Monthly Archives: September 2004

America Mourns

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Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on America. Earlier this week, the nation passed another somber milestone — 1,000 American service men and women have died in Iraq since the United States invaded that country last year.

With the presidential campaign at full tilt, the war in Iraq and the memories of 9/11 have become political ammunition for both parties’ candidates. But for the people who have lost loved ones, these national tragedies are more personal matters.

Friends and families, who lost loved ones on September 11th and in the wars that have followed, talk about their lives, their losses, and the road ahead.


Chuck Mathers, whose friend, Frank Doyle, was killed in the 9/11 attacks

Alma Hart, whose son, John Hart, was killed in Iraq on Oct. 18, 2003

Eric Blickenstaff, whose brother, Joseph Michael Blickenstaff, was killed in Iraq on Dec. 8, 2003

The Quiet Death of the Assault Gun Ban

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With only 3 days to go until the ban on assault weapons expires, the silence in Washington is startling. Ten years ago, politicians from both parties stood behind the law and endorsed it as a bold effort to get military-style assault weapons out of the hands of gangs.

Now that the law is set to expire, many lawmakers are keeping mum, while gun makers are stocking their shelves with Kalashnikovs, Uzi’s AK-47s, and rifles with grenade launchers and bayonets.

Supporters of the ban claim it’s one of the reasons violent crime has gone down in the past ten years. Opponents claim that since 9-11, guns have found a new role in homeland security and American society.


Congressman David Price (D-NC)

Mark Westrom, president of ArmaLite Gun Manufacturers

Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings

John Lott, American Enterprise Institute

Dennis Henigan, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Persepolis 2

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Marjane Satrapi was 11 years old when the Islamic Revolution swept across her homeland of Iran. Her first memoir “Persepolis” was an autobiographical comic tale of a restless girlhood during the revolution and subsequent Iran-Iraq War. Its bittersweet images of little girls playing games about martyrdom won her widespread critical acclaim.

Now Marjane is back with a sequel detailing her teenage adventures in the West, an experience that her liberal-minded parents hoped would help her avoid the restrictions of Iran. But freedom in Vienna brings its own difficulties and it isn’t long before sex, and drugs, and a life on the streets leads her back home to Iran.

Marjane Satrapi’s illustrations of her own personal clash of civilizations also brings new insights into the cultural clumsiness of both Eastern and Western cultures.


Marjane Satrapi, author of “Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return,” and “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood”

Russia at War

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In the last five days, the people of Beslan, Russia have been burying their dead. So many died in last week’s massacre at Middle School Number One that the local cemetery wasn’t big enough to hold them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is blaming the attacks on foreign terrorists, people far removed from the Chechen war for which he now accepts responsibility. And while his government posts bounties on two Chechen leaders, his generals are vowing to strike foreign terrorists around the globe.

But eyewitnesses say the hostage-takers weren’t foreigners, but local people. And while the question of who was behind the killings remains cloudy, it’s becoming clear that the Chechen conflict may no longer be contained, and that Russia may now be in its own terrorist war of permanent and frightening proportions.


Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution

Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor

Anne Applenaum, Washington Post columnist

Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Dignity by Design

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The number of displaced people in the world fell by almost 20 percent last year, due in large part to the repatriation of some 2 million Afghan refugees. However, there are still some 22 million displaced people living in makeshift camps.

Some are referred to as warehoused refugees, living in near prison-like conditions for years. Others are searching for wood, food and water still traumatized by their journey, and feeling stranded. They all have one thing in common — they all need a roof, and a place to go to the bathroom.

Now, some architects and designers are turning their attention to this political and social frontier. Instead of million-dollar homes and art museums, they are serving an even more demanding client: the one who has lost everything.


Tom Corsellis, Chairman of Shelter Center (NGO) and Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge;Matthew Jelacic, partner at Gans & Jelacic

Harry van Burik, International Program Director of Shelter for Life

Made in China

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Workers in China could be among the best treated and most protected employees in the world. But they are not. The laws exist. They’re just not enforced. As China’s economic power grows, so does the suffering of those whose sweat and blood fuels the country’s economic miracle.

Although it is entirely illegal in China, child labor is common. So are the 12-hour workdays and the total absence of worker protections. As the Chinese government and businesses continue to cash in on cheap labor and the world soaks up the cheap goods, who is there to notice if someone loses an arm or an eye on the factory floor?

Pun Ngai is a Chinese labor organizer who makes it her business to notice and to change conditions for China’s workers.


Pun Ngai is a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She is the founder and Chair of The Chinese Working Women Network (CWWN), a grass-roots organization of migrant women factory workers in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China. Her new book, “Made in China: Subject, Power and Resistance of Women Workers in a Global Workplace” will be published in 2005 by Duke University Press.

Robert Pinsky

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Three years ago this week, Robert Pinsky, was supposed to fly from LA to Boston. But he found himself, like so many others on September 11th, stranded thousands of miles from home, watching images on a TV screen in what he calls “suspended animation.” Eventually, America’s 39th Poet Laureate found a way to better understand that day by writing about it.

There’s something about a poem, he says, something about the human voice and the careful choice of words that satisfies something deep inside. But Pinsky makes the case that we can just as easily find that something in the words of other people. It is why he continues to pursue what he calls his favorite poem project.

Tune in to hear Robert Pinsky talk about his and the people’s poetry.


Robert Pinsky, 39th Poet Laureate and editor of “An Invitation to Poetry.”

The Final Stretch

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John Kerry and George Bush are working hard this week, scouring a well-worn path across the Midwest. Although the Kerry campaign is aiming its rhetoric at the economy, and Bush continues to herald his leadership in the war on terror, the violence in Iraq keeps interfering with their talking points.

On the first day after Labor Day, which is day one in the election endgame, we look ahead to the debates, the last ditch advertising blitzes, the dirty tactics, and the messages that will drive the final weeks of campaign 2004.



While the World Watches

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George W. Bush accepted his party’s nomination last night amid deafening cheers of USA! USA! But the United States is just a part of the audience following the thrusts and parries of the Bush and Kerry campaigns.

The uniquely American theater of the both parties’ conventions made TV news and top-of-the fold headlines all over the world. Now that the campaigns are moving into the final stretch, foreign reporters will troop along with the U.S. press corps to cover what people around the world consider the most important election in decades.

This hour, foreign journalists discuss why the upcoming U.S. election is a lead story overseas and why the stakes remain incredibly high.


Khaled Dawoud, Washington correspondent for Al-Ahram, Egypt’s largest daily newspaper

Alec Russell, Washington Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph of London

Hiro Aida, Washington bureau chief, The Kyodo News in Japan

Franck Weil-Rabaud, reporter, Radio France International.

Bush's RNC Speech

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The red, white, and blue bunting is all gone, the balloons have popped, and the funny hats have been put away. But the air of Campaign 2004 is still heavy with the fighting words fired from the Republican National Convention this week.

Last night was George W. Bush’s moment to make his case. Bush presented himself as a both a “compassionate conservative” armed with a domestic to-do list and an unflinching and unrepentant leader in the war on terror. And while he cast himself as a man baptized in the flames of September 11th, he also managed to throw some fire at his opponent, John Kerry.

This hour, we go to the Democratic and Republican camps for their reactions, and fan out across the country to hear how the speech played, and more about the strategy for the road ahead.


Frances Coleman, editorial page editor for the Mobile Register in Mobile, Alabama

Glenda Holste, editorial page writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press

John McKenry, Republican pollster and Partner with Ayres, McHenry & Associates

John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress.