Monthly Archives: January 2005

Our Modern Day Monsters

Listen / Download

Child molesters occupy a dark corner in our collective nightmares. Murderers and rapists may return to society after they’ve served their time but child molesters are considered so dangerous that their names are published to warn neighbors of their presence.

In a culture that worships youth with an often-erotic twist to the dress code, and the music, why is this crime, and why are these criminals, seen as so much more heinous than others? The writer Daniel Bergner spent a year following one convicted pedophile who is trying to navigate his way back into a society that has no place for him.


Daniel Bergner, author of the New York Times Magazine article “The Making of a Molester”

Dr. Fred Berlin, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Lighting the Fire of Democracy

Listen / Download

In recent months, the world has witnessed elections in places that no one would have considered cradles of democracy just a few years ago. There was the peaceful presidential polling in Afghanistan; a newly elected Palestinian leader is promising democratic reform, and later this week, Iraqis will vote for a leader after decades under the thumb of a dictator.

There are still questions about fair representation and security and the permanence of these governments, but democracy looks like its spreading. We talk with people in neighboring countries to see what they’re thinking.


Mona Makram Ebeid, Professor of Political Science at American University in Cairo, Member of the Egyptian Parliament form 1990-1995, and President of the Association for Advancement of Education

Khaled Al-Maeena, Editor-in-chief of Arab News, the largest English daily newspaper in the Middle East

Salameh Nematt, Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Hayat, the international Arab daily, and the LBC, a Lebanon-based Arab satellite channel.

Disappearing Words

Listen / Download

The influential MIT linguist Kenneth Hale once compared losing a language to dropping a bomb on a museum. And yet it is happening, all the time.

Every month, somewhere on the globe, two languages go silent. Everywhere from South Dakota to South America, Australia to Alaska when the last speaker of a language dies, the history and the culture and the memory of that language goes with them.

Most linguists agree that globalization, assimilation, disease, and natural disaster all play a role in wiping out languages. And while no one thinks there’s an easy fix for this problem — some people are dedicating their lives to reversing this trend and trying to keep languages alive.


Nicholas Ostler, author of “Empires of the Word” and
founder of The Foundation for Endangered Languages

Linda Harvey, Urban Programs Coordinator at Yukon Native Language Center, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada;Charon Asetoyer, Founder and Executive Director of the Founder and Executive Director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center

The Kurdish Vote

Listen / Download

When Iraqis go to the polls, Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds won’t have a clear choice between two parties. Instead, they’ll be voting along ethnic lines.

While much of the news out of Iraq has focused on the tensions between the Sunnis who held power under Saddam and the Shiites repressed under his rule, analysts say the future of Iraqi unity in this election may be most challenged by Kurds in the north.

Kurds have been traditional allies of the Americans — and are generally more secular and pro-Western than other Iraqis. Most live in northern Iraq, in a region that is stable and thriving economically thriving with its own autonomous government. But many Kurds want more.


Dan Murphy, Arab World Correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor in Baghdad

Peter Galbraith, former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, and Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

Jihan Sindi, web editor for the Kurdish language service at Voice of America

Ivan Watson, NPR Istanbul Correspondent who has spent the last week in Northern Iraq among the Kurds.

My Fellow Americans

Listen / Download

One hour from now George W. Bush will be sworn in again, as President of the United States. He’ll place his hand on the bible and swear to protect and defend the Constitution. Then he’ll deliver his second inaugural address.

Presidents have been giving this particular speech ever since there have been Presidents. It is one of the rare occasions for oratory in America that has endured. And while many of these speeches are remembered only by tweedy presidential historians — others have left an indelible mark on this country’s collective consciousness. Think of Lincoln’s “with malice toward none”, FDR’s “fear itself” or John F. Kennedy’s “ask not.”

Today, as the country waits for its next president to take the stage, we put our ear to the words of the past.


Ron White, author of “The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words”

Geoffrey Nunberg, author of “Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Controversial Times.”

Hoedown in the Capitol

Listen / Download

This morning in Washington, fighter jets are patrolling the airspace and the manhole covers have been welded shut.

Revelers from last night’s Black Tie and Boots Ball are rubbing their bleary eyes and suiting up to watch President Bush place his hand on the family bible for his second inauguration. The last time he took the stage the country was at peace in the world, but political tensions at home over the 2000 election were roiling. This year, America is at war and the President’s victory is undisputed.

And so the party planners are rolling out a $40 million fete — with fireworks, parties and celebrity spectacles all bought and paid for by corporate and Republican donors. There are balls for the wounded soldiers and for wealthy Texans and giant TV screens for the public to watch democracy celebrating itself…again. We look in on the party and what’s ahead in Bush’s second term.


Pam Fessler, NPR reporter covering Homeland Security

Martha Joynt Kumar, Professor of Political Science at Towson University

Carl Cannon, White House Correspondent for The National Journal

George Terpilowksi, General Manager of The Fairmont Washington.

Fidel Castro After 46 Years in Power

Listen / Download

When Fidel Castro rolled into Havana through a parade of cheering Cubans in 1959, he was a revolutionary icon, a romantic hero, and a political superstar. The man who in his youth had been called the “hick” and the “crazy one,” grabbed control of the country at a time when anything seemed possible.

In the 46 years since then, Castro has survived the Bay of Pigs, the fall of the Soviet Union, and U.S. embargoes, and all through those years his repeated promises of democracy and social justice have come up short, leaving his country impoverished and his people broken.

A new documentary now shines a light on the man and his country, two legacies so intertwined they tell the story of each other. Filmmaker Adriana Bosch is here to talk about Castro, and Cuba, and the many lost dreams.


Adriana Bosch, filmmaker, writer and director of “Fidel Castro,” airing January 31 on PBS’s “American Experience.”

Condoleeza Rice

Listen / Download

It’s day two of hearings for Condoleezza Rice as she prepares to become the 66th secretary of state.

Yesterday, she faced tough questions about the Iraq War from Democrats. And while she admitted no mistakes — she also pledged to mend fences with America’s allies, saying that, “the time for diplomacy is now.”

Some see her embrace of diplomacy as a sign that unilateralism will be a non-starter in the second Bush Administration, a sign that the foreign policy hawks, the Vulcans, are finally ready to reach out and touch some allies. Yet critics say putting one of the architects of the Iraq War in charge of America’s diplomatic relations will just mean more of the same.


Kiron Skinner, assistant professor of history and science at Carnegie Mellon University and a member of Defense Secretary Ronald Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board

Ambassador Charles Dunbar, professor of international relations at Boston University.

Robert MacNeil

Listen / Download

If the state of the nightly news on TV is a measure of this country’s democracy, then the state of the union needs more than new faces in the anchor chair. Beyond the prime time shout fests on cable news and newscasts larded with reports on “health and lifestyle” — TV news is undergoing its own version of extreme makeover. And recently, that’s lead to fabricated stories and new levels of bias and imbalance. For twenty years Robert MacNeil delivered the news from his chair at public TV’s MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour. When he retired ten years ago, he said then that journalism was on a downwards slide…and he still doesn’t see that changing. We take stock of TV news with Robert MacNeil .


Robert MacNeil, former co-anchor of PBS’s “The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour” and author of “Looking for My Country,” “The Story of English,” and most recently, “Do You Speak American.”

Opening Up Adoption

Listen / Download

Most any American can get a copy of their birth certificate for about $13 and the time it takes to get to town hall. But not if you’re adopted. Then the process can take years. In some states, you may never see your birth mother or father’s name on paper. Laws protecting their names were put in place just after World War II, when unwed or unfaithful mothers were experiencing their own baby boom. Today adoption no longer carries associations of immorality and so laws are beginning to change. Several states have passed and others are now considering legislation that allows adopted children access to birth records. Proponents say these laws help children learn where they came from — opponents say they violate the privacy rights of birth mothers. Searching for names in the files.


Thomas Atwood, President of National Council for Adoption

Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of “Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America”

Carrie Blesener, adopted person who’s had contact with her birth mother.