THE LATEST — Rebellion in Spain; Gaza supporters; US debt ceiling charade

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Young people lead rebellion in Spain

The nation-wide protest that burst out in Spain on May 15 shows no sign of letting up, as tens of thousands continue to occupy tent villages in major cities, hold public assemblies, and take to the streets in mass marches.

The self-proclaimed “Los Indignados” (the outraged) have come together to stand against mass unemployment, social welfare cuts, and bank bailouts. Largely consisting of youth afflicted with staggering 43 percent unemployment, their militancy is eloquently captured by their slogan, “No Job, No House, No Pension, No Fear!”

The rebellion is an expression of people left with little other choice. Spain’s government has appeased its global debtors by gutting workers rights, strangled an already skeletal welfare system, and heartlessly foreclosed on thousands of homeowners. Major union leadership has sold out organized workers, recently agreeing to extensions of retirement age and big cuts to pensions.

With no illusions of getting help from labor bureaucrats or either of the major political parties, rebels of the May 15th Movement are forging their own democracy in the streets. They have gained wide popular support, allowing them to defeat even police repression. The movement has proven resilient so far, and carries a distinct anti-capitalist message loud and clear to Spain’s ruling class.

The Arab Spring has led to a European Summer, at least in the streets of Spain!

— by Jed Holtz

Gaza champions persist despite bullies’ barriers

It took collusion among the U.S., Israel, Greece and Europe to prevent Freedom Flotilla II, 10 boats carrying 1,000 activists from 20 countries, from sailing against Israel’s siege of Gaza — an open-air prison for 1.6 million Palestinians.

Israel sabotaged the boats, mounted smear campaigns, and threatened to use snipers and bombs. Obama’s administration gave Israel permission to attack the boats, including the American-flagged “Audacity of Hope.” The U.S. further warned American participants they could be accused of aiding terrorism, charges which have been used against other U.S. critics of foreign policy (See story.)

Ignoring Greek workers’ general strike to protest a severe austerity plan, Prime Minister Papandreou helped enforce Israel’s Gaza siege. But as Greece’s armed coast guard forced the boats back to harbor, masses of street protestors came out on the side of the flotilla.

In an inventive “fly-tilla” plan, several hundred pro-Palestinian activists, some who had been on the boats, attempted to fly to Israel on July 8 for a week of activity. Many, but not all were stopped at European or the Tel Aviv airports — greatly exposing these governments’ complicity with Israel.Liberation movements continue to build the international solidarity so key to Palestinian and worldwide liberty.

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— by Adrienne Weller

US debt ceiling charade

At press time, the brouhaha over raising the debt ceiling is deafening. Republicans demand major cuts to Social Security and Medicare before they will endorse a higher debt limit. President Obama has announced his eagerness to “compromise” on these reductions.
Many workers know the lack of jobs is a crisis far larger than the debt. Most believe Social Security and Medicare should be increased, because people depend on them to survive. And Social Security doesn’t contribute a cent to the debt! It supports itself through payroll taxes.

Yet Obama is threatening to hold up Social Security checks if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by the August 2 deadline.

The latest scam to implement cuts is to change how the Consumer Price Index is calculated to reflect only part of increases in the cost of living. This re-calculation will reduce Social Security checks significantly over time.

The answer to rising Medicare costs is to allow the program to negotiate prices for drugs and hospital care. Not cut benefits!

Halting war spending and the biggest military in the world are not “on the table.” Neither are tax hikes on the rich. We need to raise the volume of protest on Main Street!

— by Megan Cornish

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