Claiming Oil Spill Funds; Tuesday's Primaries, Financial Support for Terrorism; Soldier Suicide; 'Gasland' Documentary

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Boat owner Can Nguyen stand near a sign at a shrimp processor on a dock May 3, 2010 in Pass Christian, Miss., as he and the fleet are confined to port since the shutdown of all fishing on the Gulf. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty)

Gulf residents eye BP's fund for damage claims from the spill; today's primaries in Utah, North and South Carolina; Supreme Court ruling on freedom of speech in providing financial support to foreign terrorist groups; a look at the rising number of suicides among American service personnel; Josh Fox talks about his documentary on drilling for natural gas.

Top of the Hour: Gulf Coast Businesses Struggle to Stay Afloat, This Morning's Headlines

Kenneth Feinberg, the man who will administrate the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund, said yesterday, "we've got to speed it up"—"it" being the compensation payments individuals and businesses desperately need to keep going. David Bodenhamer owns a vacation rental business in Alabama. He just received a $117,000 check (only a drop in the bucket of losses) and joins the program to talk about the financial impact of the oil spill on his business. That, and this morning's headlines.

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Will $20 Billion Keep Gulf Businesses Afloat?

Questions remain as to how the government plans to dole out the $20 billion sitting in an escrow account, set up by BP, to businesses and individuals directly affected by the Gulf oil crisis. Will the response by Kenneth Feinberg and his agency be transparent, comprehensive, and quick enough to handle the number and size of financial claims expected to hit their office in the months and years ahead? Furthermore, how will the government's independent operation set to be under way in the "next couple of weeks," differ from BP's emergency claims system, already in place?

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Is Cheerleading a Real Sport?

Cheerleading is a staple of American culture. The mere mention of it conjures up images of high school — popularity, short skirts, pom poms, and elaborate, acrobatic routines. But is it really a sport?

That question is now before a judge in Connecticut. Five members of Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University volleyball team, plus their coach, filed a lawsuit against the University for cutting their sport, in favor of funding a cheerleading squad. The cheerleading team costs the University less, and has more members — which also helps increase the school’s Title IX numbers.

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Rundown: Tuesday Primary Elections

Voters in Utah, South Carolina, and North Carolina will head to the polls for a few final runoffs and primary elections. In Utah, incumbent, three-term Senator Bob Bennett was knocked out at the Utah GOP convention in May, and now two Tea Party candidates will face off against each other.

The Tea Party also looms large in the runoff for the Republican gubernatorial primary in South Carolina. There, Tea Party favorite and Sarah Palin pal Nikki Haley is leading over opponent Gresham Barrett, despite accusations of sex scandals and racial controversies. If elected, Haley, a Punjabi Sikh who converted to Methodism, would be South Carolina's first governor who isn't a white man.

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Supreme Court Upholds Ban On Supporting Terrorist Groups

Yesterday the Supreme Court upheld a law, adopted in 1996, that bans Americans from providing support to foreign terrorist groups. Up to fifteen years in prison is the penalty for contributing cash, weapons, training, personnel, and expert advice or assistance to any foreign group that the United States deems as terrorists. 

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Faisal Shahzad Pleads Guilty to 10 Terror-Related Charges

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born American citizen who attempted to blow up a car in Times Square, pleaded guilty yesterday to ten terror-related charges. “I want to plead guilty 100 times over,” said Shahzad in Manhattan federal court. He went on to describe his training in Pakistan and the events leading up to the attempted bombing.

We talk with WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang, who was in the courtroom.

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Join the Conversation: Is Graduate School Worth It?

Takeaway finance contributor, Beth Kobliner, joins us today to talk about why going to graduate school does not make financial sense. What do you think? Is grad school worth it? Share your story. Tell us why you went to grad school and whether it was worth it»

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Why Bother With Grad School?

With the unemployment rate for people in their twenties hovering around 15 percent, it’s tempting for recent college grads to just skip the terrible job market and stay in school. And many of them are doing just that. Last year, there was a 6 percent increase in graduate school enrollment, and this year, 27 percent of college grads will go to grad school instead of entering the job market. But Takeaway work contributor Beth Kobliner says it might not be the best choice for everyone.

 

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Top of the Hour: SCOTUS Rules on 'Material Support' of Terrorists, This Morning's Headlines

We bring you all the morning's top headlines, from the Supreme Court's decision on material support for groups the government classifies as terrorists to the oil industry's challenge of President Obama's moratorium on off shore drilling to reports that US taxpayer dollars are being used to pay off the Taiban to Budget Director Peter Orszag's departure from the Obama administration.

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As Military Suicides Increase, A Greater Emphasis on Prevention

The Senate Armed Services Committee meets today to discuss prevention of suicides within the U.S. armed forces. Suicide is the second-biggest killer of U.S. Marines; this year, 55 Marines have been killed in combat, while 21 have taken their own lives. The U.S. Army faces an equally large problem, with 245 members taking their own lives in 2009. We're looking at efforts to drive those numbers down and the devastation wrought by the suicide of a loved one.

 

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A Soccer Fan from Afghanistan

Americans are not exactly known as the world's biggest soccer fans, but as the rest of the globe is consumed with World Cup mania, we at The Takeaway have been wondering, who are the world's biggest soccer fans? The Afghan people may not come to mind, but Rahmatullah Qureshi, a civil servant in the Ministry of Education in Kabul, just might be Afghanistan's biggest soccer fan.

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HBO's 'Gasland' Explores Environmental, Health Impacts of Natural Gas Drilling

Last night the documentary "Gasland" aired on HBO. The film focuses on the health and environmental dangers involved in drilling for natural gas. It's the work of director Josh Fox, who started the project after his family in Northeastern Pennsylvania was offered nearly $100,000 from an energy company to take their 19.5 acres of land for hydraulic fracturing. Fox traveled to towns across America where land, water, animals and people have been negatively impacted by natural gas drilling.

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Uzbeks Flee Kyrgyzstan as Ethnic Violence Continues

UNICEF now estimates that 80,000 ethnic Uzbeks—the vast majority women and children—have fled Kyrgyzstan for Uzbekistan since violence broke out earlier this month. Over 400,000 refugees have been displaced since the ethnic rioting began, creating one of the worst refugee crises in the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The provisional Kyrgyz government has been loath in its response to the crisis. Relatively weak, the interim government has been preoccupied with trying to regain regain its footing the southern part of the country since Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was forced from office in the Spring, throwing the nation into turmoil. Many of the Uzbeks, who are Kyrgyz citizens, say that have been targeted by Kyrgyzstan's military. Members of the provisional government blame Bakiyev for inciting the violence.

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Summer Reading: 'The Passage'

Planning a summer vacation? We’re making a summer reading list to help you pick some really good books to delve into during your free time. Last week we spoke to Hilary Thayer Hamman, the author of "Anthropology of an American Girl." We also asked you about what’s on your reading list for this summer. Calypso, from Oklahoma, wrote in to our website with his suggestion: A romance/mystery novel called "Paper Towns" by John Greene. A good thriller always delivers, too, and author Justin Cronin’s new book "The Passage," is getting a lot of attention for its apocalyptic twist on the vampire theme.

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Gen. McChrystal to Eat Crow

The United States' top commander is Afghanistan, General Stanley A. McChrystal is finding himself at the center of a brewing controversy this morning. An article that will be published in the Friday edition of Rolling Stone magazine features a profile of the general in which he castigates members of the Obama White House as "wimps," even referring to them as "the real enemy."

In the piece entitled "The Runaway General" McChrystal and his advisers go on to admonish top administration officials like Vice President Joe Biden ("Who's that?") and national security advisor Jim Jones ("a clown"), as well as diplomats to Afghanistan like Ambassador Karl Einkenberry and special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke.

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Michael Hastings on Stanley McChrystal, 'The Runaway General'

A forthcoming piece in Rolling Stone magazine has sent shock waves around the world this morning as General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S.'s top commander in Afghanistan, has been summoned to Washington to answer for quotes he gave to journalist Michael Hastings. In the article, McChrystal is quoted as disparaging Obama administration officials, mocking Vice President Biden, and denouncing retired General Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

In Hastings' profile, as reported by the AFP, McChrystal asks, "Who's that?" at the mention of Biden's name. Another adviser jests, "Biden? Did you say bite me?"

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