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Much attention has focused on Mexico's transition to electoral democracy in recent years. But how does it compare with other nations of Latin America? Is it typical of the region, or is it "unique" in specific ways? UC San Diego Professor Peter H. Smith compares Mexico with Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Guatemala. The results yield insight on the pace of democratization, civil-military relations, party structures, separation of powers, and policy performance. Mexico fares relatively well along a number of key dimensions, argues Smith, and prospects for continuing consolidation of its democracy are surprisingly strong.

"The Brick People" chronicles the story and legacy of Mexican immigrants who came to work at Simons Brickyard #3 in Los Angeles during the early part of the 20th century. The bricks they made literally built Los Angeles and the surrounding region. Produced by UC Irvine professor Alejandro Morales, this documentary explores themes of immigration, discrimination and cultural foundry as told by former residents and historians of Simons, California .

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, Professors at the Yale Law School, for a discussion of their new book, "The Triple Package." Chua and Rubenfeld explain the rise and fall of certain cultural groups, primarily, 2nd generation recent immigrants to the U.S. These groups which demonstrate high success rates manifest 3 characteristics - a superiority complex (rooted in theology, history, or imported social hierarchies), a sense of insecurity (driven by scorn, fear and family) and impulse control(resulting in a drive to work harder). Chua and Rubenfeld analyze the interface of these characteristics with American institutions and incentives to create high rates of success as measured by material goals, academic achievement, and prestige. They also offer a critique of recent US cultural trends that contribute to American relative decline. Recorded on 02/14/2014.

Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, describes his own winding path to the White House as he urges the graduates to be open to new challenges and to find their own voices in this 2014 commencement address to the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

As both a diplomat and a scholar, Dennis Ross has had a truly extraordinary career. Under President George H.W. Bush, he led the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Staff. He also served as a Special Envoy to the Middle East under President Bill Clinton, and was a Special Advisor to President Barack Obama before stepping down in 2011 to become a full-time fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In March, just one month before the breakdown of yet another series of Israeli-Palestinian talks, Ross spoke to California Lawyer contributing editor Martin Lasden about his own experiences in that part of the world and why cutting a comprehensive peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis remains so difficult.
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