Tag Archives: Politics and Activism

Scholars’ Circle – Democracy is eroding in United States, why and how to stop the decline – December 10, 2023

Democracy is eroding in the United States? What are the causes and what should be done? Is the erosion of democracy because of political elites and specifically the reaction of the Republican Party to the 2020 election? Or does it run deeper? [ dur: 58mins. ]

Recorded February 2022.

This program is produced by Maria Armoudian, Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Melissa Chiprin and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Addressing Homelessness in America, what is needed? – December 3, 2023

Over a half million Americans are currently homeless. What is causing this crisis? And what are the solutions? How do we get the resources to build the housing we need to address the homelessness crisis?

We discuss why services to address mental health and addiction are essential to resolving the homelessness crisis. [ dur: 58mins. ]

This recording is from December 2022.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Sounds of nature ; Thanksgiving (history and memory) – November 26, 2023

How does deep listening to nature promote biodiversity and a deeper relationship with the natural world?

Book Cover of Civil War by Other Means has an red X on the title of the book

We discuss the book THE SOUNDS OF LIFE: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the World of Animals and Plants. [ dur: 34mins. ]

References to clips of nature sound recordings included in the interview with Karen Bakker :

The American Thanksgiving story is one of cooperation and coexistence between white European settlers and the native peoples. But the real story is much darker.
How does this Thanksgiving narrative get the history wrong?

We discuss the history, the memory, and the meaning of Thanksgiving in the contemporary relationship between the United States and Indigenous people. [ dur: 24mins. ]

This show was recorded November 27, 2022.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Osage Nation (tribe): history, oil, murders and gender dynamics – November 19, 2023

With the release of the critically acclaimed new film, Killers of the Flower Moon, there is a new interest in the murders of the Osage tribe following the discovery of oil on tribal lands. But how much do we know about the Osage, their history, and their life experiences? And how typical was this particularly gruesome set of murders on tribes in the US and in particular in Oklahoma. On Today’s show, we will explore the history of the Osage. We will get to know their story in greater detail and ask, what did the film get right and what did it miss? [ dur: 35mins. ]

  • Robert Warrior is Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Kansas. He is a citizen of the Osage Nation. He is the author of Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions. He is past president of the American Studies Association and was the founding president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Professor Warrior was the founding co-editor of Native American and Indigenous Studies and edits the Indigenous Americas series. In 2018, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Robert Miller is Professor of Law at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He is Interim Chief Justice at Pascua Yaqui Tribe Court of Appeals. He is an enrolled citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe. In 2014, he was elected to the American Philosophical Society. He is the author of A Promise Kept: The Muscogee (Creek) Nation and McGirt v Oklahoma. You can access the Scholars’ Circle interview on the book A Promise Kept here. .

In addition to highlighting the violence against the Osage, the film Killers of the Flower Moon focuses on the distinctly gendered relationships between the Osage and their white spouses. The film itself focuses on Osage women (notably Lily Gladstone’s Molly) and their white husbands. So, what were the gender dynamics of the Osage people? [ dur: 23mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Insight into LGBTQ+ communities impacted by global politics – November 12, 2023

LGBTQ communities are marginalized in so many places around the world. While their presence in international politics is growing, they still face quite a lot of threats and challenges. We explore LGBTQ communities and their impact on global politics.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Which mistakes Israel is likely to make in Gaza and Book Author interview – A Fear of Too Much Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Persistence of Inequality in the Criminal Courts – October 29, 2023

Rage and a desire for vengeance after 9/11 drove the US to violate human rights on a mass scale. What were those mistakes and what lessons do they offer to others dealing with political violence? How much does rage and demands for vengeance undermine peace? [ dur: 28mins. ]

  • Steve Swerdlow, esq. is Associate Professor of the Practice of Human Rights in the Department of Political and International Relations at the University of Southern California. A human rights lawyer and expert on the former Soviet region, Swerdlow was Senior Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, heading the organization’s work on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and founding its Kyrgyzstan field office. He worked as a human rights monitor for the Union of Council for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) as their Caucasus monitor in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia as well as with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Russia.
  • Brent Sasley is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas, Arlington. He is the author of the book Politics in Israel: Governing a Complex Society and the book chapter “The End of Oslo and The Second Intifada, 2000-2005.”

Then, How much does race and class determine legal outcomes in the United States? What role does the prosecutor play in the justice system?
We speak with the co-author of a new book A Fear of Too Much Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Persistence of Inequality in the Criminal Courts. Co-authors are legendary death penalty opponent Stephen Bright and legal scholar James Kwak. [ dur: 28mins. ]

  • Our guest James Kwak is a former professor of law at the University of Connecticut and chairperson of the board of the Southern Center for Human Rights. His co-author is Stephen Bright. He teaches law at Yale and Georgetown Universities. He was director of the Southern Center for Human Rights and won multiple capital cases in the Supreme Court.

From the publisher:
Almost 70 years ago Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote there “can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.” In THE FEAR OF TOO MUCH JUSTICE: Race, Poverty, and the Persistence of Inequality in the Criminal Courts (The New Press; June 20; 2023), legendary death penalty opponent Stephen Bright and legal scholar James Kwak show the myriad ways the US criminal legal system fails to live up to this ideal of fairness: Innocent people are condemned to death and convicted of crimes because they cannot afford lawyers and because of the color of their skin. Racial discrimination in jury selection still lives in communities that have substantial Black and Latino populations. The mentally disabled are incarcerated instead of given the treatment they need, while the poor are processed through many courts with little or no legal representation in an assembly-line fashion. And many courts act as centers of profit whose main purpose is to raise money by imposing fines on the most vulnerable in their community and jailing them when they cannot pay.

But Bright and Kwak also see the promise of meaningful change on the horizon. They point to jurisdictions across the political spectrum that have made significant progress. The use of the death penalty has plummeted, and the authors see a future where it will remain in only the most ardent holdouts. Public defender offices that protect clients from wrongful convictions have been established across the country, and many places have reduced the use of cash bail and stopped imposing fines and fees on people who cannot afford them.

The book makes the case that prosecutors have too much power and defense lawyers are often out-gunned and incentivized to encourage plea bargains. How should the system rectify this? What is the first step in fixing this imbalance?

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Crisis in choosing a leader for the US House of Representatives ; Power of Cities and its future in 21st century – October 22, 2023

After the Republican caucus ousted Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, it has continued to reject those who have stood for election. What does this all mean for the country at such a crucial time? Is there anything in history that can guide the US though this chaos? Why has it come to this and what’s the way forward? [ dur: 28mins. ]

How were cities born? How did they affect culture, economies, politics, and societies? What changed in the 21st century, especially after the pandemic? Which cities are best for quality of life? And how can cities offer a sustainable and fulfilling future? [ dur: 28mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Dark Money in Politics hides politicians real constituents – October 15, 2023

Money can distort politics. And the lack of transparency where this money comes from can further distort politics and invite corruption. Since much of the money in campaign finance is not subject to transparency laws, it has taken the name dark money. This specifically references spending by nonprofit organizations created for political spending. How much has dark money skewed American democracy? What role does transparency in spending play in ensuring the legitimacy of democracies? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This interview was recorded October 2022.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Understanding Disinformation in our time – October 8, 2023

When Elon Musk promised that Twitter ( re-branded as X ) will allow a wider range of content, including some that was previously banned as hate speech, disinformation, or conspiracy-centric, concerns over disinformation in political discourse heightened. But the challenge of democratic discourse in light of misinformation and disinformation is a historic challenge. Social media just speeds the process. Yet a significant concern is discerning who best to regulate what constitutes disinformation, in light of the political power of censorship.
We look at how disinformation has spread worldwide, shifting politics and challenging democracies. What are the most effective ways to counter disinformation? How might it be different for states, than for individuals? [ dur: 58mins. ]

Recorded May 2022.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Ethnic cleansing of Artsakh – October 1, 2023

Azerbaijan has attacked the indigenous Armenian people in an area known internationally as Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing them to flee from their ancestral homelands. Over hundred thousand have fled the region they know as Artsakh. Why has the international community failed to do anything to protect this population who left behind their homes, communities, belongings, and historical heritage?

Russia’s abandoned its role of protector of Armenians who are now victims to atrocities and grave human rights violations. And the US has failed to act on the warnings about Azerbaijan’s aggression toward the civilian population. What should now be done to address Azerbaijan’s campaign of ethnic cleansing and atrocities? [ dur:58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.