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George W. Bush, Beforehand

I interviewed George W. Bush during his first New Hampshire Presidential Primary, when he was still a newcomer to the country at large, just the free and easy – and sober – Governor of Texas, the oldest son of the former President, George Bush Senior.
Here he is, buoyant, almost boyish, back in January 1999, before he was defeated in the United States’ earliest primary by John McCain on February 1st, 2000.

That was back when we too were innocent of what was to come… before this nation changed irrevocably. I asked “W” about our national interests, and when – if ever – the U.S. should intervene in foreign conflicts.
Let us know what you think of his perspective, and whether it evolved…

Posted on June 28, 2014 in Front Page, Politics
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Larry DiCara on Boston’s Busing Era @ Boston Public Library

The Central branch of the Boston Public Library was the setting for the attorney and civic leader Larry DiCara‘s talk on his new book, Turmoil and Transition in Boston: A Political Memoir from the Busing Era.

Larry DiCara
Larry DiCara
When a federal court order mandated busing to achieve racial integration in the public schools, the city of Boston was in danger of ripping apart. In his memoir, DiCara reveals how the public policy decisions and economic and demographic changes of that period helped transform Boston into the thriving city it is today.
Larry DiCara served on the Boston City Council from 1972 to 1981, has taught at Harvard, Boston University and the University of Massachusetts, and today is a partner at the Nixon Peabody law firm, where he practices real estate and administrative law.

Click here: to listen to the talk.

The Boston Public Library’s Author Talk Series continues on February 27th with Stephen Brumwell, author of George Washington: Gentleman Warrior.

Posted on January 31, 2014 in History, Politics
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Islam and its Coat of Many Colors – with Ali Asani

Can a multi-faceted Islam be whatever you want it to be?
All things to all people?

To listen to the renowned Harvard Professor Ali Asani tell it, Islam is a religion of multiple dimensions, interpretations, and perspectives. It’s almost like an all-encompassing religion, whose core beliefs can serve to unite widely diverse cultural groups, which eventually combine to form a dazzling coat of many colors.
But with such a cornucopia of rules and rituals, might the basic tenets of Islam get lost? Could they become confused with ancient tribal codes, which existed prior to Islam, and are difficult to puzzle out, to separate from the Muslim doctrines of today?
This Faculty Insight interview, produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard Extension School, asks — but perhaps does not always answer — many of these questions. So take a look, see for yourself, and join Ali Asani, Harvard’s Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures,  in the debate!

Posted on January 30, 2013 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Ideas, Politics, Religion
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How to minimize disasters and manage crises – if possible!

This Faculty Insight interview with Arnold Howitt, the executive director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and an instructor at Harvard Extension School, highlights the challenges of disaster management and emergency response.

Howitt teaches Crisis Management and Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief and Recovery at the Extension School, and is also an author and editor of several books, including Managing Crises: Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies. He speaks with Jenny Attiyeh of ThoughtCast about what we’ve learned from large-scale disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and how we can do  better next time!

Posted on July 15, 2012 in Economics, Environment, Faculty Insight, Politics
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Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a hero, or a villain?

In this sixth installment of Faculty Insight, produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School, ThoughtCast speaks with Allan Ryan, the director of intellectual property at Harvard Business School Publishing, a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on the First Amendment and Media Litigation, and an instructor at Harvard Extension School.

The subject is a sensitive one for journalists: Is Julian Assange one of us? Does WikiLeaks serve a legitimate news-gathering purpose, or is it a dangerous, possibly illegal website that spreads official secrets without due diligence or consideration of the consequences?
Let us know what you think!

Posted on August 14, 2011 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, Politics, Public Media
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James Carroll Takes On Jerusalem

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Talks@Harvard Book Store

In this ThoughtCast, noted author James Carroll talks about his latest book, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem”, at the Harvard Book Store, in Cambridge Massachusetts. The city of course serves as both holy ground and flash point for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and at times during their tumultuous histories, these three monotheistic religions have turned their city into not a place of peace and prayer, but a violent battleground.

Carroll is also the author of the highly regarded book “Constantine’s Sword”, which examines the shocking tale of Christian anti-Semitism from the time of Christ through Nazism and the Second Vatican Council. Carroll’s personal fascination with religion has led him to be both a believer and a skeptic, a critical historian and a man of faith, which is an interesting combination in these unsettling times.

Posted on March 27, 2011 in History, Politics, Religion
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Faculty Insight: Islam in the West – a clash of civilizations?

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

Faculty Insight is produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard University Extension School. This third interview of the series is with Jocelyne Cesari, a level-headed yet astute specialist in contemporary Islamic society. Muslims who live in the Western world today face multiple challenges — suspicion, isolation, ignorance, fear. And post-9/11, of course, they carry the weight of that violent attack. So how are we to move forward, in an enlightened, inclusive manner? How ought we to apply our secular, humanist and individualistic values at such a time?

For starters, let’s listen to Jocelyne Cesari. She might not have all the answers, but as the director of the inter-faculty Islam in the West Program, she’s clearly the right person to ask. She is also an associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for European Studies at Harvard, and teaches in Harvard’s Department of Government, its Divinity School and its Extension School. This video of our interview is only an introduction, so….
Click here to hear the entire conversation! (16 minutes)

Posted on December 17, 2010 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Politics, Religion
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Faculty Insight: Nuclear strategy in the post-cold war world

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

Faculty Insight is produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School. This second interview of the series is with nuclear strategist Thomas Nichols, who is a professor at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island, a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at Harvard Extension School. He speaks with ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh about the conflict with North Korea, the potential for nuclear terrorism, and the reduction of nuclear stockpiles in the post-cold war world.

Posted on September 23, 2010 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, Politics
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Simon Johnson Takes on Banks Deemed “Too Big to Fail”

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

Simon Johnson, the Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, is an outspoken critic of the US government response to the financial crisis. Now he takes on the “too big to fail” banks which continue to threaten our economy.  In his latest book, called 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, which he co-wrote with James Kwak, Simon argues that if the biggest banks aren’t cut down to size, it’s only a matter of time before we face another financial crisis. And once again, the government – aka the taxpayers – will be obliged to step in and bail out these behemoths…
In Simon’s words, if they’re too big to fail — they’re too big to exist!
Simon Johnson is also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.  And he’s the co-author, again with James Kwak, of the influential economics blog The Baseline Scenario. Simon spoke with ThoughtCast at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Posted on May 6, 2010 in Economics, MIT, Politics
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The Promise of Open Media

(Note: This program is featured on the Socialbrite and P2P Foundation websites — thanks for that!)

At the first ever Open Video Conference, held at New York University in Manhattan, participants pondered the significance of the open media movement, at a time when its tools are being put to use by protesters in Iran.  The social networking tools Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have revolutionized communication, and impacted events as they unfold.

ThoughtCast spoke with  Xeni Jardin, of Boing Boing fame,  Peter Kaufman, the CEO of Intelligent Television, and Dean Jansen with the Participatory Culture Foundation, among others, about the potential of this movement to effect social change.

Posted on June 25, 2009 in Politics, Public Media
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The Economic Pits with James Poterba

Note: this interview was broadcast on the WGBH public radio affiliate WCAI, on the Cape and Islands!

James Poterba

What is the right expression to describe today’s economic nightmare? I’m sick of “mess” and “crisis” is too bland. What about “cesspool”? Well, I compromised with “pits” — feel free to add your own juicy descriptions in ThoughtCast’s comments section!
Either way, I dived into the “pool” with MIT’s Mitsui Professor of Economics James Poterba, who’s also the head of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the think tank in charge of determining when recessions start … and end. Wouldn’t that be nice? Headlines proclaiming the “end” of this rather inordinate business cycle.
Are these ups and downs indeed just a part of capitalism’s inevitable booms and busts? Ought we to accept them as natural, rather than resist them? Or ought we to scrap the “system” and rebuild? You tell me…
But first, listen to this: (15:30 minutes).

Posted on February 23, 2009 in Economics, MIT, Politics, Psychology
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Samuel Huntington — on Immigration and the American Identity

Note: Sadly, Sam Huntington died in late December of 2008, so I’ve re-posted this 2005 interview, which was broadcast twice on WGBH, in Boston.

Sam Huntington
The eminent and provocative political scientist and prolific author, talks with ThoughtCast about what he sees as the threat to America’s national identity (and its founding ‘Anglo-Protestant’ culture) posed by large numbers of unassimilated Hispanics, legal or otherwise, living in the United States. His most recent book: “Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity” has caused quite a stir. Huntington is also famous for an earlier work called “The Clash of Civilizations.” In this book, he argues that civilizations, not nations or ideologies, form the basic building blocks of future cooperation — and conflict.

Huntington, a longtime professor of political science at Harvard, is also a member of the editorial board of a new magazine chaired by Huntington’s former student, Francis Fukuyama, called “The American Interest.”

We discuss these topics in a half-hour interview while seated in the back yard of his home on Martha’s Vineyard — hence all those birds chirping away cheerily…

Click here: to listen (30 mins).

Posted on January 21, 2009 in Harvard Luminaries, Ideas, Politics
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The New York Review turns 45!

Note: this interview has been picked up by the public radio station WGBH, in Boston, and its sister stations WCAI and WNAN.

Robert Silvers (credit Melanie Flood)

The venerable New York Review of Books was launched amidst a newspaper strike in the winter of 1963, and has continued unabated ever since. Devoted to intensive and nuanced coverage of politics, the arts, literature, science (and now movies and the Internet!), the paper, as it’s called, is considered to be the premiere journal of the American intellectual elite.
Robert Silvers, its longtime editor, who shared the post with Barbara Epstein until her death in 2006, spoke with ThoughtCast in the WNYC studios in New York.

Click here: to listen (40 minutes).

Note: Scott McLemee, who writes the Intellectual Affairs column each week at Inside Higher Ed, contributed an excellent question to the interview – thanks!

Posted on December 9, 2008 in Front Page, History, Ideas, Literature, Politics
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Reading List for Obama – your thoughts?

barackobama.com
Scott McLemee, who pens the Intellectual Affairs column for Inside Higher Ed, asked a few of us for a suggested reading list for the president-elect.

I discovered that one contributor, Daniel Drezner, is a fellow Williams alum, who blogged about the column here. Other contributors were James Marcus, the editor-at-large for the Columbia Journalism Review; Claire Potter, a professor of history and American studies at Wesleyan University; and James Mustich, editor of The Barnes & Noble Review.

And Christopher Hayes, who blogs for The Nation, picked up this thread for his Capitolism column.
Feel free to elaborate in the comments section, below.

Posted on November 7, 2008 in Literature, Politics
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Our American “Empire” with Niall Ferguson

Note: This interview has been picked up by the public radio stations WGBH, in Boston, its affiliates WCAI and WNAN, and WCVE in Richmond, VA.

Niall Ferguson
In some ways, the Scottish historian Niall Ferguson is the Russell Crowe of the academic world: charismatic, unconventional, and definitely controversial. He’s also a big fan of the British Empire — and wants the United States to follow in its footsteps. That means it’s our job to form colonies in hot climates, for years on end.
But are we up for this? While Niall would like that to be the case, he doesn’t really think so, because, he says, we’re an empire “in denial”
Click here: to listen to a 4 minute excerpt.
Click here: to listen to the entire interview (15:30 minutes).

And to listen to an interview with Niall Ferguson on the WGBH Forum Network, click here!

Posted on July 23, 2008 in Economics, Front Page, Harvard Luminaries, History, Politics
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The Future of Europe – with Alberto Alesina

Note: a portion of this interview was broadcast on the WGBH public radio affiliates WCAI/WNAN!

Alberto Alesina
Whither the European Union? This is not a question we (in America) often ask ourselves. But perhaps we should. As we now live in an era of borderless commerce – and threats – it might be wise for us to know a bit more about how our key ally, Europe, is faring. Is the EU more than just a powerful economic bloc? Does it have political clout as well? What about a common foreign policy, and the means to back it up?

Harvard economist Alberto Alesina has devoted himself to these questions. In a book he co-authored with Francesco Giavazzi, he asks: The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline??
Click here: to listen. (27 minutes)

Posted on September 2, 2007 in Economics, Harvard Luminaries, Politics
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Kwame Anthony Appiah: the Cosmopolitan Philosopher

Note: This program was broadcast on WCAI, an affiliate of WGBH, Boston.

Kwame Anthony Appiah (Photo: Greg Martin)
Princeton Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah discusses cosmopolitanism on ThoughtCast!
Born in England and raised in Ghana, Appiah is half English and half African. And perhaps because of this, he’s fascinated with the concept of identity, and the power it wields over people. But rather than wage identity politics, Appiah encourages us instead to be good global citizens, interested in and accepting of each other. In short, cosmopolitan. But also, at least a little bit “contaminated”… Appiah’s written a book on the subject: it’s called Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.

Click here: to listen. (42 minutes)

Posted on July 10, 2007 in Ideas, Philosophy, Politics
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Alan Dershowitz on Preemption and the Hezbollah

Note: this interview was rebroadcast Jan. 21 at 10 pm on WGBH.
It has also aired on WCAI/WNAN, WNED, KXOT and KYOU. And here are 2 reviews of this interview on PRX.

Alan Dershowitz
The controversial Harvard Law professor, author and celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz talks with ThoughtCast about his latest book, “Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways”, as well as his views on the Israeli-Palestinian-Hezbollah conflict, torture, human rights and our ‘war on terror.’ His premise: the world has changed, and international law must change with it. We need more tools, he argues, in the fight against terror networks whose recruits hold no fear of death or retribution.

Note: Although the subjects we discuss are controversial, my goal is not to argue with Alan, but to find out what he’s thinking. My hope is that our conversation will provoke further discussion on these hot-button issues.

Click here: (30 minutes) to listen to the interview.

Click here: to listen to the hour-long version.

And click here to listen to Dershowitz debate Harvey Silverglate on ‘civil liberties’ on the WGBH Forum Network.

Please join the conversation by leaving a comment!

Posted on August 10, 2006 in Front Page, Harvard Luminaries, Politics
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Harvard Book Store author talks: Alan Dershowitz

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series Talks@Harvard Book Store

Click here: (25 minutes) to listen to Alan Dershowitz’s talk on “Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways” at Harvard Hillel, presented by the Harvard Book Store. Among other subjects, Dershowitz discusses the doctrine of preemption, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, torture, and our ‘war on terror’.
And to hear a ThoughtCast interview with Alan, click here!

Posted on March 20, 2006 in Harvard Luminaries, Politics
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Ilan Stavans: chameleon, critic

In honor of Hispanic History Month, WGBH radio, an NPR station in Boston, broadcast this ThoughtCast interview with Ilan Stavans twice. It was also picked up by KRZA, an NPR station in Alamosa, Colorado, and Georgia Public Broadcasting. And here’s a review of the program on PRX!

Ilan Stavans (Photo by Frank Ward)
Ilan Stavans, the renowned critic of Latino and Latin American literature and culture, and the author of the controversial dictionary, “Spanglish,” is also a perpetual outsider. A Mexican-Jewish-American, Ilan lives simultaneously in many cultures, while truly belonging to none. He calls himself a chameleon, and perhaps this status is just what it takes to be a true critic.
Click here: to listen (30 mins).
Click here to listen to a lecture by Ilan Stavans on “Spanglish: The New American Language” on the WGBH Forum Network.

Posted on July 20, 2005 in Literature, Politics
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