Friday, August 19, 2011

  • Violence Spikes in Iraq as U.S. Considers Ways to Extend Occupation Past December Deadline


    It was one year ago today that the Obama administration officially announced it was pulling the last full U.S. combat brigade from Iraq. Today, roughly 46,000 U.S. troops remain in the country, along with more than 64,000 private contractors. This week, as Iraq suffers its deadliest violence of the year, there is increasing speculation that the Obama administration will extend its occupation of the war-ravaged nation. Earlier this month, the Iraqi government authorized talks on whether to approve keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond a withdrawal deadline of December 31. "All of the U.S. troops have [gone] back to their bases since 2009, and they have not been taking any daily patrols to [do] what they used to call 'protect Iraqis,'" says our guest, Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-American blogger and political analyst based in Washington, D.C., who was in Iraq two weeks ago. "I think the U.S. presence in Iraq is not for protecting Iraqis. It has not been a part of the solution. And it’s actually a part of the problem." [includes rush transcript]

  • A Debate: Should the U.S. Approve TransCanada’s Massive Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline?


    Thousands of environmental activists from across the continent plan to gather in Washington, D.C., tomorrow to launch a two-week protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. The massive pipeline would cross the Yellowstone River, as well as the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest freshwater aquifer in the United States. Environmentalists plan to hold sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience outside the White House every day in order to pressure the Obama administration as it decides whether to approve the pipeline’s construction. Supporters of the pipeline say the pipeline will create some 20,000 construction jobs, and the company behind it, TransCanada, has already signed agreements to employ the members of four international unions if the project is approved. Last month, the Republican-controlled House passed a measure that would force a decision on the Keystone XL by November 1. As the Obama administration faces industry pressure on one side and sustained grassroots protest on the other, we host a debate between Cindy Schild, the refining issues manager at the American Petroleum Institute, and Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, a group taking part in the Washington protests. [includes rush transcript]

  • The Verizon Labor Battle: As Strike Continues, Customers Report Delays and Disruptions to Service


    As a strike by 45,000 Verizon workers approaches the two-week mark, the company’s customers are beginning to feel the impact on its services. Consumers are reporting significant delays in booking Verizon technicians to fix and install landline telephone, internet and cable television services. The strike was called after Verizon pushed for the workers to accept far-reaching concessions, including a pension freeze and fewer sick days. The company also asked workers to contribute far more toward their health coverage. Meanwhile, Verizon made $22.5 billion in profits over the past four-and-a-half years and has paid its top five CEOs $258 million in the past four years. We’re joined by Steven Greenhouse, the labor reporter for the New York Times. [includes rush transcript]

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