Student Loan Defaults; Pakistan Flooding; Nine Years of Gay Marriage; 'Lou Gehrig's Disease'; Learning to Swim

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Robina,6, sits amongst the rubble of her destroyed home August 17, 2010 in Charsadda, Pakistan. The country's agricultural heartland has been devastated, with rice, corn and wheat crops destroyed. (Paula Bronstein/Getty)

Student loan defaults at for-profit colleges are on the rise; the relationship between repeated concussions and ALS, known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease"; North Korea gets an account on Twitter; Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones on trying to teach more Americans to swim; Pakistan flooding continues; learning from nine years of gay marriage in the Netherlands; Alaska becomes the last state to name a street after Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mona Simpson's book on parents and caretakers: "My Hollywood." Miles O'Brien hosts for John Hockenberry.

Top of the Hour: Defaulting on Student Loans, Headlines

Takeaway listener Kevin Krease shares his story of being burdened by debt; headlines.

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Students Defaulting on Many Loans at For-Profit Colleges

As college students head back to campus, a new report says almost two thirds of student loans at for-profit colleges are not being repaid. The statistic calls into question some for-profit programs' ability to prepare graduates for finding jobs, and the Obama administration has proposed cutting off federal loans to the programs with the worst repayment rates. About two-thirds of students in the class of 2013 said that they were concerned about their ability to pay for college.

With default rates at such a high, we're asking you: How have student loans affected your life in ways you didn't expect?

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Congress Passes Emergency Funds for Teachers, But Will They Get Their Jobs Back?

Earlier this month, Congress passed $26 billion in stimulus spending, $10 billion of which was aimed at rehiring public school teachers who had lost their jobs because of budget cutbacks. The Department of Education estimates that between 100,000 and 300,000 people in public schools across the country have either been fired or risk losing their jobs because of budget cuts.

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Is Gulf Seafood Really Safe?

A new report released this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) warns that the "oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poses... indirect threats to seafood safety." State and federal officials, however, say they are aggressively testing seafood from the Gulf Coast in order to protect the public from any potential health risks from the oil that gushed continuously into the water for nearly three months. With these conflicting messages, how difficult will it be for the Gulf's seafood industry to get back on its feet?

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Did Lou Gehrig Have Lou Gehrig's Disease?

For 71 years, Lou Gehrig has been the face of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, now most commonly known as "Lou Gehrig’s disease."

After getting the diagnosis of a disease that would quickly rob him of his muscle strength and control, Gehrig retired from baseball. At a ceremony honoring him at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, his voice full of emotion, he said, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. That I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you." He died just two years later of the disease that now bears his name.

Now new research suggests that there is a possibility Lou Gehrig may not have had "Lou Gehrig’s disease," but perhaps something closely related.  

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North Korea Joins YouTube and Twitter

According to North Korea's government-run Uriminzokkiri website, the country now has dipped a toe into the world of social media, with both a Twitter account and YouTube channel.

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Olympian Cullen Jones on Swimming and Drowning

Swimming is one way to beat the heat – but it can be dangerous for those who don't have a basic knowledge of how to handle themselves in the water. Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones knows this all too well: When he was five years old he almost drowned at an amusement park. This summer the gold medalist has been traveling around the country with the USA Swimming Foundation in a six-city tour called "Make a Splash with Cullen Jones." At each stop Jones meets with community leaders and teaches basic water safety to parents and children.

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Top of the Hour: Providing Aid to Pakistan, Headlines

Issam Ahmed, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor details the latest from Pakistan; headlines.

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Will Pakistan's Relief Aid Prevent Destabilization?

20 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan in the past three weeks, in what some say is the worst natural catastrophe in recent history. However, even with the United Nations calling for $459 million for immediate relief efforts, aid assistance is still only trickling in. Whether it is "compassion fatigue," lack of funds or a distrust in the Pakistani government's transparency – the real question is, will a failure to act now have greater foreign policy implications for the future stability of the region?

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Blagojevich Jury Hung on 23 Counts

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may have dodged a bullet yesterday after a Chicago jury found him guilty on only count of lying to federal agents. The jury was hung on the other 23 charges against him. After the verdict was read, Blagojevich told reporters, "this jury just showed you ... that on every count except for one, on every charge except for one, they could not prove that I did anything wrong."

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Listeners Respond: Home Ownership

Yesterday we discussed home ownership in America. In the past, owning your own property was a major component of the American dream. However, these days there are a lot of reasons to avoid buying a house. We heard from many listeners on this topic.

Steve from Atlanta called in to say:

"It's interesting that this is the first time in a long time that I've actually heard adults say, 'I will never buy a home again.'

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Learning From 9 Years of Gay Marriage in The Netherlands

The marriage of same-sex couples is on hold again in California while the Ninth Circuit Court prepares to hear an appeal by the backers of Prop 8. Those who supported the ballot initiative, which led to the banning of same-sex unions in the state, are challenging a judge's recent decision that found the ban unconstitutional. 

The United States is not the first country to discuss these issues, and other countries have experience we might be able to learn from when considering same-sex unions. Back in 2001, The Netherlands became the first country to legalize gay marriage. We speak with an author who traveled there to document how marriage affected Dutch gay couples and wider Dutch society.

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Remembering Bobby Thomson and 'The Shot Heard 'Round The World'

Bobby Thomson, the baseball legend who hit the winning shot for the New York Giants in the 1951 National League playoff series died on Monday night. He was 86.

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Summer Reading: Mona Simpson's 'My Hollywood'

We're continuing our summer reading series with a look at modern parenthood and childcare. Mona Simpson's new book, "My Hollywood," looks at the relationship between modern parents and the nannies they hire to take care of their kids. 

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Dr. Laura Goes Off the Air

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is ending he radio talk show, "The Dr. Laura Program" after 30 years on the air. She came under fire earlier this month for using the N-word eleven times in five minutes during an on-air conversation about racism. On "Larry King Live" last night, Dr. Laura defended her decision, saying, "I want to be able to say what's in my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without someone getting angry, without some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent."

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