KPFA: Letters and Politics [News Feed]

  • The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve & Gertrude Weil
    Today our host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stephen Greenblatt about his new book The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, which delves into the creation stories that are woven into the fabric of our modern lives. He is presently the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Then we speak with Leonard Rogoff, author of Gertrude Weil: Jewish Progressive in the New South. Rogoff is a research historian for the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina and formerly taught at North Carolina Central University.
  • Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
    Today our host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Ken Whyte, author of the new biography Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times, which details the life and times of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States. Ken Whyte is a Canadian journalist and Chairman of the Board at Donner Canada Foundation.
  • Zimbabwean Power Struggle & ‘Fault Lines in the Constitution’
    Today our host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Nii Akuetteh, the founder of the Democracy and Conflict Research Institute based in Ghana and a current a policy analyst at the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA). We discuss both the history of Zimbabwe and the recent developments taking place in the country regarding the house arrest of President Robert Mugabe and ensuing struggle for power amongst leaders in the country. Then we switch gears to speak with Cynthia & Sanford Levinson, who argue that the U.S. Constitution is outdated in their new book Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws that Affect Us Today. A husband-and-wife team, Cynthia has written a number of critically-acclaimed books for children and Sanford is a professor at the Law School and the Department of Government at the University of Texas.
  • Regional Power of Saudi Arabia and A Women Figure in Ottoman History
    Today, Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Toby Craig Jones, associate professor of History at Rutgers University, about the main role of oil and water management in Saudi political system. In his book Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia, he shows how Modern Saudi Arabian authoritarianism has its origins in the control of a regional power.   Then, we talk with Leslie Pierce about her latest book Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire. This book relate the life of Roxelana, also knew as Hurrem Sultan, a concubine of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who broke the tradition and was the first to create a nuclear family in the heart of the Ottoman system and traditions. We question her influence in Ottoman politics and her controversial image in Istanbul society of the 16th century. Leslie Pierce is Silver Professor of History, Middle Eastern, and Islamic Studies at New York University.
  • The Relationship Between Masculinity and Violence
    Today our host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Dr. Jeffery Edleson, the dean of the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. We discuss the relationship between men and violence from spaces of domestic and sexual violence all the way to public mass shootings. Much of masculine violence is part of a larger continuum of coercion related to power, and we unpack this gendered relationship in terms of aggression and violence. Dr. Edleson specializes in matters of domestic violence and his expertise involves engaging men in terms of violence prevention.
  • Understanding Tax Reform and Its History
    Today our host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Eric Toder, co-director of Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, about the history and the potential developments in American tax policy. We delve into the history of American tax reform and discuss the ways in which Trump is seeking to modify the existing tax code. Mr. Toder is a tax expert, having served in number of senior-level positions in tax policy offices, such as deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Tax Analysis at the US Department of the Treasury and director of research at the Internal Revenue Service.
  • How the Gun Industry used Marketing to Change a Culture
    Today, our host Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Pamela Haag, author of the book The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture. In light of yet another mass shooting this past week in Sutherland Springs, Texas, we discuss the history of American gun culture and how it has grown not only to influence policy, but also to create a thriving firearms market in the country. In particular, we focus on contemporary efforts by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to maintain and consolidate their influence in American politics.
  • Contemporary China Under Xi Jinping
    Today, our host Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Madeleine O'Dea about her new book The Phoenix Years: Art, Resistance and the Making of Modern China, which discusses the history of China since the death of Mao in 1976 in terms of the political and artistic movements that reinforced one another. O'Dea is a veteran journalist who has lived in China for an extended period over the last three decades and her knowledge of modern Chinese political and artistic history is unparalleled. As Trump gears up to meet with Xi Jinping this week, we discuss the nuances of and developments taking place in contemporary China.
  • Russian Involvement in Election 2016 and the ‘Enemy Combatant’ Designation
    On today's show, our host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Kurt Wagner, Senior Editor of Recode, who specializes in business and tech-related stories, about the relationship between the Russian government and American social media in terms of the 2016 election. We then discuss the recent Manhattan terror attack with Karen J. Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law. In particular, we discuss the designation 'enemy combatant,' which allows the United States to detain suspected terrorists without criminal charges. It was abandoned by the Justice Department in 2009; now Trump is reviving the designation. A noted expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, she is the author of several books including Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State.
  • History of Relationship Between the United States and Puerto Rico
    On today's show, Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Harry Franqui-Rivera, Associate Professor of History at Bloomfield College and author of the book Soldiers of the Nation: Military Service and Modern Puerto Rico, 1868-1952. After an economic crisis and a devastating hurricane, the island is struggling to recover. To understand the whole situation, we are going back into the history of how Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States with a particular status.  
  • Papadopoulos’ Guilty Plea and The American Indian Movement
    Today Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Jeremy Stahl and Ryan Grim about the latest Robert Mueller indictments news. Jeremy Stahl is a senior editor for Slate, he wrote yesterday the article “The Potential Bombshell Hidden in the Mueller Indictments” [1]. Ryan Grim is The Intercept’s Washington D.C. bureau chief.    Then we are talking with historian Robert Warrior, co-author of the book Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee, about the history and legacy of the American Indian Movement and the life of one of its leaders Dennis Banks who died on Sunday. [1]
  • Russian Interference in Trump Campaign And History of Catalonia and Spain
    Today, our host Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with John Nichols about the recent revelations about Russian interference in 2016 American presidential election. This Monday afternoon, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pled not guilty to money laundering, but the evidence is strong. John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation as its national-affairs correspondent and is the author of Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America.   Then, we talk to Sebastiaan Faber, Professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College, about the role of the history of Catalonia and Spain in the current crisis.
  • Phillip Jenkins’ account on ancient revolution and its shaping of modern religion.
    Today Letters And Politics Host, Mitch Jeserich, spoke with Philip Jenkins, author of Crucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World.  The book delves into the tumultuous period from 250 to 50 BCE and dissects the cultural and political chaos that provoked the factionalization of Jewish faith and trace how certain core ideas of Christianity like heaven and hell, angels and demons, and apocalyptic lore came to the fore.
  • War on Drugs and Trump Inc
    On today's show, Christina Aanestad, filing in for Mitch Jeserich, talks with Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno about the impacts of mass criminalization and criminal justice reform under Trump. Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance [1].     Then, Christina Aanestad is in conversation with Michael Tanglis, Senior Researcher at Public Citizen's Congress Watch, about President Trump Inc  [2]report. The report also contains interactive data [3]. This report reveals the many businesses Trump has created since his Presidential campaign and is still creating as President of the US, and how it jeopardizes democracy. [1] [2] [3]
  • The Triple Bind: Unreasonable Expectations of Femininity
    Today our host Olive Sand, filling in for Mitch Jeserich, interviews Stephen Hinshaw, chair of UCBerkeley's psychology department, about his book The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today's Pressures and Conflicting Expectations, written in collaboration with Rachel Kranz. It was written in 2009 but has lost nothing of its accuracy in the intervening years. Its goal is to explain why one fourth of all American teenage girls are depressive, have suicidal thoughts,or suffer from eating disorders. This discussion of the expectations of femininity, which start at a very young age and shape the way women perceive themselves, is particularly relevant given the recent stories of sexual harassment and abuse emerging from Hollywood surrounding Harvey Weinstein. The need to break this triple bind is urgent.

Archived Snapshot: 2017-04-02

Russian Perspective on the Election Controversy Mitch Jeserich interviews Robert English Professor of International Relations at USC, who has just written a piece for Foreign Affairs [1] that is critical of the US's reaction to allegations of Russian interference in the election.


Trump and Russia and the Politics of Nutrition Mitch Jeserich interviews David Cay Johnston about the controversies surrounding the Trump family's ties to Russia. Johnston is a renowned journalist and the author of the book, The Making of Donald Trump.

Then, Mitch interviews renowned nutritionist Marion Nestle, (no relation to the Swiss food giant Nestle.) Her most recent book is, Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning).

Trump's Enviromental EOs and The Legacy of McCarthy's Red Scare First, Mitch Jeserich speaks with environmental journalist Mark Hertzgaard [1], about the Trump administration's recent executive order's attempting to overturn environmental regulations from the Obama era.

Then, Mitch interviews David A. Nichols, author of the book Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign Against Joseph McCarthy, about the history of the Red Scare and echoes of today.


US Military Escalation in Iraq and Syria and the Downfall of the Republican Party Mitch Jeserich interviews Reese Erlich about American military escalation in Iraq and Syria. Erlich is an accomplished independent journalist and the author of the book, Inside Syria.

Then Mitch speak with Geoffery Kabaservice, author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, about the recent public implosion of the Republican party's unity.

Today's Strange State of Affairs with Rebecca Solnit Mitch Jeserich interivews Rebecca Solnit, and independent writer, historian, and activist, she is the author of twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster.

The Repeal of the ACA and The 1980 Assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero Mitch Jeserich speaks with Stephanie Woolhandler of Physicians for National Health Program about the impending changes to the health care system in the US.

Then he interviews Matt Eisenbrandt, author of Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Oscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice, and an attorney for the prosecution of the case.

Genghis Khan and the Origins of Religious Freedom Mitch Jeserich interviews Jack Weatherford, a renowned anthropologist and author of the book Genghis Khan and the Quest for Religious Freedom, as well as many other books about Mongolia. In 2006, he was awarded the Order of the Polar Star, Mongolia [1]'s highest national honor for foreigners.


House Intelligence Committee Hearing on Russia-Trump Campaign Ties Mitch Jeserich interviews Mel Goodman about the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the links between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Melvin Goodman, was division chief and senior analyst at the Office of Soviet Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1986, and is currently a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C.

Trump's Muslim Ban 2.0 and America's First Drug Tsar In this episode we discuss the Muslim Ban "2.0," and the legal challenges have come up against it with Elica Vafaie, an attorney with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice/Asian Law Caucus and an expert on National Security and Civil Rights.

Then we hear from Alexandra Chasin, author of the book Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger's War on Drugs, about the infamous Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner who has gone down in history as America's first drug tsar.

Understanding the Federal Reserve's Next Moves In this episode host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Josh Bivens, the Director of Research at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). His areas of research include macroeconomics, fiscal and monetary policy, the economics of globalization, social insurance, and public investment.

The Secret State: A History of Intelligence and Espionage In this episode host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Colonel John Hughes-Wilson, one of Britain's leading military historians. He served in the British Army's Intelligence Corps for 30 years. He is the author of the book The Secret State: A History of Intelligence and Espionage. He lives in Cyprus.

North Korea and Trump's Foreign Policy in Asia. And How the US Goverment has Evolved in the Past Hundred Years In this episode host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Hyun Lee, a researcher and reporter for Global Research Centre for Research on Globalization. Her latest piece is North Korea: Trump's First Foreign Policy Test in Asia [1]. Then and interview with Alasdair Roberts [2], Professor of Public Affairs, Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri. His latest book is Four Crises of Democracy: Representation, Mastery, Discipline, Anticipation [3]. About Four Crises of Democracy In the last ten years, there has been an outpouring of literature concerned with the crises that impact democracies in our era. Observers have noted a range of causes, including endemic corruption, gross incompetence in delivering basic services, and a corresponding increase in voter disaffection. Lurking in the background as well is the global resurgence of authoritarianism, a wave bolstered by the Western democracies' apparent mishandling of the global financial crisis. In Four Crises of American Democracy, Alasdair Roberts locates the U.S.'s recent bout of democratic malaise in a larger historical context, arguing that it is the latest in a series of very different crises that have plagued America throughout its history. He focuses on four crises, moving beyond descriptions of what each crisis involved to the solutions the government evolved in response. The first crisis-the of representation"-occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was dominated by fears of plutocracy and debates about the rights of African-Americans, women and immigrants. The of mastery" spanned the years 1917-1948, and was preoccupied with building administrative capabilities so that government could improve its control of economic and international affairs. The of discipline," beginning in the 1970s, was triggered by the perception that voters and special interests were overloading governments with unreasonable demands. The final crisis, what he calls the …

Chris Hedges on the Bleak Future of the US In this episode we hear a recent speech by Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize winning journalist and political activist, given at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church in Vancouver, CA on March 3rd.

Lynne Stewart and The Republican Healthcare Proposal Lynne Stewart [1] died yesterday March the 7th 2017, she was an attorney known for defending those who challenged the system and she herself spent years in jail for representing Omar Abdel-Rhaman.

Then, we talk to Edwin Park about the Republican Healthcare proposal. Edwin Park is Vice President for Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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The Updated Muslim Ban and Readings of 1984 On today's show host Mitch Jeserich speaks to Rose Cuison Villazor about the new Muslim Travel Ban. Rose Cuison Villazor is a Professor of Law and Martin Luther King Jr. Hall Research Scholar University of California at Davis School of Law.

Then, we hear clips from the audio book of 1984.


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