ISIS is trying to get bottom heavy with recruits from around the world. Discovering how the ISIS message lands on sympathetic ears in the West is one of the challenges for U.S. intelligence agencies.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Douglas Arthur McCain, a 33-year-old Midwest native, became the first American to die while fighting for ISIS in Syria. But how, really, is a homegrown terrorist born?
Amir Ahmad Nasr understands the appeal of the group's message. Amir is the author of "My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind—and Doubt Freed My Soul," a memoir that chronicles his journey into the heart of radicalism. Today he explores how the grassroots mentality of ISIS is creating pockets of homegrown terrorists around the world.
Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued some harsh words, saying that Ukrainian leaders are behaving like Nazis.
President Putin says the shelling of towns in east Ukraine by Kiev’s troops is similar to the actions carried out by the Nazis during World War II.
“Sad as it might seem, this reminds me of the events of World War II, when the German Nazi occupants surrounded our cities, like Leningrad, and directly shelled those cities and their inhabitants,” Putin said.
The language being used by America and the west has been a little more tempered—the United States and others are now pushing for more punitive measures against Russia in light of what many are calling an invasion.
But President Obama remained firm that the situation in Ukraine is not one that will include American military presence.
“A military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming," President Obama said during a news conference yesterday. "The fact that Russia has taken these actions in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine has resulted I believe in a weakening of Russia not a strengthening of Russia. That may not be apparent immediately, but I think it will become increasingly apparent."
Daniel Baer, Ambassador for the U.S. Mission for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), weighs in on the way forward for Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S.
The Iraqi military and American intelligence recently seized documents that tell us much more about the organizational structure of ISIS—where its leaders come from, and how they became involved with the insurgent group.
For a deeper look at ISIS and their internal mechanisms as outlined in documents seized by the Iraqi military, The Takeaway turns to Eric Schmitt, national security correspondent for our partner The New York Times.
Between Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 going down over Ukraine to the rise of ISIS and the death of Robin Williams, the summer of 2014 was filled with a lot of grim news.
But as the summer sun sets in the west this Labor Day Weekend, we here at The Takeaway have found the good side of the summer of 2014—and there was a good side.
From little Mo'ne Davis making it to the Little League World Series and pitching like a pro, to three monster supermoons, to Brad and Angelina finally get married and the European space agency landing the Rosetta Probe on a comet, this summer wasn't all bad.
What was your favorite moment of the summer of 2014? Leave a comment below, tweet us, or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.
Tech is one the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, but women continue to only represent a small portion of the workforce. In 2012, women only made up 10 to 13 percent of graduates in computer science and engineering. Meanwhile, across the board at nearly all tech companies, leadership positions are dominated by men.
Kara Miller, host and executive editor of Innovation Hub at Takeaway Co-Producer WGBH, sat down with some of the country's leading ladies of tech to talk about how to break through in the industry. The change, according to Miller, needs to start at the college level by finding ways to encourage more women to pursue degrees in computer science.
“The trend overall is concerning," Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer told Miller. "I started doing computer science in college, so there are some people, but it's late. And you feel late, and you feel like you're playing catch up."
Deborah Spar, the president of Barnard College, is on the front-lines of trying to address this gender disparity.
"We may need to think about how we teach computer science—not that we're dumbing it down—but are there ways to teach it so that it might be more amenable to women?" Spar told Miller. "Should we rethink computer science and treat it as a science the same way we treat chemistry and biology, where we have lots of women? Should we think of it as a language as we think of French and Italian?"
The Ebola virus has spread to yet another country—Senegalese officials say the West African nation has its first confirmed case of Ebola.
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus could afflict more than 20,000 people—almost seven times the current number of reported cases. The situation, they say, is dire.
Daniel Epstein, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, says that it appears that the number of Ebola cases is going underreported.
"This outbreak of Ebola is very different from previous ones," says Epstein. "It's in an area where three countries meet, and it's in West Africa where there's never been Ebola cases before—all of the previous cases have been in other parts of Africa. The seriousness of this outbreak is that it has spread to cities in the three mainly effected countries, and the cases have been underreported."
Epstein says there could be four times as many people infected with Ebola in West Africa. In response to the growing epidemic, the organization released an Ebola road map that is designed "to guide and coordinate the international response to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa," a statement from WHO says.
"We estimate that there may be as many as 20,000 cases of Ebola before we're able to control the outbreak," says Epstein.
Though the number of cases could be on the rise, Epstein says that he is confident that containment protocols are working, noting that the percentage of people dying from the virus is lower than in previous outbreaks. As of right now, 52 percent of those infected have died, meaning that close to half—about 48 percent—have survived.
"It's difficult to implement [containment programs], and that's why we've asked for more funds and more people on the ground," he says. "There's really a series of things we have to do to control the outbreak."
In order to control the spread of the virus, the WHO spokesman says that the focus must first be on treating those infected, which is easier said than done.
"Fear is a huge factor—people are reluctant to report or go to treatment centers because they're afraid that they will die," he says. "If you go to a treatment center, and half the people who go there die, people think that it may be a better strategy to stay at home and try to tough it out. Obviously, that doesn't work. Your only chance of survival is to get supported treatment, rehydration, and medicine for pain at least."
Rumors about Ebola and its treatments continue to circulate throughout the region. According to Epstein, some believe that consuming three large onions can help prevent or fight off the virus, among other things.
"We have to fight both the fear and misinformation that is circulating in many of these rural communities," he adds.
Fall 2014 movie season is right around the corner, and the Movie Date team is geared up with ten of the movies they're most looking forward to.
On September 1st, the final piece of a sweeping new abortion law will go into effect in the state of Texas—it will require all abortion clinics to be held to the regulatory standards for ambulatory surgical centers.
The restrictive nature of the law means that only six clinics are expected to remain open in a state that spans 270,000 square miles, making access to an abortion facility about 150 miles away from more than 930,000 women in the state.
But the access issue in Texas is just one small part of a global trend. Almost 40 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where abortion is either banned or severely restricted.
Dr. Rebecca Gomperts is a physician and activist who took it upon herself to change that statistic by providing access to a combination of abortion drugs that women can administer themselves. The Amsterdam-based organization is called Women on Web. Started almost a decade ago, it’s a “telemedicine support service” for women who are seeking medical abortions.
And according to Slate Reporter Emily Bazelon, Dr. Gomperts's approach is gaining traction among abortion rights activists in the United States. It's a subject she reported on for a new piece in The New York Times Magazine out today.
“She is a radical, I would say—she thinks of herself as a human rights activist,” Bazelon says of Dr. Gomperts. “She’s very focused on the suffering and hardship for women when they live in places where it’s impossible or nearly impossible to access abortion.”
Formerly a doctor for Greenpeace in the 1990s, Bazelon says Dr. Gomperts’s work as an advocate inspired her to develop this program.
“Going around the world as a Greenpeace activist I think showed her the power of direct action,” says Bazelon. “She also encountered families where mothers had died from back alley abortions and that really galvanized her.”
According to the World Health Organization, about 47,000 women die each year due to unsafe abortions, something Bazelon says Dr. Gomperts is hoping to change.
“Women all over the world who live in countries where abortion is illegal or very restricted can write in to the help desk of her organization and get connected with a doctor who will write a prescription [for abortion drugs],” says Bazelon.
The medication prescribed by the doctors of Women on Web both terminates a fetus and causes a woman to expel a fetus. Bazelon says these prescriptions are filled by an Indian-based drug exporter, and Dr. Gomperts contends that the medication provided by the exporter is safe and has been verified for quality.
“Research shows that [the medication] is very effective—up to 98 percent effective in the first trimester, and that they’re safe relative to other types of procedures, and relative to giving birth,” says Bazelon.
According to Bazelon, the medication provided by Women on Web essentially induces a miscarriage.
“For all of time, women have been naturally miscarrying by themselves,” says Bazelon. “If it’s really early in the pregnancy, sometimes it isn’t physically difficult. Other times it can be painful and take place over hours and be a hard thing to go through.”
From India, the medication is shipped to women all over the world. In addition to the medication, Women on Web provides information to women on what they can expect to experience after the drugs are taken. Bazelon says that Dr. Gomperts has also done the research to make sure her organization is operating legally.
“They don’t serve women after the first trimester,” says Bazelon. “In fact, if women get in touch with them and they’re more than nine weeks pregnant, the organization says, ‘We’re sorry, but we can’t help you because we need time to mail you this medication and we want to make sure you get it within the first 12 weeks.'”
Bazelon acknowledges that right now there is nothing stopping someone from potentially lying about the stage of their pregnancy in order to obtain these drugs.
“The drugs do work in the second trimester in terms of ending a pregnancy,” she says. “The risk goes up, and also what it’s like to actually deal with the experience becomes much more difficult for a lot of women. At that point, having a doctor’s supervision is recommended.”
As of right now, Bazelon says that Dr. Gomperts is one of the only physicians out there that provides this type of service.
“Women all over the world are ordering abortion pills online, but often they have no assurance that the pills are of good quality or that they’re not fakes,” says Bazelon. “That’s the crucial link that she’s providing here.”
On the whole, Bazelon says that those in the reproductive health community are embracing Dr. Gomperts’s approach.
“I found that every expert I talked to who knows this subject was very much in favor of disseminating good, quality drugs with the right information,” she says. “The reason has to do with what public health officials call harm reduction—if you live in a country where abortion is illegal, you’re not going to be less likely to have an abortion.”
When discussing harm reduction, Bazelon points to South America. In Brazil, abortion is illegal and women can be prosecuted for having the procedure. Yet, more than 1 million Brazilian women decide to have an abortion every year—and more than 200,000 Brazilian women are hospitalized a year after botched or incomplete abortions.
“Public health officials look at that and see a clear cost-benefit analysis,” says Bazelon. “They say women who are going to end their pregnancies are much better off taking this relatively safe medication than going through a traditional back alley abortion, which really is dangerous.”
Giving women direct control over abortions will likely not settle the intense political debate surrounding the issue, Bazelon says.
“It’s impossible to take the politics out of abortion—especially in this country, it’s kind of unimaginable,” she says. “If you were thinking about this in straight up public health terms, women would be able to make choices that were simply based on what is best for their safety. But that’s just not the world we live in.”
The Obama administration is looking to get an international agreement on climate change—and may do so without Senate approval.
It's another move by the president to push major policies without Congress. Earlier this summer, President Obama used his executive authority to curb carbon emissions by coal-fired power plants.
See Also: Inside The Battle Over Carbon
Environmentalists are hopeful about the prospects of a binding non-treaty on climate change. But poorer countries worry whether any real money can come out of an agreement that hasn't been ratified by Congress.
Coral Davenport, energy and environment reporter for our partner The New York Times, explains how this all might work.
Many state and local police departments across the country have received military surplus equipment through the Pentagon. Through a transfer program, police obtained machine guns, armored cars, aircrafts and more.
But over 150 police departments have been suspended from that program for, among other things, losing track of that equipment, including M16 assault rifles. Yet. the Pentagon was unable to provide specifics on those suspensions. And there are fears that some of this equipment may now appear on the black market.
Danny Rivero, a multimedia producer at the Fusion Network, tells The Takeaway why the Pentagon has some trouble keeping track of the participating police departments.
In the nearly 13 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks, American foreign policy has focused on Al Qaeda, from its headquarters in Pakistan to its affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond.
For General David Barno, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, the risk of another long, drawn-out conflict in Iraq looms large. General Barno, now a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Responsible Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, discusses his concerns about the possibility for a long-term struggle in the region.
"ISIS and Al Qaeda are different—they are not going to be shadowy organization that hides out in some other nation city in the Middle East—they are going to own a nation-state of some sort," says Gen. Barno. "There is going have to be some force on the ground to push [ISIS] back from out of the areas they have taken—it is not simply going to work by dropping bombs and flying drones."
As William McCants, a former State Department adviser on violent extremism explains, until recently, the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS, was part of Al Qaeda under the leadership of Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Al Qaeda expelled ISIS earlier this year for being too radical—a signal that the United States, Syria and the world are now dealing with something fundamentally different. While Al Qaeda operated from caves in Pakistan, communicating by hand messages delivered by couriers on donkeys, ISIS is into governance, and is flush with cash and operates openly.
McCants, now director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, tells Takeaway Host John Hockeberry how ISIS split from Al Qaeda, and explores the differences between the two groups. He also examines U.S. options on the border of Iraq and Syria, where ISIS has found a stronghold.
What if you could take any one unpleasant memory and rewrite it to have sunnier associations?
Researchers at MIT say they've figured out how to shift positive associations onto negative memories by turning on and off the neurons of mice. While this research is still in its earliest stages, it could hold opportunities for helping us humans cope with our own bad memories.
David Moorman, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, explains how this research could be applied to humans.
Tennis fans are typically quieter than the average sports devotee. But the U.S. Open in particular has a reputation of drawing noisier crowds.
And while some players say the sound of a boisterous crowd is energizing, not all athletes are equally appreciative of the extra decibels.
Caitlin Thompson is executive editor of WNYC.org and co-host "The Main Draw," a podcast about tennis. She shares her basic dos and don'ts of being a good fan at the U.S. Open.
At a glance, the announcement that Burger King will move to Canada and purchase Tim Hortons for $11.4 billion seems to be just the next verse in a song that's becoming all-too familiar: A deal to the tune of "tax inversion."
But take a closer look at the deal, and you'll see that there's more at play.
The fast-food industry is one in the midst of major change, and Burger King's young executive team isn't just thinking about a whopper of a tax break. This week, McDonald’s also reported its sharpest decline in sales, particularly among millennials who aren't as interested Big Macs as their parents were.
The deal between Burger King and Tim Hortons confirms that a period of turmoil is upon the fast-food industry in the U.S. Its customer base, along with American food expectations, are changing—and there's only so much you can do with products that have to be mass produced, delivered by truck, and assembled by low paid workers in a matter of seconds.
What does the deal really mean for the future of fast-food? Venessa Wong, associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek, weighs in.
See Also: Healthy Fast-Food Is On The Way
An underdog fighting zombies and class bullies before the final school bell tolls sounds like the ultimate playground tale for any kid. But the children's fantasy book, "Zero Degree Zombie Zone," hopes young middle-school-aged readers will be able to relate for another reason.
The book is one of the first in its genre to feature four African-American protagonists by African-American author, Patrik Henry Bass, and illustrator, Jerry Craft.
Bass noticed an absence of African-American characters in young fiction and set out to tell a light hearted story all readers could enjoy.
After seven weeks of fighting, Israel and Hamas have finally reached a long-term cease-fire agreement in Cairo. The 50-day conflict left more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead, and at least half a million residents of Gaza displaced. On the Israeli side, casualties included 64 soldiers and five civilians.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi helped broker the truce, but Daniel Levy, who served as a Middle East peace negotiator under Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin, says the Egyptian government largely failed as a negotiator.
Levy says that Egypt's disdain for Hamas, an ally of Egypt's ousted Muslim Brotherhood, prevented the country from successfully mediating between Israel and Gaza—leaving the conflict to continue unabated for weeks.
Now the director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, Levy also notes that the cease-fire hardly addresses most of the underlying problems that prompted this summer of fighting.
“I think this cease-fire has been reached principally because both sides have had enough,” says Levy. “For both sides, the law of diminishing returns for continuing had kicked in. So I don’t think there’s been a dramatic breakthrough in the substance of what is agreed.”
According to Levy, it looks like the cease-fire was politically motivated.
“I simply think that after 50 days, on the Israeli side there has been a degree of exhaustion,” he says. “The Israeli prime minister doesn’t want to get dragged in further—his poll numbers are going down. The Israeli school year is due to start next week, and massive disruptions to that would be terrible for the Israelis, but terribly politically threatening for the prime minister.”
The cease-fire agreement provides Gaza with few gains, but Levy says that continuing the conflict would also be costly for Hamas.
“Right now, they can turn around, claim that they have created, which is significant, a degree of strategic deterrence,” says Levy. “The costs for both sides for going on are greater, and both sides were simply ready for this.”
This agreement is likely to be sustainable in the short-term, says Levy, but the deal does nothing to address the bigger issues at the heart of the conflict, like Palestinian freedom and statehood, the Israeli occupation, and security for both peoples.
“We’ve been here before,” Levy says, pointing to similar conflicts between Israel and Gaza in early 2009 and late 2012. “Those cycles did not lead to a fundamental change, and we appear to be back at the status quo ante, therefore suggesting that this will be another window of quiet rather than a deepening change. We’ll be back where we were sometime in the future.”
In the short-term, Levy predicts that there will be a greater effort to establish Palestinian unity between Hamas and Fatah, something that Israeli officials are decidedly against.
“This whole thing probably began partly because Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu wanted to defeat Palestinian unity,” he says. “That seems a bit stronger today.”
Levy adds that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will likely push the issue of border crossings, but other issues will likely remain contentious.
“Some of the opening up will happen,” he says. “The bigger opening—the seaport—continues to be opposed by Israel and Egypt, and the international community doesn’t look like it will push that issue. So you won’t get the bigger opening, you won’t get the demilitarization that Israel has asked for—it’s not a serious ask, but it’s certainly been raised.”
Even though there will be a U.N. investigation into the numerous civilian casualties of the latest conflict, Levy says the global community should not expect full accountability.
“These things tend to produce reports, but don’t change realities—I don’t think you’ll get greater accountability,” he says.
When it comes to the role international partners played, Levy says that Egypt lost some clout as a useful mediator.
“Egypt had its own agenda against Hamas, and that made a cease-fire more difficult,” he says. “The U.S. is also showing the parties, ‘This is what happens when you prefer us not to be here.’ Especially to the Israelis, who were extremely dismissive if not to say overtly rude regarding the Obama Administration.”
Levy says that Israel attempted to equate Hamas with extremist militant groups like ISIS or Boko Haram, a comparison he says doesn’t hold.
“When you’re actually sitting and negotiating with these people, it doesn’t work to try and draw that analogy,” he says. “Israel and Hamas take each other more seriously, and have a greater degree of I’d almost say respect for each other’s capabilities.”
Though the two sides are unlikely to begin talking directly, Levy says that the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may soon change in the wake of the current crisis.
“You may see a Palestinian unity formation gathering strength where it’s accepted that Hamas has to be part of any solution,” he says.
On Tuesday, The Takeaway explored some statistics that seem to predict the make up of our contact lists and friend circles.
A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that three-quarters of white Americans have no non-white friends—it's a number that surprised and dumbfounded some of you, but for others it made perfect sense.
We make very conscious decisions about who our friends are—about how we make friends and break off friendships—but do we really think about the backgrounds of our friend? Should we actually be much more intentional about making friends of different backgrounds and thinking about how to expand our circles?
Joining The Takeaway to weigh in is Kai Wright, editor of ColorLines and a contributor to The Nation.
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine concluded yesterday in Minsk, but military tension in Ukraine seems to be escalating.
The summit provided a reminder about what triggered the crisis in Ukraine—the trade and political deal Ukraine signed with the European Union.
Much of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s opening remarks concerned trade policy. He warned that Ukraine’s closer relations with the E.U. would bode poorly for Ukraine’s economy and allow European companies to “grab everything that is still left and oust all the others” from the Ukrainian market.
Discussion about the fighting in eastern Ukraine yielded few results, and Russia still insists it does not support the separatists in Ukraine and is not involved in the fighting.
But yesterday, Ukrainian officials released videos of what it claims are Russian soldiers captured in the Donetsk region. And Ukrainian officials say a column of Russian troops helped open a new war front near the town of Novoazovsk.
Kiev-based Vice News Reporter Simon Ostrovsky explains the situation.
About 200 years ago, in the midst of the War of 1812, British troops burned the White House to the ground. President James Madison and his wife, Dolly, managed to escape with a portrait of George Washington, but their historic home soon turned to ashes.
Peter Snow, author of "When Britain Burned Down The White House," recalls the historic event with Takeaway Host John Hockenberry. He explains that while British troops routed the U.S. military in Washington, D.C., battles in Baltimore turned the war around.
"The Lobster King" is the latest novel from Alexi Zenter, author of "Touch." This book has been selected as the fourth work to be featured in The Takeaway's book club. Below you'll find a description of the book provided by the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
"Set in a lobster fishing village, 'The Lobster Kings' introduces a fiery and unforgettable heroine, Cordelia Kings.
"The Kings family has lived on Loosewood Island for three hundred years, blessed with the bounty of the sea. But for the Kings, this blessing comes with a curse: the loss of every firstborn son.
"Now, Woody Kings, the leader of the island’s lobster fishing community and the family patriarch, teeters on the throne, and Cordelia, the oldest of Woody’s three daughters, stands to inherit the crown. To do so, however, she must defend her island from meth dealers from the mainland while navigating sibling rivalry and the vulnerable nature of her own heart when she falls in love with her sternman.
"Inspired by King Lear, 'The Lobster Kings' is the story of Cordelia’s struggle to maintain her island’s way of life in the face of danger from offshore and the rich, looming, mythical legacy of her family’s namesake."
-W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
How diverse is your friendship group?
A recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute examined the diversity of American friendships. Researchers asked survey respondents to name seven people who they regularly discussed important matters with, and then they asked about the demographics of those seven people. The found that 75 percent of white Americans have no non-white friends.
Arun Venugopal is the host of WNYC's Micropolis. He recently examined the rate of segregation in America's suburbs, decades after the most prominent policies that institutionalized segregation have fallen away. He discusses the role historic segregation plays in the diversity of Americans' friendships today.
Yesterday, the Obama White House stepped up measures to combat the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) by authorizing surveillance flights over Syria, a move that is seen as a potential precursor to airstrikes in the region.
For some like Ali Khedery, who served as special assistant to five American ambassadors in Iraq and as senior adviser to three heads of the Central Command from 2003-2010, the move has long been necessary.
Speaking yesterday to Takeaway Host John Hockenberry, Khedery emphasized that the United States needs to take the threat of ISIS seriously.
"It's not an issue of if they come, it's simply an issue of when [ISIS] will strike," he said. "Americans have to understand that this is going to be a long costly campaign, but one that we have no choice in addressing. We can either pull back and just wait for another 9/11, or we can take the fight directly to the enemy."
However, Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson at the U.S. State Department, says the current crisis is not about ISIS versus the United States.
"We of course monitor very closely whether ISIL will seek to develop plots aimed at the West, particularly at the United States," says Harf. “First and foremost, we have to protect our people, particularly in Iraq; we have to protect American citizens. But longer term, we are looking at how we can defeat ISIL, how we can take the fight to them, and really address this threat in a comprehensive way."
And as the White House considers a response to ISIS within the borders of war-torn Syria for the first time, many are wondering who the United States can even align with on the ground.
The United States called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down in 2011 after he turned on his own citizens during the Arab Spring. The authorization of U.S. reconnaissance flights over Syria may be bad news for ISIS, but its good news for Assad, who would no doubt love help in defeating what has become his main enemy in the Syrian civil war.
Is aligning with Assad, who has been fighting ISIS within Syria, a necessary evil?
Dr. Amr Al-Azm, an associate professor of Middle East History and Anthropology at Shawnee State University, and a member of the Syrian opposition, explains what options the U.S. might have on the ground in Syria.
Today, peace talks are underway in Minsk between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro O. Poroshenko.
More than 2,000 people have died in months of fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.
Can the two parties reach an agreement? Andrew Kramer, a reporter for our partner the New York Times, weighs in from Novoazovsk.
Pope Francis has tried to refocus the Vatican by highlighting issues of human rights and economic justice and inclusion. But last week, the Pope entered into a conversation about war and confronting evil. When he was asked about ISIS, Francis said that the militant group must be stopped.
“Where there is an unjust aggression I can only say that it is legitimate to stop the unjust aggressor,” he told reporters last Monday while returning to the Vatican from a trip to South Korea. “I underscore the verb ‘to stop'—I am not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ but ‘stop him.’ The means by which he can be stopped must be evaluated. Stopping the aggressor is legitimate.”
The Pope raises the issue of a so called "just war" without clearly addressing the situation in Iraq and Syria. Theologians have noted that this may be a problem for the Catholic Church, an institution that has been giving its permission for various wars for centuries.
Bob Meagher, a humanities professor at Hampshire College and the author of the upcoming book "Killing from the Inside Out: Moral Injury and Just War," says the Pope has stepped into some very difficult moral territory.
According to Meagher, the Catholic Church has traditionally considered a conflict a “just war” if it is a war declared by God or the Pope, or one declared by a “legitimate ruler.”
“Of all of those, the most ‘just’—the unquestionably just or righteous wars—were those declared by God or those declared by the Pope,” he says. “The Church has, for 1,500 years, endorsed, embraced, and reinforced the ‘just war’ tradition, which I feel to be extraordinarily unfortunate.”
From the beginning, the Catholic Church’s so-called “just war doctrine” has been misunderstood and caused a great deal of damage to the world, Meagher says.
“It is essentially a lethal lie, and the Church is largely responsible for its origins and preservation,” he says. “I continue to hope that this Pope will step back from that—that he will reexamine and reconsider, and hopefully renounce for good that tradition and the Church’s ties with it.”
Though Pope Francis and the Catholic Church seemingly maintain the view that some conflicts are more just than others, Meagher points out that those involved in conflict—veterans and others—make a distinction between what is “just” and what is “necessary.”
“This is something that is discovered in combat, and that is that killing—and that is what war is about—that killing, while it may on occasion be necessary, is never right,” he says. “I’ve heard this over and over again, from Marines, soldiers, and airmen. They discover this, but it is a contradiction for most people: That what is necessary can be evil, what is necessary can be wrong, and what is necessary can be anything other than right. But this is what our veterans are telling us.”
After war, veterans often come back haunted by the terrors of conflict. They often face an internal struggle that must balance the concepts of right and wrong with necessary obligations their commanding officers, and ultimately the nation, handed down to them.
“They’re coming back darkened by what they have done,” says Meagher. “But what they have done is following orders. They’ve served their country, loyally and bravely, at great risk and at great cost to themselves.”
To help lift the darkness that surrounds the brutality of combat and the memories carried therein, Meagher says that nations cannot simply welcome back service members, but listen to them as well.
“We send them off and welcome them back and declare them heroes,” he says. “But we say all too often, ‘Thank you for your service, but no thank you for your comments.’ We don’t want to hear from them, we don’t want to hear their stories.”
Meagher points to Timothy Kudo, a veteran who has candidly spoken to the public about the morality of conflict in pieces like “I Killed People in Afghanistan. Was I Right or Wrong?” In several conversations, Meagher says that Kudo told him that killing is always wrong, but it’s something that he didn’t realize until he went to war, until he was involved in combat, and involved in killing.
“He says it’s always wrong to kill, but sometimes it is necessary,” says Meagher. “That is the moral cost, that’s the spiritual cost that veterans, soldiers, and Marines have to pay—that’s what we’re asking them to do. But we have a moral and social contract with them when they return to understand what we have expected of them, the price they have paid for it, and what they need now to heal—if healing is possible.”
After Essie Mae Chandler fell in the middle of the night, her son Ken moved her into Rosewood Post-Acute Rehab, a nursing home outside of Sacramento.
Rosewood had a five-star rating from Medicare—only about a fifth of the more than 15,000 nursing homes across the U.S. hold such a distinction. But Ken soon learned that his mother was receiving less than adequate care.
“I had visited her the day before; she seemed fine. I went back in the next day; she was completely bruised through her chest, the back of her arms, her back," he told Takeaway partner The New York Times. "Nobody was watching my mom, nobody was really tending to her. They were just pushing her in a hallway or leaving her in her room to eat alone.”
About 16 percent of Americans—around 39.6 million people—provide unpaid care for an elderly person, and as baby boomers age, that number is likely to go up over time. As we care for our parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, many of us need outside help, and many times seek out nursing homes and rehab facilities.
In 2009, the federal government introduced a five-star ratings system through Medicare to help consumers find the best nursing home in their area. But New York Times Reporter Katie Thomas recently investigated the Medicare rating system. As she tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry, the rating system is based in large part on self-reported data by the nursing homes that the government does not verify, which allows many facilities to manipulate the system.
Take a knee, news junkies. It's nearly football season, which means it's fantasy football season.
Don't worry if you know jack about the game—the amazing Mark Duplass stopped by our studio to help us put together a beginners guide to fantasy football. When he's not giving out tips, he's otherwise known as "Pete" from FXX's hit show "The League."
Today, Mark shares his fantasy football choices—a game that he says is very far from fantasy. Check out the video below to hear who he'd want on his fantasy team.
Check out Part I of this interview here.
The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards are tonight, and Hollywood royalty will take to the stage to bestow the accolades for best drama and best comedy. But The Takeaway has a new category for you—the award for "Best D.C. Depiction."
From HBO's series "VEEP," which is nominated for best comedy, to Netflix's "House of Cards," which is nominated for best drama, television loves Washington, and apparently so do viewers. But what do people in the Beltway think about all of this?
Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich went around town to find out what those working on Capitol Hill think about their fictional counterparts.
Some say "House of Cards" has it all. There's deceptive scheming, intricate congressional maneuvering, and sex and murder. Yet, it doesn’t have a lot of love amongst Washington’s political class. In Zwillich’s very unscientific poll, out of 50 respondents, about 95 percent voted "VEEP" as their D.C. reality-check.
"If you cover the White House, there are three questions that you always get and you always have to be prepared for," says Olivier Knox, Washington Bureau Chief for Yahoo News. "One is: What's the president really like? Two is: Have you ever ridden on Air Force One? And three is: What do you think of popular political drama X?"
According to Jess Mcintosh, a democratic operative who works in communications, “Our lives are not like 'House of Cards.' There is really nothing that 'House of Cards' presents other than the names of certain Washington locations that bear any relation to reality.”
“'VEEP' is sometimes so painful to watch because it is so close to things that have happened in my world. I’m aware that it is funny, but I can’t possibly laugh at it,” she continues.
Since "House of Cards" has gained popularity, female journalists have been asked to answer for character Zoe Barnes.
“‘Have you ever slept with any of your sources?’ That was not a question that existed in my world before ['House of Cards'] and now it happens. Whether it’s a joke or not. It’s still offensive,” says Kate Nocera, who’s been covering Capitol Hill for five years.
Meredith Shiner of Yahoo News gets Hollywood’s depiction, but wishes the story-line didn’t fuel pre-existing notions. “Being a woman here, in the job that I do, it is difficult no matter what, and ['House of Cards'] has sort of fueled into it, because it brings outsiders to that same sort of perspective that I think is unfortunately cast by insiders too,” she says.
While Susan Davis is also not a Zoe Barnes supporter, she is a fan of another character on the Netflix hit. Davis, who is a congressional correspondent at USA Today, believes Frank Underwood’s character is actually aspirational in today’s political arena.
“I think you need forceful, dominant, strong personalities who know how to govern,” she says. “I’ve never witnessed a politician in this Congress today who I think is as cunning or as smart or as capable of governing as someone like a Frank Underwood would be.”
So should Congress be taking more of a cue from "House of Cards"? Mcintosh says not so fast.
“Those characters from 'VEEP' think they are on House of Cards. They’re doing the Machiavellian thing. They’re trying to one up everyone on their team and get ahead and it always fails and that’s basically what happens in Washington. If you’re trying to play three-dimensional chess, you’re going to forget that you have a really important job to do and you’re going to fall down on it and everybody is going to laugh at you.”
It's been a summer of conflict, from Gaza to Syria to the streets of Saint Louis. Over the weekend, Ukraine celebrated independence day—Sunday marked 23 years since the end of the Soviet Union.
But celebrations were muted by rising tensions on the eastern border after the Russian army moved artillery units and personnel inside Ukraine, and began firing at Ukrainian forces.
The Russian government said it was a "humanitarian operation," but Ukraine never approved the move and the International Committee of the Red Cross was not involved in the decision. After months of tensions, it seems like the two countries are suddenly moving toward open warfare.
John Herbst, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, says the United States cannot examine this conflict through the same prism it's viewed wars in the Middle East, saying that it's time for the United States to take a more decisive stance.
Over the weekend, rumblings in California wine country turned out to be a much more serious geologic event when the dust cleared.
While centered in Napa, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked the region—it was the largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco area in 25 years.
More than 100 people were injured, and three are in critical condition. There were knocked over power lines, damaged homes and businesses—in total, losses are expected to top $1 billion.
Dan Brekke, news editor for San Francisco's KQED, joins The Takeaway to weigh in.
While Congress remains on its summer recess and national Republicans see immigration reform as a losing platform, hundreds who fled violence in Central America for the U.S. continue to be deported.
With legislation stalled, the Obama Administration has decided to take matters into its own hands with executive actions on immigration, and is inviting business leaders and advocates to weigh in on proposed reform measures. At the same time, people in El Salvador and other Central American countries are facing the challenges of the forced migration home under the current laws.
KJZZ Reporter Kate Sheehy and Univision Washington correspondent Fernando Pizarro discuss the current state of immigration for legislators, business leaders, and the would-be migrants living with the consequences of current deportation policies.
The current crisis in Iraq continues to reach new heights. The White House is now reportedly considering some response to the Sunni militant group ISIS inside the borders of war-torn Syria for the first time, and over the weekend Theo Curtis, a U.S. journalist that was taken hostage by Syrian insurgent group Al Nusra, was freed after being held for two years.
Over the past century, Iraq has fallen victim to regional strife, colonialism, disastrous invasions by its neighbors Iran and Kuwait, international sanctions, American military occupation, and nearly four decades of misrule under the leadership of Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
Ali Khedery, chairman and chief executive of Dragoman Partners, is the longest continuously-serving American official in Iraq. He's served as a special assistant to five American ambassadors in Iraq, and as a senior adviser to three heads of the Central Command from 2003-2010. As he explains in his recent op-ed in The New York Times, the challenges that Iraq faces are intimidating.
But Khedery believes that if anyone is capable of holding the nation together under the threats of ISIS and increasing influence of Iran, it is the newly designated Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi.
Abadi comes from a respected Baghdad family, with complimentary personal credentials. He studied at one of the Iraq’s top universities and received a doctorate in engineering in Britain. Most importantly, according to Khedery, is that Abadi has a, “willingness to listen and ability to compromise—extremely rare traits among Iraq’s political elite, and precisely the characteristics that are needed to help heal the wounds Iraqis sustained under Hussein and Mr. Maliki.”
However, Khedery is quite realistic in his optimism. “Prime Minister Abadi and the government in Baghdad have a chance to form an inclusive government, and have a chance of doing business in a new way that unites all Iraqis," he says. "But that chance and those odds, frankly, are just not very high.”
So where does the U.S. stand in this conversation? Khedery is quite critical of American military intervention to combat ISIS, particularly over the use of airstrikes in Iraq.
“[American airstrikes] are a couple of Tylenol tablets to address a headache that has been caused by a cancer, which again is from a misrule of Maliki’s government in Baghdad and Assad’s misrule in Damascus,” he says.
For Khedery, airstrikes are seen merely as a tactics, and not a viable strategy to suppress the burgeoning unrest.
“Only Sunni Arabs from across the Middle East, and principally from Syria and Iraq itself there themselves, only they can roll back ISIS in their countries,” says Khedery.
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.
On Thursday, a moment of progress was revealed in the fight against the Ebola outbreak, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,300 people.
“Today is a miraculous day," said Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola while working in a Liberia with the aid agency Samaritan's Purse. "I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family."
After contracting the disease, Dr. Brantly was evacuated and treated at Emory Hospital in Atlanta alongside Nancy Writebol. Both were released, disease-free, on Thursday.
But the prognosis is not as good for the people of Liberia, the country that has been hardest hit by the epidemic with 576 deaths to date.
In response, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has ordered that areas of the nation's capital city, Monrovia, be quarantined, leading to protests and unrest in the streets. A nightly curfew has also been put in effect in an effort to isolate the sick and reduce the risk of contact.
Joining The Takeaway to describe the situation on the ground in Monrovia is Lewis Brown, Minister of Information for Liberia.
And when it comes to the war being waged against Ebola, women are on the front lines. According to the Liberian Ministry of Health, 75 percent of Ebola victims in Liberia are women. It's an issue Jina Moore, staff reporter for BuzzFeed, has been reporting on. Jina covers women's rights and Africa, and just returned from Liberia a few days ago.
There have long been tensions between Chinese authorities in Beijing and the predominantly Muslim, Turkic Uighur people who live in Xinjiang province in the remote far west of China. In recent weeks, a local imam who supported the Chinese government was stabbed to death outside a mosque in the city of Kashgar, along the ancient Silk Road.
Jonathan Fenby, the author of “Will China Dominate the 21st Century?,” says “the Chinese fear is that Islam acts as a recruiting ground and a kind of glue for anti-Chinese elements and they see it as a political religion.”
The province has been called China's Ukraine, but it also has a tradition of violent confrontation with Beijing not unlike the Russian experience in Chechnya. In the past year, more than 100 people have been killed in violence in the territory.
The Uighurs fear that their culture and language are under attack. And according to Fenby, Beijing is aggressively trying to dominate the Uighurs through military force and through the migration of Han Chinese to the province.
"China's mantra is these are backward places with backward civilizations and cultures there," he says. "In Kashgar, which was the great Silk Road trading city, when I visited it, it was still very much a central-Asian, Muslim, Islamic city, with very few Han Chinese to be seen. Now recently, the Chinese authorities have been bulldozing the old parts of Kashgar and building modern apartment buildings there."
The Chinese government argues that rebuilding Kashgar to be a 21st century city helps the local people, but that's not how the Uighur people feel—they believe these new developments deny them their cultural heritage, which stretches back 1,000 years or more.
The Chinese government's tactics have so far been successful—the Han Chinese now make up about 40 percent of the total population of the Xinjiang province.
"The Chinese approach is a mixture of stick and carrot," says Fenby. "There's a heavy security presence, and that's been beefed up since riots [broke out], which killed 200 people three years ago. Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, on a visit to the region earlier this year, and spoke a pretty harsh law and order security message."
The Xinjiang province is also strategically important to China. According to Fenby, the region has energy reserves of oil, gas, and coal, something Beijing has been focusing on while also trying to build the region's economic potential.
"Despite the repression at the moment and the violence, China has still been putting money in to expand education and set up a new university," he says. "Under the previous Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, there was a definite attempt to encourage investment and build up the economy there. But on his visit to Xinjiang, Xi Jingping said something along the lines of, 'Well, you're not going to get any investment unless you've got security.'"
Islam is not prohibited, and there are mosques throughout China, but practicing the religion is discouraged by the government.
"Most of the people living in Han China—China proper—have a pretty low opinion of of the Uighurs," says Fenby. "I've never come across a Han Chinese who talks about independence or autonomy of Xinjiang. For them, this is part of China, and it's always going to remain so."
The Xinjiang province hasn't always been part of China, and was autonomous for a period of time. And it doesn't look like the Uighurs currently have the authority to challenge that notion.
"What is interesting with the present violence is that it's all been quite primitive," says Fenby. "It's been a matter of assailants armed with knives, machetes, and swords—this is not a sophisticated opposition, militancy, or radicalism. There was one case last year where some Uighurs drove a car full of explosives up to the entrance of the Forbidden City—right in the center of Beijing in Tiananmen Square—and exploded it there. That's about the most sophisticated attack that we've seen."
Right now, China is focused on preventing outside groups from influencing the Uighurs in Xinjiang province.
"There have been reports that about three dozen Uighurs from Xinjiang are fighting with the ISIS forces," he says. "The fear there is that they will be trained by ISIS and then will go back to Xinjiang and do their fundamentalist there."
Director Matthew Weiner is known for dark, complex characters like Tony Soprano, Peggy Olson, and Don Draper. But his new film takes a lighter look at the messiness of life.
"Are You Here" is Weiner's first comedic feature film, and it explores the nostalgia between two childhood friends, now middle-aged men, confronting the struggle of growing up and living an authentic life.
Starring comedic heavyweights Owen Wilson, Zach Galifinakis, and Amy Poehler, the story follows two childhood friends on a road trip back to their hometown after the character played by Galifinakis learns he's inherited a large sum of money from his deceased father. Weiner says this new project grew out of his own life, at a time when he struggled with adulthood and maintaining old friendships.
With the final season of "Mad Men" coming up, Weiner also reflects on the mix of nostalgia and sharp cultural commentary that has defined the hit show, along with renewed interest in the post-WWII era of America. Finally, he discusses the future of television in a multi-screen age, and discovering old classics like Columbo with his teenage kids.
Check out a trailer for the film below.
Alaskan gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott could become the state's first Native American governor, and only the second in U.S. history.
As the only Democrat in the race, Mallott won his primary and will now face off against Republican incumbent Sean Parnell in the November general election. Though the indigenous population makes up nearly 15 percent of Alaskan residents, many expect a hard road ahead for Mallott in a historically right-leaning state..
From the Tlingit ethnicity, Mallott grew up in the rural Southeastern part of the state. But his education connected him with the more urban population of Anchorage, as well as the Inuit people to the north.
The public often hears the refrain, "The United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists.”
In the case of James Foley, the American journalist executed by the Sunni militant group ISIS earlier this week, that meant that the demands of Foley's captors went unmet. ISIS had asked the U.S. for millions of dollars in ransom for Foley's life.
When The Takeaway reached out to the U.S. Department of Treasury for their official policy, a spokesperson issued the following statement: "The U.S. government’s policy is clear: We make no concessions to individuals or groups holding our citizens hostage. The U.S. government condemns hostage taking under all circumstances and would caution that ransom payments made to any hostage-taker risk encouraging future instances of kidnapping for ransom."
But is it really true that the U.S. makes no concessions to those who demand a ransom? History suggests otherwise. Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University, was part of a high-profile hostage negotiation about 30 years ago.
Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan, and he was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.
Today on The Takeaway, he explains if there are any exceptions to the rule.
Sometimes it feels like the only thing you can say at the end of a movie is: "Nothing to see here. Move on." And sometimes that feeling applies to every single movie in the theatre. This is one of those weeks. On the chopping block:"If I Stay," "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," and "What If." Kristen and Rafer also discuss "When the Game Stands Tall" with guest review/sports writer/former athlete Ibrahim Abdul-Matin. And, as always, there's trivia!
Producer and director R.J. Cutler imagined that Bill Clinton's run for the White House in 1992 could be a Cinderella story, and "The War Room" was born.
"The September Issue," which chronicles the creation of an issue of Vogue, is every bit as entertaining as the fictional film "The Devil Wears Prada." Now, Cutler is tossing off the constraints of reality filmmaking and is making his foray into fiction.
His first feature film, "If I Stay," will reach a generation of viewers that knows next to nothing about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a teenager named "Mia"—a talented high school musician caught between life and death. It's a teenage tear jerker with some profound lessons about the importance of family.
Today, Cutler discusses his new film and why he decided to try his hand at fiction.
In South Carolina, one woman dies every 12 days from domestic violence.
With more than 300 women shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, or burned to death over the past decade by men, The Violence Policy Center has ranked South Carolina among the top 10 worst states for the last 15 years when it comes to domestic violence and the number of women murdered by men.
To put that statistic into perspective, more than three times as many women have died at the hands of current or former lovers in South Carolina than the number of Palmetto State soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
In an investigative series, four South Carolina journalists reporting for The Post and Courier spent eight months interviewing more than 100 victims, counselors, police, prosecutors, and judges, and their findings are alarming.
All 46 of South Carolina's counties have at least one animal shelter to care for stray dogs and cats, but the state has only 18 domestic violence shelters to help women trying to escape abusive homes—about 380 women were turned away from shelters between July 2012 and June 2013 due to lack of room.
The state records about 36,000 incidents of domestic abuse every year, but offenders get a maximum of 30 days in jail for the first domestic abuse conviction.
With their report, The Post and Courier aims to explain why the murder rate for women in the state is twice that of the national average, and why, despite the state’s long-standing problem with domestic violence, lawmakers have been unable to implement real reform.
Glenn Smith, special project editor at The Post and Courier and a reporter on the seven part series "Till Death Do Us Part," gives us a look at the systemic issues South Carolina faces, from ineffective laws to a culture of tolerance of domestic violence that currently leaves women trapped in a cycle of abuse.
“There is no coordinated effort, and I think that is part of the problem,” says Smith. “Here, it’s very hit or miss. Some departments do a decent job, others are very under trained.”
Smith also points to inherited notions of violence that are deeply problematic.
“Guys grow up to believe this is how you treat women," he says. "Women grow up to believe this is how you’re supposed to be treated by your man.”
The events following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri reflect a familiar narrative—a story that revolves around race, law enforcement, and protest in America.
The Ferguson news coverage echoes a number of developments in recent history: The Trayvon Martin case in 2012, the Jena Six case in 2007, and the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King decision in 1992.
Playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith arrived in Los Angeles a few weeks after the Rodney King riots, once the media left. Through in-depth interviews with hundreds of residents and witnesses, she developed her award-winning play, "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992." Her research has brought up the challenges police face in these situations, from Los Angeles in 1992 to Ferguson in 2014, along with what society expects of them.
"The cops are on the front line, and when these explosions happen, they become the main characters," Deavere Smith says. "But we all are involved in this. That is not to excuse what happened, but they are the ones on the front line. They are acting out the drama—the cop and the kid—for all of us while we sit back and watch."
Deveare Smith says the situation in St. Louis has made her reflect on the way Daryl Gates, the Chief of Police in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, approached things in 1992. Deveare Smith points out that Gates was severely criticized for not intervening and controlling the violence.
"What happened in L.A. is that ‘they’ burned down their own neighborhood," she says. "That's a terrible notion, but it did give me pause [and made me think] wow, maybe Daryl Gates had more of a strategy than people gave him credit for."
As an artist, Deveare Smith thinks about the roles people are playing in Ferguson. Deveare Smith is particularly interested in the "character" that Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson has been playing.
"It’s interesting casting, at the very least," she says. "He's more heartfelt than anybody else. By that I mean the governor and other officials are reading from a text—they're very careful in their cadences. So I think it's interesting that one person has to be more emotional."
But Deveare Smith is not surprised by the way the story is unfolding, or how the media is reporting the events in Ferguson.
"Listen, none of us are surprised when we read a Pew Research Report [saying] that blacks and whites differ when it comes to what's going on in Ferguson," she says. "So I don't think I can say I'm surprised—I'm very interested in the differences in opinion and I’m very interested in that sort of Rashomon about what’s right and what’s wrong in America, and about the variety of values here."
A look through America’s recent history shows that a variety of viewpoints have been with us over the years, taking stage in towns across the nation.
"I mean, here we are 60 years since Brown vs. The Board of Education and...most people would assess that we're more segregated than ever,” she says.
Deveare Smith recalls that last summer, not very far from Ferguson, there was backlash among white parents when black students were given the opportunity to go to a better school district.
"Some parents came forward and said, ‘You know, we don’t want drugs and violence in our schools,'" she says. "Laws can do so much, but a certain point we as a nation have to determine that we have the ability to care about more than the people who live inside of our house."
For Deveare Smith, ending crime, violence, and addiction begins with one task.
"It starts with poverty—if we really wanted to stop it before it starts, we'd stop poverty," she says. "We’d try to bring more equity in our society."
For more than 15 years, South Carolina has taken a national ranking no state would be proud of. The state is among the top 10 when it comes to domestic violence and the number of women murdered by men.
But domestic violence homicide isn’t specific to the Palmetto State. Communities across the country have struggled with the best way to protect victims from violent partners.
Over the last decade, domestic violence crisis centers in the small Massachusetts towns of Newburyport and Amesbury have developed one of the most successful domestic violence homicide prevention programs in the country, in conjunction with local police, hospitals, and the courts.
Kelly Dunne began developing the program, known as the Domestic Violence High Risk Team, in 2005. As Dunne, the Chief Operating Officer of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry, not a single one of the domestic violence cases managed by the team has ended in homicide.
Americans got a first-hand look at the brutality of the Sunni militant group ISIS this week when the group released a shocking video showing the beheading of 40-year-old American journalist James Foley, who was taken hostage in Syria in 2012.
Foley appears kneeling in the video, wearing an orange jumpsuit akin to the prison uniforms worn by detainees in Guantánamo Bay. The ISIS fighter speaks in English with a British accent, and says that Foley's execution is in retaliation for the America's recent intervention in Iraq.
“No faith teaches people to massacre innocents," said a visibly upset President Obama in an address to reporters on Wednesday. "No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by people who build and not destroy, and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him."
Today Rita Katz, a terrorism analyst and founder of SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online, weighs in on the global reaction to this video, and the propaganda campaign ISIS is forging.
B.K.S. Iyengar, the man credited with introducing yoga to the western world, died on Wednesday in the southern Indian city of Pune at the age of 95.
With his passing comes an examination of the modern practice he helped to create, both the good and the bad—a movement that has attracted millions to strive to be able to remain "thoughtfully thoughtless" as he once put it, alongside the less-spiritual industry that has found profit in yoga apps and scented yoga mat wipes.
Elizabeth Kadetsky is the author of "First There is a Mountain," a memoir of a year spent studying with B.K.S. Iyengar. She weighs in on his legacy, and how he impacted the world.
As protestors marched through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in the days following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, Gregory Carr, Sr. remembered a conversation he had with his father in 1975.
Carr, an African-American instructor at Harris-Stowe State University, lives just three miles from Ferguson and also grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis. His father was born and raised in the South, at the height of Jim Crow era. In 1975, when Carr was 10-years-old, his father sat him down to have "The Talk"—a primer, from father to son, on how young black men should handle police harassment.
In the wake of Michael Brown's death, Carr decided it was time for "The Talk" with his 13-year-old son, Gregory Carr, Jr.
Today, father and son reflect on the continuing problem of police violence against black men, and how black families handle difficult conversations about racism and law enforcement.
Join Takeaway Host John Hockenberry today at 6:00 PM Eastern/3:00 PM Pacific for a Twitter chat on Ferguson, race, justice, and America. Follow @TheTakeaway and use the hashtag #BeyondFerguson.
The death of young black men like 18-year-old Michael Brown seem to illuminate the fault lines within our country, our communities, and even our own minds. The uncomfortable spaces where race, class, history, and emotion all rub up against each other bring out the confusing and often contradictory notions of ourselves and our homes.
For Jim Santel, a white Brooklyn resident that was born and raised in an affluent St. Louis neighborhood, the situation in Ferguson has forced him to reflect on the stark difference between his St. Louis, and that of Michael Brown.
Today Santel, a senior writer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, shares his thoughts on the fault lines separating black and white neighborhoods in America, and confronting white privilege in the wake of a national crisis.
Join Takeaway Host John Hockenberry today at 6:00 PM Eastern/3:00 PM Pacific for a Twitter chat on Ferguson, race, justice, and America. Follow @TheTakeaway and use the hashtag #BeyondFerguson.
In our coverage of the events of Ferguson, one question haunts us: Is there an urgency gap about these police shootings between the races? And if so, why? Does it block our way to making change and achieving social justice?
We are grateful to the resources of St Louis Public Radio for assisting us with today's special coverage. Reporter Jason Rosenbaum has been covering this story since the protests began.
Over the past week, Jason has seen this community coming together and try to bridge this urgency gap. He's been hearing from Americans locally and from across the country on this story.
Today he shares the sentiments of both white and black Americans in the St. Louis area.
Join Takeaway Host John Hockenberry today at 6:00 PM Eastern/3:00 PM Pacific for a Twitter chat on Ferguson, race, justice, and America. Follow @TheTakeaway and use the hashtag #BeyondFerguson.
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has highlighted a racial divide in the way communities across the country perceive police practices and the criminal justice system as a whole.
The statistics seem to tell a specific story. According to the Pew Research Center, compared to their white counterparts, black men are more than six times as likely to be incarcerated on the federal, state, and local levels. A 2008 survey from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that black drivers were three times as likely as white drivers to be searched by police during a traffic stop.
Robin Steinberg knows these statistics well. She founded the Bronx Defenders more than two decades ago, and continues to lead the South Bronx-based public defenders office and advocacy organization today.
She tells Takeaway host John Hockenberry how police practices have changed in poor neighborhoods over the last two decades, and explains how these changes are reflected in courts and prisons across the country.
What continues to complicate and embroil the situation in Ferguson, Missouri is the fact that unanswered questions and ambiguities still surround the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Are police shootings like this an unfortunate accident, or the playing out of a grim script of racial division?
Annette Gordon-Reed is a professor at Harvard University and the author of “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” an award winning book about the hidden history of Thomas Jefferson's slave family.
Gordon-Reed says Thomas Jefferson voiced concerns that African-Americans would never be fully integrated into the republic. Jefferson, she writes, thought African-Americans “would never forget the wrongs done to them in slavery and the white majority would never overcome its ‘deep rooted prejudices.’” The founding father believed racism would ultimately undermine American democracy.
The post-slavery experiences of African-Americans that Jefferson predicted are what Professor Gordon-Reed believes are integral problems within America’s present, and need to be a part of a national discourse.
“The purpose of being a free person in a republic is you can move about without official harassment,” she states.
Today on The Takeaway, she reflects on the ways the wrongdoings of America’s past continue to haunt the nation's present.
"What happens in many, many communities across the United States is that there is a lack of respect or a sense that black people are presumptively guilty," says Professor Gordon-Reed. "That leads to a number of horrible situations, from deaths to everyday harassment, which is a problem—it's demoralizing."
The situation in Ferguson is representative of an ingrained racial divide in America, Gordon-Reed says.
"There is a greater fear, I believe, of black people," she says. "A number of people have pointed out situations where whites have gotten into altercations with cops—have hit cops, have shot cops, have done all kinds of things—and they don't get killed. It's almost as if there's a sense of a black person, black power, that is menacing. There's also the realization that killing black people is allowable in ways that it's not allowable to kill whites. So black lives are less than white lives."
Fear of African-Americans was one essential premise of slavery, and a notion that has been carried on throughout the decades, says Gordon-Reed.
"This is a historical thing," she says. "This comes from slavery, it comes from Jim Crow and the aftermath of slavery and reconstruction—the idea that black lives are worth less. If they're worth less, period, they are certainly not to be accorded the full panel of rights of citizenship. The question is how do we live together as equal citizens, and we haven't resolved that."
Gordon-Reed, who is African-American, has seen this first hand. She says her brother's friend was killed in police custody when she was growing up.
"In this instance the officer was put on trial, but he was acquitted of self defense," she says. "It was pretty clear that nothing was going to happen to him."
Many people in minority communities are afraid to even call the police, says Gordon-Reed.
"A lot of times, people in my community who are victims would not want to call the police because what could happen would be far worse than the thing they would be complaining about," she says. "This was always a fear. I grew up in a small community where we had one black police officer, and he was not allowed to arrest white people—he could only arrest black people. There was this notion that whites were above blacks, and that played itself out in law enforcement everyday."
Even today, Gordon-Reed says she is sometimes hesitant of contacting law enforcement officials.
"The fact that runs through my mind is problematic," she says.
In many ways, the circumstances surrounding police and and young black males need to be re-examined, Gordon-Reed says.
"It's a perfect storm," she says. "You have young males, who are young, and by definition impulsive, who have a keen sense of fairness in not wanting to be mistreated. There's a lack of communication and a lack of, I think, empathy on the part of officers who don't see these young people as young people, don't see black people as people in the same way, and it gets out of hand. This happens over and over again, and old habits die hard."
Better training and diversifying police forces could be a starting point to solving this problem, says Gordon-Reed.
"I have hope that it will change—I'm not hopeful that it's going to be quick and it's not something that I think will be in my lifetime," she says. "But we have to start working on it. Obviously we've come a long way, and a lot has happened that Jefferson could never have envisioned. But it's not going to be easy."
Everyday, The Takeaway team strives to make sure your voice is included in our discussions. Whether it's the conflict in Syria, stories about your favorite songs, or the struggles in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri and beyond, your contributions matter a great deal to us.
To extend the dialogue surrounding the events in the St. Louis area, The Takeaway devoted an entire hour of programming to the issue with our special, "Beyond Ferguson: America’s Struggle for Racial Equality." We also hosted a social media discussion to hear directly from you—below you'll find some highlights from our #BeyondFerguson Twitter chat.
We'd love for you to stay involved—you can join our listener response network by texting the word "START" to 69866. You will receive one question a day about a topic we'll discuss on the next day's show. Standard data and messaging rates may apply, and you can always opt-out by texting the word STOP. You can join us on Facebook or Twitter, or give us a call any time at 1-877-869-8253.
Last October, a police officer in Santa Rosa, California, shot and killed a 13-year-old boy named Andy Lopez. The Latino teenager was carrying a toy gun, which the officer said he believed was real. An hour away, at a home in San Francisco, Zane Fisher-Paulson was in shock.
"My son Zane sat at the kitchen table as we were listening on the radio about it and he started crying," recalls Kevin Fisher-Paulson, Zane's father. "And I said, 'Zane, why are you crying?' And he said, 'Could that happen to me?'"
Fisher-Paulson is a deputy sheriff in San Francisco. He and his husband, Brian, are both white. Zane, 11, the older of their two adopted sons, is black.
For Fisher-Paulson's multiethnic family — including 9-year-old Aiden, who's mixed-race — Lopez's death sparked a conversation about police and race that he'd never had to consider while growing up in a "pretty insular white, Irish-Catholic family." Now the dinner table where he heard the news has become a frequent forum for race issues.
"Raising a black child has certainly awoken my awareness to race in America," Fisher-Paulson says.
He's had that awareness since he and Brian first adopted their children. The pair watched as strangers suspiciously eyed their children if they walked alone in stores, and even felt the strangeness among their well-meaning white family friends. Fisher-Paulson remembers one trip to visit family in Maine in a tone that's still disbelieving: "One of his relatives said, 'Oh my gosh, look how big his lips stick out.'"
Issues of race and policing have become particularly salient over the last ten days, since the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Fisher-Paulson says he can't shield Zane from the realities of being black in America. "I had to be honest with him in that, sometimes in the world, there are still people who will profile an 11-year-old boy simply based on his race," Fisher-Paulson says.
He hopes that conversations like the ones that take place at his table can ease that tension. When Fisher-Paulson looks at the situation in Ferguson, he sees a clear lack of understanding between the police force and the community. "A community does not protest if they feel like they're being heard. ... There was no true and meaningful dialogue with the community about [the shooting]," Fisher-Paulson says. "Rather than beginning a community dialogue, they began driving around in Humvees."
And that dialogue is inseparable from race, he thinks: "That communication's gotta come from a cultural competence, and the cultural competence comes from diversity." It's a particular issue in Ferguson, where the population is 67 percent black but the police force is almost 95 percent white — as are the mayor and six of seven city council members.
As for his own children, Fisher-Paulson admits that "I can't say I live without fear." Zane is getting older and stronger and more aware of the injustices around him. Fisher-Paulson has already experienced moments where Zane has lashed out in anger, yelling in public that his "real father" is black. "When Zane is most fearful, Zane feels that he is the most different ... he will always go to his place of fear when he feels he's different," Fisher-Paulson says.
Of course, he returns to the kitchen table to fight that anger. "We may be different ... but we are, ultimately, the same family. I have to live in that hope, and that my son can be a leader of that hope in the future."
And in the end, he says the key questions that worry him are the same ones that keep any parent of any race up at night: "How can I keep my child protected when I'm not there to protect him?"
"Friendship" is the new novel from author Emily Gould. This book has been selected as the sixth work to be featured in The Takeaway's book club. Below you'll find a description of the book provided by the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
"Bev Tunney and Amy Schein have been best friends for years; now, at thirty, they’re at a crossroads. Bev is a Midwestern striver still mourning a years-old romantic catastrophe. Amy is an East Coast princess whose luck and charm have too long allowed her to cruise through life.
"Bev is stuck in circumstances that would have barely passed for bohemian in her mid-twenties: temping, living with roommates, drowning in student-loan debt. Amy is still riding the tailwinds of her early success, but her habit of burning bridges is finally catching up to her. And now Bev is pregnant.
"As Bev and Amy are dragged, kicking and screaming, into real adulthood, they have to face the possibility that growing up might mean growing apart.
"'Friendship,' Emily Gould’s debut novel, traces the evolution of a friendship with humor and wry sympathy. Gould examines the relationship between two women who want to help each other but sometimes can’t help themselves; who want to make good decisions but sometimes fall prey to their own worst impulses; whose generous intentions are sometimes overwhelmed by petty concerns.
"This is a novel about the way we speak and live today; about the ways we disappoint and betray one another. At once a meditation on the modern meaning of maturity and a timeless portrait of the underexamined bond that exists between friends, this exacting and truthful novel is a revelation."
-Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown has highlighted a racial divide in the way communities across America see the police, and the criminal justice system as a whole.
On Wednesday August 20th, The Takeaway wants to hear from you. Join us at 6:00 PM Eastern/3:00 PM Pacific for a discussion on race, justice, and America. You can participate by following @TheTakeaway on Twitter, and by using the hashtag #BeyondFerguson.
In the meantime, check out our interactive timeline of events, and to listen back to The Takeaway's coverage of Ferguson.
After violence broke out on both Sunday and Monday, the National Guard has been deployed to the city of Ferguson, Missouri as protests continue over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Last night, tear gas was reportedly fired into the crowds, and more than 30 people were arrested, including some journalists.
Tanzina Vega, a reporter for our partner The New York Times, is on the ground in Ferguson and reports on the clashes with police.
Men of a certain age love to make huge dramas out of stuff that maybe doesn't really matter: Things like working out, note for note Aerosmith guitar solos, golf clubs, and fantasy football leagues.
In the man-child world of entertaining pointlessness, actor Mark Duplass is kind of a superhero. His hit TV show "The League," which airs on FX, is all about a group of thirty-something guys obsessed with their fantasy football league to the point where it takes over their lives.
The show has taken over Duplass's own life—he plays alongside his wife, Katie Aselton, who also stars in the show as "Jenny."
But Duplass is a self confessed workaholic, with coaches to keep his marriage on the rails, therapy to keep him from flaming out, and when he wasn't satisfied with his kids school, he paid to hire more teacher's assistants. So really, who can say no to Mark Duplass?
Calling him a control freak doesn't come close. His latest project is a relationship comedy called "The One I Love." Duplass and Elizabeth Moss play a couple who take the advice of their therapist to go on a rejuvenating weekend getaway.
What happens after that is uncomfortable, and very funny. Duplass was very candid about his life and work, how his relationship with his Katie has so far survived Hollywood, and his own oddball childhood.
This is Part I of a two part interview. Check back with The Takeaway to hear Duplass share his fantasy football tips.
At least 30 people were arrested last night in Ferguson, Missouri, as unrest continues over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
On Monday, Governor Jay Nixon lifted the city curfew, a move that coincided with the deployment of the Missouri National Guard. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to arrive in Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with agents overseeing the federal investigation into Michael Brown's death.
President Barack Obama addressed the growing tensions in a press conference Monday afternoon.
“Ours is a nation of laws: Of citizens who live under them and for the citizens who enforce them. So, to a community in Ferguson that is rightly hurting and looking for answers, let me call once again for us to seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other. Let’s seek to heal rather than to wound each other. As Americans we've got to use this moment to seek out our shared humanity," the president said.
But for those living in communities where unrest and distrust continues to weigh heavily in the air, and a greater law enforcement presence does not necessarily equate to peace, and some school districts have now closed—putting classes on hold in order to prioritize student safety.
The decision to cancel school is one Scott Spurgeon, superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District, made on Monday. Spurgeon oversees the school district that includes the location where 18-year-old Brown was shot.
Combined with recent events, the closure has left parents like Melissa Baird Fitzgerald in desperate need of hope. In response, Fitzgerald organized the “Parents for Peace” Facebook page to welcome students on their first day despite the uncertain start of the school year.
In West Africa, the Ebola epidemic has killed at least 1,145 people and sickened hundreds more, and the disease continues to spread. There are possibly hundreds of other carriers of the disease, but many are too scared to report their symptoms.
On Saturday, a mob looted one of Liberia's makeshift hospitals, stealing mattresses and supplies contaminated with the virus. In the midst of the robbery, dozens of patients fled the Ebola center and 17 remain missing.
It's no wonder the World Health Organization is declaring Ebola a "public health emergency of international concern," but some are saying the warning is too little, too late.
At a press conference in Geneva over the weekend, Dr. Joanna Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, called for more leadership from the World Health Organization, and estimated that tackling this epidemic will take at least six months.
With the political situation still very uncertain in Iraq, and ISIS still on the offensive, the average Iraqi continues to find their safety and security under threat. But for Yazidis, Assyrian Christians, and Kurds, the brutal victories of ISIS forces are just the latest bloody chapter in a story that spans centuries of slaughter, ethnic cleansing, and suppression.
Istifan Braymok is an Assyrian Christian refugee who left Northern Iraq with his family last month, after waiting seven years to be granted political asylum. He now lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his brother in law, but he says his thoughts are always with his family back home in Erbil.
Today on The Takeaway, Istifan shares his thoughts on his family's history in Iraq and what he hopes for the future of his country.
Special thanks to our friends at the Center for Investigative Reporting for connecting us with Istifan Braymok.
In the Iraqi city of Mosul, U.S. forces and their Kurdish allies have pushed back ISIS fighters in the struggle to control the Mosul Dam.
It's the latest joint effort by American and Kurdish forces, who have played a key role in driving ISIS extremists back. At the center of the fight has been the Iraqi Kurdish region's Peshmerga fighters.
But The Kurdistan Workers' Party, also known as the PKK, is playing a growing role that can't be ignored because of the group's infamous history: The PKK is an organization that has been officially designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. government, principally because of their bloody campaign against NATO ally Turkey.
The PKK has been a thorn in Turkey's side since at least 1984, when it began appealing for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey.
The PKK joining Kurdish Peshmerga fighters truly makes the current conflict regional, with possible implications for Turkey, Syria, and Iran. Just how different are these organizations, and is it possible for the U.S. to ally with one without also allying with the other?
Aliza Marcus, author of “Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence,” explains just how much these groups have in common.
"This is really amazing because for the longest time, the PKK—the Turkish Kurdish force—has not only been fighting Turkey, but it's also been in an intermittent conflict with the Iraqi Kurds," says Marcus. "When Kurdistan itself is threatened, and there's no question that the fight by these Islamic fighters threatens Kurdistan itself, Kurds come together to defend what they see as their land."
Though these forces are joining together, Marcus says that the international community shouldn't hold out hope for a unified Kurdistan in the long-run.
"I don't think the Kurds see themselves as wanting to or being able to govern together, but they certainly see that they want to support each other's attempts to setup self-rule, and to be able to live in this area peacefully," says Marcus.
Though Turkey and the PKK have long been at odds, in the last year-and-a-half, the two parties have reached a tentative cease-fire.
"Turkey keeps saying that it's planning some sort of broader peace negotiation," says Marcus. "Hopefully, the PKK won't be returning to fighting against Turkey. I think that's an important signal, not just for the Iraqi Kurds, who have almost grudgingly welcomed the PKK, but for the United States, who is looking at the situation on the ground and trying to figure out how to be most successful in the fight against these Islamic forces."
U.S. support is critical to fighting ISIS—the Kurds do not have their own air force, and neither the PKK or the Iraqi Kurds are equipped to fight against ISIS forces, which have obtained sophisticated American military equipment that was abandoned by the Iraqi Army.
"I think the White House has been really slow to develop what I would call a Kurdistan policy," says Marcus.
According to Marcus, it seems like the U.S. is relying on a playbook from the past.
"I think the U.S. isn't really thinking logically about the situation," she says. "I'm not saying that the U.S. needs to take the PKK off the foreign terrorist list tomorrow. But they need to think on the ground: What is the PKK doing? What is it providing? And the fact that it's allied with the Iraqi Kurds is a really strong signal that the PKK can't be ignored."
When it comes to Syria, Marcus says that Kurdish forces have been able to hold off ISIS fighters in the region, though it has been difficult.
"The U.S. again there has refused to deal directly with the Syrian Kurdish group called the PYD—their argument is that the PYD is allied with the PKK," says Marcus. "But we've again come to this sort of circle where Turkey has spoken to the PYD—they invited the PYD leader to Turkey twice last year. So why is the U.S. ignoring the PYD in Syria? It's very hard to understand that logic when the PYD has been fighting ISIS, and has been able to hold territory against them."
Marcus adds that the Kurdish community on the ground and across the globe are both excited and fearful of the new alliance with the PKK.
"For the first time really, Kurdish forces are coming together, they're taking a national stand and they're working together to protect their land," she says. "At the same time, they're very worried that if ISIS is successful, Kurds will be massacred like what we've been seeing with the Yazidis. They're simply worried that the PKK will be abandoned at some point. I think they're concerned, but they are looking towards more support, and they feel that it's necessary if they're going to put up a credible stand against ISIS."
In the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, unrest continues as questions over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown go unanswered.
Over the weekend, the release of a surveillance video, which law enforcement officials say shows a looming 6-foot-4-inch Brown shoving a convenience store clerk before stealing cigarillos, reignited anger in the community.
A preliminary private autopsy revealed that Brown was shot six times, including twice in the head. On Sunday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder said that the Justice Department would conduct its own independent autopsy.
Yesterday, chaos erupted in the St. Louis suburb when, according to the police, at least one bottle rocket was thrown by protesters, and police responded with smoke canisters and tear gas. Despite the violence, Governor Jay Nixon said the overnight curfew was effective in upholding relative calm.
But last night marked the most violent confrontation between the police and the community yet, prompting Gov. Nixon to deploy the National Guard early Monday morning.
“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state," Gov. Nixon says in a statement. "Given these deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard to assist Colonel Ron Replogle and the Unified Command in restoring peace and order to this community.”
Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who has taken over the local police operation, spent time this weekend appealing to the community in Ferguson, making an appearance before a packed audience at the Greater Grace Church.
“I wear this uniform, and I should stand up here and say that I’m sorry,” Capt. Johnson said to a long round of applause.“This is my neighborhood—you are my family, you are my friends, and I am you. I will stand and protect you, and protect your right to protest. And I'll tell you right now, I came in here today and I saw people cheering and clapping, and this is what the media needs to put on TV."
St. Louis Public Radio Reporter Jason Rosenbaum is on the ground in Ferguson, and was there when Captain Johnson spoke.
"I was actually at that rally, sitting about five feet away from Captain Johnston," says Rosenbaum. "I don't use these words lightly: It was an unbelievable speech that brought the crowd to its feet."
Though Captain Johnson's words instilled an initial feeling of hope and calm in the community, Rosenbaum says that after 9:30 PM on Sunday things in Ferguson "spiraled completely out of control."
"The words that both Captain Johnson and everybody else at that church spoke seemed to be a distant memory with tear gas, broken windows, and every other force of destruction you can imagine," Rosenbaum says. "As soon as I saw the TV screens after coming back from that rally, I knew that it was an inevitability that the National Guard was going to be called in."
Rosenbaum says that there are currently dozens of FBI agents combing the streets of Ferguson for information, and St. Louis county is also conducting its own investigation.
"People want quick action for this, but the reality is these investigations take a lot of time to complete," he says. "There's a lot of witnesses that need to be talked to, and a lot of evidence that has to be looked at by investigators. The people that want an immediate indictment or some sort of action, I don't think they're getting that right now and I don't think they're going to get that just because of the way investigations work."
Since the beginning, Brown's death has been marred in controversy, which has led to several different law enforcement agencies to step in.
First, the local municipal police force responded to the protests and upheaval, and then St. Louis county took over. On Wednesday, the Missouri Highway Patrol stepped in to manage crowd control in the area. At that point, it seemed like calm had been restored, but over the weekend, violence returned to the streets.
"I don't think people know what to expect with the National Guard—this is a military force that is usually used to either respond to natural disasters, or in some cases they're jettisoned out to foreign conflicts," says Rosenbaum. "I don't really know what the reaction to the crowd is going to be."
Rosenbaum says there will be likely no problem for those who have so far remained peaceful during demonstrations. But he does point out that some protesters are intentionally breaking the government-mandated curfew and trying to confront governmental authorities. Rosenbaum is unsure how things will play out between the National Guard and those taking a more confrontational route.
In many ways, Brown's death has now reached beyond the borders of Ferguson.
"The people that I've talked to that have been protesting, some of them are from Ferguson, but a lot of them are from the surrounding communities, which are either partially or predominately African-American," says Rosenbaum. "This has now stretched beyond Ferguson's borders, and is now not only an entire St. Louis issue, but I think as your seeing it's become national and international."
Churches throughout Ferguson have played a major role in trying to solve this crisis by attempting to build bridges between local officials and the community at large. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, where the Reverend Steve Lawler leads a multiracial congregation, has become a central food pantry for the community since the protests began.
Rev. Lawler says that in many ways, the community's response to the crisis happens moment-to-moment.
"We have become a food collection place so the parish hall is filling up with food, and people all over the community are ready to help out," says Rev. Lawler.
Individuals of all ages and walks of life are trying to lend a helping hand in Ferguson. Rev. Lawler says that a small, 3-year-old girl came by with her grandmother to offer a can of food and a crayon drawing of people eating. A man whose son was murdered about two-and-a-half years ago also came by to offer food, and Rev. Lawler says he showed a resounding sense of compassion for the family of Michael Brown, for the police officers, for the community, and for the neighborhood.
"The congregation has been really great and responsive," says Rev. Lawler. "A number of people, myself included, are starting to feel some of the fatigue. The shock came immediately, but the fatigue is there now for more people."
In addition to fatigue, Rev. Lawler says that his congregation is "heartbroken" and "shocked" over Brown's death and by the events playing out in the streets of Ferguson, and are "confused" about what will happen next. Additionally, the reverend adds that the voices of concern are coming from individuals of all races.
"People who are on the ground and who live in Ferguson are sharing many of the same questions at many of the same gatherings," he says. "There's a lot of different responses—everything from, 'We've got to get the violence settled down and figure out how to manage that'... to 'I don't understand why people would loot and I don't understand how why these small business owners are the victims.'"
The last week has been a challenge for the people of Ferguson, but Rev. Lawler says that it will be the community is looking forward to the Grand Jury's findings.
"The community is not divided in most ways," says Rev. Lawler, who adds that Ferguson is a community that has a history of being multi-racial. "There's some hope, but each night that we have destruction and violence, it's a real setback."
Iran is the only country worldwide where the practice of selling one's kidney for profit is legal and regulated. It is also one of the only places that has no waiting list for organs.
Dr. Benjamin Hippen, a transplant nephrologist in Charlotte, North Carolina, has studied the Iranian kidney market. He weighs in on the successes and failures of the 20-year-old system.
What's family all about?
It's a big question, and one that's taken on in the new movie "Boyhood," directed by Richard Linklater. Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, "Boyhood" is a remarkable story about life, family, and growing up, as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason.
About half way through the movie, Ethan Hawke, who plays Mason's father, gives his son a very special birthday gift: "The Black Album," which is a compilation of songs from the solo careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Star after The Beatles broke up.
"The Black Album," which consists of three CDs worth of music, is carefully and meticulously collected and organized in a particular composition designed to demonstrate the incredible synergy of these four artists.
But this project doesn't just live in a piece of fiction on the big screen. It was actually a big passion project of Ethan Hawke in real life, a story of love and family told through music that he put together for his real life daughter.
John Schaefer, host of Soundcheck and New Sounds at our partner station WNYC, reviews "The Black Album."
In addition to "The Black Album," Ethan Hawke's character provides young Mason with this letter explaining it:
I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom. This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance.
I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.
The only work I’ve ever been a part of that I feel any sense of pride for involves something born in a spirit of collaboration — not my idea or his or her idea, but some unforeseeable magic that happens in creativity when energies collide.
This is the best of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s solo work, post-BEATLES. Basically I’ve put the band back together for you. There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that. When you mix up their work, though, when you put them side by side and let them flow — they elevate each other, and you start to hear it: T H E B E A T L E S.
Just listen to the whole CD, OK?
I guess it was the fact that Lennon was shot and killed at 40 (one of Lennon’s last fully composed songs was “Life Begins at 40,” which he wrote for Ringo — I couldn’t bring myself to include it on the mix as the irony still does not make me laugh) and that I just turned 40 myself that conjured this BLACK ALBUM. I listen to this music and for some reason (maybe the ongoing, metamorphosing pain of my divorce from your mother) I am filled with sadness that John & Paul’s friendship turned so bitter. I know, I know, I know, it has nothing to do with me, but damn it, tell me again why love can’t last. Why do we give in to pettiness? Why did they? Why do we so often see gifts as threats? Differences as shortcomings? Why can we not see that our friction could be used to polish one another?
I read a little anecdote about when John’s mother died:
He was an angry teenager — a switchblade in his pocket, a cigarette in his lips, sex on his mind. At a memorial service for his “unstable” and suddenly dead mom (whom he’d just recently been getting close to), he — pissed off and drunk — punched a bandmate in the face and stormed out of the memorial reception. Paul, several years his junior — a young boy, really, who didn’t yet care about girls, who was clearly UNCOOL, and who was let into the band despite his lack of badass-ness and sexual prowess due to the fact that even at 14 he could play the shit out of the guitar — chased John out onto the street saying, “John, why are you being such a jerk?”
John said, “My mum’s f*ckin’ dead!”
Paul said, “You never even once asked me about my mum.”
“What about her?”
“…My mum’s dead too.”
They hugged in the middle of the suburban street. John apparently said, “Can we please start a fucking rock ‘n’ roll band?”
This story answered a question that had lingered in my brain my whole music-listening life: If The Beatles were only together 10 years and the members of the band were so young that entire time, how did they manage to write “Help,” “Fool on the Hill,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life”? They were just 25-year-old boys with a gaggle of babes outside their hotel room door and as much champagne as a young lad could stand. How did they set their minds to such substantive artistic goals?
They did it because they were in pain. They knew that love does not last. They knew it as extremely young men.
With the BLACK ALBUM, we get to hear the boys write on adult life: marriage, fatherhood, sobriety, spiritual yearning, the emptiness of material success — “Starting Over,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Beautiful Boy,” “The No No Song,” “God” — and still they are keenly aware of this fact: Love does not last.
I don’t want it to be true. I want Lennon/McCartney to write beautifully together forever, but is that really the point? I mean if the point of a rose was to last forever, it would be made of stone, right? So how do we handle this idea with grace and maturity? If you’re a romantic like me, it’s hard not to long for some indication of healing between the two of them. All signs point that way.
When Paul went on SNL recently, he played almost all LENNON. And he did it with obvious joy.
Listen to McCartney’s “Here Today.”
Can you listen to “Two of Us” (the last song they wrote side by side) and not hurt a little? What were those two motherless boys who hugged in the middle of the road so long ago thinking as they wrote “The two of us have memories longer then the road that stretches out ahead”?
The dynamic of their breakup, like any divorce, is mysterious. Some say that Paul, the pupil, had surpassed John, the mentor, and they couldn’t reach a new balance. Some say Paul was a little snot who bought the publishing rights out from underneath the other three. Others say without Brian Epstein there was no mediator between their egos. Who knows.
I played Samantha “Hey Jude” the other day, and of course she listened to it over and over. I told her the song had been written by McCartney for Lennon’s son after Lennon’s divorce and she listened even more intently. George once said that “Hey Jude” was the beginning of the end for the Beatles. Brian Epstein had just died and John & Paul were left alone to run the brand-new Apple label. They recorded “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” as a single. Normally, Brian would decide which song was the A-side and which was the B-side, but now it was up to the boys. John thought “Revolution” was an important political rock song and that they needed to establish themselves as an adult band. Paul thought “Revolution” was brilliant but that The Beatles were primarily a pop band and so they should lead with “Hey Jude.” He knew it would be a monster hit and that the politics should come on a subversive B-side. They had a vote. “Hey Jude” won 3-1. George said that John felt Paul had pulled off a kind of coup d’etat. He wasn’t visibly upset but he began to withdraw. It was no longer his band.
The irony/punch line of this story is another story I once heard: When the “Hey Jude”/”Revolution” single was hot off the press, the boys had the mischievous idea of bringing their own new single to a Rolling Stones record-release listening party. Mick Jagger says that once the Fab Four arrived and let word of their new single slip — just as Side 1 of the Stones’ big new album was finishing — everyone clamored to hear it. Once The Beatles were on, they just kept flipping the single over and over. Side 2 of BEGGARS BANQUET never even found the needle.
So no matter how mad John was, he wasn’t that mad…
Once when John was asked whether he would ever play with Paul again, he answered: “It would always be about, ‘Play what?’ It’s about the music. We play well together — if he had an idea and needed me, I’d be interested.”
I love that.
Maybe the lesson is: Love doesn’t last, but the music love creates just might.
Your mom and I couldn’t make love last, but you are the music, my man.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love…”
I love you. Happy birthday.
Black Album Tracklist:
1. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Band on the Run”
2. George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”
3. John Lennon feat. The Flux Fiddlers & the Plastic Ono Band, “Jealous Guy”
4. Ringo Starr, “Photograph”
5. John Lennon, “How?”
6. Paul McCartney, “Every Night”
7. George Harrison, “Blow Away”
8. Paul McCartney, “Maybe I’m Amazed”
9. John Lennon, “Woman”
10.Paul McCartney & Wings, “Jet”
11. John Lennon, “Stand by Me”
12. Ringo Starr, “No No Song”
13. Paul McCartney, “Junk”
14. John Lennon, “Love”
15. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “The Back Seat of My Car”
16. John Lennon, “Watching the Wheels”
17. John Lennon, “Mind Games”
18. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Bluebird”
19. John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”
20. George Harrison, “What Is Life”
1. John Lennon, “God”
2. Wings, “Listen to What the Man Said”
3. John Lennon, “Crippled Inside”
4. Ringo Starr, “You’re Sixteen You’re Beautiful (And You’re Mine)”
5. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Let Me Roll It”
6. John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, “Power to the People”
7. Paul McCartney, “Another Day”
8. George Harrison, “If Not For You (2001 Digital Remaster)”
9. John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”
10. Wings, “Let ‘Em In”
11. John Lennon, “Mother”
12. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Helen Wheels”
13. John Lennon, “I Found Out”
14. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”
15. John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band, “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”
15. George Harrison, “Not Guilty (2004 Digital Remaster)”
16. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Heart of the Country”
17. John Lennon, “Oh Yoko!”
18. Wings, “Mull of Kintyre”
19. Ringo Starr, “It Don’t Come Easy”
1. John Lennon, “Grow Old With Me (2010 Remaster)”
2. Wings, “Silly Love Songs”
3. The Beatles, “Real Love”
4. Paul McCartney & Wings, “My Love”
5. John Lennon, “Oh My Love”
6. George Harrison, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”
7. Paul McCartney, “Pipes of Peace”
8. John Lennon, “Imagine”
9. Paul McCartney, “Here Today”
10. George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”
11. Paul McCartney, “And I Love Her (Live on MTV Unplugged)”
"The Black Album" track list and "Boyhood" letter were originally published in BuzzFeed.
On September 18th, more than 4 million people in Scotland will get to vote in a historic referendum on whether their country should become independent for the first time in more than 300 years.
Much is at stake—if voters in Scotland decide to break away from the United Kingdom, including England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland's leaders will need to renegotiate everything from the country’s currency and its foreign policy, to its relationship with the British Army and the rest of the European Union.
“Absolutely no one will do a better job of running Scotland than the people who live and work in Scotland,” Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has said.
But British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged the people of Scotland to vote against independence and save a union which dates back to 1707.
For its part, the U.S. has tried to remain neutral about next month's vote.
“With respect to the future of the United Kingdom, obviously ultimately this is up to the people of Great Britain," President Barack Obama has said. "In the case of Scotland, there’s a referendum process in place and it’s up to the people of Scotland." Although the president did add that, “the United Kingdom has been an extraordinary partner to us. From the outside at least, it looks like things have worked pretty well.”
Scottish political commentator and broadcaster Greg Russell weighs in on how the referendum is playing out in his homeland, and why he's considering a vote for independence.
Miami has long welcomed droves of immigrants from Latin America, but the latest wave of unaccompanied immigrant children is straining the resources of this gateway region in Florida.
School administrators in South Florida are concerned about funding and resources for these new students, who often require extra attention. Some children have never attended school before, and others suffer from psychological trauma from the gang violence back home.
And then there is the trauma from the trip itself.
Rachel Diaz, an attorney for the Mennonite Central Committee, has been working with a 16-year-old from Guatemala. "For the sake of survival, he crossed the border,” she explained. “His coyote left him in the desert. He ran around the desert for three days and finally he pressed that button and said, 'Homeland, come get me,' because it's either that or die.”
Migrant children have already overwhelmed federal authorities at the border, and now they threaten to overwhelm the school system in Miami-Dade County. While Spanish-speaking instructors are in plentiful supply in South Florida, there are far fewer who can speak Mayan languages commonly used in parts of Central America.
The school board has asked for more federal funding.
"We should not be doing it alone,” says Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “These children should not be the political victims of Congressional inaction regarding this matter."
Today is the first day of school for many in South Florida, and John O'Connor, StateImpact education reporter at WLRN-Miami Herald News, describes what school districts are doing to accommodate the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children.
Over the last decade in the United States, the waiting list for an adult kidney has doubled. As of this year, 100,000 patients are waiting on that list.
The sad truth is that many of those people will die waiting, as more than 4,000 do every year.
While those statistics are dire, the situation is even worse in Israel, where a mixture of religious law and cultural practices have led many to reject organ donation. The result? A desperate market of patients who will do anything for a transplantable organ.
That's what Kevin Sack, national correspondent for Takeaway partner The New York Times, discovered through a year-long investigation into the black market for kidneys, an analysis that uncovered Israel’s disproportionate role in sustaining the trafficked organ marketplace.
Sack tells Takeaway host John Hockenberry that the black market is driven by pure economics.
"It's all supply and demand," he says. The World Health Organization, "estimates that supply of available organs fills maybe a tenth of the worldwide need."
1. 'Shock & Confusion': A Struggle to Keep The Faith in Ferguson | 2. How Israel Fuels a Black Market for Organs | 3. Inside Iran's Legal Human Organ Trade | 4.' The Black Album' Puts The Beatles Back Together for New Generation
This week in Ferguson, Missouri, protests over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, turned violent and were met with a militarized response from law enforcement officials.
Relations between the police and community seemed to hit a tipping point this week. Yesterday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced that St. Louis Police Department would no longer be taking the lead in securing the region.
“The immediate security responsibilities will now be directed by Missouri State Highway Patrol, who have proved themselves time and again when Missourians have needed them the most," the governor said.
The images coming out the St. Louis area have had eerie resemblances to the civil rights era, or in some cases, to war zones being fought around the world.
Photos of a mostly-white police force, in military-style gear, atop tanks aiming large weapons at a crowd of predominantly black protesters, flooded the internet and news media. Accounts of tear gas and rubber bullets being fired into that crowd, and journalists being arrested, dominated headlines and the thoughts of Americans across the country.
These are images and scenes that many politicians and American citizens say should not be coming out of the United States in 2014.
"This is a place where people work, go to school, raise their families, go to church—a diverse community—a Missouri community," Gov. Nixon said. "But lately it's looked more like a war zone."
In response to criticism over accusations of excessive force, Gov. Nixon named Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol as the new leader of security operations in Ferguson.
“We are going to have a different approach and have the approach that we’re in this together," Captain Johnson said during a press conference Thursday.
Captain Johnson reportedly spent much of last night with protesters, listening to their stories and marching alongside them through the streets. Troopers and tanks have also been ordered to back away, and police removed their tear gas masks, ushering in, by some accounts, a peaceful and celebratory night in Ferguson.
Don Marsh is host of the St. Louis Public Radio program St. Louis on the Air, and a long-time resident of the region. He's also someone who has considered the region's racial history deeply in a project called "St. Louis History in Black and White," produced with St. Louis Public Radio.
Don explains what the mood was like in Ferguson last night, and what the locals are saying in the area.
Though the events in the St. Louis area have undoubtedly shaken the region, nationally, the situation in Ferguson has triggered widespread criticism of the use of military-style weaponry and equipment by local forces, and calls are coming from across the country to demilitarize the police.
Jack Hoban, president of Resolution Group International, a professional training organization that works closely with military and law enforcement organizations, reflects on how police departments use military gear.
What do you make of the events in Ferguson? What does it say about modern America? Leave a comment below or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.
For many Americans, including President Obama, August is a month for vacation, a time to escape the daily grind and get away.
But for a growing number of workers, taking time off is a luxury they can't afford. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just one in four American workers in the private sector—about 26 million people—have no paid time off, compared with less than one-fifth of workers in the 1990s. The U.S. is also the only country among its economic peers that does not mandate paid vacation.
Daniel Levitin, dean of Arts and Humanities of the Minerva Schools at KGI, says that's a real problem, particularly for our overworked brains.
Levitin, the author of “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload" tells Takeaway host John Hockenberry that true vacations—real breaks from work, email, and incessant phone calls—are necessary for creative thinking and energy.
"YouTube, computer browsing, and television watching—those are great leisure activities," he says. "But they're not the same as engaging what we call the default mode of the brain: The creative, free flow, free association part of our consciousness."
With the midterm elections just a few months away, the campaign ad onslaught has already begun. Negative campaign ads have a long history, and a typical format: The haunting music, the ominous voiceover, and a flood of menacing images.
According to the National Journal, political strategist believe that voters have "grown weary and dubious" of the conventional attack and the hysterical shriek of negative ads. With that in mind, the the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) decided to try a different tactic for 2014.
The NRCC has developed a series of websites designed to look like local news outlets. With names like “Central Valley Update” and "Augusta Update," these sites feature articles that claim to look at the "facts" of a particular candidate’s record. The disclaimer "Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee" only appears at the bottom of the fake article.
The sites are designed to mimic the look and feel of a legitimate new organization in hopes that the message will stick.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of "The Obama Victory: How Media, Money, and Messages Shaped the 2008 Election," examines this new campaign strategy.
Check out a map of the 2014 midterm elections you should be watching below.
It's the end of a long week for the people of Ferguson, Missouri, after tear gas, rubber bullets, and protests dominated their streets.
Fears and tensions have enveloped the entire St. Louis community, and America at large, as the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown, continues to command the attention of the nation.
While the rest of America looks on, it's hard to ignore the fact that we've been here before.
“My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin," said President Obama at a news conference in March 2012, shortly after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon and I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."
Zimmerman was acquitted in July of 2013, and when the ruling came down, we turned to two voices, Avis Jones DeWeever, host of the nationally-syndicated radio show, Focus Point with Avis Jones-DeWeever, and Rich Benjamin, author of “Searching for Whitopia” and senior fellow at Demos, to reflect on our expectations of security, justice, and equality in modern America.
Two years later, the death of a different boy in a different part of America is raising questions of whether or not anything has changed in this country.
What are you expectations about racial justice in America? Do you believe Ferguson is a mirror for modern America? Leave a comment or call 1-877-869-8253.
For Crystal, Lisa and Anita—the three women featured in The Takeaway's six-month-long series "Under Her Skin: Living With Breast Cancer"—there has been no pause, and no intermission between Act I and Act II. Life with cancer continues.
In this update to our “Under Her Skin” series, Crystal, Lisa, and Anita share their latest audio diaries about their daily life as they continue to fight breast cancer.
After what she's gone through, normal is an unusual word for Crystal these days. You might say anxiety is normal for her now, but she can't let that get in the way.
“Tonight I was waiting in the car for a friend and I was just feeling on my neck and I felt a lump. I don't know if it's a lymph node or if it's just a bump I am definitely going to try to email my doctor and tell the radiation oncologist or nurse on Monday. I am hoping this is nothing and it's just something normal,” Crystal Miller says in her audio diary entry, dated July 11, 2014.
Since we met 28-year-old Crystal, she's gone through surgery, chemotherapy, and she's now in radiation. The cancer may be gone, but doubt—doubt is something she may hold onto for a long time.
“Am I always going to feel like everything that happens has something to do with cancer? I'm wondering if that is going to be my first thought every time something shows up on my body,” she says in her latest update.
For Anita Coleman, family time has changed now that she is undergoing treatment.
“They know that I'm just sick. That's how they see it,” Anita says in her latest audio diary, dated July 4, 2014.
Anita has been forced to reconcile the precious relationship she has with her three young grandchildren, ages 2-and-a-half, 4-years-old, and 7-years-old, with the uglier side of cancer.
“Basically on my down days, they don't come around me," says Anita. "Number one my patience level is short, and the little bickering back and forth—I can't take it. But I really don't want them to see me barely moving some days, because children have lasting impressions and the impression I don't want them to see is when I can't barely walk, the days when it's hard to walk or the days when I just am tired.”
Our third brave pioneer, Lisa Echols, mom to 16-year-old Steven in Memphis, Tennessee, brought her son along to experience the realities of an oncology appointment and a herceptin chemotherapy treatment. But they also found time to talk about the other things.
“He got a chance to see what I really go through when go for my treatment,” she says in her July 17, 2014 audio diary. “We was able to sit down and really talk and for me to find out what was going on in his life and for him to see the lifestyle that I am going through now.”
Right now, Lisa is focused on what's ahead. On Monday, she will return to work at Baptist Memorial Women's Hospital and her role as a technician in the neonatal intensive care unit. She's looking forward to just taking care of the babies, as she puts it.
“I am going to return to work very soon. I can't wait to walk the halls of the hospital and speak to all of my coworkers and just laugh and talk and enjoy life itself,” says Lisa in audio diary from August 8, 2014.
If you like following Lisa, Crystal, and Anita and want to be apart of the conversation you can get involved with this week's discussion on money.
Even with the beast insurance, cancer treatment can pose a serious financial burden. And we want to hear about the financial issues you have encountered. What surprised you most about the medical costs? How did you budget for them and did you get any help along the way? How much did money weigh on you during and after treatment? Leave a comment below or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253
Listeners can continue this conversation any day of the week by joining The Takeaway's Facebook group for this project.Check out the full series and extended interviews at the Under Her Skin: Living With Breast Cancer page.
1. New Peacekeeper Cools Tension in Ferguson | 2. Under Her Skin: Life With Cancer Continues | 3. The Movie Date Team Tackle's This Weekend's New Releases | 4. Take a Real Vacation: Science Says Your Brain Needs It
Rafer and Kristen are having a tough week; the kind of week that has them tag-teaming three movies in one day and quoting lines from "Splash." But they try their best to keep their energy up as they review four of this week's movie releases: "Let's Be Cops," "The Expendables 3," "The Giver," and "Frank." They also respond to a listener who's starved for some clever modern remakes of ancient stories. And, as always, there's trivia!
The aftermath from the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown over the weekend can still be seen on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. Last night, the protests in the St. Louis suburb started to look more and more like a war zone (see photo slide show below).
“I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country as police have clashed with people protesting,” President Obama said at a news conference Thursday.
The White House has asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Brown, along with local officials on the ground.
“The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation,” the president said.
Law enforcement officials reportedly used tear gas to disperse protesters, and patrolled the streets with armored vehicles and high powered assault rifles. Reporters Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post were arrested last night, and Lowery was reportedly assaulted by a law enforcement officer.
“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” President Obama added. “There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”
To give us a sense of where things stand in the community, The Takeaway turns to Jelani Cobb, a contributor to The New Yorker and the director of Africana studies at the University of Connecticut. He's currently in Ferguson, and said that the scene looked like something out of Iraq or Afghanistan.
“What I saw there was very reminiscent of a combat zone,” says Cobb.
Community leaders, clergy, and the family of Michael Brown are calling for peace, but Cobb says that police in the area remain aggressive.
“There was a real climate of hostility emanating from the police,” says Cobb. “It was almost a given—everyone knew that when night fell, there was going to be some kind of activity that took place.”
While many contend that individuals from outside the community are inciting violence, Cobb says that there has been a long-standing feeling of tension between the police and the citizens of Ferguson, nearly 70 percent of whom are black.
“The veil of secrecy that has surrounded the investigation has done nothing to alleviate the tensions,” says Cobb. “People here think the secrecy, particularly of not releasing the name of the officer, that the secrecy here provides a great deal of leeway or a great opportunity for collusion. When the name becomes available, people really don’t know if there’s been coordination in terms of stories.”
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson contends that the officer involved in the incident had reportedly been hit and suffered swelling on the side of his face. But Cobb says without knowing which officer was involved, it is impossible to independently verify that information.
“No one has seen him; no one knows who he or she is,” says Cobb. “It’s very difficult to develop any trust in that context.”
While protests initially started as a way to show solidarity with Brown and his family, Cobb says individuals in Ferguson are increasingly worried about the militarization of the police department. Last night, Cobb says the streets were blockaded and the police were out in riot gear.
“[It] is perhaps understandable given that there have been incidents of looting and some vandalism,” he says. “But what was atypical and what was shocking to see is these police officers had two armored personnel carriers that were nose to nose that were blocking the street. Many if not most of the officers had on some kind of military fatigue garb.”
Officers also sat on top of armored vehicles with high-powered assault rifles—Cobb says it looked like some kind of “sniper’s nest.”
“This is like municipal shock and awe,” he says. “They ordered the crowd to disperse around 8:30 and began firing tear gas. They continued to tear gas that community for up to two hours after that, such that there was a large white cloud looming over that entire neighborhood.”
In addition to tear gas, Cobb says that police fired rubber bullets and threw flash grenades.
"It was hard to understand what threat justified this," he says.
About 24 years ago, the research team at the Black Hills Institute of Hill City, South Dakota made one of the greatest paleontological finds in history when they found the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found.
Field paleontologist Susan Hendrickson stumbled upon the first bits of bone, and in her honor the T-Rex was named "Sue." A price tag of $5,000 was agreed upon with the landowner, the most ever paid for a fossil at that time, and the team packed Sue up and brought her home to Hill City.
Even today, scientists estimate there are only about 2,100 "good" skeletons of any dinosaur in museums worldwide, and Sue's discovery is the subject of new documentary,
"DINOSAUR 13," directed by Todd Miller.
If there's one thing Peter Larson, paleontologist and president of Black Hills Institute, can attest to, it's that as with many great finds among the vast acreage of the west, one man's claim is often subject to seizure.
Is the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq the new Baghdad? When examining U.S. foreign policy, it now seems to involve a greater emphasis on making Kurdistan safe from ISIS, even as Baghdad's political stability and its ability to defend itself seems to be eroding.
After days of U.S. airstrikes and an advance by Kurdish fighters in Iraq, the militant siege of Mount Sinjar is over, according to U.S. Defense Department officials.
Thousands of Yazidis that were trapped on top of the mountain for the last week and have been able to escape, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby. On Tuesday, about a dozen Marines and Special Ops forces spent the day helping thousands of Yazidis evacuate. Thousands still remain, but far fewer than a week ago at this time.
Is America's presence in Kurdistan a rescue mission, or something else?
"I think it’s most likely far less likely now that we would undertake any kind of specific humanitarian rescue mission that we have been planning," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. "That doesn’t mean that we won’t," he added.
The U.S. says it now has the option to enlarge its ground forces in Kurdistan, an announcement that coincides with a United Nations declaration that the situation for the Yazidis has now become a dire humanitarian crisis, reaching a "Level 3" emergency.
On Wednesday, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes announced that the White House is considering using ground troops in Iraq to help rescue the remaining Yazidi's trapped on Mount Sinjar.
"We're not putting ground forces into combat role in Iraq. We're using U.S. military personnel to assess what the best way is to bring people to safety, and what the best way is to provide them with humanitarian assistance," Rhodes said.
But Iraq remains a troubled nation, something American officials recognize, and once those troops are there, Pentagon Spokesman Colonel Steve Warren hinted their role could change.
"Where exactly the line where it crosses into combat or noncombat, that's open to debate," said Col. Warren.
Aki Peritz, a former CIA analyst and co-author of "Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda," explains why the U.S. is turning to the Kurdish leadership in Erbil to forge a stable partnership amid all of Iraq's turmoil.
Khaled Salih, vice-chancellor for the University of Kurdistan and adviser to the Prime Minister of Kurdistan, describes the Kurdish perspective on the crisis.
For the youth in Baltimore, the city streets are now off limits after dark. Late last week, a curfew law went into effect that requires kids 13-years-old and under to be indoors by 9:00 pm, and teens between the ages of 14 to 16 to be off the streets by 10:00 pm on school nights, and by 11:00 pm on weekends and during the summer.
Baltimore's curfew is one of the toughest in the country, but the city is not alone. New Orleans, Dallas, and Miami have all adopted curfews with the goals of reducing crime and catching at-risk youth before they make mistakes.
"If you are going to ask young people to be up and ready for school at 6:30, or 7:00 in the morning, then they should not be out at 11:00 at night," said the bill's sponsor, Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott.
Do curfews work? Some critics say the law could lead to racial profiling, and exacerbate an already tense relationship between some community members and the police.
Joining The Takeaway to weigh in is Jason Tashea, juvenile justice director at Advocates for Children and Youth, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of Maryland's children. He explains what Baltimore is like for the city's youth, and whether the new law will infringe on the rights of parents and young people. Angela Johnese is the director of the Mayor's office on criminal justice, and a proponent of the new law.
The Takeaway contacted Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and received the following statement:
"As a mother, I cannot rest at night knowing that there are unsupervised children and teens roaming the streets at times where the probability of them becoming victims or perpetrators of crimes are significantly increased. Like many Baltimore City residents, I am committed to our youth.
"As a community, we must do all we can to ensure that we provide a strong foundation and promote positive development for our youth that allows them to soar. That’s why the year-round Youth Connections Centers for youth who violate the city curfew are critical in our efforts to realize a safer Baltimore for our youth, and residents in general.
"The amended curfew ordinance further supports my administration’s efforts to identify the city’s at-risk youth in order to provide support and resources to them and their families. While curfew enforcement is helpful, it is only one tool. So, we need parents, neighbors, and community members to remain active and vigilant in protecting our most valuable resources, our children."
A convoy of 260 white, unmarked trucks are idling in southeastern Russia, about 200 miles from the Ukrainian border. According to Russian state media, the trucks are transporting around 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid, including baby food, sugar, sleeping bags, generators, medicine, and medical supplies for civilians in Ukraine.
But the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has yet to receive official details of the aid convoy (pictured below), and now Ukrainian officials are claiming that the trucks are full of military assistance for pro-Russian separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.
Whether it’s Red Cross supplies, or a 21st century Trojan horse, tensions between Russia and Ukraine are running high.
On the ground in Kiev is Andriy Kulykov, a Public Radio Ukraine correspondent. He explains what’s happening on the street, and how local citizens are reacting to the news.
1. Is the U.S. Bailing on Baghdad? | 2. 'Municipal Shock & Awe' in Ferguson | 3. Baltimore Enforces Tough Curfew for City's Teens | 4. The Story Behind the World's Largest T-Rex
Across the country at kitchen tables and diners, in coffee shops and around water coolers, Americans have been discussing the tragic death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, who committed suicide on Monday at the age of 63.
Williams's death continues to haunt people—there were numerous tributes and moments of silence for him in performances around the nation yesterday. And remembrances from Takeaway listeners also came pouring in.
"I will never forget the immense sadness that poured over me when I tried to make sense of the words displayed on my television: 'Robin Williams died from suicide,'" Takeaway listener Melissa Bowen wrote on our website.
Whatever problems he had, Williams seemed to find an outlet in comedy. He put himself out there, but was his comedic playfulness just a kind of defense to hide a deeper sense of turmoil that came form within? Though Williams tackled topics like addiction onstage, few comedians of his generation discuss mental illness.
And now a new generation of comedians are plucking the depths of despair—for material. Jacqueline Novak is leading that charge. She recently released her first comedy album, "Quality Notions," and she's the author of the forthcoming book, “How to Weep in Public.” She tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry about walking the line when it comes to finding humor in mental illness.
After decades of conflict, is there a leader that could unify Iraq? It was once thought that the nation's current Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki was the man for the job, but he is stirring up controversy by refusing to relinquish power.
Haider Al-Abadi has been nominated as the country's next prime minister, but early doubts are emerging over whether he has the force of character to stop the country from pulling itself further apart. The candidates from the Dawa Party have so far been the only leaders in Iraq post Saddam Hussein.
But former Iraqi Minister of Trade, Defense, and Finance, Ali Allawi, reminds us that before Saddam Hussein, Iraq had a monarchy. Is it time to take a royal route back to unity in this divided country? Allawi, the author of "Faisal I of Iraq," says a monarchy may be a long-shot, but it's hardly a far-fetched idea.
"When Iraq was first founded in 1921, it followed a monarchical system," says Allawi. "It seemed to provide the right mix of political cover to create an element of stability in a country that has a very varied population. The monarch that we had was not indigenous—he was from the Hejaz [region] in what is now Saudi Arabia. But he came with a long pedigree, and was a person who could unite various, disparate groups in a form of determined, but moderate, patriotism."
Though Iraq had a strong start with King Faisal, a member of the Hashemite family, the monarchy did not last for more than 30 years, and Allawi concedes that it would be very difficult to recreate the conditions of 1921.
"There are quite a few people who could be considered legitimate heirs," says Allawi. "The most important one—and he in fact went back to Iraq after 2003—his name is Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein. His grandfather was King Ali of the Hejaz, so Faisal was his great uncle. But I'm afraid the monarchical system in Iraq didn't get much traction after 2003, for a variety of reasons."
Allawai believes a monarchy is one of the few formulas that could work in Iraq. He contends it could also unite both Sunnis and Shiites.
"Faisal the I and his descendants, including Sharif Ali and others, they bring to the equation some very, very important advantages," he says. "One of them is that they are descendants of the prophet Muhammad, and therefore have great religious legitimacy. Secondly, they have been rulers and custodians over the shrines in the Hejaz of Mecca and Medina for nearly 1,000 years, before this was taken over from them by the Saudis. They are probably the most noble family in the Arab world."
Allawai says that Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein and his family already have roots in the country and practice a very open and inclusive form of Islam.
"He can transcend the differences, and act as a focal point for groups that would normally not be able to co-exist," says Allawai. "King Faisal I was able to do that, [but] a lot of it depends on the quality of the individual. We have the possibilities in Iraq of forming a monarchical system that can act as a kind of magnet for all of the various groups because it does not really belong to each individual, and therefore cannot be seen to be partial."
Coalescing support around a monarchical system would be the key to its success, says Allawai. But that idea is easier said than done.
"If you're going to be able to produce a king, there has to be some kind of groundswell of support for such a person, and it has to develop and evolve," he says. "It could have happened, and it could still happen. But as things stand right now, it seems to be a long shot."
In Iraq, a political crisis is underway as Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki continues to refuse to relinquish power, even after the U.S. vocalized support for Iraqi President Fouad Massoum's nomination of Haider Al-Abadi as the country's next prime minister.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military is struggling to effectively deliver much needed food and water to thousands of Iraqi Yazidis as they remain stranded on Mount Sinjar after fleeing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq,” says that Iraq is in need of a unifying figure.
Deep in the land of the old Confederacy, one would expect that there might be some symbols that could raise sensitive issues for students at universities that embrace diversity and students of all races and backgrounds. The issue of symbolism is one Ole Miss, or the University of Mississippi, is struggling with now.
While some overt symbols of the Confederacy have been banned from the campus, there are still war memorials to Confederate soldiers, among other things. And now University of Mississippi officials are reviewing the Ole Miss nickname as part of a bigger inquiry into the school’s historic associations with symbols of the Confederacy.
Sierra Mannie, a rising senior at the University of Mississippi entering her last year, shares her thoughts on the Ole Miss nickname, and her experience as a black student at the University of Mississippi.
What do you think? Vote in our poll below.
A sultry actress and a true Hollywood film star, Lauren Bacall died yesterday at the age of 89. Her career in show business made her a symbol—a tough woman who could do it all with class and brains, and still be irresistible.
On and off screen, Bacall seduced Humphrey Bogart, and together they became a glamours, Hollywood power couple—she the bombshell, he the swarthy anti-hero who got the girl. They were the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of their day.
Lauren Bacall was always the dreamer with a sultry voice, a fierce sense of determination, and an unforgettable style.
Today The Takeaway pays tribute to Lauren Bacall. Please share your remembrances with us—leave a comment below or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.
The novel follows the intertwined stories of two strong-willed characters—Helen, a social worker in a fictional Midwestern town called Laurel, and Isaac, the mysterious African arrival whose case is assigned to her. Helen and Isaac fall for each other almost immediately, but Isaac’s past is far too tangled for this to be a simple love story.
Isaac presents himself as a student, but he’s in fact more like a refugee, albeit one traveling under false pretenses. Ethiopian by birth, at a young age, Isaac left his family (and the thirteen names they had for him) behind, travelling through Kenya to Uganda to try to make a life in the urban center of Kampala.
But revolution is in the air, and his university studies quickly get sidetracked by the schemes of his classmate and best friend, a young man with fervent political ideals and an under-developed sense of self-preservation.
History informs Mengestu’s plotline, but the story isn’t too tightly connected to real-life historical events. Instead, the drama of Uganda’s revolutionary movements serves as a backdrop for Isaac’s own struggles to define himself and his aspirations, even as the tension of race-relations in 1970s America shape Helen’s desire to rebel and upend her provincial life in Laurel.
Glenn Miller, T.J. Conley, and Fin Donesky of the He-Man Book Lovers Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota reflect on the book.
1. America's Reluctant Return to Iraq | 2. Iraq: The Case for a King | 3. Hollywood Film Icon Lauren Bacall Dies at 89 | 4. The Takeaway Book Club: 'All Our Names'
Demonstrators took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday, where community members are looking for answers in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old teen killed by a police officer after an alleged struggle over the weekend.
Ferguson is a suburb of St. Louis and home to about 21,000 people, nearly 70 percent of whom are black. The town is part of a quilt of diversity and racial and economic disparities that have been the source of tension for decades.
On the heels of Brown's death this past Sunday, 12 business were damaged by rioters who broke windows, looted, and set fire to a local mini-mart. Police arrested 32 people in the incident, and two officers received minor injuries.
As the FBI and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division each open separate investigations into the fatal shooting, St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar remains cautiously optimistic about the town.
"I have enough confidence in our community, I have lived here my whole life, that calmer heads will prevail moving forward, but I am planning for a worst case,” Chief Belmar said at a news conference yesterday.
But racial and economic divisions run deep in Ferguson. In 1917, East St. Louis erupted with some of the most serious racial violence in U.S. history after clashes broke out between African-American workers and whites who feared for their jobs and wage security.
The community is also the home of Dred Scott, a slave who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and whose name marks the popular and historic landmark Supreme Court decision.
Garrett Albert Duncan, an associate professor of African and African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, gives us a look at the long and complicated historical racial divisions of this small community.
"A lot of what has gone on in St. Louis, as well as East St. Louis, is similar to what is happening in other Northern cities," says Professor Duncan. "It goes way back to reconstruction, when the state began operating in support of the white property ownership, and whites in general. We still see that going on, where the imperatives, especially for the white elite, are met and the African-American communities are actually excluded."
Professor Duncan says that St. Louis—a place he has lived in for 18 years—is very much divided along racial lines.
"This is not something that just happened," he says. "Part of what's going on, very specifically as it relates today, is the industrialization. If you go to north St. Louis, which is a code word for 'black,' you see all of these vacant buildings. There used to be a prosperous, predominately black community. But when our economy shifted and manufacturers left, you had vacant buildings, a loss of jobs, and the inability of black residents to go into the suburbs or predominately white communities to get jobs. There's always an economic twist to this."
According to Professor Duncan, some people that attended the recent vigil over the weekend were from communities other than Ferguson.
"Some of the destructive behavior is actually from outside of Ferguson," he says. "You have folks coming in to exploit a situation that has nothing to do with Michael Brown. But everything is being conflated because no one knows who's who. In many ways, it's inflaming this notion of black criminality. But the fact of the matter is, if you watch carefully, those associated with the death of the young man are pleading for peace."
Professor Duncan says that there is a history of tension between law enforcement officials and the community, adding that county and city police forces are reluctant to engage with citizens.
"Part of the political machines are involved in this as well—there's a refusal to meet people or to establish citizen review boards," he says. "That's not going to happen in my lifetime in St. Louis. There is this intense distrust because things to always go in a way opposite of the interests of the black community."
Professor Duncan points out that incumbent St. Louis County Executive Charles Dooley was recently defeated by a more conservative, pro-law enforcement candidate.
"There might be some superficial changes," he says. "I don't see any major movement going forward out of St. Louis. There are certain cursory, certain short-term solutions, but I do not see any long-term solutions."
Actor and comedian Robin Williams died Monday at the age of 63. Throughout his life, he electrified the screen with his wit, humor, compassion, and kindness. He was a man that touched America, and will be missed by the world.
Williams had an energy that always seemed too much to contain. He orbited the sun, but always with humanity, crusading for us all. Today, as The Takeaway remembers Robin Williams, we ask that you share your tributes. Leave a comment below or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.
Though Williams made us all laugh, he struggled with demons and depression, and the Academy Award-winning actor ultimately met a tragic end. The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that it “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.”
“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” his wife Susan Schneider said in a statement. “As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”
Williams, who was known for his magnetic personality, comedic levity, and wide-range as a dramatic actor, captivated audiences in an array of films and television programs—from a zany alien in "Mork and Mindy," to a lovable housekeeper in "Mrs. Doubtfire," or a wise therapist in "Good Will Hunting." He gave joy to children with films like "Aladdin" and "Jumanji," and brought a sense of understanding to the world with movies like "Dead Poets Society" and "What Dreams May Come."
In addition to his wife Susan, Williams is survived by his children Cody, Zelda, and Zachary.
"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien—but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most—from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets."
Help us say goodbye to Robin Williams. Leave a comment below with your tribute, or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.
"He could make you laugh and cry in the same scene—such talent and range," Johnnie Sue Thayer writes on Facebook.
"The raw shocking news of Robin Williams’ death is so hard to take…He will forever be the one and only comedic genius...I don’t recall such an outpouring of sentiments and personal deep loss since news of Princess Diana’s tragic death in 1997," Eleni Daniels says in a Facebook comment.
"Tears. You'll be missed," Angie Short Rippy writes on Facebook.
When things get hard or you really need to talk, where do you turn? A friend's living room, a therapist's office, your mom's kitchen? In our safe spaces, we often just want to be heard and have someone to say, "I believe you, it's not your fault."
If some people could hear those words they might not feel so alone while dealing with the aftermath of sexual trauma and the consequences of abuse. "I Believe You, It's Not Your Fault" is the title of a new blog and social network dedicated to collecting and sharing stories of sexual assault.
Lindy West, founder and editor of the blog, wanted to create a space online that came close to the sanctuary she found with a group of women who have come together to share honest fears, and to seek support about subjects that are hard for anyone to talk about.
Founded almost a month ago, the site has expanded to include hundreds of stories from young and old, men and women, gay and straight about the shame they've felt about sexual assault and harassment.
The blog and social network has found a rapidly growing community of young people looking for a place to share safely and take support without fear of judgement. Today on The Takeaway, Lindy West explains why the project has struck such a chord.
A new controversy is brewing at the Los Angeles Police Department. According to a new investigation by the Los Angeles Times, the LAPD has misclassified more than 1,000 violent offenses.
In one case, a man attacked his pregnant wife, stabbing her with a pair of scissors. In another, a man's girlfriend poured boiling water on him. In yet another case, a man threw his wife down a flight of stairs after stabbing her in the face with a screwdriver.
What these cases have in common, is that none were classified as "aggravated assault" by the LAPD, despite meeting the criteria. Instead, they were reported as "simple assaults" or "other miscellaneous crimes."
The LA Times reviewed a year's worth of data and more than 90,000 incident reports. In all, their findings revealed that the police misclassified about 1,200 violent crimes.
The Takeaway reached out to the LAPD for comment, and received the following statement: "The LA Times’ identified cases involving miscoding, not mishandling, of crimes reported to the FBI." The statement continued: "The Department has already used many of the LA Times’ findings to improve its coding of assault crimes and will continue improving its systems through ongoing audits, reviews, inspections and investigations."
Today, The Takeaway talks with Ben Poston, a staff writer with the Los Angeles Times, about the paper's investigation.
After just one year of music lessons, the reading scores of 9- and 10-year-old students from low-income neighborhoods held steady, while the scores of their peers, who didn't study an instrument, dipped.
That's the finding of a new study from Northwestern University. The teamed with an organization called The Harmony Project to see how learning music impacts a student's academic performance.
Dr. Margaret Martin is the Founder the Harmony Project. She joins The Takeaway to discuss what makes The Harmony Project a success, and what this program looks like on the ground.
On Monday, President Obama said that the Iraqi people took a promising step forward with the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as the country's next prime minister. The U.S. and Britain have attempted to drop tens of thousands of meals and gallons of water to aid Kurdish Yezidis, who are stranded on Mt. Sinjar, but the humanitarian mission has brought various complications.
And President Obama continued to stress the temporary nature of U.S. involvement in the region while speaking to reporters in Martha's Vineyard yesterday.
“As I said when I authorized these operations, there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq," said President Obama. "The only lasting solution is for Iraqi's to come together and form a lasting government."
President Obama also expressed satisfaction with the progress of the air campaign so far, which has thwarted the ability of ISIS to continue east toward the city of Erbil.
But on Sunday evening, Britain's Royal Air Force was forced to abort an aid drop amid fears that the thousands below could be injured by the falling aid. So what does it takes to make a humanitarian mission successful? For the answer, The Takeaway turns to Mark Gunzinger, a retired Air Force colonel and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
"The limitations in these kinds of operations, which is primarily humanitarian and [for] providing some security for the refugees—in this case the Yezidis—to reach safety, but there's simply not enough force being applied from the air," says Gunzinger. "A limited number of targeted airstrikes targeting the forces surrounding the Yezidis is not going to make much of a difference compared to a serious air campaign, which would be multiple strikes—maybe 200 or 300 a day. That could really [erode] the ISIS forces and turn momentum in the conflict in favor of the Iraqi government.".
Gunzinger says that the Pentagon has an opportunity to turn the tide in this conflict by using American air power to support Iraqi ground forces and the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, and can do so without enlisting U.S. ground forces.
Though it is still unclear whether the nation's current Prime Minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, will back down and pave the way for al-Abadi, Gunzinger says that a change in leadership could provide a new sense of hope for groups that are still loyal to the Iraqi government.
"In terms of that actually effecting conditions on the Sinjar mountains, I'm a little more doubtful," he says. "That's a more immediate and tactical situation."
Gunzinger agrees with President Obama's assessment that there is no military solution in Iraq—at least not a U.S. military solution.
"This has to be a conflict where the Iraqi forces need to prevail," he says. "That being said, we can certainly do a lot to support them, much as we did in Afghanistan and even in the Balkans. Host government ground forces, in the case of Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance, were supported by U.S. airstrikes with very, very few Americans on the ground advising them. That could be a model that could apply in this particular situation."
If the U.S. government were to adopt this plan, Gunzinger says that he doesn't foresee it being a long operation. He does, however, concede that a successful humanitarian rescue mission would require a considerable amount force from several state actors.
1. In St. Louis, A Long & Troubled Past with Race | 2. Can The U.S. Help Iraq Save Itself? | 3. New Website Gives Outlet for Sexual Assault Victims | 4. The Man That Touched America: A Tribute to Robin Williams
In St. Louis, Missouri, the shooting of an 18-year-old African-American man has sparked protests and anger among the community.
On Saturday, Michael Brown, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, a middle-class suburb of St. Louis that is about 60 percent black and 30 percent white. The details surrounding Brown's death remain confusing, and his parents have retained the attorney that represented the family of Trayvon Martin.
"It is our understanding at this point in the investigation, that within the police car, there was a struggle over the officer's weapon," St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters at a news conference.
Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother, told local news channel KSDK that her son did not deserve to die.
"My son just turned 18 and graduated high school and he didn’t bother nobody," said McSpadden. “You’re not God, you don’t get to decide when you get to take somebody from here.”
The officer in question, who reportedly has no other incidences of violence on his record, has since been put on paid administrative leave. But local officials and residents are calling for a full investigation, and they emphasize that Brown was unarmed.
About 200 people took to the streets in protest over the weekend—the demonstrations started out peaceful and then turned violent, with crowds looting businesses and setting fire to stores, taunting the police, and vandalizing vehicles.
"Let's just say this, whatever happened there was a young man that was killed," John Gaskin, who serves on the national board of directors for the NAACP in St. Louis County, tells The Takeaway. "This kind of police brutality needs to stop, and it needs to stop right away. Being a 21-year-old you man, being a BMW—black man walking—I realize those risks; that you have to walk a little bit more carefully. You have to be so careful because there are those officers that won't necessarily respond in the most proper manner.”
The FBI is now taking over the investigation into Brown's death.
Rachel Lippman, a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio was at the protests in Missouri over the weekend. She explains what the atmosphere is like in St. Louis today.
"The protests started off like many of the others that had happened over the weekend," says Lippman. "While the protests had been boisterous and they had been loud, they had not turned violent. That changed last night."
Lippman says that after a demonstration on Sunday, a group of protesters began throwing bottles, cans, and rocks at police officers.
"When the police dropped back for their safety, that's when looting began," she says. "That became fairly widespread throughout a five to ten mile patch throughout north St. Louis County."
According Lippman, the looting started at about 9:00 PM on Sunday evening and continued until the early hours of Monday morning.
"They want answers," Lippman says of the residents in the St. Louis area. "Whether they will ever accept the story that the St. Louis County Police Department is saying happened, I don't know. They want to know how and why it was that an unarmed teenager—who ... by all accounts ... was just a gentle giant, and would never have wanted to be in any kind of struggle—how he ended up dead."
In addition to outrage over Brown's death, Lippman says that the community is frustrated with the way the police treat African-American residents of Ferguson, saying that this incident "may have just been the boiling point."
The Reverend Al Sharpton is reportedly coming to the St. Louis area to lead a demonstration, and the local St. Louis chapter of the NAACP is also holding an event this evening to discuss how the community can start to heal.
"The parents of Michael Brown have basically said that if these rallies turn into looting, that they don't want any part of it," says Lippman.
While some are drawing comparisons to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Lippman points out that Brown was killed by an officer of the law, while Martin died at the hands of a neighborhood watchman.
"This was not a civilian, and there's not stand your ground context here," she says. "But certainly it is very much a white-on-black or a racial tension crime."
In Iraq, Kurdish forces seemed to have gained ground over the weekend with the help of American airstrikes and military equipment. These airstrikes, which were authorized by President Obama late last week and were carried out over the weekend, have successfully destroyed some ISIS military vehicles and took out some ISIS militants.
The attacks are intended to help Kurdish forces protect the religious minority Yazidi community, and defend Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region and home to the U.S. consulate and 800 military personnel.
"We are the United States’ staunch allies in the region, and we have the only force in the area with the means and will to protect thousands of lives from the horrors that these terrorists bring. But we cannot do it alone," wrote Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Region, in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
While the United States intervenes in Iraq to help prevent a full-blown militant takeover, Iraq's embattled Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said he would not step down and called for another term. Iraq's President Fouad Massoum, who is charged with forming a new government, today nominated Haider al-Abadi, as the country’s next prime minister.
Daniel Benjamin is the director of the Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and former coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department under Hillary Clinton. In that position, he was Secretary Clinton's principal advisor on counterterrorism and head of the Bureau of Counterterrorism. He explains America's strategy in Iraq, and how ISIS is evolving.
Retired Colonel Harry Schute is now an advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government. He commanded a U.S. Civil Affairs battalion in Iraq in 2003, and led the U.S. Army command in Kurdistan during the early phases of the war. He explains the atmosphere on the ground in the region, and whether U.S. support is too little, too late.
Just 95 people live in Loving County, Texas, which is spread across 650 square miles and is what the federal government calls "highly rural."
There's no city council, no bank, no hospital, and no school in Loving County. There are few roads, not much cell phone service, and not even a lot of drinking water. But now, some of the town's residents are hoping to change the face of the community by bringing in something new: Nuclear waste.
A handful of Loving County residents are hoping to turn the region into an interim storage place for high-level radioactive waste. In the long run, they envision building a new processing plant that would recover unused uranium and plutonium from the radioactive waste. If all goes well, bring billions of dollars to the region.
Skeet Jones, a Loving County Judge, is one of the supporters of the plan. Here he explains why the community believes this is a good idea, and what might happen next.
In many ways, mayhem and conflict have run rampant this summer, something that even former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright realizes.
"To put it mildly, the world is a mess," she said earlier this summer. “There are an awful lot of things going on that need understanding and explanation."
Sec. Albright seems to be channeling the frustrations of many people. And while conflicts continue throughout the world, The Takeaway is turning our attention back to a part of the globe that's under attack for both invading Ukraine and supporting separatists who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing almost 300 innocent passengers.
Russia has been losing friends fast, and that might not be a good thing. President Vladimir Putin remains hugely popular in Russia, but the country's economy is struggling as it deals with the burden of sanctions imposed by the West.
Bridget Kendall has been reporting on the country for decades. She is the BBC's diplomatic correspondent, and says there seems to be no turning back from the path President Putin is taking.
In Maryland, about 70 prison inmates have been released after the state's Court of Appeals ruled that judges had been giving juries flawed instructions before deliberations.
Until recently, judges in Maryland told juries that the instructions handed down by the court were purely advisory. The wording of these instructions dates back to colonial times when courts used instructions as a way for the colonists to get around English law.
In 1980, Maryland did away with these instructions, claiming that they were misleading. But it wasn't until 2012 that Maryland's Court of Appeals realized some people sentenced to life in prison by these juries deserved another trial. Since 2012, over 250 convicted felons have requested new trials, and nearly 70 people have gone free.
The new Court of Appeals ruling has brought about an intense debate in Maryland. There are questions about whether retrying these decades-old cases is a good thing for prisoners, and for the families of victims.
Michael Millemann, the Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law at the University of Maryland, has represented dozens of defendants. He joins The Takeaway to explain how these jury instructions stayed in Maryland's court system for so long, and why some of the prisoners deserve to be released.
While a cease-fire in Gaza seems to be holding, the violence over the last month will likely change the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinians are angry and sad about the deaths of 1,900 people in Gaza over the last few weeks, and the destruction of some 10,000 homes. Israelis are fed up with living with a continuous state of uncertainty as rockets are launched over the border into their land.
Despite the daily barrage of rockets from Gaza, more than a thousand Jewish immigrants arrived in Israel in the ten days after the Gaza war began. Many thousands more have emigrated over the past few years.
Some are fleeing anti-Semitism in their home countries, while others want to start a new life in a new land. Katie Connell is one of the latter. She left Louisiana for Israel on July 3, 2013, and currently lives in an immigrant absorption center in Beersheva, in the Negev desert. Her apartment building includes Jewish refugees from Yemen, Tunisia and Cuba; she is the only American.
Connell reflects on her experiences over the past year, and her devotion to Israel through Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
"This was the first time that I've been in Israel during war," says Connell. "I definitely expected it, and I knew it was going to become a part of my life. But being in Beersheva I've heard the war—I can hear artillery and I can hear machine guns—I can hear the war. Of course I've been effected by rockets—about two weeks ago, many times a day, there were air raid sirens."
Connell says that simple day-to-day tasks, like drinking a morning cup of coffee on her balcony, have been touched by the war.
"I'm hearing the sounds of death, of war, 25 miles away from me," she says. "However, the state of Israel has a right to defend itself. There is no excuse for a terrorist organization shooting rockets into civilian areas and to expect Israel not to retaliate."
At 32-years-old, Connell says she will not be joining the military, but would consider it an option if she were younger. Though it has been easier for her neighbors, Connell says she is adjusting to life in Israel, which is much different from the United States.
"Most of the people that live in my building are refugees," she says. "They are rescued for countries such as Yemen and Tunisia, where they were being persecuted for being Jewish. What's sad is a lot of them have gone through horrible, horrible atrocities in their lives—having husbands murdered for being Jewish or having their daughters kidnapped and sold as wives. And they come here, where they're supposed to be safe, and they're running from rockets. Those immigrants, their perspective is different."
While Connell has decided to move to Israel, Arab-Israeli writer Sayed Kashua made the decision to leave.
Kashua was something of an anomaly in Israel. As a kid, he was the only Arab student at his Jewish boarding school. For years, he's been one of Israel's most prolific Hebrew writers. And when he moved his family to West Jerusalem, they were the only Arabs in the neighborhood.
Kashua's outsider position has allowed the author and journalist to be a force of peace and hope—during his career, he's tried to bridge the cultural divide between the two sides. He's one of Israel's favorite comedians and authors, and his novels and newspaper column, written for Israeli-Jews, capture the struggles of being an Arab in a Jewish state.
But the recent violence has become too much for Kashua and his family. A few weeks ago, he, his wife, and their three children packed up a few belongings and bought one-way tickets to the United States, leaving everything else behind.
Sayed Kashua weighs in on the current conflict, and his decision to leave Israel.
"Because of the situation, because of the racism, and because of the hatred—and we did live in a Jewish, nice neighborhood in western Jerusalem—I couldn't really stay any longer," says Kashua. "It was just the feeling in the streets of Jerusalem, when young Israelis that belonged to the right wing or the extreme right wing, were just beating Arabs only because they were Arabs in the streets of Jerusalem. I was very much worried about my children. I think that was the first time I lost hope."
Though Kashua was a long-time columnist in Israel writing in Hebrew, he says he always felt that he had to be mindful of his opinions.
"I always felt that I had to be careful—much more careful than left wing or extreme left wing Israeli journalists," he says. "If you are Jewish, your opinion is legitimate and you are part of the inner discussion. If you're a Palestinian or an Arab, you will always, most of the time, you will be considered a fifth column. I really always had to be careful."
Kashua says that tensions have risen, adding that dissenting Israelis are even persecuted, which made it much more difficult and dangerous for his family to remain in Israel.
"I read about colleagues in the Haaretz newspaper that were almost lynched about their writings against the war," he says. "It's something new, and unfortunately the extreme right in Israel want that war."
Kashua says that his writings in Haaretz have lead to threats—that his children would be kidnapped or that someone would break his legs.
"It was too much," he says. "It's this very awful feeling that as soon as there is a war going on or a conflict, you become an enemy. Everything that I was trying to fight against—not to separate people because of their nationality or religion—I don't want to live like that. I really believe that we have to live together, to share that land together. Maybe I was naive and made a huge mistake. But I felt like there was no room for me any longer in my neighborhood."
Though Kashua tried to make life in Jerusalem work, he says he could no longer live in Israeli society.
"I wrote to my readers that I can no longer afford to tell lies to my kids—as if they can be one day equal in the state of Israel as someone who is not born to a Jewish mother can really be accepted in a Jewish state," he says. "It's really very sad. I do have wonderful neighbors—I don't want you to think I have problems with my colleagues at work or with my neighbors—it's just something bigger."
1. Tensions Run High Over St. Louis Teen's Death | 2. Iraq: Stopping a Crisis From Becoming a Catastrophe | 3. Maryland Frees 70 Inmates Over Judicial Flaws | 4. No Turning Back for Russia and Putin
Let's just warn you upfront: This week's episode of Movie date includes singing by Kristen, which is pretty terrible. But does anyone sound good when they're singing the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" theme song? Probably not. In addition to singing, there's also some TMNT history and analysis (as well as lots of laughs), courtesy of Scott Rosenberg of AM New York (Movie Date's resident comic book expert). Rafer and Kristen also tackle the new natural disaster movie "Into the Storm" and the food porn / cross-cultural love story "The Hundred-Foot Journey."
President Obama announced yesterday he had authorized limited airstrikes in Iraq targeting the Al Qaeda splinter group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
In recent weeks, militants with ISIS have stormed through the north of Iraq claiming control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, and the Mosul Dam, a strategic and crucial supply of water and electricity for most of the populated parts of Iraq.
Now they have their eye on the Kurdish capital of Erbil. Members of the Kurdish Yazidi religious minority group are being terrorized by ISIS and have fled up a nearby mountain called Sinjar. 40,000 Yazidis remain stranded there, dying of hunger and thirst.
In addition to announcing air strikes, the United States airdropped food and supplies to the Yazidis in an effort to alleviate the mounting humanitarian crisis that has already claimed the lives of dozens of Yazidi children.
Gulie Khalaf is a Yazidi refugee currently living in Lincoln, Nebraska, the largest Yazidi community in the United States. Gulie came to the United States with her family in 1998 after fleeing two wars in Iraq and nearly a decade of life in a Syrian refugee camp.
Many of Gulie's relatives, and the relatives of those in her Lincoln community, are among the Yazidis trapped atop the peaks of Mount Sinjar, or similarly captive in the ISIS-held town below the mountain.
"Those who have fled are not safe," says Gulie. "We are in contact with the people and they are saying that they don't have any basic necessities. There is no water, there is no food, and we're getting a lot of calls saying... 'I just buried my two year old because I didn't have enough water.'"
Her relatives who did not flee to the mountain are left with no protection from the ISIS forces now in control of the villages.
"For the past month there were 5,000 Peshmerga, that is the Kurdish security forces, they were in Sinjar there to protect them, but as soon as ISIS, the Islamic extremist group, showed up all of the sudden there was no Peshmerga left. There is nobody helping them. The 5,000 just left within like two hours they had cleared out of the Sinjara district."
And joining from the capital to discuss the President's announcement is Karen DeYoung, Pulitizer-Prize winning journalist and senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post.
Israel resumed air strikes in Gaza this morning after Hamas fired rockets across the border into Israel, ending a three-day truce. The Israeli army called the renewed rocket attacks, "unacceptable, intolerable and short-sighted".
Hamas rejected any extension of the cease-fire saying Israel had failed to meet its demands. Hopes for peace to last through the weekend are now a distant memory.
So what are we to make of the move by Hamas? And might this make a dent in the support they have enjoyed in Gaza?
Nathan Thrall is a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. He's in Jerusalem and has been following events closely.
Mother Nature is throwing a one two punch Hawaii's way this week with two major storms. Hurricane Iselle was downgraded to a tropical storm just before it made landfall last night, but it still hit the islands with high winds and major rainfall.
And now the island is preparing for a second storm, Hurricane Julio. This would be the first hurricane to hit the islands in 22 years.
We speak to Hawaii Public Radio's News Director Bill Dorman about how the state is handling the storm and preparing for the next.
Author Brad Stone calls it "The Everything Store," but Amazon got its start in books. The online retailer continues to dominate the market: according to research by the Codex Group, in March 2014, 41 percent of all new book unit purchases came from Amazon, along with 65 percent of all new online book units, both print and digital.
A new partnership announced earlier this week may threaten Amazon's control of the book market. Local Barnes & Noble retailers in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles will now offer same-day book deliveries through Google Shopping Express.
Alexandra Altar covers publishing for Takeaway partner The New York Times. She discusses what the Barnes & Noble-Google partnership might mean for Amazon's market dominance, and for the future of publishing.
With a population of 95 spread across 650 square miles, Loving County, Texas is what the federal government calls "highly rural." There's no city council, no bank, no hospital, and no school. There are few roads, not much cell phone service, and not even a lot of drinking water.
But now, some of the town's residents are hoping to change the face of the town by bringing in something else it doesn't have: Nuclear waste. A handful of Loving County residents are hoping to turn the region into an interim storage place for high-level radioactive waste. In the long run, they envision building a new processing plant that would recover unused uranium and plutonium from the radioactive waste, and, if all goes well, bring billions of dollars to the region.
Loving County Judge Skeet Jones is one of the supporters of the plan.
Whether you hate or love Gangam style, everybody knows what it is and where it's from. And that is no accident.
Korea has been planning its cultural dominance for nearly two decades since a debt crisis hit the Asian continent in 1997. The economic meltdown devastated a Korean economy too dependent on huge companies like Hyundai and Samsung, forcing them to look for a way to diversify, fast.
Euny Hong is the author of "The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture." She says that in these dark days of debt, Korea found its answer in a then revolutionary idea: the internet.
The country built a super highway of fiber optic cables to become the most wired country in the world, laying the foundation for international commerce. With the technical advancement of the world wide web under its belt, Korea then turned to something a little less revolutionary to make them "cool" in the eyes of investors and an international audience.
1. The Threat of Genocide Takes the U.S. Back to Iraq | 2. Hawaii Braces for First Hurricane in 22 Years | 3. Movie Date: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' 'Into the Storm,' and 'The Hundred-Foot Journey" | 4. How the Korean Government Made the Country Cool
Fifty heads of state convene in Washington this week for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit taking place all this week. The goal according to the Obama administration is to elevate the United State’s engagement with the continent.
Tutu Alicante is the executive director for EG Justice and and an Equatoguinean living in exile. His home country has one of the worst human rights records on the continent and is ruled by Africa's Longest serving dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Government torture and intimidation is commonplace in Equitorial Guinea, and any efforts of the people to organize outside of the government are squashed. Yet, President Obiang will be among those leaders hosted by President Obama this week.
Tutu says that the United States should use this opportunity to address the human rights abuses occurring in Africa with the same zeal it’s approaching trade and investment opportunities.
According to the World Health Organization, the latest Ebola outbreak has infected more than 1,711 people and 932 patients have died. The disease has spread to Lagos, Nigeria, where an unidentified nurse became the country’s second Ebola casualty earlier this week.
Two American health workers infected in Liberia were treated with an experimental serum before they returned to the U.S. for treatment last week. That treatment is still in the trial phase, likely years away from clinical use.
Thomas Geisbert is a virologist and professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he's devoted much of his career to finding treatments and vaccines for Ebola. He tells The Takeaway's John Hockenberry about treatment options on the horizon, including a vaccine that can be administered after a patient has been exposed to the disease.
Today Tennessee voters will decide whether to keep Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Connie Clark and Sharon Lee on the state supreme court. Appointed by then-Governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, in 2006, the justices have faced an expensive re-election campaign, as conservative groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, determined to see them replaced. A record-breaking million dollars has been spent on television ads alone in Tennessee this season.
Bert Brandenberg is the executive director of Justice at Stake, a nonpartisan group that's been tracking spending in judicial races. He explains that judicial elections, once considered a formality, now play a major role in the changing political landscape.
Former Justice David Baker knows this well. He was ousted from the Iowa Supreme Court in 2010, after he ruled in favor of same-sex marriage a year earlier. While Tennessee state judges are raising money and fighting back against a multi-million dollar campaign to unseat them, Justice Baker believes judges should stand above the political fray, even when their seats on the bench are at stake.
In recognition of the US-Africa Leaders Summit held in Washington this week, The Takeaway has heard from voices of Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Now we turn to Ethiopia, the birthplace of author Dinaw Mengestu.
Dinaw has spent most of his life in America, straddling between Ethiopian and American identities. It's this personal journey between Addis Ababa and Peoria, Illinois that gives him a unique perspective on the cultural, economic and political relationships forged in D.C. this past week at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
He shares his thoughts on the summit and the old images that have defined Ethiopia in the American consciousness.
Every day sounds waves are hitting and moving us, and if a camera is running we now know that sound can be reconstructed from the very slight motions of the room.
Abe Davis is a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. Along with fellow students, he recently reconstructed the audio to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” using only video images of the small distinct vibrations of the sound hitting items in the same room, such as a bag of potato chips or a house plant.
According to Abe, the discoveries have only just begun. He explains the possibilities and limitations of this exciting new research.
Our vices are what make us human, but they're also what push the limit of our humanity —and sometimes make us grotesque.
The journey to the grotesque is what documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is after in his new series, "7 Deadly Sins," which debuts on Showtime today.
In it, Spurlock travels the country to explore the roads our vices can take us down at their most extreme. The first episode, which focuses on gluttony, follows a 700-pound woman whose sexual identity is tied to her love of food. Later episodes explore envy through men who like dressing up in rubberized suits that approximate a woman’s body, and more.
1. Justice for Sale | 2. Ethiopia Through the Eyes of Author Dinaw Mengestu | 3. Good Vibrations: A Bag of Potato Chips and the Science of Sound | 4. Morgan Spurlock's Latest Horror Show: '7 Deadly Sins'
You'll often hear Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich on the national radio airwaves, but today he dropped by CNN to offer his expertise.
Todd stopped by "Inside Politics," hosted by John King, with Politico's Manu Raju to discuss how incumbents are fairing ahead of the 2014 midterm elections and American attitudes of Congress. Check out Todd's commentary below, and follow him on Twitter.
In what is the now the largest collection of user information ever stolen from the Internet, a Russian crime gang has swiped more than 1.2 billion user names and passwords and some 500 million email addresses.
The discovery was made by an Internet security firm in Milwaukee called Hold Security. According to that group, the data was taken from 420,000 websites—ranging from Fortune 500 companies and household names, to very small websites.
Details on exactly which sites were targeted have not been revealed, and there is also no evidence at this stage that links the Russian government to this crime.
David Gelles, a reporter for our partner The New York Times, helped to break this story and shares his insights.
According to classified documents leaked to The Intercept, a national security news site founded by journalist Glenn Greenwald, 40 percent of the terrorist suspects in the federal government's Terrorist Screening Database have no connection with any terrorist group.
The leaked documents also reveal that the watch list includes 611,000 men and 39,000 women across the U.S., from cities like Houston, New York and Dearborn. There are also half a million facial images and tens of thousands of iris scans.
In addition to the growing Terrorist Screening Database, the U.S. no-fly list has also expanded tenfold since President Obama took office in 2009.
David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent, says that while maintaining a terrorist watch list is important for law enforcement, without the requisite manpower on the ground, it's nearly impossible for the FBI and law enforcement to find the truly important leads in so much data.
Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma is not in attendance at the summit due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the region, but that's just one recent crisis in the country, a part of the African continent where hopes for growth and development have been stifled by a violent past.
Writer Ishmael Beah experienced the carnage of a 10-year civil war first hand. After losing his family, Beah was recruited at the age of 13 to fight for rebel forces. He wrote about that time in his book "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier." His first novel, "Radiance of Tomorrow," was published in January.
And according to Beah, hope for Sierra Leone's future is dependent upon investment in his country.
The addition of Major General Harold Greene to the casualty list in Afghanistan yesterday was a nasty blow for U.S. forces leaving Afghanistan and trying to secure the country after years of war.
Major General Greene's death was at the hands of a Taliban plant or rogue agent dressed as an Afghan soldier at a military training facility outside of Kabul. Major General Greene is the first U.S. general to die in a combat zone since the Vietnam War.
"It's impossible to eliminate, completely eliminate that threat, particularly in a place like Afghanistan," said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby yesterday. "But you can work hard to mitigate and minimize it."
Former Pentagon official Michael Rubin is author of "Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes." He's a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and today he explains how the relationship between U.S. and Afghan forces will change after this attack.
Europeans made history with the Rosetta Probe today. After a 10-year chase, the European Space Agency announced that its spacecraft has maneuvered alongside a speeding comet to begin mapping its surface in detail.
The Rosetta Probe will conduct the first extended, close examination of a comet, opening the door for a new chapter in Solar System exploration. The Rosetta Probe will accompany the comet for over a year as they swing around the Sun and back towards Jupiter again.
Matt Taylor is watching the data from European Space Agency (ESA) mission control, and has been watching this Rosetta space chase for years.
"This has been one of the most significant challenges, and the reason why we're doing Rosetta in the first place: To rendezvous with a comet," says Taylor. "We've successfully done that today. It's put us in the same orbit as the comet around the Sun. That allows us to continue to ride along side it and watch it as it develops activity as it approaches the Sun."
Getting the Rosetta Probe into the same orbit as the comet, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, took decades of hard work. Taylor says that some researchers have been working on this project for most of their lives.
"The excitement is unbelievable," he says. "Every time we see something new with this comet—it brings in a new picture or some new data—it's just fascinating. It's an excellent job that I've got."
Taylor says that studying the celestial object is a bit like looking at a developing photograph.
"Every time that we're at a certain distance, we take images and readings from the comet and it looks a particular way," he says. "Now that we're getting this close, we're really getting the real features of this beast. It seems to be a combination of all the comets that we've ever been to, which is fascinating—I think we did a really good job of choosing this one."
Taylor says that the ESA team is hoping to find out the composition of the comet. Right now, the group believes that it's a mixture of dust, ice, and some organic compounds.
"This stuff has been out there in the outskirts of the Solar System, frozen in place, since the very early stages of the Solar System," he says. "Studying this thing gives us a little time window back into the past to see what happened when all of this formed."
The ESA plans to land a separate instrument from the Rosetta Probe on the comet—the "lander," as Taylor calls it, will gradually land and then screw itself into the comet due to the gravity on the surface of the comet.
In addition to international recognition, this achievement has also provided Taylor with some personal glory at home.
"One of the major successes for me is that my kids are interested in it," he says. "My son now wants to be a scientist, so that's what Rosetta has done for me personally. Now my son finally thinks his dad is cool."
A tweet announcing the ESA had made contact.
“Hello, Comet!” pic.twitter.com/mvFIxGWC8y— ESA Rosetta Mission (@ESA_Rosetta) August 6, 2014
Check out a video clip of the Rosetta Probe's journey below.
As the Ebola threat looms ever larger over West Africa, what are the first lines of defense in detecting and containing the spread? There's plastic gloves, masks, and protective suits for the individual, hospital walls guarding the community, and roads and airports protecting the country. The last line of defense? International borderlines.
But what happens when those shields are porous?
"With intercontinental flights, all you needs is a flight to the U.S. or to Europe so that you have a world crisis, a total crisis," Senegalese President Macky Sall said yesterday at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
The disease has not spread north to Senegal, but much of West Africa has come under a region-wide lock down in recent weeks as the deadliest Ebola outbreak on record continues to spread.
British Airways has suspended flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia, and Peace Corps volunteers in the region have evacuated. The Sierra Leonean government announced it will deploy 750 soldiers throughout the country to enforce the isolation of infected patients. And the World Health Organization convenes today to determine whether the outbreak is an international crisis.
Yesterday, the second American infected with the virus landed in Atlanta for an experimental treatment. But in America's highly protective, well-guarded system, an Ebola outbreak is highly unlikely.
But with more than 1,600 reported cases, Richard Preston, a writer for The New Yorker and author of "The Hot Zone," a book about the origins of Ebola, says the situation in West Africa is starting to become "out of control" and look distinctly medieval.
What do you think of the word feminist? Having it all, man-hating women, or maybe Beyoncé? Does a feminist take her husband's last name? Can you be a feminist and be pro-life? Would a feminist dance to "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke?
Instead of feeling overrun by hard boundaries and following rules, writer Roxane Gay is all about living in the contradictions. The self-proclaimed "bad feminist" doesn't feel guilty for dancing to rap that degrades women or enjoying The Bachelor—she says she embraces her imperfections.
It sounds nice, but what does that really mean? In her latest book, Gay goes into the trenches of "feminism," discussing everything from reproductive rights to the "Twilight" series to how teaching students from inner-city Detroit has helped Gay recognize her own privilege as a Haitian-American woman from the Midwest.
Her new collection of essays "Bad Feminist," is out this week, and before starting her book tour, Roxane Gay spoke with The Takeaway about growing up in the midwest, how the NFL enables misogyny, and what it means to be a bad feminist.
For more from Roxane Gay, listen to her story "North Country" as aired on WNYC's Selected Shorts in February 2013. The reader is Adepero Oduye.
"The Book of Unknown Americans" is the latest novel from author Cristina Henriquez. This book has been selected as the fifth work to be featured in The Takeaway's book club. Below you will find a description of the book provided by the publisher, Random House.
"A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.
"Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.
"When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.
"Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.
"Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality."
Americans are some of the hardest-working people in the world. Americans that are employed full-time work an average of 1,700 hours per year.
According to a survey by career website Glassdoor, Americans who receive paid vacation time only used about 51 percent of it in 2013. Since the year 2000, productivity among American workers has increased 30 percent.
As the summer winds down, The Takeaway wants to honor and celebrate hard-working Americans from every corner of the United States. Who is the hardest-working person you know? Nominate them in our form below, and we may feature their story on our Labor Day special this September.
1. The Watchmen at The White House | 2. A New Plague? Ebola Outbreak 'Out of Control' | 3. 'Hello, Comet!' Europeans Make Space History | 4. Roxane Gay Breaks The Rules With 'Bad Feminist'
On Monday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire proposed by Egypt. With a long-term truce in mind, an Israeli delegation will head to Egypt today to begin indirect talks.
Palestinian negotiators have already been working in Cairo in recent days. The temporary respite comes after Friday's cease-fire collapsed amidst heavy fighting and an attack near a U.N. shelter in Gaza that killed 10.
Many such cease-fire promises have come and gone in the past month of fighting—fighting that has displaced more than a quarter of a million people, killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis, the vast majority of them soldiers.
What will Hamas and Israel talk about? Is this a negotiation about trading tunnels for peace?
Griff Witte, London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post, says that during the 2012 conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, Egypt played a key role in negotiating a cease-fire. But Egypt has changed quite a bit in the last two years.
"At that time, the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, this time around the military is in power in Egypt," says Witte. "There's a real lack of trust here, not only between Israel and Hamas, but there's also a real lack of trust between Hamas and Egypt. I think that's going to be an issue as these talks get underway."
Hamas is likely feeling the pressure during these negotiations since Gaza has paid such a high price during the most recent onslaught of fighting.
"Gaza has been absolutely decimated by this conflict," says Witte. "Hamas really has to do something for its people now after all of the sacrifices that they've endured. Hamas is going to be under really severe pressure to show the people of Gaza that all of it was worth something. It's not clear that they're going to get anything out of this."
While the outcome of these negotiations remain unclear, Witte says that Hamas is hoping that a final deal will include open borders and a lifting of restrictions that allow for the free flow of people, goods, and services.
"But Israel is going to surely drive a hard bargain in these negotiations—Israel feels like it can last longer than Hamas can militarily," says Witte. "Hamas is going to be in a very, very difficult position."
Though Witte describes the suffering in Gaza as "enormous," he says that Israel will not back down easily in negotiations.
"Israel feels that it has Hamas in a very strategically weak position," says Witte. "It doesn't feel like it wants to give Hamas anything that could be construed as a reward for firing rockets."
During past conflicts, the Israeli people have questioned whether the violence was indeed worth it, says Witte. But that's not the sentiment many citizens have right now.
"There continues to be very strong support in Israel for this campaign, and a sense that the sacrifices, as great as they are, are worth it," he says. "I think the tunnels have really spooked a lot of Israelis. The Israeli military has said it destroyed 32 tunnels between Israel and Gaza over the course of this operation, and there was a real fear among Israelis that Hamas planned to use these tunnels to dig down under Israel and take Israelis captive. That's loomed very large in the Israeli imagination."
As Hamas and Israel come to the table, is there any real hope for a negotiated solution that could satisfy both parties? It's still too soon to tell, says Witte.
"The fear here is that this conflict will just endlessly repeat itself," he says. "We've now seen three iterations of this conflict—in 2008/2009, in 2012, and now 2014. Although in each case Israel feels like it has proved itself to be far, far superior militarily, the underlying reality here has not changed."
Witte says that the reality of this conflict is that Hamas remains very much in control in Gaza, despite Israel's reservations.
"[Hamas] has weapons, and Israel would like to demilitarize Gaza in exchange for some sort of opening in the territory," he says. "But Hamas is not interested in giving up its weapons—that's the source of its power; that's what gives it strength. If it begins to allow itself to be demilitarized, it would face problems in terms of maintaining its hold on Gaza."
Though this most recent conflict involves Gazans, Hamas, and the Israelis, Witte says that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is represented in these talks.
"It's there leading the delegation on the Palestinian side," he says. "I think there are moderate voices on both the Israeli and on the Palestinian side, saying this is an opportunity to use this conflict to give the PA more leverage, to give moderate Palestinian voices more of a say, more control in Gaza, and to limit Hamas's power there. How you get there is very unclear, and it's also unclear if that's ultimately what Israel wants."
An unnamed U.S. major general was killed by an Afghan soldier at a military training academy outside of Kabul today. This is reportedly the first "insider attack"—a situation where an Afghan soldier opens fire on coalition forces—in months.
The general is reportedly the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in the conflict since the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, and possibly the highest-ranking officer to be killed in action since the Vietnam War.
Matthew Rosenberg, Foreign Correspondent for our partner The New York Times, has been covering this story and weighs in on the details of this attack.
"The Taliban has not taken credit, which is unusual because they usually do pretty quickly," Rosenberg says. "Their spokesman told us that they're still trying to figure out what had happened."
Over the years, Rosenberg says that Afghans have become increasingly alienated and angry about the foreign presence on the ground.
"Some of them have internalized the Taliban narrative without actually joining the Taliban," he says.
At this point, it is still unclear if the general's rank was a central motive of the attack.
"Presumably, the Afghan soldier would have known that the man with stars on his shoulders was important," he says. "And he was shot at close range, which makes it sound like he was standing at this major general. But we just don't know details yet. The camp where it happened is locked down tight, the coalition is locked down tight, and even at the Pentagon they're not saying much."
Though the Taliban has not taken responsibility for the attack, Rosenberg says that is possible that the organization could have covert allies within the Afghan military.
"There's an assumption that the Taliban has sympathizers in a lot of places," he says. "But, there's not a whole lot of evidence that most of these attacks are pre-planned by the Taliban, or a Taliban sleeper or something of that nature. The preponderance of insider attacks, by most accounts, appear to be Afghans who simply don't want to see foreigners here anymore—quite a frightening prospect."
Weeding out a covert Taliban spy is one thing, but identifying those who may suddenly snap because of a feeling of alienation is something entirely different, Rosenberg says.
"How do you guard against that?" he asks. "It's a much more difficult proposition."
The long-term effect of this attack on American operations in Afghanistan, and at military academies in Afghanistan, are still unknown. When these types of attacks ticked up in 2012, Rosenberg says that Americans began training Afghans while wearing body armor.
"You put up walls between you and the people you're training to protect yourself," he says. "But that also alienates them, and further makes it more difficult to get the training done, and to have any real meaningful presence here. It makes it more dangerous in some ways because people who feel alienated and feel distant from you are much more likely to attack you."
When it comes to the impact this incident will have on the United States, Rosenberg says that the attack might be used as a "selling point" to ensure that an American presence remains until at least 2016.
At the moment, there is no clear solution to combatting "insider attacks." Rosenberg says that taking away weapons from Afghans to prevent these kinds of incidents is simply not an option.
"The Afghan military faces real threats," he says. "They need guards—they have to guard their own facilities; there's nobody else to do it for them. And those guards need to have weapons. It's just impossible [to remove their weapons]. You're fighting a war that is now fought largely by Afghan forces. They are going to be very armed, and they're going to be all around you."
Abbott and Costello, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler: Twosomes that make history test the myth of the lone genius and the creative power of pairs.
The beauty of a duo is the subject of a new book, "Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs," by Joshua Wolf Shenk. He says for one genius to exist, there often have to be two.
Who you would choose to partner up with if you could pick anyone? Leave a comment below or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.
All this week, African heads of state are convening in Washington D.C. for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a three day conference focused on U.S. partnership with Africa's fast-growing economic success stories.
But as government officials and business leaders sit down for meetings in Washington, The Takeaways is turning to African writers for a more poetic perspective on their countries and their continent. Yesterday, a Zimbabwean author weighed in, and today we head to Africa's economic powerhouse: Nigeria.
Although it is home to more than 175 million people, valuable resources, a booming film industry, and music legends, Nigeria continues to face very serious threats to its stability. Constant terrorist attacks from Boko Haram, and now a threat from West Africa's Ebola virus outbreak, are hampering the nation's economic future.
Chigozie Obioma is a Nigerian writer and author of the forthcoming novel "The Fisherman." He shares what he's learned about being Nigerian since he left home in 2007.
A single patient at a hospital in New York City is being tested for the Ebola virus, fueling tabloid headlines.
Fear might sell papers in New York, but there is no panic in the United States. Proper precautions are being mobilized, and the two Ebola victims in Atlanta are being treated with an experimental drugs.
In West Africa, almost 1,000 have from died this outbreak, but there is no apparent threat to the U.S. at this point. But what is the cost of being careful?
Helping us to do the numbers is Stephen Morse, a professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University and Co-Director of USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats.
Missourians will vote today on an amendment to the state's Constitution that would guarantee the rights of the people of Missouri to “engage in farming and ranching practices.”
It’s called the Right to Farm Amendment, and a coalition of state farming groups and large agricultural corporations are pushing for its passage. They believe the amendment is needed to protect farmers from too many burdensome government regulations, but opponents say it could prevent state and local government from protecting residents.
Is this a back-to-the-land movement, or a vaguely worded ploy to get around government regulations at the expense of vulnerable consumers?
Joining The Takeaway to weigh in is, Jo Mannies, a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
Healthy fast-food sounds like a bit of of an oxymoron, but that hasn't stopped consumers from going on a quest to find it.
Could the days of greasy hamburger and fries soon be behind us? New information suggests that diners have an appetite for fast-food that’s not just fast, but also sustainable, seasonal and organic.
But how much of an impact can chains aspiring to these ideals really have on the environment and our health? And will taste be sacrificed in the process?
1. U.S. General Killed in Afghanistan | 2. Hope For Africa's Economic Powerhouse | 3. Welcome to The Fast-Food Renaissance | 4. Missouri Votes to Guarantee The Right to Farm | 5. The Creative Power of Pairs
The rules of war and conflict established in the last century were supposed to keep civilians out of the line of fire. But in our century, it is the civilians who seem to be targeted most of all.
James Rawley, Occupied Palestinian Territory Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations Development Group, says there is a "health and humanitarian disaster" playing out in Gaza right now.
"The situation there is very dire," says Rawley. "There is literally no safe place in Gaza."
Rawley says more than 1,700 Palestinians have died in the conflict, including 400 children. About 85 percent of those who have died are civilians.
"At one point, we were losing a child to the conflict every hour," says Rawley. "We have over 9,000 people that are injured. Places that should be safe—schools, hospitals, homes, and U.N. facilities—have all been damaged or destroyed. Innocent people have been and continue to be killed in them."
According to Rawley, about 490,000 people in Gaza—an area with 1.8 million people that's about the size of the city of Detroit—have been displaced.
"We just can't keep coping with this type of staggering human displacement," says Rawley, adding that U.N. is "failing" to keep people safe. "It's really absolutely painful for me to report that, once again, yesterday another UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] facility was hit by the Israeli Defense Force. We lost 10 Palestinians, including an UNRWA worker that was just standing inside of the facilities."
In addition to the humanitarian crisis, Rawley says that the U.N. is now concerned about a "health disaster" in Gaza due to the large number of people injured, coupled with the destruction of healthcare facilities.
"We are really worried," he says. "To be precise, 1/3 of all of the hospitals in Gaza have been hit in attacks. We have six hospitals that are absolutely closed. Primary health facilities and others have been damaged, and we have five medical staff that have been killed, and dozens who have been injured."
About 40 percent of healthcare workers in Gaza cannot carryout their duties because of the violence, says Rawley.
"We have this big increase and demand for emergency health services and the capacity to respond is much less than it used to be," he says. "We have an almost complete breakdown in water, electricity, and the sanitation infrastructure, which was functioning at a minimal level four weeks ago before this conflict."
Rawley says that diseases that were initially eradicated in the 1940s are now beginning to surface due to the lack of health, water, and sanitation infrastructure. He emphasizes that both parties involved in the conflict—the Israelis and Hamas—are responsible for the current crisis.
"We have denounced Hamas and other de facto forces when they fire missiles or engage in offensive actions close to U.N. facilities, or for that matter any facility where there are civilians," he says.
Rawley adds that UNRWA has come out with reports denouncing Hamas because it was discovered that there were rockets placed in three closed UNRWA schools. Those rockets were identified by UNRWA staff, though they could not definitively prove that Hamas placed them there, but UNRWA shared that information with the world.
"Yes, Hamas also has its share of blame in this conflict," Rawley says. "But the rockets that are severely damaging and killing our schools, recently, are actually coming from the Israelis."
In over 17 instances, UNRWA has contacted the Israeli government to provide the coordinates of the U.N. facilities in Gaza.
"We update those two or three times a week," says Rawley. "I can say categorically that the government of Israel has the coordinates of every U.N. facility in Gaza. If a mistake is made, it can't because we didn't know it was a U.N. facility. Some other factor was taken into account—I have no idea what that factor could be."
While civilian casualties mount in Gaza, hundreds of thousands of civilians are also dead in Syria—a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which was ratified in 1949 and laid out a code of conduct for war, with specific protections for civilians.
Yet, even President Obama conceded that the U.S. has not stuck the Geneva Conventions in matters of war prisoners.
"In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong," President Obama said Friday during a press conference. "We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values."
Last week, David Miliband, former British Foreign Secretary and president of the International Rescue Committee, told The Takeaway that "the norms and laws that have been built up over centuries to defend civilians during war, sanctified in the Geneva Conventions after the Second World War, are being lost."
Given the current conflicts throughout the Middle East, where does the world actually stand on the Geneva Conventions? Is it time for the world to reaffirm its commit to the Geneva principles?
Diane Amann, professor of international law at the University of Georgia School of Law, weighs in.
"The laws of war, or international humanitarian law, apply across the globe—there really are no special places," says Amann. "Every country in the world has agreed, obliged itself to obey certain laws, with the primary rule being the protection of civilians. But, sometimes in very graphic cases like we're seeing now, they appear to violate those laws."
On the whole, Amann says that it is up individual nations and non-state actors like militia groups to follow the rule of law. However, in cases where the Geneva Conventions are violated, Amann says there are courts, tribunals, and other ways that the international system of law attempts to obtain accountability.
During the outset of World War I 100 years ago, there was no rule book when the great powers used the frightening new war technologies of the 20th century, and the deliberate sinking of the Lusitania, a British cruise liner, by a German submarine in 1915, killed almost 1,200 people. Now a century later, the apparent deliberate downing of a civilian jetliner in a combat zone in Ukraine is calling for the world to remember the rules of war.
Yet, Amann says that the world should expect justice in the case of MH17—at least not anytime soon.
"Law takes a long time," says Amann. "Is it true that we make laws and they're broken? Yes it is. I think at times, if you look at things like the war crimes tribunals in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, at times we do see some measure of accountability. Unfortunately, it's in the long term."
In the end, Amann says it appears that the global community has developed a system to protect people that isn't implemented very well.
"An issue that proceeds the question of war crimes or violations of war—the question of whether you can prevent war or regulate war before it happens," she says. "The mechanism that we've put in place for that is the U.N. Security Council. It has trouble doing that when one if its five permanent members has a stake in what's going on."
Commemorations have been taking placed throughout the world to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. The Belgian city of Liege hosted one of the main events, with representatives from 50 countries, including numerous heads of state, paying tribute to to the millions who died during the war to end all wars.
King Philippe of Belgium was one of the first to pay his respects. French President Francois Hollande presented Liege with the Legion D'honneur, the highest decoration in France.
President Hollande said peace is never certain, adding that it "demands vigilance."
"Europe should always be on the move, it should not rest on its laurels, and it should not grow tired of achieving peace," he said.
In many ways, author Stefan Zweig made it his mission to explain and make sense of what happened in 1914 when World War I broke out, and he wrote scores of books and hundreds of essays examining the topic. George Prochnik is the author of "The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World." He reflects on the start of the World War I, and what the globe can still learn from Zweig.
Today, 50 African leaders will convene in Washington D.C. for the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a three day conference focused on U.S. partnerships with some of the fastest growing countries in the world.
This week, as African leaders discuss economic opportunities in Washington, The Takeaway will hear from young African leaders, writers, and activists who will share their hopes for the continent's future.
Four African leaders are missing from the White House summit this week because of their records on human rights. One of them is Robert Mugabe, who, at the age of 90, has ruled Zimbabwe since the country gained independence in 1980.
While Zimbabwe's economy has stabilized since the rampant inflation and severe unemployment of just a few years ago, Mugabe's record of war crimes and basic neglect of his people has left much of the country in dire straits. Yet, Tsitsi Jaji sees reasons for hope in the country she left at the age of 17, in 1993.
Jaji, now a writer and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, returns to Zimbabwe periodically to see her family. She discusses the prospects for economic progress in her home country, and how Zimbabwe has changed in the 21 years since she emigrated to the United States.
Pete "Roy" Peters will never forget one specific morning back in June 1969.
He was 22-years-old, serving on a Navy vessel during the Vietnam War, when an Australian aircraft carrier collided with the ship in the South China Sea. There were 200 lost that day, including 74 sailors.
But because the accident did not occur in a combat zone, these 74 names have not been included on the Vietnam Memorial. But California Congressman Adam Schiff believes the U.S. has a chance to settle this human debt by adding these names to the Vietnam Memorial.
Rep. Schiff's new House-approved defense bill could give men like Peters the opportunity to see the United States honor the friends he lost more than four decades ago.
Pete "Roy" Peters joins The Takeaway to remember that day back in June 1969, and discuss why these "lost 74" deserve reverence and recognition.
Last summer’s anthem was unquestionably Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Yet, midway through the hottest months of 2014, there’s still no clear front-runner for the song of the summer.
Is there an anthem for the summer of 2014? Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" has been at no. 1 since June, and "Rude" by MAGIC! has been getting a lot of attention.
But do summer anthems rely on a certain musical alchemy? Matte Babel, the host of FUSE TV's daily live show "Trending 10," weighs in.
What do you think the song of the summer of 2014 should be? Leave a comment below or give us a call at 1-877-869-8253.
The most recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has now claimed the lives of 887 people, making it the largest Ebola outbreak ever.
Among those infected are two American aid workers who fell ill while working with infected patients in West Africa. They are in stable but grave condition as they fight for their lives.
Over the weekend, Dr. Kent Brantly was flown from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment. The other American infected, Nancy Writebol, will join him for treatment later this week.
The World Health Organization announced Friday that it will be launching a $100 million response plan, and they are urgently trying to get more medical staff to the region.
But what are medical professionals really up against as they attempt to treat and contain this disease?
Dr. Eileen Farnon is an infectious disease specialist at Temple University School of Medicine. She has worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she led teams investigating past Ebola outbreaks in Africa, and she has trained in the very hospital unit where Dr. Kent Brantley is being treated.
Dr. Farnon explains the precautions being taken to prevent the spread of the disease to healthcare workers in Atlanta, and the latest on the epidemic raging in West Africa.
1. 'Criminal' Acts & the Laws of War | 2. Remembering the Vietnam War's 'Lost 74' | 3. Lessons To Learn 100 Years After WWI