Monthly Archives: December 2002

Mary Robinson

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As High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson spent a lot of her time at the United Nations talking about HIV/AIDS. She wasn’t poaching the territory of the World Health Organization. She was making the case then that the world’s most serious health problem is also a human rights disaster.

Twenty years into the epidemic, drugs are making it possible for some people to live with the virus, but they’re only available to one percent of the 40 million people afflicted with the disease. She says that’s an outrage.

Since Robinson left her UN post, with a rather thankless nudge from the Bush Administration, she’s been speaking out, even more directly, about the link between HIV/AIDS and human rights. Another view of universal health care.


Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former President of Ireland, now director, Ethical Globalization Initiative.


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“Who remembers the Armenians?” In the years around 1915, the Ottoman Empire systematically slaughtered more than a million Armenians living in Eastern Turkey. In “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler referenced the forgotten mass killings to bolster his own extermination plans.

To this day, the Turkish government denies that what happened in the hillsides bordering Iran and Iraq was genocide. Nine decades later, filmmaker Atom Egoyan wants to set the record straight. His new film, “Ararat,” is not, he says, a film about the Armenian genocide. Rather, Ararat is about the denial of it, and the way that willful forgetting haunts the Armenian Diaspora still.
Atom Egoyan and his wife and star of the film, Arsinee Khanjian join us.


Atom Egoyan, writer, director and producer of “Ararat”

Arsinee Khanjian, actress and star of “Ararat”

2002 In Review

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As 2002 winds to a close, media outlets around the world are thumbing through the Bartlett’s book of cliches, looking for just the right caption for their year in review. Well, here’s the Connection’s postscript for 2002: It’s been a chaotic year for the news, and you were with us every step of the way and, we can’t do what we do, without you.

This hour, we’re looking back at the breaking news, the voices, the big ideas, and the calls from you, our listeners, that kept the conversation that is the Connection abuzz all year. And as we recall some of those moments, we’ll be asking for your support so we can continue to bring you the world of news and ideas in the year ahead. Highlights from 2002, and your pledges at 1-800-909-9287.


Poet Paul Muldoon

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Paul Muldoon isn’t like other poets. He doesn’t fit well into categories: the Irish poet; the intellectual poet; or the metaphysical poet; though, most agree that he is certainly a poet’s poet.

He is a man whose ease with the language shows he can be clever, whimsical, sober, and inventive all at once. Muldoon’s most recent book of poetry, his ninth, reflects the two worlds he straddles. He is an Irishman living in New Jersey; though often his subjects, a loaf of bread, a flock of redknots, a gravestone, have an air of the universal.

One reviewer wrote of his latest collection: “Muldoon may be a poet in love with the possibilities of language; ‘Moy Sand and Gravel’ demonstrates that he is also a poet in love with the possibilities of life.” Paul Muldoon, and the possibilities of poetry.


Paul Muldoon

Weapons Inspections, Chapter Two

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A 12,000-page denial. The Iraqi declaration is in folders full of detailed information on almost everything under Iraqi skies, including the location of factories manufacturing slippers and other possible “dual-use” sites. But at least so far, no confession, no admission.

The Iraqis insist they put to bed all plans for weapons of mass destruction years ago but the Bush administration claims it has evidence to the contrary. “Any country on the face of earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,” says Donald Rumsfeld.

The day after the U.N. Security Council resolution deadline, the two presidents Saddam Hussein and George Bush are pointing fingers, passing the burden of proof back and forth.


Patrick Clawson, deputy Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Deputy Director

John Burns, reporter for the New York Times

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington DC, and a former weapons inspector.

The Freshmen

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Fifty-two first timers. The Freshman Class of Congress. Wandering unfamiliar hallways in the capital’s corridors of power, navigating a maze of buildings and ethics rules. Vying for admission to the best committees, Transportation, Armed Services, Ways and Means.

Figuring out who their friends are, who their friends ought to be. For the newly elected men and women of the 108th Congress, December is a prelude to the trial by fire in January. There are offices to move into. Staffs to hire. Manuals thick as doorstops to study. Lessons on budgets and protocol meant to smooth their transition into a whole new level of public service. A bootcamp, of sorts, for beginners.

Two new representatives take us inside politics and public service.


Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, Democrat of Maryland

Congressman Max Burns, Republican of Georgia

Congressman Ed Schrock, Republican of Virginia, and president of the Freshman class in the 107th Congress

John Rawls

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John Rawls, perhaps the greatest American political philosopher of the 20th century, died last week. Few outside the academy knew of Rawls, in part because his modesty kept him out of the spotlight. Rawls did not seek fame. Even so, a world of admirers mourned his death. And in The New York Times, Le Monde, and The Independent, obituaries noted his contribution to the idea of a just society, the importance of his seminal text, “A Theory of Justice.”

Rawls belongs to a pantheon of formidable thinkers. Locke. Rousseau. Hobbes. Kant. Rawls’ legacy, his students and colleagues agree, makes him worthy of such company. John Rawls’ theory about, and commitment to, justice defined both his work, and his life. The principles of a principled man. Remembering John Rawls.


Tom Nagel, Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University

Michael Sandel, Professor of Government at Harvard University. Sandel is author of “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” (1983), an influential response to John Rawls’s classic work, “A Theory of Justice.”

World Literature: Saudi Arabia

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It’s hard to believe that the Saudi Arabia of Raja Alem’s conjurings is the same one we see in today’s headlines about terrorism, oil, and money. For Raja, modern life exists side-by-side with ancient myth and magic. Contemporary themes of patriarchy and gender rub shoulders with dashing princes who rise from the sand, snakes that speak with humans.

Alem’s novel “Fatma,” her first to appear in English, is not a fairy tale. It’s not magical realism. And it’s not your usual translation. It’s a curious collaboration between two writers that jumps the barriers of culture and language; to find common ground beyond the so-called “clash of civilizations.”

Our world literature series continues with Raja Alem, and “Fatma.”


Raja Alem and Tom McDonough, authors of “Fatma.”

Trevor Legassick, professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Michigan.

Bankruptcy and the Catholic Church

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Annus horribilis. If the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston ever had a singularly horrible year, it’s this one. The year that began with stories of child sexual abuse by priests is ending with the possibility that the archdiocese, now facing 450 lawsuits and at least $100 million in damages, may file for bankruptcy.

This comes on top of new revelations this week that Cardinal Law has allowed more known abusers to continue to serve parishes, and wrote letters of commendation for them. This is the season of Advent on the church calendar, usually a time of hopeful expectation.

Christmas usually means packed pews. In Boston this year, attendance is down, contributions are down, anger is up. The Catholic Church. Getting versed in Chapter 11.


Alan Wolfe, director, Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College

Jay Lawrence Westbrook, bankruptcy expert, University of Texas Law School

Stephen Kurkjian, reporter, Boston Globe.