News in Brief: Anti-Austerity Protests Erupt in Greece and More

Anti-Austerity Protests Erupt in Greece

Tens of thousands of civil service servants in Athens, Greece, walked off the job on Wednesday to protest new government austerity measures, The Wall Street Journal reports. Public services throughout the country closed down as doctors, teachers, transportation officials and journalists joined to form the second major strike in Greece this year, only days before the government is expected to present Parliament with $37.4 billion in spending cuts and tax increases to decrease the budget deficit over the next five years. The country's public-sector workers have taken the biggest hit in previous austerity measures, with some having their earnings cut by up to 25 percent. “These neoliberal and barbarous policies, which are driving workers and society into poverty for the benefit of creditors and bankers, are taking us back to the last century,” said public-sector union Adedy in a statement.

House Democrats Protest GOP Support for Permanent War on Terror

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Michigan) and 32 other House Democrats called on their Republican colleagues this week to rescind a section of the 2012 defense authorization bill that they say would declare war permanently against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, The Hill writes. In a letter released Tuesday, Democrats said that indefinitely continuing war against terror gives too much authority to the president without allowing consideration within Congress first. “[The] Detainee Security Act would appear to grant the President near unfettered authority to initiate military action around the world without further congressional approval,” the Democrats wrote, referring to a section of the bill that “includes the authority to address the continuing and evolving threat posed by” the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The letter also asked House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-California) to hold hearings on these proposals before including them in the National Defense Authorization Act, but Republicans are expected to hold a markup to grant committee approval of the bill.

Single-Payer Health Care Bill Introduced in Congress

Democracy Now! reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Washington) introduced a measure in Congress on Tuesday that would establish a single-payer health care system to guarantee medical services to all Americans. Sanders, whose home state of Vermont is preparing to become the first in the country to implement a single-payer system, said it is time “for the United States of America to join the rest of the industrialized world and say that healthcare is a right of the people, not a privilege for the few.” Vermont will enact the system after receiving final approval by legislators.

Presbyterian Church Latest to Approve Gay Relationships

According to The Washington Post, the Presbyterian Church on Tuesday approved a proposal that overturns the celibacy condition for unmarried clergy and removes language in the church constitution that requires priests to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” The change in the constitution allows the Presbyterian Church to ordain gay priests, making it the latest Protestant step in accepting gay relationships.