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Monday August 10, 2009

Healthcare Debate and Euthanasia

What exactly do the proposed bills about healthcare say about end-of-life care? Some Americans say health reform will lead to euthanasia.  And legislators around the country are hearing from angry Americans. We will speak to Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), about what’s in the bill.  Congressman Miller received a death threat last week. We’ll also speak to Peter Wallsten, national political writer, for the Los Angeles Times.

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden

A small village in the state of Gujarat, India feels the effects of Somali piracy. Men from this village have traditionally carried goods to Somalia on small boats. And like the crews of oil tankers and cargo ships, they’re being targeted by pirates. The BBC’s Anna Cunningham reports.

A Museum Dedicated to Math?

Glen Whitney gave up his high-paying job at a hedge fund in order to establish what might become the nation’s only museum dedicated to math. Not surprisingly, he sees math everywhere; he gives math tours, and he’s created a traveling math exhibit.

Clock Ticking for Merce Cunningham Dance Company

FILE- In This July 27, 1964 file photo, Merce Cunningham lifts Carolyn Brown during rehearsal at Sadler Wells Theater in London, England. On Tuesday, June 9, 2009, the Cunningham Dance Foundation announced that will close after a two-year international tour and New York performance, to document Cunningham's cutting-edge movements, along with sets and costumes, so they can be studied and performed when he can no longer lead his dance company. (AP)

In this 1964 file photo, Merce Cunningham lifts Carolyn Brown during rehearsal at Sadler Wells Theater in London, England. (AP)

With the death of American choreographer Merce Cunningham on July 26, a two-year clock began counting down. As arranged by Cunningham and his aides before his death, dancers will embark on a farewell world tour that’ll run two years. Then the company will shut down and aides will begin the work of training dancers in other companies to perform Cunningham’s groundbreaking choreography.


J. Courtney Sullivan‘s new novel “Commencement” follows four Smith College graduates through college and beyond graduation as they struggle with their life choices. We talk to Courtney about the book, and about what feminism means to young women today.

Music from the show

  • Peter Dixon, “Nagog Woods”Freddie Hubbard, “Little Sunflower”
  • Paul Simon, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”
  • Massive Attack, “Future Proof”
  • Talking Heads, “This Must Be the Place”
  • Charles Mingus, “Boogie Stop Shuffle”
  • Radiohead and Sigur Ros, “Split Sides”
  • Moby, “Myopia”
  • Brenda

    I would like to comment on the story about the Republican scare tactics being used with the elderly. Aside from the fact that these kind of tactics are obviously from people who can’t win support using the truth, they are dispicable. I work at a residential facility with many elderly and medically challenged individuals who have guardians (usually family members) that make medical decisions for them. As a part of government regulations, we are required to discuss end of life issues with families, hopefully long before they are relevant. After working in settings from nursing homes to centers for the developmentally disabled, I know of only one instance where this was to the detriment of the patient, and was a reminder that anything (even water) can be abused. In all other cases, this has been a productive and, in many cases, reassuring process. I cannot think of many circumstances in life where having all the information before making a decision was detrimental. However, I suppose that for some, ignorance is bliss.

  • Alix Fox

    Dear Robin,

    While I very much appreciate your show on a daily basis, I was a bit annoyed with today’s coverage of J. Courtney Sullivan’s “The Commencement”. Smith College is not a girls’ school, as you referred to it at the top of the interview – it is a women’s college. Would you have called Harvard in its single sex days a boys’ school? It was a men’s college, Smith is a women’s college. Girls’ schools are primary and secondary schools – by the time they reach college, they are indeed young women.

    Thank you for listening.
    - Alix Fox

  • Richard Cole

    If it weren’t so important I’d be amused that after years of claims by some that Republicans couldn’t organize a marshmallow roast at a Cub Scout outing, the same people now are claiming that Republicans are capable of organizing a nationwide, vocal concern over this 1017 page “health care affordability” bill (HR 3200).

    Certainly the section causing this controversy (Sec. 1233, Advance care planning consultation), as presented, deals primarily with who can get paid for such counseling, and how the directives must be documented. However, if you’ve ever heard of the game of “Telephone,” it is easy to how a simple report on this five page or so section, could morph first into a requirement for such counseling, then to a requirement that “providers” push DNR directives.

    I was about to add, “then to a requirement for euthanasia”, but it occurred to me that so far the only people I’ve heard use the word are supporters of the bill who use it in an attempt to discredit the bill’s critics.

    The bill gives a huge amount of power to “the Secretary” and “the Commissioner” to determine what can, cannot, and nust be provided under the auspice of “health care”. THAT could eventually morph into just what is feared — pushing of DNRs, denial of coverage for life-threatening but treatable diseases in the elderly, and euthanasia.

  • Heidi Woeller


    I was most fortunate to participate in one event at UC Berkeley in California as a musician (flutist–bass flute) in the mid 90s. It was a fabulous experience meeting other musicians, watching the dancers perform their sections, learn how to read John Cage’s music (lots of legend information to follow), use stopwatches for time and repetition of phrases a la minimalism (not the same, though). This experience is one of the many I have had that helped to shape my concerns as an Artist. My condolences at the passing of this icon, Mr. Merce Cunningham. I do believe the troupe can survive without him, and frankly, should. Thank you for the story.

  • Heidi Woeller

    I have my timing off. 1989 was the year. This was the name of the piece, and the event:

    Inventions, 1989
    First Performed: Berkeley, CA; 23 Sept 1989
    Music: John Cage
    Design: Carl Kielblock
    Dancers: Merce Cunningham Dance Company

  • carol rowe

    Replying to Ms. Alix Fox’s comment that in pre-coed days, Harvard would not have been called a “boys”school, I do recall a Brown University football “fight”song’s lyrics from back in the 50′s.

    “Now Harvard is a school for MEN, (B-R-O-W-N !)
    We all know where the college is, but where the hell
    are the MEN? ”

    So–not a new issue!

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 28 Comment

Catching Up With The Polyphonic Spree

The choral rock band out of Dallas, Texas, has been thrilling audiences with its live performances for over a decade.

August 28 5 Comments

‘Enormous’ Growth Of Ocean Garbage Patch

The oceanographer who discovered the floating island of trash in 1997 says he's shocked by how much it's grown.

August 27 Comment

Veteran Honored, But Struggles To Keep Business Open

Former Marine Matt Victoriano is being recognized as a "Champion of Change" at the White House.

August 27 40 Comments

In Defense Of Schlock Music: Why We Love/Hate It

Music critic Jody Rosen defends the kind of over-the-top, sentimental songs that Journey, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel and Prince made famous.