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(04 Dec) 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 Borders, 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.

(11 Dec) 170201 Wenonah 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.

(18 Dec) 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 Sisters 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.

(25 Dec) 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.

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