Unlike Reykjavik, some cities don't coddle citizens in their idiosyncratic beliefs about nature. We hear New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani react (with vehemence) to a man who believes New Yorkers should have the right to keep ferrets in their homes.
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Host Ira Glass with former Congressman Daniel Rostenkowski. When Rostenkowski began a term in federal prison, he met for the first time people who'd been locked up under harsh drug laws that he'd voted for himself. "The whole thing's a sham," he declares.
We hear the history of why these drug laws were enacted from a firsthand witness. Eric Sterling was the lawyer in charge of drug laws for the House Judiciary Committee during the 1980s, when mandatory minimums were put in place.
Judges give their opinions of the drug sentencing laws. Terry Hatter is the Chief U.S.
Host Ira Glass describes the moment when black single mothers became a national political issue—and a national symbol. It was 1965, when a young Assistant Secretary of Labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan issued a report calling for action on the issue of African-American single mothers, and black leaders, including the Rev.
One of the most powerful forces in a room can be the thing that is unspoken between people. Five writers—Scott Carrier, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Brady Udall and Lan Samantha Chang—give us case examples: stories when they felt the presence of something unspoken.
Dave Eggers on what happens when politics suddenly becomes your family business. When his brother ran for office, he asked for Dave's help and support.
Host Ira Glass with an idealistic would-be politician in California. The puzzle of American politics is that our political system is filled with idealistic people, but few of our candidates for top office seem either idealistic or capable of inspiring passion.
A campaign diary from writer Michael Lewis from four years ago, about a politician you've heard a lot about: John McCain...and the story of a moment when the opposite of normal politics became normal politics.
A Walter Mondale-voting, gay-rights-supporting unrepentant liberal signs up as a Republican party member—and ends up a party functionary—a delegate to the state Republican convention...where he wreaks havoc. Dan Savage tells the story.
How California Governor Pete Wilson's anti-immigrant policies found some supporters among immigrants themselves. We hear an explanation of the profoundly idealistic notion of "self-deportation" from its main proponent, Daniel D.
A few years back Alex Kotlowitz wrote a book called There Are No Children Here, about two boys growing up in Chicago's Henry Horner public housing projects. Those projects were across the street from the site of the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and when the convention came to town, money poured in for a makeover.
On the tenth anniversary of the crackdown at Tiananmen Square, we hear from Wen Huang, who was part of the student movement. He says that the students weren't fighting for democracy, at least not as it's been widely understood in the West.
More stories from Wen Huang that contradict what you think you know about the 1989 student uprising in China.
If part of the impulse behind the Tiananmen Square uprising was the pure desire to feel like life had possibility, that the future had potential...that impulse was behind another movement. This one among young people in Eastern Europe back before the Berlin Wall fell.
Modern-day fables of two different kinds of do-gooders during and after the 1994 genocide in the African country of Rwanda. Philip Gourevich, author of the book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, tells first about international relief workers who served as "caterers" to some of the Hutu powers as they continued their policy of ethnic cleansing after fleeing to refugee camps.
This is a story of a father and son—told by the son, Juan Zaldivar, who was born in Cuba. Juan has spent the past four years shooting a movie about his father, to try to reassure him that he did the right thing to leave Cuba with his family in the 1980s and come to America.