Monthly Archives: September 2002

Hey, Waitress!

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In the diners, and delis, greasy spoons and oyster bars of America, 75 million meals are being served today. Most will be served by women. Woman whose feet are tired, who try to remember who wants Thousand Island on the side with the decaf-triple-latte, while she balances five plates in her hand, and in her head, a household budget, based on low wages and hard-earned tips. What’s more, the waitress may be utterly invisible to those who give her “orders.”

For many, waitressing is the entry-level job, and a rude introduction to the working life. For others it’s a career, requiring all the skill that suggests a source of pride. But all the waitresses, we should know, are watching us. The USA from the other side of the tray.


Alison Owings, author, “Hey, Waitress, The USA from the Other Side of the Tray”

Where's the Opposition?

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There is no issue in America getting more ink today than the Bush administration’s relentless push for war with Iraq. The debate goes something like this: One side says Saddam is evil and unstable, he’s developing weapons of mass destruction, and he has ceaselessly flouted the agreement he struck with the international community after the last U.S. war.

On the other side, what? The Democratic leadership seems to have chosen possible war over peace. The usual peace movement is struggling in the face of White House momentum, and the speed of developments, unsure what exactly to oppose.

Doctrines, tactics, all or nothing? Every American war has spawned a peace movement, so how will this one stand in shifting sands?


Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Peter Lems, the American Friends Service Committee’s coordinator for the Iraq campaign

Leo Ribuffo, professor of history at George Washington University.

The Memory of Trees

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The most accurate account of climate history isn’t on paper, but rather in the source of paper. By botanical happenstance, tree rings chronicle more than arboreal birthdays, they recount vivid tales of massive volcanic eruptions, devastating droughts, and bone-chilling winters.

Centuries before that little pyramid project in Giza, Methuselah, a Bristlecone Pine, sprouted in the Bradbury-esque landscape of California’s White mountains. Today, dendrochronologist Thomas Harlan continues decades of field work in the unforgiving terrain of Methuselah’s Walk, assembling a Bristlecone timeline that reaches back 12 thousand years, one of the greatest natural scientific databanks on the planet. Tom Harlan, lord of the tree rings.


Thomas Harlan, dendrochronologist

Christine Hallman, dendrochronologist, focusing on frost ring research

The Greedy Executive

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“The world has changed during the past year,” writes Jack Welch in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. And he should know. The case of Welch, the Super CEO, is a perfect example of corporate excess and public attitude.

Though he’s not accused of crimes, he, like many others, is increasingly under the social and financial microscope. CEOs are getting pushed off of plush thrones one by one, many amidst sordid stories of fraud, insider trading, exorbitant salaries and sky-high severance packages. The answer to the oft-repeated question: are they bad people, or are these bad systems, is still unclear. But it doesn’t look like the CEO’s fall from grace will end soon.

Stock options and new options, from the Board room to the Boss’ office.


John Cassidy, financial and economics writer for The New Yorker, and author of the forthcoming article, “The Greed Cycle;” Laurie Cohen, Senior Writer for The Wall Street Journal

War as Addiction

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War is a drug, says the New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, one that he craved and consumed, one that is “peddled by myth makers….all of whom endow it with qualities it often does not possess: excitement, exoticism, power, a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty.” Hedges has spent most of his adult life covering conflict, from El Salvador and Nicaragua to Gaza, Kuwait, Bosnia, and Iraq.

For the last year, he says, Americans have been seduced by the same rush, the fever and blood lust he witnessed and once felt and loved. It’s strong language for a reporter, but the scenes and the sights he describes give him good standing to title his book, “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.”


Chris Hedges, New York Times reporter and author of “War Is a
Force That Gives Us Meaning.”

The Investigation

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The rubble is still smoldering. The manhunt is on. 4,000 FBI agents, an unprecedented number, are searching for the perpetrators of Tuesday’s act of mass murder. Lower Manhattan, the pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania have become the world’s biggest crime scene.

But it’s hard to tell what the rubble can reveal. Ironically, the best clues to what happened in the air may be found in the farewell cell phone calls of those on board the hi-jacked planes. On the ground, investigators are working backward along the trail of the hijackers: From flying schools in Florida to Boarder crossings in Maine to car rental offices in Boston.

What we know now/where we look next.


John D. Moore, former terrorism analyst at the State Department and political analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency

and Ralph Ranalli, Boston Globe reporter.

Why Terrorism Works

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Terrorism Works: that’s the case put forward by law professor, and provocateur Alan Dershowitz. Why it works is the subject of his latest book.

The celebrated trial lawyer known for fighting death penalty convictions says terrorism works because we let it, that terrorists succeed because the governments of the world listen not just to the sound of the bomb, but also to the grievances behind it. Dershowitz says we reap what we sow by accommodating criminals, and we should, in fact, ignore the “root causes” behind attacks on embassies, airplanes, and discos.

Jail time, new levels of security, torture, even targeted assassinations are among his answers. Get serious, he says, or the cycle of violence will just continue.


Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard University Law
School and author of “Why Terrorism Works.”

Iraq: Making the Case II

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It is no mistake that President George Bush is at the UN today. It is a time when the sensibilities of a nation still reverberate with the flag-snapping patriotism of September 11th memorials. When the loss of American lives abroad and at home is connected to a nation’s historical pursuit of freedom, liberty.

Bush is to make his most detailed case to date, for what he calls ‘regime change” in Iraq, challenging the United Nations to act first, or step aside, and let the work be done by military force; American military force if necessary.


Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government

James Woolsey, former director of the CIA and member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board.

Making the Case

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President Bush has had enough of the sidestepping, the wheedling and the crawfishing. He wants action in Iraq. And this hour, the U.S. President takes the UN podium, making his case against Saddam Hussein, condemning years of defiance and demanding the UN start taking itself seriously, “Or Else” is thus far only implied. But it’s clearly understood.

Today is the high point of what’s been called, even by administration officials, a marketing campaign for regime change in the Gulf. The speech itself has been kept under wraps, but already, the UN Secretary General is reacting, cautioning against war, advocating for the world body’s “unique legitimacy” in resolving conflict.

It’s time-tables and the gnashing of teeth, Generals and the General Assembly.


Bill Emmott, editor of The Economist

Mustapha Kamel El-Sayed, Professor of Political Science at Cairo University

Constanze Stelzenmueller, political editor for Die Zeit

and Judy Keen, reporter for USA Today.

In Memoriam, part II

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Memorials are continuing across the country, across the globe today, everywhere from Shanksville, Pennsylvania to New York, to the Pentagon, to Laconia, New Hampshire, where there’s a candlelight ceremony at Endicott Park Beach. With us for this hour, Reverend Nathan D Baxter, Dean of Washington’s National Cathedral, and Michael Ignatieff. He’s director of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights, and author of a number of books, among then, The Warrior’s Honor, Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience.


Nathan D. Baxter, dean of the Washington Cathedral

Michael Ignatieff, director of Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

Chip Wallakovitz, PA State President of the National Association of Postmasters.