Berman, Ari — Using Wealth to Deny Voting Rights

The financing of political campaigns is the subject of this, July 21, 2015, edition of Radio Curious.  Our guest is Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, who writes regularly on election and voting rights issues.  His May 19, 2015 article is titled “How the Money Primary is Undermining Voting Rights.” 

Berman asks:  “When the wealthiest Americans dominate every facet of political life—from who runs, to who wins, to which issues are addressed, to how our leaders govern—what happens to the voting rights of everyone else?”

The consequences of the Supreme Court’s 2010 and 2014 decisions in “Citizens United and “McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission provide some insight.

When Ari Berman and I visited by phone from his office in Washington D.C. on June 8, 2015, we began when I asked him to define the word “wealth,” that is being used to deny the right to vote.

The books Ari Berman recommends are “Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement” by John Lewis, and “Housekeeping,” by Marilynne Robinson.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Samson, Don — The Creative Imagination of Playwright Don Samson

The creative imagination of playwright Don Samson is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.  In May 2015, I had the good fortune of seeing a ten minute play entitled “Blind Date,” written by my long time friend, who lives in nearby Willits, California.  For many years prior to becoming a playwright, Don Samson researched and wrote legal briefs for criminal defense attorneys, an experience we also discuss in this program.

After seeing the local production of “Blind Date,” I was curious about the circumstances that came to Don Samson’s mind when he created this play, so I invited him to visit the Radio Curious studios.  We met on May 22, 2015 and began our conversation with his description of those circumstances. 

Don Samson recommends the book, which is also a play, “Antigone,” by Sophocles.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Massey, Orell — Racism in a Rural California Sheriff’s Department Part Two

Radio Curious continues our series on racism in Mendocino County, California. Our guest is Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff Orell Massey who, for the past 20 years has been the only black law enforcement officer in the county’s history.  A native of South Carolina, Deputy Massey was a 21 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps assigned to the Foreign Service Embassy detail before he moved to Mendocino County. When I asked Sheriff Massey to be a guest on this program and share his experience as a black Deputy Sheriff, he asked:  “Are the people of Mendocino County ready to hear what I have to say?”    

In part one of our conversation, Deputy Massey describes some people’s reaction to him while he is in on duty.

In part two, recorded on February 1, 2015, in the Radio Curious studios, Deputy Massey gives his personal response when asked, “what is it like to be the only black Deputy Sheriff ever in the history of Mendocino County?” Later he shares stories about his off duty life, his goals and aspirations.

The book Deputy Massey recommends is “Code Talker:  The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of World War Two,” by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila.

Click here to listen to part two or on the media player below.

Massey, Orell — Racism in a Rural California Sheriff’s Department Part One

Our guest on this edition of Radio Curious is Deputy Sheriff Orell Massey—a black man, native of South Carolina and a 20 year veteran of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. He is also a 21 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps where he was assigned to the Embassy detail.  When I asked Sheriff Massey to be a guest on this program and share his experience as a black Deputy Sheriff, he asked:  “Are the people of Mendocino County ready to hear what I have to say?”   

In part one of our conversation, recorded on February 1, 2015, Deputy Orell Massey shares his experiences.  You may decide if you are ready to hear what he has to say.

In part two, Deputy Massey gives his personal response when asked, “what is it like to be the only black Deputy Sheriff ever in the history of Mendocino County?” Later he shares stories about his off duty life, his goals and aspirations.

Click here to listen to part one or on the media player below.

Vogel, Barry and Gravois, John — A Interview with Radio Curious Host Barry Vogel

For this edition of Radio Curious, broadcast at the beginning of our 25th year on the air, I invited my friend John Gravois to interview me about my experiences, reflections and thoughts over the past 24 years that I’ve been the host and producer of Radio Curious. 

John Gravois is the deputy editor of Pacific Standard magazine and a contributing editor to the Washington Monthly. His work has appeared on This American Life, in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate, among others. He lives in Albany, California.

John Gravois and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious on December 27, 2014.  We began our conversation with his comments about the archives found on the Radio Curious website.

The books that I recommend are “The Warmth of Other Suns:  The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” by Isabel Wilkerson and “Jacobson’s Organ and the Remarkable Nature of Smell,” by Lyall Watson.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Cohen, James — Ferguson Grand Jury: A Legal Analysis, Part Two

We continue our look into the Ferguson, Missouri, investigation of the August 9, 2014, shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old black man, shot three times in the head by the now former Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. 

The St. Louis County, Missouri, grand jury, convened by District Attorney and Prosecutor Robert McCulloch failed to return any criminal charges against Wilson.  This occurred after three months of weekly grand jury meetings.  Prosecutor Robert McCulloch gathered and organized the information and facts presented to the grand jury. 

Our guest is Attorney and Law Professor James A. Cohen, who has tried over 100 criminal jury trials and teaches criminal law and related topics at Fordham University Law School in New York City.  

In part one, Professor Cohen and I reviewed the evidence, including Wilson’s spoken testimony, the written police reports and medical reports presented to the St. Louis, Missouri, grand jury, by District Attorney McCulloch.

In this second part of our visit with Professor Cohen we continue a review of Officer Wilson’s testimony and the forensic evidence.  We then examine the duties of a prosecutor before a grand jury; the potential for conflicts of interest; and the prosecutor’s ethical obligations.  Professor Cohen asserts that had a special prosecutor been appointed to present the evidence of the facts surrounding Officer Wilson’s shooting of Brown, it is likely that a significantly different decision might have resulted from the grand jury’s deliberations.

In this program, recorded on December 5, 2014, we begin part two with Professor Cohen’s analysis of Officer Wilson’s testimony about why he shot Michael Brown nine times, including three shots to the young man’s head.

The books that Professor Cohen recommends are those written by Anders Ericsson:  “The Road To Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games” and “Development of Professional Expertise: Toward Measurement of Expert Performance and Design of Optimal Learning Environments.”

Click here to listen to part two or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.

Cohen, James — Ferguson Grand Jury: A Legal Analysis, Part One

The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014, by a since retired white Ferguson, Missouri, police office, Darren Wilson, is the subject of this, the first of two Radio Curious interviews devoted to this topic.

Our guest is Law Professor James A. Cohen, who has tried over 100 criminal jury trials and teaches criminal law and related topics at Fordham University Law School in New York City.  Professor Cohen and I review the evidence, including Wilson’s spoken testimony, the written police reports and medical reports presented to the St. Louis, Missouri, grand jury, by District Attorney Robert McCulloch.  His office exclusively organized and presented that evidence, which “with some exceptions,” according to Prosecutor McCulloch, was “made public” shortly after he announced that the grand jury failed to return criminal charges against former Officer Wilson, on November 24, 2014. 

When Professor Cohen and I visited by phone on December 5, 2014, we created a context for what occurred when the Ferguson Grand Jury met between August 20, and November 21, 2014.  We began our conversation with a brief history of grand juries, originally organized in England to protect the people from wonton acts of the King. 

The books that Professor Cohen recommends are those written by Anders Ericsson:  “The Road To Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games” and “Development of Professional Expertise: Toward Measurement of Expert Performance and Design of Optimal Learning Environments.”

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part two.

California Burning: The Mendocino Lodge Fire

California wildfires present a serious public safety concern, create fear of serious loss for many and cost millions of dollars to fight. In California each fire is given a name, as is done for hurricanes. We devote this edition of Radio Curious, to the Lodge Fire that occurred in Mendocino County, California in August 2014.  We visit with four Mendocino County people who meet the public need at times of crisis.

We begin with Mary Aigner, program director of KZYX and KZYZ, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, the public radio station where Radio Curious was originally broadcast beginning in 1991.  She describes what local public radio is able to do at a time of crisis. We then hear from Chris Rowney, the Mendocino Unit Chief for Cal-Fire, the California fire protection agency, who explains what Cal-Fire does when confronted with a wildfire. We also hear from Mendocino County Sheriff, Tom Allman, whose responsibility it is to order a mandatory evacuation if a crisis so requires. Finally we hear from Dr. Sharon Paltin, a family physician in Laytonville, California, the community closest to the Lodge Fire.  She describes the public health effects of exposure to the extraordinary amount of smoke created by a wildfire.

We begin our conversation, recorded on August 29, 2014, with Mary Aigner from Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, describing the role of community radio when a wild fire occurs.

The book Mary Aigner recommends is “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus,” by Charles C. Mann. The book that Chris Rowney recommends is “Young Men and Fires,” by Norman McClean. The book Dr. Sharon Paltin recommends is “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster,” by Rebecca Solnit.

This program was recorded on August 29 and September 1, 2014.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

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.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Hong Fincher, Leta Ph.D. — Gender Inequality in China: Part Two Workplace Disparity

Welcome to part two of our conversations about the erosion of gender equality in China with our guest Leta Hong Fincher, the author of “Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China”. Her book is based in part on her research for the Ph.D. in sociology she received in 2014 from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

In this 2nd conversation we discuss the extent of what if anything is done about domestic violence in China, the difference in the retirement ages for women and men and the requirement that women submit to a gynecological examination before obtaining a civil service job.

When Leta Hong Fincher and I visited by phone on August 9, 2014 we began with a discussion of domestic violence in China.

The book Leta Hong Fincher recommends is “The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory,” by Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl and Dorothy Ko.

Click here to listen to part two of the program or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.