The world's waterways are important thoroughfares for commerce and international trade. But they're also places where crime and violence occur at alarming rates, often in areas where it's difficult to seek justice under international law. Kojo chats with New York Times reporter Ian Urbina, whose recent series documented human rights and environmental abuses at sea, including a murder that went unreported despite dozens of witnesses.
This week brought more arrests in the Boston bombing plot, a rare public appearance from Syria’s president and questions about the Maryland prison system after charges were made against 13 guards alleged to have aided a gang operating in and from a Baltimore jail. It’s your turn to weigh in on these stories and other headlines that have been capturing 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. Here's how it works. You start calling now, 800-433-8850 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. the sooner I shut up because it's you setting the agenda, deciding what we're going to be discussing this hour. If you don't set the agenda then I'll be talking on for the entire hour. 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDII do have suggestions about topics that you may be interested in talking about. But if there is stuff that you have on your mind or recent editions of this broadcast, recent events in the news that you'd like to discuss, we've got this whole hour of Your Turn. So call now, 800-433-8850. Send email to email@example.com. Send us a Tweet at kojoshow or go to our website kojoshow.org and take your turn there.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYesterday, the Justice Department began a challenge to a federal court decision set to take effect on Sunday that require the government to make emergency contraceptives known as Plan B available over the counter to women of all ages. Action that came mere hours after the FDA approved over-the-counter sales of the drug to anyone over the age of 15, a change from the previous requirement that anyone under 17 have a prescription.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe FDA move will still stand and become effective as soon as it was announced but reproductive rights groups are disappointed by the Obama Administration's moves to stop the lift on all restrictions, while others worry about the implications of making Plan B available to girls as young s 12. What's your take on Plan B? Do you think young women and girls should have easier access to the drug, 800-433-8850? It's Your Turn.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIYou know, about two-thirds of the 166 prisoners being held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are on hunger strike. And most of those 166 inmates have been cleared of any connection to terrorism. The Navy has brought in dozens of nurses and medics to force feed 23 of the detainees in an effort to keep them alive. The reason the men are protesting, according to a detainee attorney, is the practice of holding them indefinitely without charges.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIA situation the United Nation's office of the high commission on human rights denounced as quoting here "a flagrant violation of international human rights law that constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Only six of the men held in that prison are currently facing charges in front of military commissions. President Obama told reporters earlier this week that his goal stated when he first took office remains to close the camp. What do you think should be done with the prisoners being held in Guantanamo. Are you disappointed in the Obama Administration and Congress for failing to act on the situation sooner?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's Your Turn. You can send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us a Tweet at kojoshow or give us a call, 800-433-8850. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public appearance yesterday after a week of increasing violence in the capitol city of Damascus and elsewhere in the country, which has been mired in civil war for two years. That spike in violence coming on the heels of growing concern from the U.S. and International Communities that Syrian leadership has deployed chemical weapons in some capacity against its people.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe Obama Administration, which has so far provided humanitarian and nonlethal equipment is set to be considering all possible aid options, including providing lethal weaponry to revel forces. But polls show most Americans are still not closely following the story at all. Are you? And if you are, do you think the U.S. should become more involved in Syria, boots on the ground? Why or why not? Are you surprised that the International Community has not become more involved in Syria sooner? Why or why not?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIOkay. It's Your Turn so I'll shut up until you stop talking. Then I'll start talking again. But you can stop me from doing that by simply continuing to call 800-433-8850. Let's start with Jay in Frederick, Md. Jay, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JAYHey, thanks for taking my call.
JAYI was interested in how these people are -- how do they force somebody to eat if they're not going to?
NNAMDIYes. I was reading about the methods by which they force feed those people. They do it intravenously. And you cannot resist that. There's -- you cannot simply use your will to resist that kind of feeding. And the president says they're doing it because they don't want these people to die. I guess the question, Jay, is what do we want these people to do, not do or what do you think should happen with them?
JAYI mean, I guess if they've been cleared of all their wrongdoings, I mean, send them back to wherever we got them. I mean, I don't understand why we should keep these people there under, I'm guessing, not very good treatment. And, you know, I mean, why don't we just send them back?
NNAMDII guess because somebody somewhere continues to feel that they are dangerous people. And this is a part of the ongoing relationship or lack thereof between the president and the congress of the United States in which he has been blocked, at some points, in his efforts to close Guantanamo Bay. But the question is, why can nothing else be done at this point? Jay, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIIt's Your Turn. You can call us at 800-433-8850 about any topic on your mind. Here is Randy in Manassas, Va. Randy, your turn.
RANDYYeah, I was wondering if at some time in the future you could do a show on who in Syria supports Assad. We hear about the rebels and everything but he certainly must have a lot of friends there because he seems to have no problem staying in power all these years.
NNAMDIHe does have support in Syria. He does also have some international support. But he does, as you have been hearing a lot -- maybe you feel too much -- that he has also a great deal of opposition in Syria. But you are saying that you need to hear more reporting about who supports him in order that you can not only be better informed, but so you can come to some conclusions yourself about what should be done, Randy?
RANDYYeah, there's always two sides to each story and just haven't really heard that he's -- hear he's a bad guy and everything but lots of people like him I guess.
NNAMDIWell, there's two sides to every story. And the story that his regime is peddling is that if you remove us you don't know what's coming next. And frankly, we don't. And that's one of the reasons for the hesitancy on the part of the Obama Administration because they are not exactly sure that if they arm people, who they will be arming. Or if they put boots on the ground, how long those boots are likely to remain on the ground given our memories of Afghanistan and Iraq. But, Randy, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIWe move on now to Martha in Washington, D.C. Martha, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARTHAOh, hello. My topic is also the Guantanamo prisoners. And I wrote a short poem. How can America be so cruel to the Guantanamo prisoners? They are like fish with water, birds without air being forced to live while trying to die, trying to live while being forced to die. And what about their families that are waiting and praying for them? Mercy be -- cruelty begets cruelty and mercy begets mercy. Let us choose mercy. And let them go. I mean, I think maybe they should just go to where they want. Let them decide where they want to go.
NNAMDIAnd Martha, thank you very much for your call. There is no appetite for even those who have not been cleared apparently being tried in this country. But I suspect one of the reasons that they are being detained without any clear reason has to do with our own fears. We know just recently about the bombing in Boston. And by the way, yesterday three friends of the Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested. Two for hiding evidence once they realized their friend was a suspect, one for lying to the FBI.
NNAMDIBut with even those arrests nearly three weeks after Boston shook and shockwave spread throughout the nation and beyond, many questions remain. And in an effort to get some answers it's been reported that attorneys involved in the case have been talking about taking the death penalty off the table for the suspect, in hopes that he'll provide information. News that coincided with the release of a Washington Post ABC News poll in which 70 percent of respondents said they would support the death penalty for the 19-year-old if he's convicted. What's your take on the appropriate punishment if the suspect is found guilty?
NNAMDI800-433-8850. If all those numbers are tied up you can send us an email to email@example.com or send us a Tweet at kojoshow. Here is Diana in Montgomery County, Md. Diana, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DIANAHi, Kojo. Wonderful idea to have this kind of show regularly and I thank you for doing it. So I'm calling about I think it was yesterday's show on playing fields. And I know a lot of my, you know, volunteer colleagues from the Safe Healthy Playing Fields Coalition and I all tried to get in and all found ourselves, you know, on busy signals or on perpetual hold, which I understand.
DIANABut we were very perplexed to see something that is not very typical of something like WAMU which is 51 comments by various members of our coalition were all deleted from the WAMU Kojo site. And that's a little more disturbing. I asked...
NNAMDIWell, I have to admit I have no idea what you're talking about, but I will find out probably before this broadcast is over and let you know.
DIANATerrific. And I -- and maybe it was an error or a typo, but it just seems like given the fact that all of our comments were in one particular direction and they were all gone was a little concerning. I asked you, Kojo, is that having done apparently three shows at various times on turfs -- on fields and playfields and featuring fairly prominently the stuff called artificial turf, that you consider doing something on the concerns that we have, which is the cost of those fields which approaches a million dollars in Montgomery County and CPS pay a million dollars a pop. And these fields have to be replaced every six years.
DIANASo the cost is one. The environmental impact is a second. These fields have been found to leech lead, to which there's no safe level exposure, and zinc and cadmium and selenium and arsenic. And we don't know even how to test them because the tire makers -- the tires are ground for the field -- are allowed to keep their sort of secret sauce on how they make their individual tires secret.
DIANAAnd then the third thing in addition to costs and the environmental effect is the health for the players. On an 80 degree day in Montgomery County, those fields have been measured A. substantially hotter than asphalt. But B. as being up to 180 degrees. Now we're asking middle-aged referees who may or may not be in shape and young children to go out on those fields with all those toxic chemicals, aerating as the field heats up and as the kids kick the stuff around. And to play under those conditions it's insane.
DIANAWhat we need to be doing is investing in actually taking care of natural turf fields. There are more and more websites for it but I encourage people to visit ours which is SafeHealthyPlayingFields.org and it's all spelled out, one word, no punctuation.
NNAMDIWell, Diane, I'm sure you are clearly aware that the controversy over artificial turf has been more than 30 years in the making from the very beginnings when it was introduced. And for those who weren't listening, the broadcast we had yesterday was on the availability of playing fields and gyms across the region for what seems to be a growing population and a growing number of people who would like to use these fields.
NNAMDIAnd several jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia and its public schools have been turning more and more to the artificial turf because of the fact that you can play year-round on it. And because of the fact that you can play 24/7 on it because sod does not have to be replaced on a regular basis and the like. And the point that Diana and others would like to make is that they feel that this is unhealthy. There are studies on both sides of the issue.
NNAMDIAnd obviously, Diana, this is a topic that we would like to take up for a future conversation dealing exclusively with that, and separating it from the issue of whether or not there are accessible playing fields around. So yep, that's something we have on our radar screen and we'll be talking about later. But right now it's Your Turn and we have to take a short break. So if you have called, stay on the line. We'll be getting back to you. If the lines are busy, go to our website kojoshow.org or send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org on whatever topic you please. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to Your Turn when you can weigh in on any issue of concern to you. We do offer some suggestions, in case you may have been forgetting some of the stories recently in the news. There's a story out of Maryland that sounds like it could've been a subplot on the HBO series "The Wire." With the indictment of 13 female corrections officers accused of helping members of the black guerrilla family run its criminal gang from and in a Baltimore jail where it's alleged four guards became pregnant by one inmate. Two got tattoos of his name leading an FBI agent to say that inmates literally took over the asylum.
NNAMDIBut Governor Martin O'Malley has come out to express his full confidence in the head of the Maryland prison system. Do you share that confidence? Send us an email to email@example.com or a Tweet at kojoshow. If you've worked in law enforcement or in the prison system, what's your take on this story? You can also go to our website kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. On now to John in Vienna, Va. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOHNHi, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call. I wanted to take the opportunity to -- in relating to the Syrian story, the Guantanamo Bay issue and the Boston bombing to remind your view -- I mean, your listeners about the suicide rate among our veteran population. Many of us are still trying to come home. We face just a horrible bureaucracy of all issues, trying to come home and be with our family's financial issues. And right now the congress and the White House are just completely just ignoring the issue. I don't even hear the president talk about the issues that veterans are facing.
JOHNAnd I know everyone has a family member who served, who has seen things. There are people that are in your neighborhood that have served. And just because you see us every day and we may look okay, many of us are still trying to come home. And some of us don't even talk about the issues that we're going through because of the warrior egos. But I do want to remind people -- and correct me if I'm wrong, Kojo but I believe that suicide rates right now at last publication, was 22 per day, which a lot of people just seem to think is absolutely just it's incredible or it can't be real.
NNAMDIWell, I suspect, John, that a lot of people do acknowledge that it's real. They, I guess, simply don't know what to do.
JOHNYes. And I tell you, it is a number of -- it is a collective failure that is made up of individuals. There are a number of people that congress -- for example, I've been in contact with Congressman Connolly's office. I've been in contact with Senator Warner's office. Senator Cain was just elected when I started -- when I retired -- was medically retired with my disability rating, which is 90 percent.
JOHNBut even the -- my own representatives are powerless to help me. They understand my issues. They acknowledge my issues. And the issue is they're so complex and there are so many people that are not doing their jobs, it really is systemic. And what it's going to take is for individual Americans to start calling the White House, to start calling their congressional representatives and just demand that they do something. And right now, I mean, immigration, gay marriage and gun control and I am -- those are all important issues, but what people don't know is right now there are 22 of us per day that...
NNAMDIWell, people should know that, John, because a report came out in February that found that the number of suicides among veterans is exactly as you say it is. It reached that number, 22 a day, three years ago in 2010. That's the most recent year for which figures are available. And that's a rate much higher than the general population, which is 12 suicides per 100,000 people. So I'm really glad you called to raise that issue. Thank you for call.
NNAMDIYou too can call us, 800-433-8850. Here is Daniel in Great Falls, Va. Daniel, your turn.
DANIELHi, Kojo. Are you today?
DANIELWell, so my comment is more about the Syrian issue. Two points as to what you had started with. One was that I am kind of curious as what's sort of taking so long for us to have an intervention through drone methodology. I understand that there's huger aversions to sending in troops and there's huge aversions on the administration to participate in any kind of a ground structure. But considering drones have been our method of choice for dealing with terrorism in Afghanistan and throughout the region, I'm kind of curious as to what's barring us from doing it here.
NNAMDII suspect one of the things that's barring us from doing it in Syria is A. we don't exactly know who is who and who is where. And two, the now domestic pushback that seems to be gathering steam against the use of drones. Because there are those who are making the argument that because of the number of people who are being killed by these so-called targeted strikes, people who are considered collateral damage, people who are civilians and sometimes children, that we may be creating more enemies, more even terrorists than we are eliminating with drone strikes.
DANIELBut doesn't that -- but isn't that somewhat mitigated when we have interaction between forces on the ground? If we interact with rebel forces that are already there and give them an organizational structure, which I think is something that we can do with at least a minimal of interaction, compared to say sending in troops. Isn't that something that we can coordinate with them to get a better idea of what the ground looks like out there?
NNAMDIThe problem with doing that in Syria of coordinating rebel forces is that our intelligence is not good enough for us to be able to say exactly who some of the rebel forces might be affiliated with. And I suspect we don’t want to find ourselves organizing forces such as the Taliban in Afghanistan who eventually turned against us. There are clearly a lot of fears here. And most of those fears seems to be based on lack of accurate intelligence.
DANIELHow do you think that that can be remedied?
NNAMDIBy accurate intelligence. But that's of course much easier said than done.
DANIELSure enough. Thank you very much, Kojo.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. It's Your Turn. We'll move on next to Phil in Fairfax, Va. Phil, your turn.
PHILHi, Kojo. Hey, the reason I'm calling, that topic on the Baltimore jail is really too hot for me, so I thought I'd talk about something a little less controversial like taxes. I saw an article the other day about the Republicans working to reach a grand agreement with Obama on the budget. And I noticed that Dave Camp, who's a key guy in that process -- Representative Camp has recommended that we moved only two tax brackets. And the top one would be 25 percent.
PHILWell, that got me to thinking so I went in and I looked at the IRS website to see some historical data on what people actually pay in taxes. And I found that people that earn over a million dollars as of 2010 actually pay about 24 percent of their adjusted gross income. Now that's when the top rate was 35 percent.
PHILAnd my view is, if they're going to drop that rate to 25 percent, you're going to drop the taxes on the very wealthy in this country an enormous amount. And so it's either going to fall on us, the middle class or the lower class, or they're going to have to cut the heck out of the big budget items, which are Social Security and Medicare and defense. I just was curious about your view on that or some of your listeners. I just don't see any way around concluding that's a big bonus for the rich.
NNAMDIWell, a lot of people clearly share your point of view. I think your analysis is pretty good. I'd love to hear from people who think it isn't. But the point of all of this seems to be exactly where do you increase revenues and where do you cut taxes? If indeed you cut the tax rates for the most wealthy then how do you replace those revenues in the economy? And the notion seems to be that we can somehow replace those revenues by cutting the so-called entitlement programs, chief among which is Social Security and Medicare. And frankly a whole lot of Americans don't want to hear about that, Phil, so...
PHILExactly. The only way I could see -- and he didn't mention any other details -- but unless they raise the capital gains rate, which I think is kind of outrageous that that's so low and it primarily affects the wealthy, I don't see any way he can make up the loss in revenue. But...
NNAMDIWell, we'll see if there's anyone else who can add something to what you have to say, Phil, or who has a different point of view. Thank you very much for your call. It is Your Turn. You get to set the agenda, state your opinion on events in the news, recent editions of this broadcast or anything else on your mind. We move on now to Arnold in Beltsville, Md. Arnold, your turn.
ARNOLDHello, Kojo. Briefly, I wanted to mention that I'm actually a retired police officer. I was in the Navy for a very short -- however, my daughter has a Master's in social work and she does outreach to veterans in Maryland. She has (unintelligible) . And one thing that has been pointed out to me is that addiction is a huge issue. The alcoholism or any other addiction amongst these homeless and suicidal veterans.
ARNOLDNow they sustain their habit because they get VA benefits, so they get a check. And often that check is spent. So a simple solution would be to have them do a urine test when they pick up the check. And I think that would solve a lot of issues.
NNAMDIWhat if they are drinking alcohol as a way of self-medicating because they're suffering with PTSD?
ARNOLDWell, I must confess that I have self-medicated myself. And it's relatively easy to, you know, find something to bring you up or down or both. And, you know, you can find it on the street corner, so.
NNAMDIWhat if the majority of the suicides that we're talking about with veterans have absolutely nothing to do with alcohol or the excessive use of any substance whatsoever?
ARNOLDThat's an absolutely fair question but the reality of the situation is whether they're suicidal or not, the population of veterans has a high rate of addiction and alcoholism, whether they're suicidal or not.
NNAMDIIf they do have a high rate of alcoholism and addiction then is it their personal responsibility or does that high rate of addiction have to do with the situations in which do we as a quote unquote "grateful nation" have sent them?
ARNOLDClearly it's a responsibility of the government to help these people. You know, I don't want to go on, but my daughter covers an area -- I hope she's not listening -- she's a great kid, but she covers with, I think, two other people an area that stretches from the western midpoint of Maryland...
ARNOLD...to eastern Maryland. That's three people looking for veterans in the woods.
ARNOLDNow in the city there are other people of course. But I could not do that. I would find that too challenging.
NNAMDIYeah, and I think that one of the problems that veterans such as our previous caller want to be addressed is the provision of services for veterans. Because a lot of veterans are not just going to show up and ask for services if they happen to be suffering in one way or another. How do we find enough people to find them and treat them in an era of budget cuts at the level of governments at both the federal and local level? How do we take care of our wounded warriors with wounds that are not easily visible to the average observer? But thank you very much for your call, Arnold.
NNAMDII've been talking too much. It's Your Turn. You are the ones who are supposed to do the talking, 800-433-8850. In the wake of the attacks in Boston, Islamic communities throughout the U.S. have been holding their breath. And one local cab driver and Iraq war veteran and Army reservist, who is also Muslim, picked up what seemed to be -- as I said, seemed to be the fair from hell in northern Virginia late last week. He alleges the passenger, a middle-aged businessman, attacked him verbally and assaulted him, fracturing his jaw.
NNAMDIIf you're a member of a local community here, what have you been seeing or hearing about safety concerns of Muslims following the attack in Boston, 800-433-8850? Well, or whatever else you choose to discuss. So here's Linda in Arlington, Va. Linda, your turn.
LINDAThank you, Kojo. Kojo, my topic is very, very local. It has to do with WAMU, the news for National Public Radio and the misuse of grammar, and the misuse of the way that we refer to our president. For one thing, I hate it when subject verb agreement is messed up by our news reporters. Things like there is examples. It should be there are examples, thank you very much. And when people in the news refer to Mr. Obama or just Obama, I want to say it's President Obama...
NNAMDINot every time you use it. I'm afraid not every time you use it. You say president the first time you use it and after that -- whether it was Clinton, Bush, Regan or Carter for the 40 years or so that I've been associated with this business, after the first time you don't necessarily have to use the title anymore, whether it's a president, a congressman, a senator, a mayor or a council member. So, Linda, your turn.
LINDAAll right. I understand that. In fact, I've noticed that. But it is the case that I don't see that that first appropriate use of the title is, in fact, executed. Thank you very much for this open opportunity to comment.
NNAMDIAnd thank you very much for pointing that out. You wouldn't believe we are always getting memos and reminders about the appropriate use of grammar and English, not just at this station but at every medium that I have ever worked with because, well, people make mistakes. Linda, thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Phil in Silver Spring, Md. Phil, your turn.
PHILHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I appreciate it.
PHILSo, yeah, my topic -- I just want to get back to talking about Syria. And my question would be -- or my concern actually is that I feel like as the pressure begins to increase more on the president -- on President Obama for the U.S. to intervene militarily even in the Syrian conflict, I feel like it's incredibly important that the American public gets all the facts straight before such any kind of decision is made.
PHILAnd that being said, I can't help but feel that oftentimes when I've turned on the television or even read the newspaper -- especially on TV I guess I would say, it seems to be portrayed on the news that you have kind of President al-Assad versus the bad guys. And while I don't want to detract from the fact that there's no doubt about it that Assad's obviously, you know, committing -- you know, has blood on his hands, is committing horrible atrocities on his people, I just think before there's any kind of intervention in Syria, we should -- American public should be made aware of the fact of how complex of an issue this is. And that it's not so black and white to say that al-Assad -- it's al-Assad versus the bad guys.
PHILBecause obviously on the other side you have a lot of Islamists who are apparently been taking such a big role in the opposition. And then you even have quite a bit of support still for al-Assad in certain sections of the country. And so I guess my main point is that as the pressure ramps up against Obama intervening, I feel like the American public should be given all the facts on the ground. Because I feel like as pressure increases on Obama, I get the feeling that it'd be very easy for any politician to just say, hey, look what al-Assad is doing. We need to intervene, you know, let's do something here, by simplifying the issue.
NNAMDIWell, there's a couple of points, Phil. One of those is where is the pressure coming from, because all indications are that the overwhelming majority of the American people are not paying a great deal of attention to Syria. So if there is an increasing pressure on him, you have to question where that pressure is coming from. Second, of course, you have to remember that this is a president who opposed our intervention in Iraq, intervention that as it turned out, was made with information that was not accurate.
NNAMDIAnd the third point to be made is the one that you've been already making, that this is a very complex situation. So it's probably not going to be possible to persuade the American people to support increased intervention in Syria with oversimplified information that says, oh, these are the good guys over here, and these are the bad guys over there, because I think as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan, we understand the complexity, and I think that's one of the reasons you see the hesitation on the part of the administration that it too appears to understand that this may be more complex than it is be characterized by some people.
PHILAbsolutely. And going back to your very first -- the first point you addressed, I do think it's -- I do -- I am -- you know, I think you're right, that there isn't really pressure coming from right now too much pressure on the president to intervene, however, I -- it's just a concern and maybe even somewhat of a worry, I guess, that that could potentially happen in the months ahead as things continue to of course get worse and, you know...
NNAMDIConcern is good, Phil. It means you're paying attention...
PHILSure. Sure. Absolutely.
NNAMDI...which a lot of people clearly are not and probably should be. We're going to take a short break. If you've been paying attention, you know we'll be coming back after this short break. So if you've called, stay on the line. If you haven't yet, the number is 800-433-8850. It is Your Turn. You can also make a comment at our website kojoshow.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn, when you get to decide exactly what we will be discussing on this broadcast. You can do that by calling 800-433-8850, Or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can send us a tweet @kojoshow. We got a call earlier from a listener who noted that a number of comments that she and others had made to our show yesterday had gone missing from our website. Yesterday afternoon you should know our website was transitioned to a new server. Our web team is looking into whether we can restore any comments that may have been lost in the process.
NNAMDIIn the meantime, for any listeners who noticed their comment missing, you are free to repost because we do read those comments, and we appreciate listeners who keep the conversation going online. So that may be a partial explanation for what's happening. As for how they are feeding detainees at Guantanamo who are on a hunger strike, this morning NPR's Carol Rosenberg, a reporter for the Miami Herald -- on NPR, Carol, who is a reporter for the Miami Herald, described the way inmates are being fed thusly.
NNAMDIQuoting here. "Twice a day, if you're designated for what they call tube-feeding, you are shackled at the wrists and ankles to a chair, and a corpsman, a Navy medic, snakes a tube up your nose, down the back of your throat, into your stomach, and pumps a can of Ensure inside. Now, the military likes to say that hospitals do this all the time to patients who can't get their own nutrition. But the big difference is these men are on a hunger strike, which they consider to be a protest. They are fully conscious, and there is no consent, as best as we can tell," in that report -- I'm still quoting here, "as best as I can tell, to this procedure twice a day."
NNAMDISo that was the report that NPR aired this morning from Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald. Now, enough of me. It's back to your turn. Here is Ron in Washington DC. Ron, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
RONGood afternoon, Kojo. The District's population, it seems to be on a pace to break 700,000 sometime in the next few years, I mean, right on the corner of Georgia and New Hampshire near my house there are thousands of new residences going up, and that's great. It's thousands of new taxpayers. But it's also thousands of new toilets and sinks, and I've heard none of our elected officials, including the mayor and the people running against -- running to replace him, I've heard none of them discuss the enormous investment of infrastructure that it's going to take -- that the city will need to make other the next five to ten years to maintain our standard of living with this welcome increase of population.
NNAMDII've been hearing figures of 12,000 a month moving into the city.
RONIt's just extraordinary. And while so many of the elected officials are quick to take credit for it, and we can look at, you know, just this week's publications with one of the candidates in the city paper pointing out this and that as if, you know, she were personally responsible for it. One does not hear them speak of the investments that we're all going to have to make. So I would just have...
NNAMDIRon, over there in Petworth, what signs are you seeing that the infrastructure is straining or buckling under this increase?
RONWell, we've been lucky over here. So far I've not seen any sign of it, but we have just to look about one mile east over to Brookland, and they have problems just with their current population dealing with their water main breaks that they have over there.
RONAnd then even far out west in Georgetown, they regularly have water main breaks that snarl traffic. That could be a minor -- an insignificant inconvenience in comparison to what could be down the road in a few years.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Ron. That's something we are going to make a note of. Have an infrastructure conversation about the growing population of the District of Columbia and whether it's going to have an impact on our infrastructure, and more importantly, how that infrastructure is going to be dealt with. On now to Joy in Montgomery County, Md. Joy, your turn.
JOYYes. I am incredulous. When all this business about the budget was talked about, there was no mention of the black budget which is tremendous.
NNAMDIWhat do you mean by the black budget, Joy?
JOYThat is a huge amount of money that is used for counterintelligence and...
JOY...and all this secret stuff. Huge amounts that nobody refers to, and also, even in the federal government as I see in the agency in which I am, tremendous waste. With contractors, there has been no effort to actually do anything significant about changing all this.
NNAMDIWell, Joy, a lot of the people who have been arguing that we can increase the revenues in the budget without increases taxes at all, argue that we can simply do that by cutting waste. However, there is as yet any evidence that includes numbers to show exactly how that waste will be cut all across the federal government. Now, people such as yourself who work in individual agencies are always able to point out examples of waste in specific ways in their departments or in their agencies. But if we assume from that that there is, therefore, waste taking place everywhere in the federal budget, I think we're going to run into some problems.
JOYOh, yeah. You'll run into a lot of problems. But the fact is, that is what's happening and that circus with the controllers, you know, that is so ludicrous of the Congress, it just -- that was so repulsive. All they cared about is their own convenience, and that is just inexcusable.
NNAMDIWell, I'm -- I'm not sure who are the controllers are that you're talking about in the Congress. Are you talking about the comptrollers?
JOYThe air -- the air.
NNAMDIOh, the air traffic controllers.
JOYOh, yes. I beg your pardon, yes. I didn't say it fully. And that was absolutely so revealing of how these people think. It is just like a bunch of narcissistic children, and that is the way they function.
NNAMDICan I extrapolate from what you're saying that you feel that the emphasis on the controllers was one specific group in our society of privileged people looking at what affected them most and jumping on that as the only thing that needs to be restored in the budget?
JOYYes. And the myopia of it was incredible.
NNAMDISee, you speak in shorthand, so I got -- you speak in shorthand, so I've got to give people the longhand version of it.
JOYOh, I'm sorry. I thought it was pretty clear.
NNAMDIBut go ahead.
JOYBut no. I just was -- I thought what does Congress think that the mentality of the American population is? I mean, what they did, putting all that focus on their own very, very imminent convenience was just inexcusable.
NNAMDIWell, what Joy is...
JOYIt shows there is no, no, no, no integrity and morality.
NNAMDIWhat Joy is talking about, of course, is the fact that members of Congress are generally in town only really for about three days a week. They have to get out to their home districts to -- well, do the business that they do in their home districts, generally fundraising of some kind or another, and that they were significantly inconvenienced by the sequester and the shortage of air traffic controllers that led to significant delays in airline flights, about which frankly they had been warned for a very long time, but which some members of Congress nevertheless claim that they didn't expect at all. So something has been done about that. But Joy, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIIt is Your Turn. We still have a few minutes left, so if you have issues on your mind, you can still call us. 800-433-8850. A few lines are opening up. You've got about five or six minutes, so take your opportunity now. Here's Bonnie in Silver Spring, Md. Hi, Bonnie.
BONNIEHi, Kojo. This is a subject that I think is near and dear to your heart. It's Haiti. And I was calling because so much of the focus on Haiti is on these mega projects that cost millions of dollars and where the money went, et cetera, et cetera.
BONNIEBut very little gets -- very little attention is paid to the small, grass roots projects that are prolific in that country, and these are projects that are started and run by Haitians in their own communities. They see what needs to be done in their communities and they try to fix it, and, you know, things like tree planting, solar cooking...
BONNIE...schools, hospitals, health care projects, water projects to get clean water into people's homes. There's so many wonderful projects run by small groups of people that just need a little boost, and it just seems to get very -- be very, very difficult to get attention focused on these projects.
NNAMDIBonnie, one of the things that we noticed when we were there is that there needs to be more reporting on the innovations of the Haitian people themselves.
NNAMDISome of the things that you are mentioning, and in some cases, those innovations are receiving some assistance from NGOs in this country, but we get a lot of reporting on the NGOs and what they're doing, and the governments and what they're doing, but the fact that Haitians themselves organized to attempt to deal with their problems doesn't get a great deal of attention.
NNAMDISo thank you for bringing that up. But go ahead.
BONNIENo, that's it. I just wanted to figure -- help -- maybe you could help me figure out how to get attention to some of these projects.
NNAMDII'm figuring even as we speak. Of course, our staff is always looking at these matters and figuring out how best to present them to you and other members of the listening audience. So I can say on the question of Haiti, stay tuned. Elizabeth in Rockville, Md., you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ELIZABETHYes. My call was concerning the vet rate of -- was it 22 suicides a day, and that the most lethal way that they are committing suicide -- completing suicide is by gun. And so why, again, if we're talking about mental health and gun control, why isn't this -- why aren't we doing something about this, and I'm a mental health professional also.
NNAMDIWell, it's interesting that you should bring that up, because when the attempts at increasing new gun control legislation went down, there are those will argue that one of the reasons it went down were because people were saying that we're not paying enough attention to closing the gaps in our mental health system. So the question is, can we walk and chew gum at the same time? Can we both deal with gun control and deal with mental health at the same time? Elizabeth, you seem to be saying yes.
ELIZABETHWell, yes. But if they voted background checks, you know, how are you going to know? I mean, mental health -- schizophrenia starts at the age of 18 to the early 20s. They might not have any criminal record, but they need a mental health check.
NNAMDIAnd I think what opponents of gun control were arguing was that we need first to repair the holes, so to speak, in our mental health delivery system before we look at gun control. But clearly this is not over. Elizabeth, thank you very much for your call. Here is Don in Herndon, Va. Don, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DONYeah, hi. Regarding the guy that punched the Muslim cab driver...
DONYes. Allegedly, right. Good. Good point. You know, I think it was a very wrong way for him to handle his rage, but I do feel for him and I'm going to rally to his side, and I'm actually going to join in his legal defense if it's possible, because I feel that where he was coming from is the position that our government is failing to protect us from the enemy here on our soil, and when I...
NNAMDIYeah. But you attack a veteran?
DONWell, if they're -- if the guy -- I understand the guy is an Army Reservist veteran, but the fact that he's a Muslim, if he is -- if his allegiance is to the Koran and to the teachings and the example of Mohammad, he is not on our side. We've had veterans who were...
NNAMDIOh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. So the fact that he is an American who went to defend us in Iraq is less important to you than the fact that he has the Muslim faith? That makes him to you an enemy?
DONYes. Yes. Actually.
NNAMDIWell, I have no more patience to listen to you anymore, sir, because that is, frankly, ridiculous. We're talking about the people that we say every day to them, thank you for your service. Thank you for undertaking the dirty work that we ourselves have chosen not to undertake in another country, the work of defending us, and you have the nerve, the unmitigated gall to say that because this person is of a Muslim faith he becomes your enemy? Well, I'm afraid we're out of time, so I can't rant on that any longer.
NNAMDIThanks to everyone who has participated in this edition of Your Turn. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez. Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, Tayla Burney, Kathy Goldgeier, Elizabeth Weinstein, and Stephannie Stokes, with Brendan Sweeney as our managing producer. Our engineer today, Tobey Schreiner. Natalie Yuravlivker is on the phones. Podcasts of all shows, audio archives, CDs and free transcripts are available at our website kojoshow.org. To share questions or comments with us, you an email email@example.com, join us on Facebook or send a tweet @kojoshow. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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