Category Archives: News

BIG Changes at GDPR

ImageYour progressive-peace Internet public radio voice is movin’ on up: We’ve upgraded our broadcast server and now are available to a much wider audience. GDPR still presents our singular multigenre kind music mix, progressive news/talk programming such as Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio News, Alternative Radio  and NORML Show Live, activist and altruist opportunities, artists and points of view you won’t find in mainstream media, music shows including Grateful Dead Hour and WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, and much more. But now, it is available directly from our website at and the website. Our signal can also be found via a number of platforms, including Yahoo!, Netflix, Roku, Hulu Plus and TiVo (just go to Live365 and search for “GratefulDread PublicRadio”). You can also listen to GDPR on your smartphone: Get the Live365 app for iPhone or Android and search for “GratefulDread PublicRadio.” Check out our diverse sounds and ideas for open minds and become a supporting member—listening is free of charge!—but we need you as a member more than ever as we finalize our available budget and decide upon our new progressive news/talk, lifestyle and cultural programming for 2013 (we’re also trying to become a Pacifica member). Noncommercial, nonmainstream media is what we do as part of our mission to educate, entertain, inform and inspire in the hopes of making a better world. GDPR is here for you: Tune in, turn on, become a member.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The staff of Grateful Dread Peace Media and Summit Peace wish you and yours the happiest of times. May your winter holiday celebrations be filled with light and love, with joy and peace. And may the new year bring us all good times with family and friends, prosperity and positivity, and opportunities to help make the world a better place.

Thanks for your support now and in the past. We hope we can count on it in the future. Trust, you can count on us.

In honor of the season, GDPR will air kynd holiday music beginning at 1pm Eastern on Christmas Eve and ending at midnight Christmas Day. Enjoy!

On the Use of “Teabagger”

President Obama is feeling some heat from the Left and Right for allegedly bashing the Tea Party. Progressive commentator Jonathan Alter’s new book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, features the commander-in-chief opining that the GOP’s kneejerk refusal to cooperate with Democrats over the stimulus package “set the tenor for the whole year … That helped to create the Teabaggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where [the radical conservative element] now controls the agenda for the Republicans.”

Many of these Tea Party reactionaries are plenty steamed. Even Democrats as highly placed as Rahm “Non-Lipsticked Pitbull” Emanuel found Obama’s use of the controversial title ill-advised. This is not surprising: The term teabagger has an alternate meaning that can be seen as rather rude in polite circles, and there are many on the Left who use that double entendre to mock the New Millennium Know-Nothings.  But many on the Left employ the term because it is accurate.

The reactionary Right proudly embraced the term Teabagger at the beginning.

The reactionary Right proudly embraced the term Teabagger and obstructionism almost from the start of the Obama presidency. Photo from Brendan Calling

Yes, accurate. Did that group employ tea bags in its protests? It did. Look at the above photo. Thus, as far as I am concerned, those protesters are Teabaggers. I do not in any way refer to a sexual practice; it is not my style. So when I say Teabagger, I mean one who uses tea bags to protest against the Dusky President, progressive values, and equality for all. Period.

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Hate Kills: The Tragic Tale of Clay & Harold

What a country. Yes, the good old Yew-nited States is the land of the free, the home of the brave, the bastion of equality under law for all. Unless you’re gay, that is.

The story that follows is so outrageous and features such cruelty and evil that it literally made me retch.  Even while writing this, tears are streaming down my cheeks. But write I must: The level of man’s inhumanity to man and the assault on basic decency portrayed in this real-life nightmare is so overwhelmingly offensive that however disgusting it is, it must be told. People need to know the reality of 21st century life for LGBT people in the US — and folks, it isn’t pretty.

In case you didn’t watch the video, here’s the gist:

Clay, 77, and Harold, 88, were a devoted pair for more than 20 years. As we queers were warned to do in the 1990s, the couple attempted to protect their relationship and family from hateful hets. They spent thousands and thousands of dollars in government and legal fees to draft wills, powers of attorney, medical directives, etc., to ensure that no one could violate their union or dispute their family status. As time passed, the men aged, and Harold’s health began to deteriorate. And when Harold fell ill, those legal protections turned out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Despite the couple’s carefully prepared documentation, California’s Sonoma County methodically put Harold into a nursing home and forced Clay — who was healthy — into a different facility. Their rented home was seized, all their worldly possessions sold behind their backs. Clay was forbidden to see his longtime love (after all, according to the law, these men were strangers, and certainly not family). Harold ended up dying alone shortly thereafter.

Now, Clay is mourning by fighting: He is suing Sonoma County and other entities involved in taking away his home and goods and in keeping him away from his lifemate, his partner, his love — the person who would have been his husband, save for hate-filled, fearful, and  ignorant Californians.

My assignment to you: Tell everyone you know. Attention must be paid to the story of Clay and Harold. This sick, twisted tale illustrates quite clearly that marriage equality is a necessity, not tomorrow or next week or next year, but yesterday. It demonstrates exactly why “the people” cannot be trusted to make decisions about what rights other citizens are allowed to have. That we are still unequal under law in 2010 is unacceptable to any decent human.

Yes, I am saying flat out — if you don’t support equality under law, you are not a decent human being.

Don’t give me the religion crap: Being religious doesn’t mean one must agree to uphold or demand inequality in law. If your deity has a problem with queers, he, she, or it does not need your help or your government’s help to punish us. We are talking about civil law; your god has no power here.  At least, he or she or it should not. Don’t the religionists get juicy tax exemptions and a whole passel of governmental kissing-up: the pledge, the prayer breakfasts and invocations that communicate that good Americans are godly Americans, the money, etc.?  That isn’t enough? Apparently not, which means that these ignorant bigots have yet another sin for which to atone:  greed.

It’s time for all good people to come together in honor of Clay and Harold and all the people treated in such horrific fashion. How? By saying goodbye to complacency and apathy. By putting a stop to this injustice. By taking action.  How can you not? People are dying because of this hate!

Please, share the story of Clay and Harold with everyone you know, particularly lawmakers and the right-wing, antigay folks with whom you must deal. Our bigoted brethren must know the results of their hateful actions, philosophies and doctrines. They must be told:  Harold and Clay loved each other for more than 20 years. Now, Harold is dead and Clay is alone, all because they dared to love each other and the state of California just could not stand it.

Enough with the bigotry already: You’re making the American people look like hateful killers. Natalie Maines rightly was ashamed of being from the same state as the bigot and war criminal George Dubya Bush. I am ashamed to have been born on the same continent as those who had a hand in destroying Clay and Harold’s home, their family, and their lives. Contradicting David Bowie, this is America — a land of hate, a land that would rather gays be dead and alone than equal.

I’ll repeat that, because people need finally to get what I’ve been bitching about my entire adult life: The US is and chooses to be a land of hate, a land that would rather LGBT people be dead and alone than equal.

How sick is that?

How to Help in Haiti

Forget Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson, who apparently made separate pacts with Satan: Haitians are good people who live in, as CBS describes the island nation, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. They are our brothers and sisters and they are in crisis: The American Red Cross estimates that 50,000 people may be dead as a result of the 7.0 quake that hit Tuesday near Port au Prince. We MUST help them — that is what family does.

How to help (info gathered by WJZ-TV Baltimore):

If you would like to help with the recovery effort in Haiti, there are dozens of organizations accepting donations to help get aid directly to the people. Here is some detail about a handful of such groups, followed by links to other sources.

The Red Cross – To help with relief efforts, text “HAITI” to “90999” and $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill.  You can also give online, via phone or even through wire transfer. Donate to the Red Cross

Yéle Haiti Founded by musician and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Wyclef Jean, Yéle’s is “a grassroots movement that builds global awareness for Haiti while helping to transform the country through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment.” Donate to Yéle Haiti

Doctors Without Borders – DWB is an international medical humanitarian organization founded by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. The organization currently has staff on the ground in Haiti working to stem possible loss of life. Donate to Doctors Without Borders

Mercy Corps – Mercy Corps is described as hodgepodge of about 3,700 professionals working to help millions in crisis around the world. The group is sending an emergency team to Haiti to help provide food, shelter and other aid. Donate to Mercy Corps

Other Ways To Help Haiti:

What Obama Said…

I want a public option. More importantly, I want a solution so poor and middle class Americans don’t have to go without health care. If there is another way to accomplish that, fine. My mind is open. And that’s what I take away from the president’s fine speech tonight: Keep your minds open and stay focused on what we need to achieve. I can work with that.

In the meantime, a pox on the house of GOP Rep. Joe Wilson, a rude piece of work. He should be censured for calling BHO a liar in the middle of the address. That’s just classless and rude.

After the jump is the text of the president’s speech. If you heard it, read it. If you didn’t hear it, check it out. Then let us know: What do you think?

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Why Do Right-Wingers Oppose Obama’s Back-to-School Speech?

I have been bewildered by the so-called controversy over President Obama’s non-political speech for schoolchildren, which will take place later today. Did parents complain when Dubya Bush visited schools? Not that I can recall. Mentioned this to the spouse early this morning: “I don’t get the concern. What’s controversial about this?”

The putative love of my life looked at me as if I were a total dolt. “You know what it is. You just don’t want to admit it,” he said. “It’s the same thing behind those teabag idiots and the town hall screamers. Deep down, they can’t handle the truth that the president is ‘black.’ They’ll fight him even if he proclaims the sky is blue and babies are cute.”

As he said those words, I knew the ball and chain was right. In my gut, I have suspected bigotry, not health care, was really at the heart of the right-wing furor. Of course, that would mean that the hatred within the US’s tainted soul was deeper than even I imagined — and if you know me, you know I think this nation is irreparably poisoned by pigmentationism.

Yes, I am again in fear of my so-called countrymen.

To right-wing McCainiac obstructionists, dittoheads, and those wearing fear of a “black” president on their sleeves, grow the hell up. Most of the nation rejects your bigotry. Get with it! You are behind the times. Past your sell-by date. Dinosaurs. And you should be ashamed. Absolutely, there are legitimate reasons to criticize Obama and plenty of ’em, but I’m not hearing them in the town halls or in the cries of people opposing his speech to school kids. No, what I hear — as does my melanin-free spouse — is hate and fear. And it is disgusting. Shame on you people, you small-minded, nasty, misguided, anti-American, antediluvean relics of a time thankfully gone. The nation finally is growing up a little — why can’t you?

Now, the bigots howl because the president is giving a back-to-school speech. Unbelievable. Look, if you have a problem with a president exhorting students to be responsible, to study, and to ask questions, I feel sorry for your kids, because their parents obviously are stupid racists who put small-mindedness above their own children.

God, I fear for this construct…

Check out the text of the president’s speech, which comes from the White House Web site, and tell me what possibly could be objectionable about it:

Hello, everyone — how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through 12th grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday — at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer — maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper — but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor — maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine — but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life — I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that — if you quit on school — you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our first lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life — what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home — that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer — hundreds of extra hours — to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same. That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education — and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust — a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor — and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you — don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down — don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.