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WA2012, a set on Flickr.

We’ll be uploading new pictures from #WA2012 during our conference. You can see all of them on our Flickr page and feel free to submit your shots too.

Via Flickr:
WA2012: Navigating in a Shifting Global Landscape March 30-31, 2012 St Regis San Francisco

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On June 22, The World Affairs Council hosted David E. Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for the New York Times for a Guggenhime Speaker Series event titled “From Wikileaks to bin Laden’s Demise: Six Months That Changed America’s Global Challenges.” Jane Wales, President and CEO of the Council, interviewed Mr. Sanger and moderated questions from the audience.

Sanger’s visit came just hours after President Obama’s speech on the reduction of American troops in Afghanistan. When asked his views on the speech, Sanger described how the original goals of the war have changed over the past few years.  Sanger noted that Obama’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan once included stabilizing the country, training Afghan troops, opening schools, and implementing a “civilian surge.” Obama’s plan to draw down more rapidly indicates a return to the narrower goal of dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda.

Sanger also marked a distinct change in policy with regard to Pakistan. At the inception of the war, the logic was that Pakistan was a necessary partner to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now, says Sanger, Afghanistan acts as a base from which the US can target militants in Pakistan. The raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound was an embarrassment to the Pakistani government, particularly as bin Laden’s presence had gone unnoticed by Pakistan’s military base, which Sanger described as the “Pakistani West Point”.

Asked whether it was possible that the popular movements in the Middle East would return to Iran, Sanger thought that that it was unlikely due to the Iranian government’s brutality in crushing dissident groups. Sanger also brought attention to the Stuxnet worm that temporarily shut down Iranian nuclear facilities. He was impressed by the skill used in the attack and noted it as the first cyber weapon  to successfully attack the infrastructure of a foreign state.

As always, Sanger proved to be a riveting speaker, illuminating a host of global issues faced by the United Sates and the world.

The video of Sanger’s visit can be found here: http://vimeo.com/25692679

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If you were unable to join us for last weekend’s WorldAffairs 2011 conference or wish to experience it again, be sure to check out our video archive. There you can watch keynotes by Robert Reich, Arun Majumdar, David Sanger, James Zogby and Stephen Hadley as well as plenary sessions on economy and energy. View the sessions here.

Additionally, we will be broadcasting these sessions on the radio four nights next week, Monday, March 28 through Thursday, March 31, at 8 PM on KQED 88.5 FM.

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Exactly one year ago, Haiti experienced one of the most deadly natural disasters in recent memory. The earthquake that killed an estimated 220,000 people and left many thousands more injured, plunged the country into chaos. Next Tuesday, January 18, the Council will host a panel discussion on how the international community and Haitian people responded to the devastating natural disaster. The panel will highlight how Haiti’s health infrastructure reacted to the initial dire conditions and recent Cholera outbreaks, what role NGOs and the international community can play in fostering long-term peace and recovery and how Haitian culture and political history makes this effort challengingly unique. To learn more about the program and to register, please visit the event page here.

This week, PBS stations are airing a number of programs about the earthquake and Haiti’s reconstruction efforts. Tonight at 11 PM, KQED will present “Nou Bouke: Haiti’s Past, Present and Future,” a documentary produced by The Miami Herald/ El Nuevo Herald and directed by Joe Cardona. It focuses on Haiti’s past, present and future in the light of the apocalyptic earthquake that now marks a new chapter in the nation’s history. The current episode of Frontline, “Battle for Haiti,” asks the question “can Haiti be rebuilt without the rule of law?” That program can be viewed in full here.

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Evgeny Morozov, a contributing editor to Foreign Policy and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, believes that the Internet may not be the friend of the oppressed that many think it is. He argues that while social media and the Internet have worked to the advantage of protesters and revolutionaries, they can also be used by authoritarian governments to crack down on personal privacy and spread propaganda. On February 10, the Council will host Morozov for a discussion of this view, one that he has written about extensively in his new book The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.

To learn more and register for the program, please visit the event listing here. To listen to a short interview with Morozov from Tuesday’s episode of Talk of the Nation, click here.

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The World Affairs Council of Northern California’s 2009 Annual Report is now available online. This is the first year that we’ve created an interactive, online report. View it here.

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On Tuesday, October 19 at noon the Council will host Steven Rattner for a discussion of the Obama administration’s efforts to restructure the automotive industry  in 2008. As counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury in 2008, Rattner led this intervention during one of the country’s severest economic crises of recent history. He will provide a first-hand account into the clash between Washington and Detroit, as well as explore the implications the administration’s economic decisions had on automotive plants in Europe and elsewhere abroad. Register for the program here.

Steven Rattner appeared on the Colbert Report on Wednesday night. Watch the interview below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Steven Rattner, posted with vodpod

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On Monday, September 27 the Council will host Philippe Cousteau, Jr. to discuss the health of the world’s oceans. The grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Philippe is carrying on the Cousteau family tradition as the CEO of the non-profit organization EarthEcho International and co-founder of Azure Worldwide, a strategic development company. He will address the effects of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the work he is doing to draw attention to the environmental consequences of this disaster. The program will be moderated by Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Cousteau’s appearance follows on the heels of the federal government announcement that BP’s blown-out well is officially dead. In a statement Sunday, Admiral Thad Allan said that the well “poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico.” Even as the flow of oil slowed and finally stopped, the level of attention on the health of the Gulf and the world’s oceans has continued rise. National Geographic Magazine‘s October issue focuses on the future of Louisiana’s wetlands and the Gulf of Mexico and yesterday’s New York Times included a cover story about the threat of global warming to coral reefs and the world’s fisheries.

To join the dialogue about Gulf recovery efforts and the promotion of ocean health, register here.

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The Good Soldiers

In 2007, Washington Post reporter David Finkel spent eight months embedded with the soldiers of the 2-16 infantry battalion in Iraq, some of the first to be sent as part of President Bush’s new strategy, dubbed “the surge.” The experience resulted in a book, The Good Soldiers, which he describes as, “a document of [the soldiers’] corner of this war… what happened to them. It tries to use the war to tell a larger story about what happens to a young man put in these circumstances.” While speaking at the Council last Thursday, Finkel focused on the stories of a few individual soldiers, including Lt. Col. Brent Cummings, with whom he was particularly impressed. “If I were to be a soldier, I guess Brent [Cummings] is the soldier I’d like to be, because to him, even though he was in this ridiculous situation, it was very important to him to fight this war morally.”

To listen to the entire program with David Finkel, visit our online audio archive. Cummings and fellow soldier Josh Bleill were interviewed later that evening on the Colbert Report. Watch that interview here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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In an article by Fred Kaplan for the September/October 2010 issue of Foreign Policy, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that he plans to retire in 2011. As the only person to serve as Defense Secretary under Republican and Democratic presidents, most never expected Gates to stay in the job so long; however, if Gates does indeed remain until 2011, he will have served longer than all but four of his predecessors.

Secretary Gates spoke last week at a program co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council and the Marines’ Memorial Association. That program can be heard tonight at 8 PM on KQED FM’s broadcast of It’s Your World, the Council’s weekly radio show. For more information, visit KQED’s website here.

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