Monthly Archives: December 2002


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Christmas music has been in the air since oh, about three days after Halloween. So, this Christmas Eve, for this hour, we won’t hear any. Instead, we’re going to savor some music written especially for Advent, the season that precedes Christmas on the Christian church calendar.

It is a time of waiting and anticipation, of quiet reflection. It is a season pretty much ignored by the general culture in its headlong holiday rush. But Patricia Van Ness, the composer whose music we’ll hear this hour, says Advent holds a little something for everyone.

In northern latitudes, Advent coincides with the darkest days of the year. It is a time to be quiet…to stand still in the darkness and confusion of the world and of our lives, and wait. Listening and longing for light.


Patricia Van Ness, composer and poet, “Advent”

Choir of First Church in Cambridge Congregational, Cambridge, MA.

Iraq & The Inevitability Question

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The “countdown to war” that has become a staple of television news coverage in recent months keeps getting longer. The Bush Administration has declared Saddam Hussein to be in material breach of United Nations disarmament resolutions, but he’s backed off from a date of final reckoning for the Iraqi leader.

What looks like a second chance for Saddam gives some war watchers hope that a Gulf War sequel can be averted. Let’s say that again. A Gulf War sequel can be averted. Maybe.

Such thinking flies in the face of the saber rattling rhetoric that’s dominated headlines and soundbites since the president sought UN support to disarm Iraq. But today, we’re listening to a little non-conventional wisdom. Forgoing the foregone conclusion that war is unavoidable.


Ambassador Edward Peck, Chief of Mission in Iraq during the Carter Administration

Jeswald Salacuse, Henry J. Braker Professor of Law, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

Rebuilding Afghanistan

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The U.S. won the war in Afghanistan, but not the peace, not yet. A year after Hamid Karzai was sworn in as the country’s President, the region remains unstable and allied forces remain under fire.

The Bush Administration has resisted assigning American troops to “nation-building” rather than combat missions. But recently the Defense Department announced a major change in how it operates in a country where warlords and the fledgling Karzai government still compete for control of the countryside.

The U.S. is building as many as ten new bases where the focus will be as much on rebuilding roads and schools, as on security. Critics say it’s about time; a year has already been squandered. Winning the peace, and rebuilding Afghanistan.


Dr. Lynn Amowitz, Senior Medical Researcher, Physicians for Human Rights

Larry Goodson, Professor, Middle East Studies, U. S. Army War College, author, “Afghanistan’s Endless War”

Ambassador Peter Tomsen, Special Envoy on Afghanistan, 1989-1992

Raoul Alcala, president, Alcala Enterprises, retired colonel, US Army.


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Smallpox is everywhere. It was declared eradicated in 1980, but it has been making headlines since September 11th, and even more since President Bush announced an unprecidented campaign to start vaccinating military personnel, emergency healthcare workers, and himself, against the disease.

The mass vaccination program is a response to what the President says is “the possibility that terrorists…would use disease as a weapon.” But the administration is discouraging average citizens from being innoculated, pointing to the vaccine’s dangerous side effects.

According to a new study, however, most Americans aren’t aware of either those side effects, or of the threat posed by the disease itself. Life and death decisions, getting to know smallpox again.


Dr. Robert Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health, and co-author of “The Public and the Smallpox Threat” – which is in the January 2003 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine

Trish Perl, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Dr. Howard Koh, Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Voices of Wars Past

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Bayonet, rifle, helmet, mess kit, dry socks, and a tape recorder. It is time, according to the Library of Congress, to get the soldier stories down before they’re lost.

For generations, war stories from this country’s millions of veterans have been traded in kitchens, bars, and legion halls. Many soldiers have dedicated themselves to collecting the anecdotes. Military institutions have their own oral history projects. But now the resources of the nation are being pressed into service.

Anyone with a tape recorder or a video camera is being asked to help, to interview a neighbor, an uncle or a grandmother. It is the Veterans’ History Project, a chance, an imperative, to preserve a nation’s memory, and to learn the lessons of combat from first-hand narratives.


Peggy Bulger, director of The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress

Bob Babcock, founder of Americans Remembered and author of “War Stories, Utah beach to Pleiku”

Bill Parfitt, WWII infrantry Veteran , Private First Class, 22nd Infantry

Chartley Morley, WWII and Korean war Army dietician, 42nd Infantry.

A New Day for Seoul and Washington

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It seems the more the Bush administration tries to focus on Iraq, the more other hot-spots demand attention. South Korea has a new leader. Mr. Roh emerged from a heated race as the surprise presidential winner in Seoul yesterday, beating out his more conservative opponent by less than three percentage points.

Roh’s platform includes a continuation of his country’s “sunshine policy” towards North Korea, even though that kind of active engagement with the North is now frowned upon by a Washington anxious about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Mr. Roh’s campaign also capitalized on rising anti-American sentiments in Seoul, views of a younger generation that sees the U.S., not as the liberator of the Korean War, but as the enemy.

South Korea, a new president, and new diplomatic challenges for the United States.


Don Oberdorfer, Journalist-in-Residence at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, former diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post , and author of “The Two Koreas”

Victor Cha, Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, and author of The “U.S.-Korea-Japan Security Triangle.”

Ha Jin

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Ha Jin came from China to America, to study literature. He was still planning to go back home when the People’s Army opened fire on students protesting in Tiananmen Square. Ha Jin decided then that he could never go home.

He stayed in America, teaching himself to write in English. His award winning prose is often compared to that of Kafka, and Tolstoy. Yet despite the critical acclaim he enjoys in the United States, Ha Jin says he remains a stranger in his chosen world. “To be a writer,” he says, “is a difficult way of life. But to be a writer in a foreign language is an incredibly lonely way of life.”

His latest book is set in China’s academic world at the time of Tiananmen. Ha Jin on the contradictions of art, home, and a life lived between two worlds.


Ha Jin, writer.

America's Hungry

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Going hungry in America. A report released yesterday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors shows that requests for emergency food assistance are up by nearly twenty percent in major cities across America. The nation’s soup kitchens and food banks are struggling, sometimes failing, to meet demand.

And here’s something else the report reveals. Food banks are serving more families. More mothers and fathers who’ve lost white collar jobs in the airline and high tech industries. Or who lost their low wage jobs, and are now at risk of losing the place they call home. That’s the choice they face: pay the rent, or buy food. The hunger factor: why empty stomachs are sounding new alarms about the health of the American economy


Bill Bolling, executive director, Atlanta Community Food Bank

Catherine D’Amato, president & CEO, Greater Boston Food Bank

Ern and Marge Brown, co-directors, Matlock Food Bank, Matlock, Washington

The Quiet American

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Coming to a theatre near you, another one of the films you didn’t get to see, last year. “The Quiet American” is a tough and satirical look at the USA’s early involvement in Vietnam.

Based on a novel by Graham Greene, the film was to have been released last year but it was withheld after September 11th. It was considered “unpatriotic” because of Greene’s critical take on American foreign policy. Yet now, in the run up to what may be an American-lead attack on Iraq, “The Quiet American” is considered acceptable for viewing; kind of ironic for a film that is essentially a cautionary tale about the U.S. abroad.

We’ll talk with the man who has twice now taken Graham Greene from the page to the screen. Watching others watch America, wondering why the story never seems to change.


Christopher Hampton, screenwriter for “The Quiet American.”

A look at the C-section.

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C-sections are up, and back in the news. Today one in four babies in the US is delivered by Caesarian section. In the 1960s, it was only one in twenty. In the time of “Our Bodies Ourselves”, giving birth at home with a midwife was highly regarded. Medical intervention in the labor process was viewed with suspicion.

But times are changing. Women getting into the baby business are older. They are busy. They are stressed. and an increasing number of them are foregoing natural methods and choosing instead to have a C-section…sometimes because it’s more convenient, or less painful, or because it’s a way to avoid those uncomfortable nasties like incontinence and vaginal tears.

The push and the pull, over health, birth and babies.


Susan Reverby, professor of Women’s Studies at Wellesley College, and her specialty is the history of women and medicine

Dr. Bruce Flamm, with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Riverside, California

Dr. David Walters, practices at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and author of “Just Take It Out! The Ethics & Economics of Caesarean Section & Hysterectomy.”.