The aspirations of nearly 30 million Kurds, most of whom live in Turkey, Iraq and Iran, were denied at the end of the first world war when no Kurdish state was created. Instead the kurds were divided between successor states of the Ottoman and Qajar empires. Subsequently victims of genocidal policies in Turkey and Iraq, in Iran the Kurds did not fare much better with the widespread execution of Kurdish separatists after the Islamic revolution. But now political developments in the Middle East have created new opportunities for Kurdish autonomy.
David McDowall is a specialist in Middle Eastern politics and history who has written the widely praised ‘A Modern History of the Kurds’ published by I.B. Tauris. He will talk about the long term story of the Kurds and possibilities for the present and the future.
The prospects for the Kurds – David McDowall at Cafe Diplo, 02/12/2013 by Cafe Diplo on Mixcloud
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the extraction of shale gas by a process of deep drilling, has been hailed in the US as a method of bridging the gap between carbon-based and ‘green’ energy. But the process involves the use of vast amounts of water containing highly toxic chemicals and arguably carries grave risks to public health and environmental stability. The process is therefore causing much contentious debate internationally and in the UK. Michael Hill is a chartered electrical engineer with many years experience in the oil & gas industry. He will explain the technology of fracking, about the novel advanced techniques which are planned for use in the UK for the first time and outline his concerns that unregulated fracking poses a significant threat to public health and the environment. Michael Hill has written several papers on regulating shale gas, published in local and national media and provided evidence to numerous institutions and government bodies. See the recent conference by the Greens in the European Parliament
Fracking – the facts, the impacts & how to protect the environment – Mike Hill at Cafe Diplo by Cafe Diplo on Mixcloud
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now under negotiation between the EU and the US is set to be the most significant trade liberalising agreement the world has ever seen. This treaty, and especially its proposals for investor-state dispute settlement, will empower corporations to override government laws protecting public health, environmental regulations and social policies where these interfere with corporate profiteering. Tax payers and citizens will once again be left dealing with the consequences and footing the bill. John Hilary, an expert on global trade issues, will discuss this alarming situation with us. He is the Executive Director of War on Want, and his recent book, The Poverty of Capitalism, is published by Pluto Press this October.
The death of Hugo Chavez has led to a period of turmoil and uncertainty in Venezuela with the opposition backed by the Obama administration calling into question the legitimacy of elections won by his chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro, with the intention to destabilise the Bolivarian Revolution.
Francisco Dominguez is Head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University and Secretary of the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign. He will look at the achievements of the Chavez era, the current political, social and economic situation in Venezuela and the future of the Bolivarian revolution at a time of great changes in Latin America.
Western rhetoric suggests that China’s economic success, its huge currency reserves, increasing foreign direct investment, and its growing international influence and ownership of foreign companies pose a profound threat to the balance of power within the global economy. But is this widely held perception true, or does it present a distorted picture of the country’s development and impact? Peter Nolan is centrally involved in discussions about the integration of China with the global economy, and has been described by the FT as ‘knowing more about Chinese companies and their international competition than anyone else on earth, including in China’. He holds the Chong Hua Chair in Chinese Development at the University of Cambridge, is the Director of the Chinese Executive Leadership Programme (CELP), and has written over a dozen books about the country, the latest of which Is China Buying the World? was published last year.
China takes over the World – Myth or reality? Peter Nolan at Cafe Diplo, 30/11/2013 by Cafe Diplo on Mixcloud
Societies all over the world are experiencing spiralling inequality, led by countries such as the US and Britain, which reached their high-water mark of equality in the 1970s, only to head firmly and swiftly in the opposite direction ever since. They relaxed the controls over corporations and high finance, allowing the rich to become super-rich without caring about their impact on the poor or the planet – and ultimately plunged the whole world into economic crisis. But it does not have to be that way. Danny Dorling is Professor of Human Geography at Sheffield University and an Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies in the Social Sciences. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education and poverty, concentrating on social and spatial inequalities to life chances both in Britain and further afield, and he has published more than a dozen books on issues relating to social inequalities. He will look at countries that have bucked the trend towards greater inequality and market mayhem and will propose some key ways in which we can restore levels of greater equality that would sustain us all.
Organisations cannot be held to account unless they are open to internal criticism, yet despite measures such as the Public Interest Disclosure Act, individuals within the UK’s institutions, public bodies and corporations are subject to severe gagging constraints. Whistleblowers are heavily penalised, both through mechanisms such as the Official Secrets Act and the Confidentiality Clauses built into employment agreements, and informally through loss of status and income, and social ostracism. How can they be protected, and encouraged to come forward despite the practical and psychological pressures that they face? Gavin MacFadyen will discuss these problems with us. He is Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism and has researched, directed and produced investigative programmes in numerous countries around the world. He is currently Visiting Professor at City University, London, and a founder of the broad-support lobbying group, Whistleblowers UK which was launched in 2012.
WHISTLEBLOWING: the consequences of dissent – Prof. Gavin MacFadyen by Cafe Diplo on Mixcloud
In an increasingly urbanized and interconnected world, similar challenges appear to face most modern cities, whether regarding housing, poverty, pollution or security concerns. Whilst institutionalized and proactive attempts to address these issues are not always met with the expected success, neo-liberal policies on the other hand seem to inevitably lead to the gentrification of newly regenerated areas and the migration of the poor further away from their work place. In this talk, Professor Allan Cochrane will explore the issues that are inherent to modern cities, the extent of their globalization and the possible routes towards more inclusive urban policies. The head of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Open University, Professor Cochrane is the author of ”Understanding Urban Policy. A Critical Approach” (Blackwell Publishing, 2006) and “Security – Welfare, Crime and Society” (Blackwell Publishing, 2008). In his current research work, he takes a special interest in the mechanisms that determine urban and regional policies whilst critically engaging with the discourse of sustainable communities.
Since 2001, the civil liberties of British citizens have been progressively eroded. Among other examples, the Extradition Act (2003) allows individuals to be extradited to another country for actions that are not criminal in the UK, and without prima facie evidence of a case against them being presented in a British court. This Act can result in long periods of detention without charge (British citizens have been detained for up to eight years). The proposed Justice and Security Bill, which allows for ‘secret courts’ also poses a potentially fatal challenge to principles underlying the Rule of Law. Louise Christian will discuss this dangerous situation with us. An award-winning British human rights lawyer, and co-founder of the Christian Khan law firm, she is a tireless campaigner in the cause of social justice, and recently acted for former Guantánamo detainee Martin Mubanga and three other Guantánamo detainees in an action against the government and the security services.
The endless expansion of production in pursuit of maximum private profit is the basis of our global capitalist economy. This system is environmentally unsustainable, and has also resulted in increasing inequality, enduring poverty, ruinous misallocation of resources and a series of devastating financial crises. Harry Shutt is an economic consultant, commentator and author who has long been a critic of capitalism. He asserts that the system is now outmoded, especially in view of modern technological advance, and that it must inevitablyevolve into a less dysfunctional structure. His books include The Trouble with Capitalism: An Inquiry into the causes of Global Economic Failure (1998); A New Democracy: Alternatives to a Bankrupt World Order (2001); The Decline of Capitalism: Can a Self-Regulated Profits System Survive?(2005) and most recently Beyond the Profits System: Possibilities for a Post-Capitalist Era published by Zed Books in 2010.