On The Monitor this week:
- Flint Water Crisis: What Did the EPA Know? We discuss the crisis with Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
- Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the AIPAC agenda, what’s the difference? We discuss the issue with Rabbi Brant Rosen
More about this week’s guests:
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is author of No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. As senior policy analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she became a whistleblower when the EPA ignored her complaints about a U.S. company harming the environment and human health in its vanadium mining in South Africa. Denied promotion, she sued and won a jury verdict finding EPA guilty of discrimination. Coleman-Adebayo is a founder of the No FEAR Coalition and EPA Employees Against Racism. Under her leadership No FEAR organized a grassroots campaign that won passage of the “Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act,” AKA the No Fear Act. Coleman-Adebayo serves on the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center and was inducted into the Project on Government Oversight’s Hall of Fame. She is an editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report. She recently wrote the following articles for The Guardian: Flint’s best hope for justice? The streets and Water crises like Flint’s will continue until the EPA is held accountable (co-written with Kevin Berends)
Quote from her recent article on BlackAgendaReport.com: “EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder are scheduled to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, March 17, to provide testimony on the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water. Public outcry has finally empowered Congress to demand that McCarthy and Snyder provide an accounting of their role in the poisoning of thousands of citizens. The essential question for this hearing is the same as that of the Watergate Hearing: what did they know and when did they know it? EPA electronic traffic between the former Region 5 Administrator and McCarthy must be subpoenaed. McCarthy and Snyder had perhaps hoped that the public would be silenced with sending former EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman careening under the bus. The ultimate authority for water regulations rests with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. In fact, the CWA provides for criminal penalties for violations of this Act. Flint, Michigan falls within the federal jurisdiction of Region 5 and, until her resignation in February in disgrace, was under EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. …EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was aware that there were problems with Hedman’s leadership prior to the Flint crisis. …This is a sickeningly familiar story at the EPA, an agency governed by fear, recrimination, retaliation and discrimination. It is likely that EPA Administrator McCarthy will argue that the Flint disaster was the result of ‘a few bad apples’ and that with Administrator Hedman’s resignation the problem has been addressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The EPA is rife with managers who have been allowed to engage in criminal behavior without fear of accountability. Far from dealing with root causes, McCarthy stands on protocol over the well being of her own employees. She will always side with her in-house group of managers who are in bed with their corporate masters — this is one of the lessons of the Flint poisoning crisis.”
Rabbi Brant Rosen is the co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Council. The group recently put out a statement, “Trump’s Islamophobic Rhetoric Goes Hand in Hand with AIPAC’s Agenda,” which states: “Many of the most alarming statements and policy proposals Donald Trump has made are already reality in Israel, and supported by AIPAC. Israel already refuses to open its doors to Syrian refugees (many of whom are of Palestinian origin), allows privileged immigration status for one religious group over others, is building highly militarized walls … and allows a demagogue leader to get away with using blatant racism to get votes.” Also see: “On Israeli election day, Netanyahu warns of Arabs voting ‘in droves.’”
Rosen is the Midwest Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee. In August 2015, he founded Tzedek Chicago, a new ‘non-Zionist’ synagogue in Chicago. Rosen previously served as the rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois from 1998 to 2014. He is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. In 2009, he co-founded the Jewish Fast for Gaza, or Ta’anit Tzedek with Rabbi Brian Walt. Rosen is also an active environmentalist. Under his leadership, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation built their new building with an environmentally sustainable design in 2008, becoming the first house of worship to ever receive a Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. He was the recipient of Chicago Magazine’s Green Award for his environmental leadership in 2009. Rosen’s blog Shalom Rav explores “the intersection between Judaism and social justice, with a particular emphasis on Israel/Palestine.” In 2012, Just World Books published his book, “Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity,” which featured his posts and numerous reader comments from Shalom Rav. Rosen is also the author of the blog Yedid Nefesh, where he posts his poetry and thoughts on Judaism and spirituality. He has contributed to The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Forward, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and other media outlets.
On The Monitor this week:
- Behind Obama’s Immigration Policy – an interview with David Bacon
- The case for a ban on fracking – an interview with Hugh MacMillan
More about this week’s guests:
David Bacon is author of The Right to Stay Home and three other books on immigration. He is a labor and immigrant rights activist, and part of the Dignity Campaign. He is an Award-winning photojournalist and author and has spent twenty years as a labor organizer. For the last two decades he has been a reporter, documentary photographer, and longtime radio host. He appears often on KPFA Radio. His previous books included The Children of NAFTA, Communities Without Borders, and Illegal People. He has been an associate editor at Pacific News Service and has written for TruthOut, The Nation, The Progressive, The American Prospect and The San Francisco Chronicle. As an immigrant rights activist, Bacon helped organize the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Labor Immigrant Organizers Network.
“President Obama’s decision to delay lifting the threat of deportation from many people is a retreat that will result in more deportations, detentions and firings of people who need equality, legal status and human rights. In the name of protecting Democrats in the midterm election, his decision will instead hurt those families who have been some of his greatest supporters. It does nothing to move forward to solve the problems of migration. More people will come to the U.S. tomorrow, driven by poverty and repression, made worse by our pro-corporate trade agreements and foreign intervention. Beefing up enforcement simply criminalizes them, while the continuation of pro-business guest worker programs provides a blatant subsidy for corporations who want to keep wages down and unions weak. We need pro-immigrant and pro-worker immigration reform, not more delays, draconian enforcement and corporate labor schemes.”
You can follow him on twitter here
Hugh MacMillan is a senior researcher in the water program at Food & Water Watch. Prior to joining Food & Water Watch, he served one year as a legislative fellow and science advisor in the U.S. Senate and five years as an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University. He has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Last week was the People’s Climate March in New York and Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter published an article titled “To Save the Climate, We Need a Ban on Fracking” saying “Fracking affects not only the millions living within a mile of fracking sites who experience health problems, polluted water, earthquakes, explosions and declined property values, but it also affects billions globally who are affected by climate change.” The article goes on to say that “Despite what the oil and gas industry claim, there have now been over 150 studies on fracking and its impacts that raise concerns about the risks and dangers of fracking and highlight how little we know about its long-term effects on health and our limited freshwater supplies. It’s time for President Obama and other decision makers to look at the facts. It’s a matter of our survival.”
He is also the main author of The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking which states in part that the environmental, public health and socioeconomic impacts that stem from fracking amount to unacceptable risk, and that the harms are certain.
On The Monitor this week:
- Democracy comes to Egypt and Syria…or does it? We discuss the Egyptian and Syrian election results with Ghada Talhami.
- New Organization Launches with Invitation: “Whistleblowers Welcome”. We talk with Marsha Coleman-Adebayo about her own whistleblowing experience and why protections for whistleblowers are still needed.
More about this week’s guests:
Ghada Talhami is emeritus professor in the department of politics at Lake Forest College. Her books include The Mobilization of Muslim Women in Egypt. She said last week (prior to the election results in Egypt and Syria): “Western observers may see the abstaining of large sectors of the Egyptian public from the current elections as an indictment of army rule, but a closer look reveals greater issues at play. If, as has been drummed by human rights advocates, Western governments and Egypt’s religious right, al-Sisi’s credibility has been greatly damaged by his crackdown on political opponents and residual forces of the January 25 uprising, then the electoral dent inflicted on al-Sisi’s legend is perfectly understandable. But what is being underestimated here is the apparent apathy of the non-Islamic and non-revolutionary forces, for as in all revolutions, the struggle between the forces of freedom and the primal quest for security usually take center-stage. In Egypt’s case, the quest for security is being interpreted currently as concern over domestic security and stability. Concern for Egypt’s strategic security and the safety of its external borders, however, has always been at the core of the military’s psyche.”
She is the author of six books: Suakin and Massawa under Egyptian Rule (University Press of America, 1979), Palestine and the Egyptian National Identity (PRAEGER, 1992), The Islamic Mobilization of Women in Egypt (University Press of Florida, 1996), Syria and the Palestinians: The Clash of Nationalisms (University Press of Florida, 2001), and Palestinian Refugees: Pawns to Political Actors (Nova Science Publishers, 2003). Her latest book, Palestine and the Egyptian Press: From al-Ahram to al-Ahali, was released by Lexington Books in 2007. She is also the editor of an encyclopedia volume, Children in the Middle East and North Africa, published by Greenwood Press.
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is author of No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. As senior policy analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she became a whistleblower when the EPA ignored her complaints about a U.S. company harming the environment and human health in its vanadium mining in South Africa. Denied promotion, she sued and won a jury verdict finding EPA guilty of discrimination. Coleman-Adebayo is a founder of the No FEAR Coalition and EPA Employees Against Racism. Under her leadership No FEAR organized a grassroots campaign that won passage of the “Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act.” Coleman-Adebayo serves on the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center and was inducted into the Project on Government Oversight’s Hall of Fame. She is an editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report.
Announcing its intention to “shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war,” the ExposeFacts organization launched on Wednesday with a news conference in Washington and the debut of its website declaring “Whistleblowers Welcome.”
The ExposeFacts.org site will feature the “SecureDrop” whistleblower submission system, provided by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “At a time when key provisions of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments are under assault,” ExposeFacts said in a statement, “we are standing up for a free press, privacy, transparency and due process as we seek to reveal official information — whether governmental or corporate — that the public has a right to know.”
Speakers at the Washington news conference included National Security Agency whistleblowers William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe as well as Environmental Protection Agency whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo.
This week’s show:
- U.S. Pakistan Policy “Threatening Another 9/11” – an interview with Fred Branfman
- Government and media cover up of the BP oil spill – an interview with Hugh B. Kaufman
Fred Branfman has written a dozen articles warning that U.S. policy towards Pakistan is a national security disaster, including two recent Salon pieces entitled “The Petraeus Projection, The CIA Director’s Record Since The Surge“. Branfman is best known for having exposed the CIA’s secret war in Laos.
Quote: “Short-sighted U.S. policy is creating a national security disaster in Pakistan. The U.S. policy of trying to win in tiny Afghanistan by extending its war-making into giant, nuclear-armed Pakistan — including drone strikes, cross-border raids, illegal U.S. ground assassination and forcing the Pakistani Army to wage scorched-earth offensives … threatens the greatest U.S. foreign policy disaster since its support for Iran’s Shah, including another domestic 9/11. …U.S. policy has led to an increase in the strength of militant groups in Pakistan, vastly increased the ranks of potential anti-U.S. suicide bombers in both Pakistan and the West, and increased the possibility of an anti-U.S. military coup. And, most significantly, as former U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has secretly warned, it has vastly increased the possibility of materials from Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile — the world’s fastest-growing and least stable — falling into terrorist hands. U.S.-Pakistan policy, largely designed by David Petraeus, had led over 69 percent of Pakistanis — over 125 million people — to regard the U.S. as their ‘enemy,’ and is thus sowing a whirlwind which threatens disaster in coming years. The U.S. badly needs to pull out of Afghanistan as soon as possible, end the drone strikes in Pakistan, and vastly increase its economic aid to Pakistan — particularly helping to extend its electricity grid, its top domestic priority — to reduce the threat of terrorism. Present U.S. policy is vastly increasing the threat of another 9/11 on American soil.”
Branfman’s previous articles include “Unintended Consequences in Nuclear-Armed Pakistan“.
Hugh B. Kaufman
Hugh B. Kaufman is presently a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER). Kaufman was a leading critic of the Federal government’s decision to use massive amounts of the toxic dispersant Corexit, on oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon accident on April 20, 2010. Prior to joining the EPA in the beginning of 1971, he was a Captain in the US Air Force. He helped write all the Federal laws regulating the treatment, storage, disposal, and remediation of solid and hazardous waste. For four decades he has been the EPA Chief Investigator on numerous contamination cases, including Love Canal and Times Beach.
In 1976, when he was Chief Investigator on Hazardous Sites, he came up with the idea for a major Government Emergency Response and Clean-up Program called “Superfund,” that was enacted in 1980. Beginning in 1997, he served as Chief Investigator for EPA’s National Ombudsman. In that role, he conducted numerous Federal investigations (which included public hearings) around the country on EPA’s response, clean-up, and remediation at hazardous sites. In this role, he led the investigation that uncovered the EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cover-up of the environmental effects of the collapse of the World Trade Center after the terrorist acts on September 11, 2001.
Mr. Kaufman is an engineer, holding both Bachelors and Masters degrees in that field from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He has testified numerous times before Congress as an expert on solid and hazardous waste and Federal response to releases of hazardous materials.