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[Richard Forer] Psychospiritual Roots of the Israel-Palestinian Tragedy

In Sanskrit, Maya means illusion or magic. Maya is at work among people and nations who project carefully crafted positive images of themselves. The U.S. and Israel are no different from other countries. They claim self-defense as they launch massive attacks. They invoke international law when it suits them then ignore it when it doesn’t. Then there’s always the standard line about our so-called values which justifies their actions. Most people don’t have a clue about Israel-Palestine because they depend on heavily biased corporate news. Instead, they cling to shopworn myths and fantasies about themselves and their country. The Gaza bloodbath is enabled by the U.S. Are we “good Germans” pretending not to see? Recorded at the Chinook Center.

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[Matthew Desmond] Ending Poverty in America

Why does the United States, the richest country on earth, have more poverty than any other advanced democracy? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? What perpetuates poverty and what can be done to end it? “Poverty persists,” Matthew Desmond says, “because the rest of us benefit from it.” Recorded at Town Hall.

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[Linda Sarsour] A Palestinian American Speaks

It’s axiomatic that anything dealing with Palestine is deemed controversial. And if it is Palestinian American women speaking out even more so. Look at the vitriol and death threats directed at Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. She is Palestinian American and is speaking out as is Maryam Alwan, a Palestinian American student at Columbia. She is a Students for Justice in Palestine organizer in alliance with Jewish Voice for Peace. There is pushback. Asna Tabassum, an American Muslim, was chosen to give the commencement speech at USC until she was canceled after being targeted by pro-Israel groups. The sheer scale of death and destruction in Gaza and the ongoing expansion of illegal colonies and violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has shifted the narrative. In communities and campuses across the U.S., Palestinian American women are breaking down Orientalist cliches about being meek and submissive and are actively taking the lead. Recorded at Colorado State University.

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[Chris Hedges] What the Genocide Says About Us

The Iran-Israel attacks and the prospects of a wider Middle East war have dominated the news. Meanwhile, the bloodbath in Gaza continues. Genocide is the crime of crimes. We are witnessing it in real time in Gaza. The UN says, “The entire population of Gaza is enduring destruction at a scale and speed without parallel in recent history. Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.” Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu’s promised “mighty vengeance” quickly became genocide. As Chris Hedges points out racism enables genocide. He says, “Arabs, like all those with darker skin, are worth less in this moral calculus. This explains the outrage over the murder of seven employees from the World Central Kitchen and the silence over the killing of over 175 UN” Palestinian aid workers. Those who remain silent in the face of genocide are complicit.

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[Brian Klaas] The Wrong People at the Top

Power. What is it? Political theorist Robert Dahl gave one example. He said, “A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that he would not otherwise do.” Why is it that often that those who are on top are the wrong people? The high rollers and the nabobs lust for power behind a smokescreen of homilies about doing good. Today, more and more power is concentrated in the hands of the few, thus weakening democracy. Who wields it? How is it allocated? What are effective ways to ensure power is not abused and serves the societal greater good? How can we organize and protect ourselves from those seeking personal power and profit? How can we get the right people on top?

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[Johan Galtung] The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Empires come and go. They’re sometimes long, sometimes short. But ultimately they fall. Hubris, incredible arrogance, is often the element that brings the mighty down. The U.S. is not immune from decline. With its ruinous wars, bloated Pentagon budget, military bases all over the earth, grotesque levels of inequality and an economy that spews red ink we are witnessing its diminishing power. Recall the words of President Eisenhower in his 1961 Farewell Address. He warned of the dangers posed by “the military-industrial-complex” and its “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Recorded at the University of California.

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[Mohamad Junaid] Modi, Hindutva & Kashmir

“India’s democracy is being systematically disassembled,” says renowned writer and activist Arundhati Roy. She adds, “Any kind of dissent is just smashed with an iron fist.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party openly espouse Hindutva, a racist ideology rooted in a mythical past and fueled by magical thinking. It’s a supremacist doctrine that privileges and elevates one group, Hindus, over all others. Its animus toward Muslims is particularly acute but Christians and other minorities also incur its wrath. Hindutva nationalists want to dominate Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. The Himalayan region has endured decades of occupation by hundreds of thousands of Indian troops. There is resistance. Tens of thousands of Kashmiris are dead and missing. Human rights violations are routine. Yet the Kashmiri quest for azadi, freedom, continues.

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[Sarah Scoles] The Future of Nuclear Weapons

The award-winning Oppenheimer film has brought attention to the origins of the atomic bomb and the anguish of its inventor. Almost 80 years after that first explosion in New Mexico, the threat of global Armageddon not only remains but has increased. Until and unless nuclear weapons are abolished, humankind will always be in danger of massive death and destruction. Yet instead of moving toward abolition, the U. S. is upgrading its arsenal. The Doomsday Clock is ticking. Sooner or later, intentionally or unintentionally, terminal war will destroy the planet. The only way to prevent that from happening is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. As long as they exist, humanity hangs by a thread.

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[Eugene Puryear] From Birmingham to Bethlehem (part 1)

How can the Palestinian struggle for freedom and dignity take lessons from the Black Liberation Movement? Historical circumstances are clearly different yet there are similarities. Both are located in a colonial-like situation, where a powerful oppressor dominates another less powerful group. Racism is a major factor. The Black Liberation Movement and Malcolm X’s eloquent voice and militant politics resonate with Palestinians struggling for their freedom. Liberation struggles are not easy. Resistance to change is entrenched. Power does not readily give up its prerogatives. 2CDs

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[Arundhati Roy] India: On the Road to Theocracy

Hindutva is theocratic Hindu nationalism. It is a powerful force in what is now the world’s most populous country. Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, is a lifelong member of the RSS, an openly Hindu supremacist organization. Le Monde Diplomatique reports: Hindutva “followers regard India as a Hindu country. Non-Hindus are at best guests, at worst invaders, and must be identified, watched, deprived of certain rights, and in some cases expelled or even eliminated. The main victims of Hindutva are India’s large Muslim minority. Hindutva adherents oppose mixed Hindu-Muslim marriages, calling them a ‘love jihad’ that aims to convert Hindu women so that their offspring will be raised as Muslims. This paranoid fantasy has encouraged violence and widespread denigration of Indian Muslims.” Recorded at the Swedish Academy at the Thought and Truth Under Pressure conference.