Monthly Archives: July 2004

The Way They Were

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National party conventions were once unpredictable contests. Now they are like synchronized swimming competitions where the candidates’ stroke and kick in perfect unity and get extra points for smiling under pressure.

But beyond the made-for-TV infomercial quality of it all, conventions remain the one occasion when candidates get to present themselves to the public on their own terms.


Inner City Prep

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It started as an experiment. Public schools in Washington DC were failing — so someone decided to launch an inner city boarding school. The idea is simple. Teach physics, trigonometry, history and Latin. Throw in some etiquette classes, a few trips to Greece, and a dress code.

But these students aren’t your typical prep-school types. They don’t come from money, in fact most come from families who live far below the poverty line, and from neighborhoods where a kid has as much of a chance of going to college as of going to the moon.

This year’s graduating class of the SEED school is about to blast off — all 21 are heading to college, and as they do, a lot of people are wondering if this might be the fix for to America’s public education woes. Planting a little ivy in the inner city.


Sophia Echavarria, graduating high school senior accepted at Princeton University

Deon Milton, graduating high school senior accepted at Hiram College

Raj Vinnakota, co-founder of the SEED School, The School for Educational Evolution and Development in Washington, DC

Playing Politics with 9/11

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Soon after the 9/11 Commission presented its report, it didn’t take long for the political snipping to begin. President Bush praised the commission, and then mounted a vigorous defense of his administration’s anti-terrorism policies.

Democratic challenger John Kerry wasted no time in using the report to criticize the president’s leadership. And while commission members are calling on Republicans and Democrats to unite to make the country safer, many are wondering if Washington’s up to the task, or just playing politics with 9/11.


William Arkin, columnist for the “Los Angeles Times” and military analyst for NBC News

Dan Eggen, Washington Post reporter

Getting to the Bottom of Black Holes

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Black holes confound science because they challenge the best known laws of physics — or do they? Professor Stephen Hawking has been saying for nearly 30 years that what goes into black holes never comes out. However, he lost a long-standing bet when he admitted yesterday that even black holes can’t make matter or information disappear.


Andrew Strominger, Professor of Physics at Harvard University:Lynn Cominsky, head of the education and public outreach program for NASA’s Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope Mission and Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Sonoma State University

Which is Your America?

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The economy is creating new jobs — but they come in two sizes. High paying professional and managerial opportunities are increasing for those with a lot of education; low-paying, dead end work is becoming available to those without. These widening fault lines cause some to wonder how long these two economies, and the two Americas they represent, can continue living as one.


Phil Bennett Senior Sales Director at The Hinckley Yacht
Company in Southwest Harbor, Maine

Josh Bivens economist at the Economic Policy Institute

Health Care on the Campaign Trail

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While a lot of American politicians might consider their constituents’ health a critical issue, neither side is making health care the centerpiece of its 2004 campaign. Senator John Kerry pledges to fix the health care system with government funds; President Bush prefers to use tax credits and special savings accounts to boost the market. But with the ranks of those uninsured now at 43 million and climbing, voters are looking for more than white papers and campaign sound bites.


Tom Volk, owner of Ohio Belting and Transmission in Toledo ,Ohio and Racer Parts Wholesale and Specialty Sales in Indianapolis, Indiana

Michael Sparer, Professor of Health Policy at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

The Secret Life of Lobsters

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If you’re a female lobster and you go fanning your swimmerets in the direction of a male, then you’d better mean it. Because before you know it, he’ll have you carrying his kids.

And if you’re the dominant decapod, take notice: When you shed that hard body, watch your back. Because sooner or later, everything with a claw will be vying to take you out.

It’s tough going at the bottom of the ocean. And as the writer Trevor Corson discovered, there’s plenty more to know about summer’s favorite crustacean than how to cook it.


Trevor Corson, author, “The Secret Life of Lobsters”

Bruce Fernald, lobsterman and captain of the Double Trouble

The Right to Refuse

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In hospitals and emergency rooms across the country, not everyone has a say in how they want to live or die. The wishes of people suffering from mental illness are often disregarded by doctors, because these patients aren’t considered fully competent to make such decisions.

Death is rarely included as an option in a society obsessed with high-tech cures and the ability to prolong life. There are calls for the medical culture to give patients more power over their own lives and deaths.


David Abel, reporter for The Boston Globe

Betty Dew, legal medical guardian and court investigator

Dr. Michael Grodin, Director of Bioethics at Boston Medical Center and Boston City Hospital

Paving Over the Roadless Rules

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Sometimes major environmental decisions come down to a simple matter of trust. Take the current debate over something called “the roadless rule.” This was a Clinton policy which banned development in 58.5 million acres of protected national forest.

The Bush administration recently overturned this rule — arguing that national forests are better managed by the people who live near them and make their livelihoods from them — not by federal regulators far away in Washington.

Environmentalists say it’s the policy equivalent of asking the fox to guard the henhouse. They say that national forests are a national treasure and need to be protected from the ups and downs of local politics. Time to be clear, about the cutting, on the Connection.


Jennifer Phillippi, President of Perpetual Forest Company and Officer of the Rough & Ready Lumber Company in Cave Junction, Oregon

Kirk Schimeall, Wilderness Guide and Program Manager at Catharine Freer Wilderness Therapy Expeditions in Albany, Oregon

Todd True, attorney with EarthJustice in Seattle

Chris West, Vice President of the American Forest Resource Council in Portland, Oregon

Ted Kulongoski, Governor of Oregon (D).