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Ralph Nader Radio Hour

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Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all. www.ralphnaderradiohour.com


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Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all. www.ralphnaderradiohour.com




Justifying the Unjustifiable in Palestine

Ralph is joined by author and human rights activist Miko Peled. They discuss the excuses that Israel uses to defend the atrocities they commit against Palestinians, and the truth behind all the propaganda. Miko Peled is an author, writer, speaker, and human rights activist living in the United States. He is considered by many to be one of the clearest voices calling for justice in Palestine, support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the creation of a single democracy with equal rights in all of historic Palestine. Mr. Peled was born and raised in Jerusalem. His grandfather was a signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and his father was a general in the 1967 war. Anybody who is not courageous enough to stand up and speak the truth and stand up for what is right, because they might be called this name or that name—it's cowardice, it's hypocrisy. Being called antisemitic is a small price to pay when you talk about standing for the rights of millions of people who have been living under such terror for so many decades. Miko Peled This is pure revenge. What we're seeing is vengeance of a military force and a state that have been humiliated. And just like any bully, any gangster who's been humiliated, they take it out on the weakest people they can find, people who cannot defend themselves… It's revenge for the sake of revenge. It's savagery for the sake of savagery. It's brutality in its purest form. There's no other reason than the brutality itself. Miko Peled Palestinians deserve nothing less than the lifting of the siege, release of all prisoners, and the dismantling of the apartheid state. Nothing less than that should be demanded. And all we're seeing people talk about is ceasefires, as though a ceasefire is some great accomplishment. Ceasefire does not provide the possibility of a future where this is not repeated. What needs to be demanded now is a political solution that will ensure the safety and security of Palestinians—and that is never part of the conversation. A ceasefire does not secure the lives or the security of Palestinians, because we know Israel will violate it a week later. Miko Peled It's not going to collapse because Israelis agree. It's not going to collapse because Israelis wake up one morning in a good mood. Israel is going to have to be forced on its knees. Just like in South Africa, whites in South Africa were on their knees. We're talking about severe sanctions. We're talking about closing down all diplomatic missions. We're talking about not allowing Israelis to participate in sporting events, cultural events, any events, academic arenas. They need to be shunned. Israeli society and the apartheid state that they created need to be brought on their knees. Miko Peled In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The Intercept’s Prem Thakker reports 43 members of Congress now support a ceasefire. Some notable additions in recent days include Reps. Becca Balint, Sara Jacobs and Jamie Raskin, the first Jewish members to call for a ceasefire, and Jeff Merkley, the second Senator to call for a ceasefire. Pressure continues to mount on Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but they still do not support a ceasefire. And the LA Times editorial board has become the first in the nation to call for a ceasefire. 2. According to Time, Reporters Without Borders has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed against Palestinian journalists in Gaza. The complaint cites the "deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza." This crisis will likely prove decisive for the legitimacy of the ICC, as several countries including South Africa, have alleged that the court is biased in favor of western-aligned governments. 3. Haaretz reports former Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who crafted the “Leahy Law” which prohibits U.S. military assistance to foreign security...


America Is Not Divided

Contrary to the popular narrative, Americans overwhelmingly agree on a startling range of issues. So why is there such a disconnect between what Americans want and what Americans get? Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, and co-author of the book “The Corporate Sabotage of America” identifies the culprits and outlines what we, the people, can do about it. Then, Ralph welcomes Ambassador Chas Freeman, who brings his vast diplomatic experience and historical insight to bear on the ongoing collective punishment raining down on the people of Gaza. Robert Weissman is a staunch public interest advocate and activist, as well as an expert on a wide variety of issues ranging from corporate accountability and government transparency, to trade and globalization, to economic and regulatory policy. ​​For 20 years, he edited the Multinational Monitor magazine, and as the President of Public Citizen, Weissman has spearheaded the effort to loosen the chokehold corporations and the wealthy have over our democracy. He is the author, with Joan Claybrook, of The Corporate Sabotage of America’s Future And What We Can Do About It. More than three in four people want to have CEOs held accountable for the crimes they commit. Eight in ten think the minimum wage is too low. Four in five support paid family leave, and on and on and on. By way of context, those are not regular numbers when you get polls. In fact, if you ask people, “Does the earth revolve around the sun?” only 80% of Americans agree that the earth revolves around the sun. So, when you get numbers in the 90% or 85%, these are extraordinary levels of national agreement. Robert Weissman If you step back from the immediate moment, I think the big-picture story is that the bounds of what's considered important—or the policy solutions that are considered acceptable or reasonable—are really constructed by corporations and their lobbyists, and that's the problem we face every day. Robert Weissman Ambassador Chas Freeman is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia, acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. Ambassador Freeman is the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy, including The Diplomat’s Dictionary, America’s Misadventures in the Middle East, and America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East. I think one of the great pieces of collateral damage from this (Israeli/Gaza conflict) is the United Nations Charter, international law, and the credibility of these institutions at the UN. But more particularly, I think the next time Americans lecture foreigners about human rights, they're not going to laugh at us—they're going to sneer. Because this is such a tremendous demonstration of hypocrisy on our part. Ambassador Chas Freeman It (the bombing of Gaza) is a gross violation of any standard of human rights. And the fact that we support it is discrediting us. We started out claiming that the eyes of the world were upon us, and we should shine like a city on the hill. I think much of the world looks at us now and they see dead babies in rubble, not a shining city on the hill. Ambassador Chas Freeman In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. On Tuesday, political titans like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries rallied in support of Israel in Washington. While supposedly condemning antisemitism, the speakers were joined by Pastor John Hagee, a rabid Christian Zionist who wrote in his book Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World that Hitler was a "half-breed Jew" he was sent by God, as a "hunter," to persecute Europe's Jews and drive them towards "the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have – Israel." John McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement in the 2008...


Corporate Bullsh*t/ Legal Bullsh*t

Ralph welcomes back public interest advocate Donald Cohen to discuss the long history of corporate propaganda covering for corporate greed, and his new book Corporate Bullsh*t: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths That Protect Profit, Power, and Wealth in America. Then Ralph is joined by founder of the Free Law Project, Michael Lissner, to talk about why the American legal system is so hard to use and the ongoing fight to make it more accessible. Donald Cohen is the founder and executive director of the research and policy center In the Public Interest. He is the co-author of The Privatization of Everything and his latest book, co-authored with Nick Hanauer and Joan Wals, is Corporate B******t: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths That Protect Profit, Power, and Wealth in America. Every time they say something, our natural instinct is to debunk it, which means we're playing on their playing field. We want to pre-bunk it. We say, “That's bull. You're just playing a game. And listen to how you've done it in the past.” Because many of the quotes in this book are kind of hilarious, actually. We want to make fun of them and we're hoping that this becomes a little bit of a vaccine going forward. Donald Cohen This is more than just lies, falsehoods, off-the-wall predictive phoniness. It's more than that. It's deadly. In other words, it's not just rhetoric. It's not just craziness. It leads to the suppression of the society's response to foresee and forestall hazards, ripoffs, and the like, and to engage in preventive activity— regulations, opening it up for lawsuits under tort law—and deterrence. So we're dealing here with not only malicious patterns of rhetoric, we're dealing here with deadly delays. Ralph Nader Michael Lissner is Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Free Law Project. The Free Law Project is a nonprofit that uses technology, data, and advocacy to make the legal ecosystem more equitable and competitive. They build open-source tools to make legal information more accessible, and they host major open databases of opinions, federal filings, judges, financial disclosures, and oral arguments. Open information is really how government works… You can imagine if the Supreme Court didn't publish its opinions. Right now you can go to their website, you can find their latest decisions. But you could imagine a system where people went to the Supreme Court, they decided who was right and who was wrong, and they told those people— and that was it, and they didn't explain themselves. It wouldn't work very well, because we wouldn't know how the laws are being interpreted. And I hate to say so, but when you get a little bit away from the Supreme Court…you realize that's kind of the system we have. Michael Lissner In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. On Saturday November 4th, the largest ever pro-Palestine demonstration was held in Washington. The Real News Network reports over 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Freedom Plaza and marched on the White House, demanding a ceasefire. CNN reports that another 100,000 protesters gathered in London, along with demonstrations throughout the world, including in Paris and Berlin, where authorities have sought to quash or outright ban pro-Palestine protests. These tremendous shows of solidarity underline how much the politics of this issue have changed in the western world. 2. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian member of Congress, has been censured by the House of Representatives. Defending herself on the floor of the House, Rep. Tlaib said “I will not be silenced, and I will not let you distort my words…Trying to bully or censure me won’t work because this movement for a cease-fire is much bigger than one person. It is growing every single day. There are millions of people across our country who oppose Netanyahu’s extremism and are done watching our government support collective punishment and the use of white phosphorus bombs that melt flesh to the bone....


Ceasefire Now!

In this exclusive podcast edition of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, we welcome the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Lara Friedman, to further inform our listeners about the ongoing state of affairs in Israel/Gaza and the emergency unconditional $14 billion spending bill moving through Congress to aid Israel. Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. She is a leading authority on the Middle East, with particular expertise on U.S. foreign policy in the region, on Israel/Palestine, and on the way Middle East and Israel/Palestine-related issues play out in Congress and in U.S. domestic politics, Ms. Friedman is a former officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, with diplomatic postings in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. She also served previously as the Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now. I've been in meetings over the years, and I've had a member of Congress say to me, "Well, you know, land without a people for a people without a land." Or they've quoted back to me something like, "Well, listen, Israel can't make peace so long as the Palestinians hate Jews more than they love their children." That kind of stuff. I mean, it's just this basic language, which at a fundamental level dehumanizes Palestinians in such a way that you don't have to question whether what Israel is doing is right or wrong. Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace There are no innocent civilians because they're all somehow in their DNA, virulently, viciously anti-Semitic, and full of hate and full of terrorism. And, once you've established that as a baseline, deep racism, deep dehumanization, it's extremely effective. Because then anything goes. Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace We know that there was a period of time when the Israeli military literally calculated the number of calories it needed to allow entry into Gaza to prevent the population from starving. And that was all they were letting in. Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace We're in the most bizarre place where we have almost 10,000 Palestinians dead on the ground in Gaza. And the narrative that is being pushed out by the Israeli government and its supporters here, including in the US administration, is that to talk about ceasefire is repugnant. It's just utterly surreal. Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace If people still believe that you can defeat an ideology by killing a lot of people and essentially taking a whole generation and killing their parents and injuring them, and they think that's going to defeat an ideology, then they've learned nothing. They've learned nothing from the horrible experiences of the past few decades of the U.S. experience in the war on terror, and they know nothing about human nature. Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace Get full access to Ralph Nader Radio Hour at www.ralphnaderradiohour.com/subscribe


A Genocide Tax

Ralph welcomes Craig Mokhiber, who just resigned his post as the director in the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations over the UN response to the bombing of Gaza. Then, we are joined by CODEPINK peace activist, Medea Benjamin, who was recently arrested at a hearing on Capitol Hill, featuring Secretary of State Antony Blinken, for protesting the weapons bill for Israel moving through Congress. Craig Mokhiber is lawyer and specialist in international human rights law, policy and methodology, and he has served the UN since 1992. Until his recent retirement, Mr. Mokhiber served as Director in the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). He has also served as the UN's Senior Human Rights Advisor in both Palestine and in Afghanistan, led the team of human rights specialists attached to the High Level Mission on Darfur, headed the Rule of Law and Democracy Unit, and served as Chief of the Economic and Social Issues Section, and Chief of the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch at OHCHR Headquarters. What was really at the center of my letter was a sense that in the United Nations, international law had been subverted or pushed aside in favor of an approach to political expediency. That, first of all, ignored the norms and standards of human rights and humanitarian law. And secondly, it’s failed miserably to improve the situation in Palestine and Israel. Craig Mokhiber Hamas is not just Hamas's armed wing. Hamas is also effectively a local government that provides services. Hamas is not supported by everyone in Gaza by any means. Palestinians who belong to many different parties have many different perspectives from liberal to conservative. And so, I think this continuous focus on Hamas and an effort to depict Hamas as ISIS, with all sorts of fantastical stories, is an intentional distraction away from the reality—which is the 2.3 million interned civilians in Gaza who have no say over what happens in their lives and who are on the receiving end of the Israeli bombs. Craig Mokhiber [This $14.5 billion in military aid to Israel] is being called the genocide tax on the American people— who I think if they were polled would say, “Let Israel pay for its own blunders on October 7th.” Ralph Nader Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK and the co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange. Her most recent book, coauthored with Nicolas J.S. Davies, is War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict. Many of us, for weeks, have been going into their offices, doing sit-ins in their offices, joining in with the constituents in their districts, and trying to get them to come out for a ceasefire— to no avail. Medea Benjamin It's incredible the level of insanity of giving more money to Israel that could create a regional war there, continuing to fund (to the tune of $61 billion) the war in Ukraine that could lead to a regional war there, and then tacking on some more money to provoke China. Medea Benjamin Congress is behaving like an autocracy. It is blockading itself from the American people. It is putting its own power up for sale. It is ignoring the facts abroad. It's alienating huge portions of the world, and they don't care. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. President Biden is facing a collapse in his 2024 polling related to his blind support for the Israeli military. A Gallup poll shows Biden’s disapproval rating among young people has hit nearly 60%, rivaling the collapse in support for LBJ as the Vietnam war dragged on. According to the same poll, Biden has dropped 11 points with Democrats overall since September. Among Muslim Americans, Time reports only 17% say they now plan to vote for Biden in 2024 – a steep decline from the 59% who voted for him in 2020. 2. Many Democrats are sticking with Biden despite his deeply unpopular position on Gaza, but not Rep. Rashida...


A Strategy of Annihilation

In our ongoing coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, we invite retired U.S. Army Colonel and senior advisor to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Lawrence Wilkerson, to offer his experienced and unsparing perspective. Then our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, weighs in on how in this conflict the United States violates a number of international laws. Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired U.S. Army colonel. Over his 31 years of service, Colonel Wilkerson served as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff from 2002 to 2005, and Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. Colonel Wilkerson also served as Deputy Director and Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia, and for fifteen years he was the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network, senior advisor to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and co-founder of the All-Volunteer Force Forum. * Here is former director in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Josh Paul’s op-ed in the Washington Post: “Opinion: This is not the State Department I know. That’s why I left my job.” Bibi [Netanyahu] is very strategically allied with Hamas. Hamas does not believe in a two-state solution. They are adamantly opposed to a two-state solution. They want a Palestinian state and Israel gone. But Bibi sympathizes with that because he wants an Israeli state and the Palestinians gone. So he's very much willing to work with Hamas— not explicitly, but certainly tacitly and implicitly. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson Netanyahu's goal here is to stay out of jail. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson Biden doesn't seem to distinguish between the subjugators and the subjugated… Factually, it's pretty clear that the difference in military superpower on the side of the Israelis and the U.S., compared to the feeble weaponry of the Palestinians (if they're even able to acquire them) it's probably the greatest gap in modern history between the occupier and the occupied. Why doesn't Biden recognize that? He's supposed to be a foreign policy expert… Why doesn't he recognize those basic facts? Ralph Nader Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall. * Here is Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein’s October 24, 2023 letter to President Joe Biden on the subject of the Biden Administration’s public response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. You put all [the facts] together and it really is almost laughable to have the President of the United States stand up there and proclaim the fundamental principle of U.S. international foreign policy is making a rule-based international order. As he's violating the order himself. Bruce Fein In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantisNews 10/25/23 1. High ranking State Department official Josh Paul has resigned from the agency, citing the Biden administration’s hard line on support for Israel’s attacks on Gaza, per the Huffington Post. Paul, who oversaw top-level arms sales at the State Department, said “When I came to this bureau ... I knew it was not without its moral complexity and moral compromises, and I made myself a promise that I would stay for as long as I felt … the harm I might do could be outweighed by the good I could do…I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued – indeed, expanded and expedited – provision of lethal arms to Israel – I have reached the end of that bargain.” In a later interview with PBS NewsHour, Paul stated that human rights abuses by the IDF are tracked, but routinely...


Invisible Palestinians

In our continued coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ralph welcomes James Zogby, co-founder and president of the Arab American Institute and author of "Palestinians: The Invisible Victims.” Then, no-nukes activist Harvey Wasserman joins to warn us about the dangerous condition of nuclear reactors across the country, including the threat of “embrittlement” at the California reactor in Diablo Canyon. James Zogby is co-founder and president of the Arab American Institute, and he is featured frequently on national and international media as an expert on Middle East affairs. Since 1992, he has written a weekly column— “Washington Watch” —that is published in 12 countries. He is the author of several books, including Looking at Iran: The Rise and Fall of Iran in Arab Public Opinion, The Tumultuous Decade: Arab, Turkish, and Iranian Public Opinion - 2010-2019, Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters, and Palestinians: The Invisible Victims. There are two narratives, and we have to understand both. There's Israeli trauma and Jewish trauma, and there's Palestinian and Arab trauma. Both are real because there are two groups of humanity who each have histories. When we adopt one and ignore the other, then we end up creating the kind of torment the Palestinians have been living with. James Zogby This does not make Israel more secure. Taking massive amounts of Palestinian lives, evacuating them, forcing them to flee from their homes, murdering them from the air—doesn't make them more secure. At the end of the day, when the dust settles and the tears dry, you're going to have a whole lot more dead people, a whole lot more anger, a whole lot more frustration, and nothing else will change in Gaza or in the West Bank. James Zogby Hamas was a tiny religious organization which was fostered into a more powerful organization by the United States and Israel. They thought that if they built up a religious organization, it would undermine the PLO (the Palestine Liberation Organization). And once again, just as in Afghanistan, we create our own adversaries, blundering back and forth. Ralph Nader Harvey Wasserman is a journalist, author, democracy activist, and advocate for renewable energy. Mr. Wasserman is the author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, and The People’s Spiral Of U.S. History. He has written and researched atomic energy since 1973, and co-authored Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience With Atomic Energy. There's only one explanation why they're continuing to operate these two reactors and all the other reactors in the United States. And that's because the commercial reactor industry is now the infrastructure of the nuclear weapons industry. If you like nuclear power, you love nuclear weapons. They are joined at the hip, these two industries. Harvey Wasserman These two reactors are upwind of the entire United States. An accident at Diablo Canyon could—within four hours—send an apocalyptic radioactive cloud into Los Angeles, into the Central Valley where we get our fruits and vegetables for the winter, and into the Bay Area. The stakes could not be higher. And again, these are military facilities, masquerading as fighters of global warming, which is absolutely ridiculous. Harvey Wasserman In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The Huffington Post reports that the State Department has imposed a censorship regime, directing high-level diplomats involved in Middle East affairs to refrain from using the following phrases: “de-escalation/ceasefire, end to violence/bloodshed, and restoring calm.” This mirrors White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s response to a reporter’s question during a recent briefing, when she deemed calls for a ceasefire by progressives in Congress “wrong…repugnant, and…disgraceful.” Rejecting this censorious framework, Rep. Jamaal Bowman tweeted that the “Official statement from [his] office [is] De-escalate. End the violence....


The Punishment of Gaza

Ralph welcomes Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy to discuss recent attacks by Hamas and the Israeli military in Israel and Palestine. Then, international law expert Bruce Fein speaks with Ralph about the recent violence, America's response, and America's historical culpability. ‘Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper's editorial board. He is the author of the weekly “Twilight Zone" feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper. He is the author of the book The Punishment of Gaza. I think that there was something moving in [President Biden’s] speech because he seemed very sincere. But I was really, really missing the other side, the Palestinians, the siege, the occupation, the apartheid, nothing of this exists in his world. It was really a speech of a Zionist…not of a statesman who sees the siege and sees the agony and the suffering of the Palestinians for the last decades. And doesn't see the connection between this barbaric attack on Israel on Saturday and all those preconditions which are all of them criminal and inhuman. Gideon Levy Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall. In the international arena, justice is subordinated to power. And that's what we have here. And when President Biden yesterday says, “Oh, we're all in favor of a rule-based international order,” while he's supporting the very definition of genocide? It shows you how incredibly hypocritical and callous these politicians are. I don't want to single out Biden, because I think politicians in general are that way. And I'm not going to exclude some of those who are Palestinians too. It's a universal sociopathology in the political figures. And it's very, very tragic. 'Cause who loses? the peaceful civilians who want nothing more than a better life and opportunity to develop their faculties and have families. Bruce Fein Given the current events and the destruction of Gaza, Biden should really demand an immediate ceasefire and negotiate to establish a truce. He's got to try to be an honest broker, and instead he's a dittohead bullhorn for more military activity by Israel. This is the low point in presidential positioning on the Middle East conflict since the end of World War II, and there's nobody in government to call him to account. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. First, I must address the situation in Palestine. There is too much to say and the situation continues to develop rapidly, so instead of getting into specific news items I will instead read the October 8th statement released by progressive Palestinian congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day. I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear and with true freedom, equal rights, and human dignity. The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance. The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer. No person, no child anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence. We cannot ignore the humanity in each other. As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.” 2. The United Auto Workers strike has notched their first major victory. According to a statement issued by the union on October 6th, “General Motors will include electric vehicle battery...


Going Into Labor

Our five hundredth episode features long time labor organizer, Chris Townsend, who talks to Ralph about labor law reform, the Biden administration’s attitude toward the labor movement, the UAW strike, the threat of automation, and much more. Plus, Ralph clarifies his position re the Washington Post article where he said he preferred “autocracy over fascism,” and we briefly discuss the chaos in the Republican caucus. Chris Townsend is a 44-year trade union worker and organizer. He is the retired Political Action Director for the United Electrical Workers Union and was the International Union organizing and field director for the Amalgamated Transit Union. The workplace in the United States is a dictatorship. And if you're willing to challenge that dictatorship— create a rebellion against it—you might be able to build a union. If you look at the statistics, the number of elections— the number of those campaigns that actually get that far, which is only a small number, most of them are incinerated, liquidated, poison gassed, fired, terminated out of existence before you ever get that election— but if you get that election, the labor movement is winning. Chris Townsend When you have a labor leadership that is lazy, unimaginative, unimaginative, rarely challenged, has a very timid view, a very limited worldview, and they see their role more as administrator as opposed to leaders— this is the modern situation that we face. We don't have much of a leadership, sadly. We have an administrator group, and they have administered the decline. Chris Townsend Let's be very, very realistic here. I don't think there can be a labor union movement in the United States under present federal laws. There are just too many hurdles, too many delays, too many licenses for these corporations to bust up the situation… And I'm amazed that you can listen to what the AFL puts out, what labor union leaders put out—they almost never mention card checks, they never mention repealing Taft -Hartley. They don't force the Democrats— who get elected in no small part because of union support— to put these labor law reforms in place. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis1. October 1st marked the first day of Fiscal Year 2024 in Washington DC, and with it, DC’s Cashless Ban finally goes into effect, per Axios. Now, district residents will be able to report businesses that do not accept cash and/or those who post signage saying they will not accept cash. If any listeners out there are based in Washington and wish to report any such businesses, feel free to submit them to me at francesco.desantis@csrl.org. And remember, if you see something, say something. 2. Democracy Now! reports that Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has gone on record saying she plans to restore Net Neutrality rules – which would “bar internet providers from blocking access or throttling customers’ connections based on how much they pay or which websites they visit” – which were repealed under the Trump administration. This follows Democrats finally taking majority control of the commission. Common Cause remarked, “To allow a handful of monopoly-aspiring gate-keepers to control access to the internet is a direct threat to our democracy.” 3. Brazilian President Lula has issued a statement in support of the United Auto Workers strike. Lula, who himself worked as a union organizer at the Brazilian automobile manufacturing facilities of auto giants like Ford, Volkwagon, and Toyota, made this statement after meeting with President Biden and seeing him take to the picketline in support of the striking workers. Lula added “It is crucial that presidents all around the world show concern for labor." More about Lula’s history with automobile labor unions is available at the Multinational Monitor. 4. Despite concerns raised by high-ranking Democrats in Congress, the Biden administration has approved Israel’s entry into the visa waiver program,...


Proxy Wars/ America Run Amok

Ralph welcomes award-winning foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer to discuss America's bloody history of proxy wars. They'll also discuss the mainstream media's "shameful" coverage of the war in Ukraine, the warhawks on Capitol Hill, and the catastrophic trickle-down effects of American military meddling. Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. Mr. Kinzer spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, most of it as a foreign correspondent. After leaving the Times in 2005, Mr. Kinzer taught journalism, political science, and international relations at Northwestern University and Boston University. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University and writes a world affairs column for The Boston Globe. We attacked Libya in complete violation of international law, but in accordance with the system that we have used as a substitute for international law. And that's what we call the “rules-based international order.” That's our alternative to international law. And the rules-based international order is great for us because we're the ones that make the rules. We decide everything. We decide who's making war, who's not making war, who's good, who's bad, who needs to be punished, who doesn't need to be punished. Under international law, we can't do that because countries are treated more equally. So I think this is the real way we have turned away from both international law and our own domestic law—we've said that they're all superseded by the rules-based international order, which is a nice way of saying everybody has to do what the United States decides. Stephen Kinzer A mantra in Congress is “Israel has a right to defend itself.” But no one ever says in Congress “the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves,” and they take casualty counts anywhere from 40 to 100 times greater in terms of innocent civilians, killed or injured. The Iranians apparently have no right to defend themselves… What is this inverted sense that these countries that are legitimately threatened, that have been overthrown… What's this mindset in official Washington that nobody threatened by the US or Israel has a right to defend themselves? Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. On Monday, the Writers’ Guild of America announced that they have reached an interim agreement with the studios. The proposed deal includes minimum writing room sizes, pay increases, a ban on writing by generative AI programs, and disclosures of streaming numbers with residuals to match, to name just a few of the top line wins for the union. The agreement still needs to be formally submitted to the Guild membership for ratification, but this marks the end of the second longest strike in the WGA’s history. 2. AP reports that earlier this week, President Biden joined the United Autoworkers on the picket line. This is the first time ever a sitting president has joined a picket line. “Donning a union ballcap and exchanging fist bumps, Biden told United Auto Workers strikers that ‘you deserve the significant raise you need’” and urged the workers to “stick with it.” Biden made this move in part because former President Donald Trump also addressed autoworkers in a speech this week, though he did so at a non-union plant away from the picket line. UAW president Shawn Fain deemed Trump’s address to non-union workers “pathetic irony,” per FOX 2 Detroit. 3. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is facing a mammoth corruption scandal involving fraudulent halal meat from Egypt and $100,000 worth of gold bars. Per the BBC, Menendez has been forced to resign his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Yet, the powerful New Jersey Senator has not resigned his seat, even as a growing chorus of top Democrats have called on him to do so – including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Senator...


Clean(er) Capitalism

Ralph welcomes Toby Heaps, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Canadian magazine “Corporate Knights,” which ranks the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations. And we welcome back Dr. Bandy Lee, psychiatrist and editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” to discuss Donald Trump’s continuing hold on 30% of the American population. Toby Heaps is the CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, and Editor-in-Chief of Corporate Knights magazine. He spearheaded the first global ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations in 2005, and in 2007 coined the term “clean capitalism.” Toby has been published in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Globe and Mail, and is a regular guest speaker on CBC. You see these stories happening all over the world, whether it’s from the oil companies or the electric power companies, fossil power companies, or food companies, or real estate companies. And the ones who are going all in, investing big in the green economy and the more sustainable economy are, more often than not, the ones who are hitting the biggest numbers financially. Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights We don’t want to just be doing a beauty contest or be subject to the latest headline. We’re trying to do something that’s reasonably rooted in evidence, and it can be defensible, and it can be considered fair. And we recognize that none of the big companies that we rank are perfect— they all have major issues, which is kind of the nature of the human condition. Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights Dr. Bandy Lee is a medical doctor, a forensic psychiatrist, and a world expert on violence who taught at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Law School for 17 years before transferring recently to Columbia and Harvard. She is currently president of the World Mental Health Coalition, an educational organization that assembles mental health experts to collaborate with other disciplines for the betterment of public mental health and public safety. She is the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President and Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul. Essentially, [Trump] did not have the capacity to have ideologies or policies. He can’t think at that level. What he can do is to manipulate psychologically those who are vulnerably predisposed and those who have formed emotional bonds with him. Dr. Bandy Lee These are the kinds of effects that we expect from having a person with severe mental symptoms holding an influential position and having lots of public exposure. We do have a propagation of symptoms. I’ve been calling this the “Trump Contagion” but what it really is is shared psychosis, which is a psychosocial phenomenon that’s been researched and described since around the mid-19th century. Dr. Bandy Lee [Trump voters] are still with him. But they would never support a friend or a neighbor who lied all the time, who had power over them, who described things that weren’t real about what was going on around them or what he did in the past, or who cheated his workers. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The United Autoworkers Union is on strike against the big three automakers. Just before the strike began, the Lever reported that General Motors claimed the union’s demands “would threaten our ability to do what’s right for the long-term benefit of the team.” Yet, for all their crying poverty, the Big Three “have reported $21 billion in profits in just the first six months of 2023,” and “have authorized $5 billion in stock buybacks.” The union’s strategy is also worth touching on, as it is novel for this industry. Instead of all workers going on strike at once, the union plans on “targeting a trio of strategic factories while keeping 90 percent of its members working under expired contracts,” per Axios. However, this story notes the ways industry plans to strike back, notably by utilizing quasi-lockouts at active plants. 2....


Reducing Gun Deaths

Professor David Hemenway, the author of “Private Guns, Public Health” joins us to explain how we can reduce gun deaths if we treat the problem more like a public health issue, just like Ralph proved when dealing with the auto industry. Plus, Ralph weighs in on the repeal of the child tax credit, and Francesco DeSantis reports news items that tend to get ignored in the corporate media in our segment “In Case You Haven’t Heard.” David Hemenway is an economist, Professor of Health Policy at Harvard University, and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center. He is a former Nader’s Raider, and he is the author of Private Guns, Public Health, and While We Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention. Just by making it harder for criminals to get those guns, we have fewer criminals using those guns. That’s a fundamental law of economics and of psychology— if you don’t want people to do something, make it harder. If you want them to do it more, make it easier. David Hemenway The key about public health is: what we’re trying to do is prevent. Prevent. Prevent. Prevent. And too often, in the United States, what we try to do is blame. And often, blaming, all it does is say “Oh I don’t have to do anything. It’s somebody else’s fault.” David Hemenway [Reinstituting the Child Tax Credit] is something so simple, it’s something that helps so many families, it increases consumer demand because most of this money is spent on the necessities of life… and the Republicans are blocking it in Congress and not paying a political price. And that’s the story of the Democratic Party— they don’t make the Republicans, who are as cruel as any Republicans in history, pay a price. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. A Princeton University study, published at the end of August, traces the effects of unconditional cash transfers on homelessness. Focusing on Vancouver, Canada, researchers gave homeless people $7,500 Canadian. Conforming to the results of previous studies, the subjects used this money to get into housing – yet, what was remarkable about this study is it showed this program actually saved taxpayers money overall by relieving $8,277 per subject by removing them from the shelter system. 2. From Axios: 15 Senators have penned a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urging him to stop the planned admission of Israel into the Visa Waiver program. This program allows a country’s citizens to travel within the United States for 90 days without a visa. Built into this program is a provision demanding US citizens in a given country are treated equally – which is not the case for Palestinian Americans living in the West Bank. Israel claims that they are working to achieve compliance with this section of the law; however, this group of Senators argue that “There is no provision in law that provides that a visa waiver country can discriminate against certain groups of U.S. citizens for the first seven months of the program simply because a country claims they will treat all U.S. citizens equally for the last five months." 3. California Democrat Ro Khanna is making his pitch that President Biden should campaign on reelection on an anti-corruption platform, per the Huffington Post. Khanna, who previously chaired the Bernie Sanders campaign in California, has authored a five-point plan, consisting of “banning candidates for federal office from receiving donations from lobbyists or political action committees of any kind, banning members of Congress from trading stocks, limiting Supreme Court appointees to 18-year terms, imposing 12-year term limits on members of Congress, and requiring federal judges and Supreme Court justices to adhere to a new and more robust code of ethics.” Beyond the hard policy though, is a political point – Khanna argues “What we cannot allow to happen is for a former president ― twice impeached and four times...


The Procrastination Equation

Mark Twain once said, “Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow.” As an antidote to that Ralph welcomes Professor Piers Steel, author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done.” Plus, Ralph urges listeners to sign up for The Capitol Hill Citizen Association, another way to organize citizens to put pressure on the branch of our government where things must get done, the United States Congress. Dr. Piers Steel is one of the world’s leading researchers and speakers on the science of motivation and procrastination. Dr. Steel is a professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources area at the University of Calgary, and is the Brookfield Research Chair at the Haskayne School of Business. He is the author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done. The root of procrastination is impulsiveness. Impulsiveness is valuing the now more than the later… We’re designed to value the now. And this was really adaptive for a long time. It’s not a bad trait. It’s just that we’ve designed a world to take advantage of every little flaw that we have in our decision-making system. Dr. Piers Steel You have to deal with yourself as an imperfect, flawed creature and deal with the reality of that. We’re not robotic angels of perfection. We have limitations. And when I actually act within my limitations, I get stuff done. Dr. Piers Steel We’re superstars of self-control in the animal kingdom. We’re able to hunt and kill most anything because we’re willing to actually put in the delay of gratification. That’s really what makes us great. But we’re still not ready for things that are happening even a year off, much less five or ten. Dr. Piers Steel More people will listen to what we just said about becoming part of the Capitol Hill Citizen Association and say to themselves, “I’m going to get around to doing that,” than the actual number of people who do it in a prompt period of time. So it would be very good to listen to Professor Steel’s suggestions and read his book, because we cannot afford procrastinatory citizens. We have a procrastinatory Congress, and the citizens have got to get them to anticipate, to foresee, to forestall so many of the omnicidal urgencies that are coming at our country and other countries around the world. Ralph Nader To become a member of the Capitol Hill Citizen Association, click here. In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. On August 28th, 20 groups – ranging from Left-wing anti-war organizations like Veterans for Peace to Right-leaning government transparency groups like R Street Institute – sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees demanding they maintain Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s Cost of War amendment in the final National Defense Authorization Act. This provision “requires public disclosure about the cost of the U.S.’ overseas military footprint and gives the American people greater transparency on military spending.” Hopefully, the left-right consensus on this issue is enough to maintain this amendment. 2. In other Pentagon news, the Intercept reports that Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, has introduced an amendment demanding the Pentagon “collect information on trainees who overthrow their governments,” following the recent spate of coups in Africa. Gaetz told the Intercept “The Department of Defense, up until this point, has not kept data regarding the people they train who participate in coups to overthrow democratically elected — or any — governments.” This could become a flashpoint as Congress prepares to consider the 2024 NDAA when it returns from recess in September. 3. As expected, tensions are running high in Guatemala following the upset victory of anti-corruption crusader Bernardo Arevalo. Opponents of Arevalo had urged the country’s electoral tribunal to suspend his Semilla party on...


The San Quentin News

Ralph welcomes newspaper publisher, Steve McNamara, to discuss the "San Quentin News," California's largest resident-run newspaper and the birthplace of the San Quentin News Forum— where incarcerated men and visiting police, attorneys, and judges share their perspectives on the criminal justice system. Then Peter Lurie, President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) joins us to talk about CSPI's work advocating for a safer, healthier food system, as well as their newsletter "NutritionAction." Plus, Ralph questions why the US still hasn't ratified the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child— everyone else has done it! Steve McNamara is a newspaper publisher, editor, and reporter. He has previously written for and edited the Winston-Salem Journal, The Miami Herald, Car and Driver magazine, and the San Francisco Examiner. From 1966 to 2004 Steve and his wife, Kay McNamara, published the Pacific Sun—the country’s second-oldest alternative weekly newspaper— and Steve has served as president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors and as founding president of the National Association of Alternative Media. In 2008 he helped revive the San Quentin News— a newspaper written and edited by incarcerated men at San Quentin Prison— and continues to work as a volunteer adviser at the paper. The recidivism rate among the inmates is zero… And actually, the problem that we have is the turnover is terrific because they keep getting paroled or serving their sentence. Steve McNamara, San Quentin News Prisons are little empires and the emperor is the warden, and what he decides goes. And many, if not most of the other wardens in California wanted no part of this damn newspaper. So we had a lot of trouble getting it distributed. But by now it's become very popular with the inmates throughout the state, and with many of the correctional officers as well. Because we've made some intelligent decisions. One was to write the personality profiles of some of the better correctional officers and of the programs that take place in the prison. Steve McNamara, San Quentin News Most people in the criminal justice system think that it goes this way: somebody breaks into a house, and then they get caught, and they go before a judge, and they get sentenced, and they disappear. And as far as many, many people in the criminal justice system are concerned, that's the end of it. These people have disappeared. We don't need to worry about them any more. But as everybody should know, 80-90% of them will be back on the streets…So do you want these guys to have the same sort of attitude about life as they did when they went into prison? If not, here's a chance maybe to move things in a better direction. Steve McNamara, San Quentin News I've credited the Center for Science in the Public Interest with transforming the nutritional habits of perhaps 40 million people. It generated front page news, it was on the evening television news, Congressional hearings. Recently, and this has happened to a lot of citizen groups, the media has not been covering what we're doing. Ralph Nader Dr. Peter Lurie is President and Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest—an independent, science-based consumer advocacy organization that advocates for a safer, healthier food system. The CSPI also publishes NutritionAction, a healthy-living guide for consumers. Dr. Lurie previously worked with the Food and Drug Administration and Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, where he co-authored their Worst Pills, Best Pills consumer guide to medications. We at CSPI try to educate consumers on the one hand. And on the other hand, we try to take care of the environment such that consumers in some ways don't even need to be as educated because the environment is different. Peter Lurie, President of Center for Science in the Public Interest I think that most people—including in all likelihood the Current Commissioner— understand that the...


Join or Die

Ralph welcomes civic activist, writer and filmmaker, Pete Davis, to discuss “Join or Die,” a film about why you should join a club—and why the fate of America depends on it. Then Professor Scott Sklar, an expert on sustainable infrastructure joins us to talk about one of the easiest ways we can reduce our energy consumption and slow down the pace of our overheating planet: white roofs. Plus, Ralph has some choice words about the media’s coverage of the Republican presidential campaign and also how we don't truly celebrate Labor Day. And speaking of labor, Steve gives us an update on the Writers’ and Actors’ strike. Pete Davis is a writer and civic advocate. He is the author of Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in An Age of Infinite Browsing, co-founder of the Democracy Policy Network— a policy organization focused on raising up ideas that deepen democracy— and co-director—with Rebecca Davis— of the film Join or Die. 43% of Americans are part of zero organizations, and another 20% are only part of one organization. So we’re talking about two-thirds of the country that are not part of anything. So they don’t know how to run a meeting. They don’t know how to do an invitation. They don’t know how to deal with tension between neighbors. They don’t know how to plan something together in public. Pete Davis The real basic, atomic-level skills that eventually flourish into hardcore political action often start with softer civic organizing. Pete Davis Scott Sklar is Energy Director of George Washington University’s Environment & Energy Management Institute and Director of GW’s Solar Institute. Mr. Sklar is an expert on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructure, and runs The Stella Group, Ltd., a clean energy technology optimization and strategic policy firm. White [roofing] is preferable, but even the lightest gray or lightest brown reflects out. We need building codes to do this, we need community activists to do this, we need to train roofers and builders to do this, and we need to create a sort of social compact that [recognizes] this is very easy to do. And so with this and things like tree canopy we can reduce the heat on the ground, which will save lives, make people healthier, and use less energy. Scott Sklar The obvious 800-lb gorilla in the room is the contradiction, where corporations in energy arenas make more money selling waste (by the overuse of energy) and consumers save money by the efficient use of energy. So there’s a dead-on conflict between the two interests, and guess who has the most power in the country over government and media. So what Scott is saying is, the more you realize what you personally can save—quite apart from what your community and world can save— the more powerful you have to become. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. Capping off a campaign defined by underhanded tricks and legal brute force by the corrupt right-wing establishment, Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arevalo triumphed on Sunday – winning the presidential election in a landslide, with nearly 60% of the vote. However, even with this victory in hand, the road ahead remains perilous. As renowned investigative journalist Allan Nairn noted just before the election, “Arévalo…won't be due to be sworn in until January 14, 2024, and…members [of the corrupt ruling clique known as El Pacto] have made it clear that they will do what's needed to prevent that.” 2. Ecuador also held elections on Sunday, including the first round of their presidential contest. Moving to the runoff are Luisa Gonzalez, a left-wing leader backed by Ecuador's former president Rafael Correa and Daniel Noboa, a businessman and scion of a powerful family of banana tycoons, per AP. Yet, looming larger than either candidate is the specter of political violence directed at the left. Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated earlier this month, as was a local leftist politician,...


The False Promise of Small Nuclear Reactors

Ralph is joined by M.V. Ramana, professor at the “School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia,” to lay out the false promise of small nuclear reactors, which still carry the risk of accidents, still produce waste, still produce plutonium for the weapons industry and are still economically noncompetitive with wind and solar. Plus, in an interview recorded before the tragic wildfires in Maui we welcome back citizen activist and organizer, Paul Deslauriers, to break down how his progressive group was able to take over the governance of Maui County and how with a little “Common Sense” you can do the same. M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and a professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia. Professor Ramana is the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, and is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, the International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group, and the team that produces the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report. It seems inconceivable to me that anybody who has any sense of history would think about nuclear power— either the fission version or the hypothetical future nuclear fusion version— as an environmentally sustainable source of electricity. Professor MV Ramana What we are lacking in climate change today—simply because we’ve been so late in trying to act on it—is the urgency. The IPCC puts out report after report saying how high emissions are, how rapidly it has to be decreased if we have even a fighting chance of meeting a 1.5℃ target. And by putting off this kind of action, those calls are becoming more and more desperate. And I think that desperation is probably what’s driving some of these groups to say, “Well, you know, let’s make friends with everybody, and so on, and so forth.” But the challenge there is that every dollar we spend on nuclear power is a dollar that’s not spent on renewables, on energy efficiency, on other ways of trying to deal with [the climate crisis.] Professor MV Ramana As I’ve said on prior programs— nuclear power today is unneeded, unsafe, uninsurable, uncompetitive, irresponsible, very secretive, and not willing to suffer the verdicts of the marketplace. Ralph Nader Paul Deslauriers is a grassroots organizer, who has consulted over two hundred organizations involving mergers, restructuring, work process flows, teamwork, management coaching, and asset management. The work involved diverse groups such as the Alaskan Inuit, Icelandic communities. In 2002 Mr. Deslauriers became a full-time activist, coordinating nearly three hundred grassroots groups focused on government system change. He has written a number of guidebooks on organizing including Seven Steps to Reclaim Democracy: An Empowering Guide For Systemic Change, Reclaim Paradise: RESET for the Common Good, and Common Sense: How we are Reclaiming Democracy and Resetting for the Common Good. When you have a core team that is really dedicated in trying to bring about systemic change, and you have the foundation that you need, then you can really develop and grow this without a lot of divisiveness. Paul Deslauriers When you have volunteers, you have to have the right motivation, the right structure, the right training so that you can work cohesively and collaboratively together. And that’s so crucial for anyone who wants to start a similar group. Paul Deslauriers In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis1. National Review reports that Senator Marco Rubio is leading the neo-McCarthyist inquisition against left-wing anti-war groups, most notably CODEPINK. Following a New York Times report supposedly linking the group to Chinese influence networks, Rubio is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate this connection. CODEPINK and their allies have decried this move, calling the article a pack of “lies, distortions, innuendo and hate.” David Swanson...


Financing Co-ops

Ralph welcomes the CEO of the National Cooperative Bank, Casey Fannon to discuss his bank’s work serving cooperatives and other member-owned organizations. The NCB helps finance affordable housing, healthy food, renewable energy, small businesses, community-driven health care, and non-profit organizations and generally advises cooperatives around the country on how to build and grow. Plus, Ralph talks a little more about the Trump indictments and responds to some of your feedback. Casey Fannon is President and CEO of National Cooperative Bank, a leading financial services company dedicated to providing banking products to cooperatives and socially responsible organizations nationwide. Access to capital is one of the major stumbling blocks for any small business, but particularly small cooperative and new, young cooperatives. Casey Fannon There’s a small tent view of cooperatives and a large tent view of cooperatives. And I think that by focusing on the big tent…allows for a better NCB. I think NCB is better, and I think our consumer cooperatives are better off that we are tied into the cooperative ecosystem in a more fulsome way. Casey Fannon In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The progressive, Wisconsin-based legal group Law Forward has filed a brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court alleging that the state’s legislative maps violate the state constitution due to rampant partisan gerrymandering. Not only are the petitioners demanding new legislative maps, they are also calling on the court to cut all existing senate terms short. In practice, this would mean the entire legislature would be up for election in 2024. This could mean a political sea-change in the Badger State. 2. The LA Times reports that AOC, along with ten other progressive members of Congress, are planning to visit Latin American nations led by Leftist governments, in order to “learn from our counterparts in these countries, including how to confront disinformation and violent threats to our democracies.” She went on to add “It’s long past time for a realignment of the United States’ relationship to Latin America…The U.S. needs to publicly acknowledge the harms we’ve committed through interventionist and extractive policies, and chart a new course based on trust and mutual respect.” 3. In a win for workers, the Department of Labor has issued a rule on the Davis-Beacon Act, which “sets a wage floor for construction workers on public-works projects,” per the American Prospect. This law is also known as the “prevailing wage,” law as it sets benchmarks for wages in a given area. This rule could have major positive ramifications for workers as President Biden’s infrastructure package and the CHIPS Act are put into action. This New Deal era labor rule was significantly weakened under the Carter and Reagan administrations, and labor groups have been pushing for its restoration ever since. The article notes however that “the rule…is expected to be immediately challenged,” with the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group poised to file a lawsuit as early as next week. 4. In more labor news, the Washington Post reports that 11,000 Los Angeles city employees joined the writers, actors, and hotel employees in a one day strike to “shut down the city of Los Angeles,” according to David Green, executive director and president of SEIU Local 721. Green added “The message we’re sending is that our workers are just fed up. They’ve reached a breaking point. And we need these folks in the city to come back to the table for the good of the city.” 5. VICE reports that a group of 32 economists have sent a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency in support of rent control. This is the latest tactic in a campaign led by People’s Action. The article notes that “Economists have historically been the strongest critics of rent control,” but, like on the issue of minimum wage “some economists believe the orthodoxy on the topic has been contradicted by...


Digital Addictions

Ralph welcomes Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and an expert on culture and therapy, mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics to talk about our addictions to screens and how to break out of them. Plus, our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, opens the program with everything you need to know about the latest Trump indictment. Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall. I think it’s important for the audience to recognize that 100% of the incriminating evidence was supplied by Trump appointees or supporters. No Democrat made a cameo appearance. There was no incriminating evidence from any opponent of Donald Trump. It’s all his own people. And therefore, when you think about the indictment, the idea that it’s a witch hunt by Trump’s political enemies is facially lunatic. Bruce Fein These expressions by Trump were not good-faith belief that there may have been a few blunders someplace or other. And [they demonstrate] that the whole goal was to defraud the American people out of the right to have a peaceful transition of power based upon a free and fair count of the electoral votes. Bruce Fein Sherry Turkle is Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle is a sociologist, a licensed clinical psychologist, and she is an expert on culture and therapy, mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics. She is the author of several books, including Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, and The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir. That’s really what you’re fighting— this ethos that says, “When technology makes a problem, technology will solve that problem. In a friction-free manner. It will not involve changing capitalism, changing the structures of power, or saying that science and engineering need to be dethroned as the moral and cultural arbiters for the society we live in.” So, I think that the resistance movement has to come from politics and really has to come from political organization. Sherry Turkle [If I were king in this domain,] you absolutely have legislation that treats generative AI as though it were nuclear energy. In other words, do not say, “Well, there’s kind of an analogy. Maybe there’s an analogy because it’s very powerful.” But to really say, “This is going to disrupt us, it’s a national security threat, and it’s certainly a threat to our elections…” So, it can wreak havoc— unless you’re extremely vigilant and the thing is controlled— with every aspect of our democracy. Sherry Turkle There’s always a big-time gap between the damage of new technology and accountability catching up with it, or public awareness. Ralph Nader Hi everybody, Steve Skrovan here. This is halfway between a shameless plug and some useful information. As some of you may know, I have my own Substack page called Bits & Pieces. It’s mainly funny stories and essays. I wanted to alert you specifically to the last piece I wrote concerning the Writers’ Guild Strike. It’s funny but also packed with a lot of information for those of you who are interested. Some of you may think writers and actors striking is not a big deal, but our strike is emblematic of what is going on across many industries where the corporations are trying to turn us all into gig workers. On the RNRH, we have talked a lot about AI for instance, especially on the program you just heard. The writers and the actors have a chance to be the first entities to address regulating AI in a meaningful way. We are on...


Wonder Drug

Ralph spends the whole hour with Jennifer Vanderbes, author of “Wonder Drug: The Secret History Of Thalidomide In America And Its Hidden Victims.” Thalidomide was never “commercially available” in the U.S., but American doctors handed out samples to patients even though no one could prove the drug was safe. Or could definitively say what the drug did. And by the time thalidomide landed at the FDA for approval, whistleblowers, journalists, doctors, and patients in Germany, Australia, and the UK were sounding the alarm about its shocking side effects. Jennifer Vanderbes is an award-winning novelist, journalist and screenwriter. Her latest book is Wonder Drug: The Secret History Of Thalidomide In America And Its Hidden Victims. It did not shock me researching this story that the pharmaceutical firms operated with a focus on profit, and that allowed for cutting corners. What really did shock me in my research was realizing that the doctors uniformly gaslit these patients. And it was stunning to me that you didn’t have any of these physicians who had given the drug to pregnant women who realized. Jennifer Vanderbes I was very surprised to be looking through materials that were so at odds with what had been reported. And in many ways this became, to me, a story about what can happen when the media accepts at face value a certain spin on the story. The FDA was very dependent initially on what the drug firms were telling it, and then the press was depending on what the FDA was telling it, and then everybody sort of moved on. It was also a happy story that people wanted to believe: “we were the one wonderful country that had stopped this drug.“ Jennifer Vanderbes Their number one tactic is to just not even argue the merits of [thalidomide cases], but get them dismissed on the basis that, “All these people should have known.” And I would say six years of my life—and this book— is really an examination of how incredibly reasonable and understandable it is that these individuals did not know. They were not given the information, and the government was quite complicit. Jennifer Vanderbes The best investigative reporters in America didn’t uncover this story, until [Jennifer Vanderbes] put it together in a book. Because it took unbelievable energy, curiosity, travel, interviewing the survivors, going to their homes, and the most recent development— which was really incredible that it didn’t get national TV and radio coverage— was the gathering, for the first time, of thalidomide victims in San Diego. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis1. On July 25th, The Teamsters reported that UPS caved to their demands, narrowly avoiding a massive strike. The wins in the new contract include higher wages, more jobs, ending the two-tier wage system, air conditioning in UPS trucks, part-time Rewards, and drivers getting Martin Luther King Day off. The union has triumphantly declared “We’ve Changed the Game” If these negotiations had fallen through, 340,000 UPS Teamsters would have gone on strike. Other employers, such as the Hollywood AMPTP, should take notes. 2. The Intercept reports that the Sanders-led Senate HELP Committee has passed an amendment to the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act allocating $3 million to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to explore new options to pay for developing pharmaceuticals, specifically through public funding or “innovation prizes.” These drugs would then enter the public domain so they could be sold as generic medications. Sanders has made the cost of prescription drugs a high priority during his chairmanship on the committee, and hopefully this effort will bear fruit. 3. Following months of protest, CNN reports that Israel has rammed through their controversial judicial reform legislation. This law will limit the independence of the Israeli judiciary, which has been a bulwark against the most extreme Right-wing factions in the country. This...


Stop Ignoring The People!

Ralph and our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, discuss how they compiled letters they sent to various government officials and representatives that have gone unanswered into a book titled “The Incommunicados” and how this unresponsiveness violates our First Amendment right to petition our government for redress of grievances. Then Washington Post opinion columnist, Helaine Olen, highlights the corporate equivalent, how hard it is to reach a human being for customer service and how all of this plays into the free-floating anger and general unrest of an American population that feels unheard. Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall. Today, I couldn’t have gotten through to members of the Senate or House on the auto safety issue. We couldn’t have gotten through for them to even consider (much less pass) the auto safety legislation that they did in 1966. Because I could get on the line and even if I couldn’t get a member, I could call and get the chief of staff or get the legislative director in order to have access. I could go down to Capitol Hill and get the hearings, get the media attention, and get the law to save millions of lives. So, this is serious. It isn’t just a matter of literary courtesy here. Ralph Nader What we have in the right to petition for the redress of grievances is an effort to prevent a repeat of the deaf ear that King George was turning to the grievances of the colonists. And the right to petition implies a corollary obligation to respond… That’s the heart of what democratic discourse is about. Part of what holding government officials accountable is about— requiring them to explain their decisions. They don’t have to agree with us, but they can’t just ignore us and treat us as though we’re not human beings. Bruce Fein Helaine Olen is an expert on money and society, and an award-winning columnist for the Washington Post. Her work has appeared in Slate, the Nation, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and many other publications, and she serves on the advisory board of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She is co-author of The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated and the author of Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry. This is part of why Americans are so angry. Is our lives as consumers. In the United States we often confuse our consumer lives with being a citizen. We think if the phone line isn’t working if the airline isn’t working, if we can’t get through to the doctor’s office, there’s something wrong with the state of the country. And every time one of these interactions deteriorates, there’s this sense of ‘things don’t work,’ which I think is pervasive in the United States… and I think it translates into this free-floating anger that then gets turned around and leveled at random people at the government, fill in the blank.” Helaine Olen There’s this dominant narrative out there right now that American consumers are becoming greedy and grasping and they’re abusing the help— which happens, I don’t want to say every consumer is a perfect citizen by a long shot— but I think it is partly a response to the fact that people are often treated very very badly. And there’s really no one to complain to that will actually do anything about this. Helaine Olen In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA, has joined the Writers Guild in going on strike following the collapse of negotiations with the studios. This new strike covers 160,000 actors and coming as it does amid the writers strike, will effectively shut down Hollywood production for the foreseeable future. In a widely shared video, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher decried the...