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Program Archives - 2015

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(28 Dec) 150501 Angela Davis - Transnational Solidarity

Solidarity was long a term invoked by unions and working men and women. Now, alas, unions, under sustained political attack, are in acute decline. Who can forget Ronald Reagan championing the rights of workers in Poland while smashing the air traffic controllers union in the U.S.? Today from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Ferguson, Missouri to Gezi Park in Istanbul people are in the streets raising again the cry of solidarity. Solidarity, linking up with kindred spirits is a crucial element in overcoming isolation and atomization. Mutual support and feelings, yes, of love, empower people over the rulers of the Earth. The masters want to keep us apart and to have us focus on shopping. There are glimpses of cross border alliances. They need to grow. Given the global scale of the climate change crisis transnational solidarities are needed now.

Angela Davis is one of the iconic figures of this era. Acquitted on conspiracy charges in 1970, after one of the most famous trials in U.S. history, she went on to become an internationally renowned writer, scholar and lecturer. She's the author of many books, including Women, Race and Class, Abolition Democracy, and The Meaning of Freedom.

(21 Dec) 150402 Nadine Strossen - Spying, Secrecy and Suppression

There is an assault on civil liberties and fundamental rights. State spying, secrecy and suppression have vastly increased. 9/11 is the pretext for surveillance that never stops giving. Both Democrats and Republicans have greatly expanded the powers of the multiple government agencies who watch and monitor us. What is called oversight is a joke. We would do well to recall Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas's ringing dissent in his 1972 opinion Laird v. Tatum. This is what he said: "The Constitution was designed to keep government off the backs of the people. The Bill of Rights was added to keep the precincts of belief and expression, of the press, of political and social activities free from surveillance. The Bill of Rights was designed to keep agents of government and official eavesdroppers away from assemblies of people."

Nadine Strossen is professor of law at New York Law School. She has written, lectured and practiced extensively in the areas of civil liberties, constitutional law and human rights. She was elected President of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1991. She is the first woman and youngest person to serve as head of the ACLU.

(14 Dec) 150303 Vandana Shiva - Radical Compassion

There was much fanfare as the leaders of the U.S. and China, the world's largest carbon polluters signed what was trumpeted as an "historic" deal cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But the Center for Science & Environment in India denounced the agreement as "self-serving" and "business as usual." Much more urgent action is required to avoid a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. As the eco-crisis accelerates and the major contributors to climate change make grandiose statements but then take halfhearted measures, it is easy to despair. But we simply can't afford to do nothing and wallow in negativity. The moment calls for action and engagement not passivity and indifference. The magnitude of the crisis requires radical compassion for the Earth and all its inhabitants and flora and fauna. Despite probes landing on comets this is the only home we have.

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. She's a physicist, scholar and social activist. 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 Earth Democracy, Soil Not Oil and Making Peace with the Earth.

(07 Dec) 150101 Rebecca Solnit - Making and Breaking Stories

Dominant paradigms, dominant stories, the big picture through which our lives move. How much of it is constructed for us? Most of it. What are the prevailing paradigms and cultural narratives really made of? Words. Language. To coin a phrase, define the terms, frame the issue, to write the story that sticks in the public mind and is constantly repeated, is the business of branding. Powerful institutions work day and night suppressing and spinning stories to legitimize their existence. Their machinations create "official stories" and "public secrets" things that everybody knows but nobody says in public. Although our personal stories are assembled and disassembled at the rate of speedy electronic devices, our collective stories move at the rate of tectonic plates. Competing narratives about fracking in Colorado and tar sands in Alberta play out in daily information wars, while substantive structural changes remain nearly indiscernible.

Rebecca Solnit is an award-winning essayist and environmental historian. She is the author of over a dozen books, including The Faraway Nearby, Savage Dreams and Men Explain Things to Me.

(30 Nov) 151004 Tom Hayden - A Global Warning

The winds of political change blow from all directions. For many decades they've blown hardest from the Right, a corporate-friendly, conservative agenda involving endless war and military spending and an evisceration of the public sector regardless of its impact on civil society and the environment. But some radical voices are saying, "Something is in the air." They cite the appearance of charismatic progressives getting to the ballot and getting elected, the Green bloc of states pulling together to reduce carbon emissions, climate justice efforts in California, Minnesota and elsewhere, Pope Francis' encyclical on caring for creation and the revival of Liberation Theology. Hayden holds his finger to the political wind and sees at once a golden opportunity and a dark age.

Tom Hayden has been involved in many of America's social movements for decades. He was the main author of the 1962 Port Huron Statement, the manifesto of Students for a Democratic Society, the campus-based, activist movement. He went from street protests and being indicted by the Nixon Administration to holding office in Sacramento. He served eighteen years in the California State Assembly and State Senate. Among his many books are "Voices of the Chicago Eight", "Writings for a Democratic Society", and "The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama".

(23 Nov) 151001 Richard Wolff - Capitalism: Fantasies and Realities

The stories spun about the economy are more akin to fairy tales. The most popular one, endlessly repeated, is that if you work hard you'll get ahead. Another is trickle down. Remember that one? The fat cats get fatter and you'll benefit by getting the leftover crumbs. It's a wonder after decades of breathtaking income and wealth inequality and flat wages for most workers that these tales are still told. Noam Chomsky talks about "really existing capitalism," dependent on state subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes. The drift to oligarchy continues unabated. Corporate power is dominant. It has tremendous political influence. The media fail to inform. In spite of all that, people all over the world, tired of enduring the lies and deprivations, are asking questions about the fantasies and realities of capitalism.

Richard Wolff teaches 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" with David Barsamian.

(16 Nov) 151003 Deepa Kumar - Imperialist Feminism

When you hear imperialists making claims about their concerns for women's rights then you know something is really rotten in Denmark. The plight of women has historically been mobilized to suit the goals of empire. That continues to the present. One of the pretexts of the U.S.led invasion of Afghanistan was "rescuing Afghan women." Writing about that, noted author and activist Arundhati Roy of India observed, "We're being asked to believe that the U.S. marines are actually on a feminist mission. If so, will their next stop be America's military ally Saudi Arabia? Should they be bombed? Should Delhi, Islamabad, and Dhaka be destroyed? Is it possible to bomb bigotry out of India? Can we bomb our way to a feminist paradise?"

Deepa Kumar is Professor of Media 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.

(09 Nov) 151002 Ahmad - ISIS, Syria and Journalism

Ever since the uprising against the Assad regime in Syria began in 2011 the country and its people have endured one horror after another. The carnage has led to not only a quarter of a million dead, and many more wounded, but the worst refugee crisis in recent memory. Words fail to describe what has become an ongoing nightmare with no end in sight. Adding to the mix of chaos and violence are Saudi Arabia, Turkey Iran, Russia, and the U.S. Washington searches in vain for what are called "moderates." The Syrian cocktail of unrelenting violence is made even worse by the emergence of ISIS and its ability to hold large areas of territory. Atrocity follows atrocity. Words such as appalling and horrifying have lost meaning.

Idrees Ahmad is a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling in Scotland and a co-editor of PULSE. He is the author of "The Road to Iraq: the Making of a Neoconservative War".

(02 Nov) 151005 John Tognolini - A History Man's Past, Pt 1: Other People's Wars

French social philosopher, the late Guy Debord, wrote about what he calls the society of the spectacle. His argument is that reality is slowly being replaced by mere representation – an appearance of reality that is mediated by images and performance in which we are mere spectators. We scuttle to and fro seeking out the newest, loudest, most real experience but never quite achieve an authenticity bred from actual understanding. As Jean Baudrillard, another dead French philosopher, would say, we create a simulacra in which we attempt to find something that never existed in the first place. Its been argued that we are in the middle of the rise of a new Australian nationalism. A nationalism that its supporters say can only have sprung from the ANZAC legend and stories from Fromelles or Villers Bretonneux. Our young people are encouraged to “make the pilgrimage” to former battle grounds as if they are embarking on some spiritual journey. What they encounter is a show, a pantomime in which they are expected to not question anything they hear or ask “why”. They enter the spectacle created in a simulacra which. leaves out 'inconvenient truths' that nationalists will do anything to distract us from.

John Tognolini is a historian, teacher, broadcaster and writer. His latest book A History Man's Past and Other People's Stories: A Shared Memoir is the first in a series and the subtitle is Part 1 Other People's Wars. It's a collection of interview highlights in which he discusses past wars and the fall out from them.

(26 Oct) 150204 Michelle Alexander - Race and Caste in the U.S.

A string of shootings of young African Americans has generated national and international attention. While these killings are nothing new, the proliferation of cellphones cameras and social media raised public awareness. Systemic questions are being asked. What is the role of racism? The numbers are depressingly familiar. The United States has the largest prison population in the world. Blacks are more likely to go to jail than to college. The Sentencing Project reports, "Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences." Outside the prison walls is an economy that cannot generate jobs paying decent wages. Affordable housing? What's that? Programs alleviating poverty are cut back and simultaneously the coercive functions of the state are beefed up. Local police are armed to the teeth with the latest weapons while underfunded schools are crumbling.

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".

(19 Oct) 150203 Naomi Klein - Capitalism vs The Climate

"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about." Those words of warning were written in 1992 by some 1,700 scientists including more than 100 Nobel laureates. Here we are, more than two decades later still talking, still drilling and doing very little to protect our precious planet from an economic system that prioritizes profits over the well being of Earth.

Naomi Klein of Canada is an award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker. Her articles appear in major newspapers and magazines all over the world. She is the author of the bestsellers "No Logo", "The Shock Doctrine" and "This Changes Everything".

(12 Oct) 150202 Erica Chenoweth - Nonviolence Works

No single event nor charismatic leader changes history. History changes when large groups organize around common goals. Events and leaders can help galvanize forces. But people power has a great track record. And, movements that rely on principles of nonviolence seem to succeed more often and create more lasting change than those engaged in armed struggle. In the United States, in the lifetime of many us, the Civil Rights, Free Speech and Anti-War Movements of the 1960s, the Women's Movement, and the Gay Rights Movement all shifted the political and cultural landscape. More recently Occupy had an impact. Internationally there was the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Tiananmen Square. Some might say the Indonesian election in 2014 represents another nonviolent regime change, a victory of the ballot over the bullet. And who can forget what happened in South Africa?

Erica Chenoweth teaches at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She's an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. She is an internationally recognized authority on alternatives to violence. She is co-author of the award-winning book, "Why Civil Resistance Works".

(05 Oct) 150201 Noam Chomsky - ISIS, the Kurds and Turkey

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, aka Islamic State, is now the latest threat to our security. Or so our leaders tell us and the media repeat. It has seized territory in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. has been meddling in the Middle East non-stop for decades. What has it produced? Wars, militias, sectarianism and strife. And lots of oil and weapons sales. U.S. policy in the region is shrouded in propaganda about democracy and human rights while in practice Washington backs feudal regimes like Saudi Arabia. The U.S. is bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Kurds in both countries are fighting ISIS. Turkey, which has its own major issues with its large Kurdish minority and had allowed jihadis to enter Syria through its borders, is now permitting Iraqi Kurdish fighters to go into Syria to fight ISIS. The endless war on terror has taken new twists and turns.

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. 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", "Masters of Mankind", "How the World Works", and "Power Systems" with David Barsamian.

(28 Sep) 150804 Rob Larson - Fossil Fuelishness

Historian Barbara Tuchman once wrote the "rejection of reason is the prime characteristic of folly." The lack of urgency in addressing the eco-crisis is an example. Heat waves in India, floods in Texas, drought in California, melting polar ice caps, rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and so much more, are still presented as unconnected dots. Climate summits come and go resulting in little more than lofty announcements. With an abundance of solar and wind energy at our fingertips it's stunning and reckless that fossil fuelishness continues. As a sign said in Seattle protesting a huge Shell rig heading for drilling in the Arctic, "Good Planets are Hard to Find."

Rob Larson is Professor of Economics at Tacoma Community College in Washington State, focusing on ecological economics and the relationship between capitalism and freedom. His book "Bleakonnomics" was published in 2011 by Pluto Press. His Twitter handle is @IronicProfessor.

(21 Sep) 150803 Ussama Makdisi - Sectarianism in the Middle East

The corporate media have trouble with nuance and complexity. They like things black and white, good and bad. In their simplistic reporting, history and context are, if at all, fleetingly referred to. Take the Shia-Sunni divide in Islam. It is routinely described as an ancient feud between two factions competing for supremacy among Muslims. What is ignored in such formulations is the role of British, French and Italian imperialism in the Middle East and more recently the United States. Following classic divide and rule strategies the Europeans and then the Americans sliced and diced the peoples of the region, created borders and even states where none existed. All marinated in a stew of racism about what is best for the natives. No discussion of sectarianism can be separated from the catastrophic U.S. invasion of Iraq, which excited tensions between Shias and Sunnis in the Middle East.

Ussama Makdisi is Professor of History and the first holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University. He is the author of "Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab Relations" and "The Culture of Sectarianism".

(14 Sep) 150802 David Korten - A New Story

Since the beginning of time people have been telling stories from Gilgamesh in Iraq to The Odyssey in Greece. These tales convey lessons and societal values and warnings about arrogance. The U.S. spins its own yarns. Take say, the one about brave pioneers who fought off savage Indians to settle the country and establish dominion from coast to coast. That Indians were defending their land against invasion is, well, an inconvenient fact. Fast forward to today and there are stories about the economy. If you work hard enough you'll be justly rewarded. Money is everything. The market is all knowing. Bow before it. Worship it. The Earth is simply a source of raw materials. Inequality and environmental destruction are unfortunate but unavoidable. How do you change the narrative, change the story to reflect an ethical, compassionate and nurturing worldview?

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

(07 Sep) 150801 Naomi Klein - Transitioning to Climate Justice

Climate change, you've heard of that. But climate justice? The Global Justice Ecology Project describes it: "Climate justice is the understanding that we will not be able to stop climate change if we don't change the neo-liberal, corporate-based economy which stops us from achieving sustainable societies. The historical responsibility for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions lies with the industrialized countries of the Global North. The production and consumption habits of countries like the United States continue to threaten the survival of humanity and biodiversity globally. It is imperative that the North urgently shifts to a low carbon economy."

This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation.

Naomi Klein of Canada is an award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker. Her articles appear in major newspapers and magazines all over the world. She is the author of the bestsellers "No Logo", "The Shock Doctrine" and "This Changes Everything".

(31 Aug) 150705 Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela - Forgiving the Unforgivable

Eugene de Kock was the white police colonel who commanded death squads that killed political opponents of the ruling National Party in South Africa over a ten-year period beginning in the early 1980s. Nicknamed Prime Evil, de Kock was sentenced to 212 years in prison for his crimes. In 2015 he was paroled. Marcia Khoza had lost her mother and father to the murderous de Kock. She visited the prison where he was held and met with him, as had other victims of his gross human rights abuses. These can be very delicate moments. Can the substance of these encounters be applied to healing the society as a whole? Are violently damaged and broken societies capable of what is called empathic repair?

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, PhD, is Senior Research Professor in trauma, forgiveness and reconciliation at the University of the Free State, South Africa. She served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Human Rights Violations Committee. She works to transform the aftermath of mass trauma and violence. Gobodo-Madikizela is the author of numerous articles and books, including the award-winningA Human Being Died that Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness.

(24 Aug) 150704 Robert Scheer - Free Thought and Self Censorship

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.

Robert Scheer is a veteran journalist and editor of Truthdig.com. He is the author of many books, includingThe Pornography of PowerandThe Great American Stickup.

(17 Aug) 150703 Glenn Greenwald - Why Privacy Matters

In democratic societies some things have long been considered sacrosanct. Such as the right to privacy. Not any more. It is violated on a routine and systematic basis. States scream: national security or terrorism to justify their expansion of surveillance. In terms of the sheer scope of spying the USA puts the old USSR to shame. Without privacy there is neither freedom nor democracy. There has to be a space where you can express your innermost thoughts, emotions and vulnerabilities. The cameras, microphones, and drones eliminate that possibility. Thanks to Edward Snowden and a handful of courageous journalists and filmmaker Laura Poitras we have learned much of how our fundamental rights are being undermined. In this Orwellian world, Big Brother is omnipotent and omniscient. Is this a tolerable situation? Are people going to rise up and reclaim their rights?

Glenn Greenwald broke the story inThe Guardianof Washington's widespread electronic dragnet. His exclusive interview with NSA contractor turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden was an international media sensation. He is the author ofWith Liberty and Justice for SomeandNo 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 outletThe Intercept.

(10 Aug) 150702 Noam Chomsky - It's In Your Hands

An effective propaganda system encourages people to be discouraged. Hey! Worry about the Kardashian's latest news. Leave the complicated matters of domestic and foreign affairs to the smart guys. This is a recipe for disaster because the ruling class will attend acutely to its interests at the expense of everyone and everything else including the planet. This indifference to the 99% and the environment was dramatically revealed in a 2015 poll of CEOs at Davos. Every year the so-called "masters of the universe" meet in the Swiss Alps. The poll asked them to list their major concerns. They had 19. Climate change was not one of them. No surprise. The big boys have other things on their minds like making money. It's an institutional imperative. Will the changes to avert eco-catastrophes come from the top? Highly unlikely. We the People must act.

This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation.

Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In oneindex he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right upthere with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The legendaryMIT professor practically invented modern linguistics. In addition to hispioneering work in that field he has been a leading voice for peace andsocial justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is "America'sgreatest intellectual" who "makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable." He is the author of scores of books, including Hopes and Prospects, Masters of Mankind, How the World Works, and Power Systemswith David Barsamian.

(03 Aug) 150701 Paul Cienfuegos - Local Governance

Rights exercised by large corporations have never been stronger in the United States. They respond to distant policy initiatives, lawsuits, and latent threats to their bottom lines with lightning speed and a full court press. Their lobbyists vet new regulations and bills with legislators. They kill bills. They write bills. The more glaring examples of corporate-friendly legislation, regulatory policies and court decisions are ones that run roughshod over environmental protection: the Keystone Pipeline, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive reductions in fines levelled on Exxon-Mobile oil spills from Alaska to Newark Bay. Communities are fighting back. The cry for Home Rule is heard in municipalities around the country. Local community rights ordinance campaigns hope to fend off polluting fossil fuel enterprises, GMOs, and crude oil train bombs.

Paul Cienfuegos is a leader in the Community Rights movement, which works to dismantle corporate constitutional so-called "rights" and assert the people's inherent right to self-government. He founded Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in 1995, and co-founded Community Rights PDX in 2011. His weekly radio commentary and podcast can be accessed at CommunityRightsPDX.org/podcast. More info at PaulCienfuegos.com.

(27 Jul) 150604 Wes Jackson - Restoring Earth Island

Public interest in dystopia is prevalent everywhere. Look at the popularity of films such as The Day After Tomorrow, Children of Men, The Hunger Games. Rarely are utopian visions articulated in contemporary culture, much less pursued in earnest. Artists and policymakers alike risk being labelled unrealistic, impractical, delusional. But the conjuring of utopia serves a vital function. Have a vision, then act to realize it. Restoring our ecology will mean a move toward sustainable agriculture. Tenets of the Industrial and Technological Revolutions will need to be countered. Our relationship to the Earth will need to change from viewing the environment as something outside of ourselves, to a more holistic one that views harming the Earth as self-harm.

Wes Jackson is a plant geneticist and a leading voice for agrarian reform away from domesticated agriculture. He is the author of New Roots for Agriculture and many books. He is founder of The Land Institute and a member of the World Future Council.

(20 Jul) 150603 Chris Hedges - Moral Imperatives

What are individuals to do when faced with a moral imperative? And society at large? Philosophers since ancient times have been wrestling with this question as it involves issues of ethics and conscience. When we see an injustice do we remain passive and silent or do we intervene to try and stop it. Is it our problem or someone else's? Powerful states and institutions like to cloak themselves in morality and virtue. Citizens are propagandised to let the big boys, since they know what's best, handle everything. Do we act on our principles? What are our responsibilities? Racial segregation was an obvious immorality. Why did it take so long for it to be eliminated? Same with voting rights. Today the old poisonous wines are being repackaged in new bottles. Once again we are faced with moral imperatives.

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 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.

(13 Jul) 150602 Marjorie Cohn - Death from Above: Drones

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which established the founding principle of modern law: presumption of innocence. Today that principle is largely a casualty of the so-called war on terrorism. Trials, evidence, juries. Who needs them when we have an assassination program carried out by drones? These pilotless aircraft have become the weapon of choice. They are efficient machines killing not only their intended targets but also whoever happens to be nearby. Collateral damage in politician-speak. Malala Yousafzai, the courageous Pakistani teenager who was honoured with the Nobel Prize, told Obama when she met him that the drone strikes in her country were "fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people." The official White House statement released after the meeting did not include her comment.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd) and the edited volume, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. Cohn is a recipient of the Peace Scholar of the Year Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association. She testified before Congress about the Bush torture policy.

(06 Jul) 150601 Richard Wolff - Bailouts, Greece and Capitalism

Lousy job prospects got you down? Deep in debt? Welcome to 21st century capitalism. The dominant ruling class has one mantra: More for Me, Less for You. That has certainly proven true. Workers' incomes have gone flat while the rich have gotten richer. Maybe Desperate Housewives should be replaced with a series called Desperate Workers. The global economic crisis continues to take an enormous human toll. In many ways, Greece has become the symbol of an economic system in disarray. While banks were bailed out, the people of the cradle of Western civilization were subjected to an EU German-directed austerity program. While banks were bailed out, the people of the cradle of Western civilization were subjected to an EU German-directed austerity program. The bad joke is the Bundesbank has done today what the Wehrmacht was unable to do in World War Two. Greece is on its knees. But the Syriza Party is resisting diktats from Brussels and Berlin and offering hope to beleaguered Greeks.

Richard Wolff teaches 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 with David Barsamian.

(29 Jun) 150505 Avi Chomsky - Immigration and the New Illegality

Xenophobic tendencies in U.S. immigration policy are nothing new. The creation of a "permanent impermanent status" for millions of undocumented immigrants today can be seen in a historical context when we learn about The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Asiatic Barred Zone in 1917, and the mass deportations of Mexicans in the 1930s and 1950s. Currently there are nationalist sentiments demanding the deportation of 12 million undocumented immigrants no matter how impractical, no matter the cost. Even the humanitarian gesture to expand the numbers eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA is overruled by activist judges. And we can still hear immigrants blamed for everything from bedbugs to measles. But these attitudes are losing traction as the "browning of America" continues. More humane proposals to integrate displaced peoples are slowly moving through state legislative bodies. But on the national level, the plight of new arrivals to the United States seems to twist in the proverbial political wind.

Avi Chomsky is a Latin American History professor at Salem State University and author of Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal and They Take Our Jobs and 20 other Myths about Immigration.

(22 Jun) 150504 Vandana Shiva and Joel Salatin - Planet on a Plate

When it comes to food production and consumption, there are some things we are expected to take for granted. Like, eggs don't come from chickens. The come from cardboard boxes. Or, bacon doesn't come from pigs. It's grown in shrink wrapped plastic bags and sold by the kilo in the deli section. Similarly, good food is that which is pre-packaged and ready to 'heat and eat', no human hand need interfere other than to pop it in the microwave and then peel the lid off. If only it were that simple. Food is a corporate commodity produced and manufactured so the profit margin is soaked up not by the producer but by the corporate shareholders. Food is no longer food. It's a way to maximise profit and that by reducing returns to those who grow it and by gouging we, the consumer, for all they can. The whole system, from paddock to plate, is broken. But there are pockets of resistance. There are farmers who are bucking the orthodoxies and there are those who are advocating for a food system that is fair, just and above all, healthy and nutritious.

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. 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 Earth Democracy, Soil Not Oiland Making Peace with the Earth.

Joel Salatin is an American farmer, author, public speaker and advocate for sustainable farming. He calls himself a "Christian-libertarian-envirnomentalist-capitlaist-lunatic-farmer". His books include Salad Bar Beef, Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front and Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.

(15 Jun) 150503 Reece Erlich - Cuba and the US.: A New Beginning

The rigid and dogmatic decades-old policy of Washington toward Havana left the U.S. in virtual total isolation internationally. The lopsided UN General Assembly votes condemning the policy made Washington a global laughing stock. Thus, Obama's December 2014 announcement on re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries came as a relief. The diplomatic move, he said marked "a new chapter" between the U.S. and Cuba. The old chapters were pretty sordid. There was Henry Kissinger who wanted to "smash" and "clobber" Cuba and its "pipsqueak" leader. Or Alexander Haig, another secretary of state threatening, "I'll turn that f***ing island into a parking lot." Obama did not mention the CIA's infamous "Operation Mongoose" campaign of terror carried out against Cuba including chemical and biological warfare and the bombing of a Cubana airliner killing all aboard. Apologies and reparations? Return Guantanamo? Fuggedaboutit.

Reese Erlich, an award-winning journalist, is special correspondent with GlobalPost. He also reports regularly for NPR, Deutsche Welle and the CBC. He is the author of Inside Syria and Dateline Havana.

(08 Jun) 150502 Loretta Napoleoni - The ISIS Crisis

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is the latest chapter of the so-called war on terror. One should point out that you can't have a war on a tactic. ISIS has displaced al-Qaeda. It is violently addressing unresolved issues relating to European imperialism and the creation of artificial borders and states. After WWII, the U.S. supplanted Britain, France and Italy in the region and became its self-appointed guardian. Washington's footprint in the Middle East is enormous. It has created a network of allies consisting of emirs, sheikhs and generals. These leaders are despised by most of the people they rule. They are seen as puppets of Washington. Israel is isolated. Meanwhile, ISIS is growing. What is its appeal? How is it, as the Pentagon says, "tremendously well-funded"? How has it inspired attacks as far away as Ottawa, Sydney and Copenhagen?

Loretta Napoleoni is a leading expert on money laundering and terror financing. She has worked as London correspondent and columnist for La Stampa, La Repubblica, El Pas, and Le Monde. A former Fulbright scholar, she holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Economics. She is the author of Rogue Economics, Terror Inc. and The Islamist Phoenix.

(01 Jun) 150501 Angela Davis - Transnational Solidarity

Solidarity was long a term invoked by unions and working men and women. Now, alas, unions, under sustained political attack, are in acute decline. Who can forget Ronald Reagan championing the rights of workers in Poland while smashing the air traffic controllers union in the U.S.? Today from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Ferguson, Missouri to Gezi Park in Istanbul people are in the streets raising again the cry of solidarity. Solidarity, linking up with kindred spirits is a crucial element in overcoming isolation and atomization. Mutual support and feelings, yes, of love, empower people over the rulers of the Earth. The masters want to keep us apart and to have us focus on shopping. There are glimpses of cross border alliances. They need to grow. Given the global scale of the climate change crisis transnational solidarities are needed now.

Angela Davis is one of the iconic figures of this era. Acquitted on conspiracy charges in 1970, after one of the most famous trials in U.S. history, she went on to become an internationally renowned writer, scholar and lecturer. She's the author of many books, including Women, Race and Class, Abolition Democracy, and The Meaning of Freedom.

(25 May) 150404 Cornel West - Love and Justice

From Tamir Rice to Akai Gurley the names of African American men and boys killed by police keep piling up. The lack of a grand jury indictment in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson sparked a protest movement with signs and shouts of "Hands Up. Don't Shoot" and "Black Lives Matter". The death of Eric Garner in New York was videoed around the world. His plea of "I Can't Breathe" became a rallying cry. Many people are asking where is justice? Illusions have been shattered that we live in a "post-racial" society. Fundamental questions are being raised. Is property more important than people? Racism, poverty and inequality run deep. African-Americans are disproportionately incarcerated. Dr. King believed in the transformative power of love and as he said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Cornel West, University Professor of Religion at Princeton, has been called "the preeminent African American intellectual of his generation." With his preacher-like cadences and passionate delivery, he is much in demand as a speaker. A prolific author, his book Race Matters was a bestseller. His latest book is Democracy Matters.

(18 May) 150403 Abdullah Al-Arian - Inside the Middle East

Antonio Gramsci, the great Italian Marxist said, "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear." That certainly seems to describe the Middle East today. Lots of morbid symptoms. After a series of uprisings, the so-called Arab Spring, the region has spun into a deadly spiral. Just sample these headlines, all from the same day: Libya: Islamist Militia Fighters Clash with Troops; Egypt: Bomb Kills 2 in Army Vehicle; Turkey: Boy Accused of Insulting President is Arrested; West Bank: Firebomb Seriously Wounds an Israeli Girl; Jordan: Threatens ISIS with Grave Consequences. And the horror that is Syria and the decade-long catastrophe that is Iraq continue unabated. The scope and scale of instability and violence has no recent precedent. Why is it happening?

Abdullah Al-Arian is Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt and co-editor of Jadaliyya's Critical Currents in Islam page. He is a contributor to Al-Jazeera English.

(11 May) 150402 Nadine Strossen - Spying, Secrecy and Suppression

There is an assault on civil liberties and fundamental rights. State spying, secrecy and suppression have vastly increased. 9/11 is the pretext for surveillance that never stops giving. Both Democrats and Republicans have greatly expanded the powers of the multiple government agencies who watch and monitor us. What is called oversight is a joke. We would do well to recall Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas's ringing dissent in his 1972 opinion Laird v. Tatum. This is what he said: "The Constitution was designed to keep government off the backs of the people. The Bill of Rights was added to keep the precincts of belief and expression, of the press, of political and social activities free from surveillance. The Bill of Rights was designed to keep agents of government and official eavesdroppers away from assemblies of people."

Nadine Strossen is professor of law at New York Law School. She has written, lectured and practiced extensively in the areas of civil liberties, constitutional law and human rights. She was elected President of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1991. She is the first woman and youngest person to serve as head of the ACLU.

(04 May) 150401 Tavis Smiley - The Hidden Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr has been shrink-wrapped and formatted to be innocuous and non-threatening. Dream speeches, desegregation, voting rights, and Selma marches could be accommodated. But when he articulated a critique of the system as a whole then he became a danger to the establishment. That Dr. King has been largely obscured. At Riverside Church in New York he said the Vietnam War was "a symptom of a far deeper malady." And then he added, "We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." By giving that speech Dr. King basically signed his own death warrant.

Tavis Smiley is the well known PBS and public radio talk show host. He is the author of many books including Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Final Year.

(27 Apr) 150304 Rashid Khalidi - Armenia, Kurdistan and Palestine: Unhealed Wounds

World War I, 1914-1918, was called the war to end all wars. Alas, that was hardly the case. The Versailles Treaty turned the peace into pieces. It led directly to an even more destructive world war in 1939. The imperial cartographers of Britain and France drew lines in the sand and created new states and borders in the Middle East. In the backroom deals, betrayals and secret arrangements, people were sliced and diced and their aspirations snuffed. Seeds of distrust and enmity were planted. In particular, Armenia, Kurdistan and Palestine were victims of European and later U.S. machinations. The legacy of what happened a century ago is with us today. Many of the region's current tensions and conflicts are rooted in the past and are likely to continue unless there is a just resolution of unresolved issues.

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Chair of Arab Studies at Columbia University, where he directs the Middle East Institute. The Los Angeles Times calls him "arguably the foremost U.S. historian of the modern Middle East." He is the author of many books including Resurrecting Empire, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood and Brokers of Deceit.

(20 Apr) 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.

(13 Apr) 150303 Vandana Shiva - Radical Compassion

There was much fanfare as the leaders of the U.S. and China, the world's largest carbon polluters signed what was trumpeted as an "historic" deal cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But the Center for Science & Environment in India denounced the agreement as "self-serving" and "business as usual." Much more urgent action is required to avoid a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. As the eco-crisis accelerates and the major contributors to climate change make grandiose statements but then take halfhearted measures, it is easy to despair. But we simply can't afford to do nothing and wallow in negativity. The moment calls for action and engagement not passivity and indifference. The magnitude of the crisis requires radical compassion for the Earth and all its inhabitants and flora and fauna. Despite probes landing on comets this is the only home we have.

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. She's a physicist, scholar and social activist. 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 Earth Democracy, Soil Not Oil and Making Peace with the Earth.

(06 Apr) 150302 Michael Schwartz - Oil & Gas Wars

Gas prices are falling. The price of oil per barrel is at its lowest level in several years. Why? We're told the global economy is slowing down again. Europe is sluggish. Japan is in recession. China's growth rate is weakening. But there may be other factors. The U.S. is producing a huge amount of oil, particularly from shale. Prices are dropping because the market is flooded and production is outstripping demand. Reportedly, the U.S. got the Saudis, still the biggest producer, to quietly agree to increase their output. Who is hurt the most? Washington's designated enemies: Russia and Iran. Both heavily depend on oil and gas revenues. There is a glut in natural gas too. But the quest for oil and gas never ends as energy corporations are looking to big paydays ahead and states seek to enhance their power.

Michael Schwartz is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His articles appear in TomDispatch, Mother Jones, Against the Current, and Z. He is the author of many books including War Without End: The Iraq War in Context.

(30 Mar) 150301 Josh Ruebner - Shattered Peace: Israel-Palestine

Outrage follows outrage in Israel and Palestine. Yesterday's atrocity is quickly forgotten as a new one occurs. There is a dizzying vortex kidnappings, stabbings, killings of teenagers and rabbis, attacks on synagogues and mosques, rockets, invasions, bombings, curfews, collective punishment, and demolition of homes. Meanwhile, Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, contravening international law, continue unabated. Occasionally, Washington says they are "unhelpful." But there are no consequences. U.S. policy, meek rhetoric aside, enables settlements. The so-called peace process is dead. The Palestinians feel hopeless and desperate. Their prospects for a viable state seem more remote than ever. The prescription for more violence is in place. Can these polarized and deeply divided communities live together or are they destined to be in perpetual conflict? What would constitute a just and lasting peace?

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He founded and directed Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, which merged with Jewish Voice for Peace. He is the author of Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

(23 Mar) 150204 Michelle Alexander - Race and Caste in the U.S.

A string of shootings of young African Americans has generated national and international attention. While these killings are nothing new, the proliferation of cellphones cameras and social media raised public awareness. Systemic questions are being asked. What is the role of racism? The numbers are depressingly familiar. The United States has the largest prison population in the world. Blacks are more likely to go to jail than to college. The Sentencing Project reports, "Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences." Outside the prison walls is an economy that cannot generate jobs paying decent wages. Affordable housing? What's that? Programs alleviating poverty are cut back and simultaneously the coercive functions of the state are beefed up. Local police are armed to the teeth with the latest weapons while underfunded schools are crumbling.

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.

(16 Mar) 150203 Naomi Klein - Capitalism vs The Climate

"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about." Those words of warning were written in 1992 by some 1,700 scientists including more than 100 Nobel laureates. Here we are, more than two decades later still talking, still drilling and doing very little to protect our precious planet from an economic system that prioritizes profits over the well being of Earth.

Naomi Klein of Canada is an award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker. Her articles appear in major newspapers and magazines all over the world. She is the author of the bestsellers No Logo, The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything.

(09 Mar) 150202 Erica Chenoweth - Nonviolence Works

No single event nor charismatic leader changes history. History changes when large groups organize around common goals. Events and leaders can help galvanize forces. But people power has a great track record. And, movements that rely on principles of nonviolence seem to succeed more often and create more lasting change than those engaged in armed struggle. In the United States, in the lifetime of many us, the Civil Rights, Free Speech and Anti-War Movements of the 1960s, the Women's Movement, and the Gay Rights Movement all shifted the political and cultural landscape. More recently Occupy had an impact. Internationally there was the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Tiananmen Square. Some might say the Indonesian election in 2014 represents another nonviolent regime change a victory of the ballot over the bullet. And who can forget what happened in South Africa?

Erica Chenoweth teaches at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She's an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. She is an internationally recognized authority on alternatives to violence. She is co-author of the award-winning book, Why Civil Resistance Works.

(02 Mar) 150201 Noam Chomsky - ISIS, the Kurds and Turkey

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, aka Islamic State, is now the latest threat to our security. Or so our leaders tell us and the media repeat. It has seized territory in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. has been meddling in the Middle East non-stop for decades. What has it produced? Wars, militias, sectarianism and strife. And lots of oil and weapons sales. U.S. policy in the region is shrouded in propaganda about democracy and human rights while in practice Washington backs feudal regimes like Saudi Arabia. The U.S. is bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Kurds in both countries are fighting ISIS. Turkey, which has its own major issues with its large Kurdish minority and had allowed jihadis to enter Syria through its borders, is now permitting Iraqi Kurdish fighters to go into Syria to fight ISIS. The endless war on terror has taken new twists and turns.

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. 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, Masters of Mankind, How the World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

(23 Feb) 150104 James Bopp and David Cobb - Citizens United Debate

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," sums up most peoples' understanding of the First Amendment. Many were dumbfounded when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a conservative organization named Citizens United, in the case of Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The 2010 ruling has further undermined democracy. Political campaigns are now flooded with dark money, untraceable funds that often determine the outcomes of ballot initiatives and elections. And unsurprisingly the electorate recognizes the advantage dark money gives the rich and powerful and opposes the Supreme Court's far-reaching decision, as do many members of Congress, and the current President.

James Bopp is a campaign finance attorney. He has served as legal counsel to Bush v. Gore, the National Right to Life, and the historic Citizens United v. FEC

David Cobb, a lawyer and activist, was the Green Party presidential candidate in 2004. He is a leading voice in the Move to Amend the Constitution to repeal corporate rights.

(16 Feb) 150103 Richard Wolff - The Market: A Paragon of Virtue

Myths die hard. Just as there are no unicorns, there is no free market. The myth is propagandized by its beneficiaries - the rich and powerful, the one percent. The oft-repeated line is the market is some neutral entity which fosters competition and people benefit as prices come down. Reality is slightly different. We don't have a really free market because there is massive government intervention to prop it up through bailouts and subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes. The system generates more and more monopoly and concentration. Attempts at regulation are non-existent or are so watered down as to be virtually meaningless. The market as a paragon of virtue? Heard of secret deals and insider trading? The crucial question: how do we create an economy which is responsive to people's needs, meets social goals of equality and protects the environment?

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.

(09 Feb) 150102 Michael Brune - Clean Energy Victories

Many people see the crisis posed by climate change clearly but governments, largely influenced by money coming from coal, oil and natural gas corporations, do not act. Huge demonstrations from New York to more than 150 cities all over the world indicate that people want action on climate change now. Germany is leading the way with solar technology. Prices are coming way down. China is investing more in renewable energy than the U.S. And in an extraordinary development, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is divesting from fossil fuel companies. The historical significance can't be missed. It was John D. Rockefeller who, a century ago, began Standard Oil, the precursor of Exxon Mobil. In addition to the Rockefeller move more than 800 big investors have pledged to withdraw $50 billion from fossil fuel investments. It's a symbolic and substantive victory.

Michael Brune, an environmental activist, was an organizer for Greenpeace. Later, he headed up the Rainforest Action Network. He is currently the Executive Director of the Sierra Club. He spearheaded the Beyond Coal Campaign. He is author of Coming Clean: Breaking America's Addiction to Oil and Coal.

(02 Feb) 150101 Rebecca Solnit - Making and Breaking Stories

Dominant paradigms, dominant stories, the big picture through which our lives move. How much of it is constructed for us? Most of it. What are the prevailing paradigms and cultural narratives really made of? Words. Language. To coin a phrase, define the terms, frame the issue, to write the story that sticks in the public mind and is constantly repeated, is the business of branding. Powerful institutions work day and night suppressing and spinning stories to legitimize their existence. Their machinations create "official stories" and "public secrets" things that everybody knows but nobody says in public. Although our personal stories are assembled and disassembled at the rate of speedy electronic devices, our collective stories move at the rate of tectonic plates. Competing narratives about fracking in Colorado and tar sands in Alberta play out in daily information wars, while substantive structural changes remain nearly indiscernible.

Rebecca Solnit is an award-winning essayist and environmental historian. She is the author of over a dozen books, including The Faraway Nearby, Savage Dreams and Men Explain Things to Me.

(26 Jan) 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.

(19 Jan) 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.

(12 Jan) 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.

(05 Jan) 140401 Sonia 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.

(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.

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