14:11 GMT +319 December 2018
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    The Critical Hour

    White House Reinstates Acosta's Press Pass, Assange Awaits Indictments

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    Wilmer Leon
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    This episode of The Critical Hour, Dr. Wilmer Leon is joined by Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research; and Caleb Maupin political analyst who focuses on US foreign policy, capitalism and imperialism.

    CNN's Jim Acosta has returned to his post at the White House following a court ruling that forced the Trump administration to reinstate his press pass. Today's ruling by federal judge Timothy J. Kelly was in favor of CNN in its lawsuit against President Donald Trump and several top aides. The suit alleges that CNN and Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by last week's suspension of his press pass. All of this happened while the US Justice Department accidentally revealed a secret indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. As reported on the Sputnik News website, the US Justice Department is apparently poised to indict Assange, though it remains unclear whether the charges have already been filed or not. What has Acosta, who is being celebrated, really accomplished while Assange has revealed real information and is in fear for his life? If we look at this strictly from a journalism perspective, Acosta vs. Assange, which case is really the greater attack on the public good?

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called on Congress to rein in government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to slow America's increasing national debt. He called the debt disturbing and said it's driven by the three entitlement programs, although he did not mention that the tax plan that the Senate recently passed has contributed to the debt increase. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the GOP tax cuts would add $1.9 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. In Vijay Prashad's article, "Living Our Lives Inside a Tragedy the Size of the Planet," which discusses the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) austerity plan in Argentina, he writes, "The IMF entered with its shop-worn prescriptions, a recipe that it has effectively sold for the past four decades: structural adjustment. We will promise to give you funding and to help you attract investment, the IMF says if you cut back on State spending on social infrastructure (education and health) and increase measures that are attractive to monopoly capitalism." Are there similarities between austerity programs in Italy, Greece, Spain and now Argentina and what Trump has set up with his tax cuts and what McConnell is supporting?

    Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her run for Georgia governor earlier today as the state prepared to certify the election, but she said she would not concede the contest to Republican Brian Kemp. Saying the law "allows no further viable remedy" for her bid for governor against Kemp, Abrams announced a new voting rights group that will file "major" litigation against the state over electoral issues. She laced her speech with critiques of Kemp, a former Georgia secretary of state who she said was "deliberate and intentional in his actions" to suppress the vote. "I will not concede, because the erosion of our democracy is not right," she added.

    Florida Senator Bill Nelson's already improbable path towards victory in a recount has gotten narrower, with the Democrat suffering a series of setbacks in court and in county election offices across the state. Republican Governor Rick Scott has a 12,603-vote lead in the recount. Nelson was handed a consequential loss early today when Judge Mark Walker ruled that the guidelines Florida law provides to election canvassing boards as to how to determine voter intent in a manual recount are constitutional. Nelson's lawyers did score a narrow win on Thursday when Walker ruled voters whose mismatched signatures disqualified their provisional and mail-in ballots and who were "belatedly notified" of the problem have until Saturday at 5 p.m. to correct those signature problems. But even that victory was muted. Lawyers for Nelson and other Democrats had asked for the ballots in question to be counted with no review of the signatures at all. And even though Elias and others celebrated the ruling, Uzoma Nkwonta, a lawyer for Nelson's campaign in the case, told the judge in the hearing that a ruling that only extended the deadline by a few days — which is what Walker ordered — "would probably be insufficient."

    The number of people missing in California's wildfires has soared to over 600, and the death toll has risen to 66. In the Camp Fire in Northern California, 631 people were unaccounted for after officials on Thursday added more than 500 names to the list of people reported missing. Hundreds of others are living in tent cities with no idea when they'll be able to return home. Members of the Paradise community held a town hall meeting Thursday night to begin the long road to recovery, with many signing up for FEMA relief. What does this say about those who deny the science of climate change? Where do the victims turn for financial relief?

    GUESTS:

    Vijay Prashad — Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and chief editor of LeftWord Books. He is also a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter.

    Caleb Maupin — Journalist and political analyst who focuses his coverage on US foreign policy and the global system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism.

    We'd love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

    Tags:
    Georgia Politics, Florida Politics, recount, wildfires, Trump administration, International Monetary Fund, Julian Assange, California
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