John Allen Muhammad, the "D.C. Sniper," is scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight in Virginia. In October 2002, Muhammad and a then-teenaged accomplice terrorized the Washington D.C. area with a series of shootings. Cheryll Witz's father, Jerry Taylor, was killed by the snipers in March 2002. She will attend the execution tonight, and says a confession by one of the killers helped her get closure. We'll put the search for closure to Dr. Sindey Weissman, a psychiatrist and professor of psychology at Northwestern University.
Today in Stockholm, the Nobel prize committee announced that Romanian-born German poet Herta Muller has won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. Muller is the author of such books as "The Land of Green Plums" and "The Appointment: A Novel." We speak to Patrik Henry Bass, books editor for Essence magazine, about why American authors so rarely win what is arguably the literary world's most coveted prize.
At the beginning of his presidency, Bill Clinton spent hours in private, secret interviews with close friend and Pulitzer prize–winning journalist Taylor Branch. They talked about Monca Lewinsky and the Oklahoma City bombings; they dished about world leaders and soon-to-be president George W. Bush. Now, after years, Branch has amassed his own musings about the talks into a more than 700-page tome. We ask him about his book, "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With the President."
Neil Sheehan, the Pulitzer prize–winning author of "A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam," one of the best documentations of the Vietnam War, has written a new account of the cold war. In "A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon," Sheehan says the decades-long tension between the Soviet Union and the United States was not as glacially still as most people imagine. He says the quiet conflict between the two nations had a fiery heat that most likely would have led to nuclear disaster if it were not for Bernard Schriever, an Air Force general responsible for the creation of the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile system.
At the end of last month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan formally announced his plan to spend $3.5 billion dollars to radically change the nation’s worst-performing schools. As part of our look at back-to-school challenges, we talk to someone who is reimagining American education. Steve Barr is the founder of California-based Green Dot Public Schools, which has developed a reputation for making radical changes in large public schools in Southern California with lightning speed.
Steve Barr and Green Dot Public Schools took over ownership of Locke Senior High School in Los Angeles and changed it radically.
"We made the school safe, we pushed the gangs off the campus who used to own the campus to one block off. We found out, like we have in most neighborhoods that we serve, gang members don't want their kids to be gang members so they want the schools to work." —Steve Barr, is the founder of California-based Green Dot Public Schools about radically changing Locke Senior High School
Getting a little positive reinforcement from the watchful eye of a good teacher can make a big difference in the educational life of a young child, especially for a kid that’s struggling in school. Now a new study published in the journal Science, shows that encouraging young black children to write about their own value systems can make a big and lasting effect on their future success. Oh my, Oprah had it right! But, according to this study, that finding only holds true for minority students, not white students. Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, a co-principle investigator in the two-year study and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Columbia University joins the The Takeaway to talk about her study.
For the unemployed, The Takeaway continues to discuss how to dust yourself off and get back on your feet. With more than half a million jobs lost in the U.S. last month alone, those who've been laid off may be confused as to what benefits are available to them. Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project talks to The Takeaway about exactly how to get the most out of unemployment benefits.
"You have to swallow your pride a little bit and be willing to work as hard as you did to get help as you did at your job."
— Andrew Stettner of the National Employment Law Project on coping with job loss
General Motors Corp. sent the stock market lurching downward yesterday after its annual report expressed doubts about corporate viability. Could The Big Three go bankrupt? Critics such as The Truth About Cars blogger Robert Farago wonder if bailouts can save U.S. carmakers.
"The company has squandered all its financial resources. Every last dollar. It's gone, it's dead, it has to go." — Blogger Robert Farago on the state of General Motors
Today, California’s Supreme Court takes up the issue of whether Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that effectively banned gay marriage in that state, is legal or not. The hotly-contested proposition passed last year and heads to the court today over questions of constitutionality. The courthouse should be a spectacle as protesters on both sides of the issue rally and even Ken Starr is expected to make an appearance. To tell us more about the gay marriage debate in California and across the country, Kenji Yoshino of New York University Law School joins us.
For a comedic take on the gay marriage battle in California, here's "Prop. 8 The Musical":
When most lawyers debate the death penalty, they do it in a court room. Robert Blecker may be the only lawyer who goes into prisons and debates the death penalty with the residents of death row. As one of the few academics who makes a passionate argument in favor of capitol punishment, he’s spent the last 20 years speaking to those who face the ultimate punishment — and recording his visits on videotape. His relationship with one of those inmates, Daryl Holton, who admitted to killing his four children in 1997, is the subject of a new documentary, Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead. It just opened here in New York.
After the dissolution of Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and numerous other investment banks, the Bernie Madoff scandal, and the global economic fallout of the sub-prime mortgages, business schools are finding themselves in a pickle. What do you teach about business when the future of business is up for debate? In response, business schools are adopting a new curriculum to deal with a new kind of student in the post sub-prime world. Chris McKenna, the MBA program director at the Said Business School at Oxford University, joins The Takeaway.
Will independent film studios breathe their final breath, only to be saved by culture vultures downloading lesser known films online? Will this be the year SAG members strike, only to watch their prime time acting roles make way for less scripted television programming? It's a pivotal year in the world of Hollywood and Sharon Waxman joins John and Adaora to discuss the future of "the business".
"These are really big changes that are just the beginning of the kinds of transformational changes we're going to see."
— Sharon Waxman on the entertainment industry
No matter how you've been celebrating the holiday season, you're likely to find yourself with some free time over the next week. What should you do with all that time off? The Takeaway talks to Allison Williams from Time Out New York. She'll tell you what to look forward to and what to avoid.
During the holidays, weather problems have stranded passengers throughout the nation. But what does future travel have in store for passengers? To tell us about what 2009 may bring is Barbara Peterson, the senior aviation correspondent for Conde Nast Traveller.
Scientists have long suspected that poverty affects children’s brains. In recent years they’ve begun to use sophisticated imaging tools and other methods to understand exactly how the process works. Professor Martha Farah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, has just written an article for a scientific journal reviewing recent research on poverty and brain development.
"If you put it in terms of a public health issue, these adverse environments that kids are growing up in are really having a physical impact on their bodies and minds." — Martha Farah on new research in neuroscience
California’s Proposition Eight, which bans gay marriage, has brought to light a conservative streak among African Americans. Around seventy percent of black voters in California say they voted in favor of the ban. New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow joins The Takeaway to share his insight into why blacks voted yes on Prop Eight.
Call the office door etchers — President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet is starting to take shape. Actions of Democratic officials continue to suggest that presidential nomination rival Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is the top choice for the highest Cabinet position, secretary of state — though we don't expect to know for at least a few days. With urgency in tackling a struggling economy, the economic players could be named sooner. We're expecting Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2003 and central player in the Wall Street bailout, to be named as Treasury secretary.
"Obama is not really interested in taking risks right now -- the economy is too precarious. He's reaching out to people who are known performers."
--Jodi Kantor, speaking about President-elect Obama's transition team
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