To answer what makes us human has long been a scientific quest. It’s one that Dr. Richard Wrangham has been wrestling with since the 1970’s, when he started his career, observing chimps with Dr. Jane Goodall. Then about 10 years ago, while sitting in front of his own fireplace, a theory of human evolution came to him. It’s one that he lays out in his new book: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Richard Wrangham is the Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He joins The Takeaway with his take on human evolution.
When it comes to health care, do you get what you pay for? Dr. Atul Gawande wanted to examine costs -- and quality. In the latest issue of The New Yorker he compares McAllen, Texas, one of the most expensive health care markets in the country, to the Mayo Clinic, one of the country’s most effective, low-cost health systems. Dr. Gawande is a surgeon and writer; his most recent book is Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
Just hours after the U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's nuclear tests, Pyongyang tested more missiles. President Obama criticized the tests, prompting North Korea to respond that its "army and people are fully ready for battle... against any reckless U.S. attempt for a pre-emptive attack."
An American attack is extremely unlikely. But what clout does the U.S. or the international community have? The Takeaway turns to John Bolton: he served as the Permanent U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006 and is
currently a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
"The next step really ought to be the kind of sweeping economic sanctions that were imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. That would be a real sign." —Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton on the U.S. response to North Korea
With shrinking budgets and expanding populations, cities across the globe are desperate for cheap mass transit. From Johannesburg to Jakarta to Cleveland, city governments are choosing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)— a bus system that acts like a train but with no tracks or rails. The Takeaway talks to freelance reporter Steven Dudley, who explored the successful BRT system in Bogota, Colombia, and to Dan Moulthrop, reporter for WCPN, Cleveland Public Radio, where the city has been making the transition to a Bus Rapid Transit system.
North Korea is one of the world's most secretive societies. Curtis Melvin, a PhD student at George Mason University visited the communist nation in 2004 and '05 and was determined to learn even more about the closed kingdom. So he started a hobby, mapping North Korea with the help of Google Earth.
A ruling is expected today from the California Supreme Court that will either uphold Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban, or overturn it as unconstitutional. Whatever the California court decides, gay marriage is now legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa, and it will be legal in Vermont and Maine in September. And, inevitably, with marriage comes divorce. As couples and attorneys are learning, same sex divorce is at least as complex and controversial as same sex marriage. Frederick Hertz, an attorney in Oakland California and author of Making it Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership & Civil Unions joins Farai and John with a look at the issue.
The U.S. and the United Nations now have to calibrate their reaction to North Korea's recent missile test, while also worrying about Iran's nuclear ambition and fears of proliferation on the subcontinent. The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, is the international regulatory agency charged with monitoring the use and development of nuclear energy. But the agency is in the middle of electing a new general director. There are five candidates vying for the job and they are officially announcing their candidacies today. How much can the agency do?
Hans Blix knows something about those nuclear politics. He served as Director General of the IAEA from 1981 to 1997 before he was tapped to lead the U.N. committee that was eventually charged with searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He joins The Takeaway to discuss North Korea and the new era of nuclear politics.
Memorial Day is typically considered the unofficial beginning of summer. And we inaugurate the season with barbecues, beach parties, blockbuster films, and bargain hunting. But that's not how Memorial Day was envisioned by the Southern women who honored the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. Joining The Takeaway to talk about the origins of Memorial Day and how the meaning has morphed over the decades is Caroline Janney. She is an assistant professor of history at Purdue University and the author of "Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause (Civil War America)."
At Riverside National Cemetery in California, volunteers have spent eight days reading the names of all 148,000 servicemen and women interred there. It was the first unbroken roll call at any U.S. veterans’ cemetery. The Takeaway talks to Gwendolyn Goodlett. She volunteered to read names in honor of her deceased husband, Elijah Goodlett, a Vietnam vet.
The fate of 248 detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba has been in the spotlight. We’ve heard much less about the 600 detainees currently being held at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan. New reporting from our partners at The New York Times shows that the detainees at Bagram present the U.S. with yet another massive challenge. A federal judge ruled on April 2 that some foreign prisoners have the right to use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. For more, The Takeaway talks to Richard Oppel Jr. the New York Times reporter who has been following this story.
New York Times writer Kim Severson is reporting on a new trend among college students, no it's not the latest technological gadget or So You Think You Can Dance drinking game, it's...threshing. And spreading manure, milking cows, gathering eggs, and harvesting crops. Yes, the newest trend among college students is interning on the farm. To get to the root of this back-to-the-land movement, Kim Severson joins The Takeaway.
One of the most famously congested and crowded spots in the world is Times Square in New York City. Starting today, segments of its main thoroughfare, Broadway, will be closed to cars. In their place will be more room for pedestrians, and even cafe tables and chairs. The city says the plan will actually relieve traffic congestion. Transportation writer Matt Dellinger joins The Takeaway with a look at why New York is taking this step, and what it might mean for cities around the U.S.
North Korea says it carried out an underground nuclear test, prompting widespread international concern. Pyongyang says the device that it detonated was more powerful than a previous one tested in 2006. Meanwhile, a news agency in South Korea says the country also test-fired a total of three short-range missiles. The Takeaway is joined by Dr. Jim Walsh, a specialist in international security and a research associate at the M.I.T's Securities Studies Program.
"Normally we would have thought of this as bargaining behavior, but North Korea is trying to create a crisis to improve their leverage going into a negotiation." —MIT Security Studies Professor Jim Walsh on North Korea's motivation to test nuclear missiles
It's the start of summer and the kickoff of grilling season. To give us some cooking tips on we turn to Craig Samuels, Brooklyn's barbecue afficionado and owner of Peaches, a Southern restaurant, and The Smoke Joint, a barbecue spot.
In honor of those who serve, The Takeaway talks to current and former servicemen and women to ask what Memorial Day means to them. They remember fallen comrades, pay tribute to the living and talk about the need to look forward.
The former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested in July 2008, after 11 years on the run. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accuses him of genocide for his involvement in the decimation of Bosnia's Croat and Muslim population. But his lawyers say they have evidence that he was told by Richard Holbrooke, now the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that he would not stand trial for war crimes. They are outlining their evidence today in The Hague. For more on this story, The Takeaway is joined by Charles Ingrao, professor of history at Purdue University.
New scientific research suggests that the mind of a baby is a humming, buzzing, supercharged learning machine, capable of taking in and processing enormous amounts of information. Now that we know this, how should we interact with babies and support their developing minds? We talk to our science contributor Jonah Lehrer. He is the author of Proust was a Neuroscientist. He latest book is How We Decide.
"For so long we've seen babies just as unconscious, basically just as these lumps that just want to eat and cry and sleep, and now we think babies are actually more conscious than us." —Writer Jonah Lehrer on new research revealing the active learning of a baby's brain
It's Monday, which means it is time to pull out our road map for the week. Our guide this week is our own Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich. On the agenda? A California court is expected to rule on the controversial ballot initiative Proposition 8 that barred gay marriage. The court will decide whether the initiative is legal and the fate of those couples already married in California. And President Obama is expected to announce his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court this week. Also this week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbass and the U.K.'s Prince Harry will be in the U.S. Abbass will talk about Mideast peace, while Harry is likely to play polo.
North Korea is claiming it test fired a trio of nuclear missiles yesterday. Such claims haven't always turned out to be true, but there are indeed reports of seismic activity in the area. The official North Korea news agency said these explosions were more powerful than the previous tests in October 2006. The claimed tests are raising tensions in the region and Japan has already called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation. For more we turn to the BBC's Jonathan Marcus.
"If North Korea is seen to be able to do this kind of thing with impunity than other countries around the world who are wanting to perhaps to develop their nuclear capabilities are going to take their cues from the North Koreans." —The BBC's Jonathan Marcus on the global implications of North Korea's nuclear test
On the campaign trail, President Barack Obama said that no one should graduate from university without having read poetry. He also promised that he would open up the White House to a wide range of people. Last night he made progress on both promises when the White House hosted a poetry slam (or more accurately, a poetry jam because it wasn’t a competition, but instead an open mic night that included slam poets, musicians and spoken-word artists. James Earl Jones read a piece and among the performers were two young spoken word poets from Youth Speaks, a non-profit organization in San Francisco for teens. One of the young poets, Joshua Brandon Bennett, joins The Takeaway to perform some of his poetry and talk about the experience. Also joining the conversation is Jeff Chang, journalist and author of Can't Stop, Won't Stop, the award-winning history of hip-hop.
To get a taste of what went on at the poetry jam, watch this clip of Joshua Bennett freestyling.