In 2003, Valerie Plame Wilson went from being an undercover CIA officer specializing in nuclear proliferation to a reluctant celebrity when members of the Bush administration outed her to the press. She has stayed mostly out of the public eye since, but now she’s lending her expertise and her voice to "Countdown to Zero," a new documentary about nuclear weapons by many of the same people who made "An Inconvenient Truth."
Gary Shteyngart has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, is one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, and was just recently selected for the New Yorker’s “20 under 40” list. We talk with him about his new book, “Super Sad True Love Story.”
President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law 20 years ago, today. Since then, we’ve almost come to take for granted many of the things it required: accessible public transportation, reserved parking, more frequent curb cuts, equal access to employment and education opportunities, and much more.
Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools, is a polarizing figure. People either love her or hate her for the way she’s tackling education reform in D.C., which ranks as one of the nation’s worst school systems.
It is currently legal to grow, purchase and use marijuana for medical purposes in 14 states and the District of Columbia. And this November, Californians will vote on whether to legalize recreational pot use, too. So who benefits financially from the legalization of marijuana? And could legalizing and taxing the drug be a good way to boost local and state economies?
By now you’ve probably heard the name Shirley Sherrod. She is the U.S. Department of Agriculture employee who was asked to resign Monday after a video was released by news aggregator Andrew Breitbart. The video shows Sherrod saying she was hesitant to help a white farmer as much as she could. This morning Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that he will reconsider the abrupt firing, but Sherrod tells The Takeaway that she's "unsure" if she'd return to the job.
The Senate is set to vote later today on extending unemployment benefits, just 15 minutes after the new Democratic senator from West Virginia is sworn in to replace Robert Byrd. The new senator’s arrival will give Democrats the last vote they need to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.
It has been 56 years since the Supreme Court struck down segregation in Brown vs. Board of Education. A new book, “Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation,” puts forward the notion that desegregation's positive changes have come along with some unintended side effects. Stuart Buck, the book's author, argues that the criticism successful black students often receive from their peers – that they are “acting white” – is largely a consequence of how our schools were desegregated.
More than 5,000 women have been murdered in Guatemala in the past 10 years and many were tortured and mutilated in the process. Fewer than two percent of those killings have been prosecuted. This week, a federal court decided that these horrible statistics may be enough of a reason to classify all Guatemalan women as a social group eligible for asylum in the U.S.
Could we live in a world without the lightbulb? Imagine having to wait for a full moon to travel at night. Or being locked in your house from sunset until sunrise, so the government could prevent crime and chaos in the streets.
What happens to civilizations when the food runs out? This happened in ancient Rome and to the Mayans, but can we take lessons from the past in order to have a more secure future?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Washington today for a meeting with President Obama, to discuss the Middle East peace process and Israel's national security. The visit is also to show a public display of unity. Diplomatic meetings continue in other quarters as well: Just yesterday, the Israeli defense minister and the Palestinian prime minister met in Jerusalem, in the first face-to-face meeting between such high level officials in several months.
This all comes on the heels of Turkey's announcement that it may sever diplomatic ties with Israel unless Israel apologizes for the deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza in late May.
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae announced plans this week to institute a new rule penalizing homeowners who walk away from their mortgages. If homeowners are able to afford home payments, Fannie Mae says they will pursue them in court and restrict their access to future home loans for seven years. The decision will affect many home-owning Americans since the mortgage market is nearly completely controlled by Fannie Mae, and its sister company Freddie Mac, as well as the Federal Housing Administration.
Perhaps the only disaster equal in magnitude to the oil spill in the Gulf is the public relations disaster BP has on its hands for causing the spill. After weeks of embarrassing gaffes from BP executives, namely CEO Tony Hayward, BP is struggling to regain its footing. With the announcement that the maladroit Hayward is stepping away from overseeing daily operations related to the spill, BP is launching a media blitz in an attempt to mend their public image.
The centerpiece of that PR campaign is Darryl Willis. Willis is BP's vice president for resources who is now overseeing BP's claims process in the Gulf coast. He's also the star of a new ad campaign that seeks to portray him and the company as more caring and sincere than the steely Hayward. Part of the selling point of that strategy is the fact that Willis is a Louisiana native.
With all of the enormous tasks that President Obama is juggling – oil gushing into the Gulf, two wars, a recession – he decided to add another big one to the mix yesterday: ending homelessness. The president announced the first ever national plan to end homelessness on Tuesday at the White House. It’s ambitious: the 74-page plan aims to end chronic homelessness and homelessness among veterans within five years, and homelessness for families and children within ten years.
Cheerleading is a staple of American culture. The mere mention of it conjures up images of high school — popularity, short skirts, pom poms, and elaborate, acrobatic routines. But is it really a sport?
That question is now before a judge in Connecticut. Five members of Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University volleyball team, plus their coach, filed a lawsuit against the University for cutting their sport, in favor of funding a cheerleading squad. The cheerleading team costs the University less, and has more members — which also helps increase the school’s Title IX numbers.
Since the start of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, neither BP nor politicians nor the smartest engineers and technicians in America have been able to cap the well and contain the damage.
Some Americans say we are looking to the wrong people for answers, and should instead be directing our requests to a higher power.
BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster hits the two month mark this weekend. Since April 20, oil has been gushing into the Gulf, wreaking havoc on the thousands who make a living from those waters. Natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, leave residents devastated but able to begin repair once the crisis passes. The current nightmare has lasted two months, and the oil already in the Gulf will cause longterm environmental damage even once the well is capped. What kind of toll do these unknowns take on people's mental health?
At their convention today in Detroit, the United Autoworkers Union will elect a new president, ending the eight-year tenure of Ron Gettelfinger. Gettelfinger led the union through one of the most difficult periods in its history. The UAW was once one of the largest and most influential unions in the country, but these days its membership is the smallest it’s been since the end of World War II.
Thousands of pages of Senator Ted Kennedy’s FBI file were released yesterday, 9 months after he died. This is just the first installment of the file, but it covers some of the most interesting years of Kennedy’s life, from 1961, when his brother was president, to 1985, five years after Kennedy’s own failed run for the White House. There are all sorts of gems in the file: unverified claims and documentation of countless threats — some more serious than others — made against the last surviving Kennedy brother.