Monthly Archives: January 2004


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When Fidel Castro told Cubans they wouldn’t be punished for leaving back in the summer of 1994, some 50,000 men, women and children set out for Florida on rafts strung together with rusted out bits of roof tops, inner tubes wrapped in canvas, and wood snagged from the back rests of park benches.

By the time President Bill Clinton convinced Castro to close the coastline in exchange for allowing a set number of Cubans into America each year, thousands of the balseros, the rafters, had been detained by the U.S. Coast Guard and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Spanish journalist and documentary film maker Carlos Bosch followed seven of the rafters, from the slums of Havana to new lives in the new world. He joins me to share their stories about making it to America.

Balseros will premiere in Boston on Januray 26th at 7:00 pm at the Coolidge Corner Movie Theatre.


Carlos Bosch, director, “Balseros,” a documentary about the rafters who left Cuba in the summer of 1994

Juan Carlos Subiza, one of the rafters who left Cuba in 1994

Playing the Numbers

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There’s a lot of say about issues like health care on the campaign trail right now, but you won’t hear much about it in the news. What you will hear is the horserace, who’s up, who’s down, and who’s been put out to pasture. Polls, stats and strategy dominate this year’s election coverage like never before, and it’s not just reporters talking about these things, it’s voters.

Electability has become a buzzword for Democrats who are in search of a candidate who, if nothing else, just beat Bush. Many are telling pollsters that this year, choosing a candidate who can win is more important than finding a candidate who they agree with on the issues. This hour, an insiders’ look at the art and science of the political numbers game, how it works and why we listen.


Ed Reilly, pollster for former Democratic Presidential Candidate Dick Gephardt

Ed Goeas, Republican pollster.

A "Muslim Refusenik" Speaks

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She may be Osama’s worst nightmare, but she’s keeping plenty of other Muslims up at night, too. Irshad Manji, a self-proclaimed Muslim Refusenik who would rather reform her faith than renounce it, is the author of “The Trouble with Islam.”

Not since a Salman Rushdie fable inspired a fatwa has a writer’s critical take on the faith sparked such controversy. A lesbian and a feminist, Manji argues for a more inclusive, more self-critical brand of Islam. One that searches its own soul for the source of its ills rather than blaming non-Muslims for them. But Manji’s open letter to her fellow faithful isn’t just an appeal, it’s an attack, and one that has even moderate voices of Islam striking back. Is Irshad Manji herself, In trouble with Islam?


Irshad Manji, author of “The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith”

Sheema Kahn, chair of the Council on American Islamic Relations Canada

Going Offshore

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From Silicon Valley to the suburbs of New Jersey, thousands of well educated high-tech workers are waking up this morning and asking themselves “Will my job be next?” Its all tied up with the new business trend called offshore outsourcing. Research suggests that one in ten U.S. tech jobs will go overseas by the end of this year. The jobs are going to India, to China, Malaysia, and Brazil.

For companies like IBM and Microsoft, this kind of export boosts the bottom line by giving them access to well -educated and often English speaking workers at a fraction of the cost. But disgruntled employees here in the U.S. along with some state legislators are fighting this corporate relocation to Bangalore, arguing that these are American jobs.


Christopher Koch, Executive Editor of CIO magazine

Dan Pink, contributor to Wired Magazine and author of the February 2004 cover story, “Kiss Your Cubicle Goodbye;” Lance Travis, Vice President of Outsourcing Strategies at AMR research, based in Boston, MA

Marcus Courtney, Founder of WashTech, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, Communications Workers of America – based in Seattle, WA.

Growing Up Fast

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At high school graduations in Pittsfield, Massachusetts it’s not uncommon to see an 18-year-old walk across the stage, get her diploma, and then smile and wave to her 3-year-old child in the audience.

Some say teen pregnancy is an epidemic in America. This country has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world. More often than not we hear about teen moms in stories about welfare, or poverty records, or in heated debates about abstinence programs and marriage initiatives.

But writer Joanna Lipper decided to take a more personal approach. Her new book tells the story of six teen moms living in Pittsfield and chronicles their lives from working night shifts at Burger King, to breast feeding at school, and going to the prom.


Joanna Lipper, author of “Growing Up Fast”

Liz Figueroa, who was a teen mom;

Assessing the State of the Union

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President Bush’s State of the Union came early this year, and that was no accident.

Delivered one day after the Iowa caucuses and a week before the New Hampshire primary, the speech was designed to steal the political spotlight from the president’s Democratic rivals, to contrast their battle with the trappings of a man already in that office and, of course, to spell out his re-election plan.

The speech included a vigorous defense of the administration’s war on terror at home and abroad, and called on Congress to enact key domestic initiatives — everything from extending tax cuts to supporting abstinence programs in schools. This hour on The Connection we assess the state of the speech, with reaction from Democratic candidate Retired General Wesley Clark.


Alan Murray, Washington bureau chief and anchor, CNBC;
Nolan Finley, editorial page editor, The Detroit News;
Democratic candidate Retired General Wesley Clark

Charles Saunders, President of Saunders Thread Company in Gastonia, North Carolina;

Eradicating Polio

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1952 was the year of polio hysteria. In the United States alone, 58,000 people came down with the disease. But even then, trials were paving the way toward immunization campaign that eventually wiped out polio in the U.S. and in many countries around the world. But polio continued to paralyze children in many developing countries. So the World Health Organization set itself a goal to eradicate the disease by the year 2000.

The WHO is close, but it’s not there yet. Last year, there were only a few hundred cases worldwide, but some are warning these numbers are set to grow. A wave of anti Americanism is threatening the global campaign to eradicate polio, and inflaming the debate over whether such immunizations should be forced.


Atul Gawande, a surgeon and research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health

John Donnelly, Boston globe staff writer

Beyond the Hawkeye State

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Thanks to Iowa, the Democratic presidential race just got a whole lot more interesting. Pundits are proclaiming the Iowa results as a triumph of electability over electricity, pointing out that despite Howard Dean’s fundraising success and grassroots energy, the former Vermont governor finished a disappointing third. With his positive campaign and kitchen table appeal to voters, John Edwards secured a surprising second place win. And Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, whose campaign has been dogged by shakeups, is the self-proclaimed comeback kid.

Now the candidates have flown east to join Senator Joe Lieberman and General Wesley Clark in the fight for the affections of the Granite State. This hour, we look back at Iowa, and look forward at New Hampshire.


Ryan Lizza, Associate Editor of The New Republic

Lisa Wangsness, political reporter for The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. Dick Meyers, a longtime politician in Iowa, went into last night’s caucuses a firm supporter of Howard Dean

Jean Shaheen, Governor (D-NH).

Meditations on Death

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We measure the foreign news we hear by counting bodies, trying to measure death itself. The foreign correspondents who cover such stories are supposed to gather the facts, file their piece and move on. But those who study the issues of human rights are supposed to take a longer and more thoughtful view.

Michael Ignatieff has studied and written about wartime atrocities as a journalist and a researcher. But in his latest book, “Charlie Johnson in the Flames,” he has summoned the power of fiction to explore conflict’s many faces of death.

Hear a conversation with human rights scholar Michael Ignatiff about telling stories of war, conflict, and death through the power of fiction.


Michael Ignatieff, author of “Charlie Johnson in the Flames” and director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

Al-Sistani Ups the Ante

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As Paul Bremmer and Kofi Annan meet in New York today to discuss the political future of Iraq and the U.N.’s eventual role there, headlines out of that country bear more grim news.

A suicide bombing at U.S. headquarters in Iraq Sunday, claimed more than 20 lives, injured 100 more, and underscored the ongoing difficulties of the U.S.-led occupation.

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq reached the 500 mark this past weekend. Yet, the transition of power remains extremely complicated. The powerful Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is calling for direct elections rather than America’s plan for regional caucuses, which are causing some to warn of civil war.


Hamid Dabashi, chair of Middle East and Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia University

Robert Orr, executive director for research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government.