The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.59/No.34           September 18, 1995 
In Brief  
VW workers strike in Germany
Some 15,000 Volkswagen workers in Germany conducted warning strikes August 29 for a 6 percent pay hike and against an increase in working hours. On September 4, some 70,000 workers held brief strikes at all of the company's six German plants. The unions are pressing their demands at the same time as the employers are asking for overtime with only slight increases in pay.

In a report approved by the German government and published August 29, the Organization for Economic Co- operation and Development criticized bosses in Germany for giving workers "excessively generous" pay hikes. Officials of the OECD expressed "regret" that the unions had not agreed to "significant provisions" for flexibility in increasing working hours.

Shevardnadze seeks presidency
Only 24 hours after surviving an assassination attempt, ex-Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze announced August 30 he would run for president of Georgia in the November 5 elections. Shevardnadze was wounded August 29 when a car bomb exploded near his motorcade while he was en route to sign a new constitution for the country.

Shortly after the attempt on his life Shevardnazde met with Col. Gen. Vasily Lapshin, an advisor to Russian defense minister Pavel Grachev. The Georgian politician has called for more military cooperation between Tbilisi and Moscow.

Israeli gov't lifts Palestinian ban
The Israeli government ended a ban imposed on Palestinian workers entering the country from Jericho August 31. The ban was instituted after a suicide bomber killed five people in Jerusalem August 21. Lifting the closure was initially contingent upon the Palestinian Liberation Organization handing over two suspects wanted in connection with the bombing. Palestinian authorities refused to extradite the men but jailed them in Jericho.

Palestinian officials said the 20,000 residents in the area suffered from the lack of fuel, food, and medicine during the shutdown. Hundreds of people in Jericho demonstrated against the ban August 28 and threw stones at Israeli soldiers stationed at a checkpoint at the edge of the town.

Tokyo starts up nuke plant
Japanese officials turned on the switch for the Monju nuclear reactor August 29, while some 100 people protested outside the plant gate. The protesters said they had collected about one million signatures on a petition opposing the fast breeder reactor, which produces plutonium. About $6 billion was spent to construct the reactor. It has been shut down twice this year because of technical problems.

"Monju is a Japanese nuclear test," said one poster at the demonstration drawing an analogy to Paris's planned nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific. The Japanese government has opposed those tests and recently cut off a number of aid grants to Beijing because of its recent nuclear tests.

Cease-fire signed in Liberia
Liberian military commander, Charles Taylor, and several rivals signed a truce in late August to halt the six-year civil war that was responsible for upwards of 150,000 deaths. A new coalition government was scheduled to take the reigns September 1.

International aid organizations say they found almost 60 percent of the population suffering from severe malnutrition in the central and northern regions of Liberia, which was controlled by Taylor's National Patriot Front of Liberia. Pressure to stop the fighting came from all sectors of society. "Man this war has got to end now. We have no schools, no homes, no food and no money, and if it doesn't stop now we will all die," Capt. J.R. Benson, an 18-year-old soldier in Taylor's forces, told the New York Times.

Managua offers to buy back debt
Sergio Blandón, Nicaragua's deputy minister of foreign co-operation, said his government is offering to buy back its recognized commercial debt of $1.3 billion for a maximum of eight cents on the dollar. Blandón said the deal will be financed by loans of $80 million at 2 per cent interest from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. The governments of Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany will loan $30 million.

"This is a unique opportunity," Blandón said of the proposal. "If our creditors don't accept, Nicaragua will not be able to pay." Most of the debt was originally incurred during the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, who was overthrown by the Sandinista revolution in 1979.

Retarded inmate executed
Barry Fairchild, a retarded prisoner, was killed by lethal injection August 31 for the murder of a nurse who was shot 12 years ago. Charles Baker, his attorney, said Fairchild had an I.Q. of 60 to 80, "depending on who gives the test." Although Fairchild did not fire the shots that killed the woman, Arkansas law allows for the execution of accomplices to murder.

Before his trial, Fairchild gave a statement to the cops saying he participated in the kidnapping and rape of the victim, but not in her death. Later he recanted and insisted he had no connection to the crimes. The only evidence linking Fairchild to the crime was his statement to the cops in a videotaped interrogation in which he continually looks away from the camera and appears to be responding to prompting.

Sex offenders law overturned
U.S. district judge John Coughenour ruled August 25 that a sex offenders law in the state of Washington was unconstitutional because it punishes inmates twice for a single crime and violates the right to due process. The 1990 law, the first of its kind in the country, allowed a civil jury to jail for unlimited periods those convicted of violent sex crimes who had already served their sentences. Prisoners were confined to the Special Commitment Center in Monroe, Washington, where they would undergo indefinite counseling and therapy. "The statue has been a sham all along," Russell Leonard, a lawyer with the King County public defender's office told the Washington Post.

Increase in book banning
Elliot Mincberg, legal director of People for the American Way - a civil liberties organization - announced August 30 that there was an increase in books banned from public school libraries and classrooms this year. Among the books challenged were such classics as Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

"The attacks are bolder, broader, and more organized than ever before," said Mincberg. "When parents have input on what local officials do in the schools, that's democracy," declared Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council in Washington D.C. defending the rightist probe of censorship.


Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home