Sep 28 2012

Uprising Weekly Digest – 09/28/12

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:

* Europe’s Debt Crisis Hits New High
* A Conversation with Green Party Presidential Candidate, Jill Stein

* * *

Europe’s Debt Crisis Hits New High

A day after mass popular demonstrations, the governments of Spain and Greece on Thursday specified billions of Euros in cuts to social programs. The Spanish government specified €40 billion in budget cuts and tax increases which includes a minimum 9% across the board cut for all government ministries, a third consecutive salary freeze for civil servants, a reversal of tax breaks for home buyers, and an increase in taxes on lottery prizes. In a rare gesture to seniors, pension payments will increase 1 percent for now.

Despite demonstrations on Wednesday that turned violent, the Greek government’s three-party coalition agreed that in order to stay in good favor with its creditors, and make its next payment of €31 billion, Greece has to raise taxes and cut social programs. The conservative-led coalition on Thursday agreed upon a €13.5 billion austerity program and are currently seeking authorization from both financiers and the Greek Parliament. Alexis Tsipras, head of Greece’s predominant left-wing opposition party Syriza which won a significant number of seats in the election, staunchly rejects all austerity measures. Tsipras proposed an international meeting to forgive Greek debt, saying “the solution we propose is a European conference on debt, as happened in 1953 for the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Meanwhile in Italy on Friday, tens of thousands of union members marched in the capital, Rome, protesting austerity measures. Also joining them were workers at the Colloseum and Roman forum, forcing a closure of the two tourist landmarks. Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government approved healthcare and pension cuts, a continued freeze on wages of public workers, and an increase in taxes, in a bid to avoid a Greece-style debt crisis. Italian unemployment has hovered at 10%.

And, on Friday morning in France, the Socialist government of Francois Hollande, elected earlier this year, announced a dramatic 75% tax increase on France’s super-wealthy and corporations. The tax hikes, which are temporary, will garner €30 billion, and accompany a €10 billion spending freeze. French businesses have denounced the tax hike, claiming it is “impeding investment and so will block innovation” (Huffington Post).

GUEST: Costas Panayotakis, associate professor of sociology at New York City College of Technology at the City University of New York and author of “Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.”

A Conversation with Green Party Presidential Candidate, Jill Stein

As the Presidential election looms just six weeks away, the two major party candidates continue to campaign fiercely in swing states. Republican Mitt Romney, speaking in Ohio this week, attempted to counter the damage to his campaign from leaked remarks that dismissed 47% of Americans as “victims,” who didn’t pay taxes and were dependent on the government. He said, “My heart aches for the people I’ve seen,” who are unemployed.

Just in the past few weeks, incumbent President Barack Obama has opened a significant lead over Romney in several swing states including Ohio, where new polls by Quinnipiac and the New York Times have given him a ten point lead over Romney. Obama’s surge is being attributed to multiple blunders by Romney on domestic and foreign policy, implying that Obama’s popularity is less linked to his own successes, and more a result of Romney’s failures.

It’s a familiar conversation every four years: voting for President often comes down to picking the lesser of two evils. Unlike in many other countries, only two major parties dominate the American political landscape. But a growing movement behind one of the few so-called Third Parties, is the Green Party. Famous for its high-profile presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000, this year the Green Party nomination was won by Dr. Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts who has been making waves around the country on her campaign tour.

Jill Stein is considered an environmental health pioneer, known for her widely cited reports, In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging published in 2009. She works closely with parents, teachers, community groups and others, advising them on a variety of health and environmental issues. In Massachusetts, she was involved in a successful campaign to clean up coal plants and has been involved with the group, Physicians for Social Responsibility. She is also the co-founder of Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities.

Jill Stein’s running mate is Sheri Honkala, a well known housing rights and anti-poverty activist.

GUEST: Jill Stein, Green Party Candidate for President

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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