01 – Laying Plans
Play • 7 min
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StarDate Podcast
StarDate Podcast
McDonald Observatory
Moon and Planets
A couple of planets lead the Moon down the sky after sunset. Both planets are bright. But they’re quite low in the sky, so they’ll be hard to see. You need a clear horizon — no trees or buildings to block the view. And binoculars can help you pick them out. Start looking soon after sunset. First find the Moon, which is the barest of crescents. The Sun lights up only a sliver of the side of the Moon that faces our way. As the sky darkens, though, you should easily make out the rest of the lunar disk. That’s because it’s illuminated by earthshine — sunlight reflected from a nearly full Earth. Scan to the lower right of the Moon for Mercury. It’s the closest planet to the Sun, so it never moves far from the Sun in our sky. It’s putting in a pretty good evening appearance, though. It’ll climb higher above the horizon for several nights before it heads back toward the Sun. So if you don’t spot Mercury this evening, you’ve still got some time. That’s not the case for Jupiter, which stands to the lower right of Mercury. It’s the largest planet in the solar system, and it shines brightly. But you won’t see it unless you have a clear horizon. And it won’t be around much longer — it’ll vanish any day now. The view of this challenging lineup will be a little better from more southerly locations, where the Moon and planets align at a better angle. Even so, the planets will be tough to spot through the evening twilight. Script by Damond Benningfield Support McDonald Observatory
2 min
Story Time Podcast
Story Time Podcast
Richard Tremblay
The CIA as Organized Crime; How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World by Douglas Valentine
Narrator Stefan Rudnicki  The author of three books on CIA operations, Douglas Valentine began his research into the agency's activities when CIA director William Colby gave him free access to interview agency officials who had been involved in various aspects of the Phoenix program in South Vietnam. It was a permission Colby was to regret. The CIA would eventually rescind it and made every effort to impede publication of The Phoenix Program, which documented an elaborate system of population surveillance, control, entrapment, imprisonment, torture, and assassination in Vietnam. While researching Phoenix, Valentine learned that the CIA allowed opium and heroin to flow from its secret bases in Laos to generals and politicians on its payroll in South Vietnam. His investigations into this illegal activity focused on the CIA's relationship with the federal agencies mandated by Congress to stop illegal drugs from entering the United States. Based on interviews with senior officials, Valentine wrote two subsequent books, The Strength of the Wolf and The Strength of the Pack, showing how the CIA infiltrated federal drug enforcement agencies and commandeered their executive management, intelligence, and foreign operations staffs in order to ensure the unimpeded flow of drugs to traffickers and foreign officials in its employ. Ultimately, portions of his research materials were archived at the National Security Archive, Texas Tech University's Vietnam Center, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. This book includes excerpts from the aforementioned titles, along with subsequent articles and transcripts of interviews on a range of current topics, with a view to shedding light on the systemic dimensions of the CIA's ongoing illegal and extralegal activities. These articles and interviews illustrate how the agency's activities impact social and political movements abroad and at home. A common theme is the CIA's ability to deceive and propagandize the American public through its impenetrable, government-sanctioned shield of official secrecy and plausible deniability. Though investigated by the Church Committee in 1975, CIA praxis then continues to inform CIA praxis today. Valentine tracks the agency's steady expansion into practices targeting the last population to be subjected to the exigencies of the American empire: the American people themselves. Donations: https://tinyurl.com/y5hh3p8p
16 hr 54 min
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