May 11th, 2010, by

Despite an ongoing and fruitful debate about the significance of American poetry in “the nation’s civic, democratic, political, and public
,” the literary art form remains an important part our show at least.

During a recent appearance, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker read a poem for Tavis — “The World Has Changed.”

So we thought we’d honor all of you poetry lovers out there by rounding up a few readings from the show.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Alice Walker
Excerpt from “The World Has Changed”: Wake up and smell the possibility. The world has changed. It did not change without your prayers, without your faith, without your determination to believe in liberation and kindness, without your dancing through the years that had no beat. The world has changed. It did not change without your numbers, your fierce love of self and cosmos. It did not change without your strength.
Watch interview

Poet, Playwright and Activist Sonia Sanchez
Excerpt from “10 haiku (for Max Roach)”: One. Nothing ends. Every blade of grass remembering your sound, your sound exploding in the universe. Return to Earth in prayer. As you drummed, your hands kept reaching for God. The morning sky so lovely, imitates your laughter.
Watch interview


Award-winning actor John Lithgow
Excerpt from “No Doctors Today, Thank You,” by Ogden Nash: They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful. Well, today, I feel euphorian. Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetite of a Victorian. Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes. Today, I am a swashbuckler – would anybody like me to buckle any swashes?
Watch interview

Also, be sure to watch Wednesday’s show, when Tavis talks to best-selling author Isabel Allende.

May 10th, 2010, by

She was admired for her talent and activism and considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Praise for Lena Horne extends to the strength of her convictions, as she changed the image of African American women in Hollywood by refusing to be cast in stereotypical roles as a maid.

The 92-year-old singer, actress and activist died Sunday (Mother’s Day) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Be sure to share your favorite Lena Horne songs, films, facts and anecdotes, and check out the tribute Tavis pays to Horne on tonight’s show.

May 6th, 2010, by SHEILA WILEY

Regardless of what happens in the economy, healthcare continues to be one of the most important, most popular, and fastest-growing industries.

Healthcare is one of the country’s largest industries, providing  14.3 million jobs in 2008 alone. And the industry is expected to generate 3.2 million new jobs between 2008 and 2018 — more than any other industry.

In addition, 10 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations are healthcare-related, and most positions require less than four years of college education.

Despite that, there is still a shortage of qualified workers to fill many of the available healthcare openings, and that gap is expected to worsen with time.

Even if you don’t want to be a nurse or doctor, if you’ve ever thought about getting into the healthcare field, now is the time to do so.

The healthcare industry needs all types of workers — x-ray technicians, gift shop employees, food service workers, cleaning staff, accountants and public relations professionals.

And May is a great time to learn about the industry because several healthcare professions and organizations have dedicated awareness weeks:

(May 2 – 8) North American Occupational Safety & Health Week;
(May 3 – 9) National Mental Health Counseling Week;
(May 6 – 12) National Nurses Week;
(May 9 – 15) National Nursing Home Week;
(May 9 – 15) National Hospital Week;
(May 16 – 22) National EMS Week;
(May 17 – 23) National Medical Transcriptionist Week.

Chances are, the type of job you want to pursue has a place in the healthcare field. Good luck!

Sheila Wiley is Community Relations Director for

April 27th, 2010, by
Immigrant rights activists express opposition to Arizona's law during an April 27 protest in New York.
Immigrant rights activists express opposition to Arizona's law during an April 27 protest in New York.

Apparently, you can boycott an entire state if it passes a law that really makes you angry.

The target? Arizona.

The controversy? A new Arizona law that makes the failure to carry immigration documents illegal and gives police authority to question and detain individuals suspected of being in the United States illegally.

Critics have been outspoken. Protests have begun. The federal government says it may challenge the state law, which is the nation’s toughest against illegal immigration. And the backlash continues to grow.

But the backlash also now includes calls for a boycott of the Grand Canyon State.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, for instance, has banned official city travel to Arizona. Immigrant rights groups have asked baseball fans to skip Arizona Diamondbacks games. The California Senate is considering a boycott of businesses from Arizona and a Los Angeles City Council member introduced a resolution that will call for the city to “end any and all contracts with Arizona-based companies and to stop doing business with the state.”

There’s even a Boycott Arizona 2010 Facebook page.

What do you think? Do you agree with the law? Do you agree with calls for a boycott? Would you boycott the state?

Previous Posts in ‘Immigration’
VIDEO | Investigative journalist, Gabriel Thompson
BLOG  | Fast for Our Future
BLOG  | Let Us March in Unity

April 22nd, 2010, by

Earth Day turns 40 today. So we thought we’d honor the day by giving you a roundup of past conversations from the show about our wonderful planet.

Environmentalist Annie Leonard
“All of the stuff in our lives has this whole life before it comes to us
in the metals where it’s mined, in the forests where the trees are
felled, in the oceans where the fish are drawn, in the factories where
children and women are working hard to make this stuff…
Then it comes to us. We have it for minutes sometimes, throw it away,
and then it goes to some dump or incinerator, often back overseas.”  Watch interview

Green Jobs Advocate Van Jones
“We need jobs in America, and right now if you want the jobs of tomorrow
you have to make the products of tomorrow… I do not want to see this country go from importing dirty energy from
the Middle East to importing clean energy technology from China and skip
all the jobs in the middle. So to me, that’s the common ground, and the
reason that this green jobs movement I think is so important.”  Watch interview

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
“Still today… some people think that the environment is
not an issue for people of color, and I hope that if nothing else I’m a
very vibrant symbol of the fact that people of color should see
themselves in the environmental movement. It’s extraordinarily important
to them and their families.
Watch interview

Also, be sure to watch tonight’s show with economics journalist Steven Solomon, who warns that access to fresh water will replace oil as the primary cause of global conflicts.

Previous Posts in ‘Environment’
BLOG  | Freshwater Scarcity: The Greatest Crisis Most Americans Have Never Heard Of
FEATURE | Going Green

April 21st, 2010, by STEVEN SOLOMON

“When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water,” Benjamin Franklin
quipped wisely over two centuries ago, long before it seemed conceivable
that freshwater could become scarce across the planet or anyone
imagined the need for an Earth Day.

Today, for the first time in human history, the global well is starting
to go dry — and we are all about to learn the painful lessons of what
happens when societies run short of history’s most indispensable

Freshwater is overtaking oil as human society’s scarcest
critical resource. And just as oil transformed the history of the 20th
century, freshwater scarcity is starting to re-define the geopolitics,
economics, environment, national security, and daily living conditions of the 21st century.

What is happening,
essentially, is that under the duress of the voracious demand of our
global industrial society that uses water at twice the rate of our rapid
population growth, there is simply not enough available, sustainable supplies of freshwater in more and more parts of
the world on current trajectories and practices, to meet the needs for
food, energy, goods and accessible safe drinking water for our 6.7
billion, much less the 9 billion we’re becoming by 2050. Due to the uneven distribution of population pressures
and water availability, global society is polarizing into water “Haves”
and “Have-Nots.”

The impending water crisis presents two great challenges — one
environmental and one political. Because we’re drawing more water from
the environment than is replenished through the natural water cycle,
vital freshwater ecosystems are becoming seriously degraded across the globe, according to the first comprehensive audit of
the planet’s environmental health, the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem

For the first time since the dawn of civilization, we must
consciously allocate water  to sustain the health of the ecosystems that provide the source of water for all
society’s fundamental uses.

So much water is withdrawn from over 70 major rivers, including the
Nile, Indus, Yellow, Euphrates, and Colorado, that their flow no
longer reaches their deltas and the sea. Nearly all the world’s major
rivers have been dammed. Half the world’s wetlands — nature’s protective sponges — have vanished. Agrochemical and
industrial pollution is devastating fish life, and contaminating human
drinking supplies. Mountain glaciers from the Himalayas to the Andes are
melting at rates never before seen in history, drying up the sources of great rivers and threatening the
stability of the nations that depend upon its waters: the Indus River,
vital lifeline of nuclear-armed, Taliban-besieged Pakistan, is expected
to lose 30% of its flow as its Himalayan source glacier vanishes even as its population relentlessly increases by
a third over the next generations.

To make up shortfall of freshwater,
India, Pakistan, northern China, and California, among others, are
mining groundwater — creating “food bubbles” that are starting to burst as the pumps hit the bottom of the

As the environmental crisis worsens, the political perils
become more explosive. Freshwater scarcity is a key reason why 3.5
billion people — including those in current grain exporter India, as well
as throughout the bone-dry Middle East — are projected to live in countries that cannot feed themselves by 2025 and will depend
increasingly on volatile imported food prices for their well-being and
survival. Humanitarian and health crises are likely to emanate from the
2.6 billion without adequate sanitation and the 1 billion who lack safe, accessible drinking water.

Climate change is the water crisis in hyper-drive: It wreaks its damage
through unpredictable, extreme water-related events like droughts,
floods, mudslides, rising sea levels, and glacier melts that overwhelm
critical water infrastructures built for traditional weather patterns; within a decade there are likely to be 150
million climate (really water-crisis) refugees wandering within and
across borders seeking new livelihoods and homes.

(Watch Solomon’s conversation with Tavis.)

Failing states become
breeding grounds for regional instabilities, wars and international terrorism, such as came out of water-famished
Yemen in last Christmas’ failed airplane suicide bomber attempt in
Detroit, or sea piracy such as the rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia in the
Horn of Africa. 

China’s breakneck growth bid to become an economic superpower hinges partly on whether it can
overcome critical water scarcity challenges that are its economic
Achilles Heel — with only one-fifth the amount of water per person as the
U.S, it has had to idle factories and abandon major energy projects, and faces water pollution so severe that its waters
can’t even be used for agriculture.

From the irrigated agricultural revolution at the dawn of civilization
in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus, to the steam-powered Industrial
Revolution, to the 20th century’s giant dams pioneered at the Hoover
Dam, control of water has been a key axis of power and wealth. 

Major breakthroughs have been associated with the
rise and decline of great states and turning points of human
civilization. And so it is again today, with the impending freshwater
scarcity crisis.

History teaches that a difficult adjustment lies ahead, just as it has
whenever population levels and key resource bases have gotten
unsustainably out of balance. The chief question is how much suffering
the adjustment will entail, and which societies make the nimblest adaptations and emerge as world leaders and which will
not and decline.

There are two basic choices: 1) To boost the
productivity of existing water resources through difficult political
changes and improved efficiencies or 2) to buy time by mining groundwater or building long pipelines that transfer
water from regions with temporary surplus to those with current scarcity
in the hope that a new silver bullet technology akin to the 20th
century’s giant dams will emerge in the meantime to save the day.

In the main, societies have been following the path of least political
resistance and choosing the latter. Yet the savior
technologies — desalination, genetically-modified crops, recycling
wastewater  are most often mentioned — do not seem likely to arrive in time or sufficient scale to cover the growing global shortfalls.

Former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali famously
predicted a quarter century ago that the “wars of the 21st century will
be fought over water.”

While nations so far have found more reasons to
cooperate than go to war over water, pressures are mounting rapidly with rising population and absolute scarcity levels.
The greater, imminent risk today is failed states, and all the fall-out
they will spread. To its credit, the Obama Administration recently
recognized that the global water crisis is a vital threat to U.S. national security and diplomatic interests, and is
elevating water security as a central objective of State Department
foreign policymaking. Yet it is not enough.
The Earth, like ourselves, is 70% water. So nothing is more
important on Earth Day than taking care of our water — which is also to
say, ourselves.

Steven Solomon is an economics journalist who has written for The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Economist, Forbes and Esquire. He is the author of Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization.

April 21st, 2010, by SEAN BROOKS

This is an excerpt from a post first published at the Progressive Policy Institute.

Millions of Sudanese have just finished voting in their country’s first multiparty elections in 24 years. Election officials estimate that, in a relatively peaceful process, turnout of registered voters exceeded 70 percent nationwide, including up to 55 percent in one state in war-ravaged Darfur.

The voting period was extended from three to five days due to a host of technical problems and irregularities. Sometime this week, the National Election Commission will announce the

Yet despite the higher than expected estimated turnout, the election should hardly be a cause for celebration among advocates for democracy. At the top of the ballot, Sudanese leader and indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir’s name appeared as his party’s candidate for president.

Bashir took power via military coup in 1989. In the years since, his regime prosecuted a war in the south from 1989 through 2005 and, more notoriously, has conducted a deadly policy of mass murder and displacement in Darfur since 2003.

On the surface, the Bashir government has made all the right moves, urging all Sudanese parties to participate and asking the international community to observe the process. But the facts on the ground show a government that has engaged in political repression and intimidation, and an election that fell short of international standards.

Citing the restrictive environment, in the last week of the campaign period leading opposition parties announced a general boycott of the elections. As the results from the election are counted up, one thing is clear: A “democratically elected” Bashir government will be no less ruthless and oppressive than the Bashir military dictatorship.

Yet since last fall, the Obama administration has avoided directly challenging the credibility of Sudan’s elections, despite being heavily engaged in mediation efforts across Sudan. Many analysts feel that the U.S. merely wants to get past the elections in order to focus on the critical referendum for south Sudan scheduled for January 2011 — a vote that many expect will lead to the south’s secession from Sudan. It’s an outcome that the U.S. favors, predicting that the south will be a reliable, oil-producing ally in restive East Africa.

(Click here to learn how you can take action.)

In a bid to set the table for next year, the administration has seemed ready to accept the legitimization of the Bashir regime in this month’s vote in exchange for his cooperation on the referendum.

But with the election’s legitimacy in tatters, President Obama must be clear that the election of Bashir will have no effect on how the U.S. views those in power in Khartoum — as an unrepresentative clique that refuses to loosen their firm grip on the country.

And regardless of the results, the administration must continue to pressure all parties to bring comprehensive and durable peace to Darfur, implement the final stages of the north-south peace agreement that mandates the 2011 referendum, and carry on the long process of democratization that serves as the most solid foundation for durable peace.

Sean Brooks is a policy analyst at the Save Darfur Coalition. He recently returned from a month-long  trip to Sudan.

Previous Posts in ‘Africa’
VIDEO | Team Darfur co-founder, Joey Cheek
BLOG  | War Child
BLOG  | Leaders Look Away, but Students STAND

April 13th, 2010, by

The facts say it all. About 17% of American children ages 2-19 are obese. Obese children are more likely than other children to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. They are also more likely to be obese as adults.

Add in the fact that obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years and we have ourselves a serious problem.

So what to do about it?

First Lady Michelle Obama says Let’s Move. Her new inter-agency task force to eradicate childhood obesity had a summit at the White House last week.

Some of the solutions bandied about at the meeting focused on advertising, marketing, food labels, the food supply in schools, nutrition assistance programs, the high cost of healthy food, breast feeding, physical activity and educating both adults and children about healthy lifestyle choices. The task force will report their recommendations to President Obama in May.

But is that enough? What do you think? What’s the solution?

And if 34% of adults are obese, how do we ensure that our children make healthy choices? 

April 7th, 2010, by

In March, the Obama administration threw its weight behind the University of Texas at Austin in a high-profile affirmative action case in which the university’s “race-conscious” admissions policies were challenged by two white students who were denied admission to the school.

The Obama administration argued in a brief filed with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:

In the view of the United States, the University’s limited use of race in its admissions program falls within the constitutional bounds delineated by the Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003).

The University’s effort to promote diversity is a paramount government objective. See Grutter, 539 U.S. at 330-331. In view of the importance of diversity in educational institutions, the United States, through the Departments of Education and Justice, supports the efforts of school systems and post-secondary educational institutions that wish to develop admissions policies that endeavor to achieve the educational benefits of diversity in accordance with Grutter.

The losing side in the pending case will likely take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What do you think? Are admissions policies that include considerations of race and ethnicity a form of discrimination or simply a method for achieving much-needed diversity in education?

Share your thoughts with us and they may be used in an upcoming video blog.

April 1st, 2010, by
A clown performs during the traditional march through central Kiev to mark April Fools' Day on April 1, 2010.
A clown performs during the traditional march through central Kiev to mark April Fools' Day on April 1, 2010.

If you intended to Google your pesky neighbor this morning only to find that you were forced to “Topeka” his name, then you fell for an April Fools’ prank.


Here’s a quick round-up of all things foolish so that you won’t get caught off guard again.

1) See here, here and here for explanations of the origins of the day.

2) TechCrunch is providing a “Definitive List” of April Fools’ 2010 pranks with grades. They give YouTube an “A” for offering a “text only mode” for videos, and Starbucks gets a “B+” for its “micra” and “plenty” sizes.

3) The Christian Science Monitor provides a list of past pranks from around the world.

4) If you want to play a prank but are out of ideas, here’s a list of low-tech gags. It includes time-honored practical jokes like glueing coins to the ground and saran-wrapping a toilet seat.

5) And if you were thinking of playing any pranks at work, here’s a warning.

So, how was your April Fools’ Day? Did you fall for a banana in the tailpipe? Share your April Fools’ jokes, pranks and stories with us.

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