Southern Sudan Secession?; Gauging Public Support for War in Afghanistan

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Southern Sudanese rally on the streets of the southern capital, Juba, on December 9, 2010, in advance of a landmark independence referendum. Southern Sudanese rally on the streets of the southern capital, Juba, on December 9, 2010, in advance of a landmark independence referendum. (PETER MARTELL/AFP/Getty)

Southern Sudan will hold a referendum on whether to secede from Northern Sudan, and a new poll finds 60 percent of Americans think the war in Afghanistan "isn't worth fighting." Also on the show: New documents show officials in Congress worried about overly cozy relations between oil companies and safety regulators in the year leading up to the BP oil disaster. "Tron: Legacy" fans and detractors debate the movie's merits (or lack thereof); we speak with one of the few people who has donated multiple organs and lived to tell the tale, and we wrap up our week's series on American Values with a conversation about the concept of "freedom," and how it's evolved over time.

Takeaway managing producer Noel King sits in for Celeste.

Top of the Hour: Weak on Environmental Regulation, Morning Headlines

Were cleanup efforts and regulation adequate in the gulf before and after BP's Oil spill? It depends on who you talk to, but one thing seems clear: the debate isn't over. Just as the Justice Department opened a large case against BP for more cleanup, The New York Times released documents detailing hand-wringing in Congress over lack of safety and regulation in the Gulf before the disaster. 


Documents Reveal Congressional Safety Concerns Prior to BP Disaster

Long before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, officials in Congress were concerned about the "cozy" relationship between federal regulators and the oil industry and the failure of regulators to spend funds on safety measures, according to documents recently acquired by The New York TimesThe documents were acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, and include emails between Congressional officials and the Minerals Management Service. Was the M.M.S. "stonewalling" all along? And how will Gulf residents take the news?


Larry King Has Left the CNN Building

For fifteen years CNN’s Larry King Live was a staple of nighttime cable television. It was the most watched program on the network and its host held court to musicians, movie starts, heads of state and newsmakers of the day. Maybe that’s what prompted Lady Gaga to ask him whether or not his name was really "King Larry?" But last night, Larry King wrapped his final episode in an interview with a star-studded show where even current and former presidents found time to make an appearance. Will he be missed, and can he be replaced?


House Passes Compromise Tax Package, Senate Postpones Funding Bill, DADT

A lot happened on Capitol Hill last night.

The House stayed late to vote on the compromise tax package that President Obama negotiated with Republicans. Before the vote, Democratic House majority leader Steny Hoyer commented, "There probably is nobody on this floor who likes this bill, therefore the judgment is, is it's better than doing nothing."

And in a major setback to Democrats, Republicans managed to halt Senate progress on an omnibus government funding bill, forcing Democrats to consider GOP demands or face shutting down the federal government. Majority Leader Harry Reid will likely bring a shorter duration bill to fund government through January, when a Republican-controlled House can put its imprimatur on spending requests. Reid has scheduled votes over the weekend to enact the "Dream Act" and attempt, again, to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." Meanwhile, the House passed the nearly $1 trillion tax cut bill despite a loud minority of critics in both parties. 

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Over to You: What to Call Your Mixed Race Identity

We turn the show over to you, with a topic that you've been talking about a lot this week: What do you call yourself, if you come from a mixed-race background? Is "biracial" okay, or is it just "black"? And what about other races or ethnicities? Keep the conversation going here or text START to 69866 to get involved every day.

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Japan's Military Priorities Now Focus on China

A national review of Japan's military forces has resulted in a change in their focus: potential threats to stability coming from China. Japanese leaders now see the military of their gargantuan neighbor as a threat to stability in the region, along with North Korea. China replied this morning to the review, condemning the move. Will the review and new focus on defense against China be a source of tension between the two countries? For more on the story we're joined by Roland Buerk, who is reporting for our partner the BBC in Tokyo. 


'Tron: Legacy' and 'Tron' Reviews, Then and Now

"Tron: Legacy" arrives in theaters today, and The Takeaway takes a trip down memory lane to 1982, when the original "Tron" debuted in theaters. The movie featured some glimpses of the future yet to come — such as hackers and cyberwars — and some that have yet to materialize — lightcycles, and ubiquitous, glowing spandex suits. But looking back 28 years, what (if anything) did it get right about technology? And what does the second film hold in store?


Top of the Hour: Separating Sudan, Morning Headlines

Sudan could vote to separate into two separate countries, creating what might be the most significant political development on the African continent since the end of Apartheid. 


Tensions Build as Southern Sudan Prepares for Independence Vote

On January 9th, Southern Sudan is scheduled to vote on whether to break away from the North and form a separate nation. So far over three million people have signed up to vote, with about 96 percent in favor of secession. This referendum is part of a 2005 peace agreement between the North and South, but tensions in the North about oil reserves are high, and the South continues to struggle with basic humanitarian needs. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof explains what's at stake — and whether a vote with such high stakes can go off without a hitch.


Altruistic Organ Donor Harry Kiernan

At 57 years old, computer consultant Harry Kiernan is one of the few living people to have donated multiple organs. So far he’s donated one kidney, part of his liver, and is currently waiting to become a bone marrow donor. What’s more, Harry has given each of his organs to complete strangers. Harry tells us how being with his wife Denise as she died of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis 12 years ago motivated him to give all that he could to improve the lives anyone he could: even people he didn't know.


Majority of Public Deems Afghanistan War 'Not Worth Fighting'

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 60 percent of Americans say the Afghanistan war is "not worth fighting." This is a record low in public support of the war. Mary Galeti, the wife of Afghanistan veteran First Lieutenant Russell Galeti, and Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs and author of "How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle," describe their observations of public opinion, and what it might mean for the Obama administration's efforts in Afghanistan going forward.

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Sale of Controversial Security Firm Xe Securities Imminent

Erik D. Prince, founder of private security firm Xe Services — formerly Blackwater Worldwide — has reached a deal to sell his company to a small group of investors in California. Blackwater became the center of a debate about using private security firms in foreign wars after an alleged skirmish between insurgents and Blackwater personnel in 2007 left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. In the wake of the controversy, the company lost a large State Department contract to protect the U.S. embassy in Iraq, but formed over 30 separate "shell companies" in order to continue to receive millions of dollars in other government contracts. What's next for the private security firm? 


American Values: Freedom

We frequently hear the term “values” discussed with regard to American politics, culture and life. But what are "American values?" All week, we’re delving into this question. Yesterday we discussed home ownership. Today we wrap up our series with a look at freedom. How did freedom come to be an American Value? If we value freedom so much, why have we spent so much of our nation’s history enslaving our own people, or oppressing those in other nations? And what does Freedom mean to Americans today?


Who Owns The Rainbow?

The rainbow and the rainbow flag have represented LGBT issues and gay rights since the 1970s. But now a group is saying it wants that to stop. The leader of a National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has asked opponents of marriage equality to reclaim the symbol from "the gay lobby," saying that the rainbow is "a sign of God's covenant with man." But can anyone really take ownership of a group of colors?