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Free Forum with Terrence McNally
60 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Episode 518: Can we dare to think humans are kind? RUTGER BREGMAN, HUMANKIND: A Hopeful History
That human beings are by nature selfish and driven by self-interest is accepted by Western psychologists, philosophers, and historians. It drives our headlines as well as our laws. But what if it’s not true? RUTGER BREGMAN’s done the research: “Civilisation has become synonymous with peace and progress; wilderness with war and decline. In reality for most of human existence it was the other way around…It’s an idea that might just start a revolution...once you grasp what it really means…you’ll never look at the world the same again.”
60 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
Episode 517: ARI BERMAN (2017)-GIVE US THE BALLOT: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
As Democratic legislators flee Texas to stop the Republicans’ latest voter suppression bill, after the Supreme Court with three Trump appointees guts the Federal Voting RIghts Act with their final two decisions of 2021, and Joe Biden speaks out against "the greatest threat to the right to vote and the integrity of our elections since the Civil War,” here’s my 2017 conversation with Ari Berman, who's been covering this beat for year, about his book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.
59 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
Episode 516: Federal Judge JED RAKOFF-WHY THE INNOCENT PLEAD GUILTY AND THE GUILTY GO FREE
In WHY THE INNOCENT PLEAD GUILTY AND THE GUILTY GO FREE, Federal Judge JED RAKOFF of the Southern District of NY, makes clear that the US justice system bears little relationship to what the founding fathers contemplated, what the media portrays, or what the average American believes.The US accounts for about 5% of the world’s population yet houses nearly 25% of its prisoners, with one in nine serving a life sentence, and 500K incarcerated for lack of bail. 40% are Black males and another 20% Hispanic males.
60 minutes | Jul 3, 2021
Episode 515: WINNER-TAKE-ALL POLITICS-JACOB HACKER & PAUL PIERSON (2011) Best book on How DC Turned Its Back on the Middle Class
As Congress struggles to accomplish anything beyond pandemic rescue packages, aware that the only chance the Dems have of retaining power in the ’22 midterms is to actually give the American people some of what they desperately need - here’s my 2011 conversation with JACOB HACKER & PAUL PIERSON, authors of WINNER-TAKE-ALL POLITICS: How Washington Made the Rich Richer - and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class - the best book I know re what went wrong, how DC fed inequality paving the way for Trump and minority rule - and what we need to fix to save ourselves.
60 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
Episode 514: ALEC MacGILLIS - How is Amazon changing us? FULFILLMENT: Winning and Losing in One-Click America
During the pandemic, Amazon added 425K workers and 50% more warehouse space, the stock price rose 80%, and the personal fortune of Jeff Bezos increased by $58B. In this country, 100M subscribe to Prime and Amazon reaps half of every dollar people spend online. In FULFILLMENT: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, ALEC MacGILLIS looks beyond the numbers to reveal the consequences its online commerce + immediate delivery revolution is having throughout American society.
60 minutes | Jun 19, 2021
Episode 513: DANIEL ELLSBERG (2009) - Pentagon Papers published 50 years ago this month
Fifty years ago this month, publication of the Pentagon Papers led to one of the proudest moments for the Supreme Court when they upheld the right of the press to publish and the right of the public to know. Here’s my 2009 interview with DANIEL ELLSBERG, whose courageous civil disobedience exposed years of government lies about the war in Vietnam.
60 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Episode 512: ANDREW BACEVICH-AFTER THE APOCALYPSE - How can “national security” deal with climate change, pandemics, racism, democracy?
When was the last time the US won a war or solved a big problem? ANDREW BACEVICH served in the U.S. Army for 23 years, graduated from both West Point and Princeton, and writes for both The Nation and American Conservative. His lastest book AFTER THE APOCALYPSE: America’s Role in a World Transformed is only 172 pages but asks big, blunt questions. Will the dangers and disasters we have been facing finally move us to abandon a set of beliefs about America, its identity, and its security that have kept us sleepwalking in place - or worse - for decades?
58 minutes | Jun 5, 2021
Episode 511: Neuroscientist ANTONIO DAMASIO - SELF COMES TO MIND - Why did the mind evolve? How did the self emerge?
ANTONIO DAMASIO has spent the past 30 years -- with his wife Hanna -- studying how the brain operates and written about it in award-winning and best-selling books that readers understand. In Descartes' Error, he took on the enlightenment’s vision of mind over body and elevated the role that emotion and feelings play in the experience of human rationality. This 2010 conversation focuses on the research, ideas and questions in the book, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. Why do organisms have brains? How and why did the mind and the self evolve? How and why is consciousness created? …and what does it mean once it emerges?
60 minutes | May 27, 2021
Episode 510: CHUCK COLLINS, co-editor, Inequality.org, THE WEALTH HOARDERS: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions
A couple of weeks ago Americans filed their income taxes. Well, some of them did anyway. In the last decade, the United States has become the premiere global destination for hidden wealth. It is now the world’s second largest tax haven, moving ahead of Switzerland, and trailing only the Cayman Islands. I dig into this with CHUCK COLLINS, who directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits Inequality.org. We talk about his latest book, THE WEALTH HOARDERS: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions. You can learn more at inequality.org
57 minutes | May 20, 2021
Episode 509: EMAD BURNAT (Palestinian) & GUY DAVIDI (Israeli) co-directors, Oscar-nominated doc, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS (2013)
This week, as blood is shed yet again between Israel and Hamas, and both sides are willing to kill civilians in pursuit of their domestic political agendas, listen to my conversation with Palestinian EMAD BURNAT and Israeli GUY DAVIDI, co-directors of the Academy Award-nominated documentary, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS. It tells the story of Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, his wife, and four small children in the West Bank village of Bil’in. Tracking the destruction of each of his cameras, we witness a son grow from a newborn to a young boy while families’ ancient olive trees are bulldozed and protests intensify. We spoke in February 2013, just before that year’s Academy Awards.
60 minutes | May 13, 2021
Episode 508: NATHAN BOMEY - stories of BRIDGE BUILDERS - bringing people together in our polarized age
I believe human beings want more than anything to feel seen and heard. From clergy fighting racism in Charlottesville to a former GOP congressman engaging conservatives on climate change and Appalachian journalists restoring social trust with the public, USA Today reporter NATHAN BOMEY shares stories from his new book, BRIDGE BUILDERS: Bringing People Together in a Polarized Age. Mostly under the radar, heroic citizens and organizations pursue reconciliation, reject misinformation, and rethink compromise. This is necessary work. You can learn more at nathanbomey.com
56 minutes | May 8, 2021
Episode 507: AFGHANISTAN (2009) 1) MATHEW HOH, resigned Foreign Service, 2) MALALAI JOYA, expelled from Parliament
President Biden will remove all troops from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years, the longest war in our nation’s history. Here are two interviews from 2009: First, MATHEW HOH, a former Marine who resigned from the foreign service in protest. "American families must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a worthy purpose…and I have lost confidence such assurances can be made." Second, MALALAI JOYA, youngest member elected to Afghan parliament in 2005, expelled in 2007. “The fact that I was kicked out of office while brutal warlords enjoyed immunity from prosecution should tell you all you need to know about the ‘democracy’ backed by NATO troops.”
59 minutes | Apr 30, 2021
Episode 506: MARK BITTMAN-Animal, Vegetable, Junk-A history of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal
When a guy who’s written 30,000 recipes, 30 books, and spent decades with the New York Times writes a book with the title – ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, JUNK: A History of Food from Sustainable to Suicidal - I take notice. What drove him to write this? What does someone who clearly knows and loves food have to say about how badly things have gotten - and what we need to do to turn things around before it’s too late?
60 minutes | Apr 16, 2021
Episode 505: LUIS RODRIGUEZ-Native roots, Latinx experience, and a sage call for reconnection
I sought out LUIS RODRIGUEZ, writer in many genres, activist, and the former poet laureate of Los Angeles, for his sage take on the city, the state, the nation, and the experience of Latinx people in all three as we emerge from the Trump presidency. I got even more than I’d expected. Grounded in his native roots, his latest book, FROM OUR LAND TO OUR LAND: Essays, Journeys, and Imaginings from A Native Xicanx Writer, calls on humanity to reconcile with nature and to reconnect with ourselves, each other, and the divine. You can learn more at luisjrodriguez.com
60 minutes | Apr 9, 2021
Episode 504: AMY BACH (2009) Why Justice Loses on a Daily Basis in America’s Courts
Attorney AMY BACH spent eight years investigating the chronic lapses in courts across America. Lawyers sleep through trials. False confessions and mistaken eye-witnesses convict the innocent. The rich walk, the poor go to prison. Her book, ORDINARY INJUSTICE, reveals a culture of complicity among prosecutors, defenders, and judges that rewards shoddiness and sacrifices defendants and victims to keep the court calendar moving.
60 minutes | Apr 1, 2021
Episode 503: DAVID DALEY-Fighting minority rule-RATF**KED: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count; UNRIGGED: Americans Battling Back
The US holds one national popular vote and Republicans have only won that vote once since 1988. Yet they have held the presidency nearly 12 of those years, and as a result, they dominate the Supreme Court. They hold 50 Senate seats though they’ve received millions fewer votes than Democrats in Senate elections. DAVID DALEY charted the worst of the Republicans’ efforts in his best-seller on gerrymandering, RATF**KED: Why Your Vote Doesn't Count, but he also draws hope from the citizens he writes about in UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy
61 minutes | Mar 27, 2021
Episode 502: FOR SAMA (2019) Oscar-nominated documentary shot during the siege of Aleppo, Syria
10 years ago last week pro-democracy protests began in Syria as the latest front in the - at the time still hopeful - Arab Spring. Here’s my 2019 conversation with directors Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts of the Oscar-nominated documentary, For Sama, and with Dr. Hamza al-Kateab, who ran the last hospital in East Aleppo. The film takes us inside Aleppo during the long siege by al Assad and the Russians. In the course of the film, Waad al-Kateab falls in love, gets married, and has a baby - all as bombs fall around them. You can learn more and watch this remarkable film at forsamafilm.com
59 minutes | Mar 19, 2021
Episode 501: NOREENA HERTZ-THE LONELY CENTURY - How do we restore human connection?
I believe human beings want more than anything to feel seen and heard. That’s why I wanted to talk again with NOREENA HERTZ economist, journalist, and author most recently of THE LONELY CENTURY: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That’s Pulling Apart. One of the things I appreciate about Hertz’s approach here is that she broadly defines loneliness as a lack of connection, which opens us up to consider all the ways and all the spheres of our lives where we are lacking or losing connection. And how has our ongoing experience of the pandemic making that both better and worse? You can learn more at noreena.com
57 minutes | Mar 11, 2021
Episode 500: DAVID KIRP (2011), KIDS FIRST: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children's Lives and America's Future
Increased tax credits contained in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package signed this week could lower child poverty more In 2021 than any other year In U.S. history. That is a really big deal. It turns Naomi Klein’s notion of “shock doctrine” on its head - enacting policies in response to a crisis that promise to make things better than before the crisis began. So what else could we do for children? Here’s my 2011 conversation with David Kirp about his book, Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children's Lives and America's Future. This stuff has all been tried and it works.
60 minutes | Mar 5, 2021
Episode 499: SHERRY TURKLE turns the conversation on herself-THE EMPATHY DIARIES: A Memoir
SHERRY TURKLE mourned the loss of conversation in ALONE TOGETHER: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other and called for its restoration in RECLAIMING CONVERSATION: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. In THE EMPATHY DIARIES: A Memoir, she turns the conversation on herself, and weaves together her very personal story and her evolving insights on technology, empathy, and ethics. Among her questions: How did her role in keeping family secrets influence her as a researcher, a teacher, a writer, and a woman? To learn more about the book and read an excerpt: bit.ly/3lyo4HS; more about Sherry’s work: sherryturkle.mit.edu
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