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Chicago: 16 more public schools slated for closures, cuts

By Clement Daly, 28 February 2009

Chicago school officials voted on Wednesday to close, consolidate, or vastly restructure 16 public schools beginning in the fall. Since 2000, nearly one in ten of the city’s public schools have been shuttered and replaced with privately run charter schools.

US economy shrinks at 6.2 percent rate

By Andre Damon, 28 February 2009

The US economy contracted at an annualized rate of 6.2 percent in the last quarter of 2008, the sharpest quarterly decline since 1982, marking a significant deepening of the recession.

Australia: Labor government and unions seek to divert anger over Pacific Brands closures

By our correspondents, 28 February 2009

Amid growing anger among Pacific Brands workers and throughout the working class over the clothing company’s destruction of 2,700 jobs, the Rudd government and the textile union held talks with the company in Melbourne yesterday.

Bangladesh’s government ends revolt by border guards

By K. Ratnayake, 28 February 2009

A 33-hour mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the country’s border guards, has shaken the government and the military. Having persuaded the mutineers to surrender, the government is ruthlessly reasserting its authority.

The poison of trade union nationalism

By , 28 February 2009

The rallies organised in Germany by IG Metall and the European works councils at Opel on Thursday had nothing to do with the defence of jobs. Instead, they were an opportunity for the trade union leadership to propagate its nationalist and protectionist conceptions.

Australian bush fire survivors speak with the World Socialist Web Site

By , 28 February 2009

World Socialist Web Site reporters visited Whittlesea, just north of Melbourne on February 14, to speak with survivors of massive bushfires that swept through Victorian towns and settlements on February 7.

British auto union leaders claim it couldn't happen in Germany

By Richard Tyler, 28 February 2009

Like their British counterparts, temporary workers in the German auto industry are among the hardest hit by the recession.

Obama announces plan to continue US military occupation of Iraq

By Joseph Kishore, 28 February 2009

President Obama formally announced his administration’s plans for the continued US military occupation of Iraq on Friday. The plan will maintain present troop levels for one year, with a substantial military presence at least through the end of 2011.

Britain: Fractious leadership contest in Unite union

By Peter Reydt, 28 February 2009

A fractious leadership contest is under way in the Unite trade union.

Germany: Union leaders call on workers to sacrifice to rescue Opel

By Helmut Arens, 28 February 2009

The IG Metall and the works councils at Opel organised a European day of action on Thursday. The cynical manoeuvre provided a platform for the union leaders to advance a plan to divide US and European workers employed by GM and publicise their nationalist and protectionist views.

Pakistan rocked by protests after opposition leaders stripped of political rights

By Keith Jones, 28 February 2009

There have been demonstrations in cities across Pakistan for the past three days protesting against a Supreme Court ruling that the two principal leaders of the country’s main opposition party are ineligible to stand for election or hold any public office.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 28 February 2009

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

Britain: Senior police officer warns of “summer of rage”

By Niall Green, 27 February 2009

A senior British police officer has warned of a “summer of rage” in response to the economic crisis.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 27 February 2009

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

Australian vigil denounces Sri Lankan government atrocities

By our correspondents, 27 February 2009

A candlelight vigil was held last night in Sydney to protest against the war being waged by the Sri Lankan government in the northern Wanni region.

Colombia rocked by wiretapping revelations

By Bill Van Auken, 27 February 2009

A Colombian spy agency under the direct command of President Uribe was implicated in wholesale wiretapping against opposition politicians, judges and journalists, just as the country’s defense minister arrived in Washington to seek more military aid.

Italy: Berlusconi decree legalises anti-immigrant vigilantes

By Marianne Arens, 27 February 2009

The Italian government has passed a decree permitting vigilante squads to patrol Italian cities, legalising the activities of the groups of racist and fascist thugs who have intensified their attacks on immigrants in recent weeks and months.

Obama’s open-ended bailout of the banks

By , 27 February 2009

In his Tuesday night speech, Obama engaged in a form of political extortion of the American people—asserting that the only alternative to the looting of the public treasury to rescue the private banking system is an economic catastrophe.

China’s stimulus package threatens more economic turmoil

By John Chan, 27 February 2009

When the Chinese government’s huge stimulus package was announced last November, it was hailed in international financial circles. However, far from reviving the economy, there are signs that the stimulus measures are threatening new economic and financial turmoil.

Obama defends his “Guantánamo” in Afghanistan

By James Cogan, 27 February 2009

While alleged “terrorist suspects” will no longer be detained without trial and abused at Guantánamo, the Obama administration has given the green light for such outrages to continue unchecked at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Obama budget projects record deficits and borrowing

By Patrick Martin, 27 February 2009

The US government will run a $1.75 trillion deficit during the current fiscal year, which ends September 30, nearly four times the largest previous federal deficit. For fiscal year 2009, nearly half over, the federal government will borrow almost half of all the dollars it spends.

Economic slump deepens in Japan as exports collapse

By Peter Symonds, 26 February 2009

The collapse of Japanese exports last month underscores just how rapidly economic recession is turning into a full-blown depression—and not just in Japan.

Australian banks dictate jobs axe at Pacific Brands

By Mike Head, 26 February 2009

Driven by the demands of an Australian-led consortium of banks, Pacific Brands, a transnational clothing company, has unveiled the closure of nearly all its factories in Australia and China, destroying at least 2,700 jobs.

Flight 1549 pilot tells Congress: Airline employees “hit by an economic tsunami”

By Kate Randall, 26 February 2009

In testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sully Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549, gave a devastating account of the deteriorating conditions facing commercial pilots and other airline employees, as well as the dangers to airline safety.

Gunmen kill 16 Sri Lankan villagers

By Sarath Kumara, 26 February 2009

An unidentified group of gunmen killed up to 16 people, including three children, and left 20 more injured in a rampage through the village of Karametiya in Sri Lanka’s eastern province on Saturday. This criminal attack, whoever carried it out, plays directly into the hands of Colombo government, which is anxious to deflect criticism of its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Australian bushfire victims and volunteers criticise government inaction

By our correspondents, 26 February 2009

Five large bushfires are still burning out of control across the state of Victoria more than two weeks after the February 7 “Black Saturday” fires. Last weekend WSWS reporters spoke with bushfire survivors and volunteers in Whittlesea as well as interviewing people attending the National Day of Mourning ceremony in Melbourne.

Marxism and the world economic crisis

By , 26 February 2009

The International Students for Social Equality in Australia are holding meetings at universities in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle during March to present a Marxist analysis of the world economic crisis and the necessity for a socialist and internationalist solution for the working class.

Letters from our readers

By , 26 February 2009

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

Obama’s Iraq withdrawal plan sets stage for continued war

By , 26 February 2009

Obama’s plan to withdraw US “combat troops” from Iraq over the course of the next 19 months is another indication of continuity with the policies of the Bush administration and a blueprint for continued occupation.

A few healthy shoots

By Stefan Steinberg, 26 February 2009

A small number of films featured in the main competition section of the 59th Berlinale were able to integrate pressing social themes into a convincing and moving narrative.

Britain: An opportunist defence of the union betrayal at BMW Cowley

By Niall Green, 26 February 2009

The Socialist Unity web site has come out in defense of the trade union’s complicity in the mass sackings at BMW, Oxford.

Reject UAW sellout at Ford! Mobilize autoworkers to defend jobs and living standards!

By , 26 February 2009

Ford workers should reject the sellout agreement negotiated by the United Auto Workers union and fight to mobilize the strength of all autoworkers against the attack on jobs, living standards and working conditions.

The Revolution Betrayed and the fate of the Soviet Union

By Peter Daniels, 26 February 2009

An understanding the Russian Revolution and the Soviet state—their rise and subsequent degeneration—is critical in politically arming the working class by learning the lessons of the twentieth century in order to prepare for the struggles of the twenty-first.

UK: Jack Straw blocks release of cabinet minutes on Iraq

By Ann Talbot, 26 February 2009

UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw has vetoed a ruling to release the minutes of two key cabinet meetings that discussed the decision to go to war against Iraq.

Iraqi elections underscore fragility of US occupation

By James Cogan, 25 February 2009

The January 31 Iraqi provincial elections strengthened the position of Prime Minister Maliki, but the outcome is not the product of popular enthusiasm for the election or Maliki’s party.

The debate over the nationalization of the banks

By , 25 February 2009

In the face of a mounting banking crisis, official public debate has increasingly focused on the possibility that some major banks could end up under government ownership. The threat of “nationalization” has become headline news.

HRW report exposes Sri Lankan government’s war crimes

By Sampath Perera, 25 February 2009

A report released last Friday by the US-based Human Rights Watch has provided a glimpse into the criminal character of the Sri Lankan government’s war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Ireland: Buyout by KPS would be a defeat for Waterford occupation

By Steve James, 25 February 2009

Receivers for the failed Waterford Wedgwood company are reportedly on the brink of a deal with venture capitalists KPS Capital. Acceptance of the KPS take-over would represent defeat for this brave and determined initiative and should be opposed.

Canada: CAW vows to match UAW concessions to automakers

By Carl Bronski, 25 February 2009

Following in the footsteps of the US government, Canada’s Conservative government is making any aid to the automakers conditional on the companies reducing their labour costs to those of the non-union Asian transplants operating in the US South.

Australian prime minister toasts retail king while denouncing “extreme capitalism”

By Alex Messenger, 25 February 2009

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd’s panegyric to global shopping mall baron Frank Lowy at the 2009 Australian American Association (AAA) benefit dinner early this month was by no means a first for a Labor leader. Public showings of affection for the ultra-rich have become almost commonplace in ALP circles.

The Revolution Betrayed and the fate of the Soviet Union

By Peter Daniels, 25 February 2009

An understanding of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet state—their rise and subsequent degeneration—is critical in politically arming the working class by learning the lessons of the 20th century in order to prepare for the struggles of the 21st.

Australia: Few attend Rudd’s much-hyped “National Day of Mourning”

By Peter Byrne, 25 February 2009

A “National Day of Mourning”, held on Sunday in the wake of the recent Victorian bushfires, which claimed more than 200 lives and destroyed 2,000 homes, was an exercise in cynical political manipulation, aimed at dulling critical thought and preventing any examination of what led to the disaster.

White House weighs bankruptcy in attack on GM, Chrysler workers

By Jerry White, 25 February 2009

The White House is reviewing several scenarios, including a government supervised bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler, to carry out an unprecedented attack on autoworkers’ jobs, wages and pensions.

Latvian government resigns as crisis deepens in Eastern Europe

By Markus Salzmann, 25 February 2009

Latvia’s centre-right government resigned last Friday, against the background of a worsening economic crisis.

Swedish automaker Saab seeks bankruptcy protection

By Jordan Shilton, 25 February 2009

The automaker Saab is to be given temporary bankruptcy protection to enable it to carry out a “restructuring” programme.

Obama pledges bigger Wall Street bailout

By Patrick Martin, 25 February 2009

In his first presidential address to a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama defended the ongoing federal bailout of the banks and pledged that even greater sums would be funneled from the US Treasury to support Wall Street.

Britain: More charges of union complicity in mass sackings at BMW’s Oxford plant

By Liz Smith and Elaine Gorton, 24 February 2009

Workers reported for shifts at the BMW plant in Cowley, Oxford, on Monday, still uncertain as to the future of some 500 agency staff.

Hillary Clinton presses China to keep buying US debt

By Bill Van Auken, 24 February 2009

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded her weeklong Asian tour with an appeal to Beijing to keep up its purchases of US treasury notes or risk the onset of an even deeper economic crisis that would engulf China as well the US.

Coal mine explosion in China kills 74

By John Chan, 24 February 2009

China’s notoriously dangerous coal industry recorded another tragedy last Sunday, when at least 74 miners died and 114 were injured in a gas explosion.

European financial summit dominated by national divisions

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 February 2009

The leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands met in Berlin last Sunday to work out a joint European stance in advance of the Group of 20 meeting on April 2.

Letters from our readers

By , 24 February 2009

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

An unholy alliance at Australian Workers Union conference

By Terry Cook, 24 February 2009

Why would the Australian Workers Union invite Cardinal Pell to be the keynote speaker at its national conference? Pell is certainly not known for his support for unions and was an ardent supporter of the former Howard government.

The 81st Annual Academy Awards: Lifeless for the most part

By Hiram Lee, 24 February 2009

The 81st Annual Academy Awards were held Sunday night in Hollywood. The broadcast and the films it celebrated did not shed a great deal of light on contemporary life.

Obama’s Afghan “surge” sows seeds of new wars

By , 24 February 2009

The Obama administration’s Afghan troop “surge” adds a new, explosive dynamic to the decades-old geopolitical rivalry between India and Pakistan and will intensify the great power competition for control of oil-rich Central Asia, sowing the seeds for even larger and more destructive wars.

Obama outlines policy of austerity at budget summit

By Tom Eley, 24 February 2009

President Obama’s Federal Budget Summit, held Monday, announced the next step in his administration’s approach to the economic crisis—placing the burden of skyrocketing budget deficits on the working class through an attack on social programs and entitlements.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 24 February 2009

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

Ireland: over 100,000 march against government in Dublin

By Chris Marsden, 23 February 2009

Up to 120,000 marched through Dublin on Saturday, in a massive protest against government attacks on working people.

Bailout of Germany’s Hypo Real Estate: A bottomless pit

By Ludwig Weller, 23 February 2009

The nationalisation envisaged by the German government is nothing more than an effort to rescue the bank at a cost to the German people of billions of euros.

Obama expands US military intervention in Pakistan

By Barry Grey, 23 February 2009

The Obama administration is significantly expanding the US military role in Pakistan beyond that pursued by the Bush administration, according to a front-page article published February 21 by the New York Times.

ICTU protest in Dublin: Workers angry over pension levy, jobs and wages

By Elaine Gorton, 23 February 2009

A reporting team from the World Socialist Web Site spoke to workers taking part in Saturday’s 100,000-strong protest in Dublin.

One month of the Obama administration

By , 23 February 2009

The Obama administration demonstrates the impossibility of effecting any significant change within the existing political institutions and the two-party system.

Human tragedy continues in northern Sri Lanka

By Sarath Kumara, 23 February 2009

As fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continues in the northern Wanni region, the plight of civilians trapped in the war zone is worsening.

Japanese government in crisis as recession deepens

By John Chan, 23 February 2009

As Japan confronts its worst recession since World War II, the government is in disarray, with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) heading toward defeat in general elections due by September.

Layoffs at GM Lordstown plant ravage Ohio communities

By Samuel Davidson, 23 February 2009

General Motors recently announced plans to eliminate the second shift at its Lordstown, Ohio, complex in April, laying off 800 workers. This will slash the workforce from 4,000, last summer, to less than 2,000.

Letters from our readers

By , 21 February 2009

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

Report exposes false claims of British unions’ “Britons First” campaign

By Robert Stevens, 21 February 2009

A report from the industrial tribunal ACAS into the dispute at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire has exposed union claims that British workers’ wages and conditions were being undercut.

Zimbabwe: MDC proceeds with power-sharing fiasco

By Chris Talbot and Barry Mason, 21 February 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change has been sworn in as prime minister in a power-sharing government in Zimbabwe.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 21 February 2009

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

Obama makes Ottawa his first foreign stop

By Keith Jones, 21 February 2009

Barack Obama visited Canada’s national capital, Ottawa, for six hours Thursday, his first foreign foray since becoming US president.

General Motors workers speak out against pay cuts

By Andre Damon, 21 February 2009

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to autoworkers in Michigan as the Obama administration auto task force held its first meeting.

US commander warns American troops will be in Afghanistan for years

By Peter Symonds, 21 February 2009

The top US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, warned on Wednesday that the troop buildup announced this week was “not a temporary force uplift” but would have to be sustained for years.

Israel: Netanyahu tapped as prime minister

By Bill Van Auken, 21 February 2009

Israel’s President Shimon Peres Friday called upon Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party to form a new government after a group of right-wing parties representing 65 seats in the Knesset backed his designation as prime minister.

Indian government offers full support for Sri Lankan war

By Arun Kumar, 21 February 2009

In a statement to the parliament last Wednesday, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called on the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka to unconditionally surrender and offered to evacuate Tamil civilians from the war zone in the north of the island.

Obama’s housing plan and the American ruling class

By , 21 February 2009

In a statement to the parliament last Wednesday, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called on the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka to unconditionally surrender and offered to evacuate Tamil civilians from the war zone in the north of the island.

Video: GM workers denounce concession demands

By , 21 February 2009

Workers at the General Motors Truck and Bus plant in Pontiac, Michigan, denounced the pay cuts and concessions which are being demanded by the Obama administration as the condition for government loans to the auto corporations.

Guadeloupe: Striker killed in repression of general strike

By Antoine Lerougetel, 20 February 2009

The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy has responded to the general strike in Guadeloupe by escalating the repression that resulted in the death of a striker, Jacques Bino.

Sri Lanka: War refugees to be detained in huge “welfare camps”

By Sampath Perera, 20 February 2009

Despite its claims to be waging a war to “liberate” the country’s Tamil population, the Sri Lankan government has drawn up plans for detention centres to house up to 200,000 Tamil civilians caught in the fighting between the army and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Spain: Major economic downturn predicted for 2009

By Marcus Morgan, 20 February 2009

The Spanish economy, the fifth largest in Europe, is now sliding into a full-blown recession.

The reactionary politics of economic nationalism

By , 20 February 2009

The actions of the Opel shop stewards and IG Metall bureaucrats exemplify the reactionary logic of economic nationalism.

File-sharing trial against The Pirate Bay has wide-ranging implications

By Mike Ingram, 20 February 2009

What the Times of London described as the “internet piracy trial of the decade” is under way in a courtroom in Stockholm, Sweden, with protesters with megaphones camped outside the building. The trial of file-sharing site for copyright infringement is being followed by legal and technology experts all over the world.

Obama’s mortgage plan aims to bolster the banks

By Tom Eley, 20 February 2009

President Obama’s scheme to stem the collapse of the US housing market, announced Wednesday, will have a negligible impact. The $275 billion plan is fatally compromised by its primary aim—to defend the interests of the financial elite.

California legislature passes massive austerity budget

By Kevin Martinez, 20 February 2009

The California State legislature passed a budget on Thursday that will cut billions from public education and social services, impose new regressive taxes, and give big business $700 million worth of tax breaks.

Obama administration deporting 30,000 Haitians

By David Walsh, 20 February 2009

The US Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, under the new Obama administration, are proceeding with the deportation of tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants.

India: Supreme Court judge advocates “animal rights” for alleged terrorists

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 20 February 2009

The third most senior judge on India’s Supreme Court has bluntly said alleged terrorists should be denied “human rights. “What is required are animal rights,” declared Supreme Court Justice Arijit Pasayat.

Clean-up costs from Tennessee coal ash disaster could top $800 million

By Mike Bryan, 20 February 2009

The Tennessee Valley Authority has stated that last December’s coal ash disaster was a “catastrophe,” and that clean-up costs could range from $525 million to $825 million.

Wendy and Lucy: A picture of American life

By Joanne Laurier, 20 February 2009

On her way to Alaska in hopes of earning some money, a young woman at loose ends gets stranded in a depressed Oregon town where nearly everyone’s life is as precarious as her own.

Support the European election campaign of the Socialist Equality Party!

By of Socialist Equality Party (Germany), 20 February 2009

The Socialist Equality Party in Germany (Partei für Soziale Gleichheit) is participating in the European election this summer, advancing a socialist perspective for the unification of Europe.

Australia: Bushfire expert exposes decades of government neglect

By Will Marshall, 20 February 2009

The WSWS interviewed Athol Hodgson, president of Forest Fire Victoria (FFV), about the February 7 inferno and government cuts to forest management and fire-fighting services

Britain: University graduates face unemployment, low-paid jobs

By Robert Stevens, 20 February 2009

As the recession deepens, increasing numbers of UK university graduates face unemployment or are being forced to take low-paid and voluntary work.

Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

By , 20 February 2009

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

Nearly five million on jobless benefits in US

By Jerry White, 20 February 2009

The Labor Department Thursday said the number of US workers receiving unemployment benefits hit 4.99 million earlier this month, the highest number in 27 years. The news came as reports on industrial output and housing pointed to a worsening slump.

Stanford International: $9 billion fraud triggers widening bank panic

By Bill Van Auken, 20 February 2009

An apparent $9 billion bank fraud perpetrated by the Antiguan-based Stanford International Bank triggered an international banking panic as the firm’s owner, billionaire Texas businessman Robert Allen Stanford, went missing.

Australia: Telstra unions call strike over new agreement

By Noel Holt, 20 February 2009

Amid signs that Telstra is planning to axe thousands of jobs, the unions have narrowly confined their limited campaign to defending their own vested interests—a seat at the table with management.

US automakers outline massive attack on jobs, wages

By Jerry White, 19 February 2009

General Motors and Chrysler LLC submitted plans to the US Treasury Department Tuesday outlining their strategy to return to profitability through an unprecedented assault on the jobs, wages and working conditions of autoworkers.

Lagging alarmingly behind the times

By Stefan Steinberg, 19 February 2009

Perhaps most striking about the latest Berlinale was the absence of any comprehension of the urgency of the current crisis. None of the burning issues at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century were adequately addressed at the festival.

Obama orders 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan

By Barry Grey, 19 February 2009

In a brief written statement issued by the White House, President Obama signaled that the escalation in Afghanistan would be combined with an intensified military intervention across the border in Pakistan.

Letters from our readers

By , 19 February 2009

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

A tribute to the SEP election campaign in Sri Lanka

By , 19 February 2009

The election campaign just waged by the Socialist Equality Party in Sri Lanka is an inspiring example of the struggle for socialist internationalism and a direct refutation of all those who insist that it is impossible to fight for such a program in a world fractured by myriad national, ethnic, linguistic and tribal divisions.

Australian bushfires: Horsham residents given no warning

By a WSWS supporter, 19 February 2009

Although no one died in Horsham, unlike other areas of the state, where more than 200 people have now been confirmed dead, lives could well have been lost in Horsham too if a wind change had not turned the blaze away from the town. b

Three killed by snow plows in Montreal: privatization to blame

By Éric Marquis, 19 February 2009

On a single day at the beginning of this month, three people in Montreal died after being struck by snow plows. The deaths are the product of the municipal government’s partial privatization of snow removal and the heavy demands placed on subcontract workers.