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 10/1/10: Cuban Reform; LA Times Anniversary; Obama's Irish Roots

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On tonight’s program we talk with Sam Farber, author of The Origins of the Cuban Revolution Reconsidered, about Cuban President Raúl Castro’s recent announcement that 500,000 workers will be fired from state jobs next year. We’ll ask Sam what it means for Cuba’s future economic direction –and we’ll also ask about Cuba’s relations with other left leaning governments in Latin America as well as the Obama administration.

We then talk to Lionel Rolfe, journalist and author, about today’s 100th anniversary of the bombing of the LA Times building which shaped and changed Los Angeles and the nation forever. We’ll talk about that and the project Lionel is kicking off tonight. The bombing grew out of the angry struggles between Labor and Capital and it produced not only the destruction of the Times building in which 21 people died and the so-called "Trial of the Century," but also the near take-over of city hall by an openly socialist candidate named Job Harriman.

And finally on tonight’s Beneath The Surface, a real treat – we talk to Irish poet, photographer, publisher and prolific author Steve MacDonogh about his new book Pioneers: The Frontier Family of Barack Obama explores President Obama’s Irish roots – and much more.

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BTS 9/24/10: Tea Party in Reverse; Care Center Struggle; Ruth Gruber

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Mike Davis joins us to talk about East San Diego’s Tea Party in Reverse and other dire economic and political, eco-challenges to human survival with dignity. Is East San Diego the vanguard or rearguard of the politics to come? Ray Lutz, the rebel Democrat from El Cajon is challenging Republican Duncan Hunter in November. Hunter, for those who don’t remember is the Congressman who says the federal government should deport US –born children of undocumented immigrants. Mike Davis characterizes Hunter as the conjunction of the military-industrial complex hoping to become the border-industrial complex meeting the Minutemen. Don’t miss hearing what he has to say.

Then Levi Kingston joins us: He is trying to save the Hoover Intergenerational Care Center in Los Angeles. Non-profits are hurting in these tough economic times, and Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposes cutting subsidies for childcare. Levi Kingston, Director of the Hoover Intergenerational Care Center has responded by organizing a rally and press conference to cry for help. He reminds us what Joe Hill, the Wobbly songster would say: Don’t mourn, organize!

And finally on tonight’s Beneath The Surface: Ruth Gruber defied tradition from the moment she became the world’s youngest PhD at the age of 20 in 1931. A film about her premiers in Los Angeles tonight: Ahead of Time tells the remarkable journey of 99 year-old Gruber, and is the directorial debut of noted cinematographer Bob Richman (The September Issue, My Architect, and An Inconvenient Truth). Gruber continued to make history throughout her trail-blazing career by becoming the first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935 and escorting 1000 Holocaust refugees from Naples to New York in a secret war-time mission in 1944. She covered the heart wrenching ordeal of the refugees aboard the ship Exodus in 1947 with photographs that helped change the world. We are fortunate to talk to Ruth Gruber, and you won’t want to miss it.

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BTS 9/17/10: The Great American Stick-Up; Drones Over America; A Film Unfinished

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On tonight’s program – this Yom Kippur Eve—we talk to Robert Scheer about a subject that the government and financial sector should be atoning for – the Great American Stick Up, Scheer’s new book. It tells the political story about how Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats enriched Wall Street while Mugging Main Street (the book’s subtitle.)

We then turn to Mike Reizman, who writes about “Drones over America” in the Current Z Magazine: Reizman imagines a not too distant future with unmanned drones regularly flying over your neighborhood – and yes, they’re made in Southern California.

And finally on tonight’s program we talk to David Feldman about “A Film Unfinished,” showing extraordinary footage from an unfinished Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. David Feldman compares the skilled Nazi attempt at manufacturing opinion with current attempts today, and says there is plenty to atone for this Yom Kippur.

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September 10, 2010

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BTS 9/3/10: Labor Day Special

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On tonight’s program we look at the state of labor on the eve of this Labor Day Weekend. Jobless numbers are up, foreclosures are increasing, union representation keeps going down, and wages are under attack while workers are paying more for employer based healthcare. Economic policy still looks to monetary fixes rather than the economic restructuring that would increase jobs, reduce inequality and stimulate demand. But policy doesn’t get made in a vacuum or simply because one solution is more rational than another: political pressure determines the outcome and street heat increases the pressure. So where is that vital coalition of labor/community/students – those most affected by policies and priorities that put them at the bottom of the heap, and what makes it so difficult to get their voices heard?
We being with the frontal attack on teachers and teachers unions; what began as a study to find ways to improve education and make more effective teachers has instead vilified teachers, treated education as a business model in need of cost cutting and efficiency measures and continues to short-change students whose economic future is on the line. UTLA VP Joshua Pechthalt joins us to talk about teacher bashing in the guise of education reform, the LA Times series that seems to be leading the effort and the UTLA vision for better schools that effectively prepare and educate students.
Then Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO joins us to assess the labor movement and its prospects in the worst of economic times. She is the first woman and youngest officer ever elected to the AFL-CIO top leadership. Her article “Sorry Kids, No Jobs Here” is posted on The Nation’s website.
And finally on tonight’s program we talk to Nelson Lichtenstein, Labor Historian at UCSB about the state of labor during this epic, great recession. This is the worst labor day for decades despite a labor friendly President. Rather than policies that increase jobs, reduce inequality and stimulate demand, policies that would help workers unionize and fight for better wages and benefits, we instead see continued attacks on public sector unionized workers. We’ll ask Nelson what he thinks it would take to reverse labor’s fortune.

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BTS 8/27/10: Economic Crisis; Katrina 5th Anniversary

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Jack Rasmus joins us to comment on Fed Chief Ben Bernanke’s speech today. Another large stimulus is needed but can’t get through Congress, so all hope was pinned on Bernanke’s actions from the Fed. But how much can monetary policy do about the slowing economy? What about the nearly 2 trillion in cash being hoarded by banks and businesses who are not investing in Main Street, but are engaging in speculative trades that raise the question about a secret, non-shadow or shadow-shadow banking industry? Jack will also talk to us about the growing problem with unemployment and the crash in new home sales and what it all portends.

Laura Maggi, reporter from the New Orleans Times Picayune joins us for this fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. She is part of the team of reporters from The Times-Picayune, PBS Frontline, and ProPublica who have examined the NOLA Police Department leaders' authorizing the shooting of looters. A documentary drawn from that work aired this week on PBS’s Frontline. The story was also done by The Nation. Five years later we're still struggling to get the facts straight and to figure out what they say about race, disaster and differing views of human nature. African Americans are justifiably embittered about their demonization by the media and the government. The widely told but false initial version, based on rumors and racism, portrayed an absence of authority, anarchy and violence that called for an armed and ruthless imposition of authority. NOLA PD and Blackwater mercenaries shot at citizens with little fear of repercussion. While the focus was on young men of color as the peril, police and white vigilantes went on a murder spree that was glossed over at the time. Laura Maggi has been on the story and fills us in.

Greg Mitchell, who does The Nation’s Friday Daybook comments on Katrina’s fifth anniversary and whether it was a natural or unnatural disaster, plus his take on the Tea Party and the rise of ‘know-nothings’ – and its implications for our body politic.

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BTS 8/13/10: European Crisis; Crumbling Infrastructure; 14th Amendment Attacks

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Katrina vanden Heuvel discusses the state of our literally crumbling nation. While deficit hawks and obstinate Republicans dominate the discourse in Washington, roads disintegrate, jobs and services disappear, and the lights are literally going out in cash-strapped cities across America. Yesterday's editorial on says that with this kind of "downsized politics," good proposals to revive the economy are "left foundering," and Americans are left with no relief in sight.

Michael Hudson joins us to make sense of the economic news coming out of the Eurozone. Economists in the mainstream are celebrating as Germany posts its biggest growth in 2 decades, but the picture remains dire throughout the rest of the continent. Far from responding to the "medicine" of austerity, Europe seems to be sliding even further, with serious implications for the world economy.

Harold Meyerson joins us to talk about "Why the GOP really wants to alter the 14th Amendment." By pushing to revoke the citizenship of the children of undocumented immigrants, Myerson says the Republicans are trying to "preserve their political prospects as a white folks' party in an increasingly multicolored land" - by, ironically, undoing one of the greatest historical achievements of the Republican Party. We'll discuss the political perils and prospects of a nation in the throes of crisis.

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BTS 8/6/10: Jobs Numbers; Ireland Crisis; Austerity; Prop 8 and CORI Victories

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We begin with Max Fraad Wolff, who reports on the dismal job numbers released today, numbers he warns carry significant danger signs for the economy. He says we are missing 8.5 million jobs and this is no time to slash public spending unless the government intends to provoke instability.

Next, we talk to Professor Kieran Allen in Dublin about Ireland as a case study in what happens when deficit hawks and austerity measures rule the day. Allen, author of the recent book "Ireland's Economic Crash," recounts how its miracle economy was turned into a disaster zone, as bank bailouts combined with wage cuts and reductions in public services resulted in a downward spiral of gloom and doom.

Then, Rick Wolff joins us for more on how not to recover. We'll ask him about the class nature of deficit reduction, also known as austerity, and how governments from Europe to America are drinking the austerity Kool-Aid, despite the object lesson from Ireland.

Finally, we turn from the economic doldrums, and end on a couple of victories. Jackie Goldberg joins us to talk about the significance of Wednesday's decision by Judge Vaughn Walker that overturned Proposition 8, as well as the assault on the 14th Amendment and equal protections under the law. And Horace Small from the Union of Minority Neighborhoods joins us to report on the victory in Massachusetts, as reform of the notorious CORI act was signed into law.

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BTS 6/4/10: Israeli Reaction to Gaza Flotilla Raid; 36th District Congressional Race; Colombian Elections

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On tonight’s program we begin with the internal Israeli reaction to the deadly assault on the flotilla headed for Gaza last Monday. Yoav Peled joins us in Tel Aviv, and we’ll ask him if the attack has raised Israeli public discussion on the wisdom of Israel’s embargo on Gaza, the Netanyahu government’s refusal to allow an independent inquiry, and the increasing and intensifying isolation of Israel in world opinion, Even the Israeli Mossad chief warned this week that Israel is gradually being transformed from an asset to a burden for the Americans. We’ll ask Yoav what he sees from Tel Aviv and what may be ahead.

We then turn to Marcy Winograd who is in the final days of her run against Jane Harmon to represent the 36th District in Congress. Winograd is increasingly under attack: A hard-hitting new TV spot from Harman's campaign features a series of hot-button images of Osama bin Laden and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and suggests Marcy Winograd would decimate the U.S. defense department, attacks her positions on the existence of the State of Israel and more. We’ll hear from Marcy on these issues.

And finally on tonight’s program we talk to Michael Deibert who has just returned from Colombia, where the election to choose a successor to President Álvaro Uribe is taking place amid escalating and horrendous violence as former paramilitary groups have transformed into major, violent drug cartels that are now joining forces with the FARC rebel group. Reporting from the Bajo Cauca mountainous region of Central Colombia, Deibert writes that for much of the last year, groups of warring drug traffickers have battled for control of this strategically important area and continue to wage a scorched-earth battle to determine dominance over the smuggling of narcotics, weapons and people along the river Uribe.

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BTS 5/28/10: BP Catastrophe in the Gulf; Pacifica Archives' Memorial Day Special

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Welcome to BTS on this Memorial Day Weekend eve. For listeners in or near Arizona, I can't think of a better way to spend Memorial Day Weekend than joining the protests against the onerous Arizona law signed by Governor Brewster, SB1070, that declares open season on people of color, sets the clock back on a generation of civil rights gains, mandates racial profiling, jeopardizes public safety and creates a wedge between law enforcement and ethnic communities. You can call it the Papers Please Immigration Law or you can call it the American version of South Africa's Pass laws -- or Germany's Nuremburg Laws. The march in Phoenix on Saturday, boosted by both the AFL-CIO and SEIU is predicted to attract at least 50,000 from all over the country, and some estimates are far higher. For more information on the National Day of Action against SB1070, check out

On our program tonight we begin with the ongoing ecological catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon/BP (Transocean/ Halliburton) oil spill. For the first time in history, oil is pouring into the deep currents of a semi-enclosed sea, poisoning the water and depriving it of oxygen so that entire classes of marine species are at risk of annihilation. It is as if an underwater neutron bomb has struck the Gulf of Mexico, causing little apparent damage on the surface but destroying the living creatures below. Michael Klare writes in The Nation that while poor oversight and faulty equipment may have played a critical role in BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf, the ultimate source of the disaster is big oil’s compulsive drive to compensate for the decline in its conventional oil reserves by seeking supplies in inherently hazardous areas, no matter the risk. The oil spewing in the gulf may be one of the great ecological disasters of human history, but Klare sees it as prelude to a time of ever increasing reliance on problematic, hard-to-reach energy sources, a danger zone that risks the fate of the planet. He joins us to explain.

We'll end our show tonight with a treat, a special edition from the vault of the Pacifica Archives paying tribute to the war dead on this Memorial Day, including a stirring collection of testimony from the first Winter Soldier Hearings in 1971.

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