It has been nearly seven years since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Today, as the country awaits results from the March 7 national election, we check in with Iraqis about the state of their country.
After long hours of spirited debate, President Obama and Congressional lawmakers failed to reach any substantive compromises on health care legislation. Republicans were clearly frustrated with the president's proposals and repeatedly suggested scrapping the legislation and starting over again. Democrats insisted that was not an option because too much progress has already been made.
The assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month in a Dubai hotel room has been compared to the plot of a cheap spy novel. Bad costumes, security footage, and Interpol all make for a good thread.
Yesterday, we talked about high schools in eight states that are considering an initiative to let students place out of their senior year in high school and enter community college. It sparked a heated debate among listeners on the merits of the program, so we revisit the issue with a psychology professor and an expert in early graduation.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is the White House cabinet member who would be in charge of administering any new health care system in the United States. But right now her department is focused on the relief effort in Haiti, with more than 250 of her department's personnel providing medical care to survivors in the quake-ravaged country.
With a 10 percent unemployment rate, you might need to pray to get a job in this economy … literally. Many Americans are now turning to their houses of worship for help finding jobs. We talk with Rabbi Rolando Matalon about the career services being offered at his synagogue, B'nai Jeshurun, in New York City.
Over the weekend, federal authorities charged a 23-year-old Nigerian man with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. That man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, claims that he received the explosive chemicals from a bomb expert with ties to al-Qaida. For an update on the case, we speak with reporter Scott Shane, who is covering the case for our partner, The New York Times, along with BBC reporter Ahmed Idris, who joins us from Nigeria.
Terrorism suspects held in Guantánamo Bay may soon be on their way to a prison in rural northwestern Illinois, according to an Obama adminstration plan announced Tuesday. Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn has spoken in favor of the plan, which he says will bring as many as 3,000 jobs to Thomson, Illinois, and the surrounding area. We speak with Thomson resident Vicky Trager, who is a member of the village board of trustees. We also speak with Sue Stephens, news director at WNIJ, Northern Illinois Public Radio.
The Federal government will spend $3.4 billion to settle a 13-year-old lawsuit over mismanagement of American Indian land and resource trusts. According to the settlement [PDF, 648k], The U.S. Interior Department will distribute $1.4 billion to more than 300,000 Native American tribe members, and will spend $2 billion more to buy back tribal land lost by previous generations. We speak with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. We also speak with Ivan Posey, chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.
Yesterday, the President unveiled an ambitious plan to spur jobs, cut the national deficit and re-shape the foundations of the American economy.
Managaging Director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute Lakshman Achuthan joins us to analyze some of the plans Obama outlined in his speech. We also bring in two small business owners who hope to benefit from the initiatives. Dawn P. Jackson (owner of NuDawn Marketing Group in Maryland) and Walt Rowen (owner of Susquehanna Glass Company in Columbia, PA) discuss how their businesses would be affected by the proposed stimulus package.
In a speech at West Point last night, President Obama announced he will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan starting early next year. He also discussed an exit strategy that he hopes to start in July, 2011. In a brief trip through the looking glass, it's the Republicans who (mostly) seem to have Obama's back this time and not the Democrats. Our Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, has reactions on Capitol Hill, from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), to President Obama's Afghanistan policy. We're also joined by Michael Gerson, President George W. Bush's chief speech writer from 2000 to 2006 and now a senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement.
President Barack Obama's stimulus plan cut the price tag for COBRA, the federal program that allows workers to keep their healthcare benefits for 18 months after they leave a job. Under the bill, laid-off workers pay only 35% of the actual cost of COBRA benefits. That provision expires this month, meaning many unemployed workers will face suddenly higher healthcare premiums. We speak with Jody Dietel, chief compliance officer for WageWorks, a company that administers COBRA and other benefits programs. We also speak with Cheryl Fish-Parcham, deputy director of health policy at Families USA.
Florida taxpayers spend roughly $45 million a year subsidizing health care for government employees. More than 27,000 government officials – including Governor Charlie Crist (R-Fla.), now a candidate for U.S. Senate – pay no premiums at all. Once a simple benefit of public service, these perks are now being called into question amid the nationwide debate over healthcare reform. For more on the story, we speak with Beth Reinhard, political writer for the Miami Herald.
The Federal investigation into a Minnesota-based terrorism operation widened this week when authorities released criminal charges against eight men connected to the operation, which allegedly recruited young men to fight alongside terrorists in Somalia. We look at how the case is impacting the Somali community in Minnesota, and speak with Tim Nelson, a reporter with Minnesota Public Radio. We also speak with Mohamed Hassan, vice chair of Somali Cause.
The hottest ticket in Washington D.C. tonight will be the White House state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It's the first such event for President and Mrs. Obama, who are putting their own stamp on the event. The guest list includes Hollywood directors Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan, and the menu will reportedly incorporate honey from the White House beehive. For more details on tonight's fête, we speak with Nia-Malika Henderson, White House reporter for Politico.
Have former governors Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee chosen to forgo politics in order to cultivate their celebrity status? That's the view of our guest, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who writes in an op-ed this week that both candidates chose to cash in on their celebrity following the 2008 elections, instead of working towards wider policy and governing experience. We also speak with Cindy Gallop, an advertising consultant and former chair of the advertising agency BBH.
President Obama met with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, today for talks that ran the gamut from climate change to Taiwan to global security. Residents of China watched Obama's visit carefully, as did many Chinese-Americans. Shirong Chen is the BBC's China editor; he joins us from London. We're also joined by members of different generations of Chinese-Americans for their take on how Obama did. David Zhang is an associate professor of pathology and oncological sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Jenny Jiang is a junior, studying marketing at the University of Pennsylvania.
The financial reform bill introduced Tuesday by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chair of the Senate Banking Committee, would dramatically change the way U.S. banks are monitored. But with resistance from both Republicans and Democrats, the bill is unlikely to pass through the Senate before the end of the year. Here to tell us more about it is our Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich, along with John Cassidy, New Yorker staff writer and author of the book, "How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities."
Hundreds gathered at Michigan’s state capitol in Lansing, Mich., yesterday to protest budget cuts to school programs. To help explain what's going on right now in Michigan, we're joined by Craig Fahle from WDET in Detroit, where he hosts the talk show “Detroit Today.” Also with us is Casey Christensen, a first-grade teacher in Roseville, Mich. It's part of our week-long series on the impact of state budget cuts.