KPFK prospers as it reflects the chaos of American society
The progressive radio station is committed to democracy and inclusiveness,
both in its programming and management.
By Alan Minsky
LA Times Op-Ed, March 31, 2010
I was grateful to see Jim Rainey acknowledge the tremendous potential of
KPFK Radio in his March 27 column, "Schism at KPFK leaves factions warring
over programming, fundraising and leadership." KPFK/Pacifica Radio is
certainly unique: Committed to real free speech and social justice, the
station is absolutely free from any corporate, business or big-money
influence, an exemplary model of democratic discourse. In this regard, it is
unrivaled among significant media outlets in America.
And as the Founding Fathers themselves understood, real democracy is
Indeed, almost all polls suggest that U.S. citizens are profoundly
dissatisfied with both the political system and the mainstream media. I
posit that these frustrations stem from feeling disempowered -- that the
institutions of our democratic society don't work for them, that they don't
have a voice. KPFK/Pacifica exists to give people a voice. It may seem messy
for those that value protocol above insight; but this practice, combined
with fact-based journalism, works wonders for us.
Taking an example from history, the litmus test for journalistic and civic
integrity is not whether a media outlet covered Martin Luther King Jr. in
1963 (everyone covered him by then), but whether someone saying similar
things a decade or so earlier was given coverage. KPFK/Pacifica passes that
test time and again, while National Public Radio and, yes, The Times
consistently fail it. More recently, look at the buildup to the Iraq war, or
the bubble that preceded the financial crisis, or the gaming of the system
that produced the California energy crisis, the entire two terms of
President George W. Bush, or President Obama's not-so-progressive first year
in office -- we got all of those correct, while most mainstream outlets did
not. It's not because we're uniquely prescient; it is because we allow the
full breadth of social discourse to be heard. Social progress invariably
occurs by allowing voices outside the mainstream into the dialogue.
Rainey focused on several challenges facing Southern California's original
public broadcasting outlet, particularly the acrimony that all too often
defines the station's democratic governance structure. It is important to
note, however, that the chaos of KPFK's Local Station Board meetings does
not appear on our airwaves.
These days, KPFK's programming reflects the station's commitment to
re-establishing itself as Southern California's premier progressive media
outlet, firmly grounded in the highest journalistic standards. KPFK remains
equally committed to giving a voice to communities largely absent from other
media; to airing the full range of contemporary social critics; and to
providing a forum for cutting-edge artists, comics and musicians. This
combination of inclusiveness with a renewed commitment to journalistic rigor
has led to the substantial increase in audience that Rainey noted.
As for the gruesome length of our recent fund drives, there's only one
antidote: continue to improve regular programming so that more people
recognize KPFK as essential to their lives. In my current position, I strive
to manage the challenges of a diverse body of content; maintain our
dedicated listeners who tune in for spirited, but accepting, discussions;
and expand our audience by developing new, incisive programming.
In a society as complex as ours, it should be no surprise that there are
many competing visions for how best to improve the world. In the coming
years, expect KPFK to provide the essential information, as well as the best
forum, for people seeking to build a just society in Southern California.
Alan Minsky is interim program director of KPFK.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
From: "Suzanne de Kuyper" <email@example.com>
Iran's Natural Gas Riches: US Knife to the Heart of World Future Energy
By Finian Cunningham
Global Research, March 18, 2010
The scheduled start of drilling this month by China National Petroleum
Company (CNPC) in Iran's South Pars gas field could be both a harbinger and
explanation of much wider geopolitical developments.
First of all, the $5 billion project – signed last year after years of foot
dragging by western energy giants Total and Shell under the shadow of US-led
sanctions – reveals the main arterial system for future world energy supply
Critics have long suspected that the real reason for US and other western
military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is to control the Central Asian
energy corridor. So far, the focus seems to be mainly on oil. For example,
there have been claims that a planned oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea via
Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea is the main prize behind the
US's seemingly futile military campaign in those countries.
But what the CNPC-Iranian partnership shows is that natural gas is the
bigger prize that will be pivotal to the world economy, and specifically the
dual flow of this fuel westwards and eastwards from Central Asia to Europe
Michael Economides, editor of the Huston-based Energy Tribune, is one of a
growing number of industry observers who is convinced that natural gas will
supplant oil as the primary energy source, not only in the coming decades
but over the next several centuries.
He points to the recent forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA),
based in Paris, which has dramatically revised its estimates of recoverable
global natural gas reserves by 100 per cent. Economides ascribes this huge
upgrade to rapid technological improvements in tapping hitherto inaccessible
gas fields. He says that the IEA estimates of natural gas amount to 300
years of supply at current world demand. "If one only just fantasises any
future contributions from the orders-of-magnitude larger resource in the
form of natural gas hydrates, it is easy to see how natural gas is almost
certainly to evolve into the premier fuel of the world economy," he adds.
The rising importance of natural gas as an energy source has been steady and
inexorable over many years. Between 1973 and 2007, oil's contribution to
world energy supply dropped from 46.1 per cent to 34.0 per cent, with the
increasing use of natural gas accounting for that decline, according to the
IEA. Other sources, such as the US-based Energy Information Administration
(EIA), predict that global natural gas consumption will treble between 1980
and 2030, by which date it will mostly likely become the primary energy
source of choice for industrial and public needs.
There are sound scientific reasons why natural gas (methane) is becoming the
kingpin of fossil fuels. Firstly, it has a much greater calorific value than
either oil or coal. That is, more heat is produced per unit of fuel.
Secondly, it is a cleaner fuel, emitting 30 per cent less carbon dioxide
when burned compared with oil and 45 per cent less compared with coal.
Thirdly, gas is more efficient for transport, both as a raw material in
compressed form along land-based pipelines, and as a fuel to drive
All energy industry agencies recognize that far and above the premier
sources of future natural gas are the Middle East and Eurasia, including
Russia. The US-based EIA puts the natural gas reserves in these regions as
nine and seven times those of North America's total – the latter itself
being one of the world's top sources for that fuel.
Within the Middle East, Iran is the undisputed top holder of gas reserves.
Its South Pars gas field is the world's largest. If converted to
barrel-of-oil equivalents, Iran's South Pars would dwarf the reserves of
Saudi Arabia's giant Ghawar oilfield. The latter is the world's largest
oilfield and since it came into operation in 1948, Ghawar has effectively
been the world's beating heart for raw energy supply. In the soon-to-come
era of natural gas dominance over oil, Iran will oust Saudi Arabia as the
world's beating heart for energy.
Both Europe and China stand to be arterial routes for Iranian and Central
Asian gas generally. Already, the infrastructure is shaping up to reflect
this. The Nabucco pipeline is planned to supply gas from Iran (and
Azerbaijan) via Turkey and Bulgaria all the way to Western Europe (signaling
an end to Russian dominance). Iran also exports gas via pipelines separately
to Turkey and Armenia and it is also following up export deals with other
Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Another major
arterial route is the so-called peace pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and on
to India, through which Iran will export this fuel to two of the region's
most populous countries. But perhaps the most tantalizing prospect for Iran
is the 1,865-kilometre pipeline that supplies natural gas from Turkmenistan
through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into China and is due to operate at full
capacity in 2012. Turkmenistan shares a 300-kilometre border with Iran to
its south and already has a gas export deal with Tehran. If the
Iranian-Chinese South Pars gas field development can be incorporated into
the above transnational pipelines that would confirm Iran as the beating
heart of a world economy in which gas is the primary energy source. This is
amplified further by rapidly growing demand for gas by China which the EIA
predicts could be dependent on imports for over a third of its natural gas
consumption by 2030.
In this context of a major realignment in the world's energy economy – one
where there will be a continuing diminished role for the US – Washington's
blustering rhetoric about democracy and peace and war on terror or alleged
Iranian nuclear weapons can be seen as a desperate attempt to conceal its
fear that it stands to be a big loser. Encircling Iran with wars and
threatening gas supplies to possibly the world's top future gas customer –
China – is the real deal. US actions are more accurately seen as putting a
knife to the energy arteries of a world economy that it will no longer be
able to dominate.
A further twist in this tale is the position of Russia. With its own vast
reserves of natural gas, it can be seen as a competitor to Iran. Arguably
less well positioned than Iran to supply both Europe and China, Russia is
nevertheless a major player and has been assiduously courting China with an
export deal since 2006. However, as Economides observes, "negotiations
between the two countries have been on and off and, especially, the pipeline
construction has been painfully slow".
But Russia's ambitions to expand its natural gas exports may explain why it
has shown itself to be such a mercurial ally to Iran. Moscow's ambivalent
position towards US-led sanctions against Iran, suggests that Russia has its
own agenda for hampering the Islamic republic as a regional energy rival.
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