April 1, 2011

See No Evil

When things are awkward or uncomfortable or distressing, a lot of times it's easier to not think about it. This week we have stories of people pretending that everything is okay and ignoring the awful stuff that's staring them straight in the face. Including a story of deceit and intrigue involving commemorative spoons from the Kennedy Center.


Ira speaks with Middle East specialist Michelle Dunne to answer this question: Before the recent Arab uprisings, just how hard was the US pushing the government of Egypt to enact human rights reforms?
(7 1/2 minutes)

Act One

Blood Brothers

When he was a kid, Josh Martin's mother Nancy told him that if anything ever happened to her, he needed to take care of his brother Ben. This confused Josh, because Ben was his older brother, and he felt that if anything he should be the one taken care of. And years later, when something did happen to Nancy, following through on that request ended up being more complicated than Josh - and his other brother Matthew - could ever have imagined. Producer Lisa Pollak tells the story.
(23 1/2 minutes)
Act Two

Denying the Invisible

In the wake of the tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima, some people suspected that Japanese government officials have not been forthcoming about the actual level of danger from radiation. No one, however, is suggesting a cover-up as extreme as what happened in the Soviet Union after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A book called Voices from Chernobyl, written by Svetlana Alexievich and translated by Keith Gessin, has unusually poignant interviews with people impacted by the disaster. Actors Sarah Mollo-Christensen and Kelly Coffield Park read excerpts.
(13 1/2 minutes)

Act Three

I Worked at the Kennedy Center and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

In the 1970s, Dave Kestenbaum's cousin Dan Weiss got promoted from stocker to gift shop manager at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. It was a good job... except for the fact that the place was bleeding cash because of apparent embezzlement. The gift shop staff? Almost all senior citizen volunteers. Dave is a reporter with NPR's Planet Money. (10 minutes)