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Thursday, January 06, 2011

William Hartung looks at the role Lockheed Martin has played in building and maintaining America’s military-industrial complex. Also, Karen Abbott discusses her biography of performer Gypsy Rose Lee. Then we’ll take a tour of a part of NYC that’s never's underground! Plus our latest Underreported and Backstory segments.

Lockheed Martin and the Military-Industrial Complex

January 17th marks the 50th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous speech on the military-industrial complex. William Hartung, director of the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative, discusses the history of Lockheed Martin—the nation's largest weapons contractor. His book Prophets of War traces the company's rise from military aircraft manufacturer in WWI, to a major supplier of fighters and bombers for the Allies in WWII, to corporate behemoth with a major role in setting American foreign policy.

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The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee

Karen Abbott tells the story of America’s coming-of-age through the life of vaudeville performer, Gypsy Rose Lee. Her latest book, American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee, delves into Gypsy’s world, including her dramatic triangle relationship with her sister, actress June Havoc, and their formidable mother, Rose.

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New York Underground

Urban explorer, historian and photographer Steve Duncan talks about traversing the city underground with the polar explorer Erling Kagge. His travels have taken him from the sewers and subway tunnels, up the cables to the tops of bridges in an attempt to experience the complexities and dimensions of the city.

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Underreported: Mefloquine use at Guantanamo

Detainees held by the United States government at the Guantanamo Bay prison have been administered very high doses of the drug Mefloquine, according to a new report from Seton Hall Law School. While the drug is a powerful anti-malarial, it also has a number of adverse side effects, which include hallucinations, paranoia and depression. On today’s Underreported segment Mark Denbeaux, one of the reports authors and director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy & Research, discusses why administration of the drug to detainees (at five times the regular dosage) is controversial.

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Update: Post-Communist Hungary

Adam LeBor, Budapest correspondent for the London Times and the Economist magazine, gives us an update on the political situation in Hungary, including a new law passed by parliament that gives the government tighter control over the media.

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Backstory: Post-Soviet Moldova

The year 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Moldova—a nation created after the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent reshuffling of borders. On this week's Backstory, Charles King, Professor of Government and International Affairs at Georgetown University, discusses Moldova's struggle to define itself. He's the author of the book The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture, and of Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams, to be published in February.


Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

On tomorrow’s Please Explain, we’ll be delving deep into the history and the construction of standardized tests. Standardized tests, once used only to test a select group for college readiness, have become ubiquitous in today’s accountability environment, used for everything from merit scholarships to international comparisons to shutting down schools. Tomorrow, CUNY Professors Howard Everson and David Rindskopf—experts in the field of test design and implementation who have worked on everything from the SAT to the New York State proficiency exams, respectively—will explain to us how this came to be and just what tests can and can’t tell us. Before that, though, we want to test you!

Below you’ll find a sampling of SAT questions through the ages—from the 1926 exam to the present. You’ll also find a link to the most recent New York State 8th grade math and ELA exams. Unlike most standardized tests, we’re giving you a full twenty four hours to work on your answers—but make sure to come to class prepared tomorrow. Let us know how you did in the comments!

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Billy Taylor

Dr. Billy Taylor was an elegant, Grammy-winning jazz pianist and composer. But just as importantly, he was an educator, who earned his Ph.D in music education. He died of heart failure at the age of 89 recently.

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