781: 2014 In Review Shows


January 4th – Why wait 365 days to review a year? Why wait even 4? Dick Clark’s evil twin Chuck Mertz counts down the biggest stories that probably happened in 2014. An all Irregular Correspondent panel weigh in on what stories to watch for and what people to look out for. Don’t say you weren’t warned way in advance.


Irregular Correspondents:


Brian Mier: “45 million people have moved above the poverty line, the economy has been booming and life in the suburbs is pretty good right now, except for the fact that some of them are controlled by right-wing paramilitary militias.”

Brian spent 2013 reporting on the labor and civil rights issues ahead of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup, but in this report from Progressive Brazil he widens to scope to the massive social and political changes accompanying the nation’s rise in wealth and power.

Brian Mier grew up on the North Side of Chicago and has lived in Brazil since 1999.  He is currently a policy analyst at the Centro de Direitos Economicos e Sociais. His writing has appeared in Lumpen and Vice, and he has a novel coming out in 2014. Brian podcasts at Progressive Brazil.

Valerie Bergeron: “It bans overtly religious symbols, and the government has given examples – either hijab or a kippah or a very large cross. I’m sure you see the problem right away – I don’t know many Christians who wear very large crosses.”

Rob Ford might be Canada’s most embarrassing political story but he isn’t the worst – that distinction goes to Quebec’s “Charter of Values,” a bill using the notion of equality to discriminate against a religious minority. This is Hell’s Neighbor to the North explains the motivations behind and resistance against the proposed bill.

Valérie Bergeron is studying law at Université Laval, Québec city, Canada. She is interested in student movements across the world, Canadian politics and the Middle East, where she travels as often as she can. Her greatest achievement yet was to ride on the top of a truck full of chickens in the Sinai peninsula.

Dan Litchfield: “But if we use less energy, we have less demand for new sources of energy, which means less demand for solar and wind. There’s gonna be a fascinating mix and balance between different types of new generation.”

Ducking out of a 3 year old’s sugar-fueled birthday party, Dan’s installment of the Alternate Current considers energy of a less tasty but more renewable variety, how using less energy could mean less clean energy, and confronting the spaghetti of opposition on the wall of progress.

Dan Litchfield is a senior project developer for a major international renewable energy company, and the views represented on the show are Dan’s alone obviously. For the past six years, Dan has led the development of utility scale wind farms. When not working or jabbering on This is Hell! about cars or energy, he is spending time with his family with two young children and a dog, riding a bike, and/or homebrewing beer.


Sarah Jaffe: “Everybody learned a big lesson from what happened with Obama. They know they can’t just sit back and assume he’s gonna do the right thing. Politics is hard and the people with all the money are gonna be screeching in his ear from day one.”

New York finally has a mayor who has taken the subway for actual economic reasons, and in her latest Dispatch from the Class War, Sarah feels optimistic-ish about that. She explains what bank tellers have in common with fast food workers, what de Blasio has in common with Obama, and how 2014 will be different from 2013 for organized workers.

Sarah Jaffe is an independent journalist, rabble-rouser, and frequent Twitterer. She’s co-host of Dissent magazine’s labor podcast, Belabored, and her writing can be seen in publications like In These Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and many more. Sarah’s Twitter.


Kevan Harris: “Some of these so-called ‘hardliners’ have told President Rouhani ‘let us be the bad cops, you be the good cop.’ The funny thing is, that’s what some of the hawkish Democrat and Republican congressman have told John Kerry.”

In the middle of 2013, The Radical Pessimist blew us off to attend an election party after Hassan Rouhani’s landslide victory. Iran’s president enters his first full year in office with new diplomatic priorities and the same old hardliners in Tehran and Washington. Kevan explains the internal and external pressures on Rouhani as he works to maintain Iran’s stability in an unstable region.

Kevan Harris is a sociologist, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University and radical pessimist. He likes to talk about big ideas and small people, including capitalism, the Middle East, and the puny American left. Contrary to rumor, he was not bitten by a spider as a teenager. Kevan’s Twitter.


Trevor Ewen: “We have a weird perspective in my industry. I’m becoming very vertically knowledgeable on some thing so dorky I can’t even talk to my wife about it.”

All the tech news you probably read in 2013 was about it spying on your emails and phone calls. Trevor’s View from the County Incinerator reminds us that technology can still be used for positive things, like using renewable aquatic biomass to fuel a cleaner future in which it’s still hard to talk to your wife about what a dork you are.

Trevor Ewen is an entrepreneur, a tech-slave by day, and a southern barbecue meat smoker by night/weekend-day.


Michelle Chen: “The debate in Washington is not where progress is being made. It’s on the ground and in the streets that immigrants are finding a political voice.”

Michelle ended 2013 as a guest talking about the US-Mexico border as an environmental wasteland. She kicks off 2014 as an Irregular Correspondent dedicating her first installment of Edgewise to the border as political battleground for militias on the prowl, workers looking to organize, and governments looking to continue what NAFTA started.

Michelle Chen is a contributing editor at In These Times and an associate editor at CultureStrike. She’s also studying in the historical doctoral program at City University of New York Graduate Center. Michelle’s Twitter.


Jeff Dorchen: “If you want to take part in our glorious national dream of working in the entertainment business, you’re gonna need some thick skin. Try Newt Gingrich’s. His skin looks like it’s double layered, lined with polyester, packed with fibercoat and textured to resemble an albino gorilla’s beer belly.”

2013 is over, but not before Jeff Dorchen got over it first. In his first Moment of Truth, Jeff is over bacon-infused anything, over Arrested Development recommendations, racist celebrities, celebrity racists, fads, lip gloss, tissue-nostrils, trickster gods and the North Pole. He still likes chocolate though!

According to his contacts on LinkedIn, Jeff Dorchen can do just about anything. He’s a visual artist, songwriter/musician, actor, essayist, poet, playwright and screenwriter.


Producers Alexander Jerri and Richard Norwood look for a radio-friendly version of Suspect Device by the Stiff Little Fingers.