Streams

Todd Zwillich

Washington Correspondent, The Takeaway

Todd Zwillich appears in the following:

Remixing the Holidays: Sen. Orrin Hatch pens Hannukah Hit

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) might not be the first person you think of when you think of memorable holiday ditties, but you might have heard his latest magnum opus, a Hannukah song called "Eight Days of Hannukah." Sen. Hatch has been a prolific composer for years in his spare time – from Christian rock to patriotic ballads – but calls this song his "gift to the Jewish people." (He's Mormon.) He and his co-writer, Madeline Stone, join us to talk about their favorite Christmas songs, and how to write music for faiths that aren't your own.

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

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$20 Billion Debt: Gov. Threatens California Welfare Cuts

Thursday, December 24, 2009

California is facing a $20 billion dollar deficit and is asking the federal government for roughly $8 billion to help stay afloat. The governor has threatened to cut back, if not eliminate, basic social services like the state's welfare program, if not granted some financial assistance. We talk with Dan Walters, political columnist for the Sacramento Bee, about what the state needs to recover.

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Are More Doctors What the Doctor Ordered?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Teaching hospitals are pushing hard for an amendment in the health care legislation that would increase the number of medical residencies by 15,000 from the already 100,000 that already exist, financed by the federal government. More doctors sounds like a great idea to cure those long waits to make an appointment... would they work out in practice? Shannon Brownlee, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of "Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer," says in her latest column in The New York Times, that simply adding more doctors might actually do more harm than good. Dr. Moitri Savard is a family physician with a private practice in Long Island City, N.Y.; she believes the biggest problem are young doctors choosing higher paying specialist jobs instead of going into primary care.

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Takeouts: Blackberry, Pricing Partridges, Sports Gifts

Thursday, December 24, 2009

  • Tech Takeout: New York Times tech reporter Nick Bilton explains the implications of Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion having had a second major email and internet outage in recent weeks.
  • Financial Takeout: New York Times finance reporter Louise Story tells us about a price index that for more than two decades has been charting  just how much all of those items listed in The Twelve Days of Christmas would cost.
  • Sports Takeout: Sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul-Matin discusses gifts for sports lovers and the possibility of redemption for disgraced quarterback Michael Vick.

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Senate Passes Health Care Reform Bill

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In the moments as the Senate passes their version of health care reform, we check in with Jeff Young, reporter for The Hill, along with Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review.

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TV: Cutting the Cable, Watching Online

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A few stories about the future of TV caught our eye this week that we wanted to follow up on.  The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple may begin to offer TV subscriptions via the internet.  The thought of Apple competing with your cable box made us wonder if making the switch from cable or satellite TV to watching everything online. Nick Bilton and his wife Danielle recently said good riddance to their high cable bills and switched over to using their computer to watch TV.  Nick is the lead writer for the Bits Blog, for our partner The New York Times.

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The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, 30 Years Later

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today marks thirty years since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. On December 24, 1979, the Soviet 40th army was ordered to deploy in Afghanistan by then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.  Of course, today’s anniversary resonates not just with Russians and other members of the former Soviet Union, but also with Americans after the recent announcement of 30,000 extra US troops to Afghanistan.  To remind us of the events of 30 years ago, Kira Fomenko from the BBC Russian service joins us.

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How Banks Bet Against the Housing Market... and Won

Thursday, December 24, 2009

You might have heard of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and the role they played in the housing crisis, but have you heard of a 'synthetic CDO?'  Gretchen Morgensen and Louise Story report in today's New York Times, ("Banks Bundled Bad Debt, Bet Against It and Won,") on how banks used this special category of bundled debt to bet against the housing market, and win. Sometimes it meant the banks profited while their clients lost out.

Louise Story joins us to explain synthetic CDOs and the three government investigations that are already underway about the practice. The government wants to know if investment firms may have exacerbated the housing crisis as they tried to hedge their vulnerable mortage positions. We also speak with Sylvain Raynes, a structured finance consultant, to give us details on how firms used synthetic CDOs and how they pitched them to clients.

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Takeouts: Brett Favre, Listeners Sing

Thursday, December 24, 2009

  • Sports Takeout - Sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul-Matin brings us his next entry in his top ten sports stories from 2009: a humble QB named Favre.  Brett Favre.
  • Listener Takeouts - Listeners respond to a story on “whitening” names, and sing us their favorite holiday songs.

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Senate Votes on Health Care Reform Shaped by Filibuster

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Senate has voted on its version of health care reform just hours before the start of the Christmas holiday. But even after months of tense negotiating, Senate Republicans are still not pleased with the legislation. We check in with Mary Agnes Carey, senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, to get the latest before the vote.

We also look back at the road to this Senate vote, and just how much this bill has been shaped by the threat of a filibuster. Once a rare form of running down the clock and making it harder to let the majority party run the show, the filibuster is now used so frequently that some wonder whether or not the U.S. Senate is being held hostage by members who delay, delay, delay. We talked with Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian and author of "Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security - From World War II to the War on Terrorism." Former Senate Republican Whip Alan Simpson also joins us to talk about the filibuster's undeniable hold on our lawmakers.

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Despite Recession, National Crime Stats Down

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The FBI is reporting that crime fell nationally in the first six months of 2009, when compared to the same time last year. The decline happening in the midst of a terrible recession and high unemployment. With those factors, people usually expect crime to increase... So what's going on? To help answer that is New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. And while crime went down nationally it also rose someplace you might not expect it to – Seattle, WA. Jonah Spangenthal-Lee from SeattleCrime.com looks at why Seattle's crime is rising.

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Remixing the Holidays: Muzak 'Audio Architect' on Shopping Tunes

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have you ever wondered why – while you’re out holiday shopping – a dress shop might play one soundtrack of Christmas songs while a hardware store might play another? Steven Pilker, manager of Muzak’s audio architecture department, knows the answers.  For our continuing series, "Remixing the Holidays," Pilker explains what all the retail noise is about...and shares the three songs that must be on every holiday soundtrack, regardless of what the store sells.

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Pope Pius XII One Step Closer to Sainthood

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has signed a decree that shifts World War II-era Pope Pius XII one step closer to sainthood. But there are some in the Jewish community who say that Pius did little to stop the murder of some 6 million Jews by Germany's Nazi regime during his papacy, which began in 1939 and ended in 1958. Kenneth Woodward is a contributing editor for Newsweek. He covered religion for the magazine for nearly 40 years, and is the author of "Making Saints: How The Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes A Saint, Who Doesn't, And Why."

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Is The U.S. Fighting a Secret War in Yemen?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This week, al-Qaida militants made a rare appearance at an anti-government protest in Yemen, proclaiming that they were at war with the United States. This might sound like jihadi boilerplate, except that it came only days after reports of U.S. missiles struck suspected al Qaida sites in the small country on the tip of the Arabian peninsula.  Details are still murky, but if true, those strikes would mark a major escalation in the United States’ approach to Yemen.  This leads us to ask: is the U.S. fighting a secret war in Yemen?   Robert Worth, Middle East correspondent for The New York Times, helps us answer that question.  Gregory Johnsen also joins us; he's a Yemen expert at Princeton University

 

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Food: Understanding the Jewish Love Affair with Chinese Food

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's behind the unique relationship that Jewish people have with Chinese food? Jennifer 8 Lee, author of "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food," says there's an long cultural history involving both of these immigrant groups, including similar immigration patterns and non-Christian schedules.

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Fresh Opposition Protests in Iran

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There are new clashes in Iran this morning between opposition supporters and government forces in the city of Isfahan. Opposition supporters had gathered for a memorial service for the dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who died over the weekend. The cleric's death has re-ignited the opposition movement in Iran and there are more big demonstrations expected in the coming days. The BBC's Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne has been following the story and joins us from London.

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This Christmas: Personalize Gifts or Stick to "Scroogenomics?"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

With only two days until Christmas, holiday shopping has reached a fever pitch. New York Times business and finance reporter Louise Story says a new trend is sweeping holiday giving this year: customized gifts. Whether itss designing the shoes you buy for your daughter or having your old family recipes printed as a cookbook, retailers are betting that consumers will pay extra for that personalized touch. But Joel Waldfogel isn't sure. Waldfogel is the Ehrenkranz Family Professor in the Department of Business and Public Policy at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He's also the author of "Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays." Waldfogel says we should put an end to buying gifts for certain kinds of friends and family: those we don't see often or know very well. His research shows that far-flung friends and family often won't enjoy your gift as much as things they simply buy for themselves.

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Takeouts: Economic Exits, Aisle-Jumping Pol, Serena Williams

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

  • Finance Takeout: So far, the federal government and banks have done swift work disentangling public and private interests, following the massive economic rescue effort launched last year. But Newsweek columnist Dan Gross says the Fed's hardest work is just around the corner. Gross says raising interest rates and cutting ties to the housing market are tough but necessary moves to truly get back to business as usual.
  • Politics Takeout: Time Magazine's Jay Newton Small reports on Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith's defection from the Democratic party to the Republican side of the aisle. 
  • Sports Takeout: Our own Ibrahim Abdul-Matin with his second of top ten sports moments of the year: Serena Williams.

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Immigration Enforcement, Prosecutions Up Sharply

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The rate of federal prosecutions is at an all-time high, showing an increase of nine percent since last year. According to a new study by Syracuse University's TRAC project, this increase is primarily related to an increase in arrests of immigration violators. We talk with John Schwartz of The New York Times and Valeria Fernández of the Feet in 2 Worlds Program about the increase, and what it signifies for the Obama administration's stance towards immigration reform.

Read John Schwartz's article in The New York Times.

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Mexico City Legalizes Gay Marriage

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mexico City lawmakers Monday voted to legalize same-sex marriage in the capitol – a move that would also give same-sex couples the ability to adopt children. It was a stunning move in a conservative Catholic nation. Ioan Grillo is Mexico Correspondent for Time Magazine; he reports on the reaction in Mexico City and throughout the nation.

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