(to comment, please link front page version)
The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.
European power competition is encountering the rising push from a burgeoning left that has developed from protests against the ravages of austerity sprung from working class and progressive citizens. New movements are particularly strong in Spain in the current election struggle where a strong challenge has emerged to the far right and traditional parties.
Podemos emerged, like Syriza and United Left, from a mass protest movement and has benefited from charismatic leadership that’s younger and more vibrant than those of the establishment parties. Pablo Iglesias, a 36-year-old academic turn politician was elected Podemos’ secretary-general Nov. 15. He aims not only to win next year’s elections but also to give power back to the people through radical, redistributive social policies.
Among the first measures his government would take would be to ensure that people are no longer evicted from their homes — evictions have reached 500 a day in Spain — and to strip banks of repossessed properties that are lying empty for speculative purposes. The rhetoric has many business interests alarmed, and Iglesias has not hidden his admiration for Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. Like the late Hugo Chávez, Iglesias has railed against U.S. hegemony, vowing to leave NATO and revoke the agreement that allows the United States to keep military bases in Morón (Seville) and Rota (Cádiz).
Left-wing populist argue forcefully that the working class must organize against not immigrant workers but the large corporations that hold so much power over their lives.
As fossil fuel prices slip worldwide, and the existing pipeline to its neighbors lags in production and profit, Russian President Putin announced that recalcitrance from Western nations has caused that country to cancel its plans for the new South Stream oil/gas pipeline. His statement; “The EU will not benefit from Russian gas any more. That is their choice.”‘
“It may be a bluff,” said Martin Vladimirov, an energy specialist at the Centre for the Study of Democracy in Sofia, “to pressurise the Bulgarian, Serbian, Hungarian and Austrian governments to unite behind accelerating the project, and make a better case for it to the European Commission”.
However, he favours a second explanation, that South Stream is “simply too big a burden” amid the difficult financial situation facing Russia’s state-owned giant Gazprom.
The Canadian government in Ottawa is trying to have a lawsuit by veterans tossed out, denying that benefits for life are due them when the government is attempting to substitute a one-time payment for continuing care.
The federal government will argue Wednesday that its social covenant to care for injured veterans was just political speech and not meant to be taken seriously.