Monthly Archives: March 2001

AIDS and African-Americans

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The AIDS epidemic first came to world’s attention as it broke out in the white gay community. But today, African-Americans are almost ten times more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

And AIDS is the leading killer of black Americans between the ages of 25 and 44. If you focus on black men who are gay and in their 20’s, the CDC says thirty percent of them…thirty percent in six big cities…have the AIDS virus.

That infection rate is far higher than for white, Hispanic, or Asian gay men the same age. In spite of these stunning statistics, AIDS is dismissed, denied and just plain not talked about in many black neighborhoods…from Sunday morning church pews to the street corner on Saturday night. This week around the country, some black churches are having a Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS.
(Hosted by John Mcchesney)


The Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network, New York;

Dr. Helene Gayle, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta;

Gary Daffin, Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Boston;

Les Pappas, Better World Advertising, San Francisco;

Belynda Dunn, founder, Who Touched Me Ministry, Boston.;

Robert Parker

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Spenser is back. After being absent from Robert B. Parker’s novels for several years, Boston’s favorite private detective returns, but this time around he’s playing Wyatt Earp in the Wild Wild West.

Ok maybe it’s a stretch to call the little Arizona town of Potshot wild – its more a cozy retreat for the L.A. wealthy but there has been a murder and there is a band of thugs, and when you add Spenser to the mix you definitely have one hopping town and one rollicking book.

A former boxer, standing Six-One, Spenser weighs in at 200 iron-pumped pounds. Women fling themselves against him only to find that unlike former PI hero’s, he is steadfastly loyal to his lifetime girlfriend, Susan Silverman. He is a violent man but governed by a strict code of ethics. In Spenser’s world, political correctness often comes under satirical attack, yet a multicultural cast of characters reveals Parker’s own brand of social consciousness.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Robert Parker, author.


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Retirement. It’s called “the golden years.” A time when you supposedly have the time to make all your dreams come true. But an increasing number of Americans are sticking with 9-to-5 after age 65.

Economists say for many it’s not a choice — It’s financial necessity. Health benefits are dwindling, the social security safety net is unraveling. Bah, humbug! say some 80-somethings still in the workplace. Why quit what we love? Are Americans being forced to forego Bingo and golf to survive in a world of revamped pension plans? The aging are torn between lofty dreams and the reality of finance.

The government tells us: “A secure, comfortable retirement is every worker’s dream”…but it adds, “The longer you work, the higher your benefit will be.” The battle lines over retirement, and the generation that won’t leave the payroll, here.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Joseph Quinn, professor of economics and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Boston College

Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures and author of “Prime Time.” Dan Schorr, national public radio.

Muhammad Ali

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Picture this: It’s the 1970’s – you’re a young, inexperienced writer. You call boxing legend Muhammad Ali to do an interview, and 3 days later you’re sitting in the kitchen of his training camp. But it’s not fighting Ali wants to talk about, it’s writing.

He earnestly busts out with poems called “freedom” and “truth,” delivering impromptu lectures bashing crime, prostitution, and New York’s filthy magazine stands. In “Muhammad Ali – A Fighter’s Heaven,” author Victor Bockris says there is more to the boxer than the sweat and punches, more to the man than medals and hooks.

Ali fancies himself the black Billy Graham, and he wants Bockris to be the young white college educated long hair who could take his message to the rest of square America… “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The unlikely poet Muhammad Ali.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Victor Bockris, author of “Muhammad Ali: In Fighter’s Heaven;” Dick Schaap, journalist, and author of “Flashing Before My Eyes.”

The Privacy Wars

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When Big Brother is alive and well and living on line, who ya gonna call to give you back your privacy?

For years, the online industry has been preaching the wonder of self-regulation…but these are the same guys who gave us cookies, spam, web bugs, and a whole lot more. The feds in Washington D.C. say they have the answer, but do we really want them riding to our rescue? Remember these are the folks who gave us email-eating Carnivore and put surveillance cameras at the Superbowl.

Or maybe, as the crypto-warriors suggest – all we need is more technology to set us free. The privacy wars are on – and somebody’s going to win. Will it be Big Brother or you? Exploring the wonderful world of cyber-crimes and misdemeanors, and the politics of privacy here.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Simson Garfinkel, author of “Database Nation”

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center

and David Medine, partner at Hogan and Hartson and industry representative.

The War on Drugs

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The Oscar-nominated film Traffic is praised for sparking a new American debate about the “War on Drugs.”

Its gritty, interwoven storylines take us from sun-baked Mexico and upscale Cincinnati, to the White House and posh L-A. Along the way, the film throws down the gauntlet to a liquor-sipping, pill-popping American public just trying to take the edge off after a long, hard day. Or does it? After all, isn’t there more to the war on drugs than over-privileged white kids getting a fix in the bathroom? What about the million Americans … mostly minorities — in prison for drug-related offenses?

And while Michael Douglas’ big screen drug czar declares the war on drugs to be all but futile, has anyone noticed the vacancy in the real-life office of the drug czar? We’re connecting with the film Traffic and taking it to the frontline of America’s “War on Drugs.”


Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Lindesmith Drug Policy Foundation

Tim Golden, New York Times reporter and consultant for the film “Traffic”

and Retired General Barry McCaffrey, former Clinton Administration Drug Czar.

Consumer Confidence and The Economy

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The party’s over, scream the headlines. “Goodbye New Economy,” says the Washington Post. And a lot of the statistics look pretty bad: Manufacturing jobs are disappearing, the stock market is dropping.

G-D-P showed its slowest growth in five years, while wholesale prices jumped. On the other hand, unemployment remains encouragingly low, and in January, sales finally ticked up again. Leading the increase — automobile dealerships, department stores, and building material outlets. So what’s going on? Are we headed toward the dreaded r-word? Are we already there? It all might depend on how you see the proverbial glass.

It’s something of a self-fulfilling prophesy, this now-dropping consumer confidence. Some economists say if we’d just start buying with gusto, things will be OK. Chicken Little or Dr. Pangloss?


Mark Zandi, chief economist,

Willliam Cheney, chief economist for John Hancock Financial Services, Boston

Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center and The Conference Board, New York City.

The World of Obituaries

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Today, a look at the world of obituaries. They’re a staple in almost any newspaper – large or small, and probably a little more popular the older you get. But who writes these “life summaries” and what does it take to create a good one.

The essentials of an obituary usually include the most basic facts – full name of the deceased, the date died, he or she’s birthdate, the names of the parents, and the whereabouts of the survivors. But sometimes there’s obituaries that have that “je ne sais quois” – that something that turns a life into a story – that puts a little zest in what not might usually seem so zest-ful.

Or actually creates a brilliant and moving account of the life of someone that you never knew and wished you did…Obituaries have changed throughout time – what was listed in them before isn’t always listed in them now, and what’s listed in them now in areas of the country may surprise you.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Janice Hume, Assistant Professor in Journalism at Kansas State University

Sam Harvey, of the Advertiser Gleam in Guntersville, Alabama

and Michael Kaufman, who was a reporter and senior obituary writer for the New York Times. Chuck Strum, Current Obituary editor at the New York Times.

Peer to Peer File Sharing

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Napster was supposed to be the killer app – it was easy to use, an instant hit and along with millions of file swappers it grabbed the headlines too.

But it turns out the lawyers are the real killers and now the courts are shutting down. But the word on the street is that Napster is just the beginning for peer to peer technology, coming down the road is a new generation of p2p apps with strange names like Gnutella, Freenet and Bearshare.

Peer to peer means there’s no central server to serve the injunction to, the lawyers don’t have anybody or anything to rout. In the post-Napster world the courts aren’t the ones writing the code. Peer to peer means people to people, stringing PC’s together with out a center.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Jonathan Zittrain, Head of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School

and Clay Shirky, partner for the Technology Group at the Accelerator Group

Andy Oram, an editor at O’Reilly & Associates.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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Take a million-and-a-half acres of protected federal land. Add a pristine wilderness with ardent defenders. Top it off with soaring oil prices and the prospect of billions of barrels of oil beneath the frozen plain.

What do you get? Anwar — the best little acronym for a big political fight this side of the Pacific. A new Senate bill proposing oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has sparked a cacophony of debate, with environmentalists crying foul and some politicians insisting that it’s the best option for alleviating America’s energy crisis. Meanwhile, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is pushing a competing bill that would forever guard the coastal plain’s frozen splendor.

Some say the oil reserve located there is hardly big enough to risk disturbing one of nature’s last undefiled strongholds. But the majority of Alaskans support the move to open the land to drilling. So if they don’t mind, why should anybody else? We’re taking it to the tundra and exploring the truth about Anwar.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Richard Kennelly, Energy Projects Director of the Conservation Law Foundation

Roger Herrera, Washington DC Coordinator for Arctic Power

Debbie Miller, author of “Midnight Wilderness: Journeys in Alaska National Wildlife Refuge”

Lon Sonsalla, Mayor of the village of Kaktovik, Alaska

and Ken Bird, Project Chief of Alaska Petroleum Studies Project.