The Takeaway

  • Monday–Friday noon–1 p.m.

The Takeaway delivers the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. You’re invited to learn more and be part of the national conversation, on-air and online, on topics that are important to your life. The Takeaway is hosted by John Hockenberry.

_(photo credit: MarcoAntonio.com)__

  • Nov 22

    The Takeaway Weekender: Tips For Hosting, Cooking & Eating Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving is almost here—a holiday that can be both disastrous and celebratory.

    We here at The Takeaway want yours to be more fun than stressful. So today we're discussing the three main components of Thanksgiving—hosting, cooking, and eating—with resident food expert Dan Pashman.

    Dan is the host of WNYC's food podcast, "The Sporkful," and the author of "Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious." He's also the host of an hour-long special that will be airing on public radio stations throughout the country. It's called "A Very Sporkful Thanksgiving," and it was produced by our very own culture producer, Kristen Meinzer.

    What are your favorite Thanksgiving tips? Share them in the comments.

    Read full post


  • Nov 22

    'Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1,' 'Pulp,' Thanksgiving Sweatpants & Movie Therapy

    Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and Rafer and Kristen are rubbing their stomachs. Fortunately, there's both hunger and supermarkets on the big screens, vying for some attention. The hunger, of course, is in the form of "Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1." The supermarkets come in the form of the pop music documentary "Pulp: A Film About Life, Death, and Supermarkets." 

    There's also a special edition of Sweatpants, for the sweatiest pantiest day of the year: Thanksgiving. And on the Movie Therapy front, there's a more serious question than usual. 

    Last but not least, trivia!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Movie Daters! We're very thankful for you!

    Read full post


  • Nov 21

    News Quiz | Week of Nov. 21, 2014

    Are you a newsie? Do you know what's happening from Washington to Hollywood to Pyongyang? Be smarter than your pals. Prep your dinner party factoids. Gauge your knowledge about what happened this week, as heard on The Takeaway.

    Read full post


  • Nov 21

    Mexico's Dia de la Revolución Turns Into Day of Violent Protest

    November 20th marked the 104th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, known as Dia de La Revolucion. It's usually a festive day, but this year the holiday fell amid a rising tide of anger and hostility in the country.

    On Thursday, protesters threw Molotov cocktails and clashed with riot police outside Mexico City's National Palace. Thousands took to the streets to protest against national corruption and the government's handling of the apparent massacre of 43 students who went missing nearly two months ago in the southern city of Iguala. 

    Authorities in Mexico City canceled the annual military parade, but protesters in the streets raised their voices and waved black flags to call for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s resignation.

    The feeling of outrage is not just confined to the streets of Mexico City—the sentiment is increasingly being echoed across the country.

    Fronteras reporter Lorne Matalon traveled to the city of Ojinaga in the state of Chihuahua. Chihuahua's residents, who have long been used to living in a brutally violent state, are happy that the problems they've long dealt with are starting to get national attention.

    Read full post


  • Nov 21

    From the Ball Field to Bill Cosby: Are We Finally Taking Rape Seriously?

    While the media storm around Bill Cosby has picked up in recent weeks, the comedian first faced rape allegations in 2005 when a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, filed a lawsuit against Cosby, alleging that the comedian drugged and raped her in 2004.

    Tamara Green was the second woman to come forward. At the time, she told The Today Show that Cosby's M.O. had hardly changed, that the actor did the same thing to her, back in the 1970s.

    "I heard reported that the district attorney had said that the story was weak, that [Constand] had not come forward in a timely fashion," she told Matt Lauer. "That was, for me, DA speak that they were not going to file the case and that they didn't believe her. And it was at that time I decided that if there were only two of us, one a long time ago and one right now, that's two too many."

    New allegations against Cosby have surfaced this week, but while the 2005 charges hardly made a dent in the actor's career, this week, Netflix postponed a Cosby comedy special, NBC halted development on a new Cosby show, and TV Land pulled all "Cosby Show" reruns from its line-up.

    Bill Cosby isn't the only high-profile man to face fall out from accusations of rape. Public radio host Jian Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC in October after sexual assault allegations were made public by several women.

    The firestorm around Cosby and Gomeshi happens as universities from Virginia to California are changing the way they handle rape allegations on campus, particularly in fraternities. These problems have plagued schools for decades, but have only recently been addressed. 

    Jill Filipovic, an attorney, political writer for Cosmopolitan.com, and co-creator of the blog Feministe, says that online feminism has galvanized a renewed fight against rape culture. She tells The Takeaway that while her feminist foremothers laid the necessary, and important, legal groundwork for women's rights, her generation of activists has largely focused on cultural change—and they're seeing results. 

    "We do tend to look the other way, especially when it's male celebrities, male athletes, or men whose art we admire," says Filipovic. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 21

    Immigration & A Changing America: Your Conversation

    The United States has grappled with a broken immigration system for years. But last night, President Obama offered hope to millions when he finally outlined his long-awaited plan to change the nation's immigration policies.

    The president announced that the federal government will stop deporting undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. It will also expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to apply to any child who arrived before January 2010.

    The plan is expected to apply to up to 3.7 million undocumented immigrants.

    Before the plan came out, Republicans were calling President Obama's actions unprecedented. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz invoked the words of the Roman politician and philosopher Cicero on the Senate floor yesterday: "When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us?"

    And again harkening back to over 2,000 years ago, Obama's speech last night quoted Scripture: “We shall not press a stranger for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.”

    House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that the president's actions were “damaging the presidency itself” and vowed to take action against the measure. Similarly, Republicans filed a lawsuit against the White House for the use of executive powers and on how the Obama Administration has handled the Affordable Care Act.

    Both sides relied on the grandest forms of rhetoric in the always passionate debate about immigration. The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich unpacks the political repercussions of the president's announcement.

    Though millions will now be able to come out of the shadows, they will not have a path to citizenship, nor will they be eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. And President Obama's plan still leaves out more then 6 million undocumented immigrants who live in the U.S. 

    Joining The Takeaway to give some context for the president's executive action is Monica Campbell, Global Nation Editor for PRI's The World.

    The politicians have had their say—how do you feel about the president's action? Leave a comment below, tell us on Twitter or Facebook, or call us at 1-877-869-8253.

    Read full post


  • Nov 21

    Better Than Buffy: A Girl Vampire Takes Iran in New Film

    As a film, "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" takes pride in defying expectations.

    Set in the fictional Iranian town of "Bad City," it is shot completely in black and white, and is entirely in Farsi. It's a vampire movie, but it's also a spaghetti western. And its main character is a shy girl who looks more like Amelie than a blood-sucking monster. When she's not terrorizing the town's junkies, pimps, and creeps, she listens to brooding music in her bedroom and skateboards around town.

    Shooting a genre movie in black in white and in a foreign language all sound like bad business decisions, but the film's producer, Elijah Wood, said they were precisely what attracted him to the project.

    “All of these elements were maybe things that would have scared other people looking to invest in something from a commercial standpoint but for us, it was absolutely everything that we wanted to be a part of," Wood told VICE.

    Throughout the film, director Ana Lily Amirpour features oil fields and drills—a symbol that takes on several meanings.

    “The [oil] industry is something that I find extremely seductive, familiar, and parasitic, but not in a negative way,” says Amirpour. “We seem like ants so often, and there’s something about these ever-churning oil rigs, refineries, and smokestacks—it’s almost like they’re consuming the Earth like it’s food.”

    Like an oil rig, a vampire needs to sink its teeth in to its food and drink a thick dark liquid. An Iranian-American herself, Amirpour says that she’s loved vampires since she was 12-years-old.

    “A vampire can be so many things, and it’s a really powerful mythical character,” she says. “It’s life eternal, darkness, it kills as part of its instincts. It’s also a historian, observing decades of human history.”

    Amirpour says that the main character of “The Girl,” who is played actress Sheila Vand, is an outsider because she’s a vampire that is living a life that is unique and independent from the rest of the culture.

    “I’m very intimate with and close to loneliness,” she says. “I think loneliness gets a bad rap. I think solitude is extremely useful for a person to think about themselves and find things. Certainly for creativity it’s key, and it also makes those moments of connection really jump out and feel undeniable.”

    The film relies heavily on the use of music to help support and tell the story laid out in “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” and the soundtrack was composed of mostly Farsi and English songs by Federale, Kiosk, White Lies, Bei Ru, Radio Tehran, and others. (Click player above to hear some clips of the music used in the film.)

    “Each character wants a different sound and a different kind of music,” says Amirpour.

    Check out a trailer for the film below.

     

    Check out some stills from the movie below.

    Read full post


  • Nov 21

    Thanks, Internet: Five Things You Had to See Online This Week

    Every Friday, Sean Rameswaram, a producer with Studio 360 and host of the Sideshow podcast, rounds up the week in internet phenomena. 

    This week in "Thanks, Internet," Sean talks to John Hockenberry about the online treasures you may have missed.

    1. Benedict's First Big Hit

    Benedict Cumberbatch is a walking meme who has never even starred in a hit movie. He's hoping that will change with The Imitation Game, and he's going the extra mile to promote his Alan Turing biopic. During an interview with MTV, Cumberbatch was asked to do as many celebrity impressions as he could in under a minute (get it?). He didn't disappoint.    

    2. Mr. and Mrs. Smith

    Jayden and Willow Smith at the beach


    Some adolescents attempt to save the world with next to nothing. Others, like "musicians" Jayden and Willow Smith, have everything and boldly choose to do next to nothing with it. T Magazine published an extended interview with the teenage children of Will and Jada early this week (Jayden is 16, Willow is 14) and the quotes were so outlandish that several philosophers were enlisted to break it all down. 

    Here are actual things they said: 

    "I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn’t exist." (Willow)

    "Right, because you have to live. There’s a theoretical physicist inside all of our minds, and you can talk and talk, but it’s living." (Jayden)

    "And the feeling of being like, this is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made." (Willow)

    "Exactly. Because your mind has a duality to it. So when one thought goes into your mind, it’s not just one thought, it has to bounce off both hemispheres of the brain. When you’re thinking about something happy, you’re thinking about something sad. When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple. It’s a tool for understanding mathematics and things with two separate realities. But for creativity: That comes from a place of oneness. That’s not a duality consciousness. And you can’t listen to your mind in those times — it’ll tell you what you think and also what other people think." (Jayden)

    3. SNL vs. Twitter

    This past weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live (hosted by Woody Harrelson and featuring the music of Kendrick Lamar) was exceptionally good and funny. Maybe that's why "Tweet" didn't make it into the show. A dress rehearsal version of the sketch, uploaded Wednesday, takes some very easy swings at Twitter before turning into a musical number that features President and First Lady Obama, God, and the real Edward Norton. Dissing Twitter isn't the most original concept, but it has never been dressed up quite like this. 

    4. Poop Emoji 101

    Poop Emoji


    How did our phones, tablets, and instant messaging apps all end up with little poop graphics on them? The answer was explained in great detail this week at Fast Company, where Lauren Schwartzberg presented "The Oral History of the Poop Emoji (or, How Google Brought Poop to America)." It's a fascinating story that starts with Japanese graphic design in 1999 and ends with smiling poops being recognized by every mobile and desktop operating system in the world.

    5. China's "Chick Chick"

    Two years ago we had “Gangnam Style,” last year brought us “What Does The Fox Say?”, and now we have "Chick Chick"  — the latest international music video to beguile the entire internet. The video features an inexplicable stream of visuals from Chinese pop star Wang Rong Rollin, including women in bird suits line dancing, animated chickens in bikinis, and half-naked men in various animal masks. It's a startling experiment in surrealism with a beat that dares you to stop listening. Good luck.  

    Read full post


  • Nov 21

    Today's Takeaways: A Changing America, a Brewing Revolution, and Fighting Rape Culture

    1. Immigration & A Changing America: Your Conversation | 2. Mexico's Dia de la Revolución Turns Into Day of Violent Protest | 3. The Movie Date Podcast Reviews The Big New Releases | 4. From the Ball Field to Bill Cosby: Are We Finally Taking Rape Seriously?
    Read full post


  • Nov 20

    Ferguson & Gov. Jay Nixon's Leadership Crisis

    A Missouri grand jury is deliberating over whether to press charges against Darrell Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this summer. Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to Ferguson in August, and just this week he declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury's announcement.

    It's the latest move in what's been a bumbling response to the crisis growing in the center of his state. During the height of the violence this past August, the governor was nowhere to be found.

    Missouri state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal represents an area that includes Ferguson, Missouri. She has been actively engaged with the protests in the aftermath of Brown's death—on the night of August 10, she was even tear-gassed by police.

    Chappelle-Nadal was the only elected official present at the protests that night, but she says that didn't do much to get Gov. Nixon's attention. Gov. Nixon, like Chappelle-Nadal, is a fellow Democrat, but that hasn't restrained the state senator from criticizing him harshly.

    See Also: Beyond Ferguson: America's Struggle for Racial Equality

    Read full post


  • Nov 20

    Giving Up On Congress: Prepare For a Presidential Push on Immigration

    Tonight, President Obama will announce a new executive order on immigration. According to the White House, the president's plan will prevent the deportation of as many as four million undocumented immigrants if they have lived in the United States for five years and have no criminal record. An additional one million will be granted protection through additional, unspecified parts of the president's order.

    While many supporters are in favor of the president's plan, there was one blow to immigration advocates: The parents of dreamers—those who fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—will not be granted deportation reprieve.

    Republicans are up in arms over this announcement, with some of the far right calling for impeachment and more moderate voices claiming the president is over reaching. But this is not the first time an American president has taken executive action on immigration.

    Both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush issued similar executive actions, in 1987 and 1990, respectively, though their orders affected far fewer undocumented immigrants.

    Cyrus Mehta, a New York-based immigration attorney, discusses President Obama's plan and its potential impact on his clients. Mayra Rubio Limon gained legal status under DACA, enacted by the president in 2012. A member of the group Homestead Equal Rights for All, Rubio Limon tells The Takeaway about her experience, and how the president's plan may impact the lives of her family and friends.

    Interested in hearing President Obama's address tonight? Don't be surprised if you don't catch the speech. The four major networks—ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox—are not carrying his prime time address. Our co-producer WNYC will be—it can be streamed online tonight at WNYC.org.

    Read full post


  • Nov 20

    Slow Your Roll, Bro: Uber Scandal Spotlights Tech's Dude Problem

    Uber, the ride-sharing service which operates in more than 200 cities across 45 countries, has come under fire following remarks by the company's senior vice president of business, Emil Michael, at a private dinner late last week.

    In what he believed was an off-the-record conversation, Michael suggested spending a million dollars to hire researches who would help Uber fight back against the press by looking into the personal details of reporters' lives.

    Sarah Lacy, a tech reporter for PandoDaily, was singled out as a journalist to target.

    And it's not the first time the company has come under attack. Uber has also gotten in trouble for strong-arming its relationship with drivers, trying to undermine competitors like Lyft,and for sexist comments made by CEO Travis Kalanick.

    But will the bad press really affect the bottom line of a company valued at more than $18 billion?

    Weighing in is Elissa Shevinsky, the CTO of Glimpse, a private photo-sharing app.

    Read full post


  • Nov 20

    Forget Eggs—The NYT Gets Grape Salad on Its Face

    Next week we'll be spending a lot of time with The Sporkful's Dan Pashman—he'll be dishing out strategy tips to help you tackle Thanksgiving.

    But we wanted to get an early start by looking at a particular Thanksgiving snub that came at the hands of our partner The New York Times.

    The Times recently assigned each state in the union and the District of Columbia a Thanksgiving recipe. There are some really delightful recipes in the line-up: D.C. gets a garam masala pumpkin tart. Idaho gets hasselback potatoes with garlic-paprika oil. New Mexico was assigned a slow-cooked red chili turkey.

    But the fine state of Minnesota has the great misfortune of landing “grape salad” as its state Thanksgiving recipe.

    Rachel Hutton, editor-in-chief at Minnesota Monthly, has written about food for various Minnesota publications for the last decade. As a Minnesota foodie, she explains why New Yorkers have such a hard time understanding the food of the Midwest.

    Read full post


  • Nov 20

    Audio Essay: A Heartfelt Goodbye to The Genius of Mike Nichols

    On and off screen, the life of Mike Nichols was legendary. 

    Nichols knew America. He knew love, and he knew actors and what they could do even better than they did. He made Dustin Hoffman a star in "The Graduate." In the film "Carnal Knowledge" he made fun of America's sexual revolution and got Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel to share the silver screen.

    From "Catch-22" and "Working Girl," to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" and "Annie," Nichols was a genius artist.

    Nichols, the husband of Diane Sawyer, died on Wednesday at the age of 83. He won an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy and an Emmy for his work—a feat very few have ever done. 

    Here, The Takeaway remembers Mike Nichols and his incredible influence on entertainment and America.

    Read full post


  • Nov 20

    West African Musicians Battle Ebola with their Songs

    The newly recorded version of the Band Aid charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” has been selling fast this week. The proceeds from the song will be used to fight the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 5,000 people, almost all from West Africa. The original single came out 30 years ago and raised millions to help with famine relief in Ethiopia.

    In spite of their commercial success, well intended Western charity campaigns such as Band Aid’s are not always well received on the ground. The Ebola crisis has deeply affected West African culture—the deadly virus has disrupted burial and mourning processes, displays of affection are avoided, and family life has been thrown into a state of disarray.

    While Western musicians try to fight the virus from recording studios a world away, West African musicians are stepping up to help the people and the culture they know and love.

    The Takeaway talks with the host of PRI’s The World, Marco Werman, about how musicians from some of the countries most ravaged by Ebola, including Liberia and Sierra Leone, have been raising awareness about the deadly virus through song.

    Werman examines how songs like "Africa Stop Ebola," which features a line-up of successful West African music stars; “Ebola is Real,” by F.A., Soul Fresh and DenG; and “State of Emergency” by Tan Tan B, are rallying people to fight the virus.

    Read full post


  • Nov 20

    Today's Takeaways: A Test of Powers, A Genius Filmmaker, and A Battle Against Dude Culture

    1. Prepare For a Presidential Push on Immigration | 2. Slow Your Roll, Bro: Uber Scandal Spotlights Tech's Dude Problem | 3. Forget Eggs—The NYT Gets Grape Salad on Its Face | 4. A Heartfelt Goodbye to The Genius of Mike Nichols | 5. Ferguson & Gov. Jay Nixon's Leadership Crisis | 6. West African Musicians Battle Ebola
    Read full post


  • Nov 19

    A Call For Boots on The Ground in Iraq

    On Tuesday, reports surfaced that Kurdish fighters captured ISIS weapons and ammunition in the northern Syrian city of Kobane. 

    Meanwhile, airstrikes from U.S. and allied forces are ongoing—Central Command has reported that U.S. military forces have conducted 31 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria between Friday and Monday alone.

    But from the G20 Summit in Australia, President Obama insisted that he has no plans to deploy U.S. ground forces, despite Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey's suggestion that the recommendation of boots on the ground could come.

    In a new op-ed pieceAmbassador Paul Bremer calls for boots on the ground in Iraq to combat ISIS. Bremer was tapped by President George W. Bush as the Presidential Envoy to Iraq in 2003-04, and served as the top civilian administrator for the former Coalition Provisional Authority.

    Since his departure from the military and the administration, Bremer has been critical of President Obama and his strategy in Iraq, calling the withdrawal of troops a "serious mistake."

    Now with the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Bremer says it is time for another Bush-style surge in the region, adding that is is up to President Obama to convey to the war-wary American people why such a move is necessary for our national security. 

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 19

    Here's the Crime-Drama Recipe that Makes 'Serial' So Successful

    In 1999, high school senior Hae Min Lee was murdered in Baltimore County, Maryland. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of the murder and has spent the last 15 years in jail. 

    But This American Life producer Sarah Koenig isn't so sure that the state got the right guy. In a new podcast called Serial, she goes through old police reports, hunts down witnesses, and attempts to find out for herself what really happened. 

    According to iTunes, Serial has been downloaded and streamed more than 5 million times, making it the fastest podcast ever to reach that level of popularity on iTunes.  

    Just what has made this podcast so successful? And how does it conform to—and break—the conventions that have long made crime fiction so successful in novels and on television?   

    Weighing in is writer Megan Abbott, the author of several crime fiction novels and something of an expert on the genre. Her most recent novel is "The Fever," and she is also the author of "The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir"

    Read full post


  • Nov 19

    ISIS Fears Sink NSA Reform

    On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked a sweeping overhaul to the NSA's surveillance program. The bill needed 60 votes to move forward, but was defeated 58-42. With little time remaining in the current session, the bill, called the USA Freedom Act, is unlikely to pass this year.

    The White House and civil liberties groups like the ACLU support the bill, which would have curtailed the government's bulk collection of metadata on communications made by persons in the U.S.—a program that first came to light largely because of revelations by Edward Snowden.

    The White House says the bill would have gave Americans more "confidence" in the government's intelligence gathering. But as the Islamic State continues to terrorize Iraq and Syria, opponents say that it is not the time to curtail the NSA's ability to collect information. 

    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sponsored the bill, along with Tea Party favorite Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). But Republicans largely voted against the bill, with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) as the lone Democratic vote in the "No" camp.

    Also opposing the bill were former officials from the intelligence community, including General Michael Hayden, who was director of the NSA and CIA. He explains why he thinks the USA Freedom Act is a mistake.

    Read full post


  • Nov 19

    The Hard Truth About 'All Natural' Labels

    It's been a busy year for food labels. In May, Vermont legislators voted to make GMO labeling mandatory in the state. The new law was met with some resistance—a coalition of companies came together to file a lawsuit to stop the initiative from taking effect.

    This week, rock legend Neil Young announced that he will no longer be getting his morning fix at Starbucks because the company has thrown its hat in with 300 other organizations that are suing to block Vermont's new GMO labeling laws.

    Meanwhile, during the midterm elections earlier this month, ballot initiatives to require mandatory GMO labels failed to pass in Oregon and Colorado.

    But GMO's aren't the only big labeling questions—the question of whether food is "natural" is also coming before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). How do labeling rules get made, and when something is "natural," really?

    “The law is pretty clear about what has to be on the food label,” says Richard Williams, former FDA director for social sciences at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Congress passes the laws and the FDA passes regulations that require information to be on the food label. In general, the information that they require is based on science.”

    Though Congress and the FDA ultimately determine what information goes on a food label, Williams, who is the current vice president for policy research at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, says that food companies also have some input in these decisions.

    “Anybody can petition the Food and Drug Administration for a change they want to see on the label,” he says. “The FDA then goes through the process of taking in all of the comments, ensuring that it’s consistent with the law, and then they can choose to either require it or not require it.”

    See Also: GMO-Related Lobbying Skyrockets

    Americans are increasingly looking for natural foods—according to a 2013 survey conducted by our partner The New York Times, about three-quarters of Americans are concerned about genetically modified organisms in their food. But from a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product as “natural.”

    “The problem with ‘natural’ is that it’s not a science issue,” says Williams. “It’s definitely a marketing statement.”

    In addition to statements like “all natural,” food companies also publish several scientifically-meaningless statements on products—things like “Supports Bone Health,” for example.

    “Certainly people are going to try to market foods and sell foods in whatever way they can,” says Williams. “The fact of the matter is, all foods have risks and benefits. It’s very difficult for consumers to make a choice, even a simple choice between any two foods.”

    It is difficult to tell if a packaged product is ever “natural” because many foods are processed in some way, which means it “is no longer [a] product of the Earth,” according to the FDA, which is why the government agency has not yet developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.

    “It’s a non-scientific issue,” Williams says. “Do we really want the Food and Drug Administration to certify sugar as natural but then hold high-fructose corn syrup as artificial? Both are nutritive sweeteners, both are manufactured...I think the FDA has a hard enough job just trying to get the food label and the science right without taking on these issues.”

    Read full post


  • Nov 19

    The Hostage Question: Time to Talk to the Enemy?

    A third American, Peter Kassig, died at the hands of the Islamic State earlier this week. In the aftermath of his death, the Obama Administration announced that it will conduct a full review of the U.S. policy on negotiating with terrorists in hostage situations.

    The review was disclosed in a letter from Christine Wormuth, the undersecretary of defense for policy, addressed to Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter. Wormuth calls for a "specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies."

    Unlike European governments, which have paid millions of dollars in ransoms, the U.S. government has a strict rule of not negotiating with captors. That does not preclude private firms from negotiating on behalf of hostages with insurance, however, something the White House has advised against.

    “Our views on this are clear, and the president continues to believe, as previous presidents have concluded, that it's not in the best interest of American citizens to pay ransoms to any organization, let alone a terrorist organization that is holding an American hostage," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a briefing yesterday. "The reason for that is simple: We don't want to put other American citizens at even greater risk when their around the globe.”

    Christopher Voss is a 24-year veteran of the FBI that served as the lead international hostage negotiator. Currently the CEO of the Black Swan Group, a negotiation advisory firm, Voss says that America’s current policy is riddled with nuance.

    “The policy is not that we won’t negotiate with terrorists, the policy is that we won’t make concessions to terrorists,” he says. “You shouldn’t be afraid to communicate with anybody, and sometimes the policy is misconstrued to make it sound as if we’re afraid to talk to people, and sometimes it’s enacted in that way also—the government acts like it’s afraid to talk people. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk to anyone.”

    In the aftermath of the horrific beheadings carried out by the Islamic State, there have been complaints from some of the victims’ families. They say that the U.S. government seemed concerned, but it also appeared that there was a lack of urgency when it came to hostage negotiations.

    “[Families] probably had reason to feel that the government wasn’t particularly involved in helping them,” says Voss. “I think that recently, the government has not known what to do and has not supported the families well.”

    Voss says that the government views these hostage situations as black and white—if officials cannot conduct a rescue immediately, they often feel that they can’t help.
    When it comes to independently paying a ransom to a terrorist group, Voss says that families can do so at their own risk, but he says that the government may attempt to stop them with the threat of prosecution.

    “They can’t stop the insurance companies from having consultants that support the families in other ways,” he says. “It’s kind of like watching a robbery happen to someone. These families are victims of crimes, it’s not just their family members that are being killed—the entire family is being victimized.”

    Voss says that government officials should communicate with terrorist groups even if a clear avenue to rescue is unavailable because a dialogue may support other outcomes.

    “For the government to stand back and say, ‘We’re not going to help you and we’re not going to let anyone else help you either,’ it’s just not good for its citizens,” he says.

    Read full post


  • Nov 19

    Today's Takeaways: Boots on The Ground in Iraq, Negotiating With Terrorists, and a True Crime Drama

    1. A Call For Boots on The Ground in Iraq | 2. The Hostage Question: Time to Talk to the Enemy? | 3. ISIS Fears Sink NSA Reform | 4. The Crime-Drama Recipe that Makes 'Serial' So Successful
    Read full post


  • Nov 18

    From One Direction to Rita Ora, Taking on Ebola With an Iconic Christmas Song

    We’re still five weeks away from Christmas, but you’ve no doubt heard holiday songs in every store you’ve entered since Halloween. And now you can add another song to the long list of holiday jams: A new remake of the 1984 hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” which came out Sunday.

    Originally performed by Bob Geldof’s charitable supergroup Band Aid, the song was designed to raise money to fight famine in Ethiopia and eventually became the fastest selling single of all-time in the United Kingdom. In addition to breaking records on the music charts, it also spawned a number of charity events, and ushered in the modern era of music recordings for charitable causes.

    The new version of the song (below) features slightly different lyrics centering on Ebola, and a whole new celebrity line-up, including One Direction, Seal, Bono, Sinead O'Connor, Paloma Faith, Rita Ora and several others.

    Lori Majewski has been covering Band Aid 30 for Rolling Stone, and she’s also interviewed several of the original Band Aid members. She’s the author of the book, “Mad World: An Oral History of the New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s.”

    “I learned how to care from that record,” Majewski says of the 1984 song. “Millennials today, they know about this stuff—volunteerism is huge in schools. For us back then, we learned that buying a record can save a life.”

    Majewski says that the original song forever changed both the music business and the charity industry.

    “You have to remember how seminal this was,” she says. “They hadn’t had a charity like this with rock stars involved since the concert ‘Bangladesh,’ which was George Harrison’s big fundraising effort back in 1971.”

    According to Majewski, George Harrison contacted Geldof during the early stages of the 1984 Band Aid project to share his expertise.

    “[George Harrison] actually got Bob on the phone and said, ‘I’m going to teach you all the things you need to know and all of the mistakes we made,” she says. “‘Bangladesh’ was kind of a financial mess—labels were asking for a cut. In the case of Band Aid, and some of the ones to follow, the record labels and the business said, ‘We’re going to funnel this money to where it’s supposed to go.’”

    The record labels and the artists that participated in the original 1984 recording—which included musicians and groups like Duran Duran, Kool and the Gang, Sting, Phil Collins, Bananarama and several others—were never paid for their work and instead used their talents and resources to support the charity.

    To date, the 1984 project has raised over $190 million worldwide. But in the age of the internet, album sales continue to tank, and many wonder if Band Aid 30 can generate the same kind of revenue that it did 30 years ago.

    “Getting One Direction on board was genius—they have so much clout and so much power,” says Majewski.

    One Direction is arguably one of the most successful boy groups of all time, and one of the most popular musical acts currently on the market. The group has over 21 million Twitter followers (more than Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, MTV, and Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian), their 2013 album sold over 1 million records in five weeks in the United States, and their 2011/2012 U.K. tour sold out in just 12 minutes.

    Their power has been put to the test, too: One Direction recently helped raise more than $341,000 when they asked their fans to donate to a Prizeo campaign to support the organization Stand Up to Cancer.

    “Not only are they selling T-shirts and lunch-boxes, but they can go out and tell their fans to support this cause,” says Majewski. “Within in four minutes of Band Aid 30 debuting the other day, they raised over 1 million pounds in downloads, and that was just pre-orders.”

    Editor's Note: In the audio portion of this interview, Lori Majewski misspeaks and states that One Direction raised $341 million for Stand Up To Cancer. They raised over $341,000.

    Read full post


  • Nov 18

    The White House & Republicans Go Toe-to-Toe on Immigration

    Though it hasn't come out yet, President Obama has all but signed an executive order to defer the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.

    It's caused an uproar among Republicans—incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-KY) said the move was like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.” Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a staunch advocate for immigration reform, said the president's action would be a "desperate and blatant political move."

    On the other side of the spectrum, advocates for a more liberal immigration policy say that President Obama's actions are not without precedent.

    Even if the executive order is legal, says Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, the president has made lasting immigration reform more difficult to achieve.
    Read full post


  • Nov 18

    Novelist Richard Ford on The Lessons Learned from His Most Famous Characters

    Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford has created many stories and characters over the years. But his most lasting, and in a sense, living character, is Frank Bascombe.

    Frank first appeared in 1986 in a novel called “The Sportswriter.” This week, the fourth book in the Frank Bascombe saga, “Let Me Be Frank With You,” hits stores across America. In this latest edition, Frank is now 68-years-old, retired, volunteering with his community, and reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

    Richard Ford discusses the full, rich life of Frank Bascombe, and what he’s learned from his most famous character over the years.

    Read full post


  • Nov 18

    Spotlight on Mississippi Prisons as Ex-Chief Indicted

    After more than three decades of work in the Mississippi prison system, Christopher Epps, the state's longest-serving corrections commissioner, has been indicted on 49 counts.

    State officials have accused the Epps of taking nearly $2 million in bribes from a former lawmaker in exchange for private prison contracts.

    As Geoffrey Pender, politics editor for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, explains, Epps was influential in his industry. But the Mississippi correctional system recently faced a federal lawsuit for conditions in one of its prisons and a number of state facilities were investigated by the federal Department of Justice over the last few years.

    Read full post


  • Nov 18

    150 Years Later, Atlanta Challenges Civil War 'Myth'

    For many Southerners, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman is known as an unforgiving brute who laid waste to large swaths of the South on his March to the Sea, which began in Atlanta 150 years ago this week. 

    In tow with some 60,000 soldiers, Gen. Sherman marched 285 miles from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia with the reported goal of destroying the South's industrial and railroad systems. It's a version of history that's even been preserved in "Gone With the Wind"—Viven Leigh's character, Scarlett O'Hara, flees Atlanta with the help of Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable.

    While there's no disputing that General Sherman's assault on Atlanta was anything short of historic, the nature of what made it so historically important has been revised in recent years.

    This week, residents of Atlanta publicly embraced a different version of history when the Georgia Historical Society installed a new historical marker to commemorate the site where Sherman's march begin.

    The marker represents a very public reassessment of General Sherman and his tactics during the Civil War. It aims to debunk the "popular myth" that General Sherman's destruction focused on more than industrial targets and instead suggests that his targets were in keeping with military tactics of the time.

    James Cobb, history professor at the University of Georgia and former president of the Southern Historical Association, explains why General Sherman's role in the Civil War is still being heatedly discussed a century and a half later.

    Read full post


  • Nov 18

    New Clashes Raise Tensions Between Israelis and Palestinians

    This morning in Israel, two Palestinian assailants reportedly stormed a synagogue in West Jerusalem, killing at least four worshippers. Three of the victims were American and the fourth was British-Israeli.

    Police arrived at the scene quickly and shot and killed the attackers.

    Today's attack follows recent unrest that included the attempted assassination of an orthodox Israeli rabbi that had been advocating for Jews to have access to the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in Israel for Jews and Muslims. The incident led to the temporary closure of that site.

    David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel, weighs in on this latest incident.

    Yesterday before this attack, The Takeaway spoke with Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat, chief representative of the PLO to the United States. He reflected on the bloody year between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Read full post


  • Nov 18

    Today's Takeaways: Debunking a Civil War Myth, a Famous Literary Character, and Fighting Ebola With Celebrities & Christmas

    1. New Clashes Raise Tensions Between Israelis and Palestinians | 2. Taking on Ebola With Celebrities & an Iconic Christmas Song | 3. 150 Years Later, Atlanta Challenges Civil War 'Myth' | 4. Novelist Richard Ford on 'Let Me Be Frank With You'
    Read full post


  • Nov 17

    Retro Report: Lindy Chamberlain & 'The Dingo Ate My Baby'

    This week, the Retro Report documentary team looks back at the story of Australian mother Lindy Chamberlain. In August of 1980, Chamberlain's daughter disappeared—an event that quickly became an international news story.

    Lindy claimed that her daughter, Azaria, had been taken by a dingo from the Ayers Rock campsite where the family was staying in the Australia's desert outback. 

    But Lindy's claim struck the public as far-fetched—and her matter-of-fact demeanor in interviews did little to help her case. Chamberline was convicted of murder, despite the lack of a murder weapon, witnesses, a body, or a confession.

    Jennifer Forde, a Retro Report producer, explains what really happened to Lindy and her daughter—and why, to this day, most only know of her story as a punchline: "The dingo ate my baby." 

    Check out a video of Retro Report's findings below.

    Read full post


  • Nov 17

    Following Philae Through the Universe

    It’s been five days since the Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae lander successfully touched down on comet 67P.

    After 57 hours of data gathering, Philae powered down for a long nap early Saturday morning. Among the last bits of data Philae sent were the readings from an instrument called Cosac, which included an additional photograph and the results from a drilling attempt.

    For a check-in on Philae we turn to Eric Hand, a staff reporter for Science Magazine.

    Read full post


  • Nov 17

    Fighting the 'Pure Evil' of ISIS

    Over the weekend, another American—26-year-old U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig—died at the hands of the Islamic State.

    Kassig, an Iraq War veteran from Indianapolis, founded SERA (Special Emergency Response and Assistance), a medically-oriented emergency relief organization that serves refugee populations. He was captured by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, in October 2013. He converted to Islam and assumed the name Abdul-Rahman while in captivity.

    “We prefer our son is written about and remembered for his important work and the love he shared with friends and family, not in the manner the hostage takers would use to manipulate Americans and further their cause,” a statement from Kassig's family said.

    On Sunday, President Obama condemned Kassig's execution and the Islamic State.

    "Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity," the president said. "Like Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents."

    Joining The Takeaway to weigh in is Michael Downey, a freelance journalist and photographer currently based in Beirut and a former friend and colleague of Kassig’s. 

    And perhaps it is no coincidence that the video of Kassig's execution surfaced hours after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said that the battle against ISIS was starting to turn in the favor of the U.S. and allied forces.

    Joining The Takeaway to explain is the BBC's Hugh Sykes.

    Read full post


  • Nov 17

    The Secret & Disturbing History of Washington D.C.

    Today, Washington D.C. is an orderly layout of marble government buildings. But it was far from pristine during most of its early life in the 19th century.

    On tours or in classroom lessons, many Americans are taught that George Washington asked French-American architect and Revolutionary War veteran Pierre L’Enfant to design the capital. L'Enfant laid out a visionary plan where important buildings were strategically placed by waterways and broad boulevards.

    But from the plans to reality, a lot was left out.

    J.D. Dickey, author of a new book "Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, D.C.," tells us why L'Enfant called Washington “a contemptible hamlet” by the 1800s.

    “The city as we know it today looks very different than it did in the 19th century,” Dickey says. “Back then, a lot of it didn’t exist. If you wandered west of the Washington Monument, you were underwater—all of that was filled in later.”

    Dickey says that the nation’s capitol was filled with “muck” and maintained its traditionally humid climate. Though the land that the city of Washington currently sits on isn’t an actual swamp, Dickey says that the terrain is incredibly similar.

    The areas currently occupied by the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial were once known as the Potomac Flats—a place that was more septic tank than national point of pride.

    “It was known for various mosquitoes and all kinds of infectious diseases,” Dickey says. “It was also the outlet of the much-feared and dreaded Washington City Canal, which is now Constitution Avenue. The city canal was originally designed to be a fine channel for bringing commerce from one part of the city to another. It ended up being an open sewer that ran right by the Capitol, through the middle of downtown, with its outlet near the Potomac Flats.”

    Constitution Avenue wasn’t the only place in the nation’s capital that was like a cesspool.

    “If we were going down Pennsylvania Avenue we’d probably be on horseback or in a carriage because the street was unwalkable,” says Dickey. “It had huge furrows of mud during certain seasons and dust in others. Some people claimed it was unpassable, and it was really an unfortunate aspect of the city that this great thoroughfare was in such terrible condition.”

    Though many areas have improved since the 19th century, Washington, D.C. remains one of the most economically and racially segregated places in the United States. Dickey says these divisions have roots that can be traced back to the 1800s.

    “Along each side [of Pennsylvania Avenue], we were developing some low rent neighborhoods and some populations of reasonable homes and manors, but really those extremes of wealth and poverty,” he says.

    Dickey says that boarding houses were springing up throughout the nation’s capital—places where politicians would stay while Congress was in session.

    “A lot of these boarding houses developed into brothels,” he says. “Brothels ended up being one of the major illicit industries of Washington City at the time. You also had your gambling halls, along with matches of blood sport—bear baiting and cockfighting. It was really a chaotic, interesting, and disturbing city that is very different from what we see today.”

    While prostitution and cockfighting thrived, another loathsome industry flourished in Washington: Slavery.

    “Slaves helped to build the city,” says Dickey. “They built the Capitol and their labor may have been used on the White House. They were digging trenches for the Washington City Canal, and all other aspects that you can think of that went in to the creation of the early city. People called it the ‘Great Man Market’ of the nation.”

    Dickey says that slave markets would operate openly in the city of Washington, adding that “gangs” of slaves were regularly dragged through the streets on chains. At major hotels, Dickey says that slaves were chained to the walls of basements while their owners entertained guests on the upper floors.

    “The legacy of slavery is a deep and disturbing one, and it’s one that’s really hard to get away from when you plunge into the history of the city,” he says.

    As recently as 2012, Washington, D.C. has been thought of as one of the most dangerous places in America. Dickey says the city’s culture of violence also evolved out of the 19th century.

    “Washington D.C. was an incredibly violent place, especially during its pre-Civil War and Civil War era, and up through the Gilded Age as well,” he says. “One reason it was so incredibly violent was because of the lack of police presence. You had a handful of constables who were expected to patrol beats that were miles long. Crime routinely broke out, mob violence, and all other aspects of bad and criminal behavior, as well as socially-accepted violence.”

    It wasn’t just the locals that engaged in violent behavior. Dickey says that in 1832, former Tennessee Governor Sam Houston came to Washington and beat an adversary with his cane until he was senseless.

    While the nation’s capital has come a long way, Dickey says that Washington still has a long way to go.

    “I think the modern development of Washington, D.C. actually makes Pierre L’Enfant look pretty good,” he says. “His blueprint has come to fruition with the beautiful residences, the investments, and the original conception of gentrification—that you would put the gentry somewhere—has come to pass. But of course, this is only one aspect of the city. Co-existing with that is still a desperate poverty.”

    Read full post


  • Nov 17

    Politics at Play: Sen. Mary Landrieu's Support for Keystone XL

    In the latest vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, it's a Democrat who hopes to benefit.

    Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, is in midst of a runoff election against Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy.

    Landrieu barely beat Cassidy on November 4th. Since she failed to win a majority of the vote, both candidates are now being pushed into a runoff election scheduled to take place on December 6th.

    Jeremy Alford, publisher and editor of LaPolitics.com and LaPolitics Weekly, tells The Takeaway about Landrieu's chances in the upcoming runoff, and whether the Keystone XL vote will bolster her support in the state.

    Read full post


  • Nov 17

    After Years in Limbo, Senate to Vote on the Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline

    The Keystone XL pipeline returns to the Senate this week, after the House voted to for moving forward on its construction on Friday. The Senate plans to vote on the issue tomorrow.

    The fate of the pipeline has hung in the balance for the last six years. Parts of the pipeline are already built, but the final project would carry petroleum from Canada to the Gulf Coast (see map below).

    Environmental activists say the pipeline will further cement America's dependence on fossil fuels—with a deep environmental cost—while supporters see the pipeline as part of the path to U.S. energy independence.

    President Obama has so far balked at the project, saying that it wont do much for U.S. jobs, but will put an enormous toll on the Earth's carbon load.

    Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, tells The Takeaway why he believes that the Keystone pipeline is necessary for U.S. energy security.

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 17

    Today's Takeaways: Playing Politics With Energy, Following a Space Trail, and Washington's Secret History

    1. Fighting the 'Pure Evil' of ISIS | 2. After Years in Limbo, Senate to Vote on Keystone XL | 3. Following Philae Through the Universe | 4. The Secret & Disturbing History of Washington D.C.
    Read full post


  • Nov 15

    The Takeaway Weekender: Power, War, and The Best of The Web

    This week, The Takeaway spoke with investigative journalist James Risen. He's spent years exposing the dark underbelly of the War on Terror, and in his latest book, "Pay any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War," Risen reveals the hidden costs of that war: From squandered and stolen dollars, to outrageous abuses of power, and a crackdown on the U.S. press.

    General Dan Bolger, a retired three-star Army lieutenant general, has worn our country's uniform for 35 years. His takeaway from more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan? We lost. On Veterans Day, Gen. Bolger held himself accountable for the human consequences of two wars gone wrong. 

    Every Friday, Sean Rameswaram, a producer with Studio 360 and host of the Sideshow podcast, rounds up the week in internet phenomena. Below you'll find Sean's list of the online treasures you may have missed.

    The music for this episode of The Takeaway Weekender podcast is by our Technical Director Jay Cowit.

    1. High Maintenance 

     

    High Maintenance, one of the best web series in the world, is making a return. The short and sweet stories about life, love, and loneliness in New York has won critical acclaim and is now funded by Vimeo. The character studies presented by husband and wife Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld are better than most you’ll find on TV—even fancy TV. And the new episodes are their best yet. You have to pay two bucks an episode now, but it’s way more gratifying than a cup of coffee. And it lasts longer. 

    2. Martin Cole’s Art in Film

    Here's the Tumblr Cataloging Art in Film

    There’s now a wonderful tumblr dedicated to all the art we only see for fleeting moments in movies and TV. From the garish portrait of Bill Murray’s family in Rushmore to the landscape featuring a McDonald’s from Coming to America. Martin Cole’s "Art in Film" is a lot of fun.

    3. Bored in the U.S.A.

    Father John Misty is Josh Tillman, best known from his work in the beloved indie folk band Fleet Foxes. With his sweeping, tragicomic ballad “Bored in the USA,” he seems to be setting his sights on being more of a Harry Nilsson for millennials. The song is tragicomic and sort of disorienting, mostly on account of a jarring laugh track in the bridge. Misty’s got some serious problems, but he’s the first to laugh at them.

    4. WARNING! EXPLICIT! You Have to F**king Eat, narrated by Bryan Cranston 

    Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" fame can do no wrong, and to prove it, he’s cursing at children. Cranston will narrate “You Have to F**king Eat,” the children’s book follow-up to “Go The F**k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach. It’s clearly going to be great, judging from the preview that hit this week.

    5. Too Many Cooks 

    Too Many Cooks. It broke late last week, but it was this week when everyone (from 8-bit enthusiasts to the New Yorker to the Cookie Monster) really processed their reactions to one of the most brilliant cultural satires in recent memory. It also proved that there’s no such thing as “too long,” when it comes to viral video—so long as said video is really damn good.

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    Calling All Mexican-Americans: Your #YaMeCanse Stories

    On September 26th, 43 college students disappeared in southern Mexico. In the weeks since these students vanished, thousand have participated in some of the largest protests in Mexico's history.

    The social media campaign for the movement has become known as "Ya me cansé," which means, "I've had enough."

    Those words have stretched far and wide, with tens of thousands tweeting why they've "had enough" of the Mexican government with the hashtag #YaMeCanse. Are you a Mexican-American who is fed up? Have you had enough? Tell us your own personal story and we may contact you for an interview.

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    'The Theory of Everything,' 'Foxcatcher,' 'Beyond the Lights,' 'Dumb and Dumber To,' Sweatpants & Listener Mail

    If you doubted it was Oscar season, we have two words for you: "Dumb and Dumber To." Also out this week: "Beyond the Lights," "The Theory of Everything," and "Foxcatcher." For the stay-on-the couch crowd, we also have this week's Sweatpants pick: "High Maintenance." There's also listener mail that takes us down memory lane. And, as usual, there's trivia!

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    The Mormon Church Confronts Its Uncomfortable Past

    The Mormon church has been publishing essays on some of the more controversial aspects of it's history, last December they addressed the racist policy of not allowing black members of the church into the priesthood until 1979.

    Last month the church surprised many of it's followers by releasing a video explaining temple garments (see video below), and the church also published an essay in October about it's founder, Joseph Smith. The church confirmed that he had been married to 40 women, one as young as 14.

    Colleen McDannell, a professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of Utah, explains how Mormons are reacting to these essays.

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    Obama to Pledge Billions to Help Poor Nations Fight Climate Change

    Earlier this week, President Obama reached a landmark deal with China to curb carbon emissions. Now he's announcing a pledge of $2.5 billion to help poor nations combat climate change.

    President Obama is expected to officially make the pledge at the G20 Summit in Brisbane this weekend. Developing nations have repeatedly called on the industrialized world to financially support their efforts to fight climate change—they say they cannot sign on to global treaties without a monetary commitment.

    Suzanne Goldenberg, U.S. environment correspondent for The Guardian, has the exclusive details on this story.

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    Massey Energy CEO Indicted in Deadly Mine Disaster

    In 2010, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners. And now the CEO of the company that owned the mine—Massey Energy—has been indicted.

    Don Blankenship, who headed the company at the time, is now facing four federal charges, including conspiracy to violate federal mine safety and health standards, and conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials.

    The explosion is considered the worst coal mine disaster in America in at least 40 years. Blankenship could face up to 31 years in prison.

    Ellen Smith is editor of Mine Safety and Health News. She's been closely covering this story, and joins The Takeaway to explain.

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    Maryland School District Erases Religious Holidays From Calendar

    How do public schools decide which holidays are worthy of a day off? In many states, the law requires schools to break for Christmas, but other holidays are left up to individual districts.

    The Muslim community in Montgomery County, Maryland, has been asking the school board to recognize the Eid holidays. Instead of recognizing the holidays, this week the school board instead voted on a related proposal: To strip all religious references from the school calendar.

    Students and teachers still have days off for major Jewish and Christian holidays, but the school calendar will no longer mention the holidays themselves.

    The Takeaway repeatedly reached out to the Montgomery County Public Schools board—board members did not make themselves available for an interview.

    Zainab Chaudry, Maryland Outreach Manager for the Council on American Islamic Relations and co-chair of the Coalition for Eid, tells The Takeaway why she believes the school should recognize holidays for all major religious.

    “There have been efforts underway for over a decade by the local Muslim communities to have the Eid holiday added on to the school calendar,” says Chaudry. “Unfortunately, their efforts have been met with a lot of resistance. We’re not seeking special rights for these students, we’re seeking equal rights.”

    Though there aren’t precise figures on the number of Muslim families in the Montgomery County School District, it’s estimated that Muslims make up about 10 percent of the county’s population. Chaudry says that the parents of Muslim children feel as if their children are being treated as “second-class citizens.”

    Chaudry says that Muslim families are not looking for special treatment, rather she says the school calendar should reflect the diversity of the community.

    “The reason why the coalition was formed in this particular county is because there is a significantly large population of students who are affected,” she says. “The Muslim community in Montgomery County is being asked to meet demands that are different from their Jewish and Christian friends.”

    According to Chaudry, the Montgomery County Muslim community did not ask the school board to remove all religious holidays from the calendar.

    “We respect the right of our friends, neighbors, and peers to be able to celebrate their holidays and do as they choose,” she says. “But federal law also grants the right for reasonable religious accommodation.”

    Though the division between Jewish and Christian holidays and Islamic holidays remains a contentious issue, some wonder why public schools are recognizing religious holidays at all.

    “The truth is, under the First Amendment, a public school may not close for religious reasons—period,” says Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. “The problem is that Christian holidays were baked in to the calendar when public schools were founded by Christians.”

    Haynes says that school calendars have become more secular over the years, even if many do recognize Christmas Day, which is a national federal holiday in the United States.

    “About 40 or 50 years ago, many public schools started also including Jewish holidays as days off,” he says. “I don’t know if they did their homework and came up with good, secular educational reasons for doing that.”

    Haynes says that under current law, schools may shut down on religious holidays—if they have secular and educational reasons for doing so.

    “If the school calendar closes the school on Christmas or Yom Kippur, they can certainly call it that,” says Haynes. “But the reason they close on Yom Kippur can’t be that they’re accommodating the Jewish community.”

    According to Haynes, many schools close on religious holidays because they may not function properly on those days if many students and teachers choose to take the day off. Instead of closing with the specific reason of observance, Haynes says many schools choose to close on religious holidays to protect the educational experience of all students, regardless of what religion they practice or holiday they observe.

    “To take off the religious name off the holiday makes everyone unhappy and it doesn't solve anything,” he says. “The real issue is, ‘Why are we closing school?’”

    Though Muslim students in Montgomery County are excused from school during their religious holidays, they are also still marked as absent and may miss important classroom instruction, exams, or projects. Haynes says that some school districts have found ways around these issues without amending a school calendar.å

    “The successful school districts are those that have a good, strong religious excusal policy for everybody,” he says. “That means that students are allowed to have a reasonable number of religious holidays excused without penalty. They can keep their perfect attendance record, and teachers make an effort not to put things on those days, like crucial tests, so they’re not missing much and they can make up the work.”

    Haynes says that as America changes, religious excusal policies may be the best way for schools to proceed in the future.

    “It’s impossible, as the United States grows more religiously diverse, to keep closing days because of the growing populations of various groups,” he says. “Today, we’re in a position where we have so many different religious groups that we need a good policy that protects their right to celebrate their holiday without penalty, but no longer adds more closing to the school year.”

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    GruberGate: ACA Architect Says Lack of Transparency Helped Pass Law

    There's more bad news for the war-weary Affordable Care Act.

    The law is facing potential setbacks as the Republican takeover of the Senate, and from another trip to the Supreme Court. But the conversation in Washington is also being dominated by a gaffe made by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and Affordable Care Act Chief Consultant Jonathan Gruber.

    In October 2013, Gruber was at academic conference at the University of Pennsylvania. A candid video of his discussion was made, and now a fire-storm of controversy has been ignited.

    "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the [individual] mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies,” Gruber said. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass and it's the second best argument. I wish...we could make it all transparent, but I'd rather have this law than not.”

    Gruber says that the healthcare law was deliberately drafted to insure the healthcare mandate would not be classified as a tax. While some call Gruber the architect of the Affordable Care Act, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she's never heard of Jonathan Gruber.

    “I don't know who he is," Pelosi said on Thursday. "He didn't help write our bill. So with all due respect to your question, you have a person who wasn't writing our bill, commenting on what was going on when we were writing our bill, [someone] who has withdrawn some of the statements that he made. So lets put him aside.”

    She must have forgotten that she mentioned Gruber and his work by name back in November 2009.

    Amidst the backlash, Gruber has publicly apologized.

    “The comments in the video were made at an academic conference, I was speaking off the cuff and I basically spoke inappropriately and I regret having made those comments,” Gruber told Ronan Farrow on MSNBC on Tuesday.

    Now, some Republicans in Congress say they may call Gruber to testify on what was said.

    But how is this affecting the American public? Joining The Takeaway to explain is Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, a Washington-based nonprofit dedicated to individual freedom, limited government, and economic growth.

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    Thanks, Internet: The Five Best Things Online This Week

    Every Friday, Sean Rameswaram, a producer with Studio 360 and host of the Sideshow podcast, rounds up the week in internet phenomena. 

    This week in "Thanks, Internet," Sean talks to John Hockenberry about the online treasures you may have missed.

    1. High Maintenance 

     

    High Maintenance, one of the best web series in the world, is making a return. The short and sweet stories about life, love, and loneliness in New York has won critical acclaim and is now funded by Vimeo. The character studies presented by husband and wife Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld are better than most you’ll find on TV—even fancy TV. And the new episodes are their best yet. You have to pay two bucks an episode now, but it’s way more gratifying than a cup of coffee. And it lasts longer. 

    2. Martin Cole’s Art in Film

    Here's the Tumblr Cataloging Art in Film

    There’s now a wonderful tumblr dedicated to all the art we only see for fleeting moments in movies and TV. From the garish portrait of Bill Murray’s family in Rushmore to the landscape featuring a McDonald’s from Coming to America. Martin Cole’s "Art in Film" is a lot of fun.

    3. Bored in the U.S.A.

    Father John Misty is Josh Tillman, best known from his work in the beloved indie folk band Fleet Foxes. With his sweeping, tragicomic ballad “Bored in the USA,” he seems to be setting his sights on being more of a Harry Nilsson for millennials. The song is tragicomic and sort of disorienting, mostly on account of a jarring laugh track in the bridge. Misty’s got some serious problems, but he’s the first to laugh at them.

    4. WARNING! EXPLICIT! You Have to F**king Eat, narrated by Bryan Cranston 

    Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" fame can do no wrong, and to prove it, he’s cursing at children. Cranston will narrate “You Have to F**king Eat,” the children’s book follow-up to “Go The F**k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach. It’s clearly going to be great, judging from the preview that hit this week.

    5. Too Many Cooks 

    Too Many Cooks. It broke late last week, but it was this week when everyone (from 8-bit enthusiasts to the New Yorker to the Cookie Monster) really processed their reactions to one of the most brilliant cultural satires in recent memory. It also proved that there’s no such thing as “too long,” when it comes to viral video—so long as said video is really damn good.

    Read full post


  • Nov 14

    Today's Takeaways: GruberGate, Accountability in a Mine Disaster, and a School Holidays Controversy

    1. Obama to Pledge Billions to Help Poor Nations Fight Climate Change | 2. Massey Energy CEO Indicted in Deadly Mine Disaster | 3. GruberGate: ACA Architect Says Lack of Transparency Helped Pass Law | 4. Mormon Church Confronts it's Uncomfortable Past | 5. Erasing Religious Holidays From School Calendars
    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    Life Outside Earth: The Next Frontier in Space Exploration

    Yesterday, the world watch with joy as the Rosetta spacecraft successfully placed a lander on Comet 67P. One of the big questions scientists are hoping to answer with this mission is where the building blocks of life on Earth came from.

    But analyzing the composition of Comet 67P might not just help us understand our own existence—researchers might be able to learn more about the possibility of life outside Earth.

    Here to tell us more about this is David Black, president and CEO of the SETI Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the origin and nature of life in the universe.

    "One of the beliefs is that comets are responsible for bringing much, if not all, of the water to our own planet. They delivered many of the organic compounds that are essential to the start up and subsequent evolution of life," says Black.

    He continues: "If we have a better understanding of the nature of comets as they deliver raw materials for life to our planet, we can extrapolate that to the processes that would take place around other stars. It's all building a gradual support system for the idea that life is far more prevalent than we might have thought before."

    Listen to the full interview above to hear more analysis from Black.

    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    The Immigration Debate: A Bishop's View from the Border

    With Congress back in session, all eyes are on the political maneuvering both parties are making when it comes to immigration reform.  But according to a report from our partner The New York Times, President Obama will likely take action on immigration reform as early as next week. 

    Through a series of executive actions, President Obama is expected to broadly overhaul the nation’s immigration enforcement system—a move that is expected to protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.

    Though the president may soon act, thousands of immigrant children who have crossed the border are still in limbo, even as many more migrants continue to enter the country each day. 

    Mark Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas has seen many of these young children and broken families firsthand. He says the policy debate in Washington is the farthest thing from their minds, adding that America should bring some compassion to the immigration debate.

    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    HealthCare.Gov Re-Opens For Business

    HealthCare.gov is open for business again. On Saturday, those who want an insurance plan will have a chance to sign up for a healthcare policy under the Affordable Care Act. The open enrollment period for 2015 coverage kicks off on November 15, 2014 and runs through February 15, 2015.

    The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by the end of 2015more than 9 million Americans will be signed up for healthcare plans through federal and state exchanges.

    Mary Agnes Carey, a senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, explains what this next enrollment period entails.

    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    Russia Puts West on High Alert as Troops Move Into Ukraine

    Ukraine and the West are on high alert—according to eye witnesses, hundreds of Russian-made vehicles and thousands of Russian troops have crossed the border into Ukraine in the past few days.

    “We see forces that appear to be nuclear being moved to Crimea—whether they are nuclear or not, we do not know. But they do have the kind of equipment there that could support that mission,” said General Philip Breedlove, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, at news conference in Naples, Italy.

    In response, the United Nations Security Council convened its 26th emergency session to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

    “Russia has negoitated a peace plan and systematically undermined it at every step. It talks of peace but it keeps fueling war,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.

    Kimberly Marten, a professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, explains.

    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    Obamacare Returns to the Supreme Court

    The Affordable Care Act will return to the Supreme Court later this term in a case known as King v. Burwell.

    While the landmark 2012 case determined the constitutionality of the entire law, King v. Burwell looks at whether the federal government can provide tax subsidies for health premiums in federally-run state health exchanges.

    When the ACA was implemented, at least 34 states decided against setting up their own exchanges, so the federal government stepped in to arranged the exchanges in those states. King v. Burwell will now determine whether the ACA allows the federal government to provide tax credits in those states—the ruling could affect up to five million Americans enrolled in federally-run state exchanges. 

    Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and author of “Health Care at Risk: A Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement," examines the arguments in King v. Burwell. He tells The Takeaway that the case hinges on four words of the 900 pages of the ACA legislation, and argues that the Supreme Court should consider the provision in question in the context of the entire law. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    Massachusetts Town Clashes Over First-in-Nation Ban on Tobacco Sales

    Earlier this fall, the drugstore chain CVS quit tobacco. Now the sleepy little town of Westminster, Massachusetts may become the first community in the nation to prohibit all sales of tobacco.

    The Board of Health says it wants to protect young people from tobacco companies, but the ban is facing harsh opposition from local business owners and residents.

    According to local news outlet NENC, a public hearing on the proposal that took place yesterday came to an abrupt end after attendees grew rash. The three members of the Westminster Board of Health had to be escorted out of the meeting.

    "It was getting too unruly and people were getting disrespectful and not following the ground rules," Chair Andrea Crete told NENC.

    D.J. Wilson, director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association's tobacco control program, attended the public meeting yesterday. He joins us to explain the measure and the local reactions to the proposal.

    The public comment period remains open until December 1. The three-member Westminster Board of Health will vote on the proposal next month.

    Would you support a measure like this in your community? Vote in our poll below.

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    Putin Uses Ukraine, Iran to Antagonize the West

    From Ukraine to Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t afraid of antagonizing the West—even if it does come with some economic pain.

    Russia has been facing tough economic sanctions from the U.S. and the E.U. because of its interference in the Crimean peninsula and in parts of eastern Ukraine. Yet, despite the harsh financial pressure being levied by the West, NATO reported yesterday that tanks and other military vehicles crossed the border from Russia into eastern Ukraine.

    The nation of more than 145 million continues to feel the pain of sanctions, and it's looks like Russia's economy has gotten itself deeper into trouble: As previously reported last week, Russia's currency—the ruble—has fallen to an all-time low.

    Despite the pinch of sanctions, Russia is also pressing ahead with its own vision for Iran.

    On Tuesday, Russia agreed to build two nuclear reactors in Iran, with the intention of possibly building six more. The deal comes less than two weeks before the November 24th deadline for Tehran to sign an agreement on its nuclear program with six world powers that would lift economic sanctions.

    Edward Lucas, the senior editor for energy at The Economist and author of "The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West," says that Russia’s actions in Iran and Ukraine are very intentional.

    “Putin has a difficulty in Ukraine—he’s lost the sympathy of a large number of Ukrainians,” says Lucas. “But he also has a very big plus: He’s humiliated the West.”

    By continually testing the global community with his actions in Ukraine, Lucas says that Putin has shown to the world that the West is not willing to help Ukraine defend itself. Though the United States and the European Union have tried to inflict economic pain on Russia in the form of sanctions, Lucas argues that, for Putin, these measure don’t go far enough.

    “Although [sanctions] bring some economic pain in the short-term, he’s prepared to write that out,” says Lucas. “He’s got hundreds of billions of dollars in the bank reserves, and he’s willing to accept economic pain in a way that we’re not. Over the next few months, he feels he’s got the wind in his sails with regard to Ukraine.”

    In addition to scoffing at the West in the face of Ukraine, President Putin is also brushing aside concerns over Iran.

    “Russia would argue that it’s in everybody's interest for Iran to have a civilian nuclear program,” says Lucas. “But I think very few people in the West will accept that...I think the American side has long since given up hope that Russia will be a constructive partner in all of this. They expect Russia to be a spoiler and a nuisance.”

    While Russia can deal with the economic pain of sanctions, Lucas says that the West is trusting that Iranian economy cannot.

    “The hope on the American side is that the sanctions on Iran are hurting them so much that the Iranians genuinely want to do a deal,” he says. “Other people would argue that that whole hope is delusional and that the Iranians are inherently duplicitous in the way they go about this—they may be willing to sucker the Americans into a deal, but they won’t stick to it and it won’t deter them from their nuclear ambitions.”

    Though there are critics and skeptics abound when it comes to the Iranian nuclear deal, Lucas says that Russia’s motivation will continue to cloud any deal that might come forward in the next few weeks.

    “Russia’s behavior doesn’t help,” he says. “At best it’s a nuisance, and at worst it’s outside sabotage.”

    Read full post


  • Nov 13

    Today's Takeaways: A Desperate Russia, A Fight Over Tobacco, and The Next Frontier in Space

    1. HealthCare.Gov Re-Opens For Business | 2. Russia Puts West on High Alert as Troops Move Into Ukraine | 3. Immigration: A Bishop's View from the Border | 4. Massachusetts Town Clashes Over First-in-Nation Ban on Tobacco Sales | 5. Life Outside Earth: The Next Frontier in Space Exploration
    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    Fighting Fear to Stop The Spread of Ebola

    It's been 41 days since the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States, and there are currently no known cases of the deadly virus on American soil.

    At a news conference yesterday, Dr. Craig Spencer, an American doctor who contracted Ebola after treating patients in Guinea, spoke on the importance of early detection and how he followed all protocols after returning to New York.

    "My early detection, reporting and now recovery from Ebola speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols that are in place for health staff returning from West Africa," Dr. Spencer said. "I am a living example of how those protocols work, and of how early detection is critical to both surviving ebola and ensuring that it is not transmitted to others."

    But in Sierra Leone, it's a different story.

    Officials there reported 111 new cases on Sunday—the highest daily rate the country has ever seen. United Nations health officials worry that the number of new cases is being underreported, perhaps by as much as 50 percent.

    The government in Sierra Leone has come under sharp criticism for it's handling of the Ebola crisis. Last week, authorities began to crack down on those questioning the government's response by arresting a prominent journalist. The government feared that his reporting would incite “a breakdown of public order and good governance of the nation.”

    Not satisfied with the government response to Ebola, Jimmy B, a singer and music star in Sierra Leone released the below video where he outlines the steps needed to combat Ebola, and how it's important for everyone to come together to fight the disease.

    But is fear one of the gravest threats in stopping the spread of Ebola? Joining The Takeaway to weigh in is Anne Bennett, executive director of Hirondelle USA, a nonprofit that supports independent media in post conflict zones.

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    Voting Easier Than Netflix? How the Internet Can Kill Voter Apathy

    Voters made history during the 2014 midterm elections, though not in a good way. The midterms commanded the lowest voter turnout in 70 years—just 36.4 percent of eligible voters came out to cast their ballots.

    Seth Flaxman is trying to modernize democracy and fight voter apathy through the internet. He's the co-founder of Democracy Works and TurboVote, an online platform that claims to make voting "as easy as renting a DVD from Netflix."

    Flaxman says that voters don’t come out for a variety of reasons, but a big issue is Election Day itself.

    “We vote on a Tuesday because that was the height of convenience for voters in the 1700s,” he says.

    Back in the early days of the United States, many Americans went to church on Sundays, which is one reason why polls were not open on the weekends. When Election Day would roll around, Flaxman says that citizens would go to a candidate’s home the day before an election to be courted with a celebration.

    “On Tuesday morning, the two candidates would line up in the square and then, one at a time, you’d shake the hand of the candidate you supported in front of everyone,” he says. “You’d be back home in time for market day on Wednesday. We have a long tradition in the U.S. of making voting fit the way we live. The problem is that it fits the way we lived in the 1700s.”

    In addition to the day of the week that an election is held, Flaxman says there are several other issues that create dismal voter turnout figures. The U.S. Census Bureau asks people why they choose to stay at home, and Flaxman says there isn’t just one issue.

    "Everything you can imagine: Registration, inconvenient polling place, had to work, weather, transportation problems," he says. "This is the low-hanging fruit of the problem. We can do a lot to address those problems without legislative changes—we just need to work on the technology."

    Flaxman is hoping to tackle some of these issues and make it easier for people to cast their ballots with TurboVote.

    “Someone should be able to sign up once and get help with everything they need to stay registered and vote in all of their elections for the rest of their life,” he says. “That’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

    TurboVote will actually do a lot of the leg work for voters—the site will even fill out forms for people will all of their pertinent information. Once completed, the necessary voter registration and Board of Election forms can be emailed to a user, or delivered by a postal worker with a pre-addressed envelope.

    “We’ll also send text messages and email reminders to make sure you meet all of your deadlines,” says Flaxman. “We’ll remind you when to send in your vote-by-mail application or your ballot. If you’re voting in person, we’ll send you a reminder that says, ‘Tomorrow is your primary election, here’s where your polling place is.’”

    Though there might be several institutional obstacles to voting that drive down turnout, many voters also stay home because they feel disenfranchised with the candidates on the ballot—something that is isn’t easily fixed with new technology.

    But Flaxman says that if it becomes easier for people to vote then more people will come out to the polls—something that will make politicians care more about what the people are saying.

    "Politicians are ultimately only going to represent the people who vote,” he says. “If only 30 to 40 percent of people are voting, those are the only people politicians will worry about serving. If we can increase participation by those 50 percent of people for whom process is the main part of the issue, we’ll already have changed the game significantly.”

    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    After an Epic 4-Billion Mile Chase, We Finally Landed on a Comet

    It's taken 10 years to travel 4 billion miles, but the Rosetta spacecraft has finally placed a lander on a comet. It's a mission that's never been attempted before.

    At 4:00 AM Eastern, the Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae lander separated from the orbiter—it made a seven hour journey, traversing about 12 miles of space, before it touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at around 11:00 AM Eastern.

    The landing was a huge scientific milestone, especially since terrain on the 2-mile rubber ducky-shaped comet was much rougher than scientists originally thought.

    Now that Philae has landed safely, scientists are hoping she will provide critical information about the evolution of our solar system, the origin of water, and the building blocks of life on Earth.

    Dr. Emily Rice, a professor of astrophysics at the College of Staten Island and a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, explains the details of this mission.

    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    100,000 American Nurses Strike for Ebola Protection & Training

    Around 100,000 nurses are expected to strike or protest in a "Day of Action" across the country today. They're demanding better training and medical equipment to deal with a potential Ebola outbreak in the United States.

    Some 18,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses in Northern California are already on strike in the midst of contract negotiations with their employer. Kaiser management views the strikes as irresponsible, particularly in the midst of flu season.

    Outside of California, there's no contract at stake. Karen Higgins, an ICU nurse at Boston Medical Center and co-president of National Nurses United, tells The Takeaway that for these nurses, the strike is about patient care and self-protection.

    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    Migrant Crisis Escalates Worldwide

    In 2014 alone, as many as 74,000 unaccompanied children will show up at the U.S.-Mexico border. Across the Atlantic, more than 130,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from Africa and arrived in Europe in 2014. To date, more than 3 million refugees had fled Syria to countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

    Needless to say, the global community is facing an unprecedented migrant crisis. And the crisis is growing deadly.

    In early September, 500 refugees fleeing Egypt died when their boat was sunk by traffickers. On November 3, a boat off the north coast of Turkey sunk killing at least 24 migrants. And over the weekend, more than 250 migrants from Myanmar were found at sea attempting to make their way to Thailand, which plans to send them back home.

    Ambassador William Swing is the director general of the International Organization for Migration. He says solutions exist—if the international community is willing to take them on.

    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    Will a GOP-Controlled Congress Pass Immigration Reform?

    As lawmakers head back to Washington D.C. today, the prospect of immigration reform looms over the remainder of the session.

    President Obama says he'll enact a series of executive orders on immigration, despite warnings from Republican leaders not to. The president says it's just a matter of getting something done.

    "I'd prefer, and still prefer, to see it done through Congress. But every day that I wait, we're misallocating resources, we're deporting people that shouldn't be deported, we’re not deporting folks that are dangerous and need to be deported," President Obama said on Sunday in an interview with the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

    Within the GOP, however, there's no clear consensus on how to proceed. 

    Joining The Takeaway to weigh in on the way forward is Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Immigrant Task Force. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    China, U.S. Reach Landmark Climate Deal

    Two of the world's largest carbon polluters have reached a landmark agreement.

    After two days of meetings in China, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have set new targets to cut carbon emissions by 2030. The United States says it will emit 26 to 28 percent less carbon, and China vowed to have 20 percent of its energy production come from clean sources.

    This is the first time China has ever agreed to curb emissions—the deal was quietly worked out over the course of nine months.

    Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center, explains the details of the agreement.

    Read full post


  • Nov 12

    Today's Takeaways: An Epic Space Chase, a Global Migrant Crisis, and a Fight Against Voter Apathy

    1. After an Epic 4-Billion Mile Chase, We Finally Landed on a Comet | 2. China, U.S. Reach Landmark Climate Deal | 3. Will the GOP Take on Immigration Reform? | 4. Migrant Crisis Escalates Worldwide | 5. Voting Easier Than Netflix? How the Internet Can Kill Voter Apathy
    Read full post


  • Nov 11

    Why We Lost Two Wars: A General Explains

    General Dan Bolger has worn our country's uniform for 35 years. He is a retired three-star Army lieutenant general. He commanded the training of Iraqi forces in 2006, ran the 1st Calvary Division in Baghdad in 2009, and led the training of Afghan forces from 2011 to 2013.

    Gen. Bolger's takeaway from more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan? We lost.

    According to Gen. Bolger, the U.S. military's misguided approach to the conflicts, a half-hearted attempt at learning the culture with the larger goal of nation-building, resulted in prolonged war akin to the colonialist mistakes of centuries' past.

    “Just to put it in perspective, all the people who talked all the wonders of counterinsurgency, how many of them could speak Arabic, Kurdish, Pashto, Dari?" says Gen. Bolger. "How many of them could actually go into a village without an interpreter and interact with the people. I mean, it was a well meaning approach, just like the British generals trying to send guys over the trench tops in WWI, but well-meaning does not win the war.”

    Instead, Gen. Bolger says, we should have gone in, and gotten out just as quickly.

    “How do you abandon people when it's their country?" he says. "I mean essentially we helped them. We got rid of those despotic regimes, the AQ and Taliban network in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein's Baathist in Iraq, but then you've got to turn it over to the local folks. And it will be messy, it will be a problem, and it won't look like we want it to look, it won't look like Jeffersonian Democracy. But you know what? It will be their solution. And I think we've got to have the humility to recognize you know what we can't solve every single problem.”

    General Dan Bolger is the author of "Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars." This Veterans Day, he is holding himself accountable for human consequences of two wars gone wrong. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 11

    Torture & The War on Terror: James Risen Exposes the Whistle-Blower That Wasn't

    Investigative reporter James Risen has spent years exposing the dark underbelly of the War on Terror. And in his latest book, "Pay any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War," Risen tells the troubling story of a man named Scott Gerwehr.

    Gerwehr, a RAND corporation researcher, was essentially given permission to experiment on Iraq and Afghan detainees with behavioral science techniques—techniques that were designed to elicit information. 

    Risen says that Gerwehr had intricate knowledge of American detention and torture systems, and the close collaboration between American psychologists and the national security establishment. Gerwehr wanted to come forward as a whistle-blower, but died before he had a chance.

    See Also: The U.S. Government Vs. James Risen

    Read full post


  • Nov 11

    Jackie Kennedy's Unseen Struggle With PTSD

    When Jackie Kennedy witnessed the shooting death of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, it was a moment that changed the world. It also profoundly changed Jackie herself.

    President Kennedy's assassination changed his wife in a way that was not fully understood—her struggle and trauma were hidden behind the veils of mourning and the glamour of her later life. 

    In her new book, "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story," author Barbara Leaming compassionately documents the emotional struggles of Jackie Kennedy following the assassination in Dallas. Leaming argues that the former first lady suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and compares her to a victim of a combat few of us can imagine.

    Read full post


  • Nov 11

    Internet at the Speed of Government? The Case Against Net Neutrality

    Net neutrality—the idea that internet providers should treat all searches and traffic equally—gained a major advocate this week: President Barack Obama.

    In a taped statement released online, President Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make the "strongest possible rules" to protect net neutrality.

    "Ever since the internet was created, it's been organized around basic principles of openness, fairness and freedom," Obama said in the video on the White House website. "There are no gatekeepers deciding which sites you get to access. There are no toll roads on the information superhighway. Abandoning these principles would threaten to end the internet as we know it."

    In addition to releasing a video statement, the White House published a four-step plan for keeping the internet open to all. 

    See Also: Net Neutrality - The View from Silicon Valley

    "For most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life," President Obama said. "The FCC is an independent agency and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. But the public has already commented nearly four million times, asking the FCC to make sure that consumers, not the cable company, gets to decide which sites they use."

    Should the internet be a government-regulated public utility, or is it simply a service provided by companies that should be allowed to charge what they like in a free marketplace? The FCC must now decide.

    Rick Boucher, a former congressman from Virginia, used to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He once co-authored legislation promoting net neutrality. Now the honorary chair of the Internet Innovation Alliance, he tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry why he's changed his mind on the policy.

    See Also: Why One Former FCC Commissioner Supports Net Neutrality

    What do you think? Vote in our poll below.

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 11

    How the Borders of WWI Shape the Conflict in Iraq

    Veterans Day is an American national holiday designed to honor all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. But that’s not the way it always was.

    November 11th used to be Armistice Day—a day set aside to commemorate the end of World War I after peace was secured between the Allies and Germany on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year 1918.

    The First World War, which was once called the “war to end all wars,” has shaped and defined many modern day conflicts, including the current struggle in Iraq with the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

    “The terrain of World War I is so important for understanding today,” says Charles Sennott, the co-founder of the GlobalPost and head of the GroundTruth Project based at our partner station WGBH.

    World War I was the globe’s first modern war—a conflict that ultimately claimed the lives of 20 million people. Though almost 100 years have passed since the Great War ended, we’re still feeling its consequences today.

    In 1917, during the middle of WWI, British officials promised, unbeknownst to the Arab leaders who fought alongside them, that there would be a Jewish state within Palestine in the so-called Balfour Declaration.

    “This really redefined a modern Middle East along lines that were seen by many historians as arrogant and ignorant,” says Sennott.

    Nearby in Iraq, Sennott says that ISIS militants are intent on destroying the boundaries created in the region after World War I.

    “You really can feel this sense of an overlay of history,” says Sennott. “The lines of modern Iraq were drawn by the British for their convenience—they sort of took the pen and looped around Mosul because that’s where the oil was.”

    Sennott points out that many of the propaganda videos produced by the Islamic State directly reference these borders, which were established by the Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the 1916 Asia Minor Agreement.

    “They say, ‘This Sykes-Picot line, we do not accept it and we’re going to cross these lines as we build our caliphate in the region,’” says Sennott. “I think they’re really sharing with the world, if we’re willing to listen, that they know their history and they have narrative that they’re going to play out.”

    Sennott says that acknowledging these border discrepancies does not validate the Islamic State—he considers them to be a “death cult” and “one of the great dark forces on this Earth right now.”

    “I certainly don’t want to do anything that suggests that we’re following their narrative,” he says. “But on the other hand, the lines that were drawn in World War I embody the ignorance and the arrogance of Western colonial powers in that part of the world.”

    Kurdish fighters who are confronting the Islamic State are also striving to secure an independent state of their own in northern Iraq.

    “The Kurds see their nation, Kurdistan, which is now spread out over three different countries, coming together in this moment,” says Sennott. “They really do have an expectation that, because of the way that they’re taking the fight to ISIS, that they will have an independent Kurdish state at some point.”

    The Kurds have played an increasingly important role in helping the United States combat ISIS militants. The Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, are considered a world-class army, and the Kurdish government has also stepped up to care for over a million displaced people.

    “They’re very aware of their history and very reflective of this moment,” says Sennott. “They see it as a turning point in their own history, which is again one of the ways this terrain and history of WWI continues to shape all of these modern conflicts that we’re following everyday in the news.”

    Though the effects of World War I are still being felt, Sennott says there is still time to learn from the mistakes of the past.

    “If we’re going to really take something from history, it’s to learn that we cannot operate this way in the region without having successive failures,” he says. “We have to change the way we view the region, and we have to look at it more realistically. I do think we’re seeing modern Iraq coming undone. Lines sometimes do need to be reconsidered, and sometimes the arrogance of the empires that created them need to be confronted.”

    Sennott’s reporting is part of a series called, “The Eleventh Hour: Unlearned Lesson of World War I.” 

    Read full post


  • Nov 11

    Audio Essay: Remembering Those Who Serve

    The soldier who feels fear on the battlefield is connected to all who fight, to those who have fought, and those soldiers yet to be born.

    November 11th used to be Armistice Day—a day set aside to commemorate the end of World War I after peace was secured on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year 1918. Today, November 11th honors all veterans from wars past and present.

    On this Veterans Day, The Takeaway offers our thanks and appreciation to all of the men and women who have served our country, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in wars past.

    Read full post


  • Nov 11

    Today's Takeaways: The Deep Scars of Battles Near and Far

    1. Why We Lost Two Wars: A General Explains | 2. How the Borders of WWI Shape the Conflict in Iraq | 3. Torture, The War on Terror, and The Whistle-Blower That Wasn't | 4. Audio Essay: Remembering Those Who Serve | 5. Internet at the Speed of Government? The Case Against Net Neutrality | 6. Jackie Kennedy's Unseen Struggle With PTSD
    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    Voter Turnout: A National Embarrassment?

    Though the final numbers are still being added up, it looks Americans have set a new record: The 2014 midterms commanded the lowest voter turn out in 70 years.

    Just 36.4 percent of eligible voters came out to cast their ballots, according to the projection from the United States Elections Project, run by Dr. Michael McDonald at the University of Florida.

    Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich reflects on these numbers and what they mean for 2016 and beyond.

    Why don't people vote? Should we be blaming Washington when so many can't be bothered to come out and vote every couple of years? Comment or call 1-877-869-8253.

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    In Arkansas, Voters Keep a Present-Day Prohibition

    The 21st Amendment of the Constitution formally ended prohibition more than 80 years ago. But things look a little different in Arkansas—about half of the state's counties do not allow the sale of alcohol. 

    On Election Day last Tuesday, voters rejected an amendment that would have authorized the sale of alcohol statewide. Currently, alcohol sales in Arkansas are determined county-by-county.

    Lacie Bray, owner and business manager of Ozark Brewing Company in Rogers, Arkansas, joins us to reflect on the failed alcohol amendment and discuss the culture of drinking in Arkansas. Bray opened a craft brewery in 2013 with Andy Coates in Benton County, Arkansas shortly after the county went wet in 2012.

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    Inside The Secret Talks That Freed Kenneth Bae & Matthew Todd Miller

    Two long-detained Americans are back on U.S. soil. North Korean prisoners Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller landed back in Tacoma on Saturday night after the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, secretly arranged for their release.

    Matthew Todd Miller was arrested in North Korea for committing hostile acts "under the guise of a tourist" and was sentenced to six years in prison. Seattle-area native Kenneth Bae, who was in North Korea as a tour guide and Christian missionary, had been held in North Korea since November 2012 and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. 

    "I just want to say thank you all for supporting me and standing by me all this time," Bae said at a short news conference. "It is an amazing blessing to see so many people being involved to get me released."

    The top-secret negotiations were an unusual task for Clapper, who reportedly came to Pyongyang with a personal letter from President Obama.

    David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for our partner The New York Times, joins the program with an update on these clandestine talks.

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    The U.S. Government Vs. James Risen

    New York Times investigative reporter James Risen is being pressed by the Department of Justice to testify against one of his sources, former CIA operative Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking classified information about operations in Iran to Risen.

    He's determined not to comply, and his latest book is proof of that.

    In "Pay any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War," Risen explores how we got waist deep in a prolonged war on terrorism that is so shrouded in secrecy that both the Obama Administration, and the American public, have lost sight of the dangers it poses.

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    Retro Report: The Holy Killings That Rocked U.S. Foreign Policy

    In 1980, U.S. foreign policy was rocked when four American women were shot execution style in El Salvador.

    Sister Maura Clarke, Sister Ita Ford, Sister Dorothy Kazel, and missionary Jean Donovan had gone to El Salvador to serve the poor and the refugees of the Salvadoran civil war. They were found in a shallow grave by a road near the San Salvador airport—apparent victims of the country's brutal military regime.

    The U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, was there when the bodies were unearthed on December 4, 1980.

    “I found the town clerk and he told me that they had heard the screams and the shots the night before, and that it was the military that had done it," said White. "You realized at that point that the Salvadoran military was out of control—they would kill anybody.”

    It would take years before the people responsible for these women's deaths would be put to justice. The crime by the military government of El Salvador complicated U.S. efforts to combat the spread of communism in Central America.

    Ray Bonner, a contributing reporter for the documentary team Retro Report and a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, recently looked back at this 35-year-old killing.

    “It’s hard to overdramatize how important this was and how shocking it was,” Bonner says. “There had been 10,000 murders in El Salvador that year, mostly students and peasants killed by the military. The archbishop of El Salvador had been killed in March—he had been murdered while he was saying a mass. But nothing caused a reaction like the killing of these American churchwomen.”

    These killings put the U.S. government in a tough position. The Reagan Administration stood firm in its support for the the military government of El Salvador because the United States was afraid the nation would fall to communism. In solidifying its support for the government, the U.S. had to distance itself from these killings.

    “Perhaps the vehicle that the nuns were riding in may have tried to run a roadblock or may have accidentally perceived to have been doing so and there have been an exchange of fire,” said Alexander Haig, secretary of state under President Reagan.

    “To suggest that they had ran a roadblock...it was so clear what had happened,” says Bonner. “Ambassador White had been at the scene. He knew what happened; he talked to people. But Central America was at the center of U.S. foreign policy at the time.”

    Though it it may be hard to imagine some 35 years later, Bonner says that Central America was the cornerstone of President Reagan's U.S. foreign policy agenda.

    “They could not continue to provide military aid to the Salvadoran government if the military had been involved in the killing of the nuns,” he says. “That’s why you had these statements from Haig.”

    Regardless of the human rights issues surfacing in El Salvador, President Reagan thought the Central American nation was vital to the Cold War.

    “El Salvador is nearer to Texas than Texas is to Massachusetts,” President Reagan said in March 1983. “Central America is simply too close and the strategic stakes are too high for us to ignore the danger of governments seizing power there with ideological and military ties to the Soviet Union.”

    Bonner says that the Reagan Administration was so concerned with El Salvador because Nicaragua had fallen to a “leftist government.”

    “At the time, this was considered the frontline in the war against Soviet expansion and Soviet communism,” says Bonner. “Ambassador White sent a 27-page cable soon after he arrived in El Salvador. It’s an extraordinary document laying out the situation and describing what was going on. He said that it was a homegrown revolution.”

    Though the Reagan Administration believed the events in El Salvador were being influenced and perhaps even instigated by Cuba and the Soviet Union, Ambassador White believed differently.

    “[White thought] there would be a revolution there even if there wasn’t Cuba,” says Bonner. “There was the poor, the dispossessed, students, and political moderates who were trying to take on the military and the oligarchy. The U.S. put it in the Cold War context—that it was part of the war against communism...It’s hard to believe from this distance that we thought the security of the United States was threatened by what was going on in El Salvador.”

    Check out a video of Retro Report's findings below.

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    Justice Rush: For Some in California, That Felony is Now A Misdemeanor

    Last Tuesday in California, voters overwhelmingly approved of ballot Proposition 47, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. The proposal reduces penalties for "non-serious and non-violent property and drug crimes" from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

    Anyone currently serving a prison sentence for these crimes will now be eligible for re-sentencing. Inmates can go before a judge for a thorough review of their criminal history to determine if the person poses a risk to the public.  At least 10,000 prisoners will be eligible for review—something that could create a backlog in the California court system.  

    Jonathan Simon is a professor of law at UC Berkeley and director at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He's also author of the book "Mass Incarceration on Trial: Courts and the Future of American Prisons."

    Simon says that the new law will help those who have been imprisoned under California's controversial "Three Strikes" law, which also passed by ballot initiative in 1994.

    That law states that "a defendant convicted of any new felony and having suffered one prior conviction of a serious felony be sentenced to state prison for twice the term otherwise provided for the crime." If the defendant was convicted of any felony with two or more prior strikes, the law says the person must serve a 25 year to life prison term. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    Kurds Step Up in Fight Against ISIS

    About 1,500 more American troops will be going to Iraq in the next coming months to join Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the battle against the Islamic State. President Obama told told Bob Schieffer of CBS News that the troops will not see combat.

    "We will provide them close air support once they are prepared to start going on the offense against ISIL," President Obama said. "But what we will not be doing is having our troops do the fighting."

    On Saturday, U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS leadership near Mosul. Iraqi officials say that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may have been injured, but U.S. Defense officials could not confirm whether Bagdadi was at the location.

    The Kurds have played an increasingly important role in helping the U.S. in the region, whether it's to maintain stability in Iraq or to combat ISIS in Kobane, Syria. The Kurdish government is also taking care of over a million displaced people and struggles to maintain its status as a quasi-sovereign government.

    While the official U.S. policy is that Iraq must remain unified, Kurdish officials have made no secret of the fact that they do not intend to be again dominated by Baghdad. Falah Mustafa, foreign minister for the Kurdish Regional Government based in Erbil, explains how he Kurdish government is managing in the war against ISIS. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    Kurds Step Up in Fight Against ISIS

    About 1,500 more American troops will be going to Iraq in the next coming months to join Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the battle against the Islamic State. President Obama told told Bob Schieffer of CBS News that the troops will not see combat.

    "We will provide them close air support once they are prepared to start going on the offense against ISIL," President Obama said. "But what we will not be doing is having our troops do the fighting."

    On Saturday, U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS leadership near Mosul. Iraqi officials say that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may have been injured, but U.S. Defense officials could not confirm whether Bagdadi was at the location.

    The Kurds have played an increasingly important role in helping the U.S. in the region, whether it's to maintain stability in Iraq or to combat ISIS in Kobane, Syria. The Kurdish government is also taking care of over a million displaced people and struggles to maintain its status as a quasi-sovereign government.

    While the official U.S. policy is that Iraq must remain unified, Kurdish officials have made no secret of the fact that they do not intend to be again dominated by Baghdad. Falah Mustafa, foreign minister for the Kurdish Regional Government based in Erbil, explains how he Kurdish government is managing in the war against ISIS. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 10

    Today's Takeaways: American Hostages Released from North Korea, A 30-Year Cover Up, and A Reporter at Risk

    1. Inside The Secret Talks That Freed Kenneth Bae & Matthew Todd Miller | 2. In Arkansas, Voters Keep a Present-Day Prohibition | 3. For Some in California, That Felony is Now a Misdemeanor | 4. The Holy Killings That Rocked U.S. Foreign Policy | 5. The U.S. Government Vs. James Risen
    Read full post


  • Nov 08

    The Weekender: Fake Attack Ads, Funny Lady Maria Bamford, and Jackie O's Untold Story

    1. 54 Seconds of the Most Outrageous Attack Ads You’ll Ever Hear | 2. PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: An Extended Interview With Comedian Marian Bamford | 3. Filmmaker Sebastian Junger on Breaking an Addiction to War | 4. PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: The Untold Story of Jackie O | 6. PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Hilarious Takeaway Bloopers
    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    For Maria Bamford, Mental Illness & Comedy Collide

    Comedian Maria Bamford always looks and sounds a little bit nervous—whether she's playing the love interest of Tobias Funke on "Arrested Development" or starring opposite Louis C.K. in "Louie."

    Bamford goes where no humorist has gone before. She plays an exaggerated version of herself on the "Maria Bamford Show," but behind those artistic nerves is a complicated, disturbing, and not so funny world of mental illness that Maria is trying to navigate. Often times she navigates it live on stage right before her audience.

    And like comedians so often are, Bamford is incredibly open about her struggles and her family—especially her mother, who she loves to imitate.

    Takeaway Culture Producer Kristen Meinzer talked with Maria Bamford about her family, her own history with mental illness, and how she incorporates it all into her comedy.

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    News Quiz | Week of Nov. 7, 2014

    Are you a newsie? Do you know what's happening from Washington to Hollywood to Pyongyang? Be smarter than your pals. Prep your dinner party factoids. Gauge your knowledge about what happened this week, as heard on The Takeaway.

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    'Interstellar,' 'Horns,' 'Big Hero 6,' Sweatpants, and Listener Mail

    How important is logic in a movie? Does it matter more with the scientific rules of the story? Or with the motivations of the movie's characters? Rafer and Kristen contemplate questions of logic, as well as issues of family in this week's Movie Date. 

    On the chopping block: Christopher Nolan's outer space story of humanity and heroism, "Interstellar"; "Horns," starring Daniel Radcliffe as a young man who resembles the devil; and "Big Hero 6," which centers on a robotics prodigy and his big, puffy, loving robot friend. 

    Rafer and Kristen also offer a couple of Sweatpants picks, for those who prefer to sit on the couch, rather than hit the theatres. 

    There's also listener mail, and, as always, trivia!

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    Never-Published Steinbeck Story Explores Post-WWII Racial Politics

    A lost story by literary great John Steinbeck will be published for the first time today in The Strand magazine.

    The story, called "With Your Wings," was originally read on an Orson Welles variety show sometime around 1944, but was soon forgotten.

    Andrew Gulli, managing editor of The Strand magazine, found the story while combing through the University of Texas Library.

    “John Steinbeck was a very progressive writer—he was ahead of his time,” says Gulli. “He was a writer who had always tried to speak up for people who were marginalized, people who were poor, and people who were suffering.”

    Those themes can be seen in “With Your Wings.” The story focuses on a young African-American soldier that is coming back to his hometown after training to be an Air Force pilot.

    The first line of the story reads: "He knew most of all that he wanted to go home—that there was something at home he had to get, and he didn't even know what that was."

    “With Your Wings” reflects the racial politics of the era. During that time, black soldiers were largely marginalized by different aspects of society.

    “This was a time where African-American soldiers were not treated very well,” says Gulli. “They were not allowed to worship in the same chapels where white soldiers worshipped, and they were separated in their eating quarters. Steinbeck, I think, was trying to give a very powerful message...this might have been a faint cry to say that perhaps the U.S. Army and a lot of states should have passed laws to treat these people better.”

    Though some might argue that “With Your Wings” is romanticized or softens the racial politics of the time, Gulli says that Steinbeck might have felt that the readers of the era were not ready for a “hard-hitting” portrait of military segregation.

    “I think that this was John Steinbeck’s way of trying to show something in a sentimentalized way with a hope that it would bring some understanding among people who were perhaps bigoted or not as progressive as he was,” says Gulli.

    In many ways, this early Steinbeck work fits perfectly within the context of his larger career.

    “The reason I think Steinbeck has resonated with people for the last 70 years is that he’s able to have all of his readers walk inside the shoes of another person,” says Gulli. “Be it an impoverished farmer during the Dust Bowl or a young African-American soldier who’s trying to come to term with the fact that he’s feeling a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders.”

    Gulli adds that this Steinbeck piece is representative of the author’s larger beliefs that he held throughout his life.

    “He came to see the United States as a country where excess was killing us,” he says. “He had hoped that the civil rights movement would have progressed quicker. And he was frustrated about how, in the South, black children were being harassed when they were going to school.”

    While Steinbeck was a progressive, Gulli says that he was also a supporter of the Vietnam War during the 1960s.

    “The reason he supported the war was because he supported the Great Society policies of Lyndon Johnson,” says Gulli. “He even helped him write the platform for the Great Society, and he looked at Johnson as this transformative figure who would change a lot of the domestic policies of the United States to be more progressive.”

    See Also: Never-Published Tennessee Williams Story Surfaces

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    Remembering The Fall of The Berlin Wall

    The Berlin Wall simply melted away 25 years ago this Sunday. It was something that only a few hoped could ever disappear—those hopes turned into dreams that came alive. Brick by brick, people grasped the wall with their dreams and dared to pull it down.

    Today, the Takeaway remembers the fall of the Berlin Wall. Share your own memories in the comments below.

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    The Fallon Effect: What Jimmy Teaches Us About Keeping a Job

    Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow examines the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in incredibly short amounts of time.

    How do some startups generate billions in mere months? How did Alexander the Great, Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, and Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon climb to the top in less time than it takes most of us to get a promotion? 

    Snow, author of "Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success," says that Jimmy Fallon's story shows the value of networking.

    In a few short years, Fallon went from being a computer science major in upstate New York to a Saturday Night Live star that eventually became the youngest Tonight Show host ever. Was it pure luck?

    Snow says its not luck, but a razor-focused strategy of networking.

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    Thanks, Internet: The Five Best Things Online This Week

    Every Friday, Sean Rameswaram, a producer with Studio 360 and host of the Sideshow podcast, rounds up the week in internet phenomena. 

    This week in "Thanks, Internet," Sean talks to John Hockenberry about the online treasures you may have missed.

    1. Arcade Archive

    Internet Archive gets into arcades

    The Internet Archive is one of the most remarkable corners of the internet —  a rabbit hole of long-forgotten sound and video that has been painstakingly uploaded and preserved by a few heroes in San Francisco. This week, the site got a lot more playful by adding 900(!) arcade game emulators we can all play for free. Old favorites like Street Fighter II and Galaga are here, but you also have a chance to discover less classic curiosities like The Three Stooges in Brides Is BridesTake that, productivity!

    2. Good Grief

    Paul Ford on grief

    Paul Ford writes about the internet like no one else. And he does it often. This week, he stopped Sean in his tracks with "The Sixth Stage of Grief Is Retro-computing" —  a nostalgic trip through personal computers past that also eulogizes a friend of Ford's who recently passed. It would seem impossible, but Ford manages to fully nerd-out about computer networks and emulation software while recalling an IRL support group of people that pretty much changed his life. 

    Moore’s law, the speed at which technology moves forward, means that the digital past gets smaller every year. [W]hat is left are the tracings of hundreds of people, or thousands, who, 20, 30, 40 years ago found each other and decided to fabricate all this…digital stuff. Glittering ephemera. They left these markings and moved on. Looking at the emulated machines feels…big, somehow. Like standing at a Grand Canyon with a river of bright green pixels running along the bottom.

    3. Natalie Prass Makes You A Believer

    Things have been pretty good for back-up singers lately. There was that documentary, Blake Mills stepped out from Fiona Apple's shadow, and now Natalie Prass releases "Why Don't You Believe In Me" — a song that makes you wonder why she spent a bunch of time singing back-up vocals for Jenny Lewis. Prass is from Nashville, but she sounds like she just descended from a time machine that was well-supplied with Stax releases. Thankfully, the full-length isn't too far in the future.    

    4. From Raining Day to Finding Emo

    Finding Emo

    There's a subreddit called Movie Titles Minus 1 Letter. It offers exactly what you'd think: Moral KombatIneptionObocop and much more. Redditors even offer short summaries of their movies. Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington star as two narcotics officers who "play hookie and spend a rainy day inside playing board games and drinking cocoa" in Raining Day. "A bovine pugilist comes out of retirement for one last fight" in Aging Bull. "He loses." 

    Now, to the delight of many, writer, illustrator, designer, and self-proclaimed geek, Austin Light, has begun illustrating some of the concepts. Finding Emo is our favorite. 

    5. RIP, Tappet Brother

    Sean Cole's tweet about Tom
    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    Mass Protests Over Mexico’s Missing Students

    On September 26th, 43 college students disappeared in southern Mexico after a confrontation with police in the city of Iguala.

    It appears that the group—young men and women in training to become teachers—have become hostages or worse. Prosecutors believe the mayor of Iguala and the police apprehended the students and delivered them to a drug gang.

    Aside from the pure horror of this story, it has revealed how the entire town is somehow in the employ of the cartels. The mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, were arrested in Mexico City on Tuesday in connection with the missing students.

    The students have not been seen since they clashed with police officers more than a month ago.

    There have been strikes and mass protests in Mexico this week over the slow pace of an investigation into the disappearance of these students—the demonstrations echo the outrage felt in Nigeria in the wake of the Boko Haram kidnappings. Tens of thousands of Mexicans have been protesting in the capital demanding that the government find them.

    The Takeaway discusses the case and Mexico's so-called narco-politics with Ioan Grillo, a senior correspondent for the GlobalPost and the author of "El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency."

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    The Keys to Success in a Tough Economy

    In September, the nation's unemployment rate dropped below six percent for the first time in over six years. Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced October's unemployment picture—the U.S. economy added 214,000 jobs last month, which dropped the overall unemployment rate to 5.8 percent.

    Charlie Herman, host of Money Talking and business and economics editor for Takeaway co-producer WNYC, discusses the latest jobs numbers with John Hockenberry and explores what the numbers mean for the economy in the months to come.

    Small businesses have suffered over the last few decades. But Weitzenkorn's, a men's clothing store in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, has learned a lot of lessons about survival in its 150 years in business.

    Many clothing stores have come and gone in Pottstown over the last century and a half, but business is still booming at Weitzenkorn's, store President Marc Weitzenkorn tells John Hockenberry. He explains the secret to his store's success.

    Read full post


  • Nov 07

    Today's Takeaways: Jimmy Fallon's Success, Maria Bamford's Comedy, and Steinbeck's Lost Story

    1. A Story of Success in a Tough Economy | 2. What Jimmy Fallon Teaches Us About Keeping a Job | 3. Mass Protests Over Mexico’s Missing Students | 4. Remembering The Fall of The Berlin Wall | 5. For Maria Bamford, Mental Illness & Comedy Collide | 6. Never-Published Steinbeck Story Surfaces
    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    Star-Studded Cast Brings Industrial Disaster to the Big Screen

    One morning in December 1984, the residents of Bhopal, India awoke to the smell of noxious fumes. The fumes were coming from an industrial plant that was making their community among the most prosperous in their region of India.

    About 40 tons of the chemical methyl isocyanate had leaked from the industrial plant. About 4,000 people were killed immediately, and some 15,000 more died from health complications in the days and years to come.

    The site of the industrial plant, which was owned by Union Carbide Corporation, a subsidy of the the Dow Chemical Company, remains contaminated to this day.

    In 1989, Union Carbide negotiated a settlement with the Indian government for $470 million. In 2010, eight Indian plant workers were convicted for causing "death by negligence" in the accident.

    Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide, was one of the eight people found guilty. But after making a preliminary visit back to India shortly after the accident, Anderson never returned to face trial. The Indian government made multiple unsuccessful requests to extradite him, ultimately calling him an “absconder.”

    He will ultimately never be held accountable by the Indian government—though his family did not immediately announce his passing, Anderson’s death was confirmed last week by public records nearly a month after he died, at age 92, in Vero Beach, Florida.

    Anderson's role in the company's 1984 chemical leak in Bhopal, India—an accident that's been called the worst industrial disaster ever—is the subject of a new fictionalized film called "Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain," which opens in New York on Friday.

    Martin Sheen plays Anderson, depicting the hard-working self-made CEO who boldly brings his company to a new part of the world as an ambitious but flawed man.

    The events leading up to the accident are fictionalized in "Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain," which also stars actress Mischa Barton as a fictional American journalist and Kal Penn as Motwani, a tabloid writer in Bhopal. Together, they fight to hold Union Carbide accountable to the people of Bhopal.

    The son of an engineer and a chemist from India, Penn says that he grew up hearing about the Bhopal disaster.

    “I knew of the story growing up,” he says. “But I didn’t really get to experience the depth of it until I sat down with the writer and director, Ravi Kumar, who is from the region around Bhopal. This was a passion project for him, and I got to really understand the complexity and why he wanted to tell a story like this.”

    Penn has starred in several comedy hits like “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Van Wilder,” and “Epic Movie,” among many others. He says that "Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” appealed to him because of the complexity of the story.

    “I’ve had the blessing of doing these sort of broad comedies, and I love them,” he says. “But as I get older, I want to mix them up with things that make me think and challenge me a bit more as an artist.”

    Though India was still classified as an emerging economy in 1984, the nation of more than 1.2 billion has surfaced as economic powerhouse—and its economic vitality is partially a result of industrial development. Keeping that context in mind, Penn says it was interesting to see how Indians currently feel about the Bhopal disaster.

    “When we were shooting the movie, there were definitely sensitivities,” says Penn. “You would hear whispers from folks in India saying, ‘What kind of story are you telling? Which perspective are you approaching it from?’ As an American actor, I thought that was particularly interesting because I know from talking to the director, his goal was to tell as complex a story as he could.”

    Penn says that the film doesn’t seek to blame corporate greed, government corruption, or environmental law, but rather explores how the collective failings of the three helped to create the disaster.

    “These things still happen—BP is the most recent big publicized example of an industrialized disaster,” says Penn. “These things do keep happening, and I think the hope from a lot of the folks that we’ve talked to is there should be some checks and balances, particularly as economies emerge and industrialization takes place to ensure that we can prevent them as best as possible.”

    Penn says that Bhopal is still contaminated today because of government corruption and issues of enforcement and accountability within India. Additionally, he says that Union Carbide and Dow Chemical have been able to “slip through” legal loopholes.

    “It’s a tragedy because the site has certainly not been fully cleaned up and these chemicals are seeping into the ground, and there’s evidence that that’s contaminating folks that are being born today,” says Penn. “I never like to politicize films...but if there’s any movement that a small film like this can even bring to the conversation about accountability and prevention of these sorts of atrocities in the future, I think it’s a good thing.”

    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    Trouble Stirs For Russian Economy as Currency Hits New Low

    Russia's economy is in trouble. Its currency—the ruble—has fallen to an all-time low. 

    Against the dollar, the ruble is now 25 percent weaker than it was at the start of the year. And it continues to tank after Russia's Central Bank said that it would limit the amount it spends to support the ruble.

    Russia has been facing economic sanctions from the U.S. and the E.U. after the crisis in Ukraine, and the falling price of its gas and oil exports hasn't helped either.

    Ryan Chilcote, a reporter for Bloomberg TV in London, explains what's ahead for the Russian economy.

    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    Is the Reefer Revolution Beginning on Constitution Avenue?

    On Tuesday, voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. voted to legalize recreational marijuana use.  

    But the federal government has been resistant to recreational marijuana use, and because of its unique status as a federal district, Congress has the authority to overrule D.C. laws. Now some GOP lawmakers may seek to use their new-found majority status in Congress to overturn the new measure.

    Is the reefer revolution beginning on Constitution Avenue? Weighing in is Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    The Dust Has Settled. Here's What's Ahead for The GOP

    Now that the dust has settled after the 2014 midterm elections, what's ahead for the GOP?

    Republicans in Senate and House races didn't run on a common platform this election cycle—they ran against the Affordable Care Act, against the government's handling of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ebola, ISIS, and against President Obama.

    So what will Republicans do now that they control both houses of Congress? In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, House Speaker John Boehner and soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined a broad array of policy objectives they hope to tackle. Agenda items include corporate tax reform, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and repealing parts of Obamacare.

    After a 29-year career in politics, with 14 of those years as a leading Republican member of the House, Tom Davis left Congress in 2008.

    He was a rare breed by today's standards—a moderate who often reached across the aisle, but one who stuck by the Republican Party, especially when he served as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

    Davis left politics as President George W. Bush left the White House, as Republicans worried about their future, as President Obama assumed the presidency.

    Of course, after this week's election, the future of the Republican Party looks very different. And former Congressman Tom Davis explains his hopes for the GOP over the next few years.

    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    Obituaries Set to Song: Jascha Hoffman's Album 'The Afterneath'

    A few years ago, Jascha Hoffman was a freelancer writing obituaries for The New York Times and struggling to write songs for a third album. He soon realized that obituaries were the right inspiration for his songwriting.

    "What I wanted was to lure characters into my songs, real people with all their flaws and prejudices," he says. 

    Hoffman would start the day by reading the obituaries and then string together melodies and lyrics to “channel the minds we had lost, seeking their energy and charm from every angle, and the history and landscape around them.” 

    His newest album, "The Afterneath," is a compilation songs about notable figures who died in the 20th century—from Dr. Jack Kevorkian to oil-fortune heir J. Paul Getty III. 

    In addition to being a songwriter, Hoffman writes the "Scan" column on science and the arts for our partner The New York Times. 

    From "The Afterneath" album, the song Little Airplane was inspired by the life of Maynard Hill (1926-2011), who built a model airplane that flew across the Atlantic Ocean.

     Tennis Table is about table tennis star George Hendry (1920-2011).

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    The Biggest Election Winner: Oil

    There's a new sheriff in town, or maybe we should say sheriffs, and they support the $5.4 billion TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, which would link Canada's oil sands with refineries on the U.S. Gulf coast.

    Following Tuesday's elections, Republicans have secured a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and the pipeline may be the first item they attempt to push through. However, Senate Republicans may face some challenges—the GOP doesn't currently have the two thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

    But a dozen Democrats have already previously expressed support for the initiative, and Republicans may use the pipeline as a bargaining chip and agree to some concessions if more Democrats hop on board.

    Elana Schor, an energy reporter for Politico, breaks down the Senate politics behind the Keystone XL.

     

    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    Tennessee Lawmaker Shares Her Hopes to Regulate Abortion

    On Tuesday, North Dakota and Colorado voters rejected measures on abortion, but in Tennessee, the controversial Amendment 1 passed, giving the state legislature greater leeway to regulate abortion.

    Historically, Tennessee has had more liberal rules on abortion, at least compared to its neighbors in the South. A 2000 state Supreme Court decision ruled that the state constitution provided for the right to an abortion, thus setting a higher standard of protection than at the federal level.

    A survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that about a quarter of the abortions performed in Tennessee in 2010 were for women who lived outside the state.

    Last week, Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich spoke to one Kentucky woman, Jackie, who traveled to Tennessee to have an abortion. She said she chose Tennessee not merely as a matter of convenience.

    "It was a space for safety rather than some place that I calculated and choose after careful strategy," Jackie said.

    Now with the passage of Amendment 1, women like Jackie may find it harder to get abortions in the state in the future. But proponents of the amendment point out that their only goal is to make sure that abortions are safe.

    At least one lawmaker worked for years to get this initiative on the ballot. Mae Beavers is a Republican senator from the Mount Juliet area outside of Nashville. She tells us what measures she'd like to see Tennessee enact to regulate abortion. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 06

    Today's Takeaways: Pot and Oil in Washington, a Star-Studded Film, and Obituaries Set to Music

    1. Star-Studded Cast Brings Industrial Disaster to the Big Screen | 2. Trouble Stirs For The Russian Economy | 3. Tennessee Lawmaker Hopes to Regulate Abortion | 4. Is the Reefer Revolution Beginning on Constitution Avenue? | 5. New Album Features Obituaries Set to Song
    Read full post


  • Nov 05

    Post-Midterms, The Future of the American Parties

    It was no accident that the Republicans took over of the U.S. Senate and grabbed additional seats in the House of Representatives. It was the result of months of careful preparations aided by a less-than-perfect relationship between President Obama and Democratic Senate candidates.

    What do the 2014 midterm election results mean for the future of the donkey and the elephant? Two voices from the American political divide weigh in on the wins, the losses, and the future of their parties.

    Joe Fuld is the founder and president of The Campaign Workshop, a Democratic political consulting firm, and Leslie Sanchez is an author and Republican strategist.

    Read full post


  • Nov 05

    Republicans Clinch The Senate

    It was a night of big wins for Republicans, both at the state and federal level. Republicans gained a majority in the U.S. Senate with at least 52 seats. The GOP also had important victories at the state level by winning the governor’s seat in the Democratic strongholds of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois.

    Liberals mostly did well on ballot initiatives concerning minimum wage, abortion, and marijuana. South Dakota, Nebraska, and Arkansas—all solidly red states—voted in favor to raising the minimum wage, even while they voted for Republican senators.

    A Colorado abortion initiative that would have criminalized abortion even in cases of rape or incest was overwhelmingly rejected. But a Tennessee amendment that will allow the state legislature to restrict access to abortion was passed. Oregon and Washington D.C. voted to legalize recreational marijuana, although Florida did not support a more moderate measure to allow only medical use.

    Campaign speeches everywhere—whether by incumbents or challengers, winner or losers—were flooded with pronouncements against the partisanship and dysfunction of Washington and the need "for real change." 

    Joining us to weigh in on the results is Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich.

    Here are some election night tweets:

    Read full post


  • Nov 05

    The Impact of the Midterms at Home & Abroad

    The 2014 midterm election results are in. And with a Republican House and Senate, President Obama may have his hands full.

    Can House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrangle a fractious party? What do we know about where the country is headed in the last years of President Obama's final term?

    Theda Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard University, examines what the election results say about the American electorate and the political direction of the country as both parties prepare for 2016.

    “I don’t think a great deal will be accomplished over the next two years,” says Skocpol. “But there will be some areas of policy where the president and the Republican Congress can come to some kind of understanding.”

    Though the focus during the midterm elections was on the GOP gaining control of the upper house of Congress, Skocpol says there are deeper issues at play.

    “The issue really remains of extremists in the House of Representatives,” she says. “Now there are a set of fairly extreme new senators to join Ted Cruz in the Senate. A lot of the drama will actually be inside the Republican Party.”

    Skocpol says that as 2016 approaches, Republicans and Tea Party members will both be jockeying for the presidential nomination, which could create internal divides within the Senate majority.

    “You’re going to see competition to see who can be the most extreme in terms of catering to the right wing of the Republican Party,” she says.

    Though the Senate was closely watched this cycle, Skocpol says some of the most important and surprising victories came at the state level with the selection of several Republican governors.

    “Scott Walker’s re-election was a big deal because he’s followed some of the most extreme policies,” she says. “Also Thom Tillis eked out a victory in North Carolina over Kay Hagan. One is a governor and one is a Senate race that has really signaled where the party has moved.”

    How The World Views the Midterms

    When the United States holds a national election, the rest of the world watches. Edward Luce, U.S. columnist for the Financial Times, explains what midterms mean for America's place in the world.

    “I think those who are paying attention know that gridlock stems equally from both parties, if not more from the Republicans,” he says. “But in terms of President Obama’s foreign scope to pursue an active and effective foreign policy, and his willingness to do so, there is already deep skepticism about that around the world. I think Tuesday night’s results in the midterm elections will only reinforce that.”

    In Europe, there is still some hope that a Republican-controlled Congress will give President Obama the authority to independently negotiate a trans-Atlantic trade deal. However, Luce finds that prospect to be highly unlikely.

    “I think the Republicans would be loathe to give Mr. Obama such scope to negotiate a deal without their input,” he says. “Especially having just won what they see as a wave election, and an election that they see as a mandate to repudiate President Obama’s agenda.”

    In addition to America’s allies in Europe, Luce says that opponents in places like Moscow, Beijing and Caracas are also paying attention to the results of the 2014 midterm elections.

    “There will be nuances depending which parts of the world are looking at this,” he says. “But overall, it’ll be seen as a sort of ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ moment for President Obama two years before his presidency official comes to an end.”

    In the near future, one of the most important issues on President Obama’s foreign policy agenda is an Iranian nuclear agreement—an agreement that might be complicated by the 2014 midterm results.

    “There’s a deadline for [the nuclear] talks to reach agreement later this month,” says Luce. “Congress would of course be involved with that too.”

    In exchange for dismantling part of its nuclear enrichment program, Luce says that President Obama will need to ask Congress to start reducing sanctions on Iran.

    “Will this new Congress be more likely to cooperate with that than less?” he says. “I would have thought they’ll probably be less likely to cooperate.”

    Read full post


  • Nov 05

    Voters Gave Themselves a Pay Hike

    It wasn't just Republicans that won big during the 2014 midterm elections yesterday. Working class Americans also secured large victories, too.

    Four red state Republican strongholds—Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota—voted to raise their state minimum wages over the next few years. They now join Washington, D.C. and 12 other states, all of which have moved in the past two years to raise their state minimums.

    In San Francisco, voters approved a ballot measure raising the minimum wage to $15.00 over the next three years—the highest minimum wage in the country.

    Over the last year, the Republican party has worked to portray itself as a more moderate, less conservative party. Is the minimum wage an issue they can show some compromise on?

    Steven Greenhouse, labor and workplace correspondent for The New York Times, weighs in.

    Read full post


  • Nov 05

    Judicial Elections: The New Political Battleground

    Candidates in judicial elections used to stay above the partisan fray—no matter the party, judges have rarely been the target for outside fundraising.

    But that wasn't the case in 2014.

    According to the Brennan Center for Justice, outside groups, political parties, and judicial candidates themselves spent at least $9.1 million dollars on TV ads in the 2014 midterm elections. More than $1.6 million of that was spent in North Carolina alone, where four of the state's seven supreme court seats were up for grabs.

    As Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, explains, North Carolina was one of many states with millions of dollars at stake in this year's judicial elections. She tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry who won the key races, and the impact of fundraising on judicial races this year.

    Read full post


  • Nov 05

    The Most Expensive Midterm Election in U.S. History

    With a price tag of nearly $4 billion, the 2014 midterm elections are the most expensive in American history. 

    Kytja Weir, project manager and reporter for "Who's Calling the Shots," a project of the Center for Public Integrity's state politics team, describes who footed the bill—and which candidates benefited from that unprecedented cash flow.

    Read full post


  • Nov 05

    Today's Takeaways: The 2014 Midterm Election - Your Conversation

    1. Republicans Clinch The Senate: What You Need to Know | 2. The Future of The American Parties | 3. Minimum Wage Ballots: Voters Gave Themselves a Pay Hike | 4. Judicial Elections Are The New Political Battleground | 5. How The World Views the Midterms
    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    The Politics of Playing Football

    Who plays and doesn't play football is an increasingly partisan issue, according to the latest column by The New York Times' David Leonhardt, the editor of "The Upshot."

    A recent poll by the RAND Corporation, conducted on behalf of The Upshot, asked parents to share their views about their children playing several sports. Only 55 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable with their sons playing football. The numbers for baseball, basketball, soccer, and track, however, were all above 90 percent.

    "There isn’t a divide about watching football—blue America and red America are both watching football in enormous numbers,” says Leonhardt. “But it’s clear that blue America, and particularly college educated blue America in many of the big metropolitan areas across the country, is getting much less comfortable with the idea of letting their kids play.”

    According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the number of boys playing football at the high school level is on the decline. Over the last six years, the number of high school football participants has fallen 15 percent in both Minnesota and Wisconsin—states that President Obama carried in 2008 and 2012.

    There has also been a decline in other blue states like Colorado (down 14 percent), in Massachusetts and Maryland (both down 8 percent), in New York (down 7 percent), and in California (down 4 percent).

    On the whole, Leonhardt says that when examining all 50 states, a clear pattern emerges: High school participation in football is falling more in blue states than in red states. The poll conducted by the RAND Corporation, however, found that not all liberal voters feel the same way.

    “There’s only one group that is notably less comfortable—Obama voters, which is to say Democratic voters with college degrees,” he says. “Democratic voters without college degrees look a lot like Republican voters with or without college degrees in terms of their level of comfort with football.”

    Leonhardt says that the issue of high school football may undergo a massive shift sometime in the future, at least if past trends are to be believed.

    “There’s a classic pattern here,” he says. “There are a lot of public safety issues—whether it’s smoking or whether it’s seat belts—that start in a more educated and more liberal corner of society. If the science continues to show that this is a real public health issue, it’ll go mainstream.”

    Leonhardt argues that American culture may collectively reject high school football if science continues to show that the sport is dangerous. Based on the most current data about high school football participation, it appears that millions of families have already abandoned the sport.

    “They represent change,” he says. “We’re seeing a change in which more liberal and more educated areas are saying, ‘We don’t want our sons playing football—even if we still watch it on Saturdays and Sundays.’”

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    For Veterans, The Fight at Home is as Difficult as the Battlefield

    After nearly 20 years covering war, journalist and documentarian Sebastian Junger says he is done filing from the battlefield. But not without one final dispatch on war.

    Junger is documenting one last journey—not from Afghanistan or Iraq, but along a 300 mile route from Washington, D.C., northeast to Philadelphia, and then back westward to Pittsburgh to be exact.

    It's a journey by foot that Junger conceived of when he was still working with his friend and colleague Tim Hetherington.

    “Tim Hetherington, my colleague on 'Restrepo,' my colleague in Afghanistan, he was tragically killed in Libya—on a trip I was supposed to be on with him and I couldn't at the last minute," says Junger. "I couldn't go and then he was killed. And I was going to do this journey with Tim. I thought of it and he was like, 'Say that bit again into the camera.'"

    Junger continues: "Years later after he died, I found that bit of footage on the hard drive where he is saying, 'Tell me that idea again.' We're on an Amtrak train and I'm looking out the window and saying, 'We could walk along the whole damn thing.' He's totally psyched about it, and then he gets himself killed and its tragic. It tour my life apart for a while.”

    See Also: Sebastian Junger on The Trials of War

    With Hetherington gone, Junger recruited three others to join him—Dave Roels, who is currently with the U.S. Army and will finish up in April, Brendan O'Byrne, a veteran of the Army, and Guillermo Cervera, a photojournalist who was with Hetherington at the time he was killed.

    “All of us had been in combat, all of us had lost people, none of us were going to go back to war," said Junger. "And I took them on this 300-plus mile journey along the railroad lines, partly to sort of meet America again, and partly to talk about why war is so hard to unhook from.”

    Sebastian Junger says it's the inherently addictive nature of war, of combat, and of covering it from the front-lines that makes the transition to civilian life so difficult.

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    Lone Star Nation: How Texas is Transforming America

    Election Day in Texas may not have any big cliff hangers, but the state is proving to be a laboratory for 21st century American politics.

    Texas is undergoing a profound change—the Lone Star state is seeing a huge spike in its population, and an economy that's creating jobs much faster than anywhere else in the nation. Its diversity is also increasing, and it will soon be a majority Hispanic state

    And yet, for all its wealth, Texas spends less on public education than almost any other state, according to the National Education Association. Only Arizona and Nevada spend less per pupil, per year.

    It seems that the state of vast population and vast geography is also the state of vast contradictions. Richard Parker, author of the new book "Lone Star Nation," explains how the changes taking place in Texas will transform America itself. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    Remembering Car Talk's Tom Magliozzi

    For years, Tom Magliozzi and his brother Ray—"Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers"—changed the sound of public radio and pushed the boundaries of what public radio could be.

    The hosts of NPR's "Car Talk," Tom and Ray were always funny, giving listeners more than just advice on motors and engines. Yesterday, Tom died on of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77-years-old.

    Today, The Takeaway thanks Tom for everything he did for us all—drivers and non drivers, public radio fans and folks who enjoy the sound of laughter. Help us remember Tom. Leave a comment below or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.

    Editor's Note: The audio portion of this interview incorrectly states that "Car Talk" went national "immediately." After ten successful years at WBUR, the program was picked up by NPR in 1987.

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    America's Lost (And Found) Apples

    It's apple season in the United States, but did you know there were once 17,000 different varieties grown in North America?

    Dan Bussey recently completed an encyclopedia of all these apples, and sadly, most of them are gone now.

    Now the only apple varieties are the ones we see in the market—the Honey Crisps, McIntoshes, Granny Smiths, Red Delicious, and maybe a Macoun. But apples are a species that encompasses thousands of different tastes, appearances, and textures. Not all of them are sweet either—many are tart or bitter, and some make better pies or ciders than other apples.

    Today, Bussey, author of "The Illustrated History of Apples in North America," explains what you should be looking for when browsing apples at your local market.

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    Rejoice! Election Day Means the Horrible Attack Ads Are Over (For Now)

    Election Day is upon us, which means we can finally say goodbye to the nasty, dreadful political ads that dominate our TV screens and flood our voicemails.

    The campaigning season seems to be running longer and longer, and attack ads have become the political equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

    But that's the true beauty of Election Day—after today, we won't be bombarded with mudslinging attack ads (at least for 10 minutes). To help you celebrate, we created some absurd election ads that are sure to get you laughing. Share your own fake election ad in the comments below.

    Not sure where to vote? Find your polling place below.

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    The Hypnotic Power of Bach

    This November, our friends at WQXR are bringing you a month-long tribute to the magnetic and hypnotic music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

    Called "Bachstock" – invoking the spirit of the seminal 1969 music festival Woodstock – the festival will provide a variety of ways to explore the music, life and times of the composer.

    Jeff Spurgeon, morning host for WQXR, weighs in on the festival and the legacy of Bach.

    If you're in New York City, come see Takeaway Host John Hockenberry this Friday—he'll be hosting an event with WQXR. The Academy of Ancient Music is performing Bach's Orchestral Suites Nos. 1-4 live from Carnegie's Zankel Hall. A live chat and Twitter conversation will take place during the performance and then online. Click here for more information.

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    It's Time to Rethink Counterterrorism

    Thousands of veterans have returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Middle East has grown only more chaotic with the rising tide of the Islamic State. 

    As airstrikes by American and allied forces continue, reports are now surfacing of long terms plans for a major offensive against ISIS fighters. But any progress in the days ahead could be hindered by a new wave of violence as millions of pilgrims from around the world head to the Iraqi city of Karbala to mark Ashura, one of the most important holidays for Shiite Muslims.

    Martin Reardon is the senior vice president of The Soufan Group, a New York-based strategic security and intelligence consultancy, and a 21-year veteran of the FBI. He says that a lack of governance has proved to be fertile ground for the rise of the Islamic State.

    Read full post


  • Nov 04

    Today's Takeaways: An Addiction to War, The United States of Texas, and Hilariously Awful Election Ads

    1. For Veterans, The Fight at Home is as Difficult as the Battlefield | 2. Remembering Car Talk's Tom Magliozzi | 3. The Hypnotic Power of Bach | 4. The Politics of Playing Football | 5. Lone Star Nation: How Texas is Transforming America | 6. Rejoice! The Horrible Election Ads Are Finally Over
    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    Casino Crackdown? Voters to Decide Gambling Measures in Eight States

    This election season, voters in eight states are being asked to consider expanding access for legal gaming. 

    Tomorrow, California voters will decide whether the Mono Indian tribe can open a casino off of it's reservation. Voters in South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Colorado will consider legalizing new types of games (like craps and roulette), and Kansas and South Carolina will decide whether they will allow state lotteries.

    But one of the most contentious gaming ballot initiates is playing out in Massachusetts.

    Three years ago the state legalized Las Vegas-style casino gambling, arguing that proposed mega-resorts would create thousands of jobs and provide new sources of revenue for the state. So far, two casinos and a slot parlor have won licenses, but on Tuesday voters will decide whether or not they can open.

    If opponents of gaming in Massachusetts win, it would be the first time voters reject casino expansion.

    One of those opponents, Robert Steele,  is a former U.S. Congressman from Connecticut and the author of the novel, “The Curse: Big-Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town.” He says that those who support expanding casino gambling point to a common theme: Jobs. 

    Clyde W. Barrow, a casino specialist and chairman of the political science department at the University of Texas-Pan American, discusses the impact of casinos on state revenues and creating jobs. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    A Midterm Prediction as The Clock Ticks Down

    Election Day is almost upon us, and voters from around the United States will hit the polls tomorrow.

    With the polls still favoring the Republicans, some wonder what's in store for not just President Obama, but the Democratic Party as well.

    For a final look at the political map before the 2014 midterm elections, we turn to Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich.

    Find your polling place below.

    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    Dallas Pulls Back the Curtain on Police Shootings

    Dallas Police Chief David Brown knows that the relationship between a police force and a community is often fragile at best. 

    "There's a lot of context, and a historical perspective, when it relates to police-community relationships, particularly in communities of color," he says. "And some of the distrust has been earned by our department over the years."

    Brown says that police departments must break down the barriers of distrust that often divide law enforcement and community members.

    "We've done a really good job over many, many years in making amends, creating trust, creating a relationship where we can really have a great dialogue," he says. "But I just feel that our relationships are so fragile and hard-earned and so easy to lose that we can't let our guard down."

    Brown hopes that one of his new initiatives will reinforce trust between the Dallas community and the police. Today the department launches a new website that will catalogue every officer-involved shooting since 2003. The website will feature several details about the shootings, including the race and ethnicity of those involved, the weapons used, the investigative process and more.

    Over the last several decades—from the divisions of the 1960s to the beating of Rodney King to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri—Chief Brown says he has seen just how hard it is to gain the community's trust, and how easy it is to lose it.

    "I'm walking a tightrope," Brown says, "And I have to be on both sides of the tightrope and balance to make sure that officers are doing the right thing and they stay encouraged and that citizens see transparency and accountability."

    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    The Bra Celebrates its 100th Birthday

    A century ago, a young socialite named Mary Phelps Jacob did what so many inventors in male-dominated fields had done before her: She saw a problem, designed a solution, and received a patent. But Jacob’s problem was one that few male inventors had ever encountered, or had even thought about.

    The undergarments of the era didn't match the new fashions on the market. So, with the help of her maid, Jacob fashioned the first modern brassiere—an invention that has changed the way women dress and live over the last 100 years.

    Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, tells Takeaway Host John Hockenberry about the history of the modern bra, and the invention's impact. 

    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    Report: 'Boko Haram is Winning'

    In April, more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Months later, their fate still hangs in the balance.

    Nigeria's government continues to say that the terrorist group has agreed to a ceasefire and that the girls will be released. But a man who claims to be the leader of Boko Haram released a video on Friday denying any such ceasefire.

    The leader, Abubakar Shekau, instead said the schoolgirls had been married off to Boko Haram fighters. Alexis Okeowo, a freelance journalist who has been reporting on the terrorist group from Nigeria, says that "Boko Haram is winning."

    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    How the Fight for the Gray Wolf Was Won & Lost

    In the 1990s, the federal government placed the gray wolf on the endangered species list and reintroduced it to the American West. The wolf population was nearly non-existent after years of systematic eradication by ranchers.

    From a wildlife perspective, the initiative was a huge success—the gray wolf population has bounced back across the northern Rocky Mountains. But many view the legacy of the program as a political disaster that created a widening divide between environmentalists, ranchers, and elected officials.

    Our friends at the documentary team Retro Report have looked back at the lessons learned from this historic and controversial program. Erik German, a producer with Retro Report, weighs in.

    “The wolves were reintroduced in 1996, and by 2002, the population had bounced back to somewhere around twice the initial target numbers,” says German. “And the push back began then.”

    When gray wolves were initially reintroduced, ranchers in the Yellowstone area opposed the initiative after the wolves began preying on livestock. While German says that losses weren’t widespread, some ranchers did feel very serious impacts.

    “[It cost] $60,000 the first couple of years between the sheep we lost and the calves we lost,” rancher Jim Melin told Retro Report. “Every time that those wolves come in here and take a part of my living away, that means I have to make it up somewhere's else.”

    Once the population began to bounce back, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believed it met its goal and proceeded to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. German says that the decision triggered a flurry of lawsuits from environmentalists.

    “They sued because they said the wolves weren’t breeding across geographical lines in the way that was specified in the plan,” he says. “They were concerned that if you turned the control back over to the states that the states would push for numbers right near the red line and there wouldn’t be a healthy population.”

    The legal actions taken by environmental groups kept the wolves on the endangered species list until 2011. Today, there are more than 1,600 gray wolves living in the northern Rocky Mountains.

    “The issue of wolves became politically poisonous,” says German. “It became so political that Congress stepped in and did this unprecedented thing—they pulled wolves off of the endangered species list with a budget amendment in 2011.”

    Normally, animals are only taken off the endangered species list when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finds that the population has recovered. And now some activists are afraid they might have pushed too hard.

    “I think we are all so busy stridently supporting our campaign that we didn't look at the bigger picture,” activist Lisa Upson told Retro Report. “And so all of a sudden it was like, ‘Wow, this could go very badly. And it did."

    The decision to push the government on the issue of gray wolves may have ultimately set a very bad precedent.

    “[Environmentalists] are concerned that this has opened a door to a future where Congress could step in and start taking any politically inconvenient animal off of the endangered species list,” says German.

    Check out a video of Retro Report's findings below.

    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    U.N. Leader Offers Hope in Fight Against Ebola

    Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in March 2014, the virus has claimed nearly 5,000 lives in West African countries. 

    Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization, a specialized U.N. agency, have received criticism for their responses to this international public health crisis. Though the virus is killing thousands and frightening millions more, Dr. David Nabarro, the senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, provides a measured and rational outlook in the face of the virus. 

    Dr. Nabarro says that the disease is making history in generating international cooperation on a scale not seen since the end of World War II when the United Nations was created.

    Unlike the 1940's, when international cooperation exclusively involved global leaders who were attempting to control their expanding military might, the fight against Ebola has involved all levels of international institutions—military, social, educational, religious, and economic.

    In the face of the deadly virus, Dr. Nabarro offers some surprising hope, especially for a man that's in charge of one of the most terrifying scourges since the 1918 flu pandemic.

    Read full post


  • Nov 03

    Today's Takeaways: Police Transparency, The Gray Wolf, and The Bra's 100th Birthday

    1. A Midterm Prediction as The Clock Ticks Down | 2. Casino Crackdown? Voters to Decide Gambling Measures in Eight States | 3. Dallas Pulls Back the Curtain on Police Shootings | 4. Report: 'Boko Haram is Winning' | 5. How the Fight for the Gray Wolf Was Won & Lost | 6. U.N. Leader Offers Hope in Fight Against Ebola | 7. The Bra Celebrates its 100th Birthday
    Read full post


  • Nov 01

    The Takeaway Weekender: The South Unbound Tour

    Republicans may be more confident going into the midterms, but Democrats still think they have a chance, even in a few traditionally red states in the South. Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich was on the road all week—he traveled along I-75 to hear from voters in Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    'Nightcrawler,' 'Laggies,' 'Before I Go to Sleep,' 'Olive Kitteridge,' 'Mike Tyson Mysteries,' and Angry Listener Mail

    It's a haunted Halloween Movie Date with a wide range of creepy options, from an amnesia suspense flick to a sociopath-centered thriller.

    Nicole Kidman wakes up confused about who she is and where she is every single day in "Before I Go to Sleep." Jake Gyllenhaal is willing to cross the line as he chases down ambulances in "Nightcrawler." And Keira Knightly hangs out with kids half her age, and sleeps with a man twice her age in "Laggies."

    The strangeness continues in this week's Sweatpants conversation. Frances McDormand plays a peculiar Mainer in "Olive Kitteridge" (on HBO, beginning November 2, 2014) and a cartoon Mike Tyson solves mysteries on "Mike Tyson Mysteries" (premiere was this week on Adult Swim).

    There's also some angry listener mail this week. And, as always, there's trivia!

    Subscribe to the Movie Date podcast, like Movie Date on Facebook, follow Kristen on Twitter, and leave a message for Rafer and Kristen anytime at 571-7MOVIES (571-766-8437).

    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    Tensions Rise In Wake of Temple Mount Closure

    One of the holiest sites for Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem reopened in time for Friday morning prayers.

    The site, known as the Temple Mount for Jews and the Noble Sanctuary for Muslims, closed yesterday for the first time in more than a decade after Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian man, a suspect in an assassination attempt on a Jewish activist.

    Israeli authorities have rescinded a rare order to take control of the site from Arab religious officials who have controlled the area for years.

    Noga Tarnopolsky, the senior Israel and Palestine correspondent for The GroundTruth Project and GlobalPost, is on the ground in Jerusalem. She says that the closure of the holy site and subsequent shooting has set off protests in the area.

    “[The protests] are associated with the Friday prayers,” she says. “Fatah, which is the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called for a ‘day of rage’ today. I don’t think that’s a direct order from him, but his party. There’s really a lot of push among extremists of both sides for a confrontation. It’s terrible to see that.”

    In the year 2000, a five-year-long Palestinian uprising that became known as the Second Intifada began after former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then a candidate for Israeli prime minister, visited the compound with 1,000 Israeli police officers.

    “That point is really important if we want to try and understand the, maybe impossible to keep, status quo in Jerusalem,” says Tarnopolsky. “This teeny tiny square—the Haram al-Sharif for Muslims and the Temple Mount for Jews—Jews basically don’t have access to go up and pray there, despite the fact that it’s adjacent to the Western Wall of the Temple and the most holy site for any religious Jew. That’s part of a very difficult status quo that’s been developed in Jerusalem.”

    According to Tarnopolsky, tensions have recently been rising in Jerusalem, leading to a reduction in site access for both Jews and Muslims. It’s unclear if some sort of negotiated agreement on access to the site can be reached.

    “Extremists have really hijacked the argument,” she says. “It’s ironic because, especially for such a right-wing government that likes to claim, over and over again, that Jerusalem is the eternal and unified capital of the Jewish state, seem to have relinquished control over their own capital city, and really handed it over hook-line-and-sinker to these very extremist factions who I think are putting the city and more than just the city in danger.”

    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    Experiencing Breast Cancer From a Distance

    Though we've been following the lives of Lisa Echols, Crystal Miller, and Anita Coleman—the three women featured in The Takeaway's six-month-long audio storytelling series "Under Her Skin: Living With Breast Cancer"—we also want to hear from their friends and family.

    Demetrius Johnson, Lisa's 25-year-old daughter, says her mind went to the worst place possible when she first got the news about her mom.

    “The automatic thing that I thought was I'm about to lose my mother," said Demetrius, who adds that her mother is her best friend. "You can go to her for laughs, you can go to her for serious talks, you can go to her for business and you can go to her just for the comfort of being around her, just to feel that love. To know that that could be snatched away from me, it was very very hurtful."

    And then, the disease showed up, forcing Demetrius to get beyond the physical toll of breast cancer to focus on what mattered most—being there for her mom.

    “The next time that I felt any pain I was getting a photograph sent to my phone of my mother and she had no hair," Demetrius says. "And that absolutely hurt because my mother has long thick choco hair. I've never known my mother's hair to be short ever. So for her not to have any it took a toll on me. And I told her, 'Since you don't have any hair, do you want me to cut my hair off?' And she said, 'No, I'm fine. If that's something you want to do than do it but you don't have to—I'm fine.' And I realized bald is beautiful. And she's beautiful and she's embraced it. She's smiling. So I have to embrace it and smile. My mother is a fighter and we were going to fight this battle together.”

    "I've been there you know," said Doris Adams, a friend of Anita Coleman's for the past 30 years. "I've been on this last journey with her, every step of it, from the moment she found out to where we are right now.”

    The Takeaway got a chance to meet Doris when Anita visited New York at the start of the month.

    “I consider myself blessed to be in her presence," said Doris. "Because to see a person go through this, you're like, I don't know if I have that strength too. Because it's not easy, it's just not easy.'”

    Doris says Anita's decision to share her story with The Takeaway listeners represents a force for good in a situation that can otherwise feel pretty rough.

    “It's a positive story, it's her story, and people will see that they also can arrive at the other side," said Doris. "If you are willing to fight for your life, you get there. And some of you know they need to hear that. You just need to hear good things. At least I do, and I've watched her at her worst and we've crawled through it together and she's ready to go. Ok, let's go.”

    “As a minister who has pastored several churches, people would always ask me to pray for them or pray with them," said Keith Miller, the father of 28-year-old Crystal. "Before I do, I usually would make one request of them, and that is when my time comes, that they would please remember me. You see if you live long enough in this world, you will discover that everyone gets a turn. Well my turn came two days before Christmas, on December the 23, 2013.”

    That day was the day his daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    "I don't have a problem telling you that for a brief moment, my faith was shaken," Keith said. "When no one was around I cried. I cried in my car. I cried in my room. I cried on my bed. The tears would just come out of nowhere. Every time I traveled from my home in Delaware to Mount Sinai New York to be with her during her treatments, a few tears would come out of nowhere. Seeing my baby, my daughter, taking chemo and losing her hair was very difficult. The lump removal, the radiation treatments that followed didn't make it any easier. Being with her during treatments taught me a few things.”

    It was also during those treatments that Keith realized that, while his daughter had the support of her father, her mother and her two brothers, many of the women showing up for chemotherapy and radiation did not.

    “What I take away from this experience of watching these women go through treatment is that having a support system is one of the most important steps to healing," said Miller. "I just want to tell all of those who may be going through that you are never alone. To my daughter and all the daughters out there I dedicate this song found on YouTube by songwriter Shannon Sanders and I hope that everyone would get a chance to see and hear it.”

    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    South Unbound: An Election Portrait of Kentucky

    You might have thought there was a race underway in Kentucky for U.S. Senate, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would like to make it about the policies of President Barack Obama. His challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergran Grimes, wouldn't even say whether she voted for Obama in 2012.

    Grimes identifies as a "Clinton Democrat" in the campaign. The Clintons have each come to campaign for Grimes multiple times this cycle: Bill was just there on Thursday, and Hillary will be there on Saturday. Grimes is trying to be both anti-McConnell while criticizing the president for his regulation of the coal industry.

    That means an Obama policy that's been successful in Kentucky—the expansion of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act—has complicated things for McConnell and Grimes. McConnell says he wants to repeal Obamacare, while at the same time allow the state to keep its health exchange. Since Grimes has distanced herself from the president, she's having difficulty supporting the measure. 

    Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich explains how the national debates between the Democrats and Republicans play out differently in Kentucky.  

    Check out Todd's trip with our interactive map below and on Twitter by checking out the hashtag #ToddTour.

    Click Here to Enlarge This Interactive Map!



    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    Thanks, Internet: Five Things You Had To See Online This Week

    Every Friday, Sean Rameswaram, a producer with Studio 360 and host of the Sideshow podcast, rounds up the week in internet phenomena. 

    This week in "Thanks, Internet," Sean talks to John Hockenberry about the online treasures you may have missed.

    1. T-Pain Meets T-Desk

    "This is weird as hell for me."

    That's how T-Pain, the undisputed King of Auto-Tune, started his Tiny Desk Concert at NPR. Pain sits in front of the now-famous bookshelf with nothing more than a keyboardist. "I know everyone is wondering where the Auto-Tune is going to come from," he jokes. "I got it right here in my pocket." Turns out he doesn't. And he never needed it. In a week of dressing-up, T-Pain dressed down and never sounded better. 

    2. Reinventing Goosebumps

    'The Shining' re-imagined as a 'Goosebumps' story

    It was a pretty good week for R.L. Stine, which was surprising, but maybe every week leading up to Halloween brings him great joy and untold wealth. Stine got plenty of attention for tweeting out a (sorta) scary (super) short story on Wednesday called "What's In My Sandwich." Better still, this was the week Sean discovered "If It Were Stine," a tumblr dedicated to re-imagining classic horror movies as Goosebumps installments. Hocus Pocus

    3. Taylor Swift + Aphex Twin

    Taylor Swift's latest album dropped Monday and — in addition to briefly reviving the record industry — instantly spawned a half-dozen decent mashups. But one of Sean's favorites doesn't feature any songs from 1989. Hard-to-describe creative funny person David Rees took vocals from one of Taylor's biggest hits, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," and layered them over the ethereal strings and drums of Aphex Twin's "Girl/Boy Song." Can't wait for the IRL collaboration (that's "in real life" for you non-millennials). 

    4. Still Dancing After All These Years

    You may have noticed Sean is kind of into this video. Call it tradition.

    5. Scary Short

    "Tuck Me In" is a little late to enter Studio 360's Scary Short Film Fest, but it would have certainly been a top contender. A father puts his son to bed with a twist ending that makes this 60-second film creepier than a lot of 90-minute horror films. 

    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    Bike Rides & Ebola: One Nurse Defies The Government

    On Thursday, Kaci Hickox, a nurse who worked with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and was forced into quarantine last weekend after returning to the United States, openly defied government authorities who are demanding that she be quarantined. 

    A scrum of reporters and a police cruiser followed Hickox, a resident of Maine, out the door yesterday as she and her boyfriend headed out for a bike ride. Local authorities are pursuing a court order to enforce a quarantine, and there's likely to be a legal fight ahead about Hickox's tense standoff with state officials.

    See Also: Ebola: The Past, The Present & The Politics

    After hours of negotiations, Maine Governor Paul R. LePage said that state officials failed to reach a quarantine agreement with Hickox. As a result, the governor issued a statement saying that he will "exercise the full extent of his authority" allowable by law.

    Is her decision to ignore the quarantine unethical? Arthur Caplan, head of the division of medical ethics at the NYU Longone Medical Center, thinks the law will likely side with Hickox—and the public should, too.

    UPDATE - 10/31/14 10:25 AM ET: Maine has obtained a court order that will temporarily limit Hickox's movements. According to Maine Public Broadcasting, Hickox will undergo direct, active monitoring, and will not be allowed to use public transportation. Additionally, she will not be allowed to visit workplaces, except for medical treatment and, whenever she is in public she must remain at least three feet away from any other individual. 

    UPDATE - 10/31/14 02:39 PM ET: Less than a day after restricting Hickox's movements, a judge has lifted the measure, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public.

    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    Do We Need Competitive High School Sports?

    Has high school sporting culture become the main mission of high school? Should schools do away with competitive sports entirely?

    Sociologist Earl Smith is author of "Race, Sport and the American Dream." He takes the position that the emphasis on high school sports and the ever-present and outlandish dream of making it to the pros is the worst thing for lower-income students.

    But Daniel Bowen, a post doctoral researcher with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, says there's no data to support that.

    Read full post


  • Oct 31

    Today's Takeaways: Cancer From a Distance, Defying Authority, and Rethinking School Sports

    1. Biking & Ebola: Nurse Starts National Debate | 2. Israel Reopens Contested Temple Mount Holy Site | 3. South Unbound: McConnell Takes On Obama | 4. Experiencing Breast Cancer From a Distance | 5. Do We Need Competitive High School Sports?
    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    Thomas Menino, Boston's Longest-Serving Mayor, Dies at 71

    Boston's longest serving mayor, Thomas Menino, has died at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was a hugely important figure in Boston—he served on the city council and was elected mayor five consecutive times.

    Menino was also the city's first Italian-American mayor, an early advocate for same-sex marriage, and he brought the Democratic National Convention to his state in 2004. 

    Menino presided over a city that was named one of the greenest in America, and he rose to national prominence in the aftermath of the Boston bombing.

    Emily Rooney, host of Greater Boston at WGBH, remembers Menino and his legacy.

    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    From Addiction to Champion: A High School Soccer Coach Pays His Lessons Forward

    Soccer coach Martin "Jake" Jacobson paces back and forth on the sidelines at a Riverside Park field in New York City. His team at Martin Luther King Jr. High School has been dominating the ball this match, but it doesn't matter how well his team does—Jacobson is grim and explosive both on the field and off. But he also cares deeply for his players.

    Jacobson has held a lifelong passion for soccer, but now it centers his life in a different way. Nearly 30 years ago, he managed to kick a heroin addiction and has been clean ever since. He says soccer saved him, and helped him stay sober.

    As a coach, he hopes that soccer will help his players focus in school and go onto college and takes a lot of care and effort to keep them on track. 

    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    South Unbound: The Battle for Hearts & Mines in Kentucky's Coal Country

    It's time for us to pull out the map again and check-in with Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich. Todd has been touring the South all week, making his way along I-75 as the 2014 midterm elections approach.

    State lines have been crossed, and a few political ones too as election day draws near. Todd's latest dispatch comes from coal country. He explains the battle for hearts and mines in Centertown, Kentucky.

    Follow Todd's trip with our interactive map below and on Twitter by checking out the hashtag #ToddTour.

    Click Here to Enlarge This Interactive Map!



    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    Internet Inequality: The FCC Vote That May Change The Web

    In June John Oliver, the comedian and host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," called on his viewers to send comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding net neutrality—the idea that all Internet traffic is treated the same.

    He urged Internet commenters, famous for negative and depressing takes on innocent cat video's, to channel their anger and energy towards the FCC's newly proposed rules that govern the Internet. 

    Oliver's video has over 6 and a half million views on YouTube, and last month the FCC said it has received over 3.7 million comments on the issue of net neutrality.

    Streaming companies like Netflix and Hulu continue to grow in popularity, and major companies like CBS and HBO have announced plans to create streaming platforms in response to the modern "cutting the cord" phenomenon.  Not relying on cable TV for content is one thing, but most American's still have to pay an Internet service provider (Verizon or Timer Warner, for example) for the bandwidth to stream their favorite shows and access websites.

    But Internet service providers want to charge companies like Netflix and Hulu for the amount of bandwidth it takes to deliver content, and last January a federal appeals court struck down FCC rules that would have stopped them from playing favorites.

    See Also: Net Neutrality: The View From Silicon Valley Start-Ups

    The FCC is currently considering a proposal that would allow Internet providers to charge companies like Netflix to get their content to you faster. It may seem arcane and complex to talk about ISP's, cable companies, and paid prioritization on the Internet, but the fight over access and control of web distribution impacts everything you do online.

    Add in the proposed mega-merger between cable giants Comcast and Time Warner, and you have two upcoming FCC actions that could fundamentally alter the future and structure of the Internet. 

    Michael Copps, a former FCC Commissioner and now a senior adviser for Media and Democracy Reform at Common Cause, weighs in 

    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    Corporate Lobbyists Aim to Charm State Attorneys General

    An investigative report by our partner The New York Times reveals that millions of dollars are being directed at the campaigns of state attorneys general, provided largely by the lobbyists and lawyers for corporate interests.

    It's not something you would hear much about. In the 43 states where attorneys general are popularly elected, gubernatorial and legislative races garner far more attention. But as the states' top lawyers expand the scope of their investigations, outside players are realizing it pays to pay.

    Eric Lipton, investigative reporter in the Washington bureau for our partner The New York Times, looks into how the lawyers of the people are being influenced by outside cash.

    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    Abbas: Closing Jerusalem Holy Site an Act of War

    The Israeli government has closed Temple Mount—a holy site for both Jews and Muslims—after a right-wing Jewish activist was seriously hurt in a shooting. The victim, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, has been fighting to give Jews greater access to the site.

    Hours after the attack, Israeli police killed the Palestinian man they believe was responsible for shooting the rabbi.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the closing of the holy site an act of war, and said that Israel has crossed a red line. The Temple Mount is the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque—one of the most important holy sites in Islam.

    David Horovitz, editor at the Times of Israel, calls this move by the Israeli government “unprecedented,” saying that this is the first time since the 1967 War that this site has been closed to Muslim worshippers. According to Horovitz, the site has been shut for security reasons.

    “When Israel captured the Old City in 1967, it chose not to exercise its claimed sovereignty on the Mount,” he says. “It decided to let the Muslim trust—the Waqf as it’s known—retain responsibility for the Muslim holy sites across the Mount.”

    Horovitz says that most rabbis believe that Jews should not pray at the Temple Mount because the religion’s most holy figures once stood there and it should be a place free of any “impurity.”

    “Israel has allowed itself and contented itself with allowing Jews to pray at the Western Wall—the outside retaining wall of the second temple,” he says. “It has actually barred, in practice, Jews from praying on the Temple Mount.”

    According to Horovitz, Rabbi Glick was an activist who believed Jews should have a right to pray at the Temple Mount.

    “The closure today is emphatically a security precaution,” he says. “[Benjamin] Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, said just the other day that he has no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount."

    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    For Kansas City Fans, A Royal Heartbreak

    In 1985, Scott Jarboe watched The Kansas City Royals win the World Series with his dad—a present for his 12th birthday. Ever since, he's been waiting for another chance to watch his team win the World Series. And he'll have to keep waiting.

    The team got extremely close this time by making it to the 2014 World Series, but they ultimately lost last night in the seventh game to the San Francisco Giants. 

    Today, Jarboe reflects on the series and The Royals.

    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    Hey Baby: Turning the Table on Catcallers

    For many women, street harassment is a common phenomenon: Catcalls, comments, and whistles are part of daily life.

    A new video from the organization Hollaback! demonstrates just how pervasive the problem is. The video (below) shows a young woman walking the streets of Manhattan in jeans and a T-shirt. She was filmed with a GoPro camera over the course of ten hours, and the organization documented more than a hundred examples of harassment. 

    The problem isn't limited to New York, of course. Emily May, co-founder and executive director of Hollaback!, discusses the strategies she and her co-activists use to combat street harassment.

    Read full post


  • Oct 30

    Today's Takeaways: Internet Inequality, Combating Catcalling, and Lobbying Lawyers

    1. Internet Inequality: The FCC Vote That May Change The Web | 2. South Unbound: The Battle for Hearts & Mines | 3. Lobbyists Aim to Charm State Attorneys General | 4. From Addiction to Champion: Lessons From a High School Coach | 5. Hey Baby: Turning the Table on Catcallers
    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    Ukrainian Voters Send Pro-European Message

    Now that more than half the votes have been counted in Ukraine's parliamentary elections, it appears that voters have sent a clear message about the country's future.

    Ukraine's pro-European parties fared best, winning more than half the votes. And in a historical milestone, Ukraine's Communist Party failed to win a single seat. So, for the first time since the Russian Revolution of 1917, there will be no communist representation in Ukraine's parliament. 

    The U.S. and Europe have reacted predictably, calling this a victory for Ukraine and democracy, echoing the sentiments of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Meanwhile, Russia surprised global onlookers by recognizing the election results.

    “What I see is an election that has helped draw Ukraine together,” says U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. “It has certainly clarified the choices that the Ukrainian people themselves are making. I think you’ve seen through these two elections—the presidential election of May 25th and the parliamentary elections of last Sunday—a clear desire by the Ukrainian people.”

    Ambassador Pyatt says the results of the election show that Ukrainians want a society that is more democratic and more European. But several economic challenges lie ahead of the nation of almost 46 million.

    “This is an economy that has been clobbered—clobbered first and foremost by the war that Russia has inflicted on it,” he says. “It’s been clobbered by the discriminatory trade measures that Russia has imposed, and there is a sense of deep concern as we enter the winter here.”

    For the last several months, Ukraine has received no gas from Russia, though negotiations are currently taken place between both parties and the European Union. Both the United States and Europe have also pledged financial and technical support during this period of uncertain transition.

    “Over the long term, the most important thing is reform,” Ambassador Pyatt says. “Ukraine is not a poor country. It has enormous resources and some of the best agricultural land in the world. It could, quite reasonably, become the second largest grain exporter in the world in a few years. It has shale gas, good human resources, and industry. What it lacks is good governance, and that’s what these elections and these reform movements have been about.”

    The divisions that exist in Ukraine, Pyatt argues, aren’t about east and west, but about the past and future.

    “I think it’s important to recognize that there are plenty of Ukrainians in eastern cities who are just as interested in good governance and economic modernization as their countrymen in the west or in the south,” he says. “Russia has peddled this false narrative of division and occupation.”

    Ambassador Pyatt says that Ukrainians in eastern parts of the country that have been “released” by Russian separatists were ready to go to the polls during Sunday’s election.

    “They were eager to have their voices heard,” he says. “I think that’s the biggest mistake that Russia has made—the misreading of pride and sense of national identity that is felt by the Ukrainian people. It sounds romantic, but I think that those of us who have watched this unfold have no doubt that there is a new Ukraine that’s being born.”

    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    South Unbound: Tennessee as An Abortion Battleground

    The issue most Tennesseans are talking about this election season isn't who to vote for for U.S. Senate or governor (incumbents Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam are expected to sail through). It's the ballot initiative about abortion.

    The proposed amendment to the state's constitution would allow the Tennessee legislature to restrict access to abortion. Currently, Tennessee is an unusual southern state that has more liberal abortion laws. In the year 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that abortion was protected by the right to privacy under the state constitution. 

    With less than one week to go until the 2014 midterm elections, Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich is on the road talking to voters. He joins us from Nashville to explain what he's hearing about the abortion ballot initiative. 

    Follow Todd's trip with our interactive map below and on Twitter by checking out the hashtag #ToddTour.

    Click Here to Enlarge This Interactive Map!



    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    High School Sports & The Pressure to Please

    Radio Rookie Edward Munoz put everything into soccer. He was a rising star at his Brooklyn high school, and even competed with the New York Red Bulls Academy, but he cut classes and rarely did his homework.

    Edward's father, Alejandro, only focused on his son’s soccer playing—not his school work—and devoted 20 hours a week to driving Edward to practice and games. He dreamed Edward would become a professional, just as he had hoped to do as a young man in Peru.

    Edward’s mom knew what was going on and tried desperately to get him to go to class and do his work, but his dad was kept in the dark. He never asked about Edward’s education.

    An ankle injury and Edward's difficulty in school ultimately put an end to his early career, and sent Edward on a journey to discover who he really was, and why his father wanted him to succeed so badly. 

    Edward is part of WNYC's Radio Rookies program. He found that picking up a microphone and simply talking to his father, and thinking about his own sports story, gave him some rich insights into life itself.

    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    Antares Rocket Explosion: What Went Wrong?

    In Virginia yesterday, a rocket carrying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment—including prepackaged meals for the International Space Station, school science projects and "classified cryptographic” gear—exploded during shortly after liftoff. 

    The rocket, which was at a NASA site, was supplied by private contractor Orbital Sciences. The company has stressed that it is too soon to know whether the Russian-built engines, modified for the Antares and extensively tested, were to blame.

    NASA's reliance on the use of private contractors to send equipment into space has come into question this past year.

    Joining The Takeaway to weigh in is Dan Vergano, a senior writer and editor for NationalGeographic.com who reports frequently on space.

    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    Flowing Lava Drives Hawaiians to Leave Home

    In Hawaii, 2,000 degree molten lava from the Kilauea Volcano has been steadily inching closer to the community of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island.

    Pahoa is home to 900 people, and while officials have not yet issued a mandatory evacuation, many people have already left their homes.

    Bill Dorman, news director of Hawaii Public Radio, joins The Takeaway from Honolulu to explain.

    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    Kobani and The Campaign Against ISIS

    British journalist John Cantlie was reporting from Syria when he was kidnapped nearly two years ago. He's now being held hostage by the Islamic State.

    This week, ISIS released a video of Cantlie supposedly reporting from the Syrian-Turkish border town of Kobani, although that has not yet been verified. Cantlie appears to be posing as an ISIS war correspondent, claiming that Kobani, a Kurdish town, will soon fall to ISIS militants.

    Cantile's video arrived just as the Pentagon revised its cost estimate for the American assault on ISIS, from $7.6 million per day to $8.3 million per day, bringing the cost of the campaign to at least $580 million between August 8th and October 16th.

    Joakim Medin is a Swedish freelance journalist who was evacuated from Kobani just three weeks ago. He tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry why Kobani is so pivotal to the American campaign, and so important to the Kurdish resistance fighting there. 

    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    'The Shock Factor': What it Takes to Be a Marine Corps Sniper

    Of all the roles a member of the armed forces can play on the battlefield, perhaps none is more terrifying than that of a sniper.

    In Hollywood snipers rarely get any lines, though they are the center of action shots. But in real life and on the battlefield, they are often the star of the show. Historically, snipers have often been regarded with suspicion by their colleagues for their cool precision and their ability to kill from afar. 

    Working primarily in two-man teams consisting of a shooter and a spotter, snipers have become the eyes and the ears for those on the ground. They often shoot to kill in the name of taking down the enemy and saving American lives.

    Jack Coughlin, a retired gunner sergeant with the United States Marine Corps, is the author of "Shock Factor: American Snipers in the War on Terror." Jason Delgado, a Marine Corps sniper who served in Iraq, was trained by Coughlin. They reflect on the difficult realities of their jobs. 

    Read full post


  • Oct 29

    Today's Takeaways: An Explosion, A Sports Dream, and Two Snipers

    1. South Unbound: Tennessee as An Abortion Battleground | 2. Antares Rocket Explosion: What Went Wrong? | 3. High School Sports & The Pressure to Please | 4. What it Takes to Be a Marine Corps Sniper
    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    Homeless Youths Find Safety Net in Sports

    We've all heard the great American sports story: An athlete comes from a poor family, works hard, and reaches stardom.

    But we don't often hear about thousands of other impoverished and often homeless student athletes who never make the headlines.

    With the number of homeless students at an all-time high, Sports Illustrated spent months looking into their stories to explore how they balance early morning workouts and late nights training when they don't know where they are going to sleep or whether they'll eat.

    Jon Wertheim, the executive editor and a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, says more than 100,000 students on youth, public school, and college teams have no stable place to live. His reporting has found that sports provide a way for these to survive—and even thrive.

     

    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    The History of the Future: Walter Isaacson on The Democracy of The Digital Revolution

    Walter Isaacson's passion lies at the intersection of American culture and technology. Most of his biographies—of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs—examine the innovators behind the devices and programs that lie at the heart of our society.

    His latest book, "The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution," focuses on the community dynamics that have helped build the technology that drives the United States today. 

    At the event "Science and Story: The History of the Future," produced by the World Science Festival in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society, Issacson told John Hockenberry that one of the driving ideas behind "The Innovators" was to dispel the "lone wolf" myth of modern technology.

    "We give a little too much credit to the lone inventor who, in the basement or the garage, comes up with a lightbulb moment and innovation occurs," he says. 

    Isaacson also explores the intersection of culture and technology in American history and in our lives today. "There are two distinct strands, I think, in the American character, which you can read [Alexis de] Toqueville on," he explains.

    "One is our maker culture character, the quilting bees and barn raisings and everything else. The other great strand in the history of technology and the history of America is to form community and to make connection," he says. "And those two strands interweave interestingly, because the do-it-yourself culture in America is really a do-it-ourselves culture in which people love to get together and sort of do a barn raising together or a quilting bee together or a Maker's Faire together."

    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    U.S. Government Secretly Monitoring Mail

    Last year, the United States Postal Service approved tens of thousands of requests from law enforcement agencies to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.

    "In fiscal year 2013 alone, the Postal Inspection Service processed about 49,000 mail covers that were used to protect national security, locate fugitives, obtain evidence, or help locate stolen property," a statement from the USPS says.

    These revelations, which were made public today by our partner The New York Times, show that "the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization."

    Ron Nixon, Washington correspondent for The New York Times, explains.

    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    Ebola: The Past, The Present & The Politics

    The Ebola outbreak has ignited national and international debate over which weapons should be used to fight the disease, and when they should be employed.

    Nurse Kaci Hickox, who was forced into quarantine this weekend after returning to the United States from Sierra Leone, has been freed, but larger questions remain about the best way to contain a disease that has proved devastating in West Africa.

    Speaking to NBC's "Today," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has stood firm on his state's new—and stricter—rules on quarantine.

    "Here's the bottom line as governor: My first responsibility is to protect the public health and safety of the people of New Jersey and I will not submit to any political pressure in doing anything less than I believe is necessary," Christie said. 

    The governor dismissed any suggestion that he was playing politics with Ebola, pointing out that six states have adopted similar policies, including Democratic governors in Maryland and Virginia. 

    "We're trying to be careful here," Christie said on NBC referring to his state's policy. "This is common sense, and ... the American public believes it is common sense. And we're not moving an inch. Our policy hasn't changed, and our policy will not change."

    Much of the fight against Ebola has focused on using state-of-the-art treatments and finding a cure for the disease. But some health experts argue that we should examine how the Bubonic plague was stopped in the 14th century for lessons on fighting Ebola. 

    Wendy Orent is a journalist and the author of "Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease." She argues that the oldest weapons used to fight disease are the ones we should be employing.

     

    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    The Innovative and Creative Power of ADHD

    Where does innovation, invention, or creativity come from? What part of the brain does it live in? Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist and scientific director at the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, says that people diagnosed with ADHD and people who we consider to be creative thinkers are actually extremely similar.

    The brain’s default mode network, which controls cognitive processes like perspective taking, daydreaming, and mind wandering, is most active when our mind is resting. And when examining FMRI studies, Kaufman says that this part of the brain is more active in people diagnosed with ADHD.

    “I refer to it as the imagination brain network because I think that’s what it really is,” he says. “The latest research shows that the imagination brain network is highly conducive to creativity and creative thought. And those who are diagnosed with ADHD seem to have greater difficulty than those who are not diagnosed with ADHD in suppressing activity in this imagination brain network. In a way, you can actually conceptualize that people with ADHD have an overactive imagination as opposed to a learning disability.”

    Kaufman argues that, in some ways, the presence of ADHD may also be symbolic of the evolutionary process.

    “About 50,000 years ago when a band of us left Africa, went to Europe, and eventually conquered the world, in order to travel and go such distances it was found that there was a genetic mutation,” he says. “This particular genetic mutation is associated with dopamine and has also been associated with ADHD. Without these characteristics, we may not have become Homo sapiens.”

    Based on the research available, Kaufman says that the way our educational and psychiatric systems view ADHD may be seriously flawed.

    “What I like to do is look at the different characteristics that are associated with the [ADHD] label,” he says. “It is a label at the end of the day, and it’s something that we put on people—especially in an educational context.”

    According to Kaufman, people who have been diagnosed with ADHD appear to have more active imaginations. But the ADHD label can be profoundly determinative—the diagnosis can even channel kids into special programs, and sometimes narrow their options in high school and college. Kaufman says that parents need to work with schools to identify learning formats that don’t stifle creative thinking.

    “This is a broader issue, and I think all students should get the opportunity to be active learners,” he says. “Give them an opportunity to actually take control of the learning process and be driven by their interior monologues, their interior fantasies, and their interior daydreams. Allow the student to have some autonomy in that process and you can see them flourish.”

    Teachers seem to be impatient when it comes to creativity. According to Kaufman, recent studies show that the behavior educators identify as “disruptive” and “creative” often overlap.

    “Quite simply, we don’t value creativity, and we don’t value imagination either,” he says. “Imagination is a necessary part of creativity. Every time that we force a student to passively listen to a lecture or something that a student isn’t personally interested in or doesn’t see the relevance to their future life, we’re robbing them of an opportunity to imagine their own personal futures, and a new curriculum that might not even exist yet.”

    Kaufman says that, in many ways, students with ADHD are much more like our ancestors of 50,000 years ago.

    “You could conceptualize people with the ADHD label as explorers—imagine being an explorer trapped in an educational classroom where the teacher is saying, ‘Pay attention to me and don’t explore,’” he says. “It drives them nuts.”

    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    Ohio May Shut Down Cincinnati's Last Remaining Abortion Clinic

    Planned Parenthood's Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center is the only abortion provider in Cincinnati and the city's surrounding suburbs, an area home to more than two million people.

    Now the clinic—one of only eight left in the state of Ohio—may be shutting down. Ohio law requires all outpatient surgery facilities to have transfer agreements with hospitals. In 2013, the state passed a law that prohibited abortion providers from signing such agreements with public hospitals, and many private hospitals refuse to do so. 

    As Chrissie Thompson, state capital reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, reports, the Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center has applied for an exemption from the Ohio Department of Health. If it's denied and the clinic is shuttered, Cincinnati would become the country's largest metropolitan area without an abortion provider.

    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    South Unbound: A Chattanooga Check-In

    Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich is on the road talking to voters with just one week to go until the 2014 midterm elections.

    When we last heard from Todd he was in Atlanta—his first stop in a week-long tour across the South. And as the sand in the campaigning hour glass runs out, he's stopping off at various points along the I-75 (check out the map below).

    Tomorrow Todd will land in Nashville, but before his trip North, he recaps what voters in Chattanooga are saying in the run up to the election.

    Follow Todd's trip with our interactive map below and on Twitter by checking out the hashtag #ToddTour.

    Click Here to Enlarge This Interactive Map!



    Read full post


  • Oct 28

    Today's Takeaways: Ebola Lessons From The Past, Sports As a Safety Net, and ADHD Creativity

    1. Ebola: The Past, The Present & The Politics | 2. South Unbound: A Chattanooga Check-In | 3. Homeless Youths Find Safety Net in Sports | 4. Ohio May Close Cincinnati's Last Abortion Clinic | 5. The Innovative and Creative Power of ADHD
    Read full post


  • Oct 27

    South Unbound: Is Georgia Going Purple?

    Republicans may be more confident going into the midterms: The New York Times, The Washington Post, and FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver predict that the GOP will likely gain control of the Senate.

    But Democrats still think they have a chance, even in a few traditionally red states.

    With the 2014 midterm election just days away, Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich is headed South to hear from voters in Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky in the final days before the hit the polls. 

    Todd's first stop takes him to the state of Georgia. Local polls show that Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue running a close race to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss. 

    Will the state of Georgia—a historic GOP stronghold—turn purple? Or does Nunn's strong showing have more to do with her unique background—she's the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.  

    Todd's first stop is in Atlanta, and he joins us from Georgia Public Broadcasting. Follow Todd's trip with our interactive map below and on Twitter by checking out the hashtag #ToddTour.

    Click Here to Enlarge This Interactive Map!



    Read full post


  • Oct 27

    Ebola Fears Grip U.S. as Virus Spreads Abroad

    The Ebola epidemic continued to dominate the headlines over the weekend after a nurse was placed under mandatory quarantine when she arrived to Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey on Friday. The nurse, Kaci Hickox, had been working in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders.

    New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, along with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, had previously ordered that all people entering the country through New York and New Jersey airports undergo a mandatory 21-day quarantine if they had contact with Ebola patients overseas—regardless of whether they exhibit of symptoms.

    The White House expressed concern over the mandatory quarantines imposed by both states, and Hickox took her frustrations to the media.

    "This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated," Hickox told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

    After facing harsh criticism this weekend from Hickox and other members members of the medical community, Gov. Cuomo announced that he was easing up on quarantine orders.

    Cuomo said those who exhibit no symptoms can spend their quarantine at home, adding that they will receive compensation for lost income. Those who do not live in New York and New Jersey will be offered housing options during the three-week quarantine period.

    Early Monday, Gov. Christie also backtracked, saying that Hickox will be allowed to return home to Maine after doctors and federal officials sign off on the plan. Local health officials in the Pine Tree State will monitor her health to ensure she is not infected with the virus.

    Aid workers say that the policies being pushed by New York and New Jersey go beyond guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and will discourage others from going on medical missions to West Africa.

    "Some people will say we're being too cautious. I'll take that criticism because it's better than the alternative," Cuomo said during a news conference Sunday.

    Meanwhile , Dr. Craig Spencer, the Doctors Without Borders physician who contracted the disease, remains in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

    Dr. Eric Manheimer was the chief medical officer at Bellevue from 1997 to 2012. He’s currently chief medical officer of a home health care business called Home Health Care. He says that Bellevue has a long history of treating patients in many different areas, including those facing infectious diseases, which is why the hospital was chosen as the site to treat New York area Ebola patients.

    “One interesting fact is that Tom Friedman, our current head of the CDC, was in charge of the epidemic of tuberculosis that began in the early 90s,” he says. “Bellevue created an isolation unit on the floor where the patient with Ebola is now to help contain the disease in patients with highly infectious TB.”

    Though Ebola claims a high fatality rate, the virus is controlled by the same methods that other infectious diseases call for. When it comes to the treatment of Hickox, who spent the weekend in an isolation tent outside Newark's University Hospital, Dr. Manheimer said it seems that officials were overreacting.

    “I think it was unfortunate that the nurse felt that she was really under lock-and-key, separated from her family, and put in a very uncomfortable situation,” he says. “I do believe it was an overreaction by the governor of New Jersey, and even by the governor of New York, initially. However, they were responding to very public fears, and perhaps ambiguous and conflicting messages from the CDC that every hospital can take care of this problem. It’s very clear that every hospital can’t take care of this problem.”

    Dr. Manheimer says there should be “designated centers” to properly treat Ebola patients, adding that healthcare workers returning from West Africa need to be treated “respectfully.”

    “They can clearly be at home and just be checked on regularly by public health workers to make sure that they’re ok,” he says. “But one does not have to go overboard and have them imprisoned.”

    Dr. Manheimer points out that during the SARS outbreak of 2003 officials were able to contain the disease in the U.S. without being too aggressive.

    “The key fact here is the Ebola epidemic is really going wild in West Africa,” he says. “That is the source and can be the source of continued spread throughout the globe. We need healthcare workers—it’s been noted that we probably need 250 healthcare workers for every 100 patients that are being treated in West Africa.”

    Thousands of highly-trained volunteers—doctors, nurses, and ancillary personnel—are currently needed in West Africa in order to effectively fight the Ebola virus, Dr. Manheimer.

    “We’re going to need a critical workforce of thousands and thousands of dedicated people to go there to help contain the virus,” he says. “Ebola is a disease of poverty. It’s a disease in West Africa that has caused enormous destruction in an area that’s been destroyed by civil wars.”

    The World Health Organization reported late last week that Liberia remains the country worst hit by the epidemic, with 2,705 reported deaths thus far—a number experts say is a gross underestimation.

    Children have been left without parents, and parents without their children. The Ebola virus represents yet another national tragedy for a country that is still recovering from the ravages of a civil war.

    Janice Cooper is on the ground in Monrovia, Liberia where she is serving as the acting chair of the psycho-social Ebola incident management team for the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. She explains how Ebola is affecting the psyche of an already fragile nation.

    “From a psycho-social perspective, we really are talking about fairly complex trauma for people,” says Cooper. “Think about a country that’s endured 15 years of civil wars. We’re just recovering from that, and some of the horrors of that have caused unresolved trauma for many people.”

    Though the wounds of war are still fresh, Liberians are now also grappling with the devastating horrors of Ebola.

    “Within the space of less than week, sometimes less than a day, your whole family could be wiped out,” she says. “We have to be very careful when we’re training clinicians and social workers—their very knee jerk and natural instinct to go and hug somebody or hold them may not pertain in certain cases.”

    For young people who came of age during the civil war, the Ebola virus presents yet another hurdle to a future that is seemingly out of reach.

    “We have a lot of children that are struggling to see where future is,” says Cooper. “But we believe there is a future post-Ebola.”

    Read full post


  • Oct 27

    In Wake of Scandal, Ray Rice's High School Teaches Students to Grow

    Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice led New York's New Rochelle High School to a state championship in 2003. He became a hometown hero in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City that once celebrated "Ray Rice Day."

    In the weeks and months after the website TMZ published video confirmation of Rice abusing his then-fiance and now-wife Janay Palmer, the school has struggled with how to remember the football star. The school removed Rice's Ravens jersey and his photograph from its wall of fame, and is now using the Rice incident as a teachable moment.

    Reginald Richardson, principal of New Rochelle High School and Dr. Brian Osborne, superintendent of New Rochelle Schools, tell The Takeaway's John Hockenberry how the City School District of New Rochelle is teaching students about domestic violence and dating violence in the wake of Rice's abuses.

    Read full post


  • Oct 27

    The 11-Day Standoff That Forced the Feds to Change

    This week Retro Report looks at Ruby Ridge and how it changed the way law enforcement agencies respond to standoffs. 

    In August of 1992, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service surrounded a cabin in the mountains of Northern Idaho. Randy Weaver moved his family to a 20-acre piece of land called Ruby Ridge, an area that had long attracted white supremacists and anti-government dissenters.

    Weaver was wanted on a criminal weapons charge but refused to deal with authorities. The August standoff resulted in the death of a Deputy U.S. Marshal, Weaver's wife Vicki, and their son, Sammy.

    Our friends at Retro Report have looked back at the lessons of Ruby Ridge and how it seeded a generation of right wing radicalism in America. Joining The Takeaway to explain is Erik German, a producer with Retro Report.

    Read full post


  • Oct 27

    What’s in Store for a Generation of Unemployed Youth?

    Millennials living in the United States have not fared well following the financial crisis. Young people aged 16-24 are facing unemployment rates that are double the national average, but overseas the figures are even more daunting.

    The GroundTruth Project, housed at Takeaway partner station WGBH, has been investigating the causes and consequences of what has been called a global unemployment crisis.

    The Takeaway speaks with Coleen Jose and Lauren Bohn about their reporting for the project from the Philippines and Nigeria. Their work was published on Global Post as part of the year-long Generation T.B.D. series, which explores youth unemployment worldwide.

    Bohn reports that government corruption and incompetence in Nigeria have held back some young people. Meanwhile in the Philippines, Jose explains that it is “common practice for employers to require details including a person’s age, weight, and a photograph to accompany a job application.” She also reports that many service industry businesses even "require an applicant to meet a minimum height to be considered." 

    Read full post


  • Oct 27

    How the Young Can Navigate a Daunting Job Market

    While the American economy has improved dramatically in the years since the Great Recession, the impact of the economic downturn continues, especially for young people.

    As of July 2014, the youth unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 stood at 14.3 percent—more than double the national unemployment rate. For many young people, the problem is finding that first job in an economy that looks radically different from the one their parents encountered a generation ago.

    Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, a career-development platform, has devoted her career to helping young people navigate today's economy. She gives The Takeaway strategies and ideas to help young people find the job that's right for them.

    Read full post


  • Oct 27

    Today's Takeaways: Ebola Pressure, The South Unbound Tour, The Good and Bad of School Sports

    1. Under Pressure: States Back Off Strict New Ebola Quarantine Rules | 2. South Unbound: Is Georgia Going Purple? | 3. The 11-Day Standoff That Forced the Feds to Change | 4. In Wake of Scandal, Ray Rice's High School Teaches Students to Grow
    Read full post


  • Oct 25

    The Takeaway Weekender: The New Age of National Security, Nixon's 'Paranoia,' and a Folk Singer's Slow Fade

    1. Valerie Plame on The New Age of National Security | 2. Actor Harry Shearer's New Series Shows a 'Twisted, Resentful, Paranoid' Nixon | 3. Film Chronicles Glen Campbell's Alzheimer's Encore | 4. South Unbound: Mapping the Midterm Elections
    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    'John Wick,' '23 Blast,' 'Citizenfour,' and Special Guest Jason Schwartzman

    It's a week when real men are being pushed to their limits, on the football field ("23 Blast"), on the world stage ("Citizenfour"), and in a universe where mobsters kill puppies ("John Wick").

    In addition to the new releases, Kristen and Rafer also weigh in on two picks you can watch at home, in their weekly Sweatpants segment.

    Plus, special guest Jason Schwartzman, of "Rushmore," "Grand Budapest Hotel," and "Saving Mister Banks" fame stops by to discuss his new film, "Listen Up, Philip."  

    And, as always, there's trivia!

    Subscribe to the Movie Date podcast, like Movie Date on Facebook, follow Kristen on Twitter, and leave a message for Rafer and Kristen anytime at 571-7MOVIES (571-766-8437).

    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    MoMA Resurrects Lost Chapter of Black Film History

    Curators at the Museum of Modern Art recently restored the earliest known surviving footage of a feature length film with a black cast. The footage, shot in 1913 in Harlem, features Bert Williams and a number of other black performers.

    Today, an hour of the surviving footage premieres at the New York City Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) as part of an exhibition called "100 Years in Post-Production: Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History." 

    Jacqueline Stewart, a professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago, tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry about the film's portrayal of African-American life in early 20th century New York, and why the footage is so important to understanding African-American cultural history of the era. 

    “This is an extraordinary find,” Stewart says. “Only a tiny fraction of silent films have survive at all, and the records that we have of black participation in the film industry during the silent period is miniscule. Having this moving document of black performers is really extraordinary and helps us to fill in a number of gaps that we have in the history of black performance on films.”

    The footage was acquired by the founder of the MoMA Film Library, Iris Barry, in the late 1930s and was housed in the museum’s archives for decades. Stewart says the film captures the Vaudeville era, which began in the 1880s and ran through the 1920s, and helps researchers advance their understanding of American silent filmmaking, and black performance in film.

    “The footage that we have here demonstrates a real kind of continuity between the live stage and film performance during this period,” she says. “The issue of how natural black performers are on film is a really interesting question during this time. Certainly these representations are structured by stereotypes.”

    During the time, black performers were expected adhere to the theatre conventions of the era, including blackface minstrelsy. Bert Williams was a central star of the Vaudeville period, and as a light-skinned black man, Stewart says he too had to don blackface.

    “[Williams] was a virtuoso performer who wore the blackface mask in his stage performances, and he does so in this footage,” she says. “It’s a convention that he’s using that demonstrates how influential minstrel performance was at the time, even for black actors.”

    The film obtained by MoMA is not complete, and Stewart says that the movie was never finished or released. The footage shows the actors doing multiple takes, and it reveals a great deal about the acting of the era.

    “What we can see is how the actors are calibrating their performances—improving things or making adjustments take to take,” she says. “There again is why I think it’s so interesting to study this footage. What we’re getting is not simply a continuation of what people did on stage, but a rethinking of how stage performances can be translated to film.”

    Bert Williams is the main character of the film, playing “a man about town” that’s trying to win the hand of the “local beauty” who is portrayed by Odessa Warren Grey, says Stewart.

    “My favorite scene in this footage is a kissing scene at the very end when Bert Williams does indeed win the hand of Odessa Grey,” she says. “We get multiple takes of the two of them kissing. It seems as if though the extended duration of the kiss is supposed to fade to black, but because this isn’t a finished film, we just get multiple takes of them with their lips touching.”

    During this early era of film, actors were beginning to evolve with technology—they came to understand the power of the close up, something that was never an issue during stage performances.

    “Another important thing to note about the closer framing that you get in this footage is that we can really see Bert Williams’ blackface as an application,” says Stewart. “This is not a naturalistic mode of costuming—you can see the edge of the wig that he is wearing.”

    Though stage audiences knew actors like Williams were in blackface, Stewart says the camera is able to show the costume in new ways.

    “To see [Williams] performing alongside all of these other actors who are not in blackface, it really de-naturalizes blackface,” she says. “It gets us to appreciate the range of performance types and visual styles that black performers could bring to their film performances.”

    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    South Unbound: Mapping the Midterm Elections

    Next week, Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich hits the road. He'll be traveling through the south—he'll start out in Washington, D.C. and make his way to Louisville, KY.

    Along the way, Todd is hoping to find out how folks down south are feeling just days ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

    You can follow Todd's trip on Twitter and Instagram by checking out the hashtag #ToddTour. Check back with TheTakeaway.org next week to see a detailed interactive map of his journey.

    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    Actor Harry Shearer's New Series Shows a 'Twisted, Resentful, Paranoid' Nixon

    *Editor's Note: The audio portion of this interview contains language that some may find offensive.

    President Richard M. Nixon resigned in disgrace on August 9, 1974. He left behind nearly 3,700 hours of secret recordings, taped conversations in the White House between 1971 and 1973. 

    In an interview with The Takeaway's John Hockenberry, actor Harry Shearer describes the Nixon tapes as an "incredible gift." Shearer puts that gift to use, playing the president himself in the new web series, "Nixon's the One."

    In choosing his material from the thousands of hours of recordings, Shearer tells Hockenberry, "I decided to focus on these conversations that are not about Watergate, they're not about Vietnam; this is not about history or politics," he says. "This is conversations revealing of the character: This incredibly complex, twisted, resentful, paranoid character of this guy."

    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    Thanks, Internet: Five Things You Had to See Online This Week

    Every Friday, Sean Rameswaram, a producer with Studio 360 and host of the Sideshow podcast, rounds up the week in internet phenomena. 

    This week in "Thanks, Internet," Sean talks to John Hockenberry about the online treasures you may have missed.

    1. NASA Joins The Cloud

    NASA joined SoundCloud this week, making a rich archive of iconic space recordings embeddable for all internetkind. The move looked like savvy social media strategy until Sean stumbled upon the account description:

    Here's a collection of NASA sounds from historic spaceflights and current missions. You can hear the roar of a space shuttle launch or Neil Armstrong's "One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind" every time you get a phone call if you make our sounds your ringtone. Or, you can hear the memorable words "Houston, we've had a problem," every time you make an error on your computer.

    2. Sleater-Kinney & Miranda July

    In January, Sleater-Kinney will release its first album in a decade. This week, the band dropped No Cities to Love's first single, "Bury Our Friends." Sean says that it's an unrelenting mission statement from Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss that's sure to find a legion of fans who didn't know the band in its first life. The Halloween-ready lyric video featuring peak Miranda July doesn't hurt. 

    3. Bradley Pitts Between Two Ferns

    Love or hate "Between Two Ferns," you have to give it up to whoever books these segments. Most recently, Zach Galifianakis has drawn the ire of President Barack Obama and spanked Justin Bieber. This week, he asks Brad Pitt about living in Angelina's shadow, reminds him about that one "Friend," and has Louis C.K. drop by. Just because he can. 

    4. Live From New York, It's Opening Credits

    SNL's new opening credits sequence

    When Saturday Night Live re-vamped its opening credits this season – its 40th on air, and its first without the late, lamented announcer Don Pardo – the team decided to go big. There are aerial helicopter shots of New York City, fancy lenses, and neon signs that float midair. In the great longread "How We Did It — SNL Title Sequence," director of photography Alex Buono reveals that some of the best tricks are remarkably lo-fi.  

    5. Episode X: The Return of The Goats

    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    First Case of Ebola Reaches NYC

    The Ebola virus has touched down in another U.S. city: New York.

    Dr. Craig Spencer, a medical aid worker who recently volunteered in Guinea, has tested positive for Ebola, according to the New York City Health Department laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Dr. Spencer is currently in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York City—one of eight state hospitals that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has designated to treat Ebola patients.

    Medical detectives are now trying to retrace every step Dr. Spencer had taken over the past several days. On October 17th, Spencer returned through JFK Airport and participated in the enhanced screening protocols that all returning travelers from West Africa now undergo. He went through multiple layers of screening and did not have a fever or other symptoms of illness at the time.

    “As we learn about the first positive Ebola case in New York City, I want to assure New Yorkers that we are prepared,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “Over the past few weeks, we have undertaken a thorough and coordinated effort alongside all relevant partners, from healthcare workers to the local and federal governments, in order to implement the appropriate precautions.”

    Before he developed symptoms, Dr. Spencer spent time at a Brooklyn bowling alley, rode the subway’s L and A lines, and travelled in a taxi from the outer borough back to Manhattan. State health officials have noted that Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person—not through the air or by water, or simply by being near an infected person. Dr. Spencer's fiancée and two friends have also been quarantined.

    "We want to state at the outset that there is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Thursday. "Ebola is very difficult to contract. Being on the same subway car or living near a person with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk."

    New York City hospitals and health workers have been preparing for a case of Ebola for the last several months and stress that there is very little chance the average New Yorker will contract the virus—Gov. Cuomo even plans to ride on the subway today to show New Yorkers it is safe. President Obama has reportedly spoken with both the governor and Mayor de Blasio.

    Weighing in on New York's response to the virus and the way forward is Dr. Emmanuel d'Harcourt, the senior health director at the International Rescue Committee. He heads a team of public health professionals who provide technical assistance to the IRC’s environmental health and primary health care programs in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Asia.

    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    ISIS: More Manson Family Than Religious Movement

    ISIS may be more like the Manson Family than a religious movement—the extremist group courts disillusioned loners and those who dream of going out with a murderous bang. 

    The group lures in would-be extremists with the offer of guns, camaraderie, war, fame, a sympathetic comic book god, and access to social media. In many ways, this is an offer unstable members in societies all over the world may be find too tempting to refuse.

    Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Hofstra University, argues that extremism appeals to those with mental illness because of their perceived lack of control in their own lives. 

    Read full post


  • Oct 24

    Today's Takeaways: Ebola Tests NYC, A Window Into Black Film History, and Nixon's Paranoia

    1. First Case of Ebola Tests NYC | 2. South Unbound: Mapping the Midterm Elections | 3. ISIS: More Manson Family Than Religious Movement | 4. Lost Chapter of Black History Resurrected | 5. New Series Shows a 'Twisted' & 'Paranoid' Nixon
    Read full post


MiSSP - Top