Nov 23 2012

Weekly Digest – 11/23/12

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:

* An Update on Israel’s Bombing of Gaza as the Possibility of a Ceasefire Remains Up in the Air
* The Political and Historic Context to Israel’s Bombing of Gaza
* Analyzing the “Fiscal Cliff” with Economist Dean Baker
* Walmart Workers Protest at 1000 Stores on Black Friday

* * *

An Update on Israel’s Bombing of Gaza as the Possibility of a Ceasefire Remains Up in the Air

A bomb exploded aboard a bus in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, injuring twenty seven Israelis. There were no fatalities. A group calling itself the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command has taken responsibility. The bombing came after yet another night of Israeli bombing raids in the Gaza Strip, which targeted government ministries, media offices, and homes. On Monday, Israeli bombs struck an apartment building, a media center, and a sports stadium.

While a slew of rockets from Gaza are targeting Israeli areas, they are vastly outnumbered by Israeli drone strikes and bombing raids, and pale in comparison to the power of Israeli bombs, part of what is being called Operation Pillar of Defense.

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, home to 1.7 million people. As of this recording, the latest Palestinian death toll is now at least 130, nearly 30 of whom were children.

The continued violence comes at the same time as a US and Egypt-brokered attempted ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was pronounced a failure earlier in the week. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been traveling to and from Israel, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ramallah, meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and Egypt, meeting with Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi. There are still hopes that a ceasefire may be announced this week.

On Monday night, Israeli planes dropped leaflets over Gaza warning residents to vacate parts of the area to avoid the bombs, sending about 10,000 Palestinians to seek shelter in schools run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA. Israeli Defense Forces have alleged, using social media, that the UN agency has been using its schools as bases for Palestinian militants to launch rockets into Israel. UNRWA has strongly denounced the allegations. The Shejaya Elementary Co-ed School in Gaza has sustained severe damage from Israeli attacks during the current campaign.

GUEST: Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, former chair of the Free Gaza Movement, and currently working with Palestinian Youth Activists, joining us live from Ramallah

The Political and Historic Context to Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

Israeli political and media rhetoric has signaled a strong desire to continue the offensive. For example, writing in his column, Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima — the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”

The timing of the bombing campaign has provoked questions of political efficacy, coming right after the US elections, and a few months before Benjamin Netanyahu faces re-election in Israel. The last major bombing campaign in late 2008-early 2009, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, had similar election-related timing, and resulted in the killing of 1,400 Palestinian civilians in 22 days.

GUEST: Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University – he’s also the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories

Analyzing the “Fiscal Cliff” with Economist Dean Baker

Congress and the White House plan to resume talks on the so-called “fiscal cliff” after the Thanksgiving holiday. The talks began last week and are intended to address $600 billion of budget cuts and tax increases that will automatically take effect after December 31st.

Analysts have named the trigger cuts and taxes a “fiscal cliff,” implying that if they go into effect, they will drive the US economy over the edge into a second recession. However, the cuts and taxes were put into place by lawmakers themselves as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 which emerged from last summer’s debt ceiling showdown between Republicans and Democrats.

The main point of contention now lies over taxing super-wealthy Americans. In the days following President Obama’s re-election Republican House Majority leader John Boehner took what many considered a conciliatory tone, offering to accept some tax revenue increases. However, he has made it clear since that such revenue increases would have to come through closing loopholes rather than increasing taxes on the rich. Democrats, including House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama himself, have said they will not consider an agreement that does not include increasing taxes on the wealthy.

If no agreement is reached, the so-called Bush era tax cuts will automatically expire. Wealthy Americans now pay significantly less in taxes since President George W Bush put in place a series of controversial temporary tax cuts. However, payroll taxes on middle class Americans will also increase, and the Pentagon will face a leveling of its budget.

GUEST: Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC; he has written a number of books including Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy and False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy.

Visit www.cepr.net for more information.

Walmart Workers Plan Protests at 1000 Stores on Black Friday

Retailers around the country sought to woo shoppers to spend more on Black Friday by extending their hours and increasing the over $50 billion dollars that consumers were expected to spend on the most lucrative shopping day of the year. Walmart, Sears, Target, Toys R Us, Kmart and other stores opened on Thanksgiving Day itself to lure more shoppers. However, a Target employee who started a petition to keep her store closed on Thanksgiving, managed to attract more than 350,000 signatures from the public, saying that employees deserve to spend Thanksgiving with their families.

This year Black Friday may also have been the biggest day of protest for Walmart workers around the country. Walmart workers or associates as they are called, have been unable to form a union but many have been organizing under the name Organization United for Respect at Walmart or OUR Walmart over the past couple months and are geared up to stage their largest action against the retail giant on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Employees are demanding better wages, longer and more regular weekly work hours in order to qualify for benefits, and better treatment of workers who voice concerns over working conditions or pay. The company, which recently posted a third quarter net income of $3.63 billion dollars or 9% more than what it made last year, was nervous about picket lines dampening its Black Friday profits.

In an attempt to shut down the protests, Walmart filed a complaint last Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Food and Commercial Workers International or UFCW which is affiliating itself with OUR Walmart, asserting that the protests were illegal because they have gone beyond an allowed maximum of 30 days.

Organizers who were unable to be at every one of Walmart’s 4,000 stores to set up picket lines, turned to online social media outlets to discourage shoppers from patronizing the store or shopping online.

GUEST: Dan Hindman, Walmart Associate at the Panorama City Walmart; Paul Osterman, MIT professor and the author of Good Jobs America: Making Work Better for Everyone

Visit www.forrespect.org for more information.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day

“It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.” — Theodore Roosevelt

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