You might remember during the Egyptian revolution, I called and spoke to a number of regular Egyptians – from hotel clerks, to Marwa Rakha, a woman who dispenses relationship advice online (and just gave birth to her son, Adam. on May 3 – a great day to have a kid. It happens to be both my daughter’s and my mother’s birthday too!).
Today, I reached out to Kaswar Klasra, a young man born and raised in Pakistan, he works as a journalist for The Nation (Pakistan). Although it’s difficult at times to understand what he’s saying due to his accent, it’s worth a listen to our conversation. Just trying to bridge the gap between two countries in a delicate situation by speaking as one human being to another.
I hope that some news organization with pockets deep enough to do what he suggests will do some sort of journalist exchange program to help the Pakistani population better understand the American people, and vice versa.
Here in our own country, the problems we’re facing continue. We can trace most of our problems back to the greedy money manipulators on Wall Street who keep getting richer while the rest of us suffer a little more with each passing day. I received a press release last week from a group called the May 12 Coalition, who has big things planned for this week in NYC:
New Yorkers to Wall Street on May 12: MAKE BIG BANKS AND MILLIONAIRES PAY!
COALITION PLANS WEEK OF ACTION TO STOP BLOOMBERG’S BUDGET CUTS WITH TAXES ON MILLIONAIRES AND ENDING GIVEAWAYS TO BIG BANKS
National Movement Connects the Dots to NYC, Demands Reform and Fair Share in Taxes from Financial Sector
NEW YORK - A growing coalition of community, labor, and progressive groups announced today plans for a week of events starting May 9th, calling for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to end taxpayer-financed giveaways to Wall Street and ask for fair-share taxes from millionaires to mitigate his proposed budget cuts. The week of action will culminate in a major mobilization in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, May 12.
The coalition, uniting under the banner “Make Big Banks and Millionaires Pay” will contrast the corporate welfare, property tax giveaways, and seemingly endless local and national tax cuts enjoyed by the financial sector with Bloomberg’s proposed cuts to childcare, classrooms, public safety, and dozens of other services working New Yorkers rely on.
“The big banks wrecked our economy and are back to making billions in profits and lavish bonuses, while the rest of us are still cleaning up the mess they created,” said Mary Brosnahan, the Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless. “Now Bloomberg has a choice: ask Wall Street bankers to contribute their fair share to fixing New York City, rather than enacting devastating cuts to working families.”
The organizers promise more than a typical “rally” on May 12th, with a day of diverse, creative actions across the downtown financial district. Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, said: “On May 12, tens of thousands of New Yorkers will descend on Wall Street, creating a giant school without walls throughout the financial district. Together, we will educate our city and expose the people and institutions that are destroying our jobs and our economy, and the politicians who are letting them get away with it.”
The week of actions coincides with a growing national movement by communities increasingly questioning the practices of the financial industry and fighting back against attacks on working people. “We are connecting the dots from the big banks that crashed our economy, destroyed millions of jobs and foreclosed on millions of family homes to the human impact here in the financial capital of our country, ” said Michael Kink, Executive Director of Strong Economy for All Coalition.
As the week of action approaches, organizers plan to release new data detailing the tax breaks and giveaways New York City doles out to the banking industry, as well as the effect of Wall Street-caused foreclosures on New York’s communities and tax revenue. “When New Yorkers see the skewed choices this city has made, it is no longer an abstraction,” added Kink. “Homeless shelters are bursting at the seams, and child care and senior centers are closing down — not because we have gone broke, but because Bloomberg has chosen to spend hundreds of millions in subsidies for the people who need it least.”
The following community groups and unions have joined the May 12 coalition (list in formation):
Center for Children Initiatives
Center for Working Families
Citizen Action of New York
Coalition for the Homeless
Community Voices Heard
Make the Road New York
New York Communities for Change
New Deal for New York Campaign
Organization for a Free Society
Picture the Homeless
United Students Against Sweatshops
Urban Youth Collaborative
CWA District 1
Professional Staff Congress – CUNY
United Federation of Teachers
I spoke about it this morning with Greg Basta of NY Communities for Change, who’s the social media director for OnMay12. We’ll follow up on this on Wednesday too…
Speaking of getting out and protesting, Awake The State is waking up Florida again tomorrow. Visit the site, and find an action near you. We’ll talk about it tomorrow morning on the show.
Every Monday morning, Crooks & Liars’ Nicole Belle joins me for a segment we call “Fools on the Hill”© – recapping the Sunday talking head shows. Here’s what Nicole brought us this morning:
If you ever needed a case study to show how the media frames narratives with a clear agenda rather than impartially provide information to their viewers, this week would be it. Just one week after the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, every single one of the Sunday news shows had on a former Bush administration member to clamor and insist that they too deserve credit for removing terrorist #1, and all those illegal things they did–waterboarding, rendition, indefinite detention—they set the wheels in motion for the current president do to nothing more than give the okay.
The Big Dick himself, former VP Cheney, appeared on that friendliest of news outlets, Fox News, to tell us that the success of the bin Laden means that torture should absolutely be back on the table. No, seriously. Because we need a foreign policy dictated by a sociopath.
Speaking of sociopathy, Chris Wallace actually asked why it’s okay to kill bin Laden but torture isn’t okay. The very fact that that question could be asked chills me to the bone.
Meanwhile, David Gregory shows the kind of hard-hitting journalism that landed him the host spot on the stalwart Sunday show Meet the Press, when he lobs Rudy “A Noun, a verb and 9/11” Giuliani the ultimate softball: are you running for President?
Fareed Zakaria did a slightly better job asking former CIA Director Michael Hayden why the trail grew so cold in the search for bin Laden. Unfortunately, Hayden can’t be honest and admit that the Bush administration didn’t want to find bin Laden because he was a useful tool to politicize terror and keep people fearful (as Howie Kurtz and Brian Ross also implicitly admit) so that they could do things like invade and occupy Iraq.
And then finally, we have Christiane Amanpour and ABC News, both of whom I’ve given up on at this point. Not only do the producers of This Week ask on nothing but Bushies to discuss the bin Laden killing, then they put on Liz Cheney on the roundtable panel and Christiane Amanpour starts the discussion off with “Well, we know waterboarding gave us information, isn’t that right, Liz Cheney?”
Quite a show today…
David Dayen, who always does a great job covering the news for FireDogLake, joined me near the top of the show to give the details on yesterday’s passage of HR3 – the anti-choice bill – by the House of Representatives. Sixteen so-called Democrats joined with all the Republicans to limit women’s rights to control our own bodies.
Where are the jobs, Mr. Boehner?
Jason Leopold, deputy managing editor of Truthout.org, has done extensive investigative reporting on Guantanamo Bay, including exclusive interviews with former guards and detainees. He joined the show this morning to cut through the lies about the intelligence that led to Osama bin Laden’s killing.
And comedian John Fugelsang joined in to end my broadcast week with some laughs about the news. When I asked him to comment on the Allen West clip in which he said that his female supporters need to help build up the men who “fight for them”… that those “women on the other side the Planned Parenthood women and the Code Pink women” were “neutering men”. And that if women made men “subservient to them” the debt would continue to rise, John explained it all by claiming “Allen West has a very small penis.”
Thanks John, that explains so much!
And on some days, the less said, the better.
That said… today on the show, I reached out to listener Jeremy Boulat. He’s an American living in Japan. He emailed me last month, after I asked who was out there listening. Then, the earthquake hit, followed by the tsunami, followed by radiation fears from the crippled plants of mass destruction at Fukushima.
Jeremy sent this email out to some of his friends last week:
This is Jeremy. As you know, I live in Japan. And recently, Japan
we’ve been hit with a very huge, 9.0 magnitude earthquake. The ground
shook so much that I could barely stand up, and buildings and bridges
swayed like rubber bands. Now thousands of people are dead, and even
more are homeless…
I made a little video…
Every day we are still shaken by earthquakes, and the tsunami’s of
last Friday were devastating. Last year you all came together for
Haiti. Two years before that many of you helped out Myanmar in the
wake of Cyclone Nargis. In 2004 you all helped out the victims of the
devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean which killed over 250,000
Now it’s time to come together and donate to charities that help
Japan. We need your help! Lend a hand…
Please follow these links to donate…. and please forward this email
to as many people as you can!
?Lady gaga – Japan Earthquake Relief
?For people who has tumblr
?Japan’s earthquake: How to help
?Canadian red cross
?British red cross
?caritas-international?For your German watchers
?aktion deutschland hilf?Erdbeben Japan
?2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami
?Earthquake and Tsunami Response – Japan for Direct Relief International
?Pacifique : séisme et tsunami au Japon — secours populaire france
?Croce Rossa Italiana
?American Airlines American Red Cross Online Donation Site
?How To Help Japan: Earthquake Relief Options
?google crisis response
Following that emotional chat with Jeremy, I reached out to my friend Jason Leopold – deputy managing editor at Truthout.org, where his latest piece is now posted: EXCLUSIVE: CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program.
I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke ’cause it’s old
They’re saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we’re getting out of control
Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don’t give you any choice ’cause they think that it’s treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio
I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they’d never seen me
Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up, they don’t wanna hear about it
It’s only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin’ to anaesthetise the way that you feel
—Elvis Costello “Radio Radio”
As much as I love the freedom of doing my show online every day, the stark reality is that it doesn’t pay the bills.
I’ve worked in radio my entire adult life. I actually majored in broadcasting in college and haven’t held another job other than in this industry that I simultaneously love and hate. I hate it because it’s changed so drastically in the 30 years I’ve been doing it, and in ways too numerous to recount here today.
The “talk radio” station is nothing like it was back in 1981 when, as a recent college graduate, I headed for NYC and got a job working at WMCA. The station was home to conservative talker Bob Grant (with whom I worked for three years as his producer), liberal Barry Gray, and other hosts with varying points of view and topic fodder.
Today, that type of station no longer exists. Most talk stations are political in nature, and are either right wing conservative talk or liberal – “progressive talk.” Unfortunately, the number of progressive talkers is dwarfed by those that air only the conservative point of view.
Here in South Florida, we used to have a progressive talk station. Clear Channel decided to dump it over two years ago and put in its place the market’s sixth sports talk station in order to run the “Fox Sports” format, which they own.
South Florida is home to two conservative talk stations, the Clear Channel owned WIOD, and the James Crystal owned WFTL.
It’s the latter that is in the spotlight today, as their local midday host Joyce Kaufman will head to Washington DC as Congressman-elect Allen West’s Chief of Staff. Why is this important? Here’s Rachel Maddow’s report on it from last night’s show:
Pretty frightening, huh?
I’ve actually worked at WFTL twice. And on Thursday afternoon, I got a phone call from the General Manager inviting me to lunch to talk about an opportunity there.
I know I’m biting the hand that could potentially feed me but I could not, in good conscience, keep quiet about this.
I don’t have any major revelatory statement to make… just a commentary on the mood of the nation and how, if we don’t learn to work together, we will be torn apart.
Listen live beginning at 10am ET. Or come back later for the podcast….
Also on the show today, Truthout‘s Jason Leopold on his latest piece: “Special Prosecutor Declines to File Criminal Charges Over Destruction of CIA Torture Tapes”.
And Russ Baker, author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the powerful forces that put it in the White House, and what their influence means for America, to counter the George W. Bush book/image rehab tour currently underway.
Here we go…
It’s the end of another week at Radio or Not, and a tough week it was!
The big primary day on Tuesday was a bummer for those of us who thought we were heading for a progressive push. Blanche Lincoln somehow eked out a win in the primary to run to to keep her Senate seat in November, beating her challenger Bill Halter. And Blue Dog war monger Jane Harman somehow defeated the progressive breath of fresh air that is Marcy Winograd so she can keep her big corporation money loving ways going for another two years in the House of Representatives. (Unlike Blanche Lincoln, Harman will undoubtedly win in November’s general election.)
And after 52 days, the BP disaster in the gulf continues getting more disastrous by the day.
Tonight, I was joined by FireDogLake‘s David Dayen who just returned from the America’s Future Now conference in DC. We spoke at length about the seeming disarray in the progressive movement regarding how we move forward.
Caller David (and with full disclosure, my boyfriend) made the most reassuring comment of the night. He said simply that Bill Halter, a guy who most of us had known nothing about a few months ago, came within a whisker of unseating the vile incumbent US Senator Blanche Lincoln. That’s progress. We’re on the right track. Thanks David!
Unfortunately, the dreadful feeling came back in the last half-hour of the show when I was joined by Jason Leopold of Truthout.org to talk about his latest piece, “Human Experimentation at the Heart of Bush Administration’s Torture Program.” If you’re thinking that sounds like shades of Auschwitz and Nuremberg, you’re exactly right. And not only did the Bush Administration actually do these vile, inhumane and illegal by all standards acts, but the Obama administration is turning the other cheek and doing absolutely nothing to hold those criminals accountable.
Jason Leopold has been a guest on the show many times talking about his many of his insightful reports. It was April 30 – just 10 days in to the BP disaster – that he ran the piece “Whistleblower: BP Risks More Massive Catastrophes in the Gulf,” in which he told us of the truly frightening bigger and more evil sister to Deepwater Horizon, Atlantis.
Well, I had been under the impression that since the Obama administration issued a moratorium on deepwater drilling, that Atlantis had been shut down, at least for now. Apparently not. According to an explosive new piece in Rolling Stone magazine by Tim Dickinson, “The Spill, The Scandal and the President,”
Most troubling of all, the government has allowed BP to continue deep-sea production at its Atlantis rig – one of the world’s largest oil platforms. Capable of drawing 200,000 barrels a day from the seafloor, Atlantis is located only 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana, in waters nearly 2,000 feet deeper than BP drilled at Deepwater Horizon. According to congressional documents, the platform lacks required engineering certification for as much as 90 percent of its subsea components – a flaw that internal BP documents reveal could lead to “catastrophic” errors. In a May 19th letter to Salazar, 26 congressmen called for the rig to be shut down immediately. “We are very concerned,” they wrote, “that the tragedy at Deepwater Horizon could foreshadow an accident at BP Atlantis.”
The administration’s response to the looming threat? According to an e-mail to a congressional aide from a staff member at MMS, the agency has had “zero contact” with Atlantis about its safety risks since the Deepwater rig went down.
To quote Pete Seger, when will they ever learn?