Thu, 21 April 2011
Rye Barcott, ' Chasing the Mad Lion' (Kibera, the US Marines and the "Catalytic Power of Participatory Development"
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Ever a ready critic of what some call the 'US military industrial complex', Claudia Cragg was at first extremely hesitant to interview Rye Barcott on his memoir 'It Happened on the Way to War' (Bloomsbury). Before she read the book, it appeared as though it might possibly be just another warped US military propaganda message to justify the ever-burgeoning expansion of the US Armed Forces around the world in the guise of 'doing good'.
However, having read it, Cragg met with Barcott and found a highly intelligent man, the son of a Vietnam veteran and a Margaret Mead-inspired anthropologist mother. Always the proud marine, though, Barcott is not willing at any point to concede that his time might have been spent better in some pursuit other than that of marine, of course. The Peace Corps for example. The result is a complex view into the genesis of a young and very bright idealist as a catalyst for good in Kibera, the largest slums in Africa and the second largest in the world. God forbid, though, that anyone should think Barcott 'a liberal' (always a pejorative term apparently in the US).
Barcott co-founded 'Carolina for Kibera' (CFK) in 2001, an international non-governmental organization for which he was named a Time Magazine and Gates Foundation 'Hero of Global Health' for its model of participatory development. Barcott is also a TED fellow.
Fri, 15 April 2011
The Inst. of New Economic Thinking's Robert A Johnson, on T. S. Eliot, Bretton Woods, George Soros and Paul Volcker
The Institute for New Economic Thinking held its second annual conference April 8-11, 2011 at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. This was the same scene of the great conference that established a renewed global economic architecture as World War II drew to a close.
The Institute for New Economic Thinking’s mission is "to nurture a global community of next-generation economic leaders, to provoke new economic thinking, and to inspire the economics profession to engage the challenges of the 21st century".
In this interview, Claudia Cragg speaks with INET's Robert A. Johnson who serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York.
Johnson is an international investor and consultant to investment funds on issues of portfolio strategy. He recently served on the United Nations Commission of Experts on International Monetary Reform under the Chairmanship of Joseph Stiglitz.
Previously, Johnson was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to working at Soros Fund Management, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund.
Johnson served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin). Before this, he was Senior Economist of the US Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico).
Johnson was an Executive Producer of the Oscar winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, directed by Alex Gibney, and is the former President of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of both the Economic Policy Institute and the Campaign for America’s Future.
The program begins, however, with an introduction to INET by University of Colorado Denver's Professor Steven G. Medema. He is a recipient of a grant from the Institute to write an intellectual history of the Coase Theorem.
Exceptionally for a high level conference of this type, and at this level, an abundance of video material and documentation is freely available on INET's site. This radio interview includes only snippets from presentations by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Andrew Sheng (of the PRC's Regulatory Commission), and George Soros and Paul Volcker, moderated by The Financial Times' Gillian Tett. Viewing of the original longer form presentations is highly recommended.
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Sat, 2 April 2011
It was in 2001 that The Eyre Affair introduced the world to the wilful Thursday Next who has also featured in Lost in a Good Book (2002), The Well of Lost Plots (2003), Something Rotten (2004), and First Among Sequels (2007). She is a Swindon-based literary detective or LiteraTec. She rescues characters kidnapped from great works of literature, marries a man who then falls out of existence, meets Miss Haversham and the Cheshire Cat, hides out in unpublished novels and investigates the premature demise of Sherlock Holmes. She also becomes a reluctant celebrity, a single mother, and pits her considerable wits against the shamelessly all-powerful Goliath Corporation. Swindon is shorthand for a dreary, forgettable and rather depressing town, but nevertheless the community there was so flattered that new roads in the town have been named after Fforde characters and it was also home to the Ford Fiesta, a literary event for his fans.
His other well-known series centres on the 'Nursery Crime' theme, the first two of which were The Big Over Easy (2005) and The Fourth Bear (2006). In these, Jack Spratt and his female aide, Mary Mary are the chief characters. Fforde is currently working on the third in the trilogy.
Jasper Fforde's website can be found atwww.jasperfforde.com.
Fri, 1 April 2011
Helen Caldicott, Fukushima UPDATE. "NO such thing as SAFE radiation levels. NO SAFE levels of radionucleides in food"
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THIS IS AN UPDATE dated 1 April 2011 from Dr. Helen Caldicott, physician, paediatrician, and author of 'Nuclear Is Not The Answer' on the current situation in Japan.
The concerned citizens of Japan, through the auspices of some 160+ NGOs, are meeting with resistance from the Japanese government and, not surprisingly, with the operators of the stricken plant, The Tokyo Electric Power Company.
To bolster citizen claims that their concerns must not only taken seriously but must be acted upon immediately, Caldicott spoke with Claudia Cragg to underscore the dire seriousness of the situation.
In this interview:
Japanese 'experts' maintain constantly that there are no impacts on the population's health and that there is no risk of cancer. Caldicott refutes this saying here that either "they are lying" or that they are physicists who have no understanding of radiation biology, of medicine, or of genetics.
She points particularly to the futile measure of external gamma radiation using Geiger counters. It is, she says as an expert in the field, the internal emitters that cause concern, that is, even just one micro gram of radiation entering the lungs for example. This cannot be measured outside the body, she argues, only by a whole body measure using spectroscopy. There are some 200 such different isotopes which cannot be removed from the human body once it is engaged.
While potassium iodide may be moderately helpful in possibly, just possibly, countering the effects of radiation on the thyroid, she argues that there is nothing that can be done to stop large numbers of people from inhaling and ingesting elements of radiation.
She comments on the SPEEDI, System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, regarding radiation levels which it turns out, according to activists at several organisations, has not been implemented in the Japanese situation.
Of great significance is Calidcott's reference to the recent translation of some 5,000 articles on the effects of Chernobyl from their original Russian by the New York Academy of Sciences. This she maintains shows that the truth about the effects of radiation biology and its effects, particularly on the citizens of Japan, is not being told.
There is, she says, NO PERMISSIBLE RADIATION DOSE. Absolutely not. This is because the effects are cumulative. For this she refers listeners to the US National Academy of Sciences 'Biological Effects of Radiation, No. 7'. The 'Fukushima 50' battling to "minimize and contain" the fallout are, she says, "inhaling very high doses that will cause them to incubate cancer for many years if they survive". Again she points to the fact that the so-called levels of 'safety' are those largely being determined by nuclear physicists and operators not by radiation biologists.
Futhermore, Caldicott maintains that there are NO permissible levels of radionucleides in food. None. The food chain "bioconcentrates the radiation" magnifying the effects exponentially concentrating the 200 radionucleides.
To add to this hideous state of affairs, seismologists maintain that the March 11 earthquake has increased the likelihood of further earthquakes and possibly the 'Tokai' earthquake that has been predicted for some time. In spite of this, the Chubu Power Company continues to operate its nuclear reactors, saying that it will "reinforce earthquake safety". Caldicott argues that it is now "medically indicated to shut down the nuclear plants in Japan now".
Despite everything, some like Philip White, of the CNIC, Japan, believe that "humans may now hopefully choose to build a society not subject to catastrophic risks created by mankind". But, concludes Caldicott, "This disaster shows that nuclear power cannot be run safely. There are many ways for a meltdown to occur, catastrophic events like this and the compounding effects of global warming with tsunamis that can only continue to devastate nuclear power control rooms and emergency generations".
"Nuclear Power is not the answer to global warming".