Today's Takeaway: Security Council Rebukes Syria Amid Crackdown

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Justice Department Announces Latest Assault on Child Pornography Crimes; The Unemployment Gender Gap; Voters Unhappy With Political Polarization are Going Independent; Journalists Released After Being Detained in Libya; Security Council Rebukes Syria as Tanks Settle in Central Hama; A Tainted Well Points to Trouble with Natural Gas Drilling; Furloughed FAA Workers Demand Congress Pass Authorization Bill; Debt Deal Slaps 1.2 Million Grad Students with New Loan Costs; A Yemeni-American describes life and Revolution in Yemen

Top of the Hour: More Worries About the Economy, Morning Headlines

Layoffs hit a 16-month high last month in the private sector. Payroll processor ADP says 40,000 less jobs were created in July. The Department of Agriculture announced the number of Americans who rely on food stamps has hit another all-time high. Almost 46 million Americans now get food assistance. The number was up in 49 states last month.

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Feds Charge 72 in Child Porn Ring

Law enforcement officials at the Justice Department have announced 72 people have been charged and 52 arrested in what they are describing as a "horrific" child pornography ring. The ring was allegedly organized on a private online club called "Dreamboard" — where its members gained greater access and prestige by submitting images of their own violent acts of sexual exploitation against children. Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a press conference announcing the sting yesterday that the Dreamboard may have been the vehicle for the distribution of up to 123 terabytes of child pornography. That  is roughly the equivalent to nearly 16,000 DVDs.

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The Unemployment Gender Gap

Does unemployment affect males and females differently? The economic downturn has been called a "mancession." Are we now in the midst of a "he-covery?" According to the Pew Research Center, men lost more than twice as many jobs than women during the Great Recession, but the recovery has reversed that trend. Between June 2009 and May 2011, men gained jobs while women continued to lose them. What accounts for the unemployment gender gap, and will the trend continue?

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Voters Unhappy With Polarization are Going Independent

The bitter debt debate may be over on Capitol Hill, but average Americans are having trouble getting the taste out of their mouths. According to the Pew research group, a growing number of Americans are disgusted with both parties, and are choosing to affiliate with neither. Independents have played a determining role in the last three national elections. 

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Assad Decrees Multi-Party System Amid Crackdown in Syria

Hours after the United Nations Security Council condemned issued a statement condemning the Syrian government for using violence against its own people, President Bashar Assad authorized a multi-party system for the first time in order to try to quell the uprising against him. On Wednesday, tanks, armored vehicles, and snipers poured into the city of Hama, the symbolic center of the opposition for the last five months. Nada Bakri of The New York Times reports on the latest from Beirut, Lebanon. 

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Global Hacking Threats Raise Concern Over U.S. Readiness

McAfee, a leading cyber security company, issued a report on Wednesday that indirectly points to China as the source of a broad ranging cyber attack on more than 72 organizations throughout the world — including the United Nations, the Olympic movement and the U.S. government. As cyber attacks become a growing threat to the country, the National Security Agency has made a push to employ the best and brightest to combat these attacks. Often, the most qualified people to play defense are often the ones that were once on the offensive — former hackers.

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Top of the Hour: United Nations Security Council Condemns Syria, Morning Headlines

"Once again I call on President Assad and the Syrian authorities to immediately cease all violences against their people to fully respect human rights and implement reforms they have already announced," said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Wednesday, condemning the Syrian government for turning its guns on its own people. President Bashar Assad authorized a multi-party political system this morning only hours after the United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning his government.

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Security Council Rebukes Syria as Tanks Settle in Central Hama

Syria’s government is attempting to crush the democratic uprising, sending tanks, armored vehicles and snipers into the rebellious city of Hama for the fourth straight day of Ramadan. Unverified footage taken from YouTube and obtained by The New York Times depicts tanks shooting at civilians. Human rights groups say more than 140 people have been killed since Sunday, compounding a civilian death toll of more than 1,600 since March. The United Nations Security Council condemned the crackdown, but is the international condemnation too slow? 

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A Tainted Well Points to Trouble with Natural Gas Drilling

The oil and gas industry drills natural gas wells with a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. And for decades, both industry executives and regulators have maintained that it’s safe. In an appearance before congress in January of last year, Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, claimed that "there is not one, not one, reported case of a fresh water aquifer having ever been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing, not one." Now, there is one.

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Your Take: Foreign Workers

Yesterday, we talked about why employers continue to hire foreign workers at a time when so many Americans are out of work. Many of you had opinions and anecdotes about employment, like a listener named Anthony who called us and said:

"I think employers are more than happy to allow this stigma about American workers being lazy to perpetuate. I think it makes it easier for them to take advantage of immigrant laborers. I consider myself a hardworking American, and I'm finding it harder to find a second job because it's in no small part due to all the immigrant laborers out there."

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Furloughed FAA Workers Demand Congress Pass Authorization Bill

With Congress at an impasse over an authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Authority, the agency is partially shutdown, leaving about 4,000 FAA workers indefinitely furloughed. They have already gone one two-week pay period without receiving a paycheck — and that could last until September if Congress does not come to an agreement soon. 

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Debt Deal Slaps 1.2 Million Grad Students with New Loan Costs

This week’s debt ceiling deal may have pulled the U.S. back from default, but 1.2 million graduate students just got slapped with another bill. About one third of all graduate students have a partial federal subsidy on their loan, so they don’t get charged interest while they’re studying. That willll be abolished from July next year, as part of an agreement to reduce deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over a decade. But it could mean thousands of dollars more in loan costs for about a third of the country’s 3.6 million graduate students.

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More Worries Over Weak Economy

"We do not believe there is a threat there of a double-dip recession. We believe that economy will continue to grow," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday. But some economic indicators are painting a different picture. While the private sector added 114,000 jobs in July, layoffs in the U.S. reached a 16-month high. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture says the more Americans are receiving food stamps than ever before. The Pew Research Center released a study last month finding that women are having more difficulty than men re-entering the work force. All of this news comes on top of the figures released by the Commerce Department last Friday showing that the economy has only grown by a dismal 1.3 percent.

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Live Update on Hama Crackdown

There is international condemnation against the Syrian government this morning as it carries out an attack against the city of Hama, the symbolic center of the anti-government opposition. The United Nations Security Council, which includes Syrian allies like Russia, issued its first condemnation of the violence. Critics say the statement opens the door to a possible Libya-style intervention. The BBC's Jim Muir reports from Beirut, Lebannon. He says almost no information has come out of Hama this morning.

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Cargill Recalls 36 Million Pounds of Ground Turkey

One person has died and at least 76 are ill after being exposed to a salmonella outbreak traced back to a Cargill meat production plant in Arkansas. Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey possibly tainted with Salmonella Heidelberg, a strain of the sickness that is resistant to antibiotics. This is believed to be the largest meat recalls in U.S. history.

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