Monthly Archives: November 2003

Best American Short Stories, Part 2

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Our Connection Thanksgiving tradition continues with a feast of fiction from the writer ZZ Packer. “Every Tongue Shall Confess” — a story of unlikely love between a cross-eyed nurse and her blues-strumming patient.


“Every Tongue Shall Confess” by ZZ Packer, read by Jacqui Parker

Best American Short Stories, Part 1

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Our Connection Thanksgiving tradition continues with a reading of one of The Best American Short Stories for 2003. A tale of immigration, fear, and fatherhood — from New York to Hong Kong. “Heaven Lake,” by writer Jess Row.


“Heaven Lake” by Jess Row, read by Will le Bow

America's Seniors & the AARP

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Medicare is supposed to be unassailable, a government promise of health benefits for the elderly, a sacred trust, every bit as important as Social Security. It is no small wonder that the nation sat up to take notice when a controversial Medicare bill was passed this week in Washington.

It is controversial because it opens up Medicare to the possibility of private participation, and because it does nothing to lower the actual cost of drugs. It is also controversial because the largest organization representing the elderly in America decided to work with the Republicans and is now backing the bill — all at a time when the Democrats are crying foul.

The AARP will now spend millions of its members’ dollars to defend its stance. Boomers, backlash, and the politics of the practical, in this hour of The Connection.


William Novelli, Executive Director and CEO, AARP

Tom Allen, Democratic Congressman from Maine

Viola Quirion, 77 year old senior from Maine

The Civil Rights of Nobody's Friends

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“No person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution makes it clear — you can’t be punished for the same crime twice.

But across the country, some people are serving a kind of second sentence — being locked up after doing their time in jail. They are sex offenders. Diagnosed as recidivist predators, confined to prison-like treatment programs, and rarely released.

Some say this so-called civil commitment is a legal chimera, an unconstitutional hybrid that confuses criminal responsibility with mental disability. Others claim that sex offenders can be, and often are, both bad and mad, and that this kind of incarceration is the best way to protect communities. Civil commitment versus civil rights this hour on The Connection.


Stephen McAllister, Dean and Professor of Law, The University of Kansas, School of Law

Eric Janus Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law

Charles Manasco, resident of the Special Treatment Unit Department of Corrections center, Kearny, NJ

Dr. Timothy Foley, a forensic psychologist.

Conflict in the Caucasus

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“Imagine a cannonball packed with explosives up on three fingers, while several people push from various sides with increasing force.” The Economist magazine conjures this image to illustrate the current situation in the Caucasus.

The pushers are Russia, Europe and the United States, all eyeing the region’s rich oil and natural gas reserves, as well as its strategic location east of Turkey, north of Iran. Trying to maintain their grip on independence are the three former Soviet Republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. This week the power shifted when Eduard Shevardnadze was pushed out of Georgia’s presidency in a non-violent revolution prompted by the nation’s recent fraudulent election.


Kent Lucken, former diplomat at American Embassies in Moscow and Tbilisi, Georgia

Robert Parsons, longtime BBC reporter in Georgia

David Holley, reporter, Los Angeles Times, in Tbilisi.

Japan's Military Dilemma

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Japan is at a crossroads. The nation that scrapped its army, navy and air force after the Second World War is now considering sending troops and equipment to Iraq. Since 1947, Japan’s euphemistically-name Self Defense Force has carefully restricted its missions to peacekeeping in places like Cambodia and East Timor.

But at the same time, the Japanese treasury has been a kind of cash register to armies in need, doling out billions to assist in other nations’ conflicts, while keeping its own troops at home. Some Japanese now say that their country should no longer make such pay outs, that principles worth defending ought to be defended with blood, and not a checkbook. Others fear a return of military nationalism. Japan’s struggle with its new international identity.


Akira Iriye, Professor of Japanese History, Harvard University

Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT;

Mourning in America

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Two more U,S. soldiers are killed in the city of Mosul, their throats cut, their bodies mutilated by an angry crowd. A chilling reminder to Americans that more dead will be returning from Iraq. We won’t see their caskets coming home, though.

Since the war began the Bush Administration has enforced a 12-year old moratorium on news cameras filming caskets being unloaded off cargo planes and restricted images of memorial services being shown on TV. The president too has decided not to attend any funerals for returning soldiers, choosing instead to send letters and make private phone calls. Bush says this respects families’ privacy. But critics think the administration is choosing to minimize the hard images of an increasingly unpopular war.


John Roberts, former official in the Reagan Adminstration and author of “Rating the First Ladies”

Dr. Kenneth Allard, a professor at Georgetown University and author of “Somalia Operations: Lessons Learned”

Brian Hart, whose son John was killed last month in Iraq

Gay Talese

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Gay Talese is the outsider’s outsider. The son of an Italian Catholic immigrant reared in an Irish-American enclave on a largely Protestant island. The kid with the bad grades and the good suits, too shy to ask a girl to dance, but too curious not to ask her lots of questions about herself.

The post-Second World War America of Gay Talese’s youth revered heroes and paid little heed to the rest, leaving a guy like Talese free to roam beneath the radar, eavesdropping, watching a world that was someone else’s oyster. In dispatches for high school, and then college, and then big city newspapers, Gay Talese celebrated the anti-heroes. The runners-up and the also-rans, the ones who dropped the ball or lost the girl. Then all of a sudden, the writer himself, was a contender.


Gay Talese, writer and author of many books, including “The Bridge,” “The Kingdom and the Power,” “Honor Thy Father,” and “Thy Neighbor’s Wife”

Power, Pork and Politics

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The energy bill that will live or die on the floor of the U.S. Senate today is a full 1100 pages long. In public, though, it’s been reduced to competing soundbites. Arizona Senator John McCain says the only ones who will benefit from this bill are “hooters and polluters,” referring to its support for an “environmentally-friendly shopping mall” that includes the aforementioned cultural establishment as well as oil and gas industries, which this legislation favors.

North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan defends the bill’s $2 billion subsidy for ethanol saying, “It’s growing our energy in our fields.” But The Wall Street Journal says the bill serves up nothing but bacon and that its authors “have greased more wheels than a NASCAR pit crew.” Power, politics and pork.


Darrin Ihhen, president, South Dakota Corn Growers and ethanol producer

Gail Chaddock, senior Congressional correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor

Karen Wayland, Acting Legislative Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

Jerry Taylor, Director, Natural Resource Studies, The Cato Institute.