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.

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  • Mar 19

    Classroom Views: Common Core Comes to Tampa

    For all of the policy talk about education that happens in communities across America, it's actual learning—the imparting of essential knowledge to young people to make them citizens—that takes place in real schools like the ones in your neighborhood.

    All this week, The Takeaway is getting a close-up look at classrooms around the United States. We'll be examining the work of education reporters who are embedding themselves inside schools around the country. These reporters are seeing, hearing and experiencing what students themselves encounter at school each day.

    Today, we head to Monroe Middle School in Tampa, FL. It's a school that is experimenting with new classroom techniques, and educators are shaking up curriculum standards.

    Like many schools around the country, Monroe Middle School is adopting the curriculum called Common Core—a shift to a more structured, discussion, and logic-oriented approach to teaching writing and math.

    On the surface, Monroe Middle School is just the sort of school that stands to benefit from a highly focused concentration on the most modern curriculum standards.

    Located just outside MacDill Air Force Base, 80 percent of its 530 students qualify for reduced lunch. Not only are many Monroe students low-income, they also move frequently. One in four Monroe Middle School students transfer in or out of the school during a typical year.  

    Monroe Middle School has been trying out a new curriculum for two years already and its teachers and administrators have already noticed a change.

    John O’Connor covers education for StateImpact Florida and WUSF in Tampa. He says that the Common Core seems to be a good fit for Monroe.

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  • Mar 19

    The March Madness TV Smackdown!

    If basketball isn't your game but head-to-head competition is, we've got a parallel tournament for the NCAA season.

    It turns out the NCAA's early history coincides with the early history of television. March Madness began in 1939 with the defeat of Ohio State University by the University of Oregon. And the same year, the television era began.

    So why not make a tournament to select the top TV character of all time?

    While you folks argue around your homes and offices, our staff on The Takeaway will be defending our picks over the next several weeks.

    All of the winners will be determined by YOUR votes. The games begin on Friday, so make sure you visit us again to cast your ballot. Check out our brackets below.

                                Click to Enlarge                   


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  • Mar 19

    Today's Highlights | March 19, 2014

    Also on Today's Show

    Begins at 13:54: General Motors has announced another round of recalls this week—about 1.7 million vehicles are affected overall in North America. The announcement comes on the heels of last month’s recall of 1.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other models. What do these moves say for the future of the company? Michelle Kerbs, an independent automotive analyst, weighs in.

    Begins at 21:35: On Wednesday, the Israeli military announced that its planes had attacked several Syrian Army positions across the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan Heights in response to a bomb attack against Israeli forces along the frontier a day earlier. Matthew Bell, correspondent for PRI's The World, explains.

    Begins at 26:00: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 remains missing and is turning into a global mystery. Several theories have emerged, but no concrete evidence on the situation has presented itself. Jennifer Pak, the BBC's Maylasia correspondent, has an update on this perplexing story.

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  • Mar 19

    A Fight for the Skies During the Heyday of Hijacking

    Today we're used to the fact that you can't board a plane without taking off your shoes and belt, getting your ID checked, your body scanned and clearing your carry-on of pocketknives and bottled water.

    But 40 years ago—a time before the way to your terminal was littered with x-ray machines, body-scanners, metal detectors and a small army of security guards—you could just buy a ticket and walk onto a plane.

    There were a few drawbacks to the ease of travel. But it was also the golden age of hijacking. From 1961 to 1972, more than 150 commercial flights were hijacked in the U.S.

    As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continues, Brendan Koerner looks back at the motives of the hijackers of decades past in his new book “The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking.” Koerner has been applying some of the lessons of the "golden age" of hijacking to better understand what might have happened on the mysterious, missing flight. 

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  • Mar 19

    Improving Financial Savvy for College-Bound Students

    It’s college admissions season and high school seniors are figuring out which schools they want to attend—and if they can afford to go to them. With skyrocketing costs, analysts say it's more important than ever that students fully understand the financial implications of their decisions. 

    According to Rachel Fishman, a policy analyst with the New America Foundation, "There's differential pricing in higher education and students can be getting merit-based aid, grants, loans, and all of these factors have to be taken into account when making your college decision." However, she says, "Many students aren't able to do that right now, because it's a really complicated concept."

    With the help of our partner WGBH’s Higher Education Desk, we found out what students can do to improve their financial literacy and limit their college debt.

    The Takeaway talks with Mike Wasserman, the Massachusetts executive director of the non-profit Bottom Line, which helps disadvantaged and first generation students apply for and graduate from college. Jasmine Boyd-Perry, a junior at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, explains how the program has helped keep her on track.

    Check out a video of Jasmine below.




    Check out some photos of Jasmine and Mike.

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  • Mar 19

    NATO in Focus as Russia Tightens Grip on Crimea

    By the end of the week the Russian parliament will have formalized what the international community is calling a land grab and a legal travesty, and what Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling a restoration of the natural territory of Russia.

    Either way, the annexation of Crimea is looking increasingly like a fact on the ground.

    International sanctions and non-recognition are starting to be felt inside Crimea, and it appears to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that they are also being felt in Russia.

    “Russia's political and economic isolation will only increase if it continues down its current path," Vice President Biden said in remarks Tuesday. He was meeting with Ukraine's neighbors, including the foreign minister of Poland, who is anxious to hear reassurances from the U.S. about pledges of common defense and the obligations of NATO.

    The NATO alliance is suddenly back in focus after years of involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lilit Gevorgyan, senior economist at IHS Global Insight, weighs in on the impact of NATO sanctions and Russia's long-term stability.

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  • Mar 19

    NATO in Focus as Russia Tightens Grip on Crimea | A Fight for the Skies During the Heyday of Hijacking | Stories from Inside America's Changing Classrooms

    NATO in Focus as Russia Tightens Grip on Crimea | GM's Future in the Face of Recall | Israel Attacks Syrian Posts | Looking at the Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 | A Fight for the Skies During the Heyday of Hijacking | Stories from Inside America's Changing Classrooms

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  • Mar 18

    New Bio-Play 'Kung Fu' Looks at the Life and Work of Bruce Lee

    Like every actor, Bruce Lee had humiliations and setbacks as he struggled to make it in Hollywood. But those difficulties eventually put him on his way to international super-stardom, and those moments are now the subject of a new Broadway play written by Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang.

    The stage production tells in story, and in dramatic martial arts style choreography, how Lee's brash approach to martial arts and his rejection of Asia's 20th century culture of submission made him a symbol of Asia's rise in the 21st century. The play is called "Kung Fu," and it's star is a real Asian martial artist—Cole Horibe.

    For Hwang, this was a project that took a very long time—he says he first began thinking about this play in the early 1990s.

    "I've been trying to pursue this for about 20 years," says Hwang. "At that point, I thought of Bruce Lee as a symbol of the rise of the new China. When I was a kid, China was considered poor and uneducated, and now it's in a very different place. That was the symbolic thing I wanted to explore in the early 90s. By the time we get to this version, which I started to write two or three years ago, I also wanted to look at Bruce Lee as a human being because I feel like he has become such a recognizable icon, but nobody really knows how he became Bruce Lee. So, in some sense, 'Kung Fu' is the Bruce Lee the prequel."

    In addition to the China's shifting role and Lee's legacy, Hwang says this play is also designed to explore Asian masculinity, something he says is "denigrated" in the West and in American culture.

    "Bruce created this new archetype—the Asian male hero," says Hwang.

    The playwright says that while the production will explore Lee's more symbolic contributions, "Kung Fu" is also closely designed to tell the true story of Lee. Hwang says he has spent the last two decades reading biographies about the action hero, and believes the story accurately represents the life and times of Bruce Lee. 

    "I was really pleased that Linda, his widow, and Shannon, his daughter, came to our opening night and told me that they thought it was the most authentic telling of his story that they've seen," says Hwang. "I think it was incredibly exciting—even now—to see an Asian man who is completely assertive, completely confident, completely masculine, and has no apologies or illusions about that. In a way, it's like Muhammad Ali in the 60s—yes being arrogant, but being arrogant because that was necessary in that time period and social system."

    When it comes to Lee's own story, Hwang had the challenge of showing the complex and tumultuous relationship Lee had with his father. Hwang says that a certain point, Lee's father essentially kicked him out of Hong Kong and told him not to come back until he was dead. 

    "And yet, his father ends up transmitting a lot of information that Bruce uses later in life to become the star that he becomes," says Hwang. "It is a complicated relationship and I think it's true of a lot of father-son or parent-child relationships—you get the good and the bad. Later in the play we see Bruce with his own son trying to transmit both good and bad, and working through that."

    In many ways, Bruce Lee is iconic character that can at times take on messianic qualities—an caricature that Hwang is hoping to disprove. 

    "I think there's a certain reverence that people can take towards Bruce Lee now many decades after his death," says Hwang. "My approach was to try introduce him as a human being because I feel like the icon is what we all associate with now. But if the show is successful, it means that you go in thinking of him as iconic and as some sort of superman, and you come out knowing that he was a human being."

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  • Mar 18

    Today's Highlights | March 18, 2014

    Also on Today's Show

    Begins at 08:50:Searching the seabed for the missing airliner is a daunting task, as Mike Purcell knows well. In 2011, Purcell, a principal engineer in applied ocean physics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, led sea search operations for the mission that found Air France flight 447 in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Begins at 23:35: President Barack Obama’s pick for Surgeon General is facing tough opposition from the NRA that could ultimately tank his nomination. Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy is a Harvard- and Yale-educated doctor who has advocated for stricter gun control laws. Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich explains.

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  • Mar 18

    Jeffrey Sinclair & Sexual Assault in the Military

    After two long years, the case of Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, once a rising star in the United States Army, has finally come to a close this week.

    General Sinclair, a 27-year Army veteran, was accused of sexual assault by his former mistress, an Army captain. The charges included threats against the captain's family and forced oral sex.

    After months of legal wrangling, and some critics allege, legal bungling by the prosecution, General Sinclair has pleaded guilty to much lesser charges: That he disobeyed a commander's order, misused a government credit card, and mistreated the captain.

    General Sinclair will learn his sentence later this week, but the growing problem of sexual assault in the military remains. Earlier this month, the Senate defeated U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's bill, which was designed to combat the problem. 

    Roger Canaff is a career prosecutor who served as an expert for the Department of the Army from 2009 to 2012. Canaff assisted military prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases, and he examines the Sinclair case, its consequences and how the military should move forward on the issue of sexual assault.

    "It's an extremely unusual case because the accused is such a high-ranking official," says Canaff. "Misconduct at that level, or at least misconduct that is detected, is very, very rare."

    While Canaff says there are no other comparable cases to that of Brig. Gen. Sinclair, he does believe it is emblematic of a "sense of entitlement" that higher ranking officials have. 

    "Somebody like Sinclair thinks that he is all powerful and that he can get away with anything," says Canaff. "I'm sure he was quite surprised that the individual who accused him actually came forward and was willing to express anything to anyone."

    When examining military culture, Canaff says one can see several reasons why victims do not come forward. For starters, Canaff says that military culture takes away a sense of individuality and encourages compliance. Because the military conditions people in this way, Canaff says that even when victims feel wronged, there is a sense that speaking up could disrupt a mission or unit.

    "There's just a sense of duty with a lot of military folks—they just don't feel that it's a good idea and they prefer to keep it inside and heel internally, if they can," says Canaff. 

    Leaving out the accusations of sexual assault, the relationship between Brig. General Sinclair and his former mistress was illegal—Sinclair was married, and adultery in the military is a crime. While this example of adultery shows a case of a relationship gone bad, Canaff hopes that in the end, a positive result will come from this case.

    "Hopefully the ripple effect is a positive one in that individuals at, particularly at Sinclair's level, will understand that that's just behavior that won't be tolerated," he says. "I think Sinclair is just a very toxic person who took advantage of a situation. He had a tremendous amount of power over this captain—the power relationship between a general officer and young captain is really remarkable. I know there are plenty of people, and plenty of people in the media, who are sort of casting these characters as equal players in a romance gone bad. I don't believe that to be the case."

    Canaff says that in addition to initiating an adulterous relationship with a young officer, Sinclair also committed serious crimes against her.

    "Regardless of the fact that he won't stand convicted of those, I do hope that the ripple effect is one that discourages any kind of behavior anywhere near what he's done," says Canaff.

    Brig. Gen. Sinclair is pleading guilty to adultery and mistreating his accuser. The plea deal ensures that the sexual assault charges against him are dropped. Chanaff says that he believes that the victim actually never wanted to see Gen. Sinclair have to register as a sex offender, which Sinclair would have had to do had he pled to or been found guilty of any of the sex charges that were before him.

    "I think the process had just exhausted her," says Canaff, who added that victim likely was likely OK with the plea deal because she wanted to move on from the case. "There's always pressure to resolve cases in the civilian world, as well as the military world. I also think that, given this case where you have an individual as high-ranking as General Sinclair, there's even more pressure to resolve the case and get it behind everybody. It's very, very difficult to try a senior officer—you need a military jury, which is called a panel. You need a panel of people who are at least of equal rank to him. It's just a logistical nightmare to try cases like this."

    Though the case was resolved through this plea, and something that was likely desired by both sides, Canaff doesn't believe justice was carried out.

    "I think the woman at the center of this case was victimized—that is simply my personal belief, and I'm not speaking for the Army or for anybody else," he says. "I think that she has a valid complaint. I don't think justice was done in her case. I think it's unfortunate, but I don't blame anybody for it—I think the prosecution team did their best and I think the defense did its duty. In terms of going forward, clearly everyone is well advised in the military to avoid these kind of romantic situations. But a romantic situation and some unfortunate judgement is one thing. Being sexually victimized by a very powerful man is another."

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  • Mar 18

    Russia's Neighbors on Edge Over Crimea Crisis

    In defiance of the United States and Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared his intention to make Crimea a part of the Russian Federation. The deceleration by Putin comes just hours after he submitted legislation to begin the process of annexation after Crimean residents voted to secede from Ukraine.

    “Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” President Putin declared in remarks that reached deep into Russian and Soviet history to justify the move. “That faith has been preserved and passed on from generation to generation.”

    Though they were under the watch of Russian troops, Crimean residents voted for independence and asked Russia to annex it. Some Crimean residents are shouting to the world that Mother Russia is back—and the U.S. should pay attention.

    "I think Americans are thinking that Russia is on the level of 1991, a country you can use as a doormat," Crimean resident Vladimir Dudkov told the Associated Press. "Russia's not like that. It's a country that's starting to dominate the world and Americans should understand that. They are slowly dying—their economy and democracy."

    See Also: Will Crimea's Vote Trigger a Global Showdown?

    Despite the apparent faith Crimean residents like Dudkov have in Russia, the news of the region's impending annexation is getting a more complex response from Ukraine's neighbors. On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Eastern Europe for several days of meetings with the leaders of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, to address the nervousness they feel about Russia's latest expansion.

    Andris Raz?ns, Latvia's Ambassador to the United States, and Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, explain how their nations see the Crimea vote. 

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