Chomsky: Greece’s Syriza & Spain’s Podemos Face “Savage Response” Taking on Austerity “Class War” 1

Noam Chomsky Podemos

Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. He is institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years.

Democracy Now.org–Following its election in January on a pledge to confront the austerity program that’s decimated Greece’s economy, the Syriza government has faced a major pushback from international creditors led by Germany. Days after Greece secured a four-month extension to a loan package in exchange for new conditions on its spending, Noam Chomsky says the European response to Syriza has been “extremely savage,” a reaction that could face Spain’s Podemos party should it win upcoming elections.

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In Muddy Fields, Spain’s International Brigades Live On Reply

Patricio Azcarate Diz

Roland Lloyd Parry writes for Mysinchew.com, Morata de Tajuna, Spain (AFP) — Through the mud and olive trees, Scotsman Andy Crawford trudges over the Spanish fields where eight decades ago his grandfather William fought and died. A Communist pipe-fitter from Glasgow, William was among tens of thousands of foreigners who fought in Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war as part of the International Brigades. Fearing the spread of fascism in Europe, they tried in vain to help Spain’s Republican army fend off Francisco Franco’s Nationalist uprising. “There were no medals to be won, no wages to be earned and they were frowned on by half the world,” said Andy, 66, standing on a hilltop near a stone monument to the brigades.

Along with 300 relatives and friends of the former “brigaders”, Andy marched on February 21 with flags waving to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Jarama, named after a river southeast of Madrid. In that three-week bloodbath in February, 1937, the International Brigades helped block Franco’s drive to cut off the strategic road linking two Republican strongholds, Madrid and Valencia. “People gave up everything just to come here and help,” said Andy. “You’ve got to hope you can instil them principles into your own family.”

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Spain’s Women Chefs Demand Their Place at the Top Table Reply

Spanish women chefs

The country’s giants of cuisine are celebrated across the world – and are all men. Now women want recognition of their culinary skills and achievements

The Guardian.com–From Ferran Adrià, creator of the world-renowned El Bulli, to giants of cuisine such as José Andrés, who was awarded the Spanish Order of Arts and Letters in 2010, the modern generation of Spanish chefs has acquired a formidable reputation for innovation, creativity and flair. There are around 170 Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain. In culinary terms, the country has never had it so good.

However, in one crucial respect Spanish gastronomy stands accused of culpable conservatism. Where are the celebrity female chefs? “We’re not being given a voice,” Estíbaliz Redondo, the journalist behind online gastronomy magazine Al-Salmorejo said. Frustrated by the marginal role of women in high-flying gastronomic circles, she and Córdoba chef Celia Jiménez last week held Spain’s first-ever conference on women in the industry.

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UN Experts Say Planned Spanish Laws May Violate Human Rights Reply

Gag law protest

ABC News.go.com–U.N. human rights experts on Monday urged Spain’s Senate to reject two proposed bills, saying they threaten fundamental rights and freedoms. The five experts issued a statement expressing concern about the Public Security Law and the Penal Code projects and called on Spain to take steps to guarantee fundamental rights and public freedoms. The statement, issued in Geneva, said the Public Security Law, which it referred to as the “gag law,” violates the very essence of the right to assembly. The bill proposes the summary expulsion of migrants caught entering the country’s North African enclaves illegally and hefty fines for protests outside parliament buildings and strategic installations.

The experts echoed criticism by Spanish opposition parties and rights groups that the bill is an attempt by the conservative government to muzzle protests over its handling of the economic crisis. Maina Kiai, U.N. special expert on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, said the reform “unnecessarily and disproportionately restricts basic freedoms such as the collective exercise of the right to freedom of opinion.” In reference to the North African enclaves, the statement said the reform could pave the way for on-the-spot deportation of people at risk of torture, contrary to international human rights.

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The Hug That Could Change History Reply

Diego Neria Lejarraga

When Pope Francis reportedly embraced a transgender man at the Vatican he offered hope to those who have struggled to gain acceptance in the Church

Jane Fae writes for Catholic Herald.co.uk–When I first read that the Pope had met and embraced a transgender man, I was overjoyed. How better to breathe life into his stated view, as I was reminded at Mass on the very morning that I write this, that we should “give witness with joy and simplicity”? My joy, though, was quickly tempered by the analysis that followed. The story, according to the mainstream press, was straightforward. A Spanish transgender man, Diego Neria Lejarraga, wrote to the Pope about his struggles for acceptance within the Church. To his amazement, the Pope responded first by picking up the phone and then arranging a formal meeting at the Vatican.

To the heartfelt question of whether, after his gender reassignment (popularly referred to as a “sex change”), there was “a place somewhere in the house of God for him”, Francis responded by embracing him, Mr Neria told the Spanish newspaper Hoy. This, I told myself, is why Pope Francis is rapidly winning a special place in the hearts of those who have felt marginalised, rejected by a Church that they still desperately long to believe in.

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The Changing Face of Romania in Spain Reply

Ica Tomi Rumana

Immigrants from the Eastern European country are the Madrid region’s largest foreign community. Many are defying stereotypes and integrating into society.

El Pais in English–An uncomfortable silence descends on the room when a Romanian confesses to being a Romanian. For a few seconds, the other person quickly runs through his or her mental references about this nationality. “Ah, well, you don’t look it!” is the typical answer after this particular Romanian has been compared with the Romanian Gypsies who steal copper wiring, the Romanian prostitutes on Madrid’s Montera street and the Romanian pimps who play the slot machines all day long. Often enough, the conversation continues with a “I once had a Romanian house cleaner who…”

Romanians stand for begging, for mafias and for prostitution. They will themselves admit as much, but they also stand for much more than that. The 220,641 Romanian nationals registered in Madrid make up the largest foreign group in the region – far larger than the 87,077 resident Moroccans. Their desire to adapt is so strong that they often renounce much of their own culture, but without ever becoming fully Spanish: they are what they humorously refer to as Rumañoles.

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The Relentless Vision of an Old Spanish Anarchist Reply

Spanish Civil War

Huffington Post.com–Federico Arcos — “Fede” as he’s known — is 94 years old and currently in a Windsor, Ontario, hospital recovering from a recent heart attack. Federico, an anarcho-syndicalist, is a living link to one of history’s Federico Arc osmost remarkable episodes, the Spanish Civil War, and one of the most remarkable stories within this history: How the Spanish Anarchists, with a sizable following, were able to run a number of towns, villages, agrarian collectives and the entire city of Barcelona along anarchist lines, subscribing to anti-authoritarian principles. It didn’t last long — barely a year and wasn’t entirely successful — but it demonstrated some possibilities: If you removed the coercion inherent in any modern state (for example, cops) folks wouldn’t necessarily be at each others throat.

Federico Arcos anarchist

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#FreeSpeechStories: The limits of Spanish humour Reply

Facu Diaz Spain

BBC Trending tells the story of a Spanish political satirist who some say crossed the country’s red lines – and who even ended up summoned to a criminal court because of a sketch.

BBC.com, Reporting: Anne-Marie Tomchak, Video journalists: Alvaro A. Ricciardelli and Gabriela Torres–Last week, at the same time as millions rallied online in support of pointed French satire using #JeSuisCharlie, south of the border in Spain #YoconFacu (I am with Facu) was trending last week in support of the satirist Facu Diaz. He has been accused of mocking victims of terrorism in an online video sketch, which uses the iconography of the Basque armed organisation ETA.

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Podemos Targets Goldman Sachs’s Speculation in Social Housing in Spain 2

Podemos vs. Goldman

Estéban Duarte writes for Bloomberg.com–The anti-austerity party Podemos, leading Spanish polls less than a year before the next election, is targeting Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)’s purchase of social housing in Madrid, saying it’s a predatory type of investment that should be stamped out. Podemos is highlighting transactions such as Goldman’s 201 million-euro ($234 million) acquisition of rent-protected apartments as it works out policies to reduce inequality in Spain and draw millions of unemployed workers back into the labor force after a seven-year slump.

“They know that at a certain point the protected rents will expire, and when that happens, they will throw the tenants out,” Juan Carlos Monedero, a member of Podemos’s executive committee, said in an interview. “They are enriching people who already have more money than they know what to do with, and in turn they are forcing people to live on the streets.”

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Spain to Shelve Alliance of Civilizations Initiative Co-chaired with Turkey Reply

Alliance of Civilizations

Spain plans to leave its position as co-sponsor of the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative proposed and adopted by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero during the 59th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2005.

Today’s Zaman.com–The current Spanish government has decided to completely suspend the Alliance of Civilizations initiative on the grounds that it has lost its importance. The initiative, which was included in Spain’s National Security Strategy in 2011 by Zapatero, was also reportedly excluded from the document’s updated version by the incumbent Spanish government last month.

The current National Security Strategy document that was updated by the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP) is said to make no reference to the initiative as well, reportedly due to pressure from ruling party lawmakers who claim that it is not right to focus on such an initiative at a time when “jihadists terrorize Europe,” the private Doğan news agency reported on Saturday.

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