50 Champions for Truth & Justice!

Western World’s Most Influential Public Intellectuals & Global Thinkers

As the year 2018 is drawing to a close, we here at “It Starts Today” have put together a list of 50 defenders of human freedoms and promoters of self-determination that are most active in the world today. Although this list is made up of people who call the “West” their home, we would have loved to add to this list the many outstanding individuals who live and work in the non-aligned nations and other parts of the world. There wasn’t a shortage of worthy candidates for this list, some of whom were unfortunately rejected due to their corrosive and divisive ideas and beliefs.

It is not easy not be too discouraged by the way the world looks at this moment. There seems to be no end to the conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, no end to the bravado and bluster in the political language, no end to the constant talk of war, the lies, deceits and distractions spread by the supposed “Leaders” of this world. Frederick Douglass once said that “where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Douglass was a mid-nineteenth century an African-American social reformer, but his exhortations have an ominous ring of global dimensions to them.

I know we all pin our hopes for the future and want things to change for the better for ourselves and our children, but human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable, democracy and freedom will not come from the government, or handed down to us by the powers above.  Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle, it comes from the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals like those found on this list.

Today’s Champions for Truth & Justice are some of the most gifted and articulate intellectuals, media hosts, academics, columnists, authors, scientists, thinkers, theologians, philosophers, activists, investigative journalists and politicians; all of whom have spent their entire life searching for truth in the darkest corners, exposing the lies for all to see, and fighting for fairness and dignity for the weakest and least fortunate among us.

And during those times when we feel so helpless, our ‘Champions for Truth and Justice’ will urge us not despair, they will tell us that when we are right, and persist, things will change. The power elites and their media lackeys may not tell us the truth most of the times, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies.


“Then the eyes of both were opened and they knew…”

While our governments, which have wasted trillions of our dollars (our collective wealth) on endless war and financial corruption, there is poverty, and homelessness, unemployment and overcrowded classrooms, crumbling infrastructure and environmental degradation. And if this is not bad enough, there are billions of even less fortunate people in utter despair in need of clean water and medicine, who suffer from the ravages of war and corruption, malnutrition and disease.

When I visit high schools and see how the kids from 50+ different social and cultural backgrounds study and play together, I wonder why can’t we adults behave this way. I am optimistic that the future generation will demand an end to wars, that our children will do something that has not yet been done in history and that is to wipe out all the boundaries that separate us from each other, be they religious, economic, cultural or political. Our ‘Champions for Truth and Justice’ must reach out to them, before the establishment does; this is possible thanks to the Internet and other alternative grassroots initiatives.


And with all the near hysteria in fundamentalist circles over the conviction that the Rapture or the return of the Mahdi are now upon us, they and anyone else looking for a supernatural intervention will be sadly disappointed. Instead I believe that it is through our exterior actions, and good works and deeds, that we can collectively create the right conditions for Heaven to exist on Earth. Inversely, I am also convinced that it is our collective evil that perpetuates the existence of Hell on Earth for the weak, the poor and the helpless both here and abroad.

Just like our Champions for Truth and Justice, we at “It Starts Today” would like to devote more resources to help make this a better world; we need your help right now. Please CONTACT US if you want to help write for this blog. Although we had other names to add to this list but we had to stop somewhere. Please SEND us your suggestions, and if we have enough names we hope to be publishing a new list hopefully once or twice a year.

Alan B. Nagy

Now let’s get to the list! (Alphabetical by surname)

Tariq Ali – Writer, Journalist & Filmmaker

Tariq Ali - Writer, Journalist & FilmmakerTariq Ali‎; born 21 October 1943 is a British Pakistani writer, journalist, and filmmaker. He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and Sin Permiso, and contributes to The Guardian, CounterPunch, and the London Review of Books. He is the author of several books, including Pakistan: Military Rule or People’s Power (1970), Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (1991), Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope (2006), Conversations with Edward Said (2005), Bush in Babylon (2003), and Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity (2002), A Banker for All Seasons (2007), The Duel (2008), The Obama Syndrome (2010) and The Extreme Centre: A Warning (2015). His public profile began to grow during the Vietnam War, when he engaged in debates against the war with such figures as Henry Kissinger and Michael Stewart. He testified at the Russell Tribunal over US involvement in Vietnam. As time passed, Ali became increasingly critical of American and Israeli foreign policies. He was also a vigorous opponent of American relations with Pakistan that tended to back military dictatorships over democracy. He was one of the marchers on the American embassy in London in 1968 in a demonstration against the Vietnam war. He has been described as “the alleged inspiration” for the Rolling Stones’ song “Street Fighting Man”, recorded in 1968. John Lennon’s “Power to the People” was inspired by an interview Lennon gave to Ali.

Karen Armstrong – Author & Religion Commentator

Karen Armstrong - Author & Religion CommentatorKaren Armstrong; born 14 November 1944 is a British author and commentator known for her books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic religious sister, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical Christian faith. She attended St Anne’s College, Oxford, while in the convent and majored in English. She became disillusioned and left the convent in 1969. She first rose to prominence in 1993 with her book A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Her work focuses on commonalities of the major religions, such as the importance of compassion and the Golden Rule. Armstrong received the US$100,000 TED Prize in February 2008. She used that occasion to call for the creation of a Charter for Compassion, which was unveiled the following year. Armstrong’s The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006) continues the themes covered in A History of God and examines the emergence and codification of the world’s great religions during the so-called Axial age identified by Karl Jaspers. Awarded the $100,000 TED Prize in February 2008, Armstrong called for drawing up a Charter for Compassion, in the spirit of the Golden Rule, to identify shared moral priorities across religious traditions, in order to foster global understanding and a peaceful world. It was presented in Washington, D.C. in November 2009. Signatories include Queen Noor of Jordan, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Paul Simon.

Reza Aslan – Writer, Scholar/Historian of Religion

Reza Aslan - Writer, Scholar/Historian of ReligionReza Aslan; born May 3, 1972 is an Iranian-American writer, scholar of religions, and professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. His educational background is in religious studies and the history of religion, and includes a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written two books on religion: No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Aslan is a member of the American Academy of Religion. On 26 July 2013, Aslan was interviewed on Spirited Debate, a Fox News webcast by anchor Lauren Green about his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Green was “unsatisfied with Aslan’s credentials,” and she pressed Aslan, questioning why a Muslim would write about Jesus. Aslan answered, “Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.” The interview lasted about ten minutes and focused “on Aslan’s background more than the actual contents of the book.” The video clip of the interview went viral within days and the book, which was up to that point selling “steadily”, appeared at the 4th place on the New York Times print hardcover best-seller list. By late July 2013, it was topping the U.S. best-seller list on Amazon.

Max Blumenthal – Author, Journalist & Blogger

Max Blumenthal - Author, Journalist & BloggerMax Blumenthal (born December 18, 1977) is an American author, journalist, and blogger. A senior writer for Alternet and formerly a writer for The Daily Beast and Al Akhbar, he is the author of Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (2009), which appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list and Lannan Literary Award-winning Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (2013). He formerly worked with Media Matters for America. Blumenthal contributes weekly articles to Alternet where he has been a senior writer since September 2014. He focuses on the deepening crisis in the Middle East and its role in shaping political dynamics and public opinion in the US, particularly the special relationship with Israel. He also occasionally covers domestic issues such as corporate media consolidation, the influence of the Christian right and police brutality. His reporting from the Gaza strip in 2014 was developed into a book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.

Noam Chomsky – Linguist, Philosopher, Political Commentator & Social Justice Activist

Noam Chomsky - Linguist, Philosopher, Political Commentator & Social Justice ActivistAvram Noam Chomsky; born December 7, 1928 is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, social justice activist, and anarcho-syndicalist advocate. Sometimes described as the “father of modern linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy. He has spent most of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is currently Professor Emeritus, and has authored over 100 books. He has been described as a prominent cultural figure, and was voted the “world’s top public intellectual” in a 2005 poll. Born to a middle-class Jewish family in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from relatives in New York City. He later undertook studies in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained his BA, MA, and PhD, while from 1951 to 1955 he was appointed to Harvard University’s Society of Fellows. In 1967 Chomsky gained public attention for his vocal opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, in part through his essay The Responsibility of Intellectuals, and came to be associated with the New Left while being arrested on multiple occasions for his anti-war activism. Following his retirement from active teaching, he has continued his vocal public activism, for instance supporting the anti-Iraq War and Occupy movements. Chomsky has been a highly influential academic figure throughout his career, and was cited within the field of Arts and Humanities more often than any other living scholar between 1980 and 1992. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Chomsky as the 38th most cited scholar of the 20th century. In a recent poll by Brian Leiter he was ranked as tenth most important anglophone philosopher from 1945 to 2000. His work has influenced fields such as artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, logic, mathematics, music theory and analysis, political science, programming language theory and psychology. Chomsky continues to be well known as a political activist, and a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberal capitalism, and the mainstream news media. Ideologically, he aligns himself with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

Patrick Cockburn – Journalist & Foreign Correspondent

patrick-cockburnPatrick Oliver Cockburn; born march 5, 1950, is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times and, since 1991, The Independent. He has also worked as a correspondent in Moscow and Washington and is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009, Foreign Commentator of the Year (2013), Foreign Affairs Journalist of the Year (2014), Foreign Reporter of the Year (2014). Seymour Hersh has described him as the “best western journalist at work in Iraq today.” Cockburn was born in Ireland and grew up in County Cork. His parents were the well-known socialist author and journalist Claud Cockburn and Patricia Byron, author of the book Figure of Eight. He was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, Perthshire, and Trinity College, Oxford. He was a research student at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast, from 1972 to 1975. Cockburn has written three books on Iraq. The first, Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein, was written with his brother Andrew prior to the war in Iraq. The same book was later re-published in Britain with the title Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession. Two more were written by Cockburn alone after the U.S. invasion, following his reporting from Iraq. The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (2006) mixes first-hand accounts with reporting. Cockburn’s book is critical of the invasion as well as the Salafi fundamentalists who comprise much of the insurgency. The Occupation was nominated for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction. The second, Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq was published in 2008. Muqtada is a journalistic account of the recent history of the religiously and politically prominent Sadr family, the rise of Muqtada, and the development of the Sadrist movement since the 2003 U.S. invasion.[citation needed] He is also the author of The Jihadis Return: Isis and the New Sunni Uprising (2014), which has been translated into nine languages, and The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution (2015). Both are about how the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) was able to set up its own state in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

Stephen F. Cohen – Scholar of Russian Studies

Stephen F. Cohen - Scholar of Russian StudiesStephen Frand Cohen; born November 25, 1938 is an American scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University. His academic work concentrates on modern Russian history since the Bolshevik Revolution and the country’s relationship with the United States. Stephen F. Cohen’s grandfather emigrated to the United States from Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) only able to speak Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish. Stephen Cohen attended Indiana University Bloomington, where he earned a B.S. degree and an M.A. degree in Russian Studies. While studying in England, he went on a four-week trip to the Soviet Union, where he became interested in its history and politics. Cohen, who received his Ph.D. in government and Russian studies at Columbia University, became a professor of politics and Russian studies at Princeton University in 1968, where he taught until 1998, and has been teaching at New York University since. Cohen is well known in both Russian and American circles. He is a close personal friend of former Soviet Pres. Mikhail Gorbachev. Cohen participated in a Munk Debate over the proposal “Be it resolved the West should engage not isolate Russia…” He, together with Vladimir Posner, argued in favor. They were opposed by Anne Applebaum and Garry Kasparov. The opposing side gained 10% of the audience’s vote over the course of the debate and won.

Juan Cole – Academic & Commentator

Juan Cole - Academic & CommentatorJohn Ricardo “Juan” Cole; born October 23, 1952 is an American academic and commentator on the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment (juancole.com) which is also syndicated on Truthdig.com. Cole’s father served in the United States Army Signal Corps. When Cole was age two, his family left New Mexico for France. His father completed two tours with the U.S. military in France (a total of seven years) and one 18-month stay at Kagnew Station in Asmara, Eritrea (then Ethiopia). (Cole reports that he first became interested in Islam in Eritrea, which has a population roughly half Christian and half Muslim.) Cole was awarded Fulbright-Hays fellowships to India (1982) and to Egypt (1985–1986). In 1991 he held a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for the study of Shia Islam in Iran. From 1999 until 2004, Juan Cole was the editor of The International Journal of Middle East Studies. He has served in professional offices for the American Institute of Iranian Studies and on the editorial board of the journal Iranian Studies. He is a member of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and served as the organization’s president for 2006. In 2006, he received the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism administered by Hunter College.

Jeremy Corbyn – British Politician & Leader of the Labour Party (Opposition)

Jeremy-CorbynJeremy Bernard Corbyn; born May 26, 1949, is a British politician who is the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. He has been the Member of Parliament since 1983. Born in Chippenham, Corbyn attended North London Polytechnic. Before entering politics he worked as a representative for various trade unions. His political career began when he was elected to Haringey Council in 1974 and later was secretary of the Islington Constituency Labour Party (CLP). He continued in both roles until he entered the House of Commons as an MP. He is known for his dedicated activism and rebelliousness, frequently voting against the Labour whip when the party was in government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Corbyn is a self-described democratic socialist and has received awards for his work as an international human rights campaigner. Anti-austerity, he advocates reversing cuts to public sector and welfare funding made since 2010, proposing combatting tax evasion and avoidance by corporations and wealthy individuals—and reducing business subsidies—as an alternative to austerity programmes. Strongly critical of social inequality, privatisation and poverty in the United Kingdom, he proposes renationalisation of public utilities and the railways, abolishing university tuition fees, and financing “People’s Quantitative Easing” to fund infrastructure and renewable energy projects. A longstanding anti-war activist, Corbyn supports a foreign policy of military non-interventionism and a unilateral policy of nuclear disarmament. Corbyn is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Amnesty International and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). He was the national chair of the Stop the War Coalition from June 2011 until September 2015. Following Labour’s loss in the 2015 general election and the resignation of Ed Miliband, Corbyn announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Labour Party on 6 June 2015. Although he was regarded as a fringe hopeful in the leadership election—having only just secured sufficient nominations from fellow Labour MPs to be placed on the ballot—Corbyn quickly emerged as the lead candidate in opinion polls and secured the support of the majority of trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party, and three non-affiliated unions. He was elected Leader of the Labour Party on 12 September 2015, with a landslide vote of 59.5% in the first round of the ballot. Corbyn was a well-known campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, serving on the National Executive of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and was arrested in 1984 while demonstrating outside South Africa House. After members of Islamic State carried out terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, Corbyn suggested that the only way to deal with the threat posed by the jihadist group would be to reach a political settlement aimed at resolving the Syrian Civil War. Prime Minister David Cameron sought to build political consensus for UK military intervention against IS targets in Syria in the days after the attacks. Speaking at a regional party conference in Bristol on 21 November, Corbyn warned against “external intervention” in Syria but told delegates that Labour would “consider the proposals the Government brings forward”. Cameron set out his case for military intervention to Parliament on 26 November, telling MPs that it was the only way to guarantee Britain’s safety and would be part of a “comprehensive” strategy to defeat IS. Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet met immediately after the Prime Minister’s statement in which Corbyn said he would continue with efforts “to reach a common view” on Syria, while Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn suggested the case for air strikes was “compelling”. Later that evening Corbyn sent a letter to Labour MPs saying that he could not support military action against Islamic State: “The issue [is] whether what the Prime Minister is proposing strengthens, or undermines, our national security…I do not believe the current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.” Amid widespread reports of division in the Parliamentary Labour Party and criticism of his leadership, Corbyn, on the Andrew Marr Show, said he was “not going anywhere” and was “enjoying every minute” of his leadership, insisting that the final decision on whether the Labour Party would oppose air strikes rested with him. On 30 November, Corbyn agreed that Labour MPs would be given a free vote on air strikes when the issue was voted on two days later. A total of 66 Labour MPs voted for the Syrian air strikes, including Hilary Benn and Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson, while Corbyn and the majority of Labour MPs voted against. In 2013, Corbyn was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award for his “consistent efforts over a 30-year parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non-violence.” In the same year, he was honoured by the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative for his “ongoing support for a number of non-government organisations and civil causes”. Corbyn has won the Parliamentary “Beard of the Year Award” a record five times, as well as being named as the Beard Liberation Front’s Beard of the Year, having previously described his beard as “a form of dissent” against New Labour.

Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Author & Science Communicator

Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Author & Science CommunicatorNeil deGrasse Tyson; born October 5, 1958 is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. The center is part of the American Museum of Natural History, where Tyson founded the Department of Astrophysics in 1997 and has been a research associate in the department since 2003. From 1995 to 2005, Tyson wrote monthly essays in the “Universe” column for Natural History magazine, some of which were published in his book Death by Black Hole (2007). During the same period, he wrote a monthly column in Star Date magazine, answering questions about the universe under the pen name “Merlin”. Material from the column appeared in his books Merlin’s Tour of the Universe (1998) and Just Visiting This Planet (1998). Tyson served on a 2001 government commission on the future of the U.S. aerospace industry, and on the 2004 Moon, Mars and Beyond commission. He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in the same year. From 2006 to 2011, he hosted the television show NOVA ScienceNow on PBS. Since 2009, he has hosted the weekly podcast Star Talk. In 2014, he hosted the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a reboot of Carl Sagan’s 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences awarded Tyson the Public Welfare Medal in 2015 for his “extraordinary role in exciting the public about the wonders of science”.

Bart Ehrman – New Testament Scholar

Bart Ehrman - New Testament ScholarBart D. Ehrman; born October 5, 1955 is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a leading scholar in his field, having written and edited over 25 books, including three college textbooks, and has also achieved acclaim at the popular level, authoring five New York Times bestsellers. Ehrman’s work focuses on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the development of early Christianity. Ehrman became an Evangelical Christian as a teenager. In his books, he recounts his youthful enthusiasm as a born-again, fundamentalist Christian, certain that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error. His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and also textual criticism. During his graduate studies, however, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled. He remained a liberal Christian for 15 years but later became an agnostic after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering. 2014 saw the publication of How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee which examines the historical Jesus, who according to Ehrman neither thought of himself as God nor claimed to be God, and how he came to be thought of as the incarnation of God himself.

Tom Engelhardt – Writer & Editor

tom-engelhardtThomas M. “Tom” Engelhardt; born 1944 is an American writer and editor. He is the creator of The Nation Institute’s tomdispatch.com, an online blog. He is also the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of the 1998 book, The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation. Engelhardt graduated from Yale University, where he was attracted into the study of Chinese history by Mary C. Wright. He then took a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University. He was a founding member of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars and became in involved in a draft resistance movement in opposition to the American war in Vietnam. As part of these activities, he became a printer and moved to Berkeley, California. There he began to write about the resistance to the war, and, as he later put it, “the next thing I knew I was a journalist and an editor.” Engelhardt has been an editor for more than 30 years, working in book and news publishing. He was a senior editor at Pantheon Books where he edited such books as Maus by Art Spiegelman. Currently he is a consulting editor at Metropolitan Books. He also teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is a teaching fellow.[3] In 1991, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He once described the editing process as:…more like a craft, that’s right, because there isn’t as much of a preset pattern for it. There’s a word I often think about because it’s such a negative in our society, which is ‘used.’ You say a ‘used’ car—something previously owned and not particularly good, or ‘I’ve been used, I’ve been exploited.’ But the most beautiful feeling about editing for an editor is that feeling of being used and subsumed. Engelhardt created TomDispatch in November 2001, and in 2002, it received support from The Nation Institute. He has described the site as the “sideline that ate his life”. Contributors have included Rebecca Solnit, Bill McKibben, Jonathan Schell, Fatima Bhutto, Nick Turse, Pepe Escobar and Noam Chomsky. He has written many articles and books including The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s.

Pepe Escobar – Journalist

pepe-escobarMichel Pepe Escobar; born 1954 is a Brazilian journalist. He writes a column – The Roving Eye – for Asia Times Online, and works as an analyst for RT, Iran’s Press TV, and formerly Al Jazeera. Escobar has focused on Central Asia and the Middle East, and has covered Iran on a continuous basis since the late 1990s. Escobar has reported extensively from Afghanistan. In August 2000, Escobar and two other journalists were arrested by the Taliban, and accused of photographing a soccer match. The following year, he interviewed Ahmad Shah Masoud, the military leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, shortly before Masoud was assassinated. On television, Escobar has commented on Russia’s RT network, Iran’s PressTV, and Qatar’s Al Jazeera’s The Stream. On radio, he has been a guest on Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Show, The Peter B. Collins Show, Anti-War Radio with Scott Horton, What Really Happened Show, Corbett Report, The Voice of Russia’s Burning Point, Ernest Hancock’s FreedomPhoenix.com and The Alex Jones Show. His article, “Get Osama! Now! Or else…”, predicting US intervention in Afghanistan, was published by Asia Times Online two weeks before the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

Norman Finkelstein – Political Scientist, Activist, Professor, & Author

Norman Finkelstein - Political Scientist, Activist, Professor, & AuthorNorman Gary Finkelstein; born December 8, 1953 is an American political scientist, activist, professor, and author. His primary fields of research are the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust, an interest motivated by the experiences of his parents who were Jewish Holocaust survivors. He is a graduate of Binghamton University and received his Ph.D in Political Science from Princeton University. He has held faculty positions at Brooklyn College, Rutgers University, Hunter College, New York University, and DePaul University where he was an assistant professor from 2001 to 2007. Finkelstein has written of his Jewish parents’ experiences during World War II. After the war they met in a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria, and then emigrated to the United States, where his father became a factory worker and his mother a homemaker and later a bookkeeper. Finkelstein’s mother was an ardent pacifist. Both his parents died in 1995. In 2007, after a highly publicized feud between Finkelstein and an academic opponent, Alan Dershowitz, Finkelstein’s tenure bid at DePaul was denied. Finkelstein was placed on administrative leave for the 2007–2008 academic year, and on September 5, 2007, he announced his resignation after coming to a settlement with the university on generally undisclosed terms. An official statement from DePaul strongly defended the decision to deny Finkelstein tenure, stated that outside influence played no role in the decision. Finkelstein is currently teaching in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Sakarya University in Turkey.

Amy Goodman – Broadcast Journalist, Columnist & Investigative Reporter

Amy Goodman - Broadcast Journalist, Columnist & Investigative ReporterAmy Goodman; born April 13, 1957 is an American broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist, investigative reporter and author. Goodman’s investigative journalism career includes coverage of the East Timor independence movement and Chevron Corporation’s role in Nigeria. Since 1996, Goodman has hosted Democracy Now!, an independent global news program broadcast daily on radio, television and the Internet. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Thomas Merton Award in 2004, a Right Livelihood Award in 2008, and an Izzy Award in 2009 for “special achievement in independent media”. In 2012, Goodman received the Gandhi Peace Award for a “significant contribution to the promotion of an enduring international peace”. Goodman is the author of five books, including the 2012 The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope. Goodman had been news director of Pacifica Radio station WBAI in New York City for over a decade when she co-founded Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report in 1996. Since then, Democracy Now! has been called “probably the most significant progressive news institution that has come around in some time” by professor and media critic Robert McChesney. In February 2015, Goodman (along with Laura Poitras) received the 2014 I.F. Stone Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

Al Gore – Politician & Environmentalist

Al Gore - Politician & EnvironmentalistAlbert Arnold “Al” Gore, Jr.; born March 31, 1948 is an American politician and environmentalist who served as the 45th Vice President of the United States from 1993 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Chosen as Clinton’s running mate in their successful 1992 campaign, he was reelected in 1996. At the end of Clinton’s second term, Gore was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 2000. In what was one of the closest presidential races in history, while Gore won the national popular vote, he lost the electoral vote, and thus the Presidency, to George W. Bush. After leaving office, Gore remained prominent as an author and environmental activist, whose work in climate change activism earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Gore was an elected official for 24 years. He was a Congressman from Tennessee (1977–85) and from 1985 to 1993 served as one of the state’s Senators. He served as Vice President during the Clinton administration from 1993 to 2001. In the 2000 presidential election, Gore won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College to Republican George W. Bush. A controversial election dispute over a vote recount in Florida was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 5–4 in favor of Bush. Gore is the founder and current chair of the Alliance for Climate Protection. Gore has received a number of awards including the Nobel Peace Prize (joint award with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007), a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album (2009) for his book An Inconvenient Truth, a Primetime Emmy Award for Current TV (2007), and a Webby Award (2005). Gore was also the subject of the Academy Award-winning (2007) documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. In 2007 he was named a runner-up for Time ’s 2007 Person of the Year.

Glenn Greenwald – Lawyer, Journalist & Author

Glenn Greenwald - Lawyer, Journalist & AuthorGlenn Edward Greenwald; born March 6, 1967 is an American lawyer, journalist and author. He was a columnist for Guardian US from August 2012 to October 2013. He was a columnist for Salon.com from 2007 to 2012, and an occasional contributor to The Guardian. Greenwald worked as a constitutional and civil rights litigator. At Salon he contributed as a columnist and blogger, focusing on political and legal topics.[8] He has also contributed to other newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, The National Interest and In These Times. In February 2014 he became, along with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Greenwald was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013. Four of the five books he has written have been on The New York Times Best Sellers list. In June 2013 Greenwald became widely known after The Guardian published the first of a series of reports detailing United States and British global surveillance programs, based on classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. The series on which Greenwald worked along with others won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. His reporting on the National Security Agency (NSA) won numerous other awards around the world, including top investigative journalism prizes from the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting, the 2013 Online Journalism Awards, the Esso Award for Excellence in Reporting in Brazil for his articles in O Globo on NSA mass surveillance of Brazilians (becoming the first foreigner to win the award), the 2013 Libertad de Expresion Internacional award from Argentinian magazine Perfil, and the 2013 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His work on the NSA files was in part the subject of the film Citizenfour, which won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Greenwald appeared onstage at the Oscar ceremony with the film’s director, Laura Poitras, as she accepted the award.

Tom Harpur – Author, Columnist & Theologian

Tom Harpur - Author, Columnist & TheologianThe Reverend Thomas William “Tom” Harpur; born 1929 is a Canadian author, broadcaster, columnist and theologian. He is the author of a number of books, including For Christ’s Sake (1993), Life after Death (1996), and The Pagan Christ (2004). Harpur worked as a journalist at the Toronto Star for thirty years, twelve of which were as the newspaper’s religion editor. Since leaving that position in 1984 he has continued to contribute a regular column on religious and ethical issues. Harpur has also written a number of books on religion and theology, ten of which became Canadian bestsellers and two of which were made into TV series for VisionTV. For a time he had his own TV show, Harpur’s Heaven and Hell, and has hosted a variety of radio and television programs on the topic of religion, particularly on VisionTV. He has, over the years, been a frequent commentator on religious news events for most of the Canadian networks, especially CBC. In 1996 his bestseller Life After Death about near-death experiences was turned into a 10-episode TV series hosted by Harpur himself. Harpur’s 2004 book The Pagan Christ was named the Canadian non-fiction bestseller of the year by the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.

Thom Hartmann – Radio/TV Host & Author

Thom Hartmann - Radio/TV Host & AuthorThomas Carl “Thom” Hartmann; born May 7, 1951 is an American radio host, author, former psychotherapist, entrepreneur, and progressive political commentator. Hartmann has hosted a nationally syndicated radio show, The Thom Hartmann Program, since 2003 and a nightly television show, The Big Picture, since 2008. Hartmann’s 2002 article, “Talking Back To Talk Radio”, became part of the original business plan of Air America Radio, and he started his radio program out of his home in Vermont in March 2003. He moved to the Air America network in 2007 and then to the Jones Radio Network (later Dial Global) in 2009. The radio show is also broadcast on community/non-profit stations via Pacifica Radio and Free Speech TV. Hartmann’s national program, on the air since 2003 and now in the 3PM to 6PM ET daypart, was chosen by Air America to replace Al Franken on most Air America affiliates in 2007. From 2008 to 2011, Talkers Magazine rated Hartmann the most popular liberal talk show host in America, rising from number 10 among all talk show hosts in 2008 to number 8 in 2011. According to his syndicator Dial Global, more people listen to Hartmann’s show on more stations than any other progressive talk show in America. The Thom Hartmann Program is estimated by industry magazine Talkers to have 2.75 million unique listeners per week.

Stephen Hawking – Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist & Author

Stephen Hawking - Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist & AuthorStephen William Hawking; born 8 January 1942 is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and has achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his book A Brief History of Time appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. In 2006 Hawking posed an open question on the Internet: “In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?”, later clarifying: “I don’t know the answer. That is why I asked the question, to get people to think about it, and to be aware of the dangers we now face.” Hawking has expressed concern that life on Earth is at risk from “a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of”. In March 1968, Hawking marched alongside Tariq Ali and Vanessa Redgrave to protest against the Vietnam War. He is a longstanding Labour Party supporter. He recorded a tribute for the 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, called the 2003 invasion of Iraq a “war crime”, campaigned for nuclear disarmament, and has supported stem cell research, universal health care, and action to prevent climate change.

Chris Hedges – American Journalist, Activist & Author

Chris Hedges - American Journalist, Activist & AuthorChristopher Lynn “Chris” Hedges; born September 18, 1956 is an American journalist, activist, author, and Presbyterian minister. Hedges spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He was based in the Middle East for five years, serving for four of those years as the Middle East bureau chief. He then covered the war in the former Yugoslavia as the Balkan bureau chief based in Sarajevo. He later covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East from Paris. He was part of a team of reporters that won the 2002 Pulitzer prize for their coverage of global terrorism. Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of several books including War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)—a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction—Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009), Death of the Liberal Class (2010), the New York Times best seller, written with cartoonist Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), and his most recent Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015). Hedges is currently a columnist for the progressive news and commentary website Truthdig, a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City, and a contributing author for OpEdNews. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, NPR, Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990–2005). In 2002, Hedges was part of a group of eight reporters at The New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey. He has described himself as a socialist.

Seymour Hersh – Investigative Journalist & Political Writer

Seymour Hersh - Investigative Journalist & Political WriterSeymour Myron Hersh; born April 8, 1937 is an American investigative journalist and political writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine on military and security matters. He has also won two National Magazine Awards and is a five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award. He first gained recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. He, in 2004, reported on the US military’s mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. While working in Washington Hersh first met and befriended I. F. Stone, whose I. F. Stone’s Weekly would serve as an initial inspiration for Hersh’s later work. It was during this time that Hersh began to form his investigative style, often walking out of regimented press briefings at the Pentagon and seeking out one-on-one interviews with high-ranking officers. After a falling out with the editors at the AP when they insisted on watering down a story about the US government’s work on biological and chemical weapons, Hersh left the AP and sold his story to The New Republic. During the 1968 presidential election, he served as press secretary for the campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy. After leaving the McCarthy campaign, Hersh returned to journalism as a freelancer covering the Vietnam War. In 1969, Hersh received a tip from Geoffrey Cowan of The Village Voice regarding an Army lieutenant being court-martialled for killing civilians in Vietnam. His subsequent investigation, sold to the Dispatch News Service, was run in thirty-three newspapers and exposed the My Lai massacre, winning him the Pulitzer Prize in 1970. His 1983 book The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House won him the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times book prize in biography. In 1985, Hersh contributed to the PBS television documentary Buying the Bomb. In 1993 Hersh became a regular contributor to The New Yorker. Hersh has appeared regularly on the syndicated television news program Democracy Now!

Michael Hudson – Research Professor of Economics

michael-hudsonMichael Hudson; born 1939 is research professor of economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC) and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.[1] He is a former Wall Street analyst and consultant as well as president of the Institute for the Study of Long-term Economic Trends (ISLET) and a founding member of International Scholars Conference on Ancient Near Eastern Economies (ISCANEE). Hudson has written cover stories for Harper’s Magazine and is on the editorial board of Lapham’s Quarterly. He is a regular on American Public Media’s Marketplace, Bloomberg Radio, has been on numerous Pacifica Radio interview programs, and is a regular contributor to CounterPunch. He has written for the Journal of International Affairs, Commonweal, Bible Review, International Economy, The New York Times op-eds, Financial Times opinion, and has often contributed editorials in leading Latvian, Polish, and Arabic business papers. His trade books are translated into Japanese, Chinese, Spanish. Hudson’s April 2006 Harper’s cover story, “The $4.7 Trillion Pyramid: Why Social Security Won’t Be Enough to Save Wall Street,” helped defeat the Bush administration’s attempt to privatize Social Security by showing its aim of steering wage withholding into the stock market to reflate stock market prices for the benefit of insiders and speculators – and to sell to the pension funds. His May 2006 Harper’s cover story, “The New Road to Serfdom: An illustrated guide to the coming real estate collapse,” was the first major national article forecasting – in precise chart form – the bursting of the real estate bubble and its consequences for homeowners and state and local government solvency. The November 2008 “How to Save Capitalism” issue of Harper’s includes an article by Hudson on the need to shift the burden of taxation to economic rents.

On parasitic financing; Hudson states finance has been key to guiding politics into reducing the productive capacity of the U.S. and Europe, even as the U.S. and Europe benefit from finance methods using similar and expanded techniques to harm Chile, Russia, Latvia, and Hungary. He states parasitic finance looks at industry and labor to determine how much wealth it can extract by fees, interest, and tax breaks, rather than providing needed capital to increase production and efficiency. He states the “magic of compounding interest” results in increasing debt that eventually extracts more wealth than production and labor are able to pay. Rather than extracting taxes from the “rentiers” to reduce the cost of labor and assets and use the tax revenue to improve infrastructure to increase production efficiency, he states the U.S. tax system, bank bailouts, and quantitative easing sacrifice labor and industry for the benefit of the finance sector. He states the Washington Consensus has encouraged the IMF and World Bank to impose austerity that the U.S. itself is not exposed to (thanks to dollar dominance) which leads to subjecting other countries to unfair trade that depletes natural resources and privatizing infrastructure that is sold at distressed prices that uses parasitic finance techniques (including western-style tax breaks) to extract the maximum amount of the country’s surplus rather than providing a price-competitive service.

On the banking crisis; Hudson states that the mortgage crisis was caused by parasitic finance that used law and outright fraud, and that the government backing of toxic debt and quantitative easing are ways to keep real estate inflated while the banks shift the real losses to U.S. labor, taxpayers, and the international community. Hudson states “quantitative easing” and “restoring stability” are euphemisms for the U.S. finance sector using the Federal Reserve and dollar dominance to engage in financial aggression to a degree that previously required military conquest. He points out Joseph Stiglitz has similar views. He states banks should have been allowed to fail with the government stepping in to protect savings and continue with qualified loans towards real productive capacity rather than financial loans that merely inflate asset prices. He states the Federal Reserve needs to understand inflating asset prices with low interest rates does not increase the long term productive capacity of the economy.

Paul Jay – Journalist & Filmmaker

Paul Jay - Journalist & FilmmakerPaul Jay; born 1951 is a journalist and filmmaker who founded and is CEO of The Real News Network. Jay was born and raised in Toronto and holds dual-citizenship with the United States. Jay is the nephew of screenwriter Ted Allan. A past chair of the Canadian Independent Film Caucus (now called DOC), the main organization of documentary filmmakers in Canada, Jay is the founding chair of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. He chaired the Hot Docs! board for its first five years. Jay was the creator and executive producer of CBC Newsworld’s flagship debate program counterSpin, for six seasons the prime time debate show about the news of the day. He also created and exec produced the debate show Face Off! for four years. Other work includes Justice Denied (Turner), The Life and Death of Owen Hart (TVO, A&E), Albanian Journey: End of an Era (TVOntario, CBC Witness). Jay exec-produced Through Thick and Thin (CBCNewsworld), Machine Gun (3×1 Discovery Canada&US), and The Famine Within (TVO). Jay was the co-creator and co-executive producer of Face Off, a nightly prime time debate program that ran four years on CBC Newsworld. Jay is currently the main producer on his news network The Real News. He worked with Gore Vidal for the launch of TRNN.

Clara Jeffery  –  Co-Editor, Mother Jones Magazine

clara-jefferyClara Jeffery ; born, August 25, 1967, Jeffery grew up in Arlington, Virginia. Clara got a Master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1993. Between 1993 and 1995, Jeffery was a staff editor and writer at Washington City Paper. She was a senior editor at Harper’s magazine (1995–2002), where she edited six articles nominated for a National Magazine Award, including essays by Barbara Ehrenreich that became Nickel and Dimed, and several anthologized in the “Best American” series. She became deputy editor of Mother Jones, a position she had held for four years, and was promoted to co-editor in August 2006 along with Monika Bauerlein. Together, Jeffery and Bauerlein have overhauled Mother Jones magazine’s website, putting a much greater emphasis on staff-generated, daily news and original reporting. At Mother Jones magazine, Jeffery has edited much of the magazine’s coverage of climate change, including the magazine’s 2006 Oceans package and a 2005 article by Chris Mooney on ExxonMobil’s funding of climate change skeptics, which was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Jeffery also headed up Mother Jones magazine’s Iraq War Timeline project and edited Charles Bowden’s “Exodus,” an in-depth investigation into immigration and border policy. The magazine received a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2008 and 2010. In 2012 Mother Jones broke the story about Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks, which were controversial prior to Barack Obama winning reelection. In 2002, Jeffery wrote an article on the Salton Sea for Harper’s, “Go West Old Man: Where the American Dream Goes Down the Drain”, which received an honorable mention in Best American Science and Nature Writing. She has also written for Slate, the Huffington Post, San Francisco Magazine, and the Chicago Reporter. During her tenure, Mother Jones has won National Magazine Awards for general excellence, relaunched its website, and established bureaus in Washington and New York.

Michio Kaku – Futurist, Theoretical Physicist & Science Popularizer

Michio Kaku - Futurist, Theoretical Physicist & Science PopularizerMichio Kaku; born January 24, 1947 is an American futurist, theoretical physicist and popularizer of science. Dr. Kaku is a Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York. Kaku is most widely known as a popularizer of science and physics outreach specialist. He has written books and appeared on many television programs as well as film. He also hosts a weekly radio program. He has written several books about physics and related topics, has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film, and writes extensive online blogs and articles. He has written three New York Times Best Sellers: Physics of the Impossible (2008), Physics of the Future (2011), and The Future of the Mind (2014). Kaku has hosted several TV specials for the BBC, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and the Science Channel. In 1999 Kaku was one of the scientists profiled in the feature-length film Me & Isaac Newton, directed by Michael Apted. It played theatrically in the United States, was later broadcast on national TV, and won several film awards. Kaku has appeared in many forms of media and on many programs and networks, including Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, Nightline, 20/20, Naked Science, The History Channel, The Science Channel, The Discovery Channel. He was interviewed for the PBS documentary, The Path to Nuclear Fission: The Story of Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn.

Naomi Klein – Author, Social Activist & Filmmaker

Naomi Klein - Author, Social Activist & FilmmakerNaomi Klein; born May 8, 1970 is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of corporate capitalism. She is best known for No Logo, a book that went on to become an international bestseller; The Take, a documentary film about Argentina’s occupied factories that was written by Klein and directed by her husband Avi Lewis; and The Shock Doctrine, a bestselling critical analysis of the history of neoliberal economics that was adapted into a six-minute companion film by Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón, as well as a feature-length documentary by Michael Winterbottom. Her latest book is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, a New York Times non-fiction bestseller and the 2014 winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Klein frequently appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers, most recently including the 2014 Thought Leaders ranking compiled by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, Prospect magazine’s world thinkers 2014 poll, and Maclean’s 2014 Power List. She is a member of the board of directors of the climate activist group 350.org. Klein’s fourth book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate was published in September 2014 puts forth the argument that the hegemony of neoliberal market fundamentalism is blocking any serious reforms to halt climate change and protect the environment. Questioned about Klein’s claim that capitalism and controlling climate change control were incompatible, Benoit Blarel, manager of the Environment and Natural Resources global practice at the World Bank, said that the write-off of fossil fuels necessary to control climate change “will have a huge impact all over” and that the World Bank was “starting work on this”. The book won the 2014 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

Lawrence M. Krauss – Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist & Author

Lawrence M. Krauss - Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist & AuthorLawrence Maxwell Krauss; born May 27, 1954 is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and director of its Origins Project. He is known as an advocate of the public understanding of science, of public policy based on sound empirical data, of scientific skepticism and of science education and works to reduce the impact of what he opines as superstition and religious dogma in popular culture. Krauss is also the author of several bestselling books, including The Physics of Star Trek (1995) and A Universe from Nothing (2012), and chairs the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors. Krauss describes himself as an antitheist and takes part in public debates on religion. Krauss featured in the 2013 documentary The Unbelievers, in which he and Richard Dawkins travel across the globe speaking publicly about the importance of science and reason as opposed to religion and superstition. The documentary also contains short clips of prominent figures such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Cameron Diaz, Sam Harris, and Stephen Hawking. Krauss is one of the few living physicists described by Scientific American as a “public intellectual” and he is the only physicist to have received awards from all three major American physics societies: the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. In 2012, he was awarded the National Science Board’s Public Service Medal for his contributions to public education in science and engineering in the United States.

Robert Lawrence Kuhn – Public Intellectual, Writer & TV Host

Robert Lawrence Kuhn - Public Intellectual, Writer & TV HostRobert Lawrence Kuhn; born 1944 is an international corporate strategist, investment banker, and public intellectual. He has a doctorate in brain research and is the author or editor of over 25 books, he is a long-time adviser to China’s leaders and the Chinese government; adviser to multinational corporations on China strategies and transactions; and a frequent commentator on business, finance, and China (he is a columnist for China Daily and South China Morning Post and he appears regularly on the BBC, China Central Television and other major media). For over 20 years, he has worked with China’s senior leaders, advising on economic policy, science and technology, media and culture, Sino-American relations, and international communications. Kuhn is the creator, writer, and host of the public television series Closer to Truth, which presents leading scientists and philosophers discussing fundamental issues, particularly cosmos, consciousness, and philosophy of religion. His essays on information, time, and universe are featured on Space.com. The series Closer to Truth premiered in 2000 and is now in its 14th season. Closer To Truth is centered on candid, in-depth conversations with leading scientists, philosophers, theologians, and scholars, covering cosmology and physics (cause, size and nature of the universe or multiverse), brain/mind and consciousness, and philosophy of religion and the search for meaning. The Closer To Truth website features over 3,500 videos of conversations on Cosmos, Consciousness and Meaning.

Barbara Lee – U.S. Representative

barbara-lee-2Barbara Jean Lee; born July 16, 1946, is the U.S. Representative for California’s 13th congressional district. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She was the first woman to represent the 9th district and is also the first woman to represent the 13th district. Lee was the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Lee is notable as the only member of either house of Congress to vote against the authorization of use of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks. This made her a hero among many in the anti-war movement. Lee has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and supports legislation creating a Department of Peace. Lee was born Barbara Jean Tutt in El Paso, Texas. She moved from Texas to California in 1960 with her military family parents. She was a young single mother of two receiving public assistance when she began attending college. Lee was educated at Mills College, and received an MSW from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1975. Lee gained national attention in 2001 as the only member of congress to vote “No” on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), stating that she voted no not because she opposed military action but because she believed the AUMF, as written, granted overly-broad powers to wage war to the president at a time when the facts regarding the situation were not yet clear. She “warned her colleagues to be ‘careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.'” Lee explained, “It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration. The president has the constitutional authority to protect the nation from further attack, and he has mobilized the armed forces to do just that. The Congress should have waited for the facts to be presented and then acted with fuller knowledge of the consequences of our action.” Lee’s voting record as a member of the House was ranked by the National Journal in 2007, based on roll-call votes on economic, social and foreign policy issues in 2006. Lee scored an overall 84.3%, meaning she voted with a more liberal stance than 84.3% of the House. In 2002, Representative Barbara Lee received the Courage of Conscience Award in Boston from the Peace Abbey for her courage to stand alone and vote against the call to war after the tragedy of September 11. In her speech she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore”. In 2003, she was recognized as a Woman of Peace at the Global Exchange Human Rights Awards in San Francisco with Bianca Jagger, Arundhati Roy and Kathy Kelly. In 2010, Lee took the food stamp challenge and also appeared in the documentary film Food Stamped.

Josh Marshall – Journalist & Liberal Blogger

josh-marshall-2Joshua Micah Marshall; born February 15, 1969, is an American Polk Award-winning journalist and liberal blogger who founded Talking Points Memo, which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most popular and most respected sites” in the blogosphere. He currently presides over a network of sites that operate under the TPM Media banner and average 400,000-page views every weekday and 750,000 unique visitors every month. Marshall and his work have been profiled by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, National Public Radio, The New York Times Magazine, the Columbia Journalism Review, Bill Moyers Journal, and GQ. Hendrik Hertzberg, a senior editor at The New Yorker, compares Marshall to the influential founders of Time magazine. “Marshall is in the line of the great light-bulb-over-the-head editors. He’s like Briton Hadden or Henry Luce. He’s created something new.” Marshall began writing freelance articles about Internet free speech for The American Prospect in 1997 and was soon hired as an associate editor. He worked for the Prospect for three years and in 1999 moved to D.C. to become their Washington editor. He often clashed with the top editors at the Prospect, over both ideology and the direction of the website. Inspired by political bloggers such as Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan, Marshall started Talking Points Memo during the 2000 Florida election recount. “I really liked what seemed to me to be the freedom of expression of this genre of writing,” Marshall told the Columbia Journalism Review. “And, obviously, given the issues that I had with the Prospect, that appealed to me a lot.” In the fall of 2003, as people focused on the failure to find WMD’s in Iraq, there was a new surge of traffic to the site; “I remember there being peak days of 60,000-page views, which was really incredible.” Marshall started selling ads on his site and by the end of 2004 was earning $10,000 a month, making him one of a handful of what The New York Times Magazine dubbed “elite bloggers” who earned enough money to make blogging a full-time occupation. During the 2008 US election campaign, many independent news sites and political blogs saw a wave of “explosive growth”. Talking Points Memo experienced the largest surge in traffic, growing from 32,000 unique visitors in September 2007 to 458,000 unique visitors in September 2008, a 1,321% year-to-year increase in the size of its audience.

Cynthia McKinney – Politician, U.S. Representative & Activist

cynthia-mckinneyCynthia Ann McKinney; born March 17, 1955, is an American politician and activist. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms in the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party of the United States nominated McKinney for President of the United States. She was the first African-American woman to represent Georgia in the House. McKinney was exposed to the Civil Rights Movement through her father, an activist who regularly participated in demonstrations across the south. As a police officer, he challenged the discriminatory policies of the Atlanta Police Department, publicly protesting in front of the station, often carrying young McKinney on his shoulders. He became a state representative, and McKinney attributes her father’s election victory after several failed attempts to the passage of the Voting Rights Act passed by Lyndon B. Johnson. McKinney earned a B.A. in international relations from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She worked as a high school teacher and later as a university professor. In 2002, McKinney was defeated in the Democratic primary by DeKalb County judge Denise Majette. McKinney kept a low profile upon her return to Congress. However, on July 22, 2005, the first anniversary of the release of the 9/11 Commission Report, McKinney held a briefing on Capitol Hill to address alleged outstanding issues regarding the 2001 attacks on the US. McKinney has been an advocate for victims of Hurricane Katrina and a critic of the government’s response. Over 100,000 evacuees from New Orleans and Mississippi relocated to the Atlanta area, and many have now settled there. Until 2000, McKinney served on the House International Relations Committee, where she was the highest-ranking Democrat on the Human Rights Subcommittee. McKinney worked on legislation to stop conventional weapons transfers to governments that are undemocratic or fail to respect human rights. In February 2010, Cynthia McKinney was awarded the ‘Peace through Conscience’ award from the Munich American Peace Committee. McKinney has been featured in a full-length documentary titled American Blackout. On April 14, 2006, she received the key to the city of Sarasota, Florida, and was doubly honored when the city named April 8 as “Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney Day” in Sarasota. On May 1, 2004, during her hiatus from office, McKinney was awarded the so-called fifth annual Backbone Award by an advocacy group, “because she was willing to challenge the Bush administration and called for an investigation into 9-11 when few others dared to air their criticism and questions.”

Michael Moore – Filmmaker, Author, Screenwriter & Activist

Michael Moore - Filmmaker, Author, Screenwriter & ActivistMichael Francis Moore; born April 23, 1954 is an American documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, author, journalist, actor, and left-wing political activist. He is the director and producer of Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), a critical look at the presidency of George W. Bush and the War on Terror, which is the highest-grossing documentary of all time and winner of the Palme d’Or. His film Bowling for Columbine (2002), which examines the causes of the Columbine High School massacre, won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Both Bowling for Columbine and Sicko (2007), which examines health care in the United States, are among the top ten highest-grossing documentaries. In September 2008, he released his first free movie on the Internet, Slacker Uprising, which documented his personal quest to encourage more Americans to vote in presidential elections. He has also written and starred in the TV shows TV Nation, a satirical newsmagazine television series and The Awful Truth, a satirical show. Moore’s written and cinematic works criticize topics such as globalization, large corporations, assault weapon ownership, U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the Iraq War, the American health care system, and capitalism. In 2005 Time magazine named Moore one of the world’s 100 most influential people. Moore’s latest project “Where to Invade Next” is a 2015 American documentary film written and directed by Michael Moore. The film, in the style of a travelogue, has Moore spending time in countries such as Finland, Italy and France where he experiences those countries’ alternative methods of dealing with social and economic ills experienced in the United States. It is Moore’s first film in six years.

Bill Moyers – Journalist & Political Commentator

Bill Moyers - Journalist & Political CommentatorBilly Don “Bill” Moyers; born June 5, 1934 is an American journalist and political commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the Johnson administration from 1965 to 1967. He also worked as a network TV news commentator for ten years. Moyers has been extensively involved with public broadcasting, producing documentaries and news journal programs. He has won numerous awards and honorary degrees for his investigative journalism and civic activities. He has become well known as a trenchant critic of the corporately structured U.S. news media. In a 2003 interview with BuzzFlash.com, Moyers said, “The corporate right and the political right declared class warfare on working people a quarter of a century ago and they’ve won.” He noted, “The rich are getting richer, which arguably wouldn’t matter if the rising tide lifted all boats.” Instead, however, “the inequality gap is the widest it’s been since 1929; the middle class is besieged and the working poor are barely keeping their heads above water.” He added that as “the corporate and governing elites are helping themselves to the spoils of victory,” access to political power has become “who gets what and who pays for it.” In August 2011 Moyers announced a new hour-long weekly interview show, Moyers & Company, which premiered in January 2012. In that same month, Moyers also launched a new website, BillMoyers.com. Later reduced to a half hour, Moyers & Company is produced by Public Affairs Television and distributed by American Public Television. The show has been heralded as a renewed fulfillment of public media’s stated mission to air news and views unrepresented or underrepresented in commercial media. The program concluded on January 2, 2015.

Ralph Nader – Political Activist, Author, lecturer & Attorney

Ralph Nader - Political Activist, Author, lecturer & AttorneyRalph Nader; born February 27, 1934 is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government. Nader came to prominence in 1965 with the publication of his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a critique of the safety record of American automobile manufacturers in general, and particularly the first-generation Chevrolet Corvair. In 1999, a New York University panel of journalists ranked Unsafe at Any Speed 38th among the top 100 pieces of journalism of the 20th century. Nader is a five-time candidate for President of the United States, having run as a write-in candidate in the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic primary, as the Green Party nominee in 1996 and 2000, and as an independent candidate in 2004 and 2008. Nader was raised in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He has never married. Karen Croft, a writer who worked for Nader in the late 1970s at the Center for Study of Responsive Law, once asked him if he had ever considered getting married. She reports: “He said that at a certain point he had to decide whether to have a family or to have a career, that he couldn’t have both. That’s the kind of person he is. He couldn’t have a wife—he’s up all night reading the Congressional Record.” According to the mandatory fiscal disclosure report that he filed with the Federal Election Commission in 2000, Nader owned more than $3 million worth of stocks and mutual fund shares; his single largest holding was more than $1 million worth of stock in Cisco Systems, Inc. He also held between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of shares in the Magellan Fund. Nader said he owned no car and owned no real estate directly in 2000, and said that he lived on US $25,000 a year, giving most of his stock earnings to many of the over four dozen non-profit organizations he had founded.

Vijay Prashad – Historian, Journalist, Commentator & Marxist Intellectual

vijay-prashadVijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College. In 2013–2014, he was the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut. Prashad is the author of seventeen books. In 2012, he published five books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter and Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today. His book The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World was chosen as the Best Nonfiction book by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in 2008 and it won the Muzaffar Ahmed Book Award in 2009. In 2013, Verso published his The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South.. Prashad is also a journalist. He writes regularly for Frontline, The Hindu, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and BirGun, and is a contributing editor for Himal Southasian. He usually writes on the Middle Eastern politics, development economics, North-South relations and current events. In his article for The Nation, Prashad lays out his vision for the struggle toward socialism. He argues progressive forces typically have very good ideas, but no power. He asserts that without power, good ideas are of little consequence and claims that socialists must not simply theorise but also organise. Prashad is a self-described Marxist. His views on capitalism are most clearly summarised in his book Fat Cats and Running Dogs. Prashad gave a landmark interview on the Arab Revolt to Radical Notes, where he compared the fall of Egyptian President Mubarak to the fall of Mexico’s dictator Porfirio Díaz. In a subsequent essay, he asserted that the Arab Revolt is part of a long process, the Arab Revolution. He argued that the Revolt of 2011 continues to raise the two “unanswered questions” of the Arab Revolution: that of politics (freedom from monarchies and dictatorships) and of economics (to make an independent economy).

Robert Reich – Political Economist/Commentator, Professor &  Author

Robert Reich - Political Economist/Commentator, Professor & AuthorRobert Bernard Reich; born June 24, 1946 is an American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Reich is currently Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University. He has also been a contributing editor of The New Republic, The American Prospect (also chairman and founding editor), Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Reich is a political commentator on programs including Hardball with Chris Matthews. In 2008, Time magazine named him one of the Ten Best Cabinet Members of the century, and The Wall Street Journal in 2008 placed him sixth on its list of the “Most Influential Business Thinkers”. He was appointed a member of President-elect Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board. Until 2012, he was married to British-born lawyer, Clare Dalton, with whom he has two sons, Sam and Adam. He has published 14 books, including the best-sellers The Work of Nations, Reason, Supercapitalism, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, and a best-selling e-book, Beyond Outrage. He is also chairman of Common Cause and writes his own blog about the political economy at Robertreich.org. The Robert Reich – Jacob Kornbluth film Inequality for All won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Jeremy Scahill – Investigative Journalist, Editor & Author

Jeremy Scahill - Investigative Journalist, Editor & AuthorJeremy Scahill; born October 18, 1974 is a founding editor of the online news publication The Intercept and author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, which won the George Polk Book Award. His book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield was published by Nation Books on April 23, 2013. On June 8, 2013, the documentary film of the same name, produced, narrated and co-written by Scahill, was released. It premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Scahill is a Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill learned the journalism trade and got his start as a journalist on the independently syndicated daily news show Democracy Now! where he is a senior producer and correspondent and frequent contributor to the program. Scahill and colleague Amy Goodman were co-recipients of the 1998 George Polk Award for their radio documentary “Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship”, which investigated the Chevron Corporation’s role in the killing of two Nigerian environmental activists. In October 2013 Scahill joined with reporters Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras to establish an on-line investigative journalism publishing venture funded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. The idea for the new media outlet came from Omidyar’s “concern about press freedoms around the world”. The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media, went live on February 10, 2014. Scahill has won numerous awards, including the prestigious George Polk Award (twice), numerous Project Censored Awards, and the Izzy Award, named after the muckraking journalist I. F. Stone. He was among the few Western reporters to gain access to the Abu Ghraib prison when Saddam Hussein was in power and his story on the emptying of that prison won a 2003 Golden Reel Award from The National Federation of Community Broadcasters. In 2013, he was awarded the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the world.

Robert Scheer – Journalist, Editor & Columnist

Robert Scheer - Journalist, Editor & ColumnistRobert Scheer; born April 4, 1936 is an American journalist who writes a column for Truthdig that is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate in publications such as The Huffington Post and The Nation. He is a clinical professor of communications at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California and co-hosts the weekly political radio program Left, Right & Center on KCRW, the National Public Radio affiliate in Santa Monica, California. Scheer is editor-in-chief for the Webby Award-winning online magazine Truthdig. The Society of Professional Journalists awarded Scheer the 2011 Sigma Delta Chi Award for his column. On November 29, 2005 Scheer co-launched, as Editor in Chief, the online news magazine Truthdig, where his column is now based. Scheer’s column is syndicated nationally by Creators Syndicate in publications such as The Huffington Post and The Nation. In a 2014 Los Angeles Magazine feature about Truthdig, Ed Leibowitz writes “The columnists and bloggers [of Truthdig] chart an ecosystem in irreversible decline, follow human rights crises and repression overseas, and probe the erosion of American democracy by perpetual war, the disappearance of privacy rights, the abandonment of the poor, and a political system in thrall to corporate titans, gross polluters, and Wall Street crooks. By pursuing these subjects with an intellectual rigor and relentlessness seldom found on the Web, Truthdig has become one of the most critically acclaimed Internet-based news sites in the world. Scheer’s latest book, They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy, was released on February 21, 2015. It was published by Nation Books, who also released Scheer’s previous book The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street on September 7, 2010. Publishers Weekly wrote about the latter book saying that it “proves that, when it comes to the ruling sway of money power, Democrats and Republicans, Wall Street and Washington make very agreeable bedfellows.”

John Shelby Spong – Retired Bishop, Religion Commentator & Author

John Shelby Spong - Retired Bishop, Religion Commentator & AuthorJohn Shelby “Jack” Spong; born June 16, 1931 is a retired American bishop of the Episcopal Church. From 1979 to 2000 he was Bishop of Newark (based in Newark, New Jersey). He is a liberal Christian theologian, religion commentator and author. He calls for a fundamental rethinking of Christian belief away from theism and traditional doctrines. Bishop John Shelby Spong is an outspoken advocate for religious literacy and social change in regards to race, gender, and sexuality. For over twenty years, Bishop Spong has challenged Christianity to new, radical Reformation, because he feels we need “a new Christianity for a new world”. Bishop Spong has taught at Harvard, Drew, the University of the Pacific, and the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union. Selling over a million copies, he is the author of a string of notorious books such as; Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, A New Christianity for a New World, Jesus for the Non-Religious, The Sins of Scripture, Eternal Life: A New Vision, Jesus for the Non-Religious, and his autobiography, Here I Stand. His weekly online column reaches thousands of subscribers all over the world. He lives with his wife, Christine, in Morris Plains, New Jersey. For those seeking to experience Christianity in a new and vibrant way, Bishop John Shelby Spong offers fresh spiritual ideas. Over the past four decades, he has become one of the definitive voices for progressive Christianity. As a member of Bishop Spong’s online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives, access to message boards which will connect you with other believers in exile, and answers to your questions from Bishop Spong himself!

Jill Stein – Physician & Green Party Presidential Nominee

jill-steinJill Ellen Stein; born May 14, 1950 is an American physician who was the nominee of the Green Party for President of the United States in the 2012 election. Stein was a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010. Dr. Stein lives in Lexington with her husband, Richard Rohrer, also a physician. She has two sons, Ben and Noah. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College (1973), and from Harvard Medical School (1979). In February 2015, Dr. Stein announced the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 U.S. election. On June 22, 2015, during an appearance on Democracy Now! Dr. Stein formally announced she would seek the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Dr. Stein is a mother, organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has led initiatives promoting healthy communities, local green economies and the revitalization of democracy – addressing issues such as campaign finance reform, green jobs, racially-just redistricting, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxics. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit. She is the co-author of two widely-praised reports, In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009.  The reports promote green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats.

Jill has testified before numerous legislative panels as well as local and state governmental bodies. She played a key role in the effort to get the Massachusetts fish advisories updated to better protect women and children from mercury contamination, which can contribute to learning disabilities and attention deficits in children. She also helped lead the successful campaign to clean up the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts, an effort that resulted in getting coal plant regulations signed into law that were the most protective around at that time. Her testimony on the effects of mercury and dioxin contamination from the burning of waste helped preserve the Massachusetts moratorium on new trash incinerator construction in the state. Having witnessed the ability of big money to stop health protective policies on Beacon Hill, Jill became an advocate for campaign finance reform, and worked to help pass the Clean Election Law. This law was approved by the voters by a 2-1 margin, but was later repealed by the Massachusetts Legislature on an unrecorded voice vote.

Joseph Stiglitz – American Economist & University Professor

joseph-stiglitzJoseph Eugene Stiglitz; born February 9, 1943, is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a former member and chairman of the (US president’s) Council of Economic Advisers. He is known for his critical view of the management of globalization, laissez-faire economists (whom he calls “free market fundamentalists”), and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In 2000, Stiglitz founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD), a think tank on international development based at Columbia University. He has been a member of the Columbia faculty since 2001, received that university’s highest academic rank (university professor) in 2003, and is the co-chair of the university’s Committee on Global Thought. He also chairs the University of Manchester’s Brooks World Poverty Institute as well as the Socialist International Commission on Global Financial Issues and is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In 2009 the President of the United Nations General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, appointed Stiglitz as the chairman of the U.N. Commission on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, where he oversaw suggested proposals and commissioned a report on reforming the international monetary and financial system. Since 2012 Stiglitz has been the president of the International Economic Association (IEA). He presided over the organization of the IEA triennial world congress held near the Dead Sea in Jordan in June 2014. Based on academic citations, Stiglitz is the 4th most influential economist in the world today, and in 2011 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Stiglitz’s work focuses on income distribution, asset risk management, corporate governance, and international trade. He is the author of several books, the latest being The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them (2015). On September 27, 2015, Stiglitz was appointed to the Economic Advisory Committee for the Labour Party of Great Britain by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell. He will report directly to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Shane Smith – Investigative Journalist & Web Entrepreneur

Shane Smith – Investigative Journalist & Web EntrepreneurShane Smith; born September 28, 1969 is a Canadian Emmy Award-winning journalist and web entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of the international media company VICE Media, operating an international network of digital channels, a television production studio, a record label, an in-house creative services agency, a book-publishing house, and a feature film division. Smith founded VICE along with Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes as the youth magazine Voice of Montreal in 1994. After initially publishing print articles based on offbeat alternative culture, VICE moved to creating news content and social criticism on multiple media platforms in the mid-2000s. Smith remains an owner of the company, and The New York Times has described Smith as “a cross between a punk rocker and Fortune 500 Executive”. As a journalist Smith has traveled to locations such as North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Liberia, and Greenland, initially for the 2006 online TV series VICE Guide to Travel. In April 2013, VICE started a new series with HBO, Vice, where Smith and other VICE news reporters travel to places such as Afghanistan; Kashmir, India; Athens, Greece, and Spain. Stories have covered the use of depleted uranium arms by the U.S. military, to street warfare between Anarchists and Fascists during riots in Europe. The show’s second season won an Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special. The show was picked up for two more 14-episode seasons by HBO in May 2014, which will air in 2015 and 2016.

Oliver Stone – Film Director, Screenwriter & Producer

Oliver Stone - Film Director, Screenwriter & ProducerWilliam Oliver Stone; born September 15, 1946 is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Stone came to public prominence between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s for writing and directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, in which he had participated as an infantry soldier. Stone first went to Saigon in June 1965 at the age of 19. In April 1967, he enlisted in the United States Army, as a combat soldier, requesting combat duty in Vietnam. From 1967 to November 1968, he served with the 25th Infantry Division, then with the First Cavalry Division, earning a Bronze Star with “V” device for heroism in ground combat; he was wounded twice and received a Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster. Many of Stone’s films primarily focus on controversial American political issues during the late 20th century, and as such that they were considered dangerous at the times of their releases. Stone’s films often combine different camera and film formats within a single scene as evidenced in JFK, Natural Born Killers, and Nixon. Stone has received three Academy Awards for his work on the films Midnight Express, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July. He was presented with the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award at the 2007 Austin Film Festival. In 2012, the documentary miniseries Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States premiered on Showtime, Stone co-wrote, directed, produced, and narrated the series, having worked on it since 2008 with co-writers American University historian Peter J. Kuznick and British screenwriter Matt Graham. The 10-part series is supplemented by a 750-page companion book of the same name, also written by Stone and Kuznick, released on October 30, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. Stone described the project as “the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. Certainly in documentary form, and perhaps in fiction, feature form.” The project received positive reviews from former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, and reviewers from IndieWire, San Francisco Chronicle, and Newsday. Hudson Institute adjunct fellow historian Ronald Radosh accused the series of historical revisionism, while journalist Michael C. Moynihan accused the book of “moral equivalence” and said nothing within the book was “untold” previously. Stone defended the program’s accuracy to TV host Tavis Smiley by saying “This has been fact checked by corporate fact checkers, by our own fact checkers, and fact checkers [hired] by Showtime. It’s been thoroughly vetted…these are facts, our interpretation may be different than orthodox, but it definitely holds up.”

Matt Taibbi – Author & Financial Journalist

Matt Taibbi - Author & Financial JournalistMatthew C. “Matt” Taibbi; born March 2, 1970 is an American author and journalist. Taibbi has reported on politics, media, finance, and sports, and has authored several books, including The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (2014), Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America (2010) and The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion (2009). His July 2009 Rolling Stone article “The Great American Bubble Machine” described Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. The expression “Vampire Squids” has come to represent in financial and political media the perception of the financial and investment sector as entities that “sabotage production” and “sink the economy as they suck the life out of it in the form of rent.” Tackling the assistance to banks given in foreclosure courts, Taibbi traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to observe the “rocket docket.” He concluded that it processed foreclosures without regard to the legality of the financial instruments being ruled upon, and speeded up the process to enable quick resale of the properties, while obscuring the fraudulent and predatory nature of the loans. Financial scandals were frequently headlines in 2012, and Taibbi’s analyses of their machinations brought him invitations as an expert to discuss events on nationally broadcast television programs. In a discussion of the Libor revelations, Taibbi’s coverage was singled out by Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, Inc., as most important on the topic and required reading. In February 2014, Taibbi joined First Look Media to head a financial and political corruption-focused publication called Racket. However, after management disputes with First Look’s leadership delayed its launch and led to its cancellation, Taibbi returned to Rolling Stone in the following October. In 2008, Taibbi was awarded the National Magazine Award in the category “Columns and Commentary” for his Rolling Stone columns. He won a Sidney Award in 2009 for his article “The Great American Bubble Machine”

Cenk Uygur – Columnist, Political Commentator & Activist

Cenk Uygur - Columnist, Political Commentator & ActivistCenk Kadir Uygur; born March 21, 1970 is a Turkish-American columnist, political commentator and activist. Uygur is the main host and co-founder of the American liberal/progressive political and social internet commentary program, The Young Turks (TYT) and the co-founder of the associated TYT Network. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Uygur was born in Turkey and raised from age eight in the United States. He worked as an attorney in Washington, D.C. and New York before beginning his career as a political commentator. As a young man, Uygur espoused socially conservative views, criticizing feminism, abortion, and affirmative action. He is now a progressive. In addition to hosting TYT, Uygur appeared on MSNBC as a political commentator in 2010, later hosting a weeknight commentary show on the channel for nearly six months until being replaced by Al Sharpton. Shortly after leaving MSNBC, Uygur secured a show on Current TV that aired from December 5, 2011 to August 15, 2013. Uygur was from 2012 to 2013 the chief news officer of Current TV, succeeding Keith Olbermann following his departure from the cable television network until Current was acquired by Al Jazeera Media Network. Uygur created the talk show The Young Turks with the goal of starting a moderate liberal political and entertainment show. It launched on 13 February 2002. It later became a success online, and aired on the Sirius Satellite Radio network. The Young Turks claims to be the first Internet video news show and states that it is now the largest online news show in the world. Collectively it has amassed over 1,000,000,000 (a billion) views on YouTube, and over 1,000,000 subscribers. Video of the show is streamed daily on its website and is available as a podcast. At a progressive caucus of the California Democratic Party meeting on February 11, 2012, Cenk stressed that “The Young Turks” title referenced the phrase as it applies to any generic progressive political movement that threatens to upend the established order, and was not an endorsement of the Young Turks’ regime in Turkey.

Katrina vanden Heuvel – Editor and Publisher

Katrina-Vanden-HeuvelKatrina vanden Heuvel; born October 7, 1959 is an American editor and publisher. She is the editor, publisher, and part-owner of the magazine The Nation. She has been the magazine’s editor since 1995. She is a frequent commentator on numerous political television programs. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. As an owner of The Nation, she is one of a group of investors brought together in 1995 by then-editor Victor Navasky in a for-profit partnership to buy the magazine – which was then losing $500,000 a year  – from investment banker Arthur L. Carter. In 1989, vanden Heuvel was promoted to The Nation’s editor-at-large position, responsible for its coverage of the USSR. In 1990, she co-founded Vy i My (You and We), a quarterly feminist journal linking American and Russian women. In 1995, vanden Heuvel was made editor of The Nation. Her blog at The Nation is called “Editor’s Cut”. She writes an op-ed column for The Washington Post. In a 2005 interview with Theodore Hamm in The Brooklyn Rail, vanden Heuvel describes the contents of The Nation and its larger role in news media: “Ideas, policy, activism, reporting, investigative reporting, as well as cultural pieces, reviews, writing. I hope people understand that about a third of this magazine, every week, is a very well edited, fascinating, cultural section, featuring reviews of the under-appreciated, under-the-radar, independent books and films and art. But the main part of The Nation is to put on the agenda the ideas and views and news that might not otherwise be there, to comment—from our perspective—on the news of the week—and to provide strategies and some measure of hope in these times.” She is the co-editor of Taking Back America – And Taking Down The Radical Right (Nation Books, 2004) and, most recently, editor of The Dictionary of Republicanisms (Nation Books, 2005). She co-edited (with her husband, Stephen F. Cohen) Voices of Glasnost: Interviews with Gorbachev’s Reformers (Norton, 1989) and editor of The Nation: 1865–1990, and the collection A Just Response: The Nation on Terrorism, Democracy and September 11, 2001. She is also a frequent commentator on American and international politics on ABC’s This Week, as well as on MSNBC, CNN and PBS. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Vanden Heuvel serves on the Institute for Policy Studies Board of Trustees.

Cornel West – Author, Activist & Public Intellectual

Cornel West - Author, Activist & Public IntellectualCornel Ronald West; born June 2, 1953 is an American philosopher, academic, activist, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. The son of a Baptist minister, West received his undergraduate education at Harvard University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1973, and received a Ph.D at Princeton University in 1980, becoming the first African American to graduate from Princeton with a Ph.D in philosophy. He taught at Harvard in 2001 before leaving the school after a highly publicized dispute with then-president Lawrence Summers. He was Professor of African American Studies at Princeton before leaving the school in 2011 to become Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He has also spent time teaching at the University of Paris. The bulk of West’s work focuses on the role of race, gender, and class in American society and the means by which people act and react to their “radical conditionedness.” West draws intellectual contributions from multiple traditions, including Christianity, the black church, Marxism, neopragmatism, and transcendentalism. Among his most influential books are Race Matters (1994) and Democracy Matters (2004). West is a frequent media commentator on political and social issues. He often appears on networks such as C-SPAN, MSNBC, and PBS. From 2010 through 2013, he co-hosted a radio program with Tavis Smiley, called Smiley and West. He has also been featured in several documentaries, and made appearances in Hollywood films The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, also providing commentary for the films. He has also made several spoken word and hip hop albums, and has been named MTV’s Artist of the Week for his work.

Larry Wilkerson – Retired United States Army Colonel & Former Chief of Staff

larry-wilkerson-2Lawrence B. “Larry” Wilkerson; born June 15, 1945, is a retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson has criticized many aspects of the Iraq War, including his own preparation of Powell’s presentation to the UN. Wilkerson was born in Gaffney, South Carolina. After three years of studying philosophy and English literature at Bucknell University, Wilkerson dropped out in 1966 and volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War. He told the Washington Post: “I felt an obligation because my dad had fought, and I thought that was kind of your duty.” Wilkerson spent some years in the United States Navy’s Pacific Command in South Korea, Japan and Hawaii, where he was well regarded by his superiors. These recommendations led in early 1989 to a successful interview to become the assistant to Colin Powell, who was then finishing his stint as National Security Advisor in the Reagan administration and moving to a position in the United States Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson. He continued this supporting role as Powell became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff through the Gulf War, following Powell into civilian life and then back into public service when President George W. Bush appointed Powell Secretary of State. Wilkerson was responsible for a review of information from the Central Intelligence Agency that was used to prepare Powell for his February 2003 presentation to the United Nations Security Council. His failure to realize that the evidence was faulty has been attributed on the limited time (only one week) that he had to review the data. The subsequent developments led Wilkerson to become disillusioned: “Combine the detainee abuse issue with the ineptitude of post-invasion planning for Iraq, wrap both in this blanket of secretive decision-making…and you get the overall reason for my speaking out.” Wilkerson said in an interview on BBC Newsnight, January 17, 2007, that an Iranian offer to help stabilise Iraq after the American invasion, was positively received at the State Department, yet turned down by Dick Cheney. The reported offer consisted of help in stabilizing Iraq, cutting ties with Hezbollah and greater transparency in its nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions and dismantling the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, an organisation working to overthrow the Iranian government. When this offer was made, numerous middle-east experts were warning of the coming shift in power in Iran toward the right-wing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who would assume power shortly thereafter. Wilkerson is one of the people interviewed in the 2007 documentary film No End in Sight, a film that is very critical of the way the occupation of Iraq was handled in the spring of 2003. Wilkerson did a full-length audio commentary for the documentary Why We Fight. This film won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Richard D. Wolff – Marxist Economist

Richard D. Wolff - Marxist EconomistRichard D. Wolff; born April 1, 1942 is an American Marxist economist, well known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology, and class analysis. He is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York. Wolff has also taught economics at Yale University, City University of New York, University of Utah, University of Paris I (Sorbonne), and The Brecht Forum in New York City. In 1988 he co-founded the journal Rethinking Marxism. In 2010, Wolff published Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It, also released as a DVD. He released three new books in 2012: Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism, with David Barsamian (San Francisco: City Lights Books), Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian, with Stephen Resnick (Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT University Press), and Democracy at Work (Chicago: Haymarket Books). Wolff was a founding member of the Green Party of New Haven, Connecticut, and its mayoral candidate in 1985. Wolff hosts a weekly hour-long radio program on economics and society, “Economic Update”, at WBAI in New York City (Pacifica Radio) and is featured regularly in television, print, and internet media. The New York Times Magazine has named him “America’s most prominent Marxist economist.”



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