Alternative Radio Aust logo
www.araustralia.org
Alternative Radio (Aust.)
PO Box 687 Cowes
Victoria 3922 Australia
tel. 61-3-5952 5780
mob. 61-4-1359 7828
inquiries@araustralia.org


Home - About - Programs - Where to Listen - Shane's Page - Pricing & Ordering Details - Links

Program Archives - 2013

Past month - Current month - Next month

By Author - By Title

(29 Dec) 140701 Nomi Prins - The Wall Street/White House Axis

When the financial history of this era is written it will scarcely be believed. Never have so many been ripped off by so few. There is an insidious alliance between Wall Street and the White House. It is a pernicious development in the annals of power. That partnership shapes and controls the economy. And should the big banks get into trouble, Washington comes to the rescue. The axis enables access. A salient feature of really existing capitalism is welfare for the financial Goliaths. Taxpayers cover their losses. It is bailouts for already rich speculators, high rollers and CEOs. The political response to placate the public after every financial crisis or scandal is the same: reforms. They're good by definition, right? Well, not when the reformers often have their hands in the cookie jar. What needs to be done? Systemic change.

Nomi Prins is a former investment banker turned journalist. She worked at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns. Her articles appear in major newspapers and magazines. She is the author of It Takes a Pillage and All the Presidents' Bankers.

(22 Dec) 140304 Vandana Shiva - Seeds & Freedom

What's in a seed? Life itself. Ten thousand years ago, Iraq, Egypt and India were the sites of the earliest sowing and harvesting of plants that had previously been gathered in the wild. It was a revolutionary development and made civilization possible. Since then humans have been able to grow food and feed themselves. Today, that freedom embodied in seeds is threatened. Multinational corporations, like Monsanto, have radically changed the agricultural landscape. The imposition of intellectual property rights and patenting have been ways corporations have devised to put a price tag on seeds and to undo what has been for millennia a shared heritage. Around the world there is backlash and resistance to the corporate hijacking of seeds. In many instances it is indigenous peoples who are leading the way in promoting sustainability and protecting the integrity of seeds.

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. She is the author of many books including "Water Wars", "Earth Democracy", "Soil Not Oil", and "Making Peace with the Earth".

(15 Dec) 140102 Susan Clark - Slow Democracy

Conventional democracy is being eviscerated. Frustration is mounting with business-as-usual models dominated by centralized institutions. But there are new initiatives. Local solutions to local problems which incorporate decision-making processes that are inclusive, deliberative and citizen powered are growing increasingly popular. From control of utilities to water and school issues to resisting fracking, communities are asserting themselves. Instead of seeing politics as something remote and out of reach, there are other possibilities closer to home. Slow democracy allows for space to find common ground and compromise and for communities to make choices that are ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable. The old no prisoners attitude may be emotionally satisfying but often results in nothing more than bombast. Local citizen participation gives not just insight and knowledge in addressing community matters but also in a sense ownership of the outcomes.

Susan Clark is a writer and facilitator focusing on community sustainability and citizen participation. Her democratic activism has earned her the Vermont Secretary of State's Enduring Democracy Award. She served as coordinator of the University of Vermont's Environmental Programs In Communities project. She chairs a committee in Vermont that encourages citizen involvement, and serves as town-meeting moderator. She is the co-author of "All Those In Favor" and "Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home".

(08 Dec) 140504 Sandra Steingraber - Contamination Without Consent

When faced with injustice what options are open to people? Turn away and ignore it or confront it? The destruction of the environment is an injustice. We are turning parts of the Earth into a toxic waste dump. What comforts are we willing to give up to protect Mother Nature? Will we make real sacrifices or simply kick the ball down the road and be content with placebos like shopping differently? The planet is facing a medical emergency. In response, activists are sitting in, chaining themselves to fences and blocking roads. Some, like Sandra Steingraber go to jail in upstate New York in protest of fracking. "My small, non-violent act" she says, "is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass."

Sandra Steingraber is a biologist, professor, writer and environmental health expert. In the tradition of Rachel Carson she is a leading voice alerting the public to toxic trespassing and the dangers posed by fracking. She is the author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment and Raising Elijah.

(01 Dec) 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.

(24 Nov) 141004 Bruce Schneier - The Internet, Privacy and Power

Edward Snowden's remarkable revelations leave no doubt. Big Brother is here. The National Security Agency's PRISM program is a clandestine mass electronic surveillance and data mining system. In plain English: it enables state spying on citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union says, "The things we do and say online leave behind ever-growing trails of personal information. With every click, we entrust our conversations, emails, photos, and much more to Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. But what happens when the government asks these corporations to hand over their users' private information?" What happens to our rights and expectations of privacy? The Information Superhighway as the Internet was once called has turned into a marketer's dream and a place where our messages and intimate details of our lives disappear into the NSA's new $1.5 billion, million square-foot complex in Bluffdale, Utah.

Bruce Schneier is a cryptographer and specialist in computer security technology. He is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. He has briefed members of Congress on the NSA. He is the author of many books including Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Thrive and Carry On.

(17 Nov) 141002 Arundhati Roy - Gandhi and Caste

States have their iconic heroes. Founding Fathers. Jinnah in Pakistan, Ataturk in Turkey, George Washington in the U.S., Gandhi in India. To criticize them is risky business as they have been elevated to god-like status. Gandhi is no exception. He is revered and honored. His portrait hangs in many buildings and homes. His statue graces many public squares. And he is on the rupee note. The adulation extends outside of India. The British government recently announced that his statue would be placed in Parliament Square. But all people have chinks in their armor. Gandhi supported the highly elaborate Hindu caste system of social segmentation and stratification, and hereditary class division. While deploring discrimination and oppression of Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, Gandhi did not see the hierarchical caste system as morally wrong and undemocratic.

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." Among her many honors are the Lannan Foundation's Cultural Freedom Award and the Sydney Peace Prize. She is the author of many books including The God of Small Things, The Chequebook and the Cruise Missile, Field Notes on Democracy, Walking with the Comrades and Capitalism: A Ghost Story. Her introductory essay to B.R. Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste is The Doctor and the Saint.

(10 Nov) 141003 John Tognolini - Gallipoli: Myths, Race and War

The Australian government and its corporate partners are spending almost $400 million dollars celebrating the so-called ANZAC spirit in the centenary of the landing at ANZAC Cove. Schoolchildren will study the legends of ANZAC and attend special events. Public gatherings will be organised and songs will be sung so that we don't forget. Yet, when we look closer at the huge public relations exercise that is being undertaken, like most propaganda, the truth is buried under layers of confection, obfuscation and distraction. How many school children will be taught that Muslim, Hindu, Indigenous, Chinese and Japanese men fought alongside the white men from Australia? How many of the recreations of the battles will include the long, painful screaming deaths of the men who sometimes took days to die in the no-man's land between combatants? Rather, the focus will be on the "glory" of war and the pomp and ceremony that bears no relation to death. Rather than condemn wars, our government and its corporate partners will encourage a new generation to sacrifice more than they would ever consider.

John Tognolini is a history teacher, radio broadcaster, historian and writer. He's worked as a scaffolder, labourer, rigger, dogman, fettler and painter and docker. He is a regular contributor to the "Green Left Weekly" and has produced documentaries for the ABC. He established Tog's Place.com in 2006 and posts regular commentary and links to a wide variety of article on many topics. He currently teaches history at Wellington High school in central New South Wales. His third book is Brothers: Part 1, Gallipoli 1915 and is the first of four books dealing with the First World War and is available through www.writersandebooks.com.

(03 Nov) 141001 Deepa Kumar and Arun Kundnani - Racism and Surveillance

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a long history of spying on African Americans including Nobel Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The great writer Richard Wright, who was also snooped on, wrote the poem The FB Eye Blues: "Woke up this morning/FB Eye under my bed/Said I woke up this morning /FB eye under my bed/Told me all I dreamed last night, every word I said." Racism and surveillance are closely intertwined. Today, state security agencies and police departments profile and target Muslims. Their organizations and mosques are infiltrated. If your name is Hussein or Fatima you might be asked questions at airports. A broad net is cast. Civil liberties are tossed aside. Culturally, irrational fear of Muslims is reinforced by popular TV shows such as 24 and movies such as Zero Dark Thirty.

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.

Arun Kundnani teaches Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He also teaches terrorism studies at John Jay College. He is the author of The End of Tolerance: Racism in the 21st Century Britain and The Muslims are Coming!

(27 Oct) 140902 Mohamad Elmasry - Egypt: From Pharaoh to Pharaoh

Egypt's latest pharaoh is Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He orchestrated a coup toppling the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. The U.S. refused to call it a coup, rather it lauded the action as "restoring democracy." About a year later Sisi became president in a farcical election where he got 97% of the vote. Ever since Anwar Sadat, another military dictator, signed the Camp David agreement with Israel in 1979, Egypt has been a key part of U.S. policy in the Middle East. For playing ball, the generals in Cairo have been amply rewarded with billions. In August 2014, Human Rights Watch officials were denied entry into Egypt after issuing a report documenting a series of mass killings carried out under Sisi. Politics makes strange bedfellows for Washington but this one really stinks up the boudoir. Interviewed by David Barsamian.

Mohamad Elmasry is a scholar of mass communication and sociology in the Arab world, and has taught at the American University in Cairo and Qatar University. He teaches at the University of North Alabama. His work on Egyptian media and politics has appeared in numerous publications such as the Journal of Middle East Media, Al Jazeera English, Egypt Independent, and Jadaliyya.

(20 Oct) 140901 Chris Giannou - Understanding the Middle East

Large parts of the Middle East today are engulfed in violence. Why? What historical factors shape the current conflicts? Take Iraq for example, a country in chaos. The U.S. has been intervening in Iraq non-stop for decades. What has it produced? Sectarianism and strife. Death and destruction. Actual U.S. policy in the Middle East is buried in a blizzard of propaganda about democracy and human rights while in practice Washington backs feudal and repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the Emirates as well as dictatorships like Egypt. Justification for U.S. military bases, invasions and occupations are cloaked in the garb of altruism and noble intent. It's always been that way for imperial powers. A moronic media never questions Washington's self-professed motives. Thus, most people are ignorant about what is going on. It doesn't have to be that way.

Chris Giannou was chief surgeon for the International Committee of the Red Cross. He has worked in many war zones. He is the author of Besieged: A Doctor's Story of Life & Death in Beirut. He is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

(13 Oct) 130402 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.

(06 Oct) 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.

(29 Sep) 110104 Robert Fisk - Lies, Cliches and the Middle East

Words are a contested battlefield. Propagandists long ago figured out if you control the vocabulary you could dominate any debate or issue, conflict or war. On almost any given day you can read or hear variants of the following: Our enemies live in strongholds and emerge from nests or caves to carry out brazen ambushes. They have no respect for human life and are led by hardliners, warlords and terrorist commanders. Their culture is tribal. We and our coalition partners live in homes in nice neighborhoods. To defend freedom and spread democracy our F-16s, helicopter gunships and drones carry out missions. We are led by statesmen who respect human life and international law. Such is the lexical quicksand and nowhere is it more treacherous than in the Middle East.

Robert Fisk, based in Beirut, is the Middle East correspondent for The 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 Great War for Civilization and The Age of the Warrior.

(22 Sep) 110502 Ilan Pappe - Solutions: Israel/Palestine

The winds of change are sweeping across the Middle East. Decrepit and sclerotic regimes are crumbling. A constant however is the uneresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Will the broader political upheavals in the region help bring about a solution? Perhaps. But round after round of U.S.-led failed peace talks and a simultaneous huge increase in illegal Israeli settlements have left Palestinians desperate. Maybe Ariel Sharon's prediction of some years back has come true. He said, "We'll make a pastrami sandwich out of them. We'll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in twenty-five years' time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart."

Ilan Pappe is professor of history at the University of Exeter. For many years he taught at the University of Haifa and was chair of the Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa. John Pilger calls him, "Israel's bravest, most principled, most incisive historian." He is the author of many books including The Modern Middle East, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, and Gaza in Crisis.

(15 Sep) 140404 Max Blumenthal - Israel: Siege Mentality

From Kissinger to Kerry, U.S. Secretaries of State engage in endless rounds of shuttle diplomacy. They issue rosy statements about progress and breakthroughs. But little changes. Israeli policy has created concrete facts on the ground. Settlement building on Palestinian land, illegal under international law, has expanded over decades. Some 500,000 Israelis live in settlements from Ariel to Ma'ale Adumim. Jeffrey Goldberg writing in Bloomberg.com calls them "self-destructive." New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says they constitute "tacit annexation of the West Bank" and "is not winning Israel friends in Europe or America." The West Bank, supposedly the home of a future Palestinian state has been sliced and diced into pieces. Israeli-only roads and so-called security barriers and walls are turning Palestinian areas into isolated enclaves. Thus the fabric of a just and lasting peace is tattered and becomes more remote.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in he New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Huffington Post, and other publications. He is the author of Republican Gomorrah and Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.

(08 Sep) 140802 Glenn Greenwald - Unmasking the NSA

Imagine a gigantic vacuum cleaner scooping up all electronic communications. That's what the National Security Agency does. Think you are safe from NSA snooping? That you can hide behind clever passwords? Think again. The Agency has the capability to generate one billion password guesses per second. On top of that it can remotely activate your cell phone and computer and use them as eavesdropping and tracking devices. The NSA is at the center of a system of monitoring and control beyond the wildest dreams of the greatest tyrants in history. The so-called War on Terror has unleashed a war on civil liberties. White House claims of national security justify massive abuses. We have to give up freedoms in order to preserve them we are told. But hey, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about.

Glenn Greenwald broke the story in The Guardian of Washington's widespread electronic dragnet. His exclusive interview with NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden was an international media sensation. He is the author of With Liberty and Justice for Some and No Place to Hide. He is the recipient of the Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media for his "path breaking journalistic courage and persistence in confronting conventional wisdom, official deception, and controversial issues." He also received an Online Journalism Award for Best Commentary for his coverage of Bradley Manning. He is co-founder of the watchdog media outlet The Intercept.

(01 Sep) 140801 Noam Chomsky - The State of Insecurity

Security, security. Can't get enough of it. Paradoxically, the more we have of it the less secure we feel. The latest weapons and massive military spending are never enough. Since 9/11 the term is bandied about. There is the huge bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. Within it is the TSA, with its 60,000-plus employees and a budget over $7 billion. We go through checks and searches. Then there's the NSA surveillance. Could U.S. global policies from drone strikes to invasions actually be undermining our security? This is not a question that most media will consider much less cover. And politicians? Best not to ask. Security is not the issue. It's really about control. We need a radical new definition of what constitutes security. It would include well-paying jobs, health care, education, affordable housing and a clean and thriving environment.

Noam Chomsky, by any measure has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The 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. The New Statesman calls him, "The conscience of the American people." Chris Hedges says he is "America's greatest intellectual" who "makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable." He is the author of scores of books, including Hopes & Prospects, Occupy, How the World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

(25 Aug) 140704 Eduardo Galeano - A Calendar of Human History

When looking into the past, the great historian Howard Zinn said, "We never get 'just the facts.'" We often get glaring omissions and distortions. History is always a selection from an infinite number of facts. And what is selected is based not just on one's personal interest but on race, class, gender, and other factors. A true picture of the past is rarely achieved, and never by presenting "just the facts." Historians need the eyes of thousands of people, the ears of poets, a nose for secrets, the hands of a master painter. And by reversing traditional lenses and viewing history through the eyes of the ignored and dispossessed, we gain a radical new perspective. The best historians draw from a rich mosaic of past events, breathe life into them and make them meaningful and useful to the present.

Eduardo Galeano, from Uruguay, is one of Latin America's most distinguished writers. He is the recipient of many honors including the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom and the American Book Award. His groundbreaking books, Open Veins of Latin America and the Memory of Fire trilogy changed the way we look at Latin America with its rich and complex cultures, traditions and political currents. His most recent book is Children of the Days.

(18 Aug) 140703 Kathy Kelly - Afghanistan: Beyond the Propaganda

The pretext of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 was the September 11 attacks. Washington announced it was pursuing Osama bin Laden. But very quickly the Bush administration changed its objective to include the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Kabul. That mission switch precipitated the longest war in U.S. history. Washington and its NATO allies have said they are withdrawing their forces at the end of 2014. But it seems almost certain that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan. The new Afghan president, who will take office in late July, has indicated he will sign the already negotiated bi-lateral security agreement which provides for continued American military presence. Waste, fraud and corruption accompany all wars. In Afghanistan, billions of dollars have gone missing. Drug trafficking is back. And the countless Afghan dead? A price they had to pay.

Kathy Kelly, a leading activist in the peace movement, is a multiple nominee for the Nobel Prize. She is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She has been to Iraq, Afghanistan and other war zones scores of times. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams.

(11 Aug) 140702 David Cay Johnston - The Societal Impact of Inequality

The U.S. has the dubious distinction of being the most unequal of all developed countries. The gaps between rich and poor have not been seen since the Gilded Age over a century ago. The one-tenth of one percent is loaded with stocks, bonds, hedge funds, cash and property. The respected business journalist Martin Wolf writes, "An out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid." Inequality is corroding democracy. While the upper crust has been lining their pockets the working class, if they even have a job, has been pauperized. Food and rent take up much of their paltry take home pay. Tens of millions are dependent on food stamps. The homeless population continues to grow. How long can this continue?

David Cay Johnston, a former reporter for The New York Times won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of tax policy. He is the author of many books including Perfectly Legal, The Fine Print, Free Lunch and Divided: The Perils of our Growing Inequality.

(04 Aug) 140701 Nomi Prins - The Wall Street/White House Axis

When the financial history of this era is written it will scarcely be believed. Never have so many been ripped off by so few. There is an insidious alliance between Wall Street and the White House. It is a pernicious development in the annals of power. That partnership shapes and controls the economy. And should the big banks get into trouble, Washington comes to the rescue. The axis enables access. A salient feature of really existing capitalism is welfare for the financial Goliaths. Taxpayers cover their losses. It is bailouts for already rich speculators, high rollers and CEOs. The political response to placate the public after every financial crisis or scandal is the same: reforms. They're good by definition, right? Well, not when the reformers often have their hands in the cookie jar. What needs to be done? Systemic change.

Nomi Prins is a former investment banker turned journalist. She worked at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns. Her articles appear in major newspapers and magazines. She is the author of It Takes a Pillage and All the Presidents' Bankers.

(28 Jul) 140604 Jeremy Scahill - The National Security Beast

The national security beast is a terrifying behemoth that extends its tentacles across the globe. Like a many-headed hydra it grows and grows. It has an insatiable appetite for weaponry. For example, in late 2013, the navy launched the Zumwalt, the largest destroyer ever built. It came in for a cool $3 billion. But that's a bargain compared to the new Ford-class aircraft carrier. Price tag? $13 billion. The beast has a life of its own. Presidents come and go but the war machine just chugs along. The "military-industrial complex" is always manufacturing new enemies to justify itself. The most urgent threat we face is climate change. Why not slash the Pentagon budget? For starters, cut the nuclear arsenal and mothball half the Trident submarines and use the money to protect the environment.

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. He is a founding editor of The Intercept. He is also the subject of the film Dirty Wars, which was nominated for an Academy Award. His work has sparked several congressional investigations.

(21 Jul) 140603 Dave Zirin - The Other Side of Sports

Are sports simply a form of entertainment or is there some deeper meaning off the field we are not seeing? From ancient Greece to modern times, sports have always been a big attraction. But in the cable and digital age it is bigger and more lucrative than ever. Sports encompass the world. From soccer in Latin America to cricket in India to hockey in Canada, millions of people are energized by and care about their teams and players. Heroes rise and fall. Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, Lance Armstrong. There are sex scandals, doping, and murder trials. And it's not just compromised athletes but the owners too. Witness the racist comments by Donald Sterling, the disgraced owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. Media coverage once again demonstrated how sports intersect with critical societal issues.

Dave Zirin is sports editor for The Nation magazine and host of Edge of Sports Radio. He is the author of many books including The John Carlos Story, What's My Name, Fool?, A People's History of Sports in the United States, Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down and Brazil's Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics and the Future of Democracy.

(14 Jul) 140602 Pratap Chatterjee - Outsourcing the War on Terror

When the U.S. goes to war, private contractors salivate. When it comes to making money, there is no business like war business. Control or oversight? Not much. There is a feeding frenzy at the troughs of public money accompanied by the almost inevitable cost overruns, waste, fraud and theft. The corruption is fueled by the revolving door syndrome between corporations and the Pentagon. Almost seamlessly, today's assistant secretary of defense becomes tomorrow's vice-president of Raytheon. An April 2014 report from the Pentagon's own Inspector General says the Defense Department isn't properly keeping track of senior officials who leave the government to take jobs with defense contractors. Among the problems the report identified, records are kept in different locations and many are missing, particularly at the Defense Logistics Agency and the National Security Agency - "organizations with substantial contracting activity."

Pratap Chatterjee is an independent journalist and radio producer. His articles appear in the Financial Times, The Guardian and The Independent. He has won five Project Censored awards as well as a Silver Reel from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for his work in Afghanistan, and the best business story award from the National Newspaper Association. He is the author of Halliburton's Army, Iraq Inc.: A Profitable Occupation and The Earth Brokers.

(07 Jul) 140601 Martin Espada - Remembering Well and Raising Hell

If you'd ask most people, they'd rather stay at home and watch a Seinfeld rerun than go to a poetry reading. Yet almost imperceptibly poetry enriches our lives and generates cultural growth and change. Think about it. Add up all the myriad poetry-related activities: readings, workshops, symposia, retreats, undergraduate and MFA programs at universities, books, zines, websites, spoken word recordings, then throw in lyric writing for theater and the multi-billion dollar music industry. A nation's general well being, its artistic richness and diversity and how it sees itself is refracted through the critical eyes of poets. As T.S. Eliot said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." Raising hell, pushing boundaries, making the powerful uncomfortable and creating beauty are all part of the poet's repertoire.

Martin Espada is a leading poet. His collection Imagine the Angels of Bread won the American Book Award. A former tenant lawyer, he teaches in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is the author of Zapata's Disciple, A Mayan Astronomer in Hell's Kitchen and Alabanza.

(30 Jun) 140505 Robert McChesney and John Nichols - Dollarocracy

Dollarocracy: a system of government where private wealth determines political outcomes. Sound at all familiar? The corruption bred by boatloads of cash contaminates and pollutes our entire political process. So-called reforms won't cure the ailment. Radical surgery is required. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this well when he counseled, "Timid supplications for justice will not solve the problem. We've got to massively confront the power structure." Washington is Lobbystan. The thousands of influence peddlars pretty much get what they want for their paymasters. Elections matter little. That's because, as McChesney and Nichols say, "Powerful interests, freed to, in effect, buy elections, set the rules of engagement. Those interests so dominate politics that the squabbling of Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, is a sideshow to the great theater of plutocracy and plunder." Democracy has been sold down the river.

Robert McChesney teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of many books including Digital Disconnect. He is co-author with John Nichols of Dollarocracy. He is the co-founder of Free Press, a national media reform organization. The Utne Reader listed him among its "50 visionaries who are changing the world."

John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation. A contributing writer for The Progressive, he is also the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. He is co-author with Robert McChesney of Dollarocracy. Gore Vidal said of him: "Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert John Nichols's sword is the sharpest."

(23 Jun) 140504 Sandra Steingraber - Contamination Without Consent

When faced with injustice what options are open to people? Turn away and ignore it or confront it? The destruction of the environment is an injustice. We are turning parts of the Earth into a toxic waste dump. What comforts are we willing to give up to protect Mother Nature? Will we make real sacrifices or simply kick the ball down the road and be content with placebos like shopping differently? The planet is facing a medical emergency. In response, activists are sitting in, chaining themselves to fences and blocking roads. Some, like Sandra Steingraber go to jail in upstate New York in protest of fracking. "My small, non-violent act" she says, "is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass."

Sandra Steingraber is a biologist, professor, writer and environmental health expert. In the tradition of Rachel Carson she is a leading voice alerting the public to toxic trespassing and the dangers posed by fracking. She is the author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment and Raising Elijah.

(16 Jun) 140503 Paul Ehrlich - Distress Signals from Earth

A steady stream of reports on the deterioration of the environment is issued. There is a brief flurry of media coverage. The corporate-funded climate change deniers make counter claims. We wake briefly to the crisis then most of us lapse into a couch potato stupor. Neoliberal dogma and an almost mystical belief in capitalism makes almost certain that little will be done to avert coming calamities. Charades called climate summits offer nothing more than photo ops of smiling world leaders and vacuous press releases. We blithely turn our heads away from reality. As the ice caps melt it is not just penguins and polar bears that are in danger. The wider implications for the planet and humanity are profound. What level of catastrophe is it going to take for business as usual policies to change? Will we hear the distress signals from Earth?

Paul Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies in the Department of Biology and president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. He is a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous honors including the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, given in areas where the Nobel Prize is not awarded, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Blue Planet Prize.  He is active in the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. He is author of over 40 books.

(09 Jun) 140502 Rahul Mahajan and Snehal Shingavi - The Rise of the Hindu Right in India

A constellation of Hindu fundamentalist organizations are threatening to shatter the image India has projected of being a secular state. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP, is the political expression of Hindutva, right-wing Hindu nationalist ideology. It is poised to be the dominant party in what is often called the world's largest democracy. The man likely to be India's next prime minister is Narendra Modi. As Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, he was in office in 2002 when there was a notorious massacre of Muslims. Modi has denied any responsibility. Washington was not convinced of his innocence and when he attempted to visit the U.S. in 2005 his visa request was turned down. But things may be changing with the political winds. Nancy Powell, the U.S. ambassador to India, recently met with Modi, signaling a shift in Washington's policy.

Rahul Mahajan, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the author of The New Crusade and Full Spectrum Dominance.

Snehal Shingavi is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He won the Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies. He has published articles in several journals including International Socialist Review.

(02 Jun) 140501 Bryan Stevenson - Justice for Some

In her bestselling book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander says, the huge number of people behind bars in the U.S. is "due largely to the war on drugs which has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color even though studies have consistently shown for decades that contrary to popular belief, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but by waging this drug war almost exclusively in poor communities of color, we've now created a vast new racial under-caste." There are more African-Americans in prison or "under watch" of the criminal justice system than were enslaved in the U.S. in 1850. Is justice impartial or a commodity for sale to the highest bidder? If you got money you can get the best lawyers and work the system. Indigent African-Americans have no such options.

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiativea nonprofit organization based in Montgomery, Alabama. He is a professor at NYU School of Law. He has gained acclaim for his work challenging the U.S. legal system's biases against the incarcerated, the poor, and people of color.

(26 Jun) 140404 Max Blumenthal - Israel: Siege Mentality

From Kissinger to Kerry, U.S. Secretaries of State engage in endless rounds of shuttle diplomacy. They issue rosy statements about progress and breakthroughs. But little changes. Israeli policy has created concrete facts on the ground. Settlement building on Palestinian land, illegal under international law, has expanded over decades. Some 500,000 Israelis live in settlements from Ariel to Ma'ale Adumim. Jeffrey Goldberg writing in Bloomberg.com calls them "self-destructive." New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says they constitute "tacit annexation of the West Bank" and "is not winning Israel friends in Europe or America." The West Bank, supposedly the home of a future Palestinian state has been sliced and diced into pieces. Israeli-only roads and so-called security barriers and walls are turning Palestinian areas into isolated enclaves. Thus the fabric of a just and lasting peace is tattered and becomes more remote.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in he New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Huffington Post, and other publications. He is the author of Republican Gomorrah and Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.

(19 May) 140403 Chris Hedges - Captain Ahab and U.S. Empire

The demonic Captain Ahab in Melville's epic novel Moby Dick represents a quest for power and domination that is a death wish. Hubris will doom Ahab and his Pequod crew, all perish except for Ishmael. Is there a larger lesson to be learned? Is the United States much different? The U.S. with its obsessive drive for control of oil and other resources, its relentless hunger for profits, its garrisoning the globe with military bases, its arrogant disregard for the environment, is on the same suicidal path as Ahab. Washington's policies, under both political parties, are always imbued with benevolence and noble intentions. It is innocent of imperialistic designs. Freedom and democracy are its goals. A well-disciplined media and intellectual class rarely challenge these embedded assumptions. We continue to ignore all warnings as to the destruction we are wreaking on the planet.

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.

(12 May) 140402 Ray Suarez - The Latino United States

Juan González, in his classic book, Harvest of Empire, writes, "We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us." Sadly, instead of walls coming down, walls are literally going up. The border is militarized. The tens of millions of Latinos in the U.S. represent an enormous diversity from Dominicans to Bolivians and Salvadorans to Chileans. A fundamental social, political and cultural transformation is occurring way beyond barrios and bodegas, JLo and Marc Anthony, La Bamba and La Cucaracha, and nachos and tacos. Latinos are challenging conventional notions about race and ethnicity, labor and capital, education and language, justice and fairness, and our history as a nation of immigrants. How are Latinos changing the U.S. and how is the U.S. changing Latinos?

Ray Suarez was host of NPR's Talk of the Nation. He was chief national correspondent for PBS' NewsHour for many years. He is the host of Inside Story on Al-Jazeera America. He is the author of Latino Americans.

(05 May) 140401Sonia Nazario - The Courage of Immigrants

Emma Lazarus in her poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty wrote: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Bedros, my father might have seen those words in 1914 when he landed at Ellis Island and Araxie, my mother too, seven years later when she arrived. My parents were highly motivated to leave Armenia, their ancestral homeland in Eastern Turkey. Genocide does a lot to focus the mind on survival. For them, and millions of others, America was a safe haven. Today, violence. economic terror and hunger drive many to come to these shores. Immigration reform is talked about but little happens. NAFTA and rapacious capitalist policies have pauperized many people in Mexico and Central America. The trek north is dangerous. Women and children are particularly vulnerable. The journey requires tenacity and courage.

Sonia Nazario, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Polk Award, has reported for The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. Her book Enrique's Journey was a bestseller.

(28 Apr) 140304 Vandana Shiva - Seeds and Freedom

What's in a seed? Life itself. Ten thousand years ago, Iraq, Egypt and India were the sites of the earliest sowing and harvesting of plants that had previously been gathered in the wild. It was a revolutionary development and made civilization possible. Since then humans have been able to grow food and feed themselves. Today, that freedom embodied in seeds is threatened. Multinational corporations, like Monsanto, have radically changed the agricultural landscape. The imposition of intellectual property rights and patenting have been ways corporations have devised to put a price tag on seeds and to undo what has been for millennia a shared heritage. Around the world there is backlash and resistance to the corporate hijacking of seeds. In many instances it is indigenous peoples who are leading the way in promoting sustainability and protecting the integrity of seeds.

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. She is the author of many books including Water Wars, Earth Democracy, Soil Not Oil, and Making Peace with the Earth.

(21 Apr) 140303 Jules Boykoff - The Olympics: Celebration Capitalism

The Olympics are perhaps the crown jewels of sports. The pomp and circumstance, the pageantry and international competition make the games special. They began over 2,700 years ago in Olympia, Greece. They were held in honor of Zeus, king of the gods. Today, the gods are fame, fortune, and national pride. The Olympics are a multi-billion dollar extravaganza. Behind the spectacle of athletic prowess and the patina of global harmony, brass-knuckle politics and brute economics reign. One hears of public-private partnerships in financing the games but it is often the public holding the bag when costs skyrocket, as they often do. The 2016 Summer Games will be in Rio. Brazilians are already protesting against the projected expense. But right now world media attention is on the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia where gold medals may place second to security issues.

Jules Boykoff is professor of political science at Pacific University. Before embarking on an academic career he represented the U.S. Olympic Soccer Team in international competition. His articles have appeared in The Guardian and The New York Times. He is the author of The Suppression of Dissent, Celebration Capitalism, and Activism and the Olympics.

(14 Apr) 140302 Robert McChesney - The Internet, Capitalism and Democracy

Remember the information superhighway and all the hype about the Internet? The wonders of the Digital Age would be liberating. A utopian bliss was at hand. Now it sometimes looks more like a dystopia. A handful of monopolies dominate the Internet. Google garners 97% of the mobile search market. Microsoft's operating system is used by 90% of the world's computers. Capitalism has colonized cyberspace, spurred the collapse of journalism, independent bookstores and many, many jobs. The sharp decline in antitrust enforcement of violations, the increase in patents on technology and proprietary systems, and massive subsidies have turned large parts of the Internet into an electronic shopping mall. And worse, it has become an unparalleled apparatus for government and corporate surveillance thus further eroding democracy. Activists are attempting to reclaim the democratizing potential of the Internet before the door slams shut.

Robert McChesney is co-founder of 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. He is the author of numerous books including Rich Media, Poor Democracy and Digital Disconnect. He is co-author with John Nichols of Dollarocracy.

(07 Apr) 140301 Paul Cienfuegos - Community Rights

Most citizens have political opinions. Many are involved in nonprofit community-based organizations. But the time-impaired average person remains politically disorganized and distracted. Collective political action nationally is often limited to mobilizing for wars and elections. Disengagement can seem the norm. Community organizers are bucking this trend. Local issues, be they environmental, fair wages, or municipalization of energy and Internet services, are getting more and more people off their couches. Efforts to assert community rights encounter structural obstacles to direct democracy such as Dillon's Rule, regulatory law, and the effects of nearly 200 years of corporate constitutional rights. Undaunted, groups like Community Rights PDX, Global Exchange, and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund urge passing local ordinances to defend citizens from further environmental damage and corporate exploitation.

Paul Cienfuegos is a regional leader in the Community Rights movement, which works to dismantle corporate constitutional so-called "ights" and assert the people's inherent right to self-government. He founded Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in 1995, co-founded CommunityRightsPDX.org in 2011, and is helping to establish the Oregon Community Rights Network which launched in 2013. He is based in Portland, Oregon. More info at PaulCienfuegos.com.

(31 Mar) 140205 Lester Brown - The Future of Civilization

When it comes to climate change the operative word is "hot" with "record" and "unprecedented" closely following. UN conferences on climate do little beyond the powerful issuing grandiose proclamations about how green they are and then it's back to their destructive policies. The Guardian, captures the hypocrisy, "governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority." Rome is burning. The eco-crisis includes rising temperatures and sea levels, deforestation and species extinction, drought and soil erosion, and water and food shortages. In the not so distant future the ecological crimes against the Earth will come home to roost. Rex Weyler in EcoWatch warns, "A great reckoning awaits humanity if we fail to awaken from our delusions. Earth's delicately balanced systems can reach tipping points and collapse."

Lester Brown is the president of the Earth Policy Institute. The Washington Post calls him "one of the world's most influential thinkers." In 1974 he founded the Worldwatch Institute, the first research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental issues. He is the recipient of many awards including the UN Environment Prize. He is the author of numerous books including Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, World on the Edge, Full Planet, Empty Plates and Breaking New Ground.

(24 Mar) 140204 Sanho Tree - End the Drug War

In 1971, Nixon launched a war on drugs calling drug use "public enemy number one." Since then like a recurring nightmare various presidents have continued the war on drugs. Four decades on, a consensus has emerged that the war has not only failed but it has ruined countless lives and wasted tons of money. More than a $1 trillion has been flushed down the toilet. Despite evidence that punitive measures backfire, our jails and prisons are full of people convicted for smoking weed. There are clear signs that attitudes on drugs, particularly marijuana, are shifting. Latin American countries with Uruguay leading the way are hitting the reset button. Uruguay has legalized the consumption, sale and distribution of pot. The time is long past to develop new mechanisms to establish humane and sustainable alternatives to the drug war, especially cannabis.

Sanho Tree is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and director of its Drug Policy Project, which works to end the domestic and international so-called War on Drugs and replace it with policies that promote public health and safety. He has been featured in over a dozen documentary films and has appeared in hundreds of print and broadcast interviews.

(17 Mar) 140203 Ray McGovern - Whistleblowers

What is one to do when confronted by blatant criminal actions and illegalities? Look the other way? Punch out at 5 and go home? That's not what Edward Snowden did. His disclosures have informed and educated the people of the United States and the world about secret surveillance and massive data-gathering that the NSA and other government agencies are engaged in within the U.S. and abroad. And Snowden's reward? Hounded. Threatened. Defamed. His passport has been revoked. Instead of encouraging whistleblowers the Obama administration has created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Open up your mouth to report wrongdoing and corruption and you'll have the book thrown at you. Obama has the dubious distinction of prosecuting more whistleblowers than any administration in U.S. history. It has not only criminalized the truth tellers but also the journalists who report on their revelations.

Ray McGovern is a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency. He helped form Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. Sam Adams was McGovern's colleague at the CIA. McGovern and several other former intelligence officials went to Russia in October to honour Edward Snowden with the Sam Adams Award. Ray McGovern also works for Tell the Word, a ministry of the inner-city Washington D.C. Church of the Saviour.

(10 Mar) 140202 Rami Khouri - The Unfinished Arab Revolutions

Lenin was reported to have said, "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." Revolutions are never simple affairs. The multiple Arab revolts are still in flux. Take Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood in that country was long declared illegal. After the fall of the Mubarak dictatorship they came out in the open and ran in elections and their candidate Morsi was elected president. A year later he was overthrown by the military. The Brotherhood is now banned and its assets seized. Its leaders are in jail, and hundreds of its supporters have been killed. Egypt for three decades under Mubarak was in Washington's pocket. It is unlikely the U.S. will give up one of its prize assets in its quest to continue to dominate the Middle East. Egypt and the region are likely to remain in upheaval for some time to come.

Rami Khouri is Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. He writes an internationally syndicated column and is Editor-at-Large of the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper. He is a member of the Brookings Institution's Task Force on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, a Senior Fellow of the Middle East Initiative at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a Fellow of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs in Jerusalem. He is the co-recipient of the Pax Christi International Peace Award for his efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to the Middle East.

(03 Mar) 140201 David Bacon - Migration and U.S. Policy

In the wake of disastrous neo-liberal economic policies, millions of people around the world are on the move looking for work. There is a backlash. In 2012 more than 400,000 people were deported from the U.S. The Obama administration deportation numbers exceed George W. Bush's. The border today is like an armed camp with 20,000 agents patrolling it. There are proposals to double the number of agents and ratchet up spending. The influx of people from Mexico, Central America and elsewhere has led to little to no substantive immigration reform on a national level. Will drones, walls and increased militarization of the border address the issue? Private profit-driven corporations certainly think so. They are all about detection, apprehension, transportation, incarceration and deportation of immigrants. They are lining up for more lucrative government contracts. What would constitute a humane and fair immigration policy, one that kept families together?

David Bacon is a labor organizer, immigrant-rights activist and award-winning journalist. He is the author of Illegal People and The Right to Stay Home.

(24 Feb) 140104 Noam Chomsky - The U.S. as a Rogue State

When you hear the term rogue state what country do you think of? North Korea? The U.S. as a rogue state cannot be uttered in media commentary and the polite discussions of the political illuminati. It is almost unthinkable. But it is routine almost to the point of banality that the U.S. exempts itself from the standards it applies to others. Washington refuses to sign and ratify international treaties and ignores UN resolutions while at the same time demands that everyone else play by the rules. International law is whatever Washington says it is. The level of hypocrisy is staggering. Unilateralism is the order of the day accompanied by disregard for laws that might stand in the master's way. And the U.S. reserves for itself the right to spy on not only its own citizens but also its closest allies.

Noam Chomsky, by any measure has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The 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. The New Statesman calls him, "The conscience of the American people." Chris Hedges says he is "America's greatest intellectual" who "makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable." He is the author of scores of books, including Hopes & Prospects, Occupy, How The World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

(17 Feb) 140103 Richard Wolff - Naked Capitalism

Through its myriad booms and busts, capitalism manages to roll with the punches and emerge standing. We are constantly told: it's the only show in town. Do you want the old Soviet Union? No way. But can't we imagine an economic system that is responsive to the needs of people and our precious planet rather than Wall Street and the investor class? Idealistic, you say? Maybe. But the fiscal ship is headed for a huge crash and no amount of moving the deck chairs around will avert it. Capitalism's tattered and moth-eaten clothes have fallen off, revealing a naked body that serves only the privileged few. Ninety-five percent of the economic gains, since the so-called recovery began are going to the top 1 percent. Meanwhile, median household income, adjusted for inflation, keeps dropping. The system is rigged to favor the rich.

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.

(10 Feb) 140102 Susan Clark - Slow Democracy

Conventional democracy is being eviscerated. Frustration is mounting with business-as-usual models dominated by centralized institutions. But there are new initiatives. Local solutions to local problems which incorporate decision-making processes that are inclusive, deliberative and citizen powered are growing increasingly popular. From control of utilities to water and school issues to resisting fracking, communities are asserting themselves. Instead of seeing politics as something remote and out of reach, there are other possibilities closer to home. Slow democracy allows for space to find common ground and compromise and for communities to make choices that are ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable. The old no prisoners attitude may be emotionally satisfying but often results in nothing more than bombast. Local citizen participation gives not just insight and knowledge in addressing community matters but also in a sense ownership of the outcomes.

Susan Clark is a writer and facilitator focusing on community sustainability and citizen participation. Her democratic activism has earned her the Vermont Secretary of State's Enduring Democracy Award. She served as coordinator of the University of Vermont's Environmental Programs In Communities project. She chairs a committee in Vermont that encourages citizen involvement, and serves as town-meeting moderator. She is the co-author of "All Those In Favor" and "Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home".

(03 Feb 40101 Justin Lewis - Media and Consumer Capitalism

Rene Descartes, the 17th century French philosopher once said, "I think, therefore I am." In today's context it may be more like, I buy therefore I am. Orchestrated wants driven by sophisticated advertising techniques have created a culture of consumption. Appetites for the latest hot thing are engineered. Media campaigns sell cool and sexy. Marketing is key. Data are collected. People are profiled, then targeted. Cell phones. Have to get the latest one with all new features, faster processor and design. We can't be left behind. More sales means more profits. The capitalist economic system is predicated on making money and barely considers the environmental effects down the road. That's somebody else's problem. In the U.S., consumerism is connected to ideology. Freedom is equated with the ability to buy things. But the pattern of endless consumption is not sustainable.

Justin Lewis is Professor of Communication at the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, and Dean of Research for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cardiff University in the UK. He has written widely about media, culture and politics. His books include "Constructing Public Opinion", "Shoot First and Ask Questions Later", "Climate Change and the Media", "The World of 24 Hour News", and "Beyond Consumer Capitalism".

(27 Jan) 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.

(20 Jan) 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.

(13 Jan) 130402 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.

(06 Jan) 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.

(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"

Top


Home - About - Programs - Where to Listen - Shane's Page - Pricing & Ordering Details - Links

Alternative Radio (Aust.) PO Box 687 Cowes Victoria 3922 Australia
tel. 61-3-5952 5780 mob. 61-4-1359 7828 inquiries@araustralia.org
www.araustralia.org