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KPFA's new am host and the Congo conflict

by Ann Garrison
Los Angeles-based KPFK host Sonali Kolhatkar's displacement of KPFA's 8 am Morning Mix has been controversial to say the least. Kolhatkar's reporting on Rwanda and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also raises questions about Pacifica's commitment to peace. Contrast CIUT-Toronto's Phil Taylor's 2008 interview with UN investigator Michael Hourigan, regarding the suppression of evidence by Louise Arbour, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, with Kolhatkar's 2010 interview with Louise Arbour herself.
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Sonali Kolhatkar
KPFA's new 8 am host

The most serious complaint against yanking Pacifica's KPFA-Berkeley's 8 am Morning Mix off the air to replace it with Sonali Kolhatkar's Uprising, a syndicated show from KPFK-LA, is that she displaced racially and intellectually diverse local voices who are on the ground in local struggles in the station's Northern California fm signal area. Those voices include Richmond residents trying to keep Chevron from buying their next Mayor and City Council, cities and counties' trying to become clean energy buyers' co-ops, and the campaigns for justice for Andy Lopez, Alan Blueford, Alex Nieto, and other victims of police violence.

We should also note that Kolhatkar, in her coverage of U.S. wars in Africa, has consistently failed to understand them as such, despite her credentials as an opponent of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. She has repeatedly reproduced corporate and militarist narratives that mask U.S. involvement in African conflicts, particularly in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, which includes Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2010, on Pacifica's KPFK Radio-Los Angeles, Kolhatkar interviewed Louise Arbour, the President and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG). The ICG Board and Senior Advisory Group are composed of former top state department, UN, and military officials and top corporate executives from around the world, including former NATO Allied Supreme Commander Wesley Clark, and Canadian mining and oil baron Frank Giustra. Giustra became the most generous donor to former President Bill Clinton's foundation, after Clinton helped him secure exclusive rights to mine Kazakhstan's uranium.

Kolhatkar, however,  did not identify any members of the International Crisis Group, and without question, allowed Arbour to characterize it as a "civil society group." She did not ask Arbour why, as the former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, she protected Rwandan "President" Paul Kagame from prosecution for the assassination of his predecessor, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Instead Kolhatkar presented Arbour as a leader and thinker qualified to propose peaceful solutions for DR Congo, not as part of the problem, even as Kagame covertly continued his catastrophic war and plunder there.

Louise Arbour 

As the ICTR's Chief Prosecutor, Arbour suppressed the evidence delivered to her by UN Special Investigator Michael Hourigan and accused him of working outside his brief, even though he had been officially tasked with investigating the assassination of the two presidents with a missile that shot their plane out of the sky, as they flew home after signing a peace agreement to end the 1990-1994 war between the Rwandan Army and Ugandan army troops led by General Paul Kagame.

Hourigan later testified that he had submitted firsthand witness testimony that Kagame ordered the assassinations, but that Arbour had suppressed his report. The KPFA Evening News reported on Hourigan's death and the significance of his work in 2013.

After assassinating two African presidents and seizing power in Rwanda''s capital Kigali, Kagame and his mentor, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, invaded neighboring DR Congo, starting the First and Second Congo Wars and ongoing conflict that have cost well over six million lives. The U.S. backed those catastrophic invasions, which displaced France as the dominant power in the DRC, as even Newsweek reported in 1997, but Kolhatkar made no mention of that.

Information about the International Crisis Group and about Louise Arbour's role in protecting President Kagame is readily available online. Indeed, Arbour offered ICG's website,, to Kolhatkar and KPFK listeners.

This 2010 interview with Louise Arbour, former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, is just one example of an collaborator and advocate for U.S. wars in Africa featured on KPFK-Uprising's airwaves after being introduced as an advocates for peace.  Since the names of others are no more familiar to American audiences than Louise Arbour's, I can't simply list names and expect the list to be meaningful without context.  That will have to be the subject of another, longer article, on Pacifica's broader trend toward advocacy of US wars.

I have no evidence that Sonali Kolhatker or any other Pacifica host has been intentionally promoting advocates for war as advocates for peace, but ignorance is no excuse, especially with so much information about any public figure now so readily available online.

And the Pacifica Radio Network is, by name, committed to peace.

Kolhatkar's 2010 interview with Louise Arbour is also available here, on the Internet Archive, segment #1, "Arbour,"
by Ann Garrison
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Comments (Hide Comments)
by Greg Allen Getty (gregfromtracks@gmail)
Sonali's guest on her first day of bumping the Morning Mix was Rebecca Solnit...notorious for repeatedly suggesting on a book tour that firemen should stop rushing into burning whom I had mentioned (to no effect) that no steel frame building in history had ever fallen from fire
by 58 year listener
Sonali Kolhatkar, originally from India, apparently of Afghan nationality, was educated in the US. According to LinkedIn, she was educated at the University of Hawaii and University of Texas.
According to, she has a BA in physics and astronomy from the University of Texas and a masters in astrophysics from the University of Hawaii.
See also
According to Twitter, she is originally from India. See

Her pro-war stances and her refusal to support the 9/11 Truth Movement (the firemen rushed into burning steel frame burnings which collapsed due to controlled demolition on 9/11/01 in NYC) are clear signs that she is part of the anti-Pacifica Gang who are well on their way to destroying the entire Pacifica 5 station network. The failed finances and obviously deliberate gross mismanagement as described below can only mean the demise of the whole network very soon. One of the basic positions of the leading light of the anti-Pacifica Gang, Larry Bensky, a former KPFA programmer and former editor of the CIA's Paris Review, is opposing the 9/11 Truth Movement. See

The Tax Man Cometh and The SF Labor Council Weighs In
Posted on June 10, 2014
Berkeley-At Thursday’s Pacifica National Board meeting, the growing extent of the financial disarray at Pacifica was revealed. In a brief question and answer session with auditor Armanino McKenna regarding the network’s last 990 annual tax return, significant problems were uncovered. As mentioned in a previous issue of Pacifica in Exile, the tax return is hundreds of thousands of dollars out of whack with income and expense totals on the audit, released only a few weeks later. Worse, the return contains a certification that missing Schedule B is not required because Pacifica is not a publicly-supported organization. A publicly-supported organization is one that receives at least 33% of its support from gifts, grants or donations from members whose basic purposes are to support the organization. Pacifica has always been one.

In addition, the state return leaves out Form 100, whose omission years earlier resulted in a Franchise Tax Board suspension in 2012-2013 that cost the Pacifica Foundation its name (which resulted in rebranding as “Pacifica Foundation Radio” after the name “Pacifica Foundation” was snatched up by a quickie LLC).

Affiliate director Janis Lane-Ewart, formerly the board treasurer at the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), stated the tax return appeared to be “distorted” during the board call. The full call can be heard here.

Instead of attending to the immediate submission of an amended return for fiscal year 2012, the rogue majority on the board of directors appears to be digging in their heels with board chair Wilkinson instructing the auditor to speak only to “management” and other board members describing the questions about the return’s inaccuracies as “political attacks”.

Executive Director Summer Reese, who has stated she believes her abrupt firing earlier this year was linked to her attempts to clean up financial reporting, correctly identified most of the problems with the tax return and signed it under protest. See

This summary of 7 Reasons Why Pacifica Needs An Investigation breaks out the reckless and irresponsible actions of the 2014 board. See A complaint filed with the California Attorney General by 8 former board members can be found here.

The audit of the fiscal year ended 9/30/2013 has still not begun. The dwindling number of employees in the national office (two have already quit and the CFO remains barred from the national office in an accomodation to workplace complaints) are trying to catch up on the year’s worth of undone bank reconciliations from KPFA and track down missing data from other stations. Interim ED Bernard Duncan is reported to plan the rehires of two individuals let go for cause in the previous year to fill the accounting vacancies: one who was let go for moonlighting as a tax preparer for H&R Block on company time, and another, who was let go after the unauthorized release of dozens of employee’s payroll data and social security number information to national board member Lydia Brazon via an unsecured email.

The intimidation of network staffers is continuing. After the month-long suspension of Berkeley news anchor Anthony Fest for this brief announcement, popular late night LA host Roy of Hollywood was hit with a warning letter after interviewing the executive director on his late night program. The warning letter from interim program director Alan Minsky cited “dirty laundry rules”. The letter was ironic as Minsky himself participated in an hour-long program with Background Briefing host Ian Masters in December that discussed Pacifica matters at length and resulted in a 2-day suspension for Masters, which MInsky, among others, protested. The LA program director is not known to have issued a warning letter to himself for violating the dirty laundry rule.
by Ann Garrison
@58-year listener: Couldn't you make this a discrete post? It has nothing to do with Congo, Rwanda, or Sonali's reporting.
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