The Flaming Sword of Justice, with Ben Wikler






August 2017
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What makes people love their work? Money? Power? Prestige? Those probably help. But groundbreaking new research illustrates the explosive power of a different force entirely: making a difference in other peoples' lives. Our guest, Dr. Adam Grant, has driven a revolution in management theory and the psychology of work, turning old ideas about "incentives" upside down. But could his research be used for evil? And what does it mean for people who don't actually care about the jobs they already have? Find out all that and more on a special social-science-research-y edition of The Flaming Sword of Justice.

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

When people talk about comprehensive immigration reform, they talk about a lot of different things—some people talk about paths to citizenship, some people talk about border security. But there's one aspect of immigration reform that almost nobody talks about, but everybody should agree on: kids. Tens of thousands of kids arrive in this country without documentation and without their parents. Experts say that nearly half of them would have the right to gain citizenship, even under current law, because of the violence and repression that they're fleeing. It's an issue that could break your heart, but it doesn't have to be this way. Our guest, attorney Wendy Wylegala of Kids In Need of Defense, is here to tell us what's happening, how to fix it, and how you can help. 

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:12pm EDT

The NRA claims that the only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good guy with a gun—and the stories told by Hollywood can make that seem true. But if you move a few miles away, to the streets of Los Angeles, you'll quickly learn that real life is much more complicated and much more beautiful: that, most often, the people holding the guns aren't bad guys, or good guys, they're human beings, people struggling to stay alive in circumstances they didn't create and would never have chosen. If you want to stop violence at its root, it's not about pulling a trigger: it's about helping people realize their rights and achieve their dreams. Our guest, Alex Sanchez, executive director of Homies Unidos, has lived every part of this story. He's been in gangs, in prison, deported. He's been hunted by the LAPD and by El Salvadoran death squads. And when he found a path to a life in service of justice, he didn't just walk it himself—he became mentor to help thousands make the same journey. 

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:35pm EDT

When you think about Iran — when you think about the crushing of the Green Revolution, about the massive censorship of the Internet and free speech, of the government that represses its people and alienates so much of the world, you might not experience a rush of hope. But on today's show, you'll hear a reason to hope for Iran that we trust you'll find compelling indeed. Our guest, Sara Haghdoosti, today launches a new organization that uses the tools of 21st-century political organizing to unite people around the world, Persian and non-Persian alike, who believe that the people of Iran can and will create a better future for their country —

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

On today's show, the stunning story of how a tiny grassroots group waged an unrelenting and visionary 15-year campaign to win fundamental change by the world's largest paper producer... and, just one week ago, won a victory that would make the Lorax proud. 
Our guest, Danna Smith of the Dogwood Alliance, lived the battle from start to sweet, sweet finish, and she's here to tell a tale of corporate campaigning, grit, and redemption that proves what's possible if you never give up. 
Direct download: Sword_2013_04_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:19pm EDT

On today's program, an appreciation for the heroes saving lives in Boston—and a landmark moment in the struggle for a better America: a bipartisan group of Senators has released a landmark immigration bill that creates a path to citizenship, and Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition is here to tell us about the path to this moment... and why the stakes in this fight are so high. 

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_16.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:53pm EDT

Hear the story of how one tough-as-nails group of young women took on a huge corporation whose celebrity pitchman glorified rape in a rap lyric... and how these women pushed and pushed and pushed until a whole lot of powerful people, after far too long, woke up. Ultraviolet versus Reebok: the Rick Ross Rumble. 

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

A year ago, our founding producer Aaron Swartz guest-hosted an episode of The Flaming Sword of Justice when Ben Wikler was out of town. Four months ago, facing trial, Aaron took his own life. Today, in his memory—and in support of the Demand Progress and Internet Defense League Week of Action, which is working to reform the unjust Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that was used to charge Aaron—we're airing his episode for the first time.

You'll hear Aaron interview Mike "Rortybomb" Konczal, who tells the story of how he went from being a financial engineer to a leading voice for regulatory reform. And then you'll hear an interview of Aaron by Ruairi McKiernan, an Irish activist and youth organizer, which you can also see on YouTube here, where Aaron explains how he became an activist.

As you listen, please sign the petition calling for justice for Aaron and share this episode in your social forum of choice. And if you're in Boston, please make plans to attend the rally this Saturday, starting at noon in Dewey Square Park.

Direct download: Sword_2013-04-11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm EDT

When a billion-dollar private prison company donates millions to your university in exchange for the right to name your new athletic stadium, what do you do? Our guests today had one answer: fight back. The inside story of a campaign nobody thought could succeed, by the people who won it. 

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_10.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15pm EDT

Social Security benefit cuts: bad idea, or spectacularly awful idea? On today's episode, we explore this complex question with help from two key voices in the debate: Max Richtman, who received an in-person, direct commitment from the President of the United States just a few months ago that the White House wouldn't cut Social Security, and Sarita Gupta, who is helping lead a national conversation about how, as a society, we should handle the aging of the baby boom generation. 

In the course of the show, your host comes to a totally new understanding of the Social Security fight... and how there's a much deeper, richer debate we should be having instead.

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_09.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT