Von Drehle, David — Triangle, the Fire that Changed America

Until September 11, 2001, The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911 was the deadliest workplace disaster in the history of New York City.  The fire shocked the nation and exposed the life-threatening conditions in America’s sweatshop industry.  It gave energy to the labor movement and unions, and remade the Democratic Party of the time. 

Our guest, David Von Drehle, is the author of “Triangle, the Fire That Changed America,” a book that presents a detailed examination of how this single event changed the course of the 20th century politics and labor relations. In this book, Von Drehle concludes:

As for the mostly nameless young women and men who went on strike in 1909 and bravely walked those relentless picket lines through a freezing winter—and especially those remarkable young people who later died at the Triangle—their memory grows.  Their individual lives are mostly lost to us, but their monument and legacy are stitched into our world. 

David Von Drehle and I visited by phone from New York City in early September 2003, and began with his description of the fire on March 25, 1911 that changed America.

The book David Von Drehele recommends is “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall” by William Riordan. 

This program was originally broadcast on September 9, 2003.

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Benally, Leonard — A Navajo Elder Remembered

In this edition of Radio Curious assistant producer Christina Aanestad speaks with Leonard Benally, a Dine’ elder. Dine is the indigenous name for the Navajo people. Leonard Benally lived in an area called Big Mountain on the Navajo and Hopi reservations close to the Arizona-New Mexico border. He died on October 11, 2013 from cancer.

In the 1970′s a Hopi – Navajo land dispute erupted on Big Mountain; some claim it was devised to move the Navajo out of the area because Peabody Coal wanted the coal rich land below their feet. As a result, an estimated 20,000 Dine’ were displaced. A few hundred remain to this day-refusing to leave. Leonard Benally was one of them.  

In August, 2012 Leonard Benally agreed to talk about his life.  He began the conversation by describing the boarding schools he was forced to live in, as a child, one being the school for Navajo children in Tuba, Arizona.

Leonard Benally recommends people listen to XIT an indigenous rock band from the 1970′s. This conversation with Leonard Benally was recorded in August of 2012 and first aired on Radio Curious in October 2013.

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Leinen, George — A Mortician’s Philosophy

Continuing our series on the funeral industry in the United States we visit with the owner of a mortuary in a rural northern California town.  As professionals describe their work and philosophy, George Leinen, owner of Empire Mortuary in Ukiah, California since 2000,  joins us in this edition of Radio Curious to share his thoughts and experiences.  We discuss funeral industry trade associations, business practices in some sectors of the industry, and how our guest’s philosophy evolved.

In this program, recorded in the studios of Radio Curious on September 21, 2013 we began our visit when I asked George Leinen to describe embalming,  what it is, and why it’s done.

The book George Leinen recommends is “The American Way of Death,” by Jessica Mitford.

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Frost, Mike — Spying on Americans: Not a New Activity Part 2

In the 1970s and 80s the use of the telephone or credit card, could have been and probably was recorded and saved in an international database called Echelon.

This is the second part of a two part series on international spying, recorded in 1999 with Mike Frost, author of “Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments.” We talked about Echelon, the code name given to the capability to intercept all of the word’s communications all the time. Mike Frost worked for over 30 years as a spy for the American and Canadian Governments. He wrote the book, which describes many of his experiences, because he felt the privacy rights of innocent people were then regularly violated. I spoke with Mike Frost in April 1999, from his home near Ottawa, Canada and I asked him to tell us about Echelon.

Mike Frost recommends the movie “Wag the Dog.”

Part one of our conversation with Mike Frost is here.

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Reuther, Sasha — The United Auto Workers Union: Its Effect on American Life

As we all know every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  The reaction, however is not necessarily equal in time or unity.  It’s often spread over time with serial impacts.

In this edition of Radio Curious we focus on the treatment of workers in the automobile industry in the United States beginning in the early years of the 20th century.  The story is portrayed in “Brothers on the Line,” a film about Walter, Ray and Victor Reuther, three brothers from West Virginia who organized the United Auto Workers Union beginning in the 1920s.  With access to the National Archives, the Wayne State University Labor History Library and family records, Sasha Reuther, Victor’s grandson, directed the film.  It chronicles the working conditions and the successful strikes at the big three auto plants in Michigan; the political power of the United Auto Workers Union, and its involvement in the civil rights movement.  It also explains why Detroit, Michigan became the richest city in the United States in the 1950s.

“Brothers On The Line” will be shown June 3, 2012 at the Mendocino Film Festival, in Mendocino, California.

Sasha Reuther and I visited by phone from his office in New York City on May 7, 2012.  We began when I asked him what happened once the automobile became a useful, if not necessary tool of life.

The book that Sasha Reuther recommends is “U.A.W. and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945 -1968,” by Kevin Boyle.

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Cobb, David — End Corporate Personhood: The 29th Amendment

The decision of the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Citizen’s United v. Federal Elections Commission in January 2010, substantially changed the political process in the United States. That decision held that corporations have the same constitutional rights as have individual people. Four of the nine Supreme Court Justices believe the Citizen’s United was wrong. So many other American’s share that belief that a nationwide grass roots effort called Move to Amend has been organized to promote the 29th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This new amendment would change the result of the Citizen’s United decide and declare:

“The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.”

An amendment to the Constitution requires a two thirds vote of approval in both the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate. It then must be adopted by three-fourths, or thirty-eight, of the fifty states to become the law of the land.

Many city councils including those of Los Angeles, New York, and Portland, Oregon, have passed resolutions urging their congressional representatives to support this amendment. Listeners in Mendocino County, the home of Radio Curious, may soon sign petitions to put a similar resolution on the November 2012 ballot.

Our guest in this edition of Radio Curious is David Cobb, an attorney from Texas, on leave from his trial practice to promote the adoption of this constitutional amendment. David Cobb visited the studios of Radio Curious on February 13, 2012, to talk about Move To Amend. We began our conversation when I asked him to explain why the constitution should be amended to repeal the effect of the Citizen’s United decision.

The books David Cobb recommends are “Gangs of America, The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy,” by Ted Nace, and ”Corporations Are Not People: Why The Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About it,” by Jeff D. Clements.

The Move To Amend website is www.movetoamend.org.

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Aanestad, Christina — Occupying the Port of Oakland

In response to the attempts to end “Occupy” movements in different parts of the United States beginning the November 2011, local people in and near west coast sea ports on Monday, December 12, 2011 gathered to occupy their local port.

Radio Curious Assistant Producer, Christina Aanestad, went to the Port of Oakland where she met with and interviewed organizers, participants and bystanders. Her journey began at 5:30 am on a cold Monday morning at the West Oakland Bart Station. The first person with whom she spoke was a woman cloaked in a bright blue tarp with the words “The People’s TARP” inscribed thereon.

Before we hear the voice of this woman it is important to remember that TARP is an acronym for the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program established to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions purportedly to strengthen its financial sector to address the subprime mortgage crisis. TARP originally authorized $700 Billion Dollars in 2008 to cover unorthodox real estate loans. 50 year old Karen Mackley wore what she called the people’s tarp.

The books Christina Aanestad recommends are “Pronoia is the Antidote of Paranoia: How the Whole Workd is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings,” by Rob Brezsny, and “Angry Women” by Andrea Juno.

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Ball, Betty — History of the Mendocino Environmental Center

The history of the Mendocino Environmental Center, as told by its co-founder Betty Ball, is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. Betty and her late husband Gary Ball, founded the Mendocino Environmental Center, based in Ukiah, California in early 1987, which soon became a central organizing hub for several environmental movements in Northern California.

The issues in those years included protection of the Northern California coast from off shore oil drilling, an effort which has remained successful; the Forests Forever initiate campaign in behalf of the Heritage Tree Preservation Act, which narrowly lost a state-wide California election in 2002; and Redwood Summer, a non violent civil disobedience effort to protect old growth redwood trees in northern California from being logged, modeled after the Mississippi Summer civil rights projects in 1964. Shortly before the planned beginning of Redwood Summer in June 2000, Judi Bari, a Redwood Summer organizer was severely injured in a car bomb explosion in Oakland, California. In a subsequent civil jury trial the F.B.I. and the Oakland Police Department were found liable for certain matters related to the bombing, and ordered to pay over $4,000,000.00 compensation. The bombers still remain at large.

These and other issues are discussed in this interview with Betty Ball, which was recorded for video and audio broadcast on November 7, 2011, at the studios of Mendocino Access Television in Ukiah, California. We began when I asked Betty Ball what drew her and her late husband, Gary Ball into the environmental movement.

The books that Betty Ball recommends are any written by Arundhati Roy, Derrick Jensen or Chris Hedges.

This interview with Betty Ball was recorded for radio and television broadcast with the generous cooperation of Mendocino Access Television in Ukiah, California, and the engineering assistance of Mikah Mate.

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Alibek, Dr. Ken – Soviet Germ Warfare Part 2

Biological warfare is the use of weapons that cause death by disease. The largest and most sophisticated biological weapons program in the world, which cultivated and stockpiled anthrax virus, brucellosis, the plague and genetically altered strains of small pox, employed more than 6000 people at over 100 facilities in the former Soviet Union. For 15 years, ending in 1992, Dr. Ken Alibek, a doctor of medicine and a Ph.D. in microbiology, was the scientific leader of Bio-Preparat, the civilian branch of that secret biological weapons program, masquerading as a pharmaceutical company. In 1992, Dr. Alibek defected to the United States. Several years later, he wrote “Bio-Hazard,” a book detailing the development of biological weapons, the horrors of his former life and why he chose to defect. This is a two-part program with Dr. Ken Alibek, recorded in 1999.

In part two, Dr. Ken Alibek discusses the morality of biological warfare.

Dr. Ken Alibek recommends “Prevent,” by Richard Preston & “Vector,” by Robin Cook.

Originally Broadcast: May 11, 1999 & May 18, 1999

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Caldicott, Dr. Helen — A Nuclear Catastrophe Never Seen Before

Dr. Helen Caldicott describes how the nuclear disasters that began in Japan on March 11, 2011, with the massive 9.0 point earthquake and resulting tsunami, present catastrophes the likes of which human kind has never seen before.  We discuss what happened, the medical and health consequences around the world, why public information has not been forthcoming, and what can be done to protect ourselves.  In response to the question, what can be done to prevent similar disasters in the future, Dr. Caldicott’s suggested action is somewhat reminiscent of the 1960s civil right’s movement in the United States.

Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1938, Dr. Caldicott received her medical degree from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961, she was a co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and has devoted the last 35 years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age and what she believes are necessary changes in human behavior.

Our conversation, recorded by phone from her home in southeast Australia on June 26, 2011, begins with her explanation of what occurred at the Fukushima Nuclear Power plants in Japan after the March, 2011 earthquake.

The books Helen Caldicott recommends are “On The Beach,” by Nevil Shute, and her book, “Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer.”

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