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Letters from our readers

By , 27 February 2010

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

Germany: Left Party, Greens cancel appearances by historian Norman Finkelstein

By Stefan Steinberg, 27 February 2010

The cancellation by the Left Party and the Greens of meetings to be addressed by the American academic, Norman Finkelstein, represents a blatant and cowardly act of political censorship.

The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia)—Part 1

By , 27 February 2010

The World Socialist Web Site today begins the publication of The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia). The document was adopted unanimously at the party’s founding congress in Sydney on January 21–25.

Opening report to the SEP (Australia) Founding Congress

By Nick Beams, 27 February 2010

The following is the opening report delivered by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), to the SEP’s founding congress held in Sydney on January 21–25.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 27 February 2010

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

Obama’s health care agenda and the case for a socialist alternative

By Kate Randall, 27 February 2010

A socialist solution to the crisis—taking the profit out of heath care—is excluded from the official debate, which is based instead on the premise that people’s health should be subordinated to the accumulation of private wealth.

France: Total workers in Dunkirk continue walkout after CGT calls off national strike

By Antoine Lerougetel, 27 February 2010

Total workers in Dunkirk voted Thursday to continue their strike and occupation of the Total refinery there, despite the CGT’s calling off of national srike action against Total the previous day.

The Greek trade unions: Partners in the government’s austerity program

By Markus Salzmann and Robert Stevens, 27 February 2010

As the crisis intensifies in Greece, the country’s trade unions are playing a crucial role in ensuring that the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou is able carry out its austerity program.

Democrats vote to renew Patriot Act

By Bill Van Auken, 27 February 2010

With almost no debate, the Democratic leadership in Congress pushed through an unamended extension of the USA Patriot Act’s most notorious provisions, granting sweeping powers to eavesdrop and seize library, Internet and other personal records of US citizens.

San Francisco school district prepares to lay off 900 workers

By Oliver Richards, 27 February 2010

The move by the school board in the US state of California is part of a nationwide attack on teachers and public education.

Abuse of immigrant workers in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 27 February 2010

An Amnesty International report, entitled “Disposable labour: Rights of migrant workers in South Korea,” documents the abhorrent working conditions of immigrants.

US Federal Reserve chairman calls for austerity plan

By Barry Grey, 27 February 2010

In two days of testimony before the banking committees of the House of Representatives and Senate this week, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke called for the Obama administration and Congress to agree on a plan to sharply reduce the US budget deficit over the next decade.

Sri Lanka: IMF loan delay signals deep assault on living standards

By Nanda Wickremasinghe, 27 February 2010

The International Monetary Fund has delayed the third installation of its $US2.6 billion loan, blaming the government’s failure to meet its budget deficit reduction target.

US: Virginia lawmakers prepare billions in cuts

By Jeff Lassahn, 27 February 2010

Virginia’s legislature is preparing massive cuts in social spending to meet a $4 billion deficit.

Many unanswered questions as FBI closes anthrax case

By Patrick Martin, 26 February 2010

The FBI closed the anthrax investigation with the conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was solely responsible. However, there are many important political questions about how and why the anthrax mailings were utilized as part of the Bush administration’s campaign for the US invasion of Iraq.

US jobless claims rise again

By Tom Eley, 26 February 2010

The US Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of first-time jobless benefit claims rose last week to its highest level since November.

A turning point in Europe

By Chris Marsden, 26 February 2010

Wednesday’s general strike in Greece, involving 2 million workers in the public and private sectors, marks a turning point in the political situation throughout Europe.

Pentagon chief condemns European “pacifism”

By Bill Van Auken, 26 February 2010

Amid growing fears in Washington that European powers may withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a speech blasting Europe for insufficient militarization and warning of a deepening crisis in the NATO alliance.

Spanish unions offer meek protests against pension reforms

By Paul Mitchell, Vicky Short and Tom Eley, 26 February 2010

Spanish unions organized demonstrations this week whose main aim was to defuse widespread anger against the pension reforms proposed by the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government.

Health care summit promotes Obama’s pro-business agenda

By Kate Randall, 26 February 2010

A daylong health care summit Thursday ended with no agreement between Congressional Democrats and Republicans on advancing the president’s health care legislation, but highlighted the pro-business features of Obama’s health care agenda.

Britain: Strike mandate at British Airways put “on hold” by Unite union

By Julie Hyland, 26 February 2010

On Thursday, the Unite trade union announced that it had put any industrial action against British Airways “on hold” while it continues negotiations with airline management under the auspices of the Trades Union Congress.

Nick Beams report to SEP founding congress—Part 2

By Nick Beams, 26 February 2010

Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), delivered the opening report to the SEP’s founding congress held in Sydney on January 21–25.

Senior military officers arrested in Turkey

By Justus Leicht, 26 February 2010

The arrest of a number of senior officers has brought the long-festering conflict between the government and the military in Turkey to a new climax.

The decay of parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka

By K. Ratnayake, 26 February 2010

Media commentators are calling for improved parliamentary standards, but the degeneration of bourgeois democracy is bound up with the incapacity of the ruling elites to address the aspirations and needs of working people.

Moloch Tropical and Jew Suss: Rise and Fall

By Stefan Steinberg, 26 February 2010

One of the most engrossing films at the Berlinale was the new film by Raoul Peck. After treating developments in a number of African countries in his more recent films, Peck has turned his attention to his native Haiti.

Australian government prosecutors appeal Julian Moti verdict

By Patrick O’Connor, 26 February 2010

Australian public prosecutors have issued a notice of appeal against a court ruling last December that threw out statutory rape charges against former Solomon Islands’ attorney general Julian Moti.

Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

By , 26 February 2010

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

Unprecedented sentences in Australian terrorism trial

By Mike Head, 26 February 2010

A Sydney judge last week sentenced five Islamic men to maximum terms ranging from 23 to 28 years—the longest imprisonments imposed in an Australian terrorist trial.

US has “Plan B” to keep combat troops in Iraq after August

By Patrick Martin, 25 February 2010

Gen. Raymond Odierno, the US commander in Iraq, revealed Monday that he has briefed the Pentagon on plans to keep US combat troops in Iraq after the upcoming August 31 deadline for their withdrawal.

Indian Supreme Court sanctions police occupation of university campus

By Kranti Kumara, 25 February 2010

The Indian Supreme Court issued an extraordinary ruling on February 20 giving legal sanction to the continuing deployment of paramilitary police on the campus of Osmania University in the capital city of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Banks demand austerity measures against “profligate” countries

By Barry Grey, 25 February 2010

With the eruption of the European sovereign debt crisis, a new category has emerged in the bourgeois press—“profligate countries.”

UAW holds nationalist rally at NUMMI plant in California

By Kevin Kearney, 25 February 2010

A rally held on February 12 was part of the UAW’s chauvinist anti-Japanese campaign, intended to boost profits for the Big Three and cloak the union’s complicity in attacking auto workers.

The social situation in Greece

By Marcus Salzmann, 25 February 2010

In terms of wages and social standards, Greece ranks amongst the lowest-paid countries in Europe.

Three New York police officers acquitted in brutality case

By Peter Daniels, 25 February 2010

A jury acquitted three New York City police officers on February 22 on abuse and cover-up charges stemming from the arrest of a young man in a Brooklyn subway station in October 2008.

The UN nuclear agency, the US and Iran

By Peter Symonds, 25 February 2010

With the Obama administration escalating its campaign for further sanctions against Iran, an IAEA report issued last week provided an apparent boost to US propaganda that Tehran is developing a nuclear weapons capacity.

Letters from our readers

By , 25 February 2010

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

GM’s recovery plan for Opel: Death by a thousand cuts

By Dietmar Henning, 25 February 2010

General Motors’ European boss Nick Reilly has unveiled the long-awaited “recovery plan” for Opel, but there can be no question of recovery. Rather, it looks as though GM intends once again to maximise its profits in the short term at the expense of workers and taxpayers.

A letter from a reader on “(500) Days of Summer: The eternally sunlit paradise that is Los Angeles”

By , 25 February 2010

A comment on a WSWS film review. A reader thinks the film deserves a “second look.”

Workers and youth at Athens protest speak to the World Socialist Web Site

By our reporters, 25 February 2010

A number of workers and youth who participated in Wednesday’s Greek general strike and mass demonstrations in Athens spoke to a World Socialist Web Site reporting team about their understanding of the economic crisis and its impact.

The Dexter Avenue fire: Utility shutoffs and the social crisis in Detroit

By Socialist Equality Party, 25 February 2010

The SEP is calling on workers, young people and all those concerned about the worsening social conditions in Detroit to participate in a fact-finding inquiry into the January 5 house fire on Dexter Ave. which killed three residents living without utilities.

Two million Greek workers strike against austerity measures

By our reporters in Athens, 25 February 2010

Some two million Greek workers participated in a general strike on Wednesday to oppose austerity measures announced by the social democratic PASOK government.

French air traffic controllers’ strike strengthens on second day

By Antoine Lerougetel and Alex Lantier, 25 February 2010

The strike of air traffic controllers in France spread yesterday, amid widespread opposition of workers throughout the European air transport system to rationalise the industry at their expense.

Canada’s prime minister uses Haiti visit to promote “hard power”

By Guy Charron, 25 February 2010

Canada’s Conservative government has been anxious to assert a leading role in the relief and reconstruction of Haiti, so as to advance the interests of Canada’s corporate elite in the Caribbean and assert Canada’s claim to be a major power.

Nick Beams report to SEP founding congress—Part 1

By Nick Beams, 25 February 2010

Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), delivered the opening report to the SEP’s founding congress held in Sydney on January 21–25.

Obama courts US corporate elite

By Tom Eley, 25 February 2010

President Obama on Wednesday told top CEOs gathered at the Business Roundtable that his health care reform would improve the competitiveness of their firms and reaffirmed his administration’s subservience to the financial elite.


Somalia: Troop surge in support of US-backed puppet government

By Brian Smith, 25 February 2010

The Washington-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia is reported to be preparing a major offensive against Islamist rebels who control the bulk of the country.

Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, a new version of Metropolis, and other matters

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 February 2010

There was a dearth of substantial social and political films at the Berlinale, despite the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. Nevertheless, a small number of the works on view made an attempt to come to grips with a rapidly changing situation.

Australia: Sacked metal workers continue 13-week long picket

By Chris Sadlier, 24 February 2010

Despite being isolated by the unions, workers at a metal forging factory in Melbourne have maintained a 24-hour picket for the past 13 weeks outside their closed factory, Forgecast, in defence of $4.4 million in unpaid redundancy entitlements.

The lessons of the 1974 Borax strike

By Sheila Brehm and Jerry White, 24 February 2010

With the lockout of Rio Tinto miners continuing, it is essential that workers draw the lessons of their previous struggles, including the bitter five-month strike by Borax miners in 1974.

Military coup in Niger

By Barry Mason, 24 February 2010

The military have carried out a coup in the West African state of Niger, ousting incumbent President Mamadou Tandja in this former French colony.

France: Trade unions call to end strike at Total

By Antoine Lerougetel, 24 February 2010

Amid rising fuel shortages, the CGT has called on Total workers to suspend strike action against Total despite receiving no guarantees from the government or Total management that workers would keep their jobs at the Dunkirk refinery.

German leftist think tank: The SPD’s right-wing agenda in a new garb

By Lucas Adler, 24 February 2010

On January 31, representatives of the German Social Democratic Party, the Left Party and the Greens founded an organisation to be known as the “Institute for Solidarity in Modern Times,” which in essence puts forward a right-wing program.

Socialist Equality Party (Australia) holds founding Congress

By , 24 February 2010

The Socialist Equality Party in Australia held its founding congress in Sydney last month, marking a decisive step forward for the Fourth International.

Sri Lanka: Supreme Court refuses to release Fonseka

By K. Ratnayake, 24 February 2010

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court yesterday turned down a request for an interim order to release defeated opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka, who was detained by military police on February 8.

The capitulation of the German pilots’ union

By Peter Schwarz, 24 February 2010

The German pilots’ union Cockpit capitulated to the combined pressure or management, the media and the German government and called off its planned four-day strike after just one day.

Record demand for heating assistance in US

By Tom Eley, 24 February 2010

State officials warn that record demand for home-heating assistance may force them to refuse further applications. Meanwhile, new surveys on unemployment and consumer confidence demonstrate the historic proportions of the social crisis.

Britain: Government’s flagship academy schools failing

By Harvey Thompson, 24 February 2010

The government’s attempt to push ahead with its state-funded but privately run school academies programme continues despite growing evidence of their lack of educational value, and in the face of popular opposition.

California town to charge residents for 911 emergency calls

By Kevin Martinez, 24 February 2010

In an effort to close a $9 million budget gap, the town of Tracy, California, will now charge several hundred dollars for emergency calls.

For a socialist movement to defend education!

By International Students for Social Equality, 23 February 2010

On March 4, students and workers throughout California and the US will demonstrate against the attack on public education and increases in tuition that are making a college education unaffordable for the majority of working class youth. The following statement is being distributed by the International Students for Social Equality.

Long Beach, California school board approves 755 layoff notices

By D. Lencho and Kim Saito, 23 February 2010

The Long Beach school board will issue 755 pink slips to educators in order to cover $32.6 million in budget cuts. Class sizes will rise from 20 to 30 students per teacher from kindergarten through the third grade.

Australian coal miners’ strike at a turning point

By Alex Messenger, 23 February 2010

More than 350 workers at the Xstrata-owned Tahmoor colliery in New South Wales ended a three-day strike last Friday and are planning further strike action in the next few days.

US airstrike kills Afghan civilians

By Bill Van Auken, 23 February 2010

A US air strike killed dozens of civilians in Afghanistan’s central Uruzgan Province, while to the south a US ground offensive in Marjah ground through its second week, producing growing casualties and the threat of a humanitarian disaster.

Workers Struggles: The Americas

By , 23 February 2010

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

The Austin airplane suicide and the political crisis in the US

By David Walsh, 23 February 2010

The suicide of software engineer Andrew Joseph Stack, who flew his small airplane into the seven-story building in Austin, Texas that houses the local offices of the Internal Revenue Service, was both shocking and tragic.

Letters from our readers

By , 23 February 2010

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

IG Metall deal paves way for austerity campaign against German workers

By Peter Schwarz, 23 February 2010

The latest contract agreed to by IG Metall is a deliberate stab in the back of engineering workers. The trade union is doing everything to maintain industrial peace at a time when the government is preparing to implement brutal austerity measures.

Nick Beams: “A brilliant introduction to dialectical and historical materialism”

By , 23 February 2010

Mehring Books continues its Winter Recommended Reading Series with a suggestion from Nick Beams.

San Francisco transit workers reject concessions contract

By Marge Holland and Joe Kishore, 23 February 2010

The 857-575 vote by workers rejected $15 million in contract concessions negotiated by the city and the union.

Britain: Last steel plant on Teesside mothballed

By Danny Richardson, 23 February 2010

Outside the entrance a sign proclaimed, “Corus—Passionate About Steel.” Beneath it a brass band played the last salute as several hundred steel workers, past and present, their families and members of the Teesside community mingled around the gates of Teesside Cast Products, a company run by Corus.

Australian government sets new precedent in Aboriginal land grab

By Robert Morgan, 23 February 2010

On February 1, the Labor government compulsorily acquired the land of the Ilpeye Ilpeye town camp, establishing a new benchmark in opening up areas presently controlled by Aboriginal communities for unrestrained capitalist exploitation.

Sri Lanka: Opposition candidate challenges election result

By Sujeewa Amaranath, 23 February 2010

Defeated opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka filed a petition in the Supreme Court on February 16 to overturn the result of the presidential election.

Huge increase in Canadian youth unemployment and student indebtedness

By Graham Beverly, 23 February 2010

Joblessness among Canada’s youth has risen faster than any other segment of the population.

Emergency Conference on the Social Crisis & War The Fight for a Socialist Alternative

By , 23 February 2010

The World Socialist Web Site, Socialist Equality Party and International Students for Social Equality are holding an emergency national conference on the social crisis and war, to be held April 17-18 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Obama unveils health plan ahead of bipartisan summit

By Kate Randall, 23 February 2010

Obama unveiled his health care proposal Monday in advance of this week’s bipartisan health care “summit.” The plan, largely modeled on the Senate legislation, includes no public option and would cut Medicare spending and ration care.

Scotrail workers face strike-breaking operation

By Paul Barnes, 23 February 2010

Some 550 members of the Rail Maritime Transport Workers Union (RMT) at train operating company (TOC) Scotrail took strike action February 20 in an attempt to prevent the imposition of driver-only operated (DOO) trains on a new service on the Airdrie/Bathgate line.

Large Hadron Collider to resume operations at CERN

By Bryan Dyne, 22 February 2010

Operations resumed this month at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the huge new experimental device operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. The largest and costliest apparatus ever built to conduct physical research, the LHC was shut down for repairs for a year after an accident.

Alexander Haig (1924-2010): Long-time enforcer for American imperialism

By Patrick Martin, 22 February 2010

Alexander Haig was a trailblazer for a modern reactionary type, the political general, who crosses over from the uniformed military to high political office. Haig played a central role during two critical periods for American imperialism: as Nixon’s White House chief of staff in 1973-74, and Reagan’s secretary of state in 1981-82.

How To Make It In America on HBO: “Anything is still possible”

By Jordan Mattos, 22 February 2010

How To Make It In America follows “streetwise” Cam Calderone and aspiring designer Ben Epstein as they try to succeed in New York’s fashion industry. Illusions abound …

Sri Lanka: Release of opposition supporters undermines “coup” claims

By Sarath Kumara, 22 February 2010

A magistrate’s court unconditionally released 14 supporters of opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka who had been detained over an alleged coup attempt.

This week in history: February 22-February 28

By , 22 February 2010

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

Dutch government collapses over military deployment in Afghanistan

By Stefan Steinberg, 22 February 2010

The collapse of the Dutch government represents a serious blow to the US administration’s military strategy in Afghanistan.

The Binyam Mohamed case and the threat of dictatorship

By Robert Stevens, 22 February 2010

Each day brings new revelations about the full extent of British involvement in the torture of those detained by the United States during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama ignores China’s warnings and meets Dalai Lama

By John Chan, 22 February 2010

US President Barack Obama met with Tibet’s exiled Dalai Lama last Thursday, despite repeated warnings by China that the encounter would further damage US-China relations.

Australian government scraps home insulation program

By Mike Head, 22 February 2010

Bowing to several weeks of pressure from the media and opposition, the Rudd government suddenly terminated a prominent program—its $2.5 billion home insulation scheme—and sent a signal of its willingness to cut public spending.

Britain: Top economists demand austerity measures

By Paul Mitchell, 22 February 2010

Twenty top economists have demanded the introduction of austerity measures immediately after the general election due by June.

Iraq: Sunni party announces election boycott

By Patrick O’Connor, 22 February 2010

The National Dialogue Front said its boycott was prompted by earlier denunciations of Ahmed Chalabi as an effective Iranian agent by the top US general and senior diplomat in Iraq.

German pilots strike against Lufthansa

By Peter Schwarz, 22 February 2010

The German pilots’ union Cockpit has announced a strike starting Monday affecting Germany’s biggest airline carrier Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and German Wings. Some 94 percent of pilots voted in the ballot for the strike action.

US Justice Department report clears authors of Bush torture memos

By Kate Randall, 22 February 2010

A US Justice Department report has exonerated the Bush administration lawyers whose secret memos justified waterboarding and other forms of torture by CIA interrogators.

US super-rich get five times more income than in 1995

By Andre Damon, 20 February 2010

The incomes of the very rich in the US grew phenomenally between 1992 and 2007, while their tax rates plummeted, according to recently uncovered IRS statistics.

German government minister prepares new attacks on the unemployed

By Peter Schwarz, 20 February 2010

The government minister and chairman of the Free Democratic Party, Guido Westerwelle, has hit the headlines in the past few days with vitriolic attacks on the unemployed.

Australia: Construction unions move to sell out Pluto workers

By Terry Cook, 20 February 2010

Construction unions are moving to impose a sell out agreement on around 2,000 workers fighting to defend conditions at Woodside Petroleum’s $12 billion Pluto gas project in north-western Australia.

Israeli human rights groups face state repression

By Jean Shaoul, 20 February 2010

Israeli human rights groups and activists have become the target of a vicious campaign by right-wing groups, security forces and politicians.

Total refinery workers go on indefinite strike in France

By Kumaran Ira, 20 February 2010

Workers at oil firm Total’s six refineries in France went on indefinite nationwide strike Thursday to support their colleagues at the Dunkirk refinery, which is threatened with closure.

US Federal Reserve raises discount rate

By Barry Grey, 20 February 2010

In a move that took the financial markets by surprise, the US Federal Reserve Board on Thursday announced that it was raising its discount rate by a quarter point.

US: Software engineer crashes plane into IRS office

By Jerry White, 20 February 2010

On Thursday, 53-year-old software engineer Andrew Joseph Stack III flew his private airplane into a seven-story Austin, Texas building that houses the local offices of the Internal Revenue Service.

The Last Station: Not a film about Tolstoy

By Clare Hurley, 20 February 2010

The Last Station, a lavishly produced period piece that glows with a faux authenticity, sheds little light on what made Leo Tolstoy one of the greatest writers of the nineteenth century, and of all time.

Rising unemployment fuels social tensions in Russia

By Andrea Peters, 20 February 2010

A sharp rise in unemployment in Russia, which now stands at 9.2 percent, is leading to growing social discontent.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

By , 20 February 2010

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

Boron, California mine workers denounce company lock-out

By , 20 February 2010

The WSWS spoke to some of the 570 Rio Tinto Borax workers in Boron, California who have been locked out by the company since January 31.

Obama’s preventive war and the end of Nuremberg

By Richard Hoffman, 20 February 2010

The first in a two-part series examining the significance of US President Obama’s Nobel Prize speech and his repudiation of Nuremberg principles, in the context of the history and development of international law.