Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Ruth: I wanted to start tonight with some news.

*In Belgium, gay couples have won the right to adopt. Netherlands, Spain and England also allow gay couples to adopt.

*In the Massachusettes, Roman Catholic agencies are allowed to refuse to allow gay couples to adopt despite the fact that this contravenes the state's anti-discrmination law. Governor Mitt Romney is the reason. Catholic Charities of Boston threatened to end their adoption practices because of the anti-discrimination law.

*Religious fundamentalists in Iraq are targeting gays with kidnappings, murder and other violence. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is calling on Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and the administration to begin investigating this issue immediately.

*Did you know that two CBS empolyees were assaulted? Dick Jefferson, news producer, and Ryan Smith, production secretary, were attacked with tire irons while having anti-gay slurs yelled at them? This happened in St. Maarten. Mr. Jefferson says that at least 25 people saw the April 6th attack so the police's ability to find only one witness seems to suggest that they are not seriously investigating the case. Mr. Jefferson had back and head injuries but is now back at work. Mr. Smith remains in the hospital, has suffered brain damage and has aphasia. My oldest son explained that this condition, a type of language disorder, is brought on by brain damage, generally to the left side of the brain, so the attack is the cause of it. Aphasia was not a condition I was familiar with, which is why I asked. My son also stated that there are two forms, in the first, the patient will have trouble with the speaking; in the second, the patient will have trouble understanding. In some instances, the patient has both forms. For those whose speech is effected, the condition can be mild, in which case longer sentences may be spoken, or severe, in which case the patient may only be able to respond in simple, often one-word responses. In terms of the second form, comprehension, it may take additional time to process what was said and, in some instances, a great deal may be lost.

None of the above new items is new or suprising if you listened to Monday's Queer Voices. This two hour program airs once a week on Houston's KPFT. The segments cover news, events to the Houston area, and the arts. My grandson Jayson just bought the solo CD of Martine Locke, On the Verge, after hearing her this Monday. Ms. Locke is from Australia and a member of the group The Velvet Janes. Two songs were played from the album, possibly three, "Hallelujah" and "Greyhound Bus." She has a wonderful voice and, in addition, she writes songs and plays the guitar.

Monday, on WBAI's Law and Disorder, Bill Brown was back for an update on the 505 New York City Police Department installing cameras to spy on people. Mr. Brown told Heidi Boghosian that they were going up first at the corner of First & Brooklyn and mostly concentrated in Brooklyn. $10 million in federal funds, for the so-called war on terror, are being used to install these cameras. Ms. Boghosian asked how effective the cameras were? "There are no guidelines what so ever for who monitors the cameras," Mr. Brown answered.

Mr. Brown: Eight different command centers can get the images from the cameras. . . . They've multiplied the amount of watchers . . . You can be vitually anywhere with the new techonology. . . [Homeland Security] just provides the grant.

Camera Eye was mentioned and Billie wondered about that because in her area there is a surveillance company called Digital Eye. She wrote to ask that I toss the company out here and see if anyone had any information on it.

The cameras used in NYC emit constant microwave radiation and health concerns, since the waves emit every hour of the day, are an issue that has not been addressed. Each camera costs approximately $20,000 per camera.

Instead of offering a web site (or "a list of URLs"), Mr. Brown suggested that those wanting more information google "surveillance camera players" or "walking tours"

George Washington University Librarian Jack Siggins spoke with Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith about the issue of the FBI attempting to rifle through the late reporter Jack Anderson's papers and reserving the right to seize any papers they desired. A journalist cannot be prosecuted for a classified document that is turned over to them, Mr. Ratner pointed out. There are a 188 boxes that the FBI is wanting to rifle through. Ms. Boghosian, Mr. Ratner and Mr. Siggins pointed out that the Anderson family does not want to allow the FBI to snoop through the items because the late Mr. Anderson would not have agreed to turn documents over to the FBI.

The interview contained breaking news. (Though we may have to wait for it to be said a few months from now on Good Morning America for the press to notice.) During the interview, Mr. Ratner noted, "To say that they [FBI] want a blanket look at what people are checking out is a new one." After the interview, he and Ms. Boghosian discussed this.

Mr. Ratner: . . . He dropped a nugget that I had never heard before which was that the FBI has asked to see the book checkouts and the e-mails of every single student at GW [George Washington University] who uses the library.
Ms. Boghosian: That is extraordinary, yeah.
Mr. Ratner: I mean, because all we've seen so far is individual cases where they go after individual who they claim they need the information for a terrorist case.
Ms. Boghosian: But this is everyone.
Mr. Ratner: This is everyone and he said he didn't think it was the only library in the country. That is amazing to me and just demonstrates how far along the road to Big Brother we are.

The next segment was on Blackwater USA and Mike has discussed this on Monday and on Tuesday, so I would recommend his commentaries. Cedric also intends to write on this so check Cedric's Big Mix on Thursday. He told me his feelings are similar to Mike's but he wanted to toss it around a bit before writing on it.

Producer Geoff Brady recorded a speech given by attorney Donald Goldberg in Albany, New York on the issue of global warming. Mr. Goldberg, of the Center for International Environmental Law, represents the Inuits in a case that is filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The broadcast closed with Mr. Ratner noting the demonstration taking place in NYC this Saturday, march begins at noon on 22nd Broadway. "Ending the war in Iraq, bringing the troops home now, standing up for women and immigrant rights," are the demands of this march.

Mr. Ratner: We should also understand there are demonstrations every day, all around this country, which is what it's going to take to end that war in Iraq.

Monday was also, of course, Jane Fonda's interview on Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson. I have read My Life So Far and enjoyed the book. I have also enjoyed Ms. Fonda's acting and politics over the years. The reason I bring that up is that it is one thing to read her autobiography at your own pace and another to attempt to cover such a wealth of experiences in a thirty-minute interview. Mr. Smithson managed to zero in on many key moments and the result was probably my favorite interview with Ms. Fonda since the book first came out in hardcover. Sasha Lilly did a wonderful interview with Ms. Fonda for Against the Grain but that segment of the interview, this was a best of broadcast celebrating three years of Sasha Lilly and C.S. Soong's show, zeroed in on the seventies, the Nixon years and the Nixon abuses. I believe, and I may be wrong, that Mr. Smithson was asking questions, setting up a past event and then taking it to the present, to demonstrate how activism impacted a life and how activism was a part of a life.

In thirty minutes, he could not cover everything, nor could Ms. Fonda in her book, it is an event filled life, and I believe, based on a statements during the interview as well as his questions, that this was an approach he took and did so intentionally. If that was not the case, it was the luck of a wonderful conversation. But he really seemed on top of his game in the interview, beyond doing the basic work. Mike wrote about the interview on Monday, Rebecca wrote about it on Tuesday, as did Elaine and C.I. I would agree with all of their points but I will pick up on C.I.'s point about Ms. Fonda's talk of the need for hope.

She was not being a Pollyanna. She did not say, "Oh, it's not that bad." To the contrary, she feels, that we are seeing some of the worst times we have seen. (I am only a few years younger than Ms. Fonda and, based on my own life, I agree with that conclusion.) My older grandchildren, all of them including Jayson and Tracey, realize that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Jayson would add "and then some!" There is nothing to be gained from pretending to them that the times are not as bad as they seem. With an executive branch that demonstrates little respect or comprehension of democracy, though eager to bandy the term about, and willing to resort to actions that those old enough to remember may have wrongly assumed left the capitol with Nixon, these are bad times. But I agree with Ms. Fonda that they need hope as do we. Be angry, be sad, be upset, but know that there is something we can work towards. A "Better Way" as Ben Harper sings on the CD Jayson and Tracey are so fond of. We won when we were up against one Bully Boy before. He left the White House in disgrace. The people can win again. Nina gave Mike the quote she felt was most important from the interview and I will note it here:

It's never up to an administration . . . It all depends upon what people force them to do.

If you missed the interview, remember that this can be heard via the archive of the broadcast. That is true of all the shows mentioned but keep in mind that the archives will not be up forever if they are at stations (as opposed to at the program's own website).

In addition to the coverage noted above, Mike covered WBAI's Wakeup Call on Monday and Tuesday; Rebecca covered KPFA's Flashpoints, throughout the week, early Tuesday morning, Tuesday night (wonderful interview with Rita Moreno) and Wednesday (Michael Ratner was one of the guests); Elaine covered WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe on Monday; and Kat covered the KPFA Evening News (Wednesday broadcast) and KPFA's Guns and Butter. On C.I.'s end, there are the heads up announcements and the efforts to work the news programs into the Iraq snapshot feature. This Sunday, The Third Estate Sunday Review will be covering Kris Welch's Living Room which airs on KPFA Thursdays and Friday. I do intend to do a brief report on Saturday. Brief because I will be in NYC for the Saturday demonstration and march that Mr. Ratner noted on Law and Disorder.

A heads up to something Wally first saw at Danny Schechter's News Dissector:

David Swanson writes:
I'll be co-hosting with Verna Avery-Brown of Pacifica Radio, a live broadcast on Pacifica from 8:30-11 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 27, of a forum on Capitol Hill hosted by Congresswomen Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee.

Also a big thank you to the following for helping me pull together a report Saturday despite the posting problems:

My granddaughter Tracey;
Dallas who always locates the links even when I am less than clear;
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

It was the combined work and encouragement of everyone above that allowed a report to be completed. Repeatedly losing the post was very discouraging and reason, or excuse, for me to stick to e-mailing in the entries and letting C.I. post them. Take action this weekend and make your voice heard, regardless of your location.