March 31, 2018

Awakening of our humanity

GUEST: Eli Kassirer, local peace activist and talk radio host, talks about his trip to Yellowstone National Park with the Buffalo Field Campaign and the  Wild Buffalo Defense group, and shares some interviews he did with environmental  activists protecting wild bison herd.

Buffalo Field Campaign

So nice to have Eli back from Yellowstone. We had a little trouble playing his first interview directly from an iPhone. We finally put it on speakerphone and held it close to the mic. Playing it back, I could hear the interview quite well. He has others, and we are troubleshooting our connection so the quality is better next time.

I'm not going to say too much about Eli's trip. Hopefully, we can put a bunch of pictures on this blog, and broadcast more interviews. It is heartening that people will make this trip out West and spend weeks in fairly primitive cabins to get up early each morning and cross country ski through buffalo territory. Such devotion is the antithesis of what our pioneers ancestors did. The destruction of the buffalo was part of the American genocide of its native peoples. Maybe the current preservation efforts are more than symbolic. They are an awakening of our humanity.

March 22, 2018

An anachronism in the age of empire

GUESTS: Eve Madalengoitia (team leader) and Elizabeth Armstrong, members of the Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance healthcare group, talk about New York State's plan for Single Payer and how it might be enacted.

Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance

I continue to be impressed by this group. Of course, many of them were Bernie supporters, trying to make there way in Trump's dysfunctional America. The surprising thing is that their answer is not just to elect more Democrats to Congress. They are demanding real progressives, not corporate stooges and multimillionaire politicians.

Nancy Pelosi destroyed the hopes of millions of Americans. So did the likes of Bill Clinton and Obama. Always eager to give up worker rights without a fight, they betrayed the fine rhetoric that got them into office. They were intelligent, well spoken and completely without moral character. Trump sits in a White House already despoiled by charlatans and corporate hacks. Trump is just more honest in his lack of any legitimacy. Serving the people has long been unfashionable, an anachronism in the age of empire and endless war.

Can universal healthcare be won in a corporate controlled state? Or must the entire system be rethought?

The mediocracy of homogenized opinion

GUEST: Jon Queally, managing editor and staff writer for Common Dreams, covering US politics, foreign policy, human rights, and the climate crisis, talks about the role of on-line publications in the resistance.

Common Dreams

Jon Queally is the managing editor of a news service that didn't exist when I was growing up. We only had three TV stations, and they all said pretty much the same thing. There was no real way to check out anything a politician said. It would take you weeks of library work, and people just didn't do it.

Now we have sites like Common Dreams, where every day a reader can get the type of news that corporate America prefers us not to have. The reader can also get the opinions of the best thinkers and writers of the day, ideas that used to be invisible.

Of course, we have the news and opinions of those who work for the top newspapers, like The NYT. But often the news there is slanted, and the opinions tend to reflect the corporate line. That is the old model, where writers and reporters internalize their blinders if they want to get to the top.

Each day, we can free ourselves from the Pentagon's opinions of Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. We can explore the criticisms of our national security state. We can make the connections between endless war abroad and endless profits for the few. I do read The NYT every day to do Activist Radio. But to be stuck in this mediocracy of homogenized opinion? Sites like Common Dreams just offer us more to think about.

March 10, 2018

Killing far away and not readily viewable

GUEST: David Swanson, prominent activist and author of numerous books including Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, War Is a Lie, and War No More: The Case for Abolition, talks about his latest focus, billboards opposing drone assassinations and US war crimes.

Billboards opposing drone wars

How to get people to realize how wrong it is to fly drones into other countries and kill selected individuals or groups? Maybe it is billboards like the ones David Swanson and World Beyond War are putting up.

But we are a numb people, mostly immune to the terrible things our military does in the rest of the world. Like school shootings, we only lift our eyes once in a while from our routine of jobs and children and cutting the front lawn.

Chelsie Manning paid a terrible price for showing us the wanton murders our soldiers were committing in Iraq. You can't look at it and go right back to the lawn.

Collateral Murder: U.S. Apache helicopters killing journalists in Iraq

David didn't think much of my question about drones murdering American citizens (a cleric and a few weeks later, his teenage son). His response that all lives matter sort of misses the point. The rights of US citizens, guaranteed by our Constitution, mean something to most Americans. I think it is a good way to bring attention to drone killings in general. As long as the killing is far away and not readily viewable, Americans have trouble focusing on universal human rights. But we understand due process when it comes to our own rights. Killing an American for his written opinions, and then murdering his son without a trial, on secret evidence, is a violation of citizens' rights that go back to the Magna Carta of 1215:
NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
It is the basis for our belief in and support of our own government. What a shame to discount these rights of the governed in favor of a vague statement about all of humanity. If we want to change the way American's think about war, we must start with what moves them the most. 

March 4, 2018

We support your brave resistance to occupation

Ahed Tamimi
HaSharon Prison
Ben Yahuda
PO Box 7
40 330 Israel

Dear Ahed,

You have support all over the world, from citizens of so many nations who realize what racism and apartheid mean. But I wanted to assure you that many people of the Hudson Valley, New York support your brave resistance to occupation and oppression. 

We are not in your cell, of course. Our houses have not been broken into and members of our family arrested or shot. Nobody is building settlements on land that belongs to us. We aren't excluded from roads based on our ethnicity or religious beliefs. Our license plates aren't color coded so that we can be discriminated against. We aren't threatened daily by tear gas and rubber bullets when we peacefully assemble to state our grievances. And our 16 year old daughters don't get sent to prison for slapping back when hit in the face by a soldier.  

Your father gave a talk in Woodstock, and we have had other Palestinians speakers over the years. We have also listened to Israeli soldiers, members of Breaking the Silence who talked openly of what occupation does to a soldier's sense of morality. One described the purposeful mistreatment of Palestinian teenagers, handcuffing them and making them sit blindfolded for long periods of time. We know, of course, that Palestinian teens are often sent to Israeli prisons where they are routinely tortured. A Palestinian man spent several years in our community and at times revealed his brutal prison experience as a teenager. 

We in the Hudson Valley stand with you. We are Christians, Jews and Muslims who are working together to boycott the apartheid state of Israel.

Fred Nagel

March 2, 2018

The last empire on earth

GUEST: Brook Nam, local peace activist and member of the Friends Committee on National Legislation FCNL, talks about her native country, Korea, its history of occupation, and the evolving threat of war.

Thanks to Brook Nam for being on Activist Radio and talking about her country.

In a way, the Korean War is very similar to the Vietnam War. Both were imperial invasions and occupations, with a thin veneer of democratic platitudes for the American public. In truth, both wars were slaughters of the native inhabitants: three million in Korea, and three million in Vietnam. In addition, the bombs and the poisons that were used to invade and conquer both countries remain to this day, wounding and sickening the population even further.

I spent a year in Korea myself, in the Seventh Infantry Division. Our base was only a few miles from where Brook Nam was born. Our experiences have helped us understand the role the US has played in the world since WWII. It is not a pretty reality, for the empire has a sordid history of war crimes in Third World countries. 

Can the American public mature enough to end our fascination with militarism and global pillage? Or is the American Empire destined to be the last one on earth, bringing to a close the age of homo sapiens?