Report from Palestine
activists Judy Greenspan and Dunya Alwan
October 1, 7:00 p.m.Humanist Hall
27th St., Oakland (between Telegraph
was part of the Viva Palestina convoy, which carried humanitarian aid and
international solidarity activists from Egypt to Gaza in August.
is the cofounder and primary organizer of the groundbreaking Birthright
Unplugged/Replugged programs, which work respectively with anti-racist Jewish
internationals and Palestinian refugee youth to challenge the Zionist narrative.
by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!)
donation requested, no one turned away for lack of funds
It is no news that the
brownshirts of summer who disrupted town hall meetings were organized by the
health insurance industry through fox news, the freedom works foundation and
other democratic institutions. The “public option” is on the rails, with
Obama offering, in his big health care speech September 8, that if someone would
come up with a better alternative, he would consider it. That doesn’t go for
single payer, however.
No one has really explained
the details of the “public option.” It is at once described as being a last
resort insurer, for all those that the health insurance companies exclude, and
as “competition” for insurance companies, that will keep them honest.
Obviously, a system that permits insurance companies to cherry pick healthy
customers while the public system will be left to pick up the tab for everyone
else, will have no problem competing.
California has a “public
option” for workers’ compensation. Unlike Washington state, in which 99
percent of workers are covered by the non-profit government run program,
California has a system of private insurers. The State Compensation Insurance
Fund was created in 1913 as a “public option,” to provide an insurer of last
resort. The results? Washington state has one of the lowest cost, highest
benefit systems in the country. California’s system has produced record
profits for insurance companies. From 2004 through 2006 insurance company
profits were $27.7 billion, while the total benefits paid out to injured workers
(including medical benefits, temporary and permanent disability benefits) were
19.8 billion. In 2006, total
premiums collected for workers compensation were $16.6 billion, and benefits to
workers amounted to only $6.2 billion, less than 40 percent of the premiums.
(All figures from the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau, the industry
rate setting organization).
As Deborah Burger, the
co-president of the California Nurses Association put it, “the biggest problem
with [Obama’s] approach, however, is not the public option, it’s the private
option. Private insurers are the principal cause of skyrocketing healthcare
costs and the disgraceful denials of care for people with insurance.”
Some single payer advocates
are pushing for a viable public option in the national health care reform
legislation. They are also supporting the Kucinich amendment, which would permit
states to establish single payer plans.
The government has already
given almost a trillion dollars to the insurance companies as a “bailout.”
Insurance companies thanked us by paying for a movement to disrupt community
meetings and oppose health care reform. It is time that we stop donating 1/3 of
every health care dollar to these same insurance companies that deny us care and
deny us coverage. We need single
payer health care and the insurance companies need to get out of our way. Health
care is a right, and we need a direct action movement to win it.
A number of groups
and individuals, including LAGAI, are calling an organizing meeting for
Tuesday, September 29, 7 p.m. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst
Ave. at MLK, Berkeley. Please join us. For more information, call (510)434-1304,
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Kate with a lot of help from Anthony Fest
Okay, so we just got through with the longest presidential election season in history, and are doubtless only weeks away from the beginning of the 2010 congressional elections. I’m sure that a community radio station Local Station Board election is exactly what you feel like focusing on right now. I mean, it’s hardly even electoral politics, right? If you wanted to get involved in boring local politics, you’d be running for BART board or volunteering on someone’s campaign for EBMUD. But I am sorry to tell you that if you’re a KPFA member, you need to vote in the LSB election, which is happening now. The future of community radio in Northern California could depend on it.
The LSB was created in the aftermath of the 1999 lockout of KPFA staff by parent Pacifica Foundation, and the subsequent mobilization by the community. Pretty quickly, it became traditional for factions to coalesce and run for elections as slates. The first few years were dominated by a progressive group called People’s Radio. In the last two elections, a slate called Concerned Listeners has won the majority – in the last election, through some fairly devious tactics such as illegal use of station email lists for campaigning and manipulation of the voter eligibility criteria for unpaid staff (can you say “Florida”?). Concerned Listeners is generally allied closely with station management, and for the last two years, that has meant General Manager Lemlem Rijio and Program Director Sasha Lilley.
Rijio was appointed interim general manager in 2006 by Greg Guma, at that time the executive director of Pacifica. Guma says he and Rijio had agreed then that she would hold the job no longer than nine months. Late in 2006, Rijio appointed Sasha Lilley, producer of the noon public affairs show Against the Grain, as interim program director. In September 2008, Guma’s successor, Nicole Sawaya, elevated Rijio to permanent-status general manager. Sawaya made that appointment on her last day on the job at Pacifica, after having been presented with a petition signed by a large number of staff and volunteers expressing dissatisfaction with Riijo.
As Rijio and Lilley have now been in office more than two
years, it’s appropriate to look at what they have and haven’t done.
Certainly, they’ve excelled at instigating conflict and controversy. In January 2007, Rijio cancelled the program Youth Radio, after one episode of the program aired a song containing FCC-prohibited words that the program producers had neglected to edit out. The blue language certainly needed a firm response, given the possibility of the station being hit with a huge fine. But it was hardly sufficient reason to permanently eliminate a program, particularly one tailored for the next generation of listeners.