Rock Creek Park celebrates its 125th anniversary next year. We speak with two local experts with books about the history, flora, and fauna that abound in Washington's "backyard."
Lawmakers have struck a deal on a bipartisan bill expanding background checks on gun buyers. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died, prompting remembrances and discussions of her legacy. And the “continuing resolution” in Congress means the U.S. Postal Service has to backpedal on plans to end Saturday delivery. We talk about these and other stories making headlines and catching your attention.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Your Turn. Later in the broadcast, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen in studio, music. Prepare for it. But first, start calling now. It's Your Turn, 800-433-8850, 800-433-8850. Call early and set the agenda for what we'll be discussing in the first half of this hour or so. 800-433-8850, whether it's events in the news, recent editions of this broadcast or anything else on your mind, it's Your Turn.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYou want to speak out right now, 800-433-8850. You can send email to email@example.com. Send us a Tweet at kojoshow or simply go to our website kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. Whether you want to talk about the passing of Margaret Thatcher, the so-called Iron Lady in England, whether you want to talk about the fact that the senate will be debating background checks and gun control or anything else.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIPolitics aside, there's no arguing that Margaret Thatcher was a larger than life figure who wielded outside influence, both in the UK and on the world stage. But it's hard to put the politics aside when talking about a politician who was that divisive. At home austere financial measures and the push for privatization won her enemies and accolades alike eventually spawning her own ism. Abroad she decided Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was someone she could, well, do business with and was once described by French President Francois Mitterrand as having the lips of Marilyn Monroe and the eyes of Caligula.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd while women the world over may have admired her accomplishments, she herself was no feminist. Indeed, she once said there is no such thing as society. So as we mark the passing of the prime minister known as the Iron Lady at the age of 87, we'd like to hear from you about the impression she made on you. It's your turn. If you lived in the UK during Thatcher's time as prime minister, give us a call. Share your thoughts on her tenure. Is Margaret Thatcher someone you admire or someone you would revile, 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd as we mentioned, gun regulation is what the administration is calling it these days, but most people are still calling it gun control. And a bipartisan group of senators struck a deal to expand background checks on gun buyers. So give us a call if you want to talk about that, 800-433-8850. For transactions that take place online at gun shows and anytime a paid advertisement is involved, while the measure doesn't go as far as President Obama and many congressional democrats hope, it does call for the creation of a bipartisan commission to study mass violence.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThat would bring together representatives from the firearm industry with mental health and school safety workers and other stakeholders. Debate on the bill slated to get underway in the senate today. And yesterday Mrs. Obama gave an emotional speech about youth violence at an event in Chicago marking the memory of victims in Newtown and 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton shot to death on the south side of that city. Not long ago Hadiya Pendleton performed at the inauguration. We have an audio clip from the end of that rather personal and emotional speech Mrs. Obama gave in Chicago yesterday.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYou can still call us, 800-433-8850. But if you'd like to hear the clip it begins with her recollection of speaking to friends of Hadiya Pendleton.
FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMAIt is hard to know what to say to a room full of teenagers who are about to bury their best friend. But I started by telling them that Hadiya was clearly on her way to doing something truly worthy with her life. I told them that there is a reason that we're here on this earth, that each of us has a mission in this world. And I urged them to use their lives to give meaning to Hadiya's life. I urged them to dream as big as she did and work as hard as she did and live a life that honors every last bit of her God-given promise.
FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMASo today I want to say the exact same thing to all of you. I want to urge you to come together and do something worth of Hadiya Pendleton's memory and the worthy of our children's future. Join me and Hadiya's classmates and young people across this city who, by the way, even in the face of so much hardship and such long odds are still fighting so hard to succeed. We need to show them, not just with words but with action, that they are not alone in this struggle. We need to show them that we believe in them and we need to give them everything the need to believe in themselves. I would not be here if it weren't for that kind of belief.
NNAMDIFirst Lady Michelle Obama speaking at an event in Chicago invoking the memory of the victims in Newtown and of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who was shot to death on the south side of that city. Do you think this agreement on background checks goes far enough? What more or less would you like to see? The senate voted to open debate on gun control just about an hour ago, so we're interested in what you have to say about that.
NNAMDIThinking about gun control more broadly, do you think change is imminent or are we in for more of the same? It is Your Turn, so I will start with Diane in Washington, D.C. Diane, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DIANEGood evening -- good afternoon. Thank you for taking my call. I actually thought that this was a diverse discussion. I was actually referencing a call -- a guest that was on your program who said that there was no valuable popular culture from the early 1900s until later. And I wanted to remind him that my father Lee Falk wrote "The Phantom" and "Mandrake the Magician" with responsible values. And also with the first diversity of heroes including Lothar and the Phantom who always protected the innocent in any way that was needed, including with a phantom gun or whatever, but only for the protection of the innocent and with a strong emphasis on diversity.
DIANEAnd the person whom you hosted needed to review his adventure stories and popular culture that represent excellent traditional values. Thank you.
NNAMDIWell, I was a big fan of "Mandrake the Magician" comics when I was a kid until I realized that Lothar could never be the boss. Mandrake always had to be the boss. Why couldn't the black guy be the magician and the other guy be the protector? Why couldn't it be reversed, Diane?
DIANEThey absolutely worked together. And if you reread it you will see that, I assure you.
NNAMDIYeah, I was big fan coming up, as I said. Thank you very much for your call. You too can call us. Here is Hillary in Potomac, Md. Hillary, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
HILLARYGood afternoon, Kojo. Yes, I was calling with regard to Margaret Thatcher. You probably can tell from my accent. I spent half my life in England and half in America. I spent more than half in America because we came here in January of 1977. Lady Thatcher came to power in '79 and...
HILLARY...not many of the listeners probably lived through what we lived through in England as -- many people who've seen the movie might have got some idea of it, where you couldn't get on a -- there was no public transportation anymore because all the railroads were on strike. We didn't have electricity at night because all the coal miners went on strike. They were trying to get blood out of a stone. And she said during that time, she said the problem with socialism is you eventually run out of spending other people's money.
HILLARYMy father was in an 87 percent tax bracket and they were going to raise taxes yet again. They called England the sick man of Europe. And actually at that juncture, England was totally about the same status as Cyprus and the day where the Cyprus government is taking money out of the public's bank accounts to pay. What I want to say to most listeners is this, is that she was for everybody. People like to think of her as an elitist. She was not an elitist. The aristocracy actually hated her. She raised the standard of living for everyone.
HILLARYAnd everyone in England today is actually grateful, even those that resent her and, as you said, those that weren't her fans at all. Because she brought...
NNAMDIOh, oh, Hillary, what happened to your call? Hillary's call seemed to have dropped off. Hillary is expressing a point of view that I have seen fairly widely expressed since Margaret Thatcher died. However, just as widely expressed I have seen people who feel that while Margaret Thatcher did confront the unions at a very difficult time in England, that she ushered in an era that led to the dominance of the banks in England in the same way that banks in the United States have a great deal of influence today, that it led to, in the view of some people, the impoverishment of some of the members of the working class in England. And it has led to a greater gap in -- a greater wealth gap in England that existed before.
NNAMDIFareed Zakaria in an op-ed column in the Washington Post today pointed out however that in places like India where he grew up and others, people felt that she was -- Margaret Thatcher was in fact doing the right thing for that time. But in deed if that time ushered in what we have today, then that is not an appropriate remedy for the problems that we're seeing in the world today. But Margaret Thatcher stood very tall in England and around the world. And so it is to be expected there's going to be controversy over her legacy.
NNAMDIBut it's Your Turn to talk about anything that you'd like to talk about, 800-433-8850. Gun control. You know, first Saturday mail delivery was staying, then going, now it's staying. Yesterday the U.S. Postal Service said that Congress is insisting on six-day delivery continuation, this despite the fact that the postal service lost a record 15 billion -- that's with a B -- dollars last year. And is trying to find ways to cut costs as mail volume continues to go down as more and more transactions and correspondence move online.
NNAMDIWell, are you glad that Saturday service is getting a reprieve or do you think it should be done away with? Do you send snail mail on a regular basis, 800-433-8850? It is Your Turn. We move to David in Sandy Spring, Md. David, your turn.
DAVIDHello there. I've traveled a good deal in Northern England with my wife and I can assure you that everybody to which the caller referred in speaking highly of Margaret Thatcher does not include many, many people out there who simply have no work anymore. And I think that seems to me that life is much more complicated than people like Thatcher and Mr. Ryan make it. It's very complex. And listening to Mr. Ryan and most recently his speech last night at Howard, and also ...
NNAMDIOh, that was Rand Paul -- Senator Rand Paul that spoke at Howard last night.
DAVIDRand Paul, sorry, sorry. Excuse me.
NNAMDIYes. Not Paul Ryan, please.
NNAMDIThere you go.
DAVIDI got the wrong guy and my apologies to the other guy.
NNAMDIIt's that Paul thing that confuses us.
DAVIDYeah, sorry, there you go. Anyway, the live is a good deal more complicated than they make it out to be. And that's about all I've got to say.
NNAMDIWell, you're, in a way, correct, and that is that Margaret Thatcher is lauded because she brought simple values with her into the prime ministership. And to her credit, most people will agree, even her opponents that she followed those simple values that she cherished so highly. The question of course being whether or not simple values can be asserted in a complicated world. You're saying that, not so much.
DAVIDNot so much.
NNAMDIOkay, David. Thank you for your call. We move on to Andrew in Alexandria, Va. Andrew, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ANDREWYeah, hi, Kojo. I was going to check in about the gun issues, but just to tag onto what you're talking about was Margaret Thatcher then I'll go on and state something about gun issues. I was in London when one of the strikes was going on and I was standing on the platform and with no subway. So it's such a big thing that I don't even know what to say, but I do know I'm looking around and some people said, oh no, the strike went in today. You're not going to get a subway. So I was just kind of like, okay, you know. I don't know what to say beyond that.
ANDREWBut I think that there certainly was a pushing and shoving over there in England. And, you know, I have no judgments so either way with Margaret Thatcher.
NNAMDIWell, either way you can find a whole lot of commentaries that go one way or the other about Margaret Thatcher. That's not going to stop, but go ahead, please.
ANDREWAnyway, the gun control issue to me I don't -- and I think they are trying to cut a deal on record checks. I mean, I don't get it why anybody would be opposed to record checks. I mean, I just don't get that. The other thing was assault rifles and big magazines and guards in schools. Well, the big guns -- the gun issue, that is owning an assault rifle or a big magazine, I mean, I'm definitely against that. But the guards in schools I think is still out there as an issue that I'd just like to hear some more discussion about.
NNAMDIWhat do you think about having guards with guns in every public school and every school in the country?
ANDREWYeah, I'd like to know how that's going to be handled and I don't know the details yet. I do want the children protected and if that's what it takes to protect them, of course do that. I just want to hear more pros and cons. And, you know, I come down on, okay, in the end if we agree that this would be a safer and better thing to do, then let's do it.
NNAMDIWell, let me ask our listeners, what do you think about placing armed guards in every school in the country to protect children as maybe a part of the notion of gun legislation, 800-433-8850? It is Your Turn. Andrew, thank you for your call. We're going to take a short break. Keep calling, 800-433-8850. When we come back it is still Your Turn. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn when we discuss whatever you want to talk about when you call, 800-433-8850 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Without further ado, Paula in Arlington, Va., you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PAULAHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I have a comment about gun control and really kind of a question for discussion. I was shocked yesterday at the hostage situation in Georgia where the guy faked the whatever and had the firemen and, you know, two hours or however many hours later, the police throw a stun bomb and then the guy's dead. And also thinking about Chris Dornan in California. Same thing, they go in and burn the house down and he's dead. And, you know, it used to be the case that police would try to capture people and then you'd be brought to justice in the justice system.
PAULAAnd, you know, all this talk too about drones coming and the police are buying drones? I wonder how much of people's resistance to gun regulation is somewhat inherent fear of the police state that we're in and whether people feel the need to keep arms because we don't trust the police any longer.
NNAMDIWell, that is, you know, one of the arguments that is made by people who oppose gun control. The people who cite the 2nd amendment to the Constitution is that that have to protect themselves from the state itself. Even though when it was written at the time and it talked about because of the need for a militia, I don't think the state was what they were seeking to protect themselves against. There were memories of course about British rule in this country.
NNAMDIBut in the case of the man in Georgia, he was armed. And if in fact you're suggesting that if he was armed than the police should have been able to disarm him without gun violence, then I suspect that would be a very difficult proposition to argue or bring about, Paula.
PAULAOh, I don't know. I mean, it's just that people -- they used to have hostage negotiators, right, and they would spend hours negotiating with people. And, I mean, you know, we don't know the facts. I was shocked how quickly that started and was over and it's like, boom we threw a stun bomb and then, you know, we swarmed in with a SWAT team and he was dead. And, you know, Chris Dornan too. I mean, maybe these guys were going to go down in a blaze of glory and the police couldn't do it without killing them but it just seems there's been more -- it seems like the police are more aggressive than these sort of mass crimes like...
NNAMDIWell, I think we have to discuss that based on the facts in each individual case because I think linking Chris Dornan's case and this guy's case, you're talking about two entirely different kinds of situations. Remember, Chris Dornan had evaded the police for quite some time before he was ultimately caught up with. That was not the situation here. But thank you for your call. We move on to Victor in Fairfax, Va. Victor, you're on the air. Your Turn.
VICTORHi, Kojo. With all respect to Margaret Thatcher's (word?) and worldwide influence, the rest of us have some (unintelligible) . You know what I'm talking about. This poor guy from -- as a member of (unintelligible) and she influenced and her, you know, inmate modulation and hatred towards the socialism and communism play a role in destruction of the Soviet Union. That's very sad because as Putin said that the destruction of the Soviet Union, one of the most horrific geopolitical catastrophes of the century. And Margaret Thatcher played a role in this destruction.
NNAMDIYou think there are still people who would argue that the end of socialism in eastern Europe or the end of the Soviet Union was one of the most catastrophic events in history? I don't think you can even get Putin to say that these days.
VICTORWell, but if you -- statistics of the mortality in the (unintelligible) Republic and it's awful. It's awful. The -- while capitalism put a lot of damage on the society and...
NNAMDIOh, I'm not making an argument for capitalism either. I'm just making -- wondering -- on the one hand it was said that Margaret Thatcher felt she could negotiate with Mikhail Gorbachev. On the other, you seem to be saying that the role she played in ending the Soviet Union is what makes her, in your view, a really terrible person. And, as I was saying, I'm not sure that the ending of the Soviet Union is regretted by a lot of people outside maybe of the communist party of the Soviet Union. But that's another conversation for another time. Victor, thank you for your call.
NNAMDIThere is Garrett in Greenbelt, Md. who would like to join the conversation. Hi Garrett.
GARRETTHi, Kojo. thanks for taking my call.
GARRETTI wanted to bring up the idea of unalienable rights in relation to gun control. And it's something that doesn't seem to be brought up during the debates and when politicians are talking about gun control.
NNAMDIWhat do you mean about unalienable rights?
GARRETTWell, so it's the idea that part of our democratic republic allows us to have these rights that, even if most of people -- most of the majority, or the democratic majority want to limit something, because it's an unalienable right we still have the right to that. So it shouldn't be limited.
NNAMDIWell, you seem to be saying that there should be no limit on the kinds of guns people can have. And if I choose to have bazookas or cannons at my house then that should be okay because it's an inalienable right.
GARRETTThat would be the case.
GARRETTThat was the end of the argument there.
NNAMDIWell, the mere fact that Congress is going to be debating this issue suggests that there -- the argument is not ended, that there's not a right that cannot be reconsidered if circumstances and times change.
GARRETTYeah, it's tricky but no one brings up unalienable rights. I think it's a pretty important thing to talk about.
NNAMDIOh no, a lot of people bring that up. Most of the people who are against any form of gun control do bring that up. But I'm afraid we're running out of time. I have time for one more and that would be Marilyn in Washington, D.C. Marilyn, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARILYNHi, Kojo. I'll try to make this quick. I just wanted to thank you for the program you did yesterday on special education for handicapped children.
NNAMDIOh, children with -- people who have children with special needs and trying to find access to programs that can help them.
MARILYNYes. I'm -- you know, I have -- I call you fairly often so you probably know I'm blind. I'm also a retired social worker. And my job was working in the field. I mean, I remember when all handicapped children, including me, went to residential schools.
MARILYNThere just wasn't any choice.
NNAMDIYep, well, now there is some choice. The problem is that people with special needs children are not clear as to what their choices are. They're sometimes not clear as to what their legal rights are. But yesterday we did a broadcast in which we brought in people who are experienced in dealing with the systems, I should say, about this. And they were able to shed some light on it. It's something we'll probably have to revisit. But Marilyn, thank you very much for your call. Thanks to all of those of you who participated in Your Turn. We're going to take a short break so that when we can come back, that's right, you can hear music live. Frank Solivan, Dirty Kitchen right here in studio. Hold on. Coming back. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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