The Royal Bank of Scotland has announced the largest annual loss in corporate history in the United Kingdom. The Royal Bank of Scotland said it will insure assets worth 325 billion pounds, or $462 billion, with the British government, who owns two-thirds of the bank. This comes after RBS. nearly collapsed during the credit crisis and needed British taxpayer's money to stay afloat. Andrew Walker, BBC economics correspondent, joins us now to talk about how this compares to the situation banks in the U.S. are facing.
Now that the American Recovery Reinvestment Act has been passed into law, the Department of Education has been given an unprecedented injection of money. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has $100 billion dollars of emergency aid at his disposal, $5 billion of which is going to early childhood education. Is this enough to pave a future for today’s infants and toddlers? This week we’re taking a closer look at how the stimulus will affect education in the U.S. Cornelia Grumman, executive director of The First Five Years Fund, an advocacy group for early education, talks to us about how these funds will be distributed.
We are all learning to make sacrifices for the sake of the environment, but one thing Americans have a hard time cutting corners on is their toilet paper. This national desire to have soft, fluffy, and strong paper is having an environmental impact and millions of trees are harvested every year to create Charmin, Cottonelle, and other premium brands. Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times' environmental desk has an article on the delicate subject in today's paper.
Today President Obama meets with the 42 black lawmakers who comprise the Congressional Black Caucus. Established 40 years ago, does the Congressional Black Caucus have more legislative muscle now that the nation has its first African-American president? Or has Obama’s presidency rendered the Congressional Black Caucus irrelevant? For a look at what the Caucus’ agenda will be under the Obama administration and for a preview of what’s on the docket for today’s meeting, we are joined by the Caucus’ Chairwoman, Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Between texting, instant messages, and, LOL!, the web, grammar has been under a steady onslaught in our modern times. This slow erosion of the language is too much for some and a small but active group of language watchers have formed a grammar vigilante squad to right the grammatical wrongs, one punctuation mark at a time. Joining us now is John Richards, founder and chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, from the other Boston in Lincolnshire, England.
Do you have a grammatical pet peeve? Tell us in the comments!
"They put it in where they think it might be, leave it out where they think it shouldn't be. And yet the rules are very, very simple." — John Richards, of the Apostrophe Protection Society, on the widespread misuse of apostrophes
Sent in by a helpful listener, here is an episode of Steve's Grammatical Observations:
President Obama announced an August 2010 deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution has written an op-ed piece in today's New York Times saying that "young democracies are fragile entities," and that some think it will take years to pull this off successfully. He joins us now to explain.
Fifty years ago this week, virtuoso jazz pianist Thelonious Monk gave a landmark concert at New York City’s Town Hall. It was a coming-out for an underground jazz scene called bebop. Monk’s 1959 concert marked bebop’s shift from New York’s nightclubs to center stage. We celebrate the anniversary of that concert with WNYC music host, Terrance McKnight.
Terrance will broadcast from New York's Town Hall tonight at 8 PM.
After eight long months recuperating from reconstructive knee surgery, Tiger Woods returned to the green yesterday. The golf world welcomed him back with open arms as the games started at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Arizona. For more we turn to Karen Crouse, a sports reporter for the New York Times who is in Arizona to watch Tiger Woods first day back.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh warned that she'd take tough action against a mutiny by paramilitary border security guards if they did not surrender their weapons immediately. The violence arose from grievances on pay and treatment from army commanders. New York Times reporter Somini Sengupta joins the show to talk about the standoff in Bangladesh.
Women are prohibited from doing many things in Saudi Arabia, among them driving and being alone with a man they are not related to. How do women there decide what freedoms are worth fighting for? Reem Asaad, a finance lecturer at Dar al-Hikma Women's College in Jeddah joins The Takeaway with the story of an unusual campaign she is leading to defend the right of women to buy their lingerie from other women, because currently only men can sell women's underwear. Ms. Asaad joins us now from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
"This industry is living off the pockets of these women." — Reem Asaad of Dar al-Hikma Women's College on the lingerie industry in Saudi Arabia
Literature can be a source of comfort in difficult times. Poet Elizabeth Alexander, who read her poem “Praise Song for the Day” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, joins John and Jerome to discuss how she uses poetry and literature to soothe her spirit during trying times.
Here is Elizabeth Alexander reading her poem at Barack Obama's Inauguration:
This week, the U.S. is using diplomacy with Pakistan and Afghanistan to battle Islamic extremism, but on another front of that fight, tensions in Somalia boiled over. Today, an Islamist Somali militia has seized control of a town near the border with Ethiopia following days of fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu that has left dozens dead and over a hundred injured. Joining us now from London is BBC Africa Editor Martin Plaut.
In his address last night, President Obama mentioned the need to forge a new strategy in Pakistan. This statement came while the foreign ministers of both Pakistan and Afghanistan are in Washington this week to meet with officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says that his country and Afghanistan have achieved a new level of trust that will help them work together to combat cross-border attacks. For what this might mean for the U.S. role in Pakistan and Afghanistan we turn to Owen Bennett-Jones, host of BBC Newshour and former Islamabad correspondent.
As the economic downturn hits the states, some governors are considering an unusual cost-cutting measure: abolishing the death penalty. Since capital cases cost three times as much as cases where the death penalty is not sought, cash-strapped states are increasingly looking at the option. Ian Urbina has been reporting on this for the New York Times and he joins us now.
"Even if you take the appeals out, sitting in a death row cell as opposed to a regular cell costs, on average, three times more because death row involves so many more guards per inmate." — New York Times reporter Ian Urbina on the cost of capital punishment
Today is the Tibetan New Year, but the Dalai Lama has put celebrations on hold. He's called instead for a commemoration of those killed in a crackdown on demonstrators on this holiday last year. The ongoing conflict with China over autonomy for Tibet is complicating the question of who will succeed the Dalai Lama, who is 74, with the Chinese government insisting that it has the right to designate his next reincarnation. Robert Thurman, a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University and author of Why the Dalai Lama Matters joins John and Jerome with a look at how this transition is likely to unfold.
For over thirty years, Iran has been working on a nuclear reactor. They claim that the facility will be used to provide energy to the country, but the West is clearly skeptical. Today Iran conducts a virtual test of the reactor and the world is watching closely. For more, Jon Leyne of the BBC joins us from the site of the nuclear reactor.
Yesterday, President Obama welcomed Japanese prime minister Taro Aso to the White House. This meeting came hot on the heels of Secretary of State Clinton making Japan the first stop on her first official trip overseas. While Japan has been a close ally of the United States for decades, why is the Obama administration stressing the relationship now? Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist and chronicler of post-war Japan, joins us to help answer that question.
A $5 billion grant to states is helping schools develop data networks to monitor students’ progress and keep track of tests mandated under the No Child Left Behind legislation. New York City has the biggest data network in place right now. Beth Fertig, a reporter with WNYC in New York joins The Takeaway to look at how this is working in the country’s largest public school system.
What else is in the stimulus bill? Follow the dollars online and tell us how the stimulus plan is playing out in your community. We're sharing your stories online and on air, and we'll continue the investigation with your help.
ShovelWatch is a joint project of the non-profit investigative outfit ProPublica, the morning news program The Takeaway and WNYC, New York's flagship public radio station. With investigative reporting, interactive features and help from you.
President Obama will move to tackle health care next week and he is expected to touch on the subject in his address to Congress tonight. He announced Monday that he will convene a summit to discuss what some call America’s health care crisis. Our guest calls it an ethical crisis. The Takeaway talks to Arthur Caplan, Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
For more of The Takeaway's coverage of health care in this country, click here and to listen to what the experts think President Obama needs to know about health care check out our Briefing Book series.
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