Monthly Archives: February 2005

Lawless in the Amazon

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When the Kyoto Protocol comes into force tomorrow, Sister Dorothy Stang will miss the moment. She is the 73-year-old Catholic nun who had been working for more than 30 years on behalf of the landless people of the Amazon rainforest. She was gunned down by hired killers this past weekend. She is just one of hundreds killed in clashes between indigenous people, miners, ranchers and loggers.

President Lula de Silva supports Kyoto — and the protections on forests the treaty encourages. But Sister Dorothy had accused his government of abandoning the peasants to violence and forced servitude. Now Lula is vowing to bring the killers to justice, but what can a leader do when there is big money to be made tearing down the trees?


Sister Ellen Debraio, colleague of Sister Dorothy Stang in the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur program in Brazil

Andrew Downie, Brazil Correspondant for “The Christian Science Monitor” ;James Cavallaro, Lecturer and Clinical Director for the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, Chairman of Global Justice

Marcello Furtado, Campaign Director for Greenpeace Brazil

Coming to America

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When Jacqueline Wilson was growing up in England in the 1950s she read everything she could get her hands on. She read fairy stories. She read books about happy children in happy families with wonderful homes.

Wilson didn’t buy it. She yearned for stories that were more real, more messy. And though her mother told her “Get your head out of those books and do something useful,” she did the opposite. She wrote her first “novel” at age nine. She hasn’t stopped since. Her books are known for their honest portrayals of single parents, and illness, and characters who are often uncomfortable in their own skin, and as wacky as they are loveable. It’s a world of bullies and runny noses, burnt cookies, parents who aren’t perfect, and children who make mistakes and survive them. It’s the real kids voice of Jacqueline Wilson.


Jacqueline Wilson, Britain’s best-selling children’s author of more than 70 books for young readers.

North Korea's Nukes

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North Korea has nukes. At least that’s what it’s leaders are saying. Resolving the North Korea situation couldn’t be more difficult or more delicate. The North Koreans want to sit down face to face with the United States. The U.S. is refusing, saying, “we don’t negotiate with tyrants.”

President Bush is still insisting on six party talks with the Russians, Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans at the table. And as the war of words escalates speculation about whether Kim Jong Il truly has the bomb, and is parnoid enough to use it, has the entire world watching and waiting and wondering if confrontation or diplomacy is the answer.


Congressman Tom Lantos, (D-CA), ranking Democratic member of the House International Relations Committee;
Jack Prichard, former U.S. Ambassador to North Korea, currently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution;
Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Smoky Mountain English

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There was a time when Appalachian mountain language was heard only on the Beverly Hillbillies. Academics occasionally claim to have found people living in mountain hollows so isolated that the people there still speak Chaucerian English.

Professor Michael Montgomery, who is something of a “linguister” in his own right, goes a long way towards clearing away these cartoons and misconceptions. He has compiled Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English; carefully checking and re-checking definition and pronunciations that sometimes have him following the trail of words hundreds of years and thousands of miles back to their roots in Scotland and Ireland. The distinctive dialect of Appalachia reflects the history of the people and their own words for the natural world.


Michael Montgomery, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina

Chris Offutt, Kentucky-born writer, author of “No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home.”

Freedom from Want

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Back in 2002, President Bush committed to spending $5 billion a year to help the world’s most impoverished nations. So far though, his administration’s contribution to this Millennium Challenge Account, is zero.

This year’s budget promises another 3 billion, but it is unlikely that money will be paid either. Critics say it is poor performance for a country that has a 12-trillion dollar economy.

It’s not that Americans don’t care to share. Millions dug into their own pockets following the Asian Tsunami. But the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen wants people to think beyond the horror and the drama of a tidal wave, and to think about the steady stream of people dying from disease and starvation every day. Professor Sen joins us today to talk about the social and political factors that make people vulnerable. Finding freedom from want.


Amartya Sen, Harvard University Professor and 1998
Nobel Laureate.

Measuring the Power of Freedom

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Natan Sharansky believes in the power of freedom to change the world. A former Soviet dissident turned Israeli politician, Sharansky sees the world sharply divided between fear societies and free societies, dictators and democrats.

Sharansky says the West is facing just such a political landscape, and has two choices. It either can confront evil or appease it. Sharansky commends President Bush for doing the right thing when he stands up to and takes down dictators, and President Bush commends Sharansky for putting these thoughts in a recent book.

From Afghanistan to Iraq, to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and former Soviet countries — Sharansky says no country, no government; no culture should be off limits. The case for democracy with Natan Sharanksy.


Natan Sharansky, former Soviet political prisoner and current Israeli government minister, author of “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror.”

He's Back

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“The Democratic Party died yesterday after a long, painful lack of direction,” proclaims the New York Daily News. “Dr. Dean or Kevorkian?” asks The Wilmington Star. “Invasion of the Body Snatcher,” writes a democrat in the Wall Street Journal.

Editorials nationwide are writing off the Democrat’s choice of Howard Dean as the next party chair, saying it’s a step in the wrong direction for a party still reeling from a big loss and scrambling to make in-roads with people in the South and Midwest.

But others in the party — and not just the Deaniacs — are celebrating. They say he actually has what it takes to energize the party by bringing in new blood, new cash, and a new adversarial style. Dr. Dean performs open heart surgery on the Democratic Party.


Matt Bai, contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine

Dan Schnur, Republican consultant

Paul Berendt, chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party.

Humanity and Divinity in Rembrandt's Art

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A recent review of Rembrandt’s Late Religious Portraits at the National Gallery in Washington says, “Go to this show. It will make you a better person; it will make the whole,
complicated, messy, human enterprise seem more tolerable.”

These portraits of apostles, saints and evangelists, are admired not only because they are Rembrandts, the work of the revered Dutch painter; nor because they showcase the artist at the peak of his career.

The fascinating feature of this show is that Rembrandt’s subjects, although holy in nature, are unquestionably, and imperfectly and brilliantly — human. And their humanity poses profound questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my worth? The curator of this exhibit, Arthur Wheelock says such great art inspires great questions about the meaning of life. So in looking at Rembrandt’s religious paintings we look within ourselves.


Arthur Wheelock, Jr., curator of Northern Baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and Professor at Art History at the University of Maryland.

A Chance for Mid-East Peace?

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News cameras caught an historic moment this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reaching across a table to shake hands. The two leaders agreed to a truce at a summit hosted by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

The news came in the same week that foreign ministers from the Arab League gathered to talk about issuing their own condemnation of attacks on Israeli civilians. These events have many hoping that maybe, just maybe, there will be a break in the violence and reprisal that has gripped the region for so long.

This hour, we talk with an Egyptian human rights activist about the improvement in relations between Israelis and Palestinians and how it might be helped by encouraging freedom and democracy in neighboring states. Opening up the street.


Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Sociologist and Pro-Democracy Activist, President of Idn Khaldun Center for Development Studies

Sanad Sahelia, a Ramallah-based reporter and photographer for Al-Quds Daily and for Reuters

David Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief for The Jerusalem Post.

The Listener's Voice

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Jeffrey Dvorkin is in the business of complaints and gripes and whines and rants. After all, it’s his job. As the ombudsman for National Public Radio, he investigates and then responds to listener’s questions and comments — on anything from the war in Iraq, to covering the Bush administration, to the use of proper grammar.

Dvorkin aims to be that direct link between NPR and its listeners. At a time when the news media is under increased scrutiny, Dvorkin says NPR needs its own set of internal ears as a way of listening to critics and then responding. Whatever NPR used to be, it’s changing, and the more the audience grows, the more NPR adapts and at the end, the listeners simply expect more. NPR’s ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin on the news, on criticism, and on public radio today.


Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR’s Ombudsman.