Monthly Archives: January 2003

Measuring America

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Those unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence started out as life, liberty, and property. However, the Aristotelian Thomas Jefferson changed property to the pursuit of happiness, arguing that property was not so much a natural right but a means to an end. He also believed that private ownership of land was essential to both happiness and democracy.

For many years, land was this country’s greatest resource and commodity. America’s fledging government paid its Revolutionary War debts by auctioning off real estate, often to speculators out to turn a profit. But before the founding fathers could sell the land, it had to be paced off, staked, and surveyed. The dimensions of that task ultimately shaped the nation and democracy. Measuring America, history’s greatest yard sale.


Andro Linklater, author of, “Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy.”

Soul-Saving Sobriety

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It’s sobering to consider. America’s drug and alcohol habit costs taxpayers more than $294 billion a year. In health care, law enforcement, lost productivity, and crime. The other tolls don’t get a price tag. The life shattered. The hope lost. The shame that chases the high.

The White House sees one source of relief in faith based treatment programs, where addicts learn that the surest path to recovery is also the one that leads straight to salvation. The President’s proposal would give hundreds of thousands of addicts a voucher good for treatment at the facility of those choices. It’s possible that church-based groups could make up the majority of that choice. Critics charge that letting go and letting God isn’t enough for full recovery. Saving souls, and getting sober. What works best.


Lance Dodes, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and author, “The Heart of Addiction: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing Alcoholism and Other Addictive Behaviors”

Keith Humphreys, associate professor of psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine

Tonja Myles, founder of the Set Free Indeed program at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Fill 'er Up With Hydrogen

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It’s small. It’s sassy. It comes with air conditioning and cruise control. It’s clean and it’s green. And it can be yours for just $1.6 million. It’s the Freedom Car. It runs on hydrogen and doesn’t leave exhaust fumes, just drops of water. And it should be coming to a showroom near you in decade or two, give or take a few years

You could buy one now, but then you’d also need your own portable lab just to produce the fuel. Because even though hydrogen abounds in the air and water, no one’s figured out a cost-effective way to extract it without using that old bugaboo: fossil fuel. President Bush says he wants the first car driven by a child born today to be powered by hydrogen and pollution-free. Yet some greens are still seeing red over his proposal. A clash over the elements.


Sheila Lynch, Executive Director, Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium

Csaba Csere, Editor in Chief, Car and Driver

Ashok Gupta, Director, Clean Air and Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council

Ray Magliozzi, co-host of NPR’s Car Talk.

The Jobless Recovery

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People who study the economy, keep telling us there’s good news and bad news. The good news is the economy is growing, if only by less than a percent in the last quarter. The bad news is, so is the number of unemployed Americans.

It’s an economic conundrum that has millions of laid-off workers wondering why an economy on the rebound is leaving them behind. “We must have an economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and every woman who seeks a job,” the President said in his State of the Union address. And he added something that sounds obvious: “Jobs are created when the economy grows.” But here’s the problem: the economy is growing, but jobs are not. Where have all the good jobs gone?


Michael Mandel, chief economist, Business Week;
Chip Conley, president and CEO, Joie de Vivre Hospitality

After the Israeli Election

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Big changes, and yet no changes in political news from Israel. At the end of contentious campaign marked by accusations of corruption, Ariel Sharon and his Likud party have won a commanding victory, upsetting its traditional rival, the Labor party.

With his clear victory in the Israeli parliament, Sharon’s hold on power is stronger than ever, but he still needs to broker a deal with coalition partners. Sharon wants another national unity government with the Labor Party. Labor’s leader Amram Mitza is saying no. So now Sharon will be challenged as to how he’ll deal with the Palestinians, whether his new mandate holds within it, the seeds for peace. Winners and losers and plotting the path of Israeli politics.


Ari Shavit, a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz

Ghassan Khatib, the minister of labor in the Palestinian Authority cabinet

Lior Netzer, an Israeli voter.

The Morning After

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President George Bush calls this, “a time of great consequence.” In his state of the Union Address last night, the President covered a number of domestic issues, health care, jobs, and tax cuts.

He slipped in a few surprises, money for overseas AIDS relief and for research on hydrogen cars. But the focus of his speech, the “key note” of his address, was what he considers the current greatest threat to the state of this union, that is Saddam Hussein. And he delivered it with the strongest language he’s ever used to tell Americans and people around the world why the threat posed by the Iraqi leader can no longer be ignored.

It was, in short, a call to arms, even if it means just American arms.


Daniel Schorr, NPR’s Senior News Analyst

Nolan Finley, Editor of the Editorial Page for The Detroit News.

Amateurs in Space

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It’s January. Do you know where your telescope is? Many a shiny black star finder that showed up under a Christmas tree has already found its way to oblivion in the back of the closet.

But others, set up on their spindly legs, are introducing a new generation to the rings of Saturn, which, it turns out, happen to be at their jauntiest angle right now. And at this very moment, some of those people falling in love with the night sky will stay lovers, amateurs, all their lives.

In most disciplines, the pros and the amateurs keep their distance. But in astronomy, a partnership is emerging where amateurs are doing much of the hard work, watching for asteroids that could imperil our tiny blue planet and helping to map the universe.


Kelly Beatty, executive editor, Sky and Telescope

Timothy Ferris, author, “Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril”

Barbara Wilson, astronomy educator, George Observatory, Houston Museum of Natural Science.

The Candidates

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With the New Hampshire presidential primary less than a year away, Democrats eyeing a White House victory in 2004 are declaring their intentions.

Six contenders have surfaced since December: Dr. Howard Dean of Vermont, Freshman John Edwards of North Carolina, “Always In” Dick Gephardt of Missouri, Craggy John Kerry of Massachusetts, Joe “Security First” Lieberman, and, “Yes, I’m in, Too” Al Sharpton, from New York.

It’s a race in which political greenhorns vie with Capitol Hill veterans for the chance to be leader of the free world. And it’s being run in the shadow of a looming war, at a time when the Democratic Party is at low ebb, and when Americans are preoccupied with national security and economic insecurity. Anticipating the message, and sizing up the hopefuls. Time magazine’s Joe Klein weighs in on Decision 2004.


Joe Klein, columnist, Time magazine and author, “The Natural”

As They Lay Dying.

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It’s hard to put a face on global health. This is partly because the numbers are numbers too big to imagine: like 8.8 million lives that were lost last year due to preventable diseases, infections, and complications from childbirth.

Then there are the diseases, too many to count: malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, tetanus, and AIDS. Behind the statistics are people: people who get sick and die, doctors who try to heal them, politicians who fail them, and families that mourn them.

The tragedy is that they don’t have to die. Every day, in the poor corners of the world, people fall sick from things as simple as stepping on a rusty nail, or giving birth, or catching a cold.


Brian Donnelly, foreign affairs reporter for the Boston Globe

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University

Kingsley Magomero, doctor at Lilongwe Central Hospital, Malawi

Day of Decision

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It’s finally ready. After 60 days of watching weapons inspectors in those white and blue U.N. trucks, cruising Iraq for signs of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, Chief Inspector Hans Blix delivers his report to the Security Council today.

It is said to be a mixed bag, a document that both praises and criticizes the Iraqi government for its cooperation and evasiveness. The conclusion of Blix’s report is expected to be a plea for more time for inspections.

Countries that have been outspoken in their criticism of the war plan like France and Germany will take this call for time as a call for more diplomacy. However, those in London and Washington insist time is running out.


Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

Elizabeth Neuffer, U.N. correspondent for The Boston Globe

Peter Philipp, chief correspondent for Deutsche Welle World

Rami Khouri, internationally syndicated columnist.