The public option and the abortion-funding 'Stupak Amendment' have been hotly debated as health care reform grinds on, but another issue has been bubbling beneath the surface ever since Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) loosed his now infamous outburst, "You lie!", during President Obama's speech to Congress in September: the question of how – and whether – illegal immigrants will be covered under the various proposals for health care reform. The House and Senate bills offer different answers to that question, and some wonder if illegal immigration will become the next battleground on which the debate over health care reform is waged. We're joined by Ignacio Lopez, a 23-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico. He suffers from kidney failure, but the hospital where he used to receive dialysis closed its outpatient clinic because there were simply too many illegal immigrants getting free care. Kevin Sack covered the story for our partners, The New York Times.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in New Orleans awarded approximately $750,000 to three plaintiffs who sued the Army Corps of Engineers for damages they suffered as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The ruling addresses only flooding that occurred as a result of poor maintenance of a shipping channel called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. And while $750,000 doesn’t sound like much money in the context of Hurricane Katrina, the legal consequences of this decision could be enormous: It paves the way for many thousands of residents to sue the government over Katrina, a move that may cost the U.S. government billions. We hear from Joseph Bruno, whose firm is also heading a series of suits involving many thousands of plaintiffs suing over levee breaches and insurance payments in the wake of Katrina. We also talk to Ann Parfaite, a resident of the lower 9th Ward, who lost her house in the hurricane, and is one of thousands of plaintiffs who’ve signed up with Mr. Bruno.
A government-backed physicians' group, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force, recommended this week that women delay their yearly breast exams until age 50. (Previously, 40 was the suggested age to begin screening.) The recommendation has quickly sparked a national debate. People intuitively feel that more tests are always better, but health economists and doctors practicing "evidence-based medicine" say that some screenings aren't worth doing as often: They don't actually help many patients, they expose millions to risks from radiation, and they can lead to expensive, unnecessary treatments for patients who wouldn't otherwise get sick.
Mary Elizabeth Williams is The Takeaway's culture critic and a writer for Salon.com. She's been getting mammograms for years even though she's noticeably younger than the new recommended cutoff age...but she has no plans to stop. We also talk to Michael Chernew, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. Economists like Chernew run the numbers that lead to some of these controversial suggestions. And Dr. Gerald Andriole, professor and chief of urology at Washington University in St. Louis, does prostate screenings – yet another preventive-care practice now under scrutiny for its evidence-based results.
Moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava dropped out of the race for the Congressional seat in New York's 23rd District after Republican pundits and voters flocked to the more conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava eventually endorsed the Democrat's candidate in the race, Bill Owens, who won the election last night. The odd saga raised questions about what kind of future moderates have within the GOP.
We talk to former Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), who was once the face of a now-nearly-extinct group: moderate Republicans in the Northeast. He was in office from 1987 until his defeat in 2009, and is now on the board of directors of the CIT Group and co-chair of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Click through for a full interview transcript.)
Yesterday, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment vehicle of billionaire Warren Buffett, announced it is buying up the remaining shares of railroad company Burlington Northern. It's a big bet on American rail, and a big bet on the American economy. It's also a telling sign of Buffett's belief that Americans aren't quite ready to go green, since almost half of Burlington Northern's cargo last year was coal. We speak to Phillip Longman, senior research fellow at the New America Foundation and author of “The Next Progressive Era: A Blueprint for Broad Prosperity.” Also with us is T.J. Stiles, author of “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.”
Iraqis are grappling with the aftermath of a pair of devastating suicide bombs that struck the heart of Baghdad on Sunday, killing more than 150 people. Rod Nordland, New York Times correspondent in Baghdad, tells us the latest.
Even before the era of Alexander the Great, winter weather has posed severe challenges for anyone fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now American soldiers are entering their ninth winter in the region. Major General Rashid Qureshi, former spokesman for the Pakistani military and for President Musharraf, says the Pakistani military is hoping to reclaim South Waziristan from militants before the harsh conditions set in. Captain Jared Wilson fought in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and he tells us about the challenges of winter from a U.S serviceman's point of view.
"What the winter months did is it limited our ability to patrol certain regions based on soil conditions and vehicles and we had to be able to get out and dismount into those areas and sometimes the snow would limit that process. But that's an impact on the enemy in the area as well."
—Capt. Jared Wilson, who fought in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, on how the U.S. military gets on during winter months
All this week, we mark the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan with a series of conversations. We revisit the attack that killed eight American soldiers from Colorado Springs' Fort Carson over the weekend. To get some perspective on the attack and on broader military strategy, we hear from Major T.G. Taylor, who is with the International Security Assistance Force in Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, where the attack took place.
After nearly 30 years of stony diplomatic silence, Iran and the U.S. sat down together at a negotiating table early today. Six countries are attending the meetings in Geneva to talk to Iranian representatives about the country's nuclear program. U.S. representatives are sharing the table with Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, but reports yesterday evening suggest the U.S. could meet one-on-one with Iran. We preview the talks and look at the pros and cons of imposing more sanctions.
We speak with John Limbert, author of "Negotiating With Iran: Wrestling the Ghosts of History." He was an American diplomat in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution, and was held hostage for over a year during that time. We also speak to George Lopez, a sanctions expert and senior fellow at the University of Notre Dame; and Mark Landler, diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times.
Earlier this week we talked about what happens when you bring Wikipedia's crowd-sourcing approach to organizing information into the kitchen. We asked you to take a simple recipe and make it special. And from a humble, two slices of bread, two slices of cheese beginning, you've constructed an appealing sweet and salty sandwich that layers new flavors on an a traditional favorite. Without further ado, here it is: the Takeaway's User-Generated Sweet and Salty Grilled Cheese. Try it out and let us know what you think.
Earlier this week, President Obama’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission may have picked his first big fight. And it wasn’t over a Janet Jackson-eque nipple-slip or a fleeting expletive: It was over your cell phone. We talk with Tim Wu, professor of law at Columbia University and co-author of the book "Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World." We also speak to freelance tech journalist Eric Krangel.
Now that the FCC may change how cell phone providers offer service, we're looking for your cell phone horror stories. When have you been frustrated with your phone plan? Leave a comment or call 1-877-8-MY-TAKE.
New York Times food writer Kim Severson tells us about a series of food sites that apply the wikipedia approach to recipes. Wikia, Foodista and others allow anyone to post and edit all sorts of recipes, from cold curried crab soup to chicken parmesan. We also hear from Barnaby Dorfman, founder and CEO of Foodista. Call it the crowdsourcing of dinner.
We want your help with a recipe! Our dish is simple: a grilled cheese sandwich. But we want you to help us make it interesting.
Here's the initial recipe. What would you add to it, and how would you prepare it? Bonus points for outlandish ingredients! Let us know in the comments. We'll pull together your contributions and create a full listener-created recipe:
The investigation into a possible bomb plot involving three men in New York and Denver is reportedly widening to include at least a half-dozen individuals in the U.S., Pakistan and elsewhere. Meanwhile, federal counterterrorism authorities have alerted local police around the country about terrorists’ efforts to attack entertainment centers, hotels and stadiums. To discuss how best to secure a large American city like New York, and whether local and federal authorities are working together effectively, is Chris Dickey, Middle East regional editor for Newsweek and author of "Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force — The NYPD." We also speak to Lydia Khalil, a former counterterrorism analyst at the NYPD. She’s currently a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
On Fridays we talk movies; today we're joined by Newsday film critic Rafer Guzman and Spoutblog editor Karina Longworth. Anna Faris, Mr. T and others bring a classic children's book to screen this weekend in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon do comedy with "The Informant." We also look at Jennifer Aniston's new romantic comedy "Love Happens," poet John Keats falling in love in "Bright Star," and Juno writer Diablo Cody's attempt at "feminist horror" with "Jennifer's Body."
Watch the trailer for "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" below and click through for more:
Tonight, the president will appear before a joint session of Congress—perhaps the grandest setting for such an event—and deliver a speech on the need for health care reform. Among those watching will be Congressmen and Senators, but far beyond the halls of Congress, he will also be addressing Brad Bynum in Oklahoma and Faith Dow in California. As Americans who are still unconvinced on health care reform, they are who President Obama really needs to convince in his speech.
We also talk to New York Times White House correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg about what might be in the president's speech tonight.
After four years of delay, next Tuesday will see the release of the book "The Lost Symbol," writer Dan Brown's much anticipated follow-up to the "Da Vinci Code." The novel will continue the main story of character Robert Langdon and once again he'll be solving a mystery steeped in art and history this time [SPOILER ALERT!] in Washington, D.C. We speak to Motoko Rich, who covers publishing for our partner the New York Times, about how the release of this book is being seen as a make-or-break moment for the publishing industry during an economic recession.
You can read Motoko Rich's story, "Booksellers anticipate a big week," in the Times.
44 American servicemembers have died in Afghanistan so far in August, tying with July as the deadliest month yet for U.S. troops in that conflict. The increase in violence has reignited debate about the U.S. role in the country. We speak to some familly members of the troops stationed there about their take on sending their loved ones off to this war.
Mary Galeti is from Cleveland, Ohio. Her husband, Russell, is a first lieutenant with the Ohio National Guard. He is currently training with NATO forces in Hungary, but will be deployed to Afghanistan in January. Kim Clark is from Erie, Pennsylvania. Her son Daniel is a Marine in an artillery unit near Helmand Province in Afghanistan. And Larry Syverson is from Richmond, Virginia. His son Branden is a sergeant in the Army's 5th brigade, 2nd infantry, near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
"Quite honestly I think it’s the forgotten war… With Iraq there was this universal experience, at least, that everyone who was serving in some capacity had done Iraq. And with Afghanistan it’s just less talked about. There’s less connection."
— Mary Galeti, whose husband is training in Hungary right now ahead of his deployment to Afghanistan