Monthly Archives: February 2005

Sylvia Plachy's Self Portrait

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The photographer Sylvia Plachy calls her latest collection of work “a farewell to my long attachment to my birthplace.” Plachy was just 13 when her family fled Budapest and the Hungarian Revolution, hiding under corn in the back of a wagon. That journey to America led to a life lived in exile and a complicated relationship with her homeland. Her new book, Self Portrait With Cows Going Home is a composite of snapshots taken over the past forty years as Plachy returned time and again to photograph the land she left behind. The book becomes as an extended self-portrait, mixing pictures from her family albums with images of people and places from Budapest and Prague to Romania and the former Yugoslavia. Sylvia Plachy take us along, on her journey back home,


Sylvia Plachy, photographer and author of “Self Portrait With Cows Going Home.”

Standoff With Syria

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Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Beirut Monday, one week after a car bomb which killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. They are continuing to blame Syria for the killing and are demanding that Damascus remove its troops from Lebanon.

The Syrians continue to deny any role in the bombing, but international suspicions remain high. The United Nations plans to send a team to investigate and President Bush has renewed his call for Syria to remove its political and military presence from Lebanon.

But beyond the fury in the recent war of words, will the power play against Syria result in real change for that country, or for the region?


Michael Young, Lebanese political analyst and columnist for the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut.

Edward Walker, CEO and president of the Middle East Institute, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

Ammar Abdulhamid, Syrian novelist and founder of the civic awareness activist group DarEmar.

Josh Landis, assistant professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

The Intelligent Choice?

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John Negroponte, the current US ambassador to Iraq, is taking on what some consider to be another impossible job. He has just been appointed the country’s first director of national intelligence, where the veteran diplomat will have to reshape an unwieldy bureaucracy of fifteen different spy agencies. He must negotiate turf battles and department budgets, all while trying to decipher the limits and responsibilities of his own ambiguously defined job.

Negroponte, has never served in intelligence and his past lives as an ambassador are not without controversy. But he pulled off the Iraqi elections, and he has the ear and the confidence of the President. Two questions: Is Negroponte the right man for the job and is the job right for the country?


Robin Wright, State Department Correspondent for The Washington Post

David MacMichael, former CIA Senior Analyst

Lee Strickland, recently retired Senior Intelligence Officer, visiting professor at University of Maryland

Larry Johnson, former Deputy Director of State Department Office of Counter Terrorism.

Personal Faith in Public Office

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When members of Congress are sworn in, they usually do it with one hand on the Bible and the other raised in a pledge to uphold the Constitution. Once they take office, there is an expectation that they will pay more attention to the Constitution than to the Bible. But as the debate over religion and politics goes on in churches, city halls, courtrooms and classrooms all over this country — so it goes on in the halls of the U.S. Congress.

Today a conversation with two of the people’s representatives: Mark Souder, a Republican from Indiana whose Christian faith motivates everything from how he votes on the budget to where he stands on foreign policy, and David Price, A Democrat from North Carolina, who says that keeping his personal faith separate from his public role as a legislator, is the key to democracy. Having faith in the halls of power.


Congressman David Price (D-NC) and Congressman Mark Souder (R-IN).

A Walk in the Himalaya

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It was a gardener’s obsession that leads the writer from the comforts of her Vermont home…to the mountains of Nepal, a search for the perfect flower. When Jamaica Kincaid and three botanist friends set off to hike the Himalayas, she’s looking for plants, seeds in fact so she could transplant some unusual piece of Mother Nature’s work in her own garden. What she finds are villages living in fear of Maoists guerrillas, a number of different encounters with altitude sickness and fields full of blood sucking leeches. Oh, and there were those 30 foot high Rhododendrons. Kincaid finest observations though, capture everything from the simplest of a travelers fears, to those insightful reflections on what its like to be so far away from home. A Walk in the Himalaya with the writer Jamaica Kincaid.


Jamaica Kincaid, author of “Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya.”

The Cross and the Constitution: Part II

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“Until justice flows down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream,” that was a line from the Old Testament that Martin Luther King Jr. would quote when asked how long he would continue his cause for civil rights.

Throughout America’s history, religious leaders have been at the forefront of social change. Roger Williams, a Baptist and a leader of the American Revolution; John Wesley, the founder of Methodism and a leading abolitionist; and Lucretia Mott, a Quaker who led the march for women’s suffrage — all were inspired by their faith to change the country.

Today Church leaders are again shaping history — taking stands on issues such as abortion and gay marriage and urging the faithful to base their ballot on the Bible. Onwards Christian soldiers, the new pace of politics from the pulpit.


Elizabeth Myer Boulton, pastor of Hope Church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commision with the Southern Baptist Convention

Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of the Hope Christian Church in College Park, Maryland.

How Safe are These Drugs?

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Eyes are on the FDA today, for the first of three days of hearings. It’s meant to be a session examining the safety of prescription painkillers like Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra. But the hearings could prove to be more about the Food and Drug Administration itself.

As drug companies like Merck and Pfizer weigh the wisdom of deciding what to do, they’re being watched by patients and doctors and many lawyers. But questions about the FDA may have longer term implications. It’s been accused of being asleep at the switch when it comes to overseeing the safety of drugs, both before and after they’re in wide circulation. Its also accused of being too cozy with the pharmaceutical industry. Diagnosing what’s wrong with the FDA.


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

Kenneth Kaitin, Director of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development.

One Nation Under God

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“One nation under God” only became part of the Pledge of Allegiance fifty years ago, but it’s a sentiment that has marked the United States since its earliest days. Recognizing the dual potential of religion as a force for good and for division, the founding fathers assigned church and state to separate Constitutional corners.

Many people applaud that separation, saying it has allowed religion to flourish. Polls show this country is one of the most religious in the world. And yet while it is home to many different faiths, Christianity remains the dominant creed and a growing political force. The strong showing by evangelicals in the 2004 election has some worrying about a return to the culture wars, while others say religion is finally claiming its rightful place in the public square.


Kim Colby, senior legal counsel for the Center for Law and Religious Freedom at the Christian Legal Society

Alan Wolfe, Director of the Boisi Center on Religion and American Public Life at Boston College.

Measuring the Wind

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Sirocco, Santa Ana, Mistral: For centuries people have looked for ways to describe the wind. From Roman wind towers to simple weather vanes, gusts and gales have captured the attention of explorers and writers. 200 years ago, one man captured the wind in words. Sir Francis Beaufort — hydrographer to the admiralty – devised the Beaufort Scale as a series of numbers and short, concise phrases used to describe the wind at a time when it was the fuel for commercial shippers and a source of fascination for gentleman scientists. But in today’s Weather Channel obsessed-world, author Scott Huler says people have never been more removed from a simple breeze. Gone, he says, are the days of reading cloud patterns and gales to predict the coming weather. Defining the wind.


Scott Huler, author of “Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and how a 19th-Century Admiral turned Science into Poetry.”