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France: Socialist Party proposes “counter stimulus plan”

By Francis Dubois and Pierre Mabut, 31 January 2009

The French Socialist Party announced its alternative economic stimulus plan on January 21. The plan closely follows the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund and is not fundamentally different from that of the Sarkozy government.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 31 January 2009

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Social democrats to lead new Icelandic government

By Jordan Shilton, 31 January 2009

Iceland’s Social Democratic Alliance is to lead the country’s new government in coalition with the Left Green Party.

Obama’s calculated anger over Wall Street bonuses

By Tom Eley, 31 January 2009

On Thursday, President Obama criticized Wall Street bankers who awarded themselves more than $18 billion in annual bonuses last year. The main purpose of the criticism, however, was to pave the way for a new massive bailout of the finance industry set to be announced next week.

More than a million without power in US following major ice storm

By Hiram Lee, 31 January 2009

Severe weather has left more than one million people without power across the American Midwest. The anarchy and profit drive that prevail in the electrical power system leave the population vulnerable to such breakdowns in service.

Gloom, perplexity, divisions dominate World Economic Forum in Davos

By , 31 January 2009

This year’s forum, taking place in the midst of a global financial meltdown and economic slump that have shattered the complacent verities about the superiority of the “free enterprise system,” presents a picture of deep crisis and disarray among the leaders of world capitalism.

Defiance: Those who did not “wait for God”

By Joanne Laurier, 31 January 2009

Four Jewish brothers in the Nazi-occupied Soviet Union organize a partisan group in the Belarusian forest and save the lives of more than 1,000 people.

Los Angeles public school teachers protest budget cuts and layoffs

By Rafael Azul, 31 January 2009

Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District public teachers were joined by parents and other workers in a demonstration in central Los Angeles on Thursday.

Removal of Illinois governor leaves unanswered questions

By Patrick Martin, 31 January 2009

The swift removal of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from office, only 51 days after his arrest in Chicago on corruption charges, raises many questions, both political and legal.

Worst US economic contraction in quarter century

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2009

Grim figures released by the US Commerce Department further confirm the severity of the economic contraction in the US and globally.

France: Ruling circles shaken by the extent of January 29 protests

By Antoine Lerougetel, 31 January 2009

Ruling circles in France have reacted with considerable nervousness to the massive response to Thursday’s day of action, which saw at least 2.5 million take to the streets.

Letters from our readers

By , 31 January 2009

A selection of recent letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site.

Sri Lankan SEP takes election campaign to Puttalam

By our reporters, 31 January 2009

The Socialist Equality Party in Sri Lanka held a public meeting at Puttalam’s Town Hall as part of its Provincial Council election campaign.

After freezing death of 93-year-old, Michigan city suspends electricity shutoffs

By Tom Eley, 30 January 2009

Amidst widening public outrage over the freezing death of 93-year-old Marvin Schur, municipal authorities in Bay City, Michigan have announced plans to temporarily suspend the utility shutoffs. Since Schur died, more frozen bodies have been found in Michigan.

Mass strikes and protests in France against joblessness and austerity measures

By Antoine Lerougetel, 30 January 2009

Thursday’s day of action throughout France in defence of jobs, the purchasing power of wages and social services, brought an estimated 2.5 million workers and youth onto the streets of some 200 cities and towns.

Union bureaucracy victimizes militants at Turkish factories

By Sinan Ikinci, 30 January 2009

The Turkish trade unions have collaborated with management to isolate and victimize militants at factories as the economic and financial crisis has deepened.

Britain: Student occupations protest Gaza war

By Robert Stevens, 30 January 2009

Students at more than a dozen universities in the UK have staged occupations in protest at the war in Gaza.

Detroit area electricians protest job cuts

By Lawrence Porter, 30 January 2009

Detroit area electricians picketed a non-union construction site in Birmingham, Michigan this week to protest the lack of jobs. More than 1,600 members of the union are presently unemployed.

The rising tide of economic nationalism

By , 30 January 2009

As the global economic crisis continues to deepen, economic nationalism is increasing around the world. Governments are reaching for protectionist measures despite the disastrous consequences of beggar-thy-neighbour policies in the 1930s.

France’s Left Party tries to reorganize French bourgeois left

By Kumaran Ira and Alex Lantier, 30 January 2009

The Left Party is courting virtually the entire French political establishment to the left of the Socialist Party in the hope of forming a large, left coalition that can fill a political vacuum created by the virtual collapse of the Socialist Party and the French Communist Party.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 30 January 2009

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Latest US economic data confirms accelerating contraction

By Patrick O’Connor, 30 January 2009

The return of mass unemployment in the US is one of the sharpest expressions of the social misery now being felt by wide sections of the population. The past four days alone, according to a CNNMoney.com analysis, have seen more than 110,000 layoff announcements.

Oregon unemployment hits 9 percent with worse expected

By Hector Cordon, 30 January 2009

In its release of December’s grim unemployment figure of 9.0 percent last week, Oregon’s Employment Department warned that worse is on the way. It did not take long for that prediction to pan out as Intel, Boeing and others announced mass layoffs.

California pension funds close to bankruptcy

By Kevin Martinez, 30 January 2009

The two largest pension funds in California, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), have lost billions of dollars in value.

Journalists flee Sri Lanka amid violent attacks and government threats

By Nanda Wickremasinghe, 30 January 2009

Just two weeks after the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the editor of the Sunday Leader, another Sri Lankan editor has been stabbed and beaten.

Michigan unemployment benefits system in crisis

By Debra Watson and D’Artagnan Collier, 30 January 2009

The wave of recent layoffs has overwhelmed the state of Michigan’s unemployment insurance system, with thousands of workers unable to get through online or by telephone to file claims.

Canada: Liberals to support Conservative budget

By Keith Jones, 29 January 2009

Michael Ignatieff, the newly minted leader of Canada’s official opposition Liberals, announced yesterday that his party will vote for the federal budget presented by Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government to parliament Tuesday.

Troops out of north and eastern Sri Lanka!

By , 29 January 2009

The World Socialist Web Site calls on workers and young people to denounce the criminal assault being unleashed by the Sri Lankan military against more than a quarter of a million Tamil men, women and children trapped in the country’s north.

Letters on a tragic death

By , 29 January 2009

A selection of letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site in response to the death of a Michigan man who froze after his electricity was cut off.

Growing opposition to Italian government’s xenophobic campaign

By Marianne Arens, 29 January 2009

Residents of the island of Lampedusa are opposing the chauvinist campaign of the Italian Berlusconi government to scapegoat refugees.

The firing of Screen Actors Guild chief negotiator Doug Allen

By Ramón Valle and David Walsh, 29 January 2009

The dismissal of Screen Actors Guild executive director and chief negotiator, Doug Allen, is an olive branch to the studios and networks. The SAG board intends to capitulate shortly to the demands of the employers and sign a rotten agreement.

House of Representatives passes Obama “stimulus” bill

By Patrick Martin, 29 January 2009

While invariably described in the media as a “stimulus” bill, the legislation actually does relatively little to create new jobs and launches no new social programs. It provides only $40 billion for new spending on infrastructure, and much of this will not actually be expended until 2010 or even later.

Unanswered questions remain in freezing death of 93-year-old Michigan man

By Tom Eley, 29 January 2009

A memorial service was held in Bay City, Michigan on Tuesday for the 93-year-old man who froze to death earlier this month after the municipal electricity company installed a device on his house to limit his electricity because of unpaid energy bills.

Novelist John Updike dead at 76: Was he a “great novelist”?

By David Walsh, 29 January 2009

A major figure in American literature for the past half-century (his first full-length novel appeared in 1959), John Updike published more than 60 works—novels, collections of short stories, volumes of essays, art criticism and more.

Murder-suicide in Southern California leaves seven family members dead

By Kate Randall, 29 January 2009

A family was found dead Tuesday in a Los Angeles suburb, the apparent victims of a murder-suicide. Minutes before the bodies were found, the father faxed a local TV station detailing the parents’ “horrendous ordeal” over the loss of their jobs.

Over 170,000 on short-time working in German auto industry

By Sybille Fuchs, 29 January 2009

Major auto concerns in Germany, including BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler, Opel and Bosch, have introduced or plan to introduce short-time working for tens of thousands of workers. This comes in response to plunging auto sales in Europe and worldwide.

Obama’s program of war

By James Cogan, 29 January 2009

Within days of taking power, the Obama administration has made clear that it will escalate the war to subjugate the Afghan people, intensify US military strikes on targets inside Pakistan and continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely.

Israel bombs Gaza-Egypt border

By Julie Hyland, 29 January 2009

Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza’s border with Egypt early Wednesday morning.

IMF expects global economy to come to “virtual halt” in 2009

By Patrick O’Connor, 29 January 2009

The IMF yesterday forecast world GDP growth of just 0.5 percent this year, the lowest since World War II.

Hundreds of refugees perish at hands of Thai army

By Mike Head, 29 January 2009

Pictures published in the international media this week confirm recent reports that hundreds of refugees have been towed out to sea by the Thai Army and abandoned with little food or water.

Funeral for Michigan man frozen following utility shut-off

By , 29 January 2009

On Wednesday, January 28, a funeral was held for Marvin Schur, the 93-year-old man who froze to death in his home in Bay City Michigan, after the municipal power company cut off electricity without telling him.

Insolvency of German microchip manufacturer threatens 12,000 jobs

By Elizabeth Zimmermann, 28 January 2009

Qimonda, the leading microchip company in East Germany, has declared its insolvency, threatening the jobs of more than 12,000 workers worldwide.

Hundreds dead as Sri Lankan military creates humanitarian disaster

By Sarath Kumara and K. Ratnayake, 28 January 2009

The Sri Lankan military offensive aimed at destroying the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has produced a humanitarian crisis for hundreds of thousands of civilians.

More major layoffs hit US economy

By Patrick O'Connor, 28 January 2009

Major US corporations continue to announce major layoffs amid an accelerating economic contraction.

Video: Bay City, Mich.: “Shutting somebody's electricity off in the dead of winter is criminal”

By , 28 January 2009

Marvin E. Schur. 93, froze to death in his Bay City, Michigan home several days after the municipal power company had restricted his access to electricity due to outstanding bills. Local residents have reacted with anger to his death.

Spain: Montserrat Martínez and her campaign to discover the truth about Franco’s mass graves

By Paul Mitchell, 28 January 2009

Montserrat Martínez Soler has been at the forefront of the campaign to discover the truth about the mass graves that contain the remains of Republicans and leftists killed by Franco’s forces during the Spanish Civil War and his regime that followed. She spoke with the WSWS about the exhumation of the grave containing the remains of her grandfather.

UK: Thousands more workers lose their jobs

By Robert Stevens, 28 January 2009

Thousands of job cuts were announced in Britain on Monday, with the steel maker Corus announcing 3,500 job losses internationally—2,500 in the UK.

Video: “So many thousands of unknown nameless people”—Franco's mass graves

By , 28 January 2009

Vicky Short of the World Socialist Web Site interviewed Montserrat Martinez about her campaign to discover the truth about the mass graves that contain the remains of Republicans and leftists killed by Franco's forces during the Spanish Civil War and his regime that followed. She spoke to the WSWS about the exhumation of the grave containing the remains of her grandfather.

Investigate US torture and prosecute those responsible

By , 28 January 2009

To pretend, as supporters of Obama and the liberal media are now doing, that these criminal policies can be halted without an exhaustive examination and public exposure of how they were ordered and carried out—and by whom—is a grotesque fraud.

French car industry bailout: a new attack on the working class

By Antoine Lerougetel, 28 January 2009

French Prime Minister François Fillon announced January 20 a plan to inject €5.5 billion into the national car industry in an effort to shield it from the world economic meltdown. This massive transfer of funds to private enterprise is being dressed up as a plan to defend French jobs.

Protests over economic crisis topple Icelandic government

By Barry Grey, 28 January 2009

The collapse of the right-wing Haarde government in Iceland is the sharpest expression to date of the growing social and political turmoil across Europe arising from the economic crisis.

French workers need a socialist perspective to fight the economic crisis

By of World Socialist Web Site editorial board, 28 January 2009

The central question facing workers in the January 29 one-day strike and national day of action called by France’s trade unions is one of political perspective: On what basis can working people defend their jobs and living standards in the face of the economic crisis?

Michigan man, 93, freezes to death after city cuts off electricity

By Tom Eley and Jerry White, 28 January 2009

The frozen body of 93-year-old Marvin E. Schur was found by neighbors at his home in Bay City, Michigan, several days after the municipal power company had restricted his access to electricity due to outstanding bills.

BBC refuses to show emergency relief appeal for Gaza

By Niall Green, 28 January 2009

There has been broad condemnation of the decision by the British public service broadcaster the BBC to refuse to show an appeal for humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza organised by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) of aid charities.

Ground zero: the impact of the DHL shutdown on Wilmington, Ohio

By Hiram Lee, 27 January 2009

The closing down of the DHL Express hub in Wilmington, Ohio is devastating the small town of 12,000.

SEP holds election meeting in Sri Lankan plantation district

By our reporters, 27 January 2009

The Socialist Equality Party in Sri Lanka held the first public meeting of its provincial election campaign at Hatton in the Nuwara Eliya district on January 17.

The Spanish Civil War and the Popular Front

By Ann Talbot, 27 January 2009

In Spain, Trotsky wrote, two irreconcilable programmes confronted one another. There was the programme that consisted of “saving at any cost private property from the proletariat, and saving as far as possible, democracy from Franco; and on the other hand, the programme of abolishing private property through the conquest of power by the proletariat.

Letters from our readers

By , 27 January 2009

A selection of recent letters sent to the WSWS.

The capitalist market and Obama’s stimulus plan

By , 27 January 2009

Even before Obama’s stimulus package comes to a vote, the scale of job cuts makes it clear that it will be woefully inadequate. The guiding principle of the plan is that nothing will be done that impinges on the power and wealth of America’s financial elite.

Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer: Documentary on famed vocalist

By David Walsh and John Andrews, 27 January 2009

Robert Cavolina and Ian McCrudden’s documentary Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer, about singer Anita O’Day, whose career spanned more than 50 years, presents a picture of an extraordinary woman: tough, resilient and enormously gifted.

India: Gigantic corporate fraud at Satyam Computers deals body-blow to Indian elite’s global ambitions

By Deepal Jayasekara and Kranti Kumara, 27 January 2009

India’s fourth-largest information technology company, Satyam Computers, is on the verge of collapse following its chairman’s admission that for “several years” he fraudulently misstated the company’s financial position, including cash on hand, revenues, profits and debt load.

Global recession triggers sharp downturn in Australia

By Mike Head, 27 January 2009

The onset of recession in Australia’s major trading partners has produced a wave of job losses, accompanied by warnings that a “vicious cycle” of contraction could last at least five years.

Bloody Monday: 74,000 layoffs announced in one day

By Tom Eley, 27 January 2009

At least 74,000 layoffs were announced yesterday, the majority from US-based companies. The size and scope of the layoffs indicate that the economic crisis is rapidly deepening.

Spain: Montserrat Martínez and her campaign to discover the truth about Franco’s mass graves

By Paul Mitchell, 27 January 2009

Montserrat Martínez Soler has been at the forefront of the campaign to discover the truth about the mass graves that contain the remains of Republicans and leftists killed by Franco’s forces during the Spanish Civil War and his regime that followed. She spoke with the WSWS about the exhumation of the grave containing the remains of her grandfather.

Ireland: Anglo Irish Bank taken into state ownership

By Steve James, 27 January 2009

The Irish government was forced to take the Anglo Irish Bank into full state ownership on January 15. The move came as fears that a collapse of the bank, one of Ireland’s largest lenders, would bring down the entire economy.

Greek farmers protest government and EU policies

By Markus Salzmann, 27 January 2009

Thousands of Greek farmers protested last week against low prices and cuts in subsidies enforced by the Greek government and the European Union.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 27 January 2009

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Economic crisis unleashes violent protests across Eastern Europe

By Markus Salzmann, 26 January 2009

The international economic crisis has hit Eastern Europe with full force and brought long-simmering social and political tensions to the surface.

Australian government hopes recession will produce military “recruitment bonanza”

By Terry Cook, 26 January 2009

The Australian has published a front-page article expressing satisfaction that rising unemployment could produce a “recruitment bonanza” for the Australian Defence Force.

The New York Times’ Frank Rich: Obama is right—the people are to blame

By David Walsh, 26 January 2009

Barack Obama’s inauguration has brought out the worst in a good many people, especially from within the environs of American liberalism.

US moves to consolidate new supply routes to Afghanistan

By James Cogan, 26 January 2009

The commander of US forces in Central Asia, General David Petraeus, has announced an agreement with the Russian government for the transit of “non-military” supplies through its territory to the US and NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan.

Ukraine and Russia reach gas agreement

By Niall Green, 26 January 2009

A deal has been reached to end the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine. Millions across Europe have been left with little or no gas for heating in the middle of winter.

US: Economic crisis forces families to cut back on healthcare

By E. Galen, 26 January 2009

One of the most important, and least talked about, consequences of the US financial crisis is that millions of individuals and families are being compelled to cut back on needed medical treatments.

Canada: Vital lessons from last month’s political crisis

By Keith Jones, 26 January 2009

It is crucial that working people ponder the lessons of the political crisis that rocked Canada late last year, including of the Conservatives’ “constitutional coup.” So as to avoid defeat in an impending confidence vote, the minority Conservative government prevailed on the un-elected Governor-General to shut down Canada’s parliament.

Obama stimulus plan won’t meet job-creation target

By Patrick Martin, 26 January 2009

As the Obama administration and congressional Democrats began the final push to pass an $825 billion economic stimulus plan, the Congressional Budget Office conceded that the measure would create far fewer jobs than promised.

Afghanistan civilians killed in US military raid

By Patrick O’Connor, 26 January 2009

A US military raid in the eastern Afghanistan province of Laghman last Friday night resulted in the deaths of at least 16 civilians, including women and children, according to local residents.

The Spanish Civil War and the Popular Front

By Ann Talbot, 26 January 2009

The Soviet intervention in Spain can best be understood as an attempt to strangle a developing revolution, to physically liquidate its leading representatives, terrorize wider layers of workers and peasants and prevent their spontaneous revolutionary strivings from acquiring a more politically conscious form.

The crisis in Eastern Europe and the lessons of 1989

By , 26 January 2009

Twenty years after capitalist restoration, east European economies confront catastrophe.

Widespread anger in Egypt at Mubarak regime

By Johannes Stern reports from Cairo, 24 January 2009

On the spot report from Cairo reveals the extent of popular opposition to the Mubarak regime

The rise and fall of Wall Street’s John Thain

By Tom Eley, 24 January 2009

The rise and fall of Wall Street fixture John Thain, who was fired yesterday by Bank of America, offers a glimpse into the criminal inner workings of US capitalism.

SEP opposes Sri Lankan government’s ban on LTTE

By the Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka), 24 January 2009

The Socialist Equality Party warns that the Sri Lankan government’s ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is the preparation for a crackdown on political opponents and more broadly the working class, young people and the oppressed.

New York governor taps right-wing Democrat to fill Clinton’s Senate seat

By Bill Van Auken, 24 January 2009

New York Governor Paterson’s selection Friday of upstate Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacated Senate seat sparked protests from state Democrats, while assuring a more right-wing tilt to the Senate Democratic caucus.

The New York Times and Obama’s inauguration

By David Walsh, 24 January 2009

The inaugural address delivered by Barack Obama Tuesday has elicited a torrent of commentary, in the US and around the world. Some of the most deluded and dishonest comments issue from the pages of the New York Times.

Canadian Auto Workers union lobbies for military contracts

By Carl Bronski, 24 January 2009

The reactionary character of the CAW’s “Buy Canadian” campaign is underscored by its recent appeals to the federal Conservative government to speed up military procurement and ensure that new equipment for the Canadian Armed Forces be built in Canada.

Obama’s new foreign policy team prepares escalated bloodletting in Afghanistan and Pakistan

By Patrick Martin, 24 January 2009

President Obama and his new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, have selected former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, one of Washington’s most ruthless political thugs, to spearhead expanded intervention in Afghanistan and more widely in south and central Asia.

Iceland: Angry protests over economy force early elections

By Jordan Shilton, 24 January 2009

Special forces had to rescue Iceland’s Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde in the early hours of Thursday morning, as ongoing protests over the country’s economic crisis erupted into angry clashes outside parliament. On Friday, Haarde announced early elections for May 9.

Workers Struggles: Asia and Australia

By , 24 January 2009

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Britain: Demands for nationalization of banks from sections of big business

By Julie Hyland, 24 January 2009

The Labour government’s latest bailout of Britain’s banks has been greeted with widespread scepticism in leading financial and business circles, and calls for their “nationalisation” amid collapsing share prices.

Obama administration stokes up trade tensions with China

By , 24 January 2009

In an ominous move in only the second day of the new US administration, President Barack Obama’s treasury secretary-designate issued a pointed and provocative threat of punitive trade measures against China.

Second Danish bank bailout in four months

By Jordan Shilton, 23 January 2009

A new €14 billion rescue package for Denmark’s banks was agreed late Sunday night, the second since October.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 23 January 2009

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Obama’s libel against the American people

By , 23 January 2009

Obama’s attempt to foist the blame for the failure of American capitalism on the American people is nothing short of a libel, the purpose of which is to obscure those social interests that are really responsible for the unfolding catastrophe and justify even deeper attacks on the working class.

Latest US housing, jobless figures far worse than economists anticipated

By Patrick O'Connor, 23 January 2009

The extraordinary speed at which the US economy is contracting continues to confound economists’ forecasts. New home and apartment construction in December plunged 15.5 percent on an annualized basis, while initial jobless benefit claims rose to 589,000, the largest recorded since 1982.

Obama's orders leave framework of torture, indefinite detention intact

By Tom Eley, 23 January 2009

President Obama's executive orders issued yesterday do not reverse the pseudo-legal framework constructed by the Bush administration for the prosecution of the "war on terror."

German banks demand billions more from the government

By Peter Schwarz, 23 January 2009

Pressure is mounting on the German government to make billions more available to bail out the banks.

Behind the times: the nominees for the 81st Annual Academy Awards

By Hiram Lee and David Walsh, 23 January 2009

The nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards were announced on Thursday. In general, it’s a poor showing of films not up to the task of treating real life with any complexity.

A letter on cutbacks at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

By , 23 January 2009

Attending a recent performance of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra brought home the reality of proposed cutbacks in funding. It also pointed to the hazards of a situation in which arts groups are dependent on corporate largesse.

World Court rules US execution of Mexican national defied international law

By Kate Randall, 23 January 2009

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has ruled that the United States breached the court’s order and violated an international treaty when a Mexican national was executed last year in Texas.

Lawyer and human rights activist Stanislav Markelov murdered in Moscow

By Vladimir Volkov, 23 January 2009

On January 19, Stanislav Markelov was shot in the head and killed in central Moscow. The 34-year-old lawyer and human rights activist was president of the Institute for the Supremacy of Law.

The New York Times and Obama’s inauguration

By David Walsh, 23 January 2009

The inaugural address delivered by Barack Obama Tuesday has elicited a torrent of commentary, in the US and around the world. Some of the most deluded and dishonest comments issue from the pages of the New York Times.