Human Rights in Iran; Prison; Poverty and Health

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Monday, March 31, 2014

On today’s show: we’ll talk to the former head of Iran’s largest student organization, who fled the country after being held in solitary confinement for 100 days. Filmmaker Timothy Skousen on the program at Sing Sing prison that has allowed inmates to earn a college degree. He’s joined by one of the program’s founders. Our series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America examines the effects poverty has on health and mental health. And food writer Michael Ruhlman tells us about his new cookbook devoted to eggs.

A Former Iranian Political Prisoner on Human Rights in Iran

Mehdi Arabshahi, was president of the largest student organization in Iran, the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat, and a former political prisoner who fled Iran after being held in solitary confinement for 100 days. He and Gissou Nia, Executive Director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, discuss the status of human rights in Iran. Over the last few years, there have been a significant rise in human rights abuses in Iran with 624 executions in 2013, and over 75 executions since January 1, 2014, and more than 800 human rights defenders imprisoned; figures that are on the rise each and every day. Recently, UN Secretary General’s offered a sharp rebuke of Iran’s President Rouhani for failing to improve human rights in Iran since taking office in August.

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The University of Sing Sing

In 1998, five former inmates founded the privately funded Hudson Link for Higher Education, which enables incarcerated men and women to earn a college diploma. Since partnering with Mercy College, Sing Sing prisoners are able to receive the same curriculum and diploma as on-campus students. Sean Pica, a former inmate who helped found and runs the Hudson Link for Higher Education, and Timothy Skousen, director of the film “The University of Sing Sing,” discusses the transformation that occurs when inmates receive not only a college diploma, but also a chance at redemption and a reason to hope. “The University of Sing Sing” debuts on HBO March 31.

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How Poverty Affects Mental Health

For the first part of this week’s installment of our series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America, we’re finding out how poverty affects mental health. Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Costello examines the impact poverty has on mental health, especially among children. She tells us about her Great Smoky Mountains Study—a longitudinal study of more than 1,400 children in North Carolina—looking at who gets mental illness, who gets treatment, and how rising out of poverty improves the mental health of children and families. Dr. Costello is Associate Director for Research, Center for Child & Family Policy and Professor of Medical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University.

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Why Being Poor Is Bad for Your Health

For the second part of this week's installment of Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America, Dr. Benard Dreyer, Professor of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, and Dr. Peter Muennig, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, discuss the impacts poverty has on cognitive development and overall health, especially in children, and what policies could improve health and mental health of children and families.

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100 Ways to Eat an Egg

Michael Ruhlman explains why the lowly egg is the most versatile ingredient. Master cooking eggs, he says, and you can master cooking anything. Plus: poaching made easy. 

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