On Shifting Ground

Following the burst of the housing bubble in 2008 and the subsequent worldwide financial crisis, governments began looking for ways to tighten their purse strings. Austerity (the sequester in the US) is one of the main policy options to deal with heavy public debt. Sometimes a painful process and not without controversy, austerity generates substantial cuts to many public services. According to Dr. Basu, when approached incorrectly austerity can also have deadly consequences. Drawing on case studies starting during the Great Depression up to the present day Basu has found that certain austerity measures have led to large public health problems such as HIV and malaria outbreaks, medicine shortages, increased heart attacks and even a recent outbreak of West Nile virus in California. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, according to Basu. Several countries such as Iceland and Japan have actually improved their public health situations in tough economic times. Which direction will the sequester take the US and California? Join the conversation with Dr. Sanjay Basu to find out.

Speaker: Sanjay Basu, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University


Direct download: 7_24_13_Sanjay_Basu.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Turkey has been enmeshed in a wave of nationwide anti-government protests in recent months. The unrest began in late May when police used harsh tactics against campaigners opposed to plans to redevelop a central Istanbul park. The police reaction ignited broader demonstrations against Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government. The unprecedented expansion of the demonstrations and riots suggests that the outburst of anger and opposition was fueled by more than a simple determination to save a green space in central Istanbul. For many Turks, the unrest appears to have been a reaction to the perceived autocratic leanings of the prime minister and resistance to the direction of Turkish democracy, freedom of expression and the role of religion in society.

The crisis comes at a delicate time for Prime Minster Erdogan, who is in the midst of a fragile peace initiative with the Kurdish minority, dealing with an escalating war next door in Syria, and trying to convince parliament to strengthen the office of the president, which he is expected to run for as his final term as prime minister winds down.

Former White House Director for Turkish Affairs Jeffrey Collins, prominent Turkish political commentator Mustafa Akyol and Turkish academic and activist Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir will discuss the underlying causes of the recent protests, and assess their likely impact on Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy.


Mustafa Akyol, Turkish political commentator and author
Jeffrey Collins, Senior Counsel for International Policy Affairs, Chevron Corporation
Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir, Lecturer, Graduate Program of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Technical University
Nancy Jarvis, Trustee, World Affairs Council
Direct download: 7_17_13_Edited_Understanding_Unrest_in_Turkey.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:30am PST

Hurricane Sandy, record wildfires and intensified cycles of drought and flood have awakened the American public to the climate crisis at hand. What few know is that, in large part because of successful environmental activism, including the retirement of dirty coal plants, the United States has become a global leader in the fight to reduce carbon pollution, while innovations in wind, solar and other renewables are generating more power, more jobs and a healthier quality of life every day.

As  the leader of America's largest and most effective grassroots environmental organization, Michael Brune will discuss how averting the potential global catastrophe caused by climate disruption is also a historic chance to create a better world, powered by clean energy prosperity.

Speaker: Michael Brune Executive Director, Sierra Club

Moderator: Maureen Blanc, Trustee, World Affairs Council

Learn more: http://www.worldaffairs.org/events/2013/climate-crisis.html

Direct download: 7_2_13_Michael_Brune.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:30pm PST