Wednesday READ – 23 October 2013
Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* SPAIN’S COMMUNIST MODEL VILLAGE
By Dan Hancox, The Guardian
Marinaleda, in impoverished Andalusia, used to suffer terrible hardships. Led by a charismatic mayor, the village declared itself a communist utopia and took farmland to provide for everyone. Could it be the answer to modern capitalism’s failings?
[…] But in one village in Andalusia’s wild heart, there lies stability and order. Like Asterix’s village impossibly holding out against the Romans, in this tiny pueblo a great empire has met its match, in a ragtag army of boisterous upstarts yearning for liberty. The bout seems almost laughably unfair – Marinaleda’s population is 2,700, Spain’s is 47 million – and yet the empire has lost, time and time again.
In 1979, at the age of 30, Sánchez Gordillo became the first elected mayor of Marinaleda, a position he has held ever since – re-elected time after time with an overwhelming majority. However, holding official state-sanctioned positions of power was only a distraction from the serious business of la lucha – the struggle. In the intense heat of the summer of 1980, the village launched “a hunger strike against hunger” which brought them national and even global recognition. Everything they have done since that summer has increased the notoriety of Sánchez Gordillo and his village, and added to their admirers and enemies across Spain.
Sánchez Gordillo’s philosophy, outlined in his 1980 book Andaluces, Levantaos and in countless speeches and interviews since, is one which is unique to him, though grounded firmly in the historic struggles and uprisings of the peasant pueblos of Andalusia, and their remarkably deep-seated tendency towards anarchism. These communities are striking for being against all authority. “I have never belonged to the communist party of the hammer and sickle, but I am a communist or communitarian,” Sánchez Gordillo said in an interview in 2011, adding that his political beliefs were drawn from those of Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Marx, Lenin and Che.
In August 2012 he achieved a new level of notoriety for a string of actions that began, in 40C heat, with the occupation of military land, the seizure of an aristocrat’s palace, and a three-week march across the south in which he called on his fellow mayors not to repay their debts. Its peak saw Sánchez Gordillo lead a series of expropriations from supermarkets, along with fellow members of the left-communist trade union SOC-SAT. They marched into supermarkets and took bread, rice, olive oil and other basic supplies, and donated them to food banks for Andalusians who could not feed themselves. For this he became a superstar, appearing not only on the cover of Spanish newspapers, but in the world’s media, as “the Robin Hood mayor”, “the Don Quixote of the Spanish crisis”, or “Spain’s William Wallace”, depending on which newspaper you read. […]
* THE TRAGEDY OF GREECE AS A CASE STUDY OF NEO-IMPERIAL PILLAGE AND THE DEMISE OF SOCIAL EUROPE
By CJ Polychroniou, Truthout
Now Greece is on the verge of collapse. The nation’s output has experienced a cumulative decline of 20 percent; the official unemployment rate has climbed to almost 28 percent, with youth unemployment for the ages of 16-24 close to 65 percent. More than 30 percent of the citizens live near or below the poverty line, and the debt-to-GDP ratio has increased from approximately 127 percent in 2009 to over 180 percent in the summer of 2013 (even after a major “haircut” that took place last year among private holders of Greek sovereign debt). Because of the draconian budget cuts in the name of “expansionary austerity,” the public health care system lies in ruins, with some hospitals lacking the proper medical equipment to perform certain operations or the drugs needed to treat cancer patients and private pharmacies refusing to provide more drugs until the state pays them the hundreds of millions of euros it owes. Public schools are in shambles; many schools throughout Greece cannot even afford heating oil.
In addition, there is a huge migration wave (particularly among the educated), crime is rampant, and suicides spread like the plague, not to mention the sharp rise of the neo-Nazi party of Golden Dawn, which, until the recent murder of an anti-fascist, anti-racist rapper at the hands of a paid assassin of this criminal organization and the government crackdown that ensued as a result, had emerged as a vital reactionary political force, openly challenging whatever democratic values are still left in today’s economically beleaguered Greece.
In sum, three years and a half years after the EU and IMF, the “twin monsters” of global neoliberalism, came to the “rescue,” Greece has been transformed from a developed economy into an emerging economy, posting unemployment and poverty rates that are normally associated with so-called “third world” nations, and is permanently stuck in a vicious cycle of debt, austerity and depression. […]
* US DRONE STRIKES COULD BE CLASSED AS WAR CRIMES, SAYS AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Joint report with Human Rights Watch judges US attacks in Yemen and Pakistan to have broken international human rights law
By Jon Boone, The Guardian
US officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed war crimes and should stand trial, a report by a leading human rights group warns. Amnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.
The report is issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch detailing missile attacks in Yemen which the group believes could contravene the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama’s own guidelines on drones.
The reports are being published while Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, is in Washington. Sharif has promised to tell Obama that the drone strikes – which have caused outrage in Pakistan – must end. […]
* A NEW KIND OF WAR IS BEING LEGALIZED
Source: Washington’s Blog
There’s a dark side to the flurry of reports and testimony on drones, helpful as they are in many ways. When we read that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch oppose drone strikes that violate international law, some of us may be inclined to interpret that as a declaration that, in fact, drone strikes violate international law. On the contrary, what these human rights groups mean is that some drone strikes violate the law and some do not, and they want to oppose the ones that do.
Which are which? Even their best researchers can’t tell you. Human Rights Watch looked into six drone murders in Yemen and concluded that two were illegal and four might be illegal. The group wants President Obama to explain what the law is (since nobody else can), wants him to comply with it (whatever it is), wants civilians compensated (if anyone can agree who the civilians are and if people can really be compensated for the murder of their loved ones), and wants the U.S. government to investigate itself. Somehow the notion of prosecuting crimes doesn’t come up.
Amnesty International looks into nine drone strikes in Pakistan, and can’t tell whether any of the nine were legal or illegal. Amnesty wants the U.S. government to investigate itself, make facts public, compensate victims, explain what the law is, explain who a civilian is, and — remarkably — recommends this: “Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, bring those responsible to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.” However, this will be a very tough nut to crack, as those responsible for the crimes are being asked to define what is and is not legal. Amnesty proposes “judicial review of drone strikes,” but a rubber-stamp FISA court for drone murders wouldn’t reduce them, and an independent judiciary assigned to approve of certain drone strikes and not others would certainly approve of some, while inevitably leaving the world less than clear as to why. […]
* MISS REPRESENTATION