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John Hockenberry

Host, The Takeaway

John Hockenberry appears in the following:

A Miner's Song

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Every Chilean knows these words:

 

I go                           Voy

I come back                Vengo

I climb up                   Subo

I climb down               Bajo

What’s it for               Todo para qué

Nothing for me            Nada para mi

 

They are from “A Miner’s Song” written by political martyr Victor Jara in 1961. It’s now the anthem of the 33 miners trapped below ground in that copper and gold mine in Northern Chile. They can’t be freed for months and are subsisting on morsels of food and rationing their minds in a regime of self imposed tasks, cleaning, walking, talking. Trying to create a structure to a life in the dark below ground. The song has a famous, if sobering, stanza: I am a miner, I go to the mine, I go to death, I am a miner. “A la muerte voy.” The people of Chile know what is at stake here and it’s partly why the whole nation is down by that mine imagining what they might be doing if they were in this dark place cut off from everyone they love, from life itself.

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'The End,' Tree Frogs and Zachary

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We talked this morning about the loss of so-called “indigenous cultures” in our series, "The End." The fact that industrialization is driving certain cultures to extinction isn't new. However, in our globalized world, what constitutes preserving cultural traditions that are under threat? Is the world to embark on a kind of super sequestration of everything indigenous to keep it isolated from what might change it? Under this model the planet becomes a giant museum, with walls between gawking real people and the preserved “exhibits.” There is also a second model where the changing and mixing of cultural identities becomes a kind of preservation. We may lose certain tribes in the Amazon, in that they no longer live there, but do we lose everything about them?

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Echoes of Katrina: 5 Years Later

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I was checking in on a number of promos and announcements of upcoming “Katrina 5 years after” specials on networks and in print while I was away. In a sense, the destruction and horror of those days in the Gulf can’t be recreated in mere pictures. The frustration of outraged reporters screaming about FEMA inaction, the images of people stranded on roofs, the armed troops enforcing martial law, seem like disembodied moments that don’t connect. They are horrible reminders certainly, but to me, who experienced Katrina far from the disaster, they are like dots in an emptiness of memory. People who actually lived through Katrina’s devastation can probably recall their own desperate experiences more readily than I can recall those days of late August 2005. But vivid feelings do rush back.

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On Family, Art and Happiness

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rosanne Cash gave me a wonderful thought to carry with me next week on vacation. Her really wonderful book about some of her most difficult moments is titled “Compose.” In that book she claims that the making of art from tragedy and misfortune involves being lucky. If true, then Rosanne Cash has found much good luck in the midst of some bad moments.

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On a Constitutional Right to Food

Friday, August 13, 2010

A right to food as a matter of constitutional principle is being proposed in India, which has a population of hungry people that exceeds the population of most whole nations. 421 million chronically hungry people in the world’s largest democracy are not only a gigantic political constituency but also a staggering health problem. India is acknowledged to have the largest population of hungry people in the world and it’s not immediately clear how granting a legal right to food will change this troubling reality. India’s proposal for a constitutional right to food provokes a discussion of how the nature of political rights differs from how we approach biological necessity.

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Escaping Through Literature

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You can’t run away from home when you are a teen without chucking your life off a cliff in most cases. But you can drop out of sight by finding a good book and escaping to a world of adventures, exotic places or even characters that seem to understand you better than your own parents. I ran away to Paris in A Tale of Two Cities back in my teens. I also escaped to the wilderness in Jack London’s White Fang. I lived in a cave for a year in My Side of the Mountain. The depth of the immersion was what attracted me to these great stories. My kids are finding the same escapes. Yesterday, at one point, all four of my readers at home were plopped down on the floor or the couch lost in some book. My big girls love dark dramas and long novels. They gobbled up To Kill a Mockingbird this summer and there were quotes and impressions of Atticus and Scout dropping everywhere. My little guys like humorous books or kid detectives and adventurers who generally outsmart the adults in their lives. This summer it’s a house full of runaways and readers at the Hockenberry home.

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Juarez, Border Towns and 'A Touch of Evil'

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The 1958 film “Touch of Evil” was a work of genius from Orson Welles. His character of the corrupt and essentially racist American Police Captain Hank Quinlan was one of the truly evil characters in all of cinema. On the other hand, Charlton Heston’s role as Mexican diplomat, Miguel Vargas who is married to an American bombshell “Susie,” played by actress Janet Leigh, was a laughable piece of Hollywood casting seen from today. Actor Benicio del Toro might be more credible or even Javier Bardem if they ever remake “Touch of Evil”. But the curious power and absurdity of “Touch of Evil,” which was set on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, is that it tells a story which mirrors the brutality we see on the border today. “Touch of Evil” could have been set in Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas; and novelist, Whit Masterson might have loved the name “Murder City” for Juarez. But that name is more of a descriptive fact than a flight of fancy today.

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The Absurdity of “Man Made”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Gulf of Mexico/BP oil spill was the top story worldwide for weeks after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Fixing it was a live media event. A video feed from the gushing blowout preventer was a constant presence on cable television shows. Stock traders seemed to buy or unload BP stock depending on the status of the man-made machines below the waters.

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Khadr…. DMZ’s of the Mind

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The case of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay detention center focuses our attention on the tension between the passage of time and the apparent difficulty in a political democracy to reconcile issues of security and justice. We, in America, can debate endlessly the potential danger of detainees being allowed to return home or being a threat to the U.S. in future terrorist attacks. We can choose continually to defer to the idea of caution by keeping suspects in prison while we work out the rules for their adjudication. What we cannot do, however, is be certain that our intentions are, by definition, benign or that the only outcome of these cases is some verdict: guilty or not-guilty.

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Test-Tubes and Preemies: The New Normal

Monday, August 09, 2010

Two stories with medical angles find their way intersecting in my life this morning. I’m not so interested in dwelling on my personal biographical details but our conversation with the world’s first “test tube baby,” now a first time mom, and two people involved in the drama and miracle of premature babies these days sure got me thinking.

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Pulling Back a Curtain on North Korea with the Story of a Banana

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I suppose she could have told those kinds of stories. But it was what she said about a simple banana that blew me away.

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Amid Positive New from the Gulf, Questioning our Reliance on Oil

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

"It doesn’t really matter what you do with the BP oil,” said environmental activist, journalist and writer Bill McKibben. He said as much to us when we talked to him right as the scale of the BP oil gusher was becoming clear. McKibben’s point was to compare the difference between the effect of just allowing the BP oil to bleed into the gulf unchecked to just burning it as would have happened in cars and power plants if there had been no leak and the oil just joined the huge river of carbon fuel consumption.

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The Silver Lining: When Disaster Helps Political Fortunes

Monday, August 02, 2010

All it took was the threat of oil hitting the white beaches of Florida to reignite the political fortunes of Gov. Charlie Crist. Once counted out in the polls and basically chased out of his own party, the now independent Crist is the frontrunner.

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What Happened in Iraq 2 Decades Ago Still Resonates Now

Monday, August 02, 2010

20 years ago, history began. Saddam Hussein’s wrong bet on the West – when he invaded Kuwait and assumed the rest of the world would shrug – set everything in motion that we still see unfolding today. The Cold War narrative of European history was ending. The Cold War was the last act of an unraveling of the Napoleonic demons of European History. Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was the inauguration of a different narrative. 

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Technology and Conflict Zones

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The American obsession with technology is often described as driving the U.S. economy. Certainly the tech boom of the 1990’s rippled across the economy until the bubble burst in 2000. By 2010 technology gadgets have acquired the allure of fashion objects. The high mark-up of high tech devices like cell phones and laptops, desktop computers, iPads and other baubles has come with considerable outsourcing of assembly jobs to lower wage manufacturing centers in Mexico, China, Taiwan and other locations. The fashion-ization of tech culture has also come with the sourcing of raw materials in conflict zones like Congo.

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Laughing at Disability: Remembering Cartoonist John Callahan

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In the same week we celebrated the 20th year anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act I learned that writer and cartoonist John Callahan passed away. He was a cartoonist who said what other wouldn’t about the experience of disability. His cartoons were hysterically funny. His book “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot,” was both a caption to a drawing that everyone who uses a wheelchair has seen, and a collection of daring explorations of myths and stereotypes. Callahan probably had as much to do with the empowerment of people with disabilities with his universally funny work as the ADA itself.

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Twenty Years of The Americans with Disabilities Act

Monday, July 26, 2010

President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law 20 years ago, today. Since then, we’ve almost come to take for granted many of the things it required: accessible public transportation, reserved parking, more frequent curb cuts, equal access to employment and education opportunities, and much more.

 

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John Hockenberry on Twenty Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Monday, July 26, 2010

I think it odd that I am actually seriously celebrating and thinking about the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities act. As a man who has spent well over half of his life in a wheelchair with a permanent spinal cord injury I can say that my feelings about this landmark law have generally been negative.

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War in Iraq: Considering the Drawdown

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today the U.S. hands over a prison in Iraq and it’s barely worth a headline. The time that has passed since the U.S. invaded Iraq has created some scars and healed others. I’m struck by how much this milestone conveys the mystery of what the Iraq war has meant to the U.S. What is its legacy to a generation of young people, policymakers, and citizens? Is Iraq a failure, a success, or something different altogether?

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Haiti: Geologic Time vs. The News Cycle

Monday, July 12, 2010

Geological events mark their evidence in rock and the position of the earth’s crust. The earthquake becomes a part of the geological identity of a place. Geology is its own narrative and it unfolds very slowly… literally in geological time for the estimated million people still waiting for help. We have a built-in sense that people bounce back from disasters. But perhaps to even look at Haiti six months after as though it is a long time is absurd. It says more about our attention span than it says about Haiti itself. Just as the presence of President Obama on the beaches of Alabama is more likely to produce a headline than the presence of oil that same beach would, it’s our attention span that is the story.

The “headline-breaking-news all-urgency-all-the-time” model of news coverage makes it very difficult to establish the narrative line to give a complex story like Haiti’s aftermath the day-to-day focus it needs. Each tree ring tells a story in the long-term record of life on earth.

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