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Hard to Swallow

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest host Mike Pesca fills in for Leonard Lopate. He’ll speak with magician and atheist Penn Jillette about on his latest collection of essays. Then, we'll find out how Joe Hill became one of the most venerated martyrs of organized labor after he was convicted of murder in Utah and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1914. James Beard Award-winning writer Jon Reiner tells about his battle with a gastroinestinal disease that forced him to take all his nutrition intravenously. Plus our latest Backstory segments.

Guests:

Mike Pesca

Penn Jillette: God, No!

Magician  Penn Jillette talks about why he’s a skeptic and an atheist, and he shares his opinions on just about any topic. His new book God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales is a collection of essays illuminating the Ten Commandments—some of them true stories, some of them fantasies, all of them entertaining, smart, and eye-opening.

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The Man Who Never Died

In 1914, Joe Hill was convicted of murder in Utah and sentenced to death by firing squad, igniting international controversy. Many believed Hill was innocent, condemned for his association with the Industrial Workers of the World—the radical Wobblies. William M. Adler gives the first full-scale biography of Joe Hill, and presents documentary evidence that comes as close as one can to exonerating him. The Man Who Never Died is Hill's story, set between the turn of the century and World War I, when the call for industrial unionism struck a chord among workers and class warfare raged.

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The Man Who Couldn’t Eat

James Beard Award–winning food writer Jon Reiner talks about what happened when his doctor ordered him to stop eating. He had a history of Crohn's disease and when emergency surgery resulted in a severely infected abdomen, among other complications, he was forced to get his nutrition intravenously. His new memoir, The Man Who Couldn’t Eat, recounts the singular experience of not eating at all and the details of his treatment, while chronicling its impact on the author, his wife, and his two young sons.

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Backstory: Prosecuting the Guatemalan Genocide

In the early 1980s, an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans were killed in a genocide carried out by the country’s military. Documentary filmmaker Pamela Yates was there in 1982 shooting footage of the struggle for her documentary, “When the Mountains Tremble.” On today’s Backstory, Yates discusses the efforts to prosecute some of Guatemala’s highest ranking generals for the genocide, and how her film footage has been used to help build a case against them. She tells the story in her latest film, “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator.” We’ll also be joined by Fredy Pecerelli, a forensic anthropologist who’s leading a team of anthropologists in combing through some of the mass graves in Guatemala.

“Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” is playing at the IFC Center

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Backstory: Canadian Tar Sands & the Keystone XL Pipeline

The world’s largest energy project is underway in Alberta, Canada. Petroleum is being excavated from vast deposits of tar sands and a proposed pipeline would carry it to refineries in the United States. Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, examines the ecological and economic impacts of the plan to develop the oil sands.

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