Losing the fight against Taliban insurgents

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Losing the fight against Taliban insurgents

Vice President Biden is in Brussels asking NATO for more troops to send to Afghanistan. The U.S. plans to infuse 17,000 troops in the months to come. In light of this, General David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO led forces in Afghanistan, said they are not winning the fight against Taliban insurgents in the southern part of the country. In a New York Times interview last Sunday, President Obama even admitted that the coalition is not winning in Afghanistan. Art Keller, a former case officer with the CIA who served in Pakistan in 2006, joins The Takeaway to talk about the situation. He has written an op-ed piece in the New York Times looking at America's policy in Afghanistan.


Getting the most out of unemployment benefits

For the unemployed, The Takeaway continues to discuss how to dust yourself off and get back on your feet. With more than half a million jobs lost in the U.S. last month alone, those who've been laid off may be confused as to what benefits are available to them. Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project talks to The Takeaway about exactly how to get the most out of unemployment benefits.

"You have to swallow your pride a little bit and be willing to work as hard as you did to get help as you did at your job."
— Andrew Stettner of the National Employment Law Project on coping with job loss


Who are the Congressional gatekeepers to Obama's budget plans?

President Obama says he's open to ideas from both parties when it comes to the budget, but who are the Congressional gatekeepers to Obama’s ambitious agenda? The Takeaway talks to New York Times National Desk reporter Jackie Calmes about the committee chairmen who will determine how Obama’s spending and taxation plans will move forward.

For more read Jackie's article in the New York Times, Obama’s Budget Faces Test Among Party Barons.


Looking over 50 years after the Tibetan uprising

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile. Last year’s anniversary was marked by riots and protests, but this year, the Chinese government cracked down on any potential political unrest. The Takeaway talks to Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times about the future of Tibet and what the role the U.S. can play in resolving the conflict between China and Tibet.


New Supreme Court ruling limits Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 yesterday to limit the Voting Rights Act. The ruling says there is no duty to draw voting districts that will elect black candidates in areas where blacks are less than a majority. The Takeaway talks to Nathaniel Persily, Columbia University law professor, and Richard Pildes, New York University law professor, about the implication of the ruling. Specifically, the role of race in elections almost 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, and that the Supreme Court might rule on another section of the Voting Rights Act next month.

"One of the differences between the Voting Rights Act today and when Johnson first initiated it is that we have a whole set of minority incumbents, in part because of the creation of a lot of these districts."
— New York University law professor Richard Pildes on the changes in the Voting Rights Act


The New Deal and African Americans

In the face of the financial crisis and the debate over how to save the economy, the New Deal is held up as a model of success or failure, depending on political leanings. Many New Deal programs excluded African Americans and reinforced patterns of discrimination and racial segregation. University of Chicago Political Science Professor Michael Dawson says African Americans are the ones who stand to suffer most if a group of governors from southern states turn down stimulus funds. Professor Dawson joins The Takeaway with a look at how the New Deal fits into the racial history of the U.S.

During the Great Depression Zora Neale Hurston, author of "Their Eyes Were Watching God," recorded folk songs as part of the New Deal. Listen to one below.


For wild creatures, science becomes less intrusive with new technologies

Anyone who has watched wildlife documentaries may know that animal behavioral patterns are tracked by inserting microchips into the animals' bodies. This is tricky, because it requires tranquilizing the animal in order to place the chip. But new technology now allows for non-invasive research. Science journalist Jim Robbins joins The Takeaway to explain how scientists are using technology and animal products, like poop, to learn everything they can about wildlife without even touching the animals.

For more, read Jim's piece on DNA-powered wildlife research in the New York Times article, Tools That Leave Wildlife Unbothered Widen Research Horizons.

If you want to do your own wildlife surveys, you'll need to be able to match scat with the critter that created it. To bone up, watch this video.


World economies pumping public money for global stimulus

President Obama’s economic adviser Lawrence Summers is urging world leaders to pump more public money into their economies. This global move would be part of a coordinated effort to lift the world out of recession. Joining The Takeaway to discuss the possibility of a so-called "global stimulus" is Raymond Torres, the director of the International Labour Organization.


Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in times of economic crisis

Trouble viewing this video? Check out the YouTube version.

Today American consumers have nearly $1 trillion of outstanding credit card debt. A quarter of all homeowners are paying more on their mortgage than their home is worth. And unemployment nationwide has reached 8.1 percent. Does this economic crisis put the American dream at risk? Many may wonder that, as a nation, have we so corrupted the fundamental ideals of the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that we instead find ourselves living through the American nightmare? Joining The Takeaway to help answer this is David Kamp. He’s a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and has written the article Rethinking The American Dream. Kamp joins us for the first in a series of conversations about what the American dream means in this day and age.

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Suicide attack kills dozens in Iraqi public market

A suicide bomber killed at least 33 people and wounded more than 40 marking this the third major attack by insurgents in Iraq in recent days. Military officers and Iraqi elders were among those killed as they were leaving the town hall to tour a market in the suburb of Abu-Ghraib when the the bomber struck. Many of those killed or wounded were on their way to a meeting between Iraqi Army officers and tribal chiefs in western Baghdad. The meeting was part of a series of efforts to move towards national reconciliation. Journalists covering the event are said to be among the casualties. Alyssa Rubin, a New York Times correspondent in Baghdad, joins The Takeaway to talk about the brutal attack.


As the American dream is deferred, the global economy shifts

The American dream is not exclusively an American institution. For centuries the ideals of the American dream: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” have drawn immigrants from across the world to make a better life for themselves. But today—with unemployment at 8.1 percent and the housing market crippled by the credit crunch—the dream is deferred.

For a look at what this means globally, Edward Miguel, a professor of economics at UC Berkeley joins The Takeaway. He also co-wrote the book “Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence and the Poverty of Nations,” with economist Raymond Fisman.


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