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Obama-backed health bill: “Cadillac” tax to target one in five plans

By Kate Randall, 31 December 2009

The proposed tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans will target millions of ordinary Americans, resulting in reduced medical benefits and increased co-pays and deductibles.

The Northwest Flight 253 intelligence failure: Negligence or conspiracy?

By Bill Van Auken, 31 December 2009

The extraordinary scale of the supposed intelligence breakdown surrounding the attempted terror bombing of a Northwest flight on Christmas Day should not be explained away as mere negligence or a “failure to connect the dots.”

Letters from our readers

By , 31 December 2009

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

Best films of 2009 and the decade

By David Walsh, 31 December 2009

WSWS writers select their favorite films of the year and the decade.

Canada’s Conservatives shut down parliament, again

By Keith Jones, 31 December 2009

To prevent further parliamentary hearings into Canadian complicity in torture in Afghanistan, the minority Conservative government has shut down the national parliament for the second time in a year.

Britain: Record fall in pay levels

By Julie Hyland, 31 December 2009

The Office of National Statistics has recorded the largest fall in wages in the United Kingdom since it began collecting data in 1995.

Britain’s pension provision threatened with collapse

By Chris Marsden, 31 December 2009

The final salary “gold-plated” pension schemes of Britain’s top 200 companies are in deficit by more than £100 billion.

In praise of George Eliot’s Adam Bede on its 150th anniversary

By David Walsh, 31 December 2009

This year marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, along with Marx’s A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. The publication of George Eliot’s Adam Bede in 1859 also deserves to be noted.

Germany: Five years since the Hartz IV labour “reforms”

By Dietmar Henning, 31 December 2009

The German Social Democratic-Green government used its Hartz IV “reforms” to increase the pressure on the unemployed, break up the system of collective bargaining, and create a huge low-wage sector.

US state and local tax revenues plummet

By Tom Eley, 31 December 2009

New census data show that state and local government tax revenue continued their year-long plunge in the third quarter, falling by 7 percent from the same period last year.

Obama administration prepares public opinion for attack on Yemen

By Patrick Martin, 31 December 2009

Five days after the unsuccessful attempt by a Nigerian student to set off a bomb aboard a Detroit-bound passenger jet, US military and intelligence officials are said to be preparing expanded military action against targets in Yemen.

In praise of George Eliot’s Adam Bede on its 150th anniversary

By David Walsh, 30 December 2009

This year marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, along with Marx’s A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. The publication of George Eliot’s Adam Bede in 1859 also deserves to be noted.

Greece: Social democratic government passes austerity budget

By Markus Salzmann, 30 December 2009

The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) has pushed a drastic austerity budget through the Greek parliament.

Australian report canvasses nuclear weapons option

By Mike Head, 30 December 2009

An Australian government-funded military policy think tank advocates re-opening the option of acquiring nuclear weapons under conditions of waning US power.

Sri Lankan SEP to hold election meetings

By , 30 December 2009

The SEP has organised public meetings throughout Sri Lanka as part of its campaign for the January 26 presidential elections.

British transport union accedes to anti-union laws, suspends strike ballot

By Paul Barnes, 30 December 2009

On the same day that a high court judge upheld British Airways’ legal challenge to an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action, the Rail Maritime Transport Workers Union (RMT) suspended a ballot for industrial action over pay at London Midland Railways.

GM confirms closure of Saab

By Jordan Shilton, 30 December 2009

Despite last-minute talks with Dutch sports car maker Spyker on a potential sale, General Motors has confirmed that it will push ahead with its plans to wind down operations at Saab.

Obama answers failed airline bombing with threat of new wars

By Bill Van Auken, 30 December 2009

Three days after the failed attempt by a Nigerian student to trigger an explosion on a US passenger jet, President Barack Obama threatened to unleash US military power in Yemen and across the globe.

Billions more for bailout of US mortgage giants

By Andre Damon, 30 December 2009

The US Treasury announced Thursday that it will remove a cap on federal support to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, extending to the firms an unlimited amount of funds for three years.

Thirty years since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

By Alex Lantier, 30 December 2009

An examination of the US role in provoking the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan sheds light on the imperialist motivations behind US policy in Central Asia.

American Greetings to close Michigan plant

By Tom Eley, 30 December 2009

On December 22, the greeting card and party goods maker American Greetings said it would close its Kalamazoo, Michigan, plant by April, resulting in 225 layoffs.

The crisis of the Islamic Republic and the tasks of the Iranian working class

By Keith Jones, 29 December 2009

The mounting crisis of the Islamic Republic raises crucial questions of perspective for the Iranian and international working class.

Gaza report finds major powers complicit in Israel’s collective punishment

By Jean Shaoul, 29 December 2009

One year after Israel’s military assault on Gaza, a report by 16 aid agencies has condemned the major powers for failing to end the blockade of Gaza.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 29 December 2009

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

Lithuanian parliamentary commission confirms presence of CIA prisons

By Stefan Steinberg, 29 December 2009

A commission set up by the Lithuanian parliament has acknowledged that at least two sites had been established inside the country to serve as secret detention camps for the CIA’s “war on terror.”

Aid report details social devastation in Gaza

By Jean Shaoul, 29 December 2009

Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza exceeds in length the sieges during World War II of Leningrad, Stalingrad and the Warsaw Ghetto, and there is no end in sight to this humanitarian crime.

Australian government pushes ahead with internet censorship

By Richard Phillips, 29 December 2009

The Rudd government’s censorship measures constitute a major attack on democratic rights. They would see Labor introducing the harshest internet censorship regime of any so-called western democracy.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 29 December 2009

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

Sri Lanka: Victims still live in misery five years after tsunami

By Panini Wijesiriwardena, 29 December 2009

Five years after the 2004 tsunami, many survivors in Sri Lanka do not have proper housing, jobs and services, and poverty is still rampant.

In wake of airline incident: Drumbeat for US war in Yemen

By Bill Van Auken, 29 December 2009

In the wake of the abortive Christmas Day attempt to detonate a bomb on an American passenger plane, there has been an escalating drumbeat within the US political establishment and media for a wider US military intervention in Yemen.

Grayson Perry’s “The Walthamstow Tapestry”: A sensitive depiction of the journey through life

By Paul Mitchell, 29 December 2009

The huge 3-by-15-metre “The Walthamstow Tapestry,” created by ceramic artist Grayson Perry, was the highlight of a brief exhibition at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London last month, which also saw the display of Perry’s hallmark ceramics.

US military kills ten civilians in Afghanistan raid

By Tom Eley, 29 December 2009

On Saturday a US military operation killed at least ten Afghan civilians, among them eight children, in Kunar province.

Letters on film and film criticism

By , 29 December 2009

A selection of letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on recent films and the death of film critic Robin Wood.

Eurostar breakdowns: Thousands imperilled by corporate indifference

By Robert Stevens, 28 December 2009

Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel and train operator Eurostar have engaged in mutual recriminations over events during the week leading up to Christmas that saw hundreds trapped for hours, and tens of thousands delayed.

The massacre at Kunduz and the policy of targeted killings

By Peter Schwarz, 28 December 2009

German military commanders and politicians are intent on using the recent massacre at Kunduz to circumvent restrictions imposed on the German army following the crimes it committed in the Second World War and permit “targeted killings.”

Disturbing questions in thwarted US plane bombing

By Barry Grey, 28 December 2009

The nearly catastrophic attempt to blow up a US passenger jet in its final approach to Detroit Metro Airport on Christmas Day raises a number of serious questions.

Jennifer Jones, prominent figure in postwar Hollywood, dies at 90

By Hiram Lee, 28 December 2009

Jennifer Jones, the talented actress who appeared in such films as Cluny Brown, Duel in the Sun and Madame Bovary, died December 17 at the age of 90.

US steps up drone attacks, assassinations in AfPak “surge”

By Bill Van Auken, 28 December 2009

Missiles form US Predator drones struck a village in Pakistan over the weekend, killing at least 13 people. The attack coincided with reports of intensified operations by US assassination squads on the Afghanistan side of the border.

Malaysian government continues persecution of opposition leader

By John Roberts, 28 December 2009

The Malaysian government is continuing its prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim following a High Court ruling dismissing his application for sodomy charges to be struck down.

Five years since Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution”

By Niall Green, 28 December 2009

Five years after gaining office in the “Orange Revolution,” Viktor Yushchenko faces defeat in an election in which the same oligarchic forces vie for power as in 2004. Meanwhile ordinary Ukrainians endure the ravages of the global economic crisis.

French NPA covers for military escalation in Afghanistan

By Kumaran Ira, 28 December 2009

The NPA has responded to plans for a French escalation in Afghanistan with calls for street protests.

This week in history: December 28-January 3

By , 28 December 2009

This Week in History provides brief synopses of important historical events whose anniversaries fall this week.

India’s almond workers mount militant strike

By Kranti Kumara, 24 December 2009

In what is perhaps the biggest strike in recent years in India’s “unorganized” sector, 20,000 to 30,000 almond workers and their families have been mounting a militant strike since Dec. 14.

Letters from our readers

By , 24 December 2009

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

Socialism and the defense of public education

By Jerry White, 24 December 2009

The Obama administration is spearheading an unprecedented assault on public education in the United States.

US Senate bill advance sparks health care stock rally

By Kate Randall, 24 December 2009

Health care company shares rose sharply this week, with the US Senate health care bill poised for a final vote and passage Thursday morning.

US ground attacks reported in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken, 24 December 2009

Amid a deepening political crisis in Pakistan, it has been revealed that over the past five years US special operations troops have conducted a number of secret cross-border raids into Pakistan.

Romania: Twenty years after the overthrow of Ceausescu

By Diana Toma and Markus Salzmann, 24 December 2009

In Romania, the character of the transformation that occurred in Eastern Europe 20 years ago was more transparent than elsewhere. The Stalinist elite exploited the protests by the population to secure its power and privileges on a capitalist basis.

Australian Labor government extends Aboriginal intervention, ignoring widespread opposition

By Susan Allan, 24 December 2009

Despite clear evidence that its policies are producing a social and economic disaster, the Rudd Labor government has introduced legislation to strengthen and extend the Northern Territory intervention first imposed on indigenous townships more than two years ago.

On Canada’s bank bonuses and ruling class hypocrisy

By , 24 December 2009

Canada’s premier national newspaper recently published an article entitled “The moral end-run that undermines the welfare system,” with more than a few echoes of Oliver Twist. Unlike Dickens, however, journalist Marcus Gee’s sympathies are entirely with Beadle Bumble, aka Toronto City Councillor Rob Ford.

Obama pay czar OKs $4 million raise for AIG executive

By Barry Grey, 24 December 2009

As Wall Street prepares to announce some $30 billion in year-end bonuses—a near-record—it has been handed an additional bit of Christmas cheer from Kenneth Feinberg, the “special master for compensation” appointed by the Obama administration ostensibly to rein in bankers’ pay.

Britain still in recession

By Julie Hyland, 24 December 2009

The UK economy remains in recession, according to figures released Tuesday.

Australian postal unions call off industrial action

By our reporters, 24 December 2009

The Communications Electrical Plumbing Union staged limited stoppages and protest rallies in a bid to head off anger among postal workers about mounting provocations by Australia Post.

Nepali Maoists hold protests to demand a place in government

By W.A Sunil, 24 December 2009

The Maoist party is threatening further strike action next month if the ruling coalition does not agree to its demands for a national unity government.

250,000 jute workers continue indefinite strike in West Bengal

By Palash Roy and Arun Kumar, 24 December 2009

Two hundred and fifty thousand jute workers in West Bengal have been on indefinite strike since Dec. 14 to force their employers to pay back wages and other arrears.

Australia Post workers voice growing discontent

By our reporters, 24 December 2009

Australia Post workers express mounting frustration with the destruction of their conditions, and the role of the Rudd Labor government.

Why are the critics lauding Avatar?

By David Walsh, 23 December 2009

After more than a decade since the release of his last feature film, writer-director James Cameron returns with his latest “blockbuster,” a technically innovative, but dramatically weak science fiction film.

New York City students protest scrapping of free transit fares

By a reporting team, 23 December 2009

Several hundred high school students demonstrated Monday against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) decision to eliminate free bus and subway fares for nearly 600,000 students in New York City.

Political lessons of the Julian Moti affair

By Patrick O’Connor and Linda Levin, 23 December 2009

The extraordinary five-year vendetta has cast light on Canberra’s neo-colonial operations in the South Pacific, as well as the complicity of the entire political and media establishment—ranged across the official political spectrum, from the openly right wing to the ex-radical “left”.

Great power rivalries inflame Nagorno-Karabakh dispute

By Niall Green, 23 December 2009

The scramble for control of access to the oil and gas riches of Central Asia threatens to reanimate the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

German government plans massive spending cuts

By Marius Heuser, 23 December 2009

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has announced his intention to present a far-reaching austerity budget for next year.

California appeals court refuses to dismiss case against Roman Polanski

By Hiram Lee, 23 December 2009

A California appeals court has denied Roman Polanski’s request that his case be dismissed. The written decision of the court leaves several legal options open to the director, and urges an investigation into judicial misconduct in his previous court proceedings.

US home foreclosures top one million mark

By Andre Damon, 23 December 2009

The number of US homes in foreclosure topped the one million mark for the first time ever, according to figures released this week by federal agencies.

Obama names former Bush adviser as cybersecurity chief

By Joe Kishore, 23 December 2009

The appointment of a new cybersecurity chief is part of an increased US focus on offensive as well as defensive computer and technology capabilities.

Survey shows sharp rise in US households seeking utility assistance

By Alexander Fangmann, 23 December 2009

A survey shows that more than 8.2 million US households received utility assistance through the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for fiscal year 2009, about 2.1 million households more than fiscal year 2008.

Scotland: Diageo unions end campaign against plant closures

By Steve James, 23 December 2009

The Unite and GMB trade unions have closed down their campaign against the closure of drinks giant Diageo’s Johnnie Walker’s bottling plant in Kilmarnock and Port Dundas distillery and cooperage in Glasgow.

Sri Lankan students face lack of university places

By Kapila Fernando, 23 December 2009

Of the 199,000 young people who sat the exams this year, 126,000 are eligible to enter a university, but only around 20,000 will have the chance to do so.

UAW installs Bob King as new president

By Jerry White, 22 December 2009

The United Auto Workers last week selected as its new president Bob King, who was repudiated by auto workers last month when they voted down the concessions contract he negotiated with Ford.

US Senate report proposes a more “robust” policy toward Sri Lanka

By Wije Dias and SEP presidential candidate, 22 December 2009

A report by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations called for a policy shift toward Sri Lanka aimed at boosting US influence in Colombo and countering China.

Australia: Union cuts short NSW bus drivers’ strike

By Terry Cook, 22 December 2009

By shutting down the strike and accepting the tribunal ruling, the union established the framework for closed-door horse-trading to deliver the state Labor government’s demands for cost savings.

Health care profiteers: A billion-dollar lobby

By Patrick Martin, 22 December 2009

A study recent study found that health care lobbyists have spent more than $396 million this year to influence senators and congressmen engaged in passing the health care restructuring legislation, and $862 million in 2008-2009 combined.

Massive bank scandal: Austrian right-winger Jörg Haider’s legacy

By Markus Salzmann and Peter Schwarz, 22 December 2009

A bank scandal in Bavaria reveals the close ties with extreme right-wing forces in Austria.

Marxism, socialism and climate change

By Nick Beams, 22 December 2009

The problems of climate change are so profound and far-reaching that they require the rational mobilisation of all available economic, material, scientific and technical resources, something that is only possible only under socialism.

US Senate clears way for passage of Obama-backed health care bill

By Kate Randall, 22 December 2009

The US Senate’s version of health care legislation, which cleared a key procedural hurdle Monday morning, proposes deep cuts in Medicare while ensuring the profits of the giant insurers and pharmaceuticals.

Letters from our readers

By , 22 December 2009

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

Iran: Mass opposition protest at funeral for dissident cleric

By Keith Jones, 22 December 2009

Web sites associated with Iran’s bourgeois opposition claim hundreds of thousands of people descended on the holy city of Qom Monday to participate in the funeral procession of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

The Power of Yes: A serious indictment of capitalism

By Paul Stuart, 22 December 2009

In the wake of the ongoing crisis, the British theatre has sought in a number of pieces to address the meltdown of the financial system.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 22 December 2009

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

Hedge fund manager makes $2.5 billion betting on US bailout of Wall Street

By Andre Damon, 22 December 2009

David Tepper, manager of the hedge fund Appaloosa Management, is set to pocket more than $2.5 billion this year after successfully gambling that the Obama administration would provide unlimited public funds to bail out the banks.

Tony Blair, the Iraq war and the international league of war criminals

By Chris Marsden, 22 December 2009

The British government’s near-hysterical reaction to a war crimes warrant against former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni coincided with a damning BBC interview given by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Afghanistan: Karzai picks cabinet of US stooges and warlord cronies

By Bill Van Auken, 22 December 2009

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai announced his second-term cabinet last Saturday, retaining roughly half of his incumbent ministers, including US favorites, while appointing figures tied to Afghan warlords.

Climate change, emissions trading schemes and the profit system

By Patrick O’Connor, 21 December 2009

Public meetings called by the WSWS and the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) in Sydney and Melbourne last week exposed the real agenda behind emissions trading schemes and the official climate change “debate”. The following is the report delivered by WSWS writer Patrick O’Connor.

This week in history: December 21-December 27

By , 21 December 2009

This Week in History provides brief synopses of important historical events whose anniversaries fall this week.

Obama ordered US air strikes on Yemen

By Barry Grey, 21 December 2009

US President Barack Obama personally issued the order for US air strikes in Yemen last Thursday which killed scores of civilians, including women and children.

Film critic Robin Wood dies at 78

By David Walsh, 21 December 2009

British-born film critic Robin Wood died December 18 at the age of 78 in Toronto, where he had lived since the late 1970s. We repost the interview we did with him in 2000.

Chicago homeless crisis worsens with budget cuts, mass foreclosures

By Kristina Betinis, 21 December 2009

Foreclosures, job losses and medical expenses have forced more of the city’s working poor from their homes as the state slashes spending on emergency programs.

Great powers sacrifice climate on the altar of profit

By Dietmar Henning, 21 December 2009

Despite the urgency of finding a solution to global warming, the representatives of 193 states at the world climate conference in Copenhagen last week were utterly incapable of agreeing on any effective steps to reduce global levels of greenhouse gases.

An appeal to support the World Socialist Web Site

By Joe Kishore, 21 December 2009

Help support the most important resource of the international working class in the struggle against war and exploitation.

British Airways strike ruling a major attack on workers’ rights

By Robert Stevens, 21 December 2009

The December 17 decision by a High Court judge to declare illegal a planned strike by British Airways cabin crew is a major attack on workers’ rights.

Concessions contract ratified by Detroit teachers after campaign of intimidation

By Walter Gilberti and Joe Kishore, 21 December 2009

Detroit teachers voted to approve a concessions contract following two weeks of threats and intimidation from the school district, the corporate media and the Detroit Federation of Teachers union.

China opens a major gas pipeline from Central Asia

By John Chan, 21 December 2009

The opening of a gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan to western China is another sign of rivalry among the major powers for domination of energy-rich Central Asia.

New York transit agency to impose drastic service cuts on workers and students

By Alan Whyte, 21 December 2009

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted last week to eliminate free transit passes for students as part of a package of drastic service cuts aimed at closing a $400 million deficit.

France: Sarkozy’s national identity campaign boosts the National Front

By Antoine Lerougetel, 21 December 2009

French president Nicolas Sarkozy, in a December 9 opinion piece in Le Monde, gave vent to an extreme nationalist and barely concealed Islamophobic appeal to the most reactionary forces within French society.

25 years after world’s worst industrial disaster, Bhopal victims languish in neglect

By Kranti Kumara, 19 December 2009

Twenty-five years after the worst industrial accident in history, hundreds of thousands of long-suffering victims in Bhopal continue to be treated with neglect and even contempt by every faction of the Indian establishment.

Australian SEP meetings discuss socialism, climate change and emissions trading schemes

By our reporters, 19 December 2009

Public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne this week exposed the real agenda behind emissions trading schemes and the official climate change “debate”.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 19 December 2009

Asia

Britain: City attacks Labour’s bank bonus tax

By Jean Shaoul, 19 December 2009

Top financiers and the corporate media have launched a ferocious attack on cosmetic proposals to tax banker bonuses put forth by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling.

India: Move to create new state in Telangana provokes political crisis

By Keith Jones and Ram Kumar, 19 December 2009

The Indian government’s unexpected announcement that it is initiating the process to create a new federal state in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh has provoked a major political crisis.

New York: payments to cities, schools cut as Wall Street profits soar

By William Moore, 19 December 2009

New York Governor David Paterson has ordered the withholding of from 10 to 19 percent, a total of $750 million, of scheduled state payments to local governments, school districts, and health insurers due to cover an expected deficit.

White House escalates push for Senate health bill passage

By Kate Randall, 19 December 2009

As the White House-backed health care overhaul makes its way through the Senate, it is becoming an ever more openly reactionary measure, the central aim of which is to reduce government spending and boost corporate profits.