Monthly Archives: January 2005

Race in America

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Julius Lester is asking kids to imagine where we’d be if we could take our skin off to get down the same hard bones of what it means to be human. Lester says he’s not arguing for a colorblind society. Instead, he wants to make race one part of the story — not the story. And Julius Lester knows a lot about storytelling. He’s spent most of his life writing stories for adults about his own experiences in the civil rights movements and his conversion to Judaism, as well as stories for kids that ask them to imagine what it was like to be a slave, and learn from an old trickster like Brer Rabbit.


Julius Lester, author of new children’s book “Let’s Talk about Race.”

Indonesia's Political Storm

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The Indonesian government has been saying that it wants all foreign troops and aid workers out of the country by the end of March. The government says it’s hoping to take over reconstruction and assistance by that time. Most people doubt that Indonesia has the capacity to do that.
What’s behind all this is a decades old war between separatist rebels in Aceh province, and the government in Jakarta. Some wonder if the tsunami opens the door to new peace negotiations or if the already fragile situation is doomed to failure. Many say the key to rebuilding the country may lie in a peace settlement between the two.


Sidney Jones, South East Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group.

Richard Baker, Indonesia specialist with the East-West Center.

A Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci

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Many of us have stared into the face of the Mona Lisa and wondered what she’s thinking. Art scholar Martin Kemp has stared at the very same painting and wondered the very same thing about the man who painted it. Leonardo da Vinci. What was he thinking?

Kemp’s new book takes us deep into the mind of one of the greatest geniuses of all times. He shows us a man so fascinated by how things work that he could capture the swirl of water’s current in the gentle curl of a woman’s hair.

Da Vinci’s unbounded curiosity resulted in more than 20,000 pages of inventions and discoveries that today shock us for their foresight. He created a bicycle, a flying machine, and a “car”, centuries before there were tools to build them. But the inspiration that fueled his genius, also made it impossible for him to realize all his ideas. This hour Martin Kemp considers nature, man and machine in Leonardo’s brain.


Martin Kemp, author of “Leonardo.”

Putting the Word "Judge" Back in the Sentence

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After eighteen years of being bound by federal sentencing guidelines, judges now have their gavels back. Sort of.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that sentencing guidelines for federal cases should no longer be considered mandatory. Instead, judges are being asked to think of them as advisory.

It means that judges will once again be able to take into account circumstances that the guidelines demanded be ignored. The ruling was met by cheers from many on the bench who feel it will put judicial discretion back in the courtroom and bring some humanity back into sentencing. But it also opens many questions about the status of thousands of federal prisoners who were sentenced under the old system, and questions about how Congress will react to this rebalancing of the scales.


Judge Nancy Gertner, Federal Judge at the U.S. District Court in Boston, MA

Kate Stith, former federal prosecutor in New York City, currently Professor of Law at Yale University, author of “Fear of Judging: Sentencing Guidelines in the Federal Courts”

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Race, Gender, and Patricia Williams

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When Patricia Williams talks about family history, she is also talking about one shared by African-Americans. The roots of her family tree are in the rape and abuse meted out to slaves, the branches reach into the highest levels of the educated elite.

In her new book “Open House” Williams gives up the family secrets of her great-Aunt Mary, who pretended to be white, of the way that her mother served watermelon without feeling self-conscious and about raising her own son in the white upper class world of New York.

In examining her own genealogy Williams raises questions about what’s really changed in racial, social and gender relations. All this at a time when she finds herself examining her own thoughts about feminism, assimilationism Condi Rice and Oprah Winfrey.


Patricia Williams, Columbia Law Professor and author of “Open House: Of Family, Friends, Food, Piano Lessons, and the Search for a Room of My Own.”

Breaking the Promise of Social Security

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The Bush Administration is going on the offensive to convince Americans that it knows how to “save” Social Security. The President is saying the system is in crisis, and privatization is the answer.

Democrats are divided between those who insist there is no crisis, and those who want changes — but not the same ones Republicans are advocating.

But beyond twisting lawmakers into knots — what will all this mean for you? If social security is transformed from an insurance program into a system of private investment accounts as the President is advocating, who wins and who loses? And how can the average person figure out which side of the ledger they are going to end up on? Re-calculating retirement, weighing the flash and the allure of the free market against the dull grey security of social insurance.


Gene Barrett, retiree from New York

Dustin Lee, law student from Michigan

David Wyss, chief economist at Standard and Poor’s

William Spriggs, economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

The Small Town Hunt for DNA

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It is a battle over spit — and it’s spilled into a fight over civil liberties. When police in a small Cape Cod town found themselves with a three year old murder case that had gone stone cold, they decided to try the latest in investigative tools: a DNA sweep.

Now, all men in Truro are being asked to volunteer to have police swab their cheeks for a saliva sample. Authorities are hoping this tactic will help catch a killer — or at least narrow the search for suspects. But many residents are refusing to be tested, saying that it violates their privacy — and stigmatizes anyone who says “no”.

Some say it sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to a national DNA database for all kinds of crimes while some in law enforcement say DNA is destined to become the fingerprint of the 21st century. To swab or not to swab?


Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program

Howard Safir, former Police Commissioner of New York City and current security and investigations consultant

Jan Worthington, cousin of Christa Worthington – murdered Truro resident

Brian Dunn, resident of Truro, MA.

Coleen Rowley

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Coleen Rowley first made headlines when her thirteen page memo criticizing the FBI was leaked to the public in the spring of 2002. In it she claimed that, before 9.11, higher-ups at the agency wantonly disregarded intelligence about suspected high-jacker Zacarias Moussaoui –missing a real opportunity to prevent the attacks.

Rowley — an agent with a reputation for loyalty and a love for the FBI — suddenly found herself in the uncomfortable role of whistleblower. After 24 years with the FBI, Rowley has now retired from the Minneapolis field office. But she hasn’t stopped thinking about how to fix the nation’s intelligence apparatus — or how to balance fighting terror and preserving civil liberties. Coleen Rowley on the promise and peril of intelligence reform.


Coleen Rowley, retired FBI Special Agent.

In the Name of the Father

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Last week, victims of clergy sexual abuse in Orange County got what they’d been asking for. Bishop Tod Brown apologized, and agreed to pay them $100 million. But the victims insisted that the Church release its private personnel files — the same kind of documents which in the case of Boston’s sex abuse scandal — revealed an institution so intent on covering up crime that it protected the perpetrators even while they chose new victims.


Patrick Wall, former Catholic priest now working as an advocate to victims in the Orange County case and co-author of the upcoming book “Priests, Sex and Secret Codes”

The Director's Cut

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Another chapter in the WorldCom financial fiasco was settled last week. The New York State Common Retirement Fund will get $54 million dollars back from the company — $18 million of that right out of the pockets of former WorldCom Directors. If a bankruptcy judge accepts the deal, board members will lose 20 percent of their asset but they’ll avoid facing a jury. This weekend, ENRON board members agreed to a similar deal.

Scandals on Wall Street have targeted superstar CEOs playing loose with shareholder’s money. But now shareholders are calling for blood, and not just of the guys calling the shots but also boards which look the other way and let them get away with it.


Gretchen Morgenson, “New York Times” Reporter

Rakesh Khurana, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School and author of “Searching for the Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs”

Harvey Kelly, Managing Director with AlixPartners, head of a corporate investigations practice