Jan 18 2013

Weekly Digest – 01/18/13

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This week on Uprising:

* Are President Obama’s Policies Strong Enough to Address the Root Causes of Gun Violence?
* Afghanistan’s New Oil and Gas Industry May Be Sparking a New Front in the War
* Palestinian Activist Iyad Burnat, Featured in Oscar Nominated Doc, Five Broken Cameras, Shares His Experiences

* * *

Are President Obama’s Policies Strong Enough to Address the Root Causes of Gun Violence?

President Obama pushed back against the gun lobby this week by issuing 23 executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence. In an attempt to address what the administration is calling a public health crisis with 30,000 firearm related homicides and suicides each year in the United States, the president called for a range of reforms and directed Congress to increase funding for various initiatives to help quell the violence.

Vice President Joe Biden took the lead on the President’s gun violence task-force which helped shape the Obama’s decisions. Among the recommendations of the task force was strengthening background checks to keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands, a commitment to increasing mental health services and allowing schools the options of armed and trained police officers on campuses.

Obama also pledged to increase funding for research into the causes of gun violence and remove restrictions on the Centers for Disease Control to do such research. The president stated in a press release, “research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.”

In his address on Wednesday the president was flanked by a group of children who wrote letters asking him to address the issues of gun violence. But reactions to his proposals from gun proliferation groups was visceral. The NRA released an online video, where it called Obama an “elitist” and a “hypocrite” because his daughters are protected in their school by armed Secret Service officers.

But the ACLU, in recognizing that Obama is indeed open to allowing armed guards in schools, also criticized the President saying “[p]olicymakers might assume that adding police, metal detectors and surveillance… makes students safer, experience demonstrates otherwise…”

GUEST: Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center

Visit www.vpc.org for more information.

Is Afghanistan’s New Oil and Gas Industry Sparking a New Front in the War?

US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met face to face earlier this month and agreed to pass the US/NATO military lead to Afghan forces starting this spring, rather than summer as had been anticipated. The two heads of state also discussed the possibility of a continued U.S. troop presence beyond December 2014, when the U.S. combat mission is set to expire.

Currently, the U.S. has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan. Doubts remain however about whether the Afghan government can adequately provide security to its population and whether Afghan forces can successfully keep the Taliban at bay after the withdrawal of US forces. So-called “Green on Blue” attacks of Afghan soldiers turning on their US and NATO trainers, have also skyrocketed in the past year. Last year also saw a continuation of Taliban-related violence, with increased Taliban attacks in more peaceful areas.

But is the war in Afghanistan simply about the Taliban? A new breaking undercover investigation by Antonia Juhasz found that many of the attacks by the Taliban were aimed at the Karzai Government over control of Afghanistan’s newly discovered fossil fuel resources.

The three week undercover investigation by Juhasz who traveled across Afghanistan and to neighboring countries, found the Pentagon to be the leading US agency pushing for expanded oil and natural gas exploration in Afghanistan. This joint effort by the US and Afghan officials aims to bring much needed revenue by opening up Afghanistan’s oil and gas market to foreign oil corporations.

Oil scouts hired by the Pentagon have confirmed that Taliban attacks on oil facilities are on the rise, with Taliban militia becoming ever more defiant. Juhasz concludes “The result is clear – as development of the oil and gas sector has risen, so too has violence and insecurity.”

Guest: Antonia Juhasz, acclaimed oil and gas politics expert, fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. Her books include: The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry–and What We Must Do to Stop It, and Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill. Her latest article was just published in The Atlantic, entitled The New War for Afghanistan’s Untapped Oil

Click here to read Juhasz’s article about Afghanistan’s oil war.

Palestinian Activist Iyad Burnat, Featured in Oscar Nominated Doc, Five Broken Cameras, Shares His Experiences

Hundreds of Palestinian villagers from Nilin adopted a creative means of protesting the Israeli occupation of their lands earlier this week when they managed to set up a counter settlement on an area designated for Israeli settlers. The activists fooled Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint into letting them pass by pretending to be a wedding party. They then set up tents and declared the piece of land near Jerusalem designated simply as E1 as the new Palestinian village of Bab Al-Shams. While the victory was short-lived with the 200 protesters being removed by 500 Israeli soldiers, the action has been hailed as part of another Intifada of Palestinians.

In fact, earlier this month an Israeli Colonel declared the third Intifada as having begun, referring to the two earlier waves of major Palestinian protest. The word “intifada” loosely translates from Arabic into the phrase, “shaking off.” Like the first intifada, it seems as though this third uprising, if it is indeed happening, may be largely non-violent in nature.

A pioneer of non-violent direct action in the West Bank is the 39 year old activist Iyad Burnat from the tiny village of Bil’in. Heading the Bil’in Popular Committee, Burnat has organized weekly demonstrations for years, against the so-called “separation wall” or “apartheid wall” built by Israel that has cut local villagers off from their lands. Featured in the new documentary, Five Broken Cameras, directed by his brother Emad Burnat, and which was just nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, Iyad Burnat is currently touring the United States sharing his experiences as a non-violent Palestinian activist.

GUEST: Iyad Burnat, Chair of the Bil’in Popular Committee

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day:

“The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.” — Thomas Paine

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