History of Unemployment; Oil Ashore in Texas; Jane Goodall; 'Last Words of the Executed', Unexamined Rape Evidence Kits

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Corncob in a cornfield (flickr: haydnseek)

A brief history of American unemployment benefits; primatologist Jane Goodall fifty years after first going to Africa; oily tar balls coming ashore in Texas; Illinois moves to improve arrest ratesby having all rape evidence kits examined in a lab within 10 days; the history (and future?) of civilization and food production; Gustav Mahler born 150 years ago; the 'Last Words of the Executed' looks at the utterances of those on death row.

Top of the Hour: The Economics of Unemployment Benefits, Morning Headlines

Mike MungerDirector of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University explains that economically, it doesn't make sense to keep extending benefits; headlines.

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Are Unemployment Benefits a Disincentive to Work?

Around 1.3 million people in the U.S. have lost their unemployment benefits since the beginning of 2010.

Yesterday, we talked with two people who have recently lost their benefits: Donovan Marsden in New York and Michelle Ives in Texas. And we asked: does the extension of unemployment benefits provide a disincentive to finding a job? We got an overwhelming number of responses on both sides of that argument. Some listeners thought it was callous even to suggest that people receiving unemployment benefits don't want jobs. A few listeners actually admitted that receiving benefits has made them lazy. Today, we get an economic perspective.

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Immigrant Farm Workers Ask Americans to Take Their Jobs... Please

It’s perhaps the most common complaint levied against illegal immigrants – they are stealing American jobs and bringing down the economy. Now, the United Farm Workers of America is teaming up with "The Colbert Report" to offer farm worker jobs to any American who wants to take them. The organization is encouraging any unemployed Americans, Washington pundits and anti-immigrant activists to sign up for the Take Our Jobs campaign. They say that if you’re okay with long days under the hot sun, small paychecks, no overtime or workers compensation, they will happily train and set up Americans with farm jobs.

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World Cup: The Dutch are In. Who Will They Face In the Finals?

The Netherlands defeated Uruguay in the semifinals yesterday, 3-2, to advance to their third World Cup finals ever, and their first since 1978. For the championship, they'll face the winner of today's match between Germany and Spain. Takeaway sports contributor, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin looks ahead to the final World Cup game.

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Composer Gustav Mahler Born 150 Years Ago

Today, music fans around the world remember the work of Gustav Mahler, who would be 150 years old today. Ljubljana, Slovenia kicks off "Mahler Year," a year dedicated to the artist who lived and worked in the city from 1881-1882; and musicians in New York plan to kick off the NYC Summer Mahler Project. Not bad for a man who, in his lifetime, received little recognition for his 11 symphonies.

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Jane Goodall on the Future of Primatology

Fifty years ago, a young Jane Goodall first walked into the Gombe National Park in Tanzania. Things have changed dramatically. She talks about the changing political, environmental and ecological landscape in which she has dedicated her life's work of studying the social and familial interactions of wild chimpanzees. She says that what used to be a densely forested area is now "an island of forest surrounded by cultivated fields and people struggling to survive."

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The Dangers of 'Empires of Food'

What happens to civilizations when the food runs out? This happened in ancient Rome and to the Mayans, but can we take lessons from the past in order to have a more secure future?

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Top of the Hour: Tar Balls Wash Ashore in Texas, Morning Headlines

Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University, explains the process of identifying the tar that washes up on the beach; headlines.

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Tar Balls Reach Texas Coast

On Tuesday, oil hit the coast of Texas, officially reaching every state along the Gulf of Mexico. About five gallons of oil were found near Galveston, Tex. appearing in the form of small tar balls.  According to state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, tar balls are not uncommon in Texas; they hear about ten reports of them a year. That same office also confirmed that the oil has come from the BP Deepwater Horizon leak, and said it has most likely reached Texas by a boat or vessel rather than ocean currents.

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Sam's Club to Offer Small Business Loans

Retail giant Sam's Club will begin offering loans of up to $25,000 to members who are small business owners. The division of Wal-Mart Store Inc. is teaming up with Superior Financial Group, one of 13 federally licensed nonbank lenders for the program. Already, nearly half of Sam's Club members are small-business owners who account for more than half of the store's revenue. The store says that 15 percent of those members say they have been denied loans from other lenders in the past. 

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Obama Administration Sues Arizona

The Obama administration has filed suit in federal court, challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s tough, controversial new immigration law. SB1070 requires state and local police to question and possibly arrest those who exhibit reasonable suspicion of being in the country illegally. The justice department says that this is a federal job, which should not be handled by lcal law enforcement.

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Illinois to Set Standard For Sex Crimes DNA Testing

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law mandating police departments across the state to send rape kits to the Illinois State Police laboratory or an approved lab within 10 business days of acquiring the evidence. Illinois is the first state to pass such a law, which will go in to effect on October 1st. State officials hope that more and faster scrutiny of evidence will increase the number of arrests for such cases, which now stand at only 11 percent: The national average is 22 percent. Similar laws have increased arrests in other cities, including New York and Los Angeles. 

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Listeners Respond: Does Unemployment Insurance Make Us Lazy?

We're talking about unemployment all week and asking listeners to share this conversation with us. Some of you are waiting anxiously for unemployment insurance to be extended, while others say that perhaps too many out-of-work people are relying on the government instead of finding a job.

Scott from Enid, Okla. called 877-8-MYTAKE to say:

"I think what's reallly needed is both "un" and "under" employment insurance. For example, if you went back to work earning half of what you had previously made, you should be able to collect half of your unemployment until your total employment runs out."

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Last Words of the Executed: A Cultural History of Dying Words

From telling a joke to talking to their families to denying their crimes, the last words of death row inmates tend to center on similar themes throughout history. Why are these words so compelling? And what do they say about humanity?

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