Warren Zevon's great song, “Lawyers, Guns and Money,”was about a kid getting out of trouble in various Latin American countries. Today, however, as we approach the 2016 presidential election, it might very well be a description of our election process.
It seems that lawyers, money and enforcement are an ever-growing part of American elections. A new set of rules seems to prevail. Issues such as campaign finance, voting rights, voter ID, electronic voting and ballot access itself are now debatable parts of voting in America.
How did we get here, how did democracy become so complex, and what’s the historical context? Just how deeply is fraud really built into the system? WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman talks with David Schultz, Hamline University professor in the School of Business, senior fellow at the Institute of Law and Politics at the University of Minnesota Law School, and professor of election law.
The War on Drugs has caused just as much damage, destruction, and loss of life as any war in the traditional sense. University of San Francisco professor and author of the book Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States Rebecca Gordon joins us to discuss.
It has been 62 years since the Cuban Revolution began. Fifty-four years since the Bay of Pigs invasion. Fifty-three years since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Twenty-six years since the end of the Cold War, and 15 years since the Elian Gonzalez incident. And it is just now that we are beginning a new relationship with our neighbor 90 miles away.
A significant part of our population has come of age with absolutely no knowledge of the history of the US / Cuba relationship, what the revolution was about, or what all the hostility has been about. And yet the history of that relationship with Cuba has been a kind of Rosetta Stone for understating the bias, the mistakes, and domestic politics behind so much of American foreign policy, from the mid-20th century until today.
Few have had the access to Cuba to provide the kind of clear and present perspective that Tom Hayden has.
Tom Hayden, a leader in the student, antiwar, and civil rights protests throughout the 1960s talks toWhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman about what this new opening might mean.
Some people are just ahead of their time. Sometimes they are in science, or academia, or economics…but sometimes they’re in the media and they see what we all will see, long before it happens.
Pioneering author, filmmaker and media reform activist Danny Schechter was such a talent. He worked as a producer at ABC’s 20/20, where he won two Emmy Awards, and at CNN, when it was newly launched. He was part of the media when it still made a difference; before it morphed into entertainment and ridicule. He wrote 12 books, including “The More You Watch, the Less You Know.” He understood the potential of the Internet long before most of us.
He was a leading activist and journalist against apartheid in South Africa. That work led him to leave corporate journalism to make six documentaries about Nelson Mandela and produce the cutting-edge television series, “South Africa Now,” which aired on over 150 public television stations in the late 80’s and early 90’s .
Schechter died last week of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72. Back in 1998, I had the opportunity to talk to Schechter about television news and his book, The More You Know. While some of the conversation is dated, what’s amazing is how much is not and how much Schechter saw the dystopian future of corporate media.
Here is that conversation.
In spite of those words being echoed in court every day, criminal trials are often anything but a search for the truth. The court may be the trier of fact, but often facts are like Legos; they can be assembled in many ways to create different objects and stories.
Russ Baker and the team at WhoWhatWhy have been working for years to try and assemble those facts in a way that gives us some objective truth, in the story of the brothers Tsarnaev and the Boston Marathon bombing.
Russ Baker and Jim Henry talk to Jeff Schechtman in this week’s RadioWHO podcast, to provide some context with which to observe the balance of the trial and the process the facts and evidence.
The role of Vladimir Putin on the world’s stage, from Syria to Ukraine, is a complicated one, and some see him as an important moderating influence on the now virtually unchallenged Western imperial apparatus. But one thing is increasingly clear: his role within his country is a deeply troubling one. And the public is terrified. Why? Consider these names:
Sergei Magnitsky, Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya and now Boris Nemtsov.
All opponents of Putin, all now dead. Murdered, in brutal and very public ways.
Our guest for this week’s RadioWHO podcast, Bill Browder, knows Russia. He’s an unusual figure—his grandfather Earl Browder was the head of the American Communist Party. Bill Browder, rejecting that legacy, became the consummate capitalist. Once Russia’s largest foreign investor, Browder was forced to leave the country when he became a vocal critic of Putin, and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was jailed and murdered.
Browder talks to WhoWhatWhy about what he sees as Putin’s compulsion to steal and his ultimate goal of wanting to be one of the richest men in the world, and how he believes Putin has overreached.
Every prisoner says they are innocent, but some really are. Every year hundreds of men and women are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.
Our system is riddled with cases of perjury, mistaken identity, official misconduct and incompetents that have put innocents behind bars.
The criminal justice system and the state has been ambivalent, at best, to do the right thing for those that have been exonerated.
Tune in with RadioWHO host Jeff Schechtman for a look at the scope and substance of the problem with guests Nikki Pope and Courtney Lance. The two have spent years dedicated to the cause of the wrongly convicted, and wrote about it in their recently published book: "Pruno, Ramen, and a Side of Hope: Stories of Surviving Wrongful Conviction."
Since U.S. District Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. has prohibited the media from filming or taping the proceedings in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial, the oral arguments made on Feb. 19 in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals offer a unique opportunity. You can hear both Tsarnaev's lawyers and the prosecutors talking, revealing their approaches, skill levels and strategy. A three-judge panel at the appeals court heard arguments on Tsarnaev's latest attempt to move his trial. The defense argues that there is too much of a presumption of guilt in Boston for him to get a fair trial there. The appellate court already turned down an earlier motion to move the trial by a vote of 2-1, in January. Their written ruling based on this hearing is forthcoming. Listen in for yourself to decide if Chief Judge Sandra L. Lynch, Judge Jeffrey R. Howard and Judge Juan R. Toruella were persuaded.
No matter its shifting place in the wider world, the United States is still the only home of "The American Dream."
That's why millions of legal and illegal immigrants flock to its shores, the latter gambling against increasingly longer odds to reach a new home fraught with risks.
It's that reality that prompted filmmaker Diego Quemada-Díez to title his award-winning debut feature film"La Jaula De Oro”—“The Golden Cage."
The Spanish-born Mexican director garnered three awards at the Cannes Film Festival for his tale of four Latin American teenagers struggling to come to America. Through his film, Quemada-Díez raises powerful and timely issues dealing including the plight of child migrants, such as those which flooded the U.S. last year and sparked a political storm. The film is critical of U.S. government policy, particularly the circumstances created by its economic and political interventions in Latin America. It also examines the impact of prohibitive immigration and drug laws.
It is the most awarded film in Mexican history, winning more than 60 different accolades from around the world.
"The Golden Cage" will debut for American audiences this summer on HBO. Tellingly, Hollywood has rebranded it as "The Golden Dream."
Before "Freeway" Ricky Ross gained infamy as a $3 million-a-day Los Angeles crack dealer with hidden CIA support, he was headed to college on a tennis scholarship.
In the most explosive episode of RadioWHO yet, Ross gives host Guillermo Jimenez his definitive answer about the CIA's motives to sponsor drug dealing. Was it just to support the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, or a plot to harm black Americans?
Ross rose to national infamy in 1996 after he featured prominently in investigative journalist Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" series, which unearthed the CIA's involvement in drug dealing to help pay for Nicaragua's Contra rebels.
Webb's scoop would lead to his eventual professional undoing and suicide, now the subject of the movie "Kill the Messenger", starring Jeremy Renner.
Before that, Ross was an aspiring college tennis player with a scholarship - that fell through and returned him to the mean streetst of South Central L.A. the game had helped him avoid for so long.
Tune in now to RadioWHO to hear straight from the mouth of a man at the center of one of the CIA' murkiest operations yet.
Most people know what Hollywood agents do: but how Paul Alan Smith does it is unlike anyone else.
Smith left a lucrative job at one of Hollywood's most influential agencies to found his own: Equitable Stewardship for Artists. The idea, Smith tells RadioWHO host Guillermo Jimenez, was to build a model agency to fundamentally change how business is done in Tinsel Town.
Tune in to listen to Paul's wide-ranging and inspirational perspective on: