Monthly Archives: January 2002

A Higher Stakes Olympics

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President Bush’s State of the Union call to “extend American compassion throughout the world” may have to take a back seat in Salt lake City. As cries of “We’re number one!” and “USA” get a nation pumped to open up a can of whoopass, the Olympic games are either the world’s greatest show of unity or a stage for nationalism. During the decades of cold war, every athletic confrontation became battle of world views. As America enters the stadium once again, athletes are again dressed in the red white and blue. And with a the War on Terrorism underway, there’s more on the line than medals and bragging rights. Whether they want to or not, the Bobsledders and skaters, Biathaletes and curlers represent the pride and power of the United States.


John Hoberman, Olympics historian

Darrin Steele, US Bobsled team member for the Salt Lake City Olympics

Aelin Peterson, US Cross Country Ski team member for the Salt Lake City Olympics;Nathaniel Mills, athlete representative for US Speedskating to the USOC

and John Harrington, member of the 1980 Gold Medal winning US Hockey Team, currently head hockey coach at St. John’s University.

The Debate Over Camp X-Ray

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They probably know nothing about it. The 158 men locked in chain-link cells at Guantanamo Bay are at the center of an international debate over the definition of “detainee.” They’re perhaps prisoners of war, or unlawful combatants or something altogether new. At one level none of this affects the fact that they are “accused” and a long way from home, but the judicial path that awaits them hinges on the legal determination of their status. And according to some, that decision may determine how American soldiers are treated by future enemies. The Geneva Conventions are unclear, as is the question of if Al Queda are soldiers or terrorists. And at this point the disagreements reach all the way to the White House. Old rules, new realities, seeing through the fog of Camp X-Ray.


Ruth Wedgwood, International Law Professor at Yale University and Johns Hopkins University

Gary Solis, legal historian at the Marine Corps Historical Center.

State of the Union

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The state of the Union, says President Bush, has never been stronger. It’s a bold claim, coming at a time when the nation is at war, when no one seems certain about the depth of the recession, and when the effect of the Enron scandal has yet to be measured. But the President didn’t get to an 85 percent approval rating by accident. His first State of the Union address is replete with congratulations for what’s been accomplished, reassurances that for whatever lies ahead, Americans will face it together, and a declaration that in the battles yet to be fought, the United States will be on the side of justice, liberty and freedom. It’s less encouraging for those nations marked as evil, and for anyone hoping for a quick and easy economic turnaround.


Daniel Schorr, Senior News Analyst for National Public Radio

John Harrigan, publisher of the Colebrook News and Sentinel in Northern New Hampshire

and Gail Chaddock, Capitol Hill correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.

The Soul of a Political Machine

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The man is Roscoe, a weary and overweight political fixer in the fictional, or not-so-fictional, world of William Kennedy’s Albany. From the writer who gave us gangster Jack Diamond in “Legs” and the bum Francis Phalen in “Ironweed” now waddles Roscoe Conway, well-dressed master of the sort of political machine that once powered much of local American politics. “We are Democrats,” Roscoe assures his boss in the early 1930s. “We own the city, the county, the state, and the country. Things could be worse.”


William Kennedy, author of “Roscoe,” and seven other novels about Albany politics

John J. McEneny, member of the New York State Assembly and author of “Albany, Capital City on the Hudson”

and Joseph Gagen, Albany filmmaker.

Bloody Sunday, Thirty Years Later

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It was 30 years ago but still the stories of Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland are being told and transcribed… the tales of British Paratroopers with high-powered rifles, the image of a priest waving a white handkerchief, the confusion, the fear, the Catholic teenagers lying dead in the street. These stories are being told today at a tribunal looking into the events of Bloody Sunday. The inquiry is costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Many Protestants say fixing on the past, raising the dead, has a human cost too: preventing Northern Ireland from moving on beyond sectarian violence. One Irish newspaper reflects back on Bloody Sunday as “September 11th” for Northern Ireland, the time when everything changed.


Eamon McCann, writer and journalist

Michael McKinney, Bloody Sunday Trust

and William Hay, Derry City Councilman and DUP representative to the Northern Ireland Assembly

The Politics of Cartooning

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his list of America’s next stops in the War on Terror, he put Costa Rica on the list. Why? Simple, says Rall. There are no terrorist camps there and attacking would keep things that way. Also it’s conveniently located for an attack, and because it is a friendly neighbor, America would have the element of surprise. Ted Rall is one of a number of editorial cartoonists who, bemoaning the lack of hard criticism in the American media, is declaring his own war on the war on terror. So we turn to the funny pages, and the op-ed’s and the internet, for Ted Rall’s take on the news, the clip art edge of David Rees’ “Get Your War On,” and the invasion of the war into our personal lives in Barbara Brandon-Croft’s “Where I’m Coming From.” Skip the articles and get serious about the funnies.


David Rees, online cartoonist, “Get Your War On”

Ted Rall, syndicated cartoonist and editor of “Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists”

and Barbara Brandon-Croft, syndicated cartoonist, “Where I’m Coming From.”

The Cheney Syndrome

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Dick Cheney is saying “No.” Yesterday, the Vice President toured the Sunday morning news shows, proclaiming, “enough is enough” on the subject of his energy policy meetings – Secret is secret, and when it comes to who he’s met, and what’s been said, he’s drawing a line. The White House has consistently refused to release the guest list and the agenda for those meetings… but the recent collapse of Enron has put a new sharp edge to congressional demands for information. It’s known that Enron people sat in on the task force, so leaders on the Hill want to know about the notes, the ideas and the initiatives that came out of the discussions, and the General Accounting Office says it’ll go to court to find out.


Ryan Lizza, White House correspondent for The New Republic

Eric Yaffe, former Deputy Chief of the Campaign Financing Task Force in the Department of Justice, former Assistant US Attorney in the District of Columbia, currently an attorney with Schmeltzer, Aptaker and Shepard in Washington, DC

and Congressman John Dingell (D-MI).

There Is No Eye

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There was something in what he came to call that “high lonesome sound” which drew John Cohen to the back porch of a coal town in Kentucky, and something in the sound of those gospel meetings in Harlem in the late fifties. There was also something high or lonesome in the mountain music of the people he met in Peru back then, and something else entirely in the slap and sting of beat poets like Jack Kerouac. Mix in the early days of Bob Dylan, with the final days of Woody Guthrie, bring along the cameras and the tape recorders of John Cohen, and you have packed all you’ll need for a journey into the roots of roots music, where characters like the Reverend Gary Davis, Hazel Dickens and Roscoe Holcomb touch the strings and hit the original notes of – that high lonesome sound


John Cohen, photographer, musician, writer, and filmmaker.

Envisioning a Future for Ground Zero

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There is urgency at Ground Zero. Urgency to clear out all that remains of the collapsed Twin Towers. Urgency to recover the lost, and urgency to know what comes next. Nobody wants an empty crater, a gaping, glaring monument to uncertainty. But nobody wants to rush, either. For some, rebuilding is an economic imperative: to reconnect the wires and the cables and the corridors of a functioning Lower Manhattan. For others, rebuilding is the best revenge; a louder, more lasting response to the destruction that came on September 11th. For all involved, it’s an architectural quest to combine form and function in a way that honors the dead while reminding the living that there is also honor, in moving on. A monumental challenge.


Michael J. Lewis, Chair of the Art Department at Williams College

Max Protetch, owner of The Max Protetch Gallery in New York

Eric Lipton, reporter for the New York Times

and Marilyn Taylor, chairman of Skidmore Owings and Merrill architectural firm, and one of the leaders of New York, New Visions.

Gilligan Unbound

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If it weren’t for a Shakespearian scholar from Virginia, the deepest question to be posed regarding Gilligan’s Island could still be: “Ginger or Mary Anne?” Professor Paul Cantor invokes Rousseau’s Second Discourse on ‘man’s place in nature’ in a striking new anthropological analysis of Gilligan, the Skipper and their five passengers who set sail that day in 1964. He calls them icons of the cold war nation-state, who sub-consciously reassured Americans of their power in the world. As contrast, Cantor fast forwards 30 years to Springfield, USA, introducing the idea of de Toqueville’s America to Homer and Bart Simpson, his champions of globalization. It’s “Gilligan Unbound”; sitcom as sociology, and all compressed into a one hour tour, a one hour tour


Paul Cantor, author of “Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization”

and Bob Denver, actor who played the role of Gilligan.