Monthly Archives: December 2003

Changing of the Guard in the Nation to the North

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Political change in the winds from the north. Canada’s long-serving Prime Minister Jean Chretien has resigned, and Paul Martin, the man known as Chretien’s loyal Finance Minister for many years is being sworn in as his replacement. Simple, straightforward, no fuss, very Canadian. Except that behind the story is a much more interesting tale of palace intrigue, and envy and ambition.

It is also of particular interest here in the United States, where some are wondering how this succession might repair the bruised relations between Washington and Ottawa. Canadians have remained strongly opposed to the war in Iraq and to many policies of the Bush Administration. At the same time, Canadians are almost completely dependent on the U.S. for international business. So what’s the new PM to do?


John Gray, freelance journalist and author of “Paul Martin: the Power of Ambition”

Pamela Wallin, Canadian Consul General to New York.

The Bearman

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The population of black bears in New Jersey has exploded — from fewer than a hundred in 1970 to some 3,300 today. These bears are not as dangerous, really, as they are a nuisance. They rip their way into backyard trash bins and lumber perilously across highways.

For the first time in three decades, New Jersey officials are allowing a special hunting season aimed at both trimming the burgeoning bear population and satisfying hunters who’ve long anticipated the big kill. It is a point of fact that while America continues to push and shove its way into nature — nature is pushing back — sometimes in unexpected places, and ways. Ironically, it’s the humans who feel cornered. Where the wild things are…and what to do about them.


Bradley Campbell commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Benjamin Kilham, naturalist and author of “Among the Bears: Raising Orphan Cubs in the Wild”

Charles Siebert, writer and author of “Wickerby: An Urban Pastoral”

How To Kill A Country

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It’s hard to see it any other way: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is killing his country; so says the Human Rights scholar Samantha Power.

Six years ago, Zimbabwe had the fastest growing economy in all of Africa. Now unemployment stands at 80 percent. Torture is rampant. Corruption is common. The warehouse of the country’s sole maize and wheat distributor is empty.

With Mugabe’s recent decision to quit the Commonwealth, many fear the worst has just begun — that the nation once considered the heart of Africa’s bread-basket, could become the location for widespread famine as early as next year. Already close to half the people there depend on the U.N. for food hand-outs. Samantha Power has seen the destruction of nations. She says Mugabe is on target to destroy his own.


Samantha Power, founding Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University, and author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning book, A Problem from Hell. Her most recent essay is How To Kill a Country –featured in the Demember issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

Eve Ensler

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It has been almost eight years since the first production of Eve Ensler’s shockingly clever play, “The Vagina Monologues,” and since people in that theatre off-off Broadway first heard the writer and actor herself, say the word, vagina, and give voice to its emotions.

If the word itself has lost some of its shock value over seven years and after tens of thousands of productions of The Vagina Monologues, the stories associated with the vagina, like the experience of women in war, have lost none of their power.

Eve Ensler talks about the amazing odyssey that her play has started. Celebrations of V-Day, money raised to help and help prevent violence against women. This hour we’re talking with Eve Ensler about being both an artist and an activist.


Eve Ensler, playright, activist

The Power of Storytelling

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Gcina Mhlophe did not visit a library until she was 20 years old. There simply weren’t any in the small South African village where she grew up, and the closest one was reserved for White people only. Now an award winning writer and performer, she has spent years touring elementary schools in her homeland, working with children and watching the country and its culture change.

Today, Mhlophe concentrates on oral history, telling stories, anything to teach children to love words and books the way she does. As a child, she saw that rich oral tradition mocked and humiliated by those in power. Today, she celebrates that tradition, while continuing her mission to bring literacy and learning to South Africa.


Gcina Mhlophe, storyteller and writer

Rolling Back the Blue Laws

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The Puritans had laws against everything. Sumptuary laws that prohibited commoners from showing off by draping a bit of lace around their cuff. And Sunday-go-to-meeting laws that were designed to keep anyone from doing anything on the Sabbath except going to church and keeping quiet with the family.

While many of these colonial prohibitions have gone the way of public floggings, the ban on Sunday liquor sales has remained on the books. Until now. This year, five states are lifting these bans. And while some are celebrating their new found freedom to buy six packs on the Sabbath, others see the end of the blue laws as further evidence of consumerism and convenience trumping faith and community in America.


David Laband, author of “Blue Laws: The History, Economics and politics of Sunday-Closing Laws” and professor of economics at Auburn University

Peter Drummey, librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society;