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      Philadelphia Speaker Series

      Ted Koppel Enthralled the Speakers Series Crowd at the Kimmel Center

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      Ted Koppel with Katey Colt, ’17, a student in the department of Communication Studies.

      The anticipation of a remarkable night to come hung in the air as Ted Koppel took the stage at the Kimmel Center as part of the Philadelphia Speaker Series. He began with humor, a delightfully spot-on impersonation of President Nixon and a parody on the Great Wall of China sung to the "You're a Grand Old Flag" tune.

      After a brief nod to how he told Sean Hannity he was "bad for America" on CBS Sunday Morning, Koppel described how biased news channels and social media have harmfully divided America. He asked the audience to seek out the other side and listen with an open mind. It's the only way we can heal and make progress. He also noted that we must insist on real news again and reject the fake news sources. As long as we patronize fake news and buy into their agenda, the media has no incentive to deliver real news.

      Koppel continued on a serious vein when he addressed the issues of terrorism. He argues that the goal of terrorists is to get us to overreact, and that is exactly what happened in response to 9/11. We have engaged in war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria as a result of 9/11, and we have instituted numerous policies that affect our daily life and erode our freedoms, including TSA and Homeland Security.

      The United States is $3 trillion in debt directly related to 9/11. To put that amount in perspective, Koppel said to imagine that a "stupid" but industrious family started a business the year Jesus was born and has lost $3 million every single day since then. "It will still be decades before that family has lost $3 trillion. Worse yet, the U.S. has made no effort to pay off any of that debt, which it borrowed mostly from China, Saudi Arabia, and Japan," he said.

      The terrorists succeeded in getting the country to overreact, but the biggest threat is not bombs or debt, it's our power grids. Author of Lights Out, the best-seller on cyber attacks, Koppel pointed out that there are three main grid systems in the United States: one for each coast and one for Texas. He laughed that the isolated Texas grid is a mystery to all. The Chinese and Russians are already in our power grids, which are operated completely online, and North Korea and ISIS are right behind them. While China and Russia are not likely to act, we can bet that North Korea and ISIS will act without hesitation. Imagine the consequences if the Northeast went without power for weeks, even months. Basic sanitation alone would be enough to result in rampant disease and death. Instead of putting our attention on building a futile wall, we should use our resources to prepare and defend against an inevitable cyber attack. Koppel stressed: "This is not fiction. This is real."

      To close out the 2016-17 season on April 17, the Philadelphia Speakers Series presented by Widener University will present a panel discussion on "Racism in America" with Michelle Norris, Jason Riley, and Morris Dees.

      Learn more about the Philadelphia Speaker Series at


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