Monthly Archives: October 2002

Gen. Wesley Clark: The Case for Allies

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The general has a question: Where’s NATO? In all the debate over Afghanistan and Iraq, in Congress and at the U.N., there’s been very little talk about the alliance that was formed to protect and defend the U.S. and its European allies.

General Wesley Clark thinks that’s a big mistake. He was “Supreme Allied Commander Europe” for NATO. He led the air attacks on Kosovo, NATO’s first major combat. Today, as the House votes on whether to authorize the use of force against Iraq, General Wesley Clark is urging the U.S. not to go it alone.

In the past, he’s complained loudly and publicly about the problems of working within the NATO alliance. But, he says, it’s still the best way to win a war, and win the peace. General Wesley Clark.


General Wesley K. Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Public Domain on the Stand

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“He who receives an idea from me,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “receives instruction himself without lessening mine.” When it came to land, Jefferson was a fierce defender of private ownership; but intellectual property, he believed, belonged to the public. However, in drafting the Constitution, Jefferson lost out to the pragmatist James Madison, and so creators were granted exclusive copyrights to their works for limited times.

Yesterday, the ghosts of Jefferson and Madison squared off before the Supreme Court in the case of Eldred v. Ashcroft; the plaintiff challenging Congress’ power to extend copyrights: the tyranny of private interest over public access to creative works. Intellectual property rights versus the public domain.


Edward Lee, professor of law at Ohio State University College of Law, and attorney for the plaintiffs in Eldred v. Ashcroft

Robert Clarida, partner with Cowan, Liebowitz & Latham and counsel for the American Intellectual Property Law Association

Michael Strunsky, trustee of the Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Family Trust

Classroom or Newsroom

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Call it an educational identity crisis. The president of Columbia University has abruptly called off the search for a new dean at its prestigious journalism school, so they can figure out what the school should be. Or, more specifically, until they decide “what journalism should look like in the contemporary world and how future journalists should be taught.”

The conversation that started in New York, now has hacks across the country tuning in, weighing in on whether journalism is best learned in the classroom or the newsroom, and whether the expectations of readers and listeners and viewers will be served by the latest journalistic therapy session. Reporters, marking their own copy.


Orville Schell, dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism, and contributor to The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine

Gregory Favre, Distinguished Fellow of Journalism at the Poynter Institute, former editor of the Chicago Sun-Times and The Sacramento Bee, and the past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Rethinking Ballot Initiatives

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Grassroots democracy, ballot initiatives and big money politics. In 1774, when Thomas Jefferson proposed that citizens should vote to approve their state constitution, he probably hadn’t imagined paid signature gatherers and cross-country campaigns funded by the rich and the famous. What started as a mechanism for politics by the people, without the politicians, has become a high stakes game. Take Oregon, where the food industry has raised more than $4 million to defeat an initiative requiring the labeling of genetically-modified foods. Bully politics? Mob rule? The ballot initiative may still be the best way to get the people back into politics, but money and power are insidious forces. Too much manure is never good for the grass roots.


Lane Shetterly, member of the Oregon House of Representatives

Dane Waters, executive director of the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank that tracks ballot questions

Florida State Senator Kendrick Meek, chairman of Florida’s Coalition to Reduce Class Size

Ed Moore, a member of “The Coalition to Protect Florida.”

Mideast: The Persistence of History

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In the Middle East, it seems, the philosopher Santayana may have got it wrong. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” he warned. But in the Mideast, it’s those who remember the past, their past, who seem doomed to repeat it.

History reaches back a long way in the Holy Land. The problem is: there’s no one history. Palestinians cite their ancient ties to the land, which are vehemently disputed by Israeli scholars of religious history. After the Six Day War when Israel occupied the West Bank of the Jordan, it changed all the maps and road signs to include the ancient biblical names, Judea and Samaria.

The persistence of history. Why it’s so hard to talk about now without talking about then.


Mike Shuster, NPR diplomatic correspondent

Suzanne Goldenberg, reporter, The Guardian

James Rodgers, BBC correspondent in Gaza

Taking It To The Streets

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Why Iraq? Why now? Why not? President Bush laid out his answers to those questions last night as he restated his case for U.S. action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Speaking before a crowd in Cincinnati, Ohio. Deliberately far removed from the austerity of the Oval Office, President Bush described Saddam Hussein as a “murderous tyrant” and used images of a nuclear holocaust to convince ordinary Americans that the threat posed by Iraq is “simply too great” to ignore. The speech comes at a time when Iraq is dominating debate in Congress and at the U.N. Security Council, but remains low on the list of concerns to American citizens.

The president and the people, fear, war and public opinion.


Gail Chaddock, Congressional reporter, Christian Science Monitor

Paul Anger, editor and vice president, Des Moines Register

Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland

Wind Resistance

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It might be hurricane season, but the storm blowing across Nantucket Sound is one of controversy. A private developer is designing a massive offshore power plant, but not your usual, much-maligned oil rig. Rather, it’s a green energy wind farm.

In today’s, “it’s all about oil,” climate, you’d think folks would be electrified in their support of alternative energy ideas. Not so. Even though the 170 turbines could power half of Cape Cod, the project faces searing opposition, especially from environmentalists.

Critics describe massive avian Cuisinarts, and an industrial infrastructure that will ravage an already fragile marine ecosystem and destroy a pristine seascape.


James Gordon, President of Cape Wind Associates

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., environmental attorney and anti-windfarm campaigner

Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace USA.

The Disunity of Left

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Once upon a time, a long time ago, America’s two left-leaning political weeklies, The Nation and The New Republic, considered a merger. But that was then and this is now.

Today, these two don’t agree about much. Specifically, the headline issue of Iraq. The progressive Nation has staked a solidly “anti” position, arguing that the administration’s case against Saddam doesn’t hold water and calling for organized opposition to U.S. military action. The New Republic is “pro” saying that Saddam is as bad as Bush says he is, and that military brass, bombs, and boots are what’s needed to stop him.

It’s a center-left smackdown. Political magazines in the game of dissent and support.


Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation

Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic.

Tenzin Palmo

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Tenzin Palmo grew up the daughter of a fishmonger in London. Hers was an ordinary adolescence. She had a boyfriend, a job, a crush on Elvis Presley.

But at age 20, she traded in her life of convention for one of contemplation. She bought a one-way ticket to India and became one of the first Western women to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Then she went into a cave in the high Himalayas and meditated for 12 years.

Since she’s come down, she’s been a saffron-clothed globetrotter, teaching Buddhism and trying to build a nunnery in a religion where women are often overlooked. “I had planned to stay in my cave,” she said. “But life has a way of serving you up with what you need rather than what you think you want.”


Tenzin Palmo, Tibetan Buddhist nun, and author of “Reflections on a Mountain Lake”

New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman

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Tom Friedman is mad, and it shows. He’s furious with Osama and all those bin Laden wanna-be’s.

He’s angry with Arafat and Sharon for keeping their people locked in a Mideast death spiral. He’s had it with Arab governments who fund and foment terrorism abroad while stifling democracy at home. He’s got tough talk for both Saddam Hussein and President George Bush.

And while his knowledge of history and his power of political analysis have won him Pulitzer prizes for commentary, it’s his attitude and love of anecdote that win him readers. In the last year, he has traveled through the Middle East, the Gulf, Russia, Europe, Afghanistan, and Indonesia asking, “Who were they?” of the 19 hijackers, and, “who are we?” of the country and the people they sought to destroy.


Tom Friedman, New York Times foreign affairs columnist and author of the book “Longitudes and Attitudes”