Nov 30 2012

Weekly Digest – 11/30/12

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:

* Gaza Ceasefire Holding as Watered Down Palestinian Statehood Passes at UN
* Egyptians Return to Tahrir Square As President Morsi Assumes Sweeping New Powers
* Boehner Appoints 19 Extreme Right White Guys To Head House Committees
* Selma James Speaks Out on Obama’s Reelection

* * *

Gaza Ceasefire Holding as Watered Down Palestinian Statehood Passes at UN

A day after an historic vote at the United Nations General Assembly to grant Palestine non-member observer status, Israel responded by announcing the building of 3,000 new illegal settler homes.

The UN vote passed with 41 abstentions and 9 no votes, among them the US and Israel. While some critics contend that the new status reduces Palestinian representation significantly in population and land size, it does enable Palestinians to bring criminal cases against Israel via the International Criminal Court.

The vote also comes just days after a ceasefire was declared between Israel and Hamas after a bombing campaign called by Israel Operation Pillar of Defense. Overall, 167 Palestinians were killed, of which a significant number were children, and over 1200 wounded during the bombing. It was the worst attack by Israel since the 2008-2009 assault called Operation Cast Lead during which over 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

Many Palestinians saw this latest assault as a “war of choice” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cement his position in the lead up to elections next year.

High level talks brokered by the US and Egypt resulted in the ceasefire that many hope will also pave the way for addressing the years-long Israeli blockade of Gaza.

I spoke with Jennifer Loewenstein two days before the UN vote about the ceasefire, it’s political repercussions and the implications of UN recognition.

GUEST: Jennifer Loewenstein, faculty associate in Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Egyptians Return to Tahrir Square As President Morsi Assumes Sweeping New Powers

Almost a year and a half after President Mohamed Morsi was sworn into power in Egypt, hundreds of thousands of protesters are returning almost daily to Tahrir Square in Cairo, as well as other cities throughout the country, denouncing a temporary decree he issued granting himself absolute power as well as the rushed passage of an unpopular draft constitution. Protesters chanted, “Morsi is Mubarak . . . Revolution everywhere,” comparing Morsi to deposed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak whose corrupt government was toppled nearly two years ago by a mass people’s revolution.

The past week has seen 3 people killed and at least 100 injured as a result of clashes between pro and anti-Morsi protestors.

Morsi, who was a high ranking official in the Muslim Brotherhood prior to becoming President, had said in his swearing in ceremony that “no institution will be above the people.” Yet, in his current decree he has given himself wide ranging powers, allowing himself to be the country’s sole lawmaker by removing Egypt’s prosecutor general.

Morsi’s latest decree was issued just one day after President Barack Obama had praised him for his role helping to mediate a cease fire between the Israelis and Palestinians during the recent conflict in Gaza. He is claiming that the decree is a temporary measure put in place until a new parliament is elected in order to preserve the goals of the revolution and help with transition to democratic rule.

Opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei however stated on his Twitter account, “Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences.”

Meanwhile the IMF or International Monetary Fund has threatened to withhold a $4.8 billion dollar loan to the country if the current political situation is uncertain.

GUEST: Ashraf Khalil, author of Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation, contributor to Time

Click here to read Ashraf Khalil’s writings on Time Magazine.

Click here to listen to Uprising’s hour-long in-studio interview with Ashraf Khalil about his book Liberation Square in March 2012.

Boehner Appoints 19 Extreme Right White Guys To Head House Committees

Republican House majority leader John Boehner has appointed 19 of the 21 heads of House committees that oversee legislation. His choices have come under fire for being uniformly white with the possible exception of Representative Darrell Issa who is of Lebanese descent. All nineteen are men.

At a time when the GOP is reeling from Presidential and Senate losses, partly as a result of unpopularity among non-whites and women, the demographics of the committee heads are particularly symbolic.

Of the nineteen, only 6 are newly named, with the rest returning from earlier terms. The sole woman who headed a committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, retired from her position as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Boehner does not have much of a choice of women and nonwhites among elected GOP officials – only 17 of the more than 230 Republicans in the House are women, 7 are Latino, and one is African American. Meanwhile, Democrats are able to boast 61 women and a plethora of African Americans and Latinos among its ranks in the House.

In addition to the racial and gender homogeneity of the House Committee chairmen is their extreme rightwing politics. For example, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, a climate change denialist, has been chosen to head the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. And California representative Ed Royce, considered a darling of some anti-immigrant and islamophobic organizations, has been chosen to lead the Foreign Affairs committee.

House committees are the incubators of legislation – the place where bills are either nurtured or killed before making it to a general vote, and as such committee chairs wield significant political power.

GUEST: Adele Stan, is the Washington bureau chief for AlterNet

Read her writings online at www.alternet.org/authors/adele-m-stan

Selma James Speaks Out on Obama’s Reelection

President Obama’s reelection this month was seen by many as a victory against conservative forces as represented by the GOP’s Mitt Romney. But the US presidency has far greater repercussions both domestically and internationally than most of us generally think about. For example, the direction of the current fiscal talks depends upon how strong a stand Obama takes on one of the major issues that helped him win the election – promising to increase taxes on the rich – a position of mass popular appeal.

In the wake of talks on the so-called fiscal cliff breaking down this week, new reports suggest Obama may be willing to compromise on tax increases for the rich. Labor leaders who greatly helped Obama’s reelection, are fiercely lobbying the President against caving on the tax increases and ensuring that the social safety net is preserved.

Internationally, Obama’s reelection maintained moral and financial support for the State of Israel in its recent bombing campaign of Gaza. Obama and his administration, despite having spoken out against illegal Israeli settlements in the past, stood firm in their unwavering support for Israel’s right to bombard the Gaza strip.

International women’s rights and human rights activist Selma James, who is currently on tour in the US has much to say about President Obama’s reelection.

GUEST: Selma James is author of Sex, Race and Class – The New Terms of Unity. She is also founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign and coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”
? Plato, The Republic

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