Monthly Archives: September 2004

David Mitchell

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If you were ever read to as a child, you’ll recall the thrill of the cliffhanger. That unresolved moment of suspense has always worked to bring the reader back to the story.

David Mitchell brings this and many other bits of story telling magic to his latest novel “Cloud Atlas.” It’s a story that leaps effortlessly from the topmost yard of a mizzen mast in Polynesia to the sweaty bedroom chamber of two lovers in Belgium and on into the futuristic trial of a robot in Korea. Mitchell calls it a ladder of tribes; a coliseum of confrontation.


David Mitchell, author

Reporter's Notebook on Iraq

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While the Bush team is congratulating itself for topping the polls on war leadership, John Kerry is starting to find his voice, accusing the president of “living in a fantasy world of spin.”

Meanwhile, the worsening situation on the ground in Iraq is prompting leaders like the King of Jordan to say elections will not likely be held in that country on time. This hour, a chance to hear from Ivan Watson, an NPR correspondent just back from Iraq, who says the conflict is even bloodier and more violent than what we see or hear.


Ivan Watson, NPR’s correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey

Howard LaFranchi, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Pam Hess, UPI Pentagon reporter

Playing Bach for the People

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Cellist Matt Haimovitz is best known for turning the classical music world’s ear upside down. Four years ago, he decided to leave the concert halls of the Baroque circuit and instead play his beloved Bach cello suites in front of rock, jazz and folk fans.

But instead of going for the big stage, he wanted to make classical music up close and personal for audiences, by performing it in intimate settings that might resemble the rooms where Johann Sebastian Bach first played his work. Today Haimovitz is rattling the cultural norms again by performing the dissonant and disconcerting harmonics of 20th and 21st century music on his cello.


Matt Haimovitz, cellist.

The Cost of Care

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How could a tablet that costs just pennies at the local pharmacy cost so much more on a hospital bill? The high priced pill has become a symbol of what some are calling hospital billing run amuck. And of the fact that uninsured patients face hospital charges that are sometimes two, three, even ten times more, than Medicare or the insurance companies pay for the same services. Now, some patients are suing their local hospitals alleging over-charging, abusive collection practices, and nothing less than greed and profiteering.


Richard Scruggs, plaintiffs’ lawyer

Christine Varney, lawyer representing American Hospital Association

Mrs. Jeannette Mixon, patient, plaintiff

The Ballooning Business of Politics

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With just two days left until the first presidential debate, the candidates’ consultants are working overtime. Every decision is touched by one of these political experts: the answers, the message, even the color of the tie.

In the heat of an election year, the business of politics booms. But it doesn’t end on November 2d. From fundraising to platforms to direct mail, political strategists have built their own full-time industry that’s turned consulting into a year-round billion dollar business.

Aren’t these backroom advisors holding too much influence over the candidate, the message, and you – the voter? What would Jefferson say?


Cathy Allen, Democratic political strategist with the Connections Group in Seattle

John Brabender, Republican media consultant with Brabender Cox in Pittsburgh.

Is There No Hope for Haiti?

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Earlier this year, Haiti was hit again by political unrest, and the elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was driven from power.

Front-page photos showed street violence and people so hungry they were mixing mud and flour to bake bread. The international community promised aid, the U.S. quickly helped install an interim government, the U-N sent peacekeepers, and just when people thought it couldn’t get any worse in Haiti, it did.

Last week, rain from Hurricane Jeanne buried the city of Gonaives in mud, killing more than 1600 people and leaving an estimated quarter-of-a-million homeless.

Looking at and beyond this latest disaster, award-winning novelists Edwidge Danticat and Madison Smartt Bell, who know and love this island nation, talk about finding hope for Haiti, when it seems the people there have nothing left to lose.


Guy Delva, Reporter for Reuters News

Edwidge Danticat, author of “The Dew Breaker”, and “The Farming of The Bones”

Madison Smartt Bell, author of a trilogy of novels about Hiati including the award-cinning “All Souls Rising”;Dr. Louise Ivers, clinician for Partners in Health in central health

The Insurgency That Won't Go Away

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It was nearly dark by the time Canadian journalist and former soldier Scott Taylor arrived on the outskirts of the Iraqi city of Tal Afar. As he passed through a checkpoint on his way to an interview, he and a Turkish colleague were kidnapped and held hostage by Islamic and Iraqi extremists. And that was just the beginning of their ordeal. He was blindfolded and beaten and passed from one house and one group to another. His captors threatened to kill him every step of the way. Now, he’s back home in Canada, we’ll talk with Scott and with Phil Robertson, another journalist just back from Iraq about what is driving the insurgency there…and whether the US or the Iraqi military have the means to stop it. Understanding Iraq, from behind enemy lines, next on the Connection.


Scott Taylor, publisher and editor of the Canadian military affairs magazine, Esprit de Corps

Philip Roberston, war correspondent;

Nick Flynn

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A new and unconventional memoir by Nick Flynn chronicles his journey from the seaside town of Scituate MA to the halls of a homeless shelter in Boston where the author runs straight into the riddle that is both his father and himself. His father is living on the streets of Boston at the time and Nick is working at the shelter as a counselor. By this time, Nick’s mother has killed herself, and Nick himself is a shell, filling himself with booze, drugs, and the cold clear light of stars above Boston Harbor.


Nick Flynn, author of “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.”

Campaign Countdown 2004

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With just five weeks left, George Bush and John Kerry are sharpening their message points on Iraq, and voters are beginning to see some daylight between the two positions. Along with the arguments are the images: The Bush ad showing Kerry windsurfing — tacking back and forth on Iraq; Kerry accusing Bush of being juvenile in times of war.

And while both say they’re the man best able to keep America safe, the ongoing violence in Iraq is a challenge for both campaigns.


Stuart Stevens, media consultant for the Bush/Cheney campaign

Kiki McLean, former spokesperson for the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign

Ryan Lizza, senior editor at The New Republic