Note: The first episode shown during the Fourth Quarter 2014 was a rerun of #361 on September 22, 2014.
Episode #680: Well, This Is Immoral
First Broadcast: 9/29/14
So, President Obama, the "reluctant warrior," after becoming the fourth President in a row since 1991 to announce a bombing of Iraq on national television, has now decided to bomb Syria in order to destroy the group known as the Islamic State (or IS, or ISIS, or ISIL), in a way that appears to be completely unconstitutional. At least one person thinks that's not enough, and wants the U.S. to create an international army of 25,000 mercenaries to "fight terror around the world" for hire--and what could possibly go wrong with that? It seems that Congress completely bailed on its obligation to regulate this kind of thing, so I imagine that we'll be talking about this on the show for a while... I can only hope it won't be forever...
Episode #681: Albatross
First Broadcast: 10/6/14
The People's Climate March at the end of September was a good thing, but will it convince the people who need to be convinced the most that climate change is not a hoax? Is climate change one of the reasons why the number of animals in the world has declined by more than half since 1970? Can humans help the number of sea animals rebound, through careful management like what's done with lobsters, or through moratoriums like with Mediterranean tuna and Beluga caviar? Between that and fracking, I can only hope that humanity survives long enough to live up to its own questions about itself. Only time will tell, I guess...
Episode #682: Very Sizable
First Broadcast: 10/13/14
As Christmas slowly creeps into view before we even get to Halloween, we discuss how there's an election looming in New York State, although you would probably be forgiven for not being more aware of it, given the dearth of advertisements about it in New York City. Could it be because pundits habitually write off the city as a given for Democrats, even though the Republican line won 5 of the last 6 mayoral elections here? Is that why Governor Andrew Cuomo is keeping quiet about his position on fracking? Does he think Republican candidate Rob Astorino's pro-fracking policy is enough to send any anti-fracking voters into the Cuomo camp, even if Cuomo might be poised to end New York State's moratorium on fracking after this year's election is over? Perhaps we should all focus on banning fracking altogether (like Green candidate Howie Hawkins), because our water is too precious to fool around with.
Episode #683: Not An Oceanographer
First Broadcast: 10/27/14
Did you know there's another election for Governor this year? You can be forgiven for not being too aware; its presence in the city seems to have been reduced to a bare minimum lately. Meanwhile, four Blackwater employees were convicted for indiscriminately killing a crowd of people in Iraq in 2007; the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant isn't improving; we're rapidly killing off everything in the oceans; and the number of wild animals on earth has been cut in half over the last 40 years. So, er... Happy Halloween, everybody!
Episode #684: Stipend And Booze
First Broadcast: 11/3/14
So, now that Halloween is done, and all the sexy costumes and little black dresses have been returned to their closets, we discuss how most "reality" TV shows today pale in comparison to "An American Family," which might be considered the original pioneer of the genre. After that, we move on to the imminent election for Governor, and how we wouldn't be opposed to people voting for Howie Hawkins on the Green Party ticket. However, we also understand that you might want to re-elect Governor Andrew Cuomo, so if you do choose to do so, we encourage you to vote for him on the Working Families Party line, and not the "Women's Equality Party" line--a.k.a. the party Cuomo seems to have made up specifically to pull votes away from the Working Families tally. And then I wonder this: If Cuomo does get re-elected, how long after that before he decides how he feels about fracking in New York State? Can we ban fracking already?
Episode #685: All Your Margaritas Are Under Arrest
First Broadcast: 11/17/14
Governor Cuomo got re-elected, the Working Families Party got more votes than the "Women's Equality" party, and the Green Party got more votes than that. Following that not-so-bad news, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton jointly (heh) announced that the NYPD would no longer be arresting people merely for possessing less than 25 grams of marijuana on their person, regardless of whether or not it's in public view. On the contrary: People caught possessing that much pot in the city will now receive a $100 fine for a violation, otherwise known as the penalty set into New York State law back in 1977. While it's obviously long overdue for New York City to return to treating marijuana possession as the minor violation the State designated it almost four decades ago, I wonder if the NYPD won't just convert all those would-have-been arrests into a mountain of $100 fines, hurting the poorest recipients of them just as much as as they would have done with arrests in the first place--"punishing the poor for being poor" by any other name? Small steps, I guess.
Episode #686: Four Basic Options
First Broadcast: 12/1/14
On November 24, 2014, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on any of the four charges presented to them related to Wilson's killing of of the unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in August: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. In other words: a white cop killed an unarmed black teen, and not only would the cop not receive any punishment for it, there wouldn't even be a trial to determine if the cop was guilty (or not) of committing a crime. I agree with the legal experts who say there were enough grounds for the grand jury to issue some sort of indictment, and I further think that Wilson's answer of "No" to George Stephanopoulos's question "Is there anything you could have done differently that would have prevented that killing from taking place?" is proof enough of "depraved-indifference" to human life, which I believe justifies at least a charge of second-degree murder. Not surprisingly, people in Ferguson, New York City, several states nationwide, and even outside the U.S. were upset at this decision, and responded to it with massive protests that still have not fully ended. Feel free to judge for yourself by leafing through the grand jury testimony on your own, but I think the protestors are on the right side of history in this case.
Episode #687: Legalized Lynching
First Broadcast: 12/8/14
Barely a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson for his killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, on December 3 a grand jury in Staten Island failed to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo for his killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man whose only offense was the alleged selling of loose cigarettes--which, last time I checked, is not a capital offense in New York State. To say that this lack of indictment is disappointing is an extreme understatement. Thousands of people across New York City and the United States agreed, and wasted no time in loudly demonstrating their disgust and anger at this decision in the streets nationwide. In fact, it seems like the only people "pleased" with this decision are Daniel Pantaleo, Patrolman's Benevolent Association spokesman Pat Lynch (who has apparently never met a guilty cop in his life), and the racist cops who support them. All the more reason why it's going to take a lot more than body cameras to reform the police here and elsewhere. Because, if you can't even bring a man to trial when he kills another man who wasn't a danger to anyone in front of witnesses and a camera in the middle of the day, then how can anyone really be convinced that Black Lives Matter in this country? Maybe it's not too late for us all to change things before any more black men get killed by police, but it's probably going to take a whole lot more than marching to fix a system this broken.