A little over a week remains until Oscar night. With ten best picture nominees this year, not to mention a full roster of five animated features (on top of all the other categories), there's not a lot of time to see what's on the ballot. Newsday critic and Takeaway film contributor Rafer Guzman fills us in on which movies are must-sees and which are okay to avoid.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives near Kabul's shopping center, two more blasts followed. Two of the attackers are said to be shot dead. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that they had deliberately targeted foreign aid workers. The population is concerned that if their own government can't protect the capital, how can they protect the rest of the country? Martin Patience, BBC correspondent joins us from Kabul with more.
In the nightmarish chaos that ensued after Hurricane Katrina, the city turned to police for order and protection. But on Wednesday, it became evident that trust was violently broken as some New Orleans police officers allegedly acted more like a lawless gang.
GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK: Along with our friends at The Week Magazine we’ll give you the score. Who had a good week? Who had a bad week? We found that it was good to be a typo, but a very bad week to be Cleveland, Ohio.
After long hours of spirited debate, President Obama and Congressional lawmakers failed to reach any substantive compromises on health care legislation. Republicans were clearly frustrated with the president's proposals and repeatedly suggested scrapping the legislation and starting over again. Democrats insisted that was not an option because too much progress has already been made.
There was a moment during the president's address to Congress last night when all eyes were not on President Obama. As the president called "untrue" the canard that health care reform would provide coverage to undocumented immigrants, Representative Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) broke a decades-long tradition of comity and heckled the president, shouting "You lie!" The room booed his poor manners. To find out who Joe Wilson is, we talk to Mark Quinn, host of South Carolina ETV and Radio’s Public Affairs Program, The Big Picture. And for a look at the history of congressional comity we speak with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Watch Wilson's outburst in this clip from last night's address:
All week we are reviewing the year that was — the year that marked the beginning of the financial meltdown and the recession that we continue to live through. Today we’re taking stock of how the nation’s banks are managing, one year after the government spent billions of taxpayers' dollars to bail them out. For a look at what regulations need to be in place to avoid future financial disasters, we talk with Eliot Spitzer. He was New York's attorney general before being elected governor; he first made a name for himself for keeping an eagle eye on the banking industry. We are also joined by Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University and author of the new book, Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World. (click through for the interview transcript.)
"Look, let’s be very clear. The Fed failed. Everyone says the Fed has saved us by printing trillions of dollars. The Fed is the very institution that was supposed to be monitoring this along with the Treasury Department. They utterly failed to do it."
—Former Attorney General of New York Eliot Spitzer
Knock it off, Don Juan. In Spain, the health minister has asked citizens to put a stop to the traditional greeting of kisses on both cheeks, to help prevent the spread of H1N1, or "swine flu." Some schools in the U.S. are asking students to refrain from high fives and officials from France to Lebanon and Kuwait have encouraged people to limit contact. Do we really need to swap fist bumps instead of kisses to protect ourselves from the flu? Sewell Chan, from our partner the New York Times, joins us to discuss the risks in greetings.
Amidst rising casualties, there are new questions about the commitment of NATO allies in Afghanistan. The BBC's Jonathon Marcus speaks to us about British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's offer to host a major international conference on Afghanistan, seeking to shift security responsibilities from foreign forces to Afghans. We also ask Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and now a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, whether Britain, Germany, and France are looking for an exit strategy.
"If the American people are getting to the point where we have major questions about being in Afghanistan, then the allies, with their public opinion, are going to start looking for the exit."
—Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Hunter on the possibility of NATO allies pulling out of Afghanistan
It's not definitively known whether cell phone radiation has a detrimental effect on health. While scientists try and figure it out, non-profit watchdog Environmental Working Group just released an analysis of 1,000 different cell phone models and their radiation levels. We talk with Richard Wiles, the group's spokesperson; and Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, an online publication that covers radiation issues.
If you're in the market for a new phone and concerned about radiation – though we should point out there's no firm evidence yet saying whether you should or should not be – you may want to consider Samsung, which has the phones that head the Top 10 list for lowest radiation. For more information, read the Environmental Working Group's rankings.
Yesterday, at an otherwise Apple-standard products announcement, the master of ceremonies was someone who has been out of the spotlight for months: Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs had been away from his position as the company's leader on sick leave, for what turned out to be a liver transplant. In an unusually revealing speech at Wednesday's show, Jobs spoke about his illness. We speak to Wired senior editor, Steven Levy, who was at the event.
Last night President Obama used his bully pulpit to make a very specific pitch for health care reform before a joint session of Congress... and, incidentally, the watching American public. The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, gives us the highlights. Before the speech, we spoke to some of our listeners who were unconvinced by the current state of the health care reform debate and the plans for reform promoted by Congress. Today, we check back in with Faith Dow of California, Brad Bynum in Oklahoma, and Troy Erickson from North Dakota, to see if the president won their support.
Call it Big Brother or call it being a conscientious employer, but there's a new kind of software that monitors your use of email and online messaging: how many messages you send, how often, and when. It's called Cataphora and it also looks at instant messaging, word processors, and keycard use, to find out how useful an employee you are. We talk with Cataphora's CEO, Elizabeth Charnock, along with Takeaway contributor Beth Kobliner, author of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties.
D. FENCE! D. FENCE! It's that time of year again. Pull out your hoodies and foam fingers; your beer cozies and the ability to clap in sync. It's the first day of the season for the NFL and everyone is talking quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and...Michael Vick. The best competitors at the U.S. Open continue towards the final rounds, but American teenager tennis phenom Melanie Oudin lost last night. Here to tell us what to watch out for out on the field is The Takeaway's sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul-Matin. And he's even got some gossip for those of you that don't take a liking to men in helmets and shiny pants. (Gasp!)
Yesterday friends and family gathered in New York City to say farewell to one of the nation's most beloved figures: Walter Cronkite. The TV anchor and star journalist was memorialized by an all-star cast of friends including Jimmy Buffett, who sang a song for his sailing buddy; former President Bill Clinton, who remembered a friendly gesture during a difficult time; and President Barack Obama, who stopped by before addressing a joint session of Congress. The Takeaway's guest host Lynn Sherr remembers her old friend and neighbor.
Below is President Bill Clinton's speech from the memorial service. Click through to see the eulogies from President Obama, Bob Schieffer, and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.
President Obama’s push to reform the nation's health care system is not a new fight. It has been a battle fought by just about every occupant of the Oval Office for the past 75 years. From Roosevelt to Eisenhower to LBJ and Nixon to both Clintons, universal health coverage has been a long-fought campaign. We speak to James Morone, political science professor at Brown University and co-author of The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office, about waging war in Washington.
Our Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, finds himself far outside the Beltway today. He is in Detroit after attending a townhall held last night on health care reform. While the crowd was mostly Democrats and supported President Obama, they had a lot of tough questions about health care reform.
Americans paid off $21.6 billion in credit card debt and other consumer loans in July. That is the biggest decline in consumer debt since 1943, when the Federal Reserve started keeping track. The Takeaway's business contributor, Louise Story, a finance reporter for the New York Times, says the economy will fundamentally change if Americans take on a new attitude about spending money they don’t have.