Episode 120: Russia, Mid-summer 2020 (video link)
Ignat Kalinin works for Yabloko, a liberal democratic party in Russia founded by Grigory Yavlinsky. He and his old friend Metta Spencer get caught up here, comparing Russia’s situation to the rest of the world during this pandemic, only days after the Russian constitution had been changed to let Putin rule 36 years. They decide to work together against the totalitarian application of face recognition and AI technology.
Episode 119: Garry Davis — World Citizen (video link)
Arthur Kanegis is a filmmaker with a brilliant idea: you promote peace best by showing the stories of people DOING peace work. So he and Melanie Bennett produced an inspiring film about Garry Davis, veteran of World War II who felt guilty about bombing Brandenburg, Germany, and tried to prevent future wars by prompting others to join him in becoming citizens of the world, not just one or another country. He was an actor, so his adventures caught the public’s attention. Arthur and Melanie worked with him, lucky folks!
Episode 118: The World in June 2020 (video link)
Protests against police brutality and racism have lately prompted many people to demand “Defund the Police.” Peace activists, outraged by the $1.9 trillion spent annually on the military, add this demand: “Defund the Military.” In this month’s global town hall, 30 activists join Metta in discussing this as a realistic possibility, and consider various alternative ways of handling the problems that troops are so frequently used (ineffectively) to solve.
Episode 117: Radioactive Mayak (video link)
Nadezhda Kutepova was born and raised in a secret Russian city where plutonium was created for the Soviet (and now Russian) nuclear weapons. The inhabitants were (and still are) exposed to radiation without their knowledge, and in each family, some members died of it. Only when she was grown did Nadezhda learn why her father and grandmother died. She organized an NGO to defend victims’ rights, but had to flee to France five years ago with her four children. Gordon Edwards and Robert Del Tredici discuss these risks with her, comparing them to the lies told about radioactivity in western countries.
Episode 116: Too Dumb for Democracy? (video link)
David Moscrop’s book is titled, “Too Dumb for Democracy?” raises a question that liberal political thinkers normally avoid. Our complaints are usually against “deficits” in democracy. But suppose the problem instead is that normal citizens cannot cognitively process the information that is necessary to make wise political judgments? In a friendly conversation, Metta suggests that Moscrop has raised a question that he does not pursue long, for soon he turns to a search for the institutional changes to which many liberals would turn as ways of reforming and saving democracy.
Episode 115: The World in May 2020 (video link)
In this month’s Global Town Hall, ten Canadians chat with experts in Croatia, Russia, India, and Wales about the pandemic and the demonstrations against policy brutality now sweeping the US. Should we pick one issue at a time (e.g. nuclear weapons) or work on six or seven as a package? Is the priority to find great leaders or to engage large numbers of citizens as activists? Can Trump be prevented from re-starting nuclear weapons tests?
Episode 114: Who Benefits from War? (video link)
The subtitle of Marc Pilisuk’s book was “Who Benefits from Global Violence and War?” and Peter Phillips’s book answsered it: “Giants: The Global Power Elite.” These are about 200 people who control over 40 trillion dollars— a large fraction of the world’s cash. So what are the alternatives and is it possible to persuade, say, ten percent of the population to demand that they be adopted. Metta takes a moroe pessimistic view than Pilisuk and Phillips.
Episode 113: Nonviolence International (video link)
Mubarak Awad was a Palestinian Christian psychotherapist who found that his clients did not need therapy; they needed freedom. So he founded a center for nonviolence, which the Israeli government did not appreciate — since it created an effective nonviolent intifada. But the work continues, and Metta speaks with Awad and three other leaders in nonviolent resistance: Michael Beer, Andre Kamenshikov (working now from Kiev), and Yeshua Moser Puangsuwan (working from both Thailand and Canada). At least three of the people are optimistic about being able to continue their work, even in the hard post-covid economy.
Episode 112: Revitalizing our Movements (video link)
Peace activists Saul Arbess, William Geimer, Magritte Gordaneer, and Tamara Lorincz have been working together to revitalize the Canadian peace movement. Metta Spencer finds that this initiative is one of several similar ongoing efforts (most of the others global instead of national) so the group discuss the prospects for creating a “social movement of social movements.”
Episode 111: Rethinking National Sovereignty (video link)
Peter Russell’s forthcoming book gives a history of sovereignty, but the panelists are thinking about what comes after it how to transition from a world of sovereign nation states to a global federation — or some other alternative means of governance. Fergus Watt promotes World Federalism; Robert Schaeffer is skeptical about the direction we’re heading; and John Feffer is already collecting a transnational community of leaders. Metta doesn’t choose among these approaches but supports them all.
Episode 110: Chinese Capitalism (video link)
Rebecca Fannin is an American business journalist who, since the early 1990s, has written about the new corporations in Asia; for financial magazines, plus two books about China and one largely about India. She now offers a webinar on venture capital. She and Metta discuss the connections between business interests and political and social values.
Episode 109: The World in April 2020 (video link)
Barbara Birkett, Saul Chernos, Evnur Taran, Jase Tanner, and Adam Wynne called into Project Save the World’s monthly Global Town Hall this time — mainly to discuss Covid-19 with Metta. In April, we’re all locked in our homes speculating about the future: When (if, indeed ever) can we safely open up again? Will the world globalize more or retreat further between closed borders?
Episode 108: Poland in Cyberspace (video link)
Adam and Margo Koniuszewski created the Bridge Foundation as an organization to bring together people (especially young scientists) from various countries — especially Canada, Poland, and Switzerland. Adam tells Metta about their current initiative: a competition between teams of young experts to manage a hypothetical cyberattack against Poland. This is, in effect, a “fire drill” for reality. But, because of Covid-19, they will have to carry out the event online.
Episode 107: How to Save the World (video link)
Metta Spencer, who launched Project Save the World two years ago, reviews the policy proposals that seem most likely, if enacted simultaneously, to reduce the threat of the six most serious global catastrophes facing humankind: militarism, global warming, famine, pandemics, nuclear contamination, and cyberattacks. They cannot be solved in a step-by-step sequence, for they are a system and most be resolved together.
Episode 106: The World in March 2020 (Video link)
Project Save the World invites activists around the world to an open videoconference on the last Sunday of each month. Here Metta Spencer hosts friends in the US, Canada, Croatia, and India in the month when the pandemic spread worldwide. Several of the callers are Rotarian activists and we mainly discuss the use of therapy to handle trauma.
Episode 105: Pleistocene Park (Video link)
Luke Griswold-Tergis and Michael Loranty frequently go to a research station called Pleistocene Park, which is run by a father and son, Sergey and Nikita Zimov. They tell Metta that the Park shows that herds of large herbivores reduce the soil temperature. This can keep permafrost from melting. More research is certainly needed.
Episode 104: The Uighurs (Video link)
Rukiye Turdush is a Canadian activist who works on behalf of her ethnic community, the Uighurs. These inhabitants of northwest China are experiencing what the former diplomat Charles Burton calls “cultural genocide.” Together Rukiye and Charles describe to Metta the “re-education camps” where Uighurs are confined if they display any of their traditional cultural preferences — especially an Islamic lifestyle.
Episode 103: Arctic Changes (Video link)
Ed Struzik is a writer who travels through the Arctic every summer, observing the changing landscape and the challenges that the Inuit people face in adapting to the fastest-warming area of the world. The trees and shrubs are moving into the tundra. Lightning is more frequent, causing wildfires that exacerbate global warming. Struzik cannot reassure Metta with any upbeat ideas for reversing this catastrophic trend.
Episode 102: The World in February 2020 (Video link)
In our monthly Global Town Hall meeting friends discussed such topics as the impact of mining on Guinea’s rainforest, the prospect of shifting to 100% renewable and non-nuclear energy with storage, a plan to ring bells in Hiroshima Day, a project training “barefoot therapists” to help their peers in conflict zones, the Great Lakes Peace work in Africa, and a plan to create a network of NGOs against nuclear contamination on April 28.
Episode 101: Psychotrauma (Video link)
Charles David Tauber and Sandra Maric practice psychotherapy without calling it that. In Croatia, the effects of war trauma are evident but usually denied. Therapy is stigmatized, so they call their work “psychological education,” and they train other local people (“barefoot therapists”) to do it too, using Carl Rogers’ approach in small group settings. They even do therapy online by videoconferencing, as they explain to Metta.
Episode 100: Arctic Fires (Video link)
Heather Alexander is an ecologist who spends her summers in Siberia studying the effect of forest fires on its remarkable carbon-rich permafrost. She explains to Metta that there are trade-offs involved. Nature has prepared many organisms to withstand small fires, but the current ones threaten to mess upset nature’s balance irreversibly.
Episode 099: World Federalism (Video link)
Fergus Watt is executive director of World Federalists in Canada and John Daniele chairs the Toronto branch. In 2020 the UN will celebrate its 75th anniversary and there is a process underway to review the current system of world governance and consider possible improvements. Peacekeeping is one big challenge, but one huge leap took place when the International Court of Justice was created. Fergus, John, and Metta all hope that a parliamentary assembly will be the next phase of democratization.
Episode 098: Landmines (Video link)
Erin Hunt works at Mines Action Canada, which works to promote compliance with the Landmines Treaty, which prohibits the use of bombs that indiscriminately explode by touch or proximity and which, therefore, can injure civilians or even cattle, often long after the war has ended. Erin tells Metta about the origins and effectiveness of that treaty and a related one banning cluster munitions.
Episode 097: The Rohingya and Myanmar (Video link)
Maung Zarni and Paul Copeland discuss with Metta the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar and the massacres of 2017 that forced most of them to flee to Bangladesh. Had we misperceived Aung San Suu Kyi? She defended the Myanmar government before the World Court, but it ruled that they may be perpetrating genocide.
Episode 096: The World in January 2020 (Video link)
In the first of our Global Town Halls, Andre Kamenshikov, Charlotte Sheasby-Coleman, Joanna Santa Barbara, Bruna Nota, and Adam Wynne discuss their current concerns with Metta Spencer. Russia’s changing constitution and the coronavirus are the first topics, with a broad agenda of ecological economics as a debating point. Ex-Soviet citizens tend to be wary of big ideas, and to worry that ideology may lead to extremism.
Episode 095: Nuclear Power (Video link)
Libbe HaLevy calls herself a “Survivor of Three Mile Island,” which sounds strange until you learn that not everyone did survive it. Now she runs a weekly podcast about the effects of radioactivity. Angela Bischoff, director of Ontario’s Clean Air Alliance, is a listener and, according to Libbe, a source of information. These two women discuss with Metta the risks of nuclear power, including a few new proposals.
Episode 094: Nuclear Weapons in 2020 (Video link)
Tariq Rauf is an expert on nuclear weapons and the unending struggle to restrain and abolish them all. He and Metta Spencer talk about politics of disarmament and their dismay about the modernizing of these weapons and the new hypersonic missiles. Rauf predicts that the upcoming Non-Proliferation Review Conference will fail, but that the NPT will not collapse.
Episode 093: Global Peace Work (Video link)
Alyn Ware heads the Basel Peace Office, where he oversees the opposition to nuclear weapons by the Parliamentary Network on Nonproliferation and Disarmament and his new campaign, Move the Nuclear Weapons money. He and Metta Spencer discuss the way that financial profitability of producing these weapons shapes the policies of nuclear weapon states. They consider the possibility of shifting to alternative systems of security, such as OSCE, and the need to change the United Nations.
Episode 092: Nepal (Video link)
Mukti Suvedi and Sharad Neupana are Nepalese peace and development workers. Metta called them in Kathmandu and learned about Mukti’s project: rebuilding a town that had been leveled by an earthquake. Sharad does peace work with youth. One technique is simply getting kids from different castes to play football together. Many youth go to work in the Middle East; now the challenge is to bring them home and give them productive jobs.
Episode 091: Beckwith After COP 25 (Video link)
Canadian climatologist Paul Beckwith attended the COP 25 meeting in Madrid that ended in a stalemate. He and Metta agree that there is too little progress by elected government officials, and they consider ways of speeding up responses to the emergency. Beckwith favors sprinkling iron in oceans to encourage plankton and feeding CO2 to limestone.
Episode 090: Iran Today (Video link)
Homa Hoodfar, a professor of anthropology at Concordia University, spent many months in prison in her home country, Iran, for promoting democracy and gender equality. She and Metta talk with Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, another Iranian-Canadian professor (History, U of Toronto) about the brutal crackdown on the current resistance and their political suggestions for the future of the Middle East.
Episode 089: One World, One Health (Video Link)
Dr. Laura Kahn and Dr. Cheryl Stroud are leaders in the “One Health” movement, an approach that brings together medical knowledge and veterinary and environmental medicine to solve the problems that transcend the boundaries of these supposedly distinct disciplines and practices. They tell Metta about ongoing studies of microbial resistance, vector-borne diseases, and the challenge of feeding a growing human population despite the climate crisis.
Episode 088: Farming to Save the World (Video Link)
Tony McQuail is a prominent organic farmer in Ontario. He and Metta discuss how to feed the future human population of 11 billion by agricultural methods that include “cocktail crops,” farming without plowing, and the herding of livestock with electric fences. And yes, such practices also protect wildlife, reduce floods, and sequester large amounts of carbon in the soil. To reverse global warming, good farming is probably the quickest solution.
Episode 087: Hanford’s Legacy (Video Link)
Trisha Pritikin probably began being exposed to radiation while in utero. She began feeling sick as a teenager and is still partly incapacitated. But she’s a lawyer and when the government finally revealed the cause of her illness she became a plaintiff — along with thousands of other downwinders. Now she chairs an organization, Core Hanford, that fights for the victims’ rights.
Episode 086: Arctic Permafrost and Trees (Video Link)
David Price models ecological systems for the Canadian government–mostly forests. He and Robin Collins discuss with Metta where to plant a trillion new trees. They agree it’s best to pay to have them planted in tropical areas, not in the Arctic. But David doubts the value of woolly mammoths in Siberia.
Episode 085: Energy, Climate, and War (Video Link)
Michel Duguay, an engineering professor at Laval University, reassures Metta that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to electric grids. He does worry about the use of coal energy and about the record of mass killings, but he hopes genomics will solve warfare.
Episode 084: Soap Operas for Social Change (Video Link)
William Ryerson heads the Population Media Center, which develops serial melodramas with messages: mainly stories that lead people to change their minds about various reproductive health issues. He and Metta agree that television shows are highly influential, informing (or misinforming) people in powerful ways. The best and cheapest way to reduce population growth is through story-telling.
Episode 083 : The Crime of Aggression (Video Link)
Noah Weisbord, a law professor at Queens University, worked on the committee that defined the crime of aggression (previously called (the crime against peace”) that is now an enforceable international law. A ruler who starts a war can be personally arrested, tried, and imprisoned. Noah and Metta discuss the effort to combine forgiveness with justice.
Episode 082 : Europe and Peace Today (Video Link)
Reiner Braun is co-president of the International Peace Bureau. He updates Metta on the exciting and dangerous current period, when a new world order is developing in which the US is declining and China, among others, is rising. Europe’s response to Trump is to go it alone, developing their own military. What will become of NATO?
Episode 081 : Beckwith’s Climate(Video Link)
Paul Beckwith is a Canadian climatologist who produces frequent videos about global warming. While Metta Spencer is especially concerned about where to cultivate an additional trillion trees, Beckwith is more interested in the potential for using the oceans to manage the excess carbon in the atmosphere.