How important is appearance when it comes to the ability to serve? When Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, an American Sikh, was told by the Army that he would be required to give up the beard, knee-length hair and turban that symbolize his religion, he refused. Instead, he fought for the right to serve while still wearing the symbols that honor his religious tradition. In 2009, the Army granted him a special exception. He joins The Takeaway to discuss his efforts to change the military's policy.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began at sundown on Monday night. And with it, millions of Muslims around the world began abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours, in the hopes of finding spiritual growth. But for the Muslims in Guantanamo Bay who’ve been on hunger strike since the spring and regularly face force-feedings, Ramadan is a far more complicated matter. Carol Rosenberg of The Miami Herald joins The Takeaway to discuss force-feedings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
This month, inmates in prisons around California are participating in a hunger strike. The strikers are demanding better conditions overall in the prison system. They are also revisiting the issue of solitary confinement. Los Angeles Times reporter Paige St. John has been following the story, and updates us as the hunger strike continues on.
For nearly five centuries, doctors classified nostalgia as a disease, even a form a psychosis. Recent research has shed new light on nostalgia, John Tierney, science columnist for Takeaway partner The New York Times, explains. Over the last ten years, Tierney says, scientists have found that "people who actually indulge in these wistful memories...actually end up feeling more optimistic and more inspired about the future."
Are American retailers that operate in Bangladesh doing enough to improve safety conditions at Bangladeshi factories? U.S. Senator Robert Menendez has been calling for better labor conditions and safety standards for workers in Bangladesh. Safina Rahman, the director of Lakshma Sweaters, an apparel production factory in Bangladesh's capital, responds to the senator's proposal. They join The Takeaway to take us through his plan and how it might impact the garment industry at home and abroad.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have offered large financial aid packages in a move to stabilize the uncertain interim government there in Egypt—and it sends a strong signal of influence in the region. The United States is waiting, but should it be doing more? And behind the scenes, is it doing more? P.J. Crowley, a former Department of State spokesperson, joins The Takeaway to discuss what kind of diplomacy could be happening behind closed doors. He’s currently professor at George Washington University.
The legality of waterboarding, the role of state-sponsored surveillance and the importance of whistle-blowers—those were just a few of the major questions thrown at James Comey before a Senate Judiciary Committee. Comey is President Obama's pick to lead the FBI. Former FBI Agent and Division Counsel Coleen Rowley thinks some of Comey's past positions deserve more scrutiny.
Since its inception, American Prairie Reserve has raised $60 million from well-known, ultra-rich donors in an effort to create a national park in Montana that would be about the size of the state of Connecticut, exceeding Yellowstone by a million acres. Pete Geddes is one of the managing directors of the American Prairie Reserve. He joins The Takeaway to discuss the group's efforts and how this privately-backed nature sanctuary would function.
What if a city's concrete roadways doubled as an air freshener? That's the dream of a group of Dutch scientists who have developed a product they describe as "air-purifying pavement." Jos Brouwers, Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology is part of the team of working on this technology. He tells The Takeaway how the ground we walk on could help clean the air we breath.
A leaked Pakistani government report reveals what Pakistan did and did not know about Osama Bin Laden, and provides details of Bin Laden's life on the run. Akbar Ahmed is the chair of Islamic Studies at American University and Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He joins The Takeaway to discuss the report and what it could mean on a larger scale.
Last month, the Senate passed a sweeping, bipartisan overhaul of the nation’s immigration system and passed it on to the House of Representatives. Today House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting to discuss their own bill. U.S. Representative Blake Farenthold is a Republican representing Texas’s 27th district, which is 49 percent Hispanic. Congressman Farenthold joins us to discuss the major points of this closed-door meeting.
Have we gotten a tad too lax about swearing these days? Do we swear more than we should? Or, is there something else bigger going on? Columbia University linguist John McWhorter explains why our idea of profanity is changing.
Frustrated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Obama Administration is considering a faster timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan with the option of withdrawing all troops by the end of 2014. Now, as New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg explains, after failed peace talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban, the timetable might be very different, with serious consequences for the future of Afghanistan.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has set the stage for a major political shuffle for the Lone Star State with his announcement yesterday that he will not to seek re-election next year. How does this shift the political game in Texas?What does this say about Perry’s intentions for the 2016 presidential election? Ben Philpott, a senior reporter for KUT in Austin, discusses the change and what the move means for Texas politics and the nation.
Connected to the question of what policy steps America should take next in Egypt is the question of what—if anything—the United States could have done differently to forestall the current turmoil in the first place. Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and professor of Middle East Policy Studies at Princeton University, joins The Takeaway to discuss the current crisis and his predictions for the future.
Following the crash landing of Asiana Flight 214 that was travelling from Seoul, South Korea to San Francisco, details are now emerging about went went wrong abroad the Boeing 777, and the errors that may have been made by the flight crew. The 11-hour journey is reported to have gone relatively smoothly as the 291 passengers traveled across the Pacific. That is until the very last few moments. The Takeaway examines what went wrong on Asiana Flight 214.
The Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge in New York City, the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state, and the Overseas Highway connecting Key West to mainland Florida are all products of the New Deal’s Public Works Administration, which went into effect 80 years ago today. The Takeaway spoke with Ed Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania and the founder and co-chair of Building America’s Future.
In New York, a once-disgraced politician is trying to be the next comeback kid. Last night, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced his candidacy for New York City Comptroller. Governor Spitzer discussed his candidacy on our co-producer WNYC's program, The Brian Lehrer Show, earlier today. Brian Lehrer joins us to discuss these candidates looking for a comeback.
In Egypt, the man tasked with bringing a semblance of stability to an unstable situation is the nation's Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour. But he’s being called a mystery man and an unknown quantity. Mona El-Naggar is a documentary filmmaker, journalist and former Cairo reporter for our partner The New York Times. She recently helped profile Mansour for the Times and fills us in on who he is and what he might be able to do.
The Public Works Administrations was the driving force of America’s biggest construction effort to that date. 80 years later, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the United States a D+ grade on infrastructure and 1 in 9 bridges are structurally deficient. Ed Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania and the founder and co-chair of Building America’s Future, which advocates for infrastructure spending. He believes that the United States has delayed investing in infrastructure long enough.