Back of the Book — October 17, 2020


Oh, it's another strange, pre-recorded radio program. Below is only one thing we did on this program. We will be updating this Web page as soon as we're able to.

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 on this Web site. 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 November 11, 2020, it will be held as a teleconference meeting, as the eight previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, October 14, 2020.

The LSB meeting spent almost ten whole minutes discussing the station's draft FY21 budget proposal.

The usual disruptions were endured. Before the meeting I had 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.

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, then I could, and then I couldn't again. You can take a look at it and see if I've been able to post anything on it lately. There are still some limitations, but I am assured that I can plug in the archive blurbs that were lost in the latest upgrade.

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. Management has fixed some problems that we'd been having with the archives.

For programs before March 23, 2019, we're all out of luck. The changes that took place once WBAI Management took control of the WBAI archives seems to have wiped out all access to anything before that date in March. 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 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 some 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. There is another program in the alternate week's time slot.

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?

More to come.

Map showing where it all almost ended.
Map of the USS Randolph Carrier Group Stopping Б59 Called C19 by the U.S. Navy

We're going to talk about the time during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when the world as we know it nearly ended.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was happening 58 years ago. It was on October 16, 1962 that President Kennedy was briefed about the Soviet missiles being emplaced in Cuba. On October 22, at 7:00 PM Kennedy addressed the nation about it and essentially told the world.

There was a lot going on around these developments. The Kennedy Administration was sure that if they did nothing that the Soviets would take this as a sign that the Americans were afraid of confrontations that could result in a nuclear exchange. The American administration believed that if they allowed the missiles to be installed that the Soviets would take over West Berlin soon thereafter. We all know that a blockade was the solution arrived at by the Kennedy Administration, which called it a quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba. There was rhetoric back and forth. On October 27, 1962, referred to as Black Saturday, USAF Major Rudolf Anderson flew a U2 reconnaissance mission over Cuba. At about noon that day the aircraft was struck by an SA-2 surface-to-air missile launched from Cuba, shooting down the U2 and killing Major Anderson. This was done in violation of Soviet orders. The next day Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev told his son Sergei that the shooting down of Anderson's U-2 was by the Cuban military at the direction of Raul Castro. This made things very tense. The same day there was another confrontation between heavily armed American and Soviet aircraft over the Bering Sea. It was a very tense day.

The declassified map above shows the situation with the American quarantine, aka blockade, as of midnight on October 27/28, 1962. At the center of the red circle is the submarine designated C19 by the United States Navy but named Б59 by the Soviet Navy, which translates to B59 in English.

The quarantine continued and U.S. Navy ships sought to enforce it. Eleven United States Navy destroyers and the aircraft carrier USS Randolph formed a carrier group that was doing quarantine patrol. Meanwhile Soviet diesel powered submarine Б59 was still heading to Cuba. The destroyers detected the Б59 and dropped signaling depth charges that were about the power of hand grenades, and therefore harmless to a submarine, to signal the Б59 that they were discovered and should surface.

Well, the Б59 had been out of touch for a while, and while submerged they couldn't get any radio signals. The captain of the Б59 thought that World War III might have broken out. Also the American depth charge signals were not quite the same as the Soviet ones.

What was largely unknown outside of a small number of Soviet Naval personnel and Soviet leaders was that the Б59 carried a torpedo with a nuclear warhead. The captain of the Б59 wanted to shoot the nuclear torpedo at the carrier group. The warhead was powerful enough to have taken out all or most of the ships. It's possible it could also have taken out the Б59 as well. The captain of the Б59 needed unanimous permission of all officers on board to fire it. The captain and the political officer agreed the nuclear torpedo should be used, but the third officer, Commodore Vasily Arkhipov refused. He held out against their pressure. In doing do he probably saved hundreds of millions of lives. If the Randolph's carrier group had been destroyed by a nuclear blast the Americans would have probably assumed that a nuclear missile fired from Cuba had done it and would have retaliated, as per Kennedy's warning days earlier to Khrushchev.

As it turned out the Б59 surfaced and that was the end of that incident. Ironically it was on that very day that Kennedy and Khrushchev were secretly reaching an agreement on how to peacefully end the crisis. It could all have ended so easily were it not for Vasily Arkhipov's refusal to go along. So on this program we saluted Vasily Arkhipov for saving all of those lives and Major Anderson who gave his life to keep the Kennedy Administration informed and able to understand the situation.

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 that no longer exists was the WBAI specific Goodlight Web based message board. It was sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as the bleepin' blue board, owing to the blue background that was used on its Web pages. This one had many people posting anonymously and there was also an ancillary WBAI people board that was just totally out of hand.

In June 2012, I ended up having to salvage the bleepin' blue board, and so I was the moderator on it for its last seven years, until it got too expensive.

Sometimes we used to 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 had become very infrequent. During the WBAI Coup of 2019, traffic picked up on that board again, for a while.

Back in the day it sometimes also got a bit nasty. All sorts of things used to happen on that 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.

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

A WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2020, R. Paul Martin.