Hana Baba

News Reporter/Host

Hana Baba is a reporter and host of Crosscurrents, KALW's evening newsmagazine. She's also part of KALW's project The Spiritual Edge.

She interviews and reports on ethnic communities, poverty, health, culture, religion, arts, and the global nature of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Her work also appears on NPR programs, PRI's The World, BBC World Service, and New America Media. A Sudanese-American, Hana also reports from and about Sudan and Sudanese.

Ways To Connect

Street art has long been at the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. With its colorful wall murals, it has been called the largest concentration of public painting in the world, embodying culture, passion, and activism. It would be quite a treat if you could see hundreds of the Mission's murals in one place – well, now you can.

The book Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo features over 500 full color photographs, with 30 essays by icons in the San Francisco public art movement. KALW’s Hana Baba sat down with the editor of the book, artist Annice Jacoby.

While The Birds and Vertigo may be some of the more obvious classic films featuring the Bay Area, a new exhibit showing at the Old Mint building in San Francisco is exploring the obvious, the not so obvious, and the downright obscure. The exhibit is entitled "The Stuff that Dreams are made of: San Francisco and the Movies," and it shows scripts, collectibles, artwork and posters from films shot in San Francisco. One room is dedicated to movie posters from classic Noir films related to the City by the Bay.

Photo courtesy of http://www.benetech.org/about/

The Silicon Valley company Benetech’s motto is “Technology serving humanity.” It’s a different type of tech venture. It measures its success not in dollars, but by service to society and the environment. The man who founded Benetech is Jim Fruchterman, a former rocket scientist turned pioneer in this field called “social technology.” He was named a Macarthur Fellow, a “genius,” for his work. Fruchterman came by spoke with KALW’s Hana Baba about why he chose social good over monetary profit.

Since 9/11, surveillance of Muslims has been on the rise. New York City made national news in February when the Associated Press broke the story about the NYPD spying on area mosques. AP won a Pullitzer Prize for that reporting.

About a month later, in March, we received similar news much closer to home. The ACLU announced it had documents showing the FBI spied on mosques here in the San Francisco Bay Area between 2004 and 2008.

When scientists started studying genomes, and then sequencing them, their work was hailed as revolutionary. But, they were mostly done in connection with Caucasian genes and some African and East Asian populations. One of the races no one studied was the Persian race. That is, until last year. Stanford researchers received a $250,000 grant from a Persian American foundation called PARSA to study the Iranian genome. The idea is to learn more about the history and varied cultures of the Iranian people, and to explore the field of personalized medicine.

As the number of Americans receiving food stamps increases – it has now reached an all time high of more than 21 and a half million households – an ongoing debate over whether the system is working has emerged.

Last fall, over a dozen members of Congress took the “Food Stamp Challenge” to see what it was like to live solely on a food stamp budget for a week. Bay Area representatives Barbara Lee of Oakland and Jackie Speier of San Mateo both participated. Congresswoman Lee had to live on four dollars and fifty cents a day.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user KayVee.INC

On June 5th, San Franciscans will be voting on many things, one of which has to do with their trash.

Since the 1930s, the company Recology has been taking care of The City’s trash and recycling, with no competition. This year, proponents of Proposition A want to change that by opening up the city's trash collection and processing services to a competitive bidding process. Other companies – even out of state ones – would have the chance to bid for the job.

Courtesy of Flickr user Clinton Steeds

One of the decisions Californians will make this June 5th is whether or not to change the amount of time legislators serve in office, mostly to lessen their terms from 14 years to 12. Prop 28 says that should happen, opponents disagree. As the discussion over legislative term limits heats up, the question at the core of Prop 28 is how long Californians think their representatives should represent them. Should they be left to serve longer and become more established as legislators? Or, should there be an encouragement of new blood in the State Assembly and Senate?

Societies around the world recognize child literacy and elementary education as human rights. It’s actually guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 24 of that Convention also guarantees the following:

“States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.”

Dr. Wes Watkins, IV has built his whole life’s work around the idea that there’s no better example of democracy than a Jazz ensemble. Dr. Watkins is the founder of the Bay Area-based Jazz & Democracy Project. He devised a curriculum that teaches schoolchildren lessons in jazz alongside American history and the democratic process.

As the possibility of another $200 million cut in CSU funding looms this year, all eyes are on the November elections to see whether or not voters will approve Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative. It would increase taxes by one percent for Californians earning over $250,000, by two percent for those earning $500,000, and temporarily increase the sales tax by half-a-percent. If it’s not approved, CSU funding will be cut.

According to the anti-bullying organization No Bully, an estimated 160,000 children refuse to go to school on any given day because they dread the physical and verbal aggression of their peers. Tomorrow, students across the country will participate in a national day of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of bullying and harassment in schools.

Salaam Dunk

Mar 27, 2012
Courtesy Seedwell Media

Women’s basketball got its start back in 1892 when the women of Smith College started their team, playing in floor-length dresses and corsets. Playing in a conservative society can be rough on women. And that brings us to our next story, which takes us on a trip, a long trip, to Northern Iraq.

Photo by David Waldorf

I. Spring rain has been sweeping the Bay Area. At this time last year, the world watched as revolutions swept across the Arab world. The uprisings ended decades-long dictatorships in the Middle East in what was called “the Arab Spring.” 

Last month on the show, we aired a story about the controversy over how UC Berkeley is a center for unearthing and studying the remains of native Californians. UC Berkeley In it, Professor Tim White says of the study of native remains:

“It is a holistic study, just like a crime scene investigation, but these are very cold cases with very ancient evidence."

Marilyn Pittman is one of San Francisco's first openly gay comics. She rose to fame during the AIDS crisis, and became known for bringing hilarity through her blunt tell-it-like-it-is comedy. But in 1997, tragedy struck, when her father murdered her mother, and then committed suicide. After that, Pittman went through her mother's journals, and her father's love letters, seeking answers as to why it happened. Pittman turned their tragedy into a one-woman show at San Francisco’s Marsh Theater. KALW’s Hana Baba sat down with Pittman to talk about "It's All the Rage.”

Being diagnosed with a terminal illness like cancer can be life shattering. For Darlene Harris, it was an opportunity to reflect on her life. She’s a certified massage therapist at Peace of Body, Peace of Mind in Richmond. The name of her business reflects a state of mind she has reached after living many years of what she calls misery – from a disturbed childhood, to a failed marriage, to being diagnosed with leukemia at age 45.

Recently, KALW’s Jon Atkinson headed out to Dolores Park to ask the resident young adults there about marriage. He mostly heard the words “outdated,” and “unnecessary” (save for the words of one hopeful park-goer). And those who follow marriage trends wouldn’t be surprised. People like local author Ethan Watters says young people are consciously prolonging the time between graduating from college and starting a family. In the meantime, they form networks of support that sustain them: groups of friends, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, and classmates who form a kind of family.

Photo courtesy the Hayward Area Historical Society

Head to the East Bay city of Hayward, and you’ll find a museum with a little bit of class. There, the city’s historical society puts on exhibits about the way we used to live. But were Bay Area citizens of the past really so different than us?

KALW’s Hana Baba wanted to know more, so she stopped by the museum for a lesson in what many people consider a lost art: formal etiquette.

Marilyn Pittman is one of San Francisco's first openly gay comics, rising to fame during the AIDS crisis, and known for bringing hilarity through her blunt, "tell it like it is" comedy.

But in 1997, tragedy struck, when her father murdered her mother, and then committed suicide. After that, Pittman went through her mother's journals, and her father's love letters, seeking answers as to why it happened. She asked questions like "did they really love each other?” and "could we see this coming?”

Back in the ‘50s, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” challenged how people thought a poem should sound. Recently, e-books challenged how we think a book should feel. And now, the Twitter Novel is challenging how a novel should be written.

Smartphones bring us streaming audio, directions to where we're going, instant connections with our friends and family. But an increasing number of experts are sounding an alarm that smartphones may as well be called spyphones.

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