Here and Now Local News

Obama Speaks to UN on Palestine, Funding the US Solar Industry, Bob Edwards on Today’s Media: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly today as diplomats scramble to craft a deal that would avoid a showdown vote over a Palestinian demand for statehood recognition. The deal reportedly calls for Israel and the Palestinians to begin peace talks towards a two-state solution with Israel accepting its pre-1967 borders and Palestinians recognizing Israel’s Jewish character. Land swaps would be negotiated, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could still deliver his request for statehood recognition to the UN this week but no immediate action would be taken on it. Colum Lynch, UN reporter for the Washington Post, joins us to explain.

1:12pm: Two top executives at the bankrupt California solar energy company, Solyndra, say they will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions when they appear at a House hearing on Friday. Lawyers for the executives say it would be inappropriate to offer testimony since the company is now the focus of a criminal investigation. Solyndra received $528 million in federally-backed loans from the Energy Department in 2009 and the company’s collapse is raising questions about other DOE investments in American solar companies. One of those companies, 1366 Technologies of Lexington, Massachusetts, just this month finalized a deal with DOE to receive $150 million in loan guarantees. While the solar industry is booming, some experts are concerned that American solar companies will face an uphill battle competing against Chinese companies that receive huge government subsidies. We’ll speak with Frank van Mierlo, president of 1366 Technologies Inc., and Erik Sherman, BNET high tech reporter

1:34pm: Some time between tomorrow and Saturday, somewhere between Edmonton, Alberta and Cape Town, South Africa, an out-of-service NASA satellite weighing 1,600 pounds is going to plummet to earth. But scientists say people have little reason to worry — the chance of anyone at all being hit is just one in 3,200. And the chance that it will be you is one in trillions. Kelly Beatty, planetary specialist and senior contributing editor for Sky and Telescope Magazine, joins us to talk about the satellite’s descent.

1:50pm: When Bob Edwards was growing up in a house just off Eastern Parkway near Crittenden Drive, he longed be a radio newsman. He got his start in radio working for WHEL in New Albany, left Louisville in 1969, and wound up in Washington DC where he joined a fledgling broadcast outfit known as National Public Radio. The rest is history — and the subject of Edwards’ new book A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio. He spoke with us about the book, which details, among other things, his feelings about the state of the media, politics and his ouster from NPR after 24 years as the host of Morning Edition.

Local News News About WFPL

NPR Special Coverage of Libya No-Fly Zone Today at 3pm

WFPL will air a one-hour news special on Libya this afternoon at 3pm. The NPR News Special will examine the United Nations No-Fly Zone resolution; what it says, how it will be enforced, as well as the implications for the United States which is expected to play a military role in its implementation. You’ll also hear President Obama’s statement on Libya, which he’s expected to deliver shortly.

NPR’s Neal Conan will host our coverage. He will be joined in the studio by NPR’s Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman, National Security correspondent Tom Gjelten, Paris Correspondent Eleanor Beardsley as well as David Greene who is in Tripoli. Others guests include George Joffe, a pre-eminent North Africa scholar, Libya expert and Research fellow at the Centre of International Studies at Cambridge University.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Presbyterians Launch Project to Aid Haiti's Farmers

The Louisville-based Presbyterian Church U.S.A. is ramping up its efforts to help farmers in Haiti following the January earthquake. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The church has had development projects with Haitian partner groups for decades, including those involving agriculture. Now, it’s providing half a million dollars for a giving seeds and tools to farmers working to feed Haitians who left Port-au-Prince following the earthquake.

The Presbyterians’ Lionel Derenoncourt, who is from Haiti, is involved in the project. He says most of these people were originally from rural areas.

“When these people returned to those communities — that put a tremendous pressure on the local resources to support these added mouths and these added hands, which would be unemployed people,” he says.

Derenoncourt says the project will work with 30,000 farmers and help Haiti begin reconstructing an agricultural sector that has been undermined for years by imported food that inhibited farmers’ ability to compete in the marketplace

The project is designed to help farmers feed hundreds of thousands of people who are now in rural areas.

Because of the earthquake, there was a massive influx of people to all rural communities,” Derenoncourt says. “People who had migrated initially from the rural areas to Port-Au-Prince returned after the earthquake.”

He says this is just one step in a long-term process toward restoring agricultural markets, which had been undercut for decades by Haiti’s importing half of its food.

“Haiti has been on the receiving end of massive food aid over the years and that has not helped our economy,” he says. “That has created a weaker agricultural sector and compounded our problem of hunger.”

The United Nations reports in its international appeal for Haiti that the agricultural sector has remained severely underfunded.

Arts and Humanities Local News

UN Association to Hold Forum on Human Trafficking

The Louisville Chapter of the United Nations Association is holding forum on human trafficking this weekend. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has details.

Many people call it modern-day slavery. And on Sunday panelists who work with victims of this crime and others who educate lawmakers and the public on the issue will participate in the forum.

Matt Hanka, president of the Louisville chapter, says human trafficking is an issue in our own region.

“About 25 percent of the victims of human trafficking are here in the southeast United States,” he says. “Mainly they’re women, young women, and many of them are working in restaurants, hotels, domestics or in the sex industry.”

Hanka says the panel will include people who work with victims of trafficking, including Marissa Castellano of Catholic Charities of Louisville.

“Marissa’s going to look at it from a local perspective,” he says. “She provides educational programs on human trafficking victims. She works with victims themselves. She works with trying to identify potential victims of human trafficking.”

Hanka also says the recession can exacerbate the problem.

“It’s taking advantage of a unique situation— economy’s bad, if I need some labor, I need some help these are some channels that people can use,” he says. “In some instances, they may get paid as a way of bargaining their entry into the United States, or their entry into Kentucky, or their entry into Louisville.”

The US government estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked to this country annually.

The forum is at 3 p.m., Sunday, at Spalding University’s Egan Leadership Center.

State of Affairs

The Changing Role of the United Nations

The Changing Role of the United Nations
On April 25, 1945, the United Nations Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, marking what would be the beginning of the United Nations. The UN’s founders hoped the organization’s existence would minimize conflicts between countries, and prevent future wars, but they’re also involved in issues like human rights, economic development, decolonization, health and education. What is the UN’s role in today’s global community, and how is it changing? Join us this Thursday, when we learn more. Listen to the Show

Arts and Humanities Local News

Local UN Association Shows Film for Human Rights Day

A Louisville group is joining others worldwide in marking today’s Human Rights Day. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The United Nations General Assembly designated each December 10th Human Rights Day in 1950. And this year, the Louisville chapter of the United Nations Association is recognizing the occasion by showing The Reckoning, a film about the International Criminal Court. The court came into being in 2002 after 60 countries ratified a treaty outlining the court’s function. Since then it has opened investigations into human rights situations in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan’s Darfur region.

TheReckoning2Matt Hankin is president of the local UN Association chapter. He says the film shows a court doing difficult work with scarce resources.

“The film follows the work of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo for three years across four different continents as his team lays out warrants,” he says.

Hankin also says it’s a suspenseful telling of a young and landmark court.

“The criminal court officially came into effect once it got 60 ratifications in 2002, so it’s nascent and very new,” he says. “And so it’s chronicling a lot of that.”

Hankin says the film shows a need for the court, which was supported by the United States under President Bill Clinton but the country has yet to ratify the treaty.

TheReckoning“The United States should be a part of something that they helped form,” he says. “In 1998, in the Rome Conference to create the Rome Statute, David Schaffer at the time was Bill Clinton’s ambassador at large for war crimes, was very involved in putting it together.”

A showing of the documentary, which was presented at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is free and starts at 7 this evening at Bellarmine University’s Horrigan Hall.

TOP: Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. (Credit: Skylight Pictures) BOTTOM: Professor Pilo inspects a skull in the killing fields of Bogoro, Ituri, eastern Congo. (Credit: Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos)

Arts and Humanities Local News

Groups Praise US Election to Human Rights Council

Some local groups are praising this week’s election of the United States to the United Nation’s top human rights group. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The UN General Assembly elected the US to UN Human Rights Council Tuesday. In 2006, the Bush administration refused to join the group, saying it included repressive governments.

Representatives from the Louisville chapter of the United Nations Association and Presbyterian Church U.S.A. say US work on the council can help improve human rights worldwide.

Sara Lisherness helps oversee the Presbyterian Church’s work in relief and development in 87 countries.

“Even though the Human Rights Council is a less than perfect venue, it is the only venue right now in which the conversations about protecting the human rights of people is being engaged by the nation’s of the world,” Lisherness says.

Matt Hanka of the United Nations Association says working through the UN always involves a careful balancing act of supporting human rights without undermining state sovereignty.

Lisherness says membership on the council means more action from the U.S.

“We do have a responsibility to continue to confront and challenge that brokenness and that sin; challenge those nations that are flagrant abusers of human rights and continue to press for justice and a greater equality,” she says.

The United Nations Association’s Matt Hanka says the UN is a human institution with flaws, but that the council is a key forum for addressing abuses. He says US involvement in the council is one of the best ways to improve the group’s effectiveness.