notorious Evin prison or have been released on bail

New York City mayor announces budget cuts

By Sandy English, 28 January 2008

On Thursday, New York’s billionaire Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $58.5 billion 2008-2009 budget set to take effect in July. The plan includes cuts that will total nearly $1.5 billion over two years, including a loss to the Department of Education of $180 million this fiscal year and of another $325 million in FY 2009. The 2009 budget must be approved by the City Council by June 30.

Germany: PSG candidate speaks at student demonstration—“Education is a fundamental right!”

By Marianne Arens, 26 January 2008

For months, the German state of Hesse has seen protests by school and university students. In the run-up to the state elections on January 27, there has been a demonstration nearly every day. Education is playing a significant role in the election, with several opinion polls making it the number-one issue.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 26 January 2008

Asia

Pentagon chief says US ready to deploy combat troops in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 26 January 2008

The United States is “ready, willing and able” to deploy American combat troops in Pakistan for joint military operations in the country’s troubled border region, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

Germany holds state elections in shadow of world financial crisis

By Ulrich Rippert, 26 January 2008

The Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG—Socialist Equality Party) calls for a vote this Sunday, January 27, for its regional slate of candidates in the Hesse state elections. The candidates are Helmut Arens, 59, a chemical worker and chairman of the Hesse regional PSG, and Achim Heppding, 53, a social insurance worker and former PSG candidate for the European parliament.

Year Zero: Trent Reznor looks outside himself

By Peter Kloze, 26 January 2008

Objective events have a way of catching up with even the most subjective of individuals. Trent Reznor, founder and leading member of the industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails (NIN), is one of the more introspective and self-analyzing artists in modern popular music, yet, like everyone else, he is not and cannot be exempted from the force of events.

ISSE intervenes in student assembly at Québec university

By our reporter, 26 January 2008

At a general assembly held on January 17, 500 University of Québec at Montréal (UQAM) students from various humanities and social science departments (sociology, geography, history, philosophy, psychology, etc.) discussed how to oppose tuition fee hikes imposed by Jean Charest’s provincial Liberal government and how best to defend the education system. The debate centered on demands put forward by the assembled students and the possibility of a student strike.

US Senate moves to grant immunity to telecoms complicit in illegal wiretapping

By Andre Damon, 26 January 2008

The Democratic-controlled Senate moved Thursday to shield telecommunications companies that aided the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program from lawsuits. By a vote 60 to 36, the Senate rejected any provision in its upcoming amendment to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would open the companies to prosecution in civil courts.

Study documents nearly 1,000 lies from Iraq war propaganda campaign

By Alex Lantier, 26 January 2008

The systematic propaganda campaign waged by the Bush administration with the full collaboration of the mass media to drag the American people into a war of aggression has been newly documented by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI). The Washington-based, non-profit public policy journalism organization this week released a large database of the lies top government officials used to terrorize the US public into accepting the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Fighting in Sri Lanka continues unabated as ceasefire expires

By Sarath Kumara, 26 January 2008

The formal end of the 2002 Sri Lankan ceasefire on January 16 has been marked by daily clashes between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Having unilaterally torn up the truce, the government and army top brass have declared their intention of seizing the remaining LTTE strongholds in the northern Wanni region by the end of the year.

Congressional Democrats embrace Bush’s economic stimulus plan

By Patrick Martin, 25 January 2008

In a cave-in that was as swift as it was total, the congressional Democratic leadership reached agreement with the White House Thursday on an economic stimulus plan that is limited to tax cuts and provides no new funding for unemployment compensation, food stamps or other social programs, or for public works.

The film and television writers’ strike: the dead-end of the trade union perspective

By David Walsh, 25 January 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Trying too hard in the wrong places: Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

By Sandy English, 25 January 2008

New York: Riverhead Books, 2007, 340 pp.

More US job cuts coming at Ford

By Shannon Jones, 25 January 2008

Ford Motor company says it plans to offer buyouts and early retirement packages to most of its 54,000 US hourly workers in an effort to further drastically reduce employment and make room to hire thousands of lower-paid workers. The second largest American-based car company is following the lead of General Motors, which last week announced a similar buyout plan.

Desperate plight facing millions of Iraqi refugees

By Oscar Grenfell, 25 January 2008

Nearly five years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, there is no end in sight to the difficulties facing Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Facing government harassment, unemployment and a lack of basic essentials where they are, or the prospect of returning to sectarian violence, looting and economic hardship in Iraq, these refugees are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Canada: Government panel urges increased Canadian role in Afghan war

By Keith Jones, 25 January 2008

A government-appointed advisory panel on Canada’s intervention in Afghanistan has urged that the current Canadian Armed Forces’ counterinsurgency mission be augmented and extended indefinitely.

Workers Struggles: Europe and Africa

By , 25 January 2008

Nokia workers demonstrate against planned plant closure in Germany

France: Unions, employers sign labour reform gutting workers’ rights

By Francis Dubois and Alex Lantier, 25 January 2008

On January 21, trade unions and employers’ organisations signed an agreement for a drastic reform of French labour law. The general thrust of the law is to increase trial periods for new hires, make employment more directly contingent on market conditions and the economic climate, and force fired workers to accept any jobs offered to them. The agreement, passed behind the backs of the workers, is a further betrayal of the workers by the trade union bureaucracy.

France’s second-largest bank blames “rogue” trader for $7.2 billion loss

By Bill Van Auken, 25 January 2008

A 31-year-old equity futures trader was blamed Tuesday for inflicting $7.2 billion in losses on France’s second-largest bank, Societe Generale.

Fishing for coalition partners, German Greens intervene in Hesse elections

By Hendrik Paul, 25 January 2008

On Monday, January 21, the former German foreign minister and leading member of the Green Party, Joschka Fischer, addressed a meeting in Wiesbaden during the final week of campaigning in the Hesse state elections. After nearly one and a half years of abstaining from party politics, Fischer’s appearance in Wiesbaden was aimed at assisting the campaign of the Greens to re-enter the state government.

In face of Israeli repression, tens of thousands of Palestinians force their way into Egypt

By David Walsh, 24 January 2008

Following a series of explosions early Wednesday that blew up major portions of the wall separating the Gaza Strip and Egypt, tens of thousands of Palestinians streamed across the border in search of food, fuel, cement and other supplies. One media report suggested as many as 350,000 people had entered Egypt, a fifth of Gaza’s population. Other accounts claimed lower totals, from 60,000 to 100,000.

Kenya: post-election violence continues

By Ann Talbot, 24 January 2008

At least 700 people have died in the three weeks of violence that have followed the disputed election that returned President Mwai Kibaki to power in Kenya. It is estimated that a quarter of a million people have been displaced from their homes.

NATO must prepare for nuclear first strike, report urges

By Bill Van Auken, 24 January 2008

A chilling report prepared by a group of top military commanders from the US and its NATO allies declares that the alliance must be prepared to launch a preemptive nuclear first strike because of “asymmetric threats and global challenges” posed to the West.

PSG candidate demands immediate withdrawal of German army from Afghanistan

By , 24 January 2008

The Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG—Socialist Equality Party) is participating in the January 27 Hesse state elections with its own regional slate of two candidates. The PSG candidates are Helmut Arens, 59, a chemical worker and chairman of the Hesse regional PSG, and Achim Heppding, 53, a social insurance worker and former PSG candidate for the European parliament.

Art Treasures in Manchester: 150 years on—Part two

By Robert Stevens, 24 January 2008

Showing through January 27, 2008, at Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, England.

US recession fears provoke continued market turmoil

By Andre Damon, 24 January 2008

The US stock market experienced its most volatile trading since 2002 on Wednesday, opening in near panic and plummeting more than 300 points before a late day rally that brought the Dow Jones up by 2.5 percent, erasing the sharp decline of the past three days. The S&P 500 rose by 2.53 percent, and the NASDAQ by 1.05 percent.

Another timeless love affair: Joe Wright’s Atonement

By Hiram Lee, 24 January 2008

Directed by Joe Wright, screenplay by Christopher Hampton, from the novel by Ian McEwan

France obtains energy deals, establishes first military base in Persian Gulf

By Kumaran Ira, 24 January 2008

On January 13-15, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanied by ministers and top business leaders, made a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and then the United Arab Emirates aimed at securing billions of dollars worth of contracts for French firms and signing military basing deals in the Gulf region.

Australia: Demands grow for closure of Villawood detention centre

By Richard Phillips, 24 January 2008

A recent report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has underscored the repressive character of Australia’s migration policies and fueled calls for the Rudd Labor government to abolish Australia’s mandatory immigration detention laws.

Taiwan’s ruling party suffers major defeat in parliamentary election

By John Chan, 23 January 2008

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) won a landslide victory in Taiwan’s parliamentary elections on January 12 and is now poised to regain government by winning the presidential election in March. The KMT lost the presidency to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2000 after ruling Taiwan for the preceding five decades, much of the time as a military dictatorship.

Democrats squabble but offer no solution to war and economic crisis

By Patrick Martin, 23 January 2008

Monday’s Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, which erupted into a series of bitter personal exchanges between the two frontrunners, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, underscored two central aspects of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Shielding Wall Street, US Supreme Court rejects Enron fraud case

By Don Knowland, 23 January 2008

Without explanation, the US Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by pension and investment funds against major Wall Street banks for their part in the massive financial fraud carried out by the Enron Corporation, the Houston-based energy trading giant.

Britain: Thousands still displaced from homes flooded last summer

By Paul Mitchell, 23 January 2008

Thousands of people in Britain are unable to return to their homes months after they were flooded last summer. Latest estimates suggest over 9,000 families are still living with friends or relatives or in temporary accommodation and that 2,000 of them spent Christmas in caravans.

Art Treasures in Manchester: 150 years on—Part one

By Robert Stevens, 23 January 2008

Showing through January 27, 2008, at Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, England.

US cuts interest rates amid fears of global financial collapse

By Andre Damon, 23 January 2008

The US central bank made its deepest interest rate cut in a quarter of a century Tuesday in an attempt to prevent a two-day wave of sell-offs on world financial markets from sweeping through Wall Street. The Federal Reserve Board announced its decision to cut its target interest rate by .75 percent barely an hour before the New York Stock Exchange reopened following a Monday shutdown in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

US “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla sentenced to 17 years in prison

By Jerry White, 23 January 2008

Jose Padilla—the US citizen held for years in isolation as an “enemy combatant” and tortured in a South Carolina military brig—was sentenced to 17 years and four months Tuesday by a federal judge in Miami, after being convicted on terrorism conspiracy charges last August.

Threat of US recession panics global stock markets

By Andre Damon, 22 January 2008

Stock prices plummeted worldwide Monday, amid heightened fears of a US recession. While over the course of last week US financial markets suffered the worst fall since 2002, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping by 5 percent, many Asian and European indices dropped by a similar amount in just one day. It was the biggest one-day fall in world stock markets since September 11, 2001. Industrial stocks fell together with financial, suggesting that the US credit crisis, hitherto confined mainly to the banking and mortgage sectors, is spilling over into the real economy worldwide.

Antiwar “Lefts” embrace ultra-right Republican candidate Ron Paul

By Jerry White and Jeff Lincoln, 22 January 2008

Over the last several months, a section of the antiwar protest movement in the US has turned with increasing enthusiasm towards the candidacy of Ron Paul, the long-time Republican Congressman from Texas, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination.

Letters from our readers

By , 22 January 2008

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

France: the politics of the National Student Coordinating Committee and the role of the LCR

By Alex Lantier, 22 January 2008

The National Student Coordinating Committee (NSCC) has led the political struggle against the university autonomy law (LRU) passed in August 2007 by the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Its statements offer a valuable insight into the views of students who blockaded university buildings and marched against the LRU, and into the political issues students must face as they continue their struggles.

US-backed Israeli siege creates humanitarian disaster in Gaza

By Bill Van Auken, 22 January 2008

The Israeli government’s drastic tightening of a blockade against the Gaza Strip has deepened an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in the Palestinian coastal territory, plunging its 1.5 million people into cold and darkness and threatening to unleash both mass hunger and a serious health crisis.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao accused of instigating 2006 political crisis in East Timor

By Patrick O’Connor, 22 January 2008

Former East Timorese major Alfredo Reinado has accused Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao of directly instigating the 2006 military mutiny, which triggered the political and social unrest that forced more than 100,000 people—10 percent of the population—to flee their homes. The violence was seized upon by Canberra as the pretext for dispatching an Australian-led military intervention and muscling former Fretilin prime minister Mari Alkatiri out of office.

Further war threatens in Congo as rivalry for resources intensifies

By John Farmer and Ann Talbot, 22 January 2008

A major escalation of the conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) erupted as President Joseph Kabila carried out an assault on rebel forces led by General Laurent Nkunda at the end of 2007.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 22 January 2008

México: Chihuahua miners on strike

Britain: “Liar loans” drive hundreds of thousands into debt

By Keith Lee, 22 January 2008

A recent report from the UK Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has revealed that hundreds of thousands of people are being driven into debt, end up in court and face the loss of their homes because of irresponsible lending practices, bad advice and downright fraud. For people who have longed to buy their own home their dream has turned into a nightmare.

Medvedev’s presidential campaign and the growing social crisis in Russia

By Vladimir Volkov, 22 January 2008

With the end of the New Year holidays, the presidential campaign leading to Russia’s March 2 elections began in earnest.

US: General Motors to offer more job buyouts

By Shannon Jones, 21 January 2008

General Motors executives are planning to offer early retirement incentives or buyouts to the automaker’s 72,000 hourly workforce, an indication that significant new production cuts are coming in the face of declining auto sales.

French revisionist Pierre Lambert dies aged 87

By Peter Schwarz, 21 January 2008

Pierre Lambert, the long-time leader of the French Organisation Communiste Internationaliste (OCI) and of today’s Parti des Travailleurs (PT), died at age 87 on January 16 in Paris after a long illness.

Media, employers use Directors Guild deal as a battering ram against striking writers

By Dan Conway and David Walsh, 21 January 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Germany: Nokia announces closure of its Bochum factory

By Dietmar Henning, 21 January 2008

On January 15, the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia, announced it was closing its factory in Bochum, Germany, later this year. Altogether, some 4,300 workers are threatened with losing their jobs. The Bochum works is the second largest industrial employer in this Ruhr-area city, after motor manufacturer Opel.

Amid record losses, Wall Street awarded itself $39 billion

By Andre Damon, 21 January 2008

The five largest Wall Street banks doled out a record $39 billion in bonuses last year, according to data collected by the Bloomberg news service. After driving hundreds of thousands of families into foreclosure, causing a financial crisis affecting hundreds of millions, and pushing the US and world economies closer to recession, it appears Wall Street is rewarding itself for a job well done.

US presidential nomination campaigns remain deadlocked after January 19 votes

By Patrick Martin, 21 January 2008

The results of Saturday’s Republican presidential primary in South Carolina and Republican and Democratic caucuses in Nevada have done little to resolve the contests for the two parties’ presidential nominations. Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama remain in a close race for the Democratic nomination, while there remain four politically viable contenders within the fractured Republican contest.

Pakistan roiled by flour and electricity shortages, food price rises

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 21 January 2008

Pakistan’s US-backed military dictatorship has mobilized more than six thousand paramilitary troops to guard flour mills and distribution points and escort supply-trucks, as it seeks to staunch a flour shortage that has resulted in breadlines and spiraling prices.

Billions wiped off Australian share market

By Mike Head, 21 January 2008

Australian share prices have plummeted since the start of 2008, driven by the exposure of local banks and financial institutions to the US credit crisis. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Australian economy as a whole is far from immune to the impact of a US recession, despite a prolonged local boom based on mining exports.

A lively and engaging walk through history for children

By Christie Schaefer, 21 January 2008

Stones and Bones by Char Matejovsky, illustrations by Robaire Ream, Polebridge Press, Hardback, $19.00

Canada’s colonial-style, “embedded” Afghan advisors subject of bureaucratic squabble in Ottawa

By Keith Jones, 19 January 2008

According to the Globe and Mail, a major controversy has erupted within the Canadian government over a little-known, but politically pivotal, aspect of Canada’s intervention in Afghanistan—the Strategic Advisory Team, or SAT.

Cholesterol-lowering drug linked to increased risk of heart attack

By Naomi Spencer, 19 January 2008

Under pressure from media reports, consumer groups and federal investigators, pharmaceutical giant Merck and its partner Schering-Plough released the findings of a long-withheld company-sponsored study of the cholesterol-lowing drug Zetia this week. The study, completed in April 2006, reveals that companies had been falsely marketing the drug as an effective part of heart disease prevention. Moreover, the data indicate a link between the drug—taken by about a million Americans—and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Germany: Train drivers union submits to government and management

By Ludwig Niethammer, 19 January 2008

Last Sunday, the German train drivers’ union, GDL, and Deutsche Bahn AG agreed on the key elements of a new contract after 10 months of unusually sharp clashes. The GDL leadership has largely dropped the drivers’ original demands for a considerable wage increase and a separate collective agreement.

Bush announces “stimulus” plan as recession fears grip Washington

By Patrick Martin, 19 January 2008

The announcement Friday by President George W. Bush of an economic stimulus package, after months and years of declaring that the US economy is “fundamentally sound,” shows that the vast dimensions of the financial crisis have become evident even to the most blinkered “free market” ideologues in Washington.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 19 January 2008

Asia

Omagh bombing trial: Hoey cleared, but little else clarified

By Steve James, 19 January 2008

Eleven months after his trial concluded, Sean Hoey, an electrician from South Armagh, Northern Ireland, was acquitted of all charges connecting him to the March 24, 1998 bombing of Omagh. Arrested in 2003 during a huge police operation involving 200 officers, Hoey is now a free man.

Bush orders “mini-surge” of US troops to Afghanistan

By James Cogan, 19 January 2008

The Bush administration announced on Tuesday that it is sending an additional 3,200 marines to Afghanistan over the coming months, amid growing concerns over the extent and endurance of Afghan resistance to the US-NATO occupation of the country. The deployment is essentially a small-scale version of the Iraq “surge” in the first half of 2007.

Possible flu pandemic: US government plans to treat sick people “like potential enemies”

By Kevin Mitchell, 19 January 2008

The Bush administration’s emergency plan for a possible flu pandemic involves essentially police-state methods that have nothing to do with effectively combating the illness.

“Neon Bible” by the Arcade Fire: Where to from here?

By Graham Beverley, 19 January 2008

Sincere and developed artistic content in popular music remains a fringe phenomenon in both mainstream and ‘underground’ or independent music.

Québec: To counter the assault on education, a new political perspective is needed

By International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) at Université du Québec à Montréal, 18 January 2008

This statement appeared in French on January 16.