1/31/08 interesting articles this week…

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Check out the first paragraph of this article:

 FINALLY SOME GOOD NEWS—someone is going to help me play music with whales instead of warning me that it’s against the law. According to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, all “harassment” of marine mammals is illegal, including my idea of playing live music to them just to see what happens. But there are still places beyond the grip of the law.

Read it all here, and hear Marc interview the author, David Rothenberg, at about 1:30 today.  For more of David’s writing, check out this piece on www.terrain.org.

Before that, after the news at 1pm, join us to discuss genetically modified food.  Seems like it was something that was really in the public eye, along with lots of outrage and uncertainty, a few years ago, but all of that has subsided a bit, here in the US, at least.  It certainly didn’t go away, though, as more genetically modified crops are being grown worldwide than ever, and the highest percentage of any country is right here in the States.  Yes, if you’re not sure, our food supply is flush with genetically modiefied ingredients.  We’ll discuss the details, focusing on the company at the center of it all, Monsanto, with Brian Hindo.  He wrote the article Monsanto: Winning the Ground War in Business Week.

Every Thursday from 1-2pm for the past few weeks, we’ve been featuring interviews with the authors of articles that we’ve come upon and found particularly interesting.  If you’ve caught any of these segments, what do you think?  Would you like to see this continue as a regular, weekly feature on the show?  Also, comment here with suggestions for articles that you’ve read and would like for us to consider featuring!

-Justin

1/31/08 Bail Bonds

What comes to your mind when you think of bail bonds?  The nice folks who help spring you from jail when you’re waiting for trial?  One of the few types of businesses that populate mostly vacant commerical blocks in poor neighborhoods throughout the city?  Those ubiquitous yellow and pink Big Boyz Bail Bonds pens that are everywhere in Baltimore?

A article on the front page of the New York Times Tuesday pointed out the interesting fact that the US is one of only two countries in the world that use the bail bond system, empowering private companies to put up someone’s bail for them in exchange for a fee.  The fee is generally 10% of the bail, non-refundable.  Critics raise the point that, although you are innocent until proven guilty, you tend to have to pay a lot of money to a private company in order to stay out of jail, innocent or not.  Bail bonds is one way among many that the United States has charted a unique course for its legal system, internationally speaking.

Adam Liptak, the author of the article, joins us for the first part of today’s show, and then we’ll continue the discussion with a panel of local guests, discussing the pros and cons of the bail bond system, and possible alternatives.

Also worth checking out is a post and comments responding to the article on the Freakonomics blog.

-Justin

1/30/08 Student Perspectives – ’08 Elections

Every time an election roles around, people (or at least the media) start to talk a lot about the youth vote.  We wonder whether young voters will finally start coming out in larger numbers than usual.  Why do less young people tend to vote than the older folks?  Are they just apathetic?  Do they think voting won’t make a difference, or that no one represents them?  What issues do these elusive young people care about?  What about those who are politically active?

One of my first assignments as a youthful WYPR news freelancer was to report on the youth vote in November 2006; check it here.

At noon today, we’re bringing together a group of college students from the area to hear their opinions and observations on the upcoming elections.  We’d love to hear your thoughts, as well, whatever age you might be.  Call 866-661-9309, email thesteinershow@wypr.org, or post a comment here.

-Justin

1/30/08 The Geography of Bliss

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Living in Baltimore, I can’t help but notice a lot of distinctly unhappy looking people  around town.  I know this is not exactly some kind of utopia, so is it reasonable to assume that people are, in general, happier elsewhere?

NPR Correspondent Eric Weiner will be joining us at 1pm today to discuss what he learned travelling the world purposefully seeking out happiness.  Check out his book The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.

-Justin

1/29 Banished/Sundown Towns

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The saying, “Don’t let the sun go down on you in Forsyth County,” was a warning to African-Americans, in the early part of this century not to be in certain counties after dark. Forsyth County is just one of a number of counties which practiced a form of ethnic cleansing.

The story of these towns, and their ongoing legacy is told in the documentary Banished by filmmaker Marco Williams and the book Sundown Towns by James Loewen. Also taking part in the discussion is University of Maryland Law Professor Sherilynn Ifill.  Professor Ifill will host a post screening discussion of Banished at the University of Maryland Law Center on Thursday, January 31 at 5pm.

                                                                                                                                  -Marcus

P.S. To listen to Marc’s interview with Marco Williams, go here.

 

1/29/08 Marc’s thoughts on today’s show

PAYING KIDS TO DO WELL

Dr. Andres Alonso at noon

Paying kids to do well on tests?!?!?!?!?!?!?

My first visceral reaction was no way.  This is antithetical to what we all believe, that we should instill an intrinsic love of education. 

Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Schools, is going to spend a million dollars, in part to pay kids in the 11th and 12th grade who failed one of the High School Assessment tests, if they improve their scores on future tests.   They will receive up to $110.00, depending on how much their scores improve.  Money will also be used to pay students to tutor other students.

Some would argue, like Dan Rodricks, that middle and upper class families always bribe their kids with cash, dinner and objects of desire if they do well in school.  What is wrong with the city doing it for unmotivated kids also mired in poverty?

Others argue it is a quick fix and a bribe that hides real issue of why students don’t have an intrinsic love of learning and why they lose in our schools.

Is it a bad idea?  Looking forward to hearing what Dr. Alonso has to say.  Looking forward to what you have to say on air and on our blog.

 BANISHED

I was not amazed when I first heard that there was wholesale ethnic cleansing of African Americans from towns across America.  I was shocked when I found out that it occurred well into the depression era of the 1930’s.

One of our guests, Marco Williams, recently made the movie Banished.  It’s about the interactions of three Black families, who were descendents of the banished, and white people now living in those towns.  

The issue of the day will be to find out what relevance this has on our lives now.  The Germans paid reparations to the Jews who survived the camps, the US paid reparations to the Japanese Americans and the descendents of those interned in camps during World War II.  Should the US do the same for those who are the descendents of those African Americans ethnically cleansed from their homes?

Is it different because these are descendents of rather than the victims themselves?  Is monetary reparation the only possibility?  Does this give us as a society a chance for some reconciliation?  Is it just history, something for us to learn about and then let go?

What do you think?  Call in or write in at one, or comment on the blog.
Check with you later.

-Marc

1/29/08 Dr. Andres Alonso and paying kids to perform

Did your parents ever give you an incentive to perform well in school?  As in, raise your grades and we’ll raise your allowance?  Or, keep a certain GPA and we’ll take you on a vacation?  Mine did.  Freshman year of college my mom wouldn’t let me take my car to the campus first semester-and I wasn’t allowed to bring it second semester unless I got a certain GPA.  I worked pretty hard to make sure I hit that GPA mark–I needed my car to escape campus every once in awhile.

We all know that lots of parents do this.  But when the actual school system gets involved, we get very uncomfortable about the idea of learning having a cash/material reward system.  We want education to be pure-for students to be motivated by a love of learning-to learn for learning’s sake.  But do we need to do a reality check? Do we need to abandon our high ideals and take a look at what is really going on, and maybe adopt a method that stems from a harm-reduction philosophy? 

That’s what we’re talking about today at noon, with Dr. Andres Alonso, live and in studio.  Join us!

Poll:  What do you think about Dr. Andres Alonso’s idea that the school system pay students who improve their test scores?

-Jessica