FULL EPISODE: On Assignment Mar 7, 2014

FULL EPISODE:  On Assignment Mar  7, 2014


COMING UP, ON ASSIGNMENT… A TENSE STANDOFF
BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE… WE HAVE BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS FROM VOICE OF AMERICA’S UKRAINIAN
SERVICE. WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM. WITH US NOW IS MYROSLAVA
GONGADZE FROM VOA’S UKRAINIAN SERVICE. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. MYROSLAVA IS HERE
TO TALK WITH US ABOUT THE TENSIONS BETWEEN UKRAINE AND RUSSIA RIGHT NOW. THIS OF COURSE COMES AFTER RUSSIAN FORCES
ENTERED UKRAINE’S CRIMEA PENINSULA, AND WITH RUSSIA SAYING IT’S PROTECTING ITS CITIZENS
AND WESTERN NATIONS DEFENDING UKRAINE’S SOVEREIGNTY, THE CRIMEA CRISIS HAS ESCALATED INTO THE MOST
SERIOUS CONFRONTATION BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE WEST SINCE THE COLD WAR. NOW MYROSLAVA, WHAT’S
AT THE ROOT OF THIS CONFLICT? WHY IS CRIMEA SO IMPORTANT? FIRST OF ALL I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND
THAT RUSSIAN AGGRESSIAN OR RUSSIAN MILITARY MOVE IS NOT SOME KIND OF MILITARY MISSION
TO SAVE RUSSIAN SPEAKING UKRAINIANS OR RUSSIAN SPEAKING POPULATION IN CRIMEA. IT’S A CLEAR
VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, BECAUSE UKRAINE GAVE UP ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN 1994 IN EXCHANGE
FOR PROTECTION FROM UNITED STATES, ENGLAND AND RUSSIA. AGREED TO PROTECT UKRAINIAN SOVERIGNTY.
RIGHT NOW RUSSIA CLEARLY VIOLATED THAT AGREEMENT AND MANY OTHER AGREEMENTS THAT WERE MADE BETWEEN
UKRAINE AND RUSSIA AND FOR THEMSELVES ON THE AREA. THE CRIMEAN PENINSULA IS IN THE BLACK
SEA AND WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT AROUND THE BLACK SEA WE HAVE THREE NATO MEMBERS,
MEMBER COUNTRIES, SO I DON’T THINK THAT UNITED STATES OR NATO ALLIANCE CAN LET PUTIN MAKE
BLACK SEA PUTIN’S LAKE. BECAUSE IT’S A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION. SO IT’S A STRATEGIC AREA
FOR NATO MEMBERS AND FOR RUSSIA AS WELL, DEFINITELY FOR UKRAINE. SOME OF THE CRITICS ARE ALSO SAYING THAT THIS
STARTED WHEN THE NOW OUSTED PRESIDENT VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH REJECTED A DEAL WITH CLOSER TIES
WITH RUSSIA. WITH THE EU, HAVING TO HAVE CLOSER TIES WITH RUSSIA. DO YOU THINK IT HAS ANYTHING
TO DO WITH THAT? NO ABSOLUTELY, BECAUSE IT STARTED WITH UKRAINIAN
PEACEFUL PROTESTING THE DECISION THAT PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH MADE. IN THE LAST MOMENT HE DECIDED
TO SWITCH SIDES AND DECIDED TO MOVE TOWARD RUSSIA AND DECIDED NOT TO SIGN AGREEMENT WITH
EUROPEAN UNION, AND UKRAINIANS WERE VERY DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE THEY WERE HOPING THAT UKRAINE CAN
BECOME A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY AND CAN INTRODUCE SOME REFORMS THAT THEY WERE WAITING FOR SO
LONG. SO IT DIDN’T HAPPEN AND FOR THREE MONTHS UKRAINIANS WERE STANDING ON MAIDAN AND WE
KNOW NOW HOW BRUTAL UKRAINIAN YANUKOVYCH FORCES WERE TOWARD PEOPLE. SO ALMOST 100 PEOPLE DIED
AND A THOUSAND WERE BEATEN, TORTURED. SO PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH LEFT THE COUNTRY. HE ABANDONED
THE COUNTRY. HE PICKED UP HIS BELONGINGS AND LEFT. NOW WE KNOW THAT HE IS IN RUSSIA. BUT
YES, UKRAINE WANTS TO BE WITH EUROPE. THAT WAS A CLEAR DECISION BY UKRAINIAN PEOPLE.
NOW UKRAINE HAS A NEW GOVERNMENT THAT IS TRYING TO MOVE UKRAINE TOWARD EUROPE. THAT’S WHAT
RUSSIA IS DISAPPOINTED WITH AND DON’T LIKE. THEY’RE MINGLING IN UKRAINIAN AFFAIRS. AND MYROSLAVA, ON A PERSONAL NOTE, WHAT’S
IT LIKE FOR YOU COVERING THIS SITUATION AS A UKRAINIAN YOURSELF? BUT ALSO NEEDING TO
BALANCE YOUR ROLE AS A JOURNALIST? IT’S HARD. IT’S HARD BECAUSE I MEAN I HAVE
ALL MY LOVED ONES THERE, MY FATHER, BROTHER, ALL MY FRIENDS. I’M DEEPLY INVOLVED IN THIS
IDEA OF UKRAINE TO BECOME A EUROPEAN STATE, SO IT’S HARD. BUT I LEARN HOW TO BALANCE MY
PROFESSIONAL STAND AND MY PERSONAL FEELINGS BECAUSE I’VE BEEN THROUGH A LOT OF PERSONAL
HARDSHIP IN THE PAST AND I KNOW HOW TO DIVIDE AND MAKE THIS AND BE PROFESSIONAL IN THAT
REGARD. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US MYROSLAVA
GONGADZE FROM VOA UKAINIAN SERVICE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR COMING ON. WELL, WE’RE TAKING A BREAK. ON THE OTHER SIDE,
WE’LL HEAR WHAT A PROMINENT POLITICAL VOICE IN THE U.S. HAS TO SAY ABOUT AMERICAN TROOPS
IN AFGHANISTAN. YOU’RE WATCHING ON ASSIGNMENT. COMMERCIAL BREAK 2:00 IN HIS LAST WEEKS IN OFFICE, AFGHAN PRESIDENT
HAMID KARZAI HAS HAD SOME TOUGH WORDS FOR THE UNITED STATES. AND THE WHITE HOUSE HAS
MADE CLEAR ITS DISPLEASURE WITH MR. KARZAI’S COMMENTS, AS WELL AS HIS REFUSAL TO SIGN A
BILATERAL SECURITY AGREEMENT. THE B-S-A SPELLS OUT THE SCOPE OF A CONTINUED
U.S. PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN. ONE POLITICIAN WHO’S BEEN INVOLVED WITH AFGHANISTAN FROM
THE BEGINNING IS, OF COURSE, U.S. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN. REPORTER NAJIBA SALAM FROM VOA
DARI SERVICE SPOKE WITH HIM ABOUT RELATIONS BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND KABUL. TAKE A LISTEN. “I’M VERY SAD, NOT EVEN ANGRY, THAT PRESIDENT
KARZAI HAS BEHAVED THE WAY HE HAS. I MAKE NO EXCUSES FOR HIM; I WISH HE’D BEEN MUCH
BETTER. BUT THERE IS SOME RATIONALE FOR SOME OF HIS BEHAVIOR. I FIRST MET PRESIDENT KARZAI
IN 2001 WHEN BAGRAM HAD FALLEN 0UT OF TALIBAN HANDS, AND I’VE KNOWN HIM MANY, MANY TIMES
OVER THE INTERVENING YEARS. AND I’VE ALWAYS HAD A VERY GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. THE
LAST ELECTION OF 2009 HE BELIEVED THAT THE UNITED STATES WAS TRYING TO MANIPULATE IT
TO HIS DETREMENT IN THAT. SO, I’VE SEEN PRESIDENT KARZAI BECOME MORE AND MORE, IN MY VIEW, IRRATIONAL.
BUT THERE HAS BEEN A BASIS FOR THAT IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOR.” NAJIBA SALAM, IN YOUR INTERVIEW, SENATOR MCCAIN
USED THE WORD IRRATIONAL TO DESCRIBE PRESIDENT KARZAI. WHAT DO YOU THINK HE MEANT BY THAT? WELL, HE KNOWS THAT AFGHANISTAN NEEDS U.S.
PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN. AND THAT AFGHANISTAN IS NOT READY FOR U.S. TO WITHDRAWL COMPLETELY
FROM AFGHANISTAN. SO FOR PRESIDENT KARZAI, HE’S ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR HIS LEGACY, FOR
HIS FUTURE AND FOR HIS FAMILY. AND THAT’S WHY HE’S NOT SIGNING; HE’S BEING — SENATOR
MCCAIN SAYS HE’S IRRATIONAL BY NOT SIGNING THE BILATERAL SECURITY AGREEMENT. AND YET SENATOR MCCAIN SEEMED TO ALSO, AS
WELL AS USING THIS WORD IRRATIONAL, HE ALSO SEEMED TO BE MAYBE MAKING SOME APOLOGIES,
ALMOST, FOR PRESIDENT KARZAI AND SOME OF HIS ACTIONS. IT SEEMED AS THOUGH THE SENATOR WAS
REALLY OF TWO MINDS ON THIS ISSUE. WAS I READING THIS RIGHT? THAT WAS EXACTLY I FELT THAT’S HOW IT WAS.
HE SAID, ON THE ONE HAND WE WANT HIM TO SIGN THE B-S-A BUT WE’RE NOT GIVING HIM EXACTLY
HOW MANY TROOPS IS GOING TO STAY BACK, AND EXACTLY, WITH DETAILS, WHAT WOULD BE THEIR
MISSION. SO THAT REALLY AGGRAVATES HIM. AND SENATOR MCCAIN SAYS THAT HE HAS REASON TO
BE UPSET, TO BE IRRATIONAL. “AS TIME PASSES, BY NECESSITY, BECAUSE OF
THE COMPLEXITIES OF PLANNING WITHDRAWL — AND IT’S NOT JUST TROOPS, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT
EQUIPMENT AND CLOSING OF BASES — THAT THE MISSION BEYOND 2014 SHOULD A B-S-A BE SIGNED
WOULD BY NECESSITY, IF IT HAPPENS LATE IN THE YEAR, BE SMALLER IN SCALE AND AMBITION.” “I DON’T BELIEVE THAT IF YOU TELL ENEMY AGAIN,
AS THE PRESIDENT CONTINUES TO DO, THAT YOU ARE LEAVING, THAT IT IS WORTH WHILE STAYING
FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. WE NEED A LONG TERM PRESENCE, NOT AMERICANS IN COMBAT, WITHOUT
AMERICAN CASUALTIES, THAT WE NEED A LONG TERM PRESENCE JUST AS WE’VE HAD IN KOREA, JAPAN,
OTHER COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD.” DO YOU THINK AFGHANS WANT A LONG TERM U.S.
PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN? FOR AS LONG AS THEY NEED. I BELIEVE A LOT
OF, RIGHT NOW THERE IS A LOT OF CONCERN AMONG THE CIVIL SOCIETY, AMONG WOMEN ESPECIALLY,
THEY ARE REALLY CONCERNED. IF THE UNITED STATES LEAVES AFGHANISTAN, THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN.
THE TALIBAN WILL COME AND TAKE OVER, INSURGENCY WILL RISE AND THEN THAT’S WHY…A LOT OF PEOPLE,
ESPECIALLY SENATOR MCCAIN MENTIONED ABOUT THESE ELEVEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. THAT
HE WATCHED ACTUALLY THE TELEVISED DEBATE THAT THEY HAD, THAT HE WAS SO HAPPY TO HEAR FROM
THEM, THAT EACH ONE OF THEM SAID THAT WE WILL SIGN THE BILATERAL SECURITY AGREEMENT, AND
WE WANT THE UNITED STATES FOR A LONG TIME. DO THE AFGHAN FORCES AND AFGHAN LEADERSHIP
ADEQUATELY TRUST THE U.S. FORCES AND LEADERSHIP DO YOU THINK? THAT’S ANOTHER, I’M NOT QUITE SURE ABOUT THAT.
BUT I KNOW FOR SURE THAT THEY DEFINITELY NEED ASSISTANCE. THEY DEFINITELY NEED U.S. ASSISTANCE
AS FAR AS MONETARY ASSISTANCE, AS FAR AS ANY KIND OF TRAINING ASSISTANCE, THEY NEED THAT.
THEY WILL NOT; I MEAN IF YOU ASK ANY AFGHAN WHETHER AFGHAN SECURITY FORCES ARE READY TO
DEFEND THEIR COUNTRY, THEY WILL TELL YOU NO. THAT WAS VOA DARI SERVICE REPORTER NAJIBA
SALAM TALKING WITH ON ASSIGNMENT’S DOUG BERNARD. AFGHANISTAN’S APRIL ELECTION COULD BE HISTORIC,
PAVING THE WAY FOR THE COUNTRY’S FIRST-EVER PEACEFUL DEMOCRATIC TRANSFER OF POWER. MOVING ON … TO ANOTHER STORY OF GLOBAL INTEREST:
CLIMATE CHANGE. IT’S MAKING IT HARDER THAN USUAL FOR SCIENTISTS TO KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE
HOLDS, AND THE EFFECT WEATHER CHANGES WILL HAVE ON SOCIETIES … AND ECONOMIES. EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS HAVE DESTROYED HOMES
AND BUSINESSES AROUND THE WORLD, BUT AS VOA’S JIM RANDLE TOLD ON ASSIGNMENT’S PHILIP ALEXIOU,
U.S. BUILDERS AND INSURANCE COMPANIES SAY SOME SIMPLE CHANGES CAN REDUCE THE TOLL. IN THIS LABORATORY TEST, A HOUSE BUILT WITH
CONVENTIONAL TECHNIQUES IS FALLING APART IN HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS. THE SURVIVOR HAS STRONGER
SHINGLES, THICKER ROOF BOARDS, AND METAL STRAPS HOLDING FLOORS TOGETHER. IN THE VIDEO THAT WE SAW WHERE THE ONE HOUSE
WAS BLOWING AWAY YOU SPEAK OF THESE AS LABS, BUT THESE ARE REAL LIFE SIZE LABS? THEY ARE, THEY BASICALLY BUILT TWO COMPLETE
HOUSES. ONE OF THEM USING THE NORMAL CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES AND ONE OF THEM USED ALL THE NORMAL
CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES AND THEY REINFORCED IT WITH SOME STRAPS AND SOME STRONGER WOOD
IN KEY PLACES AND THEN THEY TURNED ON THE FANS AT A LITTLE MORE THAN HURRICANE STRENGTH
AND THAT ONE HOUSE JUST, JUST FLEW APART. WELL, BECAUSE WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING IT YOU
JUST SEE SORT OF THESE MINOR LITTLE CHANGES THAT DON’T LOOK LIKE IT WOULD BE VERY EXPENSIVE
TO REINFORCE A HOUSE. IS THAT FAIR TO SAY? THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT
THEY’RE TRYING TO MAKE IS THAT IF YOU DO IT WITH, YOU KNOW, WITH GREAT CARE AND FIGURE
OUT EXACTLY WHERE TO PUT REINFORCEMENT AND JUST HOW MUCH…FOR EXAMPLE THE ROOF, THE
PLYWOOD ON THE ROOF OF THE REINFORCED HOUSE IS A COUPLE MILLIMETERS THICKER THAN THE ONE
THAT JUST FELL APART SO IT’S CLEAR THAT A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF REINFORCEMENT HERE AND A
LITTLE BIT THERE AND A LITTLE BIT IN THESE OTHER PLACES MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE. THE GROWING NUMBER OF UNUSUALLY STRONG STORMS
LIKE TYPHOON HAIYAN HAS CONVINCED THE CHAIRMAN OF THE US SENATE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE
TOM CARPER THAT EXTREME WEATHER IS THE NEW NORM. NOW YOU MENTION TYPHOON HAIYAN THAT HIT THE
PHILIPPINES, VERY DESTRUCTIVE. AND SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT A COUNTRY LIKE THE PHILIPPINES
THAT ABSORBS SUCH AN ENORMOUS DISASTER DO THEY SUDDENLY START THINKING GEE, YOU KNOW,
WE GOT TO START DOING SOMETHING ABOUT PREPARING FOR THESE TYPES OF THINGS. WELL, CERTAINLY, IT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS THAT
STRONGER HOUSES MIGHT HAVE SAVED SOME LIVES. NOW WOULD IT BE STRONG ENOUGH TO HOLD UP TO
WHAT IS ONE OF THE FEW WORST IN HISTORY IS A QUESTION BEYOND, A QUESTION I CAN’T ANSWER,
PERHAPS SCIENTISTS COULD, BUT IT’S CLEAR YOU COULD DO MORE TO SAVE LIVES. NOW WHAT ABOUT MODELS WHEN YOU START TRYING
TO FORECAST, I GUESS, THE ECONOMIC DAMAGE. THEY CAN FORECAST, THEY TRY TO FORECAST THE
WEATHER BASICALLY BUT THEY CAN FIND WAYS TO DEAL WITH IT… IT’S REALLY, IT’S APPARENTLY REALLY DIFFICULT.
I MEAN IT’S DIFFICULT TO FORECAST WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH CLIMATE. BUT HOW FAST AND WHAT
IMPACT, IN THIS PROFESSOR’S VIEW, IS SIMPLY TOO HARD TO PREDICT. I THINK ALL WE CAN DO IS TAKING ALL OF THAT
INTO ACCOUNT, COME UP WITH SOME VERY ROUGH NUMBER, VERY ROUGH ESTIMATES, I WOULD SAY
CONSENSUS ESTIMATES THAT MAYBE EXPERTS PROVIDE THAT GIVE US A VIEW OF WHAT WOULD THE CATASTROPHIC
OUTCOME LOOK LIKE IF WE DON’T DO ANYTHING. NOW THE OTHER THING I WANT TO BRING UP IS
THAT HE ALSO TALKS ABOUT, AT LEAST ONE ACTION WAS THAT YOU SAID IN YOUR REPORT IS MAYBE
IMPOSING A TAX ON CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS THAT WOULD MAYBE ENCOURAGE COMPANIES AND FAMILIES
TO USE LESS ENERGY AND TO GENERATE FEWER GASES. BUT IF INDONESIA AND CHINA WERE NOT TO ADOPT
SOMETHING LIKE THAT, IT’S REALLY MOOT ALMOST…DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. IT’S ONE OF THE FEW THINGS WE COULD ACTUALLY
DO. AND WE’RE IF NOT THE LARGEST EMITTER OF CARBON DIOXIDE WE’RE IN THE TOP TWO OR THREE
AND THE OTHER THING IS THE UNITED STATES, ACCORDING TO PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT THIS SORT
OF THING, WE COULD SHOW LEADERSHIP. AND OF COURSE OUR THANKS TO VOA’S JIM RANDLE.
NOW ABOUT HALF THE WORLD’S POPULATION LIVES IN CITIES — AND IT IS THOSE CITIES THAT ACCOUNT
FOR MORE THAN 70 PERCENT OF GLOBAL CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS. WE’RE TAKING A BREAK. BUT COMING UP – WE GET
THE BLUES. THE MUSIC, THAT IS, NOT THE SADNESS. YOU’RE WATCHING ON ASSIGNMENT. IN THE EARLY 1900S, AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE
SOUTHERN UNITED STATES CREATED A SOUND THAT CAME TO BE CALLED THE BLUES. DERIVED FROM
SPIRITUAL CHANTS AND WORK SONGS IN THE FIELDS, BLUES MUSIC NOWADAYS IS EVERYWHERE. REALLY IS. THE BLUES IS A STYLE AND TRADITION
THAT HAS FANS AND PLAYERS AROUND THE WORLD. IN A SERIES OF REPORTS, VOA’S HOUSTON-BASED
CORRESPONDENT GREG FLAKUS LOOKED INTO THE HISTORY OF THE MUSIC GENRE, AND HE TALKED
TO ME ABOUT WHAT HE FOUND. THE BLUES WAS FIRST PLAYED BY AFRICAN-AMERICANS
IN PLACES LIKE THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA SOUTH OF MEMPHIS. A LOT OF MUSIC THAT WE HEAR THAT YOU WOULD
SAY, OH THAT’S THE BLUES, DOESN’T NECESSARY FIT IN THAT CATEGORY OF MUSICOLOGY, IN TERMS
OF MUSICOLOGY. BUT IT’S SOULFUL, IT EXPRESSES A FEELING. AND I THINK THAT’S THE BASIC THING
THAT PEOPLE WOULD IDENTIFY. EVENTUALLY IT BECAME MIXED UP WITH WHAT WAS CALLED JAZZ,
WHERE YOU HAD INSTRUMENTS LIKE TRUMPETS AND CLARINETS AND SAXOPHONES AND ALL. AND SOMETIMES
THOSE TERMS ARE VERY SIMILAR IN TERMS OF THE MUSIC. BUT THE BLUES HAS AFFECTED ALL KINDS
OF MUSIC. MOST OF WHAT WE LISTEN TODAY, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, COUNTRY WESTERN, ALL OF IT THAT
HAS BEEN INFLUENCED BY THE BLUES. NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SPREAD OF BLUES MUSIC
INTERNATIONALLY. BECAUSE YOU TALK ABOUT ITS ORIGINS BEINGS AMONGST AFRICAN AMERICANS AND
THE AMERICAN SOUTH, BUT NOW WE’RE SEEING PEOPLE FROM ALL DIFFERENT PLACES ACROSS THE WORLD
PLAYING BLUES. THAT’S RIGHT AND IN FACT, SOME OF THE BIGGEST
FANS ARE IN EUROPE. AT A TIME WHEN THE BLUES SORT OF WENT OUT OF FAVOR HERE IN THE UNITED
STATES, BRITISH FANS, FOR EXAMPLE, WERE COLLECTING RECORDS. RIGHT AND YOU FEATURED SOME VARIOUS BLUES
SINGERS ACROSS YOUR REPORTING. TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THOSE? SOME OF THOSE SINGERS AND PERFORMERS
AND MAYBE THE STORIES THAT STRUCK YOU MOST? WELL, WHAT I FOUND THAT IN HOUSTON WHERE I’M
BASED, THERE WERE A LOT OF CLUBS PLAYING BLUES AND THERE WERE A LOT OF UP AND COMING GROUPS
PLAYING THERE. AND WHEN I STARTED INVESTIGATING THIS, I FOUND OUT THAT ACTUALLY HOUSTON HAD
QUITE A TRADITION OF BLUES MUSIC AND OF COURSE ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE WAS LIGHTNIN’
HOPKINS WHO LIVED MOST OF HIS LIFE IN HOUSTON AND BECAME WORLD FAMOUS FOR HIS STYLE. AND
RAY CHARLES LIVED FOR A WHILE IN HOUSTON. SO IT WAS INTERESTING TO SEE HOW THESE YOUNGER
PEOPLE TODAY ARE TAPPING INTO THAT HERITAGE AND KEEPING IT ALIVE AND DOING IT IN THEIR
OWN WAY. ERIC HOOVESTOL WHO SINGS WITH THE WHITE LIGHNINS
FROM HOUSTON, IS A FAN OF HIS CITY’S MOST FAMOUS BLUESMAN, THE LATE LIGHTNIN’ HOPKINS. HOUSTON BLUES HAS A LOT OF HISTORY AND LIGHTNIN’
HOPKINS WAS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE FORERUNNERS AND I WANTED TO RESPECT THAT SO WE NAMED THAT
BAND THE WHITE LIGHNINS TO HONOR LIGHTNIN’ HOPKINS. NOW YOU WENT TO THIS INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE.
THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR DECADES NOW, YOU WENT THERE IN MEMPHIS. TELL US ABOUT THAT
EXPERIENCE? WELL, YEAH, WHAT I DID WAS I HAD GOTTEN TO
KNOW THE BLUES PLAYERS IN HOUSTON WHO HAD BEEN SELECTED BY THE HOUSTON BLUES SOCIETY
TO GO THERE. SO I WENT THERE KIND OF FOLLOWING THEM TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN AND WHEN I GOT
THERE I FOUND ALL KINDS OF OTHER INTERESTING GROUPS AS WELL. ARTISTS FROM 40 U.S. SATES AND 16 FOREIGN
COUNTRIES CAME TO THE CONTEST ON BEALE STREET, WHERE THE BLUES HAS BEEN PLAYED FOR MORE THAN
A CENTURY. DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE BLUES FOUNDATION, JOE WHITMER, SAYS MANY MUSICIANS FEEL REWARDED
JUST PERFORMING HERE. SURE, THEY COME AND COMPETE; SURE, THEY WOULD
WALK AWAY WITH PRIZES, BUT HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY AT LEAST TWO NIGHTS ON WORLD FAMOUS,
HISTORIC BEALE STREET MEANS THE WORLD TO THEM.” ONE OF THE MAJOR ASPECTS OF YOUR REPORTING,
YOU DID A STORY ON WOMEN AND THE BLUES AND THAT’S A VERY INTERESTING HISTORY? YES BECAUSE WOMEN WERE AMONG THE, IN FACT
THEY WERE FIRST RECORDING ARTIST IN TERMS OF BLUES HITS. MA RAINEY FOR EXAMPLE. BUT
OVER THE YEARS, MEN CAME TO DOMINATE IT AND TODAY MOST BLUES GROUPS ARE EITHER MEN OR
THEY MIGHT HAVE ONE FEMALE SO SOME OF THE FEMALE PLAYERS HAVE TAKEN TO THE FORE AND
ARE TRYING TO FIND MORE OF A NITCH FOR THEMSELVES AND PROMOTE THEMSELVES MORE. WE OFTEN HAVE TO FIGHT HARDER TO GET THE SAME
RESPECT AS THE GUYS, SO WE HAVE TO BRING IT HARDER, WE BRING IN EVERY BIT OF FIRE, PASSION
AND SOUL THAT WE HAVE GOT. WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE TAKE AWAY FROM THIS
SERIES? WELL I THINK THERE ARE TWO THINGS. ONE WOULD
BE THAT THIS IS A MUSIC THAT CAME FROM AMERICA. THE ROOTS ARE HERE IN OUR OWN COUNTRY AND
SHOULD REALLY BE PROUD OF THAT AND CELEBRATE IT. THE OTHER THING THAT THE INTERNATIONAL
ASPECT. THE FACT THAT THIS KIND OF MUSIC SPEAKS TO PEOPLE IN OTHER CULTURES, IN OTHER COUNTRIES
THAT THERE THAT RESONATES WITH THEM. THE BLUES SEEMS TO BE UNIVERSAL. IT SEEMS TO TOUCH PEOPLE
IN MANY DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, IN MANY DIFFERENT AREAS OF THE WORLD. AND AGAIN THAT WAS VOA’S GREG FLAKUS. YOU
KNOW, GREG ACTUALLY DABBLES IN SOME HARMONICA PLAYING HIMSELF AND YOU ARE ALSO A MUSICIAN
SO MAYBE SING US A FEW BLUES NOTES ONE DAY THE TWO OF YOU COULD PLAY TOGETHER… I LOVE THE BLUES . IF I START SINGING RIGHT
NOW, THE SHOW IS GOING TO END AND I’LL JUST KEEP SINGING . I’D LOVE TO JAM WITH GREG AND
OUR E.P. MARTIN ON THE GUITAR. O.K. SO ONE DAY…WE’LL HAVE A LITTLE CLIP
MAYBE FOR FACEBOOK…WE WILL…SING THE BLUES… ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT…ANOTHER POPULAR FORM
OF ENTERTAINMENT IN ADDITION TO MUSIC IS HORSEBACK RIDING. AND AT A FARM IN THE U.S. STATE OF
MARYLAND, SOME PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ARE RIDING HORSES AS A FORM OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY. VOA’S ARASH ARABASADI SPENT A DAY AT THE FARM
TO SEE IT FIRSTHAND. CHECK IT OUT. TODAY IS THE BEST DAY OF THE WEEK. “BEFORE WE EVEN LEAVE HOME, IT’S AN EXPECTATION.
IT’S SATURDAY. WE’RE GOING HORSEBACK RIDING.” THIS IS MARYLAND THERAPEUTIC RIDING. A PLACE
WHERE HORSES AND THERAPISTS HELP PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, LIKE SELINA. “I’M HERE FOR MANY REASONS. MAIN REASON IS
THERAPEUTIC, TO GET MY CORE STRENGTH AND BALANCE UP TO SNUFF ((ELEVATED/IMPROVED)).” “LILLY HAS LOST HER SPEECH ABILITY. SHE’S
GONE FROM 500 WORDS WHEN SHE WAS 5 YEARS OLD TO A COUPLE OF WORDS TODAY.” “IT’S SO EXCITING FOR ME TO SEE HIS GROWTH
AND THE CHANGES. I FEEL LIKE IT’S OPENED DOORS THAT WOULDN’T BE OPEN WITHOUT THIS PROGRAM.” IN PATIENTS WITH DIFFICULTY WALKING, THE MOVEMENT
ON HORSEBACK SIMULATES WALKING AND STIMULATES CORE MUSCLES. THERAPIST DEBRA TAYLOR: “THE BENEFIT IS MANY FOLD, BECAUSE NOT ONLY
ARE YOU WORKING ON FINE MOTOR ((SKILLS)), YOU’RE DOING IT ON THE HORSE, WHILE IT’S MOVING,
IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION.” THAT UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION FORCES RIDERS
TO ENGAGE SELDOM-USED MUSCLE GROUPS. THE RESULTS ARE INSPIRATIONAL. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KEN
MCCREEDY: “THE THINGS THAT YOU SEE HERE ARE MIRACULOUS.
THEY’RE JUST LITTLE MIRACLES EVERY DAY THAT HAPPEN IN PEOPLE’S LIVES. YOU SEE IT ON THE
RIDERS’ FACES AND WHAT THEY’RE ABLE TO ACHIEVE, WHAT THEY’RE ABLE TO LEARN; THE FUN THEY’RE
HAVING.” AND THAT’S THE TRICK: HAVING THERAPY, DISGUISED
AS FUN. “A LOT OF THESE PARTICIPANTS CAN’T DO OTHER
SPORTS. THEY CAN’T PLAY SOCCER. THEY CAN’T PLAY BASKETBALL. THEY CAN’T DO A TEAM SPORT.” THESE THREE ARE AS DIFFERENT AS THEIR SPECIAL
NEEDS. AND WHILE THIS TIME ON A HORSE DOESN’T CURE THEM…IT BRINGS JOY…AND FOR A FEW
HOURS ON SATURDAY, THE RHYTHMS OF NORMALITY BLEND INTO THE GAIT OF A HORSE. ARASH ARABASADI
FOR VOA NEWS. AND SADLY THAT’S ALL THE TIME WE HAVE FOR
TODAY. JOIN US NEXT WEEK WHEN OUR NATIONAL REPORTER LOOKS AHEAD TO THE 2016 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION, AND THE ODDS THAT HILLARY CLINTON WILL BE THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE. AND THEN WE’LL ALSO HEAR FROM OUR ISLAMABAD
CORRESPONDENT ABOUT A DISTURBING KIND OF ATTACK THAT IS HAPPENING ALL TOO OFTEN IN PAKISTAN. BE SURE TO WATCH ON ASSIGNMENT ONLINE ON VOANEWS.COM,
FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE, AND REMEMBER VOA IS THE PLACE FOR INTERNATIONAL NEWS COVERAGE
EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY. THANKS SO MUCH FOR WATCHING. WE LOOK FORWARD
TO HAVING YOU WITH US AGAIN NEXT WEEK.

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