Back of the Book — June 1, 2019

It's Thursday night, June 13, 2019, 21:34, and this Web page is finished. I've updated this page with information about the accelerated melting of the Antarctic ice sheet. Previously I'd updated it with a bit about the new OMNY system that's replacing the MetroCard, and I've added a tiny bit on Walt Whitman, whom we'd talked briefly about, and a link to his major poetical work. Previously I'd updated this Web page with more about the Mueller Report and Trump's tantrum-tariffs. The original top of this page follows the arrow. So it's LGBTQ+∞ Pride Month. We'll have some things to say about that, and we'll be talking about the dismal world that Trump and the rest of the right wing are devolving everything into. We'll be pitching, but it should be the last time for a little while. We plan to get to the below topics and more on this program, but since it's a pitching program and we have to raise money for the radio station there is no telling exactly what will happen.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings?

I have also posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to be held on June 12, 2019, at the First Unitarian Church chapel 119 Pierrepont St, corner of Monroe Place, in Brooklyn, NY 11201, Brooklyn, NY 11201. These meetings are usually supposed to start at 7:00 PM.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at 7:10 PM at the First Unitarian Church chapel 119 Pierrepont St, corner of Monroe Place, in Brooklyn, NY 11201, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

The LSB had to populate some PNB committees at this meeting. This is all happening later than usual because the 2018, Pacifica elections were so delayed. Luckily, the LSB didn't have to venture into the potential quagmire of multiple Single Transferable Voting (STV) elections, as happened at the previous meeting.

Each year the LSB has to elect two members, who are not Directors, to each of four PNB committees. And at this meeting each side put forth a single candidate for each committee, so there was no need for STV elections. In addition there were task forces that didn't require elections, and the Committee of Inclusion which has some elected members from the LSB. It all got done pretty efficiently.

The LSB, meeting as a Delegates Assembly, also considered one and a half bylaws amendments from the PNB. I say one and a half because the LSB really only got to a vote on one, and just broached the second one without voting on it. There are actually three bylaws amendments that have to go before the LSBs. At this meeting one bylaws amendment failed to get the required number of votes to pass, the other never got to a vote and the third was never even brought up.

At this meeting the LSB actually got to a Treasurer's Report. Unfortunately one of the JUC operatives decided to disrupt it. He didn't understand the acronyms used during the report, he claimed, and so he started shouting out about it. I told him that he could ask his questions after the report proper was finished, but he insisted on shouting and disrupting the meeting. Typical JUC. I got the oral report done, the first in 11 months, and there were questions and answers after it. The JUC disrupter never said exactly what he'd wanted clarified. He did state his opinion that there shouldn't be oral Treasurer's Reports the the LSB meetings. An amazingly stupid proposal. I put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

Some years ago the WBAI LSB voted to hold its regular meetings on the second Wednesday of every month, subject to change by the LSB, which gives us the following schedule:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

The Pacifica elections are over, for now. This past fortnight I've gotten an E-mail from the National Elections Supervisor that nominations for, WBAI's local board will open on June 1, 2019, and will close on June 30. Yeah, more of this crazy election stuff. Let's hope that the independent candidates do well in this election too; the very existence of WBAI depends on it.

WBAI has a program schedule up on its Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

Here is WBAI's current Internet stream. We can no longer tell if the stream is working without testing every possible stream. Good luck.

WBAI is archiving the programs! WBAI has permanently switched to yet another new archive Web page! This one is more baffling than the previous one. For some time I was unable to post archive blurbs, but I've found that after this program I was finally able to do so, but only for this morning's program. I still can't go back and plug in any archive blurbs for the programs that are missing from the archive. We'll see how this works out.

This is a link to the latest version of the official WBAI archive. The archiving software appears to have been at least partially fixed. To get to the archive of this program you can use the usual method: you'll have to click on the drop-down menu, which says “Display,” and find Back of the Book on that menu. We're pretty early in the list, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Once you find the program name click “GO” and you'll see only this Back of the Book program. I expect that after next Saturday they'll have the pre-recorded program that's alternating with us now showing up there too.

For programs before January 26, 2019, you'll have to click on the same drop-down menu as above, which says “Display,” and find Specify Date, it's the second choice from the top. You are then given a little pop-up calendar and you can choose the date of the program there. Then click “GO” and you'll see a list of programs that aired on that date. For instance, the previous program will be under January 12, 2019. You'll just need to scroll to the 5 AM to 6 AM slot to get to us. For those previous programs you can get the audio, but nothing else, since I can't post anything to those pages anymore. Yeah, it looks like they'll have the alternating program's name prominently there, but if you have the right date it'll be our program. Good luck.

Since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI he's not alternating with us on the air. At this time there's a regular, pre-recorded, program in the alternate week's time slot.

With the elections around Pacifica having gone well the PNB may be poised to help WBAI survive, rather than being a detriment as has happened some years ago. I'll be trying to update my Web pages about all of this in the near future, now that I've gotten my ancient HTML editor working on the new computer.

Bring Back Uncle Sidney!

Our friend, fellow WBAI producer and Saddle Pal Uncle Sidney Smith has been banned from WBAI by General Manager Berthold Reimers. The General Manager will not say why. He won't even tell Sidney why he's banned! This is grossly unfair to Sidney and constitutes abuse of Staff. Why did Berthold ban Sidney?

There's a posting here about it. More to come.


The WBAI Spring 2019, 'thon is on. Management has moved programs around based on their evidence of having listeners, which is accomplished in the WBAI Managerial mind by how much the programs raise during these on-air fund raisers and by the Nielsen ratings, which the station is now getting after years of not getting any ratings at all. I hope we raise some money for the station this time.

So for this WBAI Spring 'thon, if you can, please call 1-516-620-3602 during the radio program and pledge some amount of money to help keep Back of the Book on WBAI and help keep WBAI on the air. Remember, the phone pledge needs to come in while we're on the air for it to count, otherwise use the on-line method below.

If you want to pledge to the program via the Web while we're on the air, you need to go here and pick the amount you want to donate, then click on “Add to cart,” and then be sure to pick Back of the Book as the favorite show from the drop down menu. Otherwise your pledge won't be counted towards the program.

gay pride flag
LGBTQ+∞ Flag

Yes, it's LGBTQ+∞ Month again! The month will culminate in the annual Christopher Street Liberation Day March, referred to by most people as the Pride March. This march will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that started in the early morning hours of September 29, 1969. And once again there is fighting and some chaos.

I used to be one of the people who ran the march and rally decades ago, when the group that ran it was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee (CSLDC). Oh, we had stuff going on then, too. In 1980, we even had groups trying to take over the march and rally for their own purposes. I've gone on about that on the program in the past.

This year I'm not sure how I'm going to get into the march at all. For the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots they had all sorts of bizarre things going on, with a lot of emphasis on a very long rainbow flag, I think it was supposed to be a mile long or something. It was supposed to have gone up Fifth Ave. for its entire length and the spectacular nature of that had been emphasized. Well, it didn't get unfurled for more than a block or two before it was cut up to accommodate cross town traffic.

This year, I'm not even sure if there will be a place for me in the march. I still need to find out. I'll certainly be talking about it later this month.

Robert Mueller statement 2019-05-29

We talked about former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's statement this past week regarding the Russia collusion and obstruction of justice Investigations and Donnie Bonespur Trump.

Attorney General William Barr issued his four page letter on March 24, 2019. That letter claimed to have described, as opposed to having summarized, the Mueller Report which took up 448 pages in the redacted version. One of the things that Barr said was that, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Trump predictably seized on this statement from Barr and spent the next couple of months Tweeting, announcing and expressing in every way he could that he was proven by the Mueller Report to be not guilty of colluding with the Russians or of obstruction of Justice.

After a lot of this kind of propaganda from Trump and his henchcreeps Robert Mueller finally decided to make his own public statement about the report and about the spin that Barr and Trump had put on it with that four page letter, and with their subsequent statements. The big line from that short statement by Mueller was, If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so, and of course they didn't say so. Mueller's statement is not sitting well with Trump.

Trump is sloshing around attacking Mueller now and he's come up with a tantrum-tariff aimed at Mexico that some news outlets are suggesting is actually an attempt to divert attention from Mueller's comments. Meanwhile lots of people are already suffering from Trump's tariffs, and his talk of irrational tariffs, and more will suffer as time goes on.

Trump trying to distract attention from Mueller with a tariff announcement.

The tantrum-tariff on China is already causing people to spend more money on various goods. Trump revealed some weeks ago that he doesn't understand that the exporting country does not pay the tariffs. A tariff is an importation duty, a tax on whatever targeted goods get imported. So instead of the American economy realizing over $100,000,000 in revenue from the tariffs on China as Trump has claimed it's actually the consumers who will take that economic hit. The fact that Trump does not understand this is a tremendous illustration of how stupid he is.

Right after Mueller made his public statement Trump suddenly announced a plan about imposing escalating tariffs on Mexico, saying that, Mexico has taken advantage of the United States for decades. Of course he made no case for this. He gave no examples to support his statement. He did say that Mexico had to do what it had to in order to stop the record numbers of Central American asylum seekers from getting to the southern border of the United States. What exactly it is that he's requiring the Mexican government do in order to satisfy his vague demand and prevent the tantrum-tariff from going into effect on June 10th, has not yet been stated. Trump says that the tariff on Mexican goods would escalate if Mexico doesn't accede to those vague demands. Trump said that the tariff rate would go up by 5% every month until October 1st, when it would go up to $25%.

This would affect a lot of Americans. The car industry has been getting a lot of its parts from factories in Mexico for years, and all of those parts would cost more, so cars and trucks would cost more. There would also be various foods, like avocados, that would significantly increase in price.

Would this be enough to make his most ardent supporters dump Trump?

Some congressional Republicans are talking about getting together the House and Senate to block the tariffs, but they'd need to make it veto proof and that would require a wholesale rebuke of Trump by the Republicans in Congress, which seems unlikely, given how they've been behaving for the last two years.

It is being suggested by various news outlets that this entire tantrum-tariff proposal is nothing but an attempt to distract attention from Mueller's statements, and that it was the brain child of the odious Stephen Miller, Trump's political adviser who has pushed a lot of racist and far right wing proposals in the past, some of which Trump has gone for.

Missouri with a hanger
Missouri Has Passed A Heartbeat Law

We are really going to try to get to a discussion of the current right wing strategy of passing outrageous laws that are aimed at preventing women from having a choice about what happens with their own bodies. The entire aim of these laws, which some of the people passing them admit are unenforceable, is to get the laws into the Supreme Court where the current right wing majority is expected to use the challenges to these seriously unconstitutional laws to reverse the court's 1973, ruling in Roe v. Wade.

So in the last little while Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Ohio have passed these draconian, obviously unconstitutional bills prohibiting abortion. The effective time limits on allowed abortion procedures are so short that many women will not even have realized that they're pregnant before the option to terminate the pregnancy is foreclosed upon.

One of the new OMNY tap devices.
The Tap is to Replace the Swipe

Several weeks ago these strange looking attachments suddenly appeared on the turnstiles of some of the IRT stations. We were wondering what they were. Now we know.

The MTA announced that these were for the new tap-and-pay system called OMNY, which stands for One Metro New York. This is the system that the MTA plans to use to replace the MetroCard, which was phased in between 1993, and 1997. The MetroCard replaced the old subway token, which had replaced nickels and dimes in 1953.

With the new system the rider just taps the large Tap Here screen on the OMNY reader with anything that's authorized to be used. At this time, the MTA says, ... you can use your contactless credit, debit, or reloadable prepaid card, or the digital wallet on your mobile phone or wearable, to pay the fare.

The day before this program aired the MTA's new, experimental OMNY terminals went live on the 4, 5 and 6 subway stations between Grand Central Station at 42nd St. and the Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn, and also on all MTA-operated Staten Island buses. At this time your tap only gets you a full-fare pay-per-ride fare. There's no discount. That transfer from bus to subway or vice-versa that you can currently get with a MetroCard on all transfers will only work with the OMNY system if the transfer involves a Staten Island bus and a subway entered via the OMNY system.

Currently the devices that can be used on the OMNY system to tap-and-pay are smartphones equipped with tap-and-pay systems, and a credit or debit card equipped with the right technology, but from what the MTA is saying it sounds like you'll need to get them authorized by your bank or credit card issuer beforehand.

Yeah, I'd sure feel comfortable whipping out a smartphone that costs $500 or more to smack onto a thing hanging off a turnstile in the subway. And what could go wrong with doing the same thing with your debit card or credit card? I suppose that a part of this experiment will be to see if thieves target those using vulnerable devices to access the OMNY system.

The MTA's goal is that all of the city's subway stations and buses will be equipped with the OMNY technology by October 2020. At some point after that the MTA will launch an OMNY app to allow riders to use unlimited passes loaded onto their smartphones. The MTA will issue plastic OMNY cards, which will replace the vinyl MetroCards that we've been swiping for years, some time in 2021. This timeline projects the MetroCard joining the subway token in New York City transit history by some time in 2023.

I suppose that the MTA will retain the half price fare for old farts revered elders, which does help. But this OMNY technology uses a radio connection, like the current Wi-Fi that's used so much, and I wonder if devices will be made that will be able to read the future OMNY cards at a distance and somehow steal information or pirate rides from a card. The MetroCard doesn't have that vulnerability.

Well, this OMNY thing is a ride we'll all be taking together.

I'm Melting!

While pitching we got into a talk about an article that cited a new study of Antarctica and its current state while the world warms. The newspaper article's headline stated, Nearly one-quarter of western Antarctic ice unstable, alarming new report claims, which is pretty bad news for everyone.

We pointed out that the details included in this article were talked about on this radio program some months ago. And of course keeping WBAI on the air and Back of the Book on WBAI to keep on reporting on scientific topics long before most in the mainstream media get to them, and reporting on them in greater detail, is also a good idea.

The new study says that the West Antarctic glaciers are melting at a much faster rate than they had been in the 1990s. The reason for this is that the water around and under the glaciers as they get to the sea is warmer than usual and it's getting warmer still. We had talked about this situation, with information from a Scientific American article, back in January. We'd also cited that comprehensive article's details about how ice that gets offshore and either floats or is grinding against the sea floor is crucial to slowing down the ice that's still on the land. When the ice that's just offshore melts it can't hold back the ice on land and so the ice on land slides down into the sea at a faster rate, and so the conveyor belt of glacial ice sliding off the continent and into the sea moves more quickly.

The article in the newspaper quotes a scientist as saying that since 1992, ice losses from Antarctica alone have made the global sea level rise 4.5 millimeters. Other glaciers, like those in Greenland, are also melting at an accelerating rate. So they are contributing to sea level rise as well.

The accelerated warming of the ice at and around the poles is a major contributor to the rising sea levels that have already started impacting people living in island nations of the Pacifica Ocean and around Alaska. Places like New York City will be facing partial inundation by the middle of this century, at the current rate of sea level rise.

American poet Walt Whitman's 200th birthday was also the day before this program. We couldn't do as much as we'd have liked to, but for those who would like to look at his major work, you can read Leaves of Grass on Project Gutenberg.

In the past fortnight I have updated the following Web page: The page for the May 18, 2019, radio program.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

One open list is the WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. It is sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as “the bleepin' blue board,” owing to the blue background used on its Web pages. This one has many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary “WBAI people” board that's just totally out of hand. The bleepin' blue board had to add a step for folks to get onto it because it was under attack by spambots. When you click on the above link you may be asked for a username and password. Type in Username: poster Password: enternow

UPDATE: In of June 2012, I ended up having to salvage the bleepin' blue board, and so I'm the moderator on it now.

When the computer in Master Control is working we sometimes have live interaction with people posting on the “Goodlight Board” during the program.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Saturday Morning With the Radio On used to alternate with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

One formerly popular mailing list is the “NewPacifica” mailing list. Founded October 31, 2000, this list has been moribund for a couple of years due to de facto censorship by the group owner. As of February 2019, it had 696 subscribers coast to coast, but postings on it are very infrequent now.

Back in the day it sometimes also got a bit nasty. All sorts of things used to happen on this list and official announcements were frequently posted there.

You can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too. If you subscribe to the “NewPacifica” mailing list you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list.

There is the option to receive a “digest” version of the list, which means that a bunch of messages are bundled into one E-mail and sent to you at regular intervals, this cuts down on the number of E-mails you get from the list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.

This list also has a Web based interface where you can read messages and from which you can post your own messages.

We like to stay interactive with our listeners. Here are the various options for you to get in touch with us.

You can also send me E-mail.

And now you can even reach me on Twitter Twitter logo

WBAI related links

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2019, R. Paul Martin.