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Free Forum: MICHAEL LEWIS MONEYBALL; THE BLIND SIDE; THE BIG SHORT Defines financial terms that led to the Crash
December 19, 2014 05:08 PM PST
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Originally aired 4-4-2010
After a fight within the Democratic party, the House passed a spending bill this week that rolls back one of the most important provisions of Dodd-Frank. When it passes
the Senate, taxpayers will be back on the hook for the big banks' gambles on derivatives and other exotic financial instruments. I thought it was time to play this interview with MICHAL LEWIS about how Wall Street's corrupt casino culture led to the Crash of 07-08 - because we've just given them license to do it again.
Both Ira Glass and Malcolm Gladwell say today's guest is their favorite storyteller. In his books and magazine articles, Lewis writes about sports, business, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, political campaigns, fatherhood. Stuff that matters to a lot of people. He's smart and he has a sense of humor.

Lewis was a trader at Salomon Brothers before he wrote his first best-seller, LIAR'S POKER about the excesses of Wall Street during the 1980s. He continues to write about that world with his last two books, a column for Bloomberg, and articles in Vanity Fair.

In this interview recorded four years ago,we talk about THE BIG SHORT. But Lewis is so good at making obscure financial information accessible to readers, that I asked him to spend much of the hour defining terms that laid out the path to the Crash - securitization, derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, etc. I highly recommend this guide to the dark side of finance.

Free Forum: ETHAN NADELMANN founder and executive director, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE Leader of the war on the war on drugs.
December 19, 2014 05:06 PM PST
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originally aired 8-15-2010

Prohibition has failed -- again. Today, there are more drugs on our streets at cheaper prices than ever before. There are more than 1.2 million people behind bars in the U.S., a large percentage of them for nonviolent drug usage. Under our failed drug policy, it is easier for young people to obtain illegal drugs than a six-pack of beer. Why? Because the sellers of illegal drugs don't ask kids for IDs. As soon as we outlaw a substance, we abandon our ability to regulate and control the marketing of that substance.

There is smarter approach usually called harm reduction. Reducing drug use is not nearly as important as reducing the death, disease, crime, and suffering associated with both drug misuse and failed policies of prohibition.

Twenty years ago, ETHAN NADELMANN left his teaching position at Princeton University to become a full-time advocate for ending the drug war. As the founding executive director of the DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE (DPA), the largest and most influential organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, Ethan's vision and leadership have had a monumental impact on public opinion and changed the course of history.

DPA and its lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, played an instrumental role in securing monumental drug policy reform victories in the recent midterm elections, including marijuana legalization in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., marijuana decriminalization in New Mexico, medical marijuana in Guam, and groundbreaking criminal justice and sentencing reforms in New Jersey and California.

In this interview recorded four years ago, NADELMANN made a clear and compelling case for the progress we are seeing today.

Free Forum Q&A- NAOMI WOLF VAGINA: A New Biography
December 04, 2014 05:53 PM PST
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Originally aired 9-30-2012

When NAOMI WOLF's The Beauty Myth was published in 1991, Gloria Steinem hailed it as "a smart, angry, insightful book, and a clarion call to freedom," recommendingm "Every woman should read it." The New York Times called it one of the most important books of the 20th century. Over the intervening two decades, Wolf continued to write about the role of women in our culture, but she also took on broader political issues in books such as The End of America and Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.

In her most recent book, VAGINA: A NEW BIOGRAPHY, she returns to the feminine and the personal. Drawing on cutting-edge neurobiological research, she makes the bold claim that there is a direct link between a woman's experience of her vagina and her experience of her very sense of self. Heralded by Publishers Weekly as one of the best science books of the year, the book also received more than its share of critical reviews. I'll talk with Wolf -- No stranger to controversy -- about the good, the bad, and the surprising - in her research, her synthesis, and in responses to her new work.

Free Forum Q&A- RAJ PATEL author or THE VALUE of NOTHING: Why Everything Costs More Than We Think
November 28, 2014 02:37 PM PST
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Originally Aired: 08/01/10
RAJ PATEL has worked for the World Bank and WTO and been tear-gassed on four continents protesting against them. Writer, activist, and academic, he is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Center for African Studies, a researcher at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First. He is the author of STUFFED AND STARVED and his latest THE VALUE OF NOTHING: HOW TO RESHAPE MARKET SOCIETY AND REDEFINE DEMOCRACY.

Free Forum Q&A- PHIL GOLDBERG author, AMERICAN VEDA: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West GREG EPSTEIN Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University author, GOOD WITHOUT GOD: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe
November 28, 2014 02:31 PM PST
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Originally Aired: 11-14-2010

In February, 1968, the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness.

With these words, PHIL GOLDBERG begins AMERICAN VEDA, his look at India's impact on Western culture. From Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, succeeding generations absorbed India's "science of consciousness." Charismatic teacherscame west, prompting leading intellectuals, artists, and scientists - Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, Allen Ginsberg, Dean Ornish, and Richard Alpert, aka Ram Dass - to adapt and disseminate what they learned from them. AMERICAN VEDA shows how we have come to accept and live by the central teaching of Vedic wisdom: "Truth is One, the wise call it by many names."

Currently, more than one billion people a round the world define themselves as agnostic, atheist, or nonreligious-including 15% of Americans. Perhaps more striking, "nonreligious" is not only the faste st growing religious preference in the U.S., but also the only one to increase its percentage in every state over the past generation.

Recent bestselling books from a spate of New Atheists including Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris have made cogent arguments, but stress the irrationality of belief and what's wrong with religion while offering few positive alternatives. In GOOD WITHOUT GOD, GREG EPSTEIN delivers a response to these manifestos, explaining how Humanists strive to live well, build community, uphold ethical values, and lift the human spirit...all without a god.

"A Humanistic approach to life can provide nonreligious people with a profound and sustained sense that, though there is no single overarching purpose given to us from on high, we can and must live for a purpose well beyond ourselves," Epstein writes. "But it's not enough to just 'discover' the meaning of life. Humanism is concerned with one of the most important ethical questions-what we do once we've found purpose in life."

Free Forum Q&A- Q&A: GREGORY BOYLE – Priest / Homeboy Industries / Author – TATTOOS ON THE HEART
November 14, 2014 06:24 PM PST
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Originally Aired 04/11/10
Father Boyle has made a point of collecting and telling uniquely powerful stories of life and death, and his work has supplied him with more than anyone should know.He has so far buried 168 of his homies, and fills his first book TATTOOS ON THE HEART with their stories. I read it cover to cover on a plane flight Chicago to LA, and cried at least a dozen times. Boyle's compassion is boundless, his work is courageous, and his example is a profound challenge. Father GREGORY BOYLE was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1982. He received his Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology; and a Sacred Theology Masters degree from the Jesuit School of Theology. Since 1986, Father Gregory has been the pastor of Dolores Mission in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The church sits between two large public housing projects, Pico Gardens and Aliso Village, known for decades as the gang capital of the world. In 1988, Father Boyle began what would become Homeboy Industries, now located in downtown Los Angeles. His first book is TATTOOS ON THE HEART. - See more at:

Free Forum Q&A- GIL FRIEND Chief Sustainability Officer, Palo Alto CA THE TRUTH ABOUT GREEN BUSINESS
November 05, 2014 09:39 PM PST
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Originally Aired: 9/1/2009

"You don't have to choose between making money and making sense... Green business practices are good for business and for the world. They can increase profits, lower costs, and attract customers."
Those are the words of GIL FRIEND. Gil and I met in 1973 when I directed a video documentary of a Buckminster Fuller World Game Workshop. Each in our own ways, we've been plugging away at that game ever since.

Gil is experienced, wise, passionate, and useful. We'll talk about The Truth About Green Business and the three key - but usually unspoken - barriers to building a sustainable economy.

"For the last few years I've been imagining what the essential one-volume green business handbook would look like. Now I don't need to imagine it, because Gil Friend has written it. The Truth About Green Business is, simply, the best green business book on the market."

-- Alex Steffen, editor, Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century

Free Forum Q&A- DAVID GOLDHILL CATASTROPHIC CARE: How American Health Care Killed My Father And How We Can Fix It
November 05, 2014 09:37 PM PST
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Originally aired 2-3-2013
After the death of his father, DAVID GOLDHILL, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a healthcare industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishly high cost.

"My dad became a statistic - merely one of the roughly 100,000 Americans whose deaths are caused or influenced by infections picked up in hospitals. One hundred thousand deaths: more than double the number of people killed in car crashes, five times the number killed in homicides, 20 times the total number of our armed forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan."
His September 2009 Atlantic cover story rocked the health-care world, and Goldhill has written a book expanding on the topic, Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father-And How We Can Fix It. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. He asserts Obamacare will not fix it, and offers his own radical solution.

* As a nation, we now spend almost 18% of our GDP on health care. In 1966, Medicare and Medicaid made up 1% of total government spending; now that figure is 20%.

* The federal government spends
-- 8 times as much on health care as it does on education
-- 12 times what it spends on food aid to children and families
-- 30 times what it spends on law enforcement
-- 78 times what it spends on land management and conservation
-- 87 times the spending on water supply
-- 830 times the spending on energy conservation.

* For every two doctors in the U.S., there is now one health-insurance employee-more than 470,000 in total. In 2006, it cost almost $500 per person just to administer health insurance.

* Of the 52 industries represented on Fortune's 2007 list, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment ranked third and fourth, respectively, in terms of profits as a share of revenue. From 2000 to 2007, the annual profits of America's top 15 health-insurance companies increased from $3.5 to $15 billion.

Free Forum Q&A - JANE McGONIGAL REALITY IS BROKEN How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
October 22, 2014 12:25 AM PDT
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Originally aired: 01-22-12

There are 183 million active video gamers in the US, and the average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. There are now more than five million "extreme" gamers" in the US who play an average of 45 hours a week.

According to game designer JANE McGONIGAL, this is because videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. But she goes way beyond that, in her first book, REALITY IS BROKEN -- now out in paperback - she suggests we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.
Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal
Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, she shows how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy so that videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world.

I recommend Reality Is Broken to people who have no interest in games. Separate from what it says about the current reality and possible future of games, the book is an excellent primer on what we have learned - and most people don't know - about happiness, learning, productivity and growth.

Free Forum Q&A - DAVID KIRP, author, KIDS FIRST: Five Big Ideas For Transforming Children's Lives And America's Future
October 08, 2014 10:39 PM PDT
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originally aired 7-24-2011

What's good enough for a child you love? What's good enough parenting? Good enough early education? Good enough healthcare? Good enough schools?

DAVID KIRP, envisions a national effort to support and develop our children based on a simple "Golden Rule:" Every child deserves what's good enough for a child you love.
David Kirp, Kids First
In KIDS FIRST, he offers on-the-ground accounts of initiatives that work - and that could affordably be implemented in communities everywhere - to achieve five key priorities:
1) strong support for new parents
2) high-quality early education
3) linking schools and communities to improve what both offer children
4) giving all kids access to a caring and stable adult mentor
5) providing kids a nest egg to help pay for college or kick-start a career.Where do you think the most important changes need to take place to turn things around in terms of big issues like the economy, the environment, and social justice?

His latest book, Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools, was named outstanding book of 2013 by the American Education Research Association. The book chronicles how an urban school district has brought poor Latino immigrant children, many of them undocumented, into the education mainstream.

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