Free Forum Q&A – GEORGE WOLFE of L.A. River Expeditions & THEA MERCOUFFER, filmmaker of ROCK THE BOATWritten on July 18th, 2013
How many of you know where the LA River is…where it starts, where it runs, where it ends? Okay, how many believe anyone could kayak down the entire river – all 51 miles of it – beginning in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley and finally passing the Queen Mary to enter the Pacific in the Port of Long Beach? My next guests believed it was possible, and proved it in 2008, changing the course, if you will, of the river for us all. For the first time in decades, kayaking and fishing are now legal along the waterway, and The L.A. River: used, abused and forgotten, is now at the center of a major vision to transform this concrete metropolis into a more sustainable model city for the 21st century.
My guests will be GEORGE WOLFE of LA River Expeditions and THEA MERCOUFFER producer-director of the film ROCK THE BOAT that documents the successful campaign by Wolfe and others to have the LA River declared a navigable river and open sections of it to boats and kayaks.
Our life on earth depends on a most unlikely love affair – one between flowers and the bees, butterflies, birds and bats which enable plants to reproduce. The brilliant colors and exotic perfumes of flowers are designed to lure their pollinators into an intricate dance of seduction, a dance on which more than one third of our food crops depend, a dance without which we could not survive.
If you’re lucky and observant, you’ve witnessed the visits of bees and those marvels of engineering, hummingbirds, to the plants around you. But now, for the first time, you have a chance to watch that magnificent dance of pollinators and plants in the far corners of the globe and in the darkness of night. WINGS OF LIFE, the latest documentary from remarkable cinematographer and director, LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG, is now available on DVD. More than beautiful – which it is – the film carries an important message about the threats to pollinators and in turn, the threat to life itself.
I’ll be joined by LOUIS and CHIP TAYLOR a Monarch butterfly expert.
A friend tells the story of striking up a conversation with a hip looking man in his late 20s-early 30s in a movie line on the west side of LA shortly before the 2004 election between George Bush and John Kerry. He asked the young man who he planned to vote for, he answered that he hadn’t made up his mind. My friend said to him, “Two words. Supreme Court.” To which the young man replied, “Oh, are we voting for them too?”
While we may be disappointed in his apparent lack of civics knowledge, in his own way, he spoke the truth. The most lasting actions a president takes may be his appointments to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices serve for as long as they wish or as long as they are able. Their decisions very often set precedents that can live forever. Bush had appointed John Roberts Chief Justice in his first term, but according to today’s guest, it was his second term appointment of Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O’Connor that really solidified the Roberts Court.
O’Connor had been a much more moderate conservative than Alito has proven to be. The center of the court shifted to the right, which may matter little in decisions with large majorities – more than 50% of cases each term are decided unanimously or by 8-1 or 7-2 votes — but can be crucial in decisions decide 5-4.
MARCIA COYLE has chosen to focus her book THE ROBERTS COURT: The Struggle for the Constitution on four such 5-4 decisions – Citizens United on campaign finance; District of Columbia v Heller on gun control; on race in school choice; and on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
This week, in the second of a two-part series (Part One with CARL HART, author of HIGH PRICE: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society) I’m joined by DOUG FINE to talk about the accelerating movement to change the rules on marijuana. According to Fine, as the economy continues to limp along for most Americans and California cities declare bankruptcy, one action — the legalization of marijuana — would save government billions per year while raising huge sums in taxes. According to TIME, the legal medicinal cannabis economy already generates $200 million annually in taxable proceeds from a mere five hundred thousand registered medical users in just sixteen states. 51% of Americans support full legalization (cannabis regulated for adults like alcohol), and 80% support medicinal cannabis legalization.
Fine’s book, TOO HIGH TO FAIL: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution, is just out in paperback. In a postscript added to the new edition, Fine writes,” On November 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington voters ended the Drug War. That is to say, voters in both states overwhelmingly legalized adult social use of cannabis (Colorado’s new law, vitally, also allows industrial cannabis cultivation). It is no stretch to say that the Berlin Wall of the Drug War fell.” We’ll talk about how quickly the landscape is changing and look ahead to the era of legal marijuana.
Q&A w/ author, Carl Hart – HIGH PRICE: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and SocietyWritten on June 18th, 2013
This week’s guest, neuroscientist CARL HART grew up in one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods and, in his first book, HIGH PRICE, he explores how it is that he avoided becoming one of the crack addicts he now studies.
Columbia University’s first tenured African American professor in the sciences, Hart goes beyond disputing myths, falsehoods, and ignorance about drugs, drug users, and drug policy. He has been engaged in cutting edge research since the late 90s, testing individuals with actual drugs. His controversial work is redefining our understanding of addiction. He examines the relationships between drugs, pleasure, choice, and motivation, both in the brain and in society. Hart’s findings shed new light on issues of race, poverty, and drugs, and help explain perhaps more clearly than ever why current policies are doomed to fail.