As the death toll in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues to rise, there have only been a handful of Westerners publicly questioning NATO and the West’s role in the conflict. These voices are becoming fewer and further between as a wave of feverish backlash engulfs any dissent on the subject. One of these voices belongs to Professor Michael J. Brenner, a lifelong academic, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS/Johns Hopkins, as well as former Director of the International Relations & Global Studies Program at the University of Texas. Brenner’s credentials also include having worked at the Foreign Service Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense and Westinghouse, and written several books on American foreign policy. From the vantage point of decades of experience and studies, the intellectual regularly shared his thoughts on topics of interest through a mailing list sent to thousands of readers—that is until the response to his Ukraine analysis made him question why he bothered in the first place.
When Michael Ratner died in 2016, the world lost one of the great human rights lawyers of the past century. A descendant of holocaust survivors, Ratner embodied the courage and integrity that is often sorely lacking among his peers in the legal field, taking on cases that seemed impossible to win, but were always essential to protecting human rights. He served as president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) as well as the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and spent much of his life advocating for the protection of civil liberties and civil rights. One of his greatest achievements was winning the case Rasul v. Bush, which set the legal precedent for hundreds of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay to be able challenge their detention in U.S. courts.
Hunter S. Thompson, the co-founder of Gonzo journalism best known for his book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” is a legend in American letters. His reporting for Rolling Stone, in which he developed the subgenre of New Journalism that later became known as Gonzo because of his willingness to insert himself into the stories he was reporting, is studied in journalism schools across the country. Other significant works by Thompson include his early iconic piece “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” as well as “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72,” a collection of his Rolling Stone coverage of Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign—in which he made no secret of his support for progressive candidate George McGovern—and his 1967 book about riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
Joseph Carson, an Energy Department nuclear safety engineer originally from Brooklyn, NY, walked into the moral hazard of working for the U.S. government nearly as soon as his career started. The very first program he worked in during the Cold War led to the development of a nuclear weapon that could kill 20 million people in one fell swoop. The alarm bells immediately started ringing as the federal employee considered his work in the context of the engineering code of ethics he’d been educated in. What started as disclosures about the safety of federal workers in 1991–a report his manager immediately threw away–later became charges about reprisals against him for blowing the whistle on his employer.
The story of Marshall “Eddie” Conway, a military veteran and former Black Panther who was imprisoned for 43 years for a crime he didn’t commit, is one that gets to the heart of systemic racism in the United States. Despite grueling conditions, in prison Conway pursued three college degrees, and was considered an “exemplary” prisoner for starting a prison literacy program and organizing the prison library. On the other hand, his efforts to organize a union among his fellow convict laborers was crushed by the authorities. After being released in 2014 following an appellate court judgment that his jury had been given improper instructions, Conway has become executive producer of The Real News Network (TRNN), a progressive media organization based in Baltimore, MD, with his own show, “Rattling the Bars” that focuses on the many social justice issues that intersect with mass incarceration in the U.S.
Glen Ford, a brilliant and powerful force in the media throughout his life, died recently at the age of 71. In this century, Glen was the founder of the Black Commentator in 2002 and then Black Agenda Report in 2006. He was an activist as well on a range of issues, part of the Black is Back Coalition. In this program, Clearing the FOG compiles a few previous conversations with Glen about the state of Black America, systemic racial injustice, how power is organized and how to confront power. In the final interview, from November of 2018, Glen describes fascism in the United States and the lack of resistance to it. The interviews were conducted prior to the death of Clearing the FOG co-host Kevin Zeese. Clearing the FOG extends its condolences to the family and friends of Glen Ford. His wit and wisdom are deeply missed.
In recent days, Pegasus, the name of Israeli spyware implicated in everything from the murder of journalists to the surveillance of world leaders, has been splashed across headlines around the globe. Reports in the Washington Post, The Guardian, and 15 other media outlets, as well as Amnesty International, which uncovered the spyware’s reach, revealed that Pegasus, sold by the Israeli company NSO, was used in attempts to track the most intimate details of thousands of people, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, as well as hundreds of human rights activists, journalists and lawyers around the globe. The revelations have prompted Haaretz columnist Eitay Mack to declare in no uncertain terms that “Israel’s NSO and Pegasus are a real and present danger to democracy all over the world.”
This week, Clearing the FOG speaks with artist and activist Eleanor Goldfield about her new EP, "No Solo." This is her first solo production and it is her most personal and political piece. Goldfield talks about the struggles of artists during the pandemic as they have been left out of the rescue plans. She discusses the role of the arts, particularly in activism, and her involvement in direct action, mutual aid and supporting campaigns to save the forests. Goldfield is journalist, podcaster, documentarian, photographer and more. Her work, as well as her new music video, can be found at ArtKillingApathy.com.
The saga of Julian Assange’s persecution has been defined by leading human rights organizations as one of the most significant threats to press freedom in our time. The WikiLeaks founder published, among other devastating leaks, the “Collateral Damage” video obtained by Chelsea Manning that revealed war crimes being committed in Iraq by U.S. soldiers. As U.S. authorities attempted to extradite Assange for alleged violations of the Espionage Act of 1917, he took refuge for several years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the U.K. until he was imprisoned in a high-security London facility in 2019. The WikiLeaks founder has since been kept in appalling conditions there, and although a British judge denied the U.S. extradition request due to concerns for Assange’s health were he to be sent to an American prison, the Biden administration is still appealing the decision.
Companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have started to become household names, producing meat substitutes that taste as close to meat as their scientists have been able to engineer. In the midst of a climate crisis that threatens our very existence, plenty of scientists have been recommending that we all look for ways to cut down on our meat intake because cows produce large amounts of methane that has a significant negative environmental impact. Eating animal products also brings up animal rights questions. One of the main selling points of these Silicon Valley companies is essentially that we can save the planet and eat ethically without sacrificing taste. Yet, there is a key question few people seem to be asking about these new products: Are these meat substitutes good for our health?
At a time in which distractions seem to multiply by the second thanks to the omnipresence of screens and social media, and COVID-19 pandemic has isolated us further, we’re all having a hard time truly listening to one another and connecting. Silicon Valley veteran Ximena Vengoechea wants to change that with her new book “Listen Like You Mean It.” On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” host Robert Scheer speaks to the User Experience designer about her work at Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and the role tech companies have had on our ability to listen to one another. “I think some of how we lost [our ability to listen] has been the sort of moment that we’re in, which is this culturally, politically divided moment, this technologically accelerated moment,” says Vengoechea...
Three hours and 42 minutes. That’s how close Kevin Cooper came in 2004 to being murdered by the state, strapped down to a gurney, and poisoned via lethal injection. He had been placed in what he calls a “death chamber waiting room” and stripped of all his clothes before he was granted a stay of execution. Five years later, in an unprecedented dissent, five federal judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that began: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.” A rash of evidence would appear to substantiate their claim. In the opinion, Judge William A. Fletcher details multiple Brady disclosures—key information that had been ignored or actively suppressed that would compromise the case against Cooper.
John Kiriakou’s story as an Arabic-speaking former CIA agent and CIA torture whistleblower has taken a number of turns throughout his life, including a prison sentence that sent a wrecking ball through his career and personal life. During his time with the intelligence agency, however, he spent significant periods of time in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other parts of the Middle East on a quest to round up Al-Qaeda militants during the “War on Terror.” Kiriakou’s experience gives him a unique insight into the current crisis in the Palestinian territories and Israel with violence continuing to escalate as Israel fires more than 100 bombs on Gaza. So far the most recent attacks on Gaza have killed at least 230 people, including more than 100 women and children, while in Israel, 12 people, including two children, have been killed.