For the first time in 20 months, leaders from Israel and Palestine met at the negotiating table to try to broker a peace agreement. The leaders came together in Washington, D.C. to take part in talks mediated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As the U.S. representative, Secretary Clinton was clear in her message – the U.S. can bring the parties to the table, but it is up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to find a solution. President Obama said, on Wednesday, that "the only path to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release a new jobs report this morning. Since the start of the economic downturn, the dire unemployment situation has been described in grim and abstract numbers: unemployment is at 9.5 percent; one in six Americans are receiving government assistance; and an estimated 8.5 million factory jobs have been lost since November 2007.
But behind the numbers are the human costs of unemployment. In a new book, “Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory,” photographer Bill Bamberger and author Cathy N. Davidson capture the faces and stories behind the workers in Mebane, North Carolina, who lost their jobs when White Furniture Company closed its doors in 1993. The book and its gripping photos show tell the stories of personal loss and struggle for workers whose entire lives were turned upside down.
After a 20-month hiatus, leaders from Israel and Palestine have come together at the White House to engage in a new round of peace talks. President Obama met individually with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday. Obama said he is hopeful that a peace agreement can be reached in the next year, but the talks have already hit hurdles that may be difficult to overcome.
The Ptarmigan, a mountain bird known in Colorado for its camouflaged exterior, may be at risk due to climate change. Because the birds are limited to alpine habitats, scientists worry for their survival as temperatures rise and snow and ice melt. Last week, environmentalists began a campaign to designate the bird as a threatened species. If the designation is accepted and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it would require action to combat the threat of climate change, which could lead to legislation to reduce carbon emissions.
It is still unclear when the 33 Chilean miners trapped 700 meters below ground will be rescued. The Chilean mining minister says it will before Christmas, a shorter timeline than originally anticipated. The group received its first solid food from the surface today: ham sandwiches. Even if the miners are trapped for 60 days, rather than the previously announced 120 days, it is still a very long time to be trapped in a confined space with the same people. We've been asking our listeners: What would happen if you were trapped underground with your coworkers?
A small group of economists are trying to study whether income inequality may have contributed to the economic collapse. The income gap in the years leading up to the recent recession, which is often compared to the Great Depression, has a striking resemblance to the income equality in 1928, when the top 10 percent of earners received nearly half of the total income. Finance reporter Louise Story wrote about this theory for The New York Times earlier in August, and we spoke with her about the income gap on The Takeaway last week.
On any ordinary U.S. airliner, you’re likely to find in the seat pocket in front you an in-flight magazine that romanticizes your destination city. Magazines tend to feature articles with titles like United Airline’s “Three Perfect Days: Denver” or US Airway’s “Endless Summer.” But on Afghanistan’s Safi Airlines, the in-flight magazine paints a more realistic – albeit grim — reality of Afghanistan. The topics range from a piece on dog fighting to a profile of heroin addicts.
To support relief efforts in Pakistan, the United States currently has 18 military and civilian aircraft in the country and three based in Afghanistan. American helicopters have evacuated nearly 6,000 people and delivered more than 717,000 pounds of relief supplies. And Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has just announced the U.S. will increase aid to Pakistan to $150 million.
But the context for the American military presence in Pakistan is more complicated than simply delivering humanitarian aid. Pakistan is home to militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose offshoot organizations have already become a visible force during this crisis. The Pakistani Taliban is already believed to be behind two attacks against security forces in Peshawar since the start of the flooding.
Kenneth Feinberg officially took over the $20 billion fund allocated for those affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher. BP, the company responsible for the crisis, has already paid $368 million to individuals and businesses who suffered financial losses. But thousands of claims are still left unresolved and will fall now on Feinberg's desk.
The space shuttle program will come to a close as of 2011, and NASA is preparing to retire the three remaining orbiters and find them new homes. Retiring each orbiter is an involved process that will cost $28.8 million. Twenty-one institutions across the country are competing for the rare honor of housing an orbiter. Plans are already in the works for Discovery to go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where Enterprise (a test shuttle) currently lives. Enterprise will likely be made available to another institution, along with Atlantis and Endeavour.
The last combat brigadee left Iraq, yesterday, marking the end of the active combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 50,000 troops still remain, but are tasked to non-combat operations. The Obama administration has pledged to withdraw all troops from Iraq by October 2011, at which point security operations are to be transferred to Iraqi forces. In a statement, President Barack Obama called this a "milestone in the Iraq war," and State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley labeled it "an historic moment."
But is it premature – yet again – to say, "mission accomplished?"
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."
The basketball World Championship is set to begin in Turkey at the end of the month. In an exhibition game this weekend, Team USA handedly defeated France 86-55. The team is playing out without basketball superstars like Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, but there seems to be a new talent on the court: Kevin Durant. We talk with Takeaway sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul-Matin about how the team is shaping up.
China’s economy has been steadily growing over the past three decades, bypassing countries like Great Britian, Germany and France. And last night, the country took a major economic leap: China is now the world’s second largest economy, behind only the United States. The milestone was reached after Japan announced a slightly smaller second quarter value than China.
Last week on the program we discussed the idea of making access to food a basic legal right. This idea comes from India, a country that is home to one of the world's largest impoverished populations, with over 421 million of its citizens going hungry. India is now considering making access to food a right enshrined by the constitution. Takeaway listeners tell us whether they believe access to food should be a human and legal right.
On our Facebook page, Kathleen writes:
"Food is absolutely a human right. The fact that not every country can feed all its people right now is irrelevant to food being a human right. Governments - including ours - should be judged according to how quickly and effectively they are working to feed everyone."
All weekend, we've been asking listeners if they believe that women and men should change their surnames upon marriage. We got dozens of responses from people on both sides of the aisle. We hear some of your takes on this heated subject. Kathryn wrote on The Takeaway website:
"I kept my name. I was married at age 37 and maybe age had something to do with it. My name was and is part of my identity, so I never considered changing it. I will say that it gets a little confusing when there are children involved, but I am who I am."
According to a new study released on Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, roughly one in twelve babies born in the United States in 2008 had at least one parent who was an illegal immigrant. (That is around 8 percent, or roughly 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2008.) About 85 percent of those parents are Hispanic. This study comes at a time when several Republican senators are asking for a review of the 14th Amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to children born on U.S. soil.
Jesus Ochoa, 75, was born in El Paso, Texas, where he has lived nearly all his life. As a young boy, he recalls stuffing his pockets with a $5 bill, picking up his friends and heading just a few miles south to Juarez, Mexico. Every Saturday, he visited the neighboring city to get a haircut, get his shoes shined and eat mariscos (seafood). When he graduated from high school, Juarez was where he and his classmates went to celebrate - something he calls a "rite of passage" for kids in his school.
The 9.5 percent unemployment rate does not count a huge number of Americans: People who are out of a job and have given up looking. With millions of people out of work and competing with each other for the small percentage of open jobs, it makes sense that a significant portion will call it quits – at least for the time being – and cease searching for employment all together.
If you're unemployed but not looking for work, tell us: At what point did you stop looking for a job?
The number of people affected by the massive flooding in Pakistan over the past week is larger than the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Flash floods have hit neighboring Kashmir, killing at least 85 people, and China where more than 1,300 people are feared missing. In Europe, a heat wave has led to the deaths of 5,000 people, and in Russia drought and wildfires are ravaging the country.
Are all these simultaneous natural disasters this summer just a big coincidence, or is it a harbinger of something more serious for Planet Earth? Environmentalist Bill McKibben connects the dots and finds out how much it has to do with global warming.