Today's Takeaway: US Loses Ground in Peace Talks with Taliban, African-Americans in Higher Office, and Adrien Brody on 'Detachment'

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Taliban fighters stand with their weapons. (AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling for American troops to pull back as the Taliban cancels peace talks. What does this mean for the approaching withdrawal? Later on The Takeaway, we discuss the dearth of African-Americans in higher political office. By the end of 2012, there will be no more than two African-American governors or senators. Some predicted a wave of black politicians after Obama's election, but that hasn't come to pass. Also on the program, Adrien Brody joins us to discuss his new film "Detachment."

Top of the Hour: Lawyer of the U.S. Soldier Accused of Killing 16 Afghan Civilians Speaks Out, Morning Headlines

The lawyer of the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday says his client is in "shock." The lawyer, John Henry Browne, stated that his client had been re-deployed to Afghanistan after he'd been promised that his third tour of duty in Iraq would be his last. He also told reporters that his client suffered a head wound and lost part of a foot while he was in Iraq. Yet another detail emerged when the lawyer reported that the day before the rampage, the soldier was standing next to a friend at their base in southern Afghanistan when the other man's leg was blown off.


As Puerto Rico Prepares for GOP Primary, Statehood Question Takes Center Stage

On Sunday, citizens of Puerto Rico will have the opportunity to weigh in on the Republican nomination for president of the United States. Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth without full voting privileges in Congress or a vote for president in the general election. But 20 delegates are up for grabs this weekend, and GOP presidential hopefuls have descended on the islands to fight for supporters.

One major question has come up continuously throughout the week of campaigning: How do candidates feel about the status of Puerto Rico's statehood? Notably, Rick Santorum said: "There are other states with more than one language, like Hawaii, but to be a state of the United States, English must be the principal language."

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Ron Lieber Responds to Takeaway Listeners' Job Stories

This week and last we asked you about your job and you responded with a flurry of calls. Takeaway listeners told us stories about loving and hating their jobs, having to relocate to find work, taking second and third jobs, and having to cut their own pay as small business owners. The economy may be improving, but many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet.

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How Obama's Campaign Video Stacks Up, Politically and Cinematically

The biographical campaign film has a long and proud place in U.S. political theater: from 1952's "The Man from Abilene," about Eisenhower, to 1992's "The Man from Hope," about Bill Clinton, these films have become an essential part of the campaign season. They not only try to appeal to voters' political concerns, they also try to cement in their minds an impression of the candidates' personalities.

The Obama campaign released a 17-minute documentary-style film last night called "The Road We've Traveled." It's narrated by Tom Hanks and directed by David Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning director of "An Inconvenient Truth." What does it have to offer, politically and cinematically?


New Movie Releases: '21 Jump Street,' 'Casa De Mi Padre,' 'Jeff Who Lives at Home'

We have three big movie releases this week: "21 Jump Street," which is a reboot of the 1980s television series; "Casa De Mi Padre," which is a Spanish language telenovela for the big screen starring Will Ferrell; and "Jeff Who Lives at Home," a movie with a very self-explanatory title.


Friday Follow: Santorum Takes Primaries, HBO Show Runs out of Luck, March Madness Sweeps the Country

Every Friday, The Takeaway convenes a panel to look back at the week's big stories. This week Rick Santorum wins Alabama and Mississippi, March Madness sweeps the country, and liquid detergent becomes a black market commodity.


Top of the Hour: North Korea's "Highly Provocative" Announcement, Morning Headlines

The U.S. State Department was seemingly taken by surprise by North Korea's announcement that the country is working to launch a satellite in honor of President Kim Il-sung's 100th birth anniversary. The U.S. is calling the move "highly provocative," as North Korea recently agreed to suspend long-range missile launches in exchange for food assistance.


New Details About the Psychological State of Alleged Shooter in Afghanistan

Comments by the lawyer for the U.S. soldier who allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday has shed new light on the psychological state of the soldier in question. The lawyer, John Henry Browne, says the soldier was reluctant about going on another tour of duty, and was having tensions with his wife about the deployments on the night of the shooting. In addition, a senior U.S. official tells our partner The New York Times that the soldier had been drinking alcohol, a violation of military rules in combat zones. "When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues — he just snapped," the unnamed senior official said.


Veterans On the Challenges and Hopes of Returning from War

As a complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches, certain questions are receiving more attention. What challenges do our veterans face when they come home? And what are we doing to help or hurt their chances of integrating fully into civilian life?

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Why Don't More African-Americans Seek Higher Office?

When President Obama became the first black president in 2008, it seemed to mark a tremendous historical turning point for black representation in American political life. But four years later there has been no great renaissance in black electoral representation. If the number of office-holders was demographically proportionate, there would be at least 12 African American senators and six governors. In reality, there are currently no African-American senators and only one African-American governor in office.

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How Fit Do You Have to Be to Fight Crime?

John Hockenberry joins us from London, where people are talking about fitness for police officers. After a survey found that 53 percent of officers were overweight and one in 100 was morbidly obese, new proposal in England and Wales would require officers to undergo an annual fitness test. Penalties could include paycuts for those who repeatedly fail -- all as a way to reportedly "rid the service of fat officers". 


Adrien Brody on 'Detachment' and Action Movies

Adrien Brody has starred in a number of vastly different films, including "The Darjeeling Limited," "King Kong," "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," and even the explosive action film "Predators."

Today, his newest movie hits theaters. It’s called "Detachment," and in it Brody stars as Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher with a secret past who never stays anywhere long enough to form a bond with his students or colleagues.

"Detachment" features an all-star cast, including Lucy Liu, Marsha Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, and Bryan Cranston. Tony Kaye, who’s most famous for "American History X" is the director.