Jul 29 2011

Weekly Digest – 07/29/11

Weekly Digest | Published 29 Jul 2011, 1:20 pm | Comments Off on Weekly Digest – 07/29/11 -

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hamidiOur weekly edition is a nationally syndicated one-hour digest of the best of our daily coverage.

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This week on Uprising:

* Violence Peaks in Southern Afghanistan; U.S. Claims Taliban Weak
* Chris Hedges on the Norway Attacks: Fundamentalism Kills
* Black Agenda Report on the Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites
* Conservatives Target ATF Without Addressing Source of Mexico Arms Trafficking
* Pelican Bay Prisoners Suspend Hunger Strike, Call for Continued Solidarity

* * *

Violence Peaks in Southern Afghanistan; U.S. Claims Taliban Weak

At least 17 people were killed on Friday morning in Afghanistan when a mini-bus drove over a roadside bomb in the southern Helmand province. Among them were women and children. The violence comes just a day after a triple suicide bombing and shooting in neighboring Uruzgan province claimed the lives of at least 19 people. Among them was a BBC reporter, Omid Khpulwak, and 12 children between the ages of 4 and 13 (according to Reuters). The Taliban took credit for the Uruzgan attacks, one of which was aimed at the security offices of Matiullah Khan, a prominent warlord and U.S. ally who provides protection for NATO convoys traveling from Uruzgan to Kandahar. Khan escaped harm however. The attacks come in the same week as the assassination of the mayor of Kandahar – a province just south of Uruzgan and the traditional stronghold of the Taliban. Ghulam Haider Hamidi, was killed on Wednesday by a suicide bomber who entered his heavily fortified compound with a bomb in his turban. Hamidi worked as an accountant in Northern Virginia for 18 years before leaving for Afghanistan in 2007 to become Kandahar’s mayor. His death is the latest in a string of assassinations of major political figures in and around Kandahar province to be killed in just the past two and a half weeks. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Kandahar’s most powerful warlord was fatally shot on July 12th, followed by the suicide bomb assassination of the cleric Hikmatullah Hikmat, the head of the Provincial Ulema Council just two days later, at Karzai’s funeral. Kandahar, the southern-most province which shares a border with Pakistan, is considered the most dangerous in Afghanistan. It is not yet clear who is responsible for Mayor Hamidi’s murder this week. In fact, the forces arrayed against the central Afghan government and their US and NATO benefactors, seem to be spreading faster, even to the capital Kabul. On July 17th, a key senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, and former governor of Uruzgan province, Jan Mohammad Khan, was killed by armed men at his home in Kabul. Mohammed Hashim Watanwal, a member of the Afghan parliament was killed alongside him. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, claimed in his first press briefing this week that the assassinations represent a sign of weakness for the Taliban.

GUEST: Conn Hallinan, columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus

Read Conn Hallinan’s latest article, about the assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai here: http://www.fpif.org/articles/afghanistan_anatomy_of_a_hit

Chris Hedges: Fundamentalism Kills

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian right wing terrorist, bombed government buildings in Oslo and carried out a mass shooting at a youth camp, killing more than 70 people, exactly one week ago on Friday. Breivik has been charged under the Terrorism Act which has a maximum prison term of 21 years. The rightwing Norwegian wrote his 1500 page manifesto outlining his beliefs online – he was motivated by a fundamentalist ideology, claiming to want to “save [Europe] against cultural Marxism and Islamization.” In an article posted on truthdig.com titled ‘Fundamentalism Kills’ author and analyst Chris Hedges explored the parallels between Breivik’s ideology and American Fundamentalism, which in his view is not a simple opposition between Western Civilization and Islam, rather “between those who embrace the rational and those who believe in biblical myth.” An interview published this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center of a former Department of Homeland Security analyst Darryl Johnson, revealed that a DHS unit responsible for investigating non-Islamic threats in the US was dismantled. This happened after the DHS was heavily criticized for a 2009 report on right-wing terrorism.

GUEST: Chris Hedges, was a foreign correspondent for two decades. He is a Senior Fellow at the Nation Institute and a columnist for Truthdig.com. His latest book is called The World As it Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.

Read Hedges article here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/fundamentalism_kills_20110726/

Black Agenda Report on Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites

Glen FordGlen Ford is a writer and radio commentator and the Executive Editor of The Black Agenda Report. This week’s commentary is on the Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites.

Visit www.blackagendareport.com for more information.

Conservatives Target ATF Without Addressing Source of Mexico Arms Trafficking

The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing this week, hammering officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) about the growing scandal over operation Fast and Furious. An estimated 1000 firearms were trafficked to Mexican drug cartels under the watch of the ATF, as part of a failed anti-gun tracking program. Firearms trafficked under Fast and Furious have been found at multiple bloody sites. Last December, a gun traced back to Fast and Furious was found at the scene of a gun battle where US border patrol agent Brian Terry was killed. Yesterday William Newell, former special agent in charge of the Pheonix ATF office, testified, “It was not the purpose of the investigation to permit the transportation of firearms into Mexico.” ATF officials acknowledge their goal was to track US guns trafficked by low level “straw buyers” to leaders of Mexican cartels. At issue is whether ATF agents allowed guns to be “walked” across the border to then disappear into cartel weapons caches. ATF whistleblower and Mexico City attache Jose Canino says he repeatedly warned his colleagues that the program had backfired, arming cartels instead of disrupting them. Canino eventually blew the whistle to Mexican Attorney General Marciela Morales. The Oversight Committee is also digging deep into how much the Department of Justice knew about the ATF’s operations, and how close the information came to the White House. The DOJ has denied any wrongdoing. In the word of one Republican congressman, “Both sides of the aisle and the American people are furious.” However, the investigation is spearheaded by GOP Committee Chairman Darryll Issa, who vowed to overwhelm the Obama administration with investigations after his party regained control of the House early this year. Politico reports the ATF has also been a target of the NRA, which has played a major role in keeping the agency without a permanent director since 2006.

GUEST: Ted Lewis, Human Rights and Mexico Program Director at Global Exchange

Find out more at www.globalexchange.org.

Pelican Bay Prisoners Suspend Hunger Strike, Call for Continued Solidarity

palican bayFor about three weeks starting on July 1st, a multiracial group of inmates from the Pelican Bay State Prison’s Secure Housing Unit or SHU, began a hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions such as arbitrary solitary confinement and more. Thousands more prisoners from 13 other California prisons joined the hunger strike in solidarity, bringing to light the cruel treatment they face. After years of unsuccessfully working through the complaint process and launching legal challenges, the inmates saw a hunger strike as the only way to call public attention to their conditions. Through the solidarity work of outside activists, the prisoners managed to express specific demands for an end to the human rights abuses they face. Their strategy worked – the strike generated more coverage of the conditions at Pelican Bay and other prisons in mainstream media than years of litigation, with article such as an Op-Ed in the New York Times, entitled “Barbarous Confinement.” The Guardian of London wrote, “The widespread use and abuse of solitary confinement in US prisons and jails is one of the nation’s most pressing domestic human rights issues, and also perhaps its most ignored.” As a result, the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) has come under scrutiny for failing to address the problems. On August 23rd, there will be a legislative hearing on Torture and the SHU at Pelican Bay. On July 21st, the Pelican Bay prisoners suspended their hunger strike based on assurances from the CDCR that some of their minor demands would be met immediately and that the rest would be addressed in the long term. There are reports that inmates in other prisons inspired by Pelican Bay to strike, are still going hungry.

GUEST: Ron Ahnen, President of California Prison Focus, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. Ron also sat on the mediation team between the hunger strike leaders at Pelican Bay and the CDCR

Read the statement from the Pelican Bay Prisoners Collective here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/07/27/18686182.php

Read the blog of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity activists at prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day:

“The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.” — Albert Schweitzer

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