As we learn more about the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs and leaker Edward Snowden, The Takeaway is looking at freedom in America, and freedom's relationship to privacy. Jill Lepore, New Yorker staff writer and professor of American history at Harvard University, explores the relationship between privacy, government transparency and freedom in U.S. history.
As President Obama meets with fellow G-8 leaders in Northern Ireland, Syria’s fate is high on the agenda, but there is little consensus on the best path forward. Former British ambassador Carne Ross is founder of Independent Diplomat, a non-profit diplomatic advisory group that is currently advising the Syrian Coalition. He outlines the Syrian rebels' position, and analyzes the potential issues in the international community.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has brought two separate lawsuits against two major companies: discount retailer Dollar General and car-maker BMW. The E.E.O.C. alleges that these companies used criminal background checks to screen out workers who have a criminal record of any kind. The suits were brought under the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against job seekers on the basis of race.
Celebrated author, columnist for The Miami Herald, and born-and-raised Floridian Carl Hiaasen discusses his latest foray into fiction and the news form his home state, where the George Zimmerman trial is underway.
In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will determine the fate of affirmative action in college admissions. Most Americans think of affirmative action as a post-Civil Rights Era phenomenon, but race has long played a role in college admissions. Fifty years ago today, Alabama Governor George Wallace made his final stand for segregation at the University of Alabama. That evening, in a landmark speech, President Kennedy called on Congress to pass comprehensive civil rights legislation.
There is growing outrage at the revelation this week that the Obama administration required Verizon to provide call data on their customers. The news yesterday that the NSA is also mining internet data via sites like Google, Facebook, and Apple only heightened public anger. What can the government do with our cell phone and internet data, anyway?
Today President Obama meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping far outside the beltway, in sunny Palm Springs, California. The two leaders have much to discuss, from North Korea to cyberattacks to recent reports of Chinese espionage in American institutions. Peter Narvarro is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California, Irvine. He recently directed a film entitled “Death By China.”
Samantha Power, President Obama's nominee to replace outgoing United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, has focused her career on the study of genocide and humanitarian intervention, If Power is confirmed, she faces a number of challenges to her strong beliefs: she may find herself debating policy with some of the dictators she has sought to bring down. Kurt Volker understands the challenges Samantha Power might face. Volker served as the U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2008 to 2009.
Last year Harvard and M.I.T. announced a joint online learning initiative called edX, that promised to reach students across the globe by providing online classes free of charge. Recently, there has been some debate about the effectiveness of the massive open online courses, or MOOCs, offered by the nonprofit start-up, and its for-profit competitors. Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, remains a strong advocate of online education and its ability to democratize education.
Is there a more polarizing contemporary rockstar than Bono? For some, the U2 frontman's international relief efforts epitomize what can be accomplished when a celebrity harnesses his fame to tackle global problems. But for others, Bono's self-appointed role as the definitive celebrity activist is a narcissistic venture that does as much harm (if not more harm) than good for the people he purports to be helping.
From Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" to Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried," the combat novel takes its readers right into the action, into the horrors of war. With his recent novel "The Yellow Birds," author and veteran Kevin Powers does for Iraq what Remarque did for World War I and O'Brien did for Vietnam. On this Memorial Day, Powers reflects on his fellow veterans, and the military personnel still serving today.
It has been a devastating week for the people of Oklahoma. Monday’s tornado left twenty-four people dead, hundreds injured, and an estimated 2 billion dollars in damage. Despite the destruction, students from Moore, Southmoore and Westmoore high schools will graduate as planned on Saturday. Jeff Wood and Brooke Potter will be among them.
Today, in an address at National Defense University, President Obama will describe his administration's legal justification and framework for drone strikes and targeted killings. This follows official confirmation by Attorney General Eric Holder that four United States citizens have been killed in strikes. Micah Zenko, fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a recent comprehensive report on drone strike policies, describes the diplomatic problems that arise from targeted killing.
This week, the American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. Known as psychiatry's bible, the DSM provides mental health professionals with descriptions and diagnostic criteria for every recognized mental disorder. Dr. Allen Frances chaired the DSM IV Task Force. He is concerned about "a loosening of the diagnostic criteria" in mental health care.
The IRS scandal continues to plague the Obama Administration. In part because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2010 Citizens United case, applications for tax-exempt status have increased dramatically over the past few years. Ken Gross, election law expert at and former counsel to the Federal Election Commission, explains the qualifications for tax-exempt status, and the political benefits.
In 1984, Christopher Guest and collaborators Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and Harry Shearer unveiled "This Is Spinal Tap," a comedy shot in documentary form that follows the life and times of a fictional metal band. Today, television has fully embraced Guest's pioneering documentary style, and Guest himself has turned to the small screen, with his new HBO comedy, "Family Tree."
By removing the case from the chain of command, commanding officers with potential conflicts of interest would no longer be in charge of deciding whether a case should go to trial.
The immigrant experience has long been part and parcel of the American literary tradition."Americanah," the new novel by celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, explores the immigrant experience through Nigerian eyes. Her story follows a young couple, Ifemelu and Obinze, high school sweethearts in Lagos who find very different paths to adulthood.
On May 7, 2012, the Associated Press published an article about a Yemen-based terror plot that was thwarted by the C.I.A. Around that time, the Justice Department began collecting the phone records of several A.P. reporters across the country, without the organization’s knowledge. Bob Garfield, co-host of On the Media, explores the fallout.
In the wake of a Minnesota case in which nine Somali immigrants left the U.S. to fight with Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia, and the Boston bombing, Americans are re-thinking our understanding of home-grown terrorism. While Congressman Keith Ellison, Democrat from Minnesota’s fifth district, is certainly concerned about these recent cases, as the first Muslim representative elected to Congress, he also cautions against undue surveillance of Muslim communities.