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Tensions mount as American Axle strike enters 10th week

By , 30 April 2008

The American Axle strike enters a tenth week. It will soon exceed the length of the historic strike against GM in 1970. This week workers circulated a petition to the UAW requesting an increase in strike pay from $200 per week to $300. The WSWS spoke to workers on the picket lines in Detroit.

CAW agrees to massive concessions with Ford Canada

By Carl Bronski, 30 April 2008

Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) President Buzz Hargrove and his Executive Committee announced Monday that secret negotiations conducted with Ford Canada over the past month have resulted in an agreement on a Master Economics Offer (MEO) that will form the basis for a new contract with the auto giant effective through mid-September 2011. The offer, signed almost five months prior to the expiration of the previous contract with Ford, is unprecedented in the history of the union.

Strike wave continues in Romania

By Marcus Salzmann, 30 April 2008

After nearly three weeks on strike, workers at the Dacia (Renault) auto factory in the Romanian town of Pitesti went back to work after the local trade unions and company management agreed on a 30 percent wage increase. Just a few days later, 4,000 workers began strike action at Romania’s biggest steel plant—ArcelorMittal in the town of Gelati.

US escalates siege in Baghdad’s Sadr City

By Kate Randall, 30 April 2008

US forces continued their siege against Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood on Tuesday, leaving dozens dead. The US military said a four-hour firefight broke out around 9:30 a.m. between US forces and militiamen as a US soldier injured by small-arms fire was being evacuated.

Another Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan

By James Cogan, 30 April 2008

Lance Corporal Jason Marks, 27, was killed on Sunday during the preparations for an Australian assault on a stronghold of anti-occupation Taliban insurgents in the southern Afghanistan province of Uruzgan. He is the fourth Australian military fatality in the Afghan war since last October and the fifth since the conflict began in November, 2001.

New Zealand appliance manufacturer closes plants in three countries

By John Braddock, 30 April 2008

The New Zealand domestic whiteware manufacturer Fisher and Paykel (F&P) Appliances abruptly announced on April 17 that it would be closing three factories: its dishwasher plant in Dunedin, New Zealand; its refrigerator factory in Brisbane, Australia; and its cooking appliance factory in California. In total, more than 1,000 jobs will be destroyed.

A political balance sheet of the battle at American Axle

By Jerry White and Barry Grey, 30 April 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

As gas prices and oil profits soar, Bush promotes giveaways to corporations

By Joe Kay, 30 April 2008

US President George W. Bush used a White House press conference Tuesday to trot out his familiar litany of right-wing proposals, ostensibly intended to address rising gas prices and the growing economic crisis facing millions of Americans.

Anti-Karzai attack in Kabul shakes US puppet government

By Barry Grey, 29 April 2008

Sunday’s armed attack on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the center of Kabul was a stark demonstration of the isolation of the US-backed government and the growing striking power of anti-occupation forces throughout the country.

US Supreme Court upholds anti-democratic voter ID law

By Naomi Spencer, 29 April 2008

The US Supreme Court on Monday upheld an Indiana law requiring voters to produce government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or a passport, at the polls. The court, by a 6-3 majority, asserted that the law does not impinge on the constitutional right to vote.

Obama vows to back Bush’s war commander

By Bill Van Auken, 29 April 2008

Democratic presidential front-runner Senator Barack Obama said on Sunday he would endorse Bush’s nominee to direct US military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout a region extending from North Africa to Central Asia. The pledge, made on the “Fox News Sunday” program, while predictable, serves nonetheless to thoroughly expose the antiwar pretenses of Obama and the Democratic Party as a whole.

Verdi union sabotages Berlin transport workers’ strike

By Ludwig Niethammer, 29 April 2008

The delaying tactics used by the public service trade union Verdi to prevent Berlin transport workers from taking full strike action are assuming an increasingly grotesque form.

Nearly 1000 unmarked graves discovered in Indian-occupied Kashmir

By Kranti Kumara, 29 April 2008

The Indian government is refusing to investigate credible reports that up to a thousand unmarked graves have been found in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Letters from our readers

By , 29 April 2008

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

Sri Lankan army suffers a debacle as a northern offensive collapses

By Sarath Kumara, 29 April 2008

The Sri Lankan army suffered a serious defeat last week when a military offensive near Muhamalai and Kilali was repulsed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). There is no reliable figure for the number of casualties, but at least 140 soldiers were killed and over 300 wounded. The number is almost certain to rise as news of the operation filters out through heavy government censorship.

BBC documentary reveals government reckless in drive for nuclear weapons

By Trevor Johnson, 29 April 2008

In a recently aired documentary, “Windscale: Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Disaster,” the BBC investigated the history of the first British nuclear power station and its role in the development of nuclear weapons. It presented strong evidence that the Windscale fire of 1957—the first fire in any nuclear facility—was caused by the flagrant abandonment of safety measures. This took place because of pressure from the British government to produce bomb-making material. The programme explained how the 1957 fire brought Windscale to the brink of a major nuclear disaster, in which many of the people working there could have been killed and a wide area around the site left contaminated for decades.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 29 April 2008

Latin America

Sri Lankan soldiers and families speak to the WSWS

By our reporters, 29 April 2008

Hundreds of injured soldiers have been hospitalised in Sri Lanka after a military offensive in the Muhamalai-Nagarkovil-Kilali area on April 22-24 was beaten back by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The operation involved about 800 troops directly, backed by another 5,000 personnel.

Toronto Transit workers forced back to work by strike-breaking law

By Carl Bronski, 28 April 2008

A thirty-six hour strike by the nine thousand members of Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Workers union ended abruptly Sunday afternoon, when the trade union-backed New Democratic Party joined with the other two parties in the Ontario legislature to unanimously pass an emergency back-to-work order.

Sarkozy television interview seeks to reassure French corporate elite

By Kumaran Ira and Alex Lantier, 28 April 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a 100-minute, nationally televised interview on April 24, covering a wide-ranging set of topics in domestic and foreign policy.

US intelligence on Syrian reactor: justifying last year’s crime to prepare for new ones

By Peter Symonds, 28 April 2008

More than seven months after Israeli warplanes destroyed a building in Syria’s eastern desert, the Bush administration has released intelligence purporting to prove that Damascus was building a nuclear reactor at the site, with the assistance of North Korea, as part of plans to build an atomic bomb.

Britain: Scottish refinery workers strike

By Steve James, 28 April 2008

Some 1,200 workers at the Grangemouth oil refinery near Edinburgh, Scotland began a two-day strike yesterday against plans by chemical giant Ineos’ to slash payments to the company pension plan, bar new starts from the scheme and to make final pension payments dependent on the stock market.

SEP/ISSE May Day meeting in Colombo

By , 28 April 2008

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka and the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) will hold a May Day meeting in Colombo on May 1.

Spain’s “water wars”: A scramble for essential resources

By Paul Bond, 28 April 2008

Disputes between Spain’s autonomous regions are escalating over the country’s ongoing water crisis. Government officials describe the present drought as the worst in a century. What has been dubbed a “water war” has exposed the inability of capitalism to organise essential resources.

Germany: The SPD’s bogus minimum wage campaign

By Jörg Victor, 28 April 2008

After forming a “grand coalition” with the Christian Democrats at the end of 2005, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has placed the demand for a legal minimum wage at the forefront of its programme. For their part, both former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his economics minister Wolfgang Clement strictly rejected the introduction of a minimum wage.

The Sean Bell verdict—assuring that New York City’s police can kill with impunity

By Bill Van Auken, 26 April 2008

The decision handed down Friday morning by a New York judge in the police slaying of Sean Bell was as shocking as it was predictable. A 23-year-old, unarmed man was cut down in a hail of 50 bullets on the morning of what was to be his wedding, and no one is held accountable.

Letters from our readers

By , 26 April 2008

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

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 26 April 2008

E-Land strike in Korea passes 300th day

US: Emails suggest Veterans Administration cover-up of suicide rate

By Naomi Spencer, 26 April 2008

Internal emails from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) turned over to a federal district court in San Francisco this week reveal that the agency’s mental health unit saw a staggering 1,000 suicide attempts every month among veterans receiving government care last year. emails also indicated that among all US veterans, the VA was aware of a suicide rate of 6,570 per year, or 18 suicides every day on average.

British government commits taxpayers to bailing out the banks

By Jean Shaoul, 26 April 2008

The government and the Bank of England have been forced to step in to bail out Britain’s banking system, which is on the point of collapse.

The Pennsylvania primary and the crisis of the Democratic Party

By Barry Grey, 26 April 2008

Hillary Clinton’s convincing victory over Barack Obama in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary ensures that the bitter contest for the Democratic presidential nomination will continue for weeks, if not months. More importantly, it highlights the crisis that is overtaking the party.

Hamburg: First-ever state coalition between Greens and the CDU

By Dietmar Henning, 26 April 2008

The German Green Party has formed a coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the city-state of Hamburg following state elections two months ago. This is the first such “black-green” coalition at a state level in Germany.

Siege continues in Iraq as US escalates threats against Iran

By Joe Kay, 26 April 2008

The United States military’s brutal offensive in Sadr City continued this week, with overnight raids killing dozens of people, including many civilians. The US offensive against the impoverished Baghdad neighborhood of 2 million people is entering its second month.

Australia: Inflation soars and thousands more face losing their homes

By Mike Head, 26 April 2008

Official inflation figures for the March quarter, showing a leap to a 16-year high of 4.2 percent, have raised the chance of further interest rate increases in Australia, which will push thousands more working class families into severe financial stress.

May Day 2008: Capitalism, socialism and the working class

By , 26 April 2008

The Socialist Equality Party and World Socialist Web Site are calling a May Day meeting to be held on May 4 in Detroit, Michigan.

French school students maintain protests against Sarkozy’s education reforms

By Francis Dubois, 26 April 2008

High school students in France continued their protests in recent weeks against the education reforms of the right-wing government of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Britain: Size of teachers’ strike exceeds predictions

By our reporters, 26 April 2008

Two hundred thousand teachers organised in the National Union of Teachers came out on strike on Thursday in opposition to the Labour government’s wage-cutting pay deal. NUT members had balloted 3-1 to reject the three-year pay award of 2.45 percent this year, followed by 2.3 percent over the next two years.

France: Union reforms highlight Sarkozy-CGT alliance

By Alex Lantier, 25 April 2008

A remarkable exchange took place last week between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the CGT (General Confederation of Labour) union. In April 18 articles in Le Monde and the Financial Times, Sarkozy and top CGT official Jean-Christophe Le Duigou praised each other for helping push through what they presented as necessary social cuts. The exchange, shortly after Sarkozy and the CGT agreed on a major reform of trade union law, gives an insight into how they are collaborating to police the working class into accepting Sarkozy’s regressive social policies.

UK, Birmingham City Council workers strike in “Single Status” dispute

By , 25 April 2008

The following was submitted by a reader of the World Socialist Web Site. It concerns Birmingham City Council workers, who struck alongside teachers and civil servants on Thursday, April 24, protesting against the imposition of new pay grades.

Detroit: American Axle workers hold protest amidst heavy police presence

By Shannon Jones, 25 April 2008

Striking American Axle workers held a picket outside the company’s headquarters Thursday afternoon ahead of a scheduled stockholders meeting.

Maoists emerge as largest parliamentary bloc in Nepal

By W.A. Sunil, 25 April 2008

The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) was the clear winner after provisional results in the country’s April 10 election for a Constituent Assembly were announced yesterday. As well as gaining 120 of the 240 directly-elected seats, the Maoists secured 97 of the 335 seats elected on a proportionate base. The overall national vote for the CPN-M was 29.27 percent.

French immigration policy and the death of Baba Traoré

By Senthooran Ravee, 25 April 2008

On April 5, Baba Traoré, an undocumented, 29-year-old Malian immigrant in France, died of a heart attack after jumping into the Marne River while trying to escape a police control at Joinville-le-Pont station.

US-backed crackdown in Basra paves way for opening up Iraq’s oil and gas

By James Cogan, 25 April 2008

The Iraqi government is following up its US-backed campaign of terror against the Shiite Sadrist movement and its Mahdi Army militia in Basra with moves to open up the country’s oil and gas resources for exploitation by transnational conglomerates.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 25 April 2008

UK: teachers and civil servants strike larger than predicted

The collapse of Rifondazione Comunista in Italy

By Peter Schwarz, 25 April 2008

The debacle of the Rainbow Left in the recent Italian parliamentary elections will go down in political textbooks as a prime example of the price of opportunism. The Rainbow electoral alliance consisting of four separate parties lost three quarters of its electoral support within the space of just two years.

Detroit schools to be “reconstituted,” as calls for privatization increase

By Walter Gilberti, 25 April 2008

Three Detroit high schools and one elementary school are to be “reconstituted” as mandated by the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act. The initiative by schools CEO Connie Calloway, in which the designated schools will be divided up into several small “schools within schools,” opens the door to further state intervention, with the complete reorganization of the public schools system and the firing of teachers and administrators on the horizon.

Global food crisis grips Latin America

By Giancarlo Marinho Costa, 25 April 2008

The Brazilian government Wednesday announced the temporary suspension of rice exports, as the commodity’s price hit a record high of $25 per hundredweight on the futures markets.

How the Pentagon manipulated the media to promote the Iraq war

By David Walsh, 25 April 2008

On April 20, the New York Times published a lengthy article by investigative reporter David Barstow detailing the US Defense Department’s extensive and ongoing program of manipulating news coverage of the Iraq war. The article provides a glimpse into the intimate connections between the government, military and mass media and the means by which they have attempted to package and sell a neo-colonial war to the US population.

US student held in solitary confinement on terrorism charges

By Tom Eley, 24 April 2008

In a chilling example of the expanding prosecution of individuals on trumped-up charges of “terrorism,” Syed Hashmi, a 27-year-old US citizen and former student at Brooklyn College in New York City and at London Metropolitan University, is being held in solitary confinement in a federal prison on trumped-up charges of providing material support to Al Qaida. He could face as much as 70 years in prison.

American Axle strikers rally outside shareholders' meeting

By , 24 April 2008

On Thursday, April 24, 2008, auto workers on strike at American Axle rallied in Detroit outside a shareholders meeting of the company where Richard Dauch, CEO, reiterated company demands for pay cuts amounting to more than half the workers wages and benefits. Detroit police were mobilized in force with two dozen squad cars, a bus to transport prisoners, and a special riot control squad armed with firearms and large canisters of mace.

Hillary Clinton threatens to “obliterate” Iran

By Joe Kay, 24 April 2008

Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s pledge to “obliterate” Iran if it attacks Israel marks a sharp escalation of threats against that country and its entire population.

Under the Same Moon: Something lost en route

By Joanne Laurier, 24 April 2008

Directed by Patricia Riggen; screenplay by Ligiah Villalobos

Colombia’s President Uribe implicated in paramilitary death squad probe

By Bill Van Auken and Ascher Brum, 24 April 2008

The arrest in Bogota of ex-Senator Mario Uribe Escobar, the cousin of Colombia’s president, on charges of involvement in the country’s paramilitary death squads has deepened the political crisis of Bush’s closest political ally in Latin America.

Australia: Latest “terror plot” claims unravel in court

By Mike Head, 24 April 2008

For 24 hours last week, the Australian media featured the latest terrorist scare campaign. On April 16, front-page newspaper articles appeared with headlines such as “Grand final terrorist plot” (Sydney Morning Herald) and “Terror group plot to hit MCG” (Australian). They reported claims that in 2005 a group of 12 Islamic men currently on trial in Melbourne had been on the brink of attacking the country’s largest annual sporting event—the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Financial speculators reap profits from global hunger

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 April 2008

A series of reports in the international media have drawn attention to the role of professional speculators and hedge funds in driving up the price of basic commodities—in particular, foodstuffs. The sharp increase in food prices in recent months has led to protests and riots in a number of countries across the globe.

Life expectancy declines for women in Southern US counties: a consequence of widening inequality

By Naomi Spencer, 24 April 2008

In yet another confirmation of the destructive effects of inequality on working class living standards, a new study documents a significant decline in life expectancy relative to the rising overall average for women in 180 US counties from 1983 to 1999. The decline was concentrated overwhelmingly in persistently poor regions of the country.

Detroit-area school districts vote to privatize support staff

By a WSWS reporting team, 24 April 2008

In response to cuts in state aid to education, a number of school districts in suburban Detroit are moving to privatize support services, to reduce expenses.

What does the hunger strike by Belfast shop stewards say about the trade unions?

By Steve James and Chris Marsden, 24 April 2008

After six years and repeated hunger strikes by two former shop stewards, a group of workers sacked from Belfast’s International Airport have finally extracted compensation from the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU) for the legal fees expended in pursuance of their claims of wrongful dismissal. Still contested is the workers’ other demand for the ATGWU to mount an inquiry into its own role in setting up the workers to be sacked in the first place.

Middle Eastern regimes line up behind US military crackdown in Baghdad and Basra

By Peter Symonds, 24 April 2008

Tuesday’s international conference on Iraq has highlighted the venal character of all the Middle Eastern regimes in tacitly endorsing Washington’s neo-colonial occupation. Despite their occasional criticisms of the quagmire in Iraq and, in the case of Syria and Iran, pro forma calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops, the foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbours, along with Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States, all dutifully turned up at the summit in Kuwait to discuss stabilising US-occupied Iraq.

Berlin referendum directed against the Senate

By Emma Bode, 24 April 2008

On Friday, April 18, a Berlin citizens’ group, the “Berlin Water Table,” lodged an official appeal with the Berlin constitutional court against a decision made by the city Senate, which in the beginning of March had turned down a request from the group for a public referendum on the issue of the complete privatisation of the city’s water supplies. The Berlin Senate comprises a coalition between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Left Party.

Appeal to working class, not corporate shareholders, to back American Axle strike

By Jerry White, 24 April 2008

The following statement is being distributed to American Axle strikers and other auto workers attending a protest organized by the United Auto Workers union at the company’s shareholders meeting in Detroit. Click here to download the statement as a PDF.

Israel escalates offensive against Palestinians with Egypt’s assistance

By Jean Shaoul, 23 April 2008

Within days of Israel mounting a weeklong civil defence exercise, Israeli armed forces invaded Gaza, killing about 40 Palestinians and injuring many more. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened Gaza with further attacks.

Clinton extends Democratic presidential contest with victory in Pennsylvania primary

By Patrick Martin, 23 April 2008

Senator Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania Tuesday by 10 percentage points, extending the contest for the presidential nomination, although Senator Barack Obama retained a significant lead in the national delegate count.

At least 14 Haitian migrants drowned off the coast of the Bahamas

By Hiram Lee, 23 April 2008

The US Coast Guard continued searching Tuesday for as many as 10 Haitian migrants still missing in the waters northwest of Nassau, Bahamas after an incident Saturday in which a boat capsized leaving 14 migrants dead. The coast guard and Bahamian rescuers pulled three survivors from the water on Monday, two of whom were Haitian, while the third was Honduran. Identified by another survivor as the “smuggler” attempting to transport the migrants to south Florida, the Honduran was soon taken into custody by Bahamian immigration officials.

Paraguay: Election ends six decades of one-party rule

By Bill Van Auken, 23 April 2008

The election victory Sunday of former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo brings an end to 61 years of unbroken rule by the right-wing Colorado Party.

Australia: Rudd Labor government suppresses documents on 1998 waterfront dispute

By Terry Cook, 23 April 2008

The Rudd Labor government is refusing to release a confidential report that contains evidence of the former Howard government’s complicity in provoking a bitter month-long dispute on the Australian waterfront in April 1998 in order to slash jobs and working conditions.

May-June 1968—The lessons 40 years on

By , 23 April 2008

The International Students for Social Equality in Britain has organised a series of meetings to mark the 40th anniversary of the May-June 1968 events in France.

Britain’s teachers and civil servants to take one-day strike action

By Liz Smith and Linda Slattery, 23 April 2008

For the first time in 21 years, teachers in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will come out on a one-day strike on April 24 in opposition to the government’s imposition of a 2.45 percent pay award. With the current rate of inflation running at 4.1 percent this represents a pay cut in real terms. To make things worse, the pay award offered in January runs for three years—with a 2.45 percent increase in September, and just 2.3 percent in each of the following two years.

Body of War: a wounded veteran and, disgracefully, a defense of the Democrats

By Matt Waller, 23 April 2008

Written and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro

Dark clouds gather over Australian economy

By Mike Head, 22 April 2008

Until last week, the prevailing view in the Australian business and political establishment, at least in public, was that the national economy had become “de-coupled” from the US, and was therefore sheltered from the worst impacts of the recession taking hold in the world’s largest economy. Booming exports to China and the rest of Asia would, the argument went, insulate Australian capitalism from a global slump.

The global implications of the US banking collapse

By , 22 April 2008

The collapse of Bear Stearns, the fifth largest US investment bank and one of the world’s largest finance and brokerage houses, marks a major turning point in the history of post-war global capitalism. The US economy stands on the brink of an economic breakdown on a scale not seen since the 1930s Great Depression.

Sri Lanka: Acrimonious feuding inside JVP as party’s support slides

By K. Ratnayake, 22 April 2008

Bitter factional differences have erupted in the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a Sri Lankan party that combines populist demagogy with Sinhala communalism and strident support for the renewed war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). While the dispute is dominated by personal abuse, organisational manoeuvring, court actions and violence, the tensions reflect the deep-going political and social crisis that is wracking the island as a whole.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 22 April 2008

Chilean copper miners’ strike

Rice, US generals signal stepped-up bloodletting in Iraq

By Bill Van Auken, 22 April 2008

In a series of bellicose statements, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US military commanders have signaled that there will be no letup in the bloodletting and terror that have been unleashed against Baghdad’s crowded and impoverished slum neighborhood of Sadr City.

US Supreme Court denies 11 death penalty appeals, states prepare to resume executions

By Kate Randall, 22 April 2008

The US Supreme Court on Monday denied without comment the appeals of 11 death row inmates. The ruling followed a 7-2 decision last Wednesday rejecting an appeal by two prisoners in Kentucky, who had argued that the lethal injection method to be used in their executions constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

British government lied about 2007 Persian Gulf naval incident

By Paul Mitchell, 22 April 2008

Secret Ministry of Defence documents released to the Times newspaper reveal that the British government lied about the circumstances surrounding the capture of 15 sailors and marines from HMS Cornwall in the Persian Gulf by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRG) in March 2007.

Behind the US stock market rally

By Barry Grey, 22 April 2008

Last week, the US stock market registered major gains, despite dire first-quarter reports from major banks and investment houses and a raft of data indicating a rapid slide into recession.

Western Pennsylvania workers speak on struggling economy

By Alex Lantier, 22 April 2008

Living conditions in small-town Pennsylvania have become the focus of national debate over the past week. A press scandal erupted after Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama of Illinois described voters there as “bitter” and economically devastated.

Letters from our readers

By , 22 April 2008

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

Housing slump hits Spain

By Keith Lee, 21 April 2008

The clearest indication of the impact of the global credit crunch is the sharp slowdown in the housing sector. The housing slump in Spain is particularly sharp.

US: Largest student lenders halt private, consolidation loan programs

By Naomi Spencer, 21 April 2008

Following other major lenders, Bank of America, one of the largest student loan issuers, announced April 17 it would no longer offer private student loans because of the ongoing breakdown in the US bond market. Although BoA did not estimate how many students would be affected by the move, the bank’s private loans accounted for a quarter of its student lending last year, or about $1.1 billion.

Despite UAW wage-cut offers, no agreement yet in American Axle strike

By Shannon Jones and Jerry White, 21 April 2008

Talks ended Saturday between the United Auto Workers and American Axle without an agreement as the strike by 3,600 workers in Michigan and western New York nears completion of its second month, making it one of the longest auto strikes in decades.

US military tightens siege of Sadr City as cleric warns of war

By Peter Symonds, 21 April 2008

Scores of people have died over the past week as US and Iraqi forces tightened their noose around the huge working class suburb of Sadr City in Baghdad and pressed into the remaining strongholds of the Madhi Army loyal to cleric Moqtada al Sadr in the southern city of Basra. The actual death toll is likely to be far higher as US air strikes continue to pound the densely populated slums.

Australian Labor government’s “2020 summit”: more political spin to package right-wing agenda

By Patrick O’Connor, 21 April 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s two-day “2020 summit” concluded yesterday amid an outpouring of rhetoric about “fresh ideas” and “long term visions” for Australia’s future. In fact, the summit represented yet another attempt by the Labor government to fashion a “democratic” facade for its right-wing economic agenda. In those sessions regarded by the government, big business and the media as the most critical—dealing with productivity and the future of the economy—senior Labor ministers and corporate CEOs hammered out proposals to slash tax rates, abolish business regulations, and privatise infrastructure development.

Video: UAW officials try intimidation at American Axle meeting

By , 21 April 2008

Officials of UAW Local 235 at American Axle in Detroit attempt to intimidate workers at a union meeting on Sunday to prevent them from reading a leaflet distributed by supporters of the World Socialist Web Site.

The pope’s US visit: Media, White House, Congress embrace spokesman for religious obscurantism

By Patrick Martin, 21 April 2008

It is a measure of the profound decay of American democracy that when the president of the United States welcomed the Roman Catholic pontiff to Washington last week, a major concern was that the representative of a 2,000-year-old religious institution, steeped in reaction and hostility to science and human progress, might seem to criticize the US government from the left.

Censorship in Troy, New York: an interview with Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal

By Clare Hurley, 21 April 2008

An exhibition of Iraqi-born performance artist Wafaa Bilal’s most recent art piece, “Virtual Jihadi,” was censored last month when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, “suspended” it. The suspension came in response to protests mounted by the College Republican club and spearheaded by a local politician, Troy Public Works Commissioner Robert Mirch.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 19 April 2008

Bangladeshi apparel workers fired on by police

As losses mount, US banks cut thousands of jobs

By David Walsh, 19 April 2008

Banking and other financial firms in the US continue to report enormous financial losses, inevitably accompanied by mass layoffs. While present and former executives of these companies are well insulated from the disaster over which they have presided, tens of thousands of their employees are not so fortunate.

Australia: Fears of job losses grow amid signs of slowing economy

By Noel Holt, 19 April 2008

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) national labour market figures for March, released last week, show that despite 17 years of economic growth and the biggest resources boom in 50 years, unemployment remained at 4.1 percent, meaning that 453,000 people were officially without work. These statistics disguise the real level of joblessness which is estimated to be twice as high.

Hugo Claus 1929-2008: “Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth at the injustice of things”

By Paul Bond, 19 April 2008

Belgian author Hugo Claus, who died last month, was one of the most prolific and versatile of postwar European writers. From 1947, when he was just 18, he produced thousands of poems, some 20 novels, 18 books of short stories, film scripts, libretti, and around 60 plays, including translations into Dutch and adaptations from English, French, Greek, German and Spanish works. He also painted, and worked extensively in the dramatic arts as a director. He once said that had he grown up in a country with a tradition of cinema, he would probably have been a film director rather than a writer. Some of his works are available in English translations, including his most important novel, 1983’s The Sorrow of Belgium (Het Verdriet van België).

France: Strikes continue at Le Monde

By Kumaran Ira and Alex Lantier, 19 April 2008

For the second time this week, Le Monde staff, mostly journalists, went on a one-day strike Thursday to protest against management’s large-scale restructuring plan. Due to the strikes on Monday and Thursday, Le Monde—the “paper of record” in France—did not come out on either Tuesday or Friday.

German SPD opens the door for rail privatisation

By Hendrik Paul, 19 April 2008

The Social Democratic Party executive has paved the way for the sell-off of the German railway system on the stock market. German Rail (Deutsche Bahn - DB) is the largest remaining state-owned enterprise in Germany.

Letters from our readers

By , 19 April 2008

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

IMF and OECD: Europe will be hit hard by US recession

By Chris Marsden, 19 April 2008

Reports issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warn that the United States is entering into a recession and reject all claims that Europe will be able to avoid severe economic dislocations as a result of America’s worsening situation.

Pakistan: Textile workers’ protests convulse Multan

By Keith Jones, 19 April 2008

The industrial city of Multan, Pakistan’s sixth largest, was convulsed by protests of textile workers, Monday and Tuesday, angered by repeated power outages that have resulted in pay and job cuts for tens of thousands.

UAW sellout of American Axle strike imminent

By Shannon Jones, 18 April 2008

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

Second mistrial in Liberty City “terror” case

By Kate Randall, 18 April 2008

A mistrial has been declared for a second time in the case of a group of Miami men charged by the US government with plotting with Al Qaeda to carry out terrorist acts within the US.

Shades of 1929: the global implications of the US banking collapse

By Nick Beams, 18 April 2008

The following is the final part of a report delivered by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Australia and a member of the World Socialist Web Site international editorial board, to public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne on April 9 and 15. Part 1 was published on April 16 and Part 2 on April 17. Beams, an international authority on Marxist political economy, is the author of regular WSWS articles and analyses on globalisation and political economy.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 18 April 2008

Denmark: public sector employees strike