A Close Reading

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Friday, January 28, 2011

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange holds a copy of today's Guardian newspaper (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty)

Ben Zimmer, the "On Language" columnist for the New York Times Magazine, dissects the language President Obama used during his State of the Union speech. Plus: John Burns of the New York Times discusses the paper's relationship with Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks; how to teach religious tolerance; and the Money U series takes on savings.

Assange and the New York Times

John Burns, London bureau chief for the New York Times, discusses his paper's love-hate relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

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Protests in Yemen

Walid Al-Saqaf, anti-censorship cyberactivist and the founder and administrator of Yemen Portal, a news and multi-content aggregator focused on Yemeni news, talks about the protest in Yemen and his own free speech advocacy.

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Parsing the State of the Union

Ben Zimmer, "On Language" columnist for the New York Times and executive producer of Visual Thesaurus and, takes a closer look at some of the words and phrases that the president used in his State of the Union speech. Also, we get more insight into the president's smoked salmon joke from Niki Russ, fourth-generation co-owner of the Lower East Side fish shop staple Russ & Daughters, who explains the difference between smoked salmon and lox.

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Money U: Saving

Deyanira Del Río, associate director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, explores the basics of financial literacy and economic justice every week this January. The topic this week: saving money and avoiding fraud.

NEDAP calls unnecessary expenses "spending leaks" -- what are yours?

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Teaching Religious Tolerance

In 1790, George Washington wrote a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island in which he described an American government "which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance." Adam Strom, director of content, research, and development for Facing History and Ourselves, and Farah Anwar Pandith, first ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities at the Department of State, talk about the link between religious freedom and democracy, how teaching religious tolerance in schools is an essential part of maintaining a free society, and their classroom project that gets schoolchildren to write similar letters in the voice of George Washington.

 Adam Strom and Farah Anwar Pandith will be taking part in a free symposium, "Give Bigotry No Sanction: The George Washington Letter," on Monday, January 31st at 7:00 PM at NYU’s Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South.

More information available at

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Protests Escalating in Egypt

The uprising in Egypt is evolving quickly. We'll discuss with Steven Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Blake Hounshell, the managing editor of Foreign Policy.

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