Monthly Archives: April 2005

Remembering Jean Michel Basquiat

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The 1980s was a time of great excess and money. You saw it in sex and drugs and in the art world. Wall Street’s investment bankers were happy to hunt out the hottest painters, often making them into instant celebrities.

No artist of that era was hotter than Jean Michel Basquiat, who appeared on the scene with practically no training, blending his graffiti art and stick figures and symbols. When he died of a heroine overdose at the age of 27, he had already achieved the kind of fame few artists ever see.

Question that followed Basquiat through his short life, remain today. Was he one of those passing fads of the 1980s, or was he, as some consider him, the last great painter of the 20th century?


Kellie Jones, co-curator of the Brooklyn Museum’s Basquiat retrospective

Carey Lovelace, art critic.

Saying No to No Child Left Behind

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When it was first passed, the No Child Left Behind Act was heralded as a bipartisan giant leap forward for public education. Democrats like Senator Ted Kennedy got behind it, echoing President Bush’s call to “end the soft bigotry of low expectations” and establish nationwide standards that would be used to judge all students and schools.

But now, four years after its passage, many states are saying what started as an exercise in accountability has turned into a morass of rules, regulations, and requirements that demands schools do more, with less.

Several of school districts now are suing the federal government for setting standards without providing the resources to achieve those standards and state legislators are looking for ways out.


David Shreve, Education Advisor to the National Conference of State Legislatures

Kati Haycock, Director of The Education Trust

and TBA

Randall Iglehart teacher at the Twain Middle School in San Antonio, TX;Duane Bordeaux, State Repressentative from Utah and Director of Runs Colors of Success

The Bard Behind Bars

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This Saturday marks the 441st anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. His plays continue to grace stages around the world, from high schools to big city theaters. They have even found their way into some more unlikely places — prisons, for example. At the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in Kentucky, a group of inmates spent a year preparing a production of “The Tempest.”

It is an experience captured in a documentary that follows the men as they choose roles which shed light on their personal history. They confront their own crimes while grappling with themes of forgiveness, revenge and redemption.

“As you from crime would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free.” From the yard to the rehearsal room to the hole, Shakespeare Behind Bars.


Curt Tofteland, director of the Shakespeare Behind Bars program

Hank Rogerson, Director of the film “Shakespeare Behind Bars”

Testing Drugs on Healthy People

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Breast cancer kills women. This year, in this country, more than 40,000 women will die from the disease.

There are also hundreds of thousands more who live with the fear that they will be next. They are women who are considered high-risk. Maybe their mother or sister had breast cancer, maybe they found a lump or had a biopsy done. For them, the options to prevent cancer are few. They can try Tamoxifen, a drug with worrisome side effects, or they can take the radical step of having a breast removed.

But now a new treatment is raising both hopes and ethical questions. Researchers will soon begin testing a powerful new drug on women who are healthy, but high risk. Some say this marks a breakthrough, others say the trials are asking healthy women to trade one risk for another.


Dr. Paul Goss, director of breast cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital

Barbara Brenner, breast cancer survivor and executive director of Breast Cancer Action

Faith Ringgold

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The artist and writer Faith Ringgold is used to dealing with the harsh realities of life. As a black woman born in the 1930s, her path to success wasn’t an easy one.

Ringgold always wanted to be an artist. She is best known for her “story quilts,” a tradition started by slaves which combines tapestry and painting and story-telling. But when she started she was unable to sell her work or even exhibit it because people considered it too political, too ethnic — too rough — more craft than art.

More recently her boldness and originality have earned her worldwide praise and fame. She has also received tremendous support from a family full of strong-willed and creative women like her. Today Ringgold’s art hangs in the Met, the Guggenheim, other libraries and museums and many private collections.


Faith Ringgold, artist and writer.

Pope Benedict XVI

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Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany is now the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI, as he will now be known, is considered a direct disciple of his predecessor, John Paul II, and is known for his unyielding embrace of conservative theology.

Ratzinger has referred to homosexuality as “a tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil” and has taken strong stance against gay marriage. He opposes contraception and wrote a memo saying he approved of denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

Some in the American Catholic Church are applauding his selection — saying it affirms the moral center of the faith. Others say he will alienate many progressives who want the church to open its doors wider. Pope Benedict XVI and the perspectives of American Catholics.


Rev. Michael Barrett, Director of the Holy Cross Chapel in Houston, Texas and a Priest of Opus Dei

Sister Maureen Sullivan, Dominican Sister of Hope and Professor of Theology at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The Judgment on International Law

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There was a shift this month in the long drawn out debate over the U.S. position on the International Criminal Court. Until now, the Bush Administration has been very firm: U.S. law will always come ahead of International treaties, conventions and rulings. But that may be changing.

Recently the Bush Administration chose not to block a U.N. Security Council resolution to refer war crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan to the ICC. This move is rekindling the argument about U.S. opposition to the International Criminal Court. Today, one of the leading lawyers from the Bush Administration and a former judge of the International Court of Justice debate the merits of the ICC.


Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice

Jack Goldsmith, Formerly Head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, now Professor at Harvard Law. and author of “The Limits Of International Law” ;John Stompor,Senior Associate in the International Justice Program for Human Rights First

India Reaches Out

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India’s neighborhood is becoming a lot more hospitable these days. Its longtime rival Pakistan is now agreeing on a path to peace that it calls “irreversible.” Just last week, China’s Premier visited India and the leaders from both countries agreed to a “strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.”

Diplomatic pledges between peaceful nations don’t usually generate as many headlines as rumblings of war, but when the two countries come with the economic clout and populations of India and China, it is a good bet that such a move is going to shake things up on the world stage.

So how does the rising power of India, linked with the economic muscle of China and its peace with Pakistan affect U.S. interests at home and abroad?


Narasimhan Ravi, editor of the Hindu

Gurcharan Das, author and columnist for the Times of India and former CEO of Proctor & Gamble India

Walter Andersen, Associate Director of the South Asia Studies Program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Tarun Khanna, professor at Harvard Business School.

Lucky Child

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It’s been 30 years since Pol Pot’s regime rose to power in Cambodia. Under the Khmer Rouge, nearly 2 million people were killed. An untold number were systematically tortured for being enemies of the state. Many were executed, others died of starvation and exhaustion. Author Loung Ung’s family was torn apart. As a young girl, she remembers soldiers coming for her father knowing she would never see him again. One older sister died alone in a labor camp. Later, both her mother and younger sister disappeared. When her brother found a way to get to the United States, he brought Loung, with him, leaving the rest of their family behind. In her new book Lucky Child, Loung Ung recounts the parallel lives she and her remaining siblings led worlds apart. Remembering Cambodia and one family’s struggle to survive.


Loung Ung, author of “Lucky Child.”

Inside the Conclave

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The Conclave to choose the next Pope, is one of the oldest religious traditions in history. It’s also one of the most mysterious and dramatic. A hundred and fifteen Cardinals, sequester themselves cum clave — meaning under lock and key — inside the Sistine Chapel. While the Cardinals are supposed to rely on divine inspiration and leave politics outside the door — church watchers already have their favorites. Some point to Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a conservative Vatican insider, while others say the most likely choice will hail from Latin America or Africa where the Church is growing in numbers. Regardless of who is chosen, the issues the new Pope will face — divorce, celibacy, contraception, and homosexuality — will remain. The Papal conclave begins.


John-Peter Pham, former Vatican aide and diplomat, currently a faculty member at James Madison University and author of “Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession”

Sister Maureen Sullivan, Professor of Theology at St. Anselm’s College

Jeff Israely, Rome Bureau Chief for TIME magazine.