5.03.16: Security Mom, Shame, & The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

May 3, 2016

Homegrown terrorism, gun violence, Zika - there's plenty of real stuff to get freaked out about. So can America be 100% safe?  No, says a security expert slash mom, and your kids know it's not. But that's ok. Today, a former homeland security big wig refuses to be ruled by paranoia and offers tips on how to prepare your family for the unknown without becoming a prepper.

Plus, the true story of humble scholars-turned-smugglers to save rare books and manuscripts from sure destruction by Al Qaeda.

Listen to the full show. 

America Isn't 100% Safe - And That's Fine

What would make America safe? Donald Trump and Ted Cruz propose to close borders and carpet bomb ISIS strongholds. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders say that would make the homeland more vulnerable to retaliation. Fighting terrorism in the Middle East is one thing, but the fear of homegrown, self-radicalized individuals operating undetected and striking on American soil bumps up the level of dread. And then there's the risk of gun violence, which far outpaces the 1 in 20 million chance of being killed in a terrorist attack. Still if that one in 20 million is your child, the threat feels real. So, is America safe? Not 100% says, security expert Juliette Kayyem - and that is a good thing.

Kayyem is former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and author of ​Security Mom: an Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home.  She recently wrote an op-ed on the upside of vulnerability for the Washington Post.

Public Shaming

What was once a slip-up or scandal whispered among townsfolk can now be spread across the world with lightning speed. Cultural anthropologists regard shame and the attendant threat of ostracism as tools societies use for indoctrinating children and maintaining order.  But who needs the stockade or public shunning when we have Twitter?

Jon Ronson profiles victims, perpetrators, and researchers of humiliation in his book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and we spoke to him last year when the book first came out. It is now out in paperback.  

Listen to this story again and see more related content: The Shame Show

"Peeing In My Pants"

It's not an easy topic to discuss, but some studies suggest that one out of every ten women in their 30s suffer from urinary incontinence. Others say those numbers could be much higher, which makes sense, because wetting your pants as an adult is...embarassing, and few people want to talk about it. Producer Lauren Whaley decided it was time to open up about this growing problem and look into the treatments and technologies that are designed to help.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

Islamic extremists have cut a ruthless path through several failed states in the Middle East and parts of Africa.  There, populations have been brutalized by armed militants enforcing Sharia Law, and watched, defenseless, as great treasures of the ancient world were pillaged or demolished before their eyes. In some cases, citizens rebel, governments fight back or other nations intervene.

Today, we have the story of defeating a band of Al Qaeda, not by guns and soldiers, but by the courage and cunning of book lovers and scholars. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is Joshua Hammer’s account of an operation to smuggling hundreds of thousands of sacred books and manuscripts away from a Islamic thugs that overtook parts of Mali, West Africa, in 2012.  It reads like a thriller, or as a caper worthy of a Hollywood, though few took notice while it was happening half a world away.