Fri, 10 December 2010
'Inside Job', the Movie - a Conversation with 2011 Oscar Winner. director Charles Ferguson (& Professor Robert Pollin)
FOLLOW on Twitter @KGNUITEClaudia
On Sunday, 27 February, Ferguson, who won the Best Documentary Oscar for his film "Inside Job," used his acceptance speech to air his frustration regarding the fact that no wrongdoers have been sentenced to prison for helping bring about the financial meltdown.
"Not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong," he said.
Narrated by Matt Damon, the documentary provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of "a rogue industry" which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.
Ferguson's previous film was No End in Sight, a documentary about U.S. policy in Iraq.
He received his PhD in Political Science from M.I.T. After selling Vermeer Technologies of which he was co-founder, Ferguson has been a visiting scholar at M.I.T. and U.C. Berkeley, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and wrote three books on information technology. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a director of the French-American Foundation, and CEO of Representational Pictures, he resides in Berkeley, California.
Commenting here, too, on the film is Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics and founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research centers on macroeconomics, conditions for low-wage workers in the U.S. and globally, the analysis of financial markets, and the economics of building a clean-energy economy in the U.S. He is the author of many books and papers including "Tools for a New Economy: Proposals for a Financial Regulatory System" Boston Review, January 2009, and A Measure of Fairness: The Economics of Living Wages and Minimum Wages in the UnitedStates (co-authored, 2008) and An Employment-Targeted Economic Program for Kenya (co-authored, 2008). He has also worked with the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress and as a member of the Capital Formation Subcouncil of the U.S. Competiveness Policy Council.
<iframe style=”border: 1px solid rgb(170, 170, 170); width:400px; height: 27px;” id=”musicPlayer” src=”http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3523697345-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://traffic.libsyn.com/ccragg123/*.mp3”> </iframe>
Sat, 4 December 2010
Azar Nafisi --Talking of 'Lolita', 'Things I've Been Silent About' and the "Sarah Palins/Hilary Clintons of Iran..."
It was back in 1981 that Claudia Cragg fell, by chance as the journalist that she had then been since 1975 (and at that point as a feature writer with the Hong Kong South China Morning Post) into the unbelievably happy position of interviewing interesting people as a profession. And, since that time, she says she has had to pinch herself repeatedly when sitting talking with someone fascinating one on one.
In all that time, though, few people stand out for her as much as the subect of this radio interview, the author Azar Nafisi.
Azar Nafisi is a best-selling author, an English Literature professor, and the daughter of Ahmad Nafisi, a former mayor of Tehran (1961–1963) who was the youngest man ever appointed to the post up to that time. She was born in Iran in the late 1940s and speaks here with Claudia Cragg about her autobiography, 'Things I've Been Silent About: Memories of a Prodigal Daughter (2008) which discusses her relationship with her parents intermingled with the decades of political upheaval in Iran, including her father's incarceration under the Shah on trumped-up charges of financial irregularities.
After her education abroad, Nafisi returned to her home in Iran in 1979 where for a brief time she taught English Literature at the University of Tehran. But, in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the subsequent rise to power of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Nafisi became increasingly restless with the stringent rules imposed upon women by her country's new rulers. She longed for the freedom that she believed women in some countries took for granted, which women in Iran had now lost as the Khomeini regime enacted laws curtailing women's rights.
So it was that, in 1995, that she found herself in Iran no longer able to teach English literature properly without attracting the scrutiny of the faculty authorities, so she gave up her post at the university, and instead invited seven of her female students to attend regular meetings at her house, every Thursday morning. They studied literary works including some considered controversial in post-revolutionary Iranian society such as Lolita alongside other works such as Madame Bovary. She also taught novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James and Jane Austen. But then, on June 24, 1997 Nafisi felt compelled to leave Iran, once again. She moved to the United States, where she wrote Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, (2003), a book where she describes her experiences as a secular woman living and working in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the book, she declares "I left Iran, but Iran did not leave me."
This book that came out of these teaching experiences in The Islamic Republic has been translated into 32 languages. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 117 weeks, and has won numerous literary awards, including the 2004 Non-fiction Book of the Year Award from Booksense, and the Europe based Persian Golden Lioness Award for literature.
For some time now, Nafisi has been a visiting fellow and lecturer at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and serves on the Board of Trustees of Freedom House, a United States nongovernmental organization (NGO) which conducts research and advocacy on democracy.
Thu, 2 December 2010
In this interview, Claudia Cragg speaks with Simon Winchester about his latest work of non-fiction, Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. In this interview, he discusses those facets of the book that deal with climate change and global warming, ecology, the United States before Columbus, the parallels with space exploration and the Human Genome project, all as they relate to The Atlantic.
"Atlantic is a biography of a tremendous space that has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists, and warriors, and continues profoundly to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. Spanning the ocean's story, from its geological origins to the age of exploration, from World War II battles to today's struggles with pollution and overfishing, Winchester's narrative is epic, intimate, and awe inspiring".
Winchester's book relates that, tilll a thousand years ago, few humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to its far shores—whether they were Vikings, the Irish, the Basques, John Cabot, or Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south—the Atlantic swiftly evolved in the world's growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water. Soon it became the fulcrum of Western civilization. More than a mere history, Atlantic is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope by one of the most gifted writers in the English language.
It was in 1969 that Simon Winchester started his writing career when he joined The Guardian, for whom he was Northern Ireland Correspondent during The Troubles, including the events of Bloody Sunday and the Belfast Hour of Terror. He was then briefly assigned to Calcutta before becoming American correspondent in Washington, D.C., where he covered stories from the end of Richard Nixon's administration to the start of Jimmy Carter's presidency. In 1982, while working as the Chief Foreign Feature Writer for The Sunday Times, Winchester was on location for the invasion of the Falklands Islands by Argentine forces. Suspected of being a spy, Winchester was held as a prisoner in Tierra del Fuego for three months. You might also like to listen to the 'Chatting Up a Storm' Claudia Cragg interview for KGNU with Simon Winchester on an earlier book 'Joseph Needham: The Man Who Loved China'.
(Apart from being made universally available, free, in this podcast, many of these interviews are conducted for and are broadcast on KGNU Denver-Boulder. This is a public radio station, like all public radio stations in these hard economic times, in need of listener funding and support. Kindly consider making a donation to KGNU, however small, to the station (NOT to Claudia Cragg) to continue to make air broadcast of this work possible).