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Covering the UN, Refugees in Iraq, Exploding Rocket

The Morning Show
  • Oct 30, 2014
  • 01:40:05

COVERING THE UN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES Every crisis that the world faces becomes a focal point for politicking, deliberating and wrangling in the halls of the United Nations. Somini Sengupta has seen many of them in her work covering the United Nations for the New York Times.  “It’s quite a daunting thing to walk into that building every morning - I physically walk out of New York City and into that international zone,” says Sengupta. “In theory it’s where the world comes to solve its most pressing problems. It’s where the world powers come to tussle.”  One of the great joys of covering the UN is there’s never one source. There’s always another country with a different view on an issue, says Sengupta. “It’s an institution full of documents – it can be incredibly bureaucratic, but for a journalist it can be a gold mine.” Choosing which story to cover at the UN is the ongoing challenge of a reporter in Sengupta’s position. “You should see my inbox of really great stories that will someday get written when I have the time.” The Ebola outbreak is evidence that “this is an exceptionally important moment for the United Nations,” says Sengupta. “It is a global problem. Ebola started in an obscure forest village across the ocean in Guinea and yet, this Monday all parents in the NYC school system got a note saying, ‘If you have travelled to these regions, go see a doctor.’ It was a vivid illustration that what happens there, matters here.” “This is no longer a world that can be partitioned off,” says Sengupta. REFUGEE CRISIS IN IRAQ The untold story of the crisis in Iraq is the human story – the refugee story – says Baroness Emma Nicholson, member of the UK House of Lords and chairman of the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, which works with refugees in Iraq.  Some five million residents in the Iraq city of Mosul are being held captive by ISIS and a million more have become “internally displaced people” forced out of their homes by the extremist group, says  Lady Nicholson, who visited Iraq just a few weeks ago and found families torn apart, sons killed, daughters sold into slavery. “ISIS hates the family,” she says. “This is cruelty carried to sadistic extremes.” “This is a group powered entirely by hatred, demolition and destruction,” says Lady Nicholson, adding ISIS is not just a small network: “They are a heavily-funded, heavily-armed organization of cruelty and destruction. They’re capturing oil production facilities and they’re running a slave trade and an unspeakable system of bartering captives.” “My worry is how to get out of people’s heads the idea that killing is the one thing the good God put you on the earth to do,” says Lady Nicholson. “This is extraordinary, psychotic lunacy that is fueling people in this movement.”  “We need to strengthen the people of Iraq - these 1.4 million people who have been forced from their homes and treated in such an inhumane way,” says Lady Nicholson. The AMAR International Charitable Foundation has been “absolute flat out” working for the refugees in Iraq, “but we haven’t done near enough.”   “At the end of the day, in any civilization, it is the people themselves who will change the situation,” says Nicholson. “But at the moment these 1.4 million refugees are powerless to do anything against this evil. What we can do is help them regain their strength, their dignity, their health, hopefully some fragments of their families, and in that sense we can empower them.” FALLOUT FROM ANTARES ROCKET EXPLOSION Moments after launch on Tuesday night in Virginia, an unmanned rocket names Antares exploded in a ball of fire. No one was hurt or killed, but all of the supplies and scientific experiments onboard, bound for the International Space Station, were destroyed at an estimated cost of $200 million.  “This kind of incident is not terribly unlikely, unfortunately - we still lose rockets all the time,” says David Allred, professor of physics and astronomy at BYU.  He adds that eventually investigators will be able to ascertain what went wrong with the Antares launch.  Early criticism has focused on “older motors” that were used in the Antares rocket.  The incident has called into question the privatization of America’s space program. Antares was a project of the NASA subcontractor Orbital Sciences. Allred says privatization is necessary in order to build the kind of space program America wants and needs.  He doesn’t see the Antares explosion, while expensive, is not a huge setback: “A rocket is essentially full of explosive material. The fact they don’t explode more often is a remarkable thing.” “Engineers are used to failures - in fact, that’s how we learn,” says Allred. WHY WOMEN STRUGGLE TO LOSE WEIGHT There are biological reasons that make it harder for women to lose weight than men, says Judith Wurtman, former director of the program in Women’s Health at MIT’s Clinical Research Center and author of “The Serotonin Power Diet.”   Wurtman’s research has found that women have less serotonin which is important for improving mood and suppressing appetite. Eating carbohydrates prompts the production of serotonin, so when women stop eating carbohydrates to lose weight, they struggle because their serotonin levels drop. Rather than cut out “carbs,” Wurtman says women should eat small amounts of carbohydrate foods with no fat in them twice a day. She says two things will happen: “Her mood will be better and her desire to munch will be limited.” Can a cup of oatmeal be as comforting as a donut? “Yes,” says Wurtman, “because the comfort is not in their taste buds, it comes from their level of serotonin.” COUGARS BYU SPORTS NATION At the beginning of season, this week’s Cougar football game was an assumed win, says BYU Sports Nation co-host Spencer Linton. “But because of what’s happened over the last three weeks, this has become an epic showdown for BYU.” The Cougars haven’t lost five games in a row since the 1970s, “so they need to win this game, obviously to knock off that streak and to get one step closer to the Miami Beach Bowl.” The BYU Basketball team has held its first scrimmage and Linton says Tyler Haws is proving just as exciting to watch this season.  “He was unbelievable in a situation where his teammates were playing against him and knew all his moves,” says Linton. “Tyler Haws is projected to be the nation’s leading scorer in collegiate basketball this year.” SCARY STORYTIME Sam Payne, host of The Apple Seed on BYU Radio, shares a scary story from his childhood, in honor of Halloween, about the time he tried to pull off a terrifying trick and ended up scaring only himself. 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