Monthly Archives: May 2005

Photographer Mary Ellen Mark

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The photographer Mary Ellen Mark insists that “reality is always extraordinary.” For more than forty years, she has been focusing her lens on the gritty, and often unattractive reality of people who inhabit the seamier side of society. Her first in-depth project took her to the Oregon State Mental Hospital where she spent more than a month living with female inmates.

Her decision to immerse herself in her subject matter is a trademark of her work. Whether it is the red light district of Bombay, or working with street kids in Seattle, or a homeless family in Los Angeles, Mark captures the intimate, the disturbing and the unexpected on film.

But Mark says that our interest in these picture is disappearing. All we want, she says, are the glossy, celebrity shots.


Photographer Mary Ellen Mark. A new retrospective of her work by Phaidon Books is called “Exposure.”

Baghdad Crackdown

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Iraqi and U.S. military leaders sent 40,000 soldiers into the streets of Baghdad this weekend. Operation Lightning, they say, is an attempt to transform the stance of the new government from defensive to offensive.

Hundreds of suspects have been arrested, but dozens more have been killed in the ongoing attacks by suicide bombers. It’s too early to say anything about who has the upper hand — but it is messy. Earlier today the kidnapped governor of Iraq’s Anbar province was found dead, along with his suspected captors, after a clash with U.S. forces.

Some military experts say the insurgency is impossible to identify let alone defeat. They’re predicting that a long term U.S. presence will be needed in Iraq, even while others argue that the American presence is feeding the rebellion.


Bradley Graham, Washington Post Staff Writer

John Burns, Baghdad Bureau Chief for the New York Times.

Courage on the Battlefield

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“Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes.” Those words by the poet Carl Sandburg ring true for anyone who’s ever been to war. Nobody enlists in the military or steps foot on the battlefield expecting to become a hero. Those people are made in the moment. People say it’s training, instinct and most important, the desire to save comrades — all this is what pushes people to go above and beyond the call of duty. On this Memorial Day, we’ll revisit the words of President Abraham Lincoln who said that any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure. We’ll talk about the Medal of Honor with two men who received the nation’s highest honor, and with a war correspondent who has been covering the fighting in Iraq.


Colonel H.C. “Barney” Barnum, Jr., Marines, retired, is a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy

Colonel George E. “Bud” Day, Air Force, retired, is a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner

Michael Phillips is the author of “The Gift of Valor” and a staff reporter for “The Wall Street Journal.”

Right Brain Revenge

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Move over all you Left Brain analyst types, the future belongs to those with the Right stuff. At least that’s according to Daniel Pink. In his new book, “A Whole New Mind,” he argues that there’s a seismic shift going on in the workplace.

For the last few decades, parents have been telling their kids to be accountants and computer programmers if they want to make it in America. But according to Pink, changes in the economy — like outsourcing and advances in computer technology — are causing many of those reliable jobs to disappear or to move overseas.

Pink says the future belongs to the creative, the empathic and the entrepreneurial — skills that can’t be duplicated by anyone, anywhere else. It is the dawning of the age of the curious.


Daniel Pink, work, business and politics writer for Wired Magazine, New York Times, Salon and Fast Company, author of the book “Free Agent Nation” and most recently, “A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age”

Philip Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

Preschool Rules

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You can trace the battle over preschool education in this country to the late 1880s. Teachers and parents disagree about whether little Johnny should be spending more time learning his A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s or playing house.

What’s changed in the last few years is the overall push toward more testing and higher standards, stemming from anxiety from parents and administrators alike that American kids are failing behind fast.

Critics of programs like Head Start and No Child Left Behind say that mentality has now trickled down to the preschool classroom and it’s no good for today’s kids who should be spending more time playing, especially to develop some much needed social skills. Examining whether Americans are pushing kids too early, too hard.


David Elkind, Professor of Child Development at Tufts University

Steven Barnett, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University

The Case Against Depression

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Over a decade ago, Peter Kramer changed the way we think about depression in his best-selling book, “Listening to Prozac.”

He says that whenever he spoke publicly about the book there was always someone in the audience who would ask, “What if Van Gogh took Prozac?” — suggesting that depression helped fuel his creativity and insight. And often, Kramer says that when he talks to his patients about relieving depression they worry that it will change their personality.

In his new book, “Against Depression,” Kramer tries to put those sentiments to rest. Kramer believes society romanticizes depression — in ways that perpetuate the suffering. Depression is a disease, he says, just like cancer, malaria, or asthma and it should be treated that way.


Peter D. Kramer, author of “Against Depression,” “Listening to Prozac” and “Should You Leave?,” clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University and host of the public radio mental health program “The Infinte Mind.”

The Middle East: Taking Sides

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Mahmoud Abbas today becomes the first Palestinian president to visit Washington in over five years ago. He is asking President Bush for financial assistance and political support to help shore up his authority at home.

Abbas has had a relatively successful four months in office. He is restructuring his security forces and denouncing violence, two moves that some say have helped lead to the current lull in fighting.

But he says this emerging democracy will quickly collapse unless Palestinians see Israel and the United States helping move toward a two-state solution. Critics of Abbas say that sounds like a threat, and that he needs to do more disarm and restrain militants.


Matthew Rees, Jerusalem bureau chief for TIME magazine and author of “Cain’s Field: Faith, Fratricide and Fear in the Middle East”

Ian Lustick, professor and Bess W. Hyman Chair in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict

Richard Fairbanks, counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ambassador-at-large and former chief U.S. negotiator for the Middle East peace process under President Reagan

Salameh Nematt, Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Hayat, a London-based international Arab daily newspaper.

Thomas Mapfumo Comes of Age

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Thomas Mapfumo grew up herding goats and cattle in on the grassy plains of what was then southern Rhodesia. He learned the songs of his grandparents far from the race war that was stirring up in the capital.

A born musician, he moved to the city and discovered 50’s rock and roll. The fight against colonial rule heated up and Mapfumo gave up the Elvis covers to help sing the soundtrack of the struggle for the new African state of Zimbabwe. But the man called The Lion of Zimbabwe kept his eye on politics.

When Robert Mugabe dissolved his opposition, Mapfumo sang about corruption and established himself as a voice of conscience. Now Mugabe is in absolute power with a country in shambles and 10,000 arrested just last week. The Lion, Mapfumo lives in exile. Still making music. Still roaring.


Thomas Mapfumo, musician , aka, The Lion of Zimbabwe

Keith Farquharson , music producer for SW Radio, the Currently Jammed Independent voice of Zimbabwe

Real Estate Reality Check

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For many Americans a house has become more than a home. It’s become a personal ATM, a source of easy money.

The latest housing sales numbers show the country is still in the grips of feverish real estate boom that’s driven the average price of a single family home up 50 percent. That means home equity loans and refinancing have become the new way to pay for vacations or college.

This frenzy has some economists warning that what goes up must come down. And if it does drop — it’s going to come down on top of a lot of people who are stretched far beyond their means. And since real estate helps the overall economy by giving consumers more money to spend…a market crash could hit home for all of us.


Susan Wachter, professor of financial management and real estate finance and city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania’ s Wharton School

Chris Mayer, Director of the Milsteain Center for Real Estate at Columbia Business School

Gabriela Kotliar, Boston-area home owner.

Red Hook Justice

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Five years ago, an experimental court opened its door in Red Hook, Brooklyn; a neighborhood plagued by poverty, unemployment, drugs and crime.

The Red Hook Community Justice Center was an attempt to link the courtroom with the community. Judges offer those accused of minor crimes a range of life-skills and rehab options, as an alternative to jail time. But it’s no easy way out. Once people agree, they are expected to stick with the program or face even stiffer penalties.

At a time when American courts are clogged with 11 million low-level cases each year, Red Hook has become something of a model for communities across the country; though skeptics are still doubtful and wonder if all the extra effort is worth the trouble.


Meema Spadola, Independent filmmaker and director of “Red Hook Justice”

Todd Clear, Professor of Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of “What is Community Justice?”