How has America changed in your lifetime?
Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934, Jim Lehrer attended Victoria College. In 1956, he received a Bachelor's journalism degree from the University of Missouri before joining the Marine Corps, where he served three years as an infantry officer. For the following decade, Lehrer worked as a reporter in Dallas, before moving on to a local experimental news program on public television.
He came to Washington with PBS in 1972 and teamed up with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. In 1975, they started what became "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report" and then the "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" in 1983, the first 60-minute evening news program on television.
The program became The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer in 1995 when MacNeil retired. Lehrer has received numerous awards for his work, including a presidential National Humanities Medal in 1999. He also has moderated ten of the nationally televised candidate debates in the last five presidential elections.
Lehrer is the author of 17 novels, including Eureka (2007), The Phony Marine (2006), The Franklin Affair (2005), and Flying Crows (2004). He has also written two memoirs and three plays. Lehrer and his wife, Kate, have been married since 1960. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.
Question: How has America changed in your lifetime?
Jim Lehrer: The Depression touched everybody. World War II touched everybody. These calamities that I’m talking about do not touch everybody automatically, just by their very nature. What I’m suggesting is – the variable here is – that the country, the leaders of our country – the leaders being the population – must accept and be encouraged to accept the fact that we are all touched by calamities.
We didn’t have to be in the Depression, or be in World War II to understand that this was our calamity; that Iraq was our calamity. Darfur is our calamity. When there is a calamity, we have a stake in it. And we have a responsibility.
The whole society, every element – family, school, church, whatever, as well as the political system; primarily the political system – has to be built on that. And the people who are running for office; Presidents of the United States; candidates for President of the United States, in my opinion, every one of them – I don’t care if you’re a left-winger, or a right-winger, or a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent – should tell the people the very worst and say, “Okay. I can fix this. But I can’t do it alone. Here’s what you can do.” And ask people to help and be very specific about it. And sometimes you may have to pay more taxes. “Oooooooo! Well okay. Alright.” Sometimes you may have to do this.
It’s got to be a culture.
The politicians argue and debate about how they’re going to resolve these things, and how everybody is going to be affected about it and what they can all do about it. Rather than; right now politicians tend to talk in terms of; they want to make everything so simple and so easy. None of this is simple and easy. And to act like we can go to war and only touch a few people in the volunteer military and their families. That’s what happened. And now it’s not working. And it’s beginning to touch more and more people. And the more and more people get touched, the more and more questions get asked, and the more and more everything becomes more and more difficult.
Recorded: July 4, 2007.
Unlike the America of his childhood, the country no longer has a shared experience to draw upon.
We take fewer mental pictures per second.
- Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
- In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
- The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.
- The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
- The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
- It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.
- Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
- Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
- While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.
The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.
For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.
A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."
Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.
Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.
As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.
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