Sep 2 • 1HR 38M

The San Quentin News

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Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.
Episode details

Ralph welcomes newspaper publisher, Steve McNamara, to discuss the "San Quentin News," California's largest resident-run newspaper and the birthplace of the San Quentin News Forum— where incarcerated men and visiting police, attorneys, and judges share their perspectives on the criminal justice system. Then Peter Lurie, President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) joins us to talk about CSPI's work advocating for a safer, healthier food system, as well as their newsletter "NutritionAction." Plus, Ralph questions why the US still hasn't ratified the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child— everyone else has done it!

Steve McNamara is a newspaper publisher, editor, and reporter. He has previously written for and edited the Winston-Salem Journal, The Miami Herald, Car and Driver magazine, and the San Francisco Examiner. From 1966 to 2004 Steve and his wife, Kay McNamara, published the Pacific Sun—the country’s second-oldest alternative weekly newspaper— and Steve has served as president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors and as founding president of the National Association of Alternative Media. In 2008 he helped revive the San Quentin News— a newspaper written and edited by incarcerated men at San Quentin Prison— and continues to work as a volunteer adviser at the paper. 

The recidivism rate among the inmates is zero… And actually, the problem that we have is the turnover is terrific because they keep getting paroled or serving their sentence. 

Steve McNamara, San Quentin News

Prisons are little empires and the emperor is the warden, and what he decides goes. And many, if not most of the other wardens in California wanted no part of this damn newspaper. So we had a lot of trouble getting it distributed. But by now it's become very popular with the inmates throughout the state, and with many of the correctional officers as well. Because we've made some intelligent decisions. One was to write the personality profiles of some of the better correctional officers and of the programs that take place in the prison.

Steve McNamara, San Quentin News

Most people in the criminal justice system think that it goes this way: somebody breaks into a house, and then they get caught, and they go before a judge, and they get sentenced, and they disappear. And as far as many, many people in the criminal justice system are concerned, that's the end of it. These people have disappeared. We don't need to worry about them any more. But as everybody should know, 80-90% of them will be back on the streets…So do you want these guys to have the same sort of attitude about life as they did when they went into prison? If not, here's a chance maybe to move things in a better direction.

Steve McNamara, San Quentin News

I've credited the Center for Science in the Public Interest with transforming the nutritional habits of perhaps 40 million people. It generated front page news, it was on the evening television news, Congressional hearings. Recently, and this has happened to a lot of citizen groups, the media has not been covering what we're doing.

Ralph Nader

Dr. Peter Lurie is President and Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest—an independent, science-based consumer advocacy organization that advocates for a safer, healthier food system. The CSPI also publishes NutritionAction, a healthy-living guide for consumers. Dr. Lurie previously worked with the Food and Drug Administration and Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, where he co-authored their Worst Pills, Best Pills consumer guide to medications.

We at CSPI try to educate consumers on the one hand. And on the other hand, we try to take care of the environment such that consumers in some ways don't even need to be as educated because the environment is different.

Peter Lurie, President of Center for Science in the Public Interest

I think that most people—including in all likelihood the Current Commissioner— understand that the food program within FDA has been the sort of “poor stepchild” of  the agency. People have focused more on drugs, they've focused more on medical devices, vaccines, even more recently on tobacco. And so food has been relatively neglected. And I think that we've at times paid the price for that.

Peter Lurie, President of Center for Science in the Public Interest

There’s no issue too trivial for the industry to show up in an obviously self-interested way and advocate on their own behalf.

Peter Lurie, President of Center for Science in the Public Interest

In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis

1. Late last week, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision in the Cemex Construction Materials case, establishing a “new framework” that “when a union requests recognition on the basis that a majority of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit have designated the union as their representative, an employer must either recognize and bargain with the union or promptly file a... petition seeking an election.” Crucially though, this ruling also establishes that “if an employer who seeks an election commits any unfair labor practice that would require setting aside the election, the petition will be dismissed, and—rather than re-running the election—the Board will order the employer to recognize and bargain with the union.” This stunning decision is among the most important revisions to labor rules in decades and will apply retroactively.

2. On a hot streak, Bloomberg Law reports that the NLRB also decided last week that Quickway Transportation “must reopen a terminal in Louisville, [Kentucky], that the company illegally shut down in 2020 after drivers there formed a union.” This sets a powerful new precedent for recourse against companies that have used the tactic of shutting down locations in order to stave off unionization – most notably Starbucks.

3. The American Prospect reports that in Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has aggressively courted EV manufacturers using Inflation Reduction Act tax incentives. Yet, Governor Kemp has awarded these “lucrative contracts for building out the factories to non-union construction firms.” These firms also happen to be major donors to Georgia Republicans, including Kemp himself, who formerly owned a non-union construction company. 

4. Mondoweiss has published a new report on the founding of the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism. This Institute “aims to support the delinking of the study of Zionism from Jewish Studies, and to reclaim academia and public discourse for the study of Zionism as a political, ideological, and racial and gendered knowledge project, intersecting with Palestine and decolonial studies, critical terrorism studies, settler colonial studies, and related scholarship and activism.”

6. NBC News reports that a group of nearly 90 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to President Biden last week calling on him to take further action to address the student debt crisis. These members ended the letter by writing “We urge you to continually find ways to use your authority to bring down student debt, address the rising cost of college, and make postsecondary education affordable for all students who choose that path. Borrowers have already waited nearly a year for the relief you announced in August 2022, and critics of your plan to help 43 million Americans are likely to renew their attacks with regard to your rulemaking announcement. We urge you to reject their bad-faith, partisan attempts to delay relief and carry out your efforts to help borrowers as quickly as possible.”

7. According to the Baltimore Banner, Charm City may soon be facing its own version of the Cop City fight. Per the report, Baltimore officials are planning to construct a “tactical village” which will be used to train police. There are some differences between the projects however: whereas Atlanta’s Cop City is slated to be built upon a razed section of forest, Baltimore’s tactical village is proposed to be built on the campus of Coppin State University, a historically Black institution. Another key difference, while Cop City is estimated to cost $90 million, the tactical village is estimated at a whopping $330 million. The city has proposed a new “public safety income tax” to fund the project.

8. The Washington Post has published a profile of Sarah Feinberg, an employee at the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who blew the whistle on rampant over-billing of the government by the company. In July, Booz Allen agreed to pay $377 million to settle the case. Perhaps the most shocking portion of her complaint was when “a senior manager…called federal auditors “too stupid” to notice overcharging.”

9. WTOP reports the fast-casual chain Chipotle has agreed to pay over $300,000 in a settlement with the District of Columbia regarding the company’s alleged violations of child labor law. DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb’s office identified more than 800 alleged violations in the District, including “requiring minors to work past 10 p.m., working more than eight hours a day, working more than six consecutive days, or working more than 48 hours in one workweek.” The settlement does not require Chipotle to admit wrongdoing.

10. Finally, AP reports that, during an address to Jesuits in Lisbon,  Pope Francis “[said] ‘backward’ U.S. conservatives have replaced faith with ideology.” So remember listeners, now when you say conservatives have replaced faith with ideology, you can cite the Pope.

This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 495 Transcript
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