BTS 1/12/09: Gaza; Sounds like Socialism; State Budget and Education

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Happy New Year to you all. Today we look at the Israeli offensive in Gaza and the politics of Hamas with Dr. Hisham Ahmed, a secular Palestinian scholar, formerly of Birzeit University in the West Bank, now teaching politics at Saint Mary’s College.

We’ll continue on the Middle East crisis and our discussion of ‘sounds like socialism’ with Chris Hedges: he’s a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist on Truthdig who spent two decades as a foreign correspondent for NY Times including seven years in the Middle East. Among his many books are the best-selling American Fascists and War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He recently wrote a column called “Why I’m a Socialist.” We’ll ask him about that and his views on the war in Gaza.

Plus, Josh Pechthalt, Vice President of the UTLA joins us from Sacramento where the UTLA is discussing their response to the State Budget shortfall and the cuts announced by Ramon Cortines: up to 2300 teachers could be eliminated, the school year cut back by five days and class sizes increased. He will fill us in on the situation and the ways they will fight the cuts.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Hisham Ahmed, formerly Associate Professor of Political Science at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, is now a professor of Politics at St. Mary's College in California. He is the author of a 1994 book on Hamas, From Religious Salvation to Political and Social Transformation.

2. Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He has 15 years of experience reporting from war zones in the Persian Gulf, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, the West Bank and Gaza, Sudan, Yemen, Algeria, the Punjab, Bosnia and Kosovo.In 2002, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism. Hedges is the author of the bestseller War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.

3. Josh Pechthalt is Vice-President of United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA).