The 1967 Outer Space Treaty designated space for peaceful purposes as the province of all mankind. Virtually all spacefaring nations now favor a new treaty to accommodate major changes in geopolitics and military technology. The United States, however, has blocked negotiations, citing potential threats to U.S. rights, capabilities, and freedom of action.
In the 1960s, civil rights victories dealt a blow to racial discrimination, and yet 40 years later many blacks remain left behind. Has affirmative action sabotaged the gains of the civil rights movement? What is the role of personal accountability in improving the standing of minority groups?
For millennia, farmers all over the world have bred crops for their resistance to disease, productivity, and nutritional value. Over the past century, scientists have used increasingly more sophisticated methods for modifying crops at the genetic level. But only since the 1970s have advances in gene-splicing and other aspects of biotechnology upped the ante with the promise of dramatically improved agricultural products. Today, few topics have the power to inspire as much international furor and misinformation as the development and distribution of genetically altered foods. Is public resistance far out of synch with the potential risks? Please join us as Henry Miller, co-author of the new book The Frankenfood Myth, and Bruce Ames, U.C. Berkeley professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, address this critical 21st century issue.
To outsiders, its initials once stood for No Such Agency. To its employees, they stood for Never Say Anything. Today the public knows that the ultra-secret National Security Agency manages the nations spy satellites, but few know exactly why the NSA is the most powerful U.S. intelligence agencyor its roles in the Cold War, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and Echelon, the worldwide NSA spying operation that, many charge, is illegally monitoring innocent citizens. No outsider knows more about the NSA than investigative journalist James Bamford, who began to research it before most members of Congress had even heard of it. In this talk, Mr. Bamford explained why he believes the NSA is a dangerous, two-edged sword.
Many people have wondered how technological progress will affect political, economic, and civil freedoms. With the rise of encryption software, the National Security Agency's Echelon worldwide surveillance system, and the FBI's Carnivore e-mail snooping program, this subject is no longer the exclusive domain of speculative thinkers or futurists, it is the subject of intense public-policy debate. Will privacy-enhancing technology improve faster than privacy-threatening technology? Should the government mandate privacy standards? Should it enforce contracts in cyberspace, or would private law do a better job? Economist, physicist, and legal scholar David Friedman discussed these and related questions about technological change and the case for and against government involvement.
The Civil Rights revolution was a pinnacle of American history, freeing African Americans from centuries of disenfranchisement. Yet, according to linguist John McWhorter, it has had a tragic side effect. As racism recedes as a serious obstacle to black advancement, many black Americans have been misled into a self-destructive ideological detour. Has affirmative action fostered the cults of Victimology, Separatism, and Anti-Intellectualism? Have false assumptions and low expectations conditioned black students for low achievement? If racism is to be dealt a final death blow, what strategies must Americans black and white pursue?
Begun in the 1960s, government affirmative action policies are now in retreat in California, Washington, Florida, and many other states and localities in the U.S. Will such changes end America's racial divide or merely intensify it? Can the American Dream be colorblind or are racial preferences necessary to right the wrongs of past discrimination? Is affirmative action a force for fairness and justice or instead merely a "feel good" policy that cloaks the real barriers to social and economic advancement for the most disadvantaged? Ward Connerly and William Bagley, two distinguished members of the Board of Regents at the University of California, will debate this very timely and crucial issue.