Sunday, October 2, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
It was the night that hope was re-born, Nov. 4th, 2008, Grant Park, Chicago.
That night the young President-elect told his country that everything was possible.
But one year from the next election, the fate of Barack Obama and his country is in serious doubt.
The U.S. teeters on the cusp of another recession; unemployment is up; home foreclosure rates are up; political dialogue is as divisive and diabolical as ever; the war on terror and resultant infringement of civil rights continue unabated.
For the writer and journalist Chris Hedges it is a time when hope turns to ashes in the mouth.
His all-consuming fear is that it is fast becoming too late to turn things around.
In our First Hour this morning Chris Hedges on what went wrong and what can be done to fix it.
In our Middle Hour, two struggles, two determined fighters.
Howard Brandston has been fighting most of his adult life to bring light to people, the right kind of light.
Now he is trying to save the historic incandescent light bulb in the face of new rules for saving energy.
He is not giving up.
Fred Hersch has been in a fight of a different kind, the fight of his life.
He is one of jazz music's premiumn players, a pianist/composer of world renown.
As the result of a rare brain infection, he was put into a medically induced coma.
Restored to consciousness, he has turned his ordeal into a work of art.
A documentary report on the return of Fred Hersch.
It is ten years since the opening of Operation Enduring Freedom, the NATO/US led war in Afghanistan.
The war has cost Canada billions in treasure and hundreds of casualties. Even as Canada prepares to draw down its troop commitment, there are those who wonder if it has been worth the pain and the effort.
At the beginning of the war, Michael talked to Paul Rogers and Rosemary Hollis, both longtime observers of, war, peace and the policy of intervention.
They will be here in Hour Three.
Elsewhere in the show: the Old West passion of Guy Vanderhaeghe, a Catholic trivia quiz, a ton of your mail and your usual menu of great music.
Chris Hedges: What we do and what we witness affects us. Sometimes in little, inconsequential ways, sometimes in a dramatic life-alerting fashion.
For 20 years, Chris Hedges was a war correspondent. The majority of that time he wrote for the New York Times. He traveled to the world's hotspots and sent back accounts; descriptions and analyses of the evil men do to one another.
And it changed him. He writes that when he abandoned war reporting and had returned to New York:
"I lacked the emotional and physical resilience that allowed me to cope as a war correspondent. I was plagued by memories I wanted to forget, waking suddenly in the middle of the night, my sleep shattered by visions of gunfire and death. I was alienated from those around me, unaccustomed to the common language and images imposed by consumer culture, unable to communicate the pain and suffering I had witnessed, not much interested in building a career."
Interested or not in building a career, Chris Hedges did continue to write..books, essays, articles...some of the most powerful writing to be published in the last 15 years. His books include War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, American Fascists, Empire of Illusion and most recently, The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.
Chris Hedges was in our New York studio.
Music from a new CD called "Late Edition" by David Francey - that was "Pretty Jackals".
Mail - Right to Strike:
Last week, the federal government publicly announced its intention to legislate flight attendants at Air Canada off the picket lines and back to work. But the thing is......those flight attendants were still on the job. So we posed this question to a labour leader and a labour lawyer: Is the strike now a tool whose time has passed?
That conversation inpsired these letters.
When Thomas Edison filed his first patent application more than 130 years ago, it completely changed peoples' lives - at home, at work and in between. Now his invention is under threat as never before.
The incandescent light bulb has been banned or is being phased out in many parts of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Cuba and across Europe. As of January, stores in the U.S. will no longer be permitted to sell 100-watt bulbs, and within a couple of years, all incandescent bulbs will be banned both in the U.S. and Canada. All of this is in the name of energy conservation.
Howard Brandston doesn't buy any of it. He has been called "the Paul Revere in the movement to save the light bulb".
Mr. Brandston has more than five decades of experience in the field of lighting design. He is the Past President of the Illuminating Engineering Society, he has won numerous prestigious awards for his work, and he is the only lighting designer to be included in the Interior Design Hall of Fame.
Mr. Brandston designed the lighting for the Canada pavillion at Expo '67, then for the U.S. pavillion at Expo '70 in Osaka. He was also commissioned to light the Statue of Liberty.
Howard Brandston now carries the torch for the old-fashioned light bulb from his home in Hollowville, New York. He was in the studios of WAMC, the National Public Radio station in Albany.
More of your mail on last week's show.
Eternal Sunshine of a Jazz Man's Mind:
The New York Times has called him a trailblazer of jazz for the 21st century, "a master who plays it his way".
He has recorded 45 albums and been heralded as an unsung innovator of a new kind of jazz - as the Times put it, - "music that mingles strains of pop classical and folk" Jazz, well for people who don't like jazz.
Fred Hersch is also known in New York as the gay jazz man. He has been HIV positive since the mid 80's. Anti-retroviral drugs have kept him going.
Then, three years ago he came down with a brain infection. He was deathly ill. Doctors put Fred Hersch into a medically-induced coma. And that's where he stayed, in a medical limbo for weeks.
He thought it would be merely fade-to-black and then he'd wake up later. Instead there were dreams and nightmares. Bold, vivid dreams that stayed with him .
Fred Hersch decided to do something with all that had happened. He created a stage show, a jazz musical. There is just one actor, Michael Winther, and a 10-piece band. He called it "My Coma Dreams" and it opened last spring in New York.
Megan Williams met Fred Hersch while he was working on the piece at the McDowell Artists' Colony in New Hampshire.
Here is her documentary: "Eternal Sunshine of a Jazz Man's Mind."
Afghanistan - Ten Years Later:
Ten years ago this Friday, on Octber 7th 2001, just less than a month after the attacks of September 11th, the United States, its NATO allies and a few other partners launched Operation Enduring Freedom.
Originally designed to accomplish, in the words of President George Bush, the "destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within Afghanistan, the capture of Al-Qaeda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan," the struggle to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and the region continues to this day.
The war has cost the United States and its partners about 125 billion dollars a year for the last ten years. It's estimated that the finacial cost to Canada alone could reach 22 billion dollars.
There have been 130,000 troops deployed and there have been 2661 deaths and over 17,000 soldiers wounded. Canada lost 156 soldiers and another 615 were wounded in combat. There are not truly reliable statistics on civilian deaths but a conservative estimate puts the number at 37,200. And of course none of these statistics truly or accurately reflect the misery, horror and suffering that war entails.
News in recent weeks and months about the escalating power of the Taliban as well as increasing reports of insurgent victories and suicide bombings have led many to wonder if the money and lives have accomplished anything.
Ten years ago, when we were first trying to make sense of the attacks of September 11th and the start of the war in Afghanistan, I had long conversations with Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University and Rosemary Hollis, who then was at Royal Institute of International Affairs but is now Director of the Olive Tree Scholarship program at City University London and scholar/lecturer on the Middle East.
We reached Paul Rogers at his home in Bradford and Rosemary Hollis was in our studio in London.
Music from a new recording of Mozart piano concertos by the fabulous Angela Hewitt - this is the first movement Allegro Aperto from Concerto No. 6.
There is a 20-foot-high statue of Pete the Miner welcoming newcomers to Esterhazy, Saskatchewan.
It's a small prairie mining town, a couple of hundred kilometers east of Regina, not far from the Manitoba border - and its claim to fame is as the potash capital of the world.
But Esterhazy has other bragging rights too. It is hometown to one of Canada's most highly esteemed literary stars.
Guy Vanderhaeghe was born and raised there.
In addition to Potash Pete, the town should put up a plaque honoring Zetta Persson.
Ms Persson was a high school English Composition teacher and it was she who first turned Guy Vanderhaeghe's head toward writing.
He wrote his first short story for her, for which he won an award, and since then he has gone on to write seven books of fiction and win a bundle of other awards.
His first novel, Man Descending won both a Governor-General's Award and the Faber Prize. The Englishman's Boy also won a Governor General's Award. The Last Crossing was the 2004 Canada Reads selection.
A Good Man is the third, and final, instalment in a trilogy of novels set in the Canadian and American west in the 1870's : The Englishman's Boy, The Last Crossing and A Good Man.
It is nominated for this year's Scotiabank Giller prize.
Guy Vanderhaeghe joined Michael in our Toronto studio.