BTS 3/9/09: Stem Cell Research; We Are All Socialists Now; Mexican Drug War

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On tonight’s BTS – we begin with the historic Presidential Memorandum President Obama signed this morning at the White House, lifting the restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research imposed by former President Bush, which allowed political and religious ideology to influence scientific decisions across an array of issues. Irv Weissman – director of Stanford University’s Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute, professor of Medicine and the first to isolate stem cells, has been fighting that ban for eight years. He flew to Washington to be at the White House Ceremony and joins us today to discuss the importance of what happened.

We then turn to our ‘sounds like socialism’ series. "We Are All Socialists Now," Newsweek declared – and as the right wing tells it, we're already living in the U.S.S.A. Because Newsweek started the discussion mainstream , the New York Times over the weekend actually had a reporter, Peter Baker, ask Pres. Obama head on if he was indeed a socialist. Surprised by the question, Obama said he wasn’t. The right wants to tarnish Obama’s agenda with the socialist ‘feather’ and the NYT unwittingly played along. But the Nation began a series this week called “Reaimagining Socialism” with the first article by Barbara Ehrenrich and Bill Fletcher Jr. In our own continuing sounds like socialism series, we’ll talk to Bill Fletcher Jr. about his thoughts on socialism, nationalizations and bailouts, as well as the prospects for labor in the current economic climate.

And finally – Mexico’s drug war is destabilizing, violent, hurting tourism on the border as students prepare for Spring Break, and has crossed over the border into US cities and states from California to Alabama, Washington to Alaska and Hawaii. We’ll talk to Laura Carlsen in Mexico about the situation, US involvement and more.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Irv Weissman is director of Stanford University’s Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Intitute, professor of Medicine and the first to isolate stem cells, and has been fighting the ban for eight years. He flew to Washington to be at the White House Ceremony lifting the ban.

2. Bill Fletcher Jr. is a longtime labor activist (AFL-CIO, SEIU, Mail Handlers, and UAW, District 65), former President of TransAfrica Forum, is a Senior Scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. Fletcher is a graduate of Harvard and has written numerous articles published in a variety of newspapers and magazines. He is also co-author (with Fernando Gapasin) of Solidarity Divided, University of California Press (2008), and co-author of the pictorial booklet The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941.

3. Laura Carlsen is Director of the Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org). She also blogs on the Huffington Post.