Monthly Archives: August 2004

The Front Lines of School Reform

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When a group of mothers from the South Bronx realized their kids were going to some of the worst schools in New York City, they got loud, got organized and decided to do something — and in the process they discovered they had the power to affect change.

The Bronx Moms say their schools are still struggling with too few books, vanishing after-school programs, and crumbling buildings. But they are not giving up, nor letting anyone — including themselves — off the hook.


Vanessa Melendez, parent from the Bronx

Jewel Randolph, parent from the Bronx

Investigating Abu Ghraib

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As the tales of abuse at Abu Ghraib grow more disturbing, so do the accusations against military leaders who may have tolerated or even encouraged such behavior.

While lower ranking reservists charged with abuse at Abu Ghraib stand trial this week, two new reports allegedly spread the blame higher and wider. One investigation is said to implicate more than a dozen others at the prison, civilians, CIA agents and Military Intelligence officers. The other inquiry points a finger straight at the Pentagon, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Jackie Spinner, Washington Post foreign reporter based in Baghdad

Steven Miles, professor at the University of Minnesota and author of recent article in the British medical journal The Lancet

John Hutson, President and Dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire, and former judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy

Election Forecast

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The nation’s economy never becomes more partisan than during a presidential election. The Republican National Convention is just a week away and both sides are busy crafting their version of the state of the economy. In the Bush camp, the message is that tax cuts have helped the nation through recession. Kerry continues to talk about lost jobs and a grim future under Republican leadership. Both sides further confuse the average voter, with the artful use of select statistics. We’ll weigh in with analysts on both sides of the political spectrum.


Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University

Stephen Moore, President of The Club for Growth and Contributing Editor to the National Review

Sealing a Deal with al-Sadr

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For more than two weeks, soldiers with Moqtada al-Sadr have been living inside Iraq’s holiest Shiite mosque. From there, they exchange fire with U.S. forces reluctant to conduct a direct attack out of respect for the shrine. Some see the stalemate as a test of Iraqi will. On one side the interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi wavers between encouraging a full-on attack and asking al Sadr to negotiate. One the other side the radical cleric himself, who has become a symbol for the disenfranchised. Still others see the standoff as one that is being masterminded by Iranians who would prefer Iraq to remain in chaos.


Adeed Dawisha, Professor of Political Science at Miami University in Ohio and former Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

Hassan Mneimneh, Director of Documentation at the Iraq Memory Foundation, based in Baghdad

Scott Baldauf, reporter for The Christian Science Monitor

The Joy and Politics of Tantric Sex

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The trappings of tantra are everywhere: On TV, on the web, and on the bookshelf squeezed between aromatic oils and edible underwear. But does it matter if the original practice has very little to do with what goes on in the average “Tantra for couples” weekend workshop today? Two scholars who’ve traced Tantra back to its roots in rural India argue that the misuse of Tantra both by New Age gurus and modern day Hindu fundamentalists reveals how politics and prudishness can eclipse history.


David Gordon White, author of “Kiss of the Yogini: Tantric Sex in its South Asian Contexts.”

Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago.

Prescription Drug Wars

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For months now, seniors across the country have been climbing aboard buses and heading off to Canada to buy cheap prescription drugs. And now Illinois’ governor is defying the federal government’s ban on buying medications outside the U.S. The FDA is crying foul, saying this opens the door to counterfeit drugs and unregulated medications. But in a pill popping nation where drug prices keep climbing, many Americans are willing to take the risk.


Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Congressman (D-IL).

William Hubbard, Associate Commissioner, FDA.

Wanda Moebius, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Jerry Avorn, associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of “Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs.”

The Rules of the Universe

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“What good is the Moon?” said Ivan Boesky the infamous Wall Street broker, “You can’t buy it or sell it.” Well, he might have been wrong about that. Thanks to mankind’s unflagging desire to go where no man has gone before, questions of who owns what in space, are as plentiful as stars in the Milky Way. Some rules are already in place, thanks to the Outer Space Treaty, drawn by the United Nations nearly 40 years ago. It says no nation can claim ownership of the moon or other celestial bodies. But what about private individuals or corporations? And as earthlings continue to explore a floating treasure chest of satellites, stars, and mineral-filled asteroids, there may soon be more lawyers in orbit than astronauts


Joanne Gabrynowicz, Professor of Space Law at the University of Mississippi, Director of the National Remote Sensing and Space Law Center, and Editor and Chief of The Journal of Space Law

Kelly Beatty, Editor of NIght Sky Magazine, and Executive Editor of Sky & Telescope Magazine

Dennis Hope, Founder of the Lunar Embassy, based in Gardnerville, Nevada

Bruce Gagnon, International Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, based in Brunswick, Maine.

Rolling Out the Unwelcome Mat

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There’s a showdown brewing in New York City. On the one side, there’s an estimated quarter of a million protestors — some dead set on wreaking havoc at the upcoming Republican National Convention. On the other, there are thousands of NYPD cops, a force dubbed “the world’s tenth largest standing army.” While the activists are claiming the right to unfettered free speech and association — the cops say they are just trying to keep the streets safe from terrorism and violence. Some say the government, especially the FBI, is playing on fears to justify the intimidation of innocent activists. Others say the feds are finally doing their job–getting proactive and gathering intelligence to stop trouble before it starts.


Jamie Moran, co-founder of, a resource site for RNC protestors

Sarah Bardwell, Intern, American Friends Service Committee in Denver, Colorado;
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, ACLU New York.

The European Dream

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Author Jeremy Rifkin says the American dream needs a serious tune up, or maybe it just needs to be traded in for a bigger, better European model. No stranger to controversy, Rifkin is making his argument at a time when Euro-skepticism in the U.S. is at its height.

Rifkin argues that the American sink-or-swim mentality just doesn’t stack up against European staples like universal health care and month-long summer vacations. And while America is ever more determined to protect its national interests through military force, the Europeans are putting cooperation ahead of conflict.


Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends. His newest book is “The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream.”

The New Face of Al Qaeda

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With eight more terror suspects appearing in British court today and the recent arrests in Pakistan, some say the U.S. and its allies are finally making headway against Al Qaeda. Others say Al Qaeda is no longer the right target. Instead, they say, the real threat is the growing number of satellite groups and freelancers who embrace Al Qaeda’s ideology, but who are not beholden to its leaders. Would it make much difference if Bin Laden were killed or captured? And can the West convince Muslims that it is not out to pillage the Islamic world and drain it of its resources and culture?


Jason Burke, author of “Al Qaeda Casting A Shadow of Terror.”

Alan Cullison, Moscow correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and Daniel Benjamin, Senior Fellow at the International Security Program.