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Zaid Al-Ali: “When people refer to the Sunni-Shia divide, what they’re trying to do is absolve themselves of responsibility. When you hear an American official talking about the Sunni-Shia divide, what they really mean is ‘It’s not my fault, don’t blame me.’”

The success of Islamic State in tearing Iraq apart reveals the failures of the US and US-backed Iraqi leadership in putting the country back together after the 2003 invasion. Iraqi legal adviser Zaid Al-Ali examines the political realities of post-occupation Iraq in his new book The Struggle for Iraq’s Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy.

Live from Egypt, Zaid talks with Chuck about how a decade of violence, corruption and weakened internal security created an opening for Islamic State to sweep through swathes of Iraq, why American involvement in building Iraq’s government suited America’s government more than Iraq’s people, and what he thinks when he hears about the violence in Iraq solely attributed to people who just can’t get along together.

Zaid Al-Ali is a senior adviser on constitutional building for International IDEA, The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, an intergovernmental organization supporting democratic reform.

Zaid’s website / Twitter


Will Lynch: “The days of being administered from Westminster – where you have corporations paying no tax, where you have billions and billions in bailouts for bankers, where you have nothing but austerity for the poor – Scottish people have a chance to reverse that. And I’m going to call it now, I think the ‘Yes’ side is going to win.”

Our Man in Dublin, Will Lynch is feeling optimistic about Scotland’s September 18th referendum on independence. Before we get into that optimism, Will explains the dismal state of UK politics that pushed the Scottish independence movement, primarily the choice between an alien Tory government obsessed with privatization, foreign wars and austerity, and an alien Labour government obsessed with privatization, foreign wars and austerity. If that has you too depressed, Will recommends you search out some Tommy Sheridan speeches, and imagine a country independent from England, but also independent from the greed and entrenched bureaucratic cruelty the rest of us don’t have the option of voting away. Good luck, Scotland!

Will Lynch has giving us the news from Dublin since 2010. He was almost Ireland’s most eligible bachelor in 2013, but lost the vote in what can only be described as a major failing of democracy.



Rose George: “I think if you put something on a ship and then it spends six weeks being transported to wherever it’s going and the people on that ship are being ill-treated, I find it difficult to call that ‘fair trade.’ But when I asked Fair Trade if they did certify ships they said no, it was too complicated and the industry was too mobile.”

The global shipping industry supplies almost everything we consume, but sails beyond public consideration and sometimes outside of legal jurisdiction. Writer Rose George explores the massive industry in her book Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate.

After updates on her previous stories of antiquity theft and global sanitation, Rose explains what emerges from the simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible nature of shipping and its workers, from unpaid wages and uncertain legal protocols, to the environmental impact of an industry that powers almost every aspect of globalization and consumerism.

Rose George is a freelance writer living in London. Her work has appeared in New York Times, Guardian, Independent, London Review of Books and many other places. She is also the author of 2008′s The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters.

Rose’s website / Twitter


Dave Buchen: “It’s similar to Dengue, yellow fever, Ross River fever, Eastern equine encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis,Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and of course the sleeping disease. It’s the primordial soup reminding us that life on Earth began with them and will end with them as well. Sorry, that was too much. That was the Chikungunya talking.”

Chikungunya. CHI-kən-GUUN-yə. Or Chicken Gunya, if you’re Chuck. Our Man in San Juan, Dave Buchen tries not to swear as he describes his battle with the disease – he’s fine now, as long as he doesn’t try to move. Dave describes his beachfront warning from a CDC friend, the virus’s rapid spread across his social circle, the itchiness, the fatigue, the aching, the history, the migration, the economic cost, the meringue songs (!?), and the apocalyptic endgame of your new least favorite illness. Ask your doctor about Chukungunya, now that you know how to pronounce it.

Dave Buchen has been living in Puerto Rico since the previous century. There he home-schools his two kids and makes theater with Theater Oobleck, El Circo Nacional and (with aforementioned kids) El Teatro Barbaro.



Nikil Saval: “Over time, managers found it to be the most efficient way from cramming as many workers as possible, as quickly as possible, into as little space as possible, for as little money as possible. And it turned into this box.”

We are all alone, together, in our own cubicles. Since 1967, the cubicles have encased the hours and despair of countless American workers, but the history of the familiar three-walled prison also offers a view into the lives of its prisoners. Nikil Saval reviews that history in his book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace.

Live in studio, Nikil talks with Chuck about the utopian roots of the cubicle and how it quickly became a symbol of dissatisfaction with the 20th century workplace and the loss of worker power, why optimism is so deeply ingrained in the psychology of office work, and his own experiences as dissatisfied office drone, hoping for power, solidarity and maybe a door. Nikil also talks about the new book Happiness: Ten Years of n+1, which collects, celebrates and makes the case for why you should be reading, the magazine n+1.

Nikil Saval is an editor of and writer for the literary and cultural magazine, n+1.


Jeff Dorchen: “Bullsht. Henry Kissinger was full of it. Nixon was full of it. It’s possible Kissinger and Nixon shared one digestive track, kind of like a human centipede, except not as human.”

A recent pointless NPR interview and the contents of Henry Kissinger causes Jeff Dorchen to invent a new way to say “bullshit.” So that’s a positive. Jeff is also positive that he’s not the only person who shouldn’t be talking about Henry Kissinger at the moment, especially on the anniversary of America’s 9/11 and that other 9/11, the one Kissinger concocted in Chile. So who won after either 9/11? Us! What did we win? An enduring pile of bullsht.

According to his contacts on LinkedIn, Jeff Dorchen can do just about anything. He’s a visual artist, songwriter/musician, actor, essayist, poet, playwright and screenwriter.