Thu, 13 October 2016
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here for KGNU Fall Fund Drive (please DO consider supporting this public radio community station for the Denver/Boulder Area and beyond) with Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Finance Minister.
In his latest book, And The Weak Suffer What They Must?, Varoufakis (“the most interesting man in the world” according toBusiness Insider) offers a potted history of post-war global finance, the rise of the euro, and its spectacular fall, along with his own prognosis and solution for the interminable crisis of European capitalism.
As is explained in the book, the rather clunky title comes from Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War, in which the vainglorious Athenians assert their right as victors to do as they please with the vanquished Melians: “The strong actually do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”. The Melians’ reply is that it is in the interest of the strong to show mercy to the weak lest their own fall “would be visited by the most terrible vengeance, watched by the whole world” - an argument which Varoufakis reproduces in relation to the treatment of Greece by their mighty German creditors.
For Varoufakis, the key to redressing the contradictions and imbalances implicit in the Eurozone (and any system of fixed exchange rates for that matter) is for “the strong”, i.e. Germany, to rule in “enlightened self-interest” by providing a stimulus to the Greek economy (and all other deficit states) rather than the current programme of devastating austerity.
The example given by Varoufakis is that of the intervention of the United States’ Federal Bank to prop up the state of Nevada after the 2008 crash. It is the lack of this “political surplus recycling” mechanism which, according to Varoufakis, has condemned the Eurozone to its present crisis-ridden state.
Tue, 16 August 2016
A groundbreaking book that upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently.
What is autism? A lifelong disability or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with Steve Silberman -@ - an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the MIT Technology Review, Nature, Salon,Shambhala Sun, and many other publications. He is the author ofNeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (Avery 2015), which Oliver Sacks called a “sweeping and penetrating history…presented with a rare sympathy and sensitivity.”
The book became a widely-praised bestseller in the United States and the United Kingdom, and won the 2015 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, a California Book Award, and a Books for a Better Life award. It was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2015 by The New York Times, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, The Independent, and many other publications. In April 2016, Silberman gave the keynote speech at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day.
He has given talks on the history of autism at Yale, MIT, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Imperial College London, and many other major institutions. His TED talk, “The Forgotten History of Autism,” has been viewed more than a million times and translated into 25 languages. His article “The Placebo Problem” won the 2010 Science Journalism Award for Magazine Writing from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Kavli Foundation, and was featured on The Colbert Report. His writing on science, culture, and literature has been collected in a number of major anthologies including The Best American Science Writing of the Year and The Best Business Stories of the Year. Silberman’s Twitter account @stevesilberman made Time magazine’s list of the best Twitter feeds for the year 2011. He is proud to be a member of the PEN American Center.
Silberman also won a gold record from the Recording Industry Association of America for co-producing the Grateful Dead’s career-spanning box set So Many Roads (1965-1995), which was Rolling Stone’s box set of the year. His liner notes have been featured in CDs and DVDs by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, the Jerry Garcia Band, and many other groups. As a young man, he was Allen Ginsberg’s teaching assistant at Naropa University. He lives with his husband Keith in San Francisco.
Mon, 8 August 2016
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with Andy Lazris, MD (
As a result, he believes that the way we care for our elderly has taken a wrong turn and that Medicare is complicit in creating the very problems it seeks to solve.
Aging is not a disease to be cured; it is a life stage to be lived. Lazris argues that aggressive treatments cannot change that fact but only get in the way and decrease quality of life.
Unfortunately, Medicare’s payment structure and rules deprive the elderly of the chance to pursue less aggressive care, which often yields the most humane and effective results.
Medicare encourages and will pay more readily for hospitalization than for palliative and home care. It encourages and pays for high-tech assaults on disease rather than for the primary care that can make a real difference in the lives of the elderly.
Tue, 2 August 2016
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with Jordan Fisher Smith (@) a park ranger for decades who speaks to KGNU in good time for the centenary of National Parks (Aug. 25th).
Smith is a nature writer who uses the story of the grizzly death of one Harry Walker to tell the larger narrative of the futile, sometimes fatal, economic, ecological and human resource attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it.
Tracing a course from the founding of the national parks through the tangled 20th century growth of the conservationist movement, Smith gives the lie to the portrayal of national parks as Edenic wonderlands unspoiled until the arrival of Europeans, and shows how virtually every attempt to manage nature in the parks has only created cascading effects that require even more management.
Moving across time and between Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier national parks, Engineering Eden shows how efforts at wilderness management have always been undone by one fundamental problem--that the idea of what is "wild" dissolves as soon as we begin to examine it, leaving us with little framework to say what wilderness should look like and which human interventions are acceptable in trying to preserve it.
Thu, 7 July 2016
"[Trump's] money gave him both the means and the confidence to break the donors’ cartel that until then had eliminated all GOP candidates who didn’t begin by saluting the Bush family for starting the Iraq War, incessantly demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and managing the economy into total collapse via financial deregulation. He could even mock the carried-interest tax loophole and sneer at Wall Street. ...
In a conversation for 'It's The Economy' with KGNU's Claudia Cragg, so says Thomas Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Politics. Jacobin magazine just published an interview with Ferguson, "Defying the Investors," about the 2016 election.
"My tentative judgment is that unlike 2008 and 2012, when the Obama campaign clearly encouraged donors to break up their contributions into smaller amounts to create the appearance of a mass movement, the Sanders campaign pretty much is what it appears to be: a movement swept along by a vast array of small donors. No wonder Democratic elites were so nervously petulant at Sanders for staying in the race and continuing to propagate his views."
Ferguson argues that what we see now was foreshadowed in 2014. It was after that election that Ferguson co-authored an article, "Americans Are Sick to Death of Both Parties," that noted: "The drop off in voting turnout from the presidential election of 2012 to 2014 is the second largest of all time: -24 percentage points. ... Though Republicans jubilate now, the trend is probably as threatening to them as it is to the Democrats. The reason is stark: Increasing numbers of average Americans can no longer stomach voting for parties that only pretend to represent their interests."
In his recent interview, Ferguson said: "The system hasn’t worked for many Americans for at least a generation, and vast numbers of them now realize this. ...
"[The Democrat's] major problem is the weak economy. ... Money from Wall Street to the Democrats fell off steeply in 2012. Obama had to make it up with funding from what we can epitomize as Silicon Valley, in the face of massive opposition from industries like coal, oil, chemicals, and other heavy polluters. Clinton is plainly aiming to heal that breach. The refusal even to say what she told Goldman Sachs in those famous speeches is part and parcel of her campaign to reaffirm the old ties her husband furthered so much. ...
"Clinton’s strategy for winning votes is now very simple: you go to women and say the magic word: 'Trump.' You go to African Americans with the same mantra: 'Trump.' And you go to Latinos, just pointing and repeating 'Trump,' while the media plays 'Ride of the Valkyries' 24/7.
"With Trump carrying on as he has, it may be all Clinton needs. After the election, though, we will all wake up to discover that little in the campaign will have addressed the problems that the primaries so memorably revealed."
Tue, 5 July 2016
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here for KGNU's "It's the Economy' with Lawrence Bogad is an author, performer and the founder of the Center For Creative Activism.
He writes, performs and strategizes with mischievous artists such as the Yes Men, Billionaires for Bush and La Pocha Nostra. He is a veteran of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Laboratory, and a co-founder of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. His produced plays have covered topics such as the Haymarket Square Riot, the FBI’s COINTELPRO activities, the Pinochet coup in Chile and global climate chaos.
Professor Bogad’s book, Electoral Guerrilla Theatre: Radical Ridicule and Social Movements (Routledge, 2005) analyzes the international campaigns of performance artists who run for public office as a radical prank. That book, and his many articles on political performance, are used in college classes internationally. His next book, Tactical Performance: On the Theory and Practice of Serious Play, analyzes and critiques the use of guerrilla theatre/art for human and civil rights, and for social justice, labor and environmental campaigns. The British Academy and British Arts and Humanities Research Council funded his documentary, “Radical Ridicule: Serious Play and the Republican National Convention.” His play, COINTELSHOW: A Patriot Act, was published by PM Press in 2011.
Larry Bogad @ucdavis theatre
Fri, 27 May 2016
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with David Dayen (@ddayen), a contributing writer to Salon and a weekly columnist for the Fiscal Times. Dayen also writes for publications including the New Republic, the American Prospect, The Guardian, Vice, The Intercept, and the Huffington Post.
Under discussion here is Dayen's new book, Chain of Title (The New Press).
"Chain of title" refers to documents showing that a mortgage was transferred properly from owner to owner, so the final bank can prove it actually owns the mortgage. A huge fraction of mortgages — probably a large majority — issued during the bubble simply do not have it.
Not many noticed while the bubble was going up, but after it collapsed and the recession took hold, millions of people fell into default on their mortgages. Dayen's book follows three private citizens, Lisa Epstein, Michael Redman, and Lynn Syzmoniak, all of whom were sucked into the foreclosure machine after the economic crash of 2008. In desperation they began poking around their foreclosure documents, and found howling, inconceivable errors — being foreclosed on by a bank that did not own the mortgage, obviously impossible dates, missing signatures, and so on.
They investigated further, and found that their cases were by no means unique, they were just one of the tiny minority of people who bothered to contest their foreclosure. Practically every case they looked at had gargantuan holes in them. Others had it even worse — banks who had foreclosed on people whose mortgages were paid-up, or ones who had no mortgage at all. It turned out the banks had battalions of people committing systematic fraud. "Robo-signers" would attest to "personal knowledge" of homes, or forge others' signatures, or falsely notarize documents, hundreds of times per day. The sheer speed meant that the documents were almost universally garbage, but on the rare instances a foreclosure was challenged, the banks would usually just come back later with a new set that was magically in order.
Epstein, Redman, and Syzmoniak became obsessed with the foreclosure disaster, and they joined with others to agitate for the government to step in and provide relief for homeowners. After awhile, they began to get some traction. All this obvious fraud gave the government enormous leverage. If a bank does not have proper chain of title, it is illegal to foreclose. Since it means the bank does not own the mortgage, it is theft. Under New York law, securities which did not properly follow the original contract (and they usually didn't) would be void. And under federal tax law, income from securities without proper documentation could potentially be taxed at 100 percent. With those tools, the federal government could have easily used the threat of prosecution and taxes to force the banks to the negotiating table.
Thu, 26 May 2016
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with Scott Atkinson - Twitter, @scottythescribe - a freelance writer based in Flint, Michigan, and a regular contributor to Belt Magazine. He has written about Flint for the New York Times and other publications and spent several years as a reporter at the Flint Journal/\.
Happy Anyway delves into the lives and stories within the city — what it was like to be a child on the east side; how it feels to be a parent today, without clean water; who is able to truly lay claim to being “from Flint;” and what it means to finally leave — or to stay, even when bikes or jewelry or love keep disappearing.
Including work from Gordon Young, Jan Worth-Nelson, Connor Coyne, Layla Meillier, Andrew Morton, and many others.
Scott Atkinson is a freelance writer based in Flint, Michigan, and a regular contributor to Belt Magazine. He has written about Flint for the New York Times and other publications and spent several years as a reporter at the Flint Journal. He teaches writing at The University of Michigan-Flint.
Wed, 25 May 2016
@KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with (Dr.) Monique Morris - @MoniqueWMorris - co-Founder of National Black Women's Justice Institute (NBWJI). Author of
In this interview, Dr. Morris relates the experiences of black girls across the United States who, she argues, have misunderstood and intricate lives.
She believes many are often highly judged - by teachers, administrators, and the justice system - and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish.
She shows how, despite obstacles, stigma, stereotypes, and despair, black girls still find ways to breathe remarkable dignity into their lives in classrooms, juvenile facilities and beyond.
Thu, 19 May 2016
With this Dickensian tale from America’s heartland, New York Times writer and columnist Dan Barry - Twitter @DanBarryNYT - tells KGNU's Claudia Cragg the harrowing yet uplifting story of the exploitation and abuse of a resilient group of men with intellectual disability. It is also the tale of the heroic efforts of those who helped them to find justice and reclaim their lives.
In the tiny Iowa farm town of Atalissa, dozens of men, all with intellectual disability and all from Texas, lived in an old schoolhouse. Before dawn each morning, they were bussed to a nearby processing plant, where they eviscerated turkeys in return for food, lodging, and $65 a month. They lived in near servitude for more than thirty years, enduring increasing neglect, exploitation, and physical and emotional abuse—until state social workers, local journalists, and one tenacious labor lawyer helped these men achieve freedom.
Drawing on exhaustive interviews, Dan Barry dives deeply into the lives of the men, recording their memories of suffering, loneliness and fleeting joy, as well as the undying hope they maintained despite their traumatic circumstances. Barry explores how a small Iowa town remained oblivious to the plight of these men, analyzes the many causes for such profound and chronic negligence, and lays out the impact of the men’s dramatic court case, which has spurred advocates—including President Obama—to push for just pay and improved working conditions for people living with disabilities.
A luminous work of social justice, told with compassion and compelling detail, The Boys in the Bunkhouse is more than just inspired storytelling. It is a clarion call for a vigilance that ensures inclusion and dignity for all.