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Program Archives - 2009

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(28 Dec) 091004 Medea Benjamin - What Do Afghans Want?

Afghanistan is "a war of necessity," Obama tells us. One of the justifications for the invasion was to liberate Afghan women from Taliban oppression. As Arundhati Roy of India commented, "We are being asked to believe the U.S. marines are actually on a feminist mission." Beyond puppets in Kabul, we hear little from Afghans themselves. Instead, there is a media parade of U.S. military, government officials, and think tank experts who talk about tactics. The right of the United States to invade and occupy other countries is never brought up much less challenged. So the discussions focus on: How many troops do we need? What should we do in Helmand Province? Are air strikes counter productive? Does Gen. McChrystal have the right plans? In all of this Afghans barely count. What do they want and in particular what do Afghan women want?

Medea Benjamin is co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK. She frequently travels to and documents human rights violations in the Third World. She has lectured and written extensively on international issues and has been to Afghanistan a number of times.

(21 Dec) 091003 Deborah Nelson - Vietnam: War Crimes

Vietnam never really goes away and one should never forget Laos and Cambodia. It's a huge stain on the American conscience. The Vietnamese were reduced to gooks and dinks who lived in hooches in Indian country. They were herded into strategic hamlets. Their lands were turned into free-fire zones and carpet bombed. They were subjected to chemical warfare. To this day there are birth defects because of the spraying of the dioxin-laden Agent Orange over the Vietnamese countryside. In late August 2009, a rather extraordinary event happens. William Calley, the only American Army officer convicted in the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai, said, "There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai. I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry."

Deborah Nelson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is professor of journalism at the University of Maryland. She was previously an investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Seattle Times, and Chicago Sun-Times. She is the author of The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes.

(14 Dec) 091002 Norman Soloman - Afghanistan: Endless War

Operation Enduring Freedom, the name of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is looking more like Operation Enduring Disaster. "The New York Times" reported, "General McChrystal's plan is a blueprint for an extensive American commitment to build a modern state in Afghanistan, where one has never existed, and to bring order to a place famous for the empires it has exhausted. This effort would most likely last many more years, cost hundreds of billions of dollars and entail the deaths of many more troops." Notice the "Times" does not mention Afghan deaths and costs to Afghan society. And that is typical in U.S.-centric formulations. Afghans are mere extras on the set, moving in the shadows, called out by the director from time to time to utter a few lines, have chimerical elections and then disappear again. Imperialism is a serious movie.

Norman Solomon, co-chair of the national Healthcare Not Warfare campaign, is an independent political commentator and media critic. The National Council of Teachers of English honored him with the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language. He is director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a consortium of policy researchers and analysts. He is the author of many books including Target Iraq, War Made Easy, and Made Love, Got War.

(07 Dec) 091001 Thomas Frank - Conservatism: Making Governments Fail

Ronald Reagan led the rhetorical charge against government. It was the Reagan Revolution. Remember his 1981 inaugural address when he said, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Reagan ushered in the era of free market ideology, unfettered and unregulated capitalism, tax cuts for the wealthy, supply side economics and trickle down theories, The ideas of Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan were ascendant. Their pronouncements were greeted with reverence and awe. Look around today and witness the carnage: unemployment, debt, bankruptcies, foreclosures and a hollowed out manufacturing base. Historically, conservatives use government as a convenient punching bag and rail against its unbridled evils. But when it comes to corporate subsidies and bailouts for the rich and powerful they quickly transform themselves and feed at the government trough with great appetite. The hypocrisy is impressive.

Thomas Frank, founding editor of The Baffler magazine, is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He's the author of One Market Under God, What's the Matter with Kansas? and The Wrecking Crew.

(30 Nov) 090905 Rami Khouri - Dateline: Middle East

It's embarrassing. Despite decades of military invasions, occupations and intervention it is remarkable how little most Americans know about the Middle East. Do people recall how the Eisenhower administration destroyed democracy in Iran or Washington's close alliance with Saddam Hussein? Do people realize that Arabs are Semites and to call them anti-Semitic is an oxymoron? After displacing Britain and France, the old colonial powers, the U.S. has built a string of military bases throughout the Middle East and props up dictatorships like Egypt and monarchies like Saudi Arabia. Rhetoric about human rights, democracy, and freedom aside it is oil, weapons sales, and support of Israel which drive Washington's policy. Presidents come and go but the patterns persist with only shades of difference. And the media? They are doing a great job keeping people ignorant with their unexamined assumptions and biased reporting.

Rami Khouri is a well-known journalist in the Middle East. Based in Beirut, he is editor-at-large of "The Daily Star." His articles are syndicated in major newspapers around the world. He is the Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. He is recipient of the Pax Christi International Peace Award for his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

(23 Nov) 090904 John Pilger - Imperialism in the Age of Obama

The election of Barack Obama was greeted in many circles with a combination of relief and euphoria. It was of course historic. But does Obama represent genuine change from the previous regime? Eloquence and charisma, while attractive qualities, are not policy. Obama is imbued with the same imperial mentality that prevails in Washington in that he believes America can reengineer other countries like Afghanistan. This hubris will lead to further death and destruction. Obama has declared that Afghanistan is "a war worth fighting" and has doubled the number of troops there. A little history would be instructive. The mighty British Empire, among others, on multiple occasions, tried to conquer Afghanistan. They never succeeded. One high 19th century British official astutely observed that the Afghans "do not want us, they dread our appearance in their country and will not tolerate foreign rule."

John Pilger is an internationally renowned journalist and documentary filmmaker. Born in Australia he's been based in London for many years. He's twice won British journalism's highest award, that of Journalist of the Year. His award-winning documentaries such as "Palestine is Still the Issue" and "The War on Democracy" are seen all over the world but rarely in the U.S. He is the author of numerous books including The New Rulers of the World and Freedom Next Time.

(16 Nov) 090903 Pervez Hoodbhoy - Whither Pakistan?

Reports of Pakistan's impending collapse are frequent. It helps to know a little history. After Benazir Bhutto's assassination in 2007 there was a wave of tributes. A lot was left out. She was dismissed twice as prime minister for corruption. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was at the center of scandals and went to jail. Beyond that it was Bhutto in 1994 that lent key support to a then obscure group in Afghanistan, the Taliban. Today, Asif Ali Zardari is president. He has an abysmal approval rating, and rarely ventures out of the presidential palace in Islamabad for fear of assassination. And meanwhile the U.S. continues to bomb Pakistan. The result? In a recent Gallup poll when asked what was the biggest threat to Pakistan, 11% identified the Taliban, 18% said India. But an overwhelming number, 59% of respondents said the U.S.

Pervez Hoodbhoy is professor of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. He writes and lectures on South Asian issues. He appears on major news programs in Pakistan and around the world.

(09 Nov) 090902 Chris Hedges - Empire of Illusion

Many sectors of the media and the general culture form veritable weapons of mass distraction. Maybe they should be monitored to protect citizens with regular inspections from the United Nations. Perhaps the Surgeon General should label TV programs the same way she labels cigarettes and alcohol. So while we are enduring yet another episode of Madonna adopting a child in Malawi or baseball slugger Manny Ramirez taking steroids, a scroll will appear at the bottom of the screen saying: this program can cause mental health problems or this is fluff. Run of the mill sound bite journalism is shallow and lacks detail and context. Things just happen. The end result? The triumph of inanity and superficiality producing an ignorant population unable to comprehend important public issues.

Chris Hedges reported for The New York Times for more than a decade. Before that he worked for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He has covered wars in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. His book, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning received the Overseas Press Club award. He is the author of American Fascists, Collateral Damage, and Empire of Illusion.

(02 Nov) 090901 Steffie Woolhandler - Health Care Reform

Discussions around health care reform at times border on the hysterical. Relentless misrepresentations and lies are the keys to successful propaganda. Stoked by talk show hosts and politicians, there are wild allegations about death panels and killing granny. Why is there so much anger and fear around health care? In times of bankruptcies, foreclosures and layoffs people are more vulnerable to manipulation. The plain fact is other nations have higher performance health care systems that take care of everyone and at a much lower cost than in the United States. Is that acceptable? Social Security and Medicare are successful and popular programs. Both are government run. Are the back-room deals of the moneyed lobbies going to prevent meaningful change and reform? The health insurance companies and big Pharma will get their way if citizens do not organize and act.

Steffie Woolhandler helped found Physicians for a National Health Program, a non-profit organization of health care professionals who support a national health insurance program. On the Harvard Medical School faculty since 1987, Dr. Woolhandler has conducted research and published her results in dozens of articles and books. She provides patient care as an attending physician at The Cambridge Hospital. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her contributions to health care.

(26 Oct) 090503 Arun Gupta - Banksta Capitalism

"We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand," declares the president. But it seems that's what is going on. Obama's treasury secretary says, "We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to continue to do our best to preserve that." That's the stated policy. Now no doubt there will be some regulatory changes but loopholes will be found to avoid them. Restoration is the order of the day. The system remains in place. Ultimately, with few exceptions, the high rollers and fat cats are covered. They get their big payday and their "too big to fail" corporations and banks get bailed out. The economic crisis is a moment of great opportunity to address fundamental inequities and inequalities. Where are the imaginative ideas and the movements to push them forward?

Arun Gupta, journalist and activist, was founding editor of The Indypendent newspaper in New York. He's a regular contributor to Alternet and Z. He also appears on Democracy Now, GRIT TV, and Al Jazeera.

(19 Oct) 090502 Richard Wolff - Casino Capitalism

F. Scott Fitzgerald in "The Great Gatsby," his signature novel about the Roaring Twenties, wrote, "They were careless people. They smashed up things and creatures. Then they retreated back into their money, or their great carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together. They retreated and let other people clean up the messes they had made." Does that resonate with what's happening today as another Gilded Age crashes and burns? Taxpayers are being called upon to clean up the messes of Wall Street. It's curious when banks and corporations are making money hand over fist, they get to keep everything. However when their exotic financial instruments such as credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations drown in red ink, then the public bails them out. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz says the rescue plan "amounts to robbery of the American people."

Richard Wolff is a well-known economist. After receiving his Ph.D. from Yale, he taught at the City College of New York from 1969 to 1973, and then began teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he has been full professor since 1981. He is the author of numerous articles and books on economics.

(12 Oct) 090804 Stephen Bezruchka - Capitalism and Health

Is health care a right or just another commodity, subject to market fluctuations, to be bought and sold? As long ago as 1944, FDR said that health care was a right. A few years later, Truman tried to advance a national health plan. He got nowhere. Our health care system is located in a political economy known as capitalism often euphemistically called the free market. And because of that it is private and profit driven. The critical question which should be asked is: Is Capitalism and efficient cost-effective economic model which produces desirable health care outcomes? Supporters of the status quo say it's working just fine and only needs some fine-tuning. Critics are not so generous. They say if you got the bread you get the care and if you don't, see you in the ER or in the morgue.

Stephen Bezruchka teaches at the University of Washington and works as an emergency room physician in Seattle. His particular areas of research are population health and societal hierarchy. He is author of numerous articles and essays. He is a contributor to Sickness and Wealth, a book on the effects of global corporatization on health.

(05 Oct) 980305 Noam Chomsky - Manufacturing Consent: Media and Propaganda

The media present themselves as objective, balanced and free from any agenda. Reality suggests a different construct. Much of what passes as news is sometimes subtle, sometimes crude propaganda. The media are large conglomerates that serve to mobilise support for the special interests that dominate state and corporate power. In democratic societies populations are not controlled by force. Rather, they are subject to more refined forms of ideological manipulation. Necessary illusions are created. Consent is manufactured. The public is marginalised. January 22, 1993.

Noam Chomsky, internationally renowned MIT professor, has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for more than four decades. He is in such demand as a public speaker that he is often booked years in advance. And wherever he appears, he draws huge audiences. The Guardian calls him, "One of the radical heroes of our age." He is the author of Power and Terror, Middle East Illusion and Hegemony or Survival." He's done a series of interview books with David Barsamian including The Common Good and Propaganda and the Public Mind.

(28 Sep) 090105 Maude Barlow - Peak Water

In the last few years, the concept of peak oil has gained some traction. But peak water? Hardly at all. That most precious of all resources is in big trouble. We are running out of clean, drinkable water. Aquifers are being depleted at a rate that greatly exceeds their replenishment. Global warming is causing evaporation of surface water. Glaciers are melting. Droughts are spreading. Scientists now talk about the planet having hot stains. They have identified large areas of the earth as being water stressed. In the United States, the rapidly growing desert Southwest epitomizes the problem. But it's not just Phoenix and Las Vegas, water issues exist from Los Angeles to Atlanta to Australia to India. The water crisis is like a comet poised to hit the earth. Urgent action is required, yet the words conservation and planning are barely heard.

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public advocacy organization, and the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, working internationally for the right to water. She is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize and the Citation for Lifetime Achievement, Canada's highest environmental award. She is the first Senior Advisor on water issues for the United Nations. Author of many books, her latest is Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis.

(21 Sep) 090402 Nena Baker - The Body Toxic

More than 4 decades ago Rachel Carson, in "Silent Spring," first warned that man-made chemicals were taking a deadly toll on birds and wildlife. Now we are recognizing that chemicals are effecting human sexual development and reproduction and can cause central nervous system diseases, cancer, and liver disease. Everyone is carrying a dizzying array of chemical contaminants, the by-products of industry that contribute to a host of health problems in ways just now being understood. These toxic substances, unknown to previous generations, accumulate in our fat, bones, blood, and organs as a consequence of womb-to-tomb exposure. Almost everything we encounter-from soap to soup cans and computers to clothing-contributes to a chemical load unique to each of us. Scientists refer to it as "chemical body burden." Chemical companies would rather consumers never knew about the potential dangers their products pose.

Nena Baker is a former staff writer for The Arizona Republic, The Oregonian, and United Press International. Her award-winning investigation of Nike's Indonesian factories led to numerous improvements for workers. She is the author of The Body Toxic.

(14 Sep) 090103 Sara Roy - The Impossible Union of Arab and Jew**

Have you ever found yourself being accused of being "one sided"? It happens all the time. When it comes to one of the global community's seemingly intractable disputes, the so called "Palestine / Israel Problem" it can often seem that being "one sided" depends on what side you're on. If you attempt to voice your concerns over the poverty, deprivation and incarceration of Palestinians under Israel's illegal occupation, you will soon find that accusations of being "one sided" fly thick and fast. On the other hand, if you support the so-called "security" arrangements that the Israeli government says it must maintain, you might well find yourself being described as a "friend of Israel". But what about Jews who disagree with their government? Or Jews who do not live in Israel but see only more harm, dislocation and potential loss of life, on both sides, as being the inevitable outcome of the severe conditions imposed on the Palestinian communities in Israel? The late Edward Said once said "I have been unable to live an uncommitted or suspended life. I have not hesitated to declare my affiliation with an extremely unpopular cause." But he is not alone. Many Jews, both inside Israel and without, have aligned themselves with this same "extremely unpopular cause". For their efforts, many have been shunned by their own community and many more are not given space in the mainstream media to put forward their arguments. It seems, they, like Edward Said, are too "one sided" to be allowed to speak. Sara Roy is one such Jew who has found herself muzzled by vested interests. However, the renowned Harvard Scholar refuses to accept that there are "sides" among those who are victims in this conflict. Ms Roy maintains that "Judaism has always prided itself on reflection, critical examination, and philosophical inquiry". She argues that unless Israeli Jews and those of the Diaspora reflect on their own history, critically examine their own morality and attempt to change the current Middle East paradigm, then their beloved Israel will fail.

Sara Roy has written extensively on the Palestinian economy and has authored numerous books, journal articles and commentary pieces on the impact of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. She serves on the Advisory Boards of American Near East Refugee Aid and the Centre for American and Jewish Studies at Baylor University. She delivered the 2008 Edward Said Memorial Lecture at Adelaide University on the 11th October, 2008

** Only available as CD

(07 Sep) 090803 Vandana Shiva - On Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, dubbed the Mahatma, great soul, was born on October 2, 1869. After training as a lawyer in England, Gandhi went to South Africa. It was there his emergent philosophy began to take shape. Returning to India in 1915 he fairly quickly becomes the most prominent leader in the country's struggle to oust the British. It was Gandhi who promoted non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. It was Gandhi who led the Salt March to break the British monopoly on salt. He spent years in jail. India finally achieves independence, but to Gandhi's regret, is divided. He is assassinated by a Hindu extremist in 1948. Upon his death Einstein said: "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood." Gandhi's example strongly influenced Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. A physicist, scholar, political activist and feminist, she is Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in New Delhi . She's the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize. Author of many books, her latest are Earth Democracy and Soil Not Oil.

(31 Aug) 080602 Scott Ritter - Iran: All Options on the Table

George W. Bush proclaimed, "The action and policies of the Government of Iran continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." That was part of executive order Bush issued extending the national emergency with respect to Iran. The leaders in Washington and those that would replace them frequently chant in unison that when it comes to Iran: All options are on the table. Iran is virtually encircled by American military forces. It has not threatened the U.S. So why would America attack? Seems nutty, right what with Iraq and Afghanistan? But Tehran has always been in Washington's gunsights. Axis of evil, regime change, all of that.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine intelligence officer and a veteran of the first Gulf War. He served as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq for seven years. He's an expert on weapons and arms control. In the lead up to the attack on Iraq, Ritter openly questioned whether Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction. He is the author of Frontier Justice and Waging Peace. His latest book is Target Iran.

(24 Aug) 080504 Trita Parsi - Israel, Iran and the US: Treacherous Alliance

You know the old saw, politics makes strange bedfellows. How about this one? Israel, Iran and the U.S. Yep, hard to believe but true. For many years the three acted in close cooperation. It's a story that's barely known. And for good reason. It is inconvenient. It's like being reminded that the U.S. supported Saddam Hussain during his worse atrocities in the 1980s. Now that Iran is evil incarnate and its leader is compared to Hitler, all kinds of charges are levelled against it. Iran is responsible for the messes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush announces, "Iran is a threat to nation's everywhere." Everywhere? Nigeria? Ecuador? New Zealand, too? Iran is the excuse for the U.S. to inject itself even further into the Middle East by building more bases and selling billions of dollars in weaponry.

Trita Parsi is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Israeli-Iranian relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He teaches at JHU. He is head of the National Iranian American Council.

(17 Aug) 090802 David Suzuki - Betraying Nature

Our planet and its people are in peril. Diminishing fresh water supplies, destruction of forests, polluted air, species extinction at an unparalleled rate, and a toxic petrochemical environment are all clear signals that things are going seriously haywire. And climate change, the impacts of which are already evidenced at an accelerating pace, threatens environmental devastation on an almost incomprehensible scale. Rising sea levels will overwhelm island states, low lying countries such as Bangladesh, and many of the coastal areas where the world's population is concentrated. Climate change will bring more disease outbreaks, including new diseases and variants of existing ones for which there is no treatment. Changing weather patterns will leave many populated regions with too little rain to sustain agriculture. Existing environmental problems will worsen severely unless focused and rapid steps are taken to reverse the practices that are causing them.

David Suzuki is a leading scientist, broadcaster, writer, and environmental activist. He is best known as host of the long-running CBC TV series, "The Nature of Things" seen in syndication in over forty countries. Author of many books, his latest is The Big Picture. He was awarded Canada's highest civilian honor for his work.

(10 Aug) 090801 Bill McKibben - Climate Change: Tipping Point

Glaciers are retreating at a rapid rate. Within just a few years there will be no more snows on Kilimanjaro. Glaciers in the Andes, the Rockies, and the Himalayas are all shrinking. The polar ice shelves are fracturing. Sea level is rising. The permafrost is melting. Millions of people worldwide are at risk. A major refugee crisis looms. Climate change, if unchecked, will literally swamp all other issues facing humanity. A report from the Geneva based Global Humanitarian Forum, headed by Kofi Annan, states, "Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time." A full blown disaster is on the horizon. Will we act to save our precious home, planet earth? Time is short. World leaders will meet in Copenhagen to negotiate a new international climate treaty. Decisive action, not cosmetic changes, is required. We are at a tipping point.

Bill McKibben was among the first who sounded the alarm on climate change with his bestselling book The End of Nature. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he is a leading activist, journalist and author on the environment. His latest book is Deep Economy. He is co-founder of 350.org

(03 Aug) 090704 Ralph Nader - The Politics of Health Care

More than six decades after President Franklin D. Roosevelt articulated "the right to adequate medical care and opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health," the United States, virtually alone among wealthy nations, does not have universal health care coverage. The health care system is sick, failing, expensive, and inefficient. Its attendant paperwork and mumbo jumbo are legendary. In addition to ever increasing millions of those without insurance, many more millions have inadequate coverage with huge deductibles. Medical emergencies and hospitalizations are probably the number one cause of driving citizens into debt and bankruptcy. The health insurance lobby, representing 1500 corporations, is one of the most politically powerful and exerts enormous influence in Washington. And the people? They are symbolically left standing out in the hall. Isn't it time for the U.S. to have a comprehensive national health program for its citizens?

Ralph Nader has spent a lifetime fighting on behalf of ordinary people. He has run for president four times. Life magazine ranks him as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century. Founder of Public Citizen, he is a long-time advocate for consumer safety and workers' rights. He rose to fame in the 1960s when he took on General Motors and its unsafe Corvair car. His book Unsafe At Any Speed not only created a sensation but was instrumental in the enactment of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. His efforts helped create the Environmental Protection Agency. He has exposed the misdeeds of the corporate sector as well as of the political system. In recent years he has been in the forefront of the struggles around NAFTA, the WTO, corporate welfare and single payer health care.

(27 Jul) 090703 Paul Roberts - Food System in Danger

Parts of our food chain are toxic and dangerous. With increasing frequency in recent years outbreaks of food-borne bacteria have resulted in deaths and the sickening of many thousands. Pathogens appear in our beef, chicken, lettuce, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, pistachios and peanuts. What's next? The industrialized agribusiness model is fraying and is posing more and more health threats to the general population. Consumer confidence in the safety of our food supply is waning. In addition to hygienic issues, food corporations make wild unsubstantiated claims about their products. For example, General Mills, the maker of Cheerios says the cereal is "clinically proven to help lower cholesterol." In response to the worsening situation, many citizens are turning to locally-based organic farmers to provide them with nutritious food without pesticides and additives. Farmers markets are springing up everywhere.

Paul Roberts is a journalist and author. His articles appear in major newspapers and magazines. He's the author of The End of Oil. His latest book is The End of Food.

(20 Jul) 090702 Satya Sivaraman - Human Rights in India: Binayak Sen

Touted as an emerging superpower and the world's largest democracy, India is a very complex country with enormous internal problems such as desperate economic inequality, hunger, racism, casteism and religious bigotry. There are pogroms of Christians in Orissa and Muslims in Gujarat. Not surprisingly, the oppressed are fighting back. There is a series of mini-wars and rebellions going in many parts of India. Human Rights Watch notes "a pattern of denial of justice" and holds New Delhi accountable for its "failure to protect women, children, and marginalized groups such as Dalits, tribal groups and religious minorities. Indian security forces are responsible for extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detention." In Kashmir alone, tens of thousands have been killed. This program looks at the case of Dr. Binayak Sen. It is in many ways a microcosm of the serious issues facing India.

Satya Sivaraman is an independent journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist based in New Delhi. He is the author of Asia Sees America and other Rants.

(13 Jul) 090701 Robert McChesney - Journalism and the Crisis of Democracy

Stop the presses! Breaking News! Journalism is dying! The terms seismic shifts and tectonic plates moving are overused but they certainly apply to journalism today. The venerable fourth estate is an endangered species. Newspapers, like the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, which was around for 150 years, have closed. Many others are threatened. Foreign reporting, never a strong suit, is getting worse. Bureaus are being cut back or eliminated. The demise of journalism, particularly investigative journalism, would have major implications for the functioning of our increasingly parlous democracy. If politicians and corporations, bankers and financiers know that there is no one looking at and reporting on what they are doing then corruption, which already exists, will increase exponentially. The masters will go unchallenged. Unless a new economic model emerges, print journalism as we've known it, will cease to exist.

Robert McChesney is co-founder of the Free Press, a non-profit organization working to increase public participation in media policy debates. He is professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Author of numerous books including Rich Media, Poor Democracy and The Problem of the Media" his latest is The Political Economy of Media.

(06 Jul) 090604 Antony Loewenstein** - Not in My Name

You know you've arrived as a so called 'self hating Jew' when Melbourne Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt describes you as a 'dumb Leftist Jew who vilifies Israel'. It would be hard to find a description that better sums up the Zionist view of anyone, let alone a Jew, who dares to criticise their world view. Even when Bolt cant find a valid criticism to make of Antony Loewenstein he does what so many other of Loewenstein's detractors do and nit picks the slightest inaccuracy Loewenstein might offer as opinion. However, like so many other non-Zionist Jews Loewenstein refuses to bow to pressure from his detractors.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney based journalist, commentator and blogger. He has written for most of the broadsheet papers in Australia as well as the UK Guardian, the Washington Post and the Israeli daily, Haaretz. His best selling book My Israel Question sets out the dilemma he argues many non-resident Jews must negotiate as they grapple with questions of identity and meaning. His most recent book The Blogging Revolution explores the lives and work of bloggers living under oppressive regimes. He spoke at Monash University prior to the Lebanese elections held in June 2009.

** CD only

(29 June) 090603 Dave Zirin - A People's History of Sports in the U.S.

"1968. There was never a year when the world of sports and politics collided so breathlessly," writes Dave Zirin. And nothing symbolized that year more than the iconic image of medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium with their raised black gloved fists at the Mexico City Olympics. They also wore no shoes to protest black poverrty. The reaction was sharp and swift. Within hours, they were expelled from the Olympic Village and Mexico and were demonized by the establishment. That moment i s one of the most enduring in sports history. But the politics that led to it has been forgotten. Smith and Carlos sacrificed privilege and glory to make a statement about racism and inequality. Today, sports is a global, trillion dollar business. The idea of athletes using their exalted status to speak out about injustice is rare.

Dave Zirin, (Zy-rin) winner of Press Action's Sportswriter of the Year Award, has been called "an icon in the world of progressive sports." His articles appear in The Nation and The Progressive magazines. He is the host of "Edge of Sports Radio". He's the author of What's My Name, Fool? and Welcome to the Terrordome. His latest book is A People's History of Sports in the United States.

(22 June) 090602 Frances Moore Lappe - The Work of Hope

In times of great stress, the word hope falls off our tongue with more frequency. We hope things will get better. Hope is positive and uplifting. "Rising sun energy" as a great Tibetan teacher once termed it. Emily Dickinson wrote in a poem, "Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul." It is often in community and collective action where hope takes shape and form. Culturally and politically speaking too many of us are disengaged and isolated. That's not true everywhere. Take France for example, a country with 60 million people, one fifth of the population of the United States. In France, more than 3 million people have organized and demonstrated against threatened cuts in jobs and benefits while in the U.S. the level of citizen passivity in the face of economic injustice is astonishing. Have people lost hope?

Francis Moore Lappe is the author of the classic Diet for a Small Planet, which has sold millions of copies. She is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the Alternative Nobel Prize. She is a founder of the Small Planet Institute. Her latest book is Getting a Grip.

(15 June) 090601 Joe Allen - Vietnam

All imperial systems attempt to reinvent the past, engineer history to suit their needs. The United States is no different. Vietnam is a perfect example. A war of aggression has been transformed into a "conflict." It was "tragic" and a "mistake." At the other end of the spectrum is the so-called liberal Washington Post which called the war a "just cause." That's the range of opinion in describing one of the major atrocities of the 20th century. The sheer savagery of the U.S. attack is forgotten. The war on Vietnam, later extended to Laos and Cambodia, included mass murder from the air and ferocious assaults on the ground. Millions were killed. About the agony and suffering of the victims? Virtually nothing. Reparations? Apologies? No way. And the architects of destruction, the war criminals? Held accountable? Trials? Jail time? Then as now, nothing.

Joe Allen is a contributor to the "International Socialist Review" and an activist in peace and justice movements. He is the author of Vietnam.

(08 June) 090504 David Korten - Money or Life?

"They strutted up and down the avenue, throwing out their chests and bidding the world stand to one side. They were 100 percent American big businessmen who took back talk from nobody. Now they take a handout wherever they can get it. Billions will be ladled into the mouths of these very individualistic big businessmen who, five years ago, were yelling their heads off about 'No government interference with business.' Now, they have put both feet in the public treasury trough and are yelling their heads off for government funds." Could be today's headlines, right? Not quite. It's from the "Progressive" magazine in 1934. History is instructive. The current meltdown could be seized as an opportunity to fundamentally alter our economy rather than restoring the unsustainable status quo ante with a few cosmetic changes. We can choose. Money or Life?

David Korten was an insider in the development establishment for several decades. He worked for the Ford Foundation and USAID and taught at Harvard University's Graduate School of Business. Having severed his ties to the past, today he is a leading voice for economic and social justice. He is co-founder and board chair of YES! magazine. He is the author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning. His latest book is Agenda for a New Economy.

(01 June) 090503 Arun Gupta - Banksta Capitalism

"We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand," declares the president. But it seems that's what is going on. Obama's treasury secretary says, "We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to continue to do our best to preserve that." That's the stated policy. Now no doubt there will be some regulatory changes but loopholes will be found to avoid them. Restoration is the order of the day. The system remains in place. Ultimately, with few exceptions, the high rollers and fat cats are covered. They get their big payday and their "too big to fail" corporations and banks get bailed out. The economic crisis is a moment of great opportunity to address fundamental inequities and inequalities. Where are the imaginative ideas and the movements to push them forward?

Arun Gupta, journalist and activist, was founding editor of The Indypendent newspaper in New York. He's a regular contributor to Alternet and Z. He also appears on Democracy Now, GRIT TV, and Al Jazeera.

(25 May) 090502 Richard Wolff - Casino Capitalism

F. Scott Fitzgerald in "The Great Gatsby," his signature novel about the Roaring Twenties, wrote, "They were careless people. They smashed up things and creatures. Then they retreated back into their money, or their great carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together. They retreated and let other people clean up the messes they had made." Does that resonate with what's happening today as another Gilded Age crashes and burns? Taxpayers are being called upon to clean up the messes of Wall Street. It's curious when banks and corporations are making money hand over fist, they get to keep everything. However when their exotic financial instruments such as credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations drown in red ink, then the public bails them out. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz says the rescue plan "amounts to robbery of the American people."

Richard Wolff is a well-known economist. After receiving his Ph.D. from Yale, he taught at the City College of New York from 1969 to 1973, and then began teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he has been full professor since 1981. He is the author of numerous articles and books on economics.

(18 May) 090501 Arundhati Roy - Terrorism: No Easy Answers

There are myriad types of terrorism. But the focus is highly selective. 200,000 Indian farmers killing themselves because of debt or 4,000 children dying everyday around the world because of no access to clean water are not considered. Nor are massacres of Muslims in the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra or of Sikhs in New Delhi. Nor are the tens of thousands of Kashmiris killed by the Indian military. The attention and emphasis is overwhelmingly on car bombings, 9/11 and Mumbai type of attacks. Massive state terrorism is not up for discussion unless the state is a designated enemy of Washington's such as Iran and Syria. America and its allies such as Israel and India get a free pass. Can you imagine Charlie Rose or Wolf Blitzer asking Kissinger or Rice or other apparatchiks of the empire about state terrorism? Maybe when pigs fly.

Arundhati Roy is the celebrated author of The God of Small Things and winner of the prestigious Booker Prize. The New York Times calls her, "India's most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence." Howard Zinn praises her "powerful commitment to social justice." She is the recipient of the Lannan Award for Cultural Freedom. Her latest books are The Checkbook & the Cruise Missile, a collection of interviews with David Barsamian, and An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

(11 May) 090404 Tenzin Tsundue - Free Tibet

Tibet is the inspiration behind the idea of Shangrila, paradise on earth. Scholars can debate the veracity of that. But today Tibet, in the words of the Dalai Lama, its spiritual leader, is "hell on earth" and "these 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet. Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction." The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke on March 10, 2009 in Dharamsala, India, the Himalayan hill town that is the seat of the Tibetan government in exile. Tibetans outside of China and their supporters held rallies around the world to mark the 50th anniversary of the failed revolt against Chinese rule. The Chinese military crushed the rebellion, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee to India.

Tenzin Tsundue is a poet, writer, author and a noted activist for Tibetan freedom. He is widely regarded as a leading voice of the Tibetan exile community. His book "Kora" is in its fifth edition and has been translated into several languages. His poems and essays appear in the Indian media as well as various publications around the world.

(04 May) 090403 Michael Parenti - The Hypocrisies of Capitalism

The Newsweek cover declares, "We are All Socialists Now." Some people have a different take on it. Paul Krugman, commenting on the bailout of banks and the giant insurance company AIG, says it's a classic example of what he calls "lemon socialism," that is, taxpayers bear the cost if things go wrong, but stockholders and executives get the benefits if things go right. Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner, is describing our economic system as it really is, not the fantasy tale spun for mass consumption by Alan Greenspan and his disciples. One salient aspect of the economic collapse is the focus on rotten apples like Bernard Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford. They are easy pickings. We can all be virtuous in denouncing them as cheats and swindlers. But what escapes scrutiny and discussion is the barrel itself. And that is the capitalist system.

Michael Parenti is one of America's foremost independent political analysts. He has taught at major colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of numerous books including the classic Democracy for the Few and the highly acclaimed The Assassination of Julius Caesar. His latest book is Contrary Notions.

(27 Apr) 090402 Nena Baker - The Body Toxic

More than 4 decades ago Rachel Carson, in "Silent Spring," first warned that man-made chemicals were taking a deadly toll on birds and wildlife. Now we are recognizing that chemicals are effecting human sexual development and reproduction and can cause central nervous system diseases, cancer, and liver disease. Everyone is carrying a dizzying array of chemical contaminants, the by-products of industry that contribute to a host of health problems in ways just now being understood. These toxic substances, unknown to previous generations, accumulate in our fat, bones, blood, and organs as a consequence of womb-to-tomb exposure. Almost everything we encounter-from soap to soup cans and computers to clothing-contributes to a chemical load unique to each of us. Scientists refer to it as "chemical body burden." Chemical companies would rather consumers never knew about the potential dangers their products pose.

Nena Baker is a former staff writer for The Arizona Republic, The Oregonian, and United Press International. Her award-winning investigation of Nike's Indonesian factories led to numerous improvements for workers. She is the author of The Body Toxic.

(20 Apr) 090401 Howard Zinn - Against Discouragement

It wasn't that long ago when the United States labeled the African National Congress as a terrorist organization. Its leader, Nelson Mandela languished for years in prison. Then because of massive grassroots movement and international support through boycott and divestment, Mandela is released and South Africa frees itself from its apartheid regime. Throughout history people have overcome tremendous odds to advance the cause of justice. Take the civil rights movement. What were African Americans up against? The entire apparatus of power from the courthouse to the statehouse was controlled by segregationists. And the federal government? Asleep at the wheel. Nevertheless, blacks organized and fought back against tremendous odds. The key to the struggle was collective action. There's an African proverb that captures that spirit, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, is perhaps this country's premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents, poor immigrants, were constantly moving to stay "one step ahead of the landlord." After high school, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During World War II, he saw combat duty as an air force bombardier. After the war, he went to Columbia University on the GI Bill. He was an active figure in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. Today, he is in great demand as a public speaker. He's a regular contributor to The Progressive magazine. His masterpiece, A People's History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. His latest books are A Power Governments Cannot Suppress and Original Zinn.

(13 Apr) 090304 Vandana Shiva - Food Justice

The global financial debacle has drowned out coverage of the rise in food prices. There are billion-dollar bailouts for banks while the poor go hungry. A billion people around the world face food insecurity. The crisis has arisen from a mix of speculation and deregulation, promotion of inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, the diversion of crops to biofuel production, and trade policies that have pushed farmers to grow monoculture cash crops primarily soy and corn for export rather than for in-country consumption as food. The Urban & Environmental Policy Institute says, "Food justice is everyone having enough to eat; healthy food for our children; food that doesn't contain harmful things that we don't know about; freedom to grow our own food; ability to buy food directly from farmers; fair wages for those who grow, cook and work with food."

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. A physicist, scholar, political activist and feminist, she is Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in New Delhi . She's the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize. Author of many books, her latest are Earth Democracy and Soil Not Oil.

(06 Apr) 090303 Michael Eric-Dyson - Dr. King and the American Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr has been branded and packaged. The sharp edge has been largely replaced with a dull and unthreatening one. King moved way beyond his poetic I Have a Dream speech to a radical societal analysis. His ideas in his last few years have been glossed over and sanitized. This is what he said in his 1967 Beyond Vietnam speech: "A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth." He warned America, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." Which Dr. King will Barack Obama embrace? The safe one or the revolutionary one?

Michael Eric Dyson is University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, teaching courses in theology, English, and African American studies. He is also a leading scholar on hip-hop music. Author of many books, his latest are Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip Hop and April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King's Death and How it Changed America.

(30 Mar) 090302 Richard Heinberg - Endless Consumption: The Party's Over

The global financial crisis may mark the demise of the salad days of mindless shopping on multiple credit cards. The squeeze and contraction could have a positive effect. It can be seen as an opportunity for a genuine change in consumption patterns as well as recovering the concept of sacred earth, once so prevalent among Native Americans and other indigenous peoples. For too long the dominant view has seen the earth as a commodity to be exploited and to make money from. Resources, such as fresh water, are depleting at a rate that can't be replenished, others, like oil are simply ending. How to move forward? The old paradigm of profligacy and culture of waste is simply not sustainable. We need radical new thinking and innovation. There is still time but sand is running out of the hourglass.

Richard Heinberg, author, journalist and educator, is a leading expert on energy issues. He is Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. He is the author of The Party's Over: Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Societies, Powerdown: Options & Actions for a Post-Carbon World and Peak Everything.

(23 Mar) 090301 Najma Sadeque - Pakistan: Environment in Crisis

Pakistan is much in the news. Almost all the attention is on its perilous security situation. But it is also beset with acute environmental problems. Typical of many post colonial countries, Pakistan went headlong into a western model of industrial development. Big dams were seen as an elixir. Now, most of those dams are silting up causing problems. In the province of Punjab, the breadbasket of the country, farmers are hurting for lack of water for irrigation. All things are connected. Global warming is having an adverse impact. In the great mountains in northern Pakistan the glaciers are shrinking. Thus, snowmelt is reduced and there is less water reaching the arid plains resulting in not enough drinking water. Crop yields are declining and food prices are going up. And to exacerbate everything, governmental corruption is all pervasive and deeply entrenched.

Najma Sadeque is a leading Pakistani journalist who writes frequently on environmental issues. She's also a strong advocate on women's issues. She's a founder of Shirkat Gah (Women's Resource Centre).

(16 Mar) 090204 Philip Agee - Inside the Company: CIA Diary

In the cavernous marble and glass lobby of CIA HQs in Langley, Virginia there is an inscription etched into the wall. Not some patriotic slogan, but words from the Gospel of John: "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." No matter who is president, particularly since 1945, there has been a steady stream of U.S. interventions in countries far and wide. From Grenada to Panama and from Iraq to Afghanistan, there is no country too big or small where the U.S. does not declare it has an interest in. One of the key weapons in Washington's arsenal is the Central Intelligence Agency. sometimes just referred to as the Agency or the Company. The idea that there are rogue agents carrying out their own operations is not supported by facts. The CIA is an instrument of the White House.

Philip Agee was a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who served in Latin America. After resigning from the CIA he lectured and wrote on the Agency's clandestine operations. His activities were not unnoticed. Ex CIA Director and later President Bush the first called Agee "a traitor to our country." He is the author of Inside the Company: CIA Diary and On the Run. He died in Cuba in January 2008.

(09 Mar) 090203 Robert Fisk - War Reporting

State-organized muzzling of the media began with the American invasion of Grenada in 1983, then came Panama in 1989. Two years later, by the time the First Gulf War came around, the White House and the Pentagon had an iron grip on the free press. What's curious is that with few exceptions how willing the reporters went along with being restricted and controlled. They had become virtual prisoners of handouts and press conferences. By 2003 it was game over. With the attack on Iraq a new term is coined: embedded. Washington didn't want journalists roaming around in a war zone off a leash and filing copy. The press corps has effectively become a press corpse delivering a highly sanitized view of war loaded with blather and palaver. And we the citizens of a democratic society are rendered deaf and dumb.

Robert Fisk, based in Beirut, is the Middle East correspondent for Independent. He is winner of the Amnesty International UK Press Award and the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. The Financial Times calls him "one of the outstanding reporters of his generation. As a war correspondent he is unrivalled." He is the author of Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon and The Great War for Civilization. His latest book is The Age of the Warrior.

(02 Mar) 090202 Raj Patel - Stuffed and Starved

Stuffed and starved seems like such a paradox. There's so much food. How can there be hunger and obesity? In supposedly the world's wealthiest country, tens of millions of Americans are hungry. With the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression those numbers will certainly increase. Issues of race and class are factors linking diet with cancer, diabetes and heart disease all of which are much higher among African Americans and Latino Americans. Food's also a global issue. There are connections between famine in Africa and coffee prices at Starbucks as well as how biofuels made from corn in Iowa drives up tortilla prices in Mexico. In the U.S., the popularity and growth of farmers' markets and CSAs, community supported agriculture are indications of new thinking about food. But few among the poor can afford those options.

Raj Patel, writer, activist and former policy analyst with Food First, is a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley. He has worked for the World Bank, the WTO, and the United Nations, and has also protested them on four continents. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.

(23 Feb) 090201 Noam Chomsky - International Terrorism

Hypocrisy on the issue of terrorism is mind-boggling. Washington defines the discourse and the media echo the official line. When the U.S. or any of its clients engage in terrorism it is by definition not terrorism. However, terrorism carried out by individuals and small groups is terrorism. Maybe we should go to the classics to illustrate the point. In the "City of God," St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, "How dare you molest the seas?" To which the pirate replied, "How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor." St. Augustine thought the pirate's answer was "elegant and excellent."

Noam Chomsky, internationally renowned MIT professor, practically invented modern linguistics. In addition to his pioneering work in that field he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. He is in huge demand as a public speaker all over world. The New Statesman calls him, "The conscience of the American people." The New York Times says he's "a global phenomenon, perhaps the most widely read voice on foreign policy on the planet." Author of scores of books, his latest are The Essential Chomsky and What We Say Goes.

(16 Feb) 060202 Harold Pinter - Art, Truth and Politics: The Nobel Address 2005

Politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed." So says Harold Pinter, 2005 Nobel Prize laureate. When politicians speak they do so not to reveal truths or uncover moral wrongs that they then set about putting right. They speak, says Harold Pinter, to cover up their own delusions and, perhaps, their and our shame for failing to abide by the very moral codes they reject in favour of power. However, we don't need to remain captive to their lies. We can, says Pinter, take upon ourselves the crucial obligation of defining real truth and by doing so, restore the dignity of humankind.

In the Northern autumn of 1998 the National Theatre in London conducted a poll asking playwrights, actors, directors, journalists and other theatre professionals to nominate ten English language plays they felt were significant in the 20th Century. Of the 188 authors and 377 plays nominated, works by Harold Pinter were the second most nominated behind those of Arthur Miller. Harold Pinter is the author of such works as The Birthday Party, The Caretaker , The New World Order and the French Lieutenant's Woman. In 2005 he was nominated for and was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Due to ill health he was unable to receive his prize in person and recorded his acceptance speech.

(09 Feb) 050404 Studs Terkel - Which Side Are You On? (Pt. 2)

Historian Howard Zinn says, "You can't be neutral on a moving train." Indeed, in a time of crisis you can't sit on the fence and wait for others to make the decisions for you. An engaged citzenry is the essence of democracy. The classic union song asks, "Which Side Are You On?" If we are all rendered onlookers then are we really a democracy? The soundbite media to a great extent contribute to a general feeling of helplessness and fear, thus leading to apathy and inaction.

Studs Terkel has never been neutral or passive. He has made a career of in depth interviews with people who take sides on important issues. He's the author of Working, Hard Times, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good War" His latest is Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times. He has received the lifetime achievement award from the National Critic's Circle.

(02 Feb) 050403 Studs Terkel - Which Side Are You On? (Pt. 1)

Historian Howard Zinn says, "You can't be neutral on a moving train." Indeed, in a time of crisis you can't sit on the fence and wait for others to make the decisions for you. An engaged citzenry is the essence of democracy. The classic union song asks, "Which Side Are You On?" If we are all rendered onlookers then are we really a democracy? The soundbite media to a great extent contribute to a general feeling of helplessness and fear, thus leading to apathy and inaction.

Studs Terkel has never been neutral or passive. He has made a career of in depth interviews with people who take sides on important issues. He's the author of Working, Hard Times, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good War" His latest is Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times. He has received the lifetime achievement award from the National Critic's Circle.

(26 Jan) 090105 Maude Barlow - Peak Water

In the last few years, the concept of peak oil has gained some traction. But peak water? Hardly at all. That most precious of all resources is in big trouble. We are running out of clean, drinkable water. Aquifers are being depleted at a rate that greatly exceeds their replenishment. Global warming is causing evaporation of surface water. Glaciers are melting. Droughts are spreading. Scientists now talk about the planet having hot stains. They have identified large areas of the earth as being water stressed. In the United States, the rapidly growing desert Southwest epitomizes the problem. But it's not just Phoenix and Las Vegas, water issues exist from Los Angeles to Atlanta to Australia to India. The water crisis is like a comet poised to hit the earth. Urgent action is required, yet the words conservation and planning are barely heard.

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public advocacy organization, and the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, working internationally for the right to water. She is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize and the Citation for Lifetime Achievement, Canada's highest environmental award. She is the first Senior Advisor on water issues for the United Nations. Author of many books, her latest is Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis.

(19 Jan) 090104 Howard Zinn - War and Civil Disobedience

What are citizens to do when confronted by unjust laws and when their government commits crimes? Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela all advocated and practiced civil disobedience. This was not just some opportunistic temporary tactic. Non-violent civil disobedience was a deeply held moral position. Thoreau in his classic essay "Civil Disobedience" wrote, "Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure." He went to jail in opposition to the 1846-48 U.S. war against Mexico. When his friend and fellow writer Ralph Waldo Emerson visited him in prison, he reportedly asked, "What are you doing in there?' To which Thoreau replied, "What are you doing out there?"

Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, is perhaps this country's premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents were poor immigrants. During World War II, he saw combat duty as an air force bombardier. After the war, he went to Columbia University on the GI Bill. He was an active figure in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. Today, he speaks all over the country before large and enthusiastic audiences. He's a regular contributor to The Progressive magazine. His masterpiece, A People's History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. His latest books are A Power Governments Cannot Suppress and Original Zinn with David Barsamian.

(12 Jan) 090102 Andrew Bacevich - The Limits of Power

The great scholar activist Edward Said, in his classic book "Orientalism," wrote, " Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it only uses force as a last resort." Sound at all familiar? It may be hard to hear but there is a direct connection with imperialism and the economic meltdown. The permanent war machine of bases and occupations is very expensive. Rome, among others, found that out. There are limits to power. Aside from enormous moral consequences of imperialism, the fiscal health of the country is eroding. When it comes to the Pentagon budget there are no caps.

Andrew Bacevich is a graduate of West Point and a Vietnam War veteran. He is Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University. He is the author of American Empire and The New American Militarism. His latest book is the best seller The Limits of Power.

(05 Jan) 090101 George Lakoff - The Political Mind

It is abundantly clear that if you control language, terms such as, war on terror, partial birth abortion, and death tax, you can shape ideas and dominate the discourse. You can put your opponents on the defensive. And once you do that, they are always reacting to your initiatives. People on the right have understood this dynamic very well. And they've done something about it. First, they built up a network of well-funded think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Then they created their own media such as Fox and Rush Limbaugh. Then they developed a golden rolodex of experts, attached to their think tanks, who constantly appear in the media to advance their ideological agenda. On the other side of the conventional political spectrum, it is not clear whether liberals sufficiently grasp the urgency of the issue.

George Lakoff is Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute where he applies cognitive linguistics to the study of politics, especially the framing of public political debate. He is the author of the bestseller Don't Think of An Elephant. His latest book is The Political Mind.

(29 Dec) 080905 Noam Chomsky - Wars, Bailouts and Elections

In the economic meltdown the term "in history" is routine. E.g., the biggest bailout in history, the largest bank failure in history, the greatest corporate collapse in history, and the stock market's worst week in history. There are more in histories on the horizon because the fundamental issue is not being addressed. The so-called free market is not free. Washington has forever been intervening on behalf of corporations. Sometimes with direct cash but more often through the tax code. And don't forget all those lucrative government contracts secured by lobbyists. Can anyone see the dots much less connect them? The political class votes for Wall Street while invoking the name of Main Street. Instead of buying toxic assets with taxpayer money why not give the money directly, at no or low-interest, to homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure?

Noam Chomsky, internationally renowned MIT professor, practically invented modern linguistics. In addition to his pioneering work in that field he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice. He is in huge demand as a public speaker all over the world. The New York Times calls him, "a global phenomenon, perhaps the most widely read voice on foreign policy on the planet." Author of scores of books, his latest are The Essential Chomsky and What We Say Goes.

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