Yesterday embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich defied expectations and appointed a respected senior statesman in Illinois politics to fill the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama. Roland Burris was the first African-American to be elected to statewide office in Illinois and he has served as both comptroller and attorney general in that state. Amanda Vinicky, Statehouse Reporter for Illinois Public Radio, joins The Takeaway with an assessment of this latest development in the unfolding Blagojevich scandal.
"At this point, nobody knows because this is uncharted territory."
— Amanda Vinicky on the Illinois Senate appointment
'Tis the season to be groggy, nauseous and dehydrated. For a look at what it takes to not pay for one's drinking sins, The Takeaway explores the causes and cures behind the holiday hangover with Dr. Robert Swift. Dr. Swift is a professor of psychiatry at Brown University Medical School. He’s also the Chief of Staff for Research at the Providence VA Medical Center.
Despite pleas from the U.S., the European Union, United Nations and Russia, Israeli officials say the country has decided to reject an immediate 48-hour pause in fighting. The decision came today after overnight meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and France's foreign minister. Mike Sargent is covering this story for our partner, the BBC World Service, in Jerusalem.
Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush didn't pull any punches yesterday when he challenged Senators who were making noises about blocking the appointment of Roland Burris, an African-American, to the U.S. Senate. Embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich's announcement raised a lot of eyebrows, but Rush's statements raised even more. The Takeaway talks to Congresswoman Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Second Vice-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in the 111th Congress.
"He chose an outstanding person and I don't think that that person necessarily comes under his cloud."
— Donna M. Christensen on Blagojevich's appointment
Chinese state media reports four milk company executives and five others have gone on trial in connection with the melamine-tainted milk scandal. Sanlu, the company at the center of the scandal, has gone bankrupt after officials blamed their milk and milk-based products of killing at least six people and sickening hundreds of thousands of others. The BBC's James Reynolds is covering this story from Beijing.
"There are reports that those charged could face the death penalty."
— James Reynolds on the melamine trials in China
In 2003, the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated in the skies above Texas. All seven astronauts were lost. A 400-page NASA report released yesterday investigates the equipment failures during the final moments aboard the shuttle. New York Times science journalist John Schwartz joins The Takeaway to discuss.
As if Illinois' political crisis wasn't complex enough. Embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich has appointed former Attorney General Roland Burris to President-elect Obama's vacant Senate seat. Joining us to discuss the thorny legal implications of that appointment is Nate Persily, professor of law and political science at Columbia University.
"The more likely scenario is to seat him one day and expel him the next."
— Nate Persily on the appointment of Roland Burris
Pay close attention to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine, because not only is it incredibly important, but also because you may be witnessing President-elect Barack Obama’s first order of business when he takes office next month. But how will his global political debut mesh with his first foray into middle eastern diplomacy? And what is at risk? Robert Malley, who is the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group and served as Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab Israeli Affairs, joins John and Adaora from Washington.
"Hamas is now viewed by many Arabs as standing up for Arab honor and dignity." — Robert Malley on the current Middle East conflict
President-elect Obama campaigned on a platform of hope, change and sweeping healthcare reform. That was before the U.S. economy melted down. Now, unemployment is rising and healthcare is on nearly everyone's mind. Obama faces enormous challenges. For the long view on healthcare reform in 2009 and beyond, The Takeaway checks in with Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of the health policy journal, Health Affairs.
Filling President-elect Barack Obama's vacant senate seat has turned into such an incredible drama that it is easy to forget that there are other empty seats in the U.S. Senate. Vice-president-elect Biden's seat was quickly filled, but more drama is roiling over the soon-to-be vacant senate seat from New York. Caroline Kennedy has made her claim on the seat once held by her father and no one is quite sure whether or not she is qualified. The coverage of that issue has raised quite a few eyebrows, too. Here to discuss all sides of the issue are Nick Confessore a reporter in the Albany bureau of the New York Times, and Lisa Belkin, a writer for the New York Times Magazine whose piece in this Sunday's magazine is called “The Senator Track.”
Violence continues in the Gaza Strip today despite global pleas for a ceasefire. France's foreign minister says he and President Nicolas Sarkozy are considering going to Israel to try and end the violence in Gaza after Jerusalem rejected a proposed 48-hour pause in the fighting. Alan Johnstone is the former Gaza correspondent for our partner, the BBC. Hamas arranged for his freedom when he was kidnapped by an Islamic militant group. He has been closely following the strife in Gaza. He joins us from London where he has been monitoring the diplomatic efforts to negotiate a cease-fire in this conflict.
"It is almost always a mistake to underestimate Hamas' tenacity and capacity to pull itself together and keep going."
— Alan Johnstone on the situation in Gaza