Monthly Archives: June 2003

Storyteller Jay O'Callahan

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Jay O’Callahan says storytelling is an invitation to the audience to see a world so vivid that the theatre disappears. For 25 years, O’Callahan has been spinning his stories for people around the world. He has told tales in Ireland, New Zealand and Norway. He has been called everything from a genius to a theater troupe inside one body.

Yet, even after years of telling his yarns, O’Callahan says he is still learning. He says he still enjoys the process of growing a story, of weaving together the sounds, the colors, and the tiny, specific details that make a world — the red hat of a beautiful woman, the limp of an old man, the piercing sounds of a raucous party and the hush of a dark night.


Storyteller Jay O’Callahan

Return of the Open Classroom

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Back in the days of the one-room schoolhouse, students weren’t separated based on ability. Everyone learned together. But then IQ testing came along in the early 20th century, and schools got bigger. Educators started separating students based on their aptitude and achievement. Some were placed on an academic path that prepared them for college, others were put in classes geared to vocational or trade education.

Recently, the practice of dividing students has come under fire as racist and undemocratic. Critics say it is better for all students and for society if the classrooms are mixed, where students earning A’s and D’s learn together. But try telling that to a parent whose daughter is a whiz at math or whose son is struggling to read.


Paula Evans, Director, New Teachers Collaborative

Sandra Stotsky, Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts State Board of Education.

Tuning in to the World

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Long before you could boot up, log on and point and click your way around the globe, there was ham radio. Churning out an audio cocktail of beeps and whirs, chirps and static, the ham radio was a passport, of sorts, for a particular kind of technology-loving, wander-lusting, basement-dwelling Good Samaritan. Someone who knew and relished the difference between a picofarad and a millihenry. Someone who appreciated the random fortune of a favorable ionosphere and a continent-hopping connection.

But there’s no need to talk about ham radio in the past tense, because some two-and-a-half million hams world wide still consider 20 megahertz the preferred way to fly. You can keep your broadband. Ham radio. On a wing, and a bandwidth.


Bob Hopkins, Director of the Computer Center at Cooper Union, and “Elmer” for the book, “Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio,” by Danny Gregory and Paul Sahre

Moody Law, California Ham

Joe Leto, Iowa Ham

Harry Han, Shanghai Ham

Mideast Meltdown

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Last week, President Bush proudly declared he would “ride herd” for the road map. Since then, the Mideast peace process has been overrun by yet another stampede of violence.

Since President Bush sat with Prime Ministers Sharon and Abbas under the shadow of the palm fronds of Aqaba, there has been a deadly return to the suicide bombing of Hamas and those targeted killings by the Israeli Army. Both sides are killing civilian bystanders.

Now there are new calls for President Bush to go beyond his usual “condemning in the strongest possible terms.” Fellow Republican Senator John Warner wants to see NATO troops sent to the region. Neoconservative guru William Kristol is suggesting U.S. soldiers should be used to do the job.


Richard Murphy, former Ambassador to Egypt and Syria

Robin Wright, senior diplomatic correspondent, Los Angeles Times


Former Senator Edward Brooke

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Ask any woman what disease she fears most and chances are she’ll say, breast cancer. Ask a man the same question, and that cancer won’t even be mentioned. Senator Edward Brooke is out to change that.

Brooke, the 83-year-old former Republican senator from Massachusetts, is coming out of retirement to become an activist once again. His cause: educating men that they too, can get breast cancer. Edward Brooke should know: after two years of ignoring pain, he was diagnosed with this disease last year. He is now recovering from a radical mastectomy.

Before his diagnosis, Brooke, like most men, was intensely private about his health. But now he says that men’s reluctance to visit the doctor causes too much suffering and too many early deaths. Senator Brooke on why men’s silence can kill.


Former Senator Edward Brooke (R-MA)

The Filibuster Battle

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Filibusters and other political war games. It’s been five months of intense partisan battling since President Bush nominated two federal judges to the bench. To block his choices, Senate Democrats are wielding that time-honored tool of the minority, the filibuster.

Now Republicans, frustrated by the stalemate, are proposing to change the rules on the filibuster when it comes to Presidential nominations. So who’s not playing fair? Democrats say it’s their right to use the filibuster to constrain the power of the Republican majority, while the Republicans say the Democrats are going too far, twisting and distorting the rules in a desperate bid to retain some power in Washington. Parliamentary rules, partisanship, and the changing rules of debate.


Dr. John C. Eastman, Professor of Law at Chapman University School of Law, Orange, CA

Michael J. Gerhardt
Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School
Williamsburg, VA.

The Talk of the Town

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After the writer John Updike received his first check from The New Yorker magazine, he wrote to the-then fiction editor, Katherine White: “Thank you very much for the kind and hopeful words. And the check didn’t seem at all small to me. It seems huge, and the honor of appearing in The New Yorker looms titanic.”

Fifty years after the young Updike received his check, the New Yorker remains the gateway to literary fame. So, meet the new gatekeeper. Deborah Treisman, the new fiction editor at the New Yorker. At age 33, she is also the youngest person to hold that post. Her job: to decide which writers will have their work appear in that oh-so-classic typeface.


Deborah Treisman, fiction editor of The New Yorker magazine

Daniel Alarcon, 26-year old writer featured in the June 16 & 23, 2003 Debut Fiction issue of the magazine — with his story, “City of Clowns.”

Regime Change in Burma

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When you translate the name Aung San Suu Kyi, it means Bright Collection of Strange Victories. And there is some bright news from Burma today. The UN envoy is reporting that she is in good health, though she is still being held in “protective custody.”

Meanwhile, on the floor of the US Senate this morning, the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act is coming up for debate. The bill calls on the generals who now rule Burma (or Myanmar, as they call it) to stop human rights abuses, release all political prisoners and transfer power to a popularly elected government, and threatens to ban all Burmese imports to the U.S if they don’t.

But years of other sanctions, along with Free Burma campaigns from college campuses to state governments, have had very little impact on the generals.


US Senator John McCain, co-sponsor, “Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003″

Priscilla Clapp, former Charge d’Affaires, United States Embassy, Rangoon, Burma

Brad Adams, executive director, Asia Divisision, Human Rights Watch

Larry Jagan, BBC Burma Analyst.

Coastal Confrontation

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The gentle tug of the moon pulls the tide toward the land, but it is the beauty and the bounty of the ocean that draws millions of people to the shore.

Coastal development is booming, as is America’s appetite for creatures of the sea. However a new report reveals another side of this call to the coast. It talks about polluted beaches, poisonous shellfish, depleted fish stocks, and beached whales so toxic they have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.

While shoreline sprawl is the obvious culprit, inland activity poisons the rivers that feed coastal estuaries — those cradles of life so vital for the health of the oceans. From Sioux City to South Beach, everyone has a line to the ocean, and a hand in the health of the sea. The real link between surf and turf.


Deborah Cramer, author of “Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage”

Nancy Schilling, founder of Friends of the Rivers in Spring Island, South Carolina

Mexifornia dreamin'

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It is the season of death along the Mexican border. As summer begins thousands of Mexicans try to cross into the US and join the more than 8 million undocumented immigrants who are already here, harvesting America’s peaches, building its homes, and cleaning its toilets. And while America continues to rely on the economic muscle of illegal immigrants …the official word at the border is “Mexican go home.”

Everyone agrees that U.S. immigration policy is inconsistent but there is little consensus on what to do about it. Some warn that unless America seals its southern border, the nation will turn into a kind of Mexifornia — a landscape of barrios and cultural barriers. Others say legalization would actually help bring assimilation.


Victor Davis Hanson, author of “Mexifornia, a State of Becoming”

Ricardo Pimentel, columnist for Arizona Republic

Chris Simcox, founder of the Tombstone-based Civil Homeland Defense.