Beneath The Surface with Suzi Weissman airs every Friday on KPFK Pacifica Radio from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. Tune in at 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, and worldwide on KPFK.ORG. You can listen to archived shows online on the KPFK website.

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BTS 4/8/11: Government Shutdown; Wisconsin & California Elections

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Ari Berman says it is GOP Heartlessness and Democratic Cowardice that has led us to the impending government shutdown tonight at midnight. The mean-spirited attacks on women, working people, the elderly, children and the sick are clear in the Republican’s shifting rightward budget goalpost, but we’ll ask Ari what he thinks the Democratic game plan is? The Democrats have conceded more than vital social programs, they have conceded terms of the debate: slashing spending during a deep recession/ depression is a recipe for economic disaster. Berman says the Republican budget is “impressive in its ability to not only [to] inflict maximum harm on the economy, but to concentrate that harm on those most in need. This will not only cost the economy hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of jobs over the next five years, it will also destroy the social safety net and undermine policies that support the middle class.

John Nichols wonders whether there is something fishy in Wisconsin. How is it that 14000+ votes were just found in the most Republican of all Wisconsin counties for conservative Justice Prosser, just the amount needed to avoid a recount? Earlier today John was told that someone in Milwaukee’s cat just vomited up 18,000 votes. We’ll ask him about election irregularities, the shifting public mood, and we’ll also get his views on the Budget impasse and government shutdown, and the game each party is playing

Marcy Winograd is running for Congress this time to fill the vacancy left by Jane Harman, Marcy’s erstwhile opponent. Later in the campaign we’ll have a debate on Beneath the Surface with Marcy and her two contenders, Janice Hahn and Debra Bowen. But today we’ll get Marcy’s views on what she would do in Congress, especially during this budget debate. If cutting is the game, what cuts are not being discussed that Marcy would bring to the table?

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BTS 4/1/11: Labor Fights Back; Libya; Manning Marable

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Tonight we feature the fight back to the massive assault on labor and democratic rights underway in this country. We talk with Frances Fox Piven. She has been targeted by Glenn Beck as the mastermind of an overarching left-wing plot which supposedly engineered the financial crisis of 2008, healthcare reform, Obama's election and massive voter fraud, and she is fighting back. She and Cornell West are moderating a “National Teach-in on Debt, Austerity and How People are Fighting Back” live web cast streaming on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011, from New York City. 175 campuses across the country are participating and the number grows hourly. The teach-in features (among others) AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka with activist reports from a Wisconsin student, a homeowner fighting foreclosure and a public school teacher fighting budget cuts, lay-offs and the assault on collective bargaining rights. We’ll talk to Frances about the teach-in and fighting back.

We then turn to Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary –Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO for more fight back on Monday, April 4, (the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King JR). This year people of conscience stand as one around the world. From Wisconsin to LA, We are One rallies, pickets and meetings will be held all over the US, as well as in Paris and Kabul, the message is ‘we are one.’ We’ll ask Maria Elena about organized labor’s fight back against the massive assault on public workers and their unions in one state after, and what pressure is being put on the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to stand up to this attack on democratic rights.

At the end of the hour we’ll talk to Randy Short, an independent researcher currently working on Libya who came across a WikiLeaks document that he thinks has been overlooked: it shows extreme U.S. interest in the prospect of a rebellion in the eastern part of Libya. Short also notes that Qatar, which funds al Jazeera, has a material interest in the outcome of the intervention in Libya since it has signed an oil deal with the Libyan rebels. We’ll also talk to him about other issues around the war with Libya, including water, refugees and relations with other African countries.

But first tonight, we just learned that Manning Marable, African-American Studies Scholar, has died. His long awaited biography of Malcolm X is being published on Monday. We dedicate tonight’s show to Manning Marable. Bill Fletcher Jr. joins us.

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BTS 3/25/11: Arab Protests; Triangle Fire Centennial

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On tonight’s program we begin with Mark LeVine for an update on the developments in Egypt, the serious situation in Bahrain and the UN intervention in Libya. Mark was in Bahrain just over a week ago, as the Saudis sent in 1000 ‘troops’ to quell the protests there. The Saudis are interfering in every Arab country, attempting to prevent the spread of Tunisia and Egypt’s successes. We’ll also talk to Mark about how the activists in Egypt view the present situation as well as the intervention in Libya.

Then we turn to today’s commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. 1:40pm today California time marked to the minute the exact time 100 years ago that someone tossed a cigarette into a bin of scrap cloth on the 8th floor of the Asch Building on New York’s Lower East Side, touching off what for the last century has been known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Kate Bronfenbrenner, Director of Labor Education Research, Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations joins us to talk today about the fire’s significance for labor history in the 20th Century and lessons for labor today as it faces an all out assault on its gains. Cornell Univ Press has put out a Centennial edition of Leon Stein’s classic, The Triangle Fire. Kate will join Eileen Nevitt who talks to us from New York’s centennial commemoration of the Fire. Eileen’s grandmother, Annie Sprinsock, was a 17 year old Russian-Jewish immigrant who operated a sewing machine on the ninth floor of the Triangle at the time of the Fire. She narrowly escaped the inferno with her life but managed to perform a heroic deed in the process by helping to save a friend who turned out to be the last person off the ninth floor.

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BTS 3/18/11: Live from the Left Forum

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Co-Hosts Suzi Weissman and Alan Minsky report live from the Left Forum, otherwise known as the Socialist Superbowl, in New York City, on a special Beneath the Surface edition of Building A Powerful Left.

On today's show we're going to begin with radical environmentalist Joel Kovel. Alan Minsky talks to him about the nuclear disaster in Japan, and about the possibilities for a sane energy policy for humanity. Then, Alan talks to Dan LaBotz, labor organizer who ran for the US Senate in Ohio on the Soicialist Party ticket and got over 25,000 votes, and Seth Adler, organizer for the Left Forum.

Finally, Suzi hosts a roundtable with Hillel Ticktin and William Tabb about building a powerful left and the incredibly exciting moment of history we are in right now. We'll explore what are thethe parameters of the economic crisis, which was the detonator of the mobilizations in Europe, North Africa and more, and possible solutions and ways out of the crisis.

BTS 3/11/11: Wisconsin Protests; Saudi Days of Rage; Invisible Handcuffs of Capitalism

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John Nichols joins us live from Madison reporting on the crude maneuver pushed through by Governor Scott Walker, crushing collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in Wisconsin. Passionate protests in Madison provide the connective tissue to demonstrations for democracy spreading across North Africa, where dictatorships are toppling. And in Wisconsin? Stay tuned for our Wisconsin segment with John and Paul Buhle, who notes that unionists with their backs to the wall are talking General Strike, and preparing for it – that was unimaginable a month ago. Working with the Democratic Party machine on the recall campaigns as well as the left and community organizations, Buhle sees a rebirth of a LaFolettesque tradition, one that drew heavily upon a socialist background but stood outside the existing Left’s main preoccupations and ideologies.

We then turn to Ahmed Al-Mulla, Saudi Arabian writer and poet who we talked to earlier today in Riyadh about today’s “Days of Rage” in Saudi Arabia. He says "There are many of the same issues here as in Egypt and Tunisia -- Young people are frustrated with no rights, no freedoms, no jobs when they graduate, and they are connecting online. Our women's rights situation is probably the worst in the world. People are becoming more aware and demanding the freedom to speak, to protest, and real change. We’ll ask Ahmed about today’s “Days of Rage” protest and prospects for a continued escalation against the regime.

Michael Perelman’s new book The Invisible Handcuffs of Capitalism: How Market Tyranny Stifles the Economy by Stunting Workers (Monthly Review) is indeed timely: the ‘invisible handcuffs’ of capitalism, according to Perelman, sweep workers under the rug, and hide the nature of the system making it appear to be based on equal exchange rather than exploitation inside every workplace. These practices are destructive and stifling, ignore social needs, and contrary to contemporary wisdom, there is an alternative, and progress is possible. We’ll ask Michael to elaborate.

Plus: An update on Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

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BTS 3/4/11: Wisconsin Attacks on Public Sector

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Michael Hudson joins us with revealing news about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s 133 page budget that slashes schools and will devastate public education, cuts 12,000 jobs, privatizes Universities and Highways, and worse. Forget the stripping public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights and issuing legally questionable arrest warrants for the fourteen Democratic lawmakers waiting it out in Illinois, Hudson says, “Wisconsin will make Argentina look like a bagatelle.” Hudson adds, the budget is good news for the Cayman Islands. Will the public support for the determined public sector workers fight to maintain their collective bargaining rights?

BTS 2/18/11: Egypt & Wisconsin

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Democracy is the watchword for the day; it implies dignity, decency, the right to meaningful work and a government that serves the needs of its population. By definition, the right today serve the interests and needs of the financial and corporate elite whose casino capitalism caused our crisis and now they want teachers and public sector workers living standards slashed, collective bargaining rights eliminated (see Wisconsin) and are blaming the unionized workforce along with the immigrants for the crisis -- and moreover are asking all of us to pay for it. For the financiers it is bailouts, for the corporations it is the refusal to be taxes and the fear to invest: they are sitting on mountains of cash they don't yet feel secure enough to invest in productive work and are loath to be taxed lest the government invest the money. So the system has seized up and is in a suicidal spiral. Tahrir Square could be coming to a city near you.

Gilbert Achcar, a leading scholar activist who grew up in Lebanon and teaches at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, is the author most recently of The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives (Metropolitan Books). He joins us for an overview on the spreading revolts against dictators in Middle Eastern States -- dictators who are using violence against the mobilizing populations. Achcar questions the neutrality of the Egyptian army, says the model for the Muslim Brotherhood is Turkey not Iran, and has detailed information of the left forces on the ground. We’ll pick his brain and learn as much as we can about the movements demanding democracy and dignity that have inspired and changed the century.

John Nichols (correspondent of The Nation and Madison Wisconsin’s Capital Times) joins us from Wisconsin’s “Tahrir” where tens of thousands have mobilized against the Republican assault on the Constitution, demanding not ‘Second Amendment remedies’ but First Amendment ones, and are leading the battle against the attacks on living standards and public sector unions in the country. Don’t miss his account of how “First Amendment Remedies': How Wisconsin Workers Grabbed the Constitution Back From the Right-Wing Royalists.” Fighting Bob LaFollette is cheering from the other side.

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BTS 2/11/11: First Tunisia, Now Egypt, this is what Democracy looks like

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First Tunisia, Now Egypt: There is fresh air on the planet, may it blow in all directions -- let there be thousands of Tahrirs. On Tonight's program we being with Mark LeVine reporting from Tahrir Square on the jubilation and victory today, the organization he witnessed on the ground, the mood, music and sentiments expressed in the last eighteen days as a people Egyptians toppled a brutal dictatorship showing world what democracy looks like.

Then Yoav Peled joins us to talk about Israeli reaction and Israel-Egypt relations. We’ll ask Yoav “Whither the Middle East” after today’s events – in what directions will the fresh air blowing from Tunisia and Egypt continue? We’ll also talk to Yoav about “Post-Post Zionism” the title of Horit and Yoav Peled’s article in the latest New Left Review, confronting the Death of the Two-State Solution.

Plus:Paul Laverty, screenwriter, joins us to talk about his new film “Even the Rain” (Tambien La Lluvia), Spain's Official Submission for the 2011 Academy Awards. It opens this week in Los Angeles and we have tickets to give away. TAMBIEN LA LLUVIA (Even the Rain), directed by Iciar Bollain and written by Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty, intertwines Columbus’ arrival in the Americas with the making of a film; it mixes the Spanish crown’s exploitation of gold in the 16th century with the fight for water in Cochabamba in the year 2000. The film takes us from the fiction of a period film to the reality of a film set in a small Bolivian city. And from that reality to another which is deeper and more dramatic, that faced by people with practically no rights, prohibited by law from collecting even the rain. Paul Laverty’s previous films (in collaboration with film maker Ken Loach) include (among others) The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) Sweet Sixteen (2002) Bread and Roses (2000) My Name is Joe (1998) and Carla's Song (1996).

BTS 2/4/11: Egypt's Revolutionary Moment, Building the Left from thought to action

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Jonathan Schell has just posted a beautiful piece on The Nation’s website, The Revolutionary Moment and he says “If the world has a heart, it beats now for Egypt. As we finish KPFK’s series on Building a Powerful Left, we begin today with the events that will define and change the 21st Century, the events that allow us all to dream about this democratic moment when people demand democracy as the solution, not the problem and that solution allows people to reshape their own societies in the interests of the majority. Jonathan joins us to talk about the Revolutionary Moment we are witnessing.

Then Richard Lichtman joins us to talk about the contradictions between capitalism’s moral and ideological failures and the tension it creates with democracy.

And, James K. Galbraith spoke earlier today to Alan Minsky about the tasks ahead for the left. We’ll play that discussion, which emphasizes the economic reforms that need to be implemented in order to put people back to work and grow the economy, thereby enhancing economic justice and helping to build the powerful left. All this, when our program returns, in just a moment.

BTS 1/28/11: Revolt in Egypt; Building a Powerful Left in the United States

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On tonight’s program we begin with the momentous events in Egypt. Hisham Ahmed of Saint Mary's College said today that Egypt is sitting on top of a volcano. It used to be one of the region’s most advanced countries in terms of education and health care, but today it is one of the most backward. Hisham says the movement to get rid of Mubarak is irreversible, despite Mubarak’s shutting down all means of communication, and we’ll ask him why.

Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus says Washington's continued support for the Egyptian dictatorship in the face of massive pro-democracy protests is yet another sign that both Congress and the Obama administration remain out of touch with the growing demands for freedom in the Arab world. Just last month, Obama and the then-Democratic-controlled Congress approved an additional $1.3 billion in security assistance to help prop up Hosni Mubarak's repressive regime. We’ll have a roundtable with Hisham Ahmed and Stephen Zunes on the events in Egypt, Tunisia and the possibility of continued spread, the prospects for democracy in the Middle East and the US response.

Then Alan Minsky and I preview KPFK’s series next week “Building a Powerful Left in the United States.” After reviewing the events in the Middle East, we ask the question, can it happen here? Of course the situation is vastly different, but the consequences of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression have put the American population in the same boat with the rest of the world’s population in this respect: nowhere are the interests of the vast majority represented in the halls of power, where it counts.

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