Live from Gaza …

Dear Friends,

Steve King

US Representative Steve King (R-Middle Ages) just can’t help himself. King is, perhaps, the most honest politician in America. No matter how hard he tries, King simply can’t conceal the fact that he’s a flaming racist.

At a public forum last week in Algona, for reasons that boggle the logical mind, King couldn’t resist bashing the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He accused the mostly Black victims of New Orleans of wanting government to bail them out, instead of turning to their neighbors and helping each other, like the mostly White victims of the recent flooding that socked King’s congressional district.

Markalain Dery

It doesn’t take a masters degree in anthropology to read between the lines and detect the not-so-subtle racial bias behind King’s comparison. Again, I want to thank King for being the most honest politician in America. Well, alongside Lousiana’s David Duke.

On one of three topics in this week’s Fallon Forum, I dig into King’s most recent racist rant with Dr. Markalain Dery of New Orleans. Dr. Dery is an infectious diseases physician who owns and operates WHIV 102.3 FM. (Yeah, I know — an infectious disease physician with a sense of humor. Full disclosure: WHIV rebroadcasts the Fallon Forum.)

I also talk with Maria Filippone about the latest flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Akram Al Satarri joins us on the phone from Gaza. Yes, from Gaza — as Israeli missiles are landing within earshot. This was probably the most disturbing live interview I’ve ever conducted. I kept wondering whether, at any moment, we would hear a loud explosion and the end of our conversation with Akram. This is the frightening reality that the Palestine people live with constantly.

Maria Filippone

To be clear, I condemn the missile launched from within Gaza that struck near Tel Aviv. Yet the all-out assault against Gaza in response is completely unjustifiable.

Maria and I also discuss the political establishment’s response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s — what shall we call it? — candid honesty about the plight of Palestinians and the insidious role of powerful lobbyist groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in contorting public opinion in the US. As with many issues, the old guard within the Democratic Party appears out of step with rank-and-file Democratic voters, who are increasingly inclined to side with Palestine in a protracted conflict that is further isolating Israel on the world stage.

Finally, we discuss the latest developments in Bold Iowa’s Climate Bird Dog campaign. So much is going on! I’ll simply direct readers’ attention to the Bold Iowa website for an update on our interaction with many of the candidates running for president. In particular, check out our engagement with Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand. To all who, understandably, feel despair over the worsening climate crisis, have hope. We are making a difference and, step by step, moving America closer to the decisive climate action demanded by science. — Ed Fallon

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The other existential threat

Dear Friends,

Climate change is an existential threat in progress. As scientists warn, we must act decisively by 2030 if we are to avert disaster — and possibly extinction. It’s encouraging to see more and more people waking up to the urgency of climate action. The ongoing School Strike for Climate is particularly inspiring.

Meanwhile, for more than sixty years, the existential threat of nuclear war continues to hang over our heads. Given the list of horrific near misses, we’ve actually been lucky. Yet the nuclear threat languishes on the back burner of both the general public’s attention span and the national news media’s priority list. That’s why the work being done by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is so important.

Dr. Maureen McCue of Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility

I was honored to have PSR’s Dr. Maureen McCue on this week’s Fallon Forum. (My other guest was Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. Check out our conversation about climate change at the 2:17 minute mark.) Maureen writes:

“Now that we’ve survived St. Patrick’s Day, I again turn my attention to the growing risk of nuclear war. Why growing? Largely because President Trump’s bellicosity is taking us to the brink. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia is a huge step backwards. Add to that his making nice with Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator, his ignoring of the tensions between Pakistan and India, and his promotion of the myth that Iran may soon have nuclear weapons (even as he pulls out of our treaty with that country), and we have an escalation of nuclear tension like none we’ve seen in a long time.

“On top of that, President Trump is committing trillions of dollars to building more nuclear weapons that will only further destabilize the world. And I would be remiss not to mention his lack of attention to any of our real needs — like climate mitigation, environmental clean up, health care, etc.

“With all these actions by a president who seems remarkably disconnected from reality, we should pause to consider the risks to our future. One upcoming effort to work our way back to a saner, safer nuclear policy is the Nuclear Abolition Training scheduled for March 30 in Iowa City and March 31 in Des Moines. The events are open to the public.

“Climate change is being brought on by powerful industries indifferently heating the atmosphere. Nuclear winter could be brought on by an exchange of only 100-200 ‘small’ (Hiroshima-size) bombs. Further, if Earth’s climate continues to unravel, food and water resources will dry up, tensions will heat up, populations will move, conflicts will escalate (as in India-Pakistan, Iran-Israel, etc.) and boom, you have the kindling for setting off a nuclear nightmare. It’s all connected, and needs to be seen as part and parcel of the many myths undergirding both existential risks.”

Check out our conversation with Maureen at the 29:00 minute mark. And if you have questions about the trainings or the work of PSR, Maureen can be reached at info@psriowa.org. Thanks!

Ed

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This week’s forum smorgasbord

Dear Friends,

Dr. James Zogby

Dr. Charles Goldman is the guest host on this week’s Fallon Forum. Due to technical difficulties, Charles was unable to connect with Dr. Jim Zogby, co-founder of the Arab American Institute, to discuss the recent controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) comments regarding Israeli influence on American politics. Instead, we invite you to listen to Dr. Zogby in person tonight (Wednesday) in Des Moines, where he will discuss “Undoing the Damage We’ve Done Across the Middle East: The Current Situation and What We Can Do About It”.

Charles’ other guest on the program is State Senator Jim Carlin, Republican from northwest Iowa. They discuss some of the Iowa Legislative action not making headlines in the local media, topics other than abortion rights, Iowa’s purportedly activist judiciary, and once again fixing the essentially non-existent problems with voting.

Also on Charles’ docket: No, we don’t need a US constitutional amendment to fix the Electoral College. Enter the National Popular Vote Plan, an interstate compact, already enacted in 12 states that will take effect if it is passed into law in further states totaling 98 electoral votes. Should it be brought to fruition, the national popular vote winner of the presidential election will automatically become the next Chief Executive. No more popular vote losers becoming President (6 out of our 45 presidents) or “near misses” (4 out of the last 25 elections).

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School Strike for Climate!

Dear Friends,

Socrates was condemned for corrupting the youth of Athens. At the risk of being accused of corrupting the youth of Iowa, I ask K-12 and college students to join School Strike for Climate on March 15 … and beyond.

Alexandria Villaseñor, a 13-year-old climate justice activist from New York City.

All successful movements are built on a foundation of failure interspersed with moments of incremental progress. It’s important to recognize the seeds of climate action sown in the past. But with only eleven years to transform our world to keep global warming below 1.5° C, we’re beyond incrementalism. An all-out mobilization to fight climate change is all that can save us.

Who better to lead the fight than children and young adults — those who will suffer the consequences of our fossil-fuel addiction well into the 21st century and beyond. Tens of thousands of young people across the world have stepped forward to demand action. School Strike for Climate is one vehicle to further grow the movement.

School Strike for Climate in Great Britain

But, “Shouldn’t those kids be in school?” you ask. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede who skipped three weeks of school to protest in front of the Swedish Parliament, responds, “If you think that we should be in school instead, then we suggest that you take our place in the streets, striking from your work. Or, better yet, join us, so we can speed up the process.”

School Strike for Climate‘s website reads, “We, the youth of America, are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis. We are striking because if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change. We are striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Climate Bird Doggers Sam Kuhn and Sid Barfoot question John Delaney on climate.

Yes, we are running out of time. Young or old, get involved! Strike from your school or job. Lobby relentlessly until our elected officials listen. Practice non-violent civil disobedience. My preferred strategy at this time: Join Bold Iowa’s Climate Bird Dogs to compel the presidential candidates to prioritize the climate crisis as the urgent, existential threat it is.

Through all of human history, there has never been a crisis such as what we now face. We have to look beyond the immediate challenges of our daily lives and focus on the frightening reality that life on Earth is in jeopardy. As Greta says, “[E]veryone keeps saying climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all, and yet they just carry on like before. I don’t understand that, because if the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. To me that is black or white. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival.”

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