A Coal Miner Speaks Out/The Fall of Al Franken
December 16, 2017
Listener Questions and Year End Jokes!
December 30, 2017
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The Nuns, The Priests, and the Bombs

We track down disabilities champion, Ralf Hotchkiss, who is in Nicaragua helping poor communities design and build more durable, low cost wheelchairs.  Then filmmaker Helen Young promotes her gripping documentary about the elderly activists who snuck onto two of the most fortified military installations in the country to peacefully protest the nuclear weapons industry.  Plus, David, Steve and Ralph talk more about Al Franken and sexual harassment as well as the GOP tax bill.

Ralf Hotchkiss is the co-founder of the non-profit social enterprise, Whirlwind Wheelchair).  Since 1979 Whirlwind has worked with wheelchair riders around the world to design durable and highly functional wheelchairs that perform well on rough terrain and are built in factories that contribute to local economic development.  Mr. Hotchkiss designed the Roughrider  wheelchair, which minimizes forward tipping, squeezes into small spaces, and generally helps riders navigate in inaccessible environments.  He is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and recipient of countless other honors and awards and has worked in over forty countries teaching people who need wheelchairs how to build and maintain them for themselves.

“Chairs made in large factories far from the country have not historically worked nearly as well as chairs locally made out of local materials… because when they break down they can get a part.” Ralf Hotchkiss, co-founder of Whirlwind Wheelchair

Helen Young, is an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist, who over the course of a thirty-year career has directed and produced documentary films on subjects ranging from the childhood obesity crisis in America to illegal gun trafficking to the U.S. Space program.  She was a staff writer and producer for CBS News and NBC News for twenty years.  Her latest film is entitled “The Nuns, The Priests, and the Bombs.”

“Somebody asked what would happen in a small nuclear war, a limited nuclear war… They looked at what would happen if India and Pakistan went to war with each other…  So looking at the use of just a hundred nuclear weapons, which would be a tiny fraction of what we have in the world… They estimated that the use of a hundred nuclear weapons would create so much smoke and soot… lofted into the atmosphere… by the fires that would be generated by these weapons that… would travel to our hemisphere, essentially blocking portions of the sun and lowering the temperature.  And that in turn would create a problem with growing crops.” Helen Young, director of the film “The Nuns, The Priests, and The Bombs”


  1. Bruce K. says:

    I just listened to the new podcast today. It was a wonderful positive show. I hope you all have a great holiday season, and am eager to hear the upcoming year end show. Ralf Hotchkiss and the story of Whirlwind Wheelchairs was an inspiration. I am looking forward to catching Helen Young’s documentary as well. It is so nice to hear some inspiriting stories in this age of almost hopeless negativity. What a relief.

    I did have a negative reaction to David Feldman’s unordered and incoherent arguments that he called a non-argument on Senator Al Franken’s resignation. He made one good point I thought about Franken being a scrapper and implying that since he resigned he must be guilty, but that is something to wonder about, though hardly evidence or really even an argument. I also had a problem with him taking the exact words of Leeann Tweeden when she and her interviewer, when this story first broke were allowed to make nasty faces, and grunt and groan as the story was reported. What kind of news operation reports a story like that.

    The use and re-use by Feldman of the phrase “shoved his tongue down her throat” was unfair and unprofessional. That action is impossible and is only said to exaggerate and emotionally inflame. The repeated use of “groping” and “grabbing” about this story where no physical contact occurred was also an inexcusable tactic that no one said anything about. I was offended by Feldman’s unfair arguments and his subsequent failure to engage in argument. I would not be disappointed to see him replaced in the show because of that. It was very offensive and not an orderly fair mode of argument.

  2. Thank you David Feldman for standing up to the mansplainers trying to obscure Al Fraken’s behavior with a discussion about due process that Franken circumvented by resigning. This is the same argument used by the right to defend Roy Moore and Donald Trump by saying accusers need to go to the police before the media.

    • Bruce K. says:

      > This is the same argument used by the right to defend Roy Moore and Donald Trump by saying accusers need to go to the police before the media.

      Matthew, I can respect how you feel about Franken, but I really disagree with what you said here – it is just not accurate. Getting some kind of due process for someone accused (especially someone in an important political position in an era where political dirty tricks are rampant) is not the same as attacking the victim, and in the case of Franken, it seemed to be me that the accusers were not examined or heard so much as counted.

      Virtually everyone I talked to about this had no idea of the details of these accusations or existing political biases, just that the number of them was reported to have gone up almost daily.