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The People Speak, May 23, 2017

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The People Speak
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with Cindy Sheehan and guests John Pilger then Evan Greer

The People Speak with Cindy Sheehan and guests John Pilger then Evan Greer

Guest, John Pilger

Guest Name
John Pilger
Guest Occupation
Filmmaker/Journalist
Guest Biography

John Pilger was born and grew up in Bondi, Sydney, Australia. He launched his first newspaper at Sydney High School and later completed a four year cadetship with Australian Consolidated Press. "It was one of the strictest language courses I know," he says. "Devised by a celebrated, literate editor, Brian Penton, the aim was economy of language and accuracy. It certainly taught me to admire writing that was spare, precise and free of cliches, that didn't retreat into the passive voice and used adjectives only when absolutely necessary. I have long since slipped that leash, but those early disciplines helped shape my journalism and writing and my understanding of moving and still pictures".

Like many of his Australian generation, Pilger and two colleagues left for Europe in the early 1960s. They set up an ill-fated freelance 'agency' in Italy (with the grand title of 'Interep') and quickly went broke. Arriving in London, Pilger freelanced, then joined Reuters, moving to the London Daily Mirror, Britain's biggest selling newspaper, which was then changing to a serious tabloid.

He became chief foreign correspondent and reported from all over the world, covering numerous wars, notably Vietnam. Still in his twenties, he became the youngest journalist to receive Britain's highest award for journalism, Journalist of the Year and was the first to win it twice. Moving to the United States, he reported the upheavals there in the late 1960s and 1970s. He marched with America's poor from Alabama to Washington, following the assassination of Martin Luther King. He was in the same room when Robert Kennedy, the presidential candidate, was assassinated in June 1968.

His work in South East Asia produced an iconic issue of the London Mirror, devoted almost entirely to his world exclusive dispatches from Cambodia in the aftermath of Pol Pot's reign. The combined impact of his Mirror reports and his subsequent documentary, Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia, raised almost $50 million for the people of that stricken country. Similarly, his 1994 documentary and dispatches report from East Timor, where he travelled under cover, helped galvanise support for the East Timorese, then occupied by Indonesia.

In Britain, his four-year investigation on behalf of a group of children damaged at birth by the drug Thalidomide, and left out of the settlement with the drugs company, resulted in a special settlement.

His numerous documentaries on Australia, notably The Secret Country (1983), the bicentary trilogy The Last Dream (1988), Welcome to Australia (1999) and Utopia (2013) all celebrated and revealed much of his own country's 'forgotten past', especially its indigenous past and present.

He has won an Emmy and a BAFTA for his documentaries, which have also won numerous US and European awards, such as as the Royal Television Society's Best Documentary.

His articles appear worldwide in newspapers such as the Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Mail & Guardian (South Africa), Aftonbladet (Sweden), Il Manifesto (Italy). He writes a regular column for the New Statesman, London. In 2001, he curated a major exhibition at the London Barbican, Reporting the World: John Pilger's Eyewitness Photographers, a tribute to the great black-and-white photographers he has worked alongside. In 2003, he was awarded the prestigous Sophie Prize for '30 years of exposing injustice and promoting human rights.' In 2009, he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize.

Guest, Evan Greer

Guest Name
Evan Greer
Guest Occupation
Activist/Singer/Songwriter/Organizer
Guest Biography

Evan Greer is a trans/genderqueer activist singer/songwriter, parent, and organizer based in Boston. She writes and performs high-energy acoustic songs that inspire hope, build community, and incite resistance! Evan tours internationally as a musician and speaker, and facilitates interactive workshops to support movements for justice and liberation. Wielding an arsenal of fiercely radical songs that vary in style from pop-punk poetry to foot-stompin’ bluegrass singalongs, Evan has been honored to collaborate, tour, and share stages with artists as musically diverse as Pete Seeger, Talib Kweli, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Immortal Technique, Hari Kondabolu, Billy Bragg, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Pamela Means, Anti-Flag, Downtown Boys, Against Me!, The Coup, Anne Feeney, Oi Polloi, Dispatch, Dirty Projectors, Holly Near, and Chumbawamba. She's currently the campaign director for Fight for the Future, the viral digital rights nonprofit. Evan writes regularly for The Guardian and Huffington Post, has been a guest on All Things Considered, and has been interviewed about her activism by the New York Times, Rolling Stone, TIME Magazine, NBC, the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Democracy Now!, The Atlantic, CNN, Mother Jones, and even Fox News.

Evan is Campaign Director of Fight For the Future...

Fight for the Future is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 whose mission is to ensure that the web continues to hold freedom of expression and creativity at its core. We seek to expand the internet's transformative power for good, to preserve and enhance its capacity to enrich and empower. We envision a world where everyone can access the internet affordably, free of interference or censorship and with full privacy.

Our goal—always—is to build tech-enhanced campaigns that resonate with millions of people, enabling them to consolidate their power and win historic changes thought to be impossible. In 2012 we organized the largest online protest in history, an internet-wide strike against web censorship which defeated the SOPA and PIPA bills. More recently, our Battle for the Net campaign drove nearly four million people to contact the FCC resulting in the game-changing passage of net neutrality rules (a “First Amendment” for the Internet). Here’s exactly how we did it. Our Reset the Net campaign organized around protecting the privacy of hundreds of million of internet users.

Our accomplishments are testament to the notion that with the right approach and creative activism, the public interest can prevail—even over some of the most entrenched political forces in the world. For more details on these and other accomplishments, check out a timeline of the events leading up to and immediately after the SOPA strike.

Evan has been also been at the forefront of supporting the humane treatment and release of Chelsea Manning who had her sentence commuted by President Barack Obama.

 

Why I Fought for Chelsea Manning

by Evan Greer

Chelsea Manning is my friend, but I’ve never seen her face to face, or given her a hug.That’s because Chelsea has been in prison for the last seven years, sometimes held in conditions that the United Nations considers to be torture. She has been serving what was meant to be a 35-year sentence — all for helping to expose some of the U.S. government’s worst abuses by making public thousands of military documents.  This week, Chelsea will be released. I have to type those words again to believe them.

This week, Chelsea Manning will walk out of an all-male, maximum-security military facility in Leavenworth, Kansas, and begin the rest of her life.This moment may never have come. Chelsea attempted to take her own life twice over the last year of her incarceration, after years of abuse and harassment at the hands of the U.S. government. She was first locked up as a whistleblower, but as a transgender woman behind bars she was systematically denied medically recommended health care, and routinely subjected to degrading treatment even as the Obama administration trumpeted its support for LGBTQ rights.

Chelsea’s release is a victory for human rights and the future of freedom of expression. And it’s a testament to the power of grassroots organizing. If not for the hundreds of thousands of people from across the political spectrum who spoke up, rose up, and fought for Chelsea’s freedom, I firmly believe that she would not be with us today.Well before I met Chelsea, a strong network of activists, lawyers, journalists, nerds, veterans, free speech advocates and LGBTQ folks were rallying around her, drawing public attention to her case and ensuring that the U.S. government’s persecution of this brave woman did not go unnoticed.

"By refusing to remain silent Chelsea Manning has shifted the world in ways that will benefit so many."

Through my work at Fight for the Future, I connected with Chelsea and began to speak with her regularly on the phone. She is one of the most compassionate and humble people I have ever met. Whenever we would speak, in spite of the inhumane conditions of her incarceration, she would always ask me how I was doing — what could she do to help?

Chelsea has always been motivated by a driving desire to help others and make the world a better place. And by refusing to remain silent she has shifted the world in ways that will benefit so many, from other trans people living in America’s prisons to those in the crosshairs of our foreign policy.

Chelsea is a great connector. From behind bars, without access to the Internet and prevented from speaking directly with the press, Chelsea still managed to share herself with the world. She ran a Twitter account, and wrote a column for The Guardian. She even drafted a piece of cyber security legislation, which Fight for the Future delivered to lawmakers’ desks.

When prison officials targeted Chelsea and threatened her with solitary confinement, a broad coalition of organizations worked together to defend her. We gathered hundreds of thousands of petition signatures, and flooded officials with phone calls, tweets and messages demanding basic dignity and humane treatment.

We protested in the streets, at the Pentagon, at the prison, at pride parades. We rallied artists, technologists, libertarians, queer folk and rock stars.

The U.S. government wanted to erase Chelsea Manning along with the crimes that she exposed. We helped keep her in the spotlight, and ensured that she was never forgotten.

When Chelsea walks through those prison doors on Wednesday, everything will change. She’ll have the chance to make her own choices and define her own destiny for the first time in her adult life. She’ll be a prominent and outspoken transgender woman — one who has already inspired so many of us.

It was an honour to fight for Chelsea’s freedom. After all, she has dedicated her life to fighting for mine.

Tom Morello, Thurston Moore Contribute to Chelsea Manning Benefit Compilation

Graham Nash, Against Me!, Downtown Boys, more lend songs to raise money for whistleblower

Tom Morello, Thurston Moore, Graham Nash and more have contributed songs to a new compilation benefiting whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Chiaki Nozu/WireImage/Getty

Chelsea Manning's Commutation: What It Means

Before President Obama granted clemency, Manning was serving 35 years in prison, the longest sentence for a leak in U.S. history

Hugs for Chelsea also includes contributions from Amanda Palmer, Anti-Flag, Downtown Boys, Priests, Kimya Dawson and Sammus. While the majority of the comp comprises previously released material, it also includes unreleased tracks from Ted Leo, Screaming Females and Mirah. Greer also plans to keep adding songs to Hugs for Chelsea.

Several songs on Hugs for Chelsea are specifically about Manning, who, in 2013, was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks (former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in January). Thurston Moore's "Chelsea's Kiss" is a benefit track the former Sonic Youth rocker released in 2016, while Graham Nash shared "Almost Gone" – a collaboration with James Raymond – in 2013 to protest the particularly harsh conditions of Manning's incarceration.

"Chelsea Manning is one of my heroes," Nash said. "Anyone that has the courage to disturb the 'status quo,' to 'rock the boat' as she did is very brave and what she did was show some truth to the American people about what the government was doing in our name."

"As a transgender artist who fights for my community, it's hard to overstate the impact that Chelsea has had by sharing herself with the world," Greer tells Rolling Stone. "From her legal battles for access to hormones and appropriate clothing items to her highly publicized hunger strike, Chelsea fought for all trans people and secured victories that will benefit so many of us."

"She's been through so much and she needs our support," Michael Stipe added in a video promoting the project. "[Proceeds from the album will] help cover her basic needs as she transitions our of seven years of incarceration."

Along with Hugs for Chelsea, Greer and Manning's attorney, Chase Strangio, have set up a GoFundMe page to help raise additional funds for Manning.

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The People Speak

Show Host

The People Speak has evolved over the years with many great guests who have been interviewed by some very fine hosts.

We are a 55 minute show airing every other Sunday between 5-6pm Pacific/8-9pm Eastern. The show features a guest interview from any number of realms of interest (entertainment, science, philosophy, healing, spirituality, activism, politics, literature, etc.).

The guests share their stories, lives, strategies, books, philosophy, films, music, or whatever it is they use as a vehicle for making a difference for the better.

The radio show name, The People Speak, is based on the idea of allowing our audience - the People - a chance to interact with the guests during the hour, and we take phone or text questions from them during the interview.

Past guests include such notables as Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the late Howard Zinn, Nobel Laureates Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Kathryn Najimy, Oliver Stone, Jesse Ventura, Richard Belzer, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Scott Horton, Joan Jett, Willie Nelson, George Galloway, Roseanne Barr, Ed Asner, Chevy Chase, as well as various reps from Amnesty International, UN World Food Programme, and many others.

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