Illustration by Golden Cosmos

James Comey Makes His Case to America

The former F.B.I. Director James Comey aimed to be above politics, but in the 2016 election he stepped directly into it. In his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey makes the case to America that he handled the F.B.I. investigations into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and Donald Trump’s campaign correctly, regardless of the consequences. Even after being fired by President Trump, the former F.B.I Director says he feels sorry for the President. Trump “has an emptiness inside of him, and a hunger for affirmation, that I’ve never seen in an adult,” Comey says. “He lacks external reference points. Instead of making hard decisions by calling upon a religious tradition, or logic, or tradition or history, it’s all, ‘what will fill this hole?’ ” As a result, Comey says, “The President poses significant threats to the rule of law,” and he chides Congressional Republicans for going along with the President’s aberrations. “What,” he rhetorically asks Mitch McConnell and others, “are you going to tell your grandchildren?” David Remnick’s interview with James Comey was taped live at New York’s Town Hall on April 19, 2018.

The New Yorker Radio Hour

Supplements and Safety

supplements_and_safety_1It’s estimated there are 85,000 dietary supplements for sale in the United States today. You might assume that some government agency has approved them before allowing them onto the market. Though the FDA does not do any review of dietary supplements before they come onto the market.

“It almost takes a sacrificial lamb to die of liver injury or some other injury before the Food and Drug Administration can take any action” – Herbert Bonkovsky, M.D.

People with health problems may need additional nutrients. But for most Americans, researchers don’t know for sure whether extra doses really help — and caution that in some cases, they might hurt. It’s incredibly hard to quantify the current problem, how much harm are supplements are doing. There’s no effective system to detect the harm.

It wasn’t until a major league pitcher, 23-year-old Steve Bechler died after taking a weight loss supplements containing an ingredient called ephedra, that sales were halted. By then, more than 160 deaths had been linked to the supplement. In another instance, the FDA has linked dietary supplement OxyElite Pro to more than 70 cases of liver damage. Are you safe?

Frontline

How Many Murders Can a Police Informer Get Away With?

Last year Northern Irish paramilitary Gary Haggarty pleaded guilty to hundreds of violent crimes, including five murders; five attempted murders; one count of aiding and abetting murder; 23 conspiracies to murder; four kidnappings; six charges of false imprisonment; a handful of arson attacks, including burning down a pub; five hijackings; 66 offences of possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life (the weapons included two Sten submachine guns, an Uzi, 12 Taurus pistols and two AK47s); 10 counts of possession of explosives; 18 of wounding with intent and two charges of aggravated burglary. Haggarty was a serial killer, sadist, kidnapper, drug dealer, racketeer: a one-man crime tsunami. He was also a member of a Protestant militia, the Ulster Volunteer Force, fighting against the IRA and other Irish republican forces to keep Northern Ireland under British rule.

He got away with his crimes for so long because he was, in addition to these things, a servant of the British state. He was a police informer.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

Lucky Country?

Are Australians really that angry and divided? What do they tell you, when you talk to Australians in their living rooms? Social researcher, Rebecca Huntley has done that. Apparently ugliness of political and social media discourse is not a true reflection of Australia. On average, Australians still believe they live in the ‘lucky’ country, even if their desirables have far exceeded the lot they are getting. Rebecca Huntley speaks to Paul Barclay.

Big Ideas – ABC Radio

Fantasyland

The roots of the post-truth, alternative facts present can be discovered in America’s “promiscuous devotion to the untrue” and its instinct to believe in make believe, evident across four centuries of magical thinkers and true believers, hucksters and suckers, who have embedded an appetite for believe-whatever-you-want fantasy into the national DNA, argues Kurt Andersen, author of a new book, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500-Year History.” Kwame Anthony Appiah, NYU professor, philosopher, and author of fiction and nonfiction books questions him about the bold claim that America’s love of the fantastic has made this country exceptional in a way that has yet to be understood?

The New York Public Library

The Limits of Freedom

Is too much freedom paradoxically debilitating? Neuroscience shows and history suggests, we are less content when we have more choice. Do we need constraints to thrive, and might our chains be key to our freedom? Or is this a dangerous conceit of the privileged and free? Psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple, Blair’s former Senior Policy Advisor Julian Le Grand, and author of “I Find That Offensive!” Claire Fox interrogate choice.

Philosophy for Our Times

Britain Divided: 1642-2016

The perils of politics in Britain. In his latest book, “The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics”, David Goodhart looks at the new division: between the mobile ‘achieved’ identity of the people from Anywhere, and the more marginalised, roots-based identity of the people from Somewhere. For the last few decades Anywhere interests have dominated in everything from mass higher education to mass immigration and the EU. Tables are turning.

The playwright Richard Bean reaches back to another time of internal conflict, the beginning of the English Civil War, and finds humour in the desperate attempts of one man to retain power. Teach them a lesson.

Machiavelli is associated with unscrupulous scheming, but his latest biographer Erica Benner argues that, believe it or not, he was a man devoted to political and human freedom.

Start the Week – BBC Radio 4

Resisting Tyranny: Learning From 20th-Century Europe

 

Totalitarian Europe in comparison to contemporary America is the subject of Timothy Snyder’s talk and his new book, “On Tyranny”. He sees America’s political institutions in great danger of slipping into autocracy and possibly fascism. From the examples of the twentieth century, Snyder has distilled twenty essential points that should guide the current struggle. They are as simple as “do not obey in advance” and “beware the one-party state,” and as inspiring as “contribute to good causes” and “learn from peers in other countries.” Questions from the audience follow.

Live at Politics and Prose

The Hollywood Blacklist and the Classic Western ‘High Noon’

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, as anti-communist sentiment gained ground in the United States, paranoia and persecution swept through Hollywood. The House Un-American Activities (HUAC) began interrogating filmmakers and actors, accusing them of being communists or communist sympathizers. The president, Congress, the courts and the press all played a part.
Many who appeared before the HUAC were put on a blacklist that made it impossible for them to work in show business. Among the blacklisted was screenwriter Carl Foreman, whose 1952 classic western ‘High Noon’ is seen as a parable about the toxic political climate of the time.
Glenn Frankel revisits the film — and Foreman’s experiences testifying on Capitol Hill — in his new book, also called ‘High Noon’. “The blacklist movement stems out of a backlash by people who felt they want to get their country back,” Frankel says. “In those days it was [from] communists, and Jews and liberals. Today you might say it’s Islamic terrorists and undocumented immigrants.”

Fresh Air | 21st February 2017