Episode #672: The Long Pig in the MTA's Luau
First Broadcast: 6/23/14
Heat waves in the 19th Century, How The Other Half Lives, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, fire escapes, air conditioning in the Washington DC Metro and the lack of it in the New York City Subway, "ISIS" in Iraq, the 9/11 museum, and moving on from 9/11 are some of the thoughts that occupy us in this hodgepodge of an episode. Not a bad start to the quarter, I think.
Episode #673: Noisy Environments
First Broadcast: 6/30/14
First, we salute the late Eli Wallach, whose portrayal of "Tuco" in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is, I think, one of the many high points of what could be considered the best Western ever made. After that, we touch on silent movie direction, Hoop Dreams, Criterion, Life Itself, and Water Buffaloes (which I had confused with Raccoons) before jumping into an important Supreme Court decision which established that police must get a warrant before they can search the data on someone's cell phone. The deciding paragraph:
Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life,” ... The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple--get a warrant.Now, if we can just get this same policy in effect at the border... Well, I can dream, can't I?
Episode #674: That's Just Science
First Broadcast: 7/14/14
Global warming is happening, and one consequence is more severe hurricanes, like Sandy in 2012. Another consequence is more droughts in places like the Western United States, including Las Vegas. As if that isn't enough of a threat to our country's water, this country also faces a danger from fracking, which can contaminate water tables as well as cause earthquakes. Perhaps the overwhelming science that confirms global warming is real will finally convince everyone to ignore the misdirection that makes climate change deniers no better than pickpockets who accuse their marks of being the real thieves. Perhaps this will also persuade people to not destroy clean water, and not deny water to people in need. Perhaps.
Episode #675: Peace Out
First Broadcast: 7/28/14
Let's have Robert Fantina from Counterpunch set some of the background for the situation in Gaza:
First, let’s establish context. Israel was formed by the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians, driven from their homes with no recompenses, to refugee camps. Israel took far more than 50% of their land at that time. Since then, through illegal settlement building, Palestinians are squeezed into less than 20% of their own land, and that amount is constantly shrinking.
Musa al-Gharbi added some recent details for Al Jazeera:
The current escalation began with the abduction of three Israeli teenagers from settlements in the West Bank. ...
After the kidnapping, for more than two weeks Israeli authorities put on a show of looking for the missing teens — the whole time whipping up anti-Arab sentiment, raising hopes of a recovery and marginalizing voices of dissent. When the abductees were found murdered, the Israeli public was outraged and demanded vengeance. Shortly after the funerals for the youths, another group of Israeli settlers beat and burned to death a 16-year-old Palestinian teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir. This incident was followed by a brutal assault on Tariq Khdeir, a 15-year-old U.S. citizen and cousin of Mohammed’s by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Another fact that is less known — but perhaps more important — is that within hours of the three teens’ disappearance on June 12, Israeli officials knew that they were dead. ...
Knowing that the teens were already dead, the Israeli government even sent the mothers of the abductees to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council to raise international awareness and plead for their boys’ safe return. Then the IDF launched Operation Brother’s Keeper, the most extensive military operation in the West Bank for more than a decade, under the auspices of saving the missing teens whom, again, they knew to be deceased.
The blame for their abduction immediately went to Hamas, which denied any involvement in the kidnapping. Israel has offered no concrete proof to implicate Hamas — instead identifying as its prime suspects a rogue faction with a history of defying Hamas’ leadership and sabotaging the group’s peace-building efforts. They were identified early on, meaning that Israel knew full well that neither Hamas nor its armed wing (al-Qassam Brigades) were behind the boys’ disappearance. Nonetheless, the IDF began a military campaign against them and de facto the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza.
The results of the initial IDF actions into the West Bank?
During the course of Israel’s three-week campaign of mass arrests in the West Bank, ostensibly to search for the killers of three settlers, the Israeli military and police conducted an average of 18 raids per day into Palestinian homes, charities and businesses, stealing cash and property worth an estimated $3 million, documents a new report from the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights. ...
The Euro-Mid investigation documented a theft of $370,000 in cash during the 387 incursions it examined, as well as $2.5 million worth of property, including cars, computers, mobile phones and jewelry. The money and property were seized from homes, universities, health clinics, media companies and currency exchanges.
As al-Gharbi continues, "All these provocations came weeks before Hamas fired the first rockets into Israel." He goes on to assert that the Palestinians, via Hamas, were acting in self-defense against Israeli provocation, "contrary to Obama’s claims and the widely held narrative in Western media." The Israeli response to those rockets can best be described as a slaughter. As ThinkProgress said in their headline, "Palestinian Civilians Make Up Three-Quarters Of The Dead In Gaza," adding that "the number of those killed during the latest iteration of the war between Hamas and Israel has been disproportionate, with the vast majority of the dead being both Palestinian and civilian." The Guardian reported these death tolls the night we taped this episode:
• The latest figures from the Palestinian health ministry said that 695 had been killed in the conflict, including at least 166 children.
• Three Israeli soldiers were killed in an attack involving an explosive device on Wednesday, the military said. 32 soldiers have been killed in the conflict.
Since then, the figures have increased, the Palestinians again suffering the brunt of it:
Fighting between Hamas and Israel continued on Sunday despite a series of ceasefire announcements by both sides, each of which was rejected by the other amid mutual blame and recrimination. ...
The death toll in Gaza rose to more than 1,030 on Sunday. Unicef said 218 children had been killed. Two-thirds were under the age of 12, it added.
The Israeli Defence Forces said 43 soldiers had died. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai agricultural worker were killed in rocket attacks.
Why is Israel subjugating the Palestinians like this? Is it just about pure domination? Or something a little more tangible? Middle East Monitor explains it simply:
To borrow the words of Tascha Shahriari-Parsa when she wrote a report for The Ecologist: "Behind the operation, behind the mass Israeli and US propaganda attempting to justify the massacre, and behind the death of every child in Gaza is a conflict rarely discussed - an imperialist conflict and a contradiction that rests on Israel's ambitions to appropriate and profit from Gaza's natural gas resources."
Let us go back to 2000 when British Gas (BG) discovered that Gaza sat on an estimated $4 billion worth of natural gas. Needless to say that this discovery came as a shock to Israel, as suddenly Gaza, this little slither of land which Palestinians have been discarded upon, this purgatory which Zionists imagined to crush Palestinians' hopes and dreams, became a key geo-strategic priority. Come hail and high waters, Israel would have to gain access to those resources.
Since BG made its first estimation, it was established that Gaza's gas reserves are far greater than first anticipated. According to Michel Chossudovsky, a Canadian economist and prominent analyst, Gaza is basking in as much wealth as the State of Kuwait.
Something to think about the next time Israel insists that everything they do is all about "self defense."
Episode #676: And Threads
First Broadcast: 8/4/14
The situation in Gaza gets worse by the day, as Israel bombs the only power plant in the strip, and shells a United Nations school that was being used a shelter, killing "at least 15 people, mostly children and women," and injuring "more than 100." The Guardian's headline was "The world stands disgraced," as the death toll in Gaza topped 1300 when we shot this episode (Today, that number is over 1700), 75% of whom are civilians. For comparison, on the Israeli side, as of July 29, about 5% of their 53 deaths were civilians. Hospitals, ambulances, and entire families have been destroyed by Israeli attacks on Gaza, and all this cumulative death and destruction has naturally inspired thousands of people in Israel and elsewhere to protest this violence. In stark contrast, at least one thousand people attended a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan last week, where one speaker said that "Israel is facing an existential threat" from Gaza, where Senator Chuck Schumer said that "the deaths of so many of these Palestinian civilians" was caused by Hamas and not Israel, and where Congressman Eliot Engel said "Would we in the United States tolerate a terrorist group in Canada, lobbing missiles at American citizens in New York? I don't think so. Would we as a country tolerate a terrorist group on the Mexican border lobbing missiles into Texas? I don't think so." Of course, if the situations were truly similar, we would have to ask: Would Canada tolerate a United States that denied Canada control of its own borders, imports, and exports; prevented Canadian citizens from entering and leaving their own territory at will; denied Canada the ability to have its own military; and maintained a 60-year occupation of Canada in violation of international law? Needless to say, those are all the things Israel has done to the Palestinians over the past several decades, and this latest episode of violence is only further decimating Gaza's infrastructure while denying Gazans key items they would need to live or rebuild, items such as these:
The following lists some of the ‘dangerous’ items that Israel either has prevented, or currently prevents, being imported to the Gaza Strip: lentils, pasta, tomato paste and juice, soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy, dry food, ginger and chocolate, crayons, stationary, soccer balls, musical instruments, toilet paper, books, candles, crayons, clothing, cups, cutlery, crockery, electric appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, glasses, light bulbs, matches, needles, sheets, blankets, shoes, mattresses, spare machine and car parts, and threads. In addition, Israel has prevented the importing of fishing ropes and rods, hatcheries and spare parts for hatcheries, batteries for hearing aids, wheelchairsOn top of all that, Israel has also declared that people should vacate a 3-kilometer "buffer zone" within Gaza along its border with Israel, further reducing the area in which they can (barely) live in one of the most densely populated places on the planet. It is enough to make sane people wonder if Israel is openly committing genocide against the Palestinians, which would be especially sad considering how the Israelis cannot be ignorant of the genocide committed against many of their ancestors. And as long as the United States is supporting Israel with money and weapons, Israel's violence is likely to continue. As Noam Chomsky writes:
Construction materials such as glass, steel, bitumen, wood, paint, doors, plastic pipes, metal pipes, metal reinforcement rods, aggregate, generators, high voltage cables and wooden telegraph poles have no or highly limited entry into Gaza.
If the U.S. decided to join the world, the impact would be great. Over and over, Israel has abandoned cherished plans when Washington has so demanded. Such are the relations of power between them.
Could U.S. policy change? It's not impossible. Public opinion has shifted considerably in recent years, particularly among the young, and it cannot be completely ignored.
Episode #677: In Retrospect
First Broadcast: 8/18/14
This week, we discuss the late Robin Williams, how funny we at Free New York thought he was, and how his career might now be viewed in light of how he ended his life. It's rare how someone can survive in Hollywood for as long as he did and seemingly not have any enemies at all. I guess, for some people, internal pain is more than enough to do them in without external help.
Episode #678: Hands Up
First Broadcast: 8/25/14
Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson, bad cop, worse cop, worst cop. I think that about covers it... for now.
Episode #679: Whole Laundry List
First Broadcast: 9/8/14
So, how did you spend your "Summer From Hell"? Worrying about the Islamic State? Following the news from Ferguson? Measuring the age of the tear gas used there? Looking overseas at Ukraine or Gaza? Afraid you're going to get Ebola? Concerned that dehumanization in such a violent environment is inevitable? Yeah, I can't blame you if you did any of the above. And despite all the evidence that may be to the contrary, perhaps it would do everyone some good to take a step back and think about how the world might not be all bad as a whole. It beats the alternative, I think.