Mass British anti-Trump protests downgrade state visit


This video from Britain says about itself:

Maz Saleem speaking at ‘No to Trump’s wars, Stop nuclear confrontation’ rally outside the US embassy in London on 19/4/2017 called by Stop the War Coalition & CND, filmed by Husain Akhtar.

By Jon Sharman in Britain today:

Donald Trump has state visit to UK downgraded ‘and will not be guest of the Queen’

Downgrade comes after threats of mass protests by opponents

Donald Trump’s planned state visit to the UK has been downgraded to a “working visit”, likely forming part of a multi-country tour, it has been reported.

It means the billionaire will not be a guest of the Queen, as was previously envisaged.

Theresa May‘s offer of a state visit to the first-term President was greeted with the threat of mass protests by opponents.

Mr Trump’s [2018] visit will now take place without the glitz and pomp of a full state visit, the Evening Standard reported.

A state visit was also opposed by London mayor Sadiq Khan, who said he was “not sure it is appropriate for our government to roll out the red carpet” for Mr Trump.

Hundreds of thousands of people had signed a petition against the plan.

During the summer, the White House denied reports that Mr Trump wanted to delay his visit until he could be sure of a better reception, following a phone call with Theresa May.

The President’s spokesman said: “The subject never came up.”

At the time, Downing Street maintained there had been “no change” to plans for a state visit.

On Wednesday, Theresa May‘s office declined to comment on the claim of a downgrade, and said its position on the state visit had not changed. The offer had been extended, accepted by Mr Trump, and no dates had been arranged.

The Prime Minister extended her invitation in January, shortly after Mr Trump’s inauguration. She was the first world leader to visit the new president in Washington.

‘Working visit’ or no ‘working visit’, queen or no queen, there should be big demonstrations against Trump’s policies when he arrives in Britain.

From the Stand Up to Trump coalition in Britain:

Theresa May and Donald Trump have announced Trump will be visiting the UK …

When the date is announced, we will be organising mass protests to oppose Trump’s racism, sexism and bigotry.

We believe our government should not be seen to be endorsing the sorts of ideas and policies he is putting forward, and we want to build the broadest possible alliance against him.

Join our protest to tell Trump his racism and bigotry isn’t welcome in the UK.

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German pro-peace artist Käthe Kollwitz


This video from South Korea says about itself:

From the ashes of war, German artist Kathe Kollwitz uncovers humanity

18 March 2015

Works by a famous German artist who is known for her emotionally powerful artwork are on display here in Seoul.

Our Yim Yoonhee joins us with more about this very moving exhibition.

Käthe Kollwitz created strong images that touched millions of lives around the world for their depictions of people struggling with the poverty and devastation in the aftermath of war.

This is a rare opportunity to see these works.

Have a look.

A mother, desperate to feed and fend for her children in a country ravaged by war.

The image is one of over 50 original works by the 20th century German painter, printmaker and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz that are being shown at the Seoul Museum of Art.

But inside these charcoal sketches, inside the shadows, are hungry children, traumatized mothers,… the victims of poverty and World War I,… people that artist Kollwitz just couldn′t ignore.

“After the war, the remaining families had a very hard time. There was no relief in sight, no counseling and no one to defend them. This artist chose to bring attention to them.”

The exhibition is divided into two parts one dedicted to the squalid lives of members of the working class prior to 1914, while the latter part shows works that illustrate the living hell experienced by people in Germany in the aftermath of World War I.
Kollwitz was a well-recognized and respected artist in the art community, but she went beyond being an artist and contributed to humanity, bringing awareness to those left in the shadows of this world.

What was the artist′s relationship to the war?

Kollwitz was married to a doctor who often tended to the poor, and that greatly affected her career.

In terms of the war, she lost her youngest son to World War I, which you can imagine had a great influence on her works.

Many of her works have names such as “Grieving Parent”, “The Widow” and “The Sacrifice”, so it′s clear that art really became her outlet.

And what legacy does the artist leave behind, other than her works?

There are over 40 German schools named after the artist, but many books, movies and even modern dance pieces have featured characters inspired by Kollwitz.

There are also many statues, some made by Kollwitz herself and some created after her works that are housed at many locations throughout Germany… to commemorate the war and especially its victims.

The artist really brought much-needed attention to all of the unseen suffering during wartime.

By Jenny Farrell in Britain:

An artist of peace and the people

Saturday 7th October 2017

Jenny Farrell pays tribute to the great German artist and sculptor KÄTHE KOLLWITZ

Käthe Kollwitz’s work reflects the events of the first half of the 20th century yet she continues to stand tall among anti-war artists and champions of the dispossessed of the present time.

Kollwitz broke completely with bourgeois aesthetics and made the subjugated and humiliated working class her sole artistic subject. Her work eloquently expresses the force, resistance and humanity of this class. Very often, she focuses on individuals or small groups who exemplify the fate of thousands, balancing their misery with dignity and human kindness.

This year marks the 150th year since her birth in Kaliningrad. The daughter of a bricklayer who recognised his daughter’s artistic talent early on, she was barred from studying art as a woman in her hometown and moved to Berlin and Munich to pursue her education.

There, she met radical artists of her time and married the socialist Karl Kollwitz, a medical doctor who lived among, and treated, the poor of Berlin. Together they dwelled in the then impoverished working-class — now gentrified — Prenzlauerberg district for most of their lives. Here, she gave birth to two sons and created her substantial oeuvre.

Kollwitz’s breakthrough work, which defined her artistic signature, was the cycle The Weavers, inspired by witnessing in 1894 the premiere of Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama of the same name about the uprising of Silesian weavers a half century before.

Over and above connecting present misery with that of the past, Kollwitz focused on resistance against social injustice. Reflecting on this early experience, she noted in her autobiography that the play, research and work on the weavers’ rising was a key event in her artistic development.

The cycle consists of three lithographs — Poverty, Death, and Conspiracy — and three etchings — March of the Weavers, Riot, and The End — with The March of the Weavers becoming Kollwitz’s best-known work.

Käthe Kollwitz, The march of the weavers, 1897

Stirred by her working-class surroundings and involvement, Kollwitz’s second cycle The Peasant War, going back to the German uprising of the 1520s, also centres on the rebellion of the exploited and suppressed against social injustice.

Peasant War is worked in a variety of techniques — etchings, aquatint and soft ground and the cycle is counted among Kollwitz’s greatest achievements.

In one of the images, After the Battle, a mother searches through the dead at night, looking for her son; and the sense of loss and grieving became a central theme in Kollwitz’s work after the death of her son Peter in the early days of WWI.

Käthe Kollwitz, After the battle, 1907

From then on, mothers protecting their children, fighting for their survival and grieving their death became an ever-present motif in Kollwitz’s work. She conveys a profound sense of unspeakable tragedy and of human responsibility to fight against death-spawning militarism and war. The people, the victims, are also those where humanity is found and the only source of resistance.

In 1919, Kollwitz began work on the woodcut cycle War, responding to the tragedies of WWI. Seven images reflect her unspeakable pain. Stark, large-format woodcuts feature the anguish of war. In The Sacrifice, a mother sacrifices her infant, while in The Volunteers Kollwitz depicts her son Peter beside Death, who leads a group of young men to war in a frenzied procession.

Once again eliminating specific references to time or place, Kollwitz created a universal condemnation of such slaughter.

The January 1919 assassination of Karl Liebknecht — sole German parliamentarian to vote against further war loans in the summer of 1914 — by right-wing militias, occasioned her famous woodcut In Memoriam Karl Liebknecht. It is a moving tribute to this communist leader, mourned by the people he represented, who pay their final respects in a shocked, yet gentle fashion.

Kollwitz, Germany's children are starving, 1924

In 1924, Kollwitz created her three most famous posters, Germany’s Children Starving, Bread and Never Again War. After the nazi rise to power, in the mid-1930s, Kollwitz completed Death, her last great cycle of eight lithographs.

More heartbreak was wrought on her in 1942, when her grandson Peter fell victim to Hitler’s war. This death came after that of her husband Karl, who had died of illness in 1940.

Kollwitz died just a few days before WWII ended, on April 22, 1945. She has left us with unforgettable images of the horrific events and epic struggles of her lifetime. Her images remain profound indictments of a system that perpetuates such social injustice and crimes against humanity.

The free exhibition Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz runs at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham until November 26, details: here.

Puerto Rico still devastated, storm Nate threatens


This video says about itself:

Special Report: Puerto Ricans in Vieques Cope with Devastation & Fear Toxic Contamination from Maria

6 October 2017

We end today’s show where we began the week: in Puerto Rico. Doctors say the island’s health system remains crippled two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island, leaving more than 90 percent of the island without electricity and half of its residents without drinking water. That’s at least according to statistics published by FEMA on Wednesday.

But on Thursday, FEMA removed data about access to drinking water and electricity in Puerto Rico from its website. Democracy Now!’s Juan Carlos Dávila is on the ground in Puerto Rico, and this week he managed to make it to the island of Vieques to speak with residents of the area that the U.S. Navy used as a bombing range for decades.

Since the 1940s, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of the island for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions. The bombing stopped after a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, but the island continues to suffer. The Navy says it will take until 2025 to remove all the environmental damage left by more than 60 years of target practice. Juan Carlos filed this report from Vieques in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

By Rafael Azul:

Puerto Rico continues to languish as tropical storm Nate threatens US Gulf Coast

7 October 2017

The current hurricane season in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico is proving to be one of the most destructive on record.

On October 5, tropical storm Nate struck Central America and skirted Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula; it is now headed toward the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Nate is fast moving and is headed in the direction of the Mississippi River Delta; New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida, where it is expected to strike late tonight as a category one hurricane, with winds of 75 miles an hour.

An early count shows seven casualties in Costa Rica and 15 in Nicaragua. Costa Rican authorities also reported that 15 people are missing and some 5,000 were evacuated to emergency shelters. Louisiana has declared a state of emergency and ordered evacuations of low-lying areas.

Further to the east torrential rain and high winds are being predicted for Puerto Rico this weekend, still languishing from hurricane Maria, which struck more than two weeks ago knocking out the US territory’s entire electrical grid. Approximately 90 percent of the island remains without power and access to clean drinking water is limited.

Rain fell hard in Ponce and other southern cities on Friday increasing the danger of flash floods and mudslides. There are predictions of 10 inches of rain across the island by Sunday. Puerto Rican authorities issued a flash flood warning for the entire island.

Lares and Utuado, in the center of the island, are among the most damaged by Hurricane María, and still largely isolated, facing floods and mudslides. Directly to the north from them are the cities of Quebradillas and Isabela, close to the damaged Guajataca Dam. If this weekend’s rains force authorities to release more water from the dam into the Guajataca River, more flooding will impact those two cities and other coastal communities. The rainstorm is also limiting shipping around the island.

Meanwhile, Trump administration officials have continued to insist that President Donald Trump did not mean to say in a Tuesday night interview on Fox News that Puerto Rico would not have to pay its $74 billion debt obligation.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declared that the president does not believe that the debt should be erased. What he really meant, said Sanders, is that the island should continue with the bankruptcy process under the Promise Act, administered by the Financial Oversight and Management Board.

“There’s a process for how to deal with Puerto Rico’s debt, and it will have to go through that process to have a lasting recovery and growth,” Sanders insisted. “This was a process that was put in place and set up under Obama, and that has a board of advisors that deals with that debt. And it will go through that process as we move forward.”

Sanders spoke a day after White House budget director Mick Mulvaney urged people not to take the president’s remarks literally.

The grim reality is that a $74 billion debt that was “not payable” in 2015, in the words of Governor Alejandro Padilla, before the one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and María, is ever more so now that there are no significant assets for the vulture funds to pillage, and as a greater portion of the Puerto Rican population migrates to the US. Puerto Rico will now have to raise some $90 billion just to rebuild the inadequate infrastructure and housing that existed the day before Irma struck.

Recovery across the island is slow, there are reports that some public schools may reopen by the end of the month, and electricity is being restored at a snail’s pace. People continue to cue up for gasoline and for cash. According to one resident, “fuel has become like gold.” Forty percent or more of the population continues to be out of water.

The existence of water distribution centers, which in many cases consist of just one faucet or garden hose, are often not being advertised by the government with people finding out about them through word of mouth. The lack of water combined with no electricity to power air conditioners and fans in the island’s tropical heat is fast becoming a public health catastrophe.

Two weeks on there has yet to be a credible accounting of the extent of the damage, of how many people actually died from the storm; how many were injured; how many remain missing; an exact count of destroyed homes and businesses; how many people are still employed; or how the mosquito population exploded bringing with it the danger of Zika and other diseases.

As with London’s Grenfell Tower Fire, authorities are keen on hiding this information, surely out of concern that it will trigger a social explosion. Many of the reports coming in appear in the Facebook pages of volunteer groups in the mainland organizing the delivery of supplies and the rescue of those of that need to leave the island.

New information, particularly from the south and southeast, where the hurricane hit first and hardest, indicates that conditions are much worse than initially expected. Eleven thousand homes were destroyed in just four suburbs of Ponce, for instance. Yauco and Juana Díaz to the west survived the harshest pummeling of the storm only to be inundated a day after by the flooding of the Luchetti River, entirely covering many homes with water.

On Wednesday a resident of a Río Piedras home for the elderly committed suicide in desperation. Meanwhile, in at least one hospital, the stench of rotting corpses in its morgue forced it to sharply curtail all but emergency operations.

Get militarism out of British schools


This video says about itself:

Britain’s 250,000 boy soldiers in World War I

25 May 2014

A quarter of a million boy soldiers, some as young as 14, enlisted in World War One by lying about their age. Around 120,000 of them were killed or injured. One 17-year-old was shot for desertion. The government and military — desperate to boost recruitment — turned a blind eye to the thousands of child soldiers sent to the trenches.

By Rhianna Louise in Britain:

The Ministry of Defence must stay out of schools

Saturday 7th October 2017

Children don’t need militarism. They need a decent learning environment, writes RHIANNA LOUISE

“CADET units can improve attendance and educational achievement, supporting children in ways that schools cannot,” said an interim report on the social impact of cadet forces published this week by the University of Northampton.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon praised the report while announcing 31 new cadet units in state schools.

The funding of the cadet expansion programme, part of nearly £90 million that has gone into military programmes in education since 2012, seems rather an anomaly.

In contrast, non-military services and facilities for young people have been decimated in recent years, and education is facing a funding crisis.

Teaching and support staff posts are being cut, along with Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision and spending on books and equipment. Funding for education of 16-19 year olds has been devastated.

Outside the classroom, the picture is equally bleak. Youth clubs have been so badly hit that they are closing up and down the country and may become once more reliant on Dickensian philanthro-capitalism.

Children’s mental health services have also faced cuts, with funding falling by nearly £50m between 2010 and 2015.

I’ve seen first-hand the impact of these cuts, having worked as a teaching assistant in a comprehensive school. My team supported pupils with physical needs and learning difficulties in and outside the classroom.

The department has now been cut to the bone. One Year Eight pupil with learning difficulties offered to run a cake sale to raise money for us.

I was a “mentor” to an 11-year-old boy — I’ll call him Connor — who struggled academically and behaviourally, due to emotional difficulties.

Many of his issues arose from home, where there was a history of abuse. Connor started the year well, and asked repeatedly if he could have counselling, which had helped him in primary school. But the school was unable to provide this.

As the year progressed, Connor got into fights and disengaged from learning. I pushed for him to be given extra support, but by the time occasional “anger management” sessions were offered to him, he had already started down a pathway he wouldn’t come back from easily. He was expelled the next year.

The University of Northampton report, and Fallon’s dream of cadet units blossoming up and down the country, herald the cadet forces as the solution to the struggles of children like Connor.

This is premised on the militarist narrative in which the military is the highest of institutions, a school for the nation which offers a solution to all of society’s problems. This narrative is disingenuous, flawed, and dangerous.

It is disingenuous because Ministry of Defence documents show that the advancement of military influence in education, including cadet expansion, is not motivated by the best interests of young people.

Rather, it is motivated by the militarisation agenda; to increase uncritical support for the military (and their operations) and boost recruitment.

The report itself mixes child development aims with defence aims such as savings, recruitment and PR for the armed forces.

It is flawed, because while the cadet forces offer benefits to many young people, so too would any well-funded youth programme with excellent resources.

It is dangerous, because while the report deems it praiseworthy that the cadet forces are a route to recruitment — while simultaneously lauding the benefits offered by cadets for socio-economically disadvantaged and emotionally troubled young people — in fact military service can be highly damaging to this demographic in particular.

As evidenced in a new report called The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment, commissioned by Veterans for Peace UK, young people with experiences of childhood adversity, who exhibit violent behaviour at a young age, or have mental health problems, are not for the most part “rescued” by a military career.

They are likely to leave early and face unemployment due to a lack of transferable qualifications after leaving education to enlist. Their early difficulties leave them more susceptible to mental health problems triggered by training and in service.

Children like Connor don’t need a cadet force to try to mould them into controlled, obedient and patriotic young citizens. They need proper and sustained mental health support in a supportive learning environment with qualified professionals.

They need well-funded education. They need opportunities to feel comfortable and confident, to grow in empathy and self-efficacy. Such opportunities are not unique to or owned by military environments.

The primary aim of the Ministry of Defence is not to advance the wellbeing of young people. Its priorities may in fact sometimes clash with the best interests of the young people with whom it interacts.

This is evidenced by the much criticised practice of recruiting young people before they are adults, the culture of silencing and cover-up around abuse, and the “moral exploitation” of promoting often ethically perilous agendas to young people.

I asked Dr Brian Belton, an international authority on youth work, what he thought about the University of Northampton report.

Youth work is divided into two movements, he said; one which seeks to “harness and develop young people, primarily for the benefit of the maintenance of the state,” and one in which young people are seen to have “the capacity within themselves to be creative and auto-didactic in terms of learning about themselves and the world.”

Even if we are concerned purely with outcome, he argues that “military ethos” type projects like the cadet forces are not what we actually need today: “the modern world does not require conformity, it demands innovation.”

We should all be very concerned by the direction in which education and youth work is heading. A growing socio-economic chasm and calls to “fill the ranks” of the military from Britain’s schools do not bear much promise for a new generation equipped to thrive in the modern world and respond to the challenges it faces.

Instead of pushing militarist conformity, we should be investing in education, mental health facilities and youth work that supports young people to think critically, innovatively and ethically.

Rhianna Louise is the education and outreach officer at ForcesWatch. For more on Forces Watch visit: forceswatch.net.

Spanish military invasion of Catalonia?


This 1 October 2017 video is about Spanish police brutality against Catalan voters.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Madrid prepares to deploy troops in Catalonia

7 October 2017

There are numerous unconfirmed reports of troops being sent to Catalonia and nearby regions ahead of a possible unilateral declaration on independence early next week.

Spain’s political establishment is openly talking of invoking Article 116 of the Spanish constitution, laying the basis for the imposition of martial law.

According to military sources cited in the right-wing newspaper OkDiario, troops are being mobilised to Aragón and Valencia, regions adjacent to Catalonia. It explains that the Spanish government estimates that it is necessary to deploy around 30,000 security forces to take control of the region and to “establish constitutional order against the insurrection.” The newspaper says this is a “number which cannot be presently met by the 8,000 police and civil guards currently deployed in Catalonia.”

According to OkDiario, the divisions mobilized include the Division Castillejos (formerly the Rapid Action Force), consisting of three brigades totalling 3,000 troops (the airborne, the parachute and the legion brigades), along with the Armored Infantry Alcázar of Toledo, consisting of 300 troops and 44 tanks. In addition, Madrid is reported to be mobilising the Group of Special Operations of the Navy, the Spanish equivalent of the Navy Seals.

The number of troops being cited in other sources ranges between 12,000 and 16,000.

La Tribuna de Cartagena explains that the Navarra Frigate, escorted by two anti-mine frigates, is going to depart to Barcelona fully equipped with troops, arriving at Barcelona’s port on October 8—a day before the previously announced declaration of independence is supposed to be made in the Catalan parliament. According to a statement of the Ministry of Defence, the frigates are participating in the Barcelona International Boat Show.

At the same time, NATO has organised a training exercise under the title “Angel Guard”, involving the 600 military police, Spanish and from another nine NATO member countries. According to the website of the Spanish army, these exercises aim to train military police in the management of a command post during operations and raids, escort and protection of authorities, neutralization of hostile armed personnel inside a military compound and crowd control.

Article 116 involves the deployment of the military and allows the suspension of numerous democratic rights including freedom of expression and the right to strike. It also allows for preventive arrests. Suspending these rights would arm the state with vast police powers that the military could use to terrorise the entire working class, as the Franco regime did from 1939 to 1977.

The Association of the Spanish Army (AME) posted a statement defending King Felipe VI’s speech, in which the monarch denounced the Catalan independence referendum and demanded that the Spanish state seize control of the region. The statement describes the speech as “impeccable” because Felipe conveyed “clearly, concisely and emphatically what the line to follow amid these difficult and complex times.”

AME demanded Popular Party Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy move “to defend without delay the unity of Spain, its territorial integrity and its national sovereignty.”

The European Union has declared its support for the military clampdown now being prepared. During Wednesday’s debate in the European Parliament, Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans declared that it is “a duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force.”

He was backed by leading representatives of the Conservative, Social Democratic and Liberal parties.

The implications of such statements were made clear by German EU Commissioner Gunter Oettinger, who warned yesterday that “There is a civil war imaginable now in the middle of Europe”, before making the pious wish that “One can only hope that a thread of conversation will soon be recorded between Madrid and Barcelona.”

Spain’s media is playing its part in paving the way for the military intervention through a campaign aimed at dehumanizing the Catalan nationalists and, in some cases, the whole Catalan population. Not one day passes where the press does not describe developments in Catalonia as an “insurrection,” a “coup d’état,” “rebellion” or as “treason” which needs to be crushed.

Catalan nationalists are accused of brainwashing children and putting them at the front line of protests to be attacked by police. The national police and civil guards, who savagely injured 800 peaceful protestors last Sunday, are portrayed as defenseless and persecuted by people protesting in front of their hotels and temporary residences. The regional police, the Mossos, are presented as treacherous and disloyal. The separatist Catalan Republican Left and the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) are constantly attacked, with articles describing them as “the cancer of Catalonia” ( ABC ), or calling for these parties to be “beheaded …. and put in the dustbin of history” ( El Español ).

Such fascistic language precedes a provocative demonstration called for Sunday by the Popular Party and the anti-secessionist Catalan Civil Society, an organization with ties to the far-right. Backed by Citizens and the Socialist Party, and widely promoted by the Madrid-based media, right-wing anti-Catalan nationalists from throughout Spain are being bussed into Barcelona.

The far-right character of the demonstration is acknowledged by its organisers.

In an interview to El Confidencial, Javier Megino, vice-president of From Spain and Catalonia, accepted that there will be neo-fascists and far-rightists present, as they were during a demonstration against separation in Barcelona two weeks ago. Asked if they might cause violence, Megino replied, “when you put together so many people, it is impossible to control them all.”

The demonstration clearly aims, not to represent the “silent majority” within the Catalan population who oppose separatism as asserted by the media, but rather to provoke a violent confrontation between Catalan separatist and fascist forces which the government will seek to exploit to justify a crackdown.

The grave political danger is that the working class in Spain and internationally is not being mobilized against the repressive measures being prepared by Madrid.

At this critical juncture, Catalan and Spanish workers must assess the political forces that claim to supposedly defend them.

Catalan regional premier, Carles Puigdemont, continues to call for dialogue, an option rejected by Rajoy who declares him to be a criminal. Catalan vice-premier, Oriol Junqueras, is mainly concerned at the announcements made by major banks and companies like Banco Sabadell, CaixaBank, energy giant Gas Natural, Abertis, biotech firm Oryzon and the telecommunications corporation Eurona that they are moving out of Catalonia—fearing the future of the region amid the separatist drive.

CUP parliamentarian Eulàlia Reguant told the Catalan daily Nació Digital that her party is working on a plan of how they will take control of Catalan territory, including ports and airports, by approving a law that will mean that 17,000 regional police, the Mossos, “will stop being part of Spain’s justice system.”

Podemos continues its call for dialogue, while promoting illusions in a PSOE-Podemos government as an alternative to the PP, even as the PSOE is participating in Sunday’s far-right protest and working directly with Rajoy in preparing a violent intervention.

Spain’s Constitutional Court outlawed Monday’s session of the Catalan regional parliament, at which it was expected that the separatist parties would make their unilateral declaration of independence—based on a complaint brought by the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC), the Catalan wing of the PSOE.

All these political forces are demonstrating their political bankruptcy in the face of a military-police state threat. They are disarming the working class, despite the broad opposition that exists to a return to police-state forms of rule.

The broadly-felt opposition to the brutal attacks on democratic rights in Catalonia and throughout Spain can only find expression on the basis of politically independent, revolutionary and socialist perspective independent of all factions of Spain’s ruling elites and their parties.

Catalonia’s Referendum Unmasks Authoritarianism in Spain. Friday, October 06, 2017. By Monica Clua Losada.

This 1 October 2017 video is called Woman claims police broke her fingers during Catalonia referendum.

The German government has backed Madrid’s suppression of the Catalonian independence referendum because it, too, is preparing to crack down on social and political opposition at home: here.

The Popular Party (PP) government has stepped up its threats of carrying out brutal repression in Catalonia on the eve of today’s potential unilateral declaration on independence by the Catalan parliament: here.

Speaking Tuesday evening before the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, regional premier Carles Puigdemont announced that Catalonia would secede from Spain, in line with the result of the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. However, he put off a formal declaration of independence for now and requested negotiations with the central government in Madrid. The Popular Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has declared the referendum illegal and treasonous and ruled out talks with Puigdemont: here.

Military tyranny in Catalonia, Spain?


This video says about itself:

Spanish police brutality against Catalan voters

4 October 2017

Compilation of Spanish police brutality stopping voters from getting to the polling stations to cast their votes.

By Alex Lantier:

Spain prepares military crackdown in Catalonia

6 October 2017

With Spanish military and police units already being deployed, Madrid has signaled that it is preparing a brutal crackdown in Catalonia.

Spain’s Constitutional Court yesterday said that Monday’s planned session of the Catalan regional parliament, at which it was expected that the separatist parties would make a unilateral declaration of independence, must not take place. Coming after failing in a brutal attempt to halt the October 1 Catalan independence referendum, and with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejecting calls for mediation led by the Podemos party and the union bureaucracy, the move lays the basis for bringing in the army against what is now declared an unconstitutional meeting.

The Constitutional Court acted based on a complaint brought by the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC)—the Catalan wing of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), which is now working openly with the PP to prepare a military clampdown. Calling the PSC’s complaint “relevant and of general social and economic interest,” the Court ruled that any act decided by the Catalan parliament would infringe the rights of PSC MPs and be “totally void, without the least value or effect. It warned that defying this order could mean arrests and criminal prosecutions.

On Sunday, the world was shocked and stunned as videos filled the Internet of 16,000 police assaulting polling places and peaceful voters, including women and the elderly, across Catalonia. Furious that its initial crackdown failed, Madrid is now preparing an even bloodier assault, using the military. As the Spanish press debates imposing a state of emergency, as in neighboring France, it is clear that this is bound up with well-advanced plans for military rule and the abrogation of basic democratic rights across Europe.

Rajoy’s minority Popular Party (PP) government is relying on the support of the major European imperialist powers. After official German, UK, and French sources signaled their support for Madrid following Sunday’s crackdown, the European Union (EU) again formally endorsed the Spanish crackdown on Wednesday.

Opening debate on the Catalan crisis at the European Parliament, Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the EU Commission, unequivocally endorsed Madrid’s use of force against the population of Catalonia. “The regional government of Catalonia has chosen to ignore the law in organizing the referendum of last Sunday,” Timmermans declared, adding: “it is the duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force.”

Yesterday, Spanish Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal made clear that Madrid views an army intervention to be a legitimate response in Catalonia. At a meeting at the School for Higher Defense Studies, she insisted that Spain’s army is tasked with “defending its territorial integrity and constitutional order.” After King Felipe VI declared in a bellicose speech Tuesday that Catalan nationalists had placed themselves outside the law and democracy, Cospedal added, “Everything that is located outside of democracy is a threat to our nation.”

Spanish army units are already providing logistical support to police deployed in Catalonia. And after Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont indicated after Sunday’s crackdown that he could declare independence on Monday, a measure that Madrid has stated for months is illegal, political maneuvers by Madrid to seize the Catalan government are underway.

There are also moves underway by the Spanish judiciary to prosecute Catalan judges and Catalan police, the Mossos dEsquadra, for failing to crack down on voters and demonstrating sympathy for separatists. The head of the Mossos, Josep Lluis Trapero, is to appear today before a court on the unprecedented charge of sedition, facing a 15-year prison sentence.

The courts are also removing legal restrictions to decisions by banks and corporations to move their headquarters away from Catalonia, amid reports that CaixaBank could soon move to Mallorca.

On Thursday, Rajoy also rejected appeals for mediation from Podemos General Secretary Pablo Iglesias and Puigdemont, supported by the … Workers Commissions (CCOO) and social-democratic General Union of Labor (UGT) union bureaucracies. When Iglesias phoned Rajoy to discuss the plan, Rajoy thanked Iglesias but declared he had no intention of negotiating with anyone who “is blackmailing the state so brutally.”

This was a direct repudiation of the Podemos leader’s comments the previous evening. Iglesias had told reporters, “A group of trusted people should sit down at a table to discuss as a team for dialog. This is what I told the premier of Catalonia and the prime minister of Spain. I spoke to Puigdemont and Rajoy, and they didn’t say no.” …

While the leader of Podemos held “cordial” talks with Spain’s right-wing prime minister, far-right forces are organizing anti-Catalan protests across Spain and singing hymns of the 1939-1978 fascist regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

Well aware that a new crackdown could provoke explosive social opposition among workers in the entire country, the Spanish press is agitating for moving to a police-state dictatorship. They are discussing the application not only of Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, a so-called “nuclear option” that suspends Catalan self-government, but Article 116. This suspends basic democratic rights—including freedom of thought and expression, the right to strike, and elections—and allows for press censorship.

After a quarter century of imperialist war and EU austerity since the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union, European democracy is at the breaking point. A decade of deep austerity since the 2008 Wall Street crash, which brought Spanish unemployment to 20 percent, has shattered Spain’s economy and discredited its ruling elite. Amid a deep crisis of the post-Francoite regime in Spain, and as the ruling class savagely attacks democratic rights across Europe, the Spanish bourgeoisie is using the Catalan crisis to return to an authoritarian regime.

Madrid’s plans for a bloodbath in Catalonia must be opposed. The critical question is the politically independent, revolutionary mobilization of the working class, not only in Catalonia but in all of Spain and across Europe, in struggle against the threat of civil war and police-state dictatorship and for socialism.

Faced with the prospect of a military crackdown, panic is reportedly spreading among Puigdemont’s supporters. Among Catalan nationalists in Barcelona, the city’s daily La Vanguardia wrote, “A strong feeling of vertigo runs through everyone—undermining militant enthusiasms, revolutionary visions, indignation in capital letters, patriotic ardors.” It added that King Felipe VI’s speech “has accentuated this feeling of vertigo. There is fear that the current escalation will end in catastrophe.”

Incapable of and hostile to mobilizing broader opposition to Madrid’s crackdown in the Spanish working class, the Catalan nationalists’ pro-capitalist politics only serves to divide the workers while a bloody onslaught from Madrid looms.

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By Alejandro López in Spain:

Amid Catalan crisis, Madrid prepares military rule across Spain

6 October 2017

The Spanish political establishment is now openly debating its options for how to crack down on the secessionist movement in Catalonia and install military rule across the entire country.

Two weeks ago, the debate was whether the Spanish minority Popular Party (PP) government under Mariano Rajoy should implement drastic measures that would suspend Catalan regional autonomy. Now, the question is when and how the military will be deployed and police presence escalated. These discussions must be taken as a serious warning to the Spanish and international working class.

The Madrid-based media is unanimous in denouncing Rajoy for not moving more rapidly with military force against the separatists. Yesterday, editorials attacked the “inexplicable paralysis of the government” (El Mundo), the “Government’s delay in making decisions” (ABC), that the “insurrectionary plan of the secessionists advances … without the governmental side considering any initiative to stop it” (El País); and “the paralysis of the Government … [which] has weakened the constitutionalist bloc and emboldened secessionists” (El Español).

El Confidencial reports, “In the PP leadership, they admit that their members and bases are anxious for drastic measures to stop the coup in Catalonia, and still more after hearing the message of the King. For the moment, internal discipline has been imposed between deputies and senators, with the official message that ‘the president knows what he has to do and when he has to do it.’”

This “discipline” has been broken, in fact, by former PP Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Yesterday, Aznar called on Rajoy “to act” and “use all the constitutional instruments within reach.” He added that if Rajoy cannot find “the spirit or the courage,” he should call elections “to give Spaniards the possibility of deciding which government” can face the separatists.

The main mechanism being discussed is Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which can be invoked if a regional government “acts in a way seriously prejudicing the general interests of Spain.” This clause, which has never been invoked, allows the central government in Madrid to take control of a regional government.

Since 16,000 police deployed in Catalonia failed to close down last Sunday’s referendum—the Interior Ministry said that police closed down only 79 of the 2,315 polling stations—such a measure could not be implemented without a turn to the military and bloody repression.

If such a measure was not contemplated previously for fear that it would set off a social explosion in Catalonia and across Spain, now the right-wing press is provocatively calling for such an outcome. As one opinion writer for the conservative ABC noted, it “would lead to violence in the streets … and millions of supporters and detractors throughout Spain should prepare themselves mentally to expect arrests, suspensions, disqualifications from public office and an aggressive street insurrection that shall be stifled.”

Days after this piece was posted, ABC sees it is too late to invoke Article 155. “This article is only effective if applied on time,” ABC wrote yesterday. Now, it added, the government has to invoke “the Constitutional clauses that foresee the state of emergency, established in its Article 116.” ABC, which sided with the fascist coup of General Francisco Franco in 1936, is calling for de facto military rule once again in Spain.

Article 116 spells out different scenarios for states of alarm, emergency and siege (martial law). It involves the deployment of the military and allows the suspension of the following democratic rights: prohibition of preventive arrest; the right to privacy; the right to free correspondence; free elections and freedom of movement across the national territory; the right to free expression and thought; the right to communicate information or receive true information; prohibition on the seizure of publications and other types of information without judicial process; the right to strike; and the right to adopt methods of collective struggle.

In addition, it stipulates that the government may intervene against “industries or businesses that can upset the public order,” suspend civil servants from their positions and “Order the provisional imprisonment of the accused to be maintained, according to [judges’] discretion, during this period.”

In other words, the ruling class is openly discussing imposing a military dictatorship and suspending rights granted to the working class as a result of its struggles against fascist dictatorships in the 20th century. Suspending these rights would mean arming the state with vast police powers that the military could use to terrorise the working masses, as the Franco regime did from 1939 to 1977.

The other measure being considered is the National Security Law passed in 2015 by the PP and PSOE after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France. This law empowers Rajoy to declare a “situation of interest for national security,” define the geographical area affected and assume power in that territory “with the appointment, where appropriate, of a functional authority,” in coordination with the National Security Council composed of the defence and interior ministers, the head of the Spanish intelligence services, and the heads of the army.

The law resembles one introduced by Franco in 1969, which directly targeted the working class. As the WSWS warned, “It is an indictment of the Spanish ruling class that the precedent for this law was one passed and used by the fascist regime to suppress the rise in working class militancy. Between 1970 and 1979, it was used against striking workers on the Madrid and Barcelona metros, railways and buses and in the shipyards, postal and fire services and the electricity system.”

The discussions taking place in Spain have vast repercussions for the international working class. It is not surprising that former vice-prime minister and longstanding Socialist Party deputy, Alfonso Guerra, declared in favour of sending the army to Catalonia, adding that “in France the Army has been protecting the streets for two years, and no one is discussing it,” that is, whether France is a democracy or not.

There should be no illusions that the European Union will seek to stop the drive to a military dictatorship in Spain. On Wednesday, Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said it was the “duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force,” referring to the 800 injured by police violence last Sunday.

Eighty years after Franco’s military coup, the working class must organise itself throughout Spain to prevent the drive to military dictatorship.

This requires complete political independence from the impotent cries of Podemos imploring the PP to negotiate with Barcelona, a proposal repudiated by Rajoy, and the separatists’ hopes that a major crackdown would simply increase their political appeal. Ignoring the threat of military dictatorship, they are acting to disarm the working class while sowing dangerous illusions in the PP and the military.

On Monday, Spain’s Popular Party (PP) government rejected Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont’s call for a two-month period of negotiations with Madrid after the “yes” vote in the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. With Spanish armored forces and thousands of police preparing for action, Spain is on the brink of martial law and a military crackdown in Catalonia: here.