Archive for poverty

It’s the Economy, Stupid (and the Military Industrial Complex too)

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There's no doubt that the spark that lit the fuse in Ferguson was the police shooting of Michael Brown. But you have to wonder how much anger was simmering, how much people were already hurting from decades of building racial tensions and the fact that so many of them are hurting financially.

I don't often agree with Chris Matthews, but he hit the nail on the head last night

The disturbing cell phone video of the other killing of a black man in Missouri by police bullets, this one on Tuesday, was released yesterday. We were told that this one was unquestionably justified (which I believe the video disproves- judge for yourself, but we warned, the video is graphic and very disturbing).

But  the reaction to that shooting was very different from the still-in-progress uproar and massive protests in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown some 9 days earlier, just two miles away.

Perhaps the way the authorities handled the moments following the shooting, when St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson crossed the police tape line to speak directly with the people in the crowd that gathered.

But the mayor did something unusual, as he recounted to Chris Hayes last night on All In (pertinent part comes in at 4:49)

St. Louis Mayor Slay (yes, that really is his ironic name) said

I sent some staff members out there to get a sense of what's going on in the crowd, talk to some of the people there, listen to their concerns. And one message that kept coming, over and over again by a number of those out there was "hey, we're out here protesting, but we could use a job. We need to be employed, we need to be able to support ourselves and our families." So, I had my workforce development director and his team out there. We signed up at least 85-90 people into programs that help them learn how to look for a job, and for job training programs as well.

Maybe the peace was kept in St. Louis because the people who turned out in dismay and disbelief after yet another young,black male was shot and killed by police thought that, this time, perhaps someone might be able to help them.

I don't know, and know that the video of that shooting is out, things might not be so peaceful tonight.

But one thing is apparent, people are hurting and need help.

Sasha Abramsky was on the show last year when his book The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives was first released. He joined me again today as the paperback is being released, and we discussed how the events in Ferguson have likely been exacerbated by the poor economic condition of so many of that town's citizens.

And finally, Congressman Alan Grayson joined me to talk about his efforts to prevent the type of militarized police situation we witnessed in Ferguson from becoming a reality.

On June 8, 2014, The New York Times published  "War Gear Flows to Police Departments," an article detailing the transfer of  thousands of pieces of "surplus military gear and equipment" to local police departments under the Department of Defense Excess Personal Property 1033 Program.

That article, in part, prompted the congressman to introduce an amendment to the DOD authorization act on June 19:

H.AMDT.918 (A052)
Amends: H.R.4870
Sponsor: Rep GraysonAlan [FL-9] (offered 6/19/2014)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE:
An amendment to prohibit use of funds to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons through the DOD Excess Personal Property Program established pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.

Although Congressman Grayson had secured 19 Republican votes, assuring its passage if the Democrats stood with him and voted for the amendment, it failed by a vote of 62-355 in what he described on the show this morning as the worst any of his amendments has ever fared!

To hear the story of how this amendment was brought down by a so-called Democrat, just watch my conversation about it with Howie Klein from Monday's show:

It's enough to make you sick.

Just a few days after the amendment failed, the ACLU issued this excellent report that everyone should read, titled, "The War Comes Home."

Keep in mind that when "boys with toys" get overwhelmed, they often do really stupid things... like St. Ann Detective Corporal Ray Albers, aka Officer "Go Fuck Yourself" who should never be allowed near such weapons, let alone carry one on the streets of Ferguson, MO, where this video was shot.

Scary stuff...

I'll be back tomorrow to wrap up the week with Stephen Goldstein's "No More Bullshit Minute" and, from my musical archives, an interview with performance form Tori Amos... Radio or Not.

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Venezuela: The Tower of David: Highest Vertical Squat in the World

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I first read about the Tower of David in the New Yorker magazine last year, in these stories:

Venezuela

Slumlord and its successor piece The Real “Tower of David”, both written by Jon Lee Anderson.

The Guardian has also written about The Tower of David here

Here's a BBC video about it.

From YouTube

n Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has been dead for a year. Since then the country has been engulfed by runaway inflation, rampant crime, food and housing shortages. The crisis is clearest in one building in downtown Caracas. It's called the Tower of David - an unfinished skyscraper planned as a glittering monument to capitalism, It's now home to thousands of squatters. They police it, renovate its rooms, and plumb it into the city's electricity and water, and all for peppercorn rent. Olly Lambert has been to the Tower. He met three of its residents: Elvys Merclan, elected president of the tower cooperative, Miriam Figueroa - a shop keeper on the 22nd floor, and Yecenia Polanco, a young mum with 5 children.

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How a Poor Die-Hard Republican Who Hated Government Abandoned 'The Politics of Shame

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Republican Edwin Lyngar

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Watch: Powerful Video of Homeless Man in Tears as Police Tear Down His Shelter

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Homeless Man Woods

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Going to Pot

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Nicole Sandler  RadioOrNot

On November 4, Florida may become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. I certainly never think of FloriDUH as a trend leader and, in this case, we'd be in the middle of the pack. But that's certainly better than dead last or bringing up the rear as is usually the case.

On the ballot on election day, Floridians will get to vote yes or no on constitutional amendment 2: Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions.

Although many groups and factions got together to make this dream a reality, United for Care led the charge in the petition drive, and garnered the almost 1 million signatures necessary to get the amendment on the ballot.

Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, joined me on the show this morning to talk about the amendment as we near the final test- the Nov. 4 elections!

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows sky-high support for the measure.

88 percent of voters support the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, while 10 percent do not. Those attitudes were unchanged from May, but support was six percentage points up from November.

The levels of support among different demographic groups is surprising due to the great numbers.

quinnipiac mm FLWith such huge numbers, especially among the youth voters, Democrats, women and independents, you'd expect that the Democrats elected to represent Floridians would be on board too.

And most are. But not Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The congresswoman from Weston who also chairs the DNC is at odds with her base, her party and her constituents.

Not only does she oppose Amendment 2, putting her in league with her Republican friends, but she was one of only 17 Democrats, mostly Blue Dogs or the equally reprehensible "New Dems," to vote against a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations in states where medical marijuana is legal.

When asked about her opposition to medical marijuana, Wasserman-Shultz was wishy-washy,

Wasserman Schultz, up for re-election in November, has criticized Florida's ballot initiative, saying it is written too broadly and does not ensure strong regulatory oversight.

"My view is that approval of the use of marijuana as a medical treatment should be handled responsibly and in a regulated manner that ensures its approval does not do more harm than good," she said on her website.

Perhaps someone should ask if her opposition to to ending marijuana prohibition is at all related to her support of the private prison industry.

[Wasserman-Schultz] initially called a town hall meeting to allow residents to voice their opposition and learn more about the project. After more than 250 people showed up to let CCA and the town council know they didn’t want a private prison, Wasserman, who had called the meeting, decided she would support the project.

Howie Klein, a regular contributor to this program, wrote about Wasserman-Schultz' cozy relationship with the private prison industry at DownWithTyranny back in 2012. Just sayin'.

Mike Rogers of Raw Story and Netroots Connect was on the show this morning, filling in for the vacationing Susie Madrak, and he stayed on for the Ben Pollara interview.

When the questioning got to Charlie Crist (who apparently supports Amendment 2, though his representatives haven't responded to numerous interview requests from me), Mike alluded to Charlie's wife not having much influence over him, as it's believed by most who have done any research on Crist's private life that he's a closeted gay man. (A bit of background here, should you care to go down that road.)

We certainly don't shy away from controversy here. I have no problem with whatever Crist does in the privacy of his bedroom, but when he works against the LGBT community and is ashamed of who he is, then I do have a problem. And yes, I'll be voting for Nan Rich in the gubernatorial primary.

Ellen Ratner called in with an update from the Talk Radio News Service, and let us know that she's headed back to South Sudan next week. Should you care to help the people there, visit the charity site Ellen put together, Goats for the Old Goat.

And finally, Anat Shenker-Osario joined me for the last segment of the show to tell us about a new study she published along with pollster Celinda Lake and the Center for Community Change: Redefining the way we talk about poverty.

You can and should read the brief of their findings here, check out Anat's book, Don’t Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy, and listen to the interview. I find the topic fascinating!

We'll be back tomorrow with another show, talking about the over population of the planet with Stephanie Feldstein of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Plus Amy Simon with some fabulous female facts, and Stephen Goldstein with the "No More Bullshit Minute," and whatever else the day brings us... radio or not!

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A Matter of Life and Death

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War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! --Edwin Starr

I was hit with a dose of sad reality yesterday during the show when, as I was discussing the sickening situation in Gaza, a long-time regular listener of this show, contributor and participant in the chat room posted in there, "Israeli Jews are Nazis." When I implored him to rethink his over generalization and admit that his hyperbole was overblown, he left the chat room in a huff and quickly stopped his monthly $5 contribution of support for Radio or Not. I emailed him the following:

"I'm sorry that you feel that all Jews in Israel are Nazis. If that is, indeed, how you feel, then you probably should not listen to my show any more, as you probably believe that all Americans are war mongering right wing assholes too.

I may not be a religious Jew, but I am of Jewish descent, which makes me Jewish. Not all Jews are bad, not all Palestinians are innocent. And you painting all Jews in Israel as Nazis is indefensible.

His response was a simple

will do...

I don't know what that meant. I'm guessing he'll stop listening to my show, which is fine with me as I have no need or patience for bigots. But how sad is it that an otherwise forward-thinking individual would stoop to taking sides in a conflict where both sides are wrong and, further, to paint all in Israel with such an ugly. broad brush.

I'm no fan of Netanyahu and the others in the Israeli government who are killing innocent civilians trapped in the Gaza strip indiscriminately. But to not realize that there are many "Israeli Jews" who are as outraged over their governments actions as are we is just plain wrong.

This morning I reached out to the founder of Israel's peace movement Gush-Shalom, Uri Avnery. He'll turn 91 in September and, as he told me on the air this morning, he's spent the past 65 years fighting for peace!

Follow the link and read about Avnery's remarkable life, or just read this brief bio:

A member of theIrgunas a teenager, Avnery sat in theKnessetfrom 1965–74 and 1979–81.He was also the owner ofHaOlam HaZeh, an Israeli news magazine, from 1950 until it closed in 1993. Avnery turned toleft-wingpeace activism and founded theGush Shalommovement in 1993, which he continues to lead as of 2009. He is a secularistand strongly opposed to theOrthodoxinfluence in religious and political life. In 2001, Avnery and his wife Rachel Avnery were honored with theRight Livelihood Award, sometimes called the "Alternative Nobel Prize", "… for their unwavering conviction, in the midst of violence, that peace can only be achieved through justice and reconciliation".In 2006, settler activistBaruch Marzelcalled on theIsraeli militaryto carry out "a targeted killing" against Avnery. Avnery is a contributor to the news and opinion sitesCounterPunch,Information Clearing House,Scoop.co.nz,LewRockwell.comandThe Exception Magazine. He is famous for crossing the lines during theSiege of Beirutto meet Yassir Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery is the author of several books about theIsraeli-Palestinian conflict, including1948: A Soldier’s Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem(2008);Israel’s Vicious Circle(2008); andMy Friend, the Enemy(1986).

I'll post the interview later as a standalone, but it comes at the very beginning of the show today, and I urge you to listen to it with an open mind.

Today on the show, we also addressed the issue of poverty in America as it affects single minority mothers. Bryce Covert, economic policy editor at Think Progress and blogger for The Nation joined me to discuss her latest piece, "We're Arresting Poor Mothers for Our Own Failures," about recent legal crises involving Shanesha Taylor, the Arizona mother arrested for leaving her children in the car while she went to a job interview, and Debra Harrell, the South Carolina mother arrested for letting her 9-year-old daughter play alone in a park while she worked her shift at McDonalds.

Next week, we'll delve further into the poverty crisis in the US with Anat Shenker-Osario who, along with Celinda Lake worked on a new report, Redefining the Way we Talk About Poverty.

It is Thursday, so we feature two regular segments during the second hour of the show:

Amy Simon of She's History today told us about the first Women's Convention that took place in Seneca Falls this week in 1848. Even after 166 years, we still have a long way to go!

And for today's "No More Bullshit Minute," Stephen Goldstein and I discussed the bullshit term "Peace with honor." Puh-leeze. As Stephen wrote in The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit, <

never have peace with honor because war is never honorable, even when and if we win it... The only way to have peace with honor uis not to get into war in the first place..."

To which I say, "Amen!"

Tomorrow, we'll wrap up the week with a few more of the interviews I recorded at Netroots Nation in the first hour. And for our Flashback Friday segment, in the second hour, we'll hear the World Premiere Broadcast of Steely Dan's Two Against Nature! It had been 20 years since Steely Dan released an album, and I was honored to be chosen to fly from LA to NYC to interview Donald Fagen and Walter Becker for this nationally syndicated program. The album then went on to win the Album of the Year Grammy...

Talk to you then, radio or not!

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Helping the Homeless in Los Angeles Is an Under-discussed/funded Issue

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Despite its status as one of the country's largest urban areas, the plight of the homeless in Los Angeles is a vastly under-discussed and under-addressed issue.

It was heartening to see Josè Díez-Balart, newly in the MSNBC morning lineup from 10-11 a.m. EST, host advocate Dr. Sophia Momand to get to the heart of the matter.

Her religious credo as a Muslim included a highly unusual promise she made when she became a doctor -- a very personal and unique oath to give care to all in her path, and give harm to none by choice.

A little further research on Dr. Momand proved edifying. From Southern California Public Radio, a bit more on that particular oath she swore more than twenty years ago. When homelessnessness was an equally large and looming plight.

Momand says she became a doctor because she enjoys helping people, "but it’s also part of my faith. I happen to be a Muslim, and part of our religion is that you have to be active helping humanity. For me it’s pretty easy, so it’s not like I’m giving up a whole lot of time, but whatever little I can help has really made a difference in their lives."

morons 3

So we have been hearing a deal from the popular Jesuit hippie Pope about caring for the poor, the homeless, the sick ... now Muslims are stepping up. Who is it that lags behind ... again?

Oh rihhght right right, the Religious Right.

The 'Turn Back Time' crowd.

They that listen to La Palin and worship at the feet of hate-mongorers extraordinaire Hannity and Limbaugh ... the station of Fvx Nation.

Apparently less free with their charity than other organized religious bodies of work.

don'tMakeMe

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