On Dec. 1 and 2, the People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War will take place in Washington, DC. Organized by CODEPINK, people from around the world will testify or send testimony on the lies that were used to start the war and on the costs of war. We speak with two people who will participate, Sam Koplinka-Loehr of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee and Elizabeth Murray, a former intelligence officer who is now a peace activist.
Relevant articles and websites:
No Room for Smugness on Iran by Elizabeth Murray
Sam Koplinka-Loehr is a Field Organizer with the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. They also work with prisoners organizing at Angola Prison as well as coalitions fighting police terror. They live in Philadelphia.
Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring in 2010 after a 27-year career in the US government, where she focused on Middle Eastern issues as political and media analyst. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) and currently serves as member-in-residence at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (www.gzcenter.org) in Poulsbo, WA.
Since retiring from government service Elizabeth has published numerous articles on the Consortiumnews.com news site and has gone on speaking tours — most recently with a peace delegation to Russia in June 2016 (along with fellow VIPS members Ray McGovern and Ann Wright), and also to Germany with Ray McGovern to speak out against the drone communications center at Ramstein Air Base. She is fluent in German, Spanish, and Arabic.
The unexpected election of Donald Trump has created confusion among the elites and political space for a new people’s agenda. Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report joins us to analyze the elections results. Then Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign will discuss ways to build popular power to counter the potential harm of Trump’s policies and demand changes that protect our communities and the planet.
Relevant articles and websites:
Democracy is Coming to the USA by Margaret Flowers
Bruce Dixon is the Managing Editor of Black Agenda Report. He is a habitual troublemaker and incorrigible activist. Bruce Dixon has been comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable since 1968.
As a rank and file member of the Black Panther Party in 1969-1970, a 1970s rank-and-file union activist in a string of factories, plants and workplaces, a 1980s community organizer in what were then some of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, to organizing and consulting through the 1990s Dixon has built an impressive record of service in and to the cause of human liberation.
In 2002 he began writing articles for Black Commentator, the predecessor of this publication, and broke the first accurate analyses of the phenomena around the election of Denise Majette over Cynthia McKinney in Georgia that year.
In 2006, with Glen Ford and Margaret Kimberley, Dixon co-founded Black Agenda Report. As managing editor at BAR Dixon is chiefly responsible for maintaning this web site. He currently resides in Marietta GA, and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.
Bill Moyer co-founded the Backbone Campaign in 2003 with friends from an artist affinity group. He has dual and intersecting paths as both an activist and artist. His involvement with social change work stretches back to the 80’s, when as a student he was deeply involved in the anti-nuclear movement and the anti-interventionist movement. After a few years of studying political science and American philosophy at Seattle University, Bill went to Big Mountain to assist Dineh elders refusing to relocate off their traditional land, attended the Institute for Social Ecology, and briefly lived on an organic vegetable farm in Vermont.
On returning to the Pacific NW to live on Vashon Island, activism was replaced with performance and study of music as a percussionist and sound designer. The G.W. Bush administration inspired him to apply lessons of the arts to social change. Backbone Campaign has been a vehicle for much growth and Bill has emerged as a leader in the theory and practice of “artful activism.” He designs and produces creative political actions and provides trainings in grand strategy and creative tactics around the country.
On the eve of the election in an unprecedented election year, we speak with Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for President in the US, for an hour about the campaign, the Green Party and how to build political power for radical change in the United States.
Relevant articles and websites:
Don’t Settle for the Lesser of Two Evils in This Election by Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka
Dr. Jill Stein was the Green Party’s 2012 candidate for President. She holds the current record for most votes ever received by a woman candidate for President of the United States in the general election. She is a mother, an organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has helped lead initiatives to fight environmental racism and injustice, to promote healthy communities, to strengthen local green economies and to revitalize democracy. She has helped win victories in campaign finance reform, racially-just redistricting, green jobs, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxic threats. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit.
As a practicing physician, Jill became aware of the links between toxic exposures and illness emerging in the 1990s. She began to fight for a healthy environment as a human right, assisting non profits, community groups and Native Americans combating environmental injustice and racism in dangerous exposures like lead and mercury in air and water pollution, incinerators and land fills, toxic waste sites and more. She helped lead the fight to clean up the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts, raising the bar nationally to a cleaner standard for coal plants. She helped close a toxic medical waste incinerator in Lawrence, MA, one of the poorest communities in New England. She played a key role in rewriting the Massachusetts fish advisories to better protect women and children, Native Americans and immigrants from mercury contamination. She also helped preserve the moratorium on new toxic trash incinerators in Massachusetts.
Having witnessed the power of lobbyists and campaign contributions to block health, environmental and worker protections, Jill became an advocate for campaign finance reform, and worked to help pass the Clean Election Law by voter referendum. This law was passed by a 2-1 margin, but was later repealed by the overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts Legislature on an unrecorded voice vote. This sabotage of campaign finance reform by the Democratic Party was a pivotal event in Jill’s political development, confirming her growing allegiance to the Green Party.
In 2002 Jill was recruited by Green-Rainbow Party activists to run for Governor of Massachusetts against Mitt Romney, beginning her first foray into electoral politics. Many observers credited her with being the best informed and most credible candidate in the race.
She has twice been elected to town meeting in Lexington, Massachusetts. She is the founder and past co-chair of a local recycling committee appointed by the Lexington Board of Selectmen.
In 2003, Jill co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization that fought for the health and well-being of Massachusetts communities, including health care, local green economies, environmental protection, labor rights, and grassroots democracy.
Jill represented the Green-Rainbow Party in two additional races – one for State Representative in 2004 where she finished second, ahead of the Republican. In 2006 she ran for Secretary of State receiving over 350,000 votes – representing one of the greatest vote total ever for a Green-Rainbow candidate.
In 2008, Jill helped lead the “Secure Green Future” ballot initiative to move subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy and to create green jobs. The measure won over 81 per cent of the vote in the 11 districts in which it was on the ballot.
Jill received several awards for health and environmental protection including: Clean Water Action’s “Not in Anyone’s Backyard” Award, the Children’s Health Hero” Award, and the Toxic Action Center’s Citizen Award. Jill has appeared as an environmental health expert on the Today Show, 20/20, Fox News, and other programs. She also served on the board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
She is the co-author of two widely-praised reports, In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009. The first of these has been translated into four languages and is used worldwide as a community tool in the fight for health and the environment. The reports connect the dots between human health, social justice, a healthy environment and green economies.
Jill was born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park, Illinois. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973, and from Harvard Medical School in 1979. She lives in Lexington with her husband, Richard Rohrer, also a physician. They have two grown sons in medical school and residency training.
AKA: Happy Halloween, If the Elections Weren’t So Scary, They’d be Hilarious
Decades of lesser evil voting and a growing plutocracy have brought us to the two most hated presidential candidates in history. The public discourse has devolved to discussion of the illegal behaviors of the candidates while the United States and the planet are facing multiple crises. We can almost hear Nero’s fiddles. To help us get through the next week, we invite political comedians Lee Camp and John F. O’Donnell to join us for some therapeutic humor.
Lee Camp is a stand-up comedian, writer, and activist. He’s a contributor to The Onion and has performed stand-up comedy at events featuring Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore. You can watch his stand-up HERE. He was recently on Showtime’s series “The Green Room with Paul Provenza”watch that HERE. He’s done comedic commentary on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” BBC’s “Newsnight,” PBS, E! network, SpikeTV, MTV, and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He’s featured in the new bestseller “Satiristas!” with the likes of George Carlin, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert. Lee also provided a catharsis for millions of people when he went live on Fox News and called the network a “parade of propaganda and a festival of ignorance.” Check out his popular web series Moment of Clarity and the Moment of Clarity book and podcast at www.LeeCamp.net.
John F. O’Donnell is known for hosting Live From Outer Space comedy show and for appearing as a correspondent on the television show Redacted Tonight.
Tensions are mounting between the United States and Russia. Foreign policy analysts are saying this is more than a new cold war. The European border with Russia has seen an increase in NATO troops, missile systems and bases, while Russia has moved troops and equipment to their border. Last week Russia held nuclear attack exercises, which involved 200,000 civil defense personnel covering 40 million Russians. The conflict in Syria has grown worse with a failed cease fire, and Russia and the US are unable to agree to renewed talks to end the violence. Russia has added additional air defense systems in Syria and for the first time in many years has dispatched 5,000 paratroopers to Egypt for joint anti-terrorist exercises. Russia has suspended several nuclear weapons agreements with the United States while the US continues to upgrade its nuclear stockpile with a trillion dollar program.
If Hillary Clinton becomes president, which seems likely, she has called for the United States to stand up to the Russians and impose a “no-fly zone” in Syria, which could mean the destruction of US and Russian aircraft and naval vessels and could bring us to the brink of the onset of World War III. Add to this accusations that Russia is feeding information to Wikileaks on the Clinton campaign to impact the outcome of the US presidential elections, actions that Russia denies. The US claims to be planning a cyber attack on Russia in response to alleged Russian hacking. And, the US-Russia confrontation over Ukraine continues with no resolution in sight and is more dangerous than is understood by mainstream US analysts.
The US media has been accusing Putin of being an aggressor and creating a harshly negative impression of Russia and its leader. We discuss these events with former CIA official Ray McGovern, who served as the official daily briefer for multiple presidents, and with Gerry Condon, the vice president of Veterans for Peace, who recently visited Syria and is part of the US Hands-Off of Syria campaign.
Relevant articles and websites:
Russia Reads US Bluster as a Sign of War by Ray McGovern
The Warnings of a New World War by Gilbert Doctorow
Gerry Condon is a Vietnam era veteran and war resister who spent six years in Sweden and Canada after refusing orders to Vietnam. Gerry has a long history in the veterans peace movement. In 1983-84, he organized the first two veterans delegations to revolutionary Nicaragua, and in 1987, he was a co-coordinator of the Veterans Peace Convoy to Nicaragua. From 1993-96, Gerry worked for IFCO/Pastors For Peace, organizing humanitarian aid and political solidarity caravans to Cuba.
Since 2004, Gerry has been on the front lines of supporting Iraq and Afghanistan war resisters in Canada, Germany and elsewhere. For the last three years, Gerry has served as National Board Vice President of Veterans For Peace.
Ray McGovern leads the “Speaking Truth to Power” section of Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. A former co-director of the Servant Leadership School (1998-2004), he has been teaching there for more than 20 years. His current course is: “On the Morality of Whistleblowing”
Ray came from his native Bronx to Washington in the early Sixties as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst for 27 years, from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.
In January 2003, Ray helped create Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose the way intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq. On the afternoon of the day (Feb. 5, 2003) Secretary of State Colin Powell misled the UN Security Council on Iraq, VIPS sent a blunt memorandum to President George W. Bush, in which VIPS gave Powell a C-minus for content. VIPS ended the memo with this:
“No one has a corner on the truth; nor do we harbor illusions that our analysis is irrefutable or undeniable [as Powell had claimed his was]. But after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond … the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”
On July 20, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet had told his British counterpart that the “intelligence and facts were being ‘fixed’ around the policy of ‘regime change’ in Iraq.” On June 5, 2008, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, announced the main conclusion of a five-year study by his committee, saying, “In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent.” In sum, the “intelligence” was not mistaken; it was fraudulent.
As an act of conscience, on March 2, 2006 Ray returned the Intelligence Commendation Medallion given him at retirement for “especially meritorious service,” explaining, “I do not want to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.” He returned the medallion to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R, Michigan), then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Hoekstra added to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY’07 (HR5020) a provision enabling the government to strip intelligence veterans of their government pensions. HR5020 passed the full House, but Congress opted instead for a continuing resolution. Ray was thus spared from having to go back to driving part-time for Red Top Cab.
On December 11, 2014, Ray had an opportunity to tell Hoekstra exactly what he thought of Hoekstra’s Lone-Ranger attempt (he did not inform his House Intelligence Committee colleagues) to make it possible to revoke the government pensions of people like Ray. He confronted the former Congressman off-air, after the two were interviewed live on CCTV’s “The Heat” about the Senate Intelligence Committee findings released on December 9, 2014 regarding CIA torture. The interview itself offered Ray a unique chance to hold Hoekstra publicly accountable for condoning torture. And the Michigan congressman rose to the occasion. (See minutes 8:15 to 10:41 of:
On the early afternoon of May 4, 2006, in Atlanta, Ray confronted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on live TV with pointed questions like: “Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties?”
The impromptu, four-minute mini-debate that followed is still receiving hits on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1FTmuhynaw. Accused by TV pundits that evening of “following the Secretary of Defense all the way down to Atlanta,” Ray explained that he had gotten to Atlanta first – to receive, that same evening, the ACLU’s National Civil Liberties Award (won the previous year by Coretta Scott King).
Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers and other publications in the U.S. and abroad. His Web site writings are usually posted first on consortiumnews.com as well as here on raymcgovern.com. Many are then cross-posted on other Web sites.
Ray still serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Links to VIPS’ 39 corporate issuances are posted on warisacrime.org/vips.
He has debated twice at the Oxford Forum, most recently in Jan. 2013, when he chose to take a lighter tone in trying to explain why it is still possible to dream the American dream.
Ray has appeared on The Newshour, C-Span’s Washington Journal, CNN, BBC, a number of domestic Russian TV channels, Aljazeera, RT, PressTV, CCTV and many other TV & radio programs and documentaries. Ray’s favorite gig was debating Iraq with yellow-cake-aluminum connoisseur and ex-CIA Director James Woolsey on Charlie Rose on Aug. 20, 2004. (See minute 17:48 when Woolsey plays the “anti-Semitic” card against Ray.)
Ray was in NYC with film-maker Robert Greenwald for the debut of his full-length documentary, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. Ray is often on the road, giving talks and interviews to a wide variety of audiences in the U.S. and abroad.
His B.A. and M.A. degrees – both from Fordham University – are in Russian history, language, and literature, with minor concentrations in theology and philosophy. He also holds a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.
A Catholic, Ray has been worshipping for many years with the ecumenical Church of the Saviour. He has been invited to lecture at various interfaith and ecumenical events around the U.S., and has preached during services at a number of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.
Ray is particularly fond of the “substitute teaching” he has been invited to do at local universities and colleges. At George Washington University, though, he quickly wore out his welcome when he stood silently with his back turned toward then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He was seized and badly beaten directly in front of Clinton while she spoke eloquently about the need for freedom of expression – in Iran.
Ray is fluent in Russian, German, and Spanish. He and his wife have been married for 55 years; they have five children and nine grandchildren.
Most people in the US buy their food in grocery stores with little knowledge of the human and environmental injustices that went into bringing it there or the fights to improve the quality of our food. Today we speak with Maru Mora-Villalpando, who works with Families United for Justice, about a campaign led by farm workers who pick berries in the U.S. and Mexico that is starting to have victories. And then we talk with long-time food advocate Carlos Martinez about Monsanto, the consolidation of Big Ag and the fight for the right to healthy food.
Relevant Article and Websites:
No Other Way Than to Struggle: The Farmworker-Led Boycott of Driscoll’s Berries by Felimon Pineda with David Bacon
Bayer’s Monsanto Acquisition to Face Politically Charged Scrutiny by Diane Bartz and Greg Roumeliotis
Maru Mora-Villalpando is a principal with Latino Advocacy. She coordinates communication and is a spokesperson for Families United for Justice (Familias Unidas por la Justicia), which organizes the Driscoll’s Berry Boycott.
Carlos Martinez is a food justice advocate who worked on Prop 37, the first statewide bill to label Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in foods. As a participant of Occupy movements up and down California, he worked to bring food justice issues to the forefront. He works in collaboration with many food activist organizations and is now focusing on one of the ultimate food fights, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the global corporate takeover of our food system.
The science is clear that no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built. We must keep existing fossil fuels in the ground and transition rapidly to renewable energy sources. The government is not taking up this action, so people around the world are taking it upon themselves to stop fossil fuel projects. One current effort is taking place in North Dakota. The Sacred Stone Camp was created by the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Nations on April 1, 2016 to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which would carry Bakken oil through four states. All pipelines spill and the DAPL could contaminate the Missouri River, as well as the land and other aquifers. Construction of the pipeline is destroying sacred sites and wildlife habitat. Matt Remle will speak with us about resistance to the pipeline and what people can do to support the efforts.
At the same time, we must build alternatives to meet our needs for energy and transportation. Bill Moyer and Steve Chrismer have been working together on a project that they call Solutionary Rail. They envision rebuilding the rail system in the US to run on electricity, which can be created through renewable sources, to carry goods and passengers.
Relevant articles and websites:
Recalculating the Climate Math by Bill McKibben
Matt Remle (Lakota) lives in Seattle, WA. He works for the office of Indian Education in the Marysville/Tulalip school district. He is a writer for Last Real Indians @ www.lastrealindians.com and runs an on-line Lakota language program at www.LRInspire.com. He is a father of three and the author of Seattle’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution.”
Steve Chrismer has worked in the rail industry for 35 years and has his PhD in Civil Engineering. He is presently on the design team developing the Next Generation High Speed trainset that will operate on Amtrak’s Northeast corridor between Washington D.C. and Boston and will be capable of up to 186 mph and is Chairperson of the national High Speed Rail Committee and is part of the Solutionary Rail Team organized by Bill Moyer.
Bill Moyer is a fourth generation Washingtonian who lives with his wife and daughter in the woods of Vashon Island, WA in the Salish Sea (near Seattle). He co-founded and Backbone Campaign and has served as executive director since 2004. A leader in the theory and practice of artful activism, Backbone combines lessons of the performing arts with grand strategic principles from the Art of War to invigorate nonviolent social change movements. Bill and his Backbone colleagues have designed and produced hundreds of creative protests and trained thousands of change agents. They have helped transform mundane demonstrations into cultural happenings with innovative tactics like spotlights to project messages onto buildings and introduced the world tokayaktivism during the sHellNo! campaign to stop Arctic drilling.
Bill presents on the application of grand strategy, creative tactics and campaign design in workshops around the country. His moral and strategic commitment to always balance critique with proposal resulted in the Solutionary Rail project. Now Bill humbly conducts the talented Solutionary Rail team. He is extremely proud of this book on how America can transform a broken and dangerous railroad business model into a catalyst for social and environmental solutions and integral component of a just transition to sustainable society.
We speak with Ajamu Baraka about his work for decades as a human rights defender, about his current run for Vice President on the Green Party ticket and his activism at the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota recently in solidarity with the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Relevant articles and websites:
Green Party Candidates Face Arrest: An Interview with Green Party VP Candidate Ajamu Baraka by Dennis J. Bernstein
A human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles.
Baraka is an internationally recognized leader of the emerging human rights movement in the U.S. and has been at the forefront of efforts to apply the international human rights framework to social justice advocacy in the U.S. for more than 25 years. As such, he has provided human rights trainings for grassroots activists across the country, has given briefings on human rights to the U.S. Congress, and has appeared before and provided statements to various United Nations agencies, including the UN Human Rights Commission (precursor to the current UN Human Rights Council).
As a co-convener with Jaribu Hill of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights, Baraka played an instrumental role in developing the series of bi-annual Southern Human Rights Organizers’ conferences (SHROC) that began in 1996. These gatherings represented some of the first post-Cold War human rights training opportunities for grassroots activists in the country.
Baraka played an important role in bringing a human rights perspective to the preparatory meetings for the World Conference on Racism (WCAR) that took place in Geneva and in Santiago, Chile, as part of the Latin American Preparatory process, as well as the actual conference that he attended as a delegate in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
Ajamu Baraka was the Founding Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) from July 2004 until June 2011. The USHRN was the first domestic human rights formation in the United States explicitly committed to the application of international human rights standards to the U.S. Under Baraka, the Network grew from a core membership of 60 organizations to more than 300 U.S.-based member organizations and 1,500 individual members who worked on the full spectrum of human rights concerns in the U.S. During Baraka’s tenure, the Network initiated the Katrina Campaign on Internal Displacement, after Baraka was the first to formally identify the victims of Hurricane Katrina as internally displaced people (IDP).
Also while at the Network, Baraka ensured that the Network spearheaded efforts to raise human rights abuses taking place in the U.S. with United Nations human rights processes and structures, including the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Human Rights Council, through its Universal Periodic Review process. By coordinating the production of non-governmental reports on human rights and organizing activist delegations to UN sites in Geneva and New York, the Network gave voice to victims of human rights abuses and provided opportunities for activists to engage in direct advocacy. These efforts resulted in specific criticisms of the U.S. human rights record and recommendations for corrective actions.
Prior to leading the USHRN, Baraka served in various leadership capacities with Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). As AIUSA’s Southern Regional Director, he played a key role in developing the organization’s 1998 campaign to expose human rights violations in the U.S. Baraka also directed Amnesty’s National Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, during which time he was involved in most of the major death penalty cases in the U.S.
In 1998, Baraka was one of 300 human rights defenders from around the world who were brought together at the first International Summit of Human Rights Defenders commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2001, Baraka received the “Abolitionist of the Year” award from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The following year, Baraka received the “Human Rights Guardian” award from the National Center for Human Rights Education.
Baraka has also served on the boards of various national and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International(USA), the Center for Constitutional Rights, Africa Action, and the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights.
Baraka has taught political science at various universities and has been a guest lecturer at academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. A commentator on a number of criminal justice and international human rights issues, Baraka has appeared on and been covered in a wide-range of print, broadcast, and digital media outlets such as CNN, BBC, the Tavis Smiley Show, Telemundo, ABC’s World News Tonight, Black Commentator, Russia Today, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. He is also a contributing writer for various publications including Black Commentator, Commondreams, Pambazaka, and Dissident Voice.
He is currently an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C., and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report.
As predicted, major insurance companies are complaining that they are not making enough money and so they are pulling out of the health insurance exchanges. What does this mean for health professionals and patients? How do we solve the ongoing health care crisis in the United States? We speak with Sam Jordan about his fight to force Care First Blue Cross to live up to its public obligations and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler about the current state of healthcare in the United States and what impact proposed solutions would have.
Relevant articles and websites:
Shameful Racial Disparities in Health and Health Care by Lyndonna Marrast, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch “Epi-Pen is my ‘baby'” by Damien Garde
Aetna warned it would drop out of Obamacare exchanges if its merger was blocked by Carolyn Y. Johnson
Samuel Jordan is a lawyer, a human rights advocate, former chair of the DC Statehood Party and Executive Director of Health Care Now DC where he has led and continues to lead struggles to increase access to health care for residents in and around Washington, DC. Contact him at Samuel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, FACP – internal medicine, New York/Boston is a practicing primary care physician, professor in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, adjunct clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she co-directed the general internal medicine fellowship program and practiced primary care internal medicine at Cambridge Hospital.
Dr. Woolhandler earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University; her medical degree from Louisiana State University; and her master’s degree from the University of California. She worked in 1990-1991 as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy fellow at the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Woolhandler is a frequent speaker and has written extensively on health policy, administrative overhead and the uninsured. She has authored more than 150 journal articles, reviews, chapters, and books on health policy. A co-founder and board member of Physicians for a National Health Program, Dr. Woolhandler co-edits PNHP’s newsletter and is a principal author of PNHP articles published in the JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine in conjunction with Dr. David Himmelstein.
As we enter the final months of the presidential campaigns, voters are looking towards the debates. The first one will be in New York on September 26. However, unless we mobilize to change the process for presidential debates, voters will not get to hear the views of all candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to win the election. We’ll talk about the presidential debate commission, which is really a private corporation, the ways that debates are restricted by the Democrats and Republicans and what we can do to create greater democracy.
Relevant articles and websites:
League Refuses to Help Perpetrate a Fraud by Nancy Neumann
TV Networks Should Open Up the Presidential Debates by Jeff Cohen
Jeff Cohen is a media critic and lecturer, is founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he is an associate professor of journalism. His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He has been a TV commentator at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and was senior producer of MSNBC’s Phil Donahue primetime show until it was terminated three weeks before the Iraq invasion. Cohen founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986, and cofounded the online activist group RootsAction.org in 2011. His columns on media issues have been published online at such websites as HuffingtonPost, CommonDreams and Alternet—and in dozens of dailies, including USA Today, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Atlanta Constitution, and Miami Herald.
Jo Vaccarino is a Clinical thermographer, health freedom advocate, Fair Debates Taskforce Developer. Advocate for Fair Debates, election reform and ending corruption in our government and the election process. She is on the team of Downsize DC and Zero Aggression Project as well as the Gary Johnson 2012 and 2016 campaigns.
The final national presidential nominating convention is over for this election season. To discuss the upcoming elections and what they mean, we are joined by Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report and Eugene Puryear, an activist based in Washington, DC. What will it take to build the political power necessary for transformation to a more just and peaceful society?
Relevant articles and websites:
Glen Ford is the son of famed disc jockey Rudy “The Deuce” Rutherford, the first Black man to host a non-gospel television show in the Deep South – Columbus, Georgia, 1958 – Glen was reading newswire copy on-the-air at age eleven. Glen’s first full-time broadcast news job was at James Brown’s Augusta, Georgia radio station WRDW, in 1970 – where ‘The Godfather of Soul” shortened Glen’s surname to “Ford.”
Glen Ford worked as a newsperson at four more local stations: in Columbus, Georgia, Atlanta, Baltimore – where he created his first radio syndication, a half-hour weekly news magazine called “Black World Report” – and Washington, DC. In 1974, Ford joined the Mutual Black Network (88 stations), where he served as Capitol Hill, State Department and White House correspondent, and Washington Bureau Chief, while also producing a daily radio commentary. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted “America’s Black Forum” (ABF), the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television.
ABF made Black broadcast history. For the next four years, the program generated national and international headlines nearly every week. Never before – and never since – had a Black news entity commanded the weekly attention of the news services (AP, UPI, Reuters, Agence France-Presse – even Tass, the Soviet news agency) and the broadcast networks.
While still host and co-owner of ABF, Ford in 1979 created “Black Agenda Reports,” which provided five programs each day on Black Women, History, Business, Sports and Entertainment to 66 radio stations. The syndication produced more short-form programming than the two existing Black radio networks, combined.
Ford also produced the McDonald’s-sponsored radio series “Black History Through Music,” aired on 50 stations, nationwide.
In 1987, Ford launched “Rap It Up,” the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. During its six years of operations, “Rap It Up” allowed Ford to play an important role in the maturation of a new African American musical genre. He organized three national rap music conventions, and wrote the Hip Hop column for Jack The Rapper’s Black radio trade magazine.
Ford co-founded BlackCommentator.com (BC) in 2002. The weekly journal quickly became the most influential Black political site on the Net. In October, 2006, Ford and the entire writing team left BC to launch BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR).
In addition to his broadcast and Internet experience, Glen Ford was national political columnist for Encore American & Worldwide News magazine; founded The Black Commentator and Africana Policies magazines; authored The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, 1985); voiced over 1000 radio commercials (half of which he also produced) and scores of television commercials; and served as reporter and editor for three newspapers (two daily, one weekly).
Ford was a founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); executive board member of the National Alliance of Third World Journalists (NATWJ); media specialist for the National Minority Purchasing Council; and has spoken at scores of colleges and universities.
Eugene Puryear is a Washington, D.C.-based activist. As a high school student in Charlottesville, Va, Eugene organized a walkout when the war in Iraq began in 2003, and helped to organize a number of the large-scale demonstrations that took place against the continuing U.S. war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a key leader In the struggle to free the Jena Six in 2007, was a founder of the Jobs Not Jails coalition, DC Ferguson Movement and Stop Police Terror Project in Washington D.C., and is the author of the book Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America. Puryear is the host of “By Any Means Necessary on Radio Sputnik.
Decades of lesser evil voting and the failed policies that have been the result are creating a political realignment in the United States. Such a realignment has been going on in other countries recently such as Spain, Venezuela, Greece and Iceland. The two major parties in the US, the Democrats and Republicans, are shrinking and more people are joining third parties or switching to be unaffiliated. We’ll discuss this political realignment and what it means with Darcy Richardson and Ashley Smith.
Relevant articles and websites:
Donald Trump Frees Us to Vote as We Wish by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Will the Democrats Put Out the Bern? by Ashley Smith
The Sanders Campaign and the Left by Ashley Smith and Lance Selfa
Darcy Richardson is the author of more than a dozen books covering American political history. Richardson’s books on American history and politics — one of which earned an Outstanding Academic Title (OAT) from scholarly Choice magazine in 2005 — were cited in Newsweek’s “What You Need to Read” section in July 2010. His most recent book, Bernie: A Lifelong Crusade Against Wall Street & Wealth, was published by Sevierville Publishing in December 2015.
Long active in third-party politics, Richardson has rubbed shoulders with some of the best-known political figures of the past three decades. In addition to managing one of the late Minnesota Senator Eugene J. McCarthy’s campaigns and serving as a senior advisor in another, Richardson ran for Pennsylvania Auditor General in 1980 and for the U.S. Senate eight years later on the Philadelphia-based Consumer Party ticket. In 2012, he offered himself as a protest candidate in several Democratic presidential primaries, briefly challenging Wall Street’s increasingly corrupt influence on the Democratic Party and the nation’s body politic.
A resident of Jacksonville, Richardson has been quoted in major publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and has written numerous articles for a wide range of publications. He has also been a guest on several nationally-syndicated radio talk shows, ranging from the progressive “Thom Hartmann Show” to Joseph Farah’s conservative “WorldNetDaily Radioactive” program.
Darcy can be reached via email at email@example.com
Ashley Smith is on the editorial board of the International Socialist Review (ISR) and on the Steering Committee of the International Socialist Organization. He has written on various subjects for the ISR as well as Socialist Worker, New Politics, ZNet, and Jacobin. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.
A study from 2014 showed that 99% of domestic terrorist plots in the US are aided in some way by the FBI; only 4 out of 400 were not FBI stings. And human rights groups found that the way the sting operations are conducted violate human rights. Sue Udry of Defending Dissent will speak about the ways these sting operations have been used to fuel hatred against Muslims. And to discuss the shooting and mass murder in Orlando, FL, Janaid Ahmad of Just International and Peace for Life speaks about the rise of homophobia and violence within Muslim communities because of Western influence and support for extremist sects such as the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia.
Relevant articles and websites:
Living in the Shadow of Counterterrorism series from Rewire
FBI Steps Up Use of Stings in ISIS Cases by Eric Lichtblau
Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution from Project Salam and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms
Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
Sue won her high school’s “Best Citizen” award in 1978 and has been working to earn that title ever since. She played a leadership role in her campus peace group, and after grad school she began knocking on doors in neighborhoods around the country as a canvasser for SANE, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, now Peace Action. She has been the Executive Director of the Defending Dissent Foundation since 2008. Prior to joining DDF, she served as the executive director of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights and as an organizer for the Coalition for New Priorities and the Day Care Action Council of Illinois. She was the legislative coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of over 1,600 groups opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She currently serves on the board of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, as well as the Advisory Board of the Charity and Security Network. She is a co-founder of the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition and treasurer of the D.C. chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Over a quarter of a century working for peace and social justice in Washington, DC, Illinois and Indiana, has taught Sue that the right to dissent is crucial to expanding democracy, promoting justice, and enlarging the global human rights perspective.
Janaid S. Ahmad is based in Lahore, Pakistan where he is the director of the Center for Global Dialogue. He has a Juris Doctor (law) degree from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. He is currently a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is also a faculty member of the Faculty of Law and Policy, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan. He served as president of the US-based National Muslim Law Students Association (NMLSA), and is on the board of the Muslim Peace Fellowship. He is a board member of Muslim Men against Domestic Abuse (MMADA). He served on the Executive Board of the Domestic Violence Resource Project. In the US, he worked with the National Interfaith Committee on Social Justice, and Amnesty International. In Pakistan, he worked with such groups as Educate Pakistan and AMAL Human Development Network. He continues to maintain an association with Positive Muslims, the Cape Town-based organization working on issues related to Muslims, HIV/AIDS and gender justice, a group with which he worked while he was in South Africa. His research interests include Islam in the public sphere, interfaith relations, globalization, and civil society, and has lectured and written extensively on these topics. He is currently working on a collaborative project with the International Islamic University – Islamabad (IIU-I) on globalization, Muslim societies and Islamic revivalism. Mr. Ahmed has been a long time human rights activist.
As President Obama completes his final term in office, his administration is working closely with Big Business and Big Finance to sneak the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress during the lame duck session after the November election. The TPP is an international agreement that was negotiated in secret with the help of hundreds of corporate advisers. If ratified, it will rig the political system even more to benefit multinational corporations at the expense of our sovereignty and our ability to protect our communities and the planet. Bill Waren of Friends of the Earth will join us to discuss the close ties between the financial industry and the office of the US Trade Representative and why it is critical that we stop the TPP. Gillian Locascio of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition will speak with us about how people are organizing to stop the TPP.
Relevant articles and websites:
Money Merry-Go-Round: Emails show how Wall Street Execs and Alums Crafted Trade Bill by Kathy Kiely
Official Report on the TPP: Almost No Measurable Value by Stan Sorscher
Bill Waren is a trade policy analyst for Friends of the Earth. He works to protect the environment from the negative impact of international trade and investment agreements. Bill contributes to the policy discussion about trade and environment issues as they arise in community forums, the U.S. congressional debate, the federal agency process, international negotiations, and litigation before international trade and investment tribunals. Prior to joining Friends of the Earth, Bill worked at the Forum on Democracy & Trade and its sister organization, the Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown University. Earlier in his career, Bill served as federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures and as a staffer for the Illinois General Assembly. A native of rural, downstate Illinois, Bill is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Duke Law School.
Gillian Locascio is the director for the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, a group of 66 labor, faith, environmental, student, public health, social justice organizations, fair trade businesses and cooperatives in Washington State that are committed to creating a fair, balanced, and sustainable global trading system. Prior to joining the coalition, she worked extensively in the United States and Latin America as a community health and human rights advocate, where she watched both CAFTA and the Panama Free Trade agreement go into effect.
Three members of the Corean Alliance for Independent Reunification and Democracy (CAIRD) are in the United States on a peace expedition. They speak with us about the brutal history of the US’ involvement in Korea and their work to end the Korean War, bring reunification and build democracy. Their work builds on decades of work by Korean activists. Under the current leader, this work is being made even more challenging by the application of a National Security Law. We also discuss the impact of trade agreements on Korean farmers and workers.
Relevant articles and websites:
Written answers to the questions that were asked on the program: Answers for questions on Corea
Gwangju Democracy Protest, And Massacre US Was Complicit In by Kevin Zeese
North Korea and the United States; Will the Real Aggressor Please Stand Down? by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Daily movement news and resources.
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