September 20, 2019

Teaching us how

September 19

GUEST: Lisa Fithian, nonviolent trainer for the Battle of Seattle, the resistance after Hurricane Katrina, Occupy Wall Street, Standing Rock, and Ferguson, explores her fascinating career, and explains why Mother Jones describes her as “the nation’s best-known protest consultant." 

Oct 4 at 6:30 pm. Talk and Book Signing by Lisa Fithian
Oct 5 at 6:00 pm. Talk and Book Signing by Lisa Fithian
Shut It Down: Stories From a Fierce, Loving Resistance

Lisa is an idealist with a mind like a general. She knows her troops for justice and shares their suffering as well as their occasional sweet taste of victory. She is a details person, and recounts her many campaigns in this moving book, Shut It Down.

There is more than a little Abbie Hoffman in her outrageous plans and her sly sense of humor. She has never been afraid to try for the big one, to shut down entire events in the very fortresses of the rich and powerful.

Raphaelle and I had a delightful time reading her book and then getting a chance to interview her. In the end, the hope of Occupy lingers in her writing. We can change the world if we think we can, and are willing to take some risks. Lisa teaches us how. 

Our own place in the American Empire

September 12

GUEST: Ramatu Ahmed, Executive Director of the African Life Center, Bronx, committee member of the U.S. National Council of Women and the Harlem Hospital’s Medina Clinic, talks about the Ghanaian community in New York City and the need for higher education for girls and adult women.

A Celebration of African Women

Ramatu is a very good spokesperson for her people. She is Muslim, an immigrant from Africa and a woman, making her the target of America's new wave of xenophobic, racist and misogynist poison. Trump didn't invent this poison; it has been here since we wiped out the land's indigenous peoples, brought in slaves to make us rich, and then relentlessly oppressed them once they were technically "free."

Ramatu doesn't really want to talk about America this way. Like so many immigrants to our land, she just wants a chance for a better life. We learn courage from Ramatu's advocacy for her people. We don't learn too much about our own place in the American Empire. 

We Thank You

September 5

Once a year our host station, WVKR, has its fund drive. We aired a previous interview while we asked listeners to call 845 437-7178 and make a donation. Our guest was Krystal Two Bulls talking about Standing Rock and her experiences in the US military. I am glad we got to air it again; she is that good. So thanks to Krystal Two Bulls and to all the listeners who called in to support Activist Radio. 

Krystal Two Bulls
WVKR 91.3 FM

September 3, 2019

More dangerous than either nuclear war or climate change

August 29

GUEST: Jasmine Banks, civil rights activist and Executive Director of the UnKoch My Campus campaign, talks about how the Koch brothers buy their way into college campuses to spread their right wing, racist ideology.

Why the Koch Brothers find higher education worth their money

Jasmin talked about how a country with such potential let it all slip away. It was money from the very top that did it. Millions poured into Congressional elections. Millions more into colleges and think tanks. All to promote a value system much like the Koch Brother's father, one of the founders of the John Birch Society.

In the Neoliberal age, everything is for sale. That is the John Birch Society's vision of freedom: the freedom of the very rich to run our country for their own immense profits. As it turns out, the very rich hate immigrants, Blacks, women and gays. Many of them are singleminded misanthropes, eager to turn our world into a system of slaves and overmasters. As citizens of the late empire, we know what such a world has brought to vulnerable populations in our own country. We don't yet fully realize the devastation that such ideas have produced in the Third World.

Brazil is such a nation. Bolsonaro was funded by the Kochs, and we see what a murderer can do on the streets of Brasília and in the rainforests of the Amazon. The destruction of the Amazon brings us to consider what to do with our nation's filthy rich misanthropes. They are more dangerous than either nuclear war or climate change. They are the embodiment of the death of our species. 

Achieving the will of the people

August 22

GUEST: David Heap, peace activist, teacher at University of Western Ontario, and co-founder of the Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign, talks about his visit to Gaza with Noam Chomsky, and about the continuing efforts to bring the suffering of two million Palestinians to a world audience.

Be Part Of The 2019 Freedom Flotilla For Gaza

David and I come from a similar background in the 1980s. We both went to Nicaragua to thwart US imperialism. And we both came back more determined then ever to spread the sweet freedom of the Sandinista revolution.

We both saw the Contras as part of the US killing machine, determined to annihilate anything in its way. And we felt responsible. We paid the taxes used to manufacture bullets for Nicaraguan hearts. We stood by while yet another country succumbed to torture and death squads.

In the end, we both realized that our country's leaders have no mercy or morality. The forty years that have passed since the Sandinista revolution show a similar criminality when it comes to the Third World. I held onto the hope during the 1980s that US imperialism was an aberration. By 1990, I was convinced that my country had always been that way. I started reading all the history I could get about Native Americans, African Americans, and the Vietnamese. If I was going to make a difference, I had to know my facts.

So David Heap and I share a common message: don't give up, resist and educate. That's is what this blog tries to do, by the way. And the fact that you have read this posting to the last line is a good sign for you. And maybe even for our democracy. We must reject our empire if we hope to achieve the will of the people. 

August 16, 2019

Leading us into climate extinction

August 15

GUEST: Chuck Kaufman, long time activist and editor of NicaNotes, a blog for those interested in Nicaragua, published by the Nicaragua Network/Alliance for Global Justice, talks about how the US suppresses popular movements for democracy in Latin America.

NicaNotes is a blog for Nicaragua activists

Chuck and I have a lot in common. We both spent time in Nicaragua during the Contra War, and will never forgive our government for what it did to the Sandinista revolution. In those days, the US media was captured by the Pentagon, much the same as it is today. The New York Times shuffled its reporters until each and every one of them parroted government talking points: that the Sandinistas were Communists and a danger to democracy.

Those years helped both of us in understanding how a false narrative is created and then sold to the American public. If a Latin American leader supports US big business interests, why anything goes no matter how many are tortured and killed. If a leader supports equality and true democracy, why it is time for the CIA assassins.

We both knew about the School of the Americas, even though our government has changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. That is where dictators and death squad assassins have been learning their trade for the last 40 years. Of course, that truth is not part of the accepted story being so skillfully fed to us.

When it comes to empire, the truth never dares raise its head in the nation's schoolbooks or newspapers. Like a nation of sheep, millions of Americans don't really want to spend time researching a different narrative. And there is always a price to pay for truth telling that runs counter to what is red, white and blue.

Maybe that is how empires have always been. The Germans cheered while a racist madman led them into a disastrous and unwinnable war. Our own madman president is leading us into climate extinction, another unwinnable conflict with our life supporting mother earth. Isn't it time we created a new narrative of what our country is, and what is should be?

August 10, 2019

The CIA is not a consequence

August 8

GUEST: Moss Robeson, activist, political researcher and recent panelist at the Left Forum, talks about the CIA's legacy in Ukraine, and about the 5th anniversary of the House of Trade Unions Massacre.The World Banderite Council

Looking into any complex political movement can be disorienting. And in fact, most movements contain many often contradictory forces. Added to this complexity is the censorship of our nation's media, ever willing to present coups and uprisings through the prism of the Pentagon.

Ukraine is a perfect example: a US inspired coup involved thugs from various far right nationalist groups including the Nazi Party. The CIA working with Neo-Nazis? That is where the empire's media is at its weakest. Why most Americans don't know that the CIA has been working with such groups since the end of World War II.

Moss takes us down the rabbit hole of Neo-Nazi groups and the CIA. Yes, the CIA has a history of favoring Nazi sympathizers in Greece, Italy and other countries. After the war, the CIA immediately sided with the Nazi collaborators in hunting down and killing thousands of Greek patriots who had resisted the German occupation. If you do find that in our nation's history books, it will be categorized as one of the unfortunate consequences of the Cold War.

The CIA is not a consequence. It is the tool of empire, ever willing to torture and kill in the service of our nation's disastrous ambition to control the world. Empires have always behaved in that way, and we the people will ultimately pay the price for ours.

Further victims of our nation's imperialism

August 1

GUEST: Ellie Bernstein, human rights activist and film producer whose credits include “Closing the Open Door – The Fight for Higher Education,” “Waiting for Mercy- The Case Against Mohammed Hossain and Yassin Aref," and “We Are Still Standing: Stories of Women in Black,” will talk about her latest documentary, “The ISIS Trial” which will be showing Friday, Aug 9 (7 pm) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills, 320 Sawkill Rd, Kingston.

FBI Entrapment and Targeting of Muslims

This story is compelling. At a recent movie showing, the audience discussed racism, FBI entrapment, and empire. Almost all the victims of the FBI stings are poor, uneducated, and Black. They are also young Muslims looking for a father figure. Father figures get paid especially well for their skills in leading vulnerable teenagers to the bait. In the documentary The Isis Trial, the provocateur was paid over $119,000.

The long term effect on Muslim communities is incalculable. Teens face 35 years in prison for bragging about joining ISIS and playing paintball. The trials were tainted by endless videos showing Muslim atrocities. Some of the teenagers were tried for murder, simply because the provocateur was able to convince them to travel to LA to buy a fake passport.

In years to come, this will be part of the shame of US racism, FBI abuse and yes, empire. By provoking wars in Somalia, millions of its citizens are on the move and desperate. Some end up in the "land of the free," only to end up as further victims of our nation's imperialism. 

July 30, 2019

Crossing the border of acceptable thought

July 25

GUEST: Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party USA and the African Socialist International, the leading force to unify Africa and African people everywhere, talks about the intersection of racism and imperialism.

Chairman Omali Yeshitela

Chairman Yeshitela was never dependent on leftist rhetoric. He know the facts about Apartheid South Africa as well as he know the life of Blacks under America's Jim Crow. His gift is not being afraid of pointing out links between racism, violence and our current version of neoliberal capitalism.

That's one of the advantages Activist Radio has. We don't have to rely on some advertiser somewhere thinking our ideas are off the wall, or worse bad for business. Most of our nation's media is filled with journalists who have internalized the barriers to free thought. They know when to stop exploring if they want to be successful as a writer or reporter. There are things one can't say.

To link imperialism to our nation's racism is clearly beyond that acceptable barrier. Even to talk about US militarism is unacceptable. You don't love America?

Having Chairman Yeshitela on the air feels like we are in foreign territory, expressing thoughts that our society has warned us about time and time again. These are radical thoughts to have, much less say over the air.

Are we a free society, or only a society that has been taught that we are free? Are we a country that spreads democracy in the rest of the world, or are we a country that uses the concept of democracy to invade and conquer other lands for our own advantage?

Thank you, Chairman Yeshitela, for helping us cross the border of acceptable thought.

July 22, 2019

The devil's bargain

July 18

GUEST: Jessicah Pierre, founder of Queens Company (dedicated to empowering women of color), and Media Specialist for the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, talks about what must happen next to give Blacks in America an equal share in our nation's prosperity.Institute for Policy Studies

I am torn about what needs to happen if we are ever to achieve racial and social justice. Is it our military empire and economic system of exploitation that has to be changed? Or should a progressive movement bring us incrementally closer to our goal of justice for Blacks and other oppressed minorities?

The interview with Jessicah Pierre was in some ways influenced by my own search for a way out of militarism, colonialism and "savage" capitalism. The closest other societies have come to a perfect system can be seen in the Scandinavian democracies. Not perfect, but these countries do offer a tolerable mix of economic freedom and social responsibility.

Or maybe the perfect system can be seen in countries that our gigantic military machine tries to destroy, like Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Maybe capitalism itself is the enemy, since it encourages selfishness, ruthlessness and exploitation.

Jessicah Pierre wanted to talk about concrete steps to diminish the gross unfairness of our economic system, especially when it comes to minorities. Part of this effort involves creating an awareness of white history in the "land of the free." Maybe we can't really go anywhere unless we understand the history of slavery and Jim Crow. Or the ethnic cleansing of native Americans and the slow genocide of their reservations. Maybe we are still on the first step, understanding how we got here. The racist brew that Trump stirs up for his own political power has been there for the last several centuries. It is in our DNA as much as it is in his. Perhaps a new world can only begin when we acknowledge the devil's bargain that has always been part of America's Manifest Destiny.  

July 16, 2019

Not ready to jump ship just yet

July 11

GUESTS: Maria and Michael Quackenbush, activists and cofounders of the Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance, talk about the origin and present day goals for this grassroots progressive organization.

Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance -Facebook

I welcomed the chance to look at some local progressive activism that emerged after the last presidential campaign. Maria and Michael were part of the Bernie campaign, and they wanted to bring his ideas as well as organizing techniques to the Hudson Valley.

The Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance was only one of many such organizations that sprung up to resist Trump. But the group has not only lasted but prospered. The DCPAA has action committees that meet regularly on women's rights, on climate activism, on gun control, and universal healthcare. As the marching chant says, "This is what democracy looks like."

Can grassroots activism be effective in wresting back our democracy form corporate ownership? That is the real question. Can people get together in the inner cities and the suburbs and create change? All by themselves?

We will soon see if the Democratic Party can be taken back. Pelosi, that corporate hack, is more fearful of her own party's new leftist representatives than she is of Trump. Will the people stand up and demand an end to corporatism, militarism and racism?

As a member of the Green Party, I am happy to see so many of our priorities adapted by the Dems. I am not ready to jump ship just yet. It would take the overthrow of Pelosi to get me to change my registration.

July 5, 2019

Exceptionalism must be rejected

July 4

GUEST: Rabab Abdulhadi, founding Director/Senior Scholar in Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies and Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, talks about her widely published anthologies and how the Israel Lobby has attempted to destroy her freedom of speech on Palestinian rights. 

“Do not be silent,” says professor Rabab Abdulhadi

In the decades long fight for Palestinian rights, there are those who have never given up. In fact, giving up is not an option for them, since doing so would weaken the whole. Palestinian rights is based on the hope that one day Israel will end its imperialist theocracy and replace it by a democratic system that transcends racism and violence. Those working for a just peace have to believe it is possible.

Dr. Abdulhadi has sacrificed so much to keep focusing on Palestine. She could have explored human rights violations in other parts of the world. She could have made peace with the Israeli Lobby by talking about enemies coming together to understand each other. She could have given up on equality in the Holy Land.

Dr. Abdulhadi describes the fascist mechanisms of the Israeli Lobby, as well as its tendency to use distortions and threats of violence. We must understand that Zionism is a threat to our Constitutional rights. Laws criminalizing the boycott of Israel are no different than what went on during the McCarthy Era. Careers were destroyed and people were put in jail, all for expressing a political point of view not favored by the state. Dr. Abdulhadi knows her U.S. history, and makes the connections between Jim Crow America and apartheid Israel. The fight for human rights is universal, and any exceptionalism must be rejected.

We can't in good conscience be for Black Lives Matter and not for Palestinian rights. There is no chosen people when it comes to human rights.

June 28, 2019

Julian Assange is their nemesis

June 27

GUEST: Joe Emersberger is a Canadain based commentator who writes primarily for, the Canary, and Counterpunch, and previously for Telesur English, talks about Julian Assange, Venezuela and our government's attempts to limit freedom of the press.

President Moreno's betrayal of Assange

What a twisted tale the state tells about its war crimes abroad. In fact, U.S. exceptionalism has risen so high as to become our state religion. We invade other countries all in the name of "freedom," and are ever willing to drop bombs on them to "protect" their human rights. We killed over two million Vietnamese just to free them from the scourge of Communism.

For a state religion to work, all the writers, commentators and political leaders have to be on the same page. Those intellectuals who refuse to go along have to pay a heavy price, like Danial Ellsberg, Chelsie Manning and Julian Assange. The truths they reveal are just too damaging to the carefully constructed narrative.

In fact, how else would the U.S. population go along with invading dozens of countries and killing tens of thousands of people in the rest of the world? Now that the American Empire is in full battle mode, using its vast economic as well as military superiority to punish other nations, its distortion of reality becomes even more important. That is why people like Assange and Manning face long prison terms and torture for their crimes against the empire.

Julian Assange comes closest to the ideal of a completely free society. He has spent his career reporting on what the rich and powerful have really done to the rest of us. And he has proof in their emails and secret papers. The kleptocracies of the Western world are built on subterfuge and deceit; Julian Assange is their nemesis and has to be destroyed.

Joe Emersberger uses his writing skills to pierce the narrative of the aggressor states. In a world of conspiracy theories, he carefully documents the lies and treachery of the empire's leaders. As our freedom of the press is eroded, his position becomes more tenuous. Truth tellers will all have a price on their heads.

Defending Julian Assange is defending everyone's right to speak truth to power.

June 22, 2019

Not completely controlled by the major corporations

June 20

GUEST: Howie Hawkins, long time organizer for peace, justice, labor, the environment, and former Green Party candidate for NY Governor, talks about imperialism and why all the Democratic presidential hopefuls mostly avoid US militarism.

Green Party 2020

Howie is always a breath of fresh air. For years, th Green Party has been advocating for all the issues that the insurgent progressives have just now put front and center. And that is a good thing. In fact third parties have always influenced US politics in the same way.

There are still differences. The Democratic Party can't really get to Medicare for all because of the money it accepts from Big Pharma and the insurance companies. The party never gets around to challenging the "defense" budget because the defense contractors are so generous. And reforming Wall Street and the big banks? Or implementing a Green New Deal that will cut greenhouse gasses by enough to avert catastrophic global warming?

The existence of a Green Party keeps real reform alive. The flourishing of a Green Party exerts more and more pressure to reform the corporate bound Democrats. The party also sets the vision for a democracy not completely controlled by the major corporations. 

June 21, 2019

What savage capitalism has done to our species

June 13

GUEST: Susan Smith, former talk show host for "From Ferguson to Palestine," Director of Operations for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, member of the Muslim Peace Fellowship, and of the Community of Living Traditions, a residential community of Muslims, Jews, and Christians at the Stony Point Center, talks about the importance of the International Sanctuary Declaration.

Another Way to Keep Families Together

I was slow to see the value of the sanctuary movement. Strange, because I had worked very hard for the sanctuary of Central American refugees in the 1980's. The difference? I think I was using the movement during the Reagan years to highlight the suffering of Latin America at the hands of the giant military colossus to the north. The U.S. funded and trained the death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala, and refugees were able to tell these stories.

This sanctuary movement is different. It is the beginning of huge waves of desperate people trying to survive global warming and militarization, both caused by of U.S. policies. In fact the industrialized countries of the world will be filled with desperate refugees, all because there is no place else to go.

This sanctuary movement erases boarders and challenges the neoliberal practices that creates such chaos. We are all one people now, trying to survive what savage capitalism has done to our species. 

To the Editor:

To the Editor:

Israel is a rogue nation which repeatedly violates international law,  UN resolutions, and the human rights of Palestinians and Bedouins.   This outlaw and criminal  behavior  would not be possible without the  support of the United States and our taxpayer dollars ( $3.8 billion per year).  Since 1967 Israel has demolished 55,000 Palestinian homes - in 1948 Israel demolished 60,000 homes and terrorized  850,000 Palestinians into abandoning their land and homes.  Since 1967 the Israeli army (IDF) has militarily occupied  Gaza and the West Bank, and imposed a brutal blockade on Gaza,  intentionally causing shortages of food, water, electricity, and medical supplies.  This  year peaceful, non-violent  border protests by desperate Palestinians  were met with Israeli army sniper fire that killed over 200 Palestinians  including journalists,  medics, and  disabled demonstrators  in wheelchairs - IDF snipers  severely wounded  more than 20,000 protesters! 

With the relentless, violent and illegal theft of occupied Palestinian lands, homes, and farms  to build apartheid, Jewish only settlements  there are now over 500,000 Jewish settlers occupying over 200 settlements, outposts, and neighborhoods.   Israel has been condemned widely by the international community for it’s brutal ethnic cleansing and creation of an apartheid state where only Jews have full citizenship and rights.  

The non-violent BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions)  movement is attempting to pressure Israel to end it’s military occupation, secure equal rights for all (Jews and Arabs), and to allow Palestinians to return to their  stolen lands.  A boycott ended South African apartheid - hopefully, BDS will end Israeli apartheid. 

Eli Kassirer

Sorry, kids

June 6

GUEST: Andi Novick, political activist, lawyer, and local farmer, answers all the questions we might have about legally growing and using cannabis, this once forbidden product.

Ask your legislators to support small cannabis farmers

Andi, like most thinking people, has always been skeptical of the government's assertions about cannabis. It was said in the 1960's that some day big business would realize that it could make a killing selling weed and it would be made legal. That day has come.

The battle now is to make sure that local growers and small farmers make up the majority of suppliers. Organizing and speaking out is a way to make that happen.

I funny thing happened on the way to legalization. We discovered our nation's racism. We became more away of the evils of big business. And we took a hard look at whether cannabis is actually good for us. Andi made a good point. Like any potent drug, kids should not be using it to get high. Sorry, kids.

June 20, 2019

Last night I had the strangest dream.

Last night I had the strangest dream. My country had turned into a Christian nation, and everybody who wasn't part of the church, lost most of their rights. 

Suddenly, only Christians could drive on our nation's major highways. Only Christians could buy property. Our legal system had split into two forms of justice, one for Christians and one for the nonbelievers. In fact, nonbelievers were put under military justice, with few rights and long prison terms for being another religion. Even their children were routinely rounded up and sent to jail.

Some of the prisons for the nonbelievers were immense open air camps behind barbed wire. Christians could shoot into such camps at will, often killing men, women and children. Their fields were destroyed and we cut their food supply to keep them all at the brink of starvation. We didn't let them fish in international waters and routinely shot at their boats. Life for millions of non-Christians was made short and brutish, a sort of punishment for not being of the right faith. 

A funny thing had happened to my Christianity. I knew my religion was full of wise teachings, but I couldn't remember any of them. Now my beliefs were nothing but love for my country and hatred for all non-Christians. I didn't allow anyone to challenge my beliefs either. To me, anyone who questioned what my country had become were simply anti-Christians. 

Last night I dreamed my country had turned into Israel. 

Fred Nagel

June 12, 2019

Ashamed that we haven't done more

May 30

GUEST: Alan Davis, President of The Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund, Director of the WhyNot Initiative supporting social change, and founder of Conservatree Paper Company, the leading distributor of recycled paper, talks about the Patriotic Millionaires and their plan to create economic fairness instead of worker exploitation.

Patriotic Millionaires 

Some millionaires don't run out to fund rightwing candidates to give them bigger tax cuts. Some don't create charter schools to defund the nation's public education. Some don't try to privatize mail delivery to wreck the US Postal Service.

Alan Davis is a multimillionaire who talks about our tax system, exposing its role in grinding the rest of us into perpetual poverty. It is not a story you will hear in most of the U.S. media, or on NPR. We like to think of our country as the land of opportunity. Yet, a look at the divide between the rich and poor, we find that the U.S. has the worst record of all the industrialized countries.

Alan makes us ashamed that we haven't done more to fight for economic justice. 

May 31, 2019

Listening from six time zones away

I took a few weeks off and Eli and Raphaelle did the show. I was six times zones away, but really enjoyed the programs they did. I hope you did too. Let them know what you thought:

That's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma

May 9

GUEST: Zachariah Barghouti, organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement USA, talks about his experiences as an immigrant, queer Palestinian man and about his speaking tours at universities teaching about queer led BDS campaigns targeting the Israeli government's pinkwashing efforts.

Attempt to shut down Barghouti's panel at Vassar College

What a thrill to be there at Vassar for Barghouti's panel. Like usual, there were threats, pressure from Zionist alums, and the standard non committal response from the college. But the students prevailed and the turnout was staggering. Vassar students are notoriously late, but when I got to the hall a little before the beginning of the program, there was only a few seats left right down in front. Hundreds of students had come out to hear the discussion:
Panel Discussion on the One Year Anniversary of the Great March of Return and the Changing Face of Palestinian Solidarity in the US. Taylor Hall, Room 203, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie. Palestinian American activists and academics Sumaya Awad and Zachariah Barghouti will be joined by Vassar Professor Joshua Schreier. Presented by Students for Justice in Palestine to commemorate Israel Apartheid Week.
At the end, instead of attacking questions, there was a emotional standing ovation for the two Palestinian activist and the Vassar professor who had been brave enough to chair the event.

Barghouti's interview on Activist Radio gave us the opportunity to ask questions about the LGBTQ movement and how it relates to Black Lives Matter in the US and to the fight for a free Palestine. Each oppressed group can clearly understand the racism and violence directed at others of the wrong color, sexual orientation or religion. The basic reason for struggle is to achieve fundamental human rights, and it doesn't matter who the oppressed are. Our choice is to be for that oppression or to resist it in any way we can.
Wherever little children are hungry and cry,
Wherever people ain't free.
Wherever men are fightin' for their rights,
That's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma.
That's where I'm a-gonna be.     
- Tom Joad 

May 7, 2019

What you and I as citizens do

May 2

GUEST: Seth Donnelly, teacher, labor activist, and human rights delegation member, talks about his work in exposing U.S. racism and colonialism in Haiti.
Hold the US/UN Accountable

The only way the U.S. gets away with colonialism in Latin America is by keeping its own citizens ignorant. Learning the history of Haiti brings awareness not only of this island colony, but of the racism and exploitation the empire brings to the Third World. The nearer an undeveloped country is to the U.S., the more suffering and destruction it experiences.

We all know about Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, embargoed and threatened by coups and military invasions. What we don't know about is the subjugation and suffering that goes on in countries like Haiti, Honduras, and Columbia, all puppet nations under the thumb of U.S. imperialism.

It takes courage to go to Haiti and report back on the corruption and nasty ways of empire. But once we see what our own government is up to, we can understand why countries like Cuba and Venezuela resist. U.S. occupation kills millions. The death squads trained and armed by the U.S. Kill tens of thousands more. Like most occupiers, our country is ruthless and murderous when it comes to suppressing the indigenous populations for the profits U.S. business interests.

The wealth of the empire is built on exploitation, like all world empires before it. That is just the fact. What you and I as citizens do about it is up to us.

April 29, 2019

Put on your blinders back on

April 25

GUEST: Gloria La Riva, activist with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and twice PSL presidential candidate, talks to us about her month long trip through Venezuela in the midst of growing U.S. aggression.

Eyewitness Venezuela National Speaking Tour

It is an honor and a pleasure to have someone like Gloria La Riva on Activist Radio. Her politics are left and she always speaks and writes the words she believes.

Those words are often in stark contrast to the narratives of empire. Of course, we live in the empire and don't notice that all our media and our politicians are saying pretty much the same things. Although we have some measure of freedom of speech, the spectrum of discourse is always very narrow.

Take Venezuela, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Does our media ever bring up the fact that these four countries are in that rarified group that own most of the planet's oil reserves? Would any U.S. politician dare to suggest that our economic war against Venezuela is to control their oil reserves?

Thankfully for our sanity, we have people like Gloria La Riva to point out our blind spots. She says things that we can't even think, living as we do in the belly of the beast. Yes, our country wants Venezuela's oil. But it also wants to topple Venezuela's socialist model as a warning to other Third World counties that might try to use their natural resources to better the lives of their people.

It may be right here in the empire that this battle of ideas is most important. We live in a racially stratified society, with Black people at the bottom. Whenever they make some progress, the white majority elects a Woodrow Wilson, a Nixon or a Trump to put them back in their ghettos. The U.S. has the largest number of billionaires in the world, yet our infant mortality rate puts us squarely with Honduras or Guatemala. What if Poor, Black mothers were given more healthcare, and some of the billions spent on vast mansions and penthouses were diverted to saving babies?

Put on your blinders back on if you get too uncomfortable. 

April 19, 2019

Letting their countries turn into empires

April 18

GUEST: Gerry Condon, Vietnam era veteran, war resister, and President of Veterans For Peace, talks about veterans resisting the empire in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and Ireland.

Call on US troops to resist invading Venezuela

Gerry and I were in the military at about the same time, in the late 1960's. It wasn't a good time to be "serving" your country.

Gerry was a "Green Beret" and I was just a bewildered English teacher who was drafted after my first year on the job. I went into teaching in part because I didn't believe in the war, and certainly didn't trust our nation's leaders. Yet there I was being trained for Vietnam.

I was a poor and rebellious soldier. I wouldn't yell "kill" at bayonet practice. I snuck out off the base and got my share of Article 15 conduct charges. My biggest thrill was two days before graduation from bootcamp when the master sergeant proclaimed to all the other training sergeants that here was a man who had not been "broken." It was too late for them to do anything about it.

Gerry made a bigger transition, going from volunteering with the Green Beret to escaping from the Army and going to Canada. For the next six years he lived a life that I have often thought about. Why hadn't I done it myself? I guess I didn't want my parents to be ashamed in a small rural community, and I didn't want to lose my teaching license. In addition, I was making plans to marry. Conventional reasons.

Gerry spent six years as a radical, antiwar activist living in Canada and Sweden. I got my orders changed from Vietnam to Korea, where I spent a year on a base near the DMZ.

Both trajectories came to the same place. Gerry and I came to understand the empire and what it does to the people that it occupies and oppresses. Neither of us were part of the two to three million killed in Vietnam. I came to Korea well after the empire had murdered three million in that country, although the history of US war crimes was just below the surface.

And both of us pledged to expose the empire's dirty wars wherever they occurred. We were both in Nicaragua in the 1980's. We have both visited Cuba.

My first documentary was "The Resisters," a compilation of interviews of those who either went to jail or escaped to Canada to resist the war. I learned a great deal doing the film, and later when George W became president, several of the people I interviewed urged me to "get out while you still can."

Being a veteran at Standing Rock was the first time I really considered that I was "serving" my country. It was an exhilarating feeling, one that Gerry must experience often during his various trips to expose the war crimes of the US military machine. True patriots don't let their countries turn into empires.  

April 13, 2019

The thrill of being overlords in the Promised Land

It is a bright new day in Dutchess County. Some of our most important leaders are joining forces to link the county and its educational institutions to the "only democracy" in the Middle East, Israel.

Important things happen when great minds get together. The president of Vassar College seems to have discussed plans with the Deputy Consul General during her trip to Israel. Now, many more leaders on on board, including our county executive, and decision makers at the Culinary Institute and IBM. Here are some suggestions for how this visionary group might partner with the apartheid state.

Israel already trains many U.S. police forces in military tactics and weaponry. Maybe the police in Poughkeepsie and Beacon could patrol in armored vehicles rather than on bikes. Checkpoint technology might also benefit these communities. People of the wrong color or religion could be made to wait in long lines and be inspected before they travel out of their areas. Israel's high tech surveillance industry could be used to track goings on within these inner city ghettos.

On a cheerier note, Dutchess County could benefit from all the Israeli products that support the occupation, like Jaffa oranges, Ahava cosmetics, Sabra hummus and Psagot wines. Nothing like the taste and feel of products that come from appropriated territories. The Culinary Institute could even create a "settlement restaurant" where diners could experience the thrill of being overlords in the Promised Land.

You would have to be a real anti-semite not to be enthused.

April 12, 2019

Remade in the best interests of all the people

April 11

GUEST: Eldad Benary, born in 1937 in Tel-Aviv, Palestine, educated and propagandized in Israel, and conscripted into the Israeli Defense Force (active and reserve for 20 years), talks about his longtime efforts to inform Americans about occupation and apartheid.

+972 Magazine

It was an honor having Eldad as a guest of Activist Radio. Few people come from Israel, settle down in the U.S., and work so hard letting his friends and neighbors know about the realities of apartheid. 

I took him years of reading, because it is not a simple thing to reinterpret a life spent in a propagandized society. Most Americans don't think about how many people the empire killed in Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq. They know that their country always had the very best of intentions. When wars fail and millions of civilians lie dead, we reinterpret these wars as mistakes in logic. The Vietnamese "weren't ready for democracy." We tried to make things better for the women of Iraq, but slaughtered millions; it was a "tragic mistake." 

If the populations of countries could see the truth, there might be an end to wars of aggression. If Americans were like Eldad, we would study our history and not be afraid of where that takes us. Then we would then spend 25 years of our lifes informing others. Its a recipe for the end of the empire, when we the people rise up and demand that our government be remade in the best interests of all the people. 

April 5, 2019

U.S. citizens hold the key

April 4

GUEST: Elik Elhanan, a soldier in an Israeli Defense Forces combat unit from 1995-98, and current military refuser, talks about the loss of his sister to a Palestinian suicide bomber In 1997 and his subsequent role in the formation of Combatants for Peace.

Combatants for Peace

Elik is a former Combatant for Peace and now lives in the U.S. He was kind enough to fill in at a panel we held in Woodstock when the Palestinian Combatant for Peace was not allowed into the country. In America, we reject the workers for peace and reconciliation at our boarders, lest their ideas about nonviolence infect the citizenry.

Elik is even more moving in person. We had a full house in Woodstock, some 60 people, and he was brutally honest about what his homeland had become. Combatants for Peace operates in Israel as well as the U.S., so their group presentations tend to avoid hot issues like BDS, the right of return, and the one state solution. Combatants would be in a lot of trouble in Israel, even for the mention of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, since individuals and groups can be sued for there for such things. I suspect that their acceptance by our local ministers and rabbis reflect this. Combatants will be relatively safe for their churches and synagogues.

And that is probably a tactic rather than a principle. Combatants can get into communities that other pro-Palestinian human rights groups can't, and that is a big plus. The price paid is that the most important political issues must be muted. Like the role of the U.S. in Israeli apartheid.

Palestinian refugees often hold keys to the houses that they were ethnically cleansed from. U.S. citizens hold the key to ending the suffering and violence in Palestine. End America's support for apartheid Israel, and that includes getting rid of Congress members who are bought and paid for by the Israel Lobby, like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

March 30, 2019

Jews are an extremely important ally

March 28

GUEST: Philip Giraldi, former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer now serving as the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, talks about his Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

Human Rights: White House Concessions to Israel Are Notable

Our guest, Philip Giraldi, is a long time counter-terrorism expert who doesn't much like Israel's power over Congress and the executive branch. The Council for the National Interest maintains that it puts America first by opposing our military adventures in the Middle East that seem invariably traced to Israeli influence and money. That is why Giraldi writes so much for the conservative press. The left and the right often come together in opposing U.S. militarism abroad. God knows, the Democrats and Republicans come together year after year to accept millions from the weapons makers, the big oil companies, and the Israel Lobby. Both parties seem to share the same enthusiasm for endless war for endless profit. If anything is going to challenge the militarization of the world, it will be the left and the right combining to rein in the empire.

What didn't sit well was the use of "Jewish" and "Zionist" as interchangeable words. Yes, a high percentage (over 40%) of American Jews support Israel no matter what heinous crimes it happens to be committing on any given day. But about the same percentage of evangelical Christians hold the same view, that Israel can do no wrong. Do we conflate the term "Christian" with "Zionist"?

In fact, Jewish activists are at the forefront of Palestinian rights in the Middle East and Muslim rights in the U.S. Jews are an extremely important ally in achieving a just peace in the Middle East. I think the Council for the National interest must respect the millions of Jews who refuse to condone and protect what we all can see by now is an apartheid state.

Here is a local example of Jewish Voice For Peace's campaign to fight Islamophobia.

March 29, 2019

Ging way beyond any Constitutional line to suppress dissent

March 21

GUEST: Diala Shamas, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, and coauthor of the newly published, New York After 9/11, talks about the surveillance and infiltration of Muslim youth groups in New York City after the World Trade Center attack.

New York After 9-11 Book Launch

I had been unaware of all the damage that spying on a community can cause. We did see the damage inflicted on individuals and groups during the 1960's by the FBI. The FBI's Cointelpro wasn't limited to collecting information. It also encouraged activist groups to fight one another, used blackmail against Martin Luther King, and assisted in the assassination of Fred Hampton. Cointelpro was created to damage social movements. FBI agents even supplied the Black Panthers with guns. No, the FBI had gone way beyond any Constitutional line to suppress dissent during these years.

Diala Shamas shows that the NYPD inflicted pain on the Muslim community in New York in a remarkably similar way. There was the mindlessness of counting how many times each young member of a canoe trip prayed each day, all noted and reported by an NYPD informant. But beyond this mind numbing banality, there was an underlying attack on individuals and groups based on their religion. Infiltrating these groups and pressuring individuals to be informers in fact poisoned the Muslim community, and the results were similar to what Cointelpro accomplished for the oppressive state of the 1960's. 

March 16, 2019

In times of universal deceit

March 14

GUEST: Dr. Colin S. Cavell, professor of Political Science at Bluefield State College in West Virginia, and former professor at the University of Bahrain, talks about U.S. hegemony and how talk of democracy often camouflages the empire's efforts at regime change and world domination.

Mainstream media in the U.S. never describes the empire in terms of wars for profit and dominance. More sophisticated publications like The New York Times and the New Yorker, always make U.S. invasions more complicated than they really are. It becomes about demonizing foreign leaders and exaggerating the supposed suffering of Third World peoples under their oppression. The more details the better.

What is desperately needed is an unfettered look at what the world's most powerful military has been doing since the Second World War. For the U.S. military, that war never really ended. Nor did the incalculable profits from war making. We have thrown our high tech killing machine into country after country, murdering millions in the process. America's war against the rest of the world started in Korea in 1948, and except for a brief hiatus after Vietnam, continues to this day. Venezuela is next on our list. 

“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” - George Orwell

Continuing the extermination of Native Americans

March 7

GUEST: Eli Kassirer, back from the Buffalo Field Campaign protecting the last wild Bison, talks about animal rights, conservation and his adventures protecting the buffalo.

This year, Eli was involved with more than following the migration of buffalo from dawn to dusk. He attended some rallies designed to build momentum for the preservation of the original American bison.

A few miles away one can find herds of hybrid animals raised for meat. But the varieties of these animals do not carry a significant amount of bison DNA to counterbalance the extermination of the bison species.

Ending the hunting of the original bison is the only way that we can insure this species will survive. It is inconceivable that white Americans are still slaughtering the bison, so important to native American culture. Or maybe it is not so surprising. Genocide often is more subtile than the murdering of those who are different. It is often the erasure of their culture and traditions. By erasing the buffalo, we continue the extermination of Native Americans. 

March 1, 2019

Bleeding in the street or incarcerated in our prison systems

February 28

GUEST: Sabrina Terry, author and researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies, Senior Strategist with the Economic Policy Project at UnidosUS, and former Manager at the NAACP Economic Department, talks about a new report she coauthored, Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1% Widens the Racial Wealth Divide.

The Racial Divide

My talk with Sabrina Terry was enlightening. I had not realized how great the wealth gap in the U.S. was when it comes to the color of one's skin.

Approaching zero not worth is more than uncomfortable; it is deadly. Black family members die more often than white family members do, from newborns to senior citizens. Every measure of mortality shows us that not being able to afford healthcare is a death sentence for at least some Black family members.

Access to education is another advantage denied Black families. Decent housing is another, as is access to a fair criminal justice system. In fact, the system punishes African Americans in every conceivable way. And because the very rich (and very white) elites have taken so much from the rest of society, Black people, at the bottom already, have lost so much more than poor whites. So is this slavery in another guise? Are the nation's police forces little more than slave catching militias that roamed the countryside in the antebellum south? The results on Blacks seem to be about the same; they lie bleeding in the street or incarcerated in our prison systems.

February 22, 2019

Doomed to reenact a genocide

February 21

GUEST: Lama, a 14-year-old student from Gaza City who testified recently at a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill, talks about what she has endured as a child living in Gaza and what her vision of peace would be.

14-Year-Old Lama From Gaza Gives A Speech Before Congress

Lama is a natural when it comes to presenting her point of view. She is a writer who thinks about images, and she is bright enough to be able to do that in a second language as well.

Perhaps her most moving story was her plan to start a dairy farm in Gaza. The sheer impossibility of such a thing doesn't really stop her dream. We as adults know that the Israelis will only crush anything that the Palestinians try to do for themselves. The IDF destroys all sorts of farmland in Gaza and the West Bank. But a dairy farm? Why, they would shoot the cows and blow up the barns.

So it is not the dairy farm that is so moving. It is who it would feed: her friends and relatives who don't get enough to eat, much less milk, cream and butter. Lama would feed Palestinian children because she knows just how desperately they need it. It breaks one's heart; there is no getting around it.

Why does Israel create such misery in children? It seems as if two thousand years of discrimination has been condensed into one murderous state, doomed to reenact a genocide, but playing a different role this time. The role of murderer.

What is our excuse, living here in the "land of the free"?

February 19, 2019

The troglodyte in the White House

February 14

GUEST: Arjun Singh Sethi, Sikh American civil and political rights writer, human rights lawyer, and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, talks about his newly published book, American Hate: Survivors Speak Out.

Arjun Singh Sethi discusses his book 

Arjun Sethi has selected some fascinating stores of racial, ethnic, and gender hatred in America. Why is it that some people feel impelled to make others suffer? It is such mindless cruelty, whether the victims are Jewish, Sikh, African American, Southeast Asian, or gay. 

We talked about Trump being only the most recent politician who has come to power by spreading hate. We know how fascists have always achieved control, by victimizing the less powerful and different. Trump gives other haters in society the permission they need, and the result is an upsurgance in violent acts committed.

Perhaps the "melting pot" approached has not worked very well for us. In a society that is so diverse, there will always be immoral people willing to profit from hate. Arjun Sethi shows us one way to resist, and all the stories he offers have this redeeming feature. The victims all fight back in some way, and are able to achieve some satisfaction from doing so.

What if all the oppressed groups in the U.S. joined forces and really fought back? It must be a troubling thought to our white, male troglodyte in the White House. No wonder he obsesses about building a wall. 

February 7, 2019

Begging forgiveness

February 7

GUEST: Manar Wahhab, cofounder and educational director of House of Hope, and seasoned art and music therapist for children experiencing toxic stress and trauma, talks about her work in helping women and children cope with the violence of Israeli occupation.
Supporting House of Hope

Manar has the spirit to succeed. She is traveling in America trying to raise money for her school in the West Bank. Help her out if you can; the link is right above.

I wanted the interview to give listeners a sense of how hard life is in occupied Palestine. Manar's message was somewhat different in that she stressed the hope and resilience of the Palestinian People.  Are they the same thing?

Maybe the audience is different. Listeners in the U.S. don't know about Palestine, and can't image the privation, oppression and suffering that the Israeli soldiers and settlers bring to this occupied people. Manar's audience is the children of the West Bank. She doesn't want them to give up their identity, or to grow up consumed by hatred of the oppressor. She wants them to have normal lives in the chaos that is apartheid Israel.

What Black family in our country doesn't want a life for their children free from the racism of Jim Crow? That is part of the resistance, to hold onto a sense of dignity and purpose despite the slow ethnic cleansing that is crushing their lives.

Manar's story of hurting her leg while waiting for hours at a checkpoint was the closest she came to questioning the cruelty of the walls and barbed wire surrounding her life. All she wanted to do was go to her Waldorf education class in Jerusalem. She just wanted to learn how to be a better teacher to the kids she obviously cares so much about.

Why does America support this fifty year occupation? Have we no shame for what is being done with our weaponry and our money? Or are we in the end going to beg forgiveness by saying that we didn't know? 

February 6, 2019

What if a people's democracy ever spread

There is nothing that the Western democracies hate more in the Third World than democratically elected presidents who aren't neoliberal capitalists. That's because most of our Western leaders are voted in by money rather than by people. How dare Venezuela's president Maduro champion his people's interests rather than the corporate bottom line? 

In fact, corporate controlled democracies have a longtime love affair with the worst dictators that the CIA and MI6 can come up with. Whether it be the Shah in Iran, Pinochet in Chili, Montt in Guatemala, or more recently Salman in Saudi Arabia, or Morsi in Egypt, the standard for Third World Countries is always the same. If they screw their own people and make Western billionaires even richer in the process, why they are just fine. But once a Third World leader claims profits for the people, be it from oil, gas, coal, or copper, it is time for a coup. Or a full scale invasion if that doesn't work. 

The Spanish Empire peddled Christianity and the British Empire claimed to be spreading "civilization" to justify colonial conquests. More recently The American Empire has been saving humanity from "weapons of mass destruction," "drug kingpins," and even Muslim misogynists. The game of saving humanity to exploit it is as old as Columbus' "discovery" of the New World. 

The rich elites have always demand the overthrow of progressive leaders in developing countries, no matter how fairly elected. What if a people's democracy ever spread to the First World?


February 4, 2019

We served our country; come clean with us

January 31

GUEST: Jack Beattie, survivor of the attack on the USS Liberty by Israeli war planes and ships that killed 34 sailors and wounded 174, talks about that day in June, 1967 which saw the largest Navy death toll since World War II.
"USS Liberty: Dead In The Water"

This picture is not of Jack, but of another veteran, Bryce Lockwood, who is also a survivor of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. Few pictures of the survivors or their vessel can be found since there has been a news blackout about the incident for fifty years.

Jack is a great storyteller. He was below deck when the attack happened. When the ship was hit by a torpedo and about to go down, he rushed to the deck only to find the ship had also been napalmed too and the ship was ablaze. Listen to the interview above; he certainly puts you back in the moment when his ship was sinking and there was no way to escape.

He also tells the story of how the admiral of the fleet spoke to him after the attack, warning him never to discuss the event with anyone or face time in Leavenworth Prison. Jack was an E3 at the time, the lowest rank on the ship.

Which brings me to the importance of the attack on the USS Liberty. Why did Israel try so hard to sink the ship with all hands on board? Why did President Johnson order the US Fleet to call back the attack planes sent to defend the Liberty? Some plan was made between Israel and the White House that was to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of U.S. sailors. Was the sinking of the USS Liberty to be a way for America to ender the 1967 War against Egypt?

In a functioning democracy we would have had these answers many years ago. And since very little of what our government tells us now ends up being the truth, we are left with conspiracy theories instead of facts. Tell us the truth about the Liberty. We, as the nation's overseas veterans, demand that the country we served come clean with us and with the American people.

Using their lethal skills right here at home

January 24

GUEST: Pat Elder, long time antiwar activist and author of Military Recruiting in the United States, talks about the deceptive practices of the U.S. military as it recruits our nation's youth for the endless wars of empire.

Madison Avenue Joins the Army

Pat is one of those crusaders who tries tactics until one works. He is against the militarization of our nation's youth, something that I saw in my years as a high school guidance counselor. I always considered recruiters as pests, hanging around schools and pitching manhood and glory to the most vulnerable of my students. No, I didn't want them to run study halls, or to chaperone dances. At least they weren't landing helicopters on our playing fields like they did in the inner city schools.

We talked about the use of video war games to get students used to high tech killing. I didn't know that the Army has mobile vans that can "serve" up to 15 students blasting away at the "bad guys." How to create pathological killers in our society.

We also talked about the advertising profile of potential enlistees. Recruiters are told by advertising firms to seek out those who are prejudiced, misogynistic, violent, and suicidal with low self esteem. The goal of the military is to teach such people how to kill with a variety of weaponry, and to exalt their murderous behavior when they return from overseas. It is quite an effective strategy for creating mass murderers, who often use their lethal skills right here at home. One of the hidden coss of empire.