The Somali pirates seized an American cargo ship a few days ago and while the rest of the crew escaped and took control of the ship, the captain, is still being held prisoner in a small lifeboat. As FBI hostage negotiators rush to the scene off the Somali coast and U.S. Navy destroyer attempts communications with the pirates, more ships are moving into the area. The captain attempted an escape, but the bandits were able to re-capture him before he could reach the Navy vessel. For the latest we turn to the BBC's Africa Editor Mary Harper. We are also joined by Wangari Mathai, the Nobel Prize winning peace activist who can provide an African perspective on the pirates' actions.
Contributor's Note :
When Somali pirates seized a giant Saudi oil tanker, the Sirius Star, last November, I managed to get a hold of a phone number to call them. But every time I rang them, they would put the phone down as soon as I said I was from the BBC. I became so obsessed with calling them that I programmed their number into my mobile phone so that I could ring them anytime, from anywhere. My twelve year old daughter had seen me repeatedly ringing the pirates, and one day, when we were stuck in a long traffic jam, she asked if she could try. I refused, but she eventually wore me down, and I gave her the phone. She pressed P for Pirates and...the phone rang, and a bizarre conversation ensued between her and a pirate. This opened a crucial door, and the next day I was able to get a real scoop by interviewing not only the pirate, but the captain of the ship who had been taken hostage. All thanks to my daughter, who insisted on dialing P for pirates. — Mary Harper, BBC's Africa Editor
Here is the AP's report on the current status of the hostage situation:
Now that the Pentagon has lifted its 18-year ban on press coverage of the return of America's war dead, will the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return to the national conversation? Or has the moment passed us by? Is the American public war weary and ready to move on? For a look at what exposure to Dover Air Force base means, The Takeaway turns to Kathleen Hall Jamieson. She is Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of numerous books, including Presidents Creating the Presidency and unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation.
"We tend to focus on the financial cost of war when this policy is in place, but to downplay the human cost of war." —Kathleen Hall Jamieson from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, on media coverage of war
Yesterday Vice President Biden announced the federal government is releasing $2.3 billion in recovery act funding for child care and vaccines. The announcement is the latest in a flurry of national and local announcements on how stimulus spending will be spent. Some states, such as Maryland, have immediately jumped on the money and started planning, spending, and even building. Other states (New York, for example) have done next to nothing with the money yet. Joining us to discuss the stimulus spending in the the states is Takeaway Correspondent Andrea Bernstein, who is watching stimulus spending for our ShovelWatch Project, and Mark Steiner, host of the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA in Baltimore.
And we're continuing our investigation of the stimulus plan on air and online. What are your elected officials telling you is coming to your area? What do you know about the projects coming to your community? Where should the stimulus money go instead? Crowdsource the stimulus plan.
"There's real conversation going on here in Baltimore about how do you use this money to really stimulate a local economy as opposed to just giving people temporary jobs that'll be over in a year" —Marc Steiner of WEAA on stimulus spending in Baltimore
In October 1975, two of the world's greatest fighters, Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, battled it out for the title of Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World. The fight was one of the most extraordinary fighting bouts of all time and capped off a long rivalry between the two boxers. The heavyweight title was up for grabs because Muhammed Ali was stripped of his title and right to fight after refusing to enlist in the army during the Vietnam War. Ali got his boxing privileges restored only after President Nixon gave into the repeated prodding of none other than Joe Frazier. This set the stage for a series of epic fights between the two champs culminating in the third and final meet up of the two, the Thrilla in Manila. And Frazier was ready to rumble because Ali used his sharp tongue to take harsh racially-charged pot shots at his rival. The fight was close and the legacy is large.
Former heavyweight champion of the world Joe Frazier joins The Takeaway with a look back at one of the most brutal fights in boxing history. On Saturday, HBO will air the documentary "Thrilla in Manila" an analysis of the fight and the racial politics that surrounded it. John Dower, the director of the film, will also be a guest.
Early this morning in L'Aquila, Italy, the funerals began for some of the 289 people killed in Monday's earthquake. While normally in the Catholic tradition no funerals are allowed on Good Friday, the Vatican granted a dispensation for the funeral mass for the earthquake victims. For more on the somber scene, we turn to BBC Correspondent Helen Fawkes joins us from L'Aquila, Italy.
Today the Takeaway is asking, "What are you doing right now and what's on your mind?" When we asked a similar question last week we got hundreds of responses. But some people said they didn’t care. One of those listeners, Christine from Brooklyn, talks to another listener, Richard from Hazel Park, MI, who tells us why he took part and why he wants to hear other listeners "check in".
After a group of Somali pirates seized a freighter sailing under an American flag, the U.S. navy and the FBI have moved in to negotiate for the captain's freedom. The captain is being held hostage in a small life boat after the rest of the crew was released. The New York Times' East Africa Bureau Chief, Jeffrey Gettleman has been following the dramatic twist and turns of the crimes of the Somali pirates for months now and he joins us from the scene of their latest hijacking.
With unemployment numbers at 8.5 percent it’s hard for anyone who gets a pink slip to look for a job through rose colored glasses. But blogger Marci Alboher says there is promise for those pounding the pavement in this slumping economy, but it may not come from the traditional job hunting methods. She runs the Yahoo blog Working the New Economy, and she joins us with some true stories about people who are finding work in creative ways, which may be a necessity when times are tough.
With Easter around the corner, you may be dreaming of chocolate bunnies, but getting the cacao crop to make those tasty treats is becoming increasingly difficult. A third of the world's cacao crop dies every year due to the fact that the trees are necessarily grown in a monoculture and thus incredibly vulnerable to disease. So what is a candymaker to do? Well, if you are the Mars Corp. you hire a Global Director of Plant Science, specifically, you hire Howard-Yana Shapiro, and become the only chocolate company that has a dedicated research facility in “the center of this disease cesspool” (Howard’s words). Mars, which owns the Mars, Snickers and M&M candy brands, is also set to spend tens of millions of dollars annually certifying that the cocoa used in their $10 billion of chocolate products are sustainably sourced by 2020.
Here to tell us more about why cacao trees are at risk, and why no one but him and a few folks at the USDA are researching this, is Howard-Yana Shapiro.
In a sign of further democratization in the world’s largest Muslim nation, Indonesia, holds parliamentary elections today. But holding an election in this nation is a huge proposition. 170 million voters, spread out across an archipelago of thousands of islands, with more than 300 local languages and a population that spans from rural hunter-gatherers to an urban elite. But this is a country that’s come a long way. The Economist this week says Indonesia has gone from being an “authoritarian basket case to a regional role model” and that Indonesia has “a fair claim to be South-East Asia’s only fully functioning democracy”. To help us assess those claims and to ask why this election is of interest to Americans, we are joined by Dr. William Liddle, an Indonesia expert at the University of Ohio and from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, the BBC’s Indonesia correspondent, Lucy Williamson.
It's not just the market that's bottoming out in this recession. There are nationwide reports of anxiety and stress in the face of these trying economic times. Reports are so widespread that the federal government was prompted to put up website warnings about symptoms of depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. Pam Belluck is covering the story for the New York Times and in her research she met Victoria Villalba, a woman who has been experiencing severe anxiety about the economy. They both join The Takeaway to share their stories.
"There are a lot of similarities here between natural disasters and what people are going through as a result of the economy." —New York Times reporter Pam Belluck on anxiety as a result of the recession
The delicate strategic dance between the Obama administration and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues: The U.S. has offered to attend direct talks with Iran aimed at resolving an ongoing dispute over Iran's nuclear program. But why now? The answer may be more complex than you think. The Takeaway talks to Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University. Also joining the conversation is Trita Parsi, author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States and President of the National Iranian American Council and President of the National Iranian American Council.
"They're not reducing Iran into a one issue country. It's not just about the nuclear issue. It's obviously a very important part of it, but they're not going to view Iran only through that prism." —Author Trita Parsi on U.S. discussions with Iran
Here is CNN's report on opening lines of communications between the two countries:
It sounds really strange—a type of body fat that actually burns calories. But that’s exactly what so-called brown fat does. Babies and animals have it, but it’s long been thought that adults don’t. However a study coming out this week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that many adults do have this good fat. It’s the first hint of a possible new approach to treating obesity. Madelyn Fernstrom, the founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center, joins The Takeaway to talk about the significance of this finding.
A U.S. judge has ruled that a class action lawsuit can move ahead against several large companies accused of helping South Africa's apartheid-era government in violation of international human rights law. The case has been going on since 2002 and was initially filed against 50 corporations and involved ten lawsuits claiming more than $400 billion in damages. While the cases have been consolidated to only two lawsuits against five companies, the corporations are a who's who of American companies: the computer giant IBM, Ford and General Motors are among the U.S. companies facing demands for damages from thousands of apartheid's victims. The BBC's Lucy Bailey has more.
70 years ago African-American opera singer Marian Anderson sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from performing at Constitution Hall. The concert packed the National Mall and Ms. Anderson became an overnight civil rights icon. For a look at what her legacy means in the 21st century The Takeaway turns to Patrik Henry Bass. He is the Senior Editor of Essence magazine and the author of Like A Mighty Stream: The March on Washington, August 28, 1963.
Through the magic of YouTube you can watch a portion of the concert:
With both Iowa and Vermont legalizing same sex marriage within the last week, we wanted to take a step back and talk about the future of gay marriage in the United States. What is the next step for the gay rights movement, and which state will be the next one to let same sex couples marry? Or are these court decisions the spark that will mobilize those opposed This morning will be present both sides of the argument. We'll begin first with Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project and representing the other side of the conversation is Maggie Gallagher. She is the President of the National Organization for Marriage.
Here are two of the PSAs released by the campaigns:
An exclusive story from the Wall Street Journal says that cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system. In eerie echoes of the Cold War, government officials are blaming China and Russia, but is nearly impossible to know whether or not this act is government-sponsored because of the difficulty in tracking true identities in cyberspace. The spooks were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. And while the intruders haven't damaged the power grid, officials warned they could. For more on this startling story, we turn to the Wall Street Journal's Intelligence Correspondent Siobhan Gorman.
Dooce blogger Heather B. Armstrong earns a living revealing personal details — an act that actually got her fired from her job as a web designer seven years ago. Since then she's made a reputation for brutal (and often hilarious) honesty and openness. Her new book, It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita documents her post-partum depression and self-admission to a mental health facility. Not something many parents would be willing to put in hard copy. But you don’t have to be famous to have your personal details on the internet these days. So how do you shield your children from information you don't think they should know? And how much is okay to tell them? Heather B. Armstrong looks at how we decide where to draw the line.
A crowd of more than 10,000 young Moldovans materialized seemingly out of nowhere yesterday to protest in Moldova. The crowd was protesting the parliamentary elections held on Sunday, in which Communists won 50 percent of the vote, enough to allow them to select a new president and amend the Constitution. Using social networking tools like Twitter to mobilize a mob of mostly students, the protest shocked the government and the protesters were able to take control of the seat of government including the Parliament and the President's offices. When hundreds of firsthand accounts flooded onto the Internet via Twitter and Facebook, Internet service in Chisinau, the capital, was abruptly cut off. We have with us one of the protesters, Alina Martiniuc, a student in Moldova, to give her first hand account of the events.
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