April 23, 2008

Pt 1: Pennsylvania Primary - The shot glasses and mugs have been washed and stacked at Bronko's Restaurant and Lounge, where Hillary Clinton famously put back a shot of whiskey and followed it with a beer chaser. Just as the pins have been reset at the Pleasant Valley Bowling Lanes in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where Barack Obama somehow managed to bowl a 37.

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Pt 2: Kosher Food - All Jewish holidays incorporate food, but Passover meals are some of the most significant and sacred. Food is at the center of many communities. Special dishes served at certain times of the year bring family and friends together. And those dishes often become part of religious rituals and practices.

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Pt 3: Testosterone-Driven Trading - In popular culture, the trading floors of the world's stock exchanges are notoriously macho places -- cutthroat and fast-paced, full of swaggering young men in expensive suits.

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It's Wednesday, April 23rd.

The U.S. Defense Department has announced the creation of the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It hopes to develop the ability to re-grow muscles, tendons, fingers and maybe even limbs.

Currently, The Pentagon says it's the cheapest way to re-arm soldiers in Iraq.

This is The Current.


Pennsylvania Primary - Results

The shot glasses and mugs have been washed and stacked at Bronko's Restaurant and Lounge, where Hillary Clinton famously put back a shot of whiskey and followed it with a beer chaser. Just as the pins have been reset at the Pleasant Valley Bowling Lanes in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where Barack Obama somehow managed to bowl a 37.

After six long weeks of relentless campaigning by the two senators, Pennsylvanians cast their votes yesterday in the state's Democratic primary. And in a tightly contested fight, where stylistic differences seemed to outweigh policy discrepancies, Hillary Clinton won the state by around 10%.

But it's still unclear which candidate will face-off against John McCain -- the Republican Presidential nominee -- in November 2008.

To take a closer look at these results, we were joined from Washington by Linda Feldman, a reporter with the Christian Science Monitor who covered both of the Democratic campaigns in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania Primary - Analysis

All three would-be Presidential candidates offered up a recorded message for wrestling fans taking in Monday's episode of WWE Raw. After that, even the decidedly un-populist New York Times had to admit that "Elitism is to the 2008 campaign as communism was to 1950s politics."

So in the wake of a contentious primary campaign in Pennsylvania, in which Barack Obama was stung by accusations of elitism, we took a closer look at the resilience of populist optics in the Democratic primaries and what it might mean for the general election.

Joining us for this discussion were two people: from New York City by Jeffrey Feldman, a cultural and political anthropologist and the author of Framing the Debate; and by Ken Baer, a former speechwriter for Al Gore and the author of Reinventing Democrats: The Politics of Liberalism: from Reagan to Clinton who now runs a consulting firm in Washington.


Listen to Part One:

 

Kosher Food - Documentary

All Jewish holidays incorporate food, but Passover meals are some of the most significant and sacred. Food is at the center of many communities. Special dishes served at certain times of the year bring family and friends together. And those dishes often become part of religious rituals and practices.

Kathleen Goldhar is a producer with The Current who prepared a documentary about the connection between food and culture.


Listen to Part Two:

 

Testosterone-Driven Trading

In popular culture, the trading floors of the world's stock exchanges are notoriously macho places -- cutthroat and fast-paced, full of swaggering young men in expensive suits.

But according to a Canadian business professor, those environments are actually far more fuelled by testosterone than it appears in movies. And the reason we should really care is that hormones might have a much more direct effect on how stock markets perform than anyone had previously guessed. An academic paper published in mid-April 2008 concluded that the hormone levels of individual traders at the London Stock Exchange had a direct impact on the investment decisions they made and on the results they got.

Joining us from Stamford, England was David Jordan, who knows firsthand what the rush is like; he is a trader in interest rate derivatives.


Testosterone-Driven Trading - Research

John Coates is the co-author of the research paper. he is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at Cambridge University. His paper was published in April 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and John Coates joined us from London, England.


Testosterone-Driven Trading - Enron

It seems safe to say that there was no shortage of testosterone to be found during the Enron scandal. Two Enron traders were caught on tape as they joked about making a killing off of California's energy crisis.

In the end, 21 former Enron employees either pleaded guilty or were convicted, including the company's former CEO Jeffrey Skilling and Enron's founder Kenneth Lay, who died just months after being found guilty.

Bethany McLean is an Editor-At-Large with Fortune Magazine. She covered the Enron story extensively and co-wrote the book The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron. Shes joined us from Chicago.


Last Word - Passover Song

Earlier in the program we heard a documentary about the intimate connection between food and Jewish culture. We therefore closed the show with some musical food for thought: a song from the movie When Do We Eat?, a comedy about the world's fastest Passover Sader. The song was Temple of the Song by C. Lanzbom.


Listen to Part Three:
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