Born in London and raised in County Cork, Andrew Cockburn moved to the U.S. in 1979. He is a journalist, an author and a filmmaker. He is also the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. His books include: Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship and The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine. His most recent book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. His latest articles include The New Red ScareReviving the art of threat inflation; and Acceptable LossesAiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen. You can read his latest articles for Harper’s here.
The confirmation of Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of Health and Human Services – an interview with Carol Paris.
Terrorism, Trump, and the media narrative – an interview with Beau Grosscup
More about this week’s guests:
Dr.Carol Paris is a recently retired psychiatrist who worked for more than 25 years in private practice, community mental health, prison psychiatry, and academia. She is president of Physicians for a National Health Program. In the course of her experience, much of which was in Maryland, she became an outspoken critic of the private-insurance-based U.S. health care system.
In May 2009, she and seven others stood up, one by one, at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on health care reform chaired by Sen. Max Baucus to ask why there wasn’t a single advocate for single-payer health care on the 41-member panel. In an action that received national media attention, Baucus had all eight peaceful protesters, including Dr. Paris, arrested. (Charges were eventually reduced, requiring only community service.)
Quote in response to the Senate vote to confirm Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of health and human services: “The Senate’s confirmation of Tom Price as health secretary is a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans. According to this week’s Monmouth University poll, Americans’ biggest concern today is with their mounting health care costs, more so than their job security, taxes or other household bills. With Price at the helm of HHS, this concern is only going to escalate. Price’s vision for reforming U.S. health care would result in millions of Americans losing existing health insurance coverage, and millions more having to make do with bare-bones policies that offer little to no meaningful protection. He can also be expected to push high-deductible health plans, which already result in millions of people forgoing needed care, and to undermine Medicare, the Medicaid program and safety-net hospitals. If Price’s policies come to pass, the free-market ideologues who supported them will no longer be able to hide behind false promises like ‘universal access.’ The results will be laid bare for everyone to see, and elected officials will have to answer to the poor, working-class, elderly, and chronically ill Americans who will suffer needlessly as a result. Studies show that about 43,000 people will die each year if such policies are implemented. Congress urgently needs to reverse course and embrace the obvious solution: an improved Medicare for all.”
Grosscup, a leading expert on terrorism takes issue with the entire political and media discussion on the subject.
Quote: “Trump is only focused on media under-reporting of terrorism of the ‘other.’ He doesn’t consider U.S. a terrorist state. For his statement about media under-reporting of terrorism to be correct would take a re-interpretation of his ‘we kill people’ admission to mean the U.S. commits acts of terrorism too. There is a plethora of evidence it does so. Media has been silent on U.S.-backed Saudi terror bombing in Yemen, on U.S.-backed Iraqi Shiite militia terror in anti-ISIS campaign. Moreover, when the U.S. government does ‘kill’ such as hitting hospitals, wedding parties (Afghanistan, Yemen) etc., the corporate media does report it reluctantly and in doing so gives immediate credence to the various Pentagon explanations as to why it doesn’t qualify as terrorism (not intentional, accident, technological failure, ally did it, fog of war, chain of command confusion). Media also accepts totally the Pentagon claim of ‘precision bombing’ equals smart if not ‘brilliant’ weapons. Trump is correct that for example media doesn’t report U.S. ‘double tap’ policy (sending in a second missile to kill enemy ‘first responders’ nor the policy that ‘human shields’ are considered military targets.”
William Black on the Trump administration’s dismantling of the Obama administration’s already insufficient post-2008 financial regulations
More about this week’s guests:
Jonathan Landay is a reporter for Reuters covering national security. He previously worked for McClatchy/Knight-Ridder, the Christian Science Monitor, and United Press International. Landay partnered with Warren Strobel on a series of stories skeptical of the George W. Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction as justification for war; they received the Raymond Clapper Memorial award from the Senate Press Gallery for their work. Landay, Marisa Taylor, and Ali Watkins were 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalists for their work on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report regarding the CIA’s torture programs. You can read his latest stories here.
William K. Black, J.D., Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Bill Black has testified before the Senate Agricultural Committee on the regulation of financial derivatives and House Governance Committee on the regulation of executive compensation. He was interviewed by Bill Moyers on PBS, which went viral. He gave an invited lecture at UCLA’s Hammer Institute which, when the video was posted on the web, drew so many “hits” that it crashed the UCLA server. He appeared extensively in Michael Moore’s most recent documentary: “Capitalism: A Love Story.” He was featured in the Obama campaign release discussing Senator McCain’s role in the “Keating Five.” (Bill took the notes of that meeting that led to the Senate Ethics investigation of the Keating Five. His testimony was highly critical of all five Senators’ actions.) He is a frequent guest on local, national, and international television and radio and is quoted as an expert by the national and international print media nearly every week. He was the subject of featured interviews in Newsweek, Barron’s, and Village Voice.
Donald Trump nominates Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. We discuss the topic with Diane Ravitch.
News or Propaganda? What is happening to the news and what is the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” about? We discuss the topic with Rick Sterling.
More about this week’s guests:
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net
Quote: “Betsy DeVos should not be approved by the Senate committee or confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education. She has no experience or qualifications for the job. She is a lobbyist for alternatives to public schools. Eighty-five percent of the students in the U.S. attend public schools. Her only plan is to weaken and destroy them by diverting public money to charter schools and vouchers for religious schools. DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school. She has lived in a billionaire bubble of privilege. She has no understanding of the needs of our nation’s public schools, and she is in fact actively hostile to them. This is unacceptable. She is unacceptable. Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy. We have never had a Secretary of Education who was opposed to public schools. We should never have one.”
Rick Sterling is a retired electronics / aerospace engineer turned independent investigative journalist. He just wrote the piece “The War Against Alternative Information” for ConsortiumNews.com — which states: “The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’ that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any ‘propaganda’ that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality. The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center ‘to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.’ The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to ‘coordinate with allied nations.’The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth — or Global Engagement Center — to protect the American people from ‘foreign propaganda and disinformation.’ As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: ‘Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.’ (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of ‘Russian propaganda’ or ‘fake news.’) Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for ‘strategic communications’ and ‘public diplomacy’ were not enough, that the information threat required ‘a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.’ The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation…”
This week’s show is a little different. It is a mix of audio clips edited together featuring: part of “Hypernormlization” by Adam Curtis, the voice of Carl Sagan, JFK’s “Peace” speech, a clip from “Mississippi Burning” and Charley Chaplin’s speech in “The Dictator“. I hope you enjoy the journey.
If you tuned in last week you would have heard Greg Palast‘s analysis of voter turnout vs voter repression in several states and how those factors helped determine the outcome of the election. This week we follow up on the recount effort with Bob Fitrakis.
The Monitor tends to cover serious news stories and this can perhaps make you feel like there is no good news out there. By way of correcting that impression, our second interview is with Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions. He is the Director and Producer of a documentary called SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team).
During the show you will also hear a song called No More War Anymore by Eileen Kozloff. More about her at the end of this post and thank you to Hank Woji for giving me her CD to listen to.
More about this week’s guests:
Robert J. Fitrakis is Distinguished Full Professor of Political Science at Columbus State Community College, where he won the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow to the Michigan State legislature in 1975 and studied at the University of Sarajevo on scholarship in 1978. Fitrakis earned a J.D. from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2002. His Ph.D is in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He has also taught political theory at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and political science at Wayne State University and Oakland Community College. He holds the following degrees: B.S., Political Science and History, Grand Valley State College, 1978; M.A., Political Theory, Wayne State University, 1982; Ph.D., American Government, Wayne State University, 1990; J.D., The Ohio State University
He was the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 12th District, and in 1995 ran for election to the Columbus School Board. He has written extensively about political theory, co-published a scholarly article on health-care policy, and made presentations at academic conferences on political theory, electoral politics, and public policy. He also has a radio talk show called “Fight Back!” on talktainmentradio.com (Wednesdays at 7:00pm). He publishes and edits The Free Press, a quarterly journal of opinion and new analysis. It is on the web at www.freepress.org .
Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions is the Director and Producer of SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team). He is a nationally recognized writer, filmmaker and professor. He has taught in multiple colleges and programs and his production company, Bricker-Down Productions®, has been the recipient of many grants, film festival honors and awards.
Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals (domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds), including 200 this year. Covering the entire city of Los Angeles, an area of over 400 square miles encompassing 4 million people and approximately 8 million domestic animals, the team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
“We will do anything and everything we can to rescue an animal. We’ll go buy whatever it is we need. It’s not unusual to go to the store and put down $500 on some equipment…out of our own pocket. We just really believe in what we are doing.” –Annette Ramirez, Animal Services Personnel, SMART team member
Since its inception, SMART has inspired the creation of two other similar teams in Riverside and San Diego, and have won the Higgins & Langley Award in 2012, the top accolades for swiftwater rescue teams globally. The team’s leader (Armando Navarrete) has received department commendations in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the team also makes school visits at least once a month and participates regularly in emergency preparedness fairs.
The team is currently made up of 5 women and 7 men (Team Leader Armando Navarrete, Ernesto Poblano, Annette Ramirez, Ramon Garcia, Yvette Smith, Hoang Dinh, Hugh Briefman, Glen Julian, Verna Riparip, Tam Shepphird, Felix Lopez and Gabby Lera) representing the ethnic multiculturality of Los Angeles. In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget.
Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
Directed by Justin Zimmerman (“Fireland,” “The Titanic of Southampton”) and executive produced by Kimberly Zimmerman, the 74-minute film has been an Official Selection at 19 festivals, nominated for 12 awards and won 7 including Best Feature, Best Documentary, Audience Award and Best Photography:
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Artemis Film Festival, ’16
BEST FEATURE – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
AUDIENCE AWARD – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY – Northern Virginia International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Intendence Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY CINEMATOGRAPHY – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY NOMINEE – Cayman Islands International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY & EDITING NOMINEE – Action on Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY SOUND & EDITING NOMINEE – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – University of Colorado, ’15
Official Selection – Lewis & Clark College, ’15
Official Selection – Gasparilla International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Green Bay Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Reel Cinerama, ’16
Official Selection – MCAS / Hollywood, ’16
Official Selection – FoF / Salem, ’16
Official Selection – OCHS / City Lights, ’16
Official Selection – Central City Comic / Film Con, ’16
Official Selection – Colorado Animal Welfare Conference, ’16
Official Selection – Animal Film Festival / Del Mar, ’16
Official Selection – StarDoc Fest, ’16
Official Selection – Black Hills Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – New Hope Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – SF DocFest, ’16
Official Selection – Cinema at the Edge Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Pickford Film Center / Doctober, ’16
Official Selection – International Women’s Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Downtown Film Festival LA, ’16
Official Selection – Wexner Center for the Arts, ’17
Eileen Kozloff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been actively involved in the autoharp world for over a quarter of a century! She is an award winning artist, for her singing, songwriting and instrumental work. She is best known for her uique “pick-less” style of diatonic autoharp and for her soaring vocals, stunning harmonies and commanding performances. Her ability to compose, play and sing in a wide range of genres has made her a versatile festival performer and workshop teacher. In addition to performing at festivals, concerts and dance venues, Eileen has appeared live on numerous radio and television broadcasts, and for several years she was a “Rostered Artist” with the Pennsylvania Council of the Ats Artist-in Residence program. In the winter of 2012, Eileen performed and taught workshops at two Australian Folk Festivals,: Cygnet (in Tasmania) and Illawara (in Wollongong). She has been invited to return to Oz and will be adding even more venues in 2017!
Maria Páez Victor is a sociologist, born in Venezuela and educated in Caracas, New York, Mexico City, and Canada. For several years she taught the sociology of health and medicine as well as health and environmental policies at the University of Toronto. Páez Victor has national and international experience in policy analysis and impact assessment, with expertise in the areas of health, environment, and energy. You can read some of her recent articles at the following links: