Leid Stories Stories and news that affect us all

March 14, 2014  

Are you sullen and on edge because your brilliant analysis of current events or masterful deconstruction of a complex issue hasn’t been heard, let alone appreciated? Is that what’s bothering you, friend?

Well, suffer in silence no more! It’s Free Your Mind Friday on Leid Stories, and we’re all here, waiting for you! We’re a fine bunch—big-hearted, even tempered, well mannered, and connoisseurs of good ideas. You’ll be in great company.

Call in and express yourself. Your mind will thank you for unburdening, and will reward you with a wonderful weekend.

March 13, 2014  

The U.S. Postal Service for many years has been the poster child for what’s wrong with “big government.” Ever-increasing operational costs, loss of market share and revenue to electronic mail and the private mailing industry, and staggering deficits ($5 billion last year) haven’t helped the USPS any. Now powerful forces are behind a push in Congress to institute “reforms” that will have devastating impact on postal workers, consumers and communities across the nation.

The Senate’s Postal Reform Act of 2014, shepherded by Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) through the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Postal Reform Act of 2013 authored by Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, are the latest incarnations of a master plan to “right-size” the USPS. Union leaders and the rank and file, understanding what that means, are already in battle mode.

Leid Stories begins a series of discussions on the seamy undersides of the legislative “solutions” to USPS’s woes.

Investigative reporter Peter Byrne, author of Going Postal: Dianne Feinstein’s Husband Sells Post Offices to His Friends, Cheap, tackles the “solution” to shut down “unnecessary” post offices across the country. It’s a real estate bonanza, he says, and the politically connected have their feet in the door.

Retired letter carrier John Dennie, who two years ago attempted a citizen’s arrest of Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe for administrative crimes, contends that the government itself engineered USPS’s fiscal crisis.    

March 12, 2014  

Appeal Lawyers Cite Major Violations by Judge, Prosecutor; 200 Pages of Trial Transcript Mysteriously Disappear

Convicted and sent to prison on federal conspiracy and fraud charges in a trial rife with highly irregular actions by the prosecutor and judge, the six executives of Investigative Resource Planning Solutions Inc. (the IRP 6) pinned their hopes of vindication on appeals. But that process, too, has been plagued with aberrations, not the least of which is the mysterious disappearance of at least 200 pages of the transcript of the trial considered very damaging to the judge and prosecutor.

Gwendolyn Solomon, co-counsel with Mark Geragos in handling the appeals, explains the many ways the IRP6 were denied a fair trial and railroaded into sentences of up to 11 years.

Sam Thurman and Cliff Stewart—who both worked at IRP and, through an advocacy group, A Just Cause, have been advocating for their colleagues’ release and a Justice Department investigation into the case—discuss the toll it has taken on their families and the business.

Listeners are invited to ask questions, as this edition rounds out a comprehensive overview of the case, pending further developments.

March 12, 2014  

Obamacare: A Pain for Workers, Says Mega Union President;

Snowden’s  ‘State-of-the-Internet’ at SXSW Gives A Puzzling Clue

The promise of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) may be well-intended—providing health care coverage to the uninsured and underinsured. But it’s a boondoggle of a program that’s hitting workers hard in the wallet, says our guest, Donald Taylor, president of Unite Here, a union representing 270,000 hospitality workers.

Taylor discusses major financial consequences for workers under the ACA that, he says, will widen and deepen income inequality in America. And he’ll also explain why he’s publicly breaking with many major unions that harbor similar sentiments but are reluctant to criticize the president and Democratic Party over the very flawed ACA.

Fugitive Edward Snowden in a teleconference from Russia yesterday told attendees at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, that he remains convinced that public knowledge of the government’s violation of citizens’ privacy rights is worth his theft of classified National Security Agency files that exposed it.

But in the course of a carefully managed interview with Ben Wizner, his legal counsel, and Wizner’s colleague at the ACLU, Chris Sogohian, Snowden made a startling statement that everyone missed. Leid Stories tells what it is.

March 10, 2014  

The U.S. Constitution: Too Much Deference to It, Not Enough Difference With It

The framers of the U.S. Constitution never meant it to be the unassailable, fix-resistant final word on “the law of the land,” but the basis for vigorous debate, and even open challenges, in pursuit of a more just and democratic society, says our guest, Louis Michael Seidman, professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University.

Too much deference is given to the Constitution and not enough difference taken with it, he says in his recently published On Constitutional Disobedience. Consequently, Americans have been living under a compact that compels them to forfeit what the framers regarded as a most basic right for themselves—the right to question or disobey even “supreme” laws and policies that might pass the test constitutionally but nonetheless are wrong.

Seidman has written several books and scholarly papers on the U.S. Constitution generally challenging “the sheer oddity of making modern decisions based upon an old and archaic text,” as he put it in his current release.

March 7, 2014  

Well, here we are, by popular demand, at the premiere of “Free Your Mind Friday!”

It’s a re-branded, re-scheduled “Open Forum,” but with the same purpose and intent—to be the gathering place for the vigorous exchange of information, opinions and ideas.”

Leid Stories’ listeners had everything to do with it. Fridays (as opposed to Tuesdays) allow for a review of the week’s major issues, they said, and they liked “Sarah from Dallas”’s idea of having an opportunity to exorcise burdensome thoughts before the weekend. Mission accomplished on both counts.

So, free your mind. Let’s hear what you have to say about whatever you think is worth [re]considering.  

March 6, 2014  

Edward Snowden has said that his motivation for looting an estimated 1.7 million classified  files from the National Security Agency was to expose the NSA’s indiscriminate, wholesale violations of privacy rights in pursuit of the clandestine interests of the surveillance state. He carefully selected media outlets to tell various aspects of the story based on the files, he said. The London-based Guardian newspaper and contributing reporter Glenn Greenwald were clear favorites.

But after a few stories that gained international attention came a noticeable lull that was broken by news that Greenwald had struck a $250-million deal with Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire owner of Paypal, a longtime cooperator with the NSA’s data-collection program and, recently discovered, co-funder with the U.S. government of ultraright groups seeking to topple the government in Ukraine.  Greenwald and a small posse of “leftist” journalists are now employees of Omidyar’s recently launched multimedia venture, First Look Media.

Questions abound. Did Snowden get punked by the person he said he entrusted his classified cache to? Is Greenwald a checkbook journalist? Is Omidyar now the “owner” of Snowden’s looted files? Did Greenwald strike a deal also with the U.S. government to hand over certain files?

An EyeOpener report by independent commentator James Corbett puts the issue in perspective.

March 5, 2014  

Why the Ukraine-Crimea Crisis Should Make Us Change Our Politics

If nothing else, the Ukraine-Crimea crisis should cause us to re-examine our basic political philosophy and orientation. Why? Because it clearly hasn’t happened at the leadership level; across the board, they’ve run out of good, innovative ideas and new ways of doing things.

Leid Stories raises a number of examples that illustrate the stagnation of progress in many spheres of American life, owing largely to an unwillingness, incapacity or downright refusal to embrace new ideas and realities. No “modern” nation, let alone a “world-leading” one, would tolerate a 2-million-plus prison population, or ninth-place standing in the world on Internet speed, or one-in-seven poverty rates, or would engage in Cold War bloviating and call it diplomacy. In its policy making the United States is its own conundrum, having a futuristic vision of itself that cannot be accomplished with vapid ideas and ways of doing things.

Leid Stories expands on this theme and asks the question: The system is impervious to change. What, then, are our political choices?

March 4, 2014  

Detroit Seeks Court OK on Bank Payoffs; Coalition Readies for Showdown;

Obama, Congress Mull $1 Billion in Aid to Ukrainian Fascists  

State-appointed city manager Kevyn Orr late yesterday filed a motion with the federal judge overseeing Detroit’s $18-billion bankruptcy seeking approval of an $85-million settlement Orr said he had worked out with two creditor-banks to end costly interest-rate swap deals from 2005. Judge Steven Rhodes had rejected two previous proposed settlements.

 Meanwhile, grassroots groups opposed to Orr’s appointment, the bankruptcy, and drastic cuts to pensions and city services have formed a coalition and are getting ready for a courtroom battle.

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African Newswire and a Detroit organizer for the Workers World Party, updates the situation in Detroit.

Gaining no traction with veiled military threats against Russia in the Ukrainian crisis, Washington instead will buy its way in with an immediate $1-billion “aid” package to help its would-be client—the ultranationalist “government” that ousted the democratically elected president. No such legislative speed or money to solve problems at home, says a Leid Stories commentary.

March 3, 2014  

Venezuela, Ukraine Crises Reheat Battle for Hemispheric Hegemony

The dynamics of the crises in Venezuela and Ukraine—and, now, Crimea—are changing almost by the minute, pointing up complex issues that go far deeper than Secretary of State John Kerry’s supersimplistic, and predictably standard, explanation that they are about “freedom and democracy.”

Dr. Gerald Horne, who has written extensively on struggles against imperialism, colonialism, fascism and racism and teaches graduate courses in diplomatic history at the University of Houston, expands his Feb. 28 discussion with Leid Stories (check podcast) that places these crises in proper historical, ideological and geopolitical perspective. 

Particular attention is given to the roles of the United States and Russia, and hemispheric hegemony.

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