Monthly Archives: July 2005

Cheeseburger Legislation

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Obesity is one of the major public health issues of our time. 30 percent of Americans suffer from it. There are many factors that contribute to this country’s bulging belly, not the least of which is America’s appetite — some say “addiction” — to fast food.

Some public health advocates are arguing that in order to get fast food restaurants and food companies to stop serving such fatty fare, they should be taken to court. Those in the food and restaurant industries though, say that what people eat is a matter of personal responsibility, plain and simple.

To make sure they never get dragged into the courtroom, some fast food companies are helping sponsor what are called the cheeseburger bills which are designed to prevent their industry from being sued for the ill effects of obesity.


Victor Schwartz, legal consultant to the National Restaurant Association

Richard Daynard, professor of law at Northeastern University

and Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist.

Diagnosing Avian Flu

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Since it first emerged eight years ago, avian influenza has only infected 109 people but 59 of them died. Some experts are warning that if the virus learns to jump from human-to-human, the world could face a pandemic unlike anything in history.

While health officials have long predicted an influenza strain capable of killing millions, no one can say if, or when, it might occur. Such a virus could also be more dangerous today than ever before, with the ease of global travel and the scope of world-wide trade.

Others argue that the economic consequences of such a pandemic could be even more explosive, moving quicker than the virus itself, and that says nothing about questions of national security and government instability. While scientists and government officials ask the what if questions — we get the latest on Avian flu.


Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations

Steve Aldrich, president of Bio-era, a bio-economic research firm

Martin Gilbert, Field Veterinarian responsible for Cambodia and South East Asia for the Wildlife Conservation Society

China's Energy Tug of War

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China has the fastest growing economy in the world, and it wants to grow faster — but to do that it needs oil. Lots of oil. So it’s hoping to buy the U.S. energy company Unocal.

The firm is up for sale, and China’s National Offshore Oil Company has made the highest bid. But many are questioning this deal, and Congress has passed resolutions calling for a long second look. These people are worried such a deal is a matter of national security at a time when energy is in short supply.

But others say that China is no different from other countries like Venezuela, Russia, and Saudi Arabia who are also in the energy business, and besides they say, in a capitalist system, the market makes the rules and if China wants to pay top dollar everyone else has to get out of the way.


Bobby Jindal, Republican Congressman representing the 1st District in Louisiana

Rob Gifford, NPR’s Beijing correspondent

Bates Gill, Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Peter Morici, professor of international business at the University of Maryland.

Debating the Future of Title IX

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For the past 33 years, Title IX is a law that has helped women gain a competitive footing both on and off America’s playing fields. Discipline, tenacity, perseverance — values learned in athletic competition — have helped women move on to become doctors, and lawyers.

Title IX, everyone agrees, is about more than just sports. But this spring, the Department of Education issued a memo that appears to relax the rules governing Title IX compliance.

Supporters say this is a step in the right direction, because it will allow schools more flexibility in how they spend their money, and it will prevent men’s programs like wrestling, track, and gymnastics from being cut. But others say these changes will hurt women athletes and hollow out one of the most important civil rights achievements of the last 30 years.


Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, President of Women in Cable &
Telecommunications. She has served on the United States Olympic Committee and was a member of the 1980 and 1984 United States Olympic Teams

Karen Blumenthal, Dallas bureau chief for The Washington Post, and the author of “Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America”

Eric Pearson, executive director of the college sports council. He wrestled at Princeton, and later coached wrestling at Princeton for four years.

Political Fallout from the London Bombings

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Investigators in London are scouring the site of yesterday’s bombs that killed some fifty people. They are scrutinizing hours of closed circuit video, trying to determine who is behind the blasts on London’s transit system.

The assumption, at this point, is that Islamic extremists are behind the attacks and the next question will be what’s to be done about it? In recent months there has been growing criticism in Britain and here in the U.S. that the war in Iraq is leading toward a future of more such attacks — that the war is a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. However, the other perspective is that winning the war in Iraq is the best way to prevent more bombings.

These early days are a time of shock and grief and solidarity against terrorists. Soon enough though, the tougher questions will come. Who is responsible, and what’s the best way to close them down.


Julian Borger, U.S. bureau chief for The Guardian

Congressman Mark Souder, Republican from Indiana;
Richard Falkenrath, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

Jonathan Stevenson, Senior Fellow for Counter Terrorism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Timothy Garton Ash, eminent historian and Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution;

Power Politics in Africa

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Fourteen years ago, Eritrea, a tiny African country on the Red Sea, bested the larger army of neighboring Ethiopia and became independent. It seemed to offer Africa a blueprint for change–debt-free, corruption-free and ready to rebuild.

Five years later the promise of what Eritrea might have become was gone. It is now locked in permanent military alert because of a border dispute with Ethiopia, it’s in the midst of an economic crisis and drought.

In her new book, “I Didn’t Do It For You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation” journalist Michela Wrong looks back at the history of Eritrea, and how it mirrors the battered story of the continent–colonial exploitation, Cold War manipulation and decades of armed conflict.


Michela Wrong, author of “I Didn’t Do It For You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation.”

The London Bombings

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With news of an attack on London’s transportation system, we talk with reporters on the streets and terrorism experts about what is known about bombings.

As of 9:30 a.m. (ET) the BBC reports 10 dead at one bomb scene and at least 150 injured across the city in the series of bomb blasts. BBC correspondents report that London is eerily quiet with the public transport systems closed down, with people jamming cell phone systems with calls and many wondering how they will get home.


Michael Goldfarb, WBUR correspondent based in London

John Prideaux , political correspondent for The Economist

Juliette Kayyem, homeland security expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Govenrment

James Walsh, terrorism expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Govenrment.

Understanding a Child Prodigy

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Very few people ever learn to play their way flawlessly through something like a Beethoven symphony. But only a handful of people achieve that level of skill at the age of 4, 5 or 6.

They are the proverbial child prodigies and they fascinate us with their blinding talent and their memory and skills. They are completing calculus problems before most of us learn to tie our shoes. Some youngsters, athletic prodigies, can hit a golf ball farther than most adults.

But what happens to these children when they grow up? We don’t often talk of prodigies when they are no longer children. In fact there are serious problems that often have to be addressed when the people who are accustomed to being marked by the success of their childhood have to measure up as just another adult.


Ellen Winner, professor of Psychology at Boston College and author of “Gifted Children: Myths and Realities”

Jeanne Bamberger

developmental psychologist and author of “Growing Prodigies: The Midlife Crisis,”

Robert Kapilow, composer/conductor who was labeled a “prodigy” at an early age.

Protecting a Journalist Who's Protecting a Source

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Later today two reporters will likely find out if they are going to have to go to jail for refusing to reveal a source.

Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times were told the identity of the undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, and a special prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald wants to know who did the leaking, “Journalists are not entitled to promise complete confidentiality — no one in America is,” he said.

Time Magazine seems to agree and last week capitulated to demands of the prosecutor, handing over Cooper’s notes and emails. Some in the media world lauded Time’s decision as prudent, but others are standing by Miller and Cooper arguing that reporters need to be able to protect sources and those special laws are needed to help them do so.


Tony Pederson, former editor of the Houston Chronicle, now a professor of journalism at Southern Methodist University

Ted Glasser, journalism professor at Standford University

and TBA.

What Makes a Country Poor?

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Why are some nations poorer than others? That question has haunted economists for decades. In the 1980s and 90s, the prevailing thinking was that nations were poor because they lacked resources like good farmland or mineral reserves.

The belief that “geography is destiny” has long guided the aid-giving strategies of organizations like the IMF and the World Bank. But now some are challenging conventional wisdom and arguing that social and political institutions are the keys to a nation’s economic growth — and are more important than how much oil or coastline a country has.

On the eve of the G8 summit, we talk with Daron Acemoglu — an MIT economist who studies countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, and wants to reform the way countries give foreign aid.


Daron Acemoglu, MIT economist recently named the top economist under 40 by the American Economic Association and author of forthcoming book, “Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.”