Showing posts tagged Al Jazeera English

Am I a racist? I like to think not, but science may say otherwise… Check out the Stream I hosted today…

I was recently featured on a show in South Africa called Maggs on the Media. My interview begins around the 7:43 mark. 

Here’s the latest episode of The Stream that I hosted…

The US has one of the highest rates of income inequality compared to other developed countries. In the last 30 years, the bottom 60% of American society has seen their wealth shrink while the top five percent has gotten richer. Who is shouldering the heaviest burden and how can the trend be reversed?

In this episode of The Stream, we speak to:

Signe-Mary McKernan @urbaninstitute
Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute

Anne Price @racialwealthgap
Program Director, Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative
racialwealthgap.org

We also speak to Chase Sackett (@chasesackett), Latasha Kinnard (@StartYoung1)and Erik Peterson in our Google+ hangout.

Here’s my latest episode of The Stream: Out But Not Equal. Why is the Pentagon stalling on giving equal rights to same-sex spouses? 

Recommendation: Watch all the way through to the end, the ‘post show’ may be the best part.

Students in Sudan are pushing back against the government over tuition fees and things are getting ugly. Check it out and let me know what you think…

Hosted The Stream a few more times this week…Can a social media movement effect the rising murder rate in Puerto Rico? Let me know what you think…

Hosting The Stream today live at 2:30 EST. We’re looking into the recent spike in violence in São Paulo: more than 200 murders in the last month; 93 cops killed this year.  WTF is going on? To find out, watch the show on Al Jazeera English or online at stream.aljazeera.com.

Hosting The Stream today live at 2:30 EST. We’re looking into the recent spike in violence in São Paulo: more than 200 murders in the last month; 93 cops killed this year. WTF is going on? To find out, watch the show on Al Jazeera English or online at stream.aljazeera.com.

Here’s my latest Fault Lines episode. Enjoy. And let me know what you think…

The US’ housing bubble burst nearly six years ago, but the worst may be yet to come.

After a landmark settlement, the major banks have lifted a freeze on foreclosures and government relief has been too small to make a difference.

"We are often portrayed as the bad people, like we basically just come in and make all the money from people who are in bad situations. But the fact is, if we don’t buy the property then the bank [will] take the property back." 

- Amy Chen, a real estate investor

Public housing budgets have been slashed, leaving larger numbers of people with no place to call home.

The line between home ownership and homelessness is growing ever more blurry, but neither President Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney have made housing a major campaign issue.

Meanwhile, popular anger is rising over the perceived impunity of the banks and some have found innovative ways of fighting back in an age of austerity.

Fault Lines travels to Chicago and California to see how people at the frontlines of the crisis are confronting the collapse of the American dream.

"If you ask people who have been foreclosed upon, whose fault is it? They often they say it’s mine. It’s my fault, I did the wrong thing, instead of kind of saying this is a systemic problem," explains David Harvey, a social theorist and a professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

"Capital is always producing surpluses, at the end of the day if you have got a profit, you’ve got a surplus and the big question is what do you do with it.

"[So] what you do is that you take part of that surplus and you reinvest it in something. And in United States, housing and urbanisation in general has been a vast field for expansion of profitable opportunities."

Inches Apart, Worlds Away. (photo by Josh Rushing)
There’s a great collection of photos on Foreign Policy from Afghanistan in the 1950s. The pictures are from Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book: Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.  The FP website describes the photo collection as, “Photos from a time when tiki bars and afternoons at the pool dominated the lives of Americans in Afghanistan.”
They reminded me of my last trip to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. I embedded with the US Marines in what was one of the more miserable trips of my life. The heat was often near 130 degrees Fahrenheit and there was no electricity. We were sleeping in the dirt outside because the buildings continued to radiate heat like large clay ovens in the night. We were supposed to drink two dozen bottles of water a day that were also 130 degrees. It was like sipping coffee without the coffee when you already felt like you were on fire.
The only respite from the brutal conditions was a well that had been put in by US AID in the 1950s. My crew and I avoided the well at first for fear of bacteria or amoeba, but before long we were soaking our burned skins and dry throats in its cold flow. I’ll never forget that well and how such a small thing can make such big difference in one’s quality of life.
I’ll also never forget the base at Kandahar. We passed through it for only a matter of hours, but it seemed so telling about the US’s mission in Afghanistan. Rajiv’s title hits it on the head: Little America.
Here’s an excerpt from my observations there:
…We find out we are scheduled to depart on a military flight in the middle of the night. They need something to do with us for the next 10 hours. A master sergeant offers to take us to the social area of base. As we are driving across the enormous base, he gives us directions on how to get back to the dining facility for our evening rendezvous. We round a corner and he says, “Just remember when you get to the French cafe, take a left”. Clearly they don’t fight wars like they use to. 
We drive past a coffee and doughnut shop, a Canadian hockey rink (sans ice) and a gym. Sand like talcum powder fills the air as does the sharp odor of boiling urine and baking feces from ubiquitous port-o-johns. Inside one such plastic stall, graffiti refers to the smell as “the persistent poop aroma”.
We go into the base store to pick up local SIM cards for our cell phones. Inside, soldiers in various uniforms from different NATO member countries shop for their war-time essentials, which by the look of the merchandise includes plenty of body building supplements and teddy bears, knives and flat-screen televisions.
We need to escape the heat, so we head to the computer lounge. They will not allow us in because we have bags. There is a rule, which we find out is another thing this base has plenty of, that says “no bags”. We go to an entertainment and recreation building. We hear it is air conditioned.  This time it is a double whammy, another rule - “no open-toe shoes”. I am in flip flops, my other shoes are in a bag the Marines stored for us. Our cell phones do not work, although it matters little because the number we are given for the Marines can only be dialed from another military phone. Finally we find such a phone and eventually our contact comes for us. We put our bags in his room and he gives me his running shoes to wear for the day.
So far the “hell” part of  “War is hell” seems completely self-imposed by uniformed bureaucrats, adult-hall monitors intent on ensuring soldiers wear ridiculous glow-in-the-dark belts as they walk around base and wash their hands before every meal. Perhaps, “War is kindergarten,” would be a more appropriate cliché, on this base at least.
In the MWR tent I sit on a leather couch that is so hot it puts the seat heaters in my car to shame. We have escaped the sun, but not the heat. I sweat profusely while writing “I sweat profusely”. Hundreds of soldiers watch TV, play pool and ping pong. A special area is set aside for what seems to be the most popular pastime. Two dozen black leather couches lie end-to-end facing flat screen TVs each hooked to a video gaming system. With real machine guns resting at their boots they play first-person shooter games. While not on real patrols they are on virtual patrols killing countless virtual bad guys and winning in contests where the idea of victory is clear and where there are no consequences for losing….
For the rest of the blog and more photos: click here.

Inches Apart, Worlds Away. (photo by Josh Rushing)

There’s a great collection of photos on Foreign Policy from Afghanistan in the 1950s. The pictures are from Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book: Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.  The FP website describes the photo collection as, “Photos from a time when tiki bars and afternoons at the pool dominated the lives of Americans in Afghanistan.”

They reminded me of my last trip to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. I embedded with the US Marines in what was one of the more miserable trips of my life. The heat was often near 130 degrees Fahrenheit and there was no electricity. We were sleeping in the dirt outside because the buildings continued to radiate heat like large clay ovens in the night. We were supposed to drink two dozen bottles of water a day that were also 130 degrees. It was like sipping coffee without the coffee when you already felt like you were on fire.

The only respite from the brutal conditions was a well that had been put in by US AID in the 1950s. My crew and I avoided the well at first for fear of bacteria or amoeba, but before long we were soaking our burned skins and dry throats in its cold flow. I’ll never forget that well and how such a small thing can make such big difference in one’s quality of life.

I’ll also never forget the base at Kandahar. We passed through it for only a matter of hours, but it seemed so telling about the US’s mission in Afghanistan. Rajiv’s title hits it on the head: Little America.

Here’s an excerpt from my observations there:

…We find out we are scheduled to depart on a military flight in the middle of the night. They need something to do with us for the next 10 hours. A master sergeant offers to take us to the social area of base. As we are driving across the enormous base, he gives us directions on how to get back to the dining facility for our evening rendezvous. We round a corner and he says, “Just remember when you get to the French cafe, take a left”. Clearly they don’t fight wars like they use to.

We drive past a coffee and doughnut shop, a Canadian hockey rink (sans ice) and a gym. Sand like talcum powder fills the air as does the sharp odor of boiling urine and baking feces from ubiquitous port-o-johns. Inside one such plastic stall, graffiti refers to the smell as “the persistent poop aroma”.

We go into the base store to pick up local SIM cards for our cell phones. Inside, soldiers in various uniforms from different NATO member countries shop for their war-time essentials, which by the look of the merchandise includes plenty of body building supplements and teddy bears, knives and flat-screen televisions.

We need to escape the heat, so we head to the computer lounge. They will not allow us in because we have bags. There is a rule, which we find out is another thing this base has plenty of, that says “no bags”. We go to an entertainment and recreation building. We hear it is air conditioned.  This time it is a double whammy, another rule - “no open-toe shoes”. I am in flip flops, my other shoes are in a bag the Marines stored for us. Our cell phones do not work, although it matters little because the number we are given for the Marines can only be dialed from another military phone. Finally we find such a phone and eventually our contact comes for us. We put our bags in his room and he gives me his running shoes to wear for the day.

So far the “hell” part of  “War is hell” seems completely self-imposed by uniformed bureaucrats, adult-hall monitors intent on ensuring soldiers wear ridiculous glow-in-the-dark belts as they walk around base and wash their hands before every meal. Perhaps, “War is kindergarten,” would be a more appropriate cliché, on this base at least.

In the MWR tent I sit on a leather couch that is so hot it puts the seat heaters in my car to shame. We have escaped the sun, but not the heat. I sweat profusely while writing “I sweat profusely”. Hundreds of soldiers watch TV, play pool and ping pong. A special area is set aside for what seems to be the most popular pastime. Two dozen black leather couches lie end-to-end facing flat screen TVs each hooked to a video gaming system. With real machine guns resting at their boots they play first-person shooter games. While not on real patrols they are on virtual patrols killing countless virtual bad guys and winning in contests where the idea of victory is clear and where there are no consequences for losing….

For the rest of the blog and more photos: click here.

I’m hosting The Stream on Al Jazeera English

Okay, just for one day, this Thursday (8/16): I’m taking a spin in The Stream’s anchor chair. I’m a huge fan of the show and its crew, so it will be tons of fun. Join the experience by sending me show ideas. Free range thinking is encouraged and all ideas will be considered. Fault Lines fans don’t fret, I’m still down with FL. In fact I’m flying out to Asia soon to film an episode for next season.

Sincerely,
Your friendly TV guy, Josh

Btw, as a side note, I’m sitting on Paige’s gift for my 40th birthday: 1972 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser. Pretty cool, huh? 

The New York Times today has a fascinating story of a town in Mexico where women have taken over in an armed occupation. They report that the people of Cheran, in the state of Michoacan, had been harassed by armed, illegal loggers for years:

On the morning of April 15, 2011, using rocks and fireworks, a group of women attacked a busload of AK-47-armed illegal loggers as they drove through Cherán, residents said. The loggers, who local residents say are protected by one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations and given a virtual free pass by the country’s authorities, had terrorized the community at will for years.

Cherán’s residents said they had been subjected to multiple episodes of rape, kidnapping, extortion and murder by the paramilitary loggers, who have devastated an estimated 70 percent of the surrounding oak forests that sustained the town’s economy and indigenous culture for centuries.

What happened next was extraordinary, especially in a country where the rule of law is often absent and isolated communities are frequently forced to accept the status quo. Organized criminal syndicates, like the drug cartel La Familia, created in Michoacán, act like a state within a state, making their own rules and meting out grisly punishments to those who do not obey.

But here in Cherán, a group of townspeople took loggers hostage, expelled the town’s entire police force and representatives of established political parties, and forcibly closed the roads.

The piece goes on to mention the idea of community rule isn’t new to the area. In fact, in the Fault Lines episode above we explored the issue in the neighboring state of Guerrero. (Warning: The show contains some footage that is pretty hard to watch.)

This reminds me of a recent story out of southern Colombia where indigenous people took over a mountain, kicking out both the Colombian military and the FARC.

I’ve covered war for many years. One of the first realities you learn when covering conflicts is that no matter what the fight is for, or where in the world it is, those that suffer war’s horrible effects the most are the people caught in the middle. I now find it heartening that at least in a few quiet corners of the globe that some of those people are starting to take back what should have been theirs all along.

This story is developing now: One miner has been rescued, five more remain trapped after an explosion caused a partial collapse at a mine in the state of Coahuila in Mexico. This is the second incident at this same mine in the last two weeks. On July 25 an explosion killed seven miners.

For a look at what going inside a mine in Latin America looks like, check out my Fault Lines episode above about illegal gold mining in Colombia. Parts of this episode were filmed in the department (or region) of Cauca, which is where the indigenous people have recently risen up against the military and the FARC (see last post).

Primer: Profits and Punishment

Here’s a primer for my latest episode of Fault Lines. It’s about for-profit immigration detention facilities in the US. This was put together by the show’s producer, Anjali Kamat.

For more on why undocumented migration from Mexico is at an all-time low see: http://is.gd/QXq5Pk & http://is.gd/xH0qNO

@DetentionWatch has a useful map of all the #immigration #detention ctrs in the US. http://is.gd/wD53hH

On average the federal govt pays prison operators – both private as well as county jails - $122 a day per detainee.

For more about the #dreamact and Jose Salcedo @slumdogsalcedo: http://is.gd/e4PMfD

#nosomosrubios is a campaign critical of Sen. Marco Rubio’s bid for VP launched by @presenteorg http://is.gd/wYe3bP

Sen. Rubio is now pushing a Republican version of the DREAM act: http://is.gd/tz3a82 & http://is.gd/pJmi1B

See “Marco Rubio’s Prison Problem” by Beau Hodai: http://is.gd/c4oRCd

Excellent backgrounder on profits & #immigration #detention from @DetentionWatch http://is.gd/g7PZIl #dwn

Also great on immigrant gold rush & #privateprisons - Judy Greene & Sunita Patel: http://is.gd/RknEwW

From Oct 2003 – Mar 2012: 129 deaths in #ICE detention: http://is.gd/DtL7P1

@ACLU is a great resource on sexual abuse of detainees in #ICE custody http://is.gd/m2h6Z7

Even if all the new civil detention ctrs R built, 86 % of #ICE detainees wd still be held in jail-like facilities http://is.gd/W5poGg

Meanwhile Republican Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas calls detention reform a “holiday”: http://is.gd/G0JI3I

Since 2009 #ICE has added or promised over 6000 new detention beds, most run by #privateprisons. via @humanrights1st

Critical look at reforms to detention system by @kalhan in Columbia Law Review http://is.gd/Pttdet

 Is the focus on conditions taking attention away from ending detention altogether? http://is.gd/h91P6U

Alternatives to detention: cheaper & more humane: http://is.gd/Lr3QqS via @LIRSorg

Telephones in #ICE detention facilities are operated by private companies that charge exorbitant rates for making & receiving calls

We asked #ICE how much #privateprisons might be saving by using detainee labor instead of hiring workers to cook & clean

Gary Mead of #ICE said he didn’t know because the operating costs for #privateprisons are “proprietary information.”

#Privateprisons are not subject to FOIA requests. On lack of accountability & abuse concerns: @ACLU report: http://is.gd/FRx4Ve

Prison Legal News is another great resource on #privateprisons http://is.gd/UhMrNu

A brief history of immigration detention: http://is.gd/pRkelt #DWN

@silkys13 has a stark history of #immigration #detention after 9/11 in @SamarMagazine: http://is.gd/DbbuyH

Infographic on Secure Communities by @reneefeltz & @stokelybaksh on their site: Deportation Nation http://is.gd/wZ4Gm9

@sethfw on the “criminal aliens” captured in recent #ICE raids across the country

http://is.gd/wUC8x8

Is the Dept of Homeland Security redefining criminality? http://is.gd/JyxYDK

Many were against a proposed #ICE facility in SouthWest Ranches run by the largest #privateprison company: CCA http://is.gd/qhdd0Y

Calls for Wall Street to divest from #privateprisons: http://is.gd/yio9xo & http://is.gd/OODZt0

ALEC is behind many of the tough laws on crime & immigration benefitting #privateprisons: http://is.gd/xvXqZp via @ALECexposed

On lobbying by GEO & CCA see http://is.gd/tXRrRl & @Justice_Policy report Gaming the System: http://is.gd/g20GCD

Also an older site by @reneefeltz & @stokelybaksh: Business of Detention http://is.gd/v1ao52

@txprisonbidness is a great resource on detention in Texas: http://is.gd/h8W8qe

A brief and accessible introduction to the mandatory detention of non-citizens from @DetentionWatch: http://is.gd/DHAu1i #DWN

Most people are surprised to hear that a large number of greencard holders like Naz can end up in immigration detention

Pearsall, where Naz was held, was the site of alleged sexual abuse in 2008. Last year guards protested their low wages http://is.gd/iizp5D

Naz also talked about the poor medical care in Pearsall and how it took days before he could see a nurse when he was ill or injured

@Nomoredeaths has a strong report on abuses by the border patrol: http://is.gd/FySBnn

At a courthouse in McAllen, TX, we witnessed but weren’t allowed to film the mass trial of some 35 men and women.

Some had grown up in the US, others in Mexico or Guatemala. They all had family in the US.

The trial – a daily occurrence - was heartbreaking. One lawyer watching said: “This is where the American dream comes to die.”

Prosecuting people for illegal entry makes up more than half of all federal criminal filings: http://is.gd/qhQxYE

Illegal re-entry cases have surged under President Obama: http://is.gd/lKvFiR