Daily Archives: May 5, 2016

The men who crashed the world


Uploaded on Sep 25, 2011

The first of a four-part investigation into a world of greed and recklessness that led to financial collapse.

In the first episode of Meltdown, we hear about four men who brought down the global economy: a billionaire mortgage-seller who fooled millions; a high-rolling banker with a fatal weakness; a ferocious Wall Street predator; and the power behind the throne.

The crash of September 2008 brought the largest bankruptcies in world history, pushing more than 30 million people into unemployment and bringing many countries to the edge of insolvency. Wall Street turned back the clock to 1929.

But how did it all go so wrong?

Lack of government regulation; easy lending in the US housing market meant anyone could qualify for a home loan with no government regulations in place.

Also, London was competing with New York as the banking capital of the world. Gordon Brown, the British finance minister at the time, introduced ‘light touch regulation’ – giving bankers a free hand in the marketplace.

All this, and with key players making the wrong financial decisions, saw the world’s biggest financial collapse.

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:


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Documentary: The Wall Street Code

vpro international

Published on Nov 4, 2013

A thriller about a genius algorithm builder who dared to stand up against Wall Street. Haim Bodek, aka The Algo Arms Dealer.

From the makers of the much-praised Quants: the Alchemists of Wall Street and Money & Speed: Inside the Black Box. Now the long-awaited final episode of a trilogy in search of the winners and losers of the tech revolution on Wall Street. Could mankind lose control of this increasingly complex system?

Interested in broadcasting this documentary? Please contact VPRO Sales at sales.

Director: Marije Meerman
Research: Gerko Wessel

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After Disaster: Picking up the pieces in an age of climate change



Among the effects of climate change are more extreme weather events, such as Typhoon Haiyan, Superstorm Sandy, and a severe drought stretching across much of the Western United States. On this edition of Making Contact we’ll take a deeper look at the social and psychological impacts of climate change, and the weight of inaction.


  • Host: Laura Flynn
  • Contributing Producer: Aurora Almendral
  • Thanks: Cloud Mountain Foundation and Park Foundation for support of this program


  • Niki Stanley and Derice Klass, Far Rockaway residents
  • Zardos V. Abela, firefighter for the Bureau of Fire Protection in Tacloban, Philippines
  • Abigail Gewirtz, psychologist at the University of Minnesota
  • Stephan Wasik, Valley Fire survivor
  • Jeff Keenan, Valley Fire survivor
  • Erica Petersen, Valley Fire survivor
  • Manuel Orozco, Behavioral Health Fiscal Manager, Lake County Behavioral Health.

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Documentary: The Carlyle Connection

vpro international

Uploaded on Feb 9, 2012

A revealing documentary about the international world of private equity banking.

The Carlyle Group, one of the largest investment banks in the world, is based in Washington and has accumulated its capital mainly by investments in the defence industry. On their list of employees are people like Lou Gerstner (former chairman of IBM), George Bush Sr., James Baker III, John Major (former British Prime Minister) and Fidel Ramos (former Prime Minister of the Philipines). The Carlyle Group invests in areas that are closely tied to government policy: aero space and defense, telecom, real estate, health care and the banking business.

With 16 billion dollar under management they have the reputation of being the best-connected company in the world. Their list of private investors include George Soros, the Saudi Royal Family and the Bin Laden Family. How does the Carlyle Group operate, who are the people behind the Carlyle Group and how much power does Carlyle have? This film explores the fine line between the conflict of interests and a new global way of doing business.

Director: Shuchen Tan
Research: Gijs M. Swantee, Ger Wieberdink, Christina Berio
Producers: Mariska Schneider, Nicoline Tania
Editors in chief: Doke Romeijn, Frank Wiering, Hans Keller

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Daniel Aaron, pioneer in American Studies, dead at 103 | Harvard Gazette

By Jill Radsken, Harvard Staff Writer

May 4, 2016

Daniel Aaron, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature Emeritus, died Saturday in Cambridge. He was 103.

Professor remembered as gifted scholar and avid conversationalist

A pioneer in American Studies and a prolific author, Aaron was also instrumental in founding the Library of America canon of classics.

“Never have I known an intellectual and a great scholar who wore his learning so lightly, and with such capacity to delight,” said James Simpson, the Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English and chair of the English Department. “Conversation with him was utterly singular. He had the knack of negative capability to an extraordinary degree: immersing himself entirely, chameleon-like, in his interlocutor, while simultaneously and quietly impressing his own delightful stamp on any meeting. He has a place of deep affection in the hearts of everyone who was lucky enough to be touched by his angelic smile and singular intelligence.”

The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Aaron was born Aug. 4, 1912, and orphaned by age 10. As a Harvard graduate student in the late 1930s, he was the first to study in the program that would become American Studies. In his 2007 memoir, “The Americanist,” he wrote of finding intellectual purpose through the lens of World War II.

Daniel Aaron’s century

By Corydon Ireland, Harvard Staff Writer | August 3, 2012

“The United States suddenly loomed as the last democratic bastion in the world after the German occupation of France in 1940. About then, I began to feel that it might be almost as important to understand American civilization as to preserve it.”

…(read more).

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Harvard Professor Daniel Aaron, founding president of the Library of America, dies at 103 – The Boston Globe

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File    Dr. Aaron, in 2001.

By Mark Feeney Globe Staff May 02, 2016

Daniel Aaron, the founding president of the Library of America and a defining figure in the field of American studies, died Saturday in Mount Auburn Hospital. The cause of death was complications of pneumonia, his daughter-in-law Anna Mundow said. A Cambridge resident, he was 103.

Dr. Aaron, who was Victor S. Thomas professor of English and American literature emeritus at Harvard University, once described himself as “part historian, part literary critic, part political theorist, an irregular in the ranks of the ‘non-Communist Left.’ ” His best-known book, “Writers on the Left: Episodes in American Literary Communism” (1961), brought together all those elements.

“I’ve never been purely concerned with literature,” Dr. Aaron said in a 2001 Globe interview. “My intellectual interests have been adulterated. There’s always been a social dimension to it.”

Andrew Delbanco, the Alexander Hamilton professor of American studies at Columbia University, taught with Dr. Aaron at Harvard in the 1970s. In an e-mail Sunday, Delbanco wrote: “Through a long lifetime of writing and teaching he showed how America could be better if only we lived up to our own ideals. We won’t see the likes of him again.”

…(read more).

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Published on Apr 27, 2016

Yanis Varoufakis considers himself a politician by necessity, not by choice. An economist and academic by training, he became Greece’s finance minister amidst the country’s financial crisis, creating an image for himself both beloved and reviled. He discusses his complicated role in his new book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future, and on the LIVE stage alongside renowned academic and theorist Noam Chomsky. YANIS VAROUFAKIS is the former finance minister of Greece. A professor of economic theory at the University of Athens and former member of parliament for Athens’ largest constituency, he is the author of The Global Minotaur, among other books. He lives in Athens. NOAM CHOMSKY is widely credited with having revolutionized the field of modern linguistics. Chomsky is the author of numerous best-selling political works, which have been translated into scores of countries worldwide. Among his most recent books are Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, Hopes and Prospects, and Masters of Mankind. Haymarket Books recently released twelve of his classic works in new editions. His latest books are What Kind of Creatures Are We? And Who Rules the World?

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Documentary: TTIP: Might is Right

vpro international

Published on Oct 19, 2015

The proposed free trade agreement between the US and Europe (TTIP) causes concern about the European right to self-determination. The most controversial part of TTIP is ISDS: investor-state dispute settlement. ISDS will make it possible for companies to sue governments that damage their investments. But is this arbitrage system where a few investment lawyers decide over billions of taxpayers money a protection of our business interests, or a threat to our democracy?

On Saturday, October 10, tens of thousands of European citizens took to the streets, and more than 2.5 million signatures were offered to the European Commission. The source of this concern and protest is the free trade agreement TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) between the United States and the EU, which would create the world’s largest free-trade zone. According to the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade Lilianne Ploumen, TTIP could be realized as soon as 2016; the negotiations are well under way. If the EU ratifies the trade agreement, critics fear that the scales will tilt toward North-American standards and values with regard to (food) safety, workers’ and consumer rights. And that when it comes to important collective achievements and protection of its citizens, Europe will give up its right to self-determination.

The part of the trade agreement that’s questioned the most is ISDS, or investor-state dispute settlement, which can be used by companies to dispute a country’s laws and rules, if a company feels unfairly treated. This will enable multinationals to circumvent democratic decisions and existing national jurisdiction. In order to understand the potential consequences of this, VPRO Backlight traveled to Canada, which became one of the most sued countries in the world after it entered into a trade agreement with the US. American companies now summon the Canadian government to appear before an arbitration tribunal if they feel that Canadian rules aren’t in compliance with the free trade agreement Nafta. Despite democratic decisions against fracking under Canada’s most important river, the Saint Lawrence, the Canadian government was sued for millions of dollars by the oil and shale gas company Lone Pine.

Could this happen in the Netherlands as well? In spite of resistance, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp (VVD) doesn’t rule out the possibility of future fracking in the Netherlands. VPRO Backlight probed the opinions at an information meeting organized by the Dutch Oil and Gas Company in Saaksum, Groningen. The locals there seem more and more convinced that fossil fuels should stay where they are: underground. But then no profit would be made from them anymore. The question is if this could result in ISDS claims in the future. Or should we welcome ISDS? Because it’s also crucial for the position of the Netherlands as a world leader in legal and financial services. It will protect the tens of billions of Dutch foreign investments.

British Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang wonders what free trade really means in this day and age. Because there has long been a largely free movement of goods between the US and EU, with few tariff walls. So whose interest will the controversial TTIP and ISDS serve then? And in the service of whom or what is the law, when it comes to international investment arbitration? Isn’t in the end, might right?

With: Steve Verheul (Canadian negotiator for the trade agreement between Canada and the EU), Gus van Harten (Canadian lawyer and ISDS expert), Nikos Lavranos (former negotiator for the Netherlands, currently ISDS investment consultant) and Ha-Joon

Director: Roland Duong
Research: William de Bruijn
Producers: Jolanda Segers, Bircan Unlu
Commissioning editors: Marije Meerman, Doke Romeijn

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Inside Story – How would a Donald Trump presidency affect the world?

Al Jazeera English

Published on May 4, 2016

He’s been derided by the international media – and ridiculed by his own party.

Now, Donald Trump is set to become the Republican party’s presidential nominee, ten months after launching his unlikely bid for the White House.

His critics say he’s the least prepared candidate for President in modern American history; a man whose isolationist and xenophobic rhetoric is alarming to many at home and abroad.

Yet his message resonates with many Americans.

And US allies and enemies alike are starting to consider how a Trump presidency would affect US relations with the rest of the world.

On this Inside Story, we examine Trump’s foreign policy.

And we ask, how would the world react to Trump taking the White House?

Presenter: Hazem Sika


Ryan Grim – Washington Bureau Chief at the Huffington Post.

Shibley Telhami – Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.

James Boys – Associate Professor of International Political Studies at Richmond University.

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Documentary: The Earth’s Lawyer

vpro international

Published on Nov 30, 2015

Our world knows four international crimes: war crimes, genocide, torture and crimes against humanity. Spanish examining magistrate Baltasar Garzón and Scottish lawyer Polly Higgins believe that this list of serious violations of international law should be expanded with a fifth: ecocide. Will Higgins and Garzón eventually succeed in gaining enough support to get recognition for ecocide, truly putting the large-scale destruction of our ecosystems high on the international political agenda once and for all?

Scottish Polly Higgins was laughed at when she first proclaimed that the Earth needs a lawyer. That those who cause ecological destruction should be held accountable, and therefore be sued, summoned and punished. Originally a trial lawyer, Higgins now entirely devotes her life and work to the Earth, as a legal eco-activist. Since 2011, she has been leading the international movement against ecocide. This is the large-scale destruction of our ecosystems, for instance the vanishing vegetation in the Amazon, the devastating oil spills in the Niger Delta and the tar sands in Canada.

This militant lawyer combines compassion and charm with conviction and decisiveness. In special training sessions she teaches people to use their own talents in a practical way for a sustainable planet.

VPRO Backlight follows Polly Higgins and her ‘earth guardians’ on their missions throughout 2015, a year that, more than any other year, offers a ‘window of opportunity’. Higgins will visit Lapland, where Europe’s last piece of unspoiled nature could fall prey to mining. She consults with politicians, such as the Swedish Minister for the Environment, and governors of small island states like Tuvalu and Vanuatu, which are threatened by the rising sea level.

In Madrid, the world-famous examining magistrate Baltasar Garzón is also working tirelessly as a lawyer, pushing for international legislation that will make it possible to call big polluters and destroyers of nature to account. The man behind Augusto Pinochet’s arrest in 1998 is currently focused on crimes against the Earth. Together with his daughter María, he calls on world leaders to protect the planet against crimes which he regards as equal to torture and genocide. After dictators and governments, now it’s the multinationals’ turn.

Including Polly Higgins (lawyer), Baltasar Garzón (jurist), Michael Baumgartner (campaign manager Greenpeace Switzerland), Bronwyn Lay (environmental lawyer, Australia).

Director: Kees Brouwer

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