20 September 2005

Homeland security has entered our post-9/11 lexicon, but homeland insecurity remains the abiding reality, with the exception of airports, much of what is critical to our way of life remains unprotected. Based on rigorous research, field visits, and interviews with frontline agents, Flynn exposes many of the glaring security gaps that are receiving only superficial attention by the Department of Homeland Security - or are being overshadowed by Washington’s preoccupation with offensive attacks on terrorists overseas. He also cites hard economic facts. Aside from a confounding system of color-coded alerts, the federal government has invested little in homeland security, spending less on security over the past three years to protect America’s 361 commercial seaports than it is spending every three days on the war in Iraq. At the state and local levels, budget cuts have drastically reduced the ranks of vital first responders - police officers, firefighters, paramedics - as well as curtailed attempts to strengthen our infrastructure, shore up our waterways, and make sound investments in new technologies which could help us to better manage the terrorist risk.

Consequently, America is indeed vulnerable to attacks by weapons of mass destruction on New York, Los Angeles, or any city, courtesy of the thousands of cargo containers that slip largely unchecked through our ports each day; or bio-attacks on our food supply system; or a deadly attack on largely unguarded chemical plants and energy refineries across the country. In addition to innocent civilians, the other likely victims of these attacks would be frontline firefighters and police officers who still lack the protective gear and interoperable communications to cope with major terrorist incidents on U.S. soil. While some readers may be shocked to learn just how insecure this country is, global criminals and terrorists are very much in the know.

While squarely confronting the worst possible, wholly probable scenarios of terrorism, America the Vulnerable does not leave readers helpless. Grounded in what he knows works, from firsthand experience and extensive observation, Flynn proposes a sweeping new framework for dealing with today’s world of open borders, deadly weapons, and rising anti-Americanism. He also offers pragmatic suggestions for tackling specific vulnerabilities in the areas of trade, transportation, and border security, as well as emergency responder issues. America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism (Perennial; July 1, 2005; $13.95 Trade Paperback).

Stephen Flynn is the author of the critically acclaimed and national bestseller, America the Vulnerable. He is the inaugural occupant of the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Chair in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Flynn served as Director and principal author for the task force report " America: Still Unprepared-Still in Danger," co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. Since 9/11 he has provided congressional testimony on homeland security matters on fifteen occasions. He spent twenty years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard including two commands at sea, served in the White House Military Office during the George H.W. Bush administration, and was director for Global Issues on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.


6 October 2005

*This event was co-sponsored with the American Constitution Society of the Columbia Law School

Ms. Gupta discussed her litigation to free 38 wrongfully convicted defendants in Tulia, Texas and other cases to illustrate the growing need to make domestic civil rights and racial justice concerns into international human rights issues.

Vanita Gupta joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) as a Soros Justice Fellow in September 2001. She is now an Assistant Counsel at LDF, where her work centers on civil rights litigation that promotes systemic reform of the criminal justice system. Ms. Gupta successfully led the effort to overturn the convictions of 38 defendants in Tulia, Texas, organizing over a dozen national law firms in this fight and coordinating the legal and media strategy. Working with co-counsel, she also recently settled the civil rights cases filed on behalf of the wrongfully convicted Tulia residents for $6 million. The settlement also disbanded the narcotics task force responsible for the drug sting and resulted in the early retirement of two key officers involved in overseeing the sting operation. In furtherance of her clients' cases, she has appeared on the NBC Today Show, CBS Evening News, CNN, PBS Lehrer News Hour, Court TV, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. For her work in Tulia, Ms. Gupta has been given the 2004 Reebok Human Rights Award, the Upakar Foundation Community Ambassador award, and the American Red Cross "Rising Star" award. She continues to represent individuals accused of crimes who have been subjected to racial bias and other serious problems in their encounters with the criminal justice system. She was on the legal team that in January, 2005, won freedom for renowned prison journalist Wilbert Rideau in his fourth trial after he had already spent forty-four years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

She attended Yale University, where she graduated in History and Women's Studies. Prior to attending law school, she served as the public policy coordinator at the Harvard School of Public Health in its Violence Prevention Programs.

26 October 2005

This talk followed the travels of Mindy and Bob Fullilove, professors of public health, as they traveled around France and Spain with colleagues and students. The troupe visited a number of cities, with a focus on the similarities and contrasts in urban development in two Catalonian cities: Barcelona and Perpignan.

Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD , is a research psychiatrist at New York State Psychiatric Institute and a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University. She was educated at Bryn Mawr College (AB, 1971) and Columbia University (MS, 1971; MD 1978). She is a board certified psychiatrist, having received her training at New York Hospital-Westchester Division (1978-1981) and Montefiore Hospital (1981-1982). She has conducted research AIDS and other epidemics of poor communities, with a special interest in the relationship between the collapse of communities and decline in health. From her research, she has published Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It, and The House of Joshua: Meditations on Family and Place. She has also published numerous articles, book chapters, and monographs. She has received many awards including being named a "National Associate" by the National Academy of Science in 2003, being among the "Best Doctors in New York," and receiving two honorary doctorates (Chatham College, 1999, and Bank Street College of Education, 2002). Her work in AIDS is featured in Jacob Levenson’s book, The Secret Epidemic: The Story of AIDS in Black America.


9 November 2005

A presentation of selected public projects demonstrates the core values that have defined a forty year practice of architecture. Unifying a diverse body of work is the search for an authentic and individual expression of place and mission, without the imposition of a repetitive style.

James Stewart Polshek is a Design Partner in Polshek Partnership Architects, which he established in 1963. Mr. Polshek graduated from Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 1951 and received a Master of Architecture degree from the Yale University School of Architecture in 1955. In 1956, he was awarded a Fulbright/Hayes Fellowship for postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.  Among Mr. Polshek's current projects are: Newseum/Freedom Forum Foundation Headquarters, Bryant College Chapel and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation Education Center. Recent projects include William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center, Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, National Inventors Hall of Fame, Santa Fe Opera, Scandinavia House, the Sydney Opera House, and the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center.

From 1972-1987, he was Dean of the faculty of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and Special Advisor to the President for Planning and Design at Columbia University, where he is Professor Emeritus of Architecture. While at Columbia University, he established the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, on whose Executive Committee he served for ten years. During this same period he co-founded Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility. He currently serves on the advisory boards of the New York School of Interior Design and the Lycée Français de New York.

Mr. Polshek holds Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from Pratt Institute (1995) and the New School University Parsons School of Design (1995) and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from New Jersey Institute of Technology (2002). In 2002, he was honored with the Municipal Art Society's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal, and was also inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This year, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


29 November 2005

This is the golden age of the discovery of the universe, like the two decades following Columbus’s discovery of the new world. We can even see the effects of two "continents" that haven't been visited, dark matter and dark energy. This presentation was a story about lessons the speaker has learned from the conquest of space--lessons about the universe from space astronomy and lessons about people from space projects.

David Gilman has a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Cornell University, using data from Apollo 16. He has managed space flight programs in the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters from 1982 to 1997 and is now the Deputy Director of the Flight Projects Office at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.


26 January 2006

Billions have been invested in the biotechnology industry, which has promised the public everything from cures to cancer, to new organs from stem cells. What is it like to start-up a biotech company and be on the inside of such an enterprise, and is the industry delivering on its promises? 25 years ago, George Yancopoulos was a John Jay Scholar at Columbia College.  Now he is a leader in the biotech industry.

George Yancopoulos is a native New Yorker who graduated as valedictorian of both the Bronx High School of Science and Columbia College, and then went on to receive his MD and PhD degrees in 1987 from Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. Following widely-recognized work in the field of molecular immunology at Columbia University, for which he received the Lucille P. Markey Scholar Award, Dr. Yancopoulos left academia in 1989 as a founding scientist for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where he is now the Chief Scientific Officer and President of Regeneron Laboratories. Dr. Yancopoulos is also an Adjunct Full Professor at Columbia University, and was recently awarded Columbia University’s Stevens Triennial Prize for Research and its University Medal of Excellence for Distinguished Achievement. According to a study by the Institute for Scientific Information, Dr. Yancopoulos was the eleventh most highly cited scientist in the world during the 1990’s (citation rates reflect how often a scientist’s work is referred to by other scientists, and is widely regarded as the best way to rank scientists), and the only scientist from the biotechnology industry on the list. Dr. Yancopoulos’ scientific contributions were recently recognized by his election in 2004 to both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Yancopoulos is widely regarded as a world leader in many fields of biology, and has authored more than 300 scientific manuscripts. Dr. Yancopoulos’ scientific efforts have focused on the discovery and characterization of novel families of “growth factors” and their mechanisms of actions. These efforts have provided insights into the growth, function and regeneration of many critical cell populations in the body, ranging from neurons in the brain to cartilage, muscle and blood vessel cells. Most recently, his group has developed VelociGene technology, which allows for the rapid generation of almost any genetic change or humanization in mouse embryonic stem cells, allowing for the generation of new models of disease and gene function in the mouse. Many of the discoveries of Dr. Yancopoulos and his group have resulted in therapeutic candidates now in clinical trials, such as the VEGF Trap for cancer and blinding eye diseases including AMD, and the IL1-Trap for inflammatory diseases.


6 February 2006

Mr. Magnason spoke of words and deeds, ideas, imagination and propaganda. He used Iceland as a case study and a reflection on the world in general. Living in an island with its own language you can face all the challenges you will face in other countries but the size of the population can force you to become creative and active. According to the Human Development Index (HDI), published annually by the United Nations, Iceland now ranks #2 of 177 countries; Iceland has gone from poverty to this position in less than a lifetime. The wealth does not change the human elements; the nation can go through periods of stability up to seeing very strong patterns of conflict, the level of violence or nonviolence just being a question of culture. The island can go from being a role model for the world, having a strong voice by voting for a woman president, tolerating progressive creativity and modern thinking, to supporting wrong ideas on the larger scale and harnessing natural resources before seeking creative solutions. Mr. Magnason spoke of his work and his cultural background, from old music and sagas to his production of Bonus Poetry, cheap poetry for the every day consumer. He also spoke about the role of the artist, from taking on the role of a comedian, entertainer and even a clown to finding himself in a position where he has to take a stand, speak for a cause, and hopefully make a difference.

Andri Snær Magnason is an Icelandic writer; he studied physics until he turned to Icelandic literature. Mr. Magnason has written novels, poetry, plays, short stories, essays and CD’s. His novel LoveStar, was a bestseller and chosen Novel of the Year by Icelandic booksellers 2002. His children’s book and play, The Story of the Blue Planet, was the first and only children’s book to receive the Icelandic Literary Prize.  It also received the Janusz Korczak Honorary Award in Warsawa 2000 and the West Nordic Children’s Book Prize 2002. The Story of the Blue Planet has been published or performed in more than 16 countries; the latest performance in Toronto was nominated for 5 Dora Awards. Mr. Magnason has collaborated with various artists, mostly with a band called " múm." He is vice-president of The Icelandic Writers Union, and board member of The Culture House in Reykjavík. Mr. Magnason has been involved with projects connected to the revival of Iceland’s medieval musical heritage and Icelandic medieval manuscripts. Among them is the Poetic Edda from 1100, the most important source of Nordic mythology, one of the few places where mankind has preserved a whole set of gods and myths, with ideas from the beginning of a world to the apocalypse. The Edda has inspired artists like Tolkien, Borges and Wagner.

In recent years, Mr. Magnason has been active in the fight for preserving the fragile wilderness of the Icelandic highlands. He has held lectures about imagination and ideas for DeCode genetics, Shell, the Icelandic Stock Market, the Icelandic Phone Company and the Icelandic Marketing Awards. Mr. Magnason is born in Reykjavik on the 14th of July, 1973. He comes from a family of doctors and nurses. His father is a doctor, his mother is a nurse, and his sister is a brain surgeon. His grandfather, Björn Thorbjarnarson, was chief surgeon at the New York Hospital and professor at Cornell University. Björn wrote the bestseller: Surgery of the Biliary Tract, 1975. Mr. Magnason lives in Reykjavík; he is married and has three children.


21 February 2006

Mr. Goldmark discussed his transition from political trailblazer to press mogul to non-profit visionary along with the passion, the drive, the gratification that influences his life.

Peter Goldmark was named Director of the Climate and Air Program at Environmental Defense in August, 2003. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the International Herald Tribune from March, 1998, and left the paper in January, 2003. From June 1988 to December 1997, he was the eleventh President of the Rockefeller Foundation based in New York City. Prior to this appointment he was Senior Vice President for Eastern Newspapers for the Los Angeles based Times Mirror Company. Before joining the Times Mirror Company in 1985, Mr. Goldmark served for eight years as Executive Director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

From 1975 to 1977, he was Director of the Budget for the State of New York and for four years prior to that served as Secretary of Human Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mr. Goldmark also served in the budget office of New York City for four years, and was Assistant Budget Director for Program Planning and Analysis before becoming Executive Assistant to the Mayor in 1970. Earlier in his career, he was on the staff of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington, and taught history at the Putney School in Vermont. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Lend Lease Corporation and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, among other organizations, and Visiting Professor of Public Management at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.


22 March 2006

*Stewart Sukuma performed a mini-concert during this presentation

In 1990, Mozambique was estimated to be the poorest nation in the world. Mozambican writer Mia Couto laments that "The most harrowing thing about poverty is the ignorance it has of itself. Faced by an absence of everything, men abstain from dreams, depriving themselves of the desire to be others." Is there room to dream in Mozambique, a developing nation struggling to overcome the consequences of colonialism, a 17 year civil war, extreme poverty, and AIDS? What is the role of the arts and artistic endeavor in feeding the Mozambican imagination? Mozambican musician Stewart Sukuma, whose name can be translated from Zulu as "rise up," has devoted his career to empowering the people of his country through music. In 1983, his music first reached the ears of Mozambicans all over the nation through the radio, an integral form of communication in a nation where many do not have access to television, internet, and newspapers.

Sukuma links music and social outreach, working in conjunction with the National Campaign against AIDS, the National Election Commission, UNICEF, and other aid organizations to increase awareness about HIV, the importance of voting, and democratic rights. In 2004, he co-founded Sem Crítica, a movement dedicated to empowering young people by encouraging their artistic talents. Mozambique, like all countries in Africa, usually only receives attention from the international press in the face of tragedies, such as civil war and record floods. This type of coverage of Africa perpetuates a racist image of a continent beyond repair, and fails to shed light on Africa's enormous successes in business, media, and the arts. Sukuma is a living example of the thriving arts in Mozambique and the country's success and ability to rise up.

Stewart Sukuma , an internationally celebrated musician from Mozambique, combines traditional Mozambican music and instrumentation with contemporary styles to create a unique type of fusion African pop. In 1992, Mozambique emerged from a 17 year civil war deeply in need of national figures to instill hope in the destitute country. With the launch of his album Afrikiti in 1997, Sukuma, as vocalist and guitarist, rose as a symbol of promise for his country. Singing in Portuguese, English, and many of the languages of Bantu origin spoken in Mozambique, his themes include the daily feats and struggles of his nation's people. As a founding member of the Mozambican Musicians' Association, he has been deeply involved in promoting Mozambican music and bringing foreign musicians, including Eric Clapton and Gilberto Gil, to his country. Beyond working as a musician, Stewart has worked in music production, management, and as a television host of two shows.

Socially minded, Sukuma has worked in conjunction with the Mozambican government and various not-for-profit organizations to hold concerts and events educating about key issues such as HIV-AIDS and democratic rights. As a founding member of the non-governmental organization Um Artista, Um Gesto ("One Artist, One Gesture"), he fought against extreme poverty and brought colorful paintings to the dreary walls of the national hospital in Maputo, Mozambique's capital city. Sukuma has various music videos and in 2004, he launched a "best of" album. On tours in Europe, Africa, and the United States, Sukuma shared the stage with music giants such as Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Abdullah Ibrahim. He has received many awards, including the UNESCO Moz-Art Prize in 1998 and, in 2004, a nomination for best male music video in the Channel O African Music Video Awards, a sort of African equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Presently, Sukuma works as host and production manager of the television show Fama, a competitive show that promotes young Mozambican singers through exposure and a chance at stardom. He is recording his forthcoming album. More information on Sukuma and his music is available at


11 April 2006

Men and women, when seeking the right to rule, promise the good they will do for their country, its people and even the World. They say that there will be peace and happiness; liberty, equality and fraternity; education and culture; the eradication of poverty, disease and homelessness, the absence of racism and sexism and that there will be democracy, respect for human rights and justice for all. The talk deals with the instances, particularly in Southern Africa, where, with notable exceptions, despite the pious intentions, the rule of law has been abrogated; corrupt and tyrannical regimes cling to power; opposition is equated with treason and human misery prevails. The role for civil society, the judiciary, the legal profession and other structures to uphold human rights and democracy can and do make a difference. So does international assistance for the oppressed people and condemnation of those who do not live up to their promises.

The gales of war blew 13-year-old George Bizos away from Greece to South Africa where he studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand. He joined the Bar in Johannesburg in 1954 and has been a senior member since 1978. He was counsel to Nelson Mandela, where he was part of the team that defended Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Bram Fischer, Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and Barbara Hogan. He represented the families of Steve Biko, Matthew Goniwe, Dr. Neil Aggett and others who died in detention. He opposed amnesty applications by those who killed Chris Hani and other leaders of the struggle. He has written No One to Blame? – in pursuit of justice in South Africa that describes the crimes of the perpetrators who were exonerated by the apartheid’s justice system. He appeared for the South African democratically elected government to successfully argue the abolition of the death penalty and the certification of the new South African Constitution.

George Bizos is a member of the National Council of Lawyers for Human Rights, which he helped found in 1979. He is Senior Counsel at the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg in the Constitutional Litigation Unit. He was a judge on Botswana's Court of Appeal from 1985 to 1993. Mr. Bizos was counsel to United Democratic Front leaders, including future provincial Premiers Patrick Lekota and Popo Molefe in the Delmas Treason Trial, 1985-89. In 1990 he became a member of the African National Congress's Legal and Constitutional Committee, and at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) he served as advisor to the negotiating teams and participated in drawing up the Interim Constitution. He was involved in the drafting of legislation, and particularly the Truth and Reconciliation Bill and amendments to the Criminal Procedures Act, to bring it into line with Chapter 3 of the constitution, guaranteeing fundamental human rights to all citizens of South Africa.

He was appointed by then President Mandela to the Judicial Services Commission which, in terms of the constitution recommends candidates for appointment as judges and proposes reforms to the judicial system to erase its apartheid past. He successfully defended the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change's leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was charged with planning a coup d'etat by conspiring to assassinate President Robert Mugabe before the 2002 general elections.

Mr. Bizos is still working for the Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre, and has recently successfully defended Morgan Tsvangirayi on a charge of treason. He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University 1985 –1986 and 1995. He has received numerous awards for his contribution to human rights. Mr. Bizos is married to Arethe and they have three sons and six grandchildren. He is also a keen organic vegetable grower.

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