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Program Archives - 2013

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(30 Dec) 130701 Christopher de Bellaigue - Iran: Coups, Sanctions and the Threat of War

Operation Ajax was the code name for the CIA coup which destroyed democracy in Iran. In 1953, 60 years ago, the U.S. overthrew a populist government and put the Shah in power. Actions have consequences. The Shah was overthrown in 1979. Today, the U.S. and its allies have imposed severe sanctions on Iran. Military action is possible. "All options are on the table," is ritually intoned. Iran is enriching uranium, as is its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Washington accuses Tehran of seeking technology to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies those charges and has called for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East. The U.S. regularly violates Iranian airspace with surveillance flights and its warships conduct what are called routine exercises off of Iran's coast. Imagine if the reverse were true. Think there might be a response from Washington?

Christopher de Bellaigue is an independent journalist. His articles appear in the Economist, the Financial Times, The Independent, and the New York Review of Books. He is the author of Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten People, The Struggle for Iran, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs, and Patriot of Persia"

(23 Dec) 130603 Chris Hedges - Corporate Coup d'Etat

Corporations constitute the most powerful force in society. Their influence has seeped into our classrooms, our newsrooms, our entertainment systems, our consciousness and crucially into our politics. Big money buys access to lawmakers. For sheer arrogance perhaps Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment giant, takes the cake. Its CEO Lloyd Blankfein, blithely advises citizens they will have to "lower" their "expectations" when it comes to Social Security which he calls an "entitlement." Goldman Sachs, made $5.6 billion in profits last year yet it secured tax breaks for its fancy new HQs in New York as well as tax-free bonuses for its top executives. Corporations reign supreme while most people are simply caught in the rain and are getting soaked. Because of the fiscal cliff deal the average worker this year will take home about a thousand dollars less.

Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has covered wars in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.org and is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, American Fascists, Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, The World As It Is, and with Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.

(16 Dec) 130305 Noam Chomsky - Masters of Mankind

Adam Smith is routinely trotted out by pundits to justify the current economic system. Yet the Smith that is represented bares little resemblance to reality. If he were around today he probably would be appalled at the way his name and ideas are being bandied about. All that stuff about the free market and entrepreneurial spirit are slogans to prevent people from understanding how the economy really works. Actual capitalism relies on significant government intervention and taxpayer subsidies. Who after all bailed out Wall Street banks and financial institutions? In sector after sector it is public money that paves the way for private profit. Take computers and the Internet. Where did they come from? Bill Gates working in a garage in Palo Alto? Hardly. They were products of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Noam Chomsky, legendary MIT professor, has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for more than 40 years. Edward Said called him, "one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions; he goes against every assumption about American altruism and humanitarianism". He is the author of scores of books, including Hopes & Prospects and How The World Works.

(09 Dec) 130304 Bassam Haddad - Inside Syria

Syria is a mosaic of ethnic and religious groups. The minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, constitute about 12 percent of Syria's 23 million people. They have controlled the government since 1970 when Hafez al-Assad seized power. Upon his death in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad took over. Peaceful protests against his regime, which began in March 2011, following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, were crushed by the military. Opposition grew. The consequences have been catastrophic. Tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands have fled the country, and more than 2 million are internal refugees. The Assad regime is under siege and is bound to fall. But what will take its place? There are multiple factions within the umbrella resistance group, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The violence and suffering are escalating. Whither Syria?

Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University, and is Visiting Professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria. He is Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal and is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad and director of a critically acclaimed film series on Arabs and Terrorism. He is also on the Editorial Committee of Middle East Report and is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya ezine.

(02 Dec) 130202 Joseph Stiglitz - The Age of Inequality

Trickle-down neo-liberal economics has not worked. Well, not exactly. It's worked beautifully for the rich. U.S. income inequality has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s. The top 1% rakes in one-fourth of the national income and has assets equivalent to half the national wealth. The Age of Inequality began in earnest more than 30 years ago. Wages, which had been constantly rising, flattened out. Families got hooked on the new money: credit cards. Debt skyrocketed. Workers took second jobs to make ends meet. The huge transfer of wealth upwards was accompanied by attacks on unions. Recall Reagan's first action was to break a union. Then corporations started outsourcing, moving high paying jobs overseas. Throw in tax cuts and subsidies and you have a poisonous economic cocktail for the average worker. Inequality poses serious questions about the nature of democracy, fairness and economic justice.

Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia, is the recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics. He was chair of the Council on Economic Advisors under Clinton. He also served as senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. His efforts to move the bank in a more progressive direction got him fired. He is the author of Globalization and Its Discontents and The Roaring Nineties.

(25 Nov) 131104 Mohammad Fadel - Egypt in Crisis

The Egyptian Revolution, which in early 2011 overthrew the decades-old Mubarak dictatorship, stirred the imagination of the world. The so-called Arab Spring was in full bloom. Anything seemed possible. The region's decrepit and feudal regimes were in danger of falling. Tahrir Square in Cairo became the symbol of liberation. But as Mao said, "A revolution is not a dinner party." The euphoria of the moment masked deep divisions and conflicts within Egyptian society. In 2012, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected president. Frustrated by his ineffective rule and rejecting his Islamist agenda, some of the Tahrir Square protestors urged the military to take over. On July 3, 2013, Morsi was toppled in a coup. Since then, the security forces have killed hundreds of Morsi supporters. Thousands have been arrested. The media are muzzled. The military is in charge.

Mohammad Fadel is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Toronto, where he is cross-appointed in the Faculty of Law, the Department of Religion, and the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations. He has published numerous articles on Islamic legal history, international human rights, liberalism and democratic theory.

(18 Nov) 131103 David Nibert - Animal Industrial Complex

Many have heard of the military-industrial complex, maybe even the prison-industrial complex, but the animal industrial complex? Probably not. But you should. It's huge. Meat consumption per capita in the U.S. exceeds all other countries except for Luxemburg. The U.S. with its ubiquitous fast food outlets might be called Burgerstan. But the love affair with meat may be waning. The Hindu-Buddhist roots of vegetarianism have gone way beyond their origins in South Asia. Today, adherents of vegetarianism can be found everywhere and in ever growing numbers. Concern about cruelty and violence to animals and the impact of meat eating on the environment are all contributing to heightened awareness as to how we treat other creatures. We share our homes and lives with dogs and cats. We lavish care and affection upon them. But other animals endure pain and suffering on their way to our dinner plates.

David Nibert, a former tenant organizer and community activist, is an award-winning writer and professor at Wittenberg University in Springfield Ohio. He is the author of Animal Rights, Human Rights and Animal Oppression and Human Violence.

(11 Nov) 131102 Vandana Shiva - Food Security and GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, GMOs have become hot button issues in more and more communities. GMOs are plants with altered DNA. Its proponents, large corporations like Monsanto, hail the technology as a revolutionary solution to feeding the world's growing population. However, concerns are mounting about the risks posed by GMOs, both to human health and the environment. For example, they may produce new allergens and toxins, and spread harmful traits to non-GMO crops. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment cannot be recalled. Industry response is, Don't worry. Eat to your heart's content. But can we? Do we have a right to know what is in the food we eat? Are we preparing meals of Frankenfood or nutritious, safe, and healthy ones? Are corporations playing with Nature as if she were a Lego set?

Vandana Shiva is an internationally-renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. She's a physicist, scholar, social 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 Sydney Peace Prize and of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize. She is the author of many books, including Water Wars, Earth Democracy, Soil Not Oil and Making Peace with the Earth.

(04 Nov) 131101 Sanjay Kak - Kashmir: Hell in Heaven

Kashmir is spectacularly gorgeous but the travel magazine spreads and tourist brochures mask a less than heavenly reality. An ongoing conflict has taken the lives of tens of thousands of Kashmiris. The Himalayan region is divided by India and Pakistan but claimed in its entirety by both. And trapped between these states are the Kashmiri people. What they might desire is of little concern to India and Pakistan who use Kashmir to justify massive military deployments. Cross border shootings and artillery strikes at any time could escalate into a major war. And don't forget both countries have nuclear weapons. Kashmiri non-violent struggles against Indian rule have barely been covered in the media. It doesn't fit the narrative India has propagated: These are Islamic terrorists controlled by Pakistan. Except for a few troublemakers, Kashmiris are happy to be part of India.

Sanjay Kak is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker based in New Delhi. His work reflects his interests in ecology, alternatives and resistance politics and movements. His films include How We Celebrate Freedom and Words on Water. His latest film is Red Ant Dream. He is editor of Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir.

(28 Oct) 131004 Arundhati Roy - Women & Resistance

During the worst years of the dirty war in Argentina, thousands of people were disappeared by the junta. In response, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo was formed. Their weekly vigils demanding answers brought global attention to the situation in Argentina. In some instances a modicum of justice was achieved. Half a world away in parts of India, such as Chhattisgarh, poor indigenous women have taken up arms to defend their communities and land against predatory corporations. In Kashmir, state security forces picked up a teenage boy. His mother, Parveena Ahanger, an illiterate woman,never heard from him again. She founded the Association of Parents of the Disappeared Persons bringing together those who have lost loved ones. They hold demonstrations and insist on accountability. In these, and other cases, women are moving from being passive victims to active agents. It's not easy. Sexual and other forms of violence are used as weapons to terrorize women. Interview by David Barsamian.

Arundhati Roy is a world-renowned writer and global justice activist. The New York Times calls her, "India's most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence." She is the recipient of the Lannan Award for Cultural Freedom. She is the author of many books including The God of Small Things, The Chequebook and the Cruise Missile,Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, and Walking with the Comrades.

(21 Oct) 131003 Victoria Banyard - Sexual Violence

Sexual violence occurs from New York to New Delhi and from Denver to Durban. It wasn't that long ago when even mentioning the subject was taboo. The stigma and shame were overwhelming. Help lines, counseling and rape crisis centers did not exist. In some countries, legal and cultural changes have made reporting easier. But in parts of Africa, West and South Asia, where patriarchy is deeply rooted, survivors of attacks are often blamed and ostracized. Sexual violence takes on many forms. But its underlying purpose is the expression of power and domination over the person assaulted. Take the case of the man in Ohio who imprisoned and repeatedly raped three women over a period of years. During war and civil unrest rape of women and of men is often used as a weapon. Sexual violence in prisons is widespread.

Victoria Banyard is professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire. Her articles on sexual violence prevention appear in leading scholarly journals. She has been a guest editor on the theme of sexual violence, including Violence Against Women: An International Journal. She has co-edited two books: Trauma and Physical Health and Trauma and Memory.

(14 Oct) 131002 Samantha Power - Genocide: A Problem from Hell

From Rwanda to Darfur, modern history is haunted by acts of systematic state violence. In 1915 when Turkey sent its Armenian population on death marches into the desert, U.S. ambassador Henry Morgenthau denounced what he called "race murder." Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer, was appalled by the Turkish destruction of the Armenians and tried to get European countries to criminalize the wholesale extermination of ethnic and religious groups. His efforts were unsuccessful. During the Holocaust, Lemkin lost many family members in the German mass murder of Jews. He resolved to devise a word that would convey the horror. He coined the term genocide. He gave the crime a name and it led to the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. But when do atrocities become genocide? At times for political purposes, the term is invoked promiscuously as a cover to justify intervention.

Samantha Power reported on the Balkan wars for various newspapers and magazines. She was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard. Her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize. She is U.S. ambassador to the UN.

(07 Oct) 131001 Robert Jensen - A Call to Action

"In times of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act," said Orwell. There are a lot of truth tellers in these times: Bill McKibben, David Suzuki, Sandra Steingraber, Noam Chomsky and Maude Barlow. Of course their views are marginalized or omitted altogether from the dominant media. Warning signal after warning signal goes unheeded. Buried in the back pages of the newspaper is a report: "Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance." These are more like apocalyptic times than revolutionary ones. It is not just about cuddly animals at risk. Humankind is in danger. The magnitude of the environmental crises demands not more talk but action. Decisive action.

Robert Jensen is professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of Citizens of the Empire, The Heart of Whiteness, All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice and Arguing for Our Lives.

(30 Sep) 130905 Sanjay Kak - India: David vs. Goliath

The Biblical story needs no recounting. In parts of India today various Davids confront the goliath of the Indian state and large corporations. The people fighting back are poor, rural and marginalized. Many are Adivasi, indigenous. Some of the resistance groups, called Maoist or Naxalite, believe in armed struggle. Others are using Gandhian tactics of civil disobedience and non-violence. Arundhati Roy, the well-known writer and activist describes the situation, "People are being driven off their lands by mining companies, steel plants, dams, and other mega-projects. They are putting their bodies on the line to prevent the takeover of their lands and the destruction of their culture and environment. And as the water tables are dropping and the minerals that remain in the mountains are being taken out, we are going to confront a crisis from which we cannot return."

Sanjay Kak is a New Delhi-based, award-winning independent documentary filmmaker. His work reflects his interests in ecology, alternatives and resistance politics and movements. His films include How We Celebrate Freedom and Words on Water. His latest film is Red Ant Dream. He is editor of Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir.

(23 Sep) 130904 Arundhati Roy - Reimagining the World

The news item was brief and buried in the back pages: "India: Maoists Ambush Patrol, Killing 7 Soldiers. The attack occurred in a rebel stronghold in Jharkhand State. Thousands of people have been killed in the past decade in violence involving Maoists, who claim they represent India's dispossessed, particularly indigenous tribal groups". You may wonder, What's going on? Isn't India a democracy? In India, the U.S. and other countries the actual functioning of democracy has largely been hollowed out. Yes, there are elections and people vote but the nexus of decision-making power lies elsewhere. Corporations dominate the political process. With their fistful of dollars they are able to exact outcomes that benefit them. As environmental destruction continues unabated we must reimagine a different world. One in which people and the planet are more important than profits.

Arundhati Roy is a world-renowned writer and global justice activist. The New York Times calls her, "India's most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence." She is the recipient of the Lannan Award for Cultural Freedom. She is the author of many books including The God of Small Things, The Chequebook & the Cruise Missile, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, and Walking with the Comrades.

(16 Sep) 130903 Noam Chomsky - Magna Carta: Then and Now

The Magna Carta is the foundational document of the legal system. It crucially asserted that law is sovereign, not the king. Today, the term rule of law is invoked by whoever is in the White House. But you have to wonder what do they mean? There is one set of rules for official enemies and another for Washington and its minions. Take the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT. Iran is a signatory and is being subjected to collective punishment, i.e., a stringent sanctions regime as well as the threat of military attack. Both are illegal. But hey why bother with technicalities. Meanwhile, U.S. allies such as Israel, India and Pakistan are not signatories to the NPT, have nuclear weapons and Washington says nothing. Principles to have any validity must be applied uniformly. What does it mean when a president is above the law?

Noam Chomsky, legendary 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. Edward Said said of him, "Noam Chomsky is one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions; he goes against every assumption about American altruism and humanitarianism". The New Statesman describes him as, "The conscience of the American people". He is the author of scores of books, including Hopes & Prospects, Occupy, How The World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

(09 Sep) 130902 Jeremy Scahill - License to Kill

Drones represent a new era in warfare. They are the White House-Pentagon-CIA weapon of choice. Clean 21st century death from above. No body bags. No weeping mothers. At least not in the homeland. The President decides who lives and who dies. It's a dangerous world. Enemies are lurking everywhere. Let's get them before they get us. Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks, among others, are ringing alarm bells. She told a Senate committee, "Right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone anywhere on earth at any time for secret reasons based on secret evidence in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials. That's not the rule of law. That frightens me". As Bob Dylan tells us in License to Kill: "Man thinks 'cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please, And if things don't change soon, he will".

Jeremy Scahill is the award-winning National Security Correspondent for the "Nation" magazine and author of the best-sellers Blackwater and Dirty Wars. He has reported from war zones around the world. His work has sparked several congressional investigations. He is also the subject of the film Dirty Wars, an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

(02 Sep) 130901 Ramin Jahanbegloo - Gandhi, Nonviolence and Iran

Born in Gujarat in western India in 1869, Gandhi's life journey was phenomenal by any standard. He went from a suited-booted English trained barrister to the Mahatma, one of the 20th century's most extraordinary figures. He challenged the mighty British Empire not with guns but with civil disobedience and nonviolence. Today his name is ritually invoked by politicians, particularly in India, but do his ideas really matter? Do they resonate in the 21st century? The U.S. is threatening war on Iran. Any attack will further inflame a region already burning. Instead of military maneuvers, ultimatums, sanctions and bellicose language where can Washington and Tehran find common ground? Can plain Gandhian advice, "Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding" defuse tensions and lead to dialogue and conflict resolution? What is the role of nonviolence is an increasingly violent world?

Ramin Jahanbegloo is an Iranian-Canadian political philosopher. He was arrested and imprisoned by Iranian authorities in 2006. He was released after much international pressure. He is professor and Noor-York Chair in Islamic Studies at York University. He is the author of The Clash of Intolerances, Democracy in Iran and The Gandhian Moment.

(26 Aug) 130804 Yves Engler - What's Going on in Canada?

What's going on in Canada? Justin Bieber? Snow? Hockey? Since 2006, the vast country of 35 million people has been led by Stephen Harper. He is prime minister and head of the Conservative Party. Earlier in his political career he was a Member of Parliament representing Calgary in Alberta province. To say Harper has close ties with Canada's powerful oil and mining interests would be an understatement. He is a fervent advocate of the tar sands project in Alberta and has aggressively backed its expansion. Scientists such as James Hansen call the extraction of this particularly dirty oil a "monster" and "game over" for stabilizing the climate. Harper is strongly backing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast. That project, opposed by many in the U.S., is on Obama's desk right now.

Yves Engler has been called "one of the most important voices on the Canadian Left today" and "in the mould of I.F. Stone". He is the author of many books including Lester Pearson's Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Canada Israel: Building Apartheid and The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper's Foreign Policy.

(19 Aug) 130803 Thomas Linzey - Corporations, Communities & the Environment

Communities across the country, trying to stop a wide range of threats and unwanted projects such as gas drilling and fracking, mining, pipelines, factory farming, sewage sludging, landfills, coal shipments and GMOs, all run into the same problem: they don't have the legal authority to say "no" to them. With their high priced lawyers and huge political influence corporadoes shape the law. That may be changing. A recent court ruling in Pennsylvania says that corporations are not "persons." They cannot elevate their "private rights" above the rights of people. Others can't wait for the legal system to catch up. Sandra Steingraber, noted biologist and scholar, shortly after appearing on Bill Moyers and on Alternative Radio, has gone to jail. In an act of civil disobedience, Steingraber and others blocked the entrance to a natural gas storage facility in the pristine Seneca Lakes region of upstate New York.

Thomas Linzey is an attorney and co-founder and executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and serves as its chief legal counsel. He is the author of Be the Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, and the Nation.

(12 Aug) 130802 Barbara Ehrenreich - Kicking People When They're Down

The rise in New York's poverty rate as a result of the ongoing recession has pushed nearly half of the city's population into the ranks of the poor or near-poor. Ironically, the nation's largest city is run by a multi-billionaire. Almost on the same day, another report came out saying "Hedge Fund Titans Get Lavish Paydays Stretching to Ten Figures." People are immiserated and dumped into the streets because of decisions made downtown in the suites. Do we lend a helping hand to the poor? Barely. Let them eat op-eds about values and the virtues of hard work. There's billions to fund the latest F-whatever fighter jet but scant little for people in distress. The pounding the needy are taking is particulary severe because much of the social safety net has been shredded. Can anyone say compassion and caring?

Barbara Ehrenreich is a social critic, journalist, and activist. She received a PhD in cell biology from Rockefeller University. In the 1970's, she was involved with the nascent women's health movement. After publishing an article in Ms magazine, she became a regular columnist there and with Mother Jones. She is the author of numerous books including such bestsellers as Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, This Land is Their Land and Bright-Sided. In 2012 she founded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a website designed to place the crisis of poverty and economic insecurity at the center of the national political conversation.

(05 Aug) 130801 Martin Lee - Medical Marijuana

Marijuana, cannabis, weed, grass, by one name or the other you've heard about it and may have even tried it. An Irish physician, William O'Shaughnessy introduced the therapeutic use of marijuana to Western medicine in the 1830s. He gave it to patients to help treat muscle spasms and stomach cramps. Marijuana as a medicine became common throughout much of the Western world by the 19th century. It was the primary pain reliever until the invention of aspirin. Today, there are underreported scientific breakthroughs including the discovery of a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, (CBD), which stimulates adult stem cell growth, prevents the onset of diabetes, and shrinks malignant tumors. By mining the plant's treasure trove of active ingredients, medical researchers have developed promising treatments for cancer, heart disease, glaucoma, Alzheimer's, chronic pain, and many other conditions that are beyond the reach of conventional cures.

Martin Lee is co-founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the New York-based media watch group. An award-winning journalist, he has investigated the CIA and its drug experiments. His classic book on the topic is Acid Dreams. He is also the author of The Beast Reawakens and Smoke Signals. He is director of Project CBD and a contributing editor of O'Shaughnessy's.

(29 Jul) 130705 David Suzuki - A Radical Environmental Paradigm

2012 was a year of extreme weather, from the melting of the Arctic to Superstorm Sandy. It was also the hottest year on record in the U.S., with massive droughts and many wildfires. And it was probably a taste of things to come. Climate change is real. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is now higher than at any time in the last 15 million years. It's largely caused by humans burning fossil fuels. The response to unambiguous evidence that the earth is warming? Kick the problem down the road and hold another farcical international conference like the one in Qatar where the climate destroyers gather and sip Chardonnay and issue press releases about how green they are. What is required to arrest and reverse the clear threats to the Earth is a radical shift in not just thinking but in action.

David Suzuki, Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, is a leading environmentalist and science educator. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science. He is the host of the long-running CBC-TV program The Nature of Things. He is the author of more than fifty books, including The Sacred Balance and Everything Under the Sun.

(22 Jul) 130704 Dennis Kucinich - War and Peace

The U.S. has the world's most powerful military machine. Its navy controls the seas, its air force the skies. Almost 70 years after the end of World War Two, its armies occupy bases from Germany and Italy to South Korea and Japan. Its CIA-operated drones attack Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. Its multiple intelligence agencies have black sites and black budgets and carry out black operations. The financial costs of maintaining an empire are enormous. The moral costs are incalculable. And some would suggest the external violence connects to the murderous rampages and shootings here in the homeland. The signs of structural decay are all too apparent. Nation building begins at home. Can we imagine a culture of peace? Can we create a political and economic system that serve the needs of people and protects and honors the Earth?

Dennis Kucinich served as a member of Congress from 1997 to 2013, representing Ohio's 10th district. He brought articles of impeachment against George Bush and Dick Cheney. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004 and 2008. He was an advocate for the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Peace. Upon leaving the House, his colleague Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota said of him, "We're really going to miss Dennis. He is a transformative leader. He stood up and spoke eloquently and passionately about Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. He was a consistent voice for peace."

(15 Jul) 130703 Sandra Steingraber - Fracking and Public Health

Fracking doesn't sound like something the earth, or any community, or any language would wish upon itself. What is it exactly? Fracking is a technique that involves the injection of enormous volumes of water and chemicals underground at very high pressure in order to create fractures in underlying shale rock formations in order to extract the natural gas below the surface. Fracking is rapidly expanding all across the U.S. and Canada. It is touted by big corporations as a practical solution to energy needs. Citizen groups oppose fracking because of its huge water use, its high carbon emissions, its impacts on human health, the disruption it causes to wildlife, and the peril it poses to groundwater and local drinking water. They are insisting that people's health and the environment are non-negotiable. And, that this widespread and dangerous practice of fracking be stopped.

Sandra Steingraber is a biologist, writer and environmental health expert. She is from a distinguished line of women ecologists such as Rachel Carson and Lois Gibbs, who have alerted lawmakers and the public to the real cost of toxic trespassing. She is the author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment. She is a leading voice opposing fracking.

(08 Jul) 130702 Pankaj Mishra - India and Kashmir: Breaking the Silence

In Kashmir, the scale of human rights violations from collective punishment and assassinations to custodial deaths and disappearances is staggering. Yet little of what goes on in that Himalayan region reaches the outside. Why? India controls the cameras, microphones and print media and it has been skillful in framing Kashmir in the 9/11 terrorism discourse. Those who resist Indian rule, Delhi tells the world, are fundamentalist jihadis backed by Pakistan. Kashmir is an unresolved issue dating back to the disastrous 1947 British partition plan to divide the sub-continent in two: a Hindu majority India and a Muslim majority Pakistan. Today, Kashmir is one of the most dangerous places on earth. Both India and Pakistan have huge militaries and nuclear weapons. And the Kashmiris are stuck in the middle. It is time past for the silence on Kashmir to be broken.

Pankaj Mishra writes for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The Guardian. He is the author of Butter Chicken in Ludhiana, An End to Suffering, Temptations of the West and From the Ruins of Empire. He has spent much time in Kashmir and has written about it.

(01 Jul) 130701 Christopher de Bellaigue - Iran: Coups, Sanctions and the Threat of War

Operation Ajax was the code name for the CIA coup which destroyed democracy in Iran. In 1953, 60 years ago, the U.S. overthrew a populist government and put the Shah in power. Actions have consequences. The Shah was overthrown in 1979. Today, the U.S. and its allies have imposed severe sanctions on Iran. Military action is possible. "All options are on the table," is ritually intoned. Iran is enriching uranium, as is its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Washington accuses Tehran of seeking technology to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies those charges and has called for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East. The U.S. regularly violates Iranian airspace with surveillance flights and its warships conduct what are called routine exercises off of Iran's coast. Imagine if the reverse were true. Think there might be a response from Washington?

Christopher de Bellaigue is an independent journalist. His articles appear in the Economist, the Financial Times, The Independent, and the New York Review of Books. He is the author of Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten People, The Struggle for Iran, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs, and Patriot of Persia"

(24 Jun) 130604 Howard Zinn - Against War

If an honest history is ever written of the U.S. war on Iraq it may not be believed. It's ten years since Washington launched its shock and awe attack on Iraq. Remember: weapons of mass destruction, axis of evil, mobile chemical labs, slam dunks, Curveball, smoking guns, mushroom clouds, cakewalks, liberators, regime change and mission accomplished. The architects of the war: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Feith, Wolfowitz, and others should be doing time instead of having a good time. Today, Iraq is a broken country. Nothing will bring back the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. The U.S. owes Iraq reparations for the destruction it has caused. But being the global superpower means you never have to say you're sorry or face justice. The permanent war economy feeds on conflict and strife. Is it utopian to imagine a different future?

Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, was perhaps this country's premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents, poor immigrants, were constantly moving to stay, as he once said,"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 taught at Spelman, the all black women's college in Atlanta. He was an active figure in the civil rights movement and served on the board of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was fired by Spelman for his activism. He was among the first to oppose U.S. aggression in Indochina. His book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was an instant classic. A principled opponent of imperialism and militarism, he was an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience. He spoke and marched against the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. His masterpiece, A People's History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. Among his many books are A Power Governments Cannot Suppress and Original Zinn. Just before his death he completed his last great project, the documentary The People Speak. Always ready to lend a hand, he believed in and practiced solidarity. Witty, erudite, generous and loved, Howard Zinn, friend and teacher, passed away on January 27, 2010. His words inspire many the world over, "We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. To live now, as human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory."

(17 Jun) 130603 Chris Hedges - Corporate Coup d'Etat

Corporations constitute the most powerful force in society. Their influence has seeped into our classrooms, our newsrooms, our entertainment systems, our consciousness and crucially into our politics. Big money buys access to lawmakers. For sheer arrogance perhaps Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment giant, takes the cake. Its CEO Lloyd Blankfein, blithely advises citizens they will have to "lower" their "expectations" when it comes to Social Security which he calls an "entitlement." Goldman Sachs, made $5.6 billion in profits last year yet it secured tax breaks for its fancy new HQs in New York as well as tax-free bonuses for its top executives. Corporations reign supreme while most people are simply caught in the rain and are getting soaked. Because of the fiscal cliff deal the average worker this year will take home about a thousand dollars less.

Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has covered wars in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.org and is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, American Fascists, Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, The World As It Is, and with Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.

(10 Jun) 130602 Jane Rhodes - Framing the Black Panthers

The Black Panthers, founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966, made an extraordinary impact on politics and culture. They captured the imagination of a generation and achieved iconic status with their berets, clenched fists, leather jackets, guns and their trademark slogan, All Power to the People. Despite radical chic and achieving near celebrity status, their militancy threatened the establishment. What never got much attention was the organization's community outreach such as free breakfast for children and education programs. The Panther's raised awareness of institutional racism and the routine violence against blacks by police departments. The group did much to instill a sense of pride and resistance among many African Americans. Key to their strategy was using the media to get their ideas out through photo-ops, press conferences, marches and demonstrations. The media in turn framed the Panthers.

Jane Rhodes is Professor and Chair of American Studies and Dean for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Macalester College. She has written a number of articles on race, journalism and mass communication. She is the author of Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century and Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon.

(03 Jun) 130601 Noam Chomsky - The Threat of Democracy

The U.S. is the self-proclaimed global champion of democracy. But the term is used selectively. Take Hillary Clinton who was widely praised as an outstanding Secretary of State. At the height of the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt protesting Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship, she said, No country has done more for democracy in Egypt than the U.S. Mubarak for years was praised as an "ally," a "partner" and a ""moderate" and his regime was a force for "stability". Washington backed him to the hilt to the tune of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, much like the Shah, Marcos, Suharto, Ben Ali, et al, until they too were overthrown. The media rarely report on these issues. And politicians and a mostly obedient intellectual class provide the necessary illusions to lull people to sleep. What many rulers fear is real democracy.

Noam Chomsky, legendary MIT professor, has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for more than 40 years. Edward Said called him, "one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions; he goes against every assumption about American altruism and humanitarianism." He is the author of scores of books, including How The World Works and Power Systems, both with David Barsamian.

(27 May) 130504 Amiri Baraka - Real Politics, Real Poetry

The role of creative people in society has long been debated. Should they focus on their art and stay away from politics? Poets, writers, painters, filmmakers, musicians, artists in general occupy a unique position. Their impact and influence extend far and wide. They illuminate realities in imaginative ways that expand awareness and understanding. Think of Dylan's Masters of War or Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman or Picasso's Guernica or Langston Hughes' poem Columbia, where he exposes the depredations of U.S. imperialism. He writes:
"In military uniforms, you've taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows
In loincloths and cotton trousers.
When they've resisted,
You've yelled, "Rape,"
Being one of the world's big vampires,
Why don't you come on out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France,
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power."

Amiri Baraka rose to fame in the 1960s as LeRoi Jones. His 1964 off-Broadway play, Dutchman created a sensation. Later he became Amiri Baraka and was a central figure in the Black Arts movement. He is an award-winning playwright and poet and recipient of the American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the author of many books including Home and Digging.

(20 May) 130503 Julianne Malveaux - Economic Justice: Dr. King's Legacy

The conventional media image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has him frozen in time at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 giving his inspirational "I Have a Dream" speech. Little attention is paid to King's remarkable political and social evolution in the last five years of his life. He became a trenchant critic of the Vietnam War. In his classic sermon at the Riverside Church in New York he denounced the war and "the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism." King increasingly saw the link between economic justice and racial equality and insisted that one was impossible without the other. His final days were spent in Memphis where he was actively supporting a strike by black sanitation workers and he was planning to launch a poor people's march on Washington, DC. An assassin's bullet ended his life on April 4, 1968.

Julianne Malveaux is the President of Bennett College for Women. She is an economist, author and commentator. A committed activist and civic leader, Dr. Malveaux has held positions in women's, civil rights, and policy organizations. Currently she serves on the boards of the Economic Policy Institute, The Recreation Wish List Committee of Washington, DC, and the Liberian Education Trust.She is the Founder of Last Word Productions.

(13 May) 130502 Chuck Collins - Income Inequality

Income inequality has soared to the highest levels since the Great Depression. And the Great Recession has done little to reverse the trend. In the first full year of the so-called recovery, the top 1 percent of earners took 93 percent of the income gains. The IMF warns, "Some dismiss inequality and focus instead on overall growth, arguing, in effect, that a rising tide lifts all boats. When a handful of yachts become ocean liners while the rest remain lowly canoes, something is seriously amiss." Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics says, "What worries me is the idea that we're in a vicious cycle. Increasing inequality means a weaker economy, which means increasing inequality, which means a weaker economy."" Certainly the Occupy Movement raised consciousness about this issue. But the political class has done little to address it. What can be done?

Chuck Collins is co-founder of United for a Fair Economy, a Boston-based national organization that addresses issues of economic inequality. He is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and directs its Program on Inequality and the Common Good. He is author of Economic Apartheid in America, Wealth and Our Commonwealth and 99 to 1.

(06 May) 130501 Richard Wolff - Democracy at Work

Cascading economic problems and crises, coupled with dysfunctional political responses, have plunged many societies into deepening turmoil. Capitalism, the dominant economic system of our time, has once again become the subject of criticism and opposition. A global capitalist system that no longer meets most people's needs has prompted social movements to arise and coalesce in the active search for fundamental and structural change. The establishment responds with what are called reforms. But they are superficial and quickly circumvented. Historically, the various forms of state socialism and communism do not offer a model or inspiration to those looking for viable alternatives. People are seeking new solutions to address capitalism's injustices, waste, and massive breakdowns. One such proposal is workers' self-directed enterprises. Production works optimally when performed by a community that collectively and democratically designs and carries out shared labour.

Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and currently a visiting professor at the New School in New York. The New York Times called him "America's most prominent Marxist economist." He is the author of numerous books including Capitalism Hits the Fan, Democracy at Work and Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism with David Barsamian.

(29 Apr) 130404 David Suzuki - The Nature of Things

Not that long ago most of us on planet Earth lived on the land, that is to say with nature. Today there are many more billions of us and we live in megacities from Cairo to Karachi and Mexico City to Beijing. Away from nature. We have largely distanced ourselves from the natural world. Concrete barriers separate us. We have constructed networks of highways. We have paved over our gardens and fields to build malls and subdivisions. We put up parking garages to accommodate cars while people have nowhere to live. The embedded assumption of the current path of what is called development is that nature will always be there providing its bounty. Will it? How much more pounding can the environment absorb? What are the emotional and spiritual costs? What kind of legacy are we leaving future generations?

David Suzuki, Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, is a leading environmentalist and science educator. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science. He is the host of the long-running CBC-TV program The Nature of Things. He is the author of more than fifty books, including The Sacred Balance and Everything Under the Sun.

(22 Apr) 130403 Bill McKibben - The Climate Cliff

The most dangerous cliff we are facing is not a financial one but rather the climate one. The warming of the Earth's temperature and what it portends is not just for penguins and polar bears but will have serious consequences for everyone. A new report commissioned by the World Bank says failure to respond aggressively to climate change will put "unprecedented stresses on human systems" and "will render parts of the Earth uninhabitable." If steps are not taken now, the planet's temperature will rise by 4 degrees Celsius, that's more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit, by the end of the century. Both the scale and the pace of the peril have increased substantially. Yet, fossil fuel corporations continue to place profits before human life and the eco system. We now seem to be nearing tipping points past which cataclysmic damage would be inevitable.

Bill McKibben was one of the first to sound 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 other books include The Age of Missing Information and Hope, Human and Wild, Deep Economy, and "Earth. He is co-founder of 350.org.

(15 Apr) 130302 Deepa Kumar - Islamophobia

Almost automatically the experts tell us that hostility toward Muslims and Islam takes shape after 9/11. Bigotry became a lot easier. But in fact the antagonism has much older and deeper roots. Christian Europe viewed Islam as a threat and demonized the religion, its Prophet and its followers. In the 18th and 19th centuries Britain and France colonized much of the Middle East and North Africa. Since the end of World War Two the U.S. has become the dominant imperial force. Its military operates in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Somalia and from Afghanistan to Yemen. Reducing Muslims to stereotypes furthers ignorance and leads to racial profiling. One group which tracks and studies Islamophobia says there has been a 50% increase in hate crimes against Muslims since 2010 and a 300% growth in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S.

Deepa Kumar is an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle East Studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike and Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. She appears on numerous media outlets around the world.

(08 Apr) 130401 Gar Alperovitz - Beyond Capitalism

Discontent with the corporate-run economy is mounting in the wake of the Great Recession. For too many these are dark times suffused by anger, hopelessness, and despair. There is a long-term structural crisis of capitalism. The problems are systemic. The top 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 185 million Americans. How to reverse the ominous spiral of income and wealth inequality? There is an emerging new economy of practical bottom-up efforts underway in many cities and towns that seek to democratize wealth and empower citizens and communities, not corporations. There is a range of initiatives such as worker-owned businesses, cooperatives, community land trusts, credit unions, and social enterprises. These structures suggest a roadmap for laying the foundation to support the values of equality and meaningful democracy and creating a sustainable economy that can satisfy human needs.

Gar Alperovitz is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative. He is the author of numerous books, including Making a Place For Community, and America Beyond Capitalism.

(01 Apr) 130305 Noam Chomsky - Masters of Mankind

Adam Smith is routinely trotted out by pundits to justify the current economic system. Yet the Smith that is represented bares little resemblance to reality. If he were around today he probably would be appalled at the way his name and ideas are being bandied about. All that stuff about the free market and entrepreneurial spirit are slogans to prevent people from understanding how the economy really works. Actual capitalism relies on significant government intervention and taxpayer subsidies. Who after all bailed out Wall Street banks and financial institutions? In sector after sector it is public money that paves the way for private profit. Take computers and the Internet. Where did they come from? Bill Gates working in a garage in Palo Alto? Hardly. They were products of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Noam Chomsky, legendary MIT professor, has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for more than 40 years. Edward Said called him, "one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions; he goes against every assumption about American altruism and humanitarianism". He is the author of scores of books, including Hopes & Prospects and How The World Works.

(25 Mar) 130304 Bassam Haddad - Inside Syria

Syria is a mosaic of ethnic and religious groups. The minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, constitute about 12 percent of Syria's 23 million people. They have controlled the government since 1970 when Hafez al-Assad seized power. Upon his death in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad took over. Peaceful protests against his regime, which began in March 2011, following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, were crushed by the military. Opposition grew. The consequences have been catastrophic. Tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands have fled the country, and more than 2 million are internal refugees. The Assad regime is under siege and is bound to fall. But what will take its place? There are multiple factions within the umbrella resistance group, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The violence and suffering are escalating. Whither Syria?

Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University, and is Visiting Professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria. He is Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal and is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad and director of a critically acclaimed film series on Arabs and Terrorism. He is also on the Editorial Committee of Middle East Report and is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya ezine.

(18 Mar) 130303 Russell Means - Knowing Who You Are: Lessons from Native America

For years the indigenous peoples of the U.S., after having been dispersed and decimated and relegated to reservations, were reduced to caricatures. We all knew Indians and their culture. There was the familiar medicine man, the trading post, Geronimo and Crazy Horse, papooses and squaws, tepees and tomahawks, war dances and war parties. Tonto was the epitome of faithfulness and subservience. The formation and rise of the American Indian Movement, AIM, in the late 1960s and early 1970s did much to break down conventional stereotypes. AIM, through its actions at Wounded Knee, Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, demonstrated that Native Americans could and would fight back against racism and oppression.

Russell Means, an Oglala Lakota and a prominent voice in the struggle for indigenous rights, was the first national director of the American Indian Movement. Under his leadership the organization occupied national and international attention. He passed away in South Dakota on October 22, 2012. He is the author of Where White Men Fear to Tread and his latest book with Bayard Johnson is If You've Forgotten the Names of the Clouds, You've Lost Your Way.

(11 Mar) 130302 Michelle Alexander - Incarceration Nation

From the auction block to the cell block there is a trajectory from slavery to Jim Crow to the Drug War. The latter has resulted in mass jailings characterized by deep racial disparities. About one-third of young black men are likely to go to jail. The criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control. Millions of people, primarily poor people of color, have been swept into the nation's prisons and then relegated to a permanent second-class status in which they are stripped of the basic civil and human rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement. The numbers are numbing. In all, 2.3 million are behind bars and another 4.8 million are on probation and parole. The more people locked up, the more profits for the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison owner and operator.

Michelle Alexander is a professor of law at Ohio State University and holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Formerly the director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Project in Northern California, she served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. She is the author of the bestseller The New Jim Crow.

(04 Mar) 130301 Peter Neill - Sea to Shining Sea: The Water Crisis

As the climate is getting warmer and the population is growing, many parts of the world are running out of water. The earth is rapidly drying up as demand far outstrips supply. Global consumption of water is doubling every twenty years. A crisis is looming. According to the UN, by 2025 as many as 3.5 billion people will face water scarcity. The potential for war and conflict is all too obvious. From Australia to Spain record droughts have led to critical water shortages. A fraction of the planet's water is fresh, all the rest is salty. How can we create a just and sustainable future based on the notion of water as a commons and a public trust, and not a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. Can new ways be found to increase our water supply?

Peter Neill is the Director of the World Ocean Observatory. He also heads the Ocean Classroom Foundation and is the narrator of the World Ocean Radio series. He served as president of the South Street Seaport Museum in New York for twenty years. He edited the literary anthology American Sea Writing.

(25 Feb) 130204 Juliet Schor - Plenitude: The Emerging New Economy

Ecological decline is staring us in the face. With ever finite resources and an ever voracious appetite for them, the stress on this "pale blue dot" as Carl Sagan called earth is simply too much. Something has to give. The business as usual model is a prescription for widespread misery and destruction. The U.S. with much of its population pursuing what is called the good life of endless consumption is probably the biggest culprit but other countries are not that far behind. To begin with the attitude toward nature has to radically change. The pattern of plundering and extraction is a dead end. Humankind should be in partnership with nature not in an adversarial relationship. People are figuring this out. There are many initiatives to turn things around and create a new economy rooted in common sense and environmental sustainability.

Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard in the Department of Economics. She is author of many books including The Overworked American, Do Americans Shop Too Much? and Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth.

(18 Feb) 130203 Arundhati Roy - Capitalism: A Ghost Story

Capitalism is fairly universal in its practices allowing for some differences. The overarching goal is to satiate what one economist called its "werewolf hunger" for profits. The tar sands project in northern Alberta, the most environmentally destructive operation on earth, is proceeding apace, because it is a money-making bonanza. There is a telling cartoon in "The New Yorker." A CEO of a major corporation is meeting with stockholders who are keen to hear about new dividends. He tells them, While long-term prospects for the planet are grim indeed with widespread misery, hunger, and wars, in the short term there are excellent opportunities for us to make more money. That sums up the corporate mindset. India has its own brand of rapacious capitalism. While hundreds of millions live in dire poverty a class of gazillionaires has emerged with maharaja-like conspicuous consumption.

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." She is the recipient of the Lannan Award for Cultural Freedom. She's the author of many books including The Checkbook & the Cruise Missile, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, and Walking with the Comrades.

(11 Feb) 130202 Joseph Stiglitz - The Age of Inequality

Trickle-down neo-liberal economics has not worked. Well, not exactly. It's worked beautifully for the rich. U.S. income inequality has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s. The top 1% rakes in one-fourth of the national income and has assets equivalent to half the national wealth. The Age of Inequality began in earnest more than 30 years ago. Wages, which had been constantly rising, flattened out. Families got hooked on the new money: credit cards. Debt skyrocketed. Workers took second jobs to make ends meet. The huge transfer of wealth upwards was accompanied by attacks on unions. Recall Reagan's first action was to break a union. Then corporations started outsourcing, moving high paying jobs overseas. Throw in tax cuts and subsidies and you have a poisonous economic cocktail for the average worker. Inequality poses serious questions about the nature of democracy, fairness and economic justice.

Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia, is the recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics. He was chair of the Council on Economic Advisors under Clinton. He also served as senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. His efforts to move the bank in a more progressive direction got him fired. He is the author of Globalization and Its Discontents and The Roaring Nineties.

(04 Feb) 130201 Paul Cienfuegos - Ending Corporate Rule

Modern corporations trace their origins to the trading companies of imperial Europe more than three centuries ago. Their rise in power and influence has been a steady trajectory to the point where today they are the dominant institution in society. Governments have freed corporations from legal constraints through deregulation, and granted them even greater power through privatization. The Supreme Court has declared corporations are people and money is free speech. The latter has turned Congress into, as one commentator put it, "a forum for legalized bribery." Many citizens feel that pleading to corporations is insufficient and that it is time to examine the nature of this artificial institution. Endless single-issue crisis-based activism, one grievance at a time does not address the core problem, which is the corporation itself. Is ending corporate rule an obtainable goal? How would it happen?

aul Cienfuegos is a community organizer and activist. He co-founded Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in Northern California, an organization which works to dismantle corporate rule. He lectures and leads workshops on this topic.

(28 Jan) 120803 Maude Barlow - Not a Drop to Drink

Many know Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and its famous "Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink." Perhaps less known is Mark Twain's, "Whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting." Today, the UN warns, "Too often, where we need water, we find guns. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie over the horizon." Once empires were fueled by spices, the fur trade, silver, gold, and ivory, and in recent decades it's been all about oil. Now, water is seen by corporations as the next big thing. This precious resource is being rapidly commodified. Instead of being humankind's common heritage and right it's becoming the private property of giant multinational conglomerates. There are no two ways about it. As Auden wrote, "Thousands have lived without love-not one without water."

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 served as the first Senior Advisor on water issues for the United Nations. She's the author of Blue Gold and Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis.

(21 Jan) Angana Chatterji - Kashmir: Buried Evidence

mong the many issues plaguing South Asia none is as violent and deeply contested as Kashmir. The major unresolved issue of the disastrous British partition of India in 1947, Kashmir has been the site of wars and the threat of wars, and probably the world's longest and most extensive military occupation. India brooks no international meditation to address the problem. What's the problem? A lot of Kashmiris don't want to be part of India. They didn't in 1947 and they don't, probably in even larger numbers, today. The U.S., champion of human rights elsewhere, is keen to access a major growing market, thus says nothing of what India is doing in Kashmir. Its silence is becoming harder to maintain as now the earth is revealing dark deep secrets of Indian rule in Kashmir. The thousands of dead and missing are making noise.

Angana Chatterji is a convener of the International People's Tribunal on Kashmir. She has taught social and cultural anthropology for many years and has been working with social movements, local communities, and citizens groups in India and internationally. She is the author of Violent Gods and contributor to Kashmir The Case for Freedom.

(14 Jan) Beena Sarwar - Pakistan: A Journalist's View

For the casual observer of international news Pakistan must be enigmatic, bewildering and scary. It's a "hornet's nest," declares "The Economist." Almost from its inception in 1947 Pakistan has been dominated by the three As: Allah, Army and America. The country of some 200 million people has been ruled either by military dictators or corrupt civilians. Pick your poison. There are coups and rumors of coups. The prime minster may be ousted. The president may face criminal charges. The intelligence agencies wield supernatural powers. And in the shadows are jihadis. Relations between Islamabad and Washington are "badly strained," the "NY Times" reports. No surprises there given the many U.S. drone attacks and invasions culminating in the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers. When you are master of the universe and you pay stipends to servants you expect what? Silence and loyalty.

Beena Sarwar is an independent Pakistani journalist and documentary filmmaker. She is the Pakistan editor of Aman ki Asha, a joint initiative of The News in Pakistan and The Times of India. She was a producer for GEO TV, the largest 24/7 news channel in Pakistan.

(07 Jan) 120603 Susan Herman - The War on Liberties

Voltaire said, "It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong." In the decade of fear since 9/11 the government has constructed a vast apparatus of control and surveillance. Your most obvious experience is at the airport but it extends way beyond that. Big Brother is watching. Basic liberties are under attack all in the name of protecting those liberties. National security is ritually invoked to cover a range of violations of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The beacon of freedom descends into a twilight zone of criminality. The state has 16 intelligence agencies with untold billions at their disposal in black budgets, operating in secret, carrying out black operations and following what are called presidential findings. Defending liberties is not what they are about. And they sometimes confuse dissent with disloyalty.

Susan Herman is President of the American Civil Liberties Union. She holds a chair as Centennial Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, where she teaches courses and seminars in Constitutional Law, Terrorism, and Civil Liberties. She is the author of The Sixth Amendment" and "Taking Liberties.

(31 Dec) 121202 121202 Arun Gupta - Beyond Occupy

The Occupy movement caught everyone by surprise. When the first tents went up on Wall Street on Sept 17, 2011, the experts and the media soothsayers and sages were befuddled. Who were these people? What did they want? After many years of class warfare waged by the haves, the have-nots, rose from their slumber and said, Enough. The widening gaps in income and wealth had become too acute to ignore. And there was a general sense that the system only works for the powerful and everyone else is left scrambling to survive. Deep-seated anger was epitomized in such slogans as, "We Got Sold Out. They Got Bailed Out." The encampments, almost all of them razed to the ground by the police, are mostly memories now. But what was the impact of that kind of protest? What can be learned from Occupy?

Arun Gupta, journalist and activist, was founding editor of The Indypendent newspaper in New York. He's a regular contributor to Alternet and Z.

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