President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum today to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees as far as allowed under the Defense of Marriage Act. It's a surprise move that comes as the president faces criticism from several gay rights leaders over what they suggest has been a failure to live up to campaign promises in the first months of his presidency. For more on what the memorandum might provide, we're joined by Politico's Ben Smith.
With the heath care debate heating up on the Hill, we’re examining how some communities cut costs and improve the quality of care. Recently, lawmakers have been looking to Grand Junction, Colorado, as a model. The Dartmouth Atlas (a 20-plus year project that examines the wide variation in Medicare use and cost across the U.S.) has ranked Grand Junction one of the most cost-efficient areas in the whole country. Joining us to talk about the Grand Junction model is one of the town’s medical leaders, Dr. Michael Pramenko. He is a family physician and serves on the Colorado Medical Society’s Congress for Health Care Reform.
Science's journey into the future is being delayed. A global attempt to create nuclear fusion is being threatened by rising costs and technical challenges. The ITER project was set up in 2006 by the U.S. and other countries to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor in the south of France. But the weak economy might mean that fusion as a source of commercial power is at least a hundred years away. BBC science correspondent Matt McGrath joins us with more.
For an explanation of nuclear fusion, watch the video below.
Because of restrictions, the political crisis in the island nation of Madagascar hasn't been covered much by the global media. So those who want to follow the ongoing struggle have turned to other sources— like Twitter. The Takeaway talks to two young men who are using the micro-blogging service to compile and follow breaking news from Madagascar. We are joined by Aaron Dibner-Dunlap, a student at Columbia University who used to work in Madagascar.
In his new book Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back, author Douglas Rushkoff says that to get out of the current economic crisis, Americans must rethink their relationship with companies like Wal-Mart. He favors local economies, local currencies, and even the old-fashioned concept of getting to know your neighbors. He joins The Takeaway with more.
For a sneak peek at the book, here's a brief film of Life, Inc.
Supporters of Iranian Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi called for a rally to go ahead on Wednesday, despite the government's crackdown. The regime has banned opposition gatherings, forbid international journalists from filming rallies, jailed protestors, and blocked access to social networking sites. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen joins us from Tehran where he has been monitoring the ongoing protests.
"While a repressive state can mow down dozens, perhaps hundreds of people, it cannot mow down hundreds of thousands of people... But this has been a very, very harsh clampdown."
— New York Times columnist Roger Cohen on the media ban in Iran
The financial industry is getting a makeover. Today President Obama will lay out some of the most significant changes to the U.S. financial system since the Great Depression. For a look at some of the reforms we might see, The Takeaway talks to Peter Morici. He's an economist and professor at the University of Maryland's School of Business.
"If they're too big to fail, they're often too big to sell, even in their pieces."
— Economist Peter Morici on U.S. banks
In a dramatic example of how the terrorist group may have reconstituted itself in Yemen, three German nationals were killed and six other foreigners remain missing after a kidnapping on Monday. Some experts believe al Qaida is responsible; they appear to be flourishing in the Arab world's poorest nation. The Takeaway speaks with Gregory Johnsen, terrorism analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, for more.
The modem. The rotary phone. "You've Got Mail!" These are sounds you may not hear much longer. The Takeaway is joining the BBC World Service in a project called Save Our Sounds. From all over the globe, people are sending in sound clips that they think should be saved. BBC Producer Kate Arkless Gray joins John and Femi to talk about the project. Send us your sound here. You can also follow the project on Twitter.
The government in Tehran is trying to control the flow of information inside Iran and to the outside world. But Iranians and foreign journalists are using a jigsaw of communications to piece together a picture of the news. We are joined by Kasra Naji, special correspondent for BBC Persian Television in London. Kasra is also the author of Ahmadinejad: The Secret History of Iran's Radical Leader.
In Tehran it's the third day of street demonstrations. The BBC's Marcus George is there, reporting under restrictions: journalists are not allowed to cover what are called 'unauthorised gatherings' or move around freely in Tehran. But there are no controls over what he can say. He joins us with his story.
Iran’s Guardian Council today says it is recounting the votes in last Friday’s deeply divisive elections. Meanwhile, the government has said it will shut down reporting from the country. To discuss how Iranian-Americans are trying to track the news from their homeland, The Takeaway is joined by Hadi Guyemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran; he is also a former Human Rights Watch worker.
Surfers in the Midwest are cheering this week because of a change to a Chicago law that makes it possible to take surfboards on the city's beaches. The Takeaway talks to surfer Vince Deur who co-chairs the Great Lakes chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
The Obama administration has created, by one count, 21 "czars"—a pay czar, a car czar, a health reform czar, an urban czar. Joining The Takeaway is Shirley Anne Warshaw, presidential scholar and author of “The Co-Presidency of Bush and Cheney”; she explains what this proliferation says about President Obama's leadership style.
It has deep red flesh. It measures more than six feet high. It blooms only about once a decade. But the most memorable thing about the "Corpse Flower" at the Huntington Botanical Garden is that it gives off the stench of rotting flesh. The Takeaway is joined by Garden Director Jim Folsom, who's in San Marino, California, with the flower, Amorphophallus titanium.
Watch the crowds gather around a blooming corpse flower in this time-lapse video.
The motto of the Los Angeles Police Department is "To protect and serve," but the LAPD hasn't always delivered. The most famous example is the Rodney King beating in 1991, which provoked widespread rioting. Endemic problems with the department led to federal oversight. Now the LAPD says it has served its time, dealt with its problems, and that it's time to end the oversight.
The Takeaway is joined by Mark Rosenbaum, the Legal Director of the ACLU of Southern California and one of lawyers in Federal court seeking to extend the consent decree involving the LAPD. Also joining The Takeaway is Chris Stone, Criminal Justice Professor at Harvard University who wrote a nine-month study of the LAPD that came out last month.
Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office passed judgment on one of the key bills overhauling the health insurance system. Here with a look at who might get insurance, who won't and what it'll cost is Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent.
"We have 47 million people with no coverage at all. So the net gain is still nowhere even close to universal coverage."
— Takeaway correspondent Todd Zwillich on healthcare reform
Thousands of people across Iranian society poured into the streets yesterday to protest what they charge were fraudulent results in last week’s presidential vote. These were the largest demonstrations since the 1979 revolution. For the latest in the situation on the streets, The Takeaway talks to Babak Dehghanpisheh, the Middle East Correspondent for Newsweek, who is in Tehran.
President Obama put healthcare front and center yesterday in a talk to doctors. Last year, the U.S. spent $2.4 trillion on healthcare. Some doctors are trying to shrink costs while boosting the quality of care in a method called "micropractices." Joining The Takeaway to talk about this trend is John Wasson. He is a geriatrician and a Professor of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. Also joining the discussion is Dr. Moitri Savard, a Family Physician who runs a micropractice in Queens, New York.
Brazil, Russia, India and China sometimes referred to as the BRIC group, meet today to work out how to exert more control over the global financial system. On their agenda is how to create a new currency that could replace the U.S. dollar. Clifford Levy, New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief, joins the Takeaway to talk about this plan and what it will mean for the American economy.