Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Show 30: Ransacking Liberty - The phone companies and the NSA

It's been a year since the public learned that AT&T and other phone companies might be providing logs of all phone calls and emails to the National Security Agency. Today we talk with an expert on wrongful government surveillance of citizens, Professor Christopher Pyle of Mount Holyoke College. He blew the whistle on the government spying program (cointelpro) in 1970, at the time of Watergate. And he says that with current internet and computer technologies, today's infrastructure has the potential for squashing citizen dissent and whistleblowing, worse than anything in the 1970's. He describes evidence that the deterrence against whistleblowers is already happening, including allegations that the information in the phone logs is being shared by the NSA with other government agencies such as the CIA and FBI, and that it is being used to stop leaks from the Bush Administration. He also says that the vacuum-cleaner style approach of the alleged program is not the most effective thing to spend money on to deter terrorism.

We also speak with shareholder activist, Conrad MacKerron of the As You Sow Foundation, who has filed shareholder resolutions to hold AT&T and Verizon accountable. In response, AT&T has asked the Bush Administration's Securities and Exchange Commission to block the shareholder resolution from going forward -- asserting that if AT&T had to report on these issues they'd be disclosing state secrets.


Rush Transcript of the program

Take Action at Working Assets website

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

As You Sow Foundation

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Show 29--Oxfam Slams Starbucks for Opposing Ethiopian Coffee Name Trademarking

Seth Petchers, Oxfam International's Make Trade Fair campaign coffee lead, discusses how Starbucks opposes Ethiopia's bid to trademark its renowned regional coffee names--Sidamo, Harrar, and Yirgacheffe. Dean Cycon, founder of Dean's Beans Organic Coffee Company, discusses problems with the trademarking solution, and how appellation (the system by which regional wines such as Champagne and Bordeaux protect their exclusivity) represents a better solution in his mind. He also discusses Fair Trade as an important part of the solution, while also identifying limitations of Fair Trade in achieving truly ethical and sustainable trade.


Oxfam's Make Trade Fair Starbucks Campaign

Starbucks' statement on its position regarding Ethiopia

Dean's Beans

Brand Hypocrisy at Starbucks by Oxford University Professor Douglas Holt