Monthly Archives: April 2004

Shifting Diplomacy in the Middle East

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It is the latest round of violence in an already boiling region. As Palestinians mourn the killing of a top militant leader over the weekend, attention is also on Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza without a peace agreement.

Some say the killing of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi is a clear sign that the gloves are off. Others wonder if President Bush’s nod to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week helped to grease the wheels for Rantisi’s killing, and whether it emboldens Israel’s plan to evacuate only some settlements in the West Bank. Many worry the killing will only escalate the violence on both sides.

Sharon is gaining critical support from Israeli right-wing leaders, laying the political groundwork for an almost certain victory for his withdrawal plan. Shifting diplomacy and assessing the role of the U.S. in the Middle East.


James Bennet, Jerusalem bureau chief, The New York Times

Ari Shavit, Tel Aviv-based columnist, Ha’aretz

Mustafa al-Sayyid, professor of political science, Cairo University

Ambassador Dennis Ross

Bill Emmott, editor-in-chief, The Economist

Sticklers, Unite!

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Lynne Truss may owe her career to proper English usage. She got her first job in journalism, she was told, when her competition confused “furbish” with “furnish” in his letter of application.

But it’s not just about words; it’s those little marks between them. The diminutive dots and banana like curves that usher a reader through a minefield of potential ambiguity, turning a sentence like, “A woman without her man is nothing,” into “A woman: without her, man is nothing.” And when punctuation is misapplied, or not there at all, Truss says the very foundation of the English language is debased. Her best-selling book on the subject has won her cheers from fellow punctuation protectors, and jeers from at least one who says open quote “oh do go and get a life Lynne Truss you flaming pedant.” Well. We’ll see what she has to say to that.


Lynne Truss, author, “Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”

A Decade of Democracy

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“One man, one vote!” That cry helped bring about the downfall of South Africa’s race-based government back in 1994.

Ten years after black activists and international muscle crashed the gates of apartheid, all South Africans continue to vote; but democracy has not brought equality. Many are still without adequate housing and jobs. One in nine lives with HIV-AIDS. And as the African National Congress celebrates its third consecutive victory in post-apartheid South Africa, the new rallying cry for South Africa’s ruling party could be one for patience. Economic growth, lowered inflation, and continental diplomacy are underway, but there is still a lot of ground to cover.


Mathatha Tsedu, Editor of the City Press, Ineterim Chair of the African Editor’s Forum

Allister Sparks, veteran South African journalist and author of “Beyond the Miracle.”

The Lost Boys and Girls

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They are known simply as “The Lost Boys and Girls.” This is the name given to Sudanese children who, in the late 1980s, fled violence in their country. Some eventually made their way to the United States. When civil war broke out in Sudan, close to 30,000 boys and girls ran for their lives, only to spend months wandering the desert. Thousands died from famine, disease, and attacks by wild animals.

The survivors eventually found their way to refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda where they lived for close to a decade in makeshift tents. When 3,500 lost boys and girls were resettled in the U.S. several years go, they began a new journey. Three of the formerly lost are here today to talk about leaving Africa, discovering America, and figuring out what home means.


Sudanese refugees: Gabriel Bol Akau, Aduei and David Gai.

Corporate Dodge Ball

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It’s tax day and as you write your check to the IRS this year, consider this: More than 60 percent of U.S. corporations didn’t pay any federal income tax in the late 1990s. Most of them never pay anywhere near the stated tax rate. Nobody likes paying taxes, so why is corporate America any different from the rest of us?

But critics charge that a growing number of shelters, loopholes, and tax breaks for business seems to have created such an opportunity for corporate tax avoidance, that now everyone else is picking up the tax tab. Many business owners and legislators argue that what’s good for a company’s bottom line is good for the economy. And whatever’s good for the economy is good for all taxpayers.


Hedrick Smith, journalist

Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Byron Dorgan, United States Senator (D-ND)

Kevin Brady, United States Congressman (R-TX).

Fixing Intelligence

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See no evil, hear no evil and blame the system. These are the latest headlines from the 9-11 commission. The chairman is blaming the FBI for being inept, the former head of the FBI is blaming Congress for being cheap, and the current Attorney General is blaming the Clinton Administration, well, for just about everything.

Today, as CIA Director George Tenet takes his seat at the witness table, we’ll bring you highlights of his testimony and ask whether there is a smart fix for American intelligence. Some in Congress are calling for a brand new super snoop agency here at home, others want to create bureaus within bureaus, and others say that folding the CIA and FBI together is the only way for the U.S. to get smart about terrorism.


Phillip Heymann, former deputy attorney general and author of Terrorism, Freedom and Security

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, and Alex Standish, editor of Jane’s Intelligence Digest.

Questioning the President

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“We will not waver” says the President. In his first prime time news conference of the year George Bush promised to provide more troops to fight the war in Iraq. He insists there will be a handover of sovereignty on June 30th . And he steadfastly refused to make any apology for the events before or after September 11th.

Among the noteworthy phrases from President Bush last night was his view of America’s purpose in the world: “Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman,” he said; “And as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom.” The starting point of that obligation is Iraq. The President says quite simply, he is changing the world.


David Jackson, Political Writer with the Washington Bureau of the Dallas Morning News

Carl Cannon, White House Correspondent for The National Journal, and co-author of “Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brain Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush”

Relatives in Uniform

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This morning’s news from Iraq includes reports of a U.S. Apache helicopter shot down near Fallujah. For most Americans, such news whirls past them on radio, television, or in the morning papers. For others, a news story like that might mean my son or my daughter. For relatives of soldiers stationed there, every bombing, every convoy move puts someone they love in danger.

The last year has been a blur of sleepless nights, anxious days, and lots of worry for America’s military families. As the danger escalates and tours of duty are extended, some find themselves fighting conflicting emotions, both supporting the troops and questioning why their loved ones are there.


Willia Cooper, mother of a soldier stationed in Iraq and on his way home

Pat Gunn, mother of a soldier stationed in Iraq who was injured in November

Larry Syverson, father of two soldiers stationed in Iraq.

Sovereignty and Security in Iraq

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The fighting in Fallujah has slowed for now, but the number of Iraqis killed there underscores just what a bloody week it’s been. Some estimates count more than 700 Iraqi dead. The response to the Fallujah siege has been outrage.

Adnan Pachachi, the elder statesman of the Iraqi Governing Council, and a favorite of the U.S. State Department, denounced the U.S. military operation as “illegal and totally unacceptable.” It seems that Iraqi resentment over the American-led occupation is turning to more widespread anger. Iraq’s human rights minister has resigned in disgust and a number of members of the Iraqi Governing Council are also talking of quitting.


Hassan Fattah, former editor, Iraq Today

Zainab al-Suwaij, executive director, Amerian Islamic Congress.

Times Square Turns 100

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Since the crossroads of 42nd Street and Broadway was christened Times Square 100 years ago, it has been at the forefront of American popular culture. From the days of vaudeville and burlesque, to the reign of the Broadway musical, the history of Times Square is one of a century of pleasure and profit.

From its heyday, to its seedy decline, to its current corporate rebirth, the changing face and fortunes of Times Square is proof of New York City’s endless capacity to reinvent itself. And like no other spot in the country, this patch of Manhattan real estate reflects the nation’s mood, for better and worse.


James Traub, author of “The Devil’s Playground.”