Wednesday, November 30, 2011

  • Millions of British Public Sector Workers Take to the Streets in Historic General Strike

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    In Britain, up to two million workers have marched in the streets during the largest mass protest in generations. Teachers, hospital staff, garbage collectors, firefighters and border guards are participating in a 24-hour strike organized by a coalition of 30 trade unions. About a thousand demonstrations and rallies are being held across the country. Public sector workers say proposed pension "reforms" will force them pay more and work for longer before they can retire. We go to London to speak with Richard Seymour, who writes one of Britain’s most popular blogs, "Lenin’s Tomb." Seymour examines how the Murdoch-owned conservative press has shaped coverage of workers’ rights even as it faces fallout from the latest developments in the phone-hacking scandal. "Rupert Murdoch’s ideological power, his ability to project an image of these strikes as unnecessary, as militant, as aggressive and belligerent and so on and so forth, comes from his economic power. And he spent decades building that up in the U.K.," Seymour notes. He also discusses how the U.K. has withdrawn diplomatic staff from Iran after protesters, upset over newly implemented sanctions, stormed the British embassy in Tehran, overrunning the diplomatic buildings, chanting "Death to Britain." [includes rush transcript]

  • Occupy Wall Street Camps in Los Angeles, Philadelphia Dismantled in Massive Police Raids

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    Some 1,000 police officers raided the Occupy Los Angeles encampment in a park outside City Hall overnight, arresting scores of people and evicting what has been the largest Occupy camp in the country. Meanwhile, Occupy Philadelphia protesters vacated their encampment this morning after more than a thousand police moved in and warned them of mass arrests. We get eyewitness updates on both raids from National Lawyers Guild legal observer Ken Montenegro in Los Angleles and Occupy organizer and activist Jeff Rousset in Philadelphia. "[Philadelphia’s history of free speech and democracy] changed this morning at around 1:00 a.m. The city shut down the subways; they barricaded all of city hall, about two blocks in every direction; and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cops poured in. They forced everybody off the plaza," Rousset says. [includes rush transcript]

  • As Biden Visits Iraq Ahead of U.S. Withdrawal, Critics See Last-Ditch Effort to Preserve Occupation

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    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Iraq for an unannounced visit to mark the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of the year. Shi’ites supporting Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held an anti-U.S. protest in Basra to oppose Biden’s visit. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that numerous investment bankers are arriving in Iraq to secure potentially lucrative reconstruction and oil deals even though security remains a concern. We’re joined by Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-American blogger and political analyst who just returned from Iraq two weeks ago. "Biden’s visit is widely seen in Iraq as the last attempt by the U.S. government to keep U.S. troops beyond the deadline and rename them as military trainers," Jarrar says. "Most Iraqis are worried [that] the Pentagon has not let go of its plans to leave the 3,000 to 4,000 troops under the title 'trainers' and that there will be one last showdown at the Iraqi parliament within the next few days." [includes rush transcript]

  • State Dept. Veteran Peter Van Buren Defies U.S. Censors to Recount Failed Reconstruction in Iraq

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    In "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People," State Department official Peter Van Buren provides a first-hand account of the faltering and often misguided attempts at reconstruction in Iraq undertaken by the U.S. government. Van Buren published the book after rebuffing heavy State Department pressure to redact a number of passages. Van Buren joins us to discuss the failed efforts he witnessed in Iraq and his struggle to tell his story to the world. "The State department is very much like the Mafia," Van Buren says. [includes rush transcript]

  • Report: Obama Has Weakened More Lobbyist-Opposed Health, Public Safety Regulations than Bush

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    A new report shows that despite a campaign pledge to get lobbyists out of Washington, the Obama White House has weakened regulation in favor of corporate interests more than the Bush administration. The study, "Behind Closed Doors at the White House: How Politics Trumps Protection of Public Health, Worker Safety, and the Environment," examines more than a thousand meetings that took place over a decade between lobbyists and a little-known regulatory office, then checks to see how proposed rules were weakened to accommodate industry requests. It found the Obama White House changed rules 76 percent of the time, while Bush changed them just 64 percent of the time. EPA rules were changed at a significantly higher rate: 84 percent. We speak to the report’s lead author, Rena Steinzor, professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and president of the Center for Progressive Reform. [includes rush transcript]