Free Forum Q&A – (1) BEN SKINNER, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery & (2) GABOR MATE M.D. IN THE REALM OF HUNGRY GHOSTS: Close Encounters With AddictionWritten on April 23rd, 2015
Ben Skinner(Originally aired April 2009)
Gabor Mate (Originally aired May 2011)
These interviews pursue a world that just might work. That pursuit, however, demands looking honestly at the darker aspects of human behavior, and this week’s interviews deal with slavery and addiction. In both cases, my guests draw on years of personal experience to frame their analyses and their proposed solutions.
To those who say society’s not actually making progress, many point to the fact that at least we’ve eliminated slavery. But sadly that is not the case. 143 years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery worldwide, there are more slaves right now than at any time in human history – 27 million. The new slavery, which focuses on big profits and cheap lives, is not about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery, but about controlling them completely.
During the four years that BEN SKINNER researched modern-day slavery for his book, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS, he posed as a buyer at illegal brothels on several continents, interviewed convicted human traffickers in a Romanian prison and endured giardia, malaria, dengue and a bad motorcycle accident. But SKINNER says he’s most haunted by his experience in a brothel in Bucharest, Romania, where he was offered a young woman with Down syndrome in exchange for a used car.
Some might call addiction is a form of slavery. I am a long and consistent opponent of the war on drugs and of US policy toward illegal drugs and illegal drug users. I am also someone who advocates for a holistic view of reality, its challenges, and potential solutions. Holistic healing deals with the whole situation – mind, body, emotions, spirit and environment, treats root causes rather than symptoms, and treats as naturally and safely as possible. GABOR MATE, deals with the issues of drugs and addiction holistically. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts proposes approaching addiction through an understanding of its biological and socio-economic roots.
Q&A: DAN PALLOTTA, CHARITY CASE: How the Non-Profit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the WorldWritten on August 15th, 2014
When someone approaches you to donate to a non-profit, how many of you want to know how much of of its money goes to salaries and fund-raising and how much goes to actual program services? If you’re like most people, that question probably figures into your decision.
I myself have factored that question of how much is spent on overhead into my charitable giving. But is it a valid or wise way to make such decisions? According to today’s guest, DAN PALLOTTA, while it may be helpful, much more important is how well they serve their mission, how good a job they’re doing solving the problems you care about.
In his earlier book, UNCHARITABLE, Pallotta, who has a record of helping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for causes, made the case that the way we think about non-profits and the rules we set for them, makes it harder for them to succeed on a truly significant scale. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). Where other folks suggest ways to optimize performance inside the existing paradigm, UNCHARITABLE suggests that the paradigm itself is the problem and calls into question our fundamental beliefs about charity.
With a new book, CHARITY CASE: How the Non-Profit community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World and in a recent very popular TED talk, he says “My goal … is to fundamentally transform the way the public thinks about charity within 10 years.”
As an activist, presidential advisor, cofounder of the Enough Project, and the author of ten books on Africa, including his most recent, The Enough Moment, John is passionate about ending genocide and raising awareness about human rights issues in Africa.
But the not-so-public face of John Prendergast is the life he’s led as a Big Brother to Michael Mattocks. As an emotionally wounded twenty-one-year-old, John made the life-changing decision to form a “Big Brother/Little Brother” relationship with then seven-year-old Michael, who was living out of plastic bags and roaming from one homeless shelter to the next with his mother and siblings.
In a book they wrote together, UNLIKELY BROTHERS: Our Story of Adventure, Loss, and Redemption, John and Michael share their experiences over the past twenty-five years. As John became more and more involved with Africa, he became less and less involved with Michael, who dropped out of school and into drug dealing. The two slowly disconnected and then reconnected at a critical moment for both of them.
JOHN PRENDERGAST is the co-founder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity affiliated with the Center for American Progress. John has worked for the Clinton White House, the State Department, two members of Congress, the National Intelligence Council, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the U.S. Institute of Peace, and is the author or co-author of ten books. His previous two books were co-authored with Don Cheadle: Not On Our Watch, and The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes. John is a board member and serves as Strategic Advisor to Not On Our Watch.
MICHAEL MATTOCKS lived in homeless shelters as a child and began dealing drugs as a teenager. He is now a husband and father of five boys, working two jobs at once in order to support his family. He helps coach his sons on their football teams.
Free Forum Q&A: ALAN WEISMAN, Author of COUNTDOWN Slowing Population Growth Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on EarthWritten on December 10th, 2013
What do you think are the biggest solvable problems facing humanity? Justice and inequality? Violence and war? Climate change and pollution? Today we’re going to focus on one that I believe underlies all of those: Population.
The last book from today’s guest, ALAN WEISMAN, was thought-provoking, award-winning, and best-selling. THE WORLD WITHOUT US, which was made into a powerful documentary, imagined what would happen to planet earth if humans disappeared. Our massive infrastructure would collapse and vanish without human presence, and nature would swiftly begin to heal without our daily pressures.
But, Weisman, would rather Imagine a successful world with us, and that led to his newest book, COUNTDOWN: OUR LAST, BEST HOPE FOR A FUTURE ON EARTH. For this one, he traveled to 21 countries asking politicians, scientists, family planning specialists, doctors, and religious leaders, crucial questions about how we can successfully deal with the size of human population.
Q&A: RANDY HAYES, ED of Foundation Earth former head of Rainforest Action Network, working to “ecologize” the economyWritten on November 21st, 2012
I’ll be talking with RANDY HAYES, former head of Rainforest Action Network, currently ED of Foundation Earth, whose primary work these days is rethinking and “ecologizing” the economy. While Balog offers evidence of some symptoms of our way of life, the consequences of our actions, Hayes is attempting to develop radical approaches to economics that will enable us to deal with the underlying causes.
RANDY HAYES is a Climate Policy Officer at the World Future Council, a global forum composed of 50 individuals from around the world championing the rights of future generations and working to ensure that humanity acts now for a sustainable future. Hayes is also the founder of Rainforest Action Network, a veteran of many high-visibility corporate accountability campaigns, served as President to the City of San Francisco Commission on the Environment, and as Director of Sustainability in the office of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. Hayes has a Master’s degree in Environmental Planning from San Francisco State University and his master’s thesis, The Four Corners, won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for “Best Student Documentary” in 1983.