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Kosovan independence could ignite new conflicts in territories of former Soviet Union

By Vladimir Volkov, 29 February 2008

Kosovo’s February 17 declaration of independence, which was supported by the US and Western European countries such as Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy, threatens to inflame relations between former constituent nations of the Soviet Union.

UK: Unions prepare to sell out jobs fight at Rolls-Royce

By Daniel O’Flynn, 29 February 2008

At the beginning of this year, aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce announced plans to axe 2,300 highly skilled jobs, about 6 percent of its 39,500 global workforce. The company is the world’s second largest manufacturer of jet engines after the American giant General Electric, with a 36 percent share of the market. Most of the job losses are expected to hit the company’s 23,000-strong UK workforce and affect white-collar workers based at its main site in Derby.

US leads world in imprisoning its people

By Kate Randall, 29 February 2008

In both raw figures and as a percentage of the population, the US is the world leader in the rate at which it puts its people behind bars. A new report using state-by-state data says a record 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008—one out of every 99.1 adults.

Lust, Caution: political intrigue in Japanese-occupied China

By Richard Phillips, 29 February 2008

Directed by Ang Lee, screenplay by Wang Hui Ling and James Schamus and based on the short story Se, Jei by Eileen Chang

Brutal police attack on striking shipyard workers

By , 29 February 2008

On February 25, the Port, Shipyard, Ship Construction and Repair Workers Trade Union (Limter-Is) called for a 24-hour strike from February 27 in order to protest against the appalling safety and working conditions at the Istanbul, Tuzla shipyards.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 29 February 2008


Bush renews demands for telecom immunity as Democrats seek compromise on spy bill

By Joe Kay, 29 February 2008

US President George Bush used a Thursday White House press conference to issue a belligerent demand that Congress pass a bill effectively gutting Constitutional protections against government spying while granting immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the administration break the law.

Marine exercise in Toledo, Ohio: an attack on democratic rights

By Charles Bogle, 29 February 2008

On Friday, February 8, a five-bus convoy transported 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Toledo, Ohio, for three days of patrol exercises in the central downtown area.

Turkey rejects timetable to end invasion of northern Iraq

By James Cogan, 29 February 2008

Turkey has rejected out-of-hand the demands of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to end the invasion of northern Iraq, which it launched on February 21 on the pretext of destroying the mountain bases of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK has conducted a guerilla war for a separate state in the Kurdish-populated regions of southern Turkey since 1984.

Video: WSWS speaks to striking auto workers in Detroit

By , 29 February 2008

Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site visited the picket lines at American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) in Detroit February 28 to interview striking auto workers. Workers at five AAM plants in Michigan and New York walked out Tuesday, February 26, after the expiration of their four-year contract in defiance of the company's demands that they accept the reduction of wages from $23 an hour to $14.

Sri Lanka: Escalating war fuels rising prices

By Saman Gunadasa, 29 February 2008

Since December, the Sri Lankan population has faced another sharp jump in the price of daily essentials, including rice, wheat flour, bread, milk powder and fuel. Many working families are now struggling to have three meals a day.

American Axle strikers defy UAW wage-cutting pattern

By Jerry White, 29 February 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Germany: CDU woos the Greens in Hamburg state election

By Ulrich Rippert, 28 February 2008

With the announcement of the results of the election held in Hamburg last Sunday, an intensive campaign has begun aimed at securing the participation of the Greens in a state government coalition to be headed by the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Reader’s letter on the closure of the Nokia factory in Bochum, Germany

By , 28 February 2008

The following letter was sent to the World Socialist Web Site from a reader in Romania in response to the article, “Germany: Nokia announces closure of its Bochum factory: The fight to defend jobs needs an international strategy”.

Australia: State Labor government moves to dismantle public school staffing system

By Erika Zimmer, 28 February 2008

Under the guise of effecting gradual amendments to the way that the state’s 60,000 public schools teachers are hired, the Labor government in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is preparing to abolish the state-wide system of staffing schools, a move that will overturn teachers’ fundamental working conditions and further widen the gap between rich and poor schools.

Siemens axes 7,000 jobs worldwide

By Dietmar Henning, 28 February 2008

On Tuesday, the German-based Siemens company announced plans to axe nearly 7,000 jobs at its subsidiary, Siemens Enterprise Communications (SEN), which operates worldwide. SEN provides telecommunications support for businesses.

US district court judge orders shutdown of whistleblower web site

By Dan Conway, 28 February 2008

In an extraordinary act of censorship, lawyers representing the Swiss bank Julius Baer (BJB) obtained an injunction against the Dynadot corporation, US domain name registrar for the Wikileaks web site.

Denmark’s media mount a provocation by reprinting Mohammed cartoons

By Jordan Shilton, 28 February 2008

Virtually the entire media in Denmark reprinted the notorious caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on February 13.

A superficial analysis of global capitalism—Part 2

By Nick Beams, 28 February 2008

This is the conclusion of a two-part review of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Part one was posted on February 27.

Obama, Clinton debate in Ohio: What accounts for the bitter struggle within the Democratic Party?

By Barry Grey, 28 February 2008

Watching Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Cleveland, Ohio, one could not but be struck by the incongruity between the bitterness of the conflict between the Obama and Clinton camps and the narrowness of the differences expressed by the candidates themselves.

US Senator Carl Levin speaks on torture at the University of Michigan

By Daniel Douglass and Tom Carter, 27 February 2008

US Senator Carl Levin spoke on February 18 at the University of Michigan Law School on the subject of “Torture, Rule of Law and Security.” In his remarks, Levin (Democrat from Michigan) presented himself as an opponent of torture, but was confronted by a number of hostile questions from the audience, including from a member of the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE)

The New York Times and the 2008 elections: What the McCain “exposé” reveals

By Patrick Martin, 27 February 2008

The lengthy front-page report that appeared February 21 in the New York Times, detailing the ties between Senator John McCain and a telecommunications lobbyist, was an apparent attempt to damage the campaign of the presumptive Republican nominee for president and assist his prospective Democratic opponent, either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Video: WSWS Interviews Striking American Axle Workers

By the, 27 February 2008

The WSWS interviewed workers on the picket line during the first day of their strike against American Axle & Manufacturing

US military announces 10,000 more post-“surge” troops in Iraq

By Naomi Spencer, 27 February 2008

On Monday, the US military announced that the number of troops in Iraq following the “surge” begun last year will be some 10,000 more than pre-surge levels. What was originally presented as a temporary increase of US occupation forces will result in the indefinite presence of 140,000 US soldiers in Iraq.

Former Prime Minister de Villepin signs appeal directed against French President Sarkozy

By François Duval, 27 February 2008

With French President Nicolas Sarkozy facing growing opposition from within the political establishment as well as the population at large, the political weekly magazine Marianne has published an appeal by leading French politicians of various parties calling for “republican vigilance.”

Sweden: Economic turmoil hits privatisation drive

By Jordan Shilton, 27 February 2008

For decades, the “Swedish model” has been invoked by those who claim it is possible to regulate the economy on a national basis, with relatively high levels of social and welfare spending.

American Axle workers strike against massive wage cut

By our reporting team, 27 February 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Mining firms impose huge price hike on Chinese steelmakers: a sign of global inflation

By Alex Lantier, 27 February 2008

On February 22, Brazilian mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce announced that Chinese steelmaker Baosteel, in negotiations on behalf of the Chinese steel industry, had accepted a price hike of 65 percent for iron ore. The move followed a February 18 agreement between Vale and Japanese and Korean steelmakers, Nippon and Posco Steel, who also agreed to a 65 percent price increase.

A superficial analysis of global capitalism—Part 1

By Nick Beams, 27 February 2008

This is the first of a two-part review of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Part two will be posted on February 28.

Kosovo independence fuels regionalist divisions in Spain

By Paul Bond, 27 February 2008

Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia has dramatically worsened tensions in Spanish domestic politics, fuelling an already volatile situation ahead of next month’s general election. The declaration of independence has encouraged the drive towards separatism within many of Spain’s constituent regions, increasing the possibility of the balkanisation of larger parts of Europe.

Australia: Power workers oppose NSW Labor government’s privatisation bid

By our reporters, 27 February 2008

Around 8,000 people rallied outside parliament house in New South Wales on February 26, protesting the Iemma Labor government’s bid to privatise key sections of the state-owned electricity industry.

Germany: Unemployed man starves himself to death

By Dietmar Henning, 27 February 2008

The demise of a 58-year-old unemployed man who deliberately starved himself to death in a remote hideout in the woods is both a personal tragedy and a devastating indictment of the current state of German society. It says more about conditions in Germany than all the pious speeches of professional politicians and academic studies into poverty and unemployment.

Berkeley City Council caves on anti-recruiting resolution

By Marge Holland and Andrea Peters, 26 February 2008

Over the course of the past several weeks, the city of Berkeley, California has been the target of an orchestrated right-wing campaign after the city council passed a resolution opposing US Marine recruitment. In response, the Berkeley City Council has engaged in a cowardly retreat.

Bush’s Africa tour: US seeks to counter growing Chinese influence

By Ann Talbot, 26 February 2008

When the president of the United States goes on an overseas trip, it usually evokes a high level of press interest. For the most part, however, George Bush’s visit to Africa last week scarcely made the headlines. A smaller than usual press corps could barely conceal the fact that its main interest lay in who would succeed him as president. It was as though Bush had become a figure of the past, even before he has left the White House.

Malaysia to go to polls one year early

By John Roberts, 26 February 2008

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi dissolved parliament on February 13 and called new elections for March 8—more than 12 months before they were due.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 26 February 2008

Latin America

Australia: Victorian teachers’ union blocks discussion on strategy to oppose government attacks

By Frank Gaglioti, 26 February 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Germany’s role in the secession of Kosovo

By Martin Kreickenbaum, 26 February 2008

On February 20, the German government officially recognized the independence of Kosovo. It did so despite the foreseeable political dangers: an impending conflict with Russia, the eruption of new conflicts in the Balkans, and the incitement of separatist tendencies in other crisis regions across the globe.

US auto union leader Douglas Fraser dead at 91

By Jerry White, 26 February 2008

Douglas Fraser, the president of the United Auto Workers union between 1977 and 1983, died Saturday at the age of 91 in Southfield, Michigan.

US Federal Reserve downgrades economic growth forecast for 2008

By Andre Damon, 26 February 2008

The US Federal Reserve Board last week cut its US economic growth forecast for 2008 and upped its estimate of inflation.

Some alarm signals in contemporary film

By Stefan Steinberg, 26 February 2008

The following is the first in a series of articles on the 58th Berlinale, the film festival held February 7-17, 2008, in Berlin, Germany. Additional reports will appear in the coming days.

Letters from our readers

By , 26 February 2008

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

Public meeting in Paris: Twentieth anniversary of the death of Trotskyist leader Keerthi Balasuriya

By , 26 February 2008

The International Committee of the Fourth international (ICFI) and the World Socialist Web Site will hold a meeting in Paris on March 16 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the death of Keerthi Balasuriya, the general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League, the predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party of Sri Lanka, and a leader of the ICFI.

The 80th Annual Academy Awards: A mostly routine affair

By Hiram Lee, 26 February 2008

The 80th Academy Awards ceremony was held in Los Angeles on Sunday and proceeded as one might have expected. The broadcast was scripted and stage-managed to a point where any sense of spontaneity or liveliness was largely drained out of it.

US trade unions shift behind Obama

By Kate Randall, 25 February 2008

A day after defeating Hillary Clinton in the February 19 Wisconsin primary and Hawaii caucuses, Barack Obama picked up the nomination of the 1.5 million-member Teamsters union. Support from the Teamsters was one of a number of important union endorsements received by the Illinois senator and Democratic Party presidential candidate over the past several weeks.

Australia: “Lefts” sign-up with Rudd Labor

By Richard Phillips and Laura Tiernan, 25 February 2008

In the past week, Australia’s liberal opinion-makers, along with various “radicals”, have engaged in an orgy of praise for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his government’s formal apology on February 13 to the Aboriginal stolen generations.

Ralph Nader announces 2008 presidential campaign

By Patrick Martin, 25 February 2008

Consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader announced Sunday that he would run as an independent candidate in the 2008 presidential election against the Democrats and Republicans. He made it clear, in the course of a 15-minute interview on the NBC News program “Meet the Press,” that the purpose of his campaign was to pressure the eventual Democratic Party nominee to adopt a more liberal stance.

Millions denied access to dentistry in the UK

By Marcus Morgan, 25 February 2008

According to a recent report published by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), millions of adults in England and Wales are unable to find a publicly funded dentist to treat them and have abandoned regular check-ups. Dentistry, like many areas of the National Health Service (NHS), has been steadily privatised. It is now very difficult to get any treatment except at high costs.

Food prices continue to rise worldwide

By Naomi Spencer, 25 February 2008

Recent developments in grain markets point to prolonged international supply shortages and price spikes, exposing billions of people to hunger and malnutrition.

Turkish forces push deeper into Kurdish northern Iraq

By James Cogan, 25 February 2008

In defiance of demands by the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) that Turkey end its invasion, Ankara is continuing to deploy men and equipment into Kurdish northern Iraq. Turkish troops have pushed at least 30 kilometres inside Iraqi territory since the invasion was launched on Thursday night on the pretext of destroying the mountain bases of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Letters from our readers

By , 23 February 2008

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

Pakistan’s leading opposition parties to form national coalition government

By K. Ratnayake and Keith Jones, 23 February 2008

In opposition to the wishes of the Bush administration, Pakistan’s two principal parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), agreed Thursday to forge a national coalition government and like coalitions in the country’s four provinces.

Tax evasion in Germany and the campaign for “moral leadership”

By Ulrich Rippert, 23 February 2008

“This is beyond anything I could imagine.” These were the words used by the German chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on February 15 to describe the accusations of tax evasion levelled against the managing director of German Post, Klaus Zumwinkel. One day earlier, tax inspectors had searched Zumwinkel’s Cologne mansion, as well as the headquarters of his company in Bonn.

Indian high court bolsters press censorship on TV, Internet

By Senthil Tholkaapiyan and Senthooran Ravee, 23 February 2008

The Indian High Court has used the furor around the Uma Khurana “sting operation” programme to pressure the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (IB) to increase censorship. Its intervention to curtail investigative journalism has far-reaching implications for freedom of the press, TV and the Internet.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 23 February 2008

State workers in Thailand protest new classification

Attacks announce insurgent “spring offensive” in Afghanistan

By James Cogan, 23 February 2008

A string of attacks against NATO forces and their local collaborators in Afghanistan signals the beginnings of the annual upsurge in fighting as the harsh winter gives way to better climatic conditions for organising guerilla operations.

Britain: government targets child asylum seekers

By Liz Smith, 23 February 2008

Under the guise of “more compassionate treatment for children,” the Home Office Border and Immigration Agency is tightening up procedures to forcibly remove an extremely vulnerable group of children to their countries of origin.

Turkish troops invade northern Iraq

By Patrick Martin, 23 February 2008

Thousands of Turkish army troops crossed the border with Iraq Friday in a major military operation against guerrilla forces of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which has fought for decades against the Turkish state, seeking a separate state for the 15 million Kurds who inhabit southeastern Turkey.

Turkish jobless rate increases dramatically

By Sinan Ikinci, 23 February 2008

According to recent data published by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), the country’s official unemployment rate once again neared the crisis level of 2001, rising to 10.1 percent in November 2007. One year ago, unemployment stood at 9.6 percent.

Serbs protesting Kosovo independence attack US embassy in Belgrade

By Julie Hyland, 22 February 2008

Violence has flared once again in the former Yugoslavia, following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia on Sunday.

Sri Lankan government plans sham local elections in eastern Batticaloa

By Sarath Kumara, 22 February 2008

The Sri Lankan government has scheduled local council elections for March 10 in the Batticaloa district in the war-ravaged eastern province. The planned polls have nothing to do with resuming civilian control. They are a PR exercise to dress up the military occupation of the area with a democratic façade. Last year, the Sri Lankan army captured areas in Batticaloa district which were previously held by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Czech Republic: Mudslinging dominates presidential election

By Markus Salzmann, 22 February 2008

Vaclav Klaus was confirmed as president last week by the Czech parliament. The conservative incumbent had only an extremely small majority, but now returns to office for another five years as Czech head of state. In the third ballot of the second round, 141 parliamentary deputies and senators voted for Klaus, who had been nominated by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS). His opponent, Jan Svejnar, who was supported by the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Greens (SZ), received 126 votes.

An exchange on Australia’s “Sorry Day”

By , 22 February 2008

Below we publish a letter from a reader on a recent WSWS article—“Australian Prime Minister apologises to ‘stolen generation’: rhetoric versus reality”—followed by a reply by the article’s author, Nick Beams.

UK government nationalises Northern Rock

By Ann Talbot, 22 February 2008

The nationalisation of Northern Rock, the UK bank that ran into trouble last September as the credit crunch began to bite, was characterised in a Guardian lead article as “a shaming moment for a government that has struggled for six months to fend off the inevitable.”

US satellite strike escalates military space race

By Joe Kay, 22 February 2008

The decision by the US to shoot a missile at a dysfunctional spy satellite has provoked sharp protests from Russia and China and threatens to escalate competition over the control of space.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 22 February 2008


Canada’s Chalk River nuclear crisis: “market planning” produces a fiasco

By Guy Charron, 22 February 2008

First published in French February 15.

Kosovo “independence” brings new uncertainties in Asia

By John Chan, 22 February 2008

The unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, with the support of the US and a number of European powers, has produced destabilising shockwaves beyond the Balkans. There is a widespread recognition in Asia and elsewhere that carving out a nation-state by recognising a small group of people on ethnic or religious lines could apply to any country.

In Texas debate, Obama counters Clinton attack by asserting his readiness to use military force

By Barry Grey, 22 February 2008

Thursday’s televised debate in Texas between the Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, like all such events, was directed at two basic audiences—the voting public and the corporate-financial elite that controls both major US parties.

Letters from our readers

By , 21 February 2008

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

Germany: Union and works council announce final shutdown of Nokia factory

By Dietmar Henning, 21 February 2008

“We can no longer save the location.” These were the words used by Ulrike Kleinebrahm, head of the trade union IG Metall local, at a rally on Tuesday to announce the final closure of the Nokia factory in Bochum. Shortly before the rally, the Bochum works council and union representatives had met briefly with the Nokia executive committee in the company’s head office in the Finnish city of Espoo.

Works by Trevor Griffiths

By , 21 February 2008


Risk of cholera multiplied by sewage collapse in Baghdad

By Oscar Grenfell, 21 February 2008

With the northern summer approaching, fears have been voiced that the dysfunctional state of the Iraqi sewerage system will cause a major outbreak of cholera or other water-borne diseases in Iraq’s desperately poor working class districts. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that causes severe diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration and can lead to death if untreated. The disease spreads by the ingestion of water or food that has been contaminated by the waste of infected people.

Iraq: US occupation faces crisis of its own making

By James Cogan, 21 February 2008

The much-touted successes of the Bush administration’s deployment of 30,000 American additional troops to Iraq last year rest on unstable and rapidly eroding foundations. The unstated fear in the Pentagon debate over how many American troops can be withdrawn this year is that the policies associated with the surge have created potential triggers for a return to wide-spread resistance.

Obama’s Texas speech: Populist appeals with reassurances to big business

By Jerry White, 21 February 2008

On Tuesday night after his primary election victory in Wisconsin, Barack Obama, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, delivered a speech to a crowd of 20,000 supporters at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

An exchange on the break-up of Yugoslavia

By , 21 February 2008

Below we publish a letter from a reader on a recent WSWS article on the Serbian elections, followed by a reply by the article’s author, Paul Mitchell.

France: Marseilles retail strike called off after two weeks

By Pierre Mabut, 21 February 2008

The strike and occupation by 100 hypermarket workers at Carrefour Grand Littoral in Marseilles was called off by the trade unions, after a two-week struggle to improve the wages and conditions of some of France’s most exploited sections of workers. It expressed the determination of these low-paid workers to challenge Carrefour, the world’s second biggest retail giant, with outlets in 30 countries and a €78 billion annual turnover.

Trevor Griffiths’ These are the Times: a Life of Thomas Paine

By Ann Talbot, 21 February 2008

An interview with playwright Trevor Griffiths

By Ann Talbot, 21 February 2008

Trevor Griffiths has just published a screenplay for a film about the life of the eighteenth century revolutionary Thomas Paine. He wrote the screenplay for the film Reds with Warren Beatty and has a long list of television and theatre plays to his credit.

US Supreme Court Justice Scalia defends torture

By John Andrews, 21 February 2008

In a radio interview broadcast last week in Great Britain, United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia claimed that nothing in the Constitution protects foreigners outside US territory or prohibits federal agents from using torture while questioning their captives.

After the Slaughter: Political Lessons of the Balkan War

By David North, 20 February 2008

In light of the recent developments surrounding the declaration of independence of Kosovo the World Socialist Web Siteis republishing the following article, which originally appeared on June 14, 1999.

Detroit: highest home foreclosure rate in US

By Lawrence Porter, 20 February 2008

Over the last four decades, Detroit has gone from boasting the highest rate of home ownership in the nation to the highest rate of home foreclosures in the US. Last week, the mortgage research company RealtyTrac Inc. announced that the economically depressed automotive center had the highest foreclosure rate in 2007 of the largest 100 metropolitan areas nationally.

The case of Kosovo: “Self-determination” as an instrument of imperialist policy

By Peter Schwarz, 20 February 2008

The support of the US and the major European powers for Kosovo’s unilateral secession from Serbia, in the face of fierce opposition from Serbia and Russia, as well as China, marks a turning point in international politics.

Spain: Government tries to ban Basque separatist parties from election

By Paul Bond, 20 February 2008

In the run-up to next month’s general election, the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) is making clear moves to appease right-wing voters. Even the party’s closest media supporters in the newspaper El Pais note the similarities between campaigns of the PSOE and the right-wing Popular Party (PP).

Obama defeats Clinton by wide margin in Wisconsin primary

By Barry Grey, 20 February 2008

Illinois Senator Barack Obama on Tuesday won his ninth straight primary contest since the February 5 “Super Tuesday” primaries and caucuses, defeating New York Senator Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin’s primary election by a projected margin of 58 percent to 41 percent.

Fidel Castro retires as Cuban president after 49 years in power

By Patrick Martin, 20 February 2008

Fidel Castro, the last of the “third-world” nationalists who rose to power in the 1950s and 1960s and came into conflict with American imperialism, announced Tuesday that he was retiring as president of Cuba and commander-in-chief of its armed forces.

France: Massive police raid on Villiers-le-Bel

By Antoine Lerougetel, 20 February 2008

Beginning at 6 a.m. on Monday morning, a force of more than 1,200 police descended on Villiers-le-Bel, a town in the northern suburbs of Paris. Their purported aim was to arrest 38 individuals whom they suspected of having committed acts of violence against the police during the two days of rioting in the town last November 25-26. The rioting followed the deaths of two youths, Larami, 16, and Moushin, 15, who were killed in collision with a police vehicle as they were riding a mini-motorcycle.

Pakistanis overwhelmingly reject US-backed strongman Musharraf

By K. Ratnayake and Keith Jones, 20 February 2008

The Pakistani people overwhelmingly repudiated the US-backed, military-controlled regime of Pervez Musharraf in national and provincial elections held Monday.

Sino-Australian relations complicated by BHP’s attempted merger with Rio Tinto

By John Chan, 20 February 2008

China recorded its largest-ever foreign investment on February 1 when it purchased 12 percent of the London-listed stocks of mining giant Rio Tinto or 9 percent of the company’s total shares. The move by the state-owned Aluminum Corp of China (Chinalco), in coordination with US-owned Alcoa Inc, was aimed at preventing BHP Billiton, the Australian-based mining multinational, from successfully bidding for Rio with $US147 billion in what would be the second-largest takeover in history.

US Supreme Court refuses to hear case against warrantless wiretapping

By Joe Kay, 20 February 2008

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear an appeal brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups challenging the Bush administration’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program.

Deep divisions in Europe over Kosovo independence

By Stefan Steinberg, 19 February 2008

Deep divisions emerged at the European Union meeting in Brussels on Monday, with the assembled Foreign Ministers unable to arrive at a unified position with regard to the declaration of independence made by the Kosovan Prime Minister on Sunday.

Australia: Labor “rank and file” meeting—no perspective to fight electricity privatisation

By Terry Cook, 19 February 2008

A gathering in Sydney on February 16, billed as a “rank and file” Australian Labor Party (ALP) meeting to oppose the NSW Labor government’s plans to sell-off key sections of the state’s electricity industry, had nothing to do with developing a genuine campaign.

US: Cities, education funds, transport authorities hit by credit crisis

By Andre Damon, 19 February 2008

The deepening credit crisis is hitting US cities as well as quasi-governmental state education and transportation authorities, sharply increasing the interest they must pay on their long-term debt and jeopardizing their ability to finance daily operations.

Germany: Turkish prime minister incurs wrath of politicians and the media

By Peter Schwarz, 19 February 2008

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent visit to Germany was met by a political campaign of intolerance and open xenophobia.

French municipal elections expose crisis of the political establishment

By Antoine Lerougetel and Peter Schwarz, 19 February 2008

The approach of the municipal elections in France, due to take place March 9 and 16, presents a picture of deep crisis of the entire political establishment.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 19 February 2008

Latin America

East Timor: Official “assassination” claims collapse

By Mike Head, 19 February 2008

After just one week, the official version of the February 11 events in East Timor—that army rebel Alfredo Reinado, attempted a “coup” and “double assassination” against President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao—is in tatters. As Australian journalist Paul Toohey noted last Saturday, “virtually no one in East Timor believes it [the assassination plot]”.

ISSE demonstration to free Iranian students calls for international unity of workers

By our reporter, 19 February 2008

On February 16, the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) held a demonstration in New York City to demand that the Iranian government immediately release and drop all charges against more than 40 left-wing students. In addition to calling attention to the plight of these students, the demonstration focused on the necessary political basis for a struggle against war, inequality, and oppression.

Largest beef recall in US history reveals compromised food supply

By Naomi Spencer, 19 February 2008

Nearly three weeks after the release of an undercover video documenting sick cows being sent to slaughter, a major US beef producer has requested the recall of more than 143 million pounds of beef—much of it supplying public schools nationwide over the past two years.

A shot across the bow against Barack Obama

By Jerry White, 19 February 2008

In an editorial Sunday the Washington Post, the major daily newspaper in the US capital, criticized the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama, for stirring up “class warfare” in his recent campaign appearances.