F-Word: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

In our era of extreme capital accumulation is it any wonder that media capital accumulates extremely?

And what do we know about capital? It’s a social relation of power.

If you’d never thought about power and media and capital before, there’s a good chance the subject’s crossed your mind in the last twelve months. Maybe it was the presidential election, brought to voters by for-profit corporations that put clicks and ratings above all other values.

Maybe it’s the creeping and increasingly creepy power of social media.  Our society’s silent censors, I read recently that Google and Facebook channel 70 percent of all the traffic that goes anywhere near any news site.  It’s no wonder, then, that propagandists use social media to for anti-social purposes. They make it easy.

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Excerpt: David Galarza Santa - Resisting Shock Doctrine Calls for Energy Privatization in Puerto Rico

What could paths to a just recovery in Puerto Rico look like? David Galarza Santa, a labor and community activist, on a Puerto Rican plan to recover, revitalize and resist calls for electricity privatization by building back different.

Laura Flanders: So, we've heard it over and over again. This is a humanitarian crisis. The electricity needs to come back on. The next sentence depends on where your interests lie. What do you say about what needs to happen right now with respect to the electrical grid?

David G. S.: Well, what needs to happen right now is to make sure that we don't go back to the Puerto Rico that existed before this storm. We're weathering an economic storm of epic proportions, which is the bill that was enacted by Congress. Supposedly the people in Puerto Rico owe billions and billions of dollar to these hedge fund vultures and so forth, and so people were already being strapped in terms of their economic situation. Now comes this storm and it's literally the perfect storm to try and do the kinds of things that this initially was pledged to do, or PROMESA bill was pledged to do.

 Image result for puerto rico electricity

Image Source: Wired

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Excerpt: Next System Media - An Urgent Necessity

By Laura Flanders in collaboration with the Next System Project. 

Whose media revolution?

Americans have experienced revolutionary moments before; moments in which entire systems of governance, of production, of labor relations, and social organization, broke apart and stitched themselves back up in new ways. In every one of those moments, whether it was the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, or the Silicon Valley age, media fueled the transformation and were transformed by it.

In our era of extreme capital accumulation, media capital has accumulated—extremely. What we need is a bottom-up remaking of our system, and new commitment to media as a public good.

NBC recently reported that the Amazon corporation is in the process of buying up television channels. The corporation, which already accounts for about a quarter of all online sales in the United States, is holding talks to “supersize” its video-channel business, not just in the US but around the world. That, even as the right-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest owners of TV stations in the US is in the process of creating an ideologically-driven broadcasting behemoth that would reach some 72 percent of the television-viewing audience coast-to-coast.

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Sabaah Folayan: Social justice should be embedded in your lived experience.

As the news cameras left Ferguson, Missouri after the police killing of Michael Brown, Sabaah Folayan and her team stayed on to document what happens to people subjected to police violence as a matter of routine.

Laura Flanders:That's coming up. Plus an F word from me on surveillance. If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention and if you are, well the Feds know about it. It's all coming up on the Laura Flanders show. The place where the people who say it can't be done, take a back seat to the ones who are doing it.

Three years after the killing of Michael Brown by police office, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri, the documentary "Whose Streets?", takes us back to Ferguson and the days and weeks following that event. Beyond the uprising and the clamp down, the killings and the protests, "Whose Street's?" takes viewers into the personal lives of the activists on the ground. They're young people with young families.

The documentary ends up being a lot about love in a community cornered by an increasingly militarized police. "Whose Streets?" is co-directed by Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis. It's just now being released by Magnolia Pictures and I am very pleased to welcome Sabaah to the studio.

Glad to have you.

Sabaah Folayan:Thank you.

Laura Flanders:Remind us where you were when the news broke of what had happened to Michael Brown.

Sabaah Folayan:When I first heard, I was at work. I was on my computer and I started to see this information come through Twitter. And I saw the photograph of him on the ground and I saw the tweets of people who are out there.

Laura Flanders:And you were in New York, correct?

Sabaah Folayan:Yes, I was here in New York.

I was at a nonprofit doing reentry work so I was helping them to kind of understand how their organization was working with incarcerated people. And I heard about it through social media and it was just really triggering and then I started to see people taking to the streets. And I started to see the militarization. And it felt like a story that I somehow knew, even though I had never experienced anything like it.

Laura Flanders:Now you quote, I think, is Dr. King, "A riot is the language of the unheard." In a way, that beginning montage in your film, I couldn't help thinking sort of YouTube is the Hollywood of the unreported.

A lot of those images, I don't think most people had seen before, right?

Sabaah Folayan:Yeah. I think the media was really focused on the looting, the rioting, the what was shiny and would get rating. And people weren't really paying attention to what was actually happening to this community.

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F-Word: First They Spied on the Immigrants

To target activists in the 1970s, US intelligence agencies conducted so much illegal surveillance that they generated one of the biggest scandals in US history (COINTELPRO). 

Forty years on, we’re watching documentaries about the Vietnam War while our government conducts surveillance ops that put anything from that era to shame. The only thing Americans do less now than then is protest. Why is that?


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Excerpt: In Greece, Melissa Network Takes Leadership From Refugee Women

When it comes to finding new ways to organize society, some Greeks are finding inspiration in surprising places. Like in the community of migrant women organized by Melissa I visited in Athens. Check out the whole show. - Laura 

Nadina C.: We're at the day center of Melissa network. In the heart of Athens, Victoria Square. Melissa is a network for migrant and refugee women who live in Greece. Melissa means honey bee in Greek. And the idea of a day center was to create a kind of beehive. This also explains our vision of society. It stands for what our vision is. Which is, a society is an open beehive of communication, creativity and exchange.
Marzia Jamili: My name is Marzia Jamili. I'm from Afghanistan. I am 16 years old. I was born as a refugee. I came to Greece last year. I was very happy to come here and I feel myself very safe because when we were in the camp, the camp was not very safe. And I feel very happy in this place. Melissa now is like my house and they're like my family.
Nadina C.: In Melissa we have the involvement of women from over 45 countries. As well as many of the most active organizations. Women's groups, associations and organizations. So it's the long-term migrants who are actually involved in the implementation of our current program. Because long term migrant women are the ones who know better than anybody else, or who are better positioned to know what works in terms of integration and what doesn't work.We've created all together a sort of holistic approach to what we see perceive of as integration and it's based on literacy support, psychosocial support, art and creativity, information sessions. So we do a lot of information sessions on social rights, legal rights, labor rights, all the different sets of things that they ought to know.


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Jones Act: Blocking Aid to Puerto Rico

The 1920 Merchant Marine Act is a longstanding polict that directs all the transportation of goods between US ports to be done by US vessels exclusively. This means that ships from other countries can’t transport supplies between US harbors. That limits the number of available boats, even in unusual, extreme situations such as what Puerto Rico is experiencing now.

Image result for puerto rico maria

In the past, the US department of Homeland Security has been known to lift the policy -- colloquially known as the Jones Act -- but has refused to do so in the case of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Despite lifting the Act after Hurricane Harvey and Irma, in Texas and Florida, respectively, the DHS refused today to do the same for Puerto Rico. This, in a US-occupied state where 3.5 million residents have lost power, and up to a million US citizens are without water.

Find out more about the Jones Act here.

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F-Word: Made Homeless by Hurricanes? This Budget’s Not for You.

Hurricanes, floods, fires, blazing heat and rain, the wretched weather has caused climate change deniers especially, much consternation. As to the possible explanation……. when hundreds of thousands of homeless people start appearing in our streets next January, it’ll be easy to explain. We let it happen, in the 2018 federal budget.

 Image result for hurricane maria homes

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Excerpt: Thanu Yakupitiyage - The Refugee Crisis Is A Climate Justice Issue

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/LE_Eithne_Operation_Triton.jpgPhoto courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Laura Flanders: A new study by Cornell University finds that roughly one-fifth of the world's population could become climate change refugees by 2100. The majority of those will be people who live on coastlines around the world including about two million in Florida alone. Escalating refugee migrations, rising waters, and hotter than ever summers may appear to be different crises, but in reality, they are rooted in a joint emergency, says today's guest. We better start addressing them simultaneously. To that end, Thanu Yakupitiyage came from New York's immigration coalition to work as the US communications manager for climate justice organization, 350.org. She is clearly a connector. She's also a DJ. Thanu, welcome to the program. Glad to have you.

Thanu Y: Thank you for having me.

Laura Flanders: This is kind of an interesting transition for you, going from immigrant rights work to the work that you're doing at 350. You were doing communications at both organizations, but what's changed? What's new?'

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Excerpt: Ed Whitfield - Against Consumer Politics in the New Economy

Laura Flanders: Not long ago former Vice President Al Gore called for the impeachment of Donald Trump. He's not the first to call for impeachment nor will he be the last, but what would it take to impeach not a person but the system of which he is a product? That's the question activist-philanthropist Ed Whitfield, co-director of the Fund for Democratic Communities in Greensboro, North Carolina was raising a few months back when we had a chance to connect at a meeting of the New Economy Coalition in Chicago.

Ed Whitfield: I have been a political activist pretty much all of my life. I've spent a lot of time reading, studying. I've worked 35 years in industry, kind of self-funding the political activity that I did when I got off work. That included runs for political office. It included community organizing, spending a lot of time talking to working class people, and I found in the course of talking to people that a number of people are kind of eager to hear kind of refreshing ideas of how we can understand the world and how we can behave in the world.
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