The hole in its body is normal, for breathing.
Jan Tuin in the Netherlands made this video.
Manchester demonstrators: “People are dying under these austerity measures”
By our reporters
3 October 2017
Paul and Sarah attended the People’s Assembly protest from east London, along with around 40 other workers.
Paul said, “We are newly qualified nurses. During our training over the last three years, we have been to various wards across London so we have seen the devastation that has occurred because of the cuts and privatisation.
“We are here today because we want the Tories out. They want an American-style health system and what they can’t privatise, they’ll cut.”
Paul had worked at Bart’s hospital, “which has a huge Private Finance Initiative (PFI) debt—it’s the most expensive hospital project in the history of PFI. To pay the increased debt they cut back on the nurses and its caused all sorts of problems. It means ultimately that our patients are in danger, their food is getting cold, and their medication is not getting to them on time. It’s demoralising and so consequently it’s no wonder that we need so many nurses.
“We are starting out on a new career, but all we see is constant heartache. We work with mental health patients and if anything they are suffering even more.”
Paul agreed with WSWS reporters that the Labour Party was instrumental in pushing through privatisation in the health service when in power from 1997-2010. He said, “During the Blair years, what [ex Tory Prime Minister John] Major started with the market in the health services and then with the PFI’s, Blair and Brown continued.”
Sarah said, “What we are seeing with all the austerity measures is that people’s lives are not being valued. Look at Grenfell, the fact that fireproof cladding would have cost just a bit more money but they couldn’t be bothered. It’s what we’re seeing within all structures of society. In education, teachers cannot look after all the children. I inspected a school and it had no playground for a primary school.
“People are dying under these austerity measures. From the nursing perspective, we’re seeing not enough nurses on our wards. This is ultimately leading to poor care and patients possibly deteriorating and dying. I’ve seen instances such as when a nurse collapsed in the toilet from exhaustion. We’ve had some night shifts where there are not enough nurses on the wards.”
Brandon, from Manchester, pointed to the sign he was holding, explaining he was marching “for the many disabled people, not the few millionaires.”
“Myself and my mother have suffered from the disability cuts of the Tory party. It’s unacceptable to see the alarming number of deaths as a result of those cuts.”
Brandon explained about a young man, David Clapson, “who I learned about recently whose power was cut off, which meant the insulin in his fridge was spoiled and then his sister found him dead next to a pile of CVs.”
He said, “Reading about abhorrent things like that obviously strikes a chord because it could so easily happen to someone like me or anyone I know.”
Brandon’s disability benefits were “stopped completely for about a year. After about six months when I finally managed to stage an appeal, I finally won it back, but even then it was cut by £30 a week, which has considerable effect monthly and yearly.”
The government’s blanket “reassessment” of disability payments had denied income to thousands of people: “Most people had their payments stopped and the people making the decisions aren’t actually qualified. It’s ‘healthcare professionals’ rather than doctors and nurses. They flat-out rejected most people because they worked on a points system.”
A Kafkaesque appeals process followed: “You have to apply for what’s called a mandatory reconsideration, where the same people who made the decision in the first place just look over it again, and obviously reject it again. And it’s only after that you can make an appointment for an appeal where lawyers and nurses are involved. But that process takes about six months. So the time building up to that, even though about 70 percent of the appeals win, the actual time it takes is far too long and leaves people without any money.”
Ria and Kate are students. Ria said, “Labour councils are pushing through the cuts just as bad. In Liverpool, on the Wirral, social housing landlords Magenta Living are privately selling off their stock and the Labour council has approved this. …”
Kate said, “The National Health Service is being privatized, students aren’t being listened to even though we’re the future of this country. They know we’ve got no power. It’s not on. They want to make us pay for everything. Who put them in charge?”
Ria noted, “There won’t be an NHS in the next ten to fifteen years time if this government continues. I feel really sorry for people who work for the public sector at the minute because they’re on a one percent pay rise. It’s appalling what they’re doing to them. People working 16 hours only get paid for 12 hours. My mum recently took early retirement from the NHS because she was suffering health problems. It became all about numbers, getting patients in and out as quickly as possible rather than caring for them.”
Kate added, “In the last election Labour, for the first time, almost won. Jeremy Corbyn is changing things. He’s appealing to students who weren’t politically motivated before. We’re heading the right direction—we need to get rid of the Tories, they’re ruining everything.”
Asked what she thought about the role of Labour in the privatisation of the NHS and Corbyn’s record of capitulation to the right-wing since becoming leader, Kate said, “I do believe that’s wrong but he’s making a start. He wants to scrap tuition fees and educate people more. Yes, there are still people involved in the Labour Party who started privatization but the Tories are making it a lot worse, rather than sorting it out.”
Ria said, “The rich and the wealthy have all the power in this country. Young people, ethnic minorities and poor people really don’t have a voice. It’s undemocratic. I think democracy is almost a lie. It’s made to look like it’s a democracy but really this country is run by rich politicians that don’t have a clue about normal working life, affordable housing, etc.”
Kate added, “We [the working class] were never supposed to succeed…It’s nearly impossible for us to get anywhere.”
Peter McCabe was at the demonstration to highlight what he described as the “asset stripping” of Manchester City Council. He explained that as part of boundary changes associated with ongoing “regeneration” projects on the outskirts of the city centre, the council is seeking to relocate Whitworth Park, one of the few large parks in the city, and the adjoining Whitworth Art Gallery—which is currently in the ward of Moss Side—into the Ardwick ward.
“I am here to oppose austerity and this is austerity. It’s taking off the poor and it’s giving to the rich. They are converting old buildings in Ardwick into apartments which are well outside the rental ability of people outside of the professional classes. It’s way out of the league of anyone that is in social housing, anyone that is on low pay, etc. How dare they take off us the only assets we have. These are public spaces. It’s an art gallery and a museum. If it can happen to us, it can happen to anybody. This is a national issue.”
This video says about itself:
As President Trump travels to Puerto Rico two weeks after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria, we go to the island for an on-the-ground report. Democracy Now!‘s correspondent Juan Carlos Dávila traveled to the town of Utuado to speak with residents who have yet to get help other than a few bottles of water. He also joins us live in the capital San Juan from a protest against Trump‘s visit.
Trump Visits Hurricane-Battered Puerto Rico After Insult Tweets, Tells Officials That It Threw Budget ‘Out Of Whack’. Tensions are high after the president ripped into local officials’ criticism of his administration’s storm response: here.
This 3 October 2017 video shows a green woodpecker on a tree.
Luuk Punt in the Netherlands made this video.
This 3 October 32017 video is called Catalans strike over violent crackdown on independence referendum.
EU hands Spain blank check for stepped-up police repression in Catalonia
3 October 2017
The day after images of the savage repression of the Catalan independence referendum by Spanish police shocked people around the world, Spain’s Congress announced yesterday that it did not have time to invite Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to discuss the Catalan issue until October 10.
With 16,000 Guardia Civil still in Catalonia, this was a declaration of confidence in Rajoy’s crackdown. It is also a warning that, after Catalan officials claimed a victory in the referendum and announced plans to secede on Sunday night, Madrid is preparing new, even bloodier attacks.
On Sunday, the world received an unforgettable lesson on the anti-democratic methods of a major, supposedly “democratic” capitalist state in Western Europe. Faced with a Catalan independence referendum it opposed, Rajoy‘s minority Popular Party (PP) government sent in tens of thousands of police in a failed attempt to smash the referendum by terrorizing the population. Guardia Civil units broke into and smashed polling places including schools and sports arenas, stole ballot boxes and beat up peaceful, defenseless voters.
Horrific videos flooded the Internet—of an elderly woman speaking, covered in blood, after Guardia Civil picked her up and threw her face-first onto the pavement; of police beating Catalan firefighters; of Guardia Civil grabbing young women peacefully sitting on the ground in polling stations by their hair and throwing them down flights of stairs. One video in Girona showed a police unit surrounded by a large mass of voters that suddenly ceased beating them when the voters raised their hands and chanted, “Assassins, assassins.”
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire spoke for the entire European ruling class when he made clear that the bloody images of mass police repression in Catalonia did not trouble him.
“All these decisions are matters of Spanish sovereignty,” Le Maire told RTL radio. “What would we say if the Spanish government started giving opinions on the situation in France, on the ways we handle our issues of public order? All these decisions belong to the Spanish government, and they are its exclusive responsibility.”
The European Commission echoed Le Maire, handing Rajoy a blank check for new onslaughts against the Catalan population, signed by the entire European Union. In a statement published online yesterday placing its seal of approval on Madrid’s repression, it declared: “We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein.”
Reaching new lows of hypocrisy even for the EU bureaucracy in Brussels, the Commission added, “Violence can never be an instrument in politics.”
With this support, the Spanish press is whipping up nationalist, law-and-order hysteria and promoting far-right protests of hundreds and in some cases several thousands of people being held across Spain. While the press invariably describes them euphemistically as protests “for the unity of Spain,” it also blandly reports that protesters are singing songs of the 1939-1978 Spanish fascist regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, such as the Hymn of the Legion or Cara al Sol.
In a noticeable echo of the Francoite regime‘s traditional denunciations of regional separatists and communists, the right-wing La Razón blamed Sunday’s violence on the Catalan population. It declared, “Civil guards and police officers acted with their accustomed and proportionate professionalism to the violence exercised by the radicals.”
The daily El País, while long associated with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), took a line virtually indistinguishable from the nationalist right. It hailed police actions in Catalonia it said were “of course, taken within the framework of the law, as is correct in a state where the rule of law is in force.”
El País also denounced Catalan police for not attacking the population violently enough. It wrote that had they acted “as ordered, stopped the polling stations from being opened and seized the ballot papers, the Spanish National Police and the Civil Guard would not have had to do this job later; and we would have been spared many of yesterday’s deplorable scenes that were broadcast around the world.”
The Catalan independence referendum has exposed the enormous shift to the right taking place across Europe. After a quarter-century of escalating imperialist wars in Africa and the Middle East and EU austerity at home, since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union and particularly since the 2008 Wall Street crash, economic inequality and social tensions are reaching explosive levels. For several years since the 2008 crash, Spanish unemployment has hovered at or near 20 percent.
The political settlement orchestrated in the 1978 Transition in Spain from fascist rule to parliamentary democracy is disintegrating. The PSOE, the Spanish bourgeoisie’s main party of government in the post-Franco period, has been discredited by decades of policies of austerity and war and fallen to barely 20 percent in the polls. Moreover, the truce between Madrid and regional ruling elites in Catalonia and the Basque country has now collapsed.
The ruthless crackdown in Catalonia is a warning to the European and international working class. While Franco has been dead for over 40 years, the class forces that sustained his regime are still in place, and the democratic forms of rule that existed over this period are rapidly eroding. Anytime the ruling class meets serious opposition, it resorts to dictatorial methods—unhesitatingly mobilizing police, military police and even the army as it suppresses opposition.
If Le Maire can effortlessly endorse Rajoy, it is because the entire European ruling elite is moving in the same direction. Indeed, shortly after Le Maire’s comment, French President Emmanuel Macron, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, drove this point home by placing a phone call to Rajoy to endorse his policies. Macron reportedly stressed that in Spain he “has only one partner, and that is Mr Rajoy.”
As Macron imposes his labor decrees shredding workers’ basic legal rights despite mass opposition in the French working class, and Berlin prepares new social attacks to be carried out by whatever government emerges from the September 24 German elections, these remarks are a warning. The European ruling class as a whole is preparing for the type of repression now seen in Catalonia.
The critical question is the political mobilization of the entire Spanish and European working class in struggle against the rehabilitation of fascism and the turn to police-military rule. In particular, there must be determined opposition to any attempt by Madrid to crush the Catalan population and the Catalan nationalist parties’ plans for secession through the mobilization of the army.
As the International Committee of the Fourth International explained in its statement, “Oppose the state crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum!,” this can be accomplished only by the revolutionary unification and mobilization of the working class across Europe in struggle against war and capitalism, and for socialism.
This underlines the essential bankruptcy of the Catalan nationalists’ opposition to Madrid. Having led right-wing, pro-austerity administrations in Catalonia, they are both incapable of and hostile to making an appeal for support against Rajoy to the European working class.
The appeals of regional premier Carles Puigdemont and of the Podemos-backed mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, to the EU to adjudicate the crisis are impotent. They are being studiously ignored by the EU governments, which are preparing for their own confrontations with the working class and endorsing Rajoy’s assault on Catalonia.
Today, there is a general strike in Catalonia in protest against the police violence. The organisers of the European sailing championship in Barcelona have stopped today’s races in solidarity. Also Barcelona football club participates in the strike.
Some 150 members of the Civil Guard were forced to quit their hotel accommodation in the coastal town of Calella, Catalonia on Monday morning after a protest by locals against police brutality in the banned referendum in the region mutated into a demonstration demanding the police forces leave: here.
This 28 September 2017 video shows an agile red squirrel, going for walnuts fallen from a tree because of a storm.
Henk Meeuws in the Netherlands made this video.