Auto safety expert, Byron Bloch, joins us to tell the story of how citizens in conjunction with the Sierra Club defeated a highway widening boondoggle in Maryland. Then we welcome microgrids manager at the Green Justice Coalition, Sari Kayyali, to tell us how microgrids in his community have saved money and the environment. Finally, we catch up with the director of Progressive Democrats of America, Alan Minsky, in Washington DC to talk about high speed rail and the post-Bernie progressive movement.
Byron Bloch is an independent consultant and court-qualified expert in Auto Safety Design and Vehicle Crashworthiness. Over the years, he has fought for safer fuel tanks, stronger seats, the need for airbags, better truck underride guards, and has testified on these safety issues at Congressional Hearings, and to NHTSA. He contributed to the Sierra Club’s successful campaign to strongly oppose and stop the proposed widening of the 1-270 and Capital Beltway and the scheme to also add privatized toll lanes.
What we have to do is refocus and say, “We are a people-oriented nation. Not a vehicle-oriented nation.” And if you look at it in those terms—people-oriented nation— then you say, “Well, what are the economics, what are the health and safety issues that affect people?” But instead, it becomes the almighty vehicle-ization of the nation and that means more lanes, more traffic, more lanes, and then more traffic.
Byron Bloch Activist and auto safety expert
The corporate state arrives in different manifestations— the military industrial complex, the Pentagon, and this is what’s going on at the state level. It doesn’t get many national headlines, but it's the merger of corporations with state government. And there’s a lot of secrecy involved, a lot of phony promises, a lot of misleading rhetoric, and the legislators are compromised by the campaign contributions and the pressure from the governor’s office.
Sari Kayyali is a mechanical engineer and the Microgrids Manager at Microgrids Chelsea and Chinatown Power.
The technology around clean electric generation—solar panels and battery storage—are experiencing a revolution. Just in the last decade alone, solar panels have dropped to a third of what they used to cost to manufacture. Battery storage has improved dramatically in terms of energy density, cost, and reliability. And so, a lot of places around the country are looking to these as solutions. Microgrids have been around for a while, they don’t necessarily need to use clean technology but specifically clean microgrids are really catching on all around the country, and around the world.
Sari Kayyali Microgrids Manager at the Green Justice Coalition
Alan Minsky is a lifelong activist, and Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America. Alan has worked as a progressive journalist for the past two decades, he was Program Director at KPFK Los Angeles from 2009-2018, and he has coordinated Pacifica Radio’s national coverage of elections. He is the creator and producer of the political podcasts for The Nation and Jacobin, as well as a contributor to Common Dreams and Truthdig.
There’s a whole bunch of elements that the progressive movement hasn’t been that attentive to. Including things like industrial production and the transformation it requires between business and government to transform American society, so that it’s operating on clean energy, so that its industrial manufacturing doesn’t have breaks in supply chains… So I got involved with a lot of projects that aren’t that common for progressives to be involved in.
Alan Minsky, Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. CNBC reports that the FTC is mulling a proposal to bar Meta (formerly Facebook) from monetizing the data of minors. This follows the agency’s allegation that the company violated a 2020 privacy order. The FTC quoted an independent assessor who found “several gaps and weaknesses in Facebook’s privacy program” that posed “substantial risks to the public.” Hopefully, this action will put other tech companies on notice regarding monetization of children’s data.
2. Dr. Steve Feldman, a Jewish dermatologist, is being penalized by the state of Arkansas for his refusal to sign a loyalty pledge to the state of Israel, the Arkansas Times reports. After giving a lecture to medical students in Little Rock, he was prompted to check a box agreeing not to boycott Israel, which he refused to do. As a result, the state is withholding his payment for the lecture. The Arkansas Times also refused to sign the pledge. Feldman said “What’s nuts is they’re asking a newspaper to say they won’t boycott Israel, they’re asking Americans who have a conscience, who know Israel is keeping Palestinians from their homes.” The ultra-conservative Supreme Court declined to hear the newspaper’s legal challenge to the state law, and therefore it is still in place.
3. In Rochester, New York, Coca-Cola is building a new facility. The company predicts this development will yield 250 new jobs. However, the Rochester Beacon has broken down the corporate welfare the conglomerate stands to receive in exchange: $41 million in state and local subsidies, or about $164,000 for each job created.
4. A stunning expose in the Guardian shines a light on the beef industry, and specifically, their “messaging machine.” “The beef industry has developed a ‘Digital Command Center” that tracks media outlets and social media for more than 200 beef-related topics” Based in Denver, Colorado, the project which “looks like a military operation” is staffed 24/7 with personnel redundancies to “make sure someone’s always watching.”
5. In another law enforcement bombshell, longtime LAPD SWAT officer, Sgt. Timothy Colomey, has blown the whistle on the reality of the elite unit. According to Sgt. Colomey, LAPD SWAT is controlled by a violent inner circle known as the “SWAT Mafia” which has perpetuated itself using “excessive force...insubordination, sabotage and cover-ups.” Colomey has put his allegations into a detailed new deposition, available at the LA Times.
6. The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has officially opened an investigation into charges that the George Washington University discriminated against Palestinian students, according to the GW Hatchet. Palestine Legal, which filed the complaint on behalf of three GW students, responded to the news by writing “This is an important step that shows the Office of Civil Rights is taking anti-Palestinian discrimination seriously.” Radhika Sainath, a senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal added “Even if pro-Israel groups don’t like it and complain, the law is clear – Palestinian students are entitled to the same educational opportunities and services as other students.”
7. In other Palestine news Rep. Rashida Tlaib held an event commemorating the Nakba – literally the catastrophe – of May 15th, 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homeland. This event was originally slated to be held at the Capitol Visitors Center, but Speaker McCarthy blocked the ceremony, per CNN. Tlaib responded with a statement, saying, “Speaker McCarthy wants to rewrite history and erase the existence and truth of the Palestinian people, but he has failed to do so.” Finally, Bernie Sanders stepped in and facilitated the event in the Senate HELP Committee hearing room.
8. AL.com reports that the Democratic Party of Alabama has abolished the DNC-mandated minority caucuses for youth, LGBTQ, and disabled Democrats. Until now, “those caucuses had the power to nominate at-large members to ensure representation proportionate to Alabama Democratic voters.” State party boss Joe Reed had long opposed theses caucuses, which dilute the influence of the state’s Black caucus on the executive committee. Former Senator Doug Jones, the only Democratic Senator in Alabama since 1997, is quoted saying “What the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party did — was to essentially say that we don’t represent the Democratic electorate in Alabama anymore.”
9. Kimberly Gardner, St. Louis’s elected prosecutor, is being forced to resign from her position under threat from the Missouri state government, per the Missouri Independent. Gardner, a reformist prosecutor, has drawn ire from conservatives and the police union in St. Louis since her tenure began; this came to a head when the Republican legislature threatened a state takeover of her office. In her resignation letter, Gardner wrote “I can neither enable nor allow the outright disenfranchisement of the people of the City of St. Louis.”
10. The International Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America announced on Twitter that the Washington DC Council has passed a unanimous resolution urging President Biden to “dismantle the US blockade” and remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list.