January 26, 2012

Common Fire Interview

Sean Ritchey from The Common Fire Foundation was great. I had wondered about the connection between the occupy movement and the creation of intentional communities. Sean said at the end of the interview that it takes community to build a progressive movement. We were talking about Zuccotti Park, of course. But his words reminded me of what Daniel Berrigan had said at a talk in Dutchess County several years ago. When asked about his courage to do the right thing, he said it had to be done in a community to have real strength. 

Great progressive media list from a listener...

Daily radio/TV news programs / podcasts on peace and justice topics (thanks, Rick Kissell) 

Citizen Radio is a weekday internet radio show for young people disillusioned with corporate media and a political system that doesn't speak to them.  It is hosted by Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein.  http://wearecitizenradio.com/
Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on Pacifica, NPR, community, and college radio stations; on public access, PBS, satellite television (DISH network: Free Speech TV ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410; DIRECTV: Free Speech TV ch. 348 and Link TV ch. 375); and on the internet. DN! podcast is one of the most popular on the web.   http://www.democracynow.org
Free Speech Radio News is an independently produced half hour daily national and international radio news program focusing on peace and social justice issues in the US and around the world. FSRN is collectively run by its workers and reporters. It is a non-profit organization, with funding from the Pacifica Radio Network, as well as community radio stations across the US and listener-donors. The newscast is hosted by Dorian Merina, and is independently distributed by FSRN, as well as by the Pacifica radio network.  http://www.fsrn.org
Majority Report started on Air America as a daily radio program co-hosted by Janeane Garafolo and Sam Seder.  In November 2010 it was relaunched by Seder as a self-produced online podcast.   http://majority.fm/
The Rick Smith Show In 2005, The Rick Smith Show stepped into a local radio world devoid of progressive talk. On a small country & western station, Rick took his Teamster-member outlook to the air and started mixing it up with conservatives from one of the reddest areas north of the Mason Dixon line. His show grew steadily, attracting listeners starved for a voice that spoke to working stiffs who felt the economic floor crumbling beneath them.  http://ricksmithshow.com/
Uprising [daily edition] Uprising Radio was founded in July 2003 by Sonali Kolhatkar, host and lead producer of Uprising. Uprising emphasizes connecting global issues with local ones. Simply informing listeners of the problems in the world and our communities is not enough ‚Äì we hope to motivate our listeners to take an active role in their communities.  Uprising airs daily on KPFK, Pacifica in Southern California from 8-9 am on weekdays, Pacific Standard Time (If you live outside the Southern California area, you can listen to Uprising live every day by clicking here).  Uprising also has a Weekly Edition that uses the best of our national and international programming from the daily show.  http://uprisingradio.org/home/
Workers‚Äô Independent News A nationwide news service focusing on issues that affect the daily lives of working people and their communities. News by and about working people. WIN producers gather news from labor unions and activists from across the country. WIN then packages the material for distribution to radio stations and for print publication.  Our producers and reporters come from a diverse background encompassing all fields of media journalism, from print to radio, video to the Web. We share one common goal: to create media that puts people over profits and empowers citizens to become journalists in their own right.   http://www.laborradio.org
The Young Turks is an Internet talk show distributed via live-stream and You Tube.  Hosted by Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, it previously aired on Air America and Sirius Satellite Radio.  http://www.theyoungturks.com/
Weekly radio news programs / podcasts
Activist Radio is a weekly program for all Americans who are not in the wealthiest one percent of the US population.  Activist Radio attempts to show how the wealthy few lie to the rest of us to expand their power and wealth. http://www.classwars.org/
Alternative Radio is a weekly one-hour public affairs program featuring speakers like Chip Berlet, Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Barbara Ehrenreich, Robert Fisk, Bill Fletcher, Glenn Greenwald, William Greider, Chris Hedges, Seymour Hersh, Jonathan Kozol, Naomi Klein, George Lakoff, Manning Marable, Bill Moyers, Greg Palast, Michael Parenti, Kevin Phillips, Frances Fox Piven, Jeremy Scahill, Robert Scheer, Cornel West, and Howard Zinn.  Alternative Radio  provides information, analyses and views that are frequently ignored or distorted in other media.   http://www.alternativeradio.org 
Behind the News: Economics from a Left perspective is an hour-long, weekly program aired on KPFA.  It has been hosted since 1996 by Doug Henwood, the editor of the Left Business ObserverBehind the News covers the worlds of economics and politics and their complex interactions, from the local to the global. Shows typically consist of some opening comments by host Doug Henwood on the recent news, followed by two or three interviews with authors, activists, academics, and other knowledgeable sorts. Since mystification is one of the tricks that power uses to maintain itself, emphasis is always placed on clarifying the complex.  http://www.kpfa.org/behindthenews
Topics covered include the broad economy and the financial markets, trade and globalization, income distribution and poverty, political candidates (with an emphasis on their general bogosity), Latin American resistance to neoliberalism, crime and imprisonment, financing health care, environmental economics, and the culture of money. Of course, that list will evolve as circumstances warrant.
Between the Lines Since 1991, non-commercial, listener-supported WPKN Radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has produced a weekly, award-winning public affairs show called Between the Lines. A four-time winner of the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcast Award for Best Feature in the non-commercial category, this syndicated, half-hour program provides a platform for individuals and spokespersons from progressive organizations generally ignored or marginalized by the mainstream media. Between the Lines covers a wide range of political, economic and social topics.  http://www.btlonline.org/
Each program begins with a five-minute summary of some of the week's under-reported news stories gathered from the alternative press. This summary is followed by three five-minute interview segments focusing on significant international, national and regional issues.
Building Bridges: Your Community Labor Report  Our beat is the labor front, broadly defined, both geographically and conceptually. We examine the world of work and workers on the job as well as where they live. We examine the issues that affect their everyday lives, with a particular sensitivity towards human rights abuses, environmental concerns and the U.S. drive for global domination. We record their global struggles and provide analysis of their efforts to empower themselves and transform society to provide greater democratic, human, social, political and economic rights. Each program consists of feature stories, generally interviews, within a historical context, often accompanied by sound from demonstrations, rallies or conferences, and complemented and enhanced by poetry and instrumental or vocal -- people's culture.  http://www.buildingbridgesonline.org/
CounterSpin is a weekly radio show hosted by Janine Jackson, Steve Rendall and Peter Hart.  It is a project of FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.  http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=5
CounterSpin provides a critical examination of the major stories every week, and exposes what the mainstream media might have missed in their own coverage. CounterSpin exposes and highlights biased and inaccurate news; censored stories; sexism, racism and homophobia in the news; the power of corporate influence; gaffes and goofs by leading TV pundits; TV news' narrow political spectrum; attacks on free speech; and more.
Flashpoints is an award-winning daily investigative newsmagazine broadcast on the national Pacifica Radio network. Through original reports and some of the key investigative reporters of our time, Flashpoints goes to the frontlines and to the core of the stories in the areas of government and corporate criminality, human rights, and economic justice.  http://www.flashpoints.net/

Freethought Radio is a weekly radio show produced by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  It airs live every Saturday on The Mic 92.1 in Madison, Wis. and (as of Saturday 6 October 2007) on Air America, streamed online, and available as a podcast. http://www.freethoughtradio.com/
Green Revolution http://greenrevolutionradio.com/  The Green Revolution radio show focuses on the world of green products, services, lifestyles and issues.  The program's goal is to facilitate ecological balance, and is intended for individuals that wish to do the same.  The host is Jon McLane, an expert in clean water systems.  Guests are professionals in sustainability, resource conservation, and quality green products and services.
Guns and Butter: The Economics of Politics  is a weekly hour-long program hosted by Bonnie Faulker and broadcast on KPFA in Los Angeles.  It investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, Guns & Butter reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the furtherance of a national security state.  http://www.kpfa.org/guns-and-butter
The Heartland Labor Forum  is a weekly hour-long program on workplace and economic issues produced by the Institute for Labor Studies at the University of Missouri ‚Äì Kansas City.  http://cas.umkc.edu/labor-ed/radio.htm
Labor Express is a production of the Chicago Committee for Labor Access that airs weekly on WLUW.  It covers the labor movement locally, nationally, and internationally, including living wage campaigns, health care, education, immigrants‚Äô rights, the environment, and issues of race and gender.  http://www.laborexpress.org/
Law and Disorder  is a weekly, independent radio program airing on several stations across the United States and podcasting on the web.  The program gives listeners access to rare legal perspectives on issues concerning civil liberties, privacy, right to dissent and the horrendous practices of torture exercised by the US government. This program examines the political forces and legislation that are moving the United States into a police state.  http://lawanddisorder.org/
Making Contact is a weekly radio program of the National Radio Project that focusses on criminal justice and prisons, the environment, globalization, labor issues, and women issues.  http://www.radioproject.org
Media Matters with Bob McChesney  Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "The media are central to all our lives," he says. "Yet the media are the most frequently misunderstood parts of our lives. We want to help people understand the role of media in society."   http://will.illinois.edu/mediamatters/
New World Notes is both a blog and a weekly radio program. Each examines political & social issues from a progressive perspective and with humor. The content includes commentary from the program's creator, Kenneth Dowst ... recorded talk from others ... stories from the alternative press read aloud ... graphics ... and music with a message. http://www.newworldnotes.blogspot.com/
The Progressive Radio is a weekly half-hour radio show hosted by Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine.  Since 2003, Rothschild has been interviewing activists, scholars, and artists who are making the world a better place.  http://www.progressive.org
Radio Ecoshock  http://ecoshock.org/eshock09.html
Uprising [weekly national edition]  Uprising Radio was founded in July 2003 by Sonali Kolhatkar, host and lead producer of Uprising. Uprising emphasizes connecting global issues with local ones. Simply informing listeners of the problems in the world and our communities is not enough ‚Äì we hope to motivate our listeners to take an active role in their communities.  Uprising also has a weekly edition that uses the best of our national and international programming from the daily show. The Weekly Edition is syndicated nationally.  http://uprisingradio.org/home/
War News Radio is a weekly, 29-minute program established in 2005 by students at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.  It seeks to fill the gaps in the media coverage by airing new perspectives, both personal and historical, in a balanced and in-depth manner.  http://warnewsradio.org/

January 25, 2012

Race to Nowhere

The documentary “Race to Nowhere” was shown in Rhinebeck recently, thanks to The Community Coalition for Rhinebeck Youth (www.rhinebeckyouth.org). The film is recommended to anyone with an interest in the current state of public education in the U.S. It revolves around the stories of families across the country struggling in response to the extraordinary demands being placed on students, starting as early as first grade. These demands take many forms, but the driving force is an overwhelming emphasis on standardized testing. The film not only documents the intense pressure placed on students to do mountains of homework, get high grades, and participate in extra-curricular activities, but reveals the terrible toll in physical and mental health that this pressure exerts. The picture painted by parents, teachers, doctors, and mental health professionals is of generations of young people being robbed of their childhoods.

I have taught at every level, from Head Start to college, in private and public institutions, in special education and mainstream classes, and in schools of varying socio-economic status. I wholeheartedly endorse nearly every one of the action points put forward at the end of Race to Nowhere (mostly aimed at lowering stress levels on students by de-emphasizing standardized testing, lightening the homework load, and letting kids have their childhoods back), but I’d like to address some issues that are under-emphasized in the movie.

Once, in a college commencement address, the late radical folk singer and songwriter Utah Phillips began by telling the newly minted graduates what they are always told, that they are the country’s greatest natural resource. Departing from the usual script, however, Phillips became alarmed and asked the assembled students, “Have you seen what this country does to its natural resources?? Escape while you still can!”

The underlying point is that, while we address the deficiencies of our educational institutions and policies, it is necessary to understand that they exist in the context of the larger, broken system that is our democracy. We like to think that our schools provide some escape from commercialism and commodification – and to some degree it does – but for the most part life in our schools mirrors life outside. Whether its Bush’s No Child Left Behind or Obama’s marginally more flexible Race to the Top, the underlying ideology remains the same. The terminology gives away the game: the goals are always about efficiency, productivity, and accountability. These are corporate, economic terms that have next-to-nothing to do with education or any of the other outcomes we want for our children: good health, self-expression, self-actualization, and happiness.

To my way of thinking, the goals of efficiency and productivity aren’t even constructive in the workplace, no less a school. In our society, we don’t expect a factory to consider the well-being of workers and communities. In fact, we demonize those forces (government regulators, non-profits, and unions) that attempt to protect the rights and dignity of employees. Over the past century, we have increasingly applied the factory model, with its worship of the profit motive and markets, to our schools. The question of whether our unfettered free enterprise system is a destructive force altogether will be debated elsewhere, but we know that it is antithetical to learning.

Our culture is dominated by money. For most of us (the 99%), it is a necessary evil; we must take on more jobs and increase our productivity or we will not be able to feed our families and stay in our homes. But for the ruling elite (yes, the 1% that controls 40% of the wealth in this country is a ruling elite), it is a matter of power and greed, a game. It should come as no surprise that a favorite hobby for millionaire hedge fund managers is investing in charter schools; some do it for the tax deduction, others are profiting by outsourcing the education of our young people. The evidence suggests that charter schools do no better than mainstream public schools despite their selectivity and other advantages. But even the best charter schools serve to undermine the connection between school and the public sector. This used to be called civics. If the Wall Street banksters gave a hoot about education, they would be investing in Head Start, which has a decades-long track record of success. But the benefits of early childhood education accrue to society at large over the long term, not to investors in the next fiscal quarter.

The sad part is that, in addition to stealing our money, the 1% also frames the conversation. They own the media, after all. So, instead of rejecting the corporate oligarchs and kleptocrats, U.S. citizens are convinced that the enemy is the government that tries to rein them in, or the unions that try to provide a counterweight to their power, or the protesters, who are increasingly rising in opposition not to particular issues but to the entire system. So, by all means, we should advocate for better teacher pay, reduce standardized testing, and declare weekends homework-free. But while we seek to change policies, we also need to support those who want to change the paradigm. Standardized tests are just what you would expect in a society where efficiency is valued over efficacy, where personal gain is valued over community welfare, and the most important measure of self-worth is the size of your paycheck. We need not only to oppose the drill and test model of learning, but also to challenge the assumptions underlying this regime. Until we can bring about greater systemic change, our kids will continue to be collateral damage in what has become a frontal assault on equity and democracy.

-- Gary Kenton

January 20, 2012

Listener comment from Angelo Moscarello

Blessed are the Profit Makers
by Angelo Moscarello

© 2011

We’ve learned well about the “Job Creators,” those well-heeled individuals who alone can afford to build the factories, create the jobs, and provide a living for the populace. In compensation for their financing, planning, and marketing strategy, they bank the profits. Yet, despite the logic, the profits do not come from their commercial brain trust. And that pot of gold that bankrolls a new factory is not found at the end of a corporate rainbow. Profit, as well as capital, comes from the daily suffered labor of the workers. They are the Profit Makers, those that sew the clothes; assemble the automobiles; pump out the oil from the ocean floor; build the houses; dig up the coal from the bowels of the earth; forge the tools used to build the machines that run society; sell the goods and services produced; and tend to the sick and feeble who no longer can work. The coffers of the wealthy estate would never overflow merely by the toil of their own hands. Those who command the boardroom could not also drive the delivery truck. The Profit Makers live as a single organism, producing all the life-giving sustenance needed to thrive well, but are restricted by external forces to only a portion of its intake. Machines can increase production, even replace labor, but they are born from the hands of labor.

The great technical genius would pocket little more than a pittance if his or her beloved innovation weren’t duplicated a million times over, filling the shelves at the Wal-Mart Super Store. The garage/workshop of those romantic early days would turn into a wearisome spider hole where they would face a lifetime of indentured servitude to that grand idea.

Some Profit Makers are self-sufficient; the doctors, house painters, artists, photographers, lawyers, street vendors, exercise trainers and the like. Yet, most “professionals” depend on assistants to perform their work or on the manufacture of requisite tools and equipment. Also, they would have their profits limited by their physical presence and energy level. At the end of a hard day, the street merchant would not be going home to Xanadu. Some millionaire talk show hosts believe they are emblematic of the entrepreneurial spirit; however, their remuneration originates from sponsors who employ millions of people to produce the millions of products their listenership purchases.

Without the salaries of the Profit Makers capital would be tightly budgeted. Bank vaults would be half empty, or half full, according to how you look at it, holding only those deposits made by the self-employed artisans and professionals. How many transactions would pass over the counters at the banks if manned only by CEOs and Boards of Directors? And how long would those deposits remain in the vault if the more infamous “entrepreneurs” of society were allowed to ride out of town with the spoils of their trade unfettered by police? And law enforcement depends on a lucrative society.

Will ever the Profit Makers receive a fair sized basket of the fruits of their labor? It won’t be soon. Yet, they provide the profits that create the banks that finance new factories that hire the millions of hands that make more profits that end up in the banks. Labor makes the world go round. So, Blessed are the Profit Makers, for they shall inherit the earth.

January 19, 2012

We had a lively interview with Gerald Celente today. Started off a little shaky with my earphones falling into two pieces. Gary found another one that worked and we were off.

Being Activist Radio, we didn't disagree too much with Mr. Celente's criticism of our corporate controlled two party system. The interview was anything but laid back, however. I wonder about the role of disgust and outright anger in describing the direction of this country. Would we have been balanced and reasonable as Hitler destroyed the rule of law in Germany?

"Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied." -Arthur Miller