On The Monitor this week:
- Mike Dieterich on Climate Change and the looming Southeast Asia refugee crisis
- Ira Helfand on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
More about this week’s guests:
Mike Dieterich is a LEED Accredited Professional, environmental scientist, award winning producer, and bestselling author. He has worked in the sustainability industry with local-small businesses to state agencies, federal groups, international companies and nonprofit organizations. He is the author of Renew & Sustain: A cutting edge approach to being socially responsible, environmentally conscious, and incredibly profitable for businesses, schools, and government. He recently published The Future Muslim Climate Refugee where he writes: “in 20–30 years we are going to have 50 to 200 Million people moving out of Southeast Asia alone. A lack of food caused by warming oceans, acidification, and over fishing.
Ira Helfand is past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently co-president of that group’s global federation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He is a frequent speaker on Climate Change, nuclear power, nuclear waste, radiation exposure, Iran nuclear crisis, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, nuclear war, terrorism and preparedness, nuclear Famine
Quote: “Two things were most notable in the overwhelming vote for this treaty. One was the urgency felt by the representatives of 122 countries who voted for it. The other was the rather crude and revealing statement put out by the ‘P3’ — the U.S., Britain and France. When this process began several years ago, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council [P5] — U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China — put out a statement against the treaty, arguing that it wasn’t the most useful approach and distracted from their alleged efforts to get rid of their nuclear weapons. The P3 statement on Friday made clear the real basis of their opposition to the treaty: ‘We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.’ It is not the timing or the specifics of the treaty that they object to. They intend to maintain their policy of mutually assured destruction forever, even though they are legally required to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The apparent instability of the U.S. president highlights the danger of maintaining arsenals of nuclear weapons that constitute an existential threat to human survival and underlines the need for this treaty as the next step to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons as quickly as possible.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Is the Obama administration’s Climate Change legislation hit or miss? We talk with Daphne Wysham
- Last week Israeli PM Netanyahu addressed American Jews about the Iran nuclear deal. What does this tell us about Jewish American identity? We discuss the implications with Abba Solomon
More about this week’s guests:
Abba Solomon (@Abba_A_Solomon) is a writer, visual artist, historical researcher and programmer living in Seattle. He is the author of The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews’. The book is the outcome of his research, started in 2007, when he lived for the summer in Manhattan and, in the New York Public Library, and was looking into his grandparents’ life in New York City after immigration as teenagers from Lithuania, Poland and Russia in the Nineteen-oughts. In the Jewish history division at the New York Public Library, he came across a Zionist American leaflet from the 1920s, enlisting American Jews to the building of a Jewish home in Palestine. That sparked his interest in the appeals to American Jews for the Zionist project, and the choices his grandparents and their children made, to Socialism, to religion, to secular education, to American civic beliefs of equality. To learn more of the 1950 Blaustein-Ben Gurion agreement setting “ground rules” for relations between the “Jewish State” and American Jews, he visited the Jacob Blaustein papers at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore where he researched the American Jewish Committee (AJC) chairman Jacob Blaustein’s February 1948 speech, “The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews,” and speech draft. He then spent a year in New York at the AJC archives and at the Center for Jewish History archives. His interest was the process of the non-Zionist AJC and other American Jewish organizations adjusting to and co-existing with the Jewish nationalist idea and the Jewish State.
Quote: “As with valorizing American naval intelligence spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard, this decision shows the Israeli government’s chronic confusion about the status of Jewish Americans. It’s the end result of Zionism’s 100-plus year assertion of Jews as a nationality. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reckless plan for an address to American Jews highlights the Israeli government’s obsession with Jewish identity that has proved historically dangerous to gentile residents of Palestine, and is alien to the American ideal of shared citizenship regardless of race or creed. Together with his March address to the U.S. Congress on an unprecedented mission to destroy President Obama’s Iran negotiations, Netanyahu is forcing re-examination by American Jews of the sympathy they’ve maintained for Israel because Israeli Jews are co-religionists. Netanyahu’s behavior, the 48-year military occupation ruling over non-Israelis, and increasingly reported instances of Jewish extremist violence, are bringing the majority of American Jews — if not major Jewish institutions yet — to a wary relationship with the volatile, nuclear-armed State of Israel.”
On The Monitor this week:
- What can the experience of the Iraq war teach us about the Iranian nuclear program? We talk with former Iraqi nuclear scientist Imad Khadduri
- National news is increasingly covering the deaths of people, many/most of them minorities, while in police custody. The case of Sandra Bland in Texas is only one such case. Increasingly, these cases are gaining exposure because of citizen video documentation. We talk with Miami multimedia journalist Carlos Miller, the founder of Photography is Not a Crime
More about this week’s guests
Imad Khadduri has an MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan (United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 until 1998. He was able to leave Iraq in late 1998 with his family. He now teaches and works as a network administrator in Toronto, Canada. He has been interviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, CBC, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, BBC, CTV, the Toronto Star, Reuters, Democracy Now, Dubai Business TV Channel, al-Jazeera satellite channel and various other news agencies in regards to his knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear program. Khadduri is author of the books Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991. He now runs the “Free Iraq” blog.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled since the 1991 attack on Iraq. In a November 21, 2002 article, a few months before the occupation, “Iraq’s nuclear non-capability,” he wrote: “Bush and Blair are pulling their public by the nose, covering their hollow patriotic egging on with once again shoddy intelligence. But the two parading emperors have no clothes.”
Max Fisher claimed in Vox recently that if “Iran tried to block inspectors…that would blow up the deal. … This was something that so infuriated the world when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein tried it in 1998 that it ended with his country getting bombed shortly thereafter.” Khadduri’s response: “This doesn’t reflect what actually happened. The U.S. used inspectors as a method of espionage, not for legitimate arms inspections purposes. Scott Ritter notes in a recent article titled ‘We ain’t found shit‘ why the Iranians shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites. The ‘no notice’ inspection on Iraq didn’t help with the disarmament process, but they were a gold mine for illegitimate espionage. The Iranians learned from our mistakes and they were much better negotiators.” The New York Times earlier this year published a piece by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006 and now with the American Enterprise Institute. In the piece, ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,’ he claims: “The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq.” It’s a claim that’s long been made by war hawks, for example, Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic has claimed: “In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.” Again Khadduri responds: “This is nonsense. I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program. The Israeli attack didn’t end the nuclear weapons program, it began it.” Khadduri added: “The Iranian nuclear program is peaceful. Their nuclear program started in the 1950s under the U.S. government’s Atoms for Peace project, which sent Iraq, Iran and other counties nuclear plans. In the case of Iraq, it was a gift from the U.S. for joining the Baghdad Pact. After the revolution in Iraq ended the monarchy, the U.S. built for Iran the plant they were going to build for us. …The Iranian nuclear program really took off in the 1970s after the U.S. convinced the Shah that he could be a regional power only if he embraced the atom. But the U.S. was trying to gouge the Shah, so he had the Germans build his reactors. A main component of the Iranian program is a research reactor used for medical purposes — even Iranian Americans frequently go back to Tehran for chemo because it’s provided for free. …When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he stopped work on Iranian nuclear facilities. He had already come to the position that having nuclear weapons was religiously prohibited and the financial costs were enormous. But he eventually allowed it to be restarted for peaceful purposes since the costs of cancelling the contracts were high. During the war with Iran, Iraq attacked the Iranian nuclear facilities more than 12 times, but they were minor attacks. But after the Iranians bombed Iraqi oil refineries, Saddam ordered the destruction of two Iranian reactors in 1987, killing 14 people including one German and the Germans withdrew. Since then, the Iranians have been struggling to have a serious nuclear program for civilian purposes, and the U.S. has continuously put up road blocks. The recent deal compromises Iran’s notion of nuclear sovereignty, but gets the Iranians what they really wanted.”
Carlos Miller was arrested for taking photos of Miami police during a journalistic assignment in order to document his trial in 2007. Shortly afterwards he founded Photography is Not a Crime. He quickly learned that citizens from all over the country were being harassed, threatened and arrested for recording in public, so he began documenting these incidents on his blog as he waited for his trial to begin.
By the time he went to trial more than a year later, the blog had developed a significant following who not only began learning about their rights, but also exercising those rights, many of them equipped with newly introduced smartphones which allowed them to record and upload videos instantly, something that had never been possible before.
Photography is Not a Crime, which became known as PINAC, inspired many new blogs, Youtube channels and Facebook pages that became dedicated to documenting police abuses throughout the country, sparking the movement that continues to grow today that is holding police accountable better than the mainstream media, politicians or the police themselves.
Today, PINAC is an evolving multi-staffed news site of writers, researchers and correspondents in almost every state.
For more background on the growth of PINAC, click on this story by the Columbia Journalism Review. Also, check out the above video by We Are Change where Miller talks about the birth of the blog. And here is a nice piece from the Florida Times-Union that provides good background.
On The Monitor this week:
- The P5+1 Negotiations with Iran finally led somewhere, but where? We talk about the nuclear deal with Gareth Porter
- Mumia Abu Jamal was rushed to hospital last week. We discuss his case and his health with Noelle Hanrahan
More about this week’s guests:
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian who specialises in U.S. national security policy. He is the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, published by Just World Books in February 2014.
He writes regularly for IPS and has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is also the author of four books on the Vietnam War and the political system of Vietnam. Historian Andrew Bacevich called his latest book, ‘Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War’, published by University of California Press in 2005, “without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade.” He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. You can follow him on Twitter and read his latest articles online as well.
AP reports: “Former death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal was rushed to a hospital to be treated for complications from diabetes, according to family members and supporters who asserted Tuesday that the state prison system has been providing him with substandard medical care. Abu-Jamal’s blood sugar was dangerously high when he arrived at Schuylkill Medical Center on Monday, and he could have slipped into a diabetic coma, relatives and supporters said at a news conference outside the hospital, where he remained under heavy guard. ‘He’s still very weak,’ said his wife, Wadiya Jamal. …
Amnesty International has maintained that Abu-Jamal’s trial was ‘manifestly unfair’ and failed to meet international fair trial standards. His writings and radio broadcasts from death row put him at the center of an international debate over capital punishment and made him the subject of books and movies.”
Noelle Hanrahan is a private investigator and journalist based in Philadelphia, Hanrahan is director of Prison Radio. She edited Mumia Abu-Jamal’s book All Things Censored and for years has produced his recordings from death row and now from prison. He has always maintained his innocence and many human rights groups have charged irregularities in his trial. She helped produce the documentary “Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
On The Monitor this week:
- What’s Next at Fukushima? Are U.S. Nuclear Plants at Risk? with Radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, Kevin Kamps said: “The condition of the high-level radioactive waste storage pools at the Fukushima-Daiichi reactors remains perilous. Another big earthquake could prompt a sudden drain-down of the Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool. The Unit 3 pool may be in even worse shape. … Few lessons from Fukushima have been learned in the U.S. One of the most important should be that high density U.S. pools are emptied into hardened on-site storage as soon as possible, before the worst happens, whether due to natural disaster or terrorist attack.”
- NSA Surveillance and Our “Almost Orwellian” State with Cindy Cohn – Legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which recently released the assessment “Obama Takes First Steps Toward Reforming NSA Surveillance, but Leaves Many Issues Unaddressed,” Cohn represented a broad range of groups, including the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and gun ownership advocates in “First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA.”
More about this week’s guests:
Kevin Kamps: Radioactive Waste Watchdog
Kevin Kamps specializes in high-level waste management and transportation; new and existing reactors; decommissioning; Congress watch; climate change; federal subsidies.Click on Kevin’s name to open full bio. And see Kevin Kamps’ 1992 Walk Across America for Mother Earth“Winter Count Poster” and key, documenting the cross country march that introduced him to anti-nuclear activism.
Cindy Cohn is the Legal Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as its General Counsel. She is responsible for overseeing the EFF’s overall legal strategy and supervising EFF’s fourteen staff attorneys. Ms. Cohn first became involved with the EFF in 1993, when the EFF asked her to serve as the outside lead attorney inBernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. Outside the Courts, Ms. Cohn has testified before Congress, been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere for her work on digital rights and has traveled onto the Internet withStephen Colbert.
This week marks the midpoint of KPFT‘s pledge drive. The Monitor has a goal of $800 per show each of the 3 weeks of pledge drive. We fell a little short last week so please consider making a donation by phone at 713-526-5738 or online at www.kpft.org to help us meet this week’s goal, make up for last week’s shortfall or give us a head start on next week’s goal .
This week’s show focuses on the topic of Iran, nuclear weapons and Syria. Is the conflict in Syria the backdoor to a war with Iran? Our sole guest this week is Flynt Leverett.
If you donate $100 during the show you can get a copy of Going to Tehran. You can still pledge $150 during the show for the Palast Combo Pack: Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal and Election in 9 Easy Steps and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic or you have either book for $100 each.
More about this week’s guest:
Flynt Leverett is a professor at Pennsylvania State University’s School of International Affairs and is a Visiting Scholar at Peking University’s School of International Studies.
Dr. Leverett has spoken about U.S.-Iranian relations at foreign ministries and strategic research centers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. He has been a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University.
Dr. Leverett holds a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
You can read his full bio here.
About Going to Tehran:
An eye-opening argument for a new approach to Iran, from two of America’s most informed and influential Middle East experts
Less than a decade after Washington endorsed a fraudulent case for invading Iraq, similarly misinformed and politically motivated claims are pushing America toward war with Iran. Today the stakes are even higher: such a war could break the back of America’s strained superpower status. Challenging the daily clamor of U.S. saber rattling, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett argue that America should renounce thirty years of failed strategy and engage with Iran—just as Nixon revolutionized U.S. foreign policy by going to Beijing and realigning relations with China.
Former analysts in both the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Leveretts offer a uniquely informed account of Iran as it actually is today, not as many have caricatured it or wished it to be. They show that Iran’s political order is not on the verge of collapse, that most Iranians still support the Islamic Republic, and that Iran’s regional influence makes it critical to progress in the Middle East. Drawing on years of research and access to high-level officials, Going to Tehran explains how Iran sees the world and why its approach to foreign policy is hardly the irrational behavior of a rogue nation.
A bold call for new thinking, the Leveretts’ indispensable work makes it clear that America must “go to Tehran” if it is to avert strategic catastrophe.
This week’s show takes a closer look at the facts regarding Food Stamps and the assassination of nuclear scientists in Iran. Our guests are Timothy Casey and Muhammad Sahimi.
Timothy Casey is senior staff attorney with Legal Momentum, “the nation’s oldest legal defense and education fund dedicated to advancing the rights of all women and girls.”
Quote: “When it comes to programs to aid the poor, some of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination are rushing to the bottom. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have played the race card, implying that Food Stamps and other programs for those in need are programs for Blacks. But the facts are to the contrary — only one quarter of Food Stamp recipients are African-American. Gingrich has also said that poor children have no one around them who works. In fact, the majority of poor children have working parents. Comments like these cheapen public and political discourse as they distort the facts. Due to its official renaming as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Food Stamps program is now known as SNAP. Gingrich and Santorum have also criticized the growth in SNAP participation in recent years. However, that growth was due to recession and a slow recovery. SNAP and other programs for the needy are designed to expand when economic times are hard. This counter-cyclical increase in spending both aids the poor and helps fuel job growth.
The truth is that the SNAP program provides vitally important food aid to help the needy achieve a nutritionally adequate diet. The program currently serves 22 million low income households with 46 million household members. Three quarters of participants are in households that include children and one quarter are in households that include elderly or disabled individuals. Only low income households are eligible — the vast majority of participants have net incomes lower than the official poverty standard, currently $18,530 a year for a family of three. Benefits can be used only to purchase food and are meager in amount, averaging $135 per person a month. Even with these benefits, about half of Food Stamp households report that they are still having difficulty in obtaining enough food and about one fifth report that they have had to reduce their food intake due to insufficient funds.
Mitt Romney, as well as Gingrich and Santorum, are urging SNAP ‘reforms’ based on the ‘welfare reforms’ enacted by a Republican-controlled Congress and President Clinton in 1996. Those reforms ‘block granted’ cash assistance, placing an arbitrary cap on federal spending and repealing national protective standards. Block granting cash welfare assistance reduced benefit receipt from 60 percent of poor families pre-reform to only about 20 percent of poor families today, and from over 80 percent of eligible families pre-reform to less than 40 percent today. Block granting cash aid also led to sharply reduced benefits that in every state are now less than half the poverty standard.
Because of the cuts in cash assistance, the SNAP program now aids several times more poor children than cash assistance does. In an average month in 2010, Food Stamps aided 8.9 million families with children while cash assistance aided only 1.9 million.
Block granting SNAP would threaten the same result that block granting welfare cash assistance has had: far fewer needy households aided by SNAP and sharply reduced SNAP benefit amounts.
A contraction of SNAP assistance would pose an especially grave threat to poor families headed by single mothers, as the cuts in cash assistance have made SNAP increasingly indispensable to these families. In 2010, about 40 percent of single mothers were poor and about 40 percent received SNAP. Only 10 percent received cash welfare assistance.
Poverty rates are already exceptionally high in the United States compared to other high income countries. A SNAP retrenchment would raise poverty rates even higher. In 2010, SNAP brought combined income over the poverty line for four million individuals whose cash income was below the poverty line.”
Website: Legal Momentum
Muhammad Sahimi is a professor of chemical engineering and materials science, and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Chair in petroleum engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is also lead political columnist for the website PBS/Frontline/Tehran Bureau. In addition to his scientific research, which has resulted in four books and nearly 300 published papers, he has been writing about Iran’s nuclear program and its internal developments for many years.
His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard International Review, and the Progressive, among other publications.
Muhammad has been a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists since 1986, and a contributor to its Partners for Earth program.
Quote: “The latest assassination is part of the covert war that the U.S. and Israel have been waging on Iran for quite some time. The covert war may eventually lead to an overt war, because state-sponsored assassinations of Iranian scientists may provoke Iran to retaliate, which will spark a war that, if started, may engulf the entire region.”