Vladimir Putin has been called the accidental president. Putin, Russia's current prime minister, is in the midst of campaigning for his third presidential term, but his name was hardly known until 1999, when then-President Boris Yeltsin plucked the former KGB officer from obscurity and thrust him into the Russian spotlight. Russian voters will decide Putin's presidential fate at the polls this weekend, and a new book by journalist Masha Gessen exposes the secrets behind the meteoric rise of the man who has changed the course of Russian history. Gessen chronicles Putin's story through the story of modern Russia, exploring the leader's complicated relationship with the United States and with Russian business and media.
Leymah Gbowee, a speaker at TED2012, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her pivotal role with Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, the women's peace movement that, in 2003, helped end the four-year-long Second Liberian Civil War. She shared the award with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president of Liberia. In the wake of the controversy around Sirleaf's reelection, Gbowee was asked by the president to start a "national peace and reconciliation initiative" to address the growing political and ideological tensions within the country.
As Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad continue to bomb opposition strongholds, the international community considers its options. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before Congress against President Assad making an argument that Assad would "fit into that category" of "war criminals." A meeting at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday also signaled renewed diplomatic efforts in Syria, but exactly how the international community might intervene remains to be seen.
In the past couple years, the economy has become the focus of media coverage, politics and national debate. Movements like Occupy Wall Street brought issues of economic disparity and class to the center stage. But where and how does race fit into all this?
T. Boone Pickens is an unlikely environmentalist. The native Oklahoman made his fortune in the oil business, and then, in 2008, shifted his focus to America's energy future. The result is the Pickens Plan, an energy policy to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil through alternative energy and natural gas. Pickens will detail his plan at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California, this week, where John Hockenberry is also speaking.
After nine long years in Iraq and an ongoing, tenuous drawdown in Afghanistan, few politicians on either side of the aisle want to get involved in another war. These days, many inside and outside of the Beltway feel that the best way to deal with international conflicts is merely to provide the "seed money": given enough time and arms, the Syrians can oust Bashar al-Assad on their own; Israel can stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The Republican presidential candidates prepare for primary battles in Michigan and Arizona, two states hit particularly hard by the economic crisis. Mitt Romney won the support of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, but will his popularity in Arizona help him rise in the Michigan polls? In economic news, the German parliament prepares for a vote on the Greek bailout package, and while gasoline prices rise, consumers may not be too concerned.
The Oscar-nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad recounts the 2007 killings of two Reuters reporters by US attack helicopters, footage of which was released by WikiLeaks in 2010. Director Jim Spione [spee-OWN] joins The Takeaway to discuss his film.
In 2009, filmmaker Danfung Dennis was embedded with U.S. Marines "Echo Company" as the marines launched a major offensive on the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province in Afghanistan. Danfung worked closely with Sergeant Nathan Harris, one of the Marines leading the charge. When Danfung returned to U.S. a few months later, he discovered that Sergeant. Harris had been gravely injured, just two weeks before his battalion was scheduled to return home. The story of Sergeant Harris’s recovery is now the focus of Danfung Dennis’s newest documentary, "Hell and Back Again."
In 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving were arrested in their own home, in the middle of the night, for the crime of miscegenation. When the Supreme Court declared miscegenation laws illegal in 1967, 16 states still had such laws on the books. A new poll released this week by the Pew Research Center shows just how far we’ve come in the five decades since the Lovings’ arrest. 15 percent of new marriages in 2010 crossed racial or ethnic lines, double the rate from 1980. And a great majority of Americans say they would readily accept an interracial marriage in their family.
Historian Robert Kagan holds the distinction of influencing both Mitt Romney and President Obama's political discourse. A foreign policy adviser to the Romney campaign, Kagan's ideas were also evident in President Obama’s state of the union address, which disputes the claim that America is in decline.
Since its founding, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has grappled with how to balance personal liberty and national security. The bureau grew exponentially in the years following World War I, as the country became increasingly terrified by the communist threat. The fear of communism often served as a guide for J. Edgar Hoover, the man who built the FBI and ran the Bureau for more than 40 years.
President Obama began his 2012 presidential campaign last month with a stop at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he addressed young, swing-state voters about the need for affordable higher education in the coming decades. The question that remains is how can public universities keep tuition costs down in a depressed economy. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology might have an answer. This spring, MIT announced the launch of MITx, an online learning platform that offers MIT classes for free.
Many modern political dynasties are built on "like father, like son." However, Mitt Romney's cautious presidential bid in many ways highlights how he's different from his old man. In 1967, former Michigan Governor George Romney candidly revealed that he had changed his stance on the Vietnam War with the remark, "When I came back from Vietnam, I had just about the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get." Most pundits agree that this remark effectively ended George Romney's 1968 presidential campaign.
After Ben-Ali fled Tunisia, and Mubarak ran from Egypt, the Libyan revolution began in Benghazi and then traveled east, to Tripoli. After an intense civil war bolstered by international support, Moammar Gadhafi’s 40-year reign finally ended last October in his hometown of Sirte. As Libyans celebrate the anniversary of their revolution, the state of their government is still in flux, and the role of women in Libyan civic life is particularly uncertain.
President Obama had some harsh words for Chinese authorities during his state of the union address last January: "I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules," he said. "We've brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last Administration, and it’s made a difference." The tough talk continued while President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping yesterday.
Despite China and Russia's staunch opposition, the Arab League will return to the United Nations Monday morning to propose a peacekeeping mission in Syria. But the Arab League isn’t the only organization calling for Assad’s ouster: number of jihadi leaders are also offering support to the Syrian opposition, including Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahri. Al Qaeda in Iraq, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq, also posted a message of encouragement on its website.
One of the music industry’s brightest stars was missing as the country’s top recording artists gathered at last night’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. The tragic death of pop powerhouse Whitney Houston on Saturday, at the age of 48, shocked the music industry and the world. Houston brought gospel tones to mainstream R&B. Her vibrant voice and unparalleled range made her a mainstay of pop superstardom throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
February is Black History Month, and comedian Baratunde Thurston wants you to know that it's the perfect time to buy his new book, "How to Be Black." "The odds are high that you acquired this book during the nationally sanctioned season for purchasing black cultural objects, also known as Black History Month," he writes. "If you're like most people, you buy one piece of black culture per year during this month, and I'm banking on this book jumping out at you from the bookshelf or screen." Baratunde Thurston joins Celeste Headlee to discuss his new book: part-memoir, part-satire, part-political commentary.
As famous for its commercials as the big game itself, this year the Super Bowl premiered an ad starring New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Tom Menino. The thirty-second spot promoted Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition group of 600 mayors organized to promote urban safety by preventing the flow of illegal weapons into cities across the United States. While the ad may have seemed out of place alongside ads for cars, websites, and beers, the message it promoted was, in many ways, as uncontroversial as the aforementioned products.