Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently delivered what many described as a surprisingly honest and sober analysis of the current situation for the war in Afghanistan. But predicting the road ahead seemed more difficult for Gates.
In a piece she co-authored in today's New York Times, Pentagon Correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller describes an Obama administration openly conflicted about the war in Afghanistan.
“The argument is not about whether the war should continue. The argument is about the number of troops that should be added in the coming months.” — Elisabeth Bumiller, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times
Pharmaceutical mega-corporation Pfizer has agreed to pay $2.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties for its unlawful drug promotions. The company will pay the largest health care fraud fine in history for aiming their advertising dollars at patients, not doctors; promoting off-label uses of their drugs without FDA approval; and creating and distributing phony "independent" medical educational materials. The products at the heart of the case include Bextra, a drug approved to treat arthritis but marketed for other uses; and Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant promoted as a smoking cessation aid. Pfizer's agreement to pay the penalty for their intent to defraud marks the culmination of a long and complex case. Tony West is the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He worked on the case and joins us to talk about drugs, advertising, and the law.
It used to be a bad thing to have your head in the clouds. Not anymore. These days "the cloud" is exactly where tech companies like Google want you and your business to be. Working in the cloud means no more software downloads, but instead, using online applications like Google Docs or their very popular webmail client, Gmail. But yesterday, Gmail went offline for around two hours, sidelining productivity and prompting apocalyptic imagery among the digerati. In the wake of yesterday's Gmail blackout, we speak with John Abell, New York bureau chief of Wired.com, to learn about the nuts, bolts, merits and pitfalls of separating our computers from our data.
"I think anyone in the business would say: in a cage fight, would Google and Microsoft be equal partners in the reliability contest? You'd have a laughing match. Everything, to some extent, is unreliable."
—John Abell, New York bureau chief of Wired.com, on the risks of "cloud computing".
Our partners at The New York Times reported that profits collected from eight of the biggest bailed-out banks have fully repaid their debts to the U.S. government. Even though the $4 billion paid back still only represents a small percentage of the $700 billion the government doled out to help stabilize wobbly banks, it could point to brighter financial days on the horizon. We talk to New York Times reporter Louise Story about the significance of these quick paybacks and their impact on the economy.
The children’s entertainment super-giant Walt Disney Corporation announced on Monday that it's acquiring Marvel Inc., the home of such superheroes as Spiderman, Iron Man and Captain America. The $4 billion deal would see Mickey Mouse on the same corporate team with the likes of the X-Men, The New Mutants and other yet-to-be-blockbuster movie action fare.
The question now is: was this a bold and brilliant example of corporate synergy or an ungodly pop-cultural mutation? We ask Takeaway contributor Mary Elizabeth Williams, culture critic for Salon.com
"Want to know where the money is? it’s in comic book characters. That’s the global economy now: it’s comic book characters." — Mary Elizabeth Williams, Takeaway contributor and culture critic for Salon.com
Actor and New Orleans native Wendell Pierce is probably best known for his role as the cigar-smoking, hard-drinking detective William "Bunk" Moreland on HBO's critically acclaimed drama "The Wire." Since the end of that series, though, Pierce has been keeping busy: in between stage performances in New York City and his work on "Treme," a new HBO drama by David Simon, Pierce has been building affordable, eco-friendly, sustainable homes for a New Orleans neighborhood whose residents were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
The Massachusetts Governor’s office is feeling pressure from Capitol Hill to sign into law a bill the late Senator Edward Kennedy proposed. If ratified, the bill would give Governor Deval Patrick the legal authority to name a temporary replacement for the senator. The existing law was established during John Kerry's 2004 presidential run and specifically enacted to prevent then-Governer Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican replacement had the Democratic senator won the presidency; the law mandates Patrick wait at least 145 days to hold a special election. Timothy Murray is the Lieutenant Governor for the State of Massachusetts and tells us about the bill's progress.
The FDIC, the body that insures the money we put into our bank accounts, is currently supporting 416 failed and "problem" banks. Is all that strain on our nation's banking backbone a cause for alarm? We speak to Louise Story, Wall Street and finance reporter for The New York Times, to ask her if we should start stuffing money under our mattresses.
At the JFK Library and Museum in Boston, mourners are lining up to view the body of Senator Kennedy, who will lie in repose later today. To set the scene, Emily Rooney, host of WGBH's Beat the Press, joins us from Boston, and Sean Corcoran, senior reporter at WCAI, joins us from Cape Cod.
As President Barack Obama has become a symbol for millions in his father's homeland, Kenya, the Kennedy family was a symbol of success for millions in Ireland. Throughout his career, Senator Edward Kennedy fought hard to maintain those bonds. Kennedy used his position to facilitate diplomatic inroads for any Irish leaders visiting our country, and he was instrumental in securing the Good Friday Agreement under President Clinton in 1995.
We are joined by Niall O’Dowd, founder and editor of Irish Voice newspaper and IrishCentral.Com. O'Dowd was extensively involved in the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreemement.
Home price indexes, GDPs and jobless claim numbers are all coming in this week. Sure, the numbers look good, but what does it all mean in practical terms? Can the worst of the economic downturn really be behind us? We speak with Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody’s Economy.com, and Andrew Walker, who covers economics for the BBC, to interpret these fuzzy economic indicators.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mi.) joins us to remember Senator Ted Kennedy as a political colleague. We also have New York Times Reporter John Broder, who wrote a piece in for The New York Times on Senator Kennedy.
We get reactions to the preliminary Afghan election results due in this morning. Joining us to talk about Afghan responses to the news is Charlie Sennott, executive editor of GlobalPost.
When the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says that the situation in Afghanistan is "deteriorating," that's not a good sign. That's exactly what Admiral Mike Mullen said on Sunday, unfortunately, going on to say that the Taliban has gotten "more sophisticated." For a military analysis of America's loosening grip on stability in Afghanistan, we talk with retired U.S. Army Colonel Paul Hughes. He is currently the senior program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint federal prosecutor John Durham to investigate alleged prisoner abuses at CIA prisons during the Bush administration. Durham has a long reputation as a no-nonsense, under-the-radar prosecutor who’s gone after career criminals and corrupt government officials for decades.
For more on this elusive figure, we talk to Durham’s old boss Kevin O'Connor, former U.S. Attorney for the State of Connecticut. And for more on the ramifications of the decision to investigate the CIA's interrogation techniques, we turn to New York Times Reporter Scott Shane.
Today, preliminary results come in from last week's hotly-contested presidential election in Afghanistan. Both leading candidates, current President Hamid Karzai and leading challenger Abdullah Abdullah, have claimed victory by margins large enough to avoid a run-off election. For a look at the potential impact the early results could have both there and in the U.S., we talk to Christine Fair, professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, who is just back from Afghanistan as an election monitor; and Martin Patience, BBC correspondent in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"There were a number of reports that Karzai actually cut a deal with different Taliban commanders, whereby the Taliban would get their satisfaction of not having people turn up to the vote, i.e. not having folks with their fingers inked in exchange for letting the ballot boxes return with ballots in them." — Christine Fair, who is just back from Afghanistan, where she served as an election monitor.
After a summer of rough-and-tumble town halls, the president and his family are taking some time away from Washington to relax. The first family will spend the week on Martha’s Vineyard before returning to D.C. to resume wrangling with legislators. We’ll look at what the Obamas may do while there, and talk about how other presidents have spent their downtime.
We speak to John Fortier, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; retired Associated Press reporter Larry Knutson, who has covered presidential vacations; and Carol McManus, owner and operator of Espresso Love café on Martha's Vineyard (and inventor of "The Obama Muffin").
After long negotiations, the Swiss bank UBS announced yesterday that it had reached a deal with the Internal Revenue Service. Part of the deal requires the bank to give the I.R.S. the names attached to 4,500 previously secret accounts. Swiss banks have long been valued for their secrecy and discretion; the I.R.S. suspects the bank may be harboring billions of taxable U.S. dollars in accounts owned by Americans.
Now that UBS is bowing to pressure from the U.S., the burning question is: where-oh-where will the fabulously wealthy go to hide their money now? For that and more, we check in with Louise Story, the Wall Street and finance reporter for the New York Times.
Long-time Washington reporter, columnist and political pundit Robert Novak died yesterday after losing a battle to brain cancer. His five-decade-long career as a journalist and man-about-town may be forever tarnished by his involvement in the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity in 2003. Joining us to discuss Robert Novak's illustrious career and dubious legacy is Michael Calderone, media reporter for Politico, and Albert Hunt, a friend of Mr. Novak's and the executive Washington editor of Bloomberg News.
For more, read Michael Calderone's article, CNN remembers Novak, at Politico.com.
Here's CNN's look at the life and legacy of Robert Novak:
Older members of our society are the biggest consumers of medical care, and they have been vocal participants in the debate over reforming the health care system. What do the elderly think of the president's plan? The Takeaway talks to Trevor Hughes, a 77-year-old Jamaican immigrant and retired optician, who says the government should "butt out" of the health care. He recently underwent major spinal surgery which was covered by the insurance Hughes pays for out of his own pocket; he says that we can't afford to re-configure a system that just needs minor tweaks.