2002-05-25 / Community

WILPF Discusses Media, Soft Money

WILPF Discusses Media, Soft Money

A powerful, compelling EnviroVideo documentary about media integrity was the main agenda item at the last meeting (Thursday, May 16) of Rockaway Branch of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

In Professor Karl Grossman's interview with John Stauber, chair of the Center for Media and Democracy, Mr. Stauber described the evolution of electronic and printed media in the United States from a more open competitive enterprise to the present highly consolidated near-monopoly.  The effect this corporatization has had on news coverage and reportage has been largely negative.  Voices of dissent and minority points of view on such issues as the war in Afghanistan, sanctions against Iraq, the conflict in the Middle East, and the revised U.S. position on nuclear weapons are often not reported or are under-reported, except by a few alternative or very small press and electronic outlets. The importance of reading, viewing, and listening critically to the news was animatedly discussed. The Neponsit-based producers of EnviroVideo are Joan Flynn and Steven Jambeck.  Flynn is also chair of Rockaway WILPF.

Next, informational packets on the subject of campaign finance reform, prepared by Ruth Zinar, were distributed.  The New York State Assembly has passed legislation that bans soft money, lowers contribution limits, and creates a system of public financing similar to NYC's, with 2 to 1 matching up to $500 per contribution per citizen.  In the Senate, Senator Roy Goodman has introduced a companion bill, but new sponsors are needed.  It was agreed that members of WLPF should and would write to Rockaway's State Senator Malcolm Smith urging him to work for, support, and /or sponsor a Senate bill similar to the Assembly's.  Organizations with representation in the Rockaways that endorse the goal of meaningful campaign finance reform include JASA, League of Women Voters, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, WILPF, and the Rockaway Beach Civic Association.

Finally, Evelyn Mauss described the content and possible consequences of our government's recent Nuclear Posture Review. A key component of the program is the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a nuclear weapon that is designed to "take out" chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons factories or depots deemed to be threats to U.S. security.  This is a serious departure from earlier doctrine that had emphasized the deterrence role of nuclear weapons and had always insisted they were too destructive to plan to deploy.  The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator is relatively small and could be targeted with some hope of accuracy, but its releases of high levels of radioactivity would nonetheless be disastrous.

U.S. allies see this reevaluation of nuclear weapons as another expression of U.S. unilateralism.  They are already gravely disapproving of U.S. violations, rejections, or threats to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Kyoto climate change protocols, the Landmines Treaty, and the International Criminal Court. None of this advances the cause of peace and security, and it all requires citizen analysis, vigilance, and protest.

The next meeting of Rockaway WILPF is scheduled for the third Thursday in July, when the subject will be Racism in the Rockaways and in the wider community.  The status of the Archives Project and plans for the annual luncheon will be reported.

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