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Free Forum Q&A - ANDREW BACEVICH U.S. Army, Colonel, Ret.(after 23 years) who lost his son in Iraq WASHINGTON RULES: America's Path to Permanent War
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June 26, 2015 08:10 AM PDT
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Originally Aired August 2010

President Obama's recent decision to add an additional 450 American soldiers to our 3,000 strong train-and-equip mission in Iraq made me reach for a dose of ANDREW BACEVICH, a voice of sanity on issues of war and peace. Bacevich wrote of Obama's move in an op-ed, Washington in Wonderland: Down the Iraq Rabbit Hole (Again).
In WASHINGTON RULES, the 2010 book we talk about in this interview, Bacevich (in his own words) "..aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II -- the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.

The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American Credo -- ...to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world.

...With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion (often styled 'negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required by self-defense."

Free Forum Q&A - HAZEL HENDERSON, From activist mom to respected expert on global economics and sustainability.
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June 18, 2015 07:12 PM PDT
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Originally Aired December 2013

In the mid-60's a mom in NYC organized other moms as Citizens for Clean Air to fight pollution and wrote articles calling for industry and business schools to take quality of life into consideration in planning and decision-making. Though she never attended college, HAZEL HENDERSON, has gone on to a four decade career as a globally respected economist, futurist, and author. In this remarkable hour, she tells the story of her improbable and impactful life and work.

Free ForumQ&A - JANINE BENYUS founder, Biomimicry Institute author, BIOMIMICRY: INNOVATION INSPIRED BY NATURE
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June 11, 2015 07:51 PM PDT
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Originally aired June 2011

After 3.8 billion years of R&D on this planet, failures are fossils. What surrounds us in the natural world is what has succeeded and survived. Nature has already solved many of the problems we grapple still with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. So why not learn as much as we can from what works? JANINE BENYUS coined a term and invented a field called biomimicry - which basically means imitating nature.
In order to make things, humans usually beat, heat or treat. We either use intense pressure, intense heat or powerful solvents to produce the chemical and physical reactions in our manufacturing processes - and it's usually that pressure, heat or chemicals that generate pollution. What if we could produce ceramics the way an abalone does, cables the way a spider spins webs, or filter water the ways so many creatures do?

Her creative brainstorm has grown into a way of looking, working and designing that has enormous potential to save us from ourselves. According to Janine, we are now learning how to grow food like a prairie, create color like a peacock, self-medicate like a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a hickory forest. And she says, "The more our world functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone."

Free Forum Q&A - PETER DIAMANDIS Chairman. X PRIZE Foundation author, ABUNDANCE: The Future Is Better Than You Think
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June 04, 2015 08:31 PM PDT
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Originally aired March 2012

Opening day of the 2012 TED conference featured two talks one after the other. The first by Paul Gilding entitled The Earth is Full asked questions like, Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Gilding suggests we have - with the possibility of devastating consequences. In a talk that's equal parts terrifying and oddly hopeful, he says, "It takes a good crisis to get us going. When we feel fear and we fear loss we are capable of quite extraordinary things."

That talk was followed by one by this week's guest, PETER DIAMANDIS, entitled ABUNDANCE IS OUR FUTURE, in which he makes the case for optimism - that we'll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. "I'm not saying we don't have our set of problems -- climate crisis, species extinction, water and energy shortages - we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down."

Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But, according to a book by Diamandis and co-author Steven Kotler, it is closing - fast. ABUNDANCE - THE FUTURE IS BETTER THAN YOU THINK documents how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and many other exponentially growing technologies will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous two hundred years. They believe we will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet.

Free Forum Q&A - (1) ROKO BELIC director, HAPPY documentary (2) RAFE ESQUITH American Teacher of the Year 30+ years, 5th grade, Hobart Elementary, LA author, TEACH LIKE YOUR HAIR'S ON FIRE
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May 28, 2015 08:23 PM PDT
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Roko Belic (Originally aired January 2012)
Rafe Esquith (Originally aired September 2007)

Do you want to feel better? Listen to this week's show. In the first half hour, I talk with Academy-Award-nominated filmmaker ROKO BELIC about his documentary, HAPPY, and in the second half with award-winning LA school teacher and author, RAFE ESQUITH about his book, TEACH LIKE YOUR HAIR'S ON FIRE.

Are you happy? How often are you happy? What makes you happy? Does money make you happy? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in an environment that values and promotes happiness and well-being? Do you expect you're going to get happier? How?

ROKO BELIC'S HAPPY, a documentary that I think deserves to widely seen, explores these sorts of questions. It weaves the latest scientific research from the field of "positive psychology" with stories from around the world of people whose lives illustrate what we're learning.

When the basic approach to the pursuit of happiness that's been taken by many of us and by society in general isn't delivering, this is a good time to ask some basic questions. It's also a good time to do so because we know more than we ever have about what science can tell us about happiness. And we have access to more diverse models and worldviews than ever before.What's getting lost in your daily shuffle? What toll is stress taking on your body? How could you lead a fuller, happier life?

Teaching in Los Angeles at one of the nation's largest inner-city grade schools, Hobart Elementary, RAFE ESQUITH leads fifth graders through an uncompromising curriculum of English, mathematics, geography and literature. At the end of the semester, every student performs in a full-length Shakespeare play. Despite language barriers and poverty, many of these Hobart Shakespeareans move on to attend outstanding colleges.

Free Forum Q&A: MINDFULNESS JON KABAT-ZINN WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE; COMING TO OUR SENSES: HEALING OURSELVES AND THE WORLD THROUGH MINDFULNESS TRUDY GOODMAN founder, InsightLA in Santa Monica
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May 21, 2015 10:59 PM PDT
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Originally aired September 2010

You startle awake to a rude alarm clock. Nothing you'd rather do than sleep a bit more. Coffee gets you going enough to make it out the door. On your morning commute you zone out, oblivious to radio reports of weather disasters or war casualties. At work, juggling your cell phone, landline, and email, you speak to countless faceless people without leaving your desk. You grab lunch over a pile of paperwork. Driving home, you look up to notice what must have been a beautiful sunset. At day's end, you're back where you started.

What's getting lost in your daily shuffle? What toll is stress taking on your body? How could you lead a fuller, happier life?

JON KABAT-ZINN says the answer may be "living life moment by moment as if it really mattered." He believes that by practicing mindfulness, we can literally and metaphorically come to our senses - as individuals and as a society. And there's growing scientific evidence to back him up. TRUDY GOODMAN has done a lot to make that practice accessible here in LA, with the InsightLA center in Santa Monica.

DISRUPTIVE: SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY Pamela Silver & George Church
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May 17, 2015 10:15 PM PDT
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I’m excited to offer the first episode of DISRUPTIVE, my new monthly podcast series produced with Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The mission of the Wyss Institute is to: Transform healthcare, industry, and the environment by emulating the way nature builds, with a focus on technology development and its translation into products and therapies that will have an impact on the world in which we live. Their work is disruptive not only in terms of science but also in how they stretch the usual boundaries of academia.

In this inaugural episode, Wyss core faculty members Pamela Silver and George Church explain how, with today’s technology breakthroughs, modifications to an organism’s genome can be conducted more cheaply, efficiently, and effectively than ever before. Researchers are programming microbes to treat wastewater, generate electricity, manufacture jet fuel, create hemoglobin, and fabricate new drugs. What sounds like science fiction to most of us might be a reality in our lifetimes: the ability to build diagnostic tools that live within our bodies, find ways to eradicate malaria from mosquito lines, or possibly even make genetic improvements in humans that are passed down to future generations. Silver and Church discuss both the high-impact benefits of their work as well as their commitment to the prevention of unintended consequences in this new age of genetic engineering.

Free Forum Q&A - MARCIA COYLE Chief DC Correspondent, The National Law Journal Supreme Court Correspondent, PBS News Hour THE ROBERTS COURT: Struggle for the Constitution
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May 15, 2015 01:13 PM PDT
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Originally aired July 2013


I struck up a conversation with a hip looking man in his late 20s-early 30s in a movie line on LA's west side shortly before the 2004 election between George Bush and John Kerry. When asked who he planned to vote for, the young man answered that he hadn't made up his mind. I said to him, "Two words. Supreme Court." To which the young man replied, "Oh, are we voting for them too?"

While we may be disappointed in his apparent lack of civics knowledge, in his own way, he spoke the truth. The most lasting actions a president takes may be his appointments to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices serve for as long as they wish or as long as they are able. Their decisions very often set precedents that can live forever. Bush had appointed John Roberts Chief Justice in his first term, but according to today's guest, it was his second term appointment of Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor that really solidified the Roberts Court.

O'Connor had been a much more moderate conservative than Alito has proven to be. The center of the court shifted to the right, which may matter little in decisions with large majorities - more than 50% of cases each term are decided unanimously or by 8-1 or 7-2 votes -- but can be crucial in decisions decide 5-4.

MARCIA COYLE has chosen to focus her book THE ROBERTS COURT: The Struggle for the Constitution on four such 5-4 decisions - Citizens United on campaign finance; District of Columbia v Heller on gun control; on race in school choice; and on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Free Forum Q&A - SYSTEMS THINKING (1) FRITJOF CAPRA, author of several books including The Tao of Physics; The Turning Point & (2) NORA BATESON, director AN ECOLOGY OF MIND doc re her late father, Gregory Bateson
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May 07, 2015 01:12 AM PDT
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(1) FRITJOF CAPRA - Originally aired April 2009
(2) NORA BATESON - Originally aired July 2012
Both interviews this week explore systems thinking - one of the key ingredients of a world that just might work.

First. I speak with FRITJOF CAPRA, who wrote a book in 1981 that greatly influenced my view not only of science, medicine, agriculture, energy, and even politics - it influenced my view of reality. That book was THE TURNING POINT, and its message is as profound and revolutionary today. "We live today in a globally interconnected world, in which biological, psychological, social, and environmental phenomena are all interdependent. To describe this world appropriately we need an ecological perspective which the Cartesian world view does not offer. What we need, then, is a new 'paradigm' - a new vision of reality; a fundamental change in our thoughts, perceptions, and values." Capra wrote those words in its preface.
In the second half my guest will be NORA BATESON, and we'll talk about AN ECOLOGY OF MIND, the wonderful documentary she's made about her father, the late anthropologist GREGORY BATESON. Her documentary is subtitled A Daughter's Portrait of Gregory Bateson. It tells of the unique anthropologist, philosopher, author, naturalist, and systems theorist, who was ahead of his time in seeing reality as made up not of things or even of ideas, but of relationships. The film features interviews with California Governor Jerry Brown, physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra, Whole Earth Catalogue publisher Stewart Brand, cultural philosopher and poet William Irwin Thompson; and Nora's sister, anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson. Nora's film will introduce Bateson to a new generation and remind many of us of the impact her father had on the way a lot of people perceived the world.

"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think." Those are the words of the late Gregory Bateson - and I couldn't agree more.

Free Forum Q&A - JOHN WARNER One of the founders of Green Chemistry Can we have progress without pollution?
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April 29, 2015 10:59 PM PDT
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(Originally aired November 2010)

According to Scientific American, "Experts guesstimate that about 50,000 chemicals are used in U.S. consumer products and industrial processes. Why the uncertainty? The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act does not require chemicals to be registered or proven safe before use. Because the Environmental Protection Agency must show, after the fact, that a substance is dangerous, it has managed to require testing of only about 300 substances that have been in circulation for decades. It has restricted applications of five." The harmful side effects of chemicals have long been tolerated in the US as a price of progress and profits.
But in the early 1990s a small group of scientists began to think differently. Why, they asked, do we rely on hazardous substances for so many manufacturing processes? After all, chemical reactions happen continuously in nature, thousands of them within our own bodies, without any nasty by-products. Maybe, these scientists concluded, the problem was that chemists are not trained to think about the impacts of their inventions. Perhaps chemistry was toxic simply because no one had tried to make it otherwise. They called this new philosophy "green chemistry."

J0HN WARNER and Paul Anastas are the founders of green chemistry and co-authors of Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice. In the book, they establish 12 guiding principles for chemists, concepts like preventing waste by incorporating as much of the materials used into the final product, and choosing the least complicated reaction. Warner left a lucrative job at Polaroid to found the nation's first doctoral program in green chemistry. In 2007, to go beyond teaching, he founded Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, an innovation incubator, in Wilmington, Mass.

Green chemists use all the tools and training of traditional chemistry, but instead of ending up with toxins that must be treated and contained after the fact, they aim to create industrial processes that avert hazard problems altogether. The catch phrase is "benign by design".

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