Our panel of critics discuss the controversy over Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, a darkly twisted look at the hunt for Adolph Hitler. We also look at Shorts, a new kids' film that has appeal for adults, and Robin Williams’ newest movie, indie-festival darling World's Greatest Dad. On our panel today: Karina Longworth, editor of SpoutBlog; and Rafer Guzman, film critic for Newsday.
Inglourious Basterds, the long-anticipated return to screen for director Quentin Tarantino, has been making waves since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. As it's said, though, no man is an island: not even Tarantino, who directed such huge hits as Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, and Reservoir Dogs. We talk to Lawrence Bender, Tarantino's longtime collaborator (co-conspirator?) who produced Inglourious Basterds and seven other films with Tarantino. Mr. Bender has another notable collaborator, however: former Vice President Al Gore. The two worked together to make An Inconvenient Truth, for which Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize. We talk to Mr. Bender about the new film, working with both men, and whether getting to kill Hitler on film is considered a 'mitzvah.'
Here's the trailer for "Inglorious Basterds":
Wesley Morris is a film critic for the Boston Globe and he joins us for a look at the movies opening this weekend. Spike Lee is back in theaters, albeit in limited release, with his take on the Broadway play Passing Strange. Will this be the film to bring Lee back into the spotlight? Also returning to screens this week is Quentin Tarantino. Inglourious Basterds is the long awaited film from the creator of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.
The first phase of the "Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009" goes into effect this week. While some major provisions of the law won't kick in until next year, credit card companies have to make some immediate changes, including giving cardholders advance notice about interest rate hikes. Personal finance expert and The Takeaway's finance contributor Beth Kobliner joins us to help explain the new rules.
Candace Rondeaux is a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group; she specializes in Afghanistan and joins us from Kabul where she has been closely observing the recent presidential election. There have only been two such elections since the overthrow of the Taliban and the country is still working the kinks out of its brand-new electoral process. While the votes are still being counted, both leading contenders – incumbent President Hamid Karzai and leading challenger Abdullah Abdullah – are claiming they've won an outright majority and saying there is no need for a run off election.
Former New York Giants wide-reciever Plaxico Burress accepted a plea bargain yesterday which will send him to prison for 2 years after pleading guilty to a weapons charge. As you might remember, Burress walked into a nightclub in New York City last November with a gun tucked in the waistband of his sweat pants. The gun slipped, and as Burress grabbed for it, he accidentally shot a bullet into his own leg. Burress' Florida gun license was expired; he had no license to carry a gun in New York.
Also making headlines is Jamaican runner Usain Bolt, who broke his own world record in the 100m dash. Again.
Joining us is Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, The Takeaway's sports contributor, along with New York Giants fan and family-law attorney Jeff Blank.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming today at the annual meeting of economists and central bankers. Bernanke will address the group with a speech entitled “Reflections on a Year of Crisis.” We speak with Jesse Eisinger, a senior reporter at ProPublica, asking him to provide his own reflections on Bernanke's actions during this economic "year of crisis."
We’ve heard it before, but this time it might just stick: The Department of Transportation announced yesterday that the popular Cash for Clunkers program, which allows you to trade in your old gas-guzzler for up to $4500 towards a new fuel efficient car, is done as of Monday, August 24th. Although Congress added $2 billion to the program just weeks ago, the program's popularity means the money has run out far sooner than expected. To explain what is happening we talk to Micheline Maynard, senior business correspondent for the New York Times. We also talk to Brian Willian, the sales manager at Albany Honda in Georgia. He is awaiting a check from the government to reimburse him for the clunkers he's paid for under the program.
In early 2003, Jayson Blair went from writing headlines for the New York Times to making headlines when it was discoverd that he had plagiarized dozens of stories. It was a scandal the Times itself called "a low point in the 152-year history of the paper." Blair "resigned under pressure" from the Times shortly thereafter and entered treatment for bipolar disorder. Even after a forced resignation, however, everyone needs to make a living. After such an inglorious and public fall, how would you pick yourself up and start over again?
Well, the hard lessons Jayson Blair learned can be taught to you: for a price, and potentially by Blair himself. He is now working as a life coach. We talk to Jayson Blair along with the man who hired him, Dr. Michael Oberschneider, founder and director at Ashburn Psychological Services.
"For a lot of people who are in mental health recovery, it's very appealing to them to see someone who's fallen so far, and then to see that person from their fate, rebuild. ... The one thing that I can say about crisis: don't make the mistake I did and not reach out for help. If I had reached out to the kind of people who have helped me since I left the Times, before, I probably never would have been in that situation."
—Jayson Blair, ex-reporter for the New York Times, on why his past experiences help him speak authentically as a life coach
The salaries of sports players have for many decades caused non-athletes' jaws to drop, but owners have always justified the expense as an investment. Way back in 1869, for example, members of the Cincinnati Red Stockings were payed $11,000: around $175,000 in today's dollars and many times more than the average income at the time. So how much would you invest in a fantasy sports league? Some insiders estimate fantasy sports attracts close to $800 million annually. With all that money floating around, it seems natural that people would want to protect their assets. Fantasy Sports Insurance is a new company dedicated to insuring the top players on your fantasy team in case of injury. Real money, real players, real injuries: still a fantasy.
To find out more about the money and the fans behind this we talk to Paul Charchian, president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and the host of Fantasy Football Weekly, a radio show on KFAN in the Twin Cities; and to Anthony Giaccone, president of Intermarket Insurance and the inventor of Fantasy Sports Insurance.
Despite threats of violence from the Taliban, Afghans headed to the polls yesterday to vote in the country's second-ever presidential election. The votes are still being counted, but both of the leading candidates, incumbent Hamid Karzai and ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, are claiming victory. Brian Katulis, an election monitor with Democracy International, joins us from Kabul to discuss observers' efforts to ensure a fair election.
Today we're recapping what's happened this week in the debate over health care reform. During a meeting last Saturday, President Obama asked the American people to lower the temperature a little at health care town halls. So-called "death panels," health care co-ops, Republican options, and former DNC chair Dr. Howard Dean were all part of the national conversation, which was topped off with the President’s one-on-one with conservative radio show host Michael Smerconish on Thursday.
For a look at where the debate heads next, we are joined by Jonathan Cohn. He is the Senior editor at The New Republic and author of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis -- and the People Who Pay the Price. We are also joined by Theda Skocpol, professor of government and sociology at Harvard University, and author of Boomerang: Health Care Reform and the Turn against Government.
"The analogy that serves best here is: Medicare. It's a version of Medicare for people who aren't over 65. Ask people over 65 what they think of Medicare? They like it a lot."
—Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at The New Republic, on how to simply explain "the public option"
The BBC's Glen Campbell joins us from Scotland with local reaction to the impending release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted and imprisoned for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. We also talk to New York Times reporter Alan Cowell about the American opposition to the release of the man many view as a fall guy for the attack. The explosion killed 270 people, 189 of them Americans. Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of murder and other charges related to the bombing, but his lawyers have successfully lobbied for his release on compassionate grounds, as he is near death from prostate cancer.
For more, listen to our earlier interview with Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora died on the flight.
Libyan Abdel Baset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 for his part in the 1988 bombing of a New York-bound Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. A Scottish judge will release al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison today on compassionate grounds, due to his terminal prostate cancer.
We're joined by Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora died in the bombing. Cohen is co-author of Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice.
Afghan authorities have decided to keep the polls open for an extra hour to allow more people to vote during the nation's second presidential election since the fall of the Taliban. Militants have launched minor attacks across the country in an attempt to disrupt the election. For an update from the scene in Kandahar, we talk to Sarah Chayes, special advisor to Gen. Stanley McChrystal. (McChrystal is currently running the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan.) We are also joined by long-time journalist Charlie Sennott who is the executive editor of GlobalPost. Charlie's extensive reporting on the Taliban has just been released in a special report: Life, Death, and the Taliban.
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We've all had emails like that filling our inboxes, and we all know to ignore them. There's a new generation of internet scams, however, which are harder to spot. Ryan LaBarge was nearly taken by a new plague on the popular classifieds site craigslist, where scammers offer non-existent homes for sale and solicit deposits from unsuspecting buyers. Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica talks us through the new scam and how rip-offs have evolved as internet usage has become more and more widespread. Amir Orad, executive vice president of the anti-fraud firm Actimize and an expert on financial crime and online security, talks with us about methods to keep yourself safe online.
A report in the New York Times this morning reveals that the CIA hired contractors from increasingly infamous security firm Blackwater for duties far beyond protecting senior government officials. The Times found that the Central Intelligence Agency had hired and trained contractors from Blackwater USA to find and assassinate top al Qaeda operatives. The operation was apparently never revealed to lawmakers and never successfully captured or killed any terrorist suspects. We talk to Mark Mazzetti, the reporter who broke the story, about the multi-million dollar program.
For more, read Mark Mazzetti's article, C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help in Plan to Kill Jihadists, in the New York Times.
As voting gets underway in Afghanistan's second-ever presidential election, we talk Martin Patience, an Afghan correspondent for the BBC. Polling centers have opened across the country, but violence has already shuttered some voting spots. Martin is on the ground in Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan. The threat of violence is being taken extremely seriously; some 300,000 Afghan and foreign troops will be deployed to protect an estimated 17 million voters at 6,969 polling sites.
It's no kind of overstatement to say that CBS News legend Don Hewitt invented television news. As a producer he helped shape the careers of such respected news luminaries as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite at a time when broadcast television was just emerging from radio's shadow. He made news into hour-long, genre-spanning programs. Hewitt created 60 Minutes in 1968; the show was a huge success and helped turn correspondents like Morley Safer, Diane Sawyer, and Mike Wallace into household names. His death at 86 comes as another new medium, the internet, looms over the future of existing broadcast and print media. To talk about the life and legacy of Don Hewitt, we talk to New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and Hewitt's long time friend and former CBS producer Jeff Gralnick.
While Democrats debate whether health care reform should include a government-funded "public option" health insurer, most Republicans have been opposed to the Democrats' conception of reform from the get-go. Democrats are now pressuring Obama to abandon bi-partisanship all together and “go it alone.” But what would that mean for Republicans? Would they be “left out,” “left behind,” or, if reform were to fail, wind up as the "last party standing?" We host a Republican strategy session with Fred Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard, and Reihan Salam, a fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.
"Look, here's how politics works. The out-party succeeds when the in-party fails. The polls on the Republicans don't matter now; what matters is the polls on the Democrats. And they're in power, they have votes in Congress, they have the White House. If they overreach, or they fail, or both, then Republicans will triumph in the next election, whatever their numbers are right now in approval ratings by the public. It's the failure of the in-party that leads to the out-party winning."
—Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, on why he's more interested in Democratic poll numbers than Republican ones