Monthly Archives: July 2002

Expat Existential

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Every generation dreams of a better place. In 1990, American expats thought they’d found theirs in Eastern Europe. High on the heady fumes of collapsing regimes from Bucharest to Budapest, they gathered in hip bars and old-world cafes where freshly unshackled freedom was on tap; where real-life dreams of poets, playwrights, and entrepreneurs capped a velvet revolution, replacing tired Soviet soldiers and corrupt party bureaucrats.

It was touted as “Paris on the Danube,” both banquet of freedom for the locals and the thrill of being there for Americans lucky enough to attend the party. It’s that allure that haunts the characters of Arthur Phillips’ new novel, “Prague.”


Arthur Phillips, author of Prague

Lisa Frankenberg, co-founder, president and publisher of the Prague Post

Reckoning with Iraq

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“Regime change in Iraq.” It’s shorthand for a concerted push and plan to oust Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration wants him out or dead, calls it essential for Middle East stability and its “war on terror.” But that wisdom is being challenged in the papers, at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins hearings, about the timing, the cost and the wisdom of a new war with Iraq. And while hawks say toppling Hussein will end his plague of butchery, and shut down his arsenal of hate, others think the White House’s single-minded obsession with the Bagdad-bad-man ignores the subtle lessons of history. The trouble in Iraq, they say, is the trouble with clumsy colonial oppression.


Sandra Mackey, author of “The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein”

Robert Lieber, professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University

James Woolsey, former director of Central Intelligence (1993-5),
member of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board

Jay Carney, Time Magazine’s White House correspondent

Linda Thompson

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There was a time Linda Thompson defined the British folk rock sound: melancholy, edgy, and accomplished. In the 1970s and ’80s, she was the muse that breathed life into the pen of Richard Thompson, the mellifluous, plaintive voice that filled out his fretwork. But shortly after their storied marriage collapsed, something called hysterical dysphonia silenced her singing, seemingly forever.

Today, Linda Thompson is back with her first new recording in 17 years. The songs are stripped down and spare, more “pure folk” than the moody rock sound of her past, and remarkably her voice is back, full and soulful, after nearly two decades of musical exile.

Her newest effort: the aptly titled “Fashionably Late.”


Linda Thompson, folk musician


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If you’re over forty and a man, it could be coming to your body soon. Andropause, or male menopause. Symptoms include fatigue, moodiness, and decreased sex-drive.

But wait, from the industry that can lift you up, calm you down, re-grow your hair, even give Bob Dole back his sex life, comes the latest effort to medicalize the living.

Death and taxes may be certain, but not middle age, if you believe the hype from the makers of testosterone replacement therapies. Take “T” and regain the form and function of a twenty year-old.

But some worry this is the latest push from the pharmaceutical industry; invent a disease to market a cure. And they warn we may be tinkering dangerously with our bodies’ basic chemistry before we have the basic facts. Male menopause, myth?


Dr. Jerome Groopman, Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and author of this week’s New Yorker article, “Hormones for Men”

Dr. John Morley Professor of Geriatrics at St. Louis
University, Endocrinologist, and member of the Endocrine

What's Holding Up Airline Security

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Ten months, one new agency and precious little change. It seems the effort to fix American aviation security is in a dangerous stall. September 11 showed how a lot of hate and a little discipline can transform airplanes into missiles. Since then, some critics say the urgency to act has hit twin walls, industry intransigence and government bureaucracy.

National guardsmen and no-fly zones are gone; airlines are in a holding pattern on fortified cockpit doors and bomb-resistant luggage containers; federalized security screeners and bomb detection equipment are held up. Meanwhile Congress and the White House bicker over dollars while government tests show guns and knives can still flow through airport check points like water through a sieve.


Paul Hudson, executive director, Aviation Consumer Action Project

Michael Levine, former senior airline executive, professor Yale Law School

Matthew Wald, reporter, New York Times

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The Battle over Generic Drugs

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What’s in a brand name? Years of monopoly and big earnings, if it’s a
new drug. Lipitor, Zanex, Zoloft. But when a pharmaceutical patent expires, another company can manufacture the same drug and charge less: a so-called generic drug.

Ever since a 1984 law rewrote the rules on pharmaceutical patents, the generic share of the prescription drug market has mushroomed. Some say generic drug sales cut into the profits that fund new drug research. But others say money is more likely to go to marketing or into the pockets of shareholders.

Meanwhile, health care policymakers see the cheaper prices of generics as a key to reining in health care costs. As the Senate deadlocks over a federal drug benefit, we look at one piece of the health care puzzle: generic drugs.


Gregory Glover, physician and lawyer, consultant to PhRMA, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Jerry Avorn, chief of the division of pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Israeli Air Strike

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Another deadly turn in the cycle of violence: an Israeli strike on the Gaza home of the military leader of Hamas. Salah Shehada was killed along with more than a dozen other Palestinians, including several children.

Israel’s Prime Minister said Shehada was behind hundreds of prior attacks and declared last night’s mission a success. And while an Israeli spokesman expressed grief over the killing of civilians, Palestinians expressed rage and Hamas vowed revenge.

Examining the prospects for further negotiating, security, and reform, following this latest attack.


James Bennet, NY Times correspondent in Jerusalem

Daoud Kuttab, director of the Institute for Modern Media at Al Quds
University in Ramallah

Fawaz Gerges, Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and
Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College in New York

Gal Luft, former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces

Inside Al-Qaeda

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Ever since September 11, the movement called Al Qaeda has been the object of worldwide anti-terrorism campaign: a war in Afghanistan; detentions in the U.S and Europe; counter insurgency missions from the Philippines to the Republic of Georgia.

Rohan Gunaratna has studied Al Qaeda, interviewed many of its members, read documents, watched videos, put together the pieces, and come up with the first coherent picture of the group’s organization, ideology, its history, its failures, and the threat is poses to the Western world.

Gunaratna offers a prescription for combatting what he calls the first multinational terrorist organization.


Rohan Gunaratna, author of “Inside Al-Qaeda,” research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St. Andrews

Andrew Higgins, Moscow Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal

Gustav Klimt's Landscapes

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Visiting Vienna, via the Berkshires, for the landscapes of Gustav Klimt. Most people who know Klimt don’t about this side of his work. The man who painted “The Kiss,” and other lush, erotic female figures had another dimension. In the Austrian countryside – painting for no one but himself – Klimt painted fields and trees, flowers and cottages, often the water, but seldom the sky — landscapes now on exhibit at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. Who was this man we see in hundred-year-old photographs — the contemporary of Freud and Mahler – the rebel against the academy, who dressed in a muumuu? And what do an artist’s landscapes tell us about his inner geography?


Jane Kallir, Art Historian, Co-director of Galerie Saint Etienne in New York City, and author of a number of books on early 20th Century Austrian Art, including “Egon Schiele: The Complete Works,” and “Gustav Klimt”

Richard Rand, Senior Curator of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which is now showing Gustav Klimt’s Lanscapes.