Today's Takeaway: Pentagon Faces Deep Budget Cuts

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testifies before the House Committee on Armed Services. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty)

This Week's Agenda: Greece, Europe, The Super Committee; Former Penn State Coach Charged with Sexual Abuse; Radical Islamic Group Launches Deadly Attacks in Nigeria; Colin Meloy: From Indie Rock to 'Wildwood'; Pentagon Faces Deep Budget Cuts; Census Bureau Changes Flawed Measure of Poverty; Both Parties Try to Win Over Voters One Year to Election Day; 50 Cent on His New Book 'Playground'; Matthew VanDyke Returns From Libya; Greek Leaders Reach Agree to Form New Unity Government

Top of the Hour: Greece to Form Unity Government, Morning Headlines

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and conservative leader Antonis Samaras reached a deal on Sunday to form a unity government to implement the unpopular austerity measures required by a bailout deal reached with European leaders. Papandreou will resign once the details are finalized.

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Greece Forms New Coalition Government; Italy's Berlusconi Rumored to Be Resigning

Embattled Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will resign once plans for a new coalition government are finalized. Papandreou and his political rival, conservative leader Antonis Samaras, reached a deal on Sunday to form a unity government to implement the unpopular austerity measures required by a bailout deal reached with European leaders. The new government is expected to be led by a non-politician who will be named on Monday.

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IAEA: Iran Nuclear Program Has 'Possible Military Dimensions'

The International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), an independent organization of weapons inspectors that reports to United Nations, has been preparing a summary of its findings over the past few years which asserts Iran's nuclear program has "possible military dimensions." Despite the continuing non-cooperation of Iran's government during inspections, the I.A.E.A.'s report includes evidence of devices used to trigger nuclear weapons and structures that could be used for testing such weapons. Russia and China are currently pressing the I.A.E.A.'s director, Yukia Amano, not to make the details of their findings public. Amano briefed members of the National Security Council 11 days ago, but the Obama administration has refused to comment at this time.

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This Week's Agenda: Greece, Europe, The Super Committee

As Greece negotiates a new unity government, Europe watches closely for signs of a widening crisis. In the U.S. a deadline for members of a congressional "Super Committee" to reach an agreement approaches. Meanwhile, a new book by Bill Clinton comes out  this week, and it reportedly criticizes President Obama's decision not to raise the debt ceiling in 2010 when the Democrats still controlled the House of Representatives.

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Radical Islamic Group Launches Deadly Attacks in Nigeria

It was a deadly weekend in Nigeria. The radical Islamist group Boko Haram staged a series of attacks that the Nigerian Red Cross says has left more than 100 dead in the northeastern part of the country. The terrorist attacks included shootings and suicide bombings, showing the increasing sophistication of a group which, by some counts, has killed as many as 330 people this year alone. On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria warned that luxury hotels in Abuja might be targets of further attacks.

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Former Penn State Coach Charged with Sexual Abuse

Some shocking news about Penn State's football program broke this weekend when Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant defensive coach, was arrested on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15 year period. Two top university officials — Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business, and Tim Curley, the athletic director — are expected to turn themselves into authorities today. They have been charged with perjury and failing to report what they knew about allegations against Sandusky. Still hanging in the air is the question of what Penn State coach Joe Paterno knew about the accusations against his assistant defensive coach.  

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Top of the Hour: More Arrests at Occupy Atlanta, Morning Headlines

Five more Occupy Atlanta protesters were arrested overnight in a site that has been "occupied" since October 7th. This is the most recent in a string of arrests after Mayor Kasim Reed revoked the group's right to remain in the park.

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Drastic Cuts Could Reshape US Military

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is considering drastic cuts in military spending, including slashing retirement benefits and a round of base closings. Panetta has been ordered to cut more than $450 billion of the Pentagon budget over the next decade and has been under intense political pressure to make the cuts. The yearly defense budget has doubled since the 9/11 attacks. Panetta said it is possible to reshape the military in order to reduce the budget while still defending national interests.

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Census Bureau Changes Flawed Poverty Metric

When the Census Bureau announced that a record number of Americans live below the poverty line it did so using an old metric that has not been changed, apart from adjustments for inflation, since it was hastily conceived in 1963. Starting Monday, the Census Bureau will use a new metric — taking into account such federal assistance like food stamps and such costs as rent, medical and child care, for the first time.

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One Year From Election Day 2012, Distrust of Government Runs High

Election Day 2012 is officially one year away, and if one thing is certain, it is that Americans' disapproval of government is at an all-time high. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 89 percent of Americans do not trust the government and 84 percent disapprove of Congress. The numbers are reason for alarm on both sides of the aisle. As he tries to secure a second term, President Obama must contend with a possibly lethal combination of high unemployment numbers and low approval ratings. The news is not much better for Republicans. Seven out of ten Americans believe the GOP's policies favor the rich.

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Alabama Immigration Law Faces Challenge from Department of Justice

The Department of Justice has requested that school superintendents in Alabama release enrollment data that could reveal whether Latino students have stopped attending classes in the wake of recent immigration legislation. HB56, which passed the Alabama legislature this June, allows law enforcement officials to check a person's immigration status based during routine traffic stops or arrests. Initially it also required schools to report children who are in the U.S. illegally, but despite the fact this aspect of the law has been put on hold, there is evidence that many children have been staying home this academic year.

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American POW Turned Libyan Resistance Fighter Matthew VanDyke Tells His Story

In August, The Takeaway first spoke with Matthew VanDyke and his mother Sharon. VanDyke, an American who described himself as a journalist, was captured by loyalists to Moammar Gadhafi in Brega, and held in solitary confinement for six months, before escaping on August 24. He finally escaped captivity in August, but has stayed on in Libya out of a sense of loyalty to the other men he was imprisoned with, joining the NTC fighters. Over the weekend, VanDyke returned home after eight months.

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