Jan 04 2013

Weekly Digest – 01/04/13

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:

* Obama Signs ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Compromise Bill
* Canada’s Idle No More Movement Spreads Rapidly Across the Globe Despite Media Blackout
* As Chavez Recovers From Fourth Cancer Surgery, Opposition Forces Get Busy
* A Critical Look at ‘Django Unchained’

* * *

Obama Signs “Fiscal Cliff” Compromise Bill

Working over the New Year’s holiday, both Houses of Congress approved a deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” after weeks of negotiations. A Senate vote of 89-8 was followed by a House vote less than 24 hours later of 257-167. President Obama signed the bill into law on Wednesday.

House Speaker John Boehner apparently considered adding billions of dollars in spending cuts to the bill before the vote, potentially derailing the compromise but in the end backed off to avert the inevitable blame Republicans would have faced for allowing taxes on a majority of Americans to increase. Unusually Boehner offered no public statement about the bill before it was voted on in the House and ended up himself voting for the bill.

The details of the compromise plan involve letting Bush-era tax cuts for those making $400,000 or more a year, expire, and letting the middle class payroll tax cut of 2% which funds Social Security expire. Other tax increases on Americans making less than $250,000 a year have been averted. Unemployment benefits for over 2 million Americans have also been extended while the trigger cuts set to take place such as cuts to the Pentagon budget, have been delayed for two months. According to President Obama the deal will generate $620 billion in new tax revenues.

However in some ways, the fight is still not over. Another deal will need to be made in the next two months over the so-called sequestration cuts, and the two major parties will likely wage a big battle over once more raising the debt ceiling.

GUEST: Bryce Covert, Editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal Blog, contributor at the Nation and Forbes Women

Follow Bryce Covert on Twitter @BryceCovert.

Click here to read her articles in The Nation.

Canada’s Idle No More Movement Spreads Rapidly Across the Globe Despite Media Blackout

Sitting inside a small white teepee near Parliament Hill, Attawapiskat First Nation Chief, Theresa Spence, is now more than 3 weeks into a hunger strike. As her health deteriorates, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to meet her only request which is to discuss indigenous issues with him. Spence’s hunger strike comes under the umbrella of a powerful grassroots movement now spreading throughout the world called Idle No More. The movement, which was begun this past October by four women in Saskatchewan, is bringing much needed attention to Bill C45 and other legislation which has helped weaken land and waterway rights of aboriginal people in Canada. And, contentious projects like the Keystone XL pipeline which would originate in Alberta Canada have led to ever increasing battles over native territories.

Idle No More protests, flash mobs, teach ins and rallies have sprung up around Canada in a way that is reminiscent of the Occupy Movement. Protesters in Quebec this week blockaded cargo trains, while over a thousand Native American people here in the US staged a flashmob dance at the Mall of America in Minnesota in solidarity. While protests have erupted as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Europe, as well as in numerous cities throughout the US, the American media has had little to no coverage of the struggle.

Aboriginal people in Canada, who have a cultural legacy spanning thousands of years, have been living as second class citizens in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Amnesty International last month gave Canada’s human rights record a failing grade. Their report stated, “By every measure, be it respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life spans, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrest and incarceration or access to government services such as housing, health care, education, water and child protection, indigenous people across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis.”

GUESTS: Ryan McMahon a professional writer and comedian based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is also the creator of the redmanlaughing.com podcasts and has been involved with the Idle No More movement; Clyde Bellecourt is a White Earth Ojibwe civil rights organizer and co-founder of the American Indian Movement

As Chavez Recovers From Fourth Cancer Surgery, Opposition Forces Get Busy

Just days away from his Presidential inauguration, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is feared by many to be at death’s door. Last seen in early December soon after his triumphant reelection, Chavez is currently in Cuba attempting to recover from his fourth cancer-related surgery in the past year and a half. Several members of his family and close cabinet ministers flew this week to Cuba to visit Chavez, following reports that his condition was considered “delicate.”

News reports have rampantly speculated over his impending demise with headlines such as “Hugo Chavez ‘living his last days,’” (Daily Telegraph), “Chavez ‘only kept alive by life support’” (Daily Mail), and “Chavez Rumored to Be in Coma,” (HispanicBusiness.com). Rumors are also circulating that Chavez has already passed away. But Vice President Nicholas Maduro, angered by the rumors, publicly denounced them after returning from a visit with Chavez where he said he spoke twice with him. Maduro asserts that Chavez is “completely conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state.”

Meanwhile, the opposition movement in Venezuela has called for a new election within 30 days if Chavez is too ill to attend his inauguration on the 10th. Chavez’s supporters in Latin America, which include a number of other Presidents, have expressed their solidarity: Bolivia’s Evo Morales sent him a public message of strength toward “a quick recovery.”

GUEST: Miguel Tinker Salas, professor of history and Latin American studies at Pomona College and author of “The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela.” His forthcoming book is called “Venezuela: Everything you Need to Know,” and he is one of the featured writers on this week’s New York Times Blog, Room for Debate

Click here to read Salas’ New York Times blog post about Hugo Chavez.

A Critical Look at Django Unchained

While this year marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which freed millions of slaves, slavery continues to be at the forefront of the American imagination. Now a controversial new film by Director Quentin Tarantino called “Django Unchained” set in the antebellum South tells the story of a former slave played by Jamie Foxx who rescues his enslaved wife from a plantation with the help of a white bounty hunter.

The film has so far grossed close to 80 million dollars at the box office and most mainstream critics have given the film glowing reviews. The NAACP has even nominated the film for four Image Awards including Best Picture. But some in the African American community have voiced concerns about a film which is filled with stereotypical characters, one-dimensional female roles, and has over a 100 uses of the N-word. Film maker Spike Lee called for a complete boycott of the film which he says is “. . . disrespectful to my ancestors.” According to Lee, “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It was a Holocaust.” Yet, exit polls have found that about 30% of the film’s audience has been African American.

Tarantino, who is well known for his incredibly violent portrayals from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Inglorious Bastards” has said, “Even for the movie’s biggest black detractors, I think their children will grow up and love this movie. I think it could become a rite of passage for young black males.” But many critics have questioned the intentions of a filmmaker who celebrates male domination and violence in a community which suffers from its ill effects to this day.

GUEST: Erin Aubry Kaplan a writer and journalist, contributing writer to LA Times Opinion, and author of Black Talk, Blue Thoughts, and walking the Color Line: Dispatches from a Black Journalista

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day

“A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.” — Frederick Douglass..

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