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Program Archives - 2017

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(30 Oct) 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.

(23 Oct) 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 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.

(16 Oct) 150302 Michael Schwartz - Oil and 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.

(09 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.

(02 Oct) 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.

(25 Sept) Michael Parent - Conspiracy and Class Power

Class and power are closely correlated, That societies have a ruling class is derided as passe Marxist rhetoric. But to deny its existence is folly. Class can be measured by one's income and savings, and ownership of stocks, bonds and property. Power is more difficult to calibrate. It is the capacity of a ruling class to produce outcomes that enrich and enhance its status. There are many forms of power such as economic, political and military. That a ruling class acts to promote its interests by getting together and planning seems only logical. To simply dismiss these meetings as conspiracies is absurd. Power brokers and corporate elites don't meet in dark, smoke filled back rooms or on amusement park merry-go-rounds but rather they gather in well-appointed offices with plush carpets and comfortable chairs and are served croissants and gourmet coffee.

Michael Parenti is a brilliant orator and one of this country's foremost independent political analysts. He has taught at major colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of numerous books including Democracy for the Few, The Face of Imperialism and The Assassination of Julius Caesar.

(18 Sep) 170803 Chris Hedges - Stopping Fascism

One dictionary defines fascism as, "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism." The first fascist party was founded by Mussolini in Italy in 1915. Its etymology is traced to the Latin word meaning a bundle of rods tied around an axe, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. Today, the term, for many, immediately conjures up horrific images of storm troopers. But contemporary fascism has undergone a major wardrobe change. Could it happen here? Some see elements of it now with what is called populism, America First, coupled with a largely imagined past, Make America Great Again. The media are denounced as "the enemy of the people," a phrase Stalin used. Critics of the Leader are bullied and insulted.

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 many books including Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, The World As It Is, and Wages of Rebellion.

(11 Sept) 170802 Robert Hackett - Climate Change and the Media

Climate change poses a long-term threat to humanity and the Earth. Sixty percent of people get their news from TV. How are the networks reporting on the crisis? This is from a study from Media Matters, a non-profit media watchdog organization: "In 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, collectively decreased their total coverage of climate change by 66 percent compared to the previous year, even though there were a host of important climate-related stories, including" global record-breaking temperatures, "the signing of the Paris climate agreement, and numerous climate-related extreme weather events. Apart from PBS, the networks also failed to devote significant coverage to climate-related policies, but they still found the time to uncritically air climate denial - the majority of which came from now-President Donald Trump and his team."

Robert Hackett, a leading critic and media theorist, is professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, SFU in Burnaby, BC. He has published widely on media issues. He is co-author of Journalism and Climate Crisis.

(04 Sept) 170801 Noam Chomsky - Neoliberalism: An Accounting

Neoliberalism is an odd term when you think about it. It is hardly new and it is not particularly liberal. It has been a great economic success story-for the 1%. The detritus of neoliberalism litters the landscape from smashed unions to shredded safety nets, and deregulation of everything from airlines to banking to telecommunications. And how does one measure the human costs of shattered dreams and broken lives? The consequence? A backlash. Many working people are angry. Keep squeezing them and they will be prey for charlatans and demagogues who exploit their vulnerability and fear with scapegoating and false promises. As "The Nation" magazine observes, "Alongside growing economic inequality, we have suffered growing political inequality, with a Princeton study declaring that the influence of ordinary citizens on policy is 'negligible.' The United States," "The Nation" says, is becoming "an oligarchy."

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." At 88, he still gives lectures all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda and the Public Mind, How the World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

(28 Aug) 170704 Camille Paglia - Free Women! Free Men!

The feminist movement, in its various forms, posed a genuine challenge to patriarchy, male domination. Privilege among most men was seen as a right, the way things were. Within the feminist movement there were different currents and tendencies. Its accomplishments were myriad but there is still much work to be done. Misogyny, hostility, sexual commodification, harassment and violence against women persist. There is still a gender wage gap. Women working full time in nearly every single occupation earn only 80% of what men do. Gender categories and sexual orientations and the stereotypes embedded in them have undergone a radical shift in recent years. Feminism and the women's movement are still seen as a threat by some, particularly among more conservative religious minded people. Tearing down the old ways of thinking and behavior sometimes leads to confusion, tension and cultural conflict.

Camille Paglia is the University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is a regular contributor to Salon.com and the author of Glittering Images, Break, Blow, Burn, Sexual Personae, Sex, Art, and American Culture, Vamps and Tramps and Free Women, Free Men.

(21 Aug) 170703 Thomas Frank - The Country That Voted For Trump

The election of Donald Trump was a stunning political upset. His victory defied the predictions of almost every pundit and pollster. Though he received about 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, the antiquarian Electoral College system in the U.S. gave him the presidency. The New York real estate mogul, TV celebrity and billionaire ran as a self-proclaimed outsider against what he portrayed as entrenched and corrupt political elites. He would "drain the swamp" in Washington. Despite a well-documented list of jaw dropping gaffes and serial prevarications he was able to convince enough working class people that he would reverse the neoliberal economic policies that had so adversely affected them. And the Democrats? Well, what can you say? Facing one of the weakest candidates in history, they lost not only the White House but also most of the state houses.

Thomas Frank is a prominent political commentator and the founding editor of The Baffler magazine. He is the author of many books including One Market Under God, What's the Matter with Kansas?, The Wrecking Crew, Pity the Billionaire and Listen, Liberal.

(14 Aug) 170702 Max Blumenthal - Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation

Fifty Years have passed since Israel's victory in the Six-Day War resulting in the longest military occupation in modern times. And on the ground there has been a radical shift in demographics because of the settlements. What began as a few scattered outposts has now mushroomed into vast sub-divisions and cities with Jewish only road networks connecting them make it difficult for Palestinians to travel. About 600,000 Israelis now live beyond the country's 1967 borders. The Palestinians are being squeezed into ever smaller and smaller enclaves, isolated and without sufficient water. The settlements, illegal under international law, are a key obstacle to the resolution of the conflict. But Israel continues to expand them. Each new house makes the possibility of a just peace more remote. And Washington makes it all possible with its ongoing economic, military and diplomatic support for Israel.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel and The 51-Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. He is a senior writer for "Alternet", and his articles have appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, The New York Times, and other newspapers and journals.

(07 Aug) 170701 Madawi Al-Rasheed - Saudi Arabia: History and Politics

Saudi Arabia is a quixotic ally of the U.S., to say the least. Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were from the desert kingdom. In the wake of the attack, the U.S. flew Saudi elites out of the country and then preceded to invade Afghanistan, through no Afghans were involved in 9/11. You figure it out. Saudi Arabia has supported extremist jihadi groups from Pakistan to Syria. In the 1980s it bankrolled the mujahideen in Afghanistan who later morphed into the Taliban. When the latter seized power in the 1990s, Saudi Arabia was quick to recognize the new rulers in Kabul. Torture, hangings and an atrocious human rights record has required Washington to engage in verbal acrobatics to justify its backing of the oil-rich Riyadh regime. Saudi Arabia is a feudal and closed system. How long can it last?

Madawi Al-Rasheed is a leading scholar on Saudi Arabia, and a Visiting Professor at the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics. She was Professor of Anthropology and Religion at King's College, London, between 1994 and 2013. She is the author of A History of Saudi Arabia, Muted Modernists: The Struggle over Divine Politics in Saudi Arabia and A Most Masculine State.

(31 July) 170605 Kali Akuno - Activism: Lessons from Mississippi

Mao said, "A single spark can start a prairie fire." Indeed it can. Rosa Parks is a perfect example of that. Her refusal to sit in the back of the bus led to the Montgomery bus boycott and the beginning of the civil rights movement in the segregated South. They're some erroneous notions about Rosa Parks. That she was simply tired and had to rest her weary feet. Yeah, she was tired all right. Tired of the racism and discrimination. And Rosa Parks was not some casual activist. She was part of a movement that triggered a wave of protest and eventually broke down an entrenched system of injustice. It didn't happen overnight. One of the lessons activists have learned is that for their work to be successful it must be sustained over periods of time.

Kali Akuno is a co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson. He served as the Director of Special Projects and External Funding in the Mayoral Administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, Mississippi. His focus in this role was supporting cooperative development, the introduction of eco-friendly and carbon reduction methods of operation, and the promotion of human rights and international relations for the city. He also served as the co-director of the U.S. Human Rights Network.

(24 July) 170604 Kshama Sawant - What It Takes to Win

In times of despair and distress there may be the temptation to succumb to apathy and cynicism. What's the use? Who cares?, etc. That should not be your response. Finding kindred spirits and allies and working on issues important to you such as the environment, war and peace, healthcare, affordable housing, racism, misogyny, homophobia, education, or just getting your town to put in a stop sign at a dangerous intersection. Sure there are tedious meetings that go on too long. And people who enjoy hearing themselves speak. But you work through that and in the end you feel so much better about collaborating with others to achieve positive goals. It's much better than getting bogged down in internal disputes, factionalism and mutual recrimination. That's a formula for getting burned out. What does it take to win?

Kshama Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative. She was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013. She is the first socialist to win a citywide election in Seattle since 1916. She was reelected in 2015.

(17 July) 170603 Vandana Shiva - Eco-Social Justice on the Global Frontlines

Despite the position of the Trump administration, which has labeled climate change a "hoax" concocted by China, there is virtual universal unanimity that the Earth's temperature is rising and that human activity is largely responsible. In the face of this crisis Trump is cutting the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency and laying off staff. Is this the kind of response required at this critical juncture? The window for collective action to mitigate the effects of global warming is narrowing. Corporate-driven policies toward the Earth as just a place to extract resources and make money must be reversed if long-term tragic consequences are to be avoided. Sustainable agricultural practices and nutritious food are key to healing ourselves and our planet. Ecological and social justice are inseparable.

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. She's a physicist, scholar, social activist and feminist. She is Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in New Delhi. She's the recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize and of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize. She is the author of many books, including Water Wars, Earth Democracy, Soil Not Oil and Making Peace with the Earth. She is the editor of the book Seed Sovereignty, Food Security

(10 July) 170602 David Korten - Toward an Ecological Civilization

Will Rogers, a famous U.S. humorist once said, "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." Good advice. Wish that it were heeded when it comes to climate change. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, says, "there's tremendous disagreement" about climate change. Is there? The scientific consensus is close to 100%. The fox is in charge of the henhouse. While he was Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt worked hand and glove with the oil and gas industry. He filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA. President Trump has called climate change a "hoax" concocted by the Chinese. He is cutting EPA staff and slashing its budget. Our precious planet is in danger. We should listen to our Native American and First Nations water and land protectors and nurture and cherish the Earth and move toward an ecological civilization.

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 Change the Story, Change the Future.

(03 July) 170601 Geoffrey Stone - The Fight for Free Speech on Campus

The political landscape is increasingly intolerant of opposing views. Campuses are sometimes a battleground. Author Charles Murray was shouted down and prevented from speaking at Middlebury. Condoleezza Rice declined to speak at Rutgers because of protests. Ex-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos's talk at UC Berkeley was called off when a minority became violent. Professors such as Steven Salaita and Norman Finkelstein have lost jobs because of what they said. The American Civil Liberties Union states unequivocally: "How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most. Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When one of us is denied this right, all of us are denied."

Geoffrey Stone, noted First Amendment and Constitutional law scholar, is Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. He is the award-winning author of many books including Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime, Eternally Vigilant: Free Speech in the Modern Era, Top Secret: When Our Government Keeps Us in the Dark and Speaking Out: Reflections of Law, Liberty and Justice.

(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 Jun) 170503 Arun Gandhi - Gandhian Nonviolence Today

As protests and demonstrations continue around the world, once again the relevance of the strategies and tactics of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance arise. What are we to do when faced with injustice? Look away? Or resist? Are sit-ins, blockades and boycotts viable tools of resistance? Do people risk arrest and incarceration? Thoreau, who was an influence on Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., went to jail for refusing to pay taxes. He was a principled opponent to slavery and the U.S. war on Mexico. As the story goes, his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson visited him in jail. Emerson asked Thoreau, What are you doing in there? To which Thoreau replied, "What are you doing out there?" Going against power is not easy. Gandhi, who went to jail many times said, "Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong."

Arun Gandhi is the grandson of India's apostle of nonviolence, Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi. In 1991, Arun Gandhi and his wife Sunanda, founded The M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tennessee. An author, journalist, and activist, he lectures all over the world.

(12 Jun) 170502 Laura Secor - Iran:History and Politics

Iran, a country of 80 million people, strategically straddles West and South Asia. Once in Washington's hip pocket, Iran dramatically left the U.S. orbit in 1979 when the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic Republic was established. The "loss" of Iran was a major blow to Washington's policy of dominating the Middle East and controlling its oil. Pretty much, ever since, the countries have been at loggerheads. The nuclear deal of 2015 was a breakthrough. However, there is a new sheriff in town and the rhetoric coming from the White House is belligerent. The President has tweeted, "Iran is playing with fire. They don't appreciate how 'kind' President Obama was to them. Not me!" Calling Iran, "the number one terror state," he put it on the travel ban list. What's going on inside Iran is largely unknown. Most media reports omit context and background.

Laura Secor has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Affairs and other publications. She is the author of Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul Iran.

(05 Jun) 170501 Laverne Cox - Transgender Visibility

The LGBTQ, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer community have made significant strides in recent years in achieving legal recognition and protection. But some of the gains are being rolled back. The Trump administration revoked federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. Resistance to the edict is coalescing as fast as you can say LGBTQ. An important case will be argued soon before the Supreme Court involving a high school student in Virginia. At stake is whether transgendered persons are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Higher Education Act amendments. At issue is whether they can freely use public rest rooms. The case pits evolving generational attitudes toward gender non-conformism against a longstanding culture of intolerance.

Laverne Cox is an actor, documentary film producer and LGBTQ advocate. She stars in the highly acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Her documentary productions include The T Word and Free CeCe.

(29 May) 170405 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - An Indigenous Economic Model

The existing economic system in most countries is a kind of state capitalism. It produces enormous inequalities. Its extraction practices are environmentally destructive. Perhaps indigenous models provide a viable alternative. Chief Seattle was a Susquamish chief in what is now Washington State. He reportedly made these observations in an 1854 letter to U.S. President Pierce: "How can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect." And he warned: "Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste."

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to social justice issues. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas, held at UN headquarters in Geneva. She is the author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, winner of the 2015 American Book Award and All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans.

(22 May) 170404 Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Gender Equality

Currently the Supreme Court hangs in the balance with a 4-4 liberal conservative split. The former tends to view the Constitution as a living document, while the latter sees it as something static and fixed document. Court decisions have huge impacts on society. One contentious issue is gender equality. Simply put it is the belief that everyone should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court made gender discrimination unconstitutional in 1972 in a case successfully argued by then-38 year old attorney Ruth Bader Ginsburg. According to the World Economic Forum, Iceland is number one in gender equality, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Rwanda, Philippines, Switzerland, Slovenia, and New Zealand. And where does the U.S. rank, overall? 28th. And Canada? 30th.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She was director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. She argued five cases before the Supreme Court, winning four of them. She served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for thirteen years before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993. She turned 84 in March 2017, and in her 24 years on the nation's highest court she has never missed a day on the bench.

(15 May) 170403 Gary Taubes - Sugar: How Sweet it Isn't

Sugar is the tobacco of the new millennium: backed by powerful lobbies, entrenched in our lives, and making some people very sick. There is growing evidence that sugar triggers chronic diseases such as diabetes that are likely to kill us, or at least hasten our deaths. In the U.S. and Canada about 30% of the population has diabetes; obesity is at epidemic proportions; heart disease is rising; nearly 10% of children are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And sugar is a leading cause of these problems. It has permeated our diet: such as its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes, and the pervasiveness of high-fructose corn syrup. Long held assumptions about sugar are being reexamined. Some communities from Oakland to Boulder are now taxing sugary drinks. In terms of health sugar can be very bitter.

Gary Taubes is co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative. An investigative science journalist, his articles appear in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine and Esquire. He is the author of Why We Get Fat and The Case Against Sugar.

(08 May) 170402 Arun Gupta - Changing the System

With Donald Trump in the White House we may have entered a post-truth era. As Orwell wrote in his great essay "Looking Back on the Spanish War:" "If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'It never happened'-well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five-well, two and two are five. Orwell added, "This prospect frightens me much more than bombs." Today, in a country where magical thinking is heard at the highest levels of government, facts are up for grabs. You have your narrative and I have mine. Recall Trump aide Kellyanne Conway's now infamous "alternative facts" comment. Are we sliding toward a dystopian future? Not necessarily. Informed and organized people, unafraid and willing to challenge power, can change the system.

Arun Gupta, journalist and activist, was a founding editor of The Indypendent and the Occupied Wall Street Journal. His articles appear in Alternet, Truthout, The Guardian and Z. He also appears on Democracy Now! and Al Jazeera.

(01 May) 170401 Michael Eric Dyson - White Privilege

White privilege. What's that? Some people have choices and advantages simply because of the color of their skin. Many whites are unaware of it or if they are are quick to say, Hey, I'm cool and beyond that. Yeah, right. Peggy McIntosh, a noted women's studies scholar in her classic essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack wrote: "I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks."

Michael Eric Dyson is University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, teaching courses in theology, English, and African American studies. A dynamic speaker, he lectures widely. Among his many books are Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip-Hop, April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King's Death and How it Changed America, The Black Presidency and Tears We Cannot Stop.

(24 Apr) 170304 Angela Davis - Beginnings: Movements of Possibility

In times of crisis one can simultaneously see danger and opportunity. Today there is nostalgia for an imagined past and a desire to recreate it. It's a seductive tale. Things were better then. The country was unchallenged in the world. Jobs were plentiful. Minorities, women, gays, immigrants knew their place. There was order in the land. But over many decades, as a result of struggle and movements, society evolved and changed. We are at a perilous moment. Do we want to go back or continue to move forward building on hard fought gains? During another perilous time, Martin Luther King Jr., declared, "We've got to massively confront the power structure." We are at a crossroads: the beginning of a brighter or darker future. The choice is ours.

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 is professor emeritus at the University of California at Santa Cruz. An eloquent and charismatic speaker she is much in demand all over the world and draws huge audiences. She's the author of many books, including Women, Race and Class, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, Abolition Democracy, and Freedom is a Constant Struggle.

(17 Apr) 170303 Gary Younge - Gunnded Down: Kids Getting Killed

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012, impending firearm control legislation led to panic buying of guns throughout the country. In 2016, the prospect of Hillary as president led to another rush to buy. Smith and Wesson stock prices soared. Remington Arms Company boosted production. Walmart gun sales went up. Incidents of gun violence only seem to induce more gun buying. Gun owners complain of bullet shortages. The gun homicide rate is at least six times higher in the United States than any country in the world and all too often it is young people getting killed. With Trump in the White House the prospects for any meaningful gun control legislation are nil. And the blood in the streets, malls and schools will continue to flow.

Gary Younge is an award-winning columnist for The Guardian and the author of The Speech: The Story Behind Dr Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream and Another Day in the Death of America. He writes the "Beneath the Radar" column for The Nation.

(10 Apr) 170302 Stephen Cohen - Reheating the Cold War

Winston Churchill once observed, the further back you go, the farther forward you can see. We know little of Russia and its history beyond bears, Siberian winters, the Kremlin and Doctor Zhivago. The United States emerged victorious at end of the Cold War. An era of cooperation was to be ushered in. What should have been an opportunity to create a structure for peace and stability did not happen. Instead of an inclusive security system the U.S.-led NATO military alliance expanded to the east. Hardliners in Washington goaded by the military-industrial complex, seeking more profits from weapons sales, have vilified and demonized Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. The media followed in lock step. A reheated Cold War with a new arms race and the catastrophic dangers of hot war are the last things that humanity and the planet need.

Stephen Cohen, regarded as one of the foremost experts on Russia, is professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at NYU and Princeton. He is a Nation contributing editor and author of many books including Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.

(03 Apr) 170301 Richard Wolff - Trumponomics

Trumponomics. Wall Street likes what it sees in the 45th president. The stock market is way up. The reality TV star heads up one of the most pro-corporate administrations in U.S. history. After railing against elites Trump's cabinet is loaded with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan honchos. Millionaires and billionaires are staffing key positions. It's the wealthiest cabinet in history. Deregulation of banking is high on their to-do list. Critics are calling Trump's economic policies warmed over trickle down Reaganomics. Remember the slogan, a rising tide lifts all boats? Thing is only the yachts go up, the canoes and rowboats sink to the bottom. The New Yorker says, "Trump's proposed tax cuts would greatly accentuate inequality" and his "protectionist impulses, meanwhile, almost certainly won't bring back lost manufacturing jobs, but they could spark a damaging trade war."

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 calls him "America's most prominent Marxist economist." He is the author of numerous books including Democracy at Work and Occupy the Economy with David Barsamian.

(27 Mar) 170204 Medea Benjamin - The Saudi - US Sinister Alliance

The Saudi-U.S. relationship takes crucial shape in 1945 when FDR meets with Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia, on a U.S. destroyer in the Suez Canal. The essence of the get together was to insure Saudi's vast oil reserves would be the special preserve of U.S. oil companies. In return Washington would guarantee the security of the kingdom. The agreement has generated a windfall of profits for the oil cartel. Politically it has had sinister consequences. The U.S. has basically ignored the repressive and feudalistic order within the kingdom as well as for its support of Wahhabi extremist fundamentalists around the world. Saudi Arabia is a veritable gold mine for U.S. arms merchants and with those weapons Riyadh has committed major war crimes in neighboring Yemen. With friends like these, as the saying goes, who needs enemies?

Medea Benjamin is a renowned peace activist and social justice advocate. She travels around the world and documents human rights violations. She's co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK. She is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She is the author of many books including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control and Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.

(20 Mar) 170203 Noam Chomsky - Utopia

In the darkest of times we have to imagine that a world of equality and environmental and social justice is possible. Are we dreamers? Not practical? Out of touch with reality? Perhaps. But throughout history it has been small groups of visionary activists who ignite the flame and light up the darkness and show us the way forward. Progressive change happens when people rise up and struggle for it. In Howard Zinn's masterwork, A People's History of the United States, he closes with these lines from the poet Shelley which were recited by women garment workers to one another in New York sweatshops a century ago:
"Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many; they are few!"

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. 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." At 88, he still gives lectures all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda and the Public Mind, How the World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

(13 Mar) 170202 Simone Campbell - From a Nun on a Bus

B.B. King sings, "Nobody likes you but your mama and she may be jiving you too." A lot of poor people may feel that way. They are stigmatized and demonized. If they'd only go away. What's wrong with them? Can't they find a job or a place to live? The persistence of poverty in the U.S., perhaps the richest country in history, is a national disgrace, a shanda as they say in Yiddish. Neoliberal economic policies have produced huge inequality. Who suffers the most? Children. Almost 15 million children were poor in 2015, with more than two-thirds in working families who toil away in our low-growth, low-wage economy. A disproportionate number are Black, Latino and Native American. There's no money to alleviate poverty, we're told. Are you kidding? There's plenty of dough to enrich the imperial war machine.

Simone Campbell is a Catholic nun and an attorney who lobbies in Washington on issues of economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare. She belongs to the Sister of Social Service and is the executive director of the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. Campbell's recent memoir is A Nun on the Bus.

(06 Mar) 170201Wenonah Hauter - Smoke, Fumes and Big Oil

2016 will be the hottest year on Earth since data keeping began 136 years ago. Donald Trump says climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. He says he will gut the Environmental Protection Agency and pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement. We can get out of this death spiral. There is an abundance of low-cost solar and wind renewable energy. Despite all the evidence that the planet is heating up, the corporado's addiction to fossil fuelishness continues. But there is push back. The resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline project by the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota has inspired indigenous people and their allies the world over. The needs of humanity and Mother Nature are much more important than the bottom lines of the fossil fuel industry.

Wenonah Hauter is the founder and Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues. She served as Director of Public Citizen's Energy and Environment Program. She is the author of Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment.

(27 Feb) 170104 Vijay Prashad - Responsibility to Protect

Following the mass killings in Rwanda and the international communities' failure to act, the UN formulated a new doctrine called Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Its key provision is "Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects states from foreign interference." Libya is a perfect example of R2P gone haywire. There were hyperbolic reports of atrocities, bloodbaths and massacres. The U.S. invoked R2P. A UN resolution to protect civilians was passed and its authority almost immediately exceeded. NATO embarked on a heavy bombing campaign. R2P quickly morphed into regime change. Qaddafi was assassinated. Hillary Clinton joked, "We came, we saw, he died." Cheers could be heard in the corridors of power in the West. Today, Libya is a broken, devastated country. R2P, if it is to be effective and have credibility, cannot be selectively applied. Nor can it be used as a cover for big power intervention.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He teaches courses in international law and human rights. He is the author of many books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South and The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution.

(20 Feb) 170103 Gideon Levi - The Never Ending Occupation: Palestine

Israeli general and later prime minister Ariel Sharon said of the Palestinians: "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 25 years' time neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart." Sharon said that in 1973. Today, there are more than 600,000 settlers in the occupied territories. They are facts on the ground, as the Israelis like to say. All of the settlements are outside Israel's internationally recognized borders, and are unambiguously illegal under international law. Thomas Friedman, in The New York Times, says the settlements constitute "a tacit annexation of the West Bank," and then he adds, "and is not winning Israel friends in Europe or America."

Gideon Levy was born and lives in Tel Aviv. He is a columnist and member of the editorial board of Ha'aretz, Israel's oldest daily newspaper, where he has covered the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza for more than 30 years. The author of The Punishment of Gaza, he has received several awards for his work including the Olof Palme Prize for his "courageous and indefatigable fight against occupation and violence, and for a future Middle East characterized by peaceful coexistence and equality for all."

(13 Feb) 170102 Alfred McCoy - The Decline of U.S. Global Power

What's the shelf life of empires? Decades, maybe centuries. All things come to an end. Recall Shelley's great poem "Ozymandias" about the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses the Great and his seemingly invincible kingdom. Ozymandias was Greek for Ramses. "I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said-"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. And on the pedestal, these words appear "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away." It is difficult to discuss imperialism because there is virtually uniform elite opinion that the U.S. is not an empire. Washington will not willingly concede its global superpower position. But remember the omnipotent British Empire? Where is it today?

Alfred McCoy is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of the classic The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. For Closer than Brothers, his pioneering book on the impact of CIA torture on the Philippine military, he was awarded the Goodman Prize. He is also the author of A Question of Torture and Policing America's Empire.

(06 Feb) 170101 Yassmin Abdel-Magied - Recognizing Bias

We all almost automatically think of ourselves as somehow evolved and enlightened and free from bias. Hey, I look at someone and judge that person on the merits of his or her character. Race, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, geographical origin, accent don't factor in at all. We might be kidding ourselves to think we are free from prejudice. Cognitive shortcuts, based on negative stereotypes, can cause problems when we are unaware of them and can lead to wrong decisions and discriminatory practices. Take for example the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. All the same? Hardly. But the media are not into subtleties. They need simple descriptions. Muslims are like this. Islam is like that. Bias tends to be deep and requires work to identify and root out. Recognition is the first step in eliminating bias. But keeping them in check requires a delicate balance of self-awareness.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a leading voice for recognizing bias and resisting cultural appropriation. She was born in Sudan and grew up in Australia where she trained as a mechanical engineer. She now works as an engineering specialist on oil and gas rigs as well as heading up "Youth Without Border", the organization she founded to enable young people to work for positive change in their communities. She was named 2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year. She is the author of Yassmin's Story.

(30 Jan) 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.

(23 Jan) 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.

(16 Jan) 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.

(09 Jan) 150501Angela 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.

(02 Jan) 160503 Vandana Shiva - We Are All Seeds

Seeds, those little things we kind of take for granted, are the essence of life. Increasingly, corporations have taken over agriculture and in their insatiable quest for profits have injected GMOs, genetically modified organisms, into the food chain. As the joke goes, GMO stands for "God Move Over." The four largest GMO crops, corn, soy, sugar beets and canola constitute 70 percent of all products on the store shelves. Should the government require mandatory labeling on foods containing genetically engineered ingredients? A lot of people think so. Large agribusiness and biotech companies have spent hundreds of millions fighting labeling. With control of seeds through patents and so-called intellectual property rights in the hands of a few corporations, biodiversity disappears, and is replaced by GMO monocultures. Seeds in traditional cultures were regarded as sacred. It's time we stopped soiling the soil.

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.

(26 Dec) 160704 Naomi Klein - The Radical Leap

Political organizers are aware of "wedge issues" that divide us and "web issues" that bring us together. What could be more unifying than saving the planet? The Earth is heating up. Polar ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. April was the 12th consecutive hottest month on record. The December 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, doesn't rise to the challenge. Clearly, it is going to take mobilization from below to radically change the fossilized attitudes of the fossil fuel industry and the politicians that they bankroll. Broad coalitions of diverse groups seek to do just that. Climate activism engages a new intersectional politics. From Pope Francis to the Dalai Lama, workers and trade unionists, indigenous peoples, and many others are speaking with one voice on the issue like never before.

Naomi Klein of Canada, an award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker, is in the forefront of environmental activism. Her articles appear in major newspapers and magazines all over the world. She is the author of the bestseller This Changes Everything.

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