Dec 30 2011

Weekly Digest – 12/30/11

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

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This week on Uprising:

* The State of American Empire in 2012
* 2011 One of the Deadliest Years for Journalists
* Public Approval of Congress Plummets in 2011
* The Activist Beat with Rose Aguilar

* * *

The State of American Empire in 2012

President Obama’s announcement to end the war in Iraq at the end of the year was seen as the right move by a majority of Americans, 71% to be exact, as per a November 2011 Wall Street Journal poll. That war, fought for nearly nine years, was initially popular with the public but quickly became the hallmark of George W. Bush’s failed foreign policy. Meanwhile, the longest war the US has ever waged rages on in Afghanistan where attempts to broker peace between Afghanistan and the Pakistan-sponsored Taliban recently failed. The US’s practice of nightime raids in Afghanistan have come under scrutiny once more with the death on December 17th of a pregnant woman in Gardez. The woman, who was eight months pregnant, was killed when her house was surrounded by US troops and her husband and son arrested. And in Libya, where US forces joined NATO in a short war to overthrow Moammar Gaddafi’s regime this year, chaos still reigns. Despite the end of the dictatorial government, there are far too many reports of atrocities being committed against Gaddafi loyalists. In a new book commenting on the state and impending decline of the American empire, Nation Institute Fellow, Tom Engelhardt, lays out his analysis of how the US is going down the same path that the Soviet Union went down. Namely, we are pouring so much of our national wealth into the military industrial complex, fanning the flames of public fear to justify the expenditures, that it is only a matter of time before the world’s sole superpower faces the same fate as its Cold War rival.

GUEST: Tom Engelhardt, creator and director of TomDispatch.com, and a fellow of the Nation Institute. His earlier books includes The American Way of War, The End of Victory Culture. and a novel called The Last Days of Publishing.

Read Tom Engelhardt’s work at www.TomDispatch.com.

2011 One of the Deadliest Years for Journalists

Two thousand and eleven proved to be a deadly year for journalists around the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists identified at least 43 members of the press killed worldwide in direct relation to their work. Most deaths occurred in the Middle East, where 18 journalists were killed this year, many while covering the Arab uprisings. On December 18th a leading Somali TV journalist was fatally shot in Mogadishu by a man in a military uniform while on his way to a press conference. On December 15th in Russia’s hostile North Caucasus region, prominent independent journalist Khadzhimurad Kamalov was shot dead by an unknown person while leaving his newspaper offices this month. This year the number of imprisoned reporters is also on the rise. The Committee to Protect Journalists found the number of imprisoned reporters is at its highest level since the mid-1990s and is 20% higher than in 2010. Again the biggest proportion of imprisoned journalists was in the Middle East and North Africa. Journalists are also being swept up as part of anti-terrorism operations. In Turkey on December 20th, several journalists were detained on allegations of participating in the “press and propaganda wing” of the Kurdish rebel group the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, worrying media and human rights activists in the country. Also last week two Swedish journalists were found guilty of supporting terrorism in an Ethiopian court after being arrested while traveling with rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front. The convictions reportedly shocked the journalists who maintain they did enter Ethiopia illegally, but were investigating illegal acts in the country by a Swedish oil company. They face up to 18 years in prison. Here in the United States, where journalists have enjoyed much freedom and safety, many were arrested while covering Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. Thirty journalists were arrested in at least 10 cities including Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Free Press reports US journalists have been detained by police, physically assaulted and blocked from protest areas. Police have used strobe lights to make filming impossible and prohibited news helicopters from flying above protest sites.

GUEST: Carlos Lauría, the Senior Americas Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists

Visit www.cpj.org for more information.

Public Approval of Congress Plummets in 2011

Congress approved a two month extension of the payroll tax cut last Friday, just two days before Christmas, ending a three month battle between the two major parties. According to the LA Times, “the Senate and then the House, signed off on a compromise plan by unanimous consent, a procedural move that allowed the legislation to move to the President’s desk without requiring most lawmakers to return to Washington.” President Obama signed the bill and headed to his vacation in Hawaii. Early next year negotiations will resume for 2012. A Gallup poll this month shows that Congress’s approval rating, at just 11% is the lowest ever recorded by the polling firm. While Congress is generally unpopular, this year was marked by unprecedented gridlock leading to the severe public discontent. The highlight of the year was the partisan trench warfare over a congressional vote to raise the Federal debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion dollars. Mainstream and Tea Party Republicans used the debt ceiling vote as leverage to push through drastic cuts in social spending. Ultimately, both major parties approved the debt ceiling increase just in time, creating a so-called Super Committee of Congress to generate $1.2 trillion dollars in deficit reduction measures. However, the committee failed to meet its commitments by its deadline, triggering automatic cuts to Medicare, the Pentagon and other programs. Lawmakers promised to stave off the cuts, rendering the entire debt ceiling battle meaningless.

Congress’ inaction on the economy sparked national activism in 2011. While 2010 news media obsessively covered the Tea Party, in 2011 the Occupy movement took center stage while the Tea Party quietly continued to exert their rightward influence on the GOP. According to Reuters, the Tea Party has been working at a grass roots campaign level organizing to, “unseat establishment Republicans who they believe have betrayed the principles of lower taxes, limited government and free markets.”

GUEST: Ruth Conniff, political editor for the Progressive Magazine

Visit www.progressive.org for more information.

The Activist Beat with Rose Aguilar

Activist BeatThe Activist Beat with Rose Aguilar, host of Your Call on KALW in San Francisco is a weekly roundup of progressive activism that the mainstream media ignores, undercovers, or misrepresents.

As we come to the end of 2011, we should take time to reflect on what the citizens of the world have accomplished from Wisconsin to Cairo.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day

“Sometimes I wonder if we shall ever grow up in our politics and say definite things which mean something, or whether we shall always go on using generalities to which everyone can subscribe, and which mean very little.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

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One Response to “Weekly Digest – 12/30/11”

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