On Shifting Ground

Burma is back in the international spotlight. After more than twenty years under house arrest, pro-democracy opposition leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been released and allowed to stand for election to parliament. Her release is just the latest in a series of important events and reforms that began in 2007.  The so-called "Saffron revolution” which involved wide-spread protests by Buddhist monks, along with international pressure, have prompted the ruling military junta to loosen its grip on power by initiating government reforms and holding elections. A nation at the crossroads between India and China, Burma is composed of a mix of fractious ethnicities and has been ruled by military regimes for nearly fifty years. Many hope that Burma is finally on the cusp of true democratic change after the reforms, despite being plagued by poverty, sectarian violence and accusations of human rights abuses.

Three experienced panelists will discuss a range of issues regarding Burma. What do the current reforms mean and what impact will they have across the region? What do long-time activists foresee for the future of Burma? How will the work of NGOs be affected after changes in policy and will there be an increased focus on human rights and education? Join us for this thought provoking conversation regarding the current state of affairs in Burma.

Direct download: 8_28_12_Sze_Than_Zin.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:30pm PST

General Raymond T. Odierno assumed duty as the Chief of Staff of the United States Army in September of 2011. Most recently General Odierno commanded the United States Joint Forces Command, and prior to that he served as the Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq. While serving as the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2004-2006, General Odierno was the primary military advisor to Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. During more than 35 years of distinguished service, he has commanded units at every echelon and has had duty in five different countries.

Join the World Affairs Council and the Marines’ Memorial Club in welcoming General Odierno for his remarks about "America's Army: The Strength of the Nation."

Our partner organization for this event is Association of the United States Army (AUSA): San Francisco Chapter.

Direct download: 8_24_12_Raymond_Odierno.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

The way out of Iraq, and now Afghanistan, are both issues that have plagued the Obama administration since 2008, and the exit strategy for Afghanistan will surely be hotly debated in the upcoming election in 2012. Should the US continue to pour its resources into the region, having fought two wars, both of which are seemingly intractable? Or, does pulling out of Iraq and then Afghanistan in short order signal the decline of American power and influence in the region that will fuel anti-American sentiments?

According to Professor Mark Katz withdrawing troops may, in the short term seem to signal a decline of American power and influence in the region and thus be a victory for America’s enemies. Katz however argues that it would in fact put the US in a better position in the long run to overcome extremist groups in the region. Join Professor Katz for a discussion of exit strategies for the US in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Direct download: 8_16_12_Mark_Katz.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

It is often said that “America is the greatest nation on Earth,” but is it true? In an election year, this sentiment will be expressed even more frequently by the presidential candidates, but how well does the US stack up on key quality of life issues when compared to other nations? While complete objective comparison may not be possible, there are certain areas where quantitative analysis allows for direct comparison.

Join United Nations statistician and health economist Howard Friedman for an analysis of five key measures of quality of life—health, safety, education, democracy and equality. How well does the US compare to thirteen other countries around the world? There are valuable lessons to be learned from the experiences and solutions found in other leading countries.

Direct download: 8_13_12_Howard_Friedman.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

In West Africa’s Sahel region, the zone skirting the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, a combination of soaring temperatures, declining rainfall and a booming population is putting the squeeze on the area’s dwindling resources. What began last year as a bad growing season is morphing into a large scale drought and humanitarian crisis. Studies show that this huge swath of land across the African continent, once fertile farming land, is increasingly incapable of feeding the growing population. Abby Maxman, the Vice President of International Programs and Operations of CARE, has firsthand experience responding to large scale humanitarian crises across the continent. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who represents California’s 9th Congressional district, has played a critical role in the raising awareness and US Government support for humanitarian disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa. They will explore the challenges of working across the Sahel in communities with little or no infrastructure, how humanitarian organizations and the US government are responding to food security issues, and how lessons from past droughts are being used to prevent future crises.
Moderator:Cheryl Jennings, Anchor, ABC7 Evening News
Speaker(s):Barbara Lee, Congresswoman, 9th District of California
  • Abby Maxman, Vice President of International Programs and Operations, CARE
Direct download: 8_6_12_Sahel_Crisis.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST