Building Bridges Radio: Your Community & Labor Report

Produced and Hosted by Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash over WBAI,99.5FM in the NYC Metro Area


WORKERS OF THE WORLD TUNE IN! Introducing "Building Bridges: Your Community & Labor Report"

Our beat is the labor front, broadly defined, both geographically and conceptually. We examine the world of work and workers on the job as well as where they live. We examine the issues that affect their everyday lives, with a particular sensitivity towards human rights abuses, environmental concerns and the U.S. drive for global domination. We record their global struggles and provide analysis of their efforts to empower themselves and transform society to provide greater democratic, human, social, political and economic rights. Each program consists of feature stories, generally interviews, within a historical context, often accompanied by sound from demonstrations, rallies or conferences, and complemented and enhanced by poetry and instrumental or vocal -- people's culture.

Over the years Building Bridges has produced a weekly one hour program, Mondays from 7-8 PM EST, covering local, national and international labor and community issues over radio WBAI-Pacifica 99.5 FM in New York. We also produce half hour version, Building Bridges National, which is distribtued to over 40 broadcast and internet radio stations.

For more information you can contact us at
In Struggle Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash

Puerto Rican Teachers Union Fights Austerity - 26:59  

Massive Demonstrations in Puerto Rico
as Teachers Union Fights Austerity

Mercedes Martinez, Pres., Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico

With the rejection by Congress of any meaningful measure for debt relief despite the current deadline for almost $1 billion in debt payment due on January 1st, and amidst wealthy investors squeezing the cash-starved Island, unions in Puerto Rican are bracing for any eventuality, from massive layoffs to and including the possibly of a government shutdown.  A general strike is one of the responses being discussed by the FMPR, one of the most militant unions in Puerto Rico.  On November 17, 2015 the FMPR led a highly successful one day strike against the colonial government's brutal austerity program, and escalating attacks on hard earned workers’ rights, including pensions and retiree medical benefits and efforts to privatize the school system. The FMPR’s most recent action, just thus this past week was a civil disobedience activity at the Department of Treasury, against a pay cut in the form of denial of a Christmas bonus due to all public workers. While the colonial government says Cut Back the FMPR says Fight Back!


Puerto Rico's Economic Crisis:
Analysis, Alternatives and Solutions

Rafael Bernabe, candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico for the Partido del Pueblo Trabajador (PPT) 2012; professor and director of the Federico de Onís Hispanic Studies Center at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras; economist; and who has  published three books including “Puerto Rico: Crisis y Alternativas” 

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Runaway Inequality; Haitian Election bodes ill for the people! - 27:16  

Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide To Economic Justice
withLes Leopold, award-winning author; cofounded and directs the
Labor Institute in NYC; conducts and shares economic educational programs to help fight runaway inequality

“There is nothing in the economic universe that will automatically rescue us from runaway inequality.  There is no pendulum, no invisible political force that “naturally” will swing back towards economic fairness…Either we wage a large-scale battle for economic, social and environmental justice or we will witness the continued deterioration of the world we inhabit.  The arc of
capitalism does not bend towards justice .  We must bend it.”  Leopold’s Runaway Inequality puts the facts in our hands so we can grasp what is really going on in our economy – and what we can do about it.
Election that bodes ill for the Haitian people!
withKim Ives, An Editor of
Haïti Liberté

To prevent the Haitian people from celebrating the Bicentennial of the country’s 1804 independence, the International Community unleashed a vast media campaign of propaganda against the then government.  The end result was not only the landing of a group of mercenaries from the neighboring Dominican Republic, under the control of the CIA, but also a brutal, and bloody coup.  Since then, France, the United States and Canada have occupied Haiti under the flag of the United Nations and one current manifestation of imperialist domination was these governments without consulting the Haitian people deciding that there would be an election. Huge sums of money have been freed up for this event, while the victims of the earthquake are still housed under makeshift tents and tarps with little or no protection against heavy rains, not to mention hurricanes. Kim Ives an editor of  Haiti Liberte the largest Haitian weekly newspaper, distributed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Haiti talks about the political situation on the ground in Haiti and the upcoming elections, as the campaign season for the final round of Haiti's elections is concluding and as of yet the second-place finisher in the presidential vote still hasn't decided whether he will participate in a runoff or continue to press for a
recount in an election that has already been shown to have been patently fraudulent

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Grassroots Alliance Challenges Paris Climate Conference; Walmart Worker Surveillance - 28:58  

It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm: the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Challenges COP21 Climate Conference in Paris
Kali Akuno, is a founder and co-director of Cooperation Jacksonan emerging network of worker cooperatives and supporting institutions in Jackson, Mississippi and the South. Kali also served as the Co-Director of the US Human Rights Network, and as the Executive Director of the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund based in New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina. Some of Kali s most noted works include, most recently Casting Shadows: Chokwe Lumumba and the Struggle for Racial Justice and Economic Democracy in Jackson, Mississippi ; Revolutionary Nationalism
for the 21st Century , and Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era . Kali has authored many articles and pamphlets on international and working class politics, with a focus on how government counterinsurgency, state violence, the drug war, mass incarceration and neoliberalism impact Black communities, and issues of zero waste, food sovereignty, solidarity economies, and worker cooperatives. 

Kali, discusses "an agenda for power for working and poor people and communities of color," for climate justice advocated by the "It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm delegation of over 100 frontline leaders from climate-impacted communities across the U.S. and Canada, including the Arctic, united under the slogan: 'No War, No Warming -- Build an Economy for People and Planet.' ... Climate justice seeks to address much more than greenhouse gas emissions, but the root systemic causes of climate change itself. Climate justice is about social and economic justice, and how democratic, peaceful and equitable solutions, not military violence, best serve the interests of humanity. The fossil fuel economy is a driver of these multi-faceted crises facing the world: causing resource wars; polluting our air, water and land; creating illness and death to people and of ecosystems; privatization of nature ..."
Walmart Engages FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and Lockheed Martin To Surveil Workers Calling for $15 an Hour and Full-Time Work
Dan Schlademan, Co-Director, Our Walmart

OUR Walmart has uncovered testimony revealing Walmart’s surveillance of their workers fighting for $15 an hour and full-time work in the wake of Black Friday strikes in 2012 and the “Ride for Respect” in 2013. In addition to  closely monitoring the lawful labor rights activism of its associates on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as the company faced a wave of bad publicity and negative same store sales, Walmart enlisted military industrial giant Lockheed Martin to spy on its workers and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to gather intelligence on protests.  “We are fighting for
all workers to be paid a fair wage and enough hours to put food on the table and provide for our families," said Mary Pat Tifft, a Walmart worker of 27 years in Wisconsin. "To think that Walmart found us such a threat that they had to hire a defense contractor and engage the FBI is a mind-blowing abuse of power. 

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NY Protesters Rally Over Deadly Chicago, Minneapolis and NYC Police Shootings - 28:50  

Multiple Arrests As NY Protesters Rally
Over Deadly Chicago, Minneapolis Police Shootings

Millions March NYC and NYC Shut It Down – both of which are part of the Black Lives Matter movement held a rally in Washington Square Park decrying police violence against African-Americans.  Protesters rallied and marched over recent deadly police shootings in Chicago of Laquan McDonald in October 2014, and Minneapolis.  Protesters were also marching in solidarity with five activists who were shot while protesting the Minneapolis incident.  The five activists were shot by white supremacists who targeted those demonstrating near the 4th Precinct police station in Minneapolis, in the aftermath of the death of Jamar Clark – who was shot in the head and killed, while handcuffed by a local police officer.  At one point, a group went into Macy’s at Herald Square, and at another point, a group tried blocking the Lincoln Tunnel.   

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Prescribing Medicare for All; Immigration: Exploiting the Politics of Resentmen - 28:58  

As Jan. 31st Deadline for Open Enrollment Under ObamaCare Looms, Doctor Finds Better Presciption Medicare for All
Dr. Donald E. Moore, MD, MPH,  Past President, Medical Society of the County of Kings and Board Member of Physicians for a National Health Program, NY Metro Chapter

While millions of Americans now scrambling to re-enroll in health insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act  are frustrated by the limitations of the private insurance marketplace, Dr. Moore, while noting the gains made under OmamaCare sees it's defects play out in his efforts to  provide good medical care to  patients.  In addition to often increasing out of pocket expenses,the insurance companies dictate which specialists he can refer patients to and he is pressured to shorten patient visits and bill them more. In response he has in effect gone “single payer,” or advocates Medicare for
all, refusing to work with private insurers and now mainly accepting patients under Medicare and Medicaid. He is urging all doctors to join the movement for Medicare for All (Single Payer) to reform the health care system based on inefficent private health care insurance with its high administrative overhead and profit margins. He has joined with other doctors in the Physicians for a National Health Program in lobbying the NYS Legislature to institute a Single Payer System in NYS, or Medicare for all, and the NYS Assembly recently overwhelming passed such a bill.    
The Presidential Candidates On Immigration:
Exploiting the Politics of Resentment
withOscar Chacon, Executive Director, Alianza Americas 

When New York billionaire and GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump launched into his anti-immigrant tirade against Mexicans crossing the border, he was using a long known political technique of plugging into the live wire of American resentment of the other – most recently Latinos; more precisely, those from the Southern borders: Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans,Hondurans, and the like.  And, no doubt the recent tragedies in France will be exploited to promote a new wave of fear and antagonism towards
immigrants and migrants of Arab descent. But, since the 19th century, politicians have used currents of fear, often fueled by economic downturns for the working class to crank up movements
against those who came from abroad.  Oscar Chacon discusses how US immigration policy is rooted in a narrative that paints immigrants as a criminal threat to order and progress and that the  political dilemma extends across party lines and is threaded through the positions of all the Presidential candidates to some degree.  Given that underlying assumption Chacon discusses how US immigration policy can truly be fixed, which he contends depends on how quickly and effectively organized immigrant communities—
and those who wish to make common cause with them—can build the political muscle necessary to ensure that their needs and demands can be neither co-opted nor ignored.

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Walmart Workers Black Friday Fast for “$15 and Full-Time” - 27:19  

Walmart Workers Fast for “$15 and Full-Time”
Part of 50 State Protests


•  Denise Barlage, former Walmart worker of 9 years laid off in
Pico Rivera, CA after speaking out f
or better working conditions

•  Tyfani Faulkner, former Walmart customer service manager.
Sacramento, CA
•  Emily Dehart works for Walmart in Merritt Island, Florida

Workers to Organize Dozens of Events Nationwide and Outside Walton Family Estates to Demonstrate that Walmart Workers and their Families are Going Hungry

Walmart workers and their allies announced plans to fast for “$15 and full-time” in the 15 days leading up to Black Friday, with fasting and actions planned in all 50 states. OUR Walmart, the worker-led organization which has already won significant victories – including a wage increase for 500,000 Walmart workers – will organize outside Walton family estates to draw attention to the income inequality that has become the trademark of the nation’s largest and most profitable corporate employer. Their message is clear: while Walmart employees can barely put food on the table this Thanksgiving, Walmart continues to thrive as the largest supplier of groceries in the nation and line the pockets of the Walton family with corporate greed. Anything less than $15
and full-time is not enough for Walmart workers

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NYC CUNY Faculty Arrested in Contract Protest - 26:37  



Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY
and protesting workers
ing New Yorkers, for the immigrants and people of color of this city.

         “CUNY Needs A Raise,”  “Stop the War on CUNY,” 
             “No More Excuses Chancellor Milliken"

Several dozen City University of New York faculty members were arrested in the latest of a series of escalating protests as part of a demand for salary increases. CUNY’s roughly 25,000 faculty and professional staff members have been without a contract since 2010 and have had no salary increases in that time.  Just before the civil disobedience occurred and after an announcement of a strike authorization vote the CUNY Administration finally put an offer on the table, but the Professional Staff Congress, which represents the workers vows to keep the pressure on as the proposal falls far short of what is needed to pay staff decently for the important work they do. Chancellor Milliken's offer represents a failure on CUNY management's part to secure sufficient investment by New York's Gov. Cuomo in the people who make college education possible
for half a million working New Yorkers, for the immigrants and people of color of NYC.

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Eric Garner...  Michael Brown…Freddie Gray…
Rekia Boyd… Andy Lopez…Tamir Rice

One after another — and so many others, precious Black and Brown lives — victims of police murder. We think of their faces, and furiously ache for justice. Over 1000 people a year killed by police – yet since 2005, less than 60 indictments, less than 25 convictions! Millions languish in prison, generation after generation, Black and Latino brothers and sisters. The spearpoint of a whole matrix of oppression. But, people have struggled, resisted, risen up 
and Building Bridgesstraight from the line of march with them lifts up the voices of the family members, from across the country who have lost their beloved, at the hands of the police, along with a growing number of their supporters, who tell us that we must go further - in the months that come, in many different ways, we must intensify our resistance.   

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African Independence: How Africa Shapes the World - 28:12  

African Independence: How Africa Shapes the World
with Tukufu Zuberi, Lasry Family Professor of Race Relations
professor of sociology and Africana studies at the University of
Pennsylvania. He writes and speaks widely about race, both in
the U.S. and internationally. He is a host on the hit PBS series
History Detectives.

Tukufu Zuberi’s frames decolonization and formal sovereignty as both an 
era and a sensibility, and defines what ‘African independence’ actually means for the continent and the world as a whole. He documents the decisive role played by African soldiers in WWII and argues that the war's savagery exposed 'the myth of civilized Europe and barbaric Africa. Though the Allied victory was 'forged with considerable African sacrifice,' much of the continent remained in European imperial hands. However, African participation in the defeat of the Axis powers rekindled massive anti-colonial aspirations, resulting in a series of uprisings and growing international support for decolonization. Regrettably, the Cold War derailed national independence movements and the continent again became 'locked in a death grip' by brutal military dictatorships supported by either the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. In this engaging and bold analysis of African independence, Zuberi critiques the failure of U.S. humanitarian policies toward Africa and Africa’s current partnerships with countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He reveals the contradictions that continue to obstruct aspirations for African liberation. Indeed, the evidence presented shows that Africa is ‘once again locked n a death grip’ of post-colonial and post-independence manipulations, nevertheless, his story of the making of modern Africa, constitutes an impassioned plea to recognize the continent for more han the trouble it has endured.  

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Mumia Must Live - 28:29  

Mumia Must Live: An Emergency Report On the Medical
Mistreatment Of The World’s Most Renowned Political Prisoner


Esperanza Martell, a peace and human-rights activist, who has worked on social justice issues dealing with Puerto Rican independence, political prisoners, education and health care from a class, race and gender perspective.  She teaches
community organizing at Hunter College, School of Social Work.
andJohanna Fernandez, with the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, who teaches 20th-century U.S. history, the history of social movements, the political economy of American cities, and
African-American history

In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prisoners were entitled to the same medical and dental treatment as everyone else in their communities, and that prisons withholding treatment may be held liable for violating the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  However, the reality is that we might never know how many prisoners have suffered or died from medical and health care neglect, or willful mistreatment behind the walls.  But, the case of journalist, world-renowned humanist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, now in the fight for his life against the outrageous and deadly medical treatment in the prison system is highlighting for the public the necessary fight to ensure that no more members of this vulnerable population suffer and are deprived of adequate health care – that the Supreme Court holding be followed!  

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Junipero Serra: The Fabrication of a Saint - 26:04  

The Fabrication of a Saint: Native Peoples Horrified
Over Canonization of Junípero Serra, Whom They Say
is Responsible for Genocide
withChristine Grabowski, author of Serra-gate the Fabrication
of a Saint published in Indian Country Today

The decision of Pope Francis to canonize 18th century Spanish
missionary Junípero Serra has provoked the ire of indigenous
peoples, whose ancestors were murdered and  maimed during
Serra’s founding nine of the 21 missions in California that later
were the basis of what is now the modern state. Hundreds of
thousands of native peoples are purported to have died after the missionaries arrived. According to historian Alvin Josephy, what happened in California "was as close to genocide as any tribal people had faced, or would face, on the North American continent." We’ll speak with Christine Grabowski, author of serra-gate the fabrication of a saint about why indigenous people oppose Pope Francis’ decision to canonize Father Junípero Serra.

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Relaunching OUR Walmart Campaign - 28:50  

OUR Walmart Campaign, with New Partners Readies To Turn
“Black Friday” into a Red-Letter Day in its Fight for $15 and
Full-Time Employment for Employees

Walmart workers, fortified with a growing number of allies in their
reinvigorated OUR Walmart organization are readying to push the world’s largest corporation to pay  $15 an hour minimum and provide full-time employment hours for its workers. OUR Walmart, which has already won a wage increase for some 500,000 Walmart workers is on the move and along with its new allies, Demos, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, Color of Change, Domestic Workers Alliance and Jobs With Justice, among others is launching a mass campaign for a $15 an hour wage for all associates; consistent, full-time hours for its employees; to end unfair coachings and terminations; and for Walmart to address racial justice, women’s rights and to address climate change.  “We are standing up against Walmart because we are fighting for $15 an hour and 40 hours a week,” said Wanda Banks, a Walmart worker from Louisiana. “If I had $15 an hour and 40 hours a week I would be able to pay off a lot of my bills – I could sleep better at night without tossing and turning. I have a granddaughter that I need to get through college. So that would help me in a great and awesome way.” “We’re standing up to Walmart to stop retaliating against workers that speak out,” said Janet Sparks, a Walmart worker from Louisiana.

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Migrants, Refugees and Workers Unite at UN Meeting In NY - 27:02  

Migrants, Refugees and Workers Unite at UN Meering
In NY To Demand -
Open Up the Borders! Provide Safety!

Stop the Violence! End the Wars!

The plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty,
inscribed with poet Emma Lazarus's words reads:

     "Give me your tired, your poor
     Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
     The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
     Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me
     I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

For hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, the "land of the free" isn't something to be found at the American border or in New York Harbor. Rather they have been risking life and limb to get into Europe.  Recently, images circulated online of a drowned 3-year-old Syrian boy, lying face down on a Turkish beach. The photograph, which many journalists and activists insisted be shown despite its graphic nature, was a stark reminder of the realities of a crisis that has gotten steadily worse.  Whether through "small wars" of destabilization or labor export programs, millions are displaced from their home countries due as the plutocracy’s drive to control markets, resources, territories, and extract super-profits. With the drive for hegemony at the root, neoliberal economic policies and mercenary armies are unleashed on countries, in order to undermine and overturn economic and political sovereignty.  While initially slow to rise to the occasion, New Yorkers are now rallying to demand:

     .  End Forced Migration! No to Neoliberalism!    
     .  End Labor Export Policies!
     .  Stop U.S.- backed wars of destabilization in Syria,
        the Middle East, and Africa!
     .  Justice for the Aylan Kurdi and safe haven for all Syrian
........  .............. refugees!
     .  Justice and Accountability for the Ayotzinapa 43!
     .  Justice and Safe Haven for Rohingya refugees!
     .  Justice and Safe Haven for Burmese refugees!

And Building Bridges takes you there!

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Puerto Rico's Economic Crisis with Rafael Bernabe, 2012 Candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico - 27:39  

Puerto Rico's Economic Crisis:
Analysis, Alternatives and Solutions

withRafael Bernabe
, candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico for the Partido del Pueblo Trabajador (PPT) 2012; professor and director of the Federico de Onís Hispanic Studies Center at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras; economist; and who has  published three books including “Puerto Rico: Crisis y Alternativas”

The fiscal situation in Puerto Rico is dismal. Public debt (including that of the central government and public corporations) stands around $73 billion and is roughly equal to Puerto Rico’s GNP. The government’s credit rating has been degraded to junk bond level. Any new credits seem to be available only at truly usurious rates (above 10 percent). Wall Street commentators admit that “It’s been clear for a while that Puerto Rico is going to have to default on its debt” (Bloomberg, 4/9/14). The other side of this coin is the fact that two dozen U.S. corporations  extract around $35 billion a year in profits from or through their operations in Puerto Rico. Bear in mind that the total income of the government of Puerto Rico is around $9 billion. U.S. corporations benefit from the tax-exemption measures that have been the centerpiece of the government’s development policy since 1947.  

We’ll speak with Prof. Bernabe who further details the current economic crisis affecting the island of Puerto Rico, a United States colony.  He’ll speak about the history of Puerto Rico’s economy, the federal and local laws that impact its economy, the current status of  its bonds, and the proposed bankruptcy relief and austerity measures. Prof. Bernabe explains why it’s in the interest of U.S. working people (including, needless to say, the more than four million Puerto Ricans that reside in the United States) to see that Puerto Rico acquires a 
healthy economy that no longer requires major subsidies to dampen
the poverty from which a handful of U.S. corporations profit. Prof.
Bernabe says “the struggles for radical reversal of the dominant
economic and social policies and structures in Puerto Rico and in
the US must advance together. Building alliances and common
proposals with like-minded currents and movements in the US is
indispensable … For those of us who are independentistas and
socialists, and thus, internationalists, such collaboration is essential
now and will remain so after independence. The fact that these
movements are still minority forces in both the US and Puerto Rico
makes it all the more urgent that those seeking to build them join
forces and collaborate.” 

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The Super-Exploitation of African-Americans Workers - 28:55  

The Super-Exploitation of African-Americans Workers  -
What Needs to Be Done?

William Spriggs,
chief economist of the AFL-CIO and Professor in, and 
former Chair of the Department of Economics at Howard University.  Bill was appointed by President Obama in 2009 to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy at the United States Dept. of Labor. He was vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Political Education and Leadership Institute; and, staff director for the independent, federal National Commission for Employment Policy. 

While there has been a great deal of desparately needed attention to
stagnant wages, demands for a decent minimum wage and stronger
unions in the so called economic recovery, one of the areas receiving little attention is the plight of the African- American workers whose unemployment rate has been twice that of the national rate for well over 50 years. Black workers are also disproportionally relegated to part time employment and frequently receive less pay than their white counterparts even when they have the same qualifications. Prof. Spriggs examines this persistance of employment discrimination years after the March on Washington and calls for stronger enforcement of the civil rights legislation which were won in the 1960's. And he is especially critical of the Federal Reserve Board's gearing up to increase interest rates to slow the economy which would perpertuate unemployment and underdemployment at unacceptable levels.  

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Trump, The Politics Of Resentment: Xenophobia In U.S. Electoral Races & Government Policy - 28:44  

Trump, The Politics Of Resentment:
Xenophobia In U.S. Electoral Races & Government Policy 

Journalist and Political Prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s radio essay, Trump, the Politics of Resentment are followed by Oscar Chacon
Ex. Dir. of the National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities, and Angelo Falcon, president and founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy commenting on it and the role xenophobia and racism have played historically in American electoral politics and now in the Trump candidacy. The discussion delves further into the positioning of both the Democrats as well as the Republican candidates on issues of immigration and the current U.S. policies on deportations, as well as the civil and economic rights of immigrant labor.  The discussants then tackle what progressive immigration reform should look like.  

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Building Bridges: New Orleans After The Flood with Gary Rivlin - 28:03  

New Orleans After The Flood:
The Anatomy of African-American Displacement
withGary Rivlin, author Katrina After the Flood, journalist

Now, there is a commemorative marker at the site where a floodwall protecting the Lower Ninth Ward collapsed, unleashing a wall of water 10 years ago during Hurricane Katrina.  The resulting flood wiped out the African-American neighborhood and killed scores of its residents and now what has been left in its wake is little more than a commemorative marker at the site where the floodwall protecting the neighborhood collapsed. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana Gary Rivlin retraces the storm’s damage, the city of New Orleans’s efforts to rebuild itself, and the storm’s lasting affects not just on the city’s geography and infrastructure—but on the psychic, racial, and social fabric of that city, highlighting the mass dislocation of the African American residents of the Lower Ninth Ward and why the  neighborhood still hasn’t been thrown a life preserver.

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20 Years Since Pres. Clinton Shredded Welfare - 27:58  

Twenty Years of Deepening Poverty Since Pres. Clinton Shredded Welfare Safety Net 
withFelicia Kornbluh,
Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality,
and Women's Studies at the University of Vermont. Her books
include The Battle for Welfare Rights: Politics and Poverty in
Modern America and Ensuring Poverty: Welfare Reform After
Twenty Years, (with Gwendolyn Mink), forthcoming.

August 22 marks the beginning of "welfare reform's" 20th year, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Kornbluh says: "Playing to a racist imagination and dealing in sexist double standards, Republicans and Democrats came together 19 years ago to transform income assistance for the poor into a system of regulation, deprivation and punishment. The legislation that established Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”), made limiting women's choices and ending single motherhood its goals. The nation's chief policy dedicated to impoverished families with children did not include mitigating poverty, enhancing opportunity, or attenuating inequality as its goals. As a result, while welfare rolls have declined, poverty still stalks single mothers and their children -- and extreme poverty is at crisis high levels. As we approach the 20th year of this disgraceful program, it is time to overhaul TANF principles and practices to support the family work single mothers do and open real pathways to economic security.

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Overtime Proposal a Win; Haitian Rights in Dominican Republic - 28:59  

Marching with The Coalition For Human Rights
In The Dominican Republic

 “What we are seeing today is not a Haitian crisis, it’s not a
Dominican crisis,” City Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D-Brooklyn)
said. “It is a human rights crisis. This is injustice. This is not right.
This is discrimination.”  Councilman Eugene came together with
an expansive coalition to condemn the looming expulsions by the
Dominican Republic (“DR”) of Haitian immigrants, including
those born there as immoral and racist and a human rights crisis. 
The current crisis has its roots in a 2013 court ruling that stripped the citizenship of persons born in the DR whose parents weren’t Dominican citizens.  An estimated 460,000 Haitian migrants live in the Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
Why a New Overtime Proposal is a Win for Working Women
with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
is an Award-Winning Author, and
Co-Founder and Executive Director/CEO of, a
National Online and On-The-Ground Grassroots Organization that Promotes Policies Aimed at improving Family Economic Security; Helping Families and Children, and to End Discrimination Against Women and Mothers.

For months we’ve heard that the economy is finally moving in the right direction, except for one hitch: working people’s wages, particularly those of women, are not going up. One big reason: for years, millions of workers have clocked in more and more hours without ever seeing overtime pay. That’s wrong. Too many 

workers, most of whom are women, are watching their finances be stretched to the limit because even though they work overtime, they are not compensated for the work they do.  Working women deserve better. By increasing the salary threshold to $50,444 – meaning if you make less than that, you’re guaranteed protection - 3.2 million more women will be automatically eligible for overtime. This would be a major win for working women.

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Washington Helped Create Puerto Rico’s Staggering Debt Crisis - 26:31  

Washington Helped Create Puerto Rico’s Staggering Debt Crisis
Nelson Denis, writer, film director, and former N.Y.S. Assemblyman. 
His award-winning films premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and screened throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.  His editorials for the NY Daily News and El Diario (over 300 of them) won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He is the writer of eight feature-length screenplays, writer/director of the feature film Vote For Me!, & author of the book War Against All Puerto Ricans:   Revolution and Terror in America's Colony.  

While Puerto Rico is oftentimes described as an unincorporated territory of the United States, a more accurate political and legal description is that it is a colony of the United States.  A colony that has 3.5 million US citizen residents, who do not have the right to vote for president or representation in Congress and is making headlines these days because of its inability to pay a 72 billion dollar debt owed to holders of its devalued bonds.  While there have been comparisons between Greece and Puerto Rico the reality is that they are totally distinct situations. Greece has sovereignty, Puerto Rico does not. Puerto Rico is unable to declare bankruptcy, cannot devalue its currency and cannot go to international financial institutions under the present colonial system. In fact one of the solutions offered in the United States to solve the chaotic economic crisis is to place the entire island in receivership. In other words to go back to an even more rigid colonial system so that the bonds market can protect its investment. 

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Ta-Nehisi Coates, Reads from His Block-Buster Memoir “Between the World and Me” - 28:16  

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Reads from His Block-Buster
Memoir to His Son “Between the World and Me”

Readers of his work in The Atlantic (including his June 2014 feature The Case for Reparations) and elsewhere know Ta-Nehisi Coates for his thoughtful and influential writing on race in America. Written as a series of letters to his teenaged son, his new memoir, Between the World and Me, walks us through the course of his life, from his neighborhood in Baltimore in his youth, to Howard University—which Coates dubs “The Mecca” for its revelatory community of black students and teachers —to the broader Meccas of New York and Paris. Coates describes his observations and the evolution of his thinking on race, from Malcolm X to his conclusion that race itself is a fabrication, elemental to the concept of American (white) exceptionalism. Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, and South Carolina are not bumps on the road of progress and harmony, but the results of a systemized, ubiquitous threat to “black bodies” in the form of slavery, police brutality, and mass incarceration.  

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Strange Fruit & the Execution of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg - 28:54  

Strange Fruit: Extra-Legal & Legal Lynching on the 62nd Anniversary of the Execution of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg

.  Robert Meeropol, son of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg 
.  Soffiyah Elijah, Ex. Dir. of the Correctional Association

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for crimes neither of them committed 62 years ago and the impact of the government’s conduct in the Rosenberg trial still affects us today.  Virtually all the criticism of the lack of respect for defendant’s rights in our present conduct of loyalty and national security trials can be traced to the forced absence of the Constitution at the 1951 trial.  Continued research into the Rosenberg trial and dissemination of the documented perjuries and prosecutorial and judicial deceptions contributes to today’s efforts to reintroduce Constitutional trials into every courtroom, regardless of the politics or religion or color of the defendants.  That is why on what is now the centennial of Ethel Rosenberg’s birth date that Building Bridges continues to raise these issues and believe that we must win an official review of the Rosenbergs’ case and subsequently their exoneration.  Although nothing can change the finality of the death penalty, an acknowledgment of government wrongdoing in this historic cause would be a first step in halting the perversions of due process and human rights that continue to undermine the legal system and this country’s proclamation of democracy. Robbie Rosenberg begins his presentation by discussing the song Strange Fruit, which is about the writing of the anti-lynching song written by his adopted parent Abel Meeropool, after the execution of his parents, writing under the name Lewis Allen and its popularization by the great singer Billie Holiday, who along with Ethel Rosenberg was born 100 years earlier.  Robbie draws some creative and fascinating parallels between his birth mother and the life and death of Billie Holiday.  

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100 Year Battle to Integrate N.Y.C.'s Fire Dept - 27:16  

The Long and Victorious Fight to Integrate the N.Y.C. Fire Department
with Ginger Adams Otis , Staff Writer for the N.Y. Daily News  and author of Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York's Bravest

In 1919, when Wesley Williams became a NYC firefighter, he stepped into a world that was 100% white and predominantly Irish. Nearly a century later, many things in the FDNY had changed--but not the scarcity of blacks. N.Y.C. had about 300 black firefighters--roughly 3 percent of the 11,000 firefighters in a city of 2 million African Americans.. Decades earlier, women and Blacks had sued over its hiring practices and won. But the FDNY never took permanent steps to eradicate the inequities, which led to a courtroom show-down between N.Y.C.'s billionaire Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, and a determined group of black activist firefighters members of the Vulcan Society. They also faced an insular culture made up of relatives who never saw their own inclusion as favoritism. It was not until 2014 that the city settled the $98 million lawsuit. At the center of this book are stories of courage--about firefighters risking their lives in the line of duty but also risking their livelihood by battling an unjust system. Among them: FDNY Capt. Paul Washington, a second generation black firefighter, who spent his multi-decade career fighting to get equality on the job.

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Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis: Who’s To Blame And What Can Be Done? - 27:59  

Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis: Who’s To Blame And What Can Be Done?
. David Galarza, co-founder of SiemPReste, an organization committed
to working in the diaspora around the political/civil/economic crisis of Puerto Rico
. Michael Kink, Exec. Dir., Strong Economy for All Coalition
and Member Hedge Clippers

Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States with 3.5 million U.S. citizen residents who do not have the right to vote for President or representation in Congress-is making headlines these days because of its inability to pay a $72 billion debt owed to holders of its devalued bonds.  While there have been comparisons between Greece and Puerto Rico the reality is that they are totally distinct situations. Greece has sovereignty, Puerto Rico does not. Puerto Rico is unable to declare bankruptcy, cannot devalue its currency and cannot go to international financial institutions under
the present colonial system. In fact one of the solutions offered in the United States to solve the chaotic economic crisis is to place the entire island in receivership. In other words to go back to an even more rigid colonial system so that the bonds market can protect their investment. Building Bridges discusses how Washington helped create Puerto Rico’s staggering debt crisis and its effect on millions of what are effectively second-class U.S. citizens and what is to be done! 

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Mexican Farm Workers’ Struggle in Historical Strike in Baja California - 26:27  

Mexican Farm Workers’ Struggle in Historic Strike

. Al Rojas, a Founding Member of the United Farm Workers; current Pres. , Sacramento Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (AFL-CIO)
. Eduardo Rosario, Executive Board Member, NYC Chapter, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Mexican farm workers in the San Quintin Valley of the state of Baja California are calling for international action to support their demands for decent wages and an end to labor abuses by international produce companies that operate throughout Mexico primarily for export to the US under the label of Driscoll’s. More than 33,000 farm workers declared a historic strike in late March which stopped work at peak harvest and have continued their protests ever since waging intermittent strikes and road blocks and mass mobilizations which have extended to workers in Washington State.  They compare their working conditions to those that existed during the colonial period with workdays of more than 15 hours . The San Quintin Valley is a major producer of fruits and vegetables that are exported primarily to the United States. The workers here pick as many as 160 kilos a day that sell for more than $2,000, while the workers make on average US$7 a day. The workers are demanding a base salary of at least $13 for every 8-hour workday as well as recognition by companies and union officials. 

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A Labor History Of Queer America; NYC Council's ‘Ban The Box’ Bill -28:08  

Out In The Union: A Labor History Of Queer America
Mariam Frank, author

Against the backdrop of the historic ruling of the Supreme Court that gay marriage is legal in all the states of this union and in furtherance of addressing the numerous other inequities faced by LGBTQ and gender nonconforming people Miriam Frank, Prof. of Humanities at New York University and author of Out In The Union: A Labor History of Queer America, based upon 20 years of original research brings us the stories spanning half a century of U.S. labor history and the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender unionists.  She expands our horizons both in
exposing the complex challenges queer workers face in ‘coming out’ on the job and inside their unions and gives greater dimension to and continues to fill out the profile of queer life and the activism of the working class.
NYC Council Passes ‘Ban The Box’ Bill
Restricting Use Of Criminal Records In Hiring
Brandon Holmes, Community Civil Rights Organizer, VOCAL-New York, a grassroots advocacy group

Carl Stubbs, 63, stood outside New York City Council chambers in anticipation of the council’s vote on the Fair Chance Act — a bill that would delay when many of the city’s private sector employers can ask job applicants about their criminal history.  He said, “I feel [that] being Black, having a felony, you don’t get hired”. “I have had a felony for over 30 years.”  Stubbs, who’s also an activist with
the group Voices of Community Activists Leaders (VOCAL-NY), wanted the bill to pass because it could improve his chances getting a job.  Now, the Bill arrives on the desk of the Mayor June 29th and we’ll find out if he signs it into law, precisely what it purports to do and just how beneficial it could prove to be for the employment opportunities of the formerly incarcerated, who have carried that
scarlet letter around with them and suffered the Jim Crow consequences into the jobs market. 

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The Fire Next Time: The Taking of Black Life at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church -27:10  

The Fire Next Time: Response to The Taking of Black Life at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Church
Ed Whitfield long-term social justice organizer,  co-managing Director of the Fund for Democratic Communities, who speaks and writes on issues of cooperatives and economic development, on issues of education and social responses to racism and is active in the call by the Southern Grassroots Economies Project to develop a Southern Reparations Loan Fund

As Professor Charles Lawrence precisely puts it:

"Racism in America is much more complex than either the  conscious conspiracy of a power elite or the simple delusion
of a few ignorant bigots.  It is a part of our common historical
experience and, therefore, a part of our culture.  It arises from the assumptions we have learned to make about the world, ourselves, and others as well as from the patterns of our fundamental social activities. "

Ed Whitfield, long-term social justice organizer,  co-managing Director of 
the Fund for Democratic Communities, who speaks and writes on issues of cooperatives and economic development, on issues of education and social 
responses to racism and is active in the call by the Southern Grassroots Economies Project to develop a Southern Reparations Loan Fund  plows deep into the bowels of America, to ferret out and grapple with its policies and practices of white supremacy, rooted deep within its public and private structures.  He'll examine how then institutional racism filters down to the individual citizenry and becomes a material force to subjugate Black Life. Ed Whitfield asks whether we will wait for The Fire Next Time or will we and how we can endeavor to tear out the roots of the poisons weeds of white supremacy that can subsume the very nurturance of life.   

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Taxi Drivers Caravan to Albany to Protect Full-Time Jobs - 28:27  

NYC Taxi Drivers Caravan to Albany to Protect Full-Time Jobs
Bhairavi Desai, Ex. Dir. NY Taxi Workers Alliance 

A traffic jam of taxicabs circled the Capitol in Albany to put the brakes on legislation sponsored by ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which allow people to pick up passengers in their own cars.  NYC would be required to accept drop-offs by Uber and Lyft drivers with lower standards than licensed NYC taxi and for-hire-vehicle drivers and there would be no way to enforce regulations against these drivers from cruising through NYC picking up illegal fares. The Taxi Workers Alliance says the legislation would lead to unsafe unregulated cars acting as taxis and that would lead to a decrease in collectable tax revenue. Desai says that if the legislation passes "riders will lose all kinds of protection - safety, insurance, accessibility, and a fair price. For drivers, this is the biggest threat to fulltime work in this industry because the companies depend on part-time labor and a saturation of vehicles. Already in NYC, we’re seeing incomes drop for drivers from all the segments – yellow, green, livery and black car, including Uber drivers.” 

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The Next Economic System with Gar Alperovitz and Ed Whitfield - 27:44  

Getting Serious About the Next Economic System
Gar Alperovitz, author, What Then Must We Do?  and The Next American Revolution: Beyond Corporate Capitalism and State Socialism

In an era when systemic critique of the economic and political institutions of the United States is poised on the edge of mainstream consciousness: the realities of a changing climate, an irrationally destructive financialized economic system, a long and steady historical trajectory concentrating political power along with wealth, are becoming impossible to ignore. How can we consciously come together around this opportunity to offer a coherent vision of what a "next system" might look like? Gar Alperovitz is a leading proponent and practician of local socialized Alternatives to the current economic system. He here summarized some of the  concrete experiments in social change happening and being proposed across the country including Worker cooperatives, municipal and state economic enterprises, state and municipal banks, land trusts, and single payer health insurance and lays out a new initiative to expand visibility and support for an alternative economic system: The Next System Project : New Political-Economic Possibilities for the 21st Century.
The Building Blocks for a Just Economic System
Ed WhitfieldCo-Managing Director of the Fund for Democratic 
Communities  speaks and writes on issues of cooperatives and economic development while continuing to be interested in issues of war and peace, as well as education and social responses to racism and is active in the call by the Southern Grassroots Economies Project (SGEP) to develop a Southern Reparations Loan Fund

More and more people are disenfranchised from and disenchanted by our economic system with its long and steady historical trajectory concentrating political  power along with wealth amongst the few, and a monstrous apparatus of prisons and policing that are increasingly prevalent.  And, Ed Whitfield is one of the theoreticians/activists who offers us a coherent vision of what building a "next system" might look like.  Whitfield talks about his work in the South and beginning to build for a far for equal and justice society.

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