In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that churches and religious organizations are exempt from employee discrimination laws when hiring or firing their own employees and leaders. Many are heralding this decision as key in reinforcing the separation between church and state, while others worry that this will allow these organizations far too much power. The initial complaint that motivated Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stemmed from a teacher at an elementary school who felt she was being fired for pursuing a disability claim.
Thursday marks the two-year anniversary of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake. The 7.0 magnitude quake devastated the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and Haiti’s government estimates the death toll was more than 316,000 people. An international outpouring of support followed, with NGOs, human rights organizations, and the first mass text-based fundraising campaign bolstering the island nation. A little less than a year after the earthquake, an outbreak of cholera further devastated the country and set back relief efforts. So what has and hasn't been accomplished in the time since?
Sunday night marked the season finale of TLC's "All-American Muslim." The show followed five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Michigan, and drew a lot of attention when retail chain Lowe’s decided to pull commercials from the program. Both the boycott and the show itself prompted a larger conversation about the portrayal of Muslims in the media, as well as many Americans' private prejudices.
On Friday, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear Bluman v. the Federal Election Commission. This case specifically challenges the Federal Election Campaign Act, which "prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly." The law is broad enough to disallow those lawfully living in the U.S. from distributing re-election materials. Using a First Amendment challenge, the case raises questions about the rights and opinions of non-citizens who lawfully reside here.
2011 was a year in flux. The Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, the ongoing financial crisis, the turmoil in the European Union brought the world to the brink of major changes. The old rules no longer apply, and the world finds itself in a period of extended transition. Heading into the new year, the question on everyone's mind is, "What comes next?"
Many people made New Year’s resolutions this weekend, but four out of five will break their resolution, and a third of them will forget their intent entirely by February. While the reasons for not carrying out a resolution are diverse, one proven strategy to successfully following through is having a friend or loved one make resolutions for you.
Amit Gupta first appeared on The Takeaway in October, three weeks after being diagnosed with leukemia, to discuss his experiences trying to find a bone marrow donor. Amit is of South Indian descent, and South Indians are severely under-represented in the donor pool. His friend Seth Godin, who writes for the popular blog SethGodin.com, offered $10,000 to the first person to be a donor match with Amit.
Along with "supreme leader" and "our Father," Kim Jong-Il was also known as "Dear Leader." And certainly, there were few tyrants that satirists dearly loved lampooning more than the self-loving, eccentric late dictator. From "co-starring" as the singing antagonist in "Team America: World Police" to being portrayed as a wife-abducting weatherman on "30 Rock," Kim Jong-il's legacy is in large part an absurd one. Celeste Headlee remembers one of the world's most eccentric evil dictators.
A devastating tornado struck Joplin, Missouri, on May 22 of this year. One hundred sixty people were killed, and nearly a thousand were injured. According to the National Weather Service, as much as 75 percent of the city was damaged. Three days later, Susan Moore and Regina Jones, two Joplin public school teachers, joined The Takeaway to discuss its effects on the city's schools, which were closed for the remainder of the school year. Scott Meeker, enterprise editor of the Joplin Globe, also came on the program to discuss his efforts to reconnect people over Facebook. The Takeaway speaks to them again for an update on Joplin many months after the storm.
Stephen Spielberg's adaptation of the Michael Morpurgo novel "War Horse," the adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and Cameron Crowe's "We Bought a Zoo" are slated to be this week's newly-released, big box office winners. "The Artist," which topped many years' best lists and has only been in a handful of theaters, also opens across the country this weekend.
The government advisory board that oversees biosecurity in the U.S. is asking the scientific journals Nature and Science to censor details of recent studies on bird flu due to concerns about biological terrorism. Researchers created mutations of the A(H5N1) virus, making it transferable between mammals through the air. In 60 percent of human cases, this strain of avian flu is fatal. At present, only 350 people worldwide have died because of the flu, only because it can be contracted via direct contact with infected birds.
Activists and opposition groups have accused Syrian government forces of killing at least 160 defecting soldiers and civilians over the past three days near the city of Idlib. This surge of violence is among the bloodiest the ongoing protests have seen, and comes shortly before international observers are set to arrive to monitor President Bashar al-Assad's implementation of an Arab League peace plan.
At least 63 people were killed in Baghdad Thursday when a wave of 14 bombs exploded across the city. Over 185 people were injured. The attacks come only days after U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq and during a deepening political crisis in the government. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, threatened to abandon a U.S.-backed power-sharing agreement. The crisis was prompted by accusations that Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, had been running death squads.
Before there were tents in Zuccotti Park, before there were demonstrations, the creative minds at the Canadian magazine Adbusters had already made the name "Occupy Wall Street" — a Twitter hash tag that was creating buzz. And then they had a slogan: We are the 99 percent. Unsurprising for a group that has specialized in activism through subversive advertising, or subvertising, as they call it.
On Wednesday we heard from NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman about a recommendation by the U.S. Safety Board for a national ban on cell phone use while driving. The recommendation states that all states should ban cell phone use for drivers. We got a lot of listener response to the segment. We asked two listeners to join us on the show to talk about their reactions.
A Pew Research Center report released Wednesday shows 51 percent of all adults in the United States are now married — a record low. In 2010, a survey also conducted by Pew found that four in ten Americans thought marriage had become obsolete, but found that most people who had never married (61 percent) would like to do so someday.
In the end, the invasion of Iraq did not find any weapons of mass destruction, nor did it eradicate Al Qaida. The war did, however, topple dictator Saddam Hussein. It also cost hundreds of billions of dollars and went on for years. Now that the last U.S. troops will be quietly departing Iraq between today and the end of the year — President Obama will address soldiers at Fort Bragg Wednesday about the end of the Iraq war and the pullout of combat troops — The Takeaway looks back at the campaign that began with "shock and awe" in 2003 and will end with a "home by christmas" pullout in 2011.
The city of Detroit has begun suspending payments to some of its vendors in order to be able to cover basic services and make payroll. If the city is not able to resolve its budget crisis on its own, the state is likely to appoint an emergency manager to restructure the city and rescue it from bankruptcy. Moody's has put some of the city's municipal bonds on review for a downgrade.
Every Friday, The Takeaway looks at the weekend's new releases. Opening this weekend: slacker comedy "The Sitter" with Jonah Hill; and "New Year's Eve" starring Sarah Jessica Parker among many others. Rafer Guzman, film critic for Newsday, and Takeaway producer Kristen Meinzer, co-hosts of The Takeaway Movie Date podcast, give their recommendations on this weekend's new movies.
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