12:01pm

Tue March 29, 2011
Blog Of The Nation

March 29th show

Obama Speech Reaction
In his nationally televised speech last night, President Obama argued that, "In this particular country — Libya; at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale." With that in mind, he said, "we have a responsibility to act." Since authorizing the U.S. military to take a leading role in the military intervention in Libya, the President has grappled with criticism from across the political spectrum. Some argue that U.S. participation in the effort is unauthorized, unwarranted when other humanitarian crises loom around the globe, and unwise while the military is already stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq. Others complain that the administration has given mixed signals on the goal and length of U.S. intervention in Libya. Neal Conan draws from today's op-ed pages and speaks with NPR commentator Ted Koppel about reactions to the president's speech.

Japan Nuclear Update
As Japan continues to reel from the massive earthquake and tsunami, the country is on "maximum alert" to bring the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant under control. As many as three reactors may be leaking radiation and workers found the first traces of plutonium outside the plant. Amid contradictory statements from Japanese officials, inconsistent updates from plant officials and news agency reports about new setbacks almost daily, it's difficult to get a clear picture of the situation and the danger. Host Neal Conan talks with Kathryn Higley, head of the department of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics at Oregon State University, about why it's so difficult to get accurate information and to get the reactors under control.

Less Than Human
Nazis during the Holocaust referred to Jews as rats, Hutus involved in the Rwanda genocide thought of Tutsis as cockroaches and slave owners throughout history considered slaves sub-human animals. Each case is a powerful example of the dangers of dehumanization. In his new book, Less Than Human, David Livingstone Smith explains that dehumanizing groups of people "acts as a psychological lubricant, dissolving our inhibitions and inflaming our destructive passions." Host Neal Conan talks with Smith about his new book and the unconscious strategy that he believes is responsible for much of the genocide and cruelty that's occurred throughout history.

Classroom Sizes
One of the factors of academic success most revered among parents, educators, and politicians is the ideal of the small class size. A number of states now require schools, by law, to limit the number of students assigned to one teacher. But Eva Moskowitz, founder and chief executive of the Success Charter Network, argues that formula doesn't guarantee a good education. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, she argues "we need to invest in ways that help teachers be more effective, such as professional development, technology, school leadership, and abundant curricular materials," even if that means adding one or two extra students to each class to pay for it. Neal Conan talks with Moskowitz about her op-ed and what she calls the costs of small class sizes. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.