Beneath The Surface with Suzi Weissman airs every Friday on KPFK Pacifica Radio from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. Tune in at 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, and worldwide on KPFK.ORG. You can listen to archived shows online on the KPFK website.

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BTS 3/9/09: Stem Cell Research; We Are All Socialists Now; Mexican Drug War

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On tonight’s BTS – we begin with the historic Presidential Memorandum President Obama signed this morning at the White House, lifting the restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research imposed by former President Bush, which allowed political and religious ideology to influence scientific decisions across an array of issues. Irv Weissman – director of Stanford University’s Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute, professor of Medicine and the first to isolate stem cells, has been fighting that ban for eight years. He flew to Washington to be at the White House Ceremony and joins us today to discuss the importance of what happened.

We then turn to our ‘sounds like socialism’ series. "We Are All Socialists Now," Newsweek declared – and as the right wing tells it, we're already living in the U.S.S.A. Because Newsweek started the discussion mainstream , the New York Times over the weekend actually had a reporter, Peter Baker, ask Pres. Obama head on if he was indeed a socialist. Surprised by the question, Obama said he wasn’t. The right wants to tarnish Obama’s agenda with the socialist ‘feather’ and the NYT unwittingly played along. But the Nation began a series this week called “Reaimagining Socialism” with the first article by Barbara Ehrenrich and Bill Fletcher Jr. In our own continuing sounds like socialism series, we’ll talk to Bill Fletcher Jr. about his thoughts on socialism, nationalizations and bailouts, as well as the prospects for labor in the current economic climate.

And finally – Mexico’s drug war is destabilizing, violent, hurting tourism on the border as students prepare for Spring Break, and has crossed over the border into US cities and states from California to Alabama, Washington to Alaska and Hawaii. We’ll talk to Laura Carlsen in Mexico about the situation, US involvement and more.

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BTS 3/2/09: L.A. and Israeli Elections; Plunging Economy; "Fidel"

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Tomorrow there is a mayoral election in Los Angeles, and we’ll be lucky if we get a ten-15% turnout. Cities across the nation hardly fare better. We talk to Roy Ulrich for his understanding of the importance and relevance of this election – and why so few seem to care enough to vote.

We then move to the February 12 Israeli election – that has still failed to produce a coalition government. The Center Right Party Kadima (Tsipi Livni) got the most seats, yet the right-wing nationalist Likud (Benyamin Netanyahu) is forming the government. The new feature is the Lieberman factor – he is the Russian deal-maker, and his party – Israel is Our Home -- is crypto fascist and racist. The political configuration is complex and Yoav Peled will help us understand.

Moving to the economy – the Dow plunged below 7000 today for the first time in eleven years, as confidence plummets with the insolvency of the banks and AIG. Jack Rasmus joins us for an update on the continuing and deepening financial crisis behind the stock market collapse and why the Obama administration bank bailout won’t work.

And finally, Saul Landau’s “Fidel” gets its first release on DVD, 40 years after Saul had unfettered access to Fidel for a week. We’ll talk to Saul.

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BTS 2/23/09: Failing Banks and the "N" Word: Nationalization

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The "N" word is out in the open, and if lefties are confused that the likes of Lindsay Graham, Alan Greenspan and John McCain are among those calling for nationalization of the failing banks while the Obama administration treads slowly, we’ll ask Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson to sort out the various meanings of nationalization. Their new article on The Nation website "Nationalize Failing Banks? Think Twice" argues that temporarily taking over the banks is necessary, will protect taxpayers and work fast. Like single-payer health insurance, "the great advantage of the scheme is its simplicity. It tackles the main problems head on. It gets the toxic assets -- all of them -- off the books of the banks at once. And it minimizes ultimate costs to taxpayers.” Cost to taxpayers is the talking point, but collapse of the financial system is the issue.

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BTS 2/16/09: Adam Curtis' "The Trap" ; KPFK Winter Fund Drive

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Adam Curtis (Century of the Self) has a new documentary, The Trap, which examines game theory and the Prisoners Dilemma as the strategic underpinning of the Cold War, based on the belief that humans are alone, act in their own self interest, and make rational choices – and will always betray. A Rand study showed the opposite, that humans cooperate and make the choice not to betray, but no matter – the analysts simply believed they had chosen unfit subjects but the model was correct. The theory came from work of John Nash, a paranoid schizophrenic deeply suspicious of everyone around him. He later repudiated his own theories as part of his illness. Curtis believes that this mathematical model of society, run on data and based on an exaggerated notion of human selfishness, (and the economic theories of von Hayek) has created a ‘cage’ for the Western world.

Using Britain under Blair and America under Clinton and then Bush, Curtis examines the “cage” these theories have created. Drugs like Prozac and psychological symptoms of anxiety and depression were being used to normalize behavior and make humans behave more predictably like machines. Curtis observes that the game theory/free market model is deeply flawed and the only people who behaved exactly according to the mathematical models created by game theory are economists themselves, and psychopaths! Finally, Curtis examines the concepts of positive and negative liberty introduced by Isaiah Berlin, which Tony Blair tried to implement .. The documentary reviews the Blair government and argues it achieved the opposite of freedom and the type of liberty it engendered lacked any kind of meaning and its military intervention in Iraq had provoked terrorist actions in the UK, which were then used to justify restrictions of liberty at home. The program concludes that the logical conclusion of following these models – as governments have for the last 50 years – has resulted in a society without meaning populated by selfish automatons.

There is more – and we will be offering this documentary as a thank you gift today for those who contribute to our winter fund drive and become listener-sponsors of KPFK. As the economy sinks there is a small investment you can make that will make a difference: keeping alternative voices on the air, bringing you information, analysis and understanding that will help in navigating these turbulent waters. Please consider pledging and show your support.

BTS 1/26/09: State of Labor; Medicare for All; UK Financial Meltdown

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On tonight’s program we begin with Tom Geoghagen, author of Which Side are you On? Trying to Be For Labor When it’s Flat on its Back. He is a labor lawyer and warrior for justice who is running for Rahm Emmanuel's congressional seat in Illinois's Fifth District. We’ll talk to him about the race, the state of labor and more.

We then turn to Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog and another a consummate crusader against corporateering who recently asked a simple question in a Jan 24 LA Times op-ed piece: Why should we have to be 65 to have access to public healthcare? We’ll talk to him about opening “Medicare for All,” and whether the proposed cuts in the California Budget crisis can be avoided.

Finally, the economic crisis deepens by the day, and as bad as it is here, Britain appears to be on the edge of bankruptcy. We’ll ask Hillel Ticktin in the UK whether Britain is the new Iceland – and we’ll also ask him about the nature of the financial crisis on his side of the Atlantic, how it differs from the American crisis, where the safety net has shredded, and more.

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BTS 1/19/09: Economic Crisis; Obama and MLK's Legacy

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It is Martin Luther King Day, the last day of the Bush administration and the day before the historic inauguration of our first African American President. Is this MLK’s dream achieved or simply the down payment, as Tavis Smiley has said? We’ll ask Bill Fletcher Jr. and Horace
Small
, both long time organizers of community and labor what they think.

But first, we’ll talk to Michael Hudson about the economy Obama inherits, the ‘depression this time’ or, as he puts it, the oligarchy is prepared and is putting the class war back in business.

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BTS 1/12/09: Gaza; Sounds like Socialism; State Budget and Education

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Happy New Year to you all. Today we look at the Israeli offensive in Gaza and the politics of Hamas with Dr. Hisham Ahmed, a secular Palestinian scholar, formerly of Birzeit University in the West Bank, now teaching politics at Saint Mary’s College.

We’ll continue on the Middle East crisis and our discussion of ‘sounds like socialism’ with Chris Hedges: he’s a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist on Truthdig who spent two decades as a foreign correspondent for NY Times including seven years in the Middle East. Among his many books are the best-selling American Fascists and War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He recently wrote a column called “Why I’m a Socialist.” We’ll ask him about that and his views on the war in Gaza.

Plus, Josh Pechthalt, Vice President of the UTLA joins us from Sacramento where the UTLA is discussing their response to the State Budget shortfall and the cuts announced by Ramon Cortines: up to 2300 teachers could be eliminated, the school year cut back by five days and class sizes increased. He will fill us in on the situation and the ways they will fight the cuts.

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BTS 1/5/09: Economic Crisis 2008

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Today's edition of Beneath the Surface features some of Suzi's best interviews on the crippling economic crisis that swept the country - and the world - in 2008, and is poised to bring more pain in 2009.

We start with a comprehensive and in-depth look at the origins of the current crisis. Acclaimed economic historian and UCLA professor Robert Brenner takes a look beneath the surface at the long-term trajectory of the economic downturn and says that in this period of financialization, "what's good for Goldman Sachs is good for America."

Then, we revisit the bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Economist Michael Hudson sheds light on the nature of the capitalist nationalization of the banking industry, a process funded by US taxpayers.

Finally, Professor James K. Galbraith talks with Suzi about what an Obama New Deal could look like, and he suggests some radical policy proposals that he believes are possible strategies to find a way out of the crisis, and toward recovery.

BTS 12/29/08: Bill McKibben; Thomas Frank; Studs Terkel

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Today is our last show of 2008, and we'll be presenting a few of Suzi's best interviews of the past year.

We start with a sobering assessment of the tremendous ecological challenge facing all of us in 2009 and beyond. Suzi talks with renowned writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben, who warns that continued business as usual won't bring "morning in America, but dusk on Planet Earth." They'll also discuss his new grassroots climate organization, 350.org.

Suzi then speaks with author Thomas Frank about his book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, and they'll discuss the state of the conservative movement in the face of financial disaster.

Finally, we pay tribute to the great writer, radio personality, oral historian, and gadfly Studs Terkel, who died this year at the age of 96. We'll rebroadcast Suzi's interview with this inspiring and historic figure.

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BTS 12/22/08: Sounds Like Socialism - Greek Revolt; Crisis in Auto; What Is Socialism?

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Happy Holidays – and in these last hectic days of the year we’re going to slow down and return to our "Sounds Like Socialism" series.

First we'll have an update from Greece on the revolt, now two weeks and going strong, from Savas Michael Matsas - and we’ll ask him to consider the politics of the protest – it is anti-capitalist, but is it socialist?

We then talk to Jerry Tucker and Jack Rasmus about the future of the auto industry, now that President Bush ignored the Southern Republican Hooverite class warriors in the Senate and gave the auto industry $14.5 billion, this time to be micromanaged with conditions. There's no transparency for the taxpayer's bail-out of the financial sector, but very strict control for the auto industry. The UAW has already conceded on healthcare and Jack Rasmus thinks the automakers now want to scrap the pension system.

Finally, we'll talk to Richard Lichtman about socialism – what it is and what it isn't. With the press wondering whether the government bailouts spell the end of the free market, we’ll examine the limits of social democratic solutions, ask whether bail-outs mean nationalization, and if it sounds like socialism, is it?

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