Hurricane Irene's rumble through the East Coast over the weekend is another natural disaster for FEMA deal with this year. At least 30 people have died, and that number may rise as flodding continues to cause problems in Vermont and upstate New York. Previously this year, the Mississippi River's had record-breaking floods and tornadoes ravaged through hundreds of miles of land, across numerous states. Already, FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund is running seriously low, with only $800 million to $1 billion left.
The scars and legacy of racism in America and poverty has ways of bubbling up to the surface in surprising ways. Today that legacy shows up in the story of the life and death of a famous American folklorist, journalist and author, Stetson Kennedy, who died at the age of 94 over the weekend. Kennedy became famous for allegedly infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan as an undercover journalist, then exposing their secrets in a book, “I Rode with the Ku Klux Klan,” which was published in 1954. He spoke with This American Life's Ira Glass about his experience, in 2005.
Yesterday the United Nations Security Council reached an agreement to release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets, to help meet humanitarian needs for civilians there. The State Department is assuring the American people that money will not fall into the wrong hands. Libyan rebels are continuing their search for Moammar Gadhafi, with the help of NATO. But what will the U.S.'s role be in Libya's transition to a democracy?
We're all witnessing a historical moment in the Middle East, as Libya prepares for the end of Moammar Gadhafi’s rule. And while the revolution that has taken six months to occur is in many ways remarkable, Americans may also be in the midst of our own, quieter moment in history: a lost decade. The recession has made it so that young people in particular are having a very difficult time beginning their careers, starting families and buying homes — so they're delaying doing those things. The unemployment rate is hovering at 9.1 percent, and for people between the ages of 16 and 19, it was 25 percent in July. For those ages 20-24, it was 14.6 percent.
Dr. Seuss fans, rejoice. This fall, seven rare Seuss stories, which were previously printed in Redbook, will be published in book form. The stories — which he wrote between 1950 and 1951 — have fantastically Seussian titles: "The Bippolo Seed," "Zinniga-Zanniga," "Tadd and Todd," and "Gustav the Goldfish." The compilation is called "The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss," and Random House is publishing it in late September.
Last April the Federal Reserve said that Gross Domestic Product numbers had inched up a respectable 1.8 percent. It was a bright spot in the midst of a bleak economy. The White House touted the news as encouraging, and stocks went up. Now, after a dizzying few weeks of bad news about the economy, the government has revised its numbers, saying the economy really only expanded by 0.4 percent. What happened, and what does this say about the government's understanding of the economy?
Last week, the Library of Congress named Philip Levine as the next poet laureate, succeeding W.S. Merwin. Previous writers who were awarded that title include Robert Frost, Billy Collins, and Maxine Kumin. Levine was once an auto plant worker in Detroit, and that city became the basis for many of his poems. Levine joins us from his home in Fresno, California and talks about his reputation as a working class poet.
The countdown to December 23 has begun for the Congressional "super committee" that's tasked with reducing the nation’s debt. Yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named the last three members: Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and Rep. Chris Von Hollen of Maryland. Will the committee be able to compromise, particularly as each party begins to prepare for the heavy political sparring yet to come out of the 2012 presidential election?
The latest consumer confidence numbers are due out later today and — given the roller coaster week the stock market has endured, and the Congress's recent debt ceiling decision — they aren't expected to be great. In such tumultuous times, it’s difficult for anyone to maintain confidence in the economy. But confidence is just what some experts say is necessary to create jobs and keep the markets stable. So, how do we inspire it?
The markets started off jittery yesterday and throughout the morning they just kept dropping. Later in the afternoon President Obama made an attempt to reassure Americans. During a statement at the White House he said, "Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always be a triple A country."
Two unions that represent workers for Verizon announced an immediate strike on Sunday, demanding better treatment after a lack of progress in negotiating contracts. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the unions representing Verizon, last went on strike in 2000. Verizon union membership has shrunk by nearly in half since then, and is much weaker than before. Can union members still exert their influence in a strike?
McAfee, a leading cyber security company, issued a report on Wednesday that indirectly points to China as the source of a broad ranging cyber attack on more than 72 organizations throughout the world — including the United Nations, the Olympic movement and the U.S. government. As cyber attacks become a growing threat to the country, the National Security Agency has made a push to employ the best and brightest to combat these attacks. Often, the most qualified people to play defense are often the ones that were once on the offensive — former hackers.
Law enforcement officials at the Justice Department have announced 72 people have been charged and 52 arrested in what they are describing as a "horrific" child pornography ring. The ring was allegedly organized on a private online club called "Dreamboard" — where its members gained greater access and prestige by submitting images of their own violent acts of sexual exploitation against children. Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a press conference announcing the sting yesterday that the Dreamboard may have been the vehicle for the distribution of up to 123 terabytes of child pornography. That is roughly the equivalent to nearly 16,000 DVDs.
As the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks approaches, a new Gallup poll raises the issue of how Muslim-Americans view our democracy and their place in it. The poll surveyed Muslim-Americans and other faith groups, asking whether Muslims have been discriminated against recently, if Muslim-Americans have been sympathetic to al-Qaida, and how loyal they are to the democratic system. In contrast to Americans of other faiths, 78 percent of Muslim-Americans said military attacks on civilians are never justified.
The fight over the debt ceiling is over in Washington, but another showdown over government funding is still dividing Congress. Since July 22, the Federal Aviation Administration has been partially shutdown, waiting for Congress to make a decision on its funding. As a result, thousands of F.A.A. workers are being furloughed — and won’t get back to work until after the recess in September.
The debt ceiling saga continues to grip Washington, and as August 2 looms closer, the threat of a partial government shutdown and the loss of some government services seems possible. The White House and the U.S. Treasury Department have warned that military spending could take a hit, which has military families worrying about how they’ll be impacted.
August 2 is one week away, and Congress still has yet to make a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Both sides of the debt debate are reluctant to compromise — both the Democrats and Republicans have now put forth plans to avoid a default on U.S. loans. The Republican plan includes immediate cuts and caps in discretionary spending, and raising the debt ceiling by less than $1 trillion. The Democratic plan includes a $1.2 trillion reduction in both defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
Millions of Somalis are mired in a deep humanitarian crisis that is now driving thousands of refugees over the border to Kenya daily. Famine is devastating the country, and the process of seeking outside aid is complicated by by an ineffective government, interference by the al-Qaida linked group al-Shabaab, and internal strife. Regardless, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for international aid agencies to bring food and supplies.
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann acknowledged earlier this week that she suffers from chronic migraine attacks, a familiar problem for the 36 million other Americans that experience them. But some people are now speculating as to whether or not Bachmann's migraines might interfere with her ability to do her job. This kind of talk could amount to a minor setback for Bachmann's campaign, considering some polls show she's the front runner for the Republican bid for president.