Yesterday President Obama made nuclear disarmament a central theme of his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Today he chairs a Security Council meeting on the issue. For a look at what the president needs to say and do to convince the world that he means business, we turn to two men who are experts in the realms of diplomacy, foreign policy and nuclear proliferation. Hans Blix served as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1981 to 1997 before he was tapped to lead the U.N. committee charged with searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We also speak to Joe Cirincione, president of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund. He also wrote the book "Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons."
"On the Iranian issue, I think the focus in the Western world has been, perhaps, too much on the sanctions. All on the whips, and not so much on the carrots. If you want to get a country to act in a particular direction, the carrots are just as important. It's instructive to compare the attitude taken towards North Korea on the one hand and Iran on the other. North Korea, they [have been] offered diplomatic relations with both the U.S. and Japan if they scrap their nuclear program. They're also offered security guarantees. None of these elements have, so far, been raised publicly for Iran."
"Every president since Truman has called for the elimination of these weapons, including Ronald Reagan, who wanted to make them 'impotent and obsolete.' What's different is that Obama is calling for this vision and coupling it with a concrete program on how to get started, step-by-step. He's not doing it unilaterally; he's doing it with the Russians. He says, 'We have to start. The United States and Russia own 96% of all the weapons in the world. The U.S. has about 10,000, Russia has about 12,000 -- we have to take the first steps.' He's right about that, and he's acting on it."
--Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund
Here are highlights of President Obama's address to the United Nations yesterday:
Yesterday President Obama took to the international stage as he made his United Nations debut. From yesterday’s climate change summit to tomorrow’s nuclear disarmament talk — and anticipated flourishes from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi along the way — we take a look at President Obama’s global positioning with worldly thinkers Richard Wolffe and Reihan Salam. Richard Wolffe is a journalist and author of the bestselling book "Renegade: The Making of a President." Reihan Salam is a fellow at the New America Foundation and editor of The American Scene.
Watch the president's address to the United Nations:
Thousands of people have stories about September 11th, eight years ago. For many of us these are stories that hang on the profound consequences of one life intersecting with another. Today we take a look at two of these stories, where the significance of a perfect stranger grows more pronounced with each passing year. We speak with Sarah Bunting. She’s a writer and publisher of the blog tomatonation.com. We also talk to Jim Dwyer, reporter for the New York Times and author of "102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers," which he co-wrote with New York Times editor Kevin Flynn.
In 2007, Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari left the U.S. on an annual visit to her mother in Iran. But when she got to the country, she was promptly arrested and charged with treason. She tells us how she was kept in solitary confinement for more than 100 days and subjected to grueling interrogations. This is all in her new memoir, "My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran".
Tom Ridge entered the federal government as President Bush's Homeland Security advisor, and later became the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the mega-agency formed in the months after the September 11 attacks. He’s the man who brought America color-coded terror alerts, ramped-up airport security checks, and of course, a new appreciation for duct tape. We talk to him today about his experiences in the Bush administration and specifically, about a meeting that occurred just days before the 2004 election where he may have been pressured to raise the nation's security level. In his new book, The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…and How We Can Be Safe Again, he says the internal debate left left him wondering whether a move to raise the threat level had to do with security or politics. (Click through for a full interview transcript.)
<div><p>"After 9/11, I suspect as congressmen and congresswomen made decisions, and as senators made decisions, and as other people in the government made decisions, some nature of politics ... the whole question of terrorism, became embedded in our political system."<br /> —Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on the inevitable entwining of politics and security.</p></div>
Taking a painkiller before you hit the track, the soccer field, or the bike path sounds like a smart move if you want to prevent pain and muscle soreness after a workout. But new studies suggest that you could actually be doing the opposite. To look at the effects of self-medicating before exercising, we talk to Gretchen Reynolds, who writes a weekly column for The New York Times Magazine. She also covers fitness for Women's Health and O, The Oprah Magazine.
We finish our week-long series of health care roundtables with a look beyond our borders. We speak to three Americans living abroad about the health care systems in other countries. Christina Geyer joins us from Bavaria, Germany, where she has lived since 2002. Lynne Udalov joins us from Moscow, where she has been for over 10 years. And Amanda Graham joins us from Derry, in Northern Ireland, where she moved in May.
Click through for an overview on the health care system of each country, or read the other round tables in this series.
Tomorrow, in the midst of a string of health care town halls, President Obama is squeezing in a family trip with Michelle and his daughters. The Obamas will visit the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. The former mayor of West Yellowstone, Montana, Jerry Johnson, tells us how the locals are responding to the impending presidential visit.
We are also joined by historian Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, with a look at the nation's national park system and the ecological streak that makes up President Teddy Roosevelt's lasting legacy.
Who knew that breakfast could be one sure way to beat the heat? We’re not talking about chugging a frappaccino, we’re talking about breakfast the Sicilian way: ice cream. Gina DePalma joins The Takeaway with some Italian breakfast fare that could change the way you think about how you start your steamy, summer mornings. Gina DePalma is the pastry chef of the world famous restaurant Babbo, in New York. She is also the author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. And you can keep abreast of her culinary thoughts on the blog Serious Eats, where she is a weekly contributor.
Want to make your own coffee granita? Here's Gina's recipe:
Yesterday the NAACP wrapped up its Centennial Convention. The Takeaway has been covering the convention all week, from DJ Spooky’s artistic take on the African-America experience to President Obama’s address last night. Today, as part of the “after the party” conversation, we are joined by John McWhorter to look at the relevance of the 100-year old institution and the challenges it faces in taking on 21st century discrimination. John McWhorter is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Adjunct Professor at Columbia, his latest book is Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English.
"The funding that Barack Obama is giving to community colleges, that is race-targeted legislation in its way. And I think that's wonderful. And I think we lose sight of that if, say, the NAACP continues to focus on discrimination as the main meal."
—John McWhorter on President Obama's address to the NAACP
Today the NAACP wraps up its convention celebrating its 100-year anniversary. For a look at what the group's future fights for civil rights should be and how their past accomplishments shaped the nation, we are joined by Lani Gunier. Lani Guinier is the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She is also the first and only tenured black female professor at Harvard Law School.
We’ve been covering the NAACP’s centennial convention all week. Tomorrow we wrap up the conversation with linguist John McWhorter. We’ll look at his vision for keeping the NAACP relevant in the 21st Century.
Read about what was life was like for black Americans in 1909.
At President Obama’s urging, Democratic congressional leaders made considerable progress this week in reworking the nation’s health care system. On Tuesday, the House unveiled its health care reform bill and yesterday the Senate got its plan through committee. Both plans guarantee insurance for most Americans. They would raise taxes on high-income people while providing subsidies to Americans at moderate to low income levels. Both plans would also penalize employers who do not provide health benefits to their workers.
We turn to Trudy Lieberman for her take on what we could actually end up with. She is the director of the health and medicine reporting program at CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism and she is a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. We'll also hear from medical leaders Dr. Herbert Pardes, President and CEO of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital,and Dr. Michael Pramenko. Dr. Pramenko is a family physician. He also serves on the Colorado Medical Society’s Congress for Health Care Reform. We also hear from Michael Fredrich. He is the president of MCM Composites LLCs, who as a small business owner has struggled to provide health care to his employees.
This week the NAACP kicked off a six-day convention celebrating its 100 year anniversary. Even with Barack Obama as our first African American president, the NAACP sees its work as far from finished. Last year, Benjamin Jealous, then 35, became the organization’s youngest president, with a plan to bring the NAACP into the 21st century. Mr. Jealous joins The Takeaway's John Hockenberry and guest-host Farai Chideya to discuss his vision for the NAACP and how he’s taking on the challenges of race relations and equality.
"We’re focused not just on full employment, if you will, but also on job quality. Let’s not forget that slavery was a full employment economy."
—NAACP President Ben Jealous on unemployment numbers in the African-American community
Here's Benjamin Jealous' address at the NAACP's Centennial Celebration:
Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Republican members of the Senate judiciary committee cautioned that Sotomayor could be an "activist judge," prone to favor minority groups; Democrats emphasized her American dream credentials. Today, Senate Judiciary Committee members will likely grill her on judicial decisions. Joining us for a recap of yesterday's events and a look ahead is Jeffrey Rosen. He is a Professor of Law at George Washington University, and legal affairs editor for The New Republic. He’s also the author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America.
Yesterday Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev signed a preliminary agreement to reduce the world's two largest nuclear stockpiles by as much as a third. Today President Obama continued to mend U.S.-Russian relations by meeting with Prime Minister Putin and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbechev. He also reached out to the Russian people, delivering a speech at the New Economic School in Moscow. Joining The Takeaway to gauge if President Obama has succeeded in rebooting our relationship with Russia isSusan Eisenhower. Granddaughter of President Eisenhower, in her own right she is a leading expert on Russia. Susan Eisenhower is the President of the Eisenhower Group. She also serves as Chairman of the Eisenhower Institute’s Leadership and Public Policy Programs. Susan Eisenhower famously broke from the Republican Party last year to endorse then candidate Barack Obama.
"There is a group of people who are in power today who only dimly remember the Cold War and even the Soviet Union."
— Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Eisenhower, on the U.S. relationship with Russia
Today President Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Medvedev, meet in Moscow. This is the first full-fledged summit since 2002, when President Bush famously looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul. This time around, the press has largely been focusing on negotiations to reduce strategic nuclear weapons. The White House, however, is stressing that this meeting is much more wide–ranging; their goal is for the U.S. to forge a substantive relationship with the Russian government and the Russian people. For a look at whether or not this can be achieved, we’re turning to Ambassador Thomas Pickering. He served as Ambassador to the United Nations from 1989-1992 and as Ambassador to Russia from 1993-1996. He is currently the co-chair of The International Crisis Group.Click through for transcript
Today President Obama kicks off a week-long trip to Russia, Italy, and Ghana. He’s currently in Moscow, meeting with President Medvedev. Iran, North Korea, and plans for a U.S. missile defense system in Europe are all on the agenda, but reducing the number of strategic and other nuclear weapons gets top billing. Presidents Obama and Medvedev aim to negotiate a new pact to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December. To gauge how effective this negotiation will be—and for a look at how this summit could redefine U.S.-Russia relations, we turn to Ambassador John Bolton. He is Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.Click through for transcript
"Having more of that money in the U.S. available for businesses to invest and to be loaned back out reduces our dependence on other sources of that income, particularly foreign sources of that borrowing that's also been part of the boom."
— Kelly Evans on the importance of spending