Tag Archives: Politics and Activism

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.

Scholars’ Circle – Abortion limits and its consequence – September 24, 2023

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, what are the legal and medical ramifications of the huge geographical swaths of women who have no access to abortion? We discuss reproductive healthcare in a post-Dobbs world. What has it meant for the medical profession and the ways in which it had to alter some of the ways healthcare is provided? How have women sought to secure access to abortion in the areas of the country where it is not legal? Mifepristone, the medicine used to terminate pregnancy, faces severe challenges and restrictions. What does this mean for access to medicinal abortion access? What can the areas where it is legal do to help their counterparts in red states? [dur: 58mins. ]

West Alabama Women’s Center: https://alreprohealth.com/

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

Scholars’ Circle – History of Queer culture in Germany; LGBTQ rights struggle in US – September 17, 2023

What was the experience of gay people in East and West Germany during the Cold War? We speak with Samuel Clowes Huneke author of States of Liberation: Gay Men between Dictatorship and Democracy in Cold War Germany. [ dur: 32mins. ]

Since the 2020 election, anti-transgender campaigns have been growing in the United States. What are these efforts? We look at the campaigns to curtail and reverse gay and transgender rights, in particular we explore campaigns such as Florida’s Parental Rights in Education act (dubbed by critics as “Don’t Say Gay” bill) and attempts to ban trans athletes in all levels of competition. [ dur: 25mins. ]

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

Recorded May 2022

Scholars’ Circle – Peaceful uses of Nuclear power and why arms control fails humanity – September 10, 2023

We explore a new book on the peaceful uses of nuclear power: The Wretched Atom by Jacob Hamblin.[ dur: 29mins. ]

Then, why arms control discourses are centered around western notions of modernity and civilization. What does it mean to decolonize the language around arms control? [ dur: 30mins. ]

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

Scholars’ Circle – The future of Niger and Gabon after coup; Book: A biography of the judge who condemned the Rosenbergs – September 3, 2023

Africa has experienced numerous coups in the last 2 years. Most recently, Niger and Gabon have both seen civilian governments toppled by militaries in the last month. What does this mean for the future of African governance? Hosted by Doug Becker. [ dur: 24mins. ]

The life of former Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Irving Robert Kaufman is the subject of a recent book. He condemned Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to death. His life and times offer insight into how judges can sometimes act in unexpected ways in the pursuit of justice. Guest hosted by Tim Fadgen of the University of Auckland, NZ. [ dur: 24mins. ]

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

Scholars’ Circle – Prosecution of Presidents Around the World – August 27, 2023

The criminal indictments of former President Trump have created a political crisis in their unprecedented nature. Historically, U.S. presidents have not faced criminal charges even in cases where there is a high likelihood of guilt, in large part due to respect for the office. Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon embodies this norm.

What can the U.S. learn from other countries that have prosecuted former presidents? And what can we learn from American history about the prosecutions of political figures? Is the prosecution of former heads of state simply the weaponization of justice mechanisms? And how common is this political charge? [ dur: 58mins. ]

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

Scholars’ Circle – Economic War: Ukraine and the Global Conflict between Russia and the West (Book) – August 20, 2023

The economic conflict between Russia and the West started before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. How has the war in Ukraine affected it? How have the intense sanctions against Russia altered this economic war? Will the West remain unified in confronting Russia in this economic war?

In this episode, we will look at China, a potential Russian partner that could play a particularly significant role. Our discussion centers around a new book by Maximilian Hess, Economic War: Ukraine and the Global Conflict between Russia and the West. [ dur: 58mins. ]

Maximilian Hess is a Central Asia Fellow in the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the founder of the London-based political risk firm Enmetena Advisory.

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

Scholars’ Circle – Organizing contemporary Labor unions in the US – August 6, 2023

Do High profile cases like the Teamsters, UPS workers, unionization at Starbucks and Amazon signal a new labor awakening in American politics?

Labor organizers are using a large range of issues, including women’s rights, LGBTQ representation and pride, and environmental activism to attract new members. Is this changing the conceptual divide between “culture war” issues and economic issues? [ dur: 58mins. ]

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