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Info on Podcast #91

Scott Horton of Harper's on Gitmo homicides; refugee Ziad Abbas on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza; PBC on Obama's State of the Union speech. Horton has done an incredible reporting job with credible eyewitness accounts about the events of June 9, 2006 at the black site "Camp No" outside the main prison at Guantamo Bay, as 3 prisoners were transferred to Camp No and returned, dead, hours later. The incredible cover story is that these men stuffed cloths down their throats and hanged themselves "in acts of asymmetrical warfare". Horton details the events, and the coverup that continues under Obama. Abbas is a Palestinian refugee who works for Middle East Children's Alliance, and he details the man-made humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where 56% of the population is under 18 and most of the water is too polluted to drink. And your humble host points out the critical issues that slipped his mind and were not mentioned in the speech; he objects to Obama's embrace the McCain-Hoover gimmick of a "spending freeze" that does not include military spending and energy proposals that include new nuke power plants, the lie of "clean coal", and more offshore drilling.
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Info on Podcast #90

Andy Worthington on Guantanamo. This is the next installment of the Boiling Frogs interview series, co-hosted with Sibel Edmonds. Worthington is a leading expert on Guantanamo and provides us with an overview of America's detention center at Guantanamo Bay and the plight of 774 individuals, most of whom are innocent of any terrorism connections. He discusses the general view of the US government and Americans held by many of those released, and the rarity of radicalization or revenge seeking among them. Worthington talks about the astonishing lack of interest and coverage of these cases and stories by the US media, President Obama's failure in meeting the release deadline despite his promises during the presidential campaign, the number and current status of inmates released to date…and more.

Andy Worthington is a journalist and historian, based in London. He is the author of The Guantánamo Files, the first book to tell the stories of all the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, and the co-director of the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo.” You can visit his blog here.
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Air America Crashes, No Surprise

With the announcement of Air America's second, final trip into bankruptcy, an important chapter comes to a close. When Sheldon and Anita Drobny first floated the idea in 2003, liberal radio guys like me said, "finally, we can take back talk radio from the right." When it launched in 2004, I had a daily show on Sirius satellite and a handful of AM's. Then I connected with Hal Ginsberg and we bought KRXA in 2005 and launched a progressive talk lineup without Air America shows. We have carried a few since then--Thom Hartmann and Ring of Fire.

But most of their shows overpromised and under-delivered. The suits knew how to raise money from investors ($65 million in the first 2 years) but were failures as programmers, ad salesmen, and radio operators.

I was on the Air America payroll as a sub host for 3.5 years, mostly for Thom and Jon Elliott. I did a week for Lionel that was one of the weirdest episodes in my wacky "career" in radio. Even though I was on their roster, I could never get the PD of the year to talk about adding my daily program to their offerings. They were stuck on a 24-hour model that died in the 1950's, and star-struck by Al Franken, who wasn't a very good radio host.

After the bankruptcy, Charlie Kireker took over, and eventually hired a pair of Clear Channel guys from DC who knew radio, but weren't progressives. They made Montel their marqee talent (replacing Thom!) and now they wonder why they crashed it. They forgot the stench they made with Jerry Springer.

The real damage is that lefty talk is now stigmatized by the failure of Air America. I continue to believe there is a big audience available to progressives who are radio pros, and that we shouldn't surrender the AM band to the right. But AAR's business failure will be the roadblock in front of any one who tries to launch new progressive shows. Yes, Franken's in the Senate and Rachel's on TV--but in our cars, the right still rules.

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Info on Podcast #89

David Cobb on Supreme Court, Inc. and nurse Deborah Berger on Haiti relief. Cobb was the 2004 Green Party presidential candidate and is a strong opponent of corporate control. He offers a clear critique of the Supreme Court's landmark decision that removes the limits on direct corporate electioneering for candidates, and raises concerns about foreign corporate money and potential limits on union support for candidates. He directs our activism to efforts to amend the Constitution to limit corporate influence. Ms. Berger is a president of the California Nurses Assn and the new national union, National Nurses United; they have recruited 12,000 RN's who are ready to deploy to Haiti over the next 4-6 months, but are on hold until they get approval to enter the country. Berger talks about the challenges Haiti is facing and the medical needs of displaced people. It costs $250 per nurse per day, and you can donate here. listen_button

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Info on Podcast #88

Stolen election? Stolen democracy? Brad Friedman of Bradblog.com raises serious questions about the Senate election in Massachusetts and grave concerns about the pro-corporate Supreme Court decision; Joe Carson, Energy Dept. whistleblower, with a challenge to Obama and NY Times. Friedman hammers the Democrats for conceding before the votes were counted, despite a number of reports of ballots pre-marked for Scott Brown and clear disparities between hand-counted precincts and machine-counted ones. He also decries the 5-4 Supreme Court vote allowing corporations to fund political campaigns; PBC predicts the GOP will soon buy passage of "paycheck protection" to silence unions and enhance the power of the corporate interests. Carson, a safety engineer at the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge labs, has won numerous whistleblower cases, and still has his job! He challenges the administration and the media to follow the law and restore the rights of federal employees who expose wrongdoing and lawbreaking. Carson invites you to support Dave Nolan for appointment to Office of Special Counsel.listen_button

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Marriage Equality on Trial in S.F.

There's a high stakes trial underway in federal court in San Francisco regarding the right of same sex couples to marry. Judge Vaughn Walker, a GOP appointee of Bush I, has shown great courage in his handling of the wiretapping/state secrets cases in his court the past few years. He is presiding, without a jury, over the case brought by the odd couple of Ted Olson (a staunch Republican who defended the 2000 stolen election in Florida before the Supreme Court) and David Boies (an equally staunch Democrat who lost the Florida case). Many gay activists at first opposed the Boies-Olson effort, because if they lose it will be very hard to overcome. On the other hand, if they win, it will establish gay marriage rights in all 50 states. Walker wanted to televise the trial on YouTube, but the Supremes have blocked it for now. Here is a link to an excellent backgrounder in the New Yorker by Margaret Talbot. I bet Walker will ultimately overturn Prop. 8 and the Supremes will decide the case--so, given the current membership, Justice Kennedy will be the pivotal decider.

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Info on Podcast #87

Daniel Ellsberg: Obama has "pissed on" our hopes. Co-hosted with Sibel Edmonds, this is the next chapter of the Boiling Frogs interview series. Dan Ellsberg provides us with his analysis of Barack Obama’s presidency, shares with us what led him to cast his vote for Obama, and how and why he’s been let down and betrayed by our current president. He discusses the stark similarities between the previous administration and Obama’s White House on issues and abuses related to civil liberties, and questions the possibility of ‘hoping’ again. Ellsberg talks about his experience as a whistleblower, the futility of disclosure to Congress then and today, the current sorry state of the US media, and how he met Sibel Edmonds--and why he admires her.
Ellsberg graduated from Harvard in economics in 1952, served in the US Marine Corps from 1954-57, and obtained a PhD in economics from Harvard while working for the Rand Corporation in 1962. In 1964 he joined the Defense Department to work principally on decision-making in the Vietnam War. Ellsberg precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a Top-Secret Pentagon study of US government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to the New York Times and other publications. Ellsberg has ever since campaigned for peace and encouraged others to speak truth to power.
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Help for Haiti

We're all touched by the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, killing up to 25% of the people. One way to help is to support the group of nurses dispatched to Haiti by the California Nurses Association. Get info at Calnurses.org Personally, I don't trust the Red Cross--after our 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, Red Cross had to be shamed into spending most of the money raised here, and Mayor Art Agnos fought to force them to open their books for inspection.

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Info on Podcast #86

Sasha Abramsky, Inside Obama's Brain, new study questions validity of Prop. 8 election. Abramsky writes for The Nation, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone and other publications. His book is a study of Obama's traits and is based on interviews with over 100 people who know Obama. We talk about the campaign and the first year in office, and PBC asks how this "brain" could run a brilliant campaign, then fumble health care reform, maintain or extend some of Bush's worst actions, and make the dumb decision to escalate in Afghanistan. Emily Levy of Velvet Revolution helped set up the exit poll analysis of the Prop 8 vote in Los Angeles County, and Richard Hayes Phillips conducted the study. Phillips did the painstaking reconstruction of Ohio's election heist in 2004, Witness to a Crime. You can read the report and get links to activism here.
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