Friday, January 30, 2009

World Social Forum, Bolivia, Colombia and the Gaza Crisis Highlighted Today's Wake Up Call

Greetings Folks,

Just to call your attention to some of the stories we dealt with today on the Friday Edition of Wake Up Call on WBAI Pacifica Radio in New York.

This morning, we covered a number of stories related to social movements in Latin America, including the Bolivian referendum last week and the ongoing World Social Forum. We also addressed the horrific conditions facing the people in Gaza in the wake of Israel’s three-week attack on the Palestinian people, and took a look at the growing lies being spread by the right-wing propaganda machine against the new Administration of Barack Obama.

In the first hour of the program, we started off by discussing the 9th World Social Forum, currently being held in Belem, Brazil, in the heart of the Amazonian region. This year’s World Social Forum has particular significance, given that it takes place amidst the global financial crisis which is shining a bright light on the contradictions and the failures of the Neo-liberal economic model and rampant corporate globalization. On Thursday, a number of world leaders attended the forum, saluted by the over 100,000 participants from around the world. We spoke with Maria Luisa Mendonca, a veteran human rights activist, and member of the organizing committee of the World Social Forum, who is attending the event in Belem, Brazil.

Then we discussed the Republican media attack dogs, who are on the offensive less than two weeks into the Obama Presidency. In response to media coverage of President Obama's economic recovery plan, the media watch group Media Matters for America released a comprehensive list of "myths and falsehoods" surrounding the issue. Media Matters has documented these falsehoods, including, most recently, media figures falsely suggesting a partial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis examined the entire bill and falsely claiming that community organization ACORN would receive $4.19 billion as part of the stimulus. We were joined by Karl Frisch, the Communications Director and a Senior Fellow for Media Matters for America.

In the second hour of the show, we looked at the effect of war on Gaza's children. Israeli warplanes attacked what they called a suspected Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, who Israel claims is responsible for the explosion that killed an Israeli soldier on the border Tuesday.

This was happening as the international community was focusing on the devastation of the Israeli attack on Gaza. Speaking from the Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged more than $600-million in assistance to restore essential services to Gaza following Israel's recent three-week-long offensive. Ban toured Gaza last week and says the destruction there is "heartbreaking". The Palestinian Center for Human Rights counted 280 children among the nearly 1,300 dead – and adds that a quarter of the more than 5,000 wounded are children. Psychologists say that the trauma experienced by the 1.4 million residents of the Gaza Strip is something that will be felt for generations to come. We first heard a report from FSRN's Aya Batrawy, who reported from Gaza about the cycle of violence that has now reached an entirely new generation of Palestinians.

Then we spoke at length with Phyllis Bennis, a veteran analyst of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and author of several books on Mid East affairs. She is a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

And finally, in the third and final hour of Wake Up Call we took a close up look at Bolivia with Producer and blogger Karah Woodward, who hosts the blog Bolivia Transition Project through Digital Warrior Media. She recently spent two weeks in La Paz during the country’s historic referendum on Sunday, where over 60% of the population voted in favor of transforming Bolivia’s antiquated Constitution. It was the third electoral victory for Evo Morales, the indigenous leader and former coca grower. We discussed the significance of the vote, and the impact it will have on the indigenous population of Bolivia. We also examined how it might alter Bolivia-US relations. In our discussion, we were joined by Tiokasin Ghosthorse (see photo).

From there we made the transition to Colombia, to get an update on the state of the Indigenous and Popular Minga, which was launched last October in Cauca. We heard from Manuel Rozental, a veteran human rights activist and community organizer, who is a member of the Communication Team of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN. He made the links between developments in Bolivia with what was unfolding in Colombia, and described how the ACIN was openly discussing these historic events within their communities almost on a daily basis. We also discussed the problem facing the ACIN's Community Radio station, Radio Payumat, which has been off the air since December 13th.

Take a listen if you have some time by visiting the WBAI Homepage, and clicking onto the archives link; or click on the above links related to the first, second and third hours of the show.



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