Today's Takeaway: March Heat Breaks Records, Obama Focuses on the Buffett Rule, and Nicholas Kristof on Sex Trafficking

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Baker, California, home of the world's tallest thermometer. (Mel Stoutsenberger/flickr)

More than 15,000 weather records were set in the United States last month, which was the hottest on record for many states. Andrew Revkin says this year's records are an indication of what to expect in the future. Also on the show, we continue a conversation from last week about child sex trafficking with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Later, couch surfing's surging popularity, the death of Thomas Kinkade with Susan Orlean, new theories of what led to the sinking of the Titanic, a look at the Sanford Police Department, and more.

Is the Sanford Police Department Inept?

Did the Trayvon Martin shooting reveal a systemic failure on the part of the Sanford Police? We speak with John Rudolf, criminal Justice reporter for the Huffington Post and Calvin Donaldson, whose son was shot and killed in Sanford on October 2011.

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President Obama to Make Buffett Rule Central Focus of Campaign

The pressure is on. The Senate isn’t set to vote on the so-called “Buffett Rule” until next week. But the White House is already setting the stage to make the rule, which would require those making more than a million dollars a year to pay at least 30 percent in federal income tax, a central plank of President Obama’s re-election campaign. Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich joins us.

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March Heat Breaks Records Across the Country

According to newly released figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 15,000 weather records were set in the United States last month. John Harold, a farmer in Olathe, Colorado, says it's been hard not to notice the strange weather fluctuations. Andrew Revkin, who writes the "Dot Earth" blog for The New York Times Op-Ed section, says this year's records are an indication of what to expect in the future.


Ceasefire Deadline Passes in Syria

A UN-backed deadline for a ceasefire in Syria has passed, with government forces again shelling the central city of Homs. Jonathan Head, correspondent for our partner the BBC, reports from a refugee camp on the Turkey-Syrian border where Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit today.


Thomas Kinkade and the Democratization of Art

Thomas Kinkade, the self-appointed "Painter of Light," died last Friday. In the days since his passing, the debate that surrounded him when he was alive has grown even louder. Was Kinkade a great democratizer of art or a charlatan businessman? Susan Orlean penned one of the most comprehensive pieces ever written on Thomas Kinkade for the New Yorker in 2001, entitled "Art for Everybody."

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Nicholas Kristof on Fighting Child Sex Trafficking

Last week we talked with a woman who championed a law that requires sites like to obtain documentation proving that the escorts they advertise are at least 18. But in addition to these laws, what else should be done to protect children from the world of sex trafficking? Nicholas Kristof, columnist for our partner The New York Times, has delved extensively into this question.

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Did a Mirage Sink the Titanic?

The sinking of the Titanic has long been considered a colossal human failure — a preventable disaster caused largely by ineptitude and misjudgement. A new theory from one British Titanic historian, however, suggests that highly unusual weather conditions are to blame instead. Tim Matlin is the author of three books about the Titanic. His latest, "Titanic: A Very Deceiving Night," argues that icy waters created ideal conditions for a rare type of oceanic mirage that hid icebergs from lookouts and confused would-be rescuers observing from a nearby ship.


Race and President Obama's Historic Reelection Campaign

Before he was even in the Senate, Barack Obama claimed that he was inspired to move to Chicago by Harold Washington, a man who would become the city's first African-American mayor. What else do these writers of political history have in common? Anna Sale, reporter for It’s a Free Country, leads us through the parallels of the lives of Harold Washington and Barack Obama.

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Behind the Scenes at Orbital's Launch Facility

SpaceX and Orbital will be the first private companies to fly missions to the International Space Station. The two companies have multi-billion dollar contracts to supply cargo to the station after the NASA shuttle program shut down. BBC's science reporter Neil Bowdler was granted exclusive access to Orbital's launch facilities in Virginia.


Couch Surfing Goes Mainstream

It's long been said that when you travel, the best way to get to know a new place is to meet the people who live there. And, while it's not always possible, perhaps the best way to know the locals is to live among them, maybe spend a night or two on their couch. Patricia Marx wrote about couch surfing for The New Yorker. Valerie is a couch surfer from Chicago.

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Britain Deports Terror Suspects Wanted in the U.S.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled today that Britain can legally deport five suspects wanted in the United States on charges of terrorism. The ruling came despite an argument from European attorneys that prison conditions in the U.S. are inhumane for terror suspects and convicts. John Burns is the London bureau chief for The New York Times.