Recent Posts

Super Bowl Sunday: A Big Day for Brain Damage. 1/29

Sunday is America’s annual concussion carnival, the Super Bowl. Steve Almond knows a lot about it—he wrote the book Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto.
Let’s review the evidence: are you sure that football players get head injuries that lead to brain damage—or is that just liberal whining?
STEVE ALMOND: I’m sure it’s liberal whining, but one of the stories that got obscured earlier this season was an actuarial report the NFL commissioned in response to the lawsuit filed by former players. The NFL’s own actuaries estimated that 30 per cent of former players are going to wind up with long term cognitive ailments.
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Gitmo Diary: ‘A Vision of Hell’ — KPFK 1/28

LISTEN online HERE  iTunes podcast HERE
Guantanamo Diary is an incredible document, the true first-person account of a “high-value detainee,” Mohamedou Ould Slahi—John Le Carre calls it “a vision of hell, beyond Orwell, beyond Kafka: perpetual torture prescribed by the mad doctors in Washington.” We’ll speak with Slahi’s editor LARRY SIEMS and his attorney NANCY HOLLANDER.
WATCH the video HERE.  READ the original manuscript HERE.
SIGN the ACLU petition HERE.

Also: Historian ERIC FONER on the hidden history of the underground railroad—his new book Gateway to Freedom shows how a small number of people can accomplish great things–and change history.
Plus: KPFK Sports! Sunday is the Superbowl, a big day for brain damage. We’ll have comment from STEVE ALMONDhe wrote the book AGAINST FOOTBALL


Becoming Richard Pryor: KPFK 1/21

LISTEN online HERE   iTunes podcast HERE
Richard Pryor
revolutionized the world of comedy—he was a fearless performer and a truth-teller about race in America. Now there’s a terrific new biography out: Becoming Richard Pryor by SCOTT SAUL—he teaches English at Berkeley, he’s written for Harper’s, the New York Times, and The Nation. The Digital Companion HERE.  He’ll be  at Book Soup Sunday, Feb. 8 at 4 pm.

Plus: JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation magazine will comment on last night’s state of the union speech, where Obama proposed to address income inequality by redistributing some of the wealth that has been locked up by the billionaire class and their banks.

Also: “The brain’s job is to hide the truth of trauma from you” – that’s what DAVID J MORRIS says. His Humvee was blown up in the Iraq war; when he came home he suffered from post-traumatic stress, and now he’s written an amazing book about it, The Evil Hours: A Biography of PTSD. He’s published in the New Yorker, Slate, the New York Times last Sunday.  He’ll be speaking at Vroman’s in Pasadena Thurs, February 19 at 7pm.

‘Selma’ & Voting Rights–in 1965, and now: KPFK 1/14

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The film Selma and the fight for the right to vote – in 1965, and now
: ARI BERMAN of The Nation comments. He’s an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute, is working on a book about voting rights since 1965.

Plus:  Much of the film Selma is based on the work of historian TAYLOR BRANCH.  We’ll speak with him about Selma in his book At Canaan’s Edge: Martin Luther King 1965-1968.

Also: Obama’s liberal apologists: TOM FRANK says they helped torpedo change and make the Democrats safe for Wall Street–and it didn’t have to be that way. Tom writes a column for

And we’ll also revisit a conversation with GARRISON KEILLOR—he says it’s time for all of us to become Republicans.

‘Climate Change is Everything': Rebecca Solnit on KPFK 1/7

LISTEN online HERE   iTunes podcast HERE
REBECCA SOLNIT says climate change is aboutthe whole planet for the whole foreseeable future.  We’ve made progress in Sacramento and Washington; now it’s time to ban fracking in California. Rebecca wrote about climate for the New York Times op-ed page, and writes frequently for TomDispatch.

Also: This year the US will observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War – and the Pentagon is in charge of the commemoration. But what about the rest of us? TOM HAYDEN will comment. NYTimes p1 story HERE; official commemoration site HERE; Vietnam Peace Commemoration petition HERE.

Plus: RICHARD FORD’s new novel about Frank Bascombe, the New Jersey realtor, is “droll, bemused, hyper-observant, occasionally exasperating and punctuated by sighs of both resignation and contentment” (NYTimes).  The book is Let Me Be Frank with You.

Naomi Klein, Laura Poitras: KPFK 12/31

LISTEN online HERE   iTunes podcast HERE
Our Year-in-Review show:  The People’s Climate March in New York City in September was the biggest environmental demonstration in history. NAOMI KLEIN published her new book This Changes Everything the week before. We’ll revisit our conversation with her about the march, and the book.

Also: the best documentary film of 2014 is LAURA POITRAS’s Citizenfour, a real-life thriller which follows Edward Snowden as he prepares to reveal the massive extent of NSA bulk surveillance of Americans. Laura will talk about how she made the film and its significance for all of us today.

Finally: Remember the 2014 midterm elections? How bad was it? We have two conflicting views: HAROLD MEYERSON called it “a disaster,” while JOHN NICHOLS called it “a normal midterm result.”

Rabbi Leonard Beerman: A Force for Goodness: TheNation, 12/29

Rabbi Leonard Beerman of Los Angeles, who died December 24 at age 93, was a great fighter for social justice and peace over the last sixty-five years. His lifelong commitment to nonviolence, Beerman explained, came out of his experience in 1947 in Jerusalem, when he joined the Haganah fighting for Israeli independence. “Luckily, I was spared” killing anyone, he told the Los Angeles Times. “And when I came back, I became a pacifist because of what I had seen: People transformed to just hating, hating, hating. It is no way for humankind to live.”
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Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album: Is this a joke?
KPFK 12/17

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Bob Dylan’s Christmas album: Is this a joke — or a tragedy?
SEAN WILENTZ explains — he’s official historian-in-residence at the official Bob Dylan website (he also teaches American history at Princeton and is the author of, among other books, Bob Dylan in America.)
WATCH Bob Dylan’s “Must Be Santa” video HERE

Also: it’s the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce of World War I, when, after five months of unparalleled industrial-scale slaughter, British and German soldiers stopped fighting and exchanged gifts of food. Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars, calls it “an outbreak of peace celebrated today with extraordinary fanfare.” WATCH the Sainsbury’s Christmas Truce ad for British TV HERE.

Plus: Why the Puritans banned Christmas: it wasn’t always a festival of domesticity and consumerism. Historian Stephen Nissenbaum explains—his book is The Battle for Christmas.

The Day the Troops Refused to Fight: Dec. 25, 1914: TheNation 12/23

100 years ago, on Christmas Day, 1914, in the middle of World War I, British and German soldiers put down their guns and stopped killing each other. The terrible industrial slaughter had already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men. But on that day, thousands of troops climbed out of the trenches in France and Belgium, sang Christmas carols, and exchanged food, gifts, and souvenirs. They traded German beer for British rum. They even played soccer. It’s a unique event in the history of modern warfare. . .
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They Said ‘No” to Torture: The Nation 12/15

Hidden in the Senate torture report are stories of some heroes—people inside the CIA who from the beginning said torture was wrong, who tried to stop it, who refused to participate. There were also some outside the CIA, in the military and the FBI, who risked careers and reputations by resisting—and who sometimes paid a heavy price. They should be thanked and honored.
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