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Delete Your Account Podcast

Delete Your Account is a new podcast hosted by journalist Roqayah Chamseddine and her plucky sidekick Kumars Salehi. Every week they will talk about important stories from the worlds of politics and pop culture, both on and off-line, in a way that will never bore you.
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Delete Your Account Podcast
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Aug 23, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

This week, Roqayah and Kumars were honored to be joined by two organizers with the Workers World Party who have been in the middle of recent antifa actions in the South. Taryn Fivek, originally from the South, is based in New York and was in Charlottesville to confront the Unite the Right rally. Loan Tran is based in Durham, North Carolina, and was instrumental in the direct action that pulled down Durham’s Confederate monument in solidarity with the antifascist protesters in Charlottesville. Taryn and Loan share their accounts of those respective events, as well as the wave of arrests and other state repression following the action in Durham.

The guests give their takes on the state of right-wing reaction and left-wing resistance today, explaining how the Workers World Party’s political practice is both informed by the long Marxist-Leninist tradition and committed to centering the struggles of the most oppressed, including the incarcerated.

Follow Taryn on Twitter at @fivek and Loan at @ntranloan. Visit Workers World Party’s website to learn more about getting involved, and contribute whatever you can to support Workers World Party’s continued efforts on Patreon.

Aug 15, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah discuss the so-called "Unite The Right" nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the murder of comrade Heather Heyer and injury of 19 others by a nazi terrorist in a car ramming attack. We play a short interview with Peter Moskowitz, New York-based journalist and author of How to Kill a City who you'll remember from our last episode. It just so happens that Peter was in Charlottesville where they witnessed first-hand the rally and counter-protests, including nearly getting hit themselves in the car ramming attack. Peter and Kumars discuss how the lack of any substantive Truth and Reconciliation process in the US following the Civil War led us to where we are now, and how something resembling Truth and Reconciliation must be achieved. While it is unlikely to look like the Nuremberg Trials for everyone, it's possible that mild bear macings, loss of employment, shunning by family and other carefully considered tactics could serve a role.

After our discussions of Charlottesville, we move on to a conversation about the recent Democratic Socialists of America national convention with two amazing guests. First, we are joined by returning guest Shaun Scott, a Seattle-based independent filmmaker and author of Millennials and the Moments That Made Us - A Cultural History of the U.S. from 1982—Present, due out in February 2018. Shaun is also a member of the Seattle chapter of DSA and served as a delegate to the convention. Our second guest is Katy, better known as @kid_mao on twitter, appearing on the show for her first but hopefully not only time. She’s was a member of the ad hoc steering committee for the Boston chapter of DSA, before moving to Connecticut where she started a DSA organizing committee in rural Northeast Connecticut, known as “Quiet Corner DSA”. She attended the recent convention as a delegate for the Boston chapter. We get Shaun and Katy's takes on the various outcomes of the convention, including strong resolutions on prison/police abolition, BDS, reproductive justice, and anti-harassment. We talk about how DSA has come this far this fast, dramatically shifting positions on topics including imperialism and international solidarity, as well as ways it still needs to improve in the coming years. We also get Shaun and Katy's takes on DSA Cop-gate, and discuss whether and under what conditions ex-police or ex-soldiers should be allowed into Left spaces.

You can follow Peter at @ptrmsk. Follow Shaun at @eyesonthestorm and Katy at @kid_mao.

Please donate to support the family of Heather Heyer and other victims of Nazi terror:

https://www.gofundme.com/our-sisters-keeper-heatherheyer

https://www.gofundme.com/united-cville-victim-relief

https://www.gofundme.com/natalie-romero-medical-fund

https://www.gofundme.com/49l4x3c

 

Aug 8, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah are joined by two very special guests: Peter Moskowitz, New York-based journalist and author, and Shanti Singh, a housing rights activist in San Francisco and a leader of SF DSA’s newly launched Housing Committee. We go deep into the issue of gentrification as it is explored in Peter’s powerful new book How to Kill a City. Using the cities of New Orleans, New York, Detroit, and San Francisco as examples, Peter guides us through the many stages of gentrification, from the arrival of the first gentrifiers seeking out a cheaper home to global corporate real estate speculators buying entire neighborhoods. Peter describes how this process eventually transforms working-class communities into stretches of usually vacant vacation properties for the world's mega-elite. Shanti describes her experiences combating gentrification in San Francisco, where gentrification is especially pervasive and destructive, and where activists have relatively few tools at their disposal for fighting back. We discuss how government policies exacerbate housing scarcity and drive prices ever-increasingly higher, disproportionately driving people of color and poor people from neighborhoods they've called home for decades. Gentrification is not an issue that is only impacting coastal elite cities like San Francisco and New York, it is only a matter of time until it comes to a neighborhood near you (if it hasn't already). Peter and Shanti argue that housing is a universal right that should become a bigger priority for left organizers.

You can follow Shanti on twitter at @uhshanti. Follow Peter at @ptrmsk.

Aug 2, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah are back together at last! They have fun in the intro talking about the relationship woes of various Trump accolades, and Kumars predicts an increase in the number of relationships that will be ruined by politics in the future.

For the interview, Roqayah has a great guest co-host, George Cicciarello-Maher, meaning that an even luckier Kumars gets some much-needed time off. George teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia, assuming he hasn’t been fired since we posted this. He is also the author of We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution and Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela.

Roqayah and George are joined by Coromoto Haraba, a translator and journalist based in Caracas, Venezuela. She’s an anarchist who has been supporting the Chavista movement since 2004 when the right-wing tried to depose president Chávez via referendum. At the moment, she works for Telesur, but speaks to us in her personal capacity about what’s been happening on-the-ground, including with recent Constituent Assembly Elections and what they mean for the future of the Venezuelan people. We learn about the roots of the current political crisis, and about the street protests gripping Venezuela. We talk about legitimate critiques of the Maduro government while also debunking several baseless opposition talking points. We discuss violence committed by the state, but also highlight racist lynchings of Chavistas by the opposition, ignored in international media. Coro and George explain the significance of recent Constituent Assembly elections, leading eventually to a rewriting of the Venezuelan constitution. Coro and George also give their thoughts on how the Chavista movement survives continued and escalating aggression from capitalists.

You can follow Coro on twitter at @coritoj. Follow George at @ciccmaher.

Jul 25, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by returning guest-co-host Nora Barrows-Friedman, reporter and associate editor for The Electronic Intifada. In the intro, Kumars and Nora discuss the latest developments in Israel/Palestine as well as Roqayah's triumphant return to the show!

For the interview, Kumars and Nora welcome Jeff Stein, Congressional reporter for Vox, where he reports on politics, policy, and activism. He is also the former editor and founder of the Ithaca Voice. We wanted to talk to Jeff about the reporting he’s been doing on healthcare and other issues of relevance to the Left which happens to be some of the most valuable work coming out of a mainstream outlet. We first learn about what got Jeff interested in the worlds of politics and journalism, as well as the way he approaches his work. We ask Jeff about his coverage of the defensive fight against the various iterations of Trumpcare, as well as the offensive fight for single-payer/Medicare for all, and why he is one of the few journalists who is covering these issues so thoroughly for a mainstream outlet. We also talk about the activist groups engaged in these fights, most notably ADAPT, and the impact they are having.

Aside from the healthcare fights, we also talk about the new Democratic slogan which Jeff revealed to the world (A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages) and whether it will resonate with anyone. We also talk about new legislation that would criminalize participation in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Jeff tells us about a conversation he had with ranking Democratic congressman Eliot Engel where Engel didn't seem to have a problem with criminalizing speech he didn't personally agree with.

You can follow Nora on twitter at @norabf. Follow Jeff at @JStein_Vox.

Jul 19, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by guest co-host Samantha Jacobs, a Chicago-based comedy writer and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Become a Patreon subscriber to hear our premium After Hours episode with Sam, in which we run the gamut from her PSL work to socialist memes, rap, and standup comedy. In the intro, we talk about the People's Congress of Resistance, a project of PSL and other organizations that Sam has been organizing around, as well as the health care debacle.

For the interview, Kumars and Sam talk to Sofía Gallisá Muriente, a Puerto Rican activist and artist who works mainly with video, photography, text and installation. Sofia's work has been displayed at the San Juan Poligraphic Triennial, Teorética, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. She’s currently one of the co-directors of Beta-Local, a non-profit supporting art and critical thought in Puerto Rico. After learning about how Sofia became involved in politics, we learn the history of Puerto Rico's transition from a US colony to a "free associated state", a gimmick designed to relieve scrutiny of Puerto Rico's lack of sovereignty while still facilitating exploitation by US companies. Sofia explains how the current crises gripping Puerto Rico, caused or exacerbated by the US government, are rooted in the legacy of colonialism and enshrined in Puerto Rico's own constitution. Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion to foreign investors, money it is constitutionally required to pay back before it can spend a penny on social services. We also learn about the often overlooked $50 billion needed to fund Puerto Rico's pension system, as well as steep Medicaid cuts and loss of tax breaks affecting the island. We discuss the recent referendum on statehood vs. independence vs. status quo, boycotted by over 80% of the country. Sofia explains that no side of the debate has a plan for how to deal with the current crises, making the statehood vs. independence question less relevant. The only thing that is certain is that prevailing institutions will never save Puerto Rico, and alternative, grassroots structures must be built to weather the storm.

You can follow Sam on Twitter at @comradeSammy. You can check out Sofia's work at her website.

Jul 12, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by guest co-host Julia Damphouse, a Canadian organizer and student in Berlin. Julia is involved with the German Left Party's International Working Group and the Berlin Jacobin Reading Group. Kumars and Julia use the introduction to learn a little more about Julia's bio and to discuss their shared love of Germany and the eccentricities of German politics.

For the interview, Kumars and Julia welcome Julia's friend and comrade, Kathleen Brown. Kathleen is an American socialist living in Berlin, who, along with Julia, is an activist with The Coalition Berlin, one of the main groups involved in organizing the mobilization against the recent G20 summit in Hamburg. We start off by learning more about Kathleen and how she got involved with left organizing. We also talk about her organization, The Coalition Berlin, how it came about and what their mission is. We get some background on the G20 Summit and discuss why people protest it, this year and every year. We talk about the concept of alter- or alt-globalization, championed by left groups, which embraces international solidarity and cooperation as an answer to both failing neoliberal globalization and the anti-globalization, right-wing nationalist movements building around the world. We discuss what took place at the G20, both at the meeting itself and the protests outside. We discuss the ramifications of the Hamburg protests, including a looming crackdown on civil liberties by the German and possibly other EU governments. Finally, we share our thoughts on what activists in Europe should do moving forward and what activists worldwide should do in response to summits like these in the future, especially as their practical significance decreases each year.

You can keep up with what The Coalition Berlin is doing on Twitter at @TheCoalitionDE as well as on their Facebook page. You can also follow Julia at @remarksist and read her interview with Emily Lacquer about the G20 Summit and mobilization against it over at Jacobin.

Jul 5, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars starts the episode talking to frequent friend-of-the-show Nora Barrows-Friedman (@norabf on twitter) about everything from new Jay-Z to New Jersey. Did Kumars sign up for Tidal to listen to the album? You'll have to listen to the episode to find out!

For the interview, Kumars and Mariame Kaba (@prisonculture on twitter) talk to Kay Whitlock, an activist, organizer and writer who has been involved in movements for social justice for over 50 years. She's co-written books including Queer (In)justice, which addresses the criminalization of LGBT people in the US, and Considering Hate, which argues for abandoning the hate crime framework as a means to address vigilante violence. Kay joins us from her home in Missoula, Montana.

Kay talks about growing up conservative in Southern Colorado before changing her views, becoming immersed in labor, anti-war, and black and brown power movements in the late 1960's and early 1970's. She gives her thoughts on the organizing successes and failures of that time, praising the imagination of activists while cautioning against romanticizing them. We also talk to Kay about her work on hate crime policy, including writing and organizing she did with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker justice organization. Through multiple reports for the AFSC and her book, Considering Hate, Kay argues that hate crime legislation harms the same groups it purports to help by distracting from the structural roots of vigilante violence. Hate crime legislation places blame on individual vigilantes even though vigilantes just take supremacist structures to their logical conclusions. Kay also discusses the disappointing limitations of Occupy Wall Street and the great potential of the Movement for Black Lives. Finally, Kay gives us some advice on how to deal with the rise of the right wing, drawing on her vast personal experience.

You can follow Kay on twitter at @KayJWhitlock.

Jun 28, 2017
This is only part of our interview with Shaun Scott. If you want get the whole interview, support the show, and receive access to tons of other bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!
 
This week Kumars teams up with first-time guest host Eoin Higgins, a journalist and writer whose work appears regularly on Paste, FAIR, ATTN, and his personal website eoinhiggins.com. Kumars and Eoin sit down with filmmaker and author Shaun Scott, whose upcoming book Millennials and the Moments That Made Us - A Cultural History of the U.S. from 1982—Present (Zero Books, February 2018) tells the story of our descent into neoliberalism through the lens of pop culture and from the perspective of the so-called millennial generation. Touching on media influences from The Simpsons and ‘80s action movies to Drake and LeBron James, Shaun shows how dominant narratives about millennials and their place in American society are rooted in the broader social and economic upheavals brought on by Reaganism. Behind arguments about millennial laziness and entitlement is the need for a class of low-wage, insecure workers who can be exploited. 
 
Eoin, despite not technically being a millennial, does his best to relate as we use excerpts from Shaun’s book to discuss the complicated and often ambivalent politics of comedy, rap, memes, and how they’ve shaped millennials’ ideologies. Finally, the conversation ends with a discussion of how those ideologies are translating into political engagement, and Shaun’s suggestions for a path forward that takes into account both our generation’s strengths and the existing context that will continue to shape us. 
 
Follow Eoin on Twitter at @EoinHiggins_ and Shaun at @eyesonthestorm. Millennials and the Moments That Made Us will be released February 2018 - preorder it here!
Jun 21, 2017

This is only part of our interview with Emmett Rensin and Alex Press. If you want get the whole interview, support the show, and receive access to tons of other bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by two luminaries of the left, Emmett Rensin and Alex Press, to talk about liberalism and the merits and pitfalls of psychoanalyzing politics with a focus on Emmett's latest essay over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, "The Blathering Superego at the End of History." Emmett who was on the show last year talking about grad student labor organizing, is a grad student and writes for a ton of major outlets including Newsweek, The LA Times and the LA Review of Books, where he is a contributing editor. We're also glad to have a first-time guest today in Alex Press, grad student in sociology who writes about labor and political economy and such things for The Nation and Jacobin, where she's about to start working as an editor.

 

Kumars, Alex, and Emmett unpack various aspects of Emmett's essay, which makes the case that over the last several decades liberals in the US have completed a transition from a view of politics as an ideological conflict between opposed factions to a view of politics as an educational struggle to get everyone the "facts." Using the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud as a metaphor, Emmett argues that liberalism in 2017 sees its job primarily as that of a censor, not just powerless but oblivious in the radically polarized context of post-Trump America. They discuss criticism of the piece from liberals as well as legitimate critiques from the left. Kumars takes Emmett's metaphor too literally and outs himself as a Freudian, while Alex does her best to keep everyone honest, elaborating on the point that focusing on individual psychology risks watering down leftist critiques that see oppression as systemic and material. Patreon subscribers also get another 20 minutes of show that you won't want to miss!

 

Follow Emmett on twitter at @EmmettRensin. Follow Alex on twitter at @alexnpress. Make sure to check out Alex's piece on liberal and right-wing appropriation of left language that we mentioned during the episode.

 

Jun 14, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined once again by Emily Robinson to discuss Jeremy Corbyn's stunning victory in the recent UK parliamentary elections. Emily is a co-convener of Momentum Edinburgh and she does communications for Scottish Young Labour Socialists and the Democratic Socialists of America. Emily also brings along her friend, Rory Scothorne, the co-author of Roch Winds: A Treacherous Guide to the State of Scotland. He is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh studying the Scottish radical left since the 1960s, is on the committee of Momentum Edinburgh, and is a member of Scottish Labour Young Socialists.

Kumars, Emily and Rory talk about the UK election results, giving an overview of the British parliamentary system and the various parties involved. Emily and Rory talk about how Theresa May's decision to call a snap election in an attempt to consolidate power for her Tory party backfired massively. They discuss how Labour's Jeremy Corbyn was able to capitalize on May's hubris with a radical and positive platform which contrasted dramatically with Tory plans for continued austerity. Emily and Rory explain how Theresa May's plan to form a weak coalition government with the right-wing Protestant fundamentalist Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party could jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement which ended the Northern Ireland Conflict. The gang also discusses how leftists at home and abroad can support Corbyn's project and how we can hold him accountable in the face of a full-frontal assault by the capitalist class.

You can follow Emily on twitter at @See_Em_Play. You can follow Rory on twitter at @shirkerism. Check out Rory's blog here.

Jun 8, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined once again by Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who writes about weather and science for a variety of outlets. He’s also the host of the podcast Warm Regards, where scientists, activists, and journalists join Eric to discuss climate change and what to do about it. Kumars and Eric follow up on their last conversation to see how climate policy is progressing under Trump. Eric discusses the mostly symbolic effect of Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords which obscures the more pernicious climate policies of his administration. Kumars and Eric stay hopeful, pointing to how Trump's climate agenda is galvanizing the opposition in ways previously thought unimaginable.

Next, Kumars is joined by friend-of-the-show Freddy Martinez, a computer security researcher and activist specializing in communications security and police accountability.  He is also the director of Lucy Parsons Labs. Kumars and Freddy talk about the recent FBI arrest of Reality Leigh Winner for the leaking of an NSA report on Russian hacking attempts to The Intercept. Freddy details mistakes made by both Winner and The Intercept that led to her arrest, and how this prosecution fits into the war on whistleblowers that began under Obama and now continues under Trump. Freddy gives us some tips on how to mitigate risk when leaking documents to the press.

You can follow Eric on twitter at @EricHolthaus. You can follow Freddy on twitter at @B_Meson.

Helpful links mentioned during the episode:

https://www.pacer.gov/

https://securedrop.org/directory

https://onionshare.org/

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/1971/

And make sure to send all of your leaks to:

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/1971/

Please, for the love of god, don't email them to Josh Rogin.

 

May 31, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined once again by Mariame Kaba, organizer extraordinaire and @prisonculture on twitter, who returns as co-host. Kumars and Mariame start off the show celebrating 50 episodes and a complete first year of Delete Your Account, before moving on to more serious topics. Mariame talks about recent developments in the campaign to free Bresha Meadows, a young black girl who was imprisoned for killing her abusive father in self-defense. Mariame discusses the plea deal that Bresha and her family have accepted that will see her eventually freed from custody, although only after several additional months in jail and an involuntary treatment center. We discuss how this development is a huge win for her and her family, and for activists fighting to keep her from being tried for murder as an adult, but also talk about how this still isn't justice, as Bresha shouldn't have served a day behind bars.

For the interview, Kumars and Mariame talk to Nesreen Hasan, a Palestinian-American youth organizer with the Arab American Action Network, a grassroots organization working to provide necessary services to Arab immigrants and Arab Americans in and around Chicago. We learn about how Nesreen got involved with organizing work, and about the role that the Arab American Action Network plays in the local community. We discuss the current status of Trump's Muslim ban and AAAN's efforts to fight against it. We also talk about recent violent attacks targeting Muslims and how these attacks impact organizers like Nesreen and the communities they serve. Nesreen also talks about the campaign to free Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh. Rasmea is the Associate Director of AAAN who was arrested in 2013, ostensibly for lying on immigration documents, but in reality due to her political advocacy and organizing work. Rasmea came to the US after spending a decade in an Israeli prison for a crime she didn't commit, where she was tortured and raped. It was her failure to list this time spent in prison on her US immigration documents that saw her facing years in prison. Nesreen discusses the plea deal that Rasmea recently accepted that will keep her out of prison but see her deported.

You can follow AAAN on twitter at @aaanmarkaz. Support their work, as they face a serious budget crisis due to Illinois' GOP governor, by donating here.

May 16, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by first-time guest host Deellan Kashani, our resident Kurdish expert who wrote her undergraduate thesis on radical political organization in the Kurdish-controlled autonomous region of Rojava in northern Syria. Our guest is Brace Belden (better known by his former Twitter handle, @PissPigGranddad), a florist who recently returned from fighting with the Kurdish YPG forces to defend Rojava against ISIS.

By way of introduction, Deellan gives a brief historical overview of Kurdish politics, the conflict in Syria, and the main actors in the region. Kumars and Deellan ask Brace about his motivations for going, his experience of life in Rojava, and how the Western left’s idea of a libertarian socialist revolution compares to the reality of “democratic confederalism.” Brace explains that he went to Syria in part to see what he could learn from the movement, and from his experience as a foreign fighter he shares his impressions of the rigors of life as a member of the governing Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the radical steps being taken to center women in political action. Since leaving his life in the US to joining a militia in Syria, Brace has garnered national media attention, courting criticism from a number of political angles. Brace addresses these criticisms at length.

Follow Brace on Twitter at his new handle @PissPigGrandma, and follow Deellan at @deellank.

May 9, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by Sam Knight, journalist and co-founder of The District Sentinel, a news co-op based in Washington D.C. covering national politics from a left perspective. Sam is also the host of the daily District Sentinel Radio podcast. Sam stops by to talk about those damn Clowns in Congress and their disastrous Trumpcare legislation. We discuss what's in it, what comes next, and what the hell is wrong with the feckless Democrats. We also introduce a new game on the show which all the kids are sure to be playing at school tomorrow.

You can follow Sam on twitter at @samknight1. Also make sure to check out his writing over at The District Sentinel.

May 1, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by Samantha Jacobs (@comradeSammy on twitter) for the intro segment to discuss May Day, tensions in North Korea, and the delightful Fyre Festival scam.

For the interview, Mariame Kaba, organizer extraordinaire and @prisonculture on twitter, returns as co-host. Kumars and Mariame talk to Jason Lydon, a queer anarchist Unitarian Universalist minister and founding director of Black and Pink, an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and unincarcerated allies working to support one another and abolish the prison industrial complex. Jason discusses how he got involved with prison abolition work, after having spent six months incarcerated himself where he was sexually assaulted by a prison guard. Jason talks about his approach to abolition, which strives to weaken the prison industrial complex toward its eventual elimination, disassembling it brick-by-brick if necessary. We dissect the difference between a reform that reinforces a system of power and one that truly weakens it. We learn more about Black and Pink and the major campaigns they are engaged in, including the fight to end solitary confinement. Jason stresses the importance of writing letters to prisoners, which keeps prison abolition work grounded in the needs of incarcerated people while also fighting the intense isolation experienced by those who are incarcerated. Jason also discusses the role of his faith in motivating and shaping his prison abolition work.

You can follow Jason on twitter at @Blackandpink99. Support Black and Pink by joining a local chapter if there is one near you, donating, or by signing up for a prisoner pen pal.

Apr 24, 2017

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars is joined by returning guest-co-host Nora Barrows-Friedman, reporter and associate editor for The Electronic Intifada. After opening the show discussing the latest clash between Nazis and Antifa in Berkeley, Kumars and Nora talk to David Forbes, a  journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina and editor of The Asheville Blade. They are also the author of The Old Iron Dream, a secret history of the sci-fi far-right. We invited David on the show to discuss the passage of the anti-LGBT law HB2 and the passage of the so-called compromise repeal bill HB142, which still discriminates against the LGBT community. David has been following this saga, writing in the Asheville Blade, and they help us understand where we are now and what comes next in the fight for LGBT equality in North Carolina.

David discusses the initial passage of HB2 and the main components of the bill which went well beyond transgender bathroom access, the part of the bill which dominated news stories. David positions the strong backlash against the bill in the context of other organizing against right-wing governance happening in the state at that time, including the Moral Mondays movement championed by the North Carolina NAACP and allied groups. We talk about how the opposition to the bill was so effective in forcing legislators back to the negotiating table and ruining Republican Governor Pat McCrory's re-election chances last November. David goes over HB 142, the "compromise repeal" bill passed in North Carolina that David characterizes as neither a compromise nor a repeal. They point out that Democrats in the state had a golden opportunity to win everything by just doing nothing. Instead, always seeking compromise for compromise's sake, Democrats added their names to a deeply unpopular and counterproductive bill opposed by essentially every organization in the Democratic base. Typical of Democratic politicians nationwide, the North Carolina Democratic Party snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. We discuss the initial success of boycotts by the NBA and NCAA in pushing for the repeal of HB2, but also point out that the long-term effectiveness of capital boycotts like these are hampered by the profit motive of these billion-dollar entities, which quickly ended their boycotts once given any reason to do so. David tells us that many of our most important fights, including the fight for LGBT equality, are best fought at the local level, and encourages activists to take over city governments and use local government resources to fight state and national policies.

You can follow Nora on twitter at @norabf. Follow David on twitter at @DavidForbes. Also make sure to check out the Asheville Blade on twitter at @AvlBlade. Don't miss David's long essay on the HB2/HB142 saga, "Turncoats", which we discussed in-depth during the episode.

Apr 17, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars is joined by returning guest-co-host Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura, @Rrrrnessa on twitter. They begin the show talking about Trump's bombing of a Syrian airfield and the media's predictable sycophancy. Arnesa discusses her personal experiences as a Bosnian war refugee and how those experiences inform her opposition to US military intervention in Syria.

Kumars and Arnesa then interview Megan Clapp, a Ph.D. Candidate in clinical psychology whose clinical work has been primarily centered on trauma, anxiety, and depression, with special focus on LGBTQ issues. She’s currently working on her dissertation which focuses on the relationship between shame, power, and abuse - and is collaborating with other mental health folks in Chicago to develop more radical psychological practices. Kumars and Arnesa ask Megan about her background and how she became interested in left politics and activism. They also discuss a main focus of Megan's research and writing, the positive and negative roles of shame in left movement-building. Megan introduces us to reintegrative shaming, a concept within restorative justice that attempts to use shame to shift people toward less reactionary political positions, without burdening them with unresolved shame that can have dangerous consequences. Megan also explains the subtle difference between empathy and rationalization, including the importance of the former and danger of the latter when dealing with abusers. She also talks about the risks empathy can pose to many, particularly the victims of abuse, and the necessity for others to attempt to understand what motivates and molds a person who engages in an abusive behavior, so that we can more effectively prevent and subvert abusive tendencies within all of us. Finally, Megan talks about the role of trauma in the development of radical politics, and encourages left movements to deal with the reality of trauma among its ranks in an open, honest, and non-judgemental way.

You can find Megan on twitter at @prefigurologist. Also make sure to check out her awesome blog.

Apr 6, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars is first joined by his friend Sara Jafary, who grew up in Iran before moving to the US shortly before 9/11, to talk about her experiences in both countries. They commiserate over their shared experiences, including having their names butchered by Americans on a daily basis.

Kumars then interviews KB Brower, an organizer with the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners, the independent nurses union in Philadelphia, which has a long history of rank and file militancy and social justice unionism. Before moving to Philadelphia, KB organized contracted out workers and students with AFSCME 3299, and before that, she ran domestic campaigns for United Students Against Sweatshops. She got her start in the labor movement with SEIU 1199 New England, where she learned about building majority social justice unions that aren't afraid to strike and win. KB gives Kumars and our listeners a crash-course in organizing best practices, based off of a two-day training she recently held. She discusses key components of the internal structure of any successful community or labor organizing group, and ways to grow your organization. Kumars and KB talk about where power comes from, and go over the concept of power mapping, including identifying and recruiting natural leaders. KB explains the basic ingredients of an organizing conversation, including identifying issues that resonate with the person you're talking to, agitating them, and giving them a plan to win. KB explains how to deal with difficult questions through affirming the point-of-view of the questioner, answering their question concisely, and redirecting back to the issue the questioner cares most about. We discuss the idea of the "biggest worst", an area where our organization is lacking in strength and has the best potential for improvement. Given limited time and energy, focusing on biggest worsts will result in the generation of more power than focusing on areas where we are already strong that don't have much room for growth. We also talk about turning an issue into a campaign that not only achieves your goal, but also grows the power of your organization. Finally, KB stresses the importance of having both majority participation and a broader conception of social justice so that you have both the power to win in the short-term while remaking society to make those gains long-lasting.

KB isn't on twitter herself, but you can follow the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Allied Professionals on twitter at @PennaNurses. Follow Sara at @shokufeyesib.

Mar 30, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars is joined by guest-co-host Nora Barrows-Friedman, reporter and associate editor for The Electronic Intifada. After having some fun in the show intro, Kumars and Nora talk to Theresa O'Connor from Health Care for All - California, an organization fighting for single-payer healthcare in the state. She is also on the communications committee for the “Healthy California” coalition, a coalition of healthcare, community, and labor groups working to pass single-payer legislation in California during the 2017-2018 legislative session. We wanted to have Theresa on to tell us about a piece of legislation her group is helping to push that might make single-payer healthcare a reality in California, State Bill 562. Theresa tells us how she got involved in the fight for single-payer healthcare after Bernie Sanders made it a rallying cry during his Democratic primary campaign. She talks about the rich history of single-payer activism in California that gives the state a real chance at establishing a single-payer system in the current political climate. We discuss the expected contours of the bill, since it is currently just a so-called "spot bill", meaning that the final, specific language is yet to be released. We also talk about some of the obstacles the bill faces, and what activists are doing to build power to make single-payer healthcare a reality. Theresa gives her thoughts on the epic failure of the ACHA, Trump and Paul Ryan's proposed replacement for Obamacare, and what this means for the fight for single-payer. Finally, Theresa discusses ways to get involved in this fight, both in California and in other states. Find a chapter of Healthcare for All-California near you!

You can follow Nora on twitter at @norabf. Follow Theresa at @RedwoodGirl. Also, make sure to check out Theresa's explainer piece about SB 562 published on Medium. Follow the Healthy California coalition on Facebook. Follow Healthcare for All - California on Facebook as well. Check for updates on this fight from the National Nurses United, one of the biggest labor backers of SB 562.

Mar 23, 2017

This is only part of our interview with Bryan and Brett from Street Fight on WCRS. If you want get the whole interview, support the show, and receive access to tons of other bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this episode, Kumars talks to past guests Bryan Quinby and Brett Pain, cohosts of Street Fight, an anarcho-comedy radio show that airs weekly on WCRS in Columbus, Ohio, and is also available via podcast three times a week. You'll remember Brett and Bryan from our election-night episode. We talk about what they've been doing post-election, including getting more involved in organizing and activism in Columbus. We also talk about strategies for keeping the work fun by keeping your sense of humor and integrating social events into the fabric of your organizing groups. in addition to boring planning meetings. The guys also have some fun talking about celebrities and other frivolous stuff.

Follow Brett (@BrettPain) and Bryan (@MurderBryan) on twitter. Also follow their show at @StreetFightWCRS.

Mar 16, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars interviews Adam Johnson, a prolific media analyst and critic whose work can be found at FAIR, Alternet, The Nation, and other outlets. Kumars and Adam talk about the over-hyped Trump tax return story pushed by Rachel Maddow. We also discuss Adam's recent reporting on the Global Engagement Center, a State Department effort to spread propaganda targeting ISIS that has recently been expanded to target state actors like Russia and China. These efforts ostensibly aren't meant for domestic audiences, but Adam points out that the government refuses to rule out the possibility that this propaganda would reach Americans. In fact, certain diaspora communities living in the US are explicitly being targeted by these efforts, and US-based journalists have been paid by the State Department in the past, a practice the government refuses to rule out going forward. Adam and Kumars also talk about fake news, specifically how this concept, created by liberals, has been turned against them quite successfully by Trump.

In the introduction, Kumars also talks to his good friend, comedian Nick Martin, about Sean Spicer, Paul Ryan, and comedy in the age of Trump.

You can follow Adam on twitter at @AdamJohnsonNYC. Check out Nick Martin on twitter at @PissMistress.

Mar 9, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars is joined by writer and activist Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura (@Rrrrnessa) to talk about some of the absolutely crazy shit that happened this week. We discuss the newly-released Muslim ban 2.0, and compare how organizers are responding now to how they responded to Trump's first executive order. We also talk about TrumpCare, including the implications for Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, and the redistribution of wealth from poor people to the rich. Kumars and Arnesa also welcome Freddy Martinez, the computer whiz you'll remember from a past episode, onto the show to discuss #Vault7, the latest Wikileaks release, and its implications for privacy and left organizing.

You can follow Freddy on twitter at @B_Meson.

Mar 1, 2017

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It's our first episode with Roqayah on hiatus! Before we get to the main interview, Kumars has a special guest for the show intro. He talks to writer, activist, and past guest Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura (@Rrrrnessa on twitter) about their shared experiences as stressed-out graduate students, living in the Midwest, and the shit-show that was the Oscars. Arnesa will be joining us next week as co-host for the entire episode!

For the main interview this week, past guest and fan favorite Mariame Kaba (@prisonculture on twitter) takes over hosting duties and talks to Tania Unzueta, co-founder and policy director for Mijente, a nation-wide group dedicated to providing a hub for latinx organizing around immigrant justice, policing, and other issues of importance to latinx communities. They discuss how Tania, herself undocumented, got involved with organizing, helping to found the Immigrant Youth Justice League and later Organized Communities Against Deportations in Chicago, groups that centered the leadership of undocumented immigrants in the fight for their own rights. Tania talks about the recent history of organizing for immigrant justice, beginning in 2006, and how organizers navigated difficult choices around policy proposals such as comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. They discuss immigrant justice movement tactics, and how those tactics have changed over time and will need to change again in the Trump era. Mariame asks Tania about the Adios Arpaio campaign which successfully ousted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona and how they were able to win this fight on the same night that the right-wing made huge gains elsewhere. Mariame also asks Tania about the Sanctuary movement, which seeks to prevent local and state law enforcement from cooperating with Federal immigration enforcement efforts, and the report that Mijente recently released called "Expanding Sanctuary" which discusses the movement going forward.

You can follow Tania on twitter at @_LaTania. You can also follow Mijente at @conmijente. Check out Mijente's website to look for ways to plug into the movement for immigrant justice locally, and also donate to support their work if you are able.

Feb 23, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah speak with Lara Kiswani, Executive Director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center or AROC, located in San Francisco. AROC is a grassroots organization dedicated to building Arab community power in pursuit of justice and self-determination for all marginalized peoples. AROC was instrumental in organizing the massive protests at San Francisco International Airport following Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order. We learn about the work AROC and their coalition partners had been doing since Trump's election to prepare to rapidly respond to impending assaults on their community, and how they were able to mobilize so quickly once Trump's Muslim ban was announced. We discuss the importance of logistics and infrastructure in sustaining any direct action, from legal consultation booths to food and water, from art supplies to extension cords. We learn about the strategies that AROC and their allies employed to build this infrastructure in a matter of hours, sustaining a multi-day action with roughly 10,000 participants, an action that led to the release of all detainees at the airport. We also talk about AROC's plans for continuing to resist, with a new Muslim ban executive order due any day now.

You can follow AROC on twitter at @AROCBayArea. If you are in the Bay Area, join the Bay Resistance rapid response text alert system by texting "resist" to 41411. If you are in the Bay Area and witness an ICE raid, call 415-200-1548.

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