Friday, June 14, 2013

  • Patrick Cockburn on U.S. Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels: Where is the Skepticism About Chemical Weapons?

    Syria

    Veteran foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn of The Independent joins us to discuss the Obama administration’s decision to begin directly arming Syrian rebels after concluding the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons. "There must be some doubts about this," Cockburn says, adding that it "reminds me of what they were saying in 2002 and 2003 about Saddam [Hussein]’s weapons of mass destruction." Cockburn warns U.S. involvement could escalate regional conflicts that could "go on for years," and critiques the media’s lack of skepticism about White House claims.

  • James Bamford on NSA Secrets, Keith Alexander’s Influence & Massive Growth of Surveillance, Cyberwar

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    As the U.S. vows to take "all necessary steps" to pursue whistleblower Edward Snowden, James Bamford joins us to discuss the National Security Agency’s secret expansion of government surveillance and cyberwarfare. In his latest reporting for Wired magazine, Bamford profiles NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and connects the dots on PRISM, phone surveillance and the NSA’s massive spy center in Bluffdale, Utah. Says Bamford of Alexander: "Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign or the depth of his secrecy." The author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America," Bamford has covered the National Security Agency for the last three decades, after helping expose its existence in the 1980s.

  • Breast Cancer Patients Declare Victory as Supreme Court Bars Patenting of Human Genes

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    In a major victory for women’s health, the Supreme Court has ruled 9-0 that isolated human genes may not be patented. The case concerned the firm Myriad Genetics’ patent on genes linked to higher risks of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The firm claimed it had the authority to stop all research on genes it owned patents to — BRCA1, or Breast Cancer One, and a similar gene, BRCA2 — and was the only company that could conduct life-saving tests revealing if women had mutations in those genes — often at a prohibitive cost for most patients. "It’s a very important decision," says our guest Judge Robert Sweet, the senior federal judge for the Southern District of New York who originally invalidated Myriad Genetics’ patents in the case now before the Supreme Court. "The issue of knowledge and freedom of genomic knowledge is something that will be critical in the years to come." We’re also joined by Lisbeth Ceriani, a woman who participated in the lawsuit after her oncologist noted she was at high risk for developing ovarian cancer, only to find out her insurance didn’t cover the BRCA genetic test, and by Sandra Park, a senior attorney with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and a lead counsel on the case. "With the ruling today, we fully expect much better access and much better options for patients, as well as for scientists who want to look at different parts of the genome," Park says. "They no longer now need to deal with patents on the thousands of genes on our genome when they’re engaging in their scientific work."

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