Medals of Honor; Courts Charge New Fees; How to Help Small Businesses; Political Debate Season; 'Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self'

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

This former slave's cabin, located in Brookeville, Maryland, is also not "Uncle Tom's Cabin." (crazysanman.history/flickr)

Relatively few Medals of Honor given to soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan; looking at the government's rate of return on money invested in banks under TARP; debate season begins for politicians across the country; the state of Maryland spends $2 million for a historic slave cabin which, contrary to initial impressions, was never occupied by the man on which Harriet Beecher Stowe based "Uncle Tom's Cabin"; possible pitfalls in the recently passed legislation aiming to help small businesses; new report from the Brennan Center shows courts charging defendants new "user fees"; the cultural impact of in-vitro fertilization; examining the effectiveness of Child Protective Services; Danielle Evans' book, "Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self."  Todd Zwillich hosts with Celeste Headlee.

Top of the Hour: The Medal of Honor and the Wars, Morning Headlines

When President Obama awards the Medal of Honor to the parents of a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan tomorrow, it will only be the third time the medal has been given out during the U.S.'s longest war.

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Medal of Honor Rarely Given in Iraq, Afghanistan

On Wednesday, President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to the parents of Staff Sergeant Robbie Miller, killed in action in Afghanistan at the age of 24. Miller is credited with saving the lives of seven American soldiers and fifteen Afghan troops as he charged toward an enemy position, drawing fire away from his comrades. 

Miller is only the third person to receive the Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan, and many wonder why that number is so low. 

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Should the Government Have Earned More from TARP?

Under the unpopular bank bailout program, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP, the government invested money in struggling banks, and eventually got something in return. But the program's end got Louise Story, Wall Street and finance reporter for our partner The New York Times, thinking about whether the big banks got a better deal than the government did, when everything was said and done.

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On the Internet, All Politics Are National

With November's mid-term elections only weeks away, many candidates have begun rounds of debates in a final effort to win over voters. In California's gubernatorial race, Republican Meg Whitman lost some points in polls when her opponent, Democrat Jerry Brown, accused Whitman of employing an illegal immigrant. Hours before last night's debate between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut, McMahon released an attack ad telling voters Blumenthal lied about his war service.

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Famous Maryland Cabin Did Not Belong to 'Uncle Tom'

Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, have spent $2 million to acquire and maintain a two-story colonial home and log cabin formerly believed to be the residence of Josiah Henson, the model for the protagonist in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." As it turns out, officials had it wrong and Henson never lived in that cabin. We talk with David Rotenstein, who served on the county's Historic Preservation Commission at the time of the purchase.

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Why the New Small Business Jobs Bill May Not Create Jobs

The government wants to create new jobs. Most new jobs come from small businesses. Logic might suggest that the government should support small businesses, yet that’s proven hard to do in practice. Why? And, are there better ways for the government to encourage businesses to hire more people?

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Top of the Hour: States Charge for Public Defenders, Morning Headlines

A new study by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice finds that states are imposing new fees on defendants, including thirteen states that charge citizens for public defenders.

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Convicted of a Crime? Pony Up a 'User Fee.'

In a recession economy, all of us – including government agencies – are doing what we can to make ends meet, and that includes states' legal systems. A new report released by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice reveals that states are imposing new court fees for individuals with criminal convictions. The fees are described as “user fees,” as they are not the traditional obligations levied for punishment, deterrence, or rehabilitation. Instead, these fees serve only to pay back the court system as it attempts to recoup operational costs.

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The Controversies That Still Lie Behind In-Vitro Fertilization?

The Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to Robert Edwards yesterday, who developed in vitro fertilization in the 1970. Controversial from its introduction, the practice was initially condemned by the Catholic Church. Today, while many of the original ethical issues have abated, new ones have arisen over questions about the in vitro industry's lack of regulation and the continuing debate surrounding stem cell research.

Glenn Cohen, co-director of the Petrie-Flom Center, and assistant professof or law at Harvard University, believes the number one controversy today is the safety methods surrounding the practice. 

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Evaluating Families Investigated by Child Protective Services

When Child Protective Services investigates a household where a child may have been abused, that family has a small chance of seeing improvements, according to a new study out of the University of Utah, set to be published in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

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Oxfam Calls on US to Stop Subsidizing Haitian Rice Exports

Aid agency Oxfam Internation say that the United States' policy of subsidizing rice exported to Haiti is hampering the beleaguered nation's ability to be self-sufficient. Twenty years ago, Haiti produced nearly all of its own rice. Today, the country imports nearly 80 percent due to subsidization policies from wealth nations like the U.S. The BBC's Mark Doyle gives us the latest on the story.

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Danielle Evans and 'Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self'

At 26, Danielle Evans is already the kind of writer who makes other writers jealous. She's still fresh from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, but she's already been chosen – twice –  for The Best American Short Stories, and both Salman Rushdie and Richard Russo have praised her work. There's already a lot of buzz around her new book, a collection of eight short stories called “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self.” She joins us to talk about the challenges of being a young black writer in a world that's not over race, but may be over talking about it.

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Military Aggressively Pursues Alternative Energy

Though Congress may have failed to pass an energy bill to reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels, the military isn't wasting time developing renewable energy technologies. A Marine company in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan has become the first to take renewable technology into a battle zone, arriving last week with solar powered tents and chargers.

The military's decision was less about environmental concerns than practicality. In recent weeks, already treacherous supply routes over the Khyber Pass from Pakistan to Afghanistan have become even more fraught with danger, culminating in the attack of several NATO oil tankers on Monday. Military leaders are hoping the push toward alternative energies will save lives in the long run.

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