Alternative Radio

05-24-2015 - In a May 1976 column in The Boston Globe Howard Zinn wrote "Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren." Sadly his column in the Globe was discontinued soon after. And even more sadly his words are evergreen. Veterans are still returning from foreign wars with lost limbs, bodies and souls.

05/17/2015 - In democratic societies some things have long been considered sacrosanct. Such as the right to privacy. Not any more. It is violated on a routine and systematic basis. States scream: national security or terrorism to justify their expansion of surveillance. In terms of the sheer scope of spying the USA puts the old USSR to shame. Without privacy there is neither freedom nor democracy. There has to be a space where you can express your innermost thoughts, emotions and vulnerabilities. The cameras, microphones, and drones eliminate that possibility.

05/10/2015 - An effective propaganda system encourages people to be discouraged. Hey! Worry about the Kardashian’s latest news. Leave the complicated matters of domestic and foreign affairs to the smart guys. This is a recipe for disaster because the ruling class will attend acutely to its interests at the expense of everyone and everything else including the planet. This indifference to the 99% and the environment was dramatically revealed in a 2015 poll of CEOs at Davos. Every year the so-called “masters of the universe” meet in the Swiss Alps.

05/03/2015 - Rights exercised by large corporations have never been stronger in the United States. They respond to distant policy initiatives, lawsuits, and latent threats to their bottom lines with lightning speed and a full court press. Their lobbyists vet new regulations and bills with legislators. They kill bills. They write bills.

04/26/2015 - In 1915, the Turkish government launched a premeditated organized campaign to eliminate the millennia-old Armenian people from their traditional homeland in what is now southeastern Turkey. The Turkish officials responsible for the genocide were never brought to account. This was not lost on Adolf Hitler. Just days before launching World War Two he told his generals, "Who today, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?" What makes this genocide unique is that Turkey refuses to acknowledge it ever happened.

09/22/2014 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a long history of spying on African Americans including Nobel Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The great writer Richard Wright, who was also snooped on, wrote the poem "The FB Eye Blues:" Woke up this morning/FB Eye under my bed/Said I woke up this morning /FB eye under my bed/Told me all I dreamed last night, every word I said. Racism and surveillance are closely intertwined. Today, state security agencies and police departments profile and target Muslims. Their organizations and mosques are infiltrated.

09/08/2014 - Large parts of the Middle East today are engulfed in violence. Why? What historical factors shape the current conflicts? Take Iraq for example, a country in chaos. The U.S. has been intervening in Iraq non-stop for decades. What has it produced? Sectarianism and strife. Death and destruction. Actual U.S. policy in the Middle East is buried in a blizzard of propaganda about democracy and human rights while in practice Washington backs feudal and repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the Emirates as well as dictatorships like Egypt. Justification for U.S.

07/28/2014 - When it comes to climate change the operative word is “hot” with “record” and "unprecedented" closely following. UN conferences on climate do little beyond the powerful issuing grandiose proclamations about how green they are and then it’s back to their destructive policies. The Guardian, captures the hypocrisy,  “governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority.” Rome is burning.

07/07/2014 - Through its myriad booms and busts, capitalism manages to roll with the punches and emerge standing. We are constantly told: it's the only show in town. Do you want the old Soviet Union? No way. But can't we imagine an economic system that is responsive to the needs of people and our precious planet rather than Wall Street and the investor class? Idealistic, you say? Maybe. But the fiscal ship is headed for a huge crash and no amount of moving the deck chairs around will avert it.

06/30/2014 - Security, security. Can’t get enough of it. Paradoxically, the more we have of it the less secure we feel. The latest weapons and massive military spending are never enough. Since 9/11 the term is bandied about. There is the huge bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. Within it is the TSA, with its 60,000-plus employees and a budget over $7 billion. We go through checks and searches. Then there’s the NSA surveillance. Could U.S. global policies from drone strikes to invasions actually be undermining our security?

06/23/2014 - When looking into the past, the great historian Howard Zinn said, "We never get 'just the facts.'" We often get glaring omissions and distortions. History is always a selection from an infinite number of facts. And what is selected is based not just on one's personal interest but on race, class, gender, and other factors. A true picture of the past is rarely achieved, and never by presenting "just the facts." Historians need the eyes of thousands of people, the ears of poets, a nose for secrets, the hands of a master painter.

06/16/2014 - The pretext of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 was the September 11 attacks. Washington announced it was pursuing Osama bin Laden. But very quickly the Bush administration changed its objective to include the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Kabul. That mission switch precipitated the longest war in U.S. history. Washington and its NATO allies have said they are withdrawing their forces at the end of 2014. But it seems almost certain that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan.

David Cay Johnston

Jun 4, 2014

06/09/2014 - The Societal Impacts of Inequality - The U.S. has the dubious distinction of being the most unequal of all developed countries. The gaps between rich and poor have not been seen since the Gilded Age over a century ago. The one-tenth of one percent is loaded with stocks, bonds, hedge funds, cash and property. The respected business journalist Martin Wolf writes, "An out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid." Inequality is corroding democracy.

05/19/2014 - Are sports simply a form of entertainment or is there some deeper meaning off the field we are not seeing? From ancient Greece to modern times, sports have always been a big attraction. But in the cable and digital age it is bigger and more lucrative than ever. Sports encompass the world. From soccer in Latin America to cricket in India to hockey in Canada, millions of people are energized by and care about their teams and players. Heroes rise and fall. Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, Lance Armstrong. There are sex scandals, doping, and murder trials.

05/12/2014 - When the U.S. goes to war, private contractors salivate. When it comes to making money, there is no business like war business. Control or oversight? Not much. There is a feeding frenzy at the troughs of public money accompanied by the almost inevitable cost overruns, waste, fraud and theft. The corruption is fueled by the revolving door syndrome between corporations and the Pentagon. Almost seamlessly, today’s assistant secretary of defense becomes tomorrow’s vice-president of Raytheon.

Blame

May 2, 2014

05/03/2014 - We've all felt it, that irresistible urge to point the finger. But new technologies are complicating age-old moral conundrums about accountability. This hour, we ask what blame does for us -- why do we need it, when isn't it enough, and what happens when we try to push past it with forgiveness and mercy?

http://www.radiolab.org/story/317421-blame/

5/5/2014 - If you’d ask most people, they’d rather stay at home and watch a Seinfeld rerun than go to a poetry reading. Yet almost imperceptibly poetry enriches our lives and generates cultural growth and change. Think about it. Add up all the myriad poetry-related activities: readings, workshops, symposia, retreats, undergraduate and MFA programs at universities, books, zines, websites, spoken word recordings, then throw in lyric writing for theater and the multi-billion dollar music industry.

Dollarocracy

Apr 24, 2014

04/28/2014 - Dollarocracy: a system of government where private wealth determines political outcomes. Sound at all familiar? The corruption bred by boatloads of cash contaminates and pollutes our entire political process. So-called reforms won’t cure the ailment. Radical surgery is required. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this well when he counseled, “Timid supplications for justice will not solve the problem. We’ve got to massively confront the power structure.” Washington is Lobbystan. The thousands of influence peddlars pretty much get what they want for their paymasters.

04/21/2014 - When faced with injustice what options are open to people? Turn away and ignore it or confront it? The destruction of the environment is an injustice. We are turning parts of the Earth into a toxic waste dump. What comforts are we willing to give up to protect Mother Nature? Will we make real sacrifices or simply kick the ball down the road and be content with placebos like shopping differently? The planet is facing a medical emergency. In response, activists are sitting in, chaining themselves to fences and blocking roads.

04/14/2014 - A steady stream of reports on the deterioration of the environment is issued. There is a brief flurry of media coverage. The corporate-funded climate change deniers make counter claims. We wake briefly to the crisis then most of us lapse into a couch potato stupor. Neoliberal dogma and an almost mystical belief in capitalism makes almost certain that little will be done to avert coming calamities. Charades called climate summits offer nothing more than photo ops of smiling world leaders and vacuous press releases. We blithely turn our heads away from reality.

03/17/2014 - Chris Hedges - The demonic Captain Ahab in Melville’s epic novel Moby Dick represents a quest for power and domination that is a death wish. Hubris will doom Ahab and his Pequod crew, all perish except for Ishmael. Is there a larger lesson to be learned? Is the United States much different? The U.S. with its obsessive drive for control of oil and other resources, its relentless hunger for profits, its garrisoning the globe with military bases, its arrogant disregard for the environment, is on the same suicidal path as Ahab.

02/03/2014 - What’s in a seed? Life itself. Ten thousand years ago, Iraq, Egypt and India were the sites of the earliest sowing and harvesting of plants that had previously been gathered in the wild. It was a revolutionary development and made civilization possible. Since then humans have been able to grow food and feed themselves. Today, that freedom embodied in seeds is threatened. Multinational corporations, like Monsanto, have radically changed the agricultural landscape.

1/27/2014 - Remember the information superhighway and all the hype about the Internet? The wonders of the Digital Age would be liberating. A utopian bliss was at hand. Now it sometimes looks more like a dystopia. A handful of monopolies dominate the Internet. Google garners 97% of the mobile search market. Microsoft's operating system is used by 90% of the world's computers. Capitalism has colonized cyberspace, spurred the collapse of journalism, independent bookstores and many, many jobs.

12/16/2013 - Most citizens have political opinions. Many are involved in nonprofit community-based organizations. But the time-impaired average person remains politically disorganized and distracted. Collective political action nationally is often limited to mobilizing for wars and elections. Disengagement can seem the norm. Community organizers are bucking this trend. Local issues, be they environmental, fair wages, or municipalization of energy and Internet services, are getting more and more people off their couches.

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013: On "In Other Words:" September 2nd's  scheduled "Alternative Radio" program is pre-empted for special Labor Day programming, so we're airing it on September 10th at 10:30pm : Barbara Ehrenreich on "Kicking People When They're Down."