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tv   After Words  CSPAN  June 29, 2015 12:00am-1:01am EDT

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residence in the court of neuro neuroand the odd juxtapositions between this awful man seneca and this tyrant nero and how he tried to survive in that time period while being on the other hand it very senior adviser to nero. it was very tricky business so it's a great piece of roman history about a very controversial and not not easy relationship and a very easy and great read if you like ancient roman history as i do. that's my summer reading for now and i hope to be back next year with an equal number of recommendations. ..
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and i think that is true for those of us and i was like to about the discovery of your family. can you tell me about that? >> guest: line was a small nuclear family. i was born here in new york living in washington heights.
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my mother was from puerto rico and my father was cuban and i was the only child, and it was a small hard-working unit and my father was pro- castro and we would have meetings, he would have ten or 15 people on saturday night. my mother would make black coffee and it was exciting for me for politics, latin america which a lot of people haven't heard about but i had an early lesson in the importance of maintaining it because shortly after the cuban missile crisis november 62 at about 3 or 4 in the morning i was 8-years-old at
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the time and they took my father away. >> it was gone and we never saw him again. our family was permanently ruptured. so that was by definition. politics had an early impact and that's what i factored in when i saw hundreds of fbi files and how my father had been affected by the fbi. so only child became a really good student. i didn't see the margins for error.
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i was a good student very curious and when i got scholarships and went to harvard i was curious and even the first from harvard law school and went to the library with the 57 miles of books and got a card catalog i went through with eight or nine floors and i found that striking. and if anything it is my curiosity at a point in college i found for me there was an abundance of options and opportunities but not much guidance.
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i found it doubled its spending with family in puerto rico and it was for the period of time when it came back they came back in 1948 and so one meeting led to another. i started hearing things that were astounding like for the things going on in puerto rico. it wasn't fully documented at the time because the fbi was maintaining the secret police files that they hadn't yet been disclosed or classified but in 1974 i was getting a firsthand like the famous barber.
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it was tremendous. one common than nominator was the definitive entire is almost through default it has to be by the sheer gravitational pull that can infiltrate an entire culture and it can also do it a little bit more intentionally you can have specifically the dominant society can impose its version of the cultural identity and self-determination on
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another country. i became aware of what is the culture and i have been systematically obliterated and sometimes it isn't through any specific set. first there was the commissioner of education i forget his name but he wrote a book that was a textbook on history from 1930 to about 1952 and it gave a one-sided version of history when the united states first arrived they tried to establish spanish in the schools and that didn't last long so there was a natural human resistance of being denied ur and i saw that in the stories.
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>> you mentioned as a major player in the story and you say that it is the story of puerto rico. why don't you tell us a little bit about that? stack the united states occupied in 1988 has one of the most devastating in history about 50 million pounds were gone. tens of thousands of people left homeless. at the united states couldn't send any meaningful relief. but instead of the following year it declared the united states dollar was the only
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currency. but it is the equivalent of equal buying power internationally were exchanged on an equal basis. each would be about 60 americans sense of all of the transactions that is an evaluation of every person. you think about the world trade center, the 9/11 tragedy, it was to go. but at the end of the day that the rebel affected have to the society and economy the whole set of repercussions. think about what would happen in the united states if everybody woke up in 40% of the property holdings out of their was gone.
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it's a microcosm we would be seeing in every city that would cease to exist as we know it. that's what happened in puerto rico. we have the currency in the following year ended the year after that the graduated set of property taxes that they never faced before at the outset of the relationships that was a great degree of dislocation. you know a great deal of that. they were a bit more versatile because they have smaller holding us so it was doable with
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a struggle they get it. but they take out loans and interestingly it was the american colonial bank. within 20 years it was the largest. without the restrictions the farmers started the whole thing on their loans all over the island. it magnifies the crisis in 200-7100 fold. so within ten or 20 years you have the eternal diaspora in the and a lot of that land is being turned into a one crop cash cover economy. so now you have people that are self-sufficient looking for work and they migrate to the cities.
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they try to enact the minimum wage legislation for the united states there is plenary jurisdiction over any law passed to the legislature and was struck down and interestingly this happened in the early 20s. in 1917, they were declared u.s. citizens in march of 1917. woodrow wilson said the declaration to the united states congress debates seems it is not a large leap to say that they were declared u.s. citizens in time for the military conscription to world war i. >> that is an interesting point scholars have been dealing with for a while and i think that the idea that the jones act but the importance of citizenship was going to be the eventual drafting of puerto ricans into the world has been questioned by a love of scholars recently and
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one of the arguments against that is they were considered u.s. nationals and they could be drafted into war. you didn't need to be a citizen to be drafted. and in fact citizenship in terms of the war draft would have been a major motivation to act. they understand the meaning of citizenship and a part of it is also do feel obligated because a lot of it is a voluntary compliance. there is a case of a first impression and i would simply
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add to the weight of the conditioning that you have to show up to the collective services because you are a citizen. that's number one. number two, it became immediately qualified five years later when they tried to enact minimum-wage legislation and the beat decoded, number one commandment or two in 1922 it was ruled the territory of the united states the u.s. constitutions do not apply and the citizens of puerto rico didn't have the privileges and immunities of being a citizen so therefore let's reverse the situation. but you've are denied any of the essential elements of the citizenship which is the protection of the constitution and you can back yourself into
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the scenario where you declared in 1917? it's not to provide you any protection if you don't have the first amendment rights because they withdrew in 1958. if you have to petition for any which can be vetoed in elaborately by congress. so for me it's another changing. so now we are getting a two period at harvard law school but it comes back during the height of the concentration of wealth and power in puerto rico because
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he becomes a one-man law in the single leadership both as president and very quickly he sees it between the united states and puerto rico he knows and understands the meaning of not having the privileges so he allocates, organizers for years about the independence of the united states it doesn't matter to say when he leads leaves and islandwide agricultural strike in 1933 and 1844 and ended up the result was the blink wages
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from roughly 75 cents a day to dollar 50 for ten hour day. that is the difference between starvation and thoughts. it was huge and was in the depths of the great depression. that's when the story comes because at that moment when wall street and washington finally recognize that there's something happening in puerto rico, finally it became a sort of issue of the power that be. there was an immediate reaction. they sent a new governor who was a u.s. army general, the u.s. police chief and sort of a
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double 07. there would be a destabilized regime. his father was the president of the national bank and they were at the core of financing the destabilizing regime. it originally meant to go down to the country and start a revolution that was a takeover that would put in the dictator to the united states and france and now it is called a filibuster. they came over to not just the police chief of puerto rico but the investments all over south-central america he was basically coming in as a colonial overseer or financing that come to longer it which the bank was a part.
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in a very famous meeting in the agricultural strike he invited them to the elegant restaurant at which there were that there were multiple witnesses and it was reported and was written about by various biographers if you would basically back off of the agricultural strike. as for the independence of puerto rico. biography but firmly it was right to send every title setting when it didn't work it was on to plan b.. it also gave them a path of becoming the majority leader.
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so it was a nice package and it was the equivalent access all of this will be yours if you will just come with me. but the that deal was basically offered if you look at the history. he took the deal that he went that way and developed that american embrace for the following 25 years of his life to the point that he was the sponsor of wall 53 to make sure nobody complained about the united states. it begins almost immediately. fascination threats and attempts for the three natithreats and attempts
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for the three nationalists and an innocent bystander were shot in october of 1935 in what became known as the massacre and immediately thereafter. they wanted to enunciate these words when asked what's going on and can you contextualize and explain the open air in the middle of the day day assassinations and they said very simple if they continue to agitate the sugarcane workers and universities there's going to be warned that against all puerto ricans. >> host: and it must have been a few days later there was a speech reprinted aside they've made the call for war and i will answer the call and he said he uses the same language.
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it was at the funeral for the three deceased and you see the pictures of those surrounding the funerals and the nationalist party have one old world war i plane and another event of a flu over and dropped white lilies are so that they chosen as the title for my book because the fact that he would say that to an entire -- and then the third
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way people started to appreciate him because he was so open and you could appreciate how he would bring up the fire hydrant and the dogs and get the best of the lot imaginable so they could see what was going on at the south and it would help the civil rights movement so it was a prism and hindsight of history they would say this is how it is and if you don't like that we are going to shoot you some were. the fact that the police chief would say it's one of the expressions of empires became highly joined with the story
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because his life in fact was defined by the leadership strike he had spent 25 years in jail and a 29 years so shortly the agricultural strike four years outside surrounded and followed by a platoon of fbi agents to maintain its troop strength to have 25 because its around-the-clock. and on top of that after having spent the first ten years in
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jail by june of 48 passed the law which made it illegal. if you have a flag in the closet or your home the police can come and come and knock on your door break down your door, find the flag and then you you're subject to ten years in prison. to create an additional layer george orwell wrote in 1948 and it was published in 1949. so right around that time is when it was promulgated and the
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island of puerto rico was locked down. george orwell was alive and well >> let me bring you back for a minute. throughout the book you describe an attitude of indifference and disrespect and that's very clear that there are many instances in your book not to say that that wasn't the case that there are other instances in your book where you demonstrate washington was responding to the complaints brought over by puerto ricans that they were lobbying on their own behalf and this is where i want the conversation to go because i'm interested in the
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way that puerto ricans negotiated this entire. for example then page 60 when writing about governor rightly you talk about the secession of the leaders and the grand jury bringing formal charges in the resistance and of course that leads to the removal and marches in the press. it really he really forced the removal of those men and i'm wondering if it isn't a unilateral manifestation of empire in puerto rico because
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they were not expecting a unilateral expression of power so i'm wondering even in those examples you don't consider those expression? >> i consider them expeditions of futility. let me explain why. there can be a situation in the corner of this room that i will acknowledge when it becomes either too loud or inconvenient. it's a fair but i don't have to deal with it until it becomes an issue. so they would talk about the independence of puerto rico just as an example by the way with
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the chief justice when he presided over puerto rico but the constitution doesn't apply in puerto rico so the fact that people can come up and plead their case and get the united states has a unilateral disposition isn't the statement that therefore qualifies or modifies the existence of a colonial relationship. >> host: i'm not saying that it doesn't discount. it's very clear even today that isn't under debate. it's this idea of the other liberal empire and its unclear in the evidence you have presented.
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>> guest: [inaudible] it was incompetent. they said that this is highly embarrassing. the other public-sector experience. the fact that he was appointed to the governorship in the first place but the lack of attention and understanding he didn't know that puerto rico was on the map.
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when they got to the point of the intolerable underestimate to the government the fact they had to remove those almost single-handedly creating the revolution itself. >> host: i want puerto ricans at this time -- he was an incredible voice but i want to know what they were doing. they were not the only voice this time period. the people in the presidency and the secretary of the war and agriculture.
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i'm wondering -- i want to know who else had a voice what were they doing because reading your book. all these things are abusive. i wouldn't disagree with any of that. it's convincing you have a phenomenal job putting it all out there. i'm wondering about getting away from this idea because it takes away power. >> guest: if someone has been victimized it has to be called for what it is. they apply to the proper medicines that there is an agent that has been effective and
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manipulating and extracting wealth from what should be a sovereign people. we have to acknowledge that. at no point is does my pocket testament to the resiliency and independence of the willingness to sacrifice on the part of many people for an extended period of time but it's also a story of what's done for them when they express that. the fact that he was in jail for 20 years are basically reminded the united states of its own founding principles of the government exists at all men are created equal. the two then be subjected to what is a mounting body of evidence that he was tortured in
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jail as it is to the total radiation is beyond belief and yet it is a matter of record. i looked at the fbi files. i've been looking at the medical records. we know from the pulitzer prize but this wasn't the only one. that there were at least 16,000 individuals that were subjected to radiation experiments many of them were prisoners precisely during that time so the fact that people are not inherently victims and the fact that we have maintained our culture and language despite a century to either modify or eliminate is a testament to that inner core so
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for me that's a given. they have been victimized and there has to be a recognition of what this historical underpinning of that relationship has been in order to arrive at the meaningful discussion of the future. >> host: one of the interesting things about this time. have you are right it is part of the colonial project but it included a tutelage and included instruction in the political democracy and when i got there
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they had to change constantly because they were always demanding that it would be changed some way or another. they were arguing for a change but we know that this is what you think that it's not going to work that way. but even though they tried a bunch of different laws this is a clear example to me how the entire can have a particular plan but it has to deal with the local reality organizing and
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lobbying congress and they have to work with those sectors of people which change how it's going to look in puerto rico so i'm curious how much say, and i think it is quite a bit, the day-to-day running of thing and i think we find evidence even in this time. go quite a lot of it was in the hands of the puerto ricans were any of the incidents that you talk about but i think we have to recognize more activity. >> i know some things they were
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not installed in charge of is the relations in the currency and banking system and legal system if the subject of the plenary in the united states than they have no federal representatives. the economic as far as the sugarcane in the economy and the agricultural engine didn't have a great degree of control of that day about half of the land. and it was about 200,000 roughly
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a vagina typical of 30 40. but there was a dominant -- it was the dominant economic reality of puerto rico. so i don't think it is a history of control. puerto rico is an island that had its legs taken away from it one decade after another obligation bootstrap and all sorts of corporate incentives there have been has been a carpet stretching from wall street to san juan for 117 years ms result had been the indigenous manufacturing base. it had been a series of short-term deals which they
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could take get to come to the ricoh and receive the tax abatement on the interest dividend capital gains income at the same time that they are facing the gasoline hikes in one year water and electrical going up and they even discussed the fast attacks that come to the point where they cannot sustain us and they are leaving the island at the same time that the new yorker magazine bloomberg news, wall street journal, "new york times" are like the carnival interests. there's a horde of people coming under acts 22. the primary who made $15 million
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towards the real estate mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps. these fancy financial instruments are based upon people losing their mortgages. this is what is happening in puerto rico and bringing other syndicates under the auspices of acts 22. it's during the mortgage crisis now imported under the auspices of the tax abatement. for the banking syndicate in the puerto rico land.
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they saw themselves as a treasurer and a member of the board of directors. he came into taste the island and turned it into a crime scene because he goes back and become the president of the trust and it sets up the banking syndicate as the people that he had appointed. because they had these relationships that he could call he was given sort of a red carpet as i said before to be one of the people that led the charge taking a break in the economy back then and the same way that john paulson is now but
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i think that there's been a history to just bring it back to and wrap it up the benefit is that you could see the fire hydrant and the dogs and take a photograph but then the police chief was in other words as fantastic and real when the massacre ~ 17 unarmed men, women and children marching sunday in support of and in recognition of the party that was their crime.
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then you could see the teeth of the empire. now it's not at the point of a gun. it's from wall street and it's the same net result. >> one of the things to point out that's also been studied by other scholars is on the independent movement which is something that you document really well in this book how to be affiliated and i wonder in class as my students always ask me why is there not more
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agitation for independence clearly it is a colonial system it's not a secret even with participation we know that it's a colonial system. so why is there not more education and i think part of that is the criminalization of being an independent activist but i was wondering if you could comment on that. the criminalization at the end we don't have an organized numerous healthy and dependence on the island of. >> the more visible were some that i decided in the massacre and people just being gunned down the street some other
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visible moments were when they had one of the major events in the subject matter of my book the revolution in 1950 which spread through 8 pounds and included the governor's mansion and believe that the united states reacted immediately they deployed the national guardsmen and collected 3,000 puerto ricans in the bond to town in broad daylight and if they scrambled fighter planes had bombed towns when they knowingly bombard its own citizens. so that is the high point people are aware that they can get to
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that point if you take it and escalate it is with the effective and coordinated and especially at the time they were separated from the mainland by a couple thousand of miles of ocean separate separated by the language and the culture and technology. the only thing that got off the island was the say half a dozen reporters that were basically american reporters reporting the back to the major mainstream newspapers and they would sort of regurgitate prepackaged
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story. as an example it was reported up here as the nationalist right into them that was ahead and in the text it would say there was a gunfight. that is definitional. a fight and vaults two sides but there can't be a gunfight with unarmed puerto ricans. so it was the knowledge that the violence could be sudden, swift and severe and that no matter what you did it was going to be misreported and you entity were living in a complete vacuum. so there were peaks of violence but then as an every day reality you have the two dynamic sticks simplify what people were living through.
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it was the supposedly intended that it was an outside measure and is correlated to the language of the act. the fact that you have a law that criminalizes free speech literally sing a song, whistle a tune that gets you into your character and you look at the other element that would make it over 100000 from the early to
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mid-30s right after the agricultural strike this is when jf cooper was given the instruction we need to contain the problem in puerto rico after that strike. when you create 100000 files on people it's not just the files. think of it as an organism how does that get created? if the fbi and the police couldn't created they had to be reported to them so now they are turning other against a over against another and we have tens of thousands into the way you get those informants is that because they are inherently treacherous kind you would call someone into the precinct and say we heard such and such and i think we are going were going to open a file on you.
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then they put their arm around them and say we don't believe it, we think you are a good guy. but the way we are going to believe that because you're going to come back and tell us about those other bad guys. but now we're going to turn you and it's a very easy process and it will spiral singular looking at two to three complete different generations born and raised so that a the sense of looking over your shoulder and
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that sense of stable of some and the top of that if he were to get even more testy about it. people that are naturally going to have a sense of constraint that is inculcated and becomes part of the dna to not create that overwhelming indomitable voice that has to be heard and finally to realize especially starkly back then even if you have that voice.
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they were to try to make a dramatic statement that was a was a palpable issue that needed to be addressed before the vote and the 1952 that was creating the path so there is a history to get that off of the message into this relationship isn't working and people need to hear it. >> host: we don't have a lot of time left but as a quick aside, i've been reading about -- we are coming to an election year and parties are going to be putting other platforms and in
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puerto rico it's almost like a sporting event and i wonder if the independent activists have been unable without having to lobby or have signatures and i suspect it may be that the party hasn't put forth a vision the party can buy into to then get us ready to move towards the future. it may be an awakening of sorts to look at our history and to really understand where we have been. you mentioned some of the
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interviews that have argued the future of the island needs to be negotiated with all the information in our hand to hand it is a part of our history. and i agree and i think that needs to happen in a position of power coming into your book is part of that is getting us into the position of power. but i would like to hear some last words about what you think about being in a position of power. >> thank you for this moment and i want to get recognition to luis gonzalez who came over to translate this into spanish. in his own publishing with a tremendous degree of passion he has been translating the book and is on chapter 17. and i also want to recognize carlos console is carlos is a
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leader of the public independence party. he's reached out to me and has been creating a multi-city tour engagement for the buck and this happened pretty quickly that they contacted me and others and the fact that very quickly be integrated the world view and from the point of information is the most important element at this point especially with all the economic turmoil. by the way i heard a great
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interview. she is so eloquent into some specific and detailed. it was on a show was william martinez so if she is so on point with her timing of bottled me the historical elements of the political underpinnings that are there that are running through now and the history and the inevitability of some of the dynamics happening you're right that he let go it is and it's
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the right from the history. the two majority parties have a multiple of the system just like the democrats and republicans but. if it drifts right now to the end of the movie rocky. they should be looking at figures like a cross of 90 through code 20.
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and they are fighting over what may be currently in a tenable proposition of the theater which is although they are from québec -- there are so many economic obstacles it shouldn't be the center of debate. that's how to resolve. thank you for joining us and congratulations on the book. good luck. >> guest: thank you. >> that was "after words" in which authors of the latest nonfiction books were interviewed by journalists
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public policy makers and others familiar with the material. "after words" airs every weekend at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday and. go to and click on "after words" in the series topics list of the other right side of the page. ..


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