In both its spoken and written forms, the English language is constantly evolving. Grammar - the system and structure that underpin communications - and linguistics - the science of its study - can help us make sense of these shifts and changes. We talk with experts in each field about the quirks, foibles, understanding and glory of the written and spoken word.
The NCAA considers letting the top five sports conferences set looser scholarship rules, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit comes to a close and a guitarist sues Metro for permission to play for tips in the stations. Join Kojo to talk about these topics and whatever else is on your mind.
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. Start calling now, 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Whatever you want to talk about but here are a couple or a few suggestions.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIMaybe you've been to Paris and seen all the padlocks snapped on the Pont des Arts or maybe you've strolled across New York's Brooklyn Bridge and seen the colorful locks clamped to the railing. Now these so-called love locks have shown up on the Key Bridge in Washington. But they won't be there for long. The always overzealous D.C. Department of Transportation will cut the locks off the bridge by the end of the day today, according to the Washington Post, hoping to stop the trend from taking hold here.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe idea of engraving a small lock with two lovers' names and clamping it to a bridge may have started in Paris. The custom was for the happy couple to snap the lock in place together and then toss the key into the river below, until a section of the Pont des Arts railing collapsed under the weight of the locks and the bridge had to be closed. In New York maintenance workers have already removed thousands of these love locks to prevent damage to the bridge.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIHere in Washington there seem to be about ten love locks on Key Bridge but, you know, the Department that can give you a parking ticket before you're 10' away from your car also has decided that the locks should be removed before they proliferate. So the D.C. Department of Transportation is removing them today. What do you think about love locks on bridges? Are they delightful or are they dangerous? Is the Department of Transportation right to cut them off before they proliferate? It's Your Turn. 800-433-8850 is the number to call.
MR. KOJO NNAMDITop college football players could get a few thousand more dollars in scholarship money and better medical coverage under a plan that the NCAA is voting on today. The move would give the so-called big five sports conferences some autonomy from the NCAA to set their own financial and recruiting rules. They're expected to give players a little more reward for the millions of dollars that their games bring in.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe proposed change seems to be acknowledging the fact that college athletes aren't really amateurs anymore. Well, I call t hat a fact. Some people say it's a delusion. They are amateurs, they say. What do you say? Are the current scholarship limits for student athletes outdated? How would new rules in the biggest conferences change the role of sports in higher education? It's Your Turn. Give us a call, 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd then of course it might seem strange when your former Chief of Staff testifies that she saw no evidence you had a romantic interest in a man who is not your husband. And that's bad news for your defense. We're talking of course about the McDonald trial because that's what happened yesterday at the trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonald and his wife Maureen.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIHer former aide said the former first couple's marriage seemed to her fine. Prosecutors are trying to prove that the couple conspired with a wealthy businessman to promote his diet supplement in exchange for gifts. The defense seems to be suggesting that the couple could not have conspired because their marriage was shaky and they didn't talk much. How do you think this trial will play out? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Do you think this is another case of share (word?) placing the blame on the woman in the dispute?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWell, regardless of the verdict in this case, does Virginia need tougher ethics laws? What do you say, 800-433-8850? You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will start with Rachel in Chevy Chase, Md. Rachel, your turn. Hi, Rachel. Are you there? Well, Rachel seems to have, for the time being anyway, abandoned us. Rachel, we'll put you on hold. You may have wandered away from the phone. Let's see what Paul in Chantilly, Va. has to say. Paul, your turn.
PAULYeah, my statement slash question regards our international policies. I mean, it seems to me that it's shown diplomacy in long term has failed all over the world. Why doesn't American just pick a side, back that side and let it play itself out? I mean, take Israel, they've been in conflict for so long, thousands have died. If Israel simply went through and, you know, with their military, fix the problem as best they could and then in the aftermath put together some type of a solution, why is that not better than endless diplomacy and deaths? It seems terrorism spreads as we go through all these negotiations.
NNAMDII think the U.S. feels that in the majority of cases of some form of disagreement between countries in the world, diplomacy has in fact solved those problems. However, diplomacy solving problems of differences between nations doesn't always make the front pages. Conflict, especially violent conflict, invariably makes the front pages and can lead us to believe, in the same way that we can be led to believe that crime is at an all time high when it may be at an all time low because it makes the front pages of the newspaper, we can also be led to believe that diplomacy doesn't really solve problems at all.
NNAMDII think that...
PAULOh, I don't know. I think that the diplomacy that has been effective has come -- has taken place at the end of a conflict when the mooring parties have gotten a taste of what they asked for and then they finally say, okay, this is the point at which we're going to start negotiating so that, you know, we can kind of stop it here.
NNAMDIYou would be surprised to know that there are all kinds of border disputes all over the world being negotiated right now by diplomats all over the world, border disputes that have been around for centuries, countries claiming land, countries claiming sea in other countries that are being settled by diplomacy. They don't result in war.
PAULBut those aren't active violent conflicts. I'm talking about active violent conflicts.
NNAMDIAnd you feel that active violent conflicts -- wait a minute -- you feel that in active violent conflicts the U.S. should just choose a side? I don't know if you remember the Vietnam War.
NNAMDIWe chose a side.
PAULWe chose a side.
NNAMDIOur side lost.
PAULI'm not saying that it resolves -- we chose a side that was a minority, right. We went through and the ratios -- the number of people against our position as opposed to for our position was very high.
PAULOur country -- it took about ten years for us to get a Constitution that we could live with. We go to other countries and we expect them, in one or two years, to put together a constitution that holds the country together. And then we're surprised when that country falls apart.
PAULA democracy, a stable government, it has more to do with institutions and it has more to do with (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDII understand everything that you're saying -- I understand everything that you're saying except exactly what do you mean when you say choose a side? What do we do after we have chosen that side? There are people in the Middle East because our support for Israel is so strong, will feel that we have chosen a side in that dispute.
PAULNo, we haven't. We've chosen a side to talk about, but we put handcuffs on the acts of Israel that could result in a potential solution. We -- when Israel wants to go in and deal with the -- deal with arms buildup, when Israel wants to go in and deal with the violence, when Israel wants to go in and deal with cross border terrorists, and etcetera, etcetera, they can be on the ground for two days. And there's already -- there's an international cry to stop what you're doing.
PAULIf the same situation was the United States where there was violence on the streets of an American city, we would go in -- the police and the authorities would go in and create a peaceful condition. And then after that peaceful condition is set, they go back and then address the issue through discussions, they'll put together institutions. My big example is we think that democracy means voting. But when you have a society where religious leaders can threaten people on how they vote and penalize them on how they vote, the vote will always go towards that party. Voting does not equal democracy.
NNAMDIWell, it seems to me that you're conflating issues and I don't want to get in too long and involved discussion here, but you're conflating the issue of democracy with the issue of conflict. And I think the urgency of conflict requires solutions to that conflict before there's a conversation about the nature of democracy in a variety of countries. But thank you very much for your call. I do have to move on, Paul, because it is Your Turn. You too can call us, 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIOf course Israel and Hamas are observing the third day of a ceasefire -- that's one of the things that Paul was talking about -- ahead of talks in Egypt to try to end their month-long conflict. More than 1800 Palestinians, 67 Israelis have reportedly been killed. Gaza has seen large scale destruction from Israeli shelling, airstrikes. The question now is whether there's a way to forge a long-term truce to end the third military confrontation in six years between Israel and Hamas and to find a way to prevent more battles in the future.
NNAMDIAre you hopeful that Egypt will be able to help broker an agreement? What role, if any, do you think the U.S. should play? Paul just said, choose up a side and go with that. 800-433-8850. It's Your Turn on that or any other issue you want to discuss. Let's see if Rachel in Chevy Chase is back with us. Rachel, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
RACHELYes, can you hear me this time?
NNAMDIYes, we can.
RACHELOkay. Wonderful. Thank you for coming back to me. We have, as you know, a problem with people turning out for the vote in this general area. And I'm hopeful that having marijuana on the ballot will bring people who don't usually vote out to vote, and hopefully keep them engaged in the political process. Because this is one issue that people who really don't care who their councilmen is or anything else, might get up and get interested in.
RACHELAnd it just -- when listening to your last hour about revolution, it just occurred to me that strange as it may seem, this may be one issue that will actually engage people who've never thought about voting before. And if we can only find a way (unintelligible) to keep them.
NNAMDIFascinating that you should bring that up. Fascinating that you should bring that up, Rachel, because, you know, because our primary was held -- when was it, April? It seems like years ago that we held our primary. The general election is not until November. It's an off-year election. Turnout was very low in the primary. But if the issue of legalizing marijuana is to bring people out, who do you think it will bring out in larger numbers, supporters or opponents?
RACHELWell, I'm kind of hoping that a whole lot of people who are a little over 18 and never considered voting, but this is an issue that matters to them, will suddenly start thinking about the fact that their voice can make a difference. And it's getting the word out to them really that this time is not just, you know, some -- you know, to decide about something that they may or may not care about. Maybe this time self interest will get people involved and vote not just on the marijuana question but, you know, maybe see that they can make a difference.
RACHELI'm not, you know, saying...
NNAMDISo you're saying that passion on one side or the other can bring people out. And that therefore that can turn their attention to the other issues because nobody wants to vote for candidates they know nothing about.
RACHELWell, nobody wants to vote for anything, it seems. You know, if you look at the way even national elections go, we have just a very small number of people of the number of people who are qualified to vote in this country ever, every come out and vote. And I'm just hoping that a controversial issue, even if they would just come out and vote for president for once in their life, you know. There are just a lot of people who don't even do that. I know in D.C. that's a sticky issue, but just the idea of (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIWell, just by way of information, the ballot initiative 71, it proposes a -- ballot initiative 7, 7 -- I'm not sure what the number is, but it proposes allowing adults over the age of 21 to legally posses up to 2 ounces of marijuana as well as give but not sell, as the initiative clearly states, up to 1 ounce to other adults. Additionally, the ballot initiative allows for the home cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. And it is initiative 71.
NNAMDISo Rachel, if people are really interested in either supporting or opposing that, maybe they'll come out and vote on a number of other issues. At least that's certainly what Rachel hopes. Rachel, thank you for your call. It's Your Turn. We move on to Victor in Washington. Victor, your turn.
VICTORYes, hi. Thank you very much for inviting me to comment with regard to the comments you made about the love locks on Key Bridge. I'm actually a native Washingtonian and been here for 52 years. And I have to say that I've seen a lot of positive change in this city. I do not work for the district government and certainly some of the bad press that the D.C. government has gotten historically for the last several decades is probably rightfully placed in their lap.
VICTORHowever, in this particular case, I don't really view the effort to remove the locks as the district government being overzealous. You know, when you consider the broken window theory and how aggressive this city, as well as the metro system has been to remove graffiti and other things like that throughout the city, the net result of that is that we have a very pretty city as far as that sort of thing is concerned or...
NNAMDIBut if you've seen pictures of the love locks on other bridges, albeit even though there were too many love locks on those bridges, they do look pretty to some observers.
VICTORWell, I can appreciate that. And I'm sure it's -- you know, I'm a romantic too and I think a couple feels very great that -- good to place a lock on the bridge and cast the key into the river below. And it probably feels good for others to see that love lock in place. But I do think that there's an appropriate place for that sort of thing. And I don't really -- as a taxpayer I don't really feel as though the public space -- a bridge as beautiful as the Key Bridge needs any improvement.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. Obviously the Department of Transportation of the District of Columbia agrees with you. They're removing those love locks today. It's Your Turn. You can talk about that or any other issue on your mind. We're going to take a short break during which you can continue to call, 800-433-8850, whether you want to talk about the U.S. general killed in Afghanistan, if you want to talk about -- oh, we're going to tell you about a guitar busker who sues metro -- or anything else on your mind, 800-433-8850. Send email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn. If you don't care much about the love locks maybe you'll care about this. Unlike in many other cities, you don't see a lot of buskers in the Washington metro, musicians playing for tips. That's because metro doesn't allow it. You're free to play your instrument on metro property as long as you're 15' from the escalators, entrances, fair gates and fair card machines. But setting out an open guitar case or a tip jar, forbidden.
NNAMDINow a local guitarist is suing metro saying the prohibition violates his First Amendment rights. The musician says his open guitar case conveys the message that society should support artists. Metro says it constitutes commercial activity that's banned on metro property. The U.S. district judge has scheduled a hearing on the case next week. Do you think musicians should be allowed to play for donations on metro property? Would you like to see metro's rules changed? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Or if the lines are busy, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet @kojoshow.
NNAMDIOf course we know where Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was Tuesday night, at the White House dinner for the African heads of state attending this week's first U.S. Africa leader summit. While in his country, of course, there are still the missing Nigerian school girls. The contrast between tight security at an opulent international dinner versus lax security for the people at home seems to illustrate both the opportunity and the challenges on display at the summit.
NNAMDIAfrica boasts six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world but still a great deal of poverty. U.S. business leaders and elected leaders -- elected officials seem to have made new bonds this week with leaders from across the continent of Africa. But how will that change the lives of Africans remains to be seen. What's your reaction to this week's Africa summit in D.C.? Send us an email to email@example.com. We now go back to the telephones and this time we go to -- where we going this time? We got to Dakee (sp?) in Washington -- no, not time for -- yes, Dakee is correct. Dakee, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DAKEEYes. Thank you so much for having the breadth of the discussion that you're having. It's more than a mile long and an inch deep. You and I have met in the past. If you saw me, you probably would've recognized me. I'm Dakee (word?) from Baltimore.
DAKEEAnd I've done extensive radio and appreciate what you've done over the years. I want to say that.
DAKEEWhat I wanted to say was this. First of all, it is no question that this African summit is monumental. As to how it will factor into impacting the lives of brothers and sisters at home is yet to be seen. And they didn't take a summit to have to continue to struggle for their livelihood in good and bad situations on the continental of Africa.
DAKEESo what I wanted to say was that what I found in your discussions is always a historical perspective. You've raised everything from foreign policy and whether or not diplomacy can work. And then one caller called and talked about might and right and military and U.S. taking the right side. I'm a Vietnam veteran. I chose to go to Vietnam and not pick up a gun. And would've been court-martialed except I was a popular individual and I came back. They sent me back and I went back and did relations and the like.
DAKEEI say to the (unintelligible) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in particular, impacted me when he took a stand, why he opposed the war in Vietnam. And he delineated that yet the day of his assassination, April the 4th, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York...
NNAMDI'68. Oh, you mean a year before.
DAKEEA year before the assassination, April 4, 1968.
NNAMDIGotcha. That would be April 4, 1960 -- oh, correct.
DAKEEHe gave his why-I-oppose-the-war-in-Vietnam speech at Riverside Church in New York.
DAKEESo a year later he's assassinated. And there's no question he was stepping outside of the bounds of what is called the civil rights any respectable minister (unintelligible) . Having been an associate minister for many years and following in that tradition I'm saying, when we say what is right, the right side, there's no question the civil war you had two sides. You had brothers from the same family fighting on different sides of the same battlefield.
DAKEEYou know, all I'm saying is that there's a higher power that we appeal to, whether it's your business or in a faith. And it crosses many lines. You've been with us, WHR and many other people have been with us when Dr. King did his call to conscious and action. We're called to a higher calling above what was considered legal and right and constitutional. And we stepped against and we spoke truth to power. We did in South Africa in apartheid. We've done it over the years with the Middle East.
DAKEEAnd let us not forget the great Ralph Bunche, you know, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role, this great African American from UCLA, you know, for negotiating a settlement...
NNAMDIYou say all of that, Hakee -- Dakee to underscore the importance of diplomacy.
DAKEEI'm underscoring not only diplomatic diplomacy, where that can be impactful. I'm also underscoring the role of good people that had good consciences that choose to act and speak truth to power in coalition in a line to say this policy must change. It is not enough to say that we undergird Israel billions of dollars each year, you know. And say that one life is more important than another. All life is important, whether it's a Palestinian life or whether it's an Israeli life.
DAKEEAnd of those youths are (unintelligible) Israelis for peace over there, you know. You have Palestinians, you know, that also differ with Hamas and whatever.
NNAMDII got to get out this. What's your basic point?
DAKEEMy basic point is that when we have a discussion of this nature of what position should we be on and throw words around like democracy, this, that and the other, we stand in D.C. where people are taxed and don't have representation. You know, so what I'm saying is that we're called to our own consciences to come together across racial lines and speak truth to power. Wrong is wrong.
DAKEEAnd all I'm saying is right now wrong is undergirded by one group, one side being supplemented, you know, by the United States government and its dollars. And the other side is ridiculed and that's wrong.
NNAMDIWell, the other side is ridiculed in some circles. In other circles the other side is praised. And I think one of the aspects of this dispute is that there are people on both sides who find it difficult to communicate with each other. And I agree with you that it takes people of good will to try to bring those two sides together. But thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Hannah in Silver Spring, Md. Hannah, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
HANNAHHi. My name is Hannah and thank you Kojo for your daily dose of wonderful program. I appreciate it. But my question is about Ebola. And ever since I saw those two American got the dose and survived from death, it's been bothering me like crazy. Why do we let the other 900, almost 1,000 people die and save the two Americans, if we have medication.
NNAMDIWell, there are a couple of points to be made about that Hannah. You are stepping into what is an extremely controversial issue. That is an experimental vaccine. It has not been approved by any medical body at this point. And they are not absolutely sure that that is what is causing the two Americans to whom it was administered to seem to be doing better.
NNAMDIThere's a huge debate right now taking place in the medical and in the research community about whether that treatment should be put on a fast track to be used by others, when in the minds of some researchers it has not been fully tested as yet on human beings. So we don't know what the short term or long term implications might be. But there is one group of scientists who are saying, we need to move ahead because this is a desperate situation.
NNAMDIAnother group of scientists who are saying, you don't want to move ahead and then have to look back and regret this at a later date. So it's a very difficult decision to make and I'm glad I'm not the one making it.
HANNAHKojo. Kojo. Kojo.
HANNAHMy question is, if those people that are dying from the Ebola are dying anyways. And the end is death. So what are we preventing them for? Like, why did we use it? If it's this controversial, why did we use it on these people and not on these people? I mean, I'm not -- I'm sure there is a perfectly fine explanation but it's been bothering me. It bothers me why those dying people have not been given the chance.
NNAMDIWell, one reason for that is a cultural phenomenon. And that is, it has been used on two people in the United States returning to the United States so that if in -- there turn out to be adverse effects from it, then the U.S. government only has to answer to those people. You use it on people in foreign countries in large numbers and bad things begin to happen to large numbers of people, it puts the U.S. in a situation where it can be accused of experimenting on poor people in third world countries and leading to a greater disaster than already existed. I suspect that is the fear that is in the minds of some authorities.
HANNAHOkay. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. It's Your Turn. You too can call us, 800-- well, the phones are busy so it might be better now if you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on whatever you want to talk about, it doesn't really make a difference. We'll talk to you about just about anything. You can also send us a tweet @kojoshow. Who do we move on to now? We move on to -- oh, Victor's no longer with us. How -- and William has left us at this point. Let's go to Janet in Pikesville, Md. Janet, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JANETThis is about Ebola. I'm confident from what I've heard from the experts in the media that it probably will not spread in the United States. However, I am bothered because I have heard several experts say that you can't get it by coughing or sneezing, by someone coughing or sneezing. However, I have heard that the virus can be present in saliva. And on the noon news today I saw a clip of Dr. Fauci who I believe is head of the CDC. And he was sitting in what looked like a medical waiting room. And he had his very nice suit on and he said that you can't get it just by sitting in a room and talking to someone.
JANETSo my question is -- maybe it's just a philosophical question, but when was the last time anybody dared to sneeze on Dr. Fauci?
NNAMDII'm not sure I understand your question.
JANETWell, the question -- maybe Dr. Fauci should say, I can't get it just by sitting and talking to someone in a room. Because who would ever dare to sneeze on him? And other people are saying -- they're saying on the one hand that the virus is present in saliva, in mucus, in sweat. However, they're saying that you can't get it by, you know, someone -- sitting near someone on a plane. But if the Ebola-infected person sneezes on you or coughs on you or sweats on a seat -- in other words, Dr. -- nobody's likely to sneeze on Dr. Fauci.
NNAMDIWell, I am not -- I am clearly not qualified to answer that.
JANETBut us poor people who ride the public transportation, we get sneezed on all the time. We sit on sweaty seats on buses all the time.
NNAMDIBut I'd like to go back to your original statement. You began by saying that you didn't think that there was any chance of Ebola spreading in the United States.
JANETNo, that's not what I said. I'm confident that it probably will not spread.
JANETI am not confident about these people who say that there's no chance that it will spread. That's what really worries me. When Dr. Besser on ABC said it would be impossible for it to spread in America, that's what really worries me. Dr. Fauci did say we may get a few cases but it's not likely to spread. I respect his opinion on that, however, it's like I said, these people are experts. They're in the CDC. And who is likely -- poor people get sneezed on all the time.
NNAMDIWell, what you seem to be suggesting -- and that's what I'm trying to get to, what you seem to be suggesting is that on the one hand, while you think it is not probable that it will spread in the United States, your concern for whether it will spread in the United States seems to be greater than your concern about containing it in Africa.
NNAMDIIs that what I'm beginning to understand?
JANETWell, even the people in Africa can get it by -- I think they can get it by coughing or sneezing.
NNAMDIWell, what you think or what I think doesn't really matter as much as what the experts think. And I think we do have, in this case, to try to follow...
JANETBut there are contradictions in what the experts say. I think...
NNAMDIAnd one of the problems that scientists have -- and I do have to say, one of the problems that scientists have is that when they offer opinions we choose up which opinions we would like to believe. When we have no scientific basis on which we should believe those things. I think in a situation like this I listen to the arguments of the various scientists. But I cannot come to a conclusion about exactly how someone can get Ebola because I frankly don't have enough information. And I would warn people not to come to conclusions about how people can or cannot get ebola.
JANETOkay. Let's not come to a conclusion about anything then.
NNAMDIWell, no. Let's not come to a conclusion about scientific things about which we don't have enough information, is what I'm suggesting.
JANETBut I'm saying that, you know, if Ebola does spread -- and even Dr. Fauci admit -- I believe he would admit to the possibility that it could spread...
JANET...it will probably spread among poor people who use public transportation.
NNAMDIWell, that -- I'll tell you what.
JANETAnd then the upper middle class, then can just lay in supplies and stay home.
NNAMDIJanet, that's not speculation that I'm prepared to indulge in at this point. But thank you very much for your call. And of course you are completely entitled to your opinion about this. That's why we have Your Turn. And it is now Chris's turn. Chris in Washington, D.C., your turn.
CHRISYes. Hello, Kojo. Thank you so much for having me on the air. This is my first time. I'm very excited. I'm calling about the busker issue -- the issue of the busker in the metro. I run an organization called Listen Local First. And we have actually advocated that one of the things we need to do in the city is create more opportunities to create additional exposure for musicians. And that performing in the metro is a really great way to do that. It happens in most cities around the country.
CHRISD.C., for some reason, doesn't let musicians perform in the metro. It doesn't allow them to have that exposure. And if they do perform in the metro, it doesn’t allow them to, you know, collect any tips from the public.
NNAMDIHow do you think, if musicians are allowed to perform in the Metro, that should be regulated? How do you think it should be regulated?
CHRISWell, I certainly don't think it should be regulated the way they're trying to do it now. They create a series each year called the MetroPerforms! series, where they basically do an "American Idol" type casting call. They bring musicians in. And they -- I don't know what their rating, you know, how they rate their musicians. But they basically don't give the musicians full information and say you can perform on these dates. They don't do anything to publicize who the musicians are. There's no signage. One musician told me, when she showed up at the station, the station manager had no clue she was going to be performing. They had no clue where to put her.
CHRISThey moved her around three different times. Again, she wasn't allowed to put out CDs. She wasn't allowed to put out, you know, tip jars. She wasn't allowed to do anything. So in the end, she said, it was not worth doing. I think the process is working with other arts organizations in the city that work with musicians and know all the musicians and that can help sort of, you know, one, curate the music, two, you know, whether it's a bad system or something, create a system so that the people that are performing get a badge.
NNAMDIWell, I'm assuming...
CHRISThe badge let's them play there a certain...
NNAMDII'm assuming that -- and that sounds like an excellent to me. But I'm assuming that what Metro fears is a deluge of musicians descending on Metro and causing a great deal of confusion.
CHRISWell, there would have to be -- there would have to be a licensing process. There would have to be -- you would have to apply for, you know, a badge. A badge would allow you to play for this timeframe. And you only allow x-number of badges every couple months.
NNAMDIGotcha. Gotcha. We got a tweet from some...
CHRISThere is a way. Other cities do it and regulate it well. You know, it's just a matter of Metro and the city wanted to come and talk about a reasonable solution.
NNAMDIWell, you know, I said earlier that Metro does not allow busking because Metro says it's commercial activity that's banned on Metro property. We had a tweet from someone who said, I see ads plastered all over the Metro. Isn't that a commercial activity? Let people busker. What do you say?
NNAMDII -- I mean, if it's so -- it's sad that this is how we view, you know, this is how we view...
CHRIS...benefit that comes from a musical -- yeah, from artists and the musical community. You know, they're providing a service...
NNAMDIJust as another commercial activity.
CHRISRight. They're making everyone around them happy. This isn't commercial. This is their livelihood. Do you want to actually support the arts? If you actually want to support the arts, you let them collect tips. You let them collect, you know, sell their CDs. If you want a stake, support the arts, you create a Metro performance (word?) that doesn't really work.
NNAMDIChris, I got to -- got to take a short break. Thank you very much for your call. We got an email from Scott who says, "Love locks can no longer be viewed as a carefree, whimsical type of fun. It's now well documented how even small pieces of metallic material impact the waterways and the animals that live there. Not funny. Not fun." We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this edition of Your Turn. Keep calling, 800-433-8850. If the lines are busy, send us an email to email@example.com, or a tweet @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn. It was a tragic reminder that even as Afghans count ballots in their presidential election and U.S. troops prepare to pull out, Afghanistan is still a war zone. An American Army General on a routine visit to a military academy near Kabul was killed on Tuesday when an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of officers. That death marking the first time since Vietnam that a U.S. Army General was killed in a foreign conflict. It's also the highest-ranking member of the NATO-led forces to be killed in the war in Afghanistan.
CHRISDo you think this shooting should change the timeline for the withdrawal of the last U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan at the end of the year? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Speaking of the love locks, National Geographic says that other cities have solutions. In Moscow, locks on bridges over the Vodootvodny Canal were snipped off and metal trees that locks could be attached to were put up. When a tree is full, it's replaced and the old locks melted for scrap. Rome and Venice have banned locks altogether. And they're being snipped off of the Key Bridge here in Washington.
NNAMDIBut it's Your Turn. So let's go to William in Baltimore, Md. William, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
WILLIAMHi, Kojo. Good afternoon and thanks for taking my call. I am originally from Ghana. I'm a citizen here. And I'm just so, kind of, you know, angered by the whole idea of this summit, that the head of states from Africa came here to do. Because they're all -- almost all of them, they don't have any kind of relationship with their own people. You know, there's a huge gap of difference between the governed and the government. They are there. They do things that they want to do. And the people, you know, do what they have to do. They don't have any...
NNAMDIBut William, allow me to interrupt. There were a lot of people who used this occasion and this event to have large meetings of civil society leaders from Africa here in Washington. There was also a young-leadership summit that took place. And we talked yesterday with people who attended both of those and they -- those sessions, they said, provided a welcome alternative because it allowed human-rights issues to be raised. It allowed issues of governance and democracy to be raised in those sessions, which may not have taken place were not the summit itself taking place.
WILLIAMYeah, but this is specifically to the head of -- the head of states. I'm not talking about the other organizations or other summit that came along with the main summit itself. I'm talking about the head of states themselves. You know, because they are so much disconnected from the people. I just came back from Ghana this past February. And it's so heartbreaking when you go there and you find the living conditions. You know, people say that Ghana is getting better and better and everything and everything. But I grew up in Ghana and the conditions are just as bad. And the government is so they -- they ditch the activities or the people has nothing to do with the government. You know?
NNAMDIWell, there are people who see Ghana in West Africa as an example of one of the better governing bodies in Africa. You don't agree?
WILLIAMNo, I don't. And I work with some people from Sierra Leone. And anytime I complain about the fact that, you know, things are bad in Ghana. They would be laughing at me there. Go and see Sierra Leone. But I lived during the time of our first President Kwame Nkrumah, and I knew how things were being run at that time and how since I've been gone this very time. You know, the government and the people there only care about themselves. You know, you would have somebody who is a minister and all that they do is that they care about their people, through from their (unintelligible)
NNAMDISo you think the whole summit was a waste of time? What do you think should happen instead?
WILLIAMYou know, right now, you are opening my eyes to the fact that there was minor summits, you know, by some youth and some other of these organizations and (word?) . But my point is that if it does not raise anything that has to do with the ordinary man on the street, then the summit's of -- it's of no use, because...
WILLIAM...the people there are suffering.
NNAMDILet me get another opinion on that, William. Thank you very much for your call, because I think that's what Ken in Gaithersburg wants to talk about also. Ken, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KENYes. Thank you for taking my call. I actually have been following the summit very closely. Some of my patients are involved in it. And when I was in government, I had some peripheral involvement in Africa. And my rather cynical take on it is that there is not going to be very much benefit accrued to people who are below the privileged middle class in Africa because the players remain the same. The multi-nationalists come in. They hire among the people of influence. The jobs go to really, essentially the middle and upper classes. And...
NNAMDIWell, allow me interrupt. Because I'm glad you raised that issue, Ken. We seem to be looking at a world -- if you look at places like China, if you look at places like India, look at places like Brazil, in which what is being celebrated in those economies is the expansion of the middle class. What you seem to be saying is that in Africa more attention needs to be paid to the poor. That this whole notion of building the middle class is a notion that leaves out, in the case of Africa, an important and maybe the largest segment of the population. Is that what you're suggesting?
NNAMDIWell, there is the notion that if the middle class is expanded, that if the business environment in these countries is expanded, then it will provide for more jobs. And that ultimately, that is how the poor will be able to be lifted out of poverty, because the societies of these economies expand, will create more jobs and opportunities for them. What do you say to that?
KENThat's kind of a trickle-down theory. And I believe that, having grown up in Southeast Asia, the countries where the middle class has grown, has been actually from the down up, where you had people who were poor farmers or where there was land redistribution that gave people the opportunity to farm or create businesses on their own, eventually lift themselves up because they were given business opportunities and the opportunities that I can (unintelligible)
NNAMDIAlso glad you mentioned that because yesterday we had Femi Kuti here in studio, the son of the Nigerian performer, Fela Kuti. And he, an artist in his own right, joined with a group of other artists in Africa to -- they made a song comparable to "We Are the World," talking about agricultural development in Africa. That was what he was here to emphasize at a part of the civil society groups who where here. They feel that even as the summit discussed American companies investing more in Africa, that what Africa needs a great, probably greater investment in, is its agriculture. What would you say to that?
KENI would agree with him wholeheartedly.
NNAMDIYep. Well, that's why he was here. And obviously that's the kind of thing you were looking for. We'll have to see what happens in the future. But, Ken, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIWe move on now to Deb in Silver Spring, Md. Deb, your turn. Go ahead, please.
DEBHi, I'm calling about the busking issue.
DEBI agree with the gentleman that called, if there's some kind of regulation with badges. I drive around D.C. almost every day. And when I hear the music, I love it. It's spring time, it's summer, it's nice out. People are out and about. What is the difference of not allowing that and having these homeless folks on the street corner, some aggressively trying to get a dollar with their bottle of Jack and their six-dollar pack of cigarettes and nice Nike tennis shoes? I mean they're there...
NNAMDIWait a minute. Wait a minute. You're making -- you're making a distinction between buskers and homeless people who are asking for money on the street. But you're characterizing all of the homeless people who ask for money on the street as people who wear expensive tennis shoes, smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Now, do you really think that that's who all the homeless population consists of?
DEBNow, I am making a generalization. But I see more of that than the other.
NNAMDIWell, I guess you would see more of that because that's who tends to make themselves more visible than anybody else and who tends to be more aggressive. But I think that that is a really small percentage of the homeless population, albeit a highly visible percentage. However, you called to make a point about allowing buskers. And you agree with the kind of suggestions that our previous caller was making about regulating buskers?
DEBYes. I love to hear the music and they're being productive and providing entertainment.
NNAMDIWell, I think we have someone on the line who actually is a busker. So, Deb, thank you very much for your call. I'll go to Jonny in Washington D.C. Jonny, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JONNYKojo, thanks for taking my call. How are you?
JONNYWonderful. I -- my name is Jonny Grave. I'm a local musician. I, in addition to playing 15 different shows a month at bars, clubs venues, I played the Kennedy Center on July4th this year. I also -- I'm also a busker. I haven't played on the street in some time. I used to play for lunch money at Dupont Circle. And I that was the way...
NNAMDIDid you play for lunch money or did you play during lunch time?
JONNYI played -- I did play for my lunch money in Dupont Circle for a very long time. One kind of point as to what -- what your previous callers were making as far as regulating busking -- in my experience, any kind of regulation at all as far as live performance on the street goes, it's a form of censorship. It can really lead to -- down a very dark path as far as First-Amendment rights goes. For instance, MetroPerforms!, that's a program that Ramada (sp?) put in place a few years ago. While they do allow performers to play inside Metro stations, for Metro customers, for passengers, the performers are not paid.
JONNYThey're not compensated for their time. They're not allowed to set up a tip jar or collect donations. And furthermore, not allowed to sell their music or hand out business cards and promote their music. These kind of -- putting regulation on (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIOkay, well, let's say there were no regulations whatsoever. What do you think would happen?
JONNYI think you're going to see a lot more music on the street. I think you're going to see a lot (unintelligible)
NNAMDINo, I'm talking about Metro. You see, I'm talking about Metro, not on the street. If there were no reg...
JONNYOkay, on -- okay, so there's the station there. Because Metro stations are Metro property. And that is up to Ramada to decide what happens inside their stations. There's an audition process for MetroPerforms! But that's, again, beside the point. If you're talking about performance inside the stations, you're going to see a lot more music. And you're going to see a lot of better music. Because there's a code among buskers. There's sort of, if you are -- if you don't sound that good, you're going to get sort of squeezed out of your spot. Buskers aren't...
NNAMDIWell, how many people could -- how many people can occupy a spot. I suspect that's one of the problems that Metro had. They don't want overcrowding of buskers.
JONNYI -- if there is an overcrowding of buskers, it's not beneficial to the buskers. Buskers sort of seek a place where they're going to be heard within earshot and where other people's music isn't going to be heard within their earshot.
NNAMDIOkay. Got to go because we're running out of time and we have an update on one of the stories we mentioned earlier. We said that the NCAA would be voting this afternoon to whether or not the so-called big five sports conferences would be allowed to set their own financial and recruiting rules. Well, they have voted. The NCAA Division I Board of Directors granted autonomy to the Power 5 Conferences. The ruling will allow members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference to break free from some of the restrictions that the NCAA model holds and allocate greater benefits to student athletes.
NNAMDIIn summation, this win for the 65 universities that are a part of the Power 5 Conferences will give them the opportunity to cover its scholarship athletes beyond the cost of tuition, room, board and books, which is generally a couple of thousand dollars higher, not only for your scholarship guarantees, as well as medical insurance security for its athletes will be on the forthcoming agenda. The rules could also alter aspects of the recruiting platform and decrease limits on agents and advisors. There you have it. We're out of time. Thanks to all of you who participated in this edition of Your Turn. And thanks to you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
Journalist and author Sarah Wildman searches archives, history books and European capitals for her grandfather's "true love" -- a young doctor he left behind when he fled Nazi-occupied Vienna in 1938.
As the price of generic drugs has spiked, legislators and others are questioning the role of this multi-billion dollar industry in our health care system.
We chat with D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier about the city's strategy to combat the spike in violent crime taking place in the nation's capital.