Old Mole Variety Hour
The Old Mole burrows down to the roots of the great issues of our time – the struggles of ordinary people for democratic and sustainable ways of life. The Mole goes where corporate media fear to tread, supporting grassroots challenges to top-down authority and giving voice to movements that shake the foundations of an unjust society. The Moles' perspective is democratic, broadly socialist, and feminist. (We count Karl Marx as a friend).
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Another in the Old Mole's series The Left and the Law, this conversation with appellate attorney Mike Snedeker and psychologist Jan Haaken takes up two recent issues. First, the right-wing radio ad campaign against the early release of some inmates because of the state budget shortfall. But does longer incarceration do any good? Why do we spend so much on prisons and so little on education? Second, the recent conviction of a Church of Christ family for trusting to faith healing rather than medical attention for their dying son: what right does the state have to regulate the way parents care for their children?
Angele Theard is a Portland anesthesiologist and second generation Haitian just back from ten days in Haiti administering to the pain of injured people. In this interview, she talks with Thabiti Lewis about her work and the problems of getting needed aid to the people. Dr. Theard was part of a group working with Medical Teams International of Oregon.
What toxic substances are we soaking up from the industrial products we use -- including "sippy" bottles for babies? Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis has been studying the body chemistry of Oregonians and she talks with the Old Mole's Bill Resnick about her findings. Hackenmiller-Paradis is with the Oregon Environmental Council and wrote the Oregon "Pollution in People" report (PDF) which found alarming amounts of mercury, endocrine disrupters, mercury, and other stuff in the tissues of Oregonians.
Tom Becker hosts this show which covers several health-related issues: the medical challenges in Haiti after the earthquake, poisonous chemicals in our bodies from manufactured products, and how the law treats people who rely on faith healing rather than medicine. Plus, Tom memorializes the late Howard Zinn who practiced history from below -- making him one of history's Old Moles.
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Practicing history from below: that was the work of the late Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States. Here Tom Becker describes that approach to history, in contrast to traditional ways of telling stories from the perspective of ruling classes. Tom quotes from Richard Greenwald's brief memoir, published in In These Times.
Celebrating Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of 17 African countries that achieved their independence in 1960, the 20th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films begins on February 5 and continues through March 6. P.C. Peri is a member of the planning committee and of Flying Focus Video, and talks with the Old Mole's Jan Haaken about the festival and several of the films being shown.
As the festival's website points out, "The feature and documentary films that we show, the majority of which were made by African directors, celebrate Africa’s achievements, expose Africa’s failures, and reveal the possibilities for a more hopeful future. They show us pictures of Africa through the eyes of Africans, rather than a vision of Africa that is packaged primarily for western viewers. The films represent African concerns that are political, historical, and social. This year’s films cover a wide range of themes and topics, including African identity, liberation, emigration, displacement, dictatorship, racism and war, issues of trauma, conflict and reconciliation, peace, truth, justice, forgiveness, and the position of women."
Perhaps as an antidote to what might seem the pessimism of Chris Hedges in the preceding segment of today's Old Mole, Bill Resnick reads a message of reasoned optimism from the recently deceased Howard Zinn. It comes from a 2004 piece in The Nation, "The Optimism of Uncertainty."
Live from Haiti, Kevin Pina talks by cell phone with the Old Mole's Laurie Mercier about the recent history of Haiti and US role in suppressing Aristide and popular democratic movements, as well as about the US militarization of current aid efforts and its cost in human lives. Pina is a journalist, activist and filmmaker, who knows Haiti intimately. (The accompanying photo shows him in journalistic action in Haiti.)
You can see more from him in this video interview. Pina recommends the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund as the best place to contribute directly to the Haitian people. For more background, check out the Haiti Information Project; Pina's film We Must Kill the Bandits; his article in World Press; and Naomi Klein on disaster capitalism in Haiti.
Howie Hawkins as the Green Party candidate took 41% of the vote for mayor of Syracuse, New York last November. One of his main issues is public utilities and generating green energy locally, and he talks about the politics of that in this conversation with the Old Mole's Bill Resnick.
The recent Supreme Court decision granting rights of free speech to corporations merely reveals what was already true: that democracy is merely a useful fiction and we are already ruled by corporations. This is the argument Chris Hedges makes in a piece on Truthdig, read here by Tom Becker.