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Rachael Maddow, Student Exchange in Country, Ghana Chocolate Issues

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
October 8, 2023 4:00 pm

Rachael Maddow, Student Exchange in Country, Ghana Chocolate Issues

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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October 8, 2023 4:00 pm

Hosted by Jane Pauley. In our cover story, Lee Cowan talks with high school students participating in an exchange program between red and blue states. Also: Rita Braver sits down with Rachel Maddow, whose latest book, "Prequel," examines the fascist movement in America before and during World War II; Kelefa Sanneh delves into a new memoir by Sly Stone, of Sly and the Family Stone; Faith Salie takes measure of the history of skirts; Seth Doane examines the bitter reality behind the world's chocolate industry.

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See Rakuten.com for details. Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley and this is Sunday Morning. Every day in classrooms across America, our children pledge allegiance to the flag, to one nation, indivisible. But in so many ways, we are divided culturally, economically, and of course, politically. How do you heal a divided nation? This morning, we'll look at a project focusing on young people.

As Lee Cowan will explain, it's like a foreign exchange program only for students right here at home. It's nice to meet you. There's a lot of talk about how it's too late for us, that it's the next generation that's going to bridge both our politics and our social divides. But that hope still needs to be nurtured. I kind of feel like we've got the vaccine. I think this can scale enormously and I think it works. How a new student exchange program is laying the groundwork that just might connect us all.

Coming up on Sunday Morning. Back in the 60s and 70s, Sly and the Family Stone was a sensation with a string of top 10 hits. But as California will tell us, it wasn't all fame and fortune. How did Sly Stone, the ultimate rock star, finally find sobriety?

With some help from his daughter, who sometimes had to literally chase the drug dealers away. So like someone would come to the house and you come downstairs and say, I don't ever want to see you again? Just had to just put your foot down and let them know you're not welcome.

Don't come back over here or it's going to be a problem. Sly and the real Family Stone ahead on Sunday Morning. Seth Doan will have a story from Ghana, which can only be described as bittersweet. Faith Salie sizes up the past, present and future of the skirt.

Our Rita Braver is in conversation with Cable News host Rachel Maddow. Plus Steve Hartman with a message in a bottle. And more on this Sunday morning for the 8th of October 2023.

And we'll be back after this. With Audible, you can enjoy all your audio entertainment in one app. You can take your favorite stories with you wherever you go, even to bed. Drift into a peaceful slumber with the Audible Original Bedtime Stories series hosted by familiar voices like Emmy winner Brian Cox, Keke Palmer, Philippa Soo and many more. As a member, you can choose one title a month to keep from the entire catalog, including the latest bestsellers and new releases. You'll also get full access to a growing selection of included audio books, Audible Originals and more. New members can try Audible free for 30 days. Visit audible.com slash wondery pod or text wondery pod to 500-500 to try Audible free for 30 days.

Audible.com slash wondery pod. For two decades, FBI agent Robert Hansen sold secrets to the Kremlin. He violated everything that my FBI stood for. Hansen was the most damaging spy in FBI history, and his betrayals didn't end there. Do I hate him? No, I don't hate anyone. But his motive, I would love to know what his true motive is so I can get that out of me. How did he do it? Why? Follow Agent of Betrayal, The Double Life of Robert Hansen, wherever you get your podcasts.

You can listen ad free on the Amazon Music or Wondery app. Some young Americans had overseas during their school years to meet people from other cultures with other points of view. But in a country as divided as ours appears to be, Lee Cowan explains how that same experience may be available without ever leaving our shores. Can you guys see it pretty clearly? Yeah, it's like a corner of it. Under a nearly full moon in the unpolluted darkness of a night sky over Kansas, a group of student stargazers sat in a circle, taking turns on the telescope. It was a bonding experience that was out of this world, especially given that only a day before, they were as foreign to each other as the lunar landscape itself.

Politically and just morally what we believe is completely different. So I was like, are we going to get along? Everyone, they're like, what are your summer plans? And I'm like, oh, I'm going to Kansas.

And without fail, everyone's like, why? Why would you go to Kansas? Why?

The better question may be, why not? You don't want to always be comfortable. You have to do things that make you like, even if it's talking to a new person, it might make you uncomfortable. You have to, so you're not going to make new friends.

You're not going to be able to experience life. It's nice to meet you. This past summer, more than 300 high school graduates signed up for a unique student exchange program. Unlike the well-known foreign exchange model that affords students a chance to study abroad in, say, Europe or Asia, this program gives students the opportunity to soak in a brand new culture without ever leaving the country. We fund kids to spend a week in the summer after senior year in an American town that is politically and socioeconomically and culturally very different from the one that they're growing up in.

It's called the American Exchange Project, or AEP for short, co-founded by 29-year-old David McCullough III, the grandson of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough. I grew up in the ivory tower, like a life of enormous privilege. And I wanted to get out of all of that, see a part of the country that I'd not really been exposed to, but I knew was out there.

So in 2016, he borrowed his mom's Mazda and spent the next two months driving across the country, part Jack Kerouac, part Tom Sawyer, heading down the Mississippi. I thought I'd be chased away. I thought doors would be slammed in my face. I thought people wouldn't want to talk to me. Not only did that not happen, the opposite of that happened everywhere I went. For the past three years, he's been giving high school graduates that same experience.

And so far, at least, it's having the impact he hoped it would. My groups of friends are not really close to each other. So I feel like I've actually bonded with you guys more than I have with my own friends. I've never been a part of a community where I could just... I'm not the minority.

I'm not the odd one out. So this is very much like an experience that I really appreciate so much. Are you ready already?

Okay, 10 seconds. David McCullough hopes to offer the program to a million students a year by decade's end, and all free of charge, thanks to big name donors, including the likes of Steven Spielberg and others. I think this ought to be as typical to the American high school experience as a prom.

I think every kid in every town should have an experience like this. We followed Kyle Wu and Evan Quach as they left what they call their liberal blue bubble. Albany, California, just north of UC Berkeley. For the reliably red bubble of Dodge City, Kansas. It's flat. It's so flat. With each flat passing acre, their eyes widened, their jaws dropped when they passed one of Dodge City's massive feed lots. It's really sad, but it's how our economy grows.

Oh my goodness. Cowboys and cattle are a way of life here in Dodge, just as American as the Golden Gate Bridge. I don't usually get this close to horses. It's on a very rare occasion.

But also a world apart. Yeah, as you can tell, they're pretty happy cattle. They didn't even go swimming home. The city slickers visiting Dodge learned how to dance the can-can at the Boot Hill Museum. They drank sarsaparilla in the Long Branch Saloon, and they watched the sun go down while enjoying a Dodge City delicacy. Pickled flavored chevants. Is it good? I want a salt and lemon. When you drink the pickle juice out of your arm. You charge for it a little bit. Solid. What the hell is trash can? I don't know if I want a whole thing of it.

You guys see how my whole torso is twisting, and we're using those big muscles in our back and our chest, rather than the little ones in our arms. Pranelli Rodriguez is a Dodge City native. When it was her turn to immerse herself in the California way of life, her peers rolled out the blue carpet. While navigating the less-than-conservative currents of San Francisco Bay, for example, Pranelli found herself, for the first time ever, asking people about their preferred pronouns. Politics are like black and white, but really everyone's gray. Like we mesh, we just don't realize it because we're so focused on splitting.

After paddling up an appetite, Pranelli was treated to In-N-Out, the holy grail of California fast food. I normally don't like onions, but it works in here for some reason. There had to be, I guess, at some point, a little bit of worry about what are we going to, what happens if we put these two perhaps diametrically opposed kids together. Right. I was a little bit worried that the communities were so different that the kids wouldn't quite get it. That's not what you've seen?

No, not at all. They assimilate quickly. Credit to being young, I think. Have you gotten any skeptics, though? There's a lot of folks that are worried that, you know, we're either a liberal Trojan horse or that we have a hidden agenda. We don't. We don't do a lot of talk in politics, and we have no agenda that we're trying to get through to the kids. Just like foreign exchange programs, host families are AEP's foundation.

Start on this line and go around here by the... For the last two years, Dodge City wife and mom Kirsten Bangerter has opened her home to students as a place to sleep and eat, yes, but also learn from her family. They seem very happy, very cheerful, very open, excited to experience new things. They don't seem afraid or nervous or anxious. They just wanted to be stricter with our group because they knew. They were more like a different crowd. Some people got banned.

A lot of the time you make the most progress in those informal, like, breakfast table conversations and just, like, sharing experiences before bed and things like that. I'm always appalled when I go other places and there's styrofoam. Like, it really freaks me out because there's no styrofoam in California. Like, there's no styrofoam plates here? See, and over there it's, like, normal.

Like, everyone, whenever you're eating food, you use a paper plate or you use styrofoam or you use cups that are disposable. Wait, is that the one that is, like, right... A week may not seem like a lot of time, but at the end of those seven days, you might be surprised at just how much change actually takes root. You seem like you're all pretty good friends now. I just learned that if I get along with them, it's cool. And if they respect me and respect what I stand for, we're good. Sometimes it's better to just be quiet and listen and really, like, process what people are saying, think about it, maybe sleep on it before you even disagree. There's that old adage about walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

The problem is you can't really see that person face to face if you're walking away. What David McCullough is hoping is the next generation will turn around, look those they differ with in the eye and just talk. I love my country and I love what it stands for and I love the ideals of what we're supposed to be about.

And when that's in jeopardy, how could we all not want to rush to the fire and try to put it out with everything we've got? I'm Mo Rocca, and I'm excited to announce season four of my podcast Mobituaries. I've got a whole new bunch of stories to share with you about the most fascinating people and things who are no longer with us, from famous figures who died on the very same day to the things I wish would die, like buffets.

Listen to Mobituaries with Mo Rocca on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Every big moment starts with a big dream. But what happens when that big dream turns out to be a big flop? From Wondery and Atwill Media, I'm Misha Brown and this is The Big Flop. Every week, comedians join me to chronicle the biggest flubs, fails and blunders of all time, like Quibi.

It's kind of like when you give yourself your own nickname and you try to like get other people to do it. And the 2019 movie adaptation of Cats. Like if I'm watching the dancing and I'm noticing the feet aren't touching the ground, there's something wrong with the movie. Find out what happens when massive hype turns into major fiasco. Enjoy The Big Flop on the Wondery app or wherever you get your podcasts. You can listen to The Big Flop early and ad free on Wondery Plus.

Get started with your free trial at Wondery dot com slash plus. As garments go, it couldn't be simpler, but in some ways that's skirting the issue. Faith Salie unwraps the rich history of the skirt.

What do pencils and poodles have in common? Hoops and hobbles? They are skirts, of course. When I say the word skirt, what words come to your mind?

How big can it be? What length would you like it to be? For designer Christian Siriano, the skirt is a transformative piece of clothing.

The options are endless, mini, midi, maxi, asymmetric, straight or frothy. The skirt is about being free, having more movement, not being kind of trapped inside something, which I think a pant does and a skirt is more freeing. That feeling is sewn into the definition of the word skirt, a piece of clothing meant to dangle from the waist and move around the body with few restrictions.

I find them more comfortable. They're a canvas for beautiful textiles, which I love. Kimberly Christman Campbell is the author of Skirts, and she says as unfettered as they might appear, skirts are tied to some meaningful history.

They tell us a lot about our culture and our values and how we treat and think of women themselves. While skirts have certainly hemmed women into traditional notions of femininity, they've also dramatically demonstrated the power of the wearer. Textiles were extremely expensive before the Industrial Revolution. The bigger the skirt, the more fabric you needed, the more wealth you were displaying. Early 20th century skirts gradually became shorter and narrower, especially during World War II when material was rationed.

But in 1947, designer Christian Dior repudiated that starkness with an ultra-feminine silhouette called the New Look. While the 1950s poodle skirt was an evolution of that voluminous look, Christman Campbell sets the story straight about its popularity. Poodle skirt comes from poodle fabric, which was a sort of hairy, stiff, but lightweight fabric. It was only later after the skirt came into being that designers started decorating them with poodles. And while we're myth-busting, you may be surprised to learn about the origin of the miniskirt.

No one thought it was sexy to begin with. When it was introduced in 1964, it was something that looked like you could buy it in the children's department. It had ruffles or it had bows or polka dots. It made women look like little girls playing dress-up. So the miniskirt was created for young women who didn't want to look grown-up.

That's right. The miniskirt addressed that gap in the market, dressing women who were young but did not want to look like their mothers. For many women, though, the choice to wear a skirt wasn't theirs to make. It was only in the late 1970s that women were allowed to wear pants in many schools and restaurants and workplaces. It wasn't until this year that the U.S. Marine Corps ended its last skirt mandate for women. While the skirt has become a ubiquitous female symbol, men across the world have traditionally shown some leg. Skirts are an extremely masculine garment in many cultures. We think of it as something feminine in the West, but the Scottish kilt, for example, is a garment associated with tough warrior highlanders. And let's not forget Tonga's Tupinu, famously flaunted during the Olympics' opening ceremony.

Tonga! As for American men brave enough to flirt with their hemlines… How did it start with you designing for Billy Porter? Yeah, my Billy moment, which was probably my most famous skirt moment. And he just loved it and he loved the idea that he could wear something that was like still somewhat classic, which every other woman would be wearing. So why couldn't he wear that? And so the skirt comes full circle. While it once stitched women into traditional roles, it now offers men something to step into to shatter stereotypes. There are no rules.

You wear what you want to wear. Rita Braver is in conversation with Rachel Maddow, who shares a story most of us never learned from our history books. It may be hard to fathom that some 20,000 Americans would gather under an image of George Washington for a bone Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden in 1939. So this is just a tiny sample of what you've amassed.

Yeah, my apartment, for God's sake, is a real mess of this stuff at this point. But Rachel Maddow has spent the last few years sifting through a ream of sobering stories for her new book, prequel, An American Fight Against Fascism. It's a cautionary tale about threats to democracy set in the era of World War II.

Not only were there lots of Americans who didn't want us to fight, but there was a lot of them who wanted us to fight on the other side with the Nazis. Maddow, who of course hosts a show on MSNBC, first explored the story in a series of podcasts focusing on surprising connections between Americans and Nazi interests. The organizational diversity of people who were on that side of the calculus ahead of World War II is shocking to me. Some of the most unsettling stories Maddow tells are of a nationwide network of underground pro-Nazi anti-Semitic groups, like one exposed by Arnold Eric Severide, who would become a renowned CBS News commentator. Eric Severide was a very young reporter when he uncovered what?

The Silver Shirts. There was a group of very far-right extremists that were meeting secretly all over Minneapolis. They were forming themselves into armed cells all across the country to mount a war against the Jews and to set up a Hitler-style dictatorship here.

This little bookshop is the California headquarters of the Silver Shirt movement and Friends of the New Germany. And Severide infiltrated this group and basically decided, yes, they're crazy, but they're also serious. And this New York armory essentially became a supply depot for another anti-Semitic militia, the Christian Front. They had a captain on the inside in the 165th Infantry Unit that was willing to give them all this ammunition and cordite and hand grenade explosives and they used it to stockpile bombs.

What did they plan to do with it? That is why the FBI arrested them in mid-January 1940, the FBI. They thought they were only about seven days ahead of the Christian Front plan to murder a bunch of congressmen, to firebomb and bomb a bunch of sites in New York City that they thought would be sensitive enough that they would set off essentially a race war. 18 people were charged with seditious conspiracy and theft of government property. And what happened? They got off.

Either a hung jury or an acquittal for all of them. The way it was received was that was a Brooklyn verdict for some Brooklyn boys, that they were seen as being sort of hometown heroes. And being rabidly anti-Semitic, even violently so, was seen as a form of sort of patriotic anti-communism. And long before the internet became a conduit for disinformation, the Harmony Club, where Maddow and I sat down to talk, figured into a sinister attempt to demonize Jews.

The Harmony Club is the second oldest private club in New York City. It was specifically a club for Jews who were restricted from entering any other private clubs. And in 1939, some unsavory characters, including a former army general, claimed to a congressional committee that they learned of a plot being hatched here at the Harmony Club that might involve prominent Jews affiliated with the Roosevelt administration, including Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter and Treasury Secretary Henry Morgan Thaw. The House Un-American Activities Committee, which had just started, heard from a pair of witnesses who brought them a story about this place. These guys came to Congress and said, those Jews are plotting a takeover of the United States to destroy the United States and put the Jews in charge, and we're here to blow the whistle on it. And it was all fabricated.

Completely fabricated. And this conspiracy theory, they hatched about this place, this room, was part and parcel of trying to turn Americans into feeling about the Jews the way Hitler was making Germans feel about the Jews. So this address run... And Hitler had plenty of tentacles in the U.S., including right on Riverside Drive in Manhattan. So George Sylvester Virek lived here in a beautiful 10-room apartment. He was very well off, and the reason he was so well off is because he was the highest paid and most senior Nazi propaganda agent in the United States. He was known for being a spy during World War I, and then in the run-up to World War II. He's at it again?

He's at it again. Actually convicted of spying, Virek gets off on legal technicalities and goes on to run an operation directly linked to Capitol Hill. They'd get Nazi propaganda into the United States. They'd persuade a member of Congress or a senator to put his or her name on it, insert it into the congressional record. Once it's in the congressional record, they can send it out in bulk all over the United States. Maddow calls out World War II era senators like Ernest Blundine of Minnesota and Burton Wheeler of Montana, as well as House member Hamilton Fish III of New York as being in cahoots with Virek. U.S. indicts its top fascists. But when the federal government finally indicts some two dozen people, including George Sylvester Virek and several congressional staffers, in a seditious conspiracy, why are none of the members of Congress indicted?

Good question. A lot of pressure was put on the Justice Department by members of Congress who are implicated in this scheme. And even that case sputters. The trial is chaos, bedlam, a circus. The prosecution is actually presenting a pretty compelling case. And seven months into it, the judge dies.

That's right. The judge dies from a heart attack. And after hemming and hawing for a few years, the Justice Department decides not to spend time retrying the case. And the American people start to turn their attention to the war rather than to any sort of fight like this at home.

In 35 U.S. cities, boons headed by local glopenfearers. Though Maddow's book takes place three quarters of a century ago, there's a reason it's called prequel. After all, it was written in the wake of the attack on the United States Capitol. Do you think we are now seeing a resurgence of fascism in our country? I think we are seeing another iteration of the ultra right. And it has a lot of the elements that are the most worrying things that you look for when you're looking at a democracy that's in trouble of yielding to authoritarianism. We see violence intruding into the political process. We see the scapegoating of minorities and dangerous conspiracy theories about them. A rise in anti-Semitism? Rising anti-Semitism is an absolute red flag.

Anti-Semitism almost always goes with the rise in fascist ideation. And it's just something that we can't ignore. There's a history here that we ought to learn from. Americans before us, just as smart, just as resourceful, just as funny, just as clear-minded as any of us could ever hope to be, fought those fights before us.

We can learn from what they did. It's an age-old way to communicate. You put a message in a bottle and cast it out to sea.

But what if you're in landlocked Iowa? A question for our Steve Hartman. For John Amalfitano, the past is ever present. Everywhere you look in his Dunnellan, New Jersey home, there are relics from a bygone era. I don't know what it is with me. I just have a connection with old stuff.

And he says no connection runs deeper than the curio in this cabinet. That's the oddest thing of all. It's a chicken egg, bequeathed to John by a neighbor who found it in a carton of eggs in 1951. The neighbor saved it because of the note, whoever gets this egg, please write.

Signed, Miss Mary Foss, Forest City, Iowa. John says his neighbor held onto the egg for 50 years and never looked for her. Then John held onto it for another 20, before finally posting pictures on the weird and wonderful Secondhand Finds Facebook page.

To its three million members, he pondered, wonder if she might still be alive. So all those people who had egg on their Facebook hatched a plan, scrambled, fried hard to find this Mary Foss. After 72 years, they expected an egg-susting search that would not be over easy.

But they cracked the case in less than a day. And for those of you keeping track at home, that was eight puns in 15 seconds. Do you remember writing on that egg? Oh my goodness, yes. And you were hoping to find someone to be a pen pal? Well, who knows?

We all dream. Mary is now 92. But as a teenager working in an egg-packing plant like this one, Mary says she used to dream of meeting someone in a far-off place. That fragile little message in a bottle, her way of reaching out.

Yes. And now, 72 years later, she has finally made her connection. And here it is. How are you, egg? This past week, they came face-to-face for the first time. And I hope we get to see you again. Would you want to meet John in person? Well, I'd love to meet God, wouldn't you? Oh, John. Oh, John. Not really.

I have no desire to meet the God. You've got his problem. Even an egg that long. Yeah, you're the same at 70-year-old eggs. Yeah, you got a point there. Well, when you get to be my age, you meet a lot of kooks. Sorry, John. Looks like the yolk's on us.

How do you like your egg? That's Sly and the Family Stone. Part rock, part soul, part pop. All groundbreaking music. Until Sly Stone largely retreated from public view.

This month, the elusive star is out with a memoir. We asked Kelefa Sanneh to sum up Sly Stone's unfinished legacy. Even at rehearsal, here goofing around at a local CBS station in 1975, there is no one quite like Sly Stone.

The songs are American classics, but the guy behind them is something of a mystery. Sly and the Family Stone. Sly Stone invented his own funky mixed-up hybrid of rock and roll and R&B. And with his band, Sly and the Family Stone, he became one of the most influential musicians of the late 1960s. Like seeing the black version of the Beatles. Funk legend George Clinton is a long-time friend. Yeah, the sensibility of the street, the church, and then like the qualities of a Motown, you know, the Smokey Robinson, the Hollywood. He was all of that in one person. Watching the band in the 2021 documentary Summer of Soul, it still feels like something new. About your first time in this room.

This is my clubhouse. Amir Questlove-Thompson won an Oscar for the film, and now he's publishing Sly's memoir with a title taken from one of his classic songs, Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself Again. And when he puts together this band Sly and the Family Stone, it seems like he really has a vision. Jerry Martini, the saxophone player, said he knew exactly what he was doing.

Boys, girls, black, white. Sly knew which buttons to push to not only make his musicians better, but also how we receive it, knowing that we've never seen a band before in which, you know, the women just aren't background singing foils that play the tambourine. Like Cynthia Robinson could destroy anybody playing trumpet.

So to have a band that has women playing instruments as serious as men do, to have the white guys the drummer, if you're the drummer in a black band, you better be good, you know what I mean? Sly Stone grew up Sylvester Stewart in San Francisco and worked as a DJ before founding the band in 1966. Three years later, the Family Stone album Stan put them on the map, and the single Everyday People went to number one.

If you listen to the structure of Everyday People, it's really nothing but the... Which, who has the wit and the clever mind to figure out how to insert this potent message inside of a song so innocent sounding. By 1971, the innocence was fading.

The band released a darker, weirder follow-up, a futuristic masterpiece called There's a Riot Goin' On. But Sly Stone was struggling. In the book, he writes that his life revolved around drugs, particularly the drugs that he used to drink and drink. He often missed gigs, although he did manage to show up to his own wedding to Kathy Silva at Madison Square Garden, as Charles Osgood reported. Not everyday people by any means, but as Sly slyly observed in his Everyday People song, different strokes for different folks.

Charles Osgood, CBS News, New York. By the 80s, the band had basically disintegrated, and Sly Stone himself was occasionally seen offstage as in this 1983 court appearance on a cocaine possession charge. He made a few comeback attempts, but mainly laid low. The biggest shock of the night came when reclusive funk rock pioneer Sly Stone hit the stage. Stone surfaced again in 2006 at a Grammy's tribute, his first time with the original group since the 70s, but he left before it was over. By 2011, he was living in a camper van.

To many fans, it seemed like rock bottom. Now 80 years old, Sly Stone is still living a reclusive life, but he has a house in an anonymous LA suburb. Through a representative, he declined our request for an interview.

But the real family Stone, sons Sylvester Stewart Jr. and daughters Novina Carmel and Silvette Fun Stone agreed to speak on his behalf. We're sitting here in his house, talking about him, and he can't be here with us today. How's he doing? He's doing okay. He's still talking trash and all that. Still, you know, he's, he's loving and caring. Still, um, but he still don't take no mess from nobody.

Nobody. Fun Stone was at home for some of her father's darkest days. He writes in the book about how you were one of the people tasked with helping to keep the drug dealers away when he's trying to stay clean. Is that true? I had a few conversations. Yeah. So I'll just be like, look, bro, you know what I'm saying? You got a dad too.

That's my dad. You're killing him. Stop. Or it's going to get bad.

What you want to do? Just had to just put your foot down and let him know you're not welcome. Don't come back over here or it's going to be a problem. Longtime manager Arlene Hershkowitz says that after more than half a century of high times and hard living, Sly Stone has finally found peace and sobriety. He's clean now, right? Yeah. Oh yeah. How long has he been clean?

This will be in December. It'll be four years. Four years. Yeah. Did you ever think that you'd be sitting here talking about Sly, four years clean?

No, but I'm so happy that I am. One product of his new found sobriety, the new memoir, a very personal book that was also, it turns out, a group project. On this book, there are three names on the author page.

There's Sly Stone, there's the writer Ben Greenman, and there's you. How did this process work? There were a lot of sessions. I would say I've counted, we counted almost 300.

Three hundred interview sessions. Yeah. My goodness. Yeah. The book tells Sly's life story, but it's not necessarily the final chapter. Do you think we'll ever see Sly Stone in public again?

I think so, yeah. George Clinton. I'm not sure he's going to be playing or anything. He's got music that I know he wants to get somebody to do something with. He's going to find a way. You think Sly Stone is not finished yet? I hope not.

Let's put it that way. It's a family affair. Sly Stone's band may not be back together, but his family seems tighter than ever. Did you think that you'd be, your father would be 80, he'd be publishing his memoir, and you'd be sitting on chairs to talk about him?

No. These moments are the most surreal. Not the other crazy Sly Stone moments, because I think we were born into that. Him just being at home, we come over, decorate the Christmas tree. That's the craziest.

It's all very wonderfully and weirdly normal. Sly is in a place right now, which as we say, let us give you your flowers while you're still here. He's 80 years old. He's 80 years old.

A lot of his contemporaries died at 20, 30 and 40. And is he okay? Yeah.

As long as Sly is breathing on earth, I consider that okay. It's rare to find someone who doesn't love chocolate, but there's something about one of our favorite treats you may not know. Its key ingredient comes from places that don't always benefit from our obsession. Seth Doan has a report that's bittersweet. Your house is here. Just here.

Work is here. Kim Addison is on a culinary and cultural mission of sorts to change our perception of chocolate. When we think of chocolate, we think, you know, Switzerland, Belgium, or France, but never Ghana, never CĂ´te d'Ivoire, and those are the two largest producers of cocoa in the world. So how is it that we're not known for our chocolate? She's trying to change that with 15 employees working from this modest space in the African nation of Ghana. What was this building before it was a chocolate factory?

It was actually my parents' first house. Kim and her sister Priscilla, Ghanaians who grew up in America and around the world, are part of a growing effort to keep some of the profits from the $100 billion chocolate industry here. They started their own company, 57 Chocolate. 57 Chocolate, it's short for 1957, which was Ghana's independence, but it's not just about Ghana being free from colonial rule. It's more about the spirit behind Ghana's independence. Hey, as Ghanaians, as Africans, we can do this.

As a businesswoman, she's motivated by some numbers that do not make sense to her. Two thirds of the world's cacao, the raw ingredient that's roasted and used to make chocolate, is grown in the African nations of Cote d'Ivoire, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. Yet Africa produces just 1% of the world's chocolate. The biggest chocolate makers are in the U.S. and Europe, which is where most of the money goes too.

Chocolate's story is certainly not all sweet. There are continuing issues of trafficking children to work on plantations for little or no pay, an issue that touches even U.S. consumers. A new lawsuit alleges Customs and Border Protection ignored evidence that child labor was involved in harvesting cocoa for major U.S. candy makers.

The agency told us it cannot comment on pending litigation. Today, the Department of Labor estimates that 1.5 million children still work illegally on cocoa plantations. We visited Cocoa Country to see where the problems start and to understand some possible solutions. Ivan's Kanubi cracks open the pods to extract the sweet, slimy bean, which at this stage has a flavor like lychee fruit. It tastes good.

I saw you eating a few of them earlier. While there are perks, high pay is not among them. Do you feel like you make enough money to have a decent living?

No, no, no. The average cocoa farmer in Ghana earns less than $2 a day, and it's labor-intensive work. Once the cocoa is collected, it's left to ferment under banana leaves for about seven days, then is laid out in the sun to dry. Steven Asia has been farming cocoa for 14 years and says he barely breaks even. At the end, you'll buy chocolate bars? No, mostly I don't buy chocolates. The money we have, it's better I use it to buy heavy foods rather than buy chocolate that can offer my belly to come and work. You don't make enough of the money to afford chocolate?

Yeah, yeah. That's a bitter reality Dutch chocolate maker Tony's Chocolonely is confronting. Nobody needs chocolate. And to me, it's really unacceptable that in something that's a luxury, that's a gift, that people accept that there's extreme poverty at the beginning of the supply chain. All Schonmakers led sustainability programs for Tony's Chocolonely until last month. The company's name nods to its lonely place in this fight against exploitation. The two main problems are illegal labor and massive deforestation, and both of them are driven by poverty. What our program aims to do is help farmers and they will earn a living income.

And with that, we take away the root cause of the issues in cocoa. They took us to see schools they helped support, a common way many big chocolate companies claim to be giving back. But Schonmakers underlined that this, what he called charity, is not enough. Boosting real incomes is essential. He says the price most chocolate companies are paying for raw cocoa here, a price set by the government, is too low compared to what farmers need to live.

We calculate how big the gap is between the government set price and the living income price, and we pay that gap as an extra premium. For the spring harvest, the premium was about $63 higher than what's set by the government, meaning Tony's paid almost double for each bag of beans. Tony's also implemented a tracing system to follow the beans through their supply chain.

Tifolis Abakap monitors this step. So knowing that to be held responsible for whatever happens to your beans, it will help you to do the right thing. Can you calculate how many chocolate bars you can make from a bag like this of cocoa?

Yeah, that's a good question. It really depends on the type of chocolate. So a dark chocolate bar would contain more cocoa than a milk chocolate bar, but on average, a Tony's bar, three to five hundred bars from one bag. Three to five hundred bars? But farmers were getting just $80 for each of these bags of cocoa.

We're almost doubling that, and it's still only a small fraction of the retail price. There's no chocolate company will go bankrupt on that, but it will mean the whole world of a difference for cocoa farmers. It is fully dried. The flavor will come.

You start smelling the chocolate. We met Gifty Narki drying cocoa beans for one of the farmer cooperatives selling to Tony's. My parents were doing. How about your grandparents? They too. Wow. Yeah. How about their parents? They too.

So your great, great parents, your grandparents, your parents, all cocoa farmers, and now you? Yes. She told us she used some of the extra money Tony's pays to make a capital investment. She needs a second job.

At first, I don't have machine to sew, but now I have got some machine to sew. Because you got extra money? Yes. From Tony's?

Yes. Working through these cooperatives, Tony's tries to build the relationships needed to identify and root out problems. Right on the bar, it says, we exist to end modern slavery and illegal child labor in the chocolate industry. It's a goal, but not a guarantee. We cannot do this on our own. We have to develop a model that is replicable and scalable so all other chocolate companies can do the same as we do. But if I buy this piece of chocolate, can you guarantee that there's not child labor involved? So if you buy chocolate from Tony's Chocolate Only, then you know that we search for child labor. And I can't promise that it's not part of the chain somewhere. And we find child labor. We're also transparent about the child labor cases that we find.

But it's good that we find it, because that's the start of solving it. Next season, the Guinean government is raising the price of cocoa as part of an effort to combat smuggling, illegal gold mining on cocoa plantations, and of course, child labor. At 57 chocolate, Kimberly Addison is trying her own way to keep more profits in Ghana, through controlling the production of chocolate. Shouldn't we be adding value to that cocoa in country, consuming it in country, and then also making it available globally? But there are challenges you'd probably never think of in this cocoa-producing country.

There's the melting heat, inconsistent electricity, and problems finding raw materials like sugar and milk. Still, Addison joins a handful of other small companies working to cultivate and profit from the growing taste for chocolate here. The prominent black leaders and Guinean independence figures featured on their bars are a reminder of the spirit and potential of this place. There's so much value here on the continent. Where there are problems, there are huge opportunities. And what we're doing at 57 is we've seen a problem with something as small as the cocoa bean, and we've turned it into an opportunity. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at wondery.com slash survey.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-25 07:14:56 / 2023-10-25 07:32:57 / 18

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