The Battle of Portland

I and my friend TD are relaunching a video series that we created way back in the George W. Bush Error … um, Era. It’s called Orwell Was An Optimist. They’re short satirical videos. Think of them as live action editorial cartoons. Why are we doing this? To rephrase Lenin, sometimes you just have to be “as ridiculous as reality itself.”

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Policing the Police: A Conversation with Judge LaDoris Cordell

Here’s the latest online version of Other Voices TV, a deeply moving conversation with Judge LaDoris Cordell.

Judge Cordell has been in residence in my personal pantheon for a long time. She is a brilliant and fierce advocate for justice, in the broadest possible sense of that word. And she is tireless.

She has spoken at so many rallies that I’ve organized that I’ve lost count. And she always — always — gets the loudest cheers for her speeches. Deservedly so.

Here’s a speech she gave — “Necessary Trouble” — at Unity Rally: Stand Against Hate, Racism and Misogyny, in December 2016, on the eve of the Electoral College vote.

She has also been on Other Voices TV multiple times:

Courting Disaster: The Supreme Court (Sept. 2018)
Jeff Sessions’ Dept. of INjustice (Oct. 2017) Remember Jeff Sessions?
Broken Justice: Rethinking Our Cops and Courts (July 2015) Sound familiar?

As long as I’m strewing your path with links, early on in this conversation a brief reference is made to Prof. Clay Carson of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute at Stanford. His appearance on Other Voices Online a couple of weeks ago, which prompted the reference, can be found here. (h/t to SR for suggesting this link)

Judge Cordell has a very long CV, so I’ll let her tell you herself. I lifted this from her website. Watch the video.

Video: Even the crashed economy is rigged

My first crack at hosting a webinar is now online. Another lively conversation with Dr. Jack Rasmus about the pandemic economy — or what’s left of it. We need a major stimulus bill aimed at creating jobs, green jobs. We’re not getting that. We are getting more talk about tax cuts for the rich. It’s sick.

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The seas are rising and so are we! A virtual climate rally.

I’ve been away from the blog for a bit because I’ve been helping my former employer, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, organize an online Virtual Climate Rally. In addition to learning and testing the online platform (Zoom … what else?), I’ve mostly had my head buried in Adobe Premiere editing the video you see above. It was worth the effort.

Friday, April 24 was originally set as the date for another round of global protests like the Global Climate Strike that took place last September. The virus dashed those plans.

As a result of going virtual, however, we’ve ended up with a film filled with inspiration. As the individual videos arrived from the student activists who had been invited to speak, I was touched time and again. Here they are facing two immense threats to their future — a global pandemic that is still burning out of control and the specter of climate change — yet each of them expressed determination and hope.

“Virtual” anything is a poor substitute for the real thing. But the dedication and commitment evinced by these young people is absolutely authentic.

In addition to the inspiration, the video features a moving musical interlude from blues man Kenny Neal and some fun video surprises engineered by editing wizard TD. After watching, please share far and wide!

Here’s the contact info for everybody appearing in the video.

Julia Zeitlin – Student and founder of Sunrise Movement Palo Alto Hub
https://www.facebook.com/SunrisePaloAlto/ or email sunrisemvmntpaloalto@gmail.com

Aria Luna – Young artist and climate activist Aria Luna, who showcases a short animation she created for this special event.
https://www.arialuna.com

Kristy Mualim – Kristy Mualim is formally trained as a computational geneticist at Stanford University, and is also part of the Sunrise Movement fighting for state-level Green New Deal policies. email sunrisemvmntpaloalto@gmail.com

Kenny Neal is known as a modern swamp-blues and multi-instrumentalist. His Grammy nominated songs draw from the sizzling sounds of his native Louisiana.
http://www.kennyneal.net/

Tahoe Roe – Student and member of the outreach team from Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strike
https://www.svyouthclimatestrike.org/

Priyanka Joshi – Student and member of the Mitty Advocacy Project
https://www.mitty.com/campus-ministry/social-justice-advocacy1

Maggie Dong –  Maggie Dong is an outreach lead for the California Youth Climate Strike and the Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strike team.
https://www.svyouthclimatestrike.org/

Jamie Minden – Student and co-founder of Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strikes. Active member of the Sunrise Movement.
https://www.svyouthclimatestrike.org/

Chris Field – Professor and Director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Former Chair, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
https://woods.stanford.edu/

Other Voices TV: Handicapping the candidates’ positions on Middle East issues

So many hot spots, so little time. I decided to approach this interview using the stances of the Democratic candidates for president as a lens. I think it worked pretty well.

We covered Israel-Palestine, Iran, and Yemen pretty thoroughly, even with only an hour. There’s also a fascinating segment on Sudan, which Prof. Zunes recently visited.

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Video: Haiti – Ten Years After the Earthquake

It was a pleasure to be able to sit down with my old friend Pierre Labossiere last night. What has happened politically in Haiti since the catastrophic earthquake is a tragedy. After the great optimism of the Aristide years — an optimism rooted in real advances in alleviating poverty and inequality — the elites have seized absolute control once again. And the repression of dissent hearkens back to the dark time of the dictatorship. And it hardly merits a word in the media. That’s why I put time and energy into alternative media.

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Video: Impeachment 101

This entire program was worth doing for the concise definition of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” alone. But there’s so much more, including an analysis of the effect of this scandal on Ukraine, delivered by a long time expert in the region. Matt Harrigan is a lecturer in political science and Janey Curry is a professor of political science. Both are faculty at Santa Clara University.

Another significant 50th anniversary, but you’re not likely to see any TV specials about it

Screenshots from 8mm home movies of the historic anti-war march on Washington, November 15, 1969. Home movies can be seen at the bottom of this post. Original film courtesy of Bob De Lucia.

This past summer was defined by 50th anniversary commemorations. First out of the gate was the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, a historic event certainly worthy of review. And did it ever get reviewed — TV specials, newspaper inserts, even a commemorative coin issued by the U.S. mint.

Then came August and the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. The Woodstock celebrations were personal for me as someone who had actually gone to Woodstock. More commemorative events and publications. Even a stamp. But no coin as far as I know.

Coming up soon is another significant 50th anniversary event, another one with deep personal meaning for me — the anniversary of the massive Vietnam War Moratorium March on Washington, which took place on November 15, 1969, exactly three months after Woodstock. I was there, too.

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For Gandhi’s 150th Birthday: Learning from Gandhi and MLK

The latest installment of Other Voices TV was taped just last night, making it just in time for the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth today (10/2/1869). The basic thrust of the program was to discuss the upcoming conference at Stanford University called The Gandhi-King Global Initiative, an effort to forge an international network of organizations and activists dedicated to nonviolent struggle for human rights. And we did talk about the conference, but we also reviewed the personal journeys of Gandhi and King as they developed their own ideas about nonviolent resistance. My guest was Clay Carson, the founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford.

I thought one observation that Clay made was quite interesting: that Gandhi and King made their significant impacts on their respective societies in remarkably different time scales. Gandhi came to activism relatively late in life, met with limited success early on, but kept at it over a long period of time. King, alternatively, started young and had a very short period of activism (12 years) before he was assassinated. Moral of the story: there is no how-to guide for activism.

I interviewed Clay once before, back in 2014 for a program marking the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer (1964). It remains one of my favorite OV programs. You can see it here. The Freedom Summer episode was taped before the studio went all HD and it’s a bit jarring to see it today in comparison with our current video quality. But still well worth your time (as is the current episode, of course).