Monday, March 06, 2006

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Ruth: First off, WBAI has ended their pledge drive so regular programming returns this week. That means Law & Disorder on Monday as well as OUT-FM and Cat Radio Cafe. A few of you wrote in to say, "If I'd known __ was coming on" or "If I'd known they'd be adding a premium late in the drive . . ." Meaning, that had you known earlier, you would have pledged later. I would guess that any premiums added late in the drive would be offered in the next one, from the start. In terms of guests or special broadcasts, they will always be offered so unless you are planning to wait until the last day of the pledge drive, something I would not suggest, there will always be surprises.

One member wrote that he was excited about getting the Law & Disorder CD set. Hopefully, if you had the money where you could afford to pledge and you did pledge, you are pleased with the premium. But remember that the point of the pledge drive is to keep the Pacifica stations on air. They are listener supported.

The first item I would like to note is commentary Peter Hart made on Friday's CounterSpin:

In L. Paul Bremer's new book about running the occupation of Iraq, he reveals that he secretly asked the Pentagon for tens of thousands more troops as the occupation began to disintegrate in May of 2004. Bremer also reveals that the top American commander in Iraq, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, was eager to have at least 40,000 more troops. Of course this contradicts public claims by Bremer and Sanchez and the White House that addition troops weren't needed and that commanders didn't want them. In the New York Times Book review on February 26th, Times Baghdad correspondent Dexter Filkins chided Bremer and Sanchez for not going public about the troops shortage. As Filkins put it, QUOTE: "To nearly anyone who spent time in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, it was scandalously obvious that the American military, for all its prowess lacked sufficient number of soldiers to bring the country under control. Iraqis knew it, American officers beneath their breath often said it." But if it was that obvious, perhaps it's also a scandal that Filkins wasn't sounding the alarm in his reporting in the Times. By not prominently reporting about the shortage because officials wouldn't say as much on the record, Filkins seems to be suggesting, probably without meaning to, that he needed the approval of US officials to report what he was hearing with his own ears and seeing with his own eyes.

In addition to their lively run-downs of recent news, Steve Rendall interviewed Marjorie Heins about Fair Use and Peter Hart interviewed Chesa Boudin on the topic of Venezuela with a focus on the media. The latter discussion included the information that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has "distributed 250 radio transmitters" as well as printing presses to encourage a more diverse media in the country. Mr. Boudin, son of Kathy Boudin, has written a book on the subject entitled The Venezuelan Revolution: 100 Questions-100 Answers. He and Mr. Rendall discussed the elite ownership of the media in Venezuela and its role in the coup of 2002.

On the topic of CounterSpin, Rachel e-mailed to note how Peter Hart "really got into the spirit of pledge drive." I believe that was two Fridays ago and he did seem to enjoy himself.

On KPFA's The Morning Show, they took an in-depth look at the internet throughout the week. It was very informative and examined both the history and where it may be headed. One guest's attitude can be summed up as, "Yes, I know. I discussed all those issues in the nineties." To which I wanted to reply, "Well good for you. Now can you discuss them today?" But the guest underscored that the issues that are arising now are not surprises and also underlined the fact that we now have generations of internet users. Andrea Lewis did a wonderful job with the discussions. This included when a statement was made that a segment earlier in the week was like an advertisement for Google. Ms. Lewis handled that well, and gave the man ample time to present his views on Google. Ms. Lewis had not done an advertisement for Google and the man's comment reminded me of how, here, when someone wants to be sure something is noted, they'll toss out the word "gatekeeper." A thank you to Lloyd for highlighting Ms. Lewis' "Winter Olympic dreams limited to wealth, access" Friday morning. I enjoyed the column very much and was not aware of it or her other columns until Lloyd pointed them out.

Thursday on WBAI, First Voices Indigenous Radio was a pledge drive show but Tiokasin Ghosthorse and Mattie Harper had so many topics it was like a regular episode. If you have not checked out the program, please consider doing so. Mr. Ghosthorse made so many strong points, so quickly, that I finally put down the pen and decided to just pass on, "This is a voice to listen to." Also featured was a speech by Ward Churchill.

Also on WBAI Thursday, but later in the day then the usual scheduled time, was The Christmas Coup Players. Janet Coleman is another person who really gets into the spirit of pledge drives, as is Amy Goodman. If you missed it, among the good laughs you cheated yourself out of was a song parody entitled "Cheney's Got a Gun."

Wednesday on KPFA's Against the Grain, C.S. Soong interviewed conscientious objector Aidan Delgado. Mr. Delgado discussed his own experiences, beginning on the morning of September 11, 2001 when he went to enlist prior to the news of the attacks on 9/11. He served in Iraq from April of 2003 until April of 2004. Mr. Delgado stated that his doubts about his choice surfaced early but he was in "kind of a haze or drifting . . . being carried away by fate." As he was exploring his own sense of morality and war, he traced the deciding factor to encountering prisoners in Iraq and how they helped "change my mind on an emotional level." Looking at them, he "felt empathy" for them. On Abu Ghraib, he commented, "We've come so far this is not who we should be as a nation." He went through an eighteen-month process to be granted conscientious objector status. Mr. Soong and Mr. Delgado discussed how a number of the veterans speaking out, such as Mr. Delgado, Pablo Paredes and Camilo Mejia, were Latino. Mr. Delgado felt that, either from their own background or that of their families, they were more comfortable asking questions due to America's history with Latin America.

Though he speaks to groups often now, that was not his plan. He described himself as someone who is "painfully shy" and his first attempt at speaking was, he thought, his only attempt. He would go and speak to give voice to what he had witnessed and that would be the end of that. But he has continued to speak because otherwise voices like his will not be heard. He also addressed the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment in this country, and how it played out in the military, as well as the hostile climate to veterans returning from Iraq who wish to share their stories, stories that may not fit in to the happy talk narrative.

If you missed it, Elaine shared her thoughts on the interview at her site Like Maria Said Paz. On the phone, we discussed the interview and which parts we were interested in covering so please read her entry for more on the interview.

Monday on KPFA's Against the Grain:

It was a cataclysmic event, the first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas. Laurent Dubois has written a book about this stunning eighteenth-century challenge to the order of master/slave relations; he discusses Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution.
For resources and further information about topics covered on Against the Grain visit:

That airs at noon Pacific Time, two Central Time and three Eastern Standard Time. If you miss the broadcast, you can check the archives.