Ralph Nader Radio Hour

When I was 14 years old, I heard Ralph Nader say that box cereal was less nutritious than the box it came in, and you'd get more nutrition out of tearing up the box and pouring sugar and milk over it, and eating that for breakfast. That's the kind of genius that Ralph Nader produces constantly, and why his ideas changed the world for Americans more than perhaps any political thinker of the late 20th century. He remains more relevant than virtually every other political thinker currently on the scene.

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RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 113: Mickey Huff; David Freeman; Dr. Gordon Douglas
May 15, 2016

In a fast paced and lively hour, Ralph interviews media critic, Mickey Huff, of Project Censored, eco-pioneer, David Freeman, who is trying to shut down the last nuclear power plant in California at Diablo Canyon, and food and nutrition expert, Dr. Gordon Douglas. Plus listener questions!


Mickey Huff is the director of Project Censored, which is a book that comes out every year that reports the top-25 independent news stories, which corporate media have ignored, misrepresented, or censored. He is currently professor of social science and history at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay area, where he is co-chair of the history department. Mr. Huff is also co-host of the Project Censored Show (http://projectcensored.org/category/radio/), which airs weekly on Pacifica’s KPFA and thirty-five others stations.


David Freeman is an engineer, an attorney, and an author, who has been called an “eco-pioneer,” for his environmentally conscious leadership of both the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. He is also a noted anti-nuclear activist, currently working hard to shut down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Central California. He is the author of a number of books on energy policy, including Winning Our Energy Independence.


Dr. Gordon Douglas is a physician who specialized in infectious diseases during a distinguished career that included teaching, research, and administration, as well as clinical medicine. Dr. Douglas was the founding president of Merck’s Vaccine Division and along with his wife Sheila Mahoney created the program “Princeton Studies Food” a coalition of faculty, researchers, students, alumni, staff, and community members tackling the challenge of feeding the world’s people while preserving the Earth and its resources.


Steve Skrovan: From the KPFK Studios in Southern California it’s the Ralph Nader Radio Hour

[Music Plays]

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with the man of the hour, Ralph Nader, gearing up for the big “Breaking Through Power” conference, which is coming up in about a week or so now, Ralph. How’s the plans?

Ralph Nader: We’re doing a lot of media, and we had a fullpage ad in New York Times on May 7th. It laid out the whole four days for people who want to learn in a compressed encouraging, exciting way how citizen groups are making real change in this country, even though they don’t get that much press. Second, whether you want to get involved and engaged with these citizen groups we’re going to talk about this hour.

Steve Skrovan: Very good. We have another jam packed show for you today. In the second half of the show we’re going to talk about food, health, nutrition and sustainability with Dr. Gordon Douglas of the Princeton Studies Food Program. We’re going to talk more about energy with long time energy expert David Freeman, who also will be a speaker at the “Breaking Through Power” conference. Per usual, we will check in with our Corporate Crime Reporter, Russell Mokhiber, the Nero Wolfe of the Corporate Crime Beat. But our first guest will also be at the “Breaking Through Power” conference. Mickey Huff is the director of Project Censored, which is a book that comes out every year and reports the top 25 independent news stories, which corporate media had ignored, misrepresented, or censored. He is currently professor of Social Science and History at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay Area where he is also the cochair of the History Department. Mr. Huff is also a cohost of the Project Censored Show, which airs weekly as we do now on Pacific’s KPFA and 35 other stations. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour Mickey Huff.

Mickey Huff: Hi Steve. It’s good to be here.

Ralph Nader: Good to have you on the show, Mickey. Why don’t you tell people how Project Censored got underway, the role of students, then give a few examples in your latest volume on Project Censored about what kind of stories were suppressed, distorted, censored by the commercial media?

Mickey Huff: Yeah. Absolutely Ralph. Thank so much for having me back on your program. It’s also an honor to be invited to this wonderful 50th Anniversary of Unsafe At Any Speed “Breaking Through Power.” Project Censored was founded forty years ago. It’s our 40th anniversary this year. We were founded in 1976 by Carl Jensen, former newsman and professor at Sonoma State University, who was going back and looking at the problems of the corporate media coverage in terms of the Watergate scandal and discovered that a lot of the alternative independent press were talking about the problems, the myriad problems of the Nixon Administration. But he was wondering how they swept through and won so decisively in reelection, particularly regarding the Watergate Scandal. And that led him to start looking at what else the corporate news media missed that the alternative news media were actually covering. That’s how the project was born. And he turned it into a project where the students would actually go through hundreds of alternative news sources. They would choose stories, and then they would look and see if corporate news back then it was just the network news and the newspaper, major newspapers they didn’t have cable and Internet 24/7 news and so forth yet but that’s how it started. It started really as a critical media literacy education program to train the next generation of critical thinkers, people that could do construct corporate media and deep state media propaganda and also be citizen journalists. That’s what Project Censored continues to do forty years later.

Ralph Nader: Mickey, give some example say, seven, eight, nine examples of stories in your most recent annual book that is published every year by Seven Stories Press in New York City. Give the title of the book, how they can get that, and then give some examples, so people will get an idea of just how important these stories are that they don’t see covered in the commercial media.

Mickey Huff: Yeah, absolutely Ralph, definitely. Special thanks to Seven Stories Press for being our long time publisher. And Andy Lee Roth my associate director and I are turning around these books in a few months. We work all year, and then the last few months here basically from now through July we work steadily with Seven Stories Press, and they turn around this volume three, 400 page, book that’s full of media analysis and the top stories. For example, in our Censored 2016 book Media Freedom on the Line, our top story was one on global wealth. It was based on Oxfam report that got very little corporate news media coverage that half the global wealth was owned by the 1% and what the consequences of that happened to be in terms of global poverty and suffering and so forth and inequality. We also covered the oil industry dumping frack water into aquifers in the state of California. Something that got some local coverage when we’d think it would get far more coverage on the dangers of fracking everywhere, not just earthquakes but massive pollution. This is for a dying energy source. And it’s going in the exact opposite direction as we approach four hundred parts per million, sort of a points of no return here in some cases at least for generations. There are very significant stories about how we’re committing ecocide. Several islands in the Pacific were basically just buried by the Pacific Ocean from rising sea levels. The coral reef is being bleached from rising sea temperatures. These are all connected stories. Part of what we do as a project is we try to connect the dots in those stories, because we believe that that’s what journalists are supposed to do. We also celebrate the fact that independent journalists do these things. They just tend to not get a lot of attention. We covered the methane and Arctic warming stories. We covered the ongoing disaster at Fukushima. But we don’t just cover negative stories. One of the stories we covered was on the popular resistance to corporate water grabbing. From Bolivia to Costa Rica through other countries and particularly Latin America, Southern American countries, there are movements of popular movement, citizen movement where people are rising up, grassroots fashion and taking back the rights to the resources that belong to the people, not private corporations per profit. Those are the kind of stories that we think that the news media are supposed to cover; and we celebrate those intrepid journalists that have the integrity and courage to cover them.

Ralph Nader: Mickey, how about the Israeli/Palestinians story? The daily life of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza that have been called world’s largest gulag. You’ve had stories on that have been demonstrative of your point in these books that they’ve been censored by even places like the New York Times or the national news TV networks. You want to describe that briefly?

Mickey Huff: Absolutely. We’ve long covered Israeli apartheid in Palestine. And we’ve covered the boycott/divestment/sanctions movement. We’ve covered the massive discrepancy in terms of the numbers of people killed by Israel and Israeli Defense Force, including large numbers of children in Gaza. Not only have we covered these kinds of stories, whether they come from electronic intifada, Nora BarrowsFriedman and Ali Abunimah and other great reporters out west. But we’ve had entire chapters in our book that focused and highlight on that. And including on our latest book, we had an entire chapter that was both highlighting a problem and looking at solutions where we talked about the importance of women and women’s movements for social justice causes in both places like Palestine and Kashmir. Susan Rahman, Tara Dorabji wrote a fantastic expose of this. These are the kind of stories that we strongly believe are supposed to be in The New York Times and the Washington Post because of the powers that be, because of their ownership, the advertising and the reliance on significant official government top down sources that are strongly influence by AIPAC and others in the press and particularly the military industrial complex is the number one recipient of USAID, the military aid in the world. We think those definitely skew the interest and skew the coverage. We try to highlight the independent journalists that want to go and tell the truth about that. There’s a series of authors that have just recently visited Palestine and the West Bank, really well known bestselling authors, including Michael Chabon, that are seeing the carnage and the inhumanity and the war crimes that are being committed there. And our hope is they’ll spread this message far and wide to other people so that folks like Hillary Clinton can’t possibly stand up in front of a microphone and denounce a boycott/divestment/sanctions movement without acknowledging that apartheid exists in Israel, Palestine.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. That story is actually covered just recently in the Washington Post, very nicely: the trip to the West Bank and Gaza by these wellknown authors.

Mickey Huff: The authors, right? They’re bringing attention to it …

Ralph Nader: And they’re going to put out a book.

Mickey Huff: That’s what we hope.

Ralph Nader: Yeah and a lot of them are …

Mickey Huff: Yes. We hope so. That’s right. And we certainly hope they do.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. Let me ask you this: as I go through your annual book, it occurs to me that the reasons why these stories are either censored or deferred. Some of these stories are reported but pretty late, eight, nine, ten years late before they appear in your book Project Censored for example or in the independent media. Of course, advertising pressure leads to restriction of reporting. The reduction of the number of reporters has to have an effect. Investigative teams are restricted in number or actually eliminated in order to cut cost. What are your top three or four reasons why the press either doesn’t cover something when it should be covered timely, or waits until something disastrous erupts years later to cover it, or grotesquely distorts the coverage?

Mickey Huff: Well, a key thing that we deal with with our definition of censorship at Project Censored is that censorship is, according to us, it’s anything that interferes with the free flow of information in a society that purports to have free press principles. In fact, our founder Carl Jensen in with that had said he’s concerned about where censorship takes place, but he’s more concerned about the impact or effect it has in the population where the information isn’t reaching “we the people” so that we can act upon it intelligently to try to transform and change our systems of government, which are oligarchic and plutocratic. They are not democratic or republican in their form. And even the elite universities of Princeton and Northwestern published a study on that three years ago. Again, we think propaganda is one of the worst forms of censorship the halftruths, the slighting of content, the attacking and labeling or dismissal of ideas that don’t jibe with the status quo or establishment interests. Propaganda is absolutely rampant in places like the United States. And it’s able to do so because it masquerades under principles of the free press that the public in many cases don’t question enough. Between the advertising and ownership of the media by six corporations that run 90% of it, which is down from 50 thirtyfive odd years ago when Ben Bagdikian the recently late Ben Bagdikian was blowing the whistle on it. Now we have six. And these are incredible pressures. And so too are the deep state interests. The interest of the Defense Department, the Orwellian Defense Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, they also have a hand in how stories are written. They also have a hand in determining what stories are published, which ones are ignored, which ones are buried. That’s a classic tactic for a newspaper to cover a story but bury in a local or state section. And then they can say “Oh, but we covered that.” And again, those are the many tactics that are used and unfortunately there are many more. This is a very sophisticated process the process of censorship and propaganda that began way back with Eddie Bernays in World War I and others and it’s been honed to a fine craft. And I have to say that it’s one of the most undemocratic and vicious challenges to befall the American population.

Ralph Nader: Mickey, the students who do so much of this work and selection, do they get course credit for this work?

Mickey Huff: Absolutely. I teach critical reasoning in history. Peter Phillips teaches the former director teaches sociology and censorship, sociology of power. Andy Roth teaches courses on these. We work with at least twenty different professors around the country, several hundred students and we belong to a group of not only are we part of National Coalition against Censorship but we belong more specifically to a cohort of media literacy organizations. We work with both junior college, four year colleges, the ACME group on Action Coalition for Media Literacy. Now, we’re working with graduate program in Connecticut, your home state. Believe it or not Sacred Heart University has a graduate program in media literacy digital culture. We’re crafting a media literacy education that we’re not waiting for Common Core. We’re not waiting for the colleges to say this is a project. We’re doing it ourselves. And with forty years experience in service learning, that’s what we’re doing. And we think education is the antidote to this top down propaganda.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. We’ve been talking to Mickey Huff, head of Project Censored. By the way, the listeners must be saying to themselves, you know, “I didn’t read about this.” This whole effort by the students and professors itself is almost censored and not given the adequate treatment that it deserves, especially since it relates to the very media that disregards it as a newsworthy subject to report. How do people get this book? And what kind of people have been buying this book? Is it for journalism classes, citizen groups? Very quickly as we wrap up. We’re way out of time, Mickey.

Mickey Huff: It’s all the above. Unfortunately, not enough journalism people, I think, pick up our book, because they think we’re critics of them. And we are. We’re constructive critics. We’re not trying to tear down the good work that some people do inside the corporate media. We’re trying to spread that kind of ethos of truthtelling and reporting the facts and letting people actually decide what’s going on. You’re right. Projectcensored.org, projectcensored.org is a place where people can learn about that. Our show, like yours, is on Pacifica, thirtyfive stations, “Project Censored Show.” And also check out or global critical media literacy website at gcml.org. And I hope that being part of the Breaking Through Power Conference, Ralph, you’re putting on is another way for Project Censored to be on the radar for people to find out that we’re still around, we’re still doing these things, and we look more and more for collaboration on how to spread the word and educate the public about the importance of media literacy.

Ralph Nader: Indeed. We’ve been talking with Mickey Huff, who is going to be at Constitution Hall on Tuesday, May 23rd. All day the subjects are going to be Breaking Through the Commercial Media and the cable monopolies for more serious content, more uplifting stories about what people are doing to improve the function of our democracy, for peace and justice and wellbeing. Thank you very much, Mickey. We’ll see you there. And I hope a lot of people will see you there. For those of you who want to get tickets, they are very available. Go to Breaking through Power, THROUGH, breakingthroughpower.org. A dazzling display, we call it. Those four days are called the Super Bowl of citizen action. Thank you, Mickey Huff.

Mickey Huff: Thank you Ralph Nader.

Steve Skrovan: We’ve been speaking to the director of Project Censored, Mickey Huff who you can see in person critiquing the media at Breaking Through Power at May 24th at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. Go to breakingthroughpower.org for details. And go to project censored.org for more details for Mickey Huff. Now, we’re going to keep moving along here and bring you another participant in the upcoming Breaking Through Power Conference. This next distinguished gentleman was actually our very first guest on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour over a year and a half ago. And we’re privileged to have him back. David Freeman is an engineer, an attorney and an author who’s been called an EcoPioneer for he’s environmentally conscious leadership of both the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. He's also a noted antinuclear activist, currently working hard to shutdown the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Central California. He’s the author of a number of books on energy policy, including Winning Our Energy Independence. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, David Freeman.

David Freeman: I'm glad to be here again. Nice to be invited back.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much, David. Let’s get right to it here. You're about to hear arguably the greatest energy expert in the United States. He not only has the academic background as a lawyer and engineer, he’s run at least four giant utilities, including two in California. He’s been the advisor to several Presidents. He has advised the first Governor Cuomo as well as the present governor Jerry Brown of California. And I don’t know anybody who’s had the hands on experience. He also shutdown a nuclear plant in Sacramento, one of the first nuclear plants to be shutdown, and as Steve Skrovan mentioned is in the process of making California nuclear power free. Let’s ask this question. I see these full page ads, David Freeman, by the Nuclear Energy Institute in the Washington Post, New York Times, basically saying, “Nuclear power is the way to go for clean air and for climate change safety.” What is your answer to that?

David Freeman: Well, the interesting thing is that even the utilities in this country are not paying attention to that ancient religion. The largest source of new energy now are solar and wind. The revolution is underway, and the real question is whether it will accelerate fast enough and save us from the catastrophe of climate change. We are in a race to see whether we can replace the fossil fuel plants and then the nuclear plants fast enough to avoid what the “family doctor,” namely the scientists, are telling us will be the end of life as we know it on this planet. The bad news is the dire predictions about climate. The good news is that the modern day Edisons have learned to harness the sun and the wind and to do it economically. And the fact that no one seems to be willing to accept is that the clean stuff over the life of the planet is cheaper cheaper than any of the fossil fuels or the nukes, which are the most expensive of all.

Ralph Nader: David, layout your energy plan over the next thirty, forty years, eminently practical. Lay it out for our listeners.

David Freeman: The first thing we got to do is to just pass a one sentence that says, “All new power plants have to be renewable.” Back in Jimmy Carter’s day, we outlawed gasfired power plants for a different reason then. This country has forgotten that the way a civilization that asserts itself on things that individuals can’t do is through laws. I’m speaking to a man that put seatbelts in the cars through a law. I don’t understand. The energy debate has got to move into real action. And the action is very simple. We outlaw any new power plant other than renewables. And that’s just part of it. Then we have to use that renewable electricity to replace heating and transportation. And the emissions are there. We just have to mandate that the cars that are sold, the green house gases have to go down 3% a year. In another words you pass a law that says the green house gases have to be reduced 3% a year. And you put a tax on the amount by which they fail to do it. If you just pass a carbon tax, you might collect some money, but you're not going to really to electrify the railroads, you're not going to have electric cars dominate us in the future. And so we have to pass a mandate. Namely, we tell the railroads you got ten years in which to go electric. And we provide a green bank to finance. How the hell do you think we got electricity in rural America? It was with a program with 2% loans and cooperatives that made it happen. This country knows how to do things. We just have to remind ourselves that we can get things done. But it requires laws. The marketplace will never get it done fast enough. In a hundred years we’re going to have all electric, all renewable. But if we wait a hundred years, we all be living on the North Pole or not living at all.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. We've been talking to David Freeman the eminent energy expert. And he's going to be at Constitutional Hall, the Super Bowl of citizen action over four days May 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th of this year. Coming up fast. The first day is Breaking Through Power: “How It's Done” with eighteen groups demonstrating it over the years. The second is Breaking Through The Media, so you can get more serious content on the public airways that you own, along with other Americans. The third day is Breaking Through War. Waging peace over waging war and some really great former military intelligence people are going to connect that day with traditional peace advocacy groups. Phil Donahue is going to show part of his film “Body of War. ” And the day that David Freeman is going to be speaking is called Breaking Through Congress. And you’ve heard him mention that we’ve got to get back to you using the law, using law enforcement against those who would expose the planet and our communities to pollution, to gouging prices, and to devastating climate norms. David, what is the future of nuclear power?

David Freeman: I wouldn’t use the word “dead.” I would say, “It’s dying.” And the interesting thing is that even the utilities are not going for new nuclear power plants. The real issue we have is can we put to rest about a hundred reactors that still are operating in this country and “retire them” before – to pardon my putting it – they “retire us” with Fukushimatype accidents. There are two existential threats to mankind. And we talk a lot about climate, which is one of them. But the other one is nuclear proliferation and nuclear accidents. And the interesting thing is that here in California, we’re talking about a double header. We’re going to not just shut down Diablo Canyon, but we’re going to replace it with renewable energy. One of the problems with the Beyond Coal and “beyond stuff” campaigns is we didn’t say what we’re going to do, what “the beyond” was going to be. And we’ve gone around replacing coal plants with natural gas. And natural gas, if you add the methane that’s emitted, is just as bad as coal. We got to go directly to renewable energy, not just for our electricity but then use that electricity in electric cars and electric trains and to heat pumps to heat with. We have the technology for an all electric completely allrenewable energy supply that will be cheaper. Let me tell you, what is the cheap power in America today? It’s the dams that Franklin Roosevelt built thirty, forty years ago. That was the first green power. We got to understand that if you have free fuel over the life of the power plant it’s going to be cheaper than coal, nuclear or anything else. So, we got a double header here, except that we’re up against most of the money in this country, the oil and gas industry and those guys. But unfortunately the environmental leadership of this country has not told the exciting, straight story that I’m going to be telling on Thursday, which is that we got a better mousetrap. We have a better product in terms of cost as well in terms of environment. If we don’t get this part straight, the first three days of your meeting, Ralph, isn’t going to really matter.

Ralph Nader: Ha…

David Freeman: If we don’t solve this climate problem and keep nuclear proliferation from blowing us to hell in a hand basket, then everything else really isn’t going to make much difference.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. We've talked about this. David Freeman hardly gets any mass media attention. The people who don’t know chatter away on national television about energy. And the people who do know so much, like David Freeman get marginalized. That’s one reason why day two May 24th is Breaking Through the Media. This is nonsense that the people who know about how to solve problems in our country, who have done it in small ways or pilot projects don’t get much attention. Steve Skrovan, do you have any comment or question you might want to ask David Freeman before we close?

Steve Skrovan: Sure. There are certain people, who are pushing for nuclear power, who I would call sort of technology mavens, like Bill Gates. What is their argument? What is your argument against them?

David Freeman: Well, my point is that these statements in favor of nuclear power are at least fifty or sixty years old. I've heard this song before. The plain truth of the matter is that the people that really believe in nuclear power, believe in a religion. It’s a religious belief that factually there is nothing that’s been a bigger failure in the whole energy field than nuclear power. It’s failed on the issue of cost. They have tried for fifty years to find a place to put the waste, and there is no safe place for it. The only answer is birth control. We got to stop making more nuclear waste, because we don’t know what to do with it. And then they said it was safe but thus far about every twenty years we wiped out a good chunk of Mother Earth, first over in the Ukraine then in Japan. We had a near miss at Three Mile Island. The plain truth of the matter is that nuclear power has failed on economics, it’s failed on safety. And we generate radioactive waste that are going to last for thousands of years. And nobody knew how much it’s going to cost to keep that stuff from contaminating us over the years. The interesting thing is that there are certain people that want to believe in “the coming,” and maybe someday from heaven above somebody will come down with this nuclear power plant that he’s talking about. All I know is that for sixty years, I’ve heard this song. And even hardnosed utility executives are quoted nowadays as saying that nuclear power is not a religion. It is a form of energy that has failed. And the interesting thing is the American people: they’ve got common sense. If you go ask a hundred people, “Would rather live next to nuclear power plant or next to a solar panel,” you’re going to get a hundred people that choose solar panels.

Ralph Nader: Indeed.

David Freeman: Indeed, not about only because it’s safer, because it’s cheaper.

Ralph Nader: And more job intensive. By the way, nuclear power is the ultimate crony capitalism for the conservatives listening to this program without 100% government taxpayer guarantee Wall Street would never finance a nuclear plant. Not only that, but the insurance is basically government subsidized as well. Nuclear power is not insurable in the private market.

David Freeman: But the interesting thing is: it takes nearly a police state. Do you know how many security guards that are around a nuclear plant? We don’t even talk about the fact that if you want to put a radioactive Trojan horse into your country, you put a nuclear power plant. I mean, we are living in the Age of Terror, where no one in their right mind would build a radioactive facility in your own midst if you were starting from scratch, which requires hundreds of people to guard in which Lord only knows what’s going to happen. I don’t even like to talk about that. But that’s of course all that needs to happen is for ISIS to find a little bit of plutonium somewhere in the world and God knows what’s going to happen. God bless Obama if he’s going to Hiroshima to try to persuade the world to get rid of nuclear power altogether. But the first thing you got to do is to stop this promotion of civilian nuclear power, because there is no such thing as a peaceful atom. The road to the bomb is the nuclear power plant. And we’ve got to stop it. Otherwise, God knows what’s going to happen in the next ten, twenty, thirty in this country.

Ralph Nader: David Freeman, how do people get in touch with you? And give them the title of your new book.

David Freeman: It’s All Electric America, and you can get it in Amazon or places like that. And my email is greencowboysdf@gmail.com.

Ralph Nader: Is that S as in Sam?

David Freeman: Right. As in “Stupid.”

Ralph Nader: D as in dog and f as is Friend?

David Freeman: Right.

Ralph Nader: Okay. We’ll see you on May 26th Thursday at Constitution Hall. Folks, you want to attend there are scholarships if you can’t afford it. Go to breakingthroughpower.org and see this dazzling Super Bowl of citizen action. And it’s about time we highlighted all the citizen groups that make life so much safer and healthful and stand up to tyranny, whether corporate or government. I might add that we’ve got a set of presidential elections these days that appear to be off limits to democracy. Here comes democracy in action at Constitution Hall between May 23rd and May 26th of this month. Thank you very much, David. We’ll see you there.

David Freeman: Looking forward to it. Bye, bye.

Steve Skrovan: We've been talking to David Freeman former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority and long time opponent of nuclear power. He also will be participating in the Breaking Through Power conference this May 23rd to May 26th. Go to breakingthroughpower.org. We will link to all of this on the Ralph Nader Radio website. But right now, let’s take a short break and find out what our corporate crime reporter Russell Mohkiber is doing over at the National Press Building. Russell?

Russell Mohkiber: From the National Press Building in Washington DC, this your corporate crime reporter morning minute for Friday May 13, 2016. I'm Russell Mohkiber. The Grand Canyon, sponsored by Budweiser. Yosemite, sponsored by Starbucks. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, corporate naming rights may be coming to a National Park near you. A Coca Cola Visitor Center will be off limits but an auditorium at Yosemite named after Coke will now will permitted. Naming rights to the roads are not up for grabs, but visitors could tour Bryce Canyon in a bus wrapped in the Michelin Man. And park goers could sit on a bench named for Humana Health Insurance and store their food in a bearproof locker emblazoned with the Nike swoosh. The National Park system, created a century in order preserve the countries natural treasures for the public, has long been avower against commercialization. But now the National Park service is making a more aggressive appeal for corporate donors. For the corporate crime reporter, I'm Russell Mohkiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. Our next guess is a physician who’s specialized in infectious diseases during a distinguished career that included teaching, research and administration as well as clinical medicine. His name is Doctor Gordon Douglas. Doctor Douglas was the founding President of Merck’s Vaccine Division and along with his wife Sheila Mahoney created the program Princeton Studies Food, a coalition of faculty, researchers, students, alumni, staff and community members tackling the challenge of feeding the world’s people while preserving the earth and its resources. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Doctor Gordon Douglas.

Gordon Douglas: Thank you.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. Gordy and I were classmates at Princeton in the class of 1955, which established the leading alumni group to place Princeton undergraduates and graduates in civic action groups all over the country. It’s now called Princeton Alumni Core. Gordy, as we call Gordon Douglas, I'm going to ask you a little bit about the Zika virus near the end of our discussion, because you are one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases. But, you wrote me a letter recently in response to a communication I sent to you about your food project at Princeton University, and you said quote “The food you and I ate sixtyfive years ago was truly terrible. The good news is that it has changed.” Can you tell our listeners what we suffered at Holder Hall in the early ‘50s in the cafeteria there, and how things have changed in terms nutrition and wholesome food?

Gordon Douglas: Right. Well, we had one place to eat, which was a big long dining room which was like the Harry Potter dining room in the movies. The food was served to you on the plate, and you had eight minutes to eat it. And it was repetitive. There is a lot of what we used to call “mystery meat.” And sometimes it was too hot. Sometimes it was too cold. It was not very tasty and there were no options. There was no variation in the food. There was no ability to order something else. Today there’s just a marvelous shift on the campus, and I assume on a lot of other college campuses, too, where there many different places where a student can eat and a student get a meal ticket. And they can eat wherever they want that night. They don’t have to eat in a particular dining room, and the diet is quite varied. They’re lots of choices. And actually, there are some students who run a service where they say, “Well, this is the best meal for at noon on Wednesday. This is what you should go and eat on Thursday night. You should go eat go taste this.” It’s really quite extraordinary I think.

Ralph Nader: There’s vegetarian options?

Gordon Douglas: There are definitely vegetarian options. But they don’t force that on the student. The student has free choice to pick whatever they like. But they certainly have both vegan and vegetarian options. There is seafood. And there are meat. And the other thing that they’ve done, which is kind of interesting, Ralph to what we’re going to be getting into. They have begun to make what we are calling “transition burgers,” so that a hamburger, a traditional hamburger will not be 100% beef. It will be may be be 40% beef and mixed in with a lot of plantbased food but retaining the taste and texture of a traditional beef burger, which is a very, very interesting development, I think.

Ralph Nader: Indeed, when we were students, we were given regularly something we called “the green death,” which is kind of creamy mush, maybe of spinach. I don’t know what it was. But just on a nutritional basis quite apart from the horrid taste we were not given the respect we deserved in terms of learning about the food we should be eating and upgrading the food that we were given. Well now, you held aconference, you held the conference on February 19th of this called Food Entrepreneurship, which will result of a lot of work by you. And you want to discuss that as a way to get into how you effect doing a pilot project at Princeton University but something that can spread all over the country.

Gordon Douglas: Yes, we started this program about two years ago. We’ve actually a two annual conferences. But the most recent one in February was called Entrepreneurship, Food Entrepreneurship, how we emphasize Princeton Entrepreneurs, because we coupled it with the career services event for students. We’re trying to get students to not just go into the financial industry or law, medicine, the traditional trajectory, but get some of them who will be interested in doing things to help solve this incredible world problem. And it was very, very successful in that regard. We had number of panels four, five panels, each of which has four or five participants, who only spoke for maybe five minutes a piece and then there was plenty of time for discussion from the floor and amongst the panelists. But we had people who were inventors of things or a processes. We did have one about actually people trying to change and improve food on the plate, as it where. But we had other people talking about how particular foods are grown, how to make things better. And a number of people had started companies that we’re working in this area. So it was a really very exciting event, a lot of student participation and student excitement over the event. We plan to continue.

Ralph Nader: Well, we have a day on Breaking Through Power called breaking through the media. We want the kind of media that has much more time and space for serious content like Dr. Douglas has just described. That kind of conference that you had at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University would have been televised all over the country. And all kinds of people would pick it up at other schools and say, “Hey look! Why can’t we do this at Cumberland School? Why can’t we do this at Ohio State or San Diego State or Berkeley?” One thing that interested me about your project, Gordon, is that there were different parts of Princeton University’s Departments, who were working on some aspect of food, and they really didn’t even know each other. You helped bring them together. This is a real problem around the country, the kind of micro silos of people who are right next to each other but really don’t even know it and don’t collaborate so there’s an aggregation. The whole is greater than the parts. You want to describe a problem that’s very wide spread in Washington and around the country?

Gordon Douglas: Yes. No, I agree with you 100%. I think that there’s no question that when we started this program two years ago my wife and I we were told that there’s nobody on the Princeton campus working on food, that it’s a very basic scienceoriented, basic research kinds of questions of the faculty oriented in that direction and not towards more practical questions surrounding food. Well of course, there’s some really basic science questions pertaining to food that are terribly important. But, we began to talk to people, and we found out there were lots of people working on food. They didn’t know each other. One of the interesting things is, there’s no Department of Food in a college or university. There are Departments of Chemistry and Biology and Molecular Biology and Engineering and English and so on and so forth, traditional departments. We found that there are people in many of these different departments, for instance, one of the professors comes from civil environmental engineering. And he’s is really interested in the growth of food in Sub Saharan Africa where water is scarce and what plants do you grow as crops and so on and so forth, and how do you irrigate them, and that kind of thing. There’s another famous behavioral psychologist, who is interested in why people become obese, what drives their behavior in overeating, and how can you change that from the behavioral psychology point of view. They’re people coming a it, again, from different points of view. So, we coalesced people together. I'm not sure we everybody together yet. But we've done pretty good job of it.

Ralph Nader: I got to tell you a story if indulge me, Gordon. When I was a law student at Harvard Law School, it didn’t take me long in my first year to realize that there was no course or seminar on food and the law. So, I’m walking out of a classroom with a professor and I say, “Professor, could you please tell me why isn’t there a course on food and the law?” He sort of looked at me and said, “Food?!” Then I said I was perplexed, you know you had awe of law professors. I said it, “Yeah, you know, what we eat every day.” He is stroked his chin and he looked up at the sky and he said, “Well, maybe it’s because it hasn’t reached a level of legal development sufficient to provide a adequate, intellectual challenge to our students.” And so I wanted a comparison, “So what do you think has?” He said, “Tax law.” The Food and Drug Administration was operating then. There was some food safety regulation. There were law school cases. But the real reason we didn’t have a seminar or course on food and the law is because there weren’t corporate law firm jobs on it. It was not a very good prospect for getting a career underway. But now at Harvard Law School as you well know there is a small center on food and the law and has put us some very good materials. So you can see there’s real progress. But here's what I want to put before you quickly is, in the Wall Street Journal very recently, there was an oped by a man who said that the problem in the United States is not hunger, it’s obesity. And I read that and I said, “Why is it either/or?” There’s clearly hunger based on poverty. Millions of children go to a bed at night hungry. There is this euphemism called “food insecurity,” affecting many, many families in our country. And of course, there is obesity among people of all economic status. But, can you clarify for a listeners, Gordon, there’s really no contradiction here, is there?

Gordon Douglas: No, I don’t think so. I mean it’s actually a worldwide problem too, as well as United States problem. And the proportions of people that are malnourished and the proportions of people little overweight shift a little bit from country to country, but they’re both worldwide problems. It’s estimated today that there about eight hundred million people worldwide, who are malnourished to some extent that’s insufficient calorie intake or insufficient nutrients of some kind or another or both but there are about two and a half times that number worldwide, who are obese. And of course obesity leads to TypeTwo Diabetes and other issues and certainly increases healthcare costs. So it's interesting that you can say I mean, there’s a very direct corelation between food and health. And this is sort of two ends of the spectrum. One end is malnutrition. The other end is overweight. But in addition to overweight, we know that the over consumption of animalbased protein and the saturated fats that necessarily go with it leads to heart disease, cancer, stroke and other maladies, and perhaps even some of those central nervous system diseases.

Ralph Nader: What is the proportion of the American population who is obese and then if you add overweight, what is it total in terms of percentage?

Gordon Douglas: Yeah. Well, worldwide about that’s estimated today that 30% one third the world population is overweight. Now of course that’s more highly distributed in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and Brazil. It's occurring now in China. In the United States, estimates for obesity, bonafide obesity in adults is now 30%.

Ralph Nader: Staggering. What was that 40 years ago?

Gordon Douglas: It was down around 5%. It’s an enormous change. And it has to do with increased calorie consumption, which is probably something we can thank the food industry for.

Ralph Nader: The fast food industry like McDonald’s and Burger King and the huge portions now that are offered: heavy salt, heavy fat, heavy bad things. Salt, fat and sugar.

Gordon Douglas: Yeah, salt, fat and sugar, you're right. The food industry discovered that adding sugar or adding salt, adding animal fat, saturated fat to something made it taste better and overwhelmed… These foods are not satiating. You don’t get satiated with them, so you over eat. And then that’s the problem there. But it's not simply just sugary beverages and fast food; it's that people eat too many calories in this country. And they eat too much animal protein. And so changing these things is what’s going to have to happen.

Ralph Nader: We’ve been talking to Dr. Gordon Douglas. Gordon, tell people how they can reach you. Do you have a website or an email? And by the way, hats off to your wife Sheila, who was one of the prime inspirers and participants in this project of food studies at Princeton University.

Gordon Douglas: Yes well, thanks. And she has been an enormous and certainly a coequal partner in this, no question about it. We have a website for our program which is called, it’s princetonstudiesfood.princeton.edu. And if somebody wanted to contact me directly I have an email which is rgdouglasjr@gmail.com.

Ralph Nader: Okay. Can you repeat both of those Dr. Douglas?

Gordon Douglas: Sure. Okay. The website is princetonstudiesfood.princeton.edu. And the email address is rgdouglasjr@gmail.com.

Ralph Nader: For the listeners who want to start something at their local high school, community college or university, that’s a very valuable website to get you started. In the last couple minutes, Gordon, the Zika virus is now becoming a headline story. Congress doesn’t seem to know how to move on this. It’s apparently going to affect more than just pregnant women and microcephaly. Could you give our listeners a reply to the question: what should we do in the coming summer in mosquitoes to prevent our exposure to the Zika virus?

Gordon Douglas: Right, right. Of course, a lot of that depends on where you live. But certainly if you live in the Southern Gulf Coast States, Southern California, Florida, you’re going to be exposed to Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes that potentially carry the Zika Virus. Well, there are several things and several advantages, I think we have in this country as supposed to some of the less developed countries, and that is living in a house with screened windows, where you do not have mosquitoes inside. That’s a very important characteristic. The other thing is, you can protect yourself against mosquito bites. There are pretty good mosquito repellants out there, particularly those that contained DEET. But long sleeves, long sleeve trousers and just not having exposed areas, and those areas that have to be exposed, like your face and ears and neck, you can put the mosquito repellant on. The trickier question, of course, is whether someone should become pregnant during the summer season when the virus is prevalent. And that’s going to be a personal decision, I think. But I think information should be out there, and people should be aware of the risks and take appropriate action. But again, prevention I think is the best thing you can do.

Ralph Nader: And watch the puddles of water around your house, right, or apartment building?

Gordon Douglas: Right. Yeah. Everybody should make sure that they don’t have puddles of fresh water. Mosquitoes breed in fresh water. It doesn’t take much. It can be the top of the garbage lid that happened to fill up with water from a rainstorm. Or it could – you know the old classic is tires. I don’t think too many people have old tires hanging around their backyard, but some people might. Almost anything where fresh water can puddle is an issue.

Ralph Nader: What do you think Congress should do?

Gordon Douglas: Well, Congress should appropriate the problem they have of course they haven’t followed the President’s request and appropriated the money. But the CDC and the NIH and the public health service people have put together plans for a pretty good study of the problem, monitoring of the problem, surveillance of the problem, so people will know where it is. And also, preventive measures: some Mosquito Spring campaigns and that kind of thing.

Ralph Nader: We’ve been speaking with Dr. Gordon Douglas who together with his wife, Sheila, started this program called Princeton Studies Food. It’s a great model for you around the country in terms of applying this kind of initiative and energy to get more students to go into food and nutrition careers, as well as to get better food at college campuses, and as well as just spreading the whole idea of nutritious and safe food, preferably without chemical inputs, and preferably without the three scourges of excessive fat, salt, and sugar. Thank you very much, Gordy, to be continued. Good luck on your project. And we’ll try to spread it around.

Gordon Douglas: Okay. Well, thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: You’re welcome.

Steve Skrovan: As Ralph said, we’ve been speaking with Dr. Gordon Douglas, who along with this both Sheila Mahoney, is the driving force behind the program Princeton Studies Food. We will link to that program on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website. And guess what Ralph? We’ve got some time left after three guests, believe or not, to take some listener questions. So, why don’t we jump right in? This first question comes from a listener named Craig Bickle. He is a long time listener to the podcast and here’s what he says. He says, “I keep hearing that banks who were bailed out with federal funds in 2008 to keep them from taking down the global economy have since ‘paid us back.’” He says there is something about this talking point that seems fishy to him. He says, “Could you please either disabuse me of my skepticism, or explain how those who make this claim are misleading us?”

Ralph Nader: They are misleading. This is so the called TARP rescue package. The US government treated the banks and other failing financial institutions in 2008, 2009. And they did it in two major ways. One is, just cash bailouts. And the second is that they absorbed or guaranteed the toxic depth. Now, those were paid back over time. What wasn’t paid back were all kinds of extraneous bail out programs that we’re not part of the TARP program. But far larger, what wasn’t paid back was the damage to workers, to pension funds, to the economy caused by these giant banks, broker houses, and some giant insurance companies like AIG. That was never paid back. And that was by far the greatest damage, trillions of dollars in contrast to the tarp bail out of hundreds of billions of dollars. So Craig, you’re right in terms of saying that the whole idea that, “Oh, the government was paid back, made a little profit” is indeed quite fishy.

Steve Skrovan: So, they paid back the money that was given to them to bail them out but nothing about the consequences of their action?

Ralph Nader: Yeah. Not only that, but where did these banks get the money to pay it back? Well, they gouged consumers. They overcharged people.

Steve Skrovan: Right.

Ralph Nader: There’s no such thing as a corporate bailout where the tax payer is made whole even directly never mind the indirect damage collapsing the whole economy into a giant recession with eight million workers unemployed, trillions of dollars of pension and mutual funds dissipated, not to mention the burden on the tax payers.

Steve Skrovan: How would they’ve been able to pay that back? If people actually paid fines, went to jail, how would they paid that back to your satisfaction?

Ralph Nader: The government could have been given large shares, so when the banks recovered as they are slowly recovering Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other financial institutions the government would be the beneficiary of the appreciation of value of the stock plus the dividends over time. But the US government didn’t want to do that. And they were very wary of being accused of socialist takeover. Well, as we rallied on Wall Street in 2008, I had a huge banner called “Socialism Bailing Out Capitalism.” And that’s the system we have in this country that the taxpayer, i.e. socialistic bailouts of corporate crime, recklessness, mismanagement is the way our political economy works. That if you’re a big enough corporation, Too Big To Fail, you go to Washington instead of going bankrupt, as a small business has every right to do.

Steve Skrovan: Ralph, would you call yourself a socialist?

Ralph Nader: No. I don’t like government ownership to the means of production because we wouldn’t have a democracy able to make it accountable. We wouldn’t have the market place of free speech to be sufficiently innovative and to make these government economic institutions vulnerable to competition and displacement.

Steve Skrovan: All right.

Ralph Nader: That doesn’t mean we have giant corporations that are essentially government funded and protected like the defense industry. These companies like Lockheed Martin, they have the best of all worlds. They can pay their executives top dollar. They got stock on the stock exchange. They pay dividends to shareholders. On the other hand over 90% of their business comes from the taxpayer, building weapons systems, like submarines and F35s under very little cost restraint. And if they get in trouble; they are continually bailed out, by inflating the contracts or actually bailing out these corporations directly. That’s what’s called the Military Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address in 1961.

Steve Skrovan: Well thank you for that question Craig. That’s our show. Remember, to go to breakingthroughpower.org. To get tickets and information on this civic summit meeting taking place on May 23rd through the 26th with an allstar line of civic activists that really Ralph I think only you could pull together there. So join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour for more incisive and provocative talk you won’t find anywhere in commercial media. Meet you back here next week Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much, Steve. Thank you, Jimmy. And thank you listeners. Just go to breakingthroughpower.org and see how exciting, encouraging, enabling, empowering it is, not to mention inspiring, to see this Super Bowl of civic action recounted to you over the decades, what it meant to you and your family in terms of safer products, healthier environment, and more accountable large institutions. And they did it on a very small budget. And we’re going to show how one CEO of a corporation made in one year more that eighteen of these national citizen groups in terms of their cumulative budget. So, I want to get people saying, “Wow, imagine if there were more budgets for citizen action, more people working in citizen action, think what would happen in terms of a better country and better world.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:23 am

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 147: Israel/Palestine: One State/Two State?
January 7, 2017

Ralph talks to Israeli activist, Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine about whether a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is even possible. Also, Mark Green rejoins us to discuss whether president-elect Donald Trump has already violated The Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the U.S. with a foreign government.


Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the US. He writes a blog that is “dedicated to tearing down the separation wall and transforming the Israeli apartheid system into a secular democracy, where Palestinians and Israelis will live as equal citizens.” Mr. Peled was born and raised in Jerusalem. His grandfather was Dr. Avraham Katsnelson, a Zionist leader and signer on the Israeli Declaration of Independence. His father, Matti Peled, was a young officer in the war of 1948 and a general in the 1967 war. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative Miko Peled has written a book about his journey called The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.


David Feldman: From the KPFK Studios in Southern California…

Steve Skrovan: …it’s the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.


Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with my co-host David Feldman.
Happy New Year, David. Have you fulfilled all your resolutions yet?

David Feldman: Y…y…y…yes.

Steve Skrovan: That sounds a little hesitant. It was a very elongated “yes.”

David Feldman: Yes. I've resolved to start drinking more and not exercise.

Steve Skrovan: Excellent. And we also have the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph. Happy New Year.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. Happy New Year. Formidable New Year, strong New Year to all of you. We have a lot of challenges coming up, as we know.

Steve Skrovan: We do. And we’re going to talk about some of them today. On today’s show we’re going to welcome back Mark Green, who last week spoke to us about the public letter and petition that he and Ralph submitted called “Divest or Impeach,” demanding that Donald Trump either divest himself of his business interests or face impeachment for violating the US Constitution. We’re going to get an update on that and talk about a different kind of law that the President-elect may have already violated. We will also check in with Corporate Crime Reporter Russell Mokhiber, the Fox Mulder of the corporate crime beat. But first, we are going to turn our attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last week, Ralph promoted the idea floated by former President Jimmy Carter, that before President Obama leaves office, he should grant Palestine full diplomatic recognition. Our first guest has a unique perspective on the relationship between Israel and Palestine. David?

David Feldman: Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist, living in the United States. He writes a blog dedicated to tearing down the wall between Israelis and Palestinians so that they can live as equal citizens. Mr. Peled was born and raised in Jerusalem. His grandfather was Dr. Avraham Katznelson, a Zionist leader and signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. His father Matti Peled was a young officer in the War of Independence in 1948 and a general in the 1967 war. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, it’s people, and they're narrative, Miko Peled has written a book about his life called The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Miko Peled.

Miko Peled: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

Ralph Nader: Yes, indeed. Welcome Miko. I know you’ve spoken all over the country and other countries, and in the Middle East on your views on how to come to a settlement of this perennial crisis between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but I think our listeners would like to know how you developed your points of view - which you will explore shortly - and growing up in Jerusalem. And tell us the story of your mother, when she was offered a nice Arab home in Jerusalem.
Miko Peled: Sure. Well, again, thanks for having me on the show. That’s probably the one story that I get the most comments about, and the one story that creates the greatest emotion, particularly when I'm speaking and there are older Palestinians in the audience. This is 1948 when what Israelis call the War of Independence took place. And what actually took place was a horrible catastrophe and campaign of ethnic cleansing in which the Palestinians were the victims. And in Jerusalem, which is - I'm talking about the western part of Jerusalem - the part of the city that Israel conquered in 1948, and then made it it’s capital. The Palestinian neighborhoods were taken by the Israeli forces, and the Palestinians were forced to leave their homes. And these beautiful homes that are still part of the landscape really in Jerusalem were made available to Israeli families, to Jewish families. And my mother was a young mother at that time. She was born and raised in Jerusalem actually, and she was living in a tiny apartment with her parents. She was offered one of these beautiful homes; and she refused, and she wouldn’t take it. And her comment was - and by the way still is, she just turned 90 and we still talk about this - her comment was until it is today, “How can I possibly take the home of another mother? How could I possibly move into the home of another family that was forced to leave? And can you imagine just how terrible it is for them and how much they must miss their home?” That’s the story. And there's always somebody in the audience that had a home in Jerusalem and remembers their home and are grateful that my mother made a decision, which is really the decision you’d hope all people would make, but in this particular case was unique.

Ralph Nader: That is a very telling story, and it had a great impact on your life, but so did your father, Matti Peled. Tell us about your father and his transformation.

Miko Peled: My father - we heard in the introduction - he was a member of the Israeli high command during the 1967 war. He was one of the generals of that war, who prepared for the war and pushed for the war and then led this war. That entire generation of Israeli generals was like the gods of the Olympus really. Immediately when the war was over at the very first meeting of the Israeli High Command - their weekly meeting - he stood up and he said, “We now have an opportunity to make peace with the Palestinians. Even though we all want the full land of Israel from the river to the sea, and even though this is our land, we need to be willing to make a compromise, because there is another nation. There are other people living here with us. If we maintain that occupation over the entire country, we will become occupiers. There will be terrorism. We will have to spend all of our resources fighting it. And eventually there will be no Jewish state, but we will have a state, which is a bi-national state. And it won’t be the Jewish democracy that we want.” This is what he said. Of course, he said this in 1967 and of course everything he said actually came true. He suggested that the Palestinians will be recognized and be allowed to establish their own state in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip. And that’s really when the idea of the two-state solution as we know it today was born. And other Israelis - not many - but several Israelis who thought the way he did, joined him, and he continued to pursue and push for this idea really until his dying day. He passed away in 1995. But the problem was that nobody else was interested. People looked at him and said, “What are you talking about? We've just finally completed the job. We finally completed the conquest of the land of Israel. We’re going to build for Jews, and we’re going to get rid of the Arabs.” And that’s exactly the process that’s been taking place over all of Palestine. There really is no more West Bank, because Israeli did not want to allow this development that he was suggesting to actually take place.

Ralph Nader: What were the reactions of the Israelis to his stand, which was obviously against the established policies of the state? Did they ostracize him? Did they exclude him? Did they slander him or did they just accept him as a dissenting voice?

Miko Peled: It was a gradual process. At first it was a dissenting voice, and then later on in the early, mid ‘70s, he began to talk about the need to actually negotiate with the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization. And in those days they were the biggest enemy. They were the terrorist organization. And that’s when he became ostracized and shunned. And that was the end of it. From that point on and then later on, he met with Yassir Arafat and so on. That kind of seals his fate in terms of being not just a dissenter but really somebody who completely lost his way and that sort of thing.

Ralph Nader: Before we get to your remarkable positions and your closeness with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists to a point where you are arrested more than once - we’re talking with Miko Peled, the author of the book, The General’s Son, which is just out in second edition, published by Just World Books. A lot of praise, Seymour Hersh and Naomi Wolfe praised it. Presidents of colleges have praised it. You’ve been all over the country. And your position now is no longer in support of a two-state solution. Tell us what you think should be the approach now.

Miko Peled: I think today we have the advantage of having seventy years of the history - or sixty-nine years - since the State of Israel was established. I think it’s pretty clear that Israel is not interested and is not willing under any circumstances to compromise on the issue of the land. Israel basically by taking the West Bank in 1967 didn’t begin an occupation of Palestinian territories. It completed the conquest of the land of Israel and populated the West Bank with Israeli Jews and destroyed Palestinian towns. And it continues to do so. And that is exactly what Israel did as soon as it was established in 1948 - in other words build cities and towns for Jews only on Palestinian land and all the while making sure that the Palestinians either had to leave or die. That hasn’t changed. It’s only become more intense over the years. In fact Palestine is one state. It is the Jewish state. It is governed by the state of Israel. It’s a state where people like myself, Israel Jews, have all the privileges and all the rights. We are a protected citizenry of the country. It is our country. It is our state. And the Palestinians, who by the way today make up the majority of the people in that land, are oppressed and have no rights. The one-state two- state conversation is really a moot conversation, because there is a single state over the entire country. And there is no possibility of dividing it, because the populations are so close together. And that’s just the way it is. The only possibility - if we don’t like what we see happening today, if we seek justice, if we believe the Palestinians should have rights - is to fight for the end of the regime, which exists there today, which is the state of Israel, just like people of conscience fought for the end of apartheid in South Africa, fought for the end of Jim Crow here in the United States and other racist regimes. That to me is really the only way forward, if we are interested in seeing a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians - not between the state of Israel, because the state of Israel stands in the way of a peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Ralph Nader: I don’t think people realize unless they're really on top of the subject, how much interaction there is daily between Israelis and Palestinians. There are about 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs in Israel. They clearly are discriminated against. They can't get mortgages, for example from banks, and there's the usual bias against the minority. And then there is about two and a half million or so in the West Bank and 1.5 million in Gaza. And it’s the Palestinians, who actually build the colonies. They build the homes in the building. They are the principle source of cheap labor. There's all kinds of interaction, places like Haifa, social interaction, artistic, cultural interaction. And what really stands out in your book The General’s Son - we’re talking with Miko Peled - is that when you join with other Israeli peace advocates in an incredibly courageous effort near the wall with Palestinian activists and the Israeli soldiers arrest you, and you're involved in non-violent open civil disobedience in the old Civil Rights-Gandhi tradition, how were you treated as an Israeli citizen, compared to the Palestinians, who are side by side with you in non-violent protest when they're arrested?

Miko Peled: Night and day, because they live under a completely different set of laws than I do. Israelis, regardless of where they live, are governed by the laws of the land, civil law, because they're citizens. Palestinians are governed by laws that are different, depending on where they live. If they're living in the West Bank, if they have Israeli citizenship, if they have Jerusalem ID, if they live in Gaza, they're lives are completely different than the lives of Israel Jews like myself. It’s interesting that you asked that, because I was actually on trial recently for an arrest from four or five years ago. And people found it interesting, so they wanted to interview and ask me about this. My response is that it’s embarrassing for me to talk about my arrest and my trial, because as a privileged white Jewish male in a society, which is a racist society, it’s a joke. The arrest took place four years ago. The trial took place last year, sentencing took place just a few months ago. And at the end of the day, we sacrificed nothing as Israeli Jews, because we don’t get punished. When we get arrested, at the end of the day, we go home. We get questions, a few forms to fill, and then we go home, and we’re fine. Our lawyers wait for us. There's always a lawyer that waits for us at the police station by the time we get there. And so forth. If a Palestinian is arrested in the exact same place for violating the exact same law, then they are under military law. Or if they’re Israeli citizen then under the law or the governance of the Israeli secret police, they get beaten. They get blindfolded, handcuffed and shackled. They get thrown in prison. And they're stuck in a cell for however long as the local commander deems it necessary. And they are interrogated, which means tortured. Now, they cannot see a lawyer until they confess. They're not allowed to see a lawyer until they confess. And that could take twenty days, forty days, sixty days. And so Sana Khawaja, who is an activist with the BDS movement in Palestine and Stop the Wall Movement as well, was arrested about two months ago. It took twenty-five days before he could see a lawyer. And he was interrogated over forty times, which means he was tortured over forty times in that period. And then he was allowed to see a lawyer. And then again his detention was extended and extended and no charges have even been filed. In my case, there's a charge, and I get to go home. The difference in the treatment of Israeli Jews and Palestinians is beyond night and day. It’s not even something that people can begin to understand, unless they understand the workings of a racist system and a racist society.

Ralph Nader: I don’t think there's enough attention, Miko Peled, about the variety of Israeli public opinion here. I was astonished. About ten years ago there was a poll by a major Israeli university on Hamas. And this is when they whole things was steaming up. And 61% of the Israelis urged the Israeli government to negotiate with Hamas. 29% opposed. That was not reported in the US press. And that’s an astonishing rendition of Israeli public opinion, which of course varies according to the various conflicts and tragedies that erupt from time to time. But from what you know of Israeli public opinion, how does it break down one: vis a vis a two-state solution, two: a unitary state with equal rights, a Palestinian-Israeli secular state, or just taking over like the People’s Party - so-called - and the Netanyahu coalition leans in that way, taking over the whole West Bank and putting them under Israeli control. How does it break out that way?

Miko Peled: I think the best answer to that is to look at the makeup of the Israeli Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Israelis vote in very high numbers. And the makeup of the Knesset is such and the makeup of Netanyahu’s coalition and even Netanyahu, whose landslide victory in the last elections points to the fact that Israelis have absolutely no interest in the Palestinian issue. They want to see the Palestinians dead or gone. They view the Palestinian issue as not their problem. They want the Palestinians to get the hell out. They're quite happy with building cities and towns and villages and shopping malls and highways for Jews on Palestinian land. When Netanyahu bombs Gaza - as the Israeli government does on a regular basis from time to time - his poll numbers are in the sky. It’s like he’s in prime minister heaven. There isn’t a lot of variety among Israelis right now. And if you look again at the makeup of the Knesset, of the different political parties, the vast majority of them agree with the current policies, which are continue to build on Palestinian land everywhere. This idea that there is somehow a West Bank and that the settlements in the West Bank are different than settlements in other parts of the country. Many people view it as though there is a legitimate part of Israel, and then there's the occupation. I don’t see it that way. The entire Israel is an illegal occupation. And all Israeli towns and cities are illegal, because they're built on stolen Palestinian land. The reality is that the West Bank really is no longer in existence. When you drive up and down the highways you see signs to the cities and towns of the West Bank, just like you see the signs the cities and towns elsewhere. And this is a reality, and the Israelis are quite fine and quite happy with that. When you look at the end of the major political parties the large ones, they all agree on these. Some are a little bit more vocal and say, “Yeah, we’re not going to talk about a two-state solution anymore.” Some still put on that façade and say, “Yes, we’ll negotiate. But we can't negotiate, because the Palestinians are terrorists, and they can't be trusted.” But that really is as far it goes. That’s the range of political debate on this issue in Israel. In terms of talking about real democracy with equal rights, there is no conversation on that at all. It’s in the fringes. It does not exist. They're not interested in it, and nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody wants to hear about it on the Israeli side. And you can't blame them, because it means the end of their privilege. And no privileged society wants to see their privilege end.

Ralph Nader: Israel is clearly a military, technological, and economic super power in the area.

Miko Peled: That’s true.

Ralph Nader: Its GDP is equal, I think, to that of Saudi Arabia with all the oil they have. So, they're not feeling the sense of sacrifice here that pressures them to engage in any kind of settlement, whether its two-state, one-state, three-state or whatever. But the Arab parliamentarians in the Knesset - they have several seats in the parliament, the Israeli-Arabs - and they're often outspoken. And don’t they have some alliances with the Meretz Party for example. Isn’t there a core in the Knesset that tends to reflect some of the views that you have been writing about?

Miko Peled: I’ll respond to the first part first. You’re right that they have no sense of… Israel is a very rich country and the economy is strong, which begs the question: why is it getting billions of dollars in foreign aid from the United States? But that’s perhaps another question. To run for office in Israel, you have to accept the Zionist premise, which is that the State of Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state in Palestine. You cannot run on a non-Zionist platform, because you'll be disqualified. So. even the Palestinians, who are Israeli Knesset members cannot run on that platform. So they have to hide the fact that this is probably what they wish for and that what they really believe. Now, it’s called the Joint List. The Joint List is a coalition of several political parties, and the majority of the members are Palestinians. They have thirteen members, and they are the third largest party in the Knesset. But they’re completely ignored. They don’t get to participate in any important committees. They will never be part of a coalition. And they're vote is excluded, because everybody knows that they have a certain number. Out of one hundred and twenty members, they have thirteen. They’ve always had about ten, twelve, thirteen votes, so nobody takes them into consideration. It’s an interesting play on democracy, where on the one hand they can say, “Yes, we allow them to vote. And they have members in the Knesset. And they're allowed to speak their minds.” On the other hand they are completely excluded from any important decisions. I think that the problem with the Israeli left - Meretz and others, what used to be the Israeli left - is that it’s a Zionist left. And so it cannot survive. You cannot be progressive and support a racist idea. Zionism is a racist, colonialist idea. It’s time has come. It’s time to move on and beyond it. It’s an idea that says that my grandparents had the right to come from Ukraine, take the land from Palestinians, and build a state for themselves there. This is an idea that has no legitimacy, I believe, has no right to continue. And the reality is that, true, there are about six million Jews living there right now and we need to find the solution that accommodates them as well. But any kind of attempt to legitimize the occupation of Palestine as a legitimate Jewish state I think is bound to fail and is wrong. And I think it’s time for people to start supporting the idea of boycotting Israel and boycotting and divesting from companies that support Israel. And I’m sure fair to the BDS Movement, the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, and start acting like people did when they wanted to end apartheid in South Africa.

Ralph Nader: Well, a majority of Jewish Americans in poll after poll according to the New York Times favor a two-state solution. So the minority activists, represented by AIPAC and others, are much better organized, much more connected to members of Congress, which as a body accepts the Netanyahu narrative, which is that the Palestinian leadership is not only not willing to come to the table. Palestinians are terrorists. Palestinians have not recognized the state of Israel. Of course that’s a false statement. That has been recognized as a part of the Oslo Agreements and before. And yet when you clearly define terrorism as an attack on innocent civilians, the ratio is about four hundred to one. That is, there are four hundred more Palestinians killed and injured as innocent civilians compared to the number of Israelis. Four hundred to one. And it continues to widen in terms of the disparity. And yet the word “terror” is attached to the Palestinians who are the occupied, who are losing their land and losing the water and are barricaded and invaded from time to time.
How is that narrative going to turn around? It certainly seems to be turning around on a lot of college campuses. But there’s a bill in Congress now and it basically equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Of course, the Arabs are the big brother numerically of the Semitic race, and so there’s anti-Semitism historically against Arabs as well as, of course, against Jews. But there’s
very little attention to the former. So how do you expect the US to turn around here? Because, maybe it only accepts this proposition. But unless the US changes its policy, nothing is going to change in the Israeli-Palestine dynamic, which is to swallow more and more of the West Bank and to blockade illegally under international law, Gaza.

Miko Peled: Well, I think you probably remember probably better than I do the fight against apartheid in South Africa. The United States government jumped on the train very, very late in the game. They were one of the last, if not the last to accept the boycott of South Africa. So, I don’t have a lot of expectation for this from the US government. I do know, like you said, that there’s a big change on the grassroots level. The BDS movement, the movement calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, which is a call from Palestinian civil society to the world, has gained enormous ground, even here in the United States to the point where the Israeli TV came here to the US to find out what happened. How is it that it’s grown so much and has so much popularity, especially on campuses and then in the some of the progressive churches? And this is the way forward - and at one point, there’s going to be as a result of the growth of the BDS movement and the isolation of the State of Israel. Israeli academics have nowhere to go. They’re not invited anywhere. And nobody wants to talk to them. Israeli performers are not invited. More and more cultural figures, artists and so forth, Alice Walker, Roger Waters to name a couple, are calling to boycott Israel. So there’s an isolation culturally. There’s an isolation academically. There’s more and more boycotting of Israeli products, sanctions and divestment. There’s a lot of divesting, particularly in Europe. Big companies, G4S, the big security company, just pulled out as a result of pressure from the BDS. Veolia, which is a large transportation - they’re doing the light rail and so forth - are pulling out. Banks in Europe - they’re pulling out from divesting in Israeli companies. There’s a big campaign against HP now, because they supply Israeli Security Forces with technology. And this is how it’s done. And at some point, there’s going to be an Israeli Prime Minister just like de Klerk from South Africa stood up one day, and he called for free and fair elections and the release of all political prisoners without condition. And that was really the end of apartheid. It’s going to happen in Palestine as well, where an Israeli Prime Minister - and I think it’s going to happen rather soon. And at some point, either a little bit before or a little bit after that, the US government will realize that they have to join the party, and they can no longer support this racist idea of the State of Israel. Like I said, it’s going to go bottom - I think it always goes bottom up. Grassroots is where it starts. We know that every single presidential candidate this last election cycle spoke about BDS as though it was another kind of Osama Bin Laden, even though it’s dedicatedly non-violent and principled. We know that more and more states are passing laws. The governor of New York just signed a few months ago an executive order making the call for boycott illegal. And, by the way, since he signed that order, I, myself been invited to speak in New York about four times just since then and specifically to speak about BDS and to violate that executive order. So even though more and more American politicians are trying to prove how much they love Israel, there’s a serious change taking place. And I think that’s how this is going to end. This is how justice will be brought to Palestine. And of course, in the end - even though it seems punitive - in the end Israelis are going to be free of this racist occupation as well.

Ralph Nader: Well, we’ve been speaking with Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son. And deep in your book, which is part autobiography and part taking positions on this issue, you have a chapter called “The Fear Virus.” Why don’t you explain that?

Miko Peled: Yes. One of the things I described in the book is my very first trip on my own to the West Bank. I was in a car, an Israeli car with Israeli license plates, so I was clearly identified as an Israeli. I was by myself. And I was driving to this small village of Bil'in where the non-violent resistance had began about twelve, thirteen years ago. And this is exactly when it began. It was 2005. And as I was driving - the landscape is beautiful - you get off the main highway and you’re driving - the roads are bad and you’re in Palestine. Suddenly, you’re in a completely different place. And my sense was that that was going to be my last day on earth, because there is going to be a Palestinian there somewhere wanting to kill me and waiting to kill me. Now, when you cross from the official Israeli side into the Palestinian side, you have to cross these huge red signs that say to you in Hebrew, “You’re about to commit a felony by entering Palestinian territories and you are risking your own life.” So it’s quite frightening. And then all these demons, this virus, this fear virus, which I and many other Israelis and Jews had been infected over the years, begins to act. And these little demons start running around your head. And I was absolutely sure that this is going to be my last day on earth. And of course it wasn’t. And it was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. And it’s been going on for more than a decade now. And this is the problem that I think the only… for which the solution can only be forcing a reality that is different. We rely on forcing Israelis to realize Palestinians are not the enemy. Palestinians are not dangerous. Palestinians are not terrorists. And the only way to do it is by force, which again, I go back to the BDS movement and to the end of the Israeli regime over Palestine and the creation of a democracy, where Israelis will have to go to school with Palestinians. Their kids will go to school with Palestinian kids. They may end up having an Israeli [Palestinian] Prime Minister. And they’re going to realize the sky is not going to fall. It’s like white South Africans had Nelson Mandela, who they had in prison for almost three decade beforehand. This is the reality. And this is the virus I think for which the only cure is a solid knock on the head, which forces us to live into a different reality.

Ralph Nader: Well, in that dynamic, according to former President Jimmy Carter, 137 countries have recognized Palestine, including Sweden. And there are efforts in this country, led by Jimmy Carter and others, to have President Obama do that before he leaves, given the fact that he’s supported Israel with a ten year $38 billion military aid program. He has advanced more intelligence and more military research to the Israeli military than any other president. He was humiliated by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who bypassed him in an unheard of direct address to Congress to undermine the negotiations with Iran and many other countries, including the US on the nuclear deal. And so there’s an effort - before Trump takes over - for this to happen. But there’s a huge educational effort that’s needed that can come back onto Congress, because not a single member of Congress has changed his or her position from being a hard line supporter of whoever is in the Israeli government to the views that you have expressed. In your book, you have a chapter called “Who Will Speak For Gaza?” That’s pretty provocative. Can you explain that?

Miko Peled: Yes. Well, there’s several issues here. The first one is: the reality in America - that you probably know more than anyone - is that American politicians are beholden to lobbies. And probably one of the two strongest lobbies, the most effective lobbies in America is the Israeli, the Jewish lobby, AIPAC. And I don’t think that American politicians - or at least most of them - care one way or the other about Israel or Palestine, but they are beholden to the lobby if they want to get re-elected. So if they have an agenda that they want to pursue for their constituents, they have to support Israel. It’s almost like a tax, because if they don’t - that almost guarantees that they’re going to lose the next election. And that’s the reality that I think is going to change when - like I said - people become more aware of the BDS movement, the strength and the moral strength of the Palestinian struggle becomes more apparent here in America.

In terms of “Who Will Speak For Gaza?” In 2014, Israel bombed Gaza for fifty-one days killing over 2,500 people in prime time. Everybody saw it. Everybody knew it was happening. Like you mentioned earlier, Gaza has been under a brutal and cruel siege, which is - sometimes you don’t know what’s worse – is it the bombing or what’s worse is the reality, the day-to-day reality, where people have no access to water or the most basic medicine, knowing full well that five minutes away from where they are in Israeli towns and cities, people thrive, there's plenty of electricity, clean water, all the medicine, all the food that you could possibly want. We’re talking about five minutes away right across the border. And of course, this is the reality that Israel has created. There’s no reason for there to be poverty or lack of water or lack of electricity in Gaza. A little girl, a child in Gaza with a curable cancer will die, because Israel won’t allow them access to medicine, to proper medical facilities, which exists sometimes five to ten minutes away. And an Israeli-Jewish child will live, because of that access. And for some reason, this is not an issue in America. The lives of the Jews are valued more than the lives of the Palestinians in America. And this is not going to stop.

Ralph Nader: Well, that’s because the narrative is: the Israelis are just reacting to these crude rockets that fortunately hardly kill anybody - they’re so crude - sent by Gazans. And that’s always the narrative that Israelis are retaliating. But in fact, the blockade, the provocation, the incursions and other aspects that you’ve written about and spoken about show that it’s really the reverse, that the Gazan response is a pathetic effort to tell the world that there’s still a pulse there of resistance. And of course, the casualty toll is enormously on the Palestinian-Gaza side. But that isn’t the narrative in the US and the US press. It’s always, well Israelis are responding to all these crude rockets that are put together in garages in Gaza, as if the Israelis don’t know everything that’s going on in Gaza down to the DNA of some of the families there. They’re constantly under surveillance. So that’s the kind of hurdle that has to be overcome, if the US public is going to manifest any kind of impact on the Congress, which is the key body as the decision making body.

Miko Peled: Yeah. You know, Ralph, it’s interesting. Another part of this narrative that people aren’t aware of is that Israel began bombing Gaza as soon as Israel created the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip is not a natural strip of land. It is a line that Israelis drew in the early 1950’s around the city of Gaza. And it was a place to send hundreds of thousands of refugees, who were just turned out of their homes. And as soon as Israel established the Gaza Strip, it began bombing the Gaza Strip. So at first, they were killing dozens and hundreds. Today, they’re killing thousands. And then there’s this magic trick. I swear it’s a magic trick, where Israel manages to convince people that there is a military threat to Israel from Gaza, Gaza Strip, where there’s never been a tank, there’s never been a military force, there’s never been – not to speak of - a war plane, somehow poses a threat, a military threat to this massive war machine, which is the State of Israel. And as Israel is bombing the people in Gaza, and committing what can only be described as genocide, all the talking heads just nod and say, “Yes, it’s self defense. It’s self defense.” There is nothing from which to defend. I think the problem that Gaza poses to Israel is that it poses a threat to the legitimacy of the State of Israel, because when we see - nothing speaks to the illegitimacy of the creation of the Jewish State in Palestine and the existence of the state for almost seven decades - as the reality in Gaza, where people have absolutely no reason in the world to live in such poverty, have no reason in the world that they are denied access to water and medicine and food and are bombed and killed on a regular basis. There is no justification in the world for this. And I’ve said this many times: I think this reality - the entire State of Israel - but certainly the reality in Gaza will be remembered as the stain on the history of the Jewish people, a stain that will not easily be removed. And also, this is and it’s already proven to be a source of deep divide among Jews around the world, because accepting this and supporting this with money and with votes and giving it moral support is absolutely abhorrent. It’s absolutely unacceptable and unjustifiable.

Ralph Nader: Could be that’s why the Israeli government doesn’t allow Israeli reporters to go into Gaza and report what’s going on.

Miko Peled: Absolutely. I mean, the Gaza Strip is under lock and key. It is absolutely closed. I tried to go to Gaza several times, and eventually I had to go. I talked about that in the second edition in the epilogue. A friend from Gaza sent me a message, asking if I would consider coming in through the subway. And of course what they meant was through a tunnel. I ended up being smuggled into Gaza - if you will - through a tunnel. It’s incomprehensible. It’s a forty-five minute drive from Jerusalem to Gaza. It took me fourteen hours to get there. And I had to go through a tunnel. And again, it’s this fear virus. It’s the sense of we have to be afraid of the people in Gaza. And by the way, this is the fear that has been pushed and injected into Israelis since the early 1950’s, when the Gaza Strip was established, that these are an angry, murderous, dark, uneducated people that just want to kill us. And it goes on today. And that’s how you have an entire young population of Israelis, not only supporting the siege, not only supporting the bombing but executing the bombing. Who is it that is executing? Who are the pilots that are flying those war planes? Who are the men who are driving those tanks? Who are the infantry soldiers that go into house after house and murder innocent civilians? These are young Israelis. And so the ability to do that can only come from years of indoctrination, very racist indoctrination that tell us that those people over there don’t have a right to live. Those people over there are the enemy.

Ralph Nader: Fortunately, there is a group of Israeli soldiers who have gone through all this and who are taking the stand against the brutality of the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Miko Peled: True.

Ralph Nader: And they have been severely criticized. But they’re very courageous, aren’t they?

Miko Peled: Absolutely. We have several thousand young Israelis who refused to serve. And it’s actually very easy to get out of the military service, even though it’s mandatory. All you have to do is say that you have some kind of a mental issue or a back problem or migraines. Anything goes, because they don’t need people. And they don’t want anybody who’s not motivated. The only thing that will land you in prison is if you say you’re a conscientious objector. And these young men and women, thousands of them, know that they can get out of the draft by saying something else, but they purposely say, “We are conscientious objectors, what you guys are doing is wrong, and we object to it.” And they always end up in jail. There is an easy way out for these guys, and they choose the hard way. And, of course, that is courageous, because having said that after about thirty or so forty-five days in a minimum-security prison, they get to go home and live their life. Again, on the Israeli side, it’s actually very easy to protest. We sacrifice very little in order to do the right thing. And again, yet sadly - and for me as an Israeli I say this, very, very few - relatively speaking - very few people actually stand up and speak out. And that absolutely is a terrible tragedy.

Ralph Nader: Miko, I have to ask you this. You’ve been speaking about this issue over the years before many audiences in the United States. Have you ever been interviewed by National Public Radio or Public Broadcasting? Any of the various talk shows, various programs? Terry Gross, Diane Rehm, Charlie Rose, all these well-known interviewers who have certainly given the Israeli government side and the AIPAC side a lot of time. Have you ever been interviewed nationally?

Miko Peled: No, never. Not even once. Not even once, no. I’m not surprised, because I always assume that they were quite progressive. But no, not even once.

Ralph Nader: Well, I think that speaks for itself. I think in conclusion, we have Donald Trump ready to unleash all the forces that have been somewhat restrained, backing whatever the Israeli government wants to do vis a vis the Palestinians. There was an article in the New York Times a few days ago, saying that this could be the worst thing for Prime Minister Netanyahu, because it can get him into worse trouble, worse turmoil if there aren’t any restraints from the US government under the Trump administration and his designated Ambassador David Friedman, who believes in a complete takeover of the Palestinian lands and the most extreme views for Israeli dominance. What do you think’s going to happen? And what do you think people in this country should do after January 20th?

Miko Peled: Well, I think the only difference - I mean I can’t imagine. I’ve seen no restraints in place on Israel by any American administration. Like you said earlier, President Obama has given Israel more of everything, money and weapons and support, than any other American president, so I think the only difference is that perhaps Trump does it without having the Harvard degree. And it’s almost like there’s no mask. He is doing it. And he says he’s doing it. He doesn’t pretend that he doesn’t like it. But of course, there’s no telling what Trump will do. And Netanyahu is already in deep trouble, I think. First of all, he is being questioned again by the police about corruption charges again. And it seems to be a thing with Israeli prime ministers. Out of twelve Israeli prime ministers, five have been questioned about corruption. And he’s also in a lot of trouble, because for the first time the US allowed a vote in the UN Security Council to take place and then abstained, which are two levels of diplomatic failure on part of Netanyahu and his diplomatic team. He’s already in trouble in that regard. And like I said earlier, I don’t know that it quite matters who Trump sends as an ambassador, because the ambassador represents truthfully what American policy has been de facto, and what Israel is doing anyway. So it’s not really that much of a break from what’s been going on.

But I do think that once again, it’s important for people of conscience to learn about the movement calling to boycott, divest and impose sanctions on Israel. It is important for people of conscience to get involved with the Palestine Solidarity Movement and the Palestinian resistance. It is time for people to wake up. And many people feel this already and realize that this whole idea of a state for Jews in Palestine cannot but infringe on the rights of Palestinians. It’s got to change. And the change has got to be swift, because Palestinians are suffering. Young Palestinians are being killed at the checkpoints every single day. Palestinians are suffering in Gaza every single day. The death count, the poverty, the enormous difficulties the Palestinians have to live through that are imposed on them by Israel has got to change. And what people should do is exactly that. They need to go. They need to re-read my book. They need to read other books about this issue. They need to go to the BDS movement website and learn how they can boycott and support the boycott of Israel. And it’s time to isolate this regime and bring it down just like apartheid was brought down in South Africa and to allow Israelis and Palestinians to live like people should. Then I - actually just to give it a positive note, an optimistic note - I believe that this reality of the transformation of this regime into a real democracy is going to happen much faster than most people think. I think the reality is changing very quickly. And it’s unsustainable to keep things the way they are.

Ralph Nader: Well, we’ve run out of time. We’ve been talking with Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son, issued second edition very recently. Published by Just World Books. How can people reach you? Do you have a website? How can they react to this program or ask you more questions?

Miko Peled: My e-mail is mikopeled@gmail.com. My blog is mikopeled.com. I’m on Facebook. I’m on Twitter. I’m very easy to find. I’m always happy to discuss things with people if they want to invite me, if they want to speak to me, if they want to just chat or ask questions, I’m always available on social media. And I’m all over the country speaking, like you said. So it’s very easy to find me. I’ll be in Albany in a couple of weeks. On the 17th I’m speaking in Albany on January 17th. So people are always welcome to come and chat, ask questions, and discuss this further.

Ralph Nader: You’ve never run away from a debate with the opposing viewpoints.

Miko Peled: No. Not that only have I never run away, they never show up. That is the problem. It’s not me running away. It’s that they never show up to the debates. That’s usually been the problem. I’ve been happy to debate many people, many different people.

Ralph Nader: Well, thank you very much, Miko, for your work throughout many years, bringing truth to power and hoping that’s that that extremely continual struggle in the Palestinian-Israeli theater, which has spilled over in many ways to the larger Middle East theater will receive a greater level of rationality. It’s been known to happen. It happened in South Africa. Sometimes things that are viewed as unchangeable change very rapidly. And we hope that will be the case for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Thank you again.

Miko Peled: Indeed. Thank you so much.

Steve Skrovan: We have been speaking with Israeli author and activist, Miko Peled about his book The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. We will link to that at the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website as well as linking it to his blog, mikopeled.com.

We’re going to take a short break now and check in with corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhiber.

Russell Mokhiber: From the National Press Building in Washington, DC, this is your corporate crime reporter morning minute for Friday, January 6th, 2017. I’m Russell Mokhiber. Odebrecht, a global construction conglomerate based in Brazil, and Braskem, a Brazilian petro-chemical company pled guilty and will pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in United States, Brazil and Switzerland, arising out of their schemes to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials around the world. Odebrecht and Braskem used a hidden button, but fully functional Odebrecht business unit, in effect, a Department of Bribery that systematically paid hundreds of millions of dollars to corrupt government officials in countries and three continents. Odebrecht and Braskem will plead guilty with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. For the corporate crime reporter, I’m Russell Mokhiber.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:17 am

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 196: A Coal Miner Speaks Out/The Fall of Al Franken
by Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
December 16, 2017




Ralph talks to activist coal miner, Stanley Sturgill, who advocates for the strengthening of EPA regulations on the coal industry and mountaintop removal. Also, Mark Green gives us his take on the sudden, steep fall of Senator Al Franken.

Coal Miner Stanley Sturgill on mountaintop removal

“Just how many people must pay the supreme price of death for a few rich, greedy people to bank a few dollars?” Those are the words of Stanley Sturgill testifying at the one and only public hearing concerning the Trump Administration’s effort to repeal The Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations meant to reduce carbon emissions from coal fired power plants. Mr. Sturgill, from Lynch, Kentucky, was a coal miner for over forty years and suffers from black lung disease. He advocates not for the repeal but for the strengthening of EPA regulations on the coal industry and mountaintop removal.

“They poison these streams… They covered up miles of fresh water streams that people have to drink out of. And that’s one reason we have such a high rate of cancer, especially in our area.”

Public Interest Attorney, Mark Green

Mark Green is a former Nader’s Raider, who ran Public Citizen’s Congress Watch program for ten years. After that, he went on to found his own public interest organization, The New Democracy Project. In addition, he was elected New York City’s first Public Advocate. An author and a radio and TV commentator, Mark’s latest book, – which we have talked about previously on this show – is entitled “Bright Infinite Future: A Generational Memoir on the Progressive Rise.”

“How about a (Senate) subcommittee dedicated to this issue (sexual harassment)… where within ninety days they have to investigate, put people under oath, and rule? And if it’s one stupid thing a decade ago, you reprimand. If it’s a minor pattern, you censure. And if it’s Packwood… you expel. I think that’s fair, but that system does not now exist.”

[Transcribed by Tara Carreon]

[Steve Skrovan] You know, in the past 2 months, the list of men across politics, entertainment, media, and industry, who have been losing their jobs over sexual harassment charges, is stunning. Maybe even more stunning, are the few men who have managed to keep their jobs, despite the overwhelming testimony against them. I think you know who I’m talking about. In politics, sexual harassment has no party. Two of the most prominent progressive democratic politicians, John Conyers in the House, and Al Franken in the Senate, have been particularly disappointing to partisans. And here to talk about Al Franken’s fall from grace, is our next guest.

[David Feldman] Mark Green is a former Nader’s Raider, who ran Public Citizen’s Congress Watch program for 10 years. After that, he went on to found his own public interest organization, “The New Democracy Project.” In addition, he was elected as New York City’s first public advocate. An author and radio and TV commentator, Mark’s latest book, which we have talked about previously on this show, is entitled, “Bright Infinite Future: A Generational Memoir on the Progressive Rise.” Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Mark Green.

[Mark Green] I’m so delighted. Thank you.

[Ralph] Yeah, welcome back, Mark. I’m looking at a headline in a Minneapolis paper, and it reads this way: “Franken’s rapid ouster from Senate prompts backlash among his Minnesota supporters.” What’s amazing about the article is, it includes Republicans; not only Democrats, men and women active in Franken’s party, but also the former Republican governor of Minnesota spoke out, Governor Arlie Carlson, who was the governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999. He said, “I am deeply troubled by the resignation of Al Franken, and the complete absence of anything resembling due process.” And also, the general counsel, Emily Martin, to the National Women’s Law Center, came out saying, “Of course we want zero tolerance, but there are different gradations to the levels of harassment, and the punishment should not always be the same.” And just very recently, in a New York Times piece, Professor of Law Fordham Law School, Zephyr Teachout, has an op-ed headed by the title, “I’m Unconvinced Franken Should Quit.” And she said, “Zero tolerance should go hand-in-hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on the social media.” And she continues saying, “Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond. And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions.”

Now, Mark Green, you’ve had a lot of experience with politicians, with the Senate Ethics Committee, and you know Al Franken. What’s your take here? Is he railroaded out of the Senate? Or is he out of the Senate? To our knowledge, we don’t know whether he has actually signed the letter of resignation.

[Mark Green] Allow me just to throw clearing comments, and I want to answer your good question, Ralph.

First, bigger than even the Senate and the process issues, is the huge social upheaval that men cannot just get away willy-nilly with abusing their power in the workplace. This is the biggest change socially since women went into the workplace in the 60’s, and into public office in the 80’s and 90’s.

Second, if I may Ralph, you and I will be the last two men standing. I know this for a fact. As for Franken, he’s a great senator. A brilliant guy, with great values. And seven women said he had done things, like goosing them at state fairs. But if you take the zero tolerance view, which is what Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has gotten famous for now, she said, “If you have to ask where is the line, you’re asking the wrong question.” Well, excuse me. Now, murderers get due process as you Ralph once mentioned to me. So we need a process where instead of its just ad-hoc, vigilante verdicts, and enough of your colleagues say you should leave so you should leave, we should have a standard which was true for Republican Senator Packwood of Oregon 20 years ago. The Senate Ethics Committee studied the 18 accusations against him over 20 years, found they were true, and voted in a bipartisan way, 6-0, he should be expelled. The next day he quit. That’s due process.

“She is the war on women, as far as I’m concerned, because with every woman that she’s found out about—and she made it a point to find out who every woman had been that’s crossed his path over the years—she’s orchestrated a terror campaign against every one of these women, including me,” said Willey.

One of those women was Juanita Broaddrick, who says Hillary Clinton threatened her in person two weeks after she claimed Bill Clinton raped her.

Hillary’s aggressive attitude was not limited to those who accused her husband of sexual misconduct: other men received the benefit of the doubt from Hillary when she needed their support politically. When former Sen. Bob Packwood was accused of sexual harassment, Clinton told her friend Blair that she was “tired of all those whiney [whiny] women,” and that she needed Packwood on health care.

Hillary has also suggested that Bill’s problems with women are the fault of a woman: his mother.

Clinton attempted to explain to Lucinda Franks that Bill’s infidelity is rooted in his abused childhood, stating during an interview that he was abused and that “when a mother does what she does, it affects you forever.”

-- Hillary Clinton’s Long History of Targeting Women, by Brent Scher

So, there is a difference. I’m making this up, but were I a senator, and someone said, “Oh, Mark Green in college once misunderstood a woman and made a pass that he shouldn’t have.” Okay, bad on me. Is that really the same thing as Roy Moore or Donald Trump? Should all of that lead to expulsion? The answer is no. And to speak of someone who once did file a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee in 1989 against Senator Al D’Amato, who I ran against for consistent corruption, two years later the Senate Ethics Committee didn’t vote to expel him, it didn’t vote to censure him, but it did vote to reprimand him. In other words, you should scale, and let the punishment fit the crime, rather than a knee-jerk, “everyone’s the same.”

[Ralph Nader] We’ve discovered in the last few days, and I’m talking about several people in my office, and I think you have had the same experience, that it’s impossible to get through to the Senate Ethics Committee. Imagine that. Just to get through to talk to anybody, to see whether they are closing down the investigation of Al Franken -- which includes his full cooperation by the way -- because of his proposed resignation, or whether they are going to continue it to completion. We can’t find out as of this program.

Number 2, I haven’t been able to get through to Senator Franken’s office, or his offices in Minnesota, to talk to either a staff person or Senator Franken, to ask him to clarify the ambiguity in his statement on the Senate floor when he said he will resign in a few weeks. Well, does that mean he’s waiting for the Senate Ethics Committee? Does that mean he is putting off his letter of resignation? It’s just not clear. And you haven’t been able to get through either, have you?

[Mark Green] I called the Senate Ethics Committee, gave them my name, explained that I was a public interest lawyer interested in the matter, and that I had once filed a petition with the Senate Ethics Committee successfully, but I got no call back. You’d think they would know, and have a bright-line rule: if a Senator quits first, does that end the Senate Ethics Committee, or does it not end it? And you know, a public policy could go either way. You would think they would know. They haven’t told either of us, and probably not anyone else.

[Ralph Nader] Well, one of my associates called Senator Johnny Isakson, who is the chair -- he’s the senator in Georgia who is the chair of the Senate Ethics Committee. He couldn’t even get through to a human being. He got a voice mail. This is all part of a bigger subject we’re going to discuss in our show, Mark, that Congress has never been more incommunicado. They have got a force field now between them and the American people who are just trying to call, if the callers have not made financial contributions to the senator or representative’s campaign. So this is a serious issue. What would you advise Senator Franken to do now?

[Mark Green] Well, I’m sensitive about this, Ralph. Let me admit this: I’m friends with Al, in that I ran for the Senate in 1986 from New York with Franken’s big support, and I lost. He ran for the Senate in Minnesota with my support in New York, and he won. I always joked with Al, “I guess my support meant more than your support.” So I know this is a very personal decision. And so of course, based on his statement, he should be, and is, a bit bitter that men with far more egregious cases, proven, than have been proven against him, they are still in the Senate or the White House, and he’s out.

He should also be concerned with the possibility that he was railroaded out because of a group effect. What happens, not only if someone is charged with making a stupid, frivolous bad conduct decades ago on a one-time basis – not in the workplace, not in the Senate – what happens if James O’Keefe or Roger Stone Jr. goad someone into making a false accusation to get rid of a Democratic member? That’s not conspiratorial. Of course, those two made a history of doing that.

And by the way, 5-7% of all women who charge sexual impropriety, harassment, predation, aren’t telling the truth. 95% are telling the truth. So I’m not saying, “Don’t trust women,” I’m saying, “Listen, private marketplace, you make your own judgment.” When dealing with an elected official, you need a process, because to force him or her out overturns a democratic election!

[David Feldman rudely interrupting] He wasn’t forced out! He quit!

[Ralph Nader] Here’s the case for Senator Franken, if I can speak for him. He showed deep contrition and apologized. He did say that some of the accusations described situations that he didn’t remember that way, but he indicated that he was fooling around inappropriately. And of course, one of the accusers has it on video, because he was literally looking at the camera grinning over her on a USO tour abroad. This was before he was a senator. And you mentioned Roger Stone. And people don’t know who Roger Stone is: he is a militant supporter of Donald Trump. And he seemed to know about the first accuser’s accusation before she made it the following day. Isn’t that right?

[Mark Green] That’s right. That’s on the record. The day before the first accuser went public, Roger Stone tweeted, “Franken’s next in the barrel.”

[Ralph Nader] Anyway, getting back to Senator Franken, he did show deep contrition. He gave immediate cooperation to the Senate Ethics Committee. And then, in one day, he went from a half a dozen Democratic senators accusing him, to 12, to 16, to 20, to 38. It was like a stampede. And it really offended a lot of women and men lawyers around the country in terms of the lack of due process. In fact, Larry Tribe, the famous constitutional lawyer from Harvard Law School, agreed with the position that Professor Teachout wrote in the New York Times.

But looking ahead, we have a situation now where the Democrats may be jeopardizing the Senate seat. Because in 2018, the Republicans emboldened by the departure we assume of Senator Franken, are going to try to put forward the former governor, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, to run for the senate. So it might have cost them a senate seat in a very, very closely divided senate between Republicans and Democrats. It would be nice on this program if we knew whether Senator Franken was waiting for the Senate Ethics Committee to come out with its report, because he said he would resign in a few weeks, which could be 7, 8, 9, 10 weeks, or whether the Senate Ethics Committee is going to close down. And can you imagine, as citizens and voters, we can’t even get through to those two offices.

[Mark Green] Well, Franken has a very tough judgment to make. Someone interrupted, “Oh, he voluntarily quit.” That’s “voluntary” like a robber points a gun at me and says, “It’s either your money or your life.” You know, he was forced out politically.

[David Feldman rudely interrupting] Oh, oh, oh – I’m sorry to interrupt! I’m getting angry! Do you mind if I –

[Ralph Nader] This is David Feldman.

[David Feldman] You’re saying it stops at 8. I say that if there are 8 we know of, there are a lot more. And you know the way this works more than I do. I would assume he was called in by somebody in the Democratic leadership, probably Schumer, who said, “Look, I want to spare you and Frannie, your wife, the embarrassment, but if you stay, there are going to be a lot more women coming forward.

[Mark Green] Now, you’re guessing at that.

[David Feldman] But that’s the way it works, though! That’s the way it works, doesn’t it?

[Ralph Nader] It doesn’t obviate due process, David. You’ve made a political comment that he basically quit. What do you say, Mark Green?

[Mark Green] Well, he has some options; not many. He could say, “Screw it; I resigned under pressure; I haven’t signed the papers yet. I’m allowed to run in 2018, and we’ll see where this whole issue settles out.” I think that’s unlikely, because then he’d be running against an unelected but sitting female senator that Governor Mark Dayton has already appointed. But this will all settle out in a way, and I hope it’s with two things happening: men in private and public workplaces stop assuming that they can act like pigs and get away with it. I think that’s happening. But second, have one standard for both parties. It’s procedurally offensive – I know the word “procedure” makes everyone’s mind shut down -- but it’s a hell of a political procedural thing if one party reacts to two, three allegations -- maybe they were a while ago; maybe not; maybe it’s at a state fair goofing around; maybe it’s rape -- while the other party denies everything.

The odds that 20 women were all making it up against Donald Trump – I did the math based on only 5-7% are lying -- it’s 99.999% likely one or more of the women are telling the truth. Yet Trump says, “they’re all lying.” And a President is different, because there’s an impeachment process –

[Ralph Nader] No, it’s the point I made two weeks ago that if Nancy Pelosi demanded that John Conyers resign, she should have demanded that President Trump resign, because he’s still the worst exploiter on the record so far.

Forced her against a wall and abruptly kissed her, forcing his tongue into her mouth …
Grabbed her and kissed her on the mouth …
Slid his fingers under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh and touched her vagina through her underwear …
Came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me toward him,” she said. “He then grabbed my shoulder and started kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast.” He kept pursuing her, she said, at one point “thrusting his genitals” against her as he tried to kiss her …
I felt a grab, a little nudge … I turn around and there’s Donald ..
Pursued her and groped her … had “his hands all over me”…
Lifted the armrest and began to touch her … grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” Leeds said. “His hands were everywhere.”
Kissed her directly on the lips … again embraced and kissed her on the lips …
Grabbed her arm and touched her breast …
Kissed her on the lips …
Grabbed her bottom …
“Grabbed” her and two other unnamed women tightly and kissed them on the lips …

-- President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list, by Meg Kelly

Touching and stroking the legs and buttocks of Marion Brown and other female staffers on multiple occasions …
Referred to us as the "Big Leg Cousins" …
Came out of the bathroom completely naked while he knew I was in the room …
Slid his hand up my skirt and rubbed my thighs while I was sitting next to him in the front row of a church …
"That S.O.B. just wanted me to have sex with him!" …
Regularly undressed in front of female office staff …
Came out of his private bathroom in his underwear …

-- Conyers allegations: Ex-staffer says congressman ‘inappropriately touched’ her, by Rachel Elbaum

[Mark Green] If I may, what I just said was there should be a process. And I’m guessing Nancy Pelosi, who has great sway over sitting members, chairs like Conyers for example, has very little, if any sway, over Donald Trump. So she could have said, “Franken and Conyers should quit only if Trump does,” and Trump wouldn’t even respond. Maybe he’d send an early morning tweet. She has no leverage over him. In fact, constitutionally, there’s impeachment when a number of Republicans aren’t moving. So we have this quandary of, “How many is enough? Who decides?” And I’d love to see a change where each Ethics Committee has a subcommittee. You know, like there are general criminal courts, and there are special drug courts. Because drug use is both a medical and a criminal matter. And there are enough of them, so they set up a special court with speedy due process rules, speedy trials. Well, how about a subcommittee dedicated to this issue -- because there are going to be dozens more accusations -- where within 90 days they have to investigate the people under oath and rule? And if it’s one stupid thing a decade ago, you are reprimanded. If it’s a minor pattern, you’re censure. And if it’s Packwood, or Senator Trump, you’re expelled. I think that’s fair, but that system does not now exist.

Reeled me around and grabbed me and pulled me close to him." For an instant, she thought he was offering a good-night hug. But then the Senator planted a full kiss on her lips, wriggling his tongue into her mouth … he tried to talk her into coming inside …
Approached her and, without uttering a word, stood on her feet, pulled back her ponytail with one hand and tried to yank down her girdle with the other. Williamson escaped his grasp and fled the room. Stalking past her, he said, "If not today, some other day." …
Unexpectedly leaned across the front desk of the Red Lion and kissed her on the lips. "… On another occasion, the Senator followed her into a luggage closet and kissed her again on the lips …
Closed his door and suddenly embraced her. He then pulled back her long blond hair and stuck his tongue into her mouth. Wagers, a graduate of Lafayette College working her first job, remembers struggling to escape while Packwood whispered how much he liked her wholesome good looks and innocent manner. He finally let go and she left in tears …
Opened the door to an empty office. Pulling Wagers inside, the Senator moved toward a couch and swept its pillows away. Wagers recalls pleading with him to stop, speaking in a firm but soothing voice. "This was much more threatening," she says. "We were in the basement of the Capitol. I didn't want him to get angry and start ripping my clothes off." Eventually Packwood let her go …

-- The Trials Of Bob Packwood, by Trip Gabriel

[Ralph Nader] Just to complete the record here, the due process for President Trump is impeachment. Over 60 members of the House have already supported an impeachment resolution.

And second, the other due process, is lawsuits by the accusing women under tort law. And there is already one woman who has sued Trump for defamation under tort law.

So everybody deserves, obviously, due process. But it’s an unfinished story. And I think Senator Franken owes the public more clarity in terms of what he really intends to do, and when. And above all, the Senate Ethics Committee should open their telephone lines, and let the American people know what they plan to do. I have never experienced this kind of blackout by an ethics committee, of all names. They should be setting the standard.

On that note, Mark Green, we have to conclude. We’re out of time. We’ve been speaking with Mark Green, whose most recent book -- very, very well done -- that teaches us a lot about progressive movements and opposition to them is called, “Bright Infinite Future.” It’s extremely readable, and I urge you all to absorb its lessons in the coming political battles ahead. Thank you very much Mark.

[Mark Green] Thank you, Ralph.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:26 pm

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 37: Lori Wallach, Solar Power, War Talk
November 28, 2014


Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach explains in clear and engaging detail why so-called “Free Trade” is really an international corporate coup. In addition, Ralph talks about the lack of anti-war voices on major media, and the good news about solar power.


RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 37: Lori Wallach, Solar Power, War Talk
November 28, 2014
[Transcribed by Tara Carreon]

[Steve Skrovan] From the KPFK Studios in southern California, it's the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.

[Music] Stand up, stand up, you've been sitting way too long.

[Steve Skrovan] Welcome to the Ralph Nader radio hour. My name is Steve Skrovan, coming to you today from Los Angeles, California. David Feldman, as usual is in New York City, and the man of the hour, Ralph Nader, is in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Good morning gentlemen.

[Ralph Nader] Good morning to all of you.

[Steve Skrovan] I believe we have a particularly provocative show today. David, tell our listeners what we have in store.

[David Feldman]: Well today we're going to talk about a recent report from Environment America about the growing role of solar energy in the United States. We're also going to talk about another report, this one from the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting on the lack of dissenting voices in the mainstream media over our military actions in the Middle East and our guest this week is Lori Wallach who is the director of Public Citizens Global Trade Watch Division and is the absolute leading expert on globalization, the World Trade Organization and the so-called free trade agreements. She's been described by the Wall Street Journal as, and get this Ralph, and I'm quoting from the Wall Street Journal, "Ralph Nader with a sense of humor." Welcome, Lori Wallach. What do you think of that Ralph? “Ralph Nader with a sense of humor.”

[Ralph Nader] I don't think that's funny. I think Lori does have a sense of humor as listeners will soon see. She uses it as a way to get points across based on very arcane, legal sections of what are called “free trade agreements” but are anything but. So let's get under way.

Lori Wallach graduated from Harvard Law School and she started working in the litigation group, Public Citizen. And I thought there was a great opportunity for her in the emerging battle for new kinds of trade agreements that are forms of trans-national governance, secretive decisions made sidestepping our regulatory agencies, our legislatures, and our courts.

And at that time, in the early 90s, people were not aware of this. They weren't aware of anything but the nomenclature. That is “free trade, win, win, everybody wins.” You know, it's the old free trade mantra a couple centuries ago where the British sold textiles to Portugal and the Portugal vendors sold wine to the British, and they were both comparatively advantaged and everybody won.

It's quite different now, and on this program we're gonna hear from Lori as to why it's different, first by laying out the structure of these trade agreements and how radical they are against our constitutional and open government traditions; and then, going to how they have actually affected working people and communities in this country, and consumers; and then I know she wants to talk about the forthcoming Pacific Trade Agreement that President Obama is wrapping up with Asia and other nations and is gonna submit to Congress.

One other thing you must know about Lori: She is obviously relentless, persistent; she's been all over the world in symposiums and action arenas helping people oppose the rapacious impacts of these agreements, and once you get them in concrete, they really are pretty mind blowing in how cruel and vicious this organized corporate multi-national greed can be using government for its own purposes.

She's also well known on Capitol Hill. I introduced her to a number of Senators and Representatives in the pre-fight for NAFTA and WTO. She now has great credibility on Capitol Hill, and she may have some surprise projections for us about the way the House of Representatives is gonna receive the Pacific Trade Agreement which she has described as NAFTA ON STEROIDS, if and when President Obama sends it to Congress on fast track.

So take it away, Lori. Why don't you describe the structure of these trade agreements, and how they affect consumer, environmental, and worker rights, and not just trade.

[Lori Wallach] Well, the first things I’m going to know is that these trade agreements aren't mainly about trade anymore. So we've all been subject to a rather clever misbranding campaign where this concept of free trade, which most people think of as cuts in border taxes, tariffs, that's what free trade used to mean, has been used to basically slide through what is effectively a system of enforceable, global, corporate-led governance. And the way it works is that these so called trade agreements, let's just say the World Trade Organization, the thing that replaced the general agreement in tariffs in trade, GATT, that was a trade agreement. It only covered border taxes on things you could drop on your foot. If it wasn't an actual product, it wasn't under GATT. In comes the WTO. Everyone just is told it's a bigger stronger GATT. But in fact, of the WTO's 17 chapters, only 6 of 'em have anything to do with trade. The other 11 chapters set up binding policies, and we all have to conform, all levels of our domestic policies, local, state, federal law, to these rules.

So what kind of rules? Well there's an intellectual property chapter that expanded the monopoly period of patents that the big pharmaceutical companies had in medicines. What did that mean practically? The U.S. wants from a 17 year monopoly on medicines to a 20 year. That means three extra years to the big pharmaceutical companies to charge anything they want for medicines. So the University of Minnesota found that that alone was a $17 Billion increase in the price of medicines just for the medicines that were under patent at that time. So WTO instead of being free trade, is new monopolies for big companies, raising prices for consumers.

Or there's another chapter that limits the kind of food safety protections that we can have in our country. And it doesn't matter if those rules apply to domestic food and imported food. There's simply a ceiling on safety.

For instance, we're required to accept meat that is considered safe under some other country's standards. And by the way, some of the countries under those rules are now bringing in meat, they do this -- to those who aren't vegetarians already -- our countries have privatized their food inspection system. So you got countries like Australia that have astronomical rates of E coli in their chicken production who are sending their products here. Oh, and there's a whole set of limits on labeling of food. So we can't even know the country of origin of the food.

Or in WTO there's a whole chapter to deregulate the banksters. So during the 90s heyday of deregulation those guys got their own chapter in WTO that limits a lot of the key financial regulations that we need now to make sure that the bank doesn't take our house, to make sure that we don't have another financial crisis.

All of those things have nothing to do with trade under the brand of free trade. And because we've all been told, “free trade; it's so good,” those words, such good news, “free trade.” Who doesn't want those things?

Congress, when WTO announced they were under consideration, really was largely clueless despite our best efforts that this wasn't a trade agreement, this was like a slow motion coup d'état by corporations. Because if any country doesn't change all of its domestic laws to meet these rules, which by the way don't [inaudible], you can't change a comma unless all the signatory countries agree --

[Ralph Nader] How many are there?

[Lori Wallach] 160 in WTO now.

[Ralph Nader] Each one with the same vote, right?

[Lori Wallach] Each one with the same vote, but if you don't change your laws, you face trade sanctions. That's just the punch line of it. It's actually enforceable unlike most global rules. You actually, if you don't comply with these retrograde rules, your country gets slapped with billions in trade sanctions that don't go away until you cave in and get rid of your consumer protection.

[David Feldman] So Lori, this to me sounds, not to sound conspiratorial, it sounds like corporate world government. I mean, it sounds like, if I'm hearing you correctly, these agreements are all made to bypass domestic laws and safety standards, health and safety standards.

[Lori Wallach] Your perspective is exactly right. And what has happened basically is that to the extent the rules have been enforced time after time, domestic, environmental, consumer, and other laws have been rolled back. So just in the U.S., under the WTO, we've seen the dolphin safe tuna rules rolled back. So everyone knows that on the tuna fish there's that little smiling dolphin label. That no longer means that Flipper didn't die. The standard used to be, no tuna can be sold here if it's caught with the circle nets that drown dolphins.

[David Feldman] Right.

[Lori Wallach] No, no, no, no, no. After one of these trade cases, the U.S. rolled back the standard to avoid a trade sanction. All it means now is no one on the boat saw Flipper die. It's literally a roll back of the standard after a case to avoid the sanctions.

Or Clean Air Act rules on gasoline cleanliness put into place to try and counter the epidemic of asthma in our cities rolls back after a successful WTO case.

Or Endangered Species Act rules that were put into place to try and save endangered sea turtles rolled back.

And right now the WTO is about to impose sanctions over President Obama's landmark 2009 laws on tobacco to keep kids from smoking, and on a policy relating to the country-of-origin labeling of our meat.

[Ralph Nader] Of those examples you gave, indicate what countries challenge the U.S. in those tribunals in Geneva to get their way, starting with the tuna.

[Lori Wallach] Well, this is the perverse thing. Right now is where we're going to talk about, we're having negotiations with a thing called the Trans Pacific Partnership. And it includes Mexico, a country that has repeatedly used the WTO to attack our domestic consumer and environmental laws. Because NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, just like the WTO -- namely not about trade; enforceable; all these corporate rules; chapters imposing retrograde policies having nothing to do with trade -- under that agreement Mexico has also challenged our rule that requires that only trucks domiciled in Mexico that meet our driver safety, insurance, and environmental standards, can come into a certain part of the U.S. And Mexico's using NAFTA -- the similar tribunal system with the sanctions -- to say no, no, no, no, no, you have to allow these trucks to drive anyplace in the U.S. And of course president after president, Democrat and Republican, has said, “But wait, these trucks aren't safe.” Sorry, $3.2 billion of trade sanctions were imposed. President Obama's allowed a pilot program allowing in those trucks.

[Ralph Nader] Lori, can you explain how it overrides domestic sovereignty? I've often said that these trade agreements involve the greatest surrender of U.S. sovereignty -- local, state, and national -- in U.S. history. Every treaty involves some relinquishment of sovereignty so nations can get together, sign on, and pursue a common objective. But in this case, give the example of child labor, which is illegal in this country. Under WTO, countries using child labor exporting products to this country. That tells me how our sovereignty is being overridden. You remember Tom Harkin tried to do something about that in the U.S. Senate. Can you explain that?

[Lori Wallach] You bet. So, let me just first practically explain what the key provision is. Every one of these agreements has a provision that says the signatory countries, like the United States, “SHALL ENSURE THE CONFORMITY OF ALL DOMESTIC LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND PROCEDURES”, with the attached agreement. So that's the actual WTO text.

What that means is, for instance, U.S. law currently forbids the interstate movement -- movement between each U.S. state -- of products made by the labor of children younger than 16. That's how we have a ban in our country on child labor. The WTO has a rule that basically does not allow countries in making their domestic laws to distinguish the ways in which things are made. A physically identical product has to be treated the same, regardless of the labor, environmental, or other conditions. So, for instance, that is the child labor issue. So the U.S. at a certain point realized that our intrastate trade in banned child labor products was being undermined by imports from developing countries that permitted child labor.

So the U.S. government moved to actually have a new amendment to the law that said, “AND, NO PRODUCTS” – this is what Senator Harkin wanted – “NO PRODUCTS MADE BY CHILD LABOR SHALL BE ALLOWED INTO THE U.S.” And immediately a variety of WTO member countries that use child labor wrote to the U.S. and said, “We're so sorry. You're not allowed to do that. And if you proceed, we will take you to the WTO. That is a violation.” And by the way, that's the same theory, that's the same WTO rule under which we had to roll back our dolphin protection. Because the basic rule is unless literally there is a dead dolphin in the tuna can, tuna that is caught dolphin-safe cannot be distinguished from tuna that is caught killing dolphins. A shoe made by a child laborer bound to a machine and starved, cannot be distinguished from a shoe made in the blue-star OSHA safety plant of plant ownership of a co op in Maine making a shoe. A shoe is a shoe. You cannot distinguish. And the notion that some tribunal of three unelected trade officials would be able to become judge and jury and executioner for a U.S. law that's been made through the domestic democratic process stood up in courts, is enraging. Ralph, as you've said, if these rules were ever fully enforced, you would have people on the street in revolt against these trade agreements.

[Ralph Nader] Talking about that, a listener might wonder, why isn't this unconstitutional. Because it's basically overriding our three branches of government: federal, state and local.

[Lori Wallach] The way it's written is ingeniously clever. Instead of literally preempting the law, instead of saying, “This is now the law,” the way it works is that if one country hasn't changed all its domestic laws, another country at the WTO can drag the first country into one of these WTO foreign tribunals. And the tribunal says, “Well, United States, you have this obligation. You've failed. So either you have 90 days to change your law -- and we don't care if it's gone to the Supreme Court -- we're telling you. Or if you choose not to do that, well, you can just face perpetual trade sanctions. Mmm, this one looks like it's worth, I don't know, $12 billion a year.” And then we basically have a gun at each temple: change the law, or face perpetual sanctions.

In the history of WTO there have been several hundred of these cases – by the way, the U.S. has been hit by more challenges than any other single country – but in the history of these 200 WTO cases where these tribunals have ordered countries to change their domestic laws, there are literally about four cases where countries have not done so immediately. The only country, frankly, that just finally stood up and said, “Fine, we'll pay,” was the European Union -- not a country -- when it was ordered to get rid of its ban on artificial hormones in beef, which are associated with cancer. And the European Union basically said, “Well, we're going to have revolts of people with steak knives trying to poke their government on the streets if we do this. So we're just going to pay the sanctions.” And they paid $300 million a year for 14 years. This case, sadly, the U.S. brought against Europe on behalf of the big cattle exporters. And ultimately, duh, the U.S. negotiator said, “You know, I don't think they're gonna actually change their law. We may have to settle with them.” But they still had to concede a bunch of other tariff access to be able to get us off their back with the sanctions.

So with that sanctions sword of Damocles, countries just cave. Hell, half the time you don't even have to take 'em to tribunal. You just write the challenge threat and they cave, because it costs a fortune to defend these cases.

[David Feldman] Lori, what year was the WTO founded? Where are they headquartered? Ralph has been talking about tribunals. Is there any illusion of a democracy where citizens can address the WTO? Is there any parliamentary structure?

[Lori Wallach] No. The WTO went into effect in 1995 on January 1st. It sits in an old palace on the shores of Lake Geneva. I just would note that it has a set of front doors covered in an iron grate, and two Swiss guards out front. And when the doors swing open, [makes squeaky ancient gate-opening sound] it reminds you of the first scene of the Wizard of Oz. And in there, it is kind of the guy behind the curtain, because “there is no there there.”

Before I really became fully savvy to how insidious this institution was, as sort of this naïve young lawyer, I would go to Geneva, I would find something in a text that needed a change. This was before the WTO round was completed. And I would go to an official there on food safety, and I'd say, “You know, if you put the comma there and have ‘and” instead of ‘or,’ you more or less roll back on, I don't know, five decades of food safety improvements. And they say, “Well, I don't know if that's true, but, you know, we can't help you. You need to go talk to your government.” So then I go back to Washington, and I go to the office of the U.S. trade Representative, and I say, “There's is a problem here, the ‘comma,’ the ‘and,’ and the ‘or.’ And they'd say, “We're so sorry, we can't really help you. This is a multi-country negotiation. And it's done in secrecy. Because it's a matter of foreign policy. And I can't really help you.” It was like punching a damn marshmallow. You couldn't gain traction anywhere.

[David Feldman] The United Nations has a U.N. Security Council where the United States has a permanent seat. So all votes in the U.N. are not equal. But are you saying, I don't believe that 160 votes in the WTO are all equal. How do they –

[Lori Wallach] They are all equal.

[David Feldman] They are all equal.

[Lori Wallach] Yes. And in a pretty infamous case, a tiny, tiny, one of the smallest population WTO member nations, the nation of Antigua, has sued the United States demanding we get rid of our ban on Internet gambling. And Antigua won. Antigua basically, there's a rule in the WTO, this is the one that also threatens all the financial regulations, that says, “If you made a commitment to liberalize a particular service” -- because service regulation, everything from healthcare, transportation, education, all covered – “If you made a commitment to liberalize, then you can't have any quantitative limits. And a ban on some dangerous activity, that's a forbidden limit.” So even though the U.S. claims it took an exception for this, the WTO says, “Yep, Antigua wins.” Antigua population, 60,000.

[Ralph Nader] By the way, Antigua has the same vote as China, or Germany, or the United States, if there is ever to be a change in the charter of the WTO. All countries, though, can give 6 months' notice and pull out. But none of 'em have done that, because retaliation can be pretty severe.

Explain Chapter 11 in NAFTA. This one will blow people's minds. And also explain how under the WTO we can't be first -- like with seatbelts or airbags -- because of these harmonization procedures. Can you explain those two before we get into the job loss on the reports you put out regarding NAFTA and other trade agreements?

[Lori Wallach] Well, that's right. Before we get off of WTO, one of the other things that folks just need to think about is, as a practical matter, what this is about is taking decisions on the things that will affect your day to-day life up and away from you. Which is to say, think about the battles folks have been involved in across the country to get, for instance, our school lunches coming from local farmers, and all the farm-to-school rules. And in all those rules, we basically are, for instance, using our local school district budgets to try and promote sustainable agriculture, nutritious food for our kids. Then you have rules like in the WTO, decided in Geneva, unappealable, unchangeable through even Congress unilaterally. We can't do a thing about it. Just for instance, say we can't give those kind of local preferences. And while we're talking, there's a procurement chapter that explicitly says, “No preference to buy local.”

And while we're talking about food, this gets, Ralph, to the issue you raised about harmonization. That's another of these perverse euphemisms in WTO ese. And that word means, “Making uniform all regulatory standards” -- so as they claim – “to ease trade.”

Now I've made the point, if the point is just uniformity to ease trade, let's all go uniform at the highest standard. Let's all adopt the European standards on food safety. Bon appetit. Unfortunately, the way the WTO is written, there is a ceiling on how strong your standard can be. And you're only presumed to be in compliance with the WTO rules if your standard is lower than that ceiling. So you can be below, because there is no floor, but you can't go higher. And in some chapters, there's a specific rule saying that your domestic standard should comply with standards at international organizations. And for food, there's one listed called “The Codex Alimentarius.” If that sounds like a form of the flu, you would not be off too far. It is standard-setting body where the actual food multinationals have a seat. And this is a body that, for instance, still allows the use of DDT on fruits and vegetables. Not a set of standards you want to be relying on when you feed your family.

Under the WTO rules, the Codex standard, if that's your standard, if you adopt that domestically, which is your obligation, okey dokey. If you have a higher standard, like that European ban on artificial cancer-causing hormones in beef, “Sorry.” You have to get rid of it, or you face perpetual trade sanctions.

Now all of that would be bad enough, but now, as you raised Ralph, Chapter 11 of NAFTA, The Investor State Enforcement System. So under WTO and under NAFTA, countries can sue other countries in these tribunals. But, you know, countries kinda think about it. Because what one country's attacking another country for, hell, their law could be like that too. There's a diplomatic screening that goes on. The Investor State System gives direct privileges to individual foreign investors, and allows them to privately enforce those rights in the foreign tribunal, to demand compensation from our federal treasury for any domestic policy that the individual company claims violates their new privileges and rights under the trade agreement.

[Ralph Nader] Yeah, give some examples.

[Lori Wallach] An individual company is elevated to the same level as a nation state, literally.

So here is an example that I find particularly galling. Under NAFTA there was a US company called Metalclad. They're in the toxic waste business. They bought an establishment in Mexico that the local government had shut down when it had been previously owned by a Mexican family. And the Mexican company had polluted the ground water. It hadn't properly disposed of toxic waste. So all of its operating permits were taken away. So the US company comes in and they buy it as what's called “A brown field.” As is. No operating permits. And the local government, excited that someone might come in and clean up the place, because the buy was a bargain, basically says, “Here's what you need to do to get the operating permits. We've done the assessment. Clean up this. Fix that. Add clay over here. Etcetera. The US firm doesn't do any of that. Instead they come back and say, “I'm sorry, we're a foreign investor protected under NAFTA, so we're not actually gonna do those things. And we don't care that you made these same obligations for the Mexican company, we're a NAFTA investor. So either allow us to operate this place, or you can pay us.” And they went to one of these investor state tribunals, and extracted from the Mexican government 13 million dollars. Then they never operated the place. They got 13 million dollars, because their investor privileges were denied, because they couldn't get the permits, because they wouldn't clean up the place. And they were treated exactly like the Mexican company that owned it previously.

But that's not the anomaly. Over 400 million dollars have been paid out to individual companies under NAFTA. And there have been those kind of corporate court attacks on water policy, timber policy, toxic bans.

Here's another doosey, Ethyl Corporation, the lovely people who put lead in our gasoline for a period of time. Ethyl had a gasoline additive called MMT. The stuff is banned in reformulated gasoline in the US. And it is a suspected neurotoxin. There are all kinds of serious problems with it.

So Canada decides it's gonna ban it too. But the way Canada's laws work, the way their federal system is set up, they can't do a national ban. What they do is they ban intraprovincial movement, just like we do on child labor. That's how we got rid of child labor, and that's how they get rid of toxic. So they loose this ban. Ethyl says, “Yeah, we're really sorry, but you can't do that to us now. NAFTA is in place, and we're a NAFTA investor.

And of course everyone thought, “Okay, what the hell's their investment? They don't own a plant there. They just sell a product there.” Well a tribunal basically gives jurisdiction for their case, and they go to the Canadian government and say, “Here's the deal. You can get away with just paying us 17 million dollars versus the full loot we're gonna get if we go through with this, but you also have to publish an ad in big newspapers around the world saying, ‘The stuff is safe,’ and you have to reverse your ban. And we'll let you off the hook if you do that. We'll let you settle.” And the Canadian company did it. And that junk is back in the gas, and the Canadian government paid millions of dollars for basically not being allowed to regulate.

One that's going on right now that's totally outrageous is an attack on Egypt's increase in its minimum wage after its revolution. There is -- and this is not under NAFTA -- this is a case that is using the similar tribunal system in an agreement between France and Egypt. The European company is basically claiming that the contract it had to do waste pickup, garbage collection, in the city of Alexandria, that the contracts rights had been undermined, because the increase in the minimum wage will undermine their profits.

And the final one is just so stunning. There's a recent case that had an award over 40 billion dollars. Up until recently the biggest case was a 10 billion dollar award , and before that it was a 3 billion dollar award. And all those have to do with oil, mining, or gas cases. The big companies -- Occidental, Chevron -- are using this mechanism to beat the stuffing out of countries.

Oh, and there's Eli Lilly using this regime to try and attack Canada's patent system for medicines, because Canada, as we all know, has lower prices.

And even Philip Morris is using these secret corporate tribunals to attack the cigarette plain packaging rules in both Australia and Uruguay.

It's an epidemic of corporate power attacks. And this system, which was in NAFTA, could be expanded enormously if President Obama gets his way with his Pacific and his European proposed agreements.

[Steve Skrovan] That's my question Lori. This is all outrageous, and you're an amazing voice speaking out against this. What is wrong with Obama? Why is he pushing this? Who's advising him? What possible rationale could he have for our own laws being undermined by some corporate world organization?

[Ralph Nader] Especially after his 2008 election promises, Lori, mention that. And then go to Congress fast track, and Congressional abdication here.

[Lori Wallach] Well first of all, everyone can see President Obama's pledges. He pledged he would get rid of the Investor State Tribunal system. I mean, the guy was a constitutional law professor. He knows how outrageous this is. He pledged that he would replace the fast track trade authority system we're about to talk about. a very undemocratic Nixon era procedure that even more takes away our democracy in these trade policy areas. He said a lot of great stuff. And you can see all of it live, with footnotes, at our website, which is http://www.tradewatch.org. That's tradewatch.org, tradewatch, one word. And you can also there see the only complete list of all the Investor State cases under US agreements, where we've summarized the case, translated it out of gobbledy gook, these rulings are like 500 pages long. But we also put links. So if you wanna torture yourself, and read the damn upsetting cases you can go back to the original source. And that's also at tradewatch.org. Because when folks first hear about this Investor State system, they have two reactions. One, the person talking about it is crazy and paranoid. Sadly, that’s not the case. This really is happening. Or two, they say what you say, “Well how the heck could President Obama want that? How could he be pushing more of that?”

[David Feldman]: Yeah, what is wrong with him?

[Lori Wallach] Yeah, what is wrong with him? And I have to just say, my initial thing I always say is you know, because people have feelings about this, “ I'm equal part heartbroken, and hot raging furious about it.” Because he's gotta know better, and he's pushing the system that totally contradicts his basic policies.

And the answer I have of “Why?”, the best I can tell, has to do with the 600 official corporate advisors, who by statute have an official role in setting US trade policy. And the silo in the White House of people like our current trade representative and the President's law school buddy Mike Froman, the Citi Bank alum, a guy who was with Robert Rubin during the Clinton administration, a guy who's one of the last unmitigated lovers of NAFTA amongst Democrats.

The President is hearing from the corporate advisors, the President is hearing from his own senior economic staff, and they have a take on this that is either intentionally omitting these big problems, or they have convinced themselves for their own convenience that these concerns are not such a big deal.

So they'll go one by one through all these cases and explain to you why, “Well actually, maybe Metalclad you know, maybe that wasn't a bad decision. Maybe that should've happened.” And if someone had actually bothered to read these cases, actually I wish I could just lock the President up for six hours and have him read three or four of these cases as compared to getting the filter. But we know better. The guy's gotta know. And he's made this decision for political purposes, he's made this decision because there is a horrifying elite consensus -- uninformed, I might add -- in support of these agreements.

It's breaking. For instance, unlike NAFTA, where all these guys supported it, Sachs, Stiglitz, Krugman, have actually now researched what's in the agreements, instead of just a kneejerk, “Ooh, it's free trade. I like it.” And they have come out, all three of those guys, against the TPP, the Transpacific Partnership, which is the agreement where President Obama would expand this model.

So how could he possibly, I mean what the hell's he thinking?

But then there's also, “How the hell could this happen?” And that gets to the issue Ralph raised, which is fast track. So a lot of people who are listening to this are thinking, “So was the entire Congress lobotomized or drunk the day that the WTO or NAFTA came up for a vote?” Like, “How could these guys possibly, Democrats or Republicans –“

Hell, just think about it from their own turf. I mean what's the point of Congress if you got this extra judicial system above you? Why did these guys approve this? And part of the answer is the power of all the corporations who love this stuff. It's their way to get these policies that they couldn't possibly get in the sunshine of open process. But, the other piece is fast track.

So this is a procedure that Nixon cooked up to basically railroad trade agreements through Congress. And before that, to allow a form of really diplomatic legislating, where Executive Branch negotiators, with all these corporate advisors, literally 600 official ones, are newly empowered to not just negotiate trade terms, but to actually go beyond trade. And with Nixon's fast track in 1973, for the first time our trade negotiators are allowed to set binding terms, terms that are binding Congress and State legislatures, on service sector regulations like energy and climate policy. Now we think of it on intellectual property, some medicine prices, Internet freedom on what they called “standards,” that we would call product safety, food safety, environmental rules. All of a sudden they have this new power. For 200 years prior to that, trade agreements only dealt with border taxes, tariffs and they only dealt with real trade. And so fast track both opened the flood gates for this backdoor legislating via secret trade negotiations, and set up a procedure to make sure that these over-reach agreements would basically be railroaded through Congress.

[Ralph Nader] Explain fast track. When the President sends the specific trade agreement to Congress, what is fast track?

[Lori Wallach] So that's just where I was gonna go. So funny little thing: that Boston Tea Party that we all learned about as kids. That was actually a trade war. So the founding fathers, when they wrote the Constitution, they had all been seeped in that history. And they decided that they weren't gonna give power over trade to the king, the Executive Branch. In fact, they gave exclusive authority in the US Constitution, Article 18, to Congress. It's one of the biggest checks and balances in the entire Constitution. Congress has explicit, exclusive authority over trade policy. But only the Executive Branch can negotiate with foreign countries. So they have to cooperate. And for 200 years of history of our country, Congress just told the Executive Branch negotiators what to do.

In comes fast track. This is what Nixon got Congress to agree to. Number one, the President unilaterally picks the country. Number two, the President negotiates an agreement. Congress gives objectives, but they aren't binding. The President can then, three, sign the agreements, and enter into it before Congress gets a vote. Four, the right in implementing a legislation bill that changes all US laws needed to conform to the agreement, and adapts the actual damn text of the thing as US federal law. So it just preempts all state law.

[David Feldman] The Congress has to agree to the fast track first, right?

[Lori Wallach] Well let me just finish what it does. Five, that's not subject to committee markup or amendment. Six, guaranteed vote in 90 days from the day the President writes and drafts the bill. And then that vote happens with no amendments, and only 20 hours of debate, including in the Senate.

Yes, the Congress would have to give this authority. And here's the only good news. Number one, Ralph, I don't think we're gonna get to a vote on TPP if we all do our work, because the more we drag that agreement out into the sunshine, we can pull the old Dracula strategy on it. It's not an agreement that fares well if discussed in public. And there are campaigns underway, in all of the 12 countries involved in what is NAFTA ON STEROIDS with Asia. And in these countries, folks just fighting back against what it would mean for their lives, have stalled their being able to sign it for two years.

Now one of the big things in the US that's keeping it from getting signed is Congress won't give fast track authority. So this is something Congress would have to delegate. It's something Congress would have to give up. And in the 20 years since NAFTA and WTO, Congress started to wake up to the reality that these trade agreements weren't really about trade. This was their turf they were giving away. Congress was only allow fast track for five of those 20 years. And in fact, 171 Democrats and 71 Republicans voted down fast track on the House floor for Clinton in 1998, Mr. Trade Expansion. Hundreds of trade agreements. Only two of them had fast track. Guess which ones? NAFTA and WTO. Real trade agreements don't need fast track.

And so our mission, if any of this worries you, our mission as Americans who want to be part of this global campaign against these overreach agreements, our mission is to make sure our Congress does not delegate fast track authority. Whatever you think about the Congress as an institution, it has to be the check on the President just unilaterally using these trade negotiations and their 600 corporate advisors to roll back all of these important policies we all rely on. So we want no fast track, full debate, and full exposure. The TPP would not fare well under that treatment.

[Ralph Nader] That's the Trans Pacific trade agreement. Lori, you've actually forged a left-right coalition in the House. You've got the numbers now to block Obama if he sends the Pacific Trade Agreement to it, is that right?

[Lori Wallach] The numbers are around fast track. So when President Clinton had fast track denied to him in Congress, it was a bipartisan no vote. And the issues around trade that go to sovereignty, that go not so much about what the policy is, but who decides. And is it permanent. Does Congress have any role in the future in setting these policies if we're locking in policy in a trade agreement? Who has the constitutional authority? Those are all issues that work for Democrats and Republicans as far as having real concerns about fast track. So when President Obama, breaking his pledge to replace fast track started pushing for it, already in 2013, you had 180 Democrats and about 30 Republicans send letters saying, “Whatever we think about trade, we oppose this old fast track. That's a delegation of way too much authority. We have different views on trade, but we agree that's no way to make a policy.” Even with the Republican increase, it's gonna be very hard. If we all do our work, and talk to Democratic and Republican House members both, if we do our work, there's not gonna be fast track. And that will be our help not having TPP.

[Ralph Nader] And that reflects Lori’s and others' work with the grass roots all over the country.

Before we let you go Lori, you've talked about the impact on consumers -- contaminated food, price of medicines, the impact on the environment -- you've put out reports on the impact on job loss in this country, because the big rationalization for these trade agreements is, “Well, it creates jobs.” Why don't you just briefly summarize your findings, particularly with NAFTA, on the job creation issue.

[Lori Wallach] Well I haven't focused on that, because I think the polling shows Americans -- Democrats, Independents and Republicans -- all know that these trade agreements have offshored millions of American jobs, and pushed our wages down. And people have lived that experience, so they know it. But the data is compelling. And we have again at tradewatch.org, http://www.tradewatch.org, we have all of the studies that basically have the data that support peoples' instincts.

So the summary of it is, since NAFTA and WTO, the United States has lost 5 million net manufacturing jobs. That was one out of every four manufacturing jobs that were in place in 1992 before NAFTA and WTO. We have seen real wages hover at 1972 levels. And I wanted to say something about that, because the connection there with trade is direct. Under trade theory, the benefit of trade is on the import side. So some people may lose their jobs, but if everyone has cheaper stuff, then the benefit across society is a plus. The problem is, as we have outsourced and offshored higher and higher wage jobs through our trade agreements, through those investor rules I was describing which of course incentivize offshoring. Who wouldn't like to be a foreign investor if he can raid the other country's treasury? It actually promotes companies to relocate. So with those kinds of rules we now are seeing offshoring at such a high wage level, that even when you have a savings on the import side of the consumer, the net is no longer positive because we have such a loss in wage levels.

So Department of Labor's data shows that when a manufacturing worker loses a job to trade, and gets reemployed, on average they lose 30 percent of their wages. About two years ago a group of economists tried to apply the theory of free trade to the current data. So they figured out what we all saved on imported goods, cheaper stuff, and then they looked at the wage loss caused by offshoring, and what the median wage now was. And what they found is, on the median, every household is losing $3,000.00 in net income. So cheaper stuff is outweighed by lower wages, thanks to our current offshore job promoting trade agreements.

All of that would be gruesome enough, but also if you're pushing down wages for a lot of people, you're obviously having a contribution to inequality. And one of the most recent papers we published is a literature survey of the last ten years of studies from conservative economists and lefty economists. What is the one thing they all agree on? One of the major contributors to growing economic inequality is our current trade policies. The only thing they fight about is what the degree is. And you know, some of the think tanks that support NAFTA and WTO, a very prominent one, the Peterson Institute in DC, says that 39 percent of the effect is caused by our trade policy of growing income inequality.

So very practically you can look at the casualties of NAFTA. If you go to tradewatch.org, and you go to the trade data center, thanks to a Freedom of Information request, we have all of the official government trade adjustment assistance certified job losses from trade agreements. Now this is not a full count. Unfortunately, a million and a half people are on that list, but it's an undercount. It's just one program for certain kind of workers who can qualify for extra unemployment. But it gives you a sense of whose jobs are going.

It's not the old saying of, “Oh, these are low tech, low wage jobs. We want better jobs. Let's send those overseas.” No, siree. These are high tech jobs. These are chip manufacturers. These are aerospace manufacturers. These are computer companies. And increasingly, we're offshoring our service sector jobs, so that we actually are seeing a lot of areas of engineering, computer programming, legal work, all going offshore in the service sector provisions of the agreement, which guarantee free movement of information.

Now just to drop one more consumer issue in there, of course the implications of moving all of our financial information, our health information, our legal information to offshore producers, as well as pushing down wages here, is an enormous privacy threat. Because a lot of that data has privacy protections in the US, but once it goes global it can get treated any old way. And how many people have seen these ransom rigs where you basically get an email saying, “I have your Social Security number and blah, blah, blah health information. Send me this much mone, or else.” Half of it's real, because of stuff being outsourced when the jobs are getting offshored.

[Ralph Nader] Lori, the next step, we try to tell the listeners what they can do. It's quite easy in this case. Number one, you go to tradewatch.org. It's a marvelous can-do, as well as informative in clear language about the perfidious trade-uber-alles suppressing our labor, environmental and consumer standards, usurping our sovereignty, and weakening our economy, and wrecking our democratic rights. So once you get all that, you have some meetings with your neighbors, or your coworkers. And then you fire off a letter to your senators and representatives saying, “Where do you stand?” And, “You've had plenty of time senator and representative to think about it. Where do you stand on this proposed Pacific Trade Agreement? And are you gonna make corporate-managed trade an election issue in the next election? I want your answer in writing, and I’m sending my letter to various media in my district and other citizen groups, so that you know that other people will get this demand.” That's what you gotta do. And all it takes is 10, 15 people here and there in a congressional district, and the tremors will be heard on Capitol Hill. And Lori and her people will have a good infrastructure when they go in and out of these senators’ and representatives' offices.

[Lori Wallach] Well let me add one thing: that this is fun, this is adventurous, and this is something folks can do solo. If you don't have the time to get your neighbors involved, please do follow Ralph's advice. You can just be a solo birddogging operation. So what's that mean? If you go to your member of Congress, and we're talking about the House of Representatives, so your representative, if you go to their website -- and by the way, if you don't know who your representative is, it's very easy to find out, you call the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121, give em your zip code, they'll tell ya the name of the member of Congress, hell, they'll directly connect you if you wanna give em a piece of your mind about fast track or TPP. So you just go to the website of your member of Congress, and they will have a public schedule listed. This is where they're gonna cut a ribbon; this is where they're gonna give away Thanksgiving turkeys; this is where they're gonna light a Christmas tree. And you just go as one of the constituents in that district when they're in a town near you. And you go up to the member of Congress, perfectly kindly, respectfully, introduce yourself as a constituent, and loudly enough so those around you can hear, simply ask in public, “Hey, are you gonna give away your authority to protect me from another bad trade agreement by giving up fast track authority? I elected you because I want you to stand up for me. I hear about this fast track, you're against that, right? Can you make sure you're against that?” And then you sit there and stare them down until they give you an answer. And if it's weasel words, keep asking. Then you shake their hand and say, “Here's my name and my number, can you send that to me in writing please?” That is a stunt that frankly is worth numerous group meetings, because you've just gone to a member's safe space, the events they've set up, and in front of other constituents you’ve put them on the spot. And a lot of them will give you the right answer. And give them a hug. Tell them,”Thank you. That's the right thing.” Do that to Republicans too. This is not a partisan issue. That's what we all need to be doing, because in January the fast track fight is gonna become hand-to-hand combat. There's a six month window at the beginning of 2015 where both the fast track decision, whether or not there will be fast track, and the state of the TPP are going to be decided. And we're gonna win if a lot of people stand up and talk to their members of Congress directly. And we need to make this a bottom up buzz.

[Ralph Nader] A key point, what she's saying to you folks is in personum lobbying your senator and representative. In personum, no indirection, no rallies going into the ether, although rallies are good, in personum when they come back to your district for ceremonies, or an occasional town meeting. You can get their schedule the way Lori suggested you do.

Well, we're running out of time Lori. We wanna thank you very much. Give the website once more. That's your asset folks, this website.

[Lori Wallach] It's http://www.tradewatch.org. You can get the local data, print that, and bring that to your member of Congress. Just put in your zip code to that trade data center, and you can get unemployment data from trade, you can get the list of the companies certified as trade [inaudible]. You can make it incredibly personal. There are talking points, there are fact sheets. You can go from the book links, because we literally wrote a book on fast track, down to a one page fact sheet. Whatever works for you, we've got it at tradewatch.org.

[Ralph Nader] Thank you very much Lori. You'll see that the Sunday talk shows have not made this an issue, but you out there can make it a very powerful issue, because the public opinion is turning dramatically against these corporate managed trade agreements to undermine our democracy and standard of living and health and safety. Thanks a lot Lori.

[Lori Wallach] Thank you.

[Steve Skrovan] You're listening to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. We're gonna take a short break. Back after this.

[Music] Stand up, stand up, you've been sitting way too long. Stand up, oh step up.

[David Feldman] From Pacifica, you're listening to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, http://www.nader.org.

[Music] Stand up, stand up, you've been sitting way too long. Stand up.

[Ralph Nader] An interesting, exciting news item. The New York Times reported in detail that solar energy now is competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear, and every indication is that it's gonna become more and more competitive.

That is a tremendous accomplishment, because the main argument that the fossil fuelers and the nuke boys have been making against nuclear power is it's too expensive. Well, the price is collapsing, due in part to the declining price of solar panels, more efficient technology, innovation, wind power, and you name it.

And secondly, because the fossil fuelers say, “Well you know, the wind doesn't blow all the time,” but now there's innovation where there can be reliability to the point where renewables are not far away from becoming what is known as a base load. That means they don't need support by natural gas or coal plants. Now right now they do because the grid system is not built to use, for example, high winds in one part of the country to compensate for low winds in another part of the country.

But we're on the way. It's irreversible. It's just what David Freeman, one of our former guests said, former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, “If we have the willpower to do it, the technology's there to replace all fossil fuels. No more blowing off mountains in Appalachia. No more strip mining. No more oil spills in the Gulf. Get rid of nuclear power, and turn on to photovoltaics, and solar thermal, geothermal, and passive solar, and of course wind power and the forthcoming tidal power. So good news folks.

The second point is not such good news. Extra, which is a magazine put out by Fair, a media critic organization, has come out with something we sensed, but it's quite amazing. The Sunday talk shows are so biased, it's off the cliff. We're talking about CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This Week, NBC's Meet the Pres, and a variety of others like Fox News. And in a period of time when the front page news was, “What do we do about turmoil in Iraq, the secretarian civil strife, the spillover in Syria, the Syrian civil war, etc.,” out of 81 guests on these talk shows on Sunday -- which are influential talk shows for decision-makers -- only one was anti-war. And that was the Nation editor Katrina vanden heuvel. Only one. Can you imagine that kind of bias?

Now check this out. These programs make a lot of money for NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. They use our public property. That's our airwaves. And they keep out voices that represent, even with all the one-sided propaganda for more and more war, represent about half the people in this country in the public opinion polls, who want to get out of Afghanistan -- that's up to 82 percent now -- and who don't want any more quagmire wars that only create more hostility, more civil strife, more destroyed societies, more slaughter, and more boomerang against our own security interests.

So I think it's time for us to really pay very strict attention, and contact these programs, and basically saw, “The jig's up folks. We know what the data is. You better start getting fair.”

In the midst of all this, David and Steve, there was an anniversary celebration for Bob Schieffer's program on CBS’s Face the Nation. And John McCain was there. And he let it be known to the reporters that he's been on Face the Nation 101 times.

[Steve Skrovan] He was bragging about it.

[Ralph Nader] So there are other senators, aren't there? There are other members of Congress, aren't there?

So we have an opinion-oligopoly that has congealed around these Sunday talk shows, where only a few members of Congress repeatedly get on. Like Senator Joseph Lieberman got on repeatedly. Why? Why is McCain getting on? Why is Senator Lindsey Graham getting on? Because, they're in concert with the military-industrial complex, with the big advertisers on these programs, and with the flow of money from Wall Street to Washington. End of comment.

[David Feldman] They're sponsored by Boeing.

[Ralph Nader] Yeah, that's, it just, it's just as overt as you can get.

[Steve Skrovan] Well we've come to the end of another Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Oh behalf of David Feldman and Ralph Nader, I'm Steve Skrovan. Join us again next week.

[Ralph Nader] Thank you very much Steve and David. And thank you, listeners. Remember, get active.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:29 pm

December 22, 2014


Law Professor Rena Steinzor talks to Ralph about her new book, Why Not Jail? which makes the case for treating corporate criminal like we treat street criminals. We discuss the new opening up to Cuba and Ralph tells us about some of his personal encounters with Fidel Castro.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:33 pm

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 71: Ralf Hotchkiss, Carol Miller
July 27, 2015


In this episode, we talk builders and destroyers. Ralph interviews former protege, Ralf Hotchkiss, co-founder of Whirlwind Wheelchairs, who has designed the Rough Rider wheelchair that enables wheelchair riders to negotiate all sorts of rough terrain. And we talk to Carol Miller, president of Peaceful Skies Coalition, who tells us how the US military builds Afghan villages–in Colorado and New Mexico! Just so they can blow them up. Plus Russell Mohkiber with another Corporate Crime Minute and more of your Facebook questions.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:38 pm

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 64: Barry Ladendorf, John R. MacArthur
June 6, 2015


Ralph talks about the human and financial costs of war to Barry Ladendorf, the President of Veterans for Peace. And journalist, John R. MacArthur, tells us why President Obama would push for a bad “free trade” deal like the Trans Pacific Partnership. Plus Ralph answers more of your Facebook questions.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:41 pm

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 63: Mickey Huff, Victor Pickard
June 2, 2015


Ralph critiques the corporate media and talks media reform with the director of Project Censored, Mickey Huff and Professor Victor Pickard, author of America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:45 pm

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 62: Wadie E. Said, Johanna Fernandez
May 24, 2015


Professor Wadie E.Said talks to Ralph about what it is like to defend terrorist suspects in court, and Dr. Johanna Fernandez of The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home updates us on the health of political activist, radio commentator and former death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:55 pm

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 61: George Farah, William Blum
May 17, 2015



Ralph talks to the executive director of Open Debates, George Farah, who takes us behind the curtain to reveal how our presidential debates have been co-opted by the two major parties. And foreign policy critic, William Blum, talks about the long list of countries the CIA has overthrown in the past sixty years. Plus more of your Facebook questions.
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