When we spoke with Janie Larson a year ago, the soaring cost of oil, the rising cost of food and the months of unemployment that she had just emerged from had her going to a food bank for the first time. One year later, we check in with Janie to see how she's been weathering this economic climate.
The swine flu remains an "outbreak" not a "pandemic," but global health officials are warning that it could turn into one. The virus is now in at least 10 countries and World Health Organization has raised its pandemic threat level to Phase 5. How prepared are the states after shedding thousands of workers in their health departments? The Takeaway is joined by Dr. Paul Jarris, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
"The public health community at the state, local and federal level has been preparing for years for a pandemic. We are well-prepared. We have plans, they've been exercised, they've been drilled and right now they're being put in place across the country." —Dr. Paul E. Jarris on the nation's preparedness for a flu pandemic
In New Orleans, the city's famed Jazz & Heritage Festival is underway. And of course, most people go for the music. But there's another side to JazzFest: the food. The Takeaway is joined by Kathy Gunst, a food writer and radio producer who did some digging into Louisiana's favorite dishes, from gumbo to jambalaya to ya ka mein.
President Barack Obama marked his first 100 days in office last night with a prime-time news conference. It was the third of Obama's presidency, and the first not dominated by the recession. April Ryan, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and Julie Mason, White House Correspondent for The Washington Examiner, join The Takeaway to review the press conference.
In case you missed it, watch Obama's comments about waterboarding in the video below.
Senator Arlen Specter shocked the political scene yesterday when he announced that after 29 years as a Republican, he was switching teams. His move puts the Democrats in position to have an almost filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Today Arlen Specter was greeted with open arms by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich joins us with an update from the press conference.
Shell-shocked Republicans are still reeling after losing one of their own to the Democratic party. After years of being wooed, Sen. Arlen Specter decided it was time to cross the aisle. Senator Specter will be appearing at a press conference with President Obama and Vice President Biden in less than two hours. For more The Takeaway talks with our Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich, and Laura Vecsey, Political Reporter for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Watch Senator Specter discuss his party switch in the video below.
In the third attack in two days in Iraq, simultaneous attacks by suicide bombers targeted the most important Shiite shrine in Baghdad, killing at least 60 people and injuring close to 125 others as they gathered for Friday prayers. This bombing comes a day after nearly 80 people were killed in three separate suicide attacks in Baghdad and Baquba, which was the single deadliest day in Iraq in more than a year. Is this a sign of widespread civil unrest? Or a temporary but dramatic upsurge in violence? Joining us now is the New York Times Baghdad correspondent Stephen Lee Myers.
Recently on The Takeaway we’ve been following people’s credit card stories and following up on the calls that our listeners have made on the subject. One man’s story really caught our ear. Don Merrill, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was frustrated with just one small aspect of his credit card company—they wouldn’t stop sending those convenience checks in the mail and he wanted them to stop. But after a year of trying, he found a way to make them. He joins us now with his tale of victory.
The news is full of Detroit's woes. Chrysler is drawing up bankruptcy papers, GM is shuttering its plants for nine weeks, and just this morning Ford posted a $1.4 billion first quarter loss. Some critics blame the U.S. auto industry's current problems on the ghosts of cars past. Boring design led to weak car sales that led to the financial crisis. So how should Detroit plan for the future?
This week the arts and culture radio program Studio 360 visits Los Angeles to look at the kind of innovative ideas about car design coming out of that city. Host Kurt Andersen spoke with hot rodders, low riders, and car designers freed from the constrictions of working inside the Detroit system to see where the American car industry could be. He also took a ride in an electric car on three wheels that's straight out of The Jetsons. He joins The Takeaway with an account of what he learned about the future of cars.
It’s become a familiar story. People who pay their credit cards on time every month are seeing their interest rates go up, their monthly due dates changed without warning, and are watching all sorts of new fees pop up on their monthly statements. Well, President Obama (and Sen. Chris Dodd) is fed up with those stories. Yesterday the President met with representatives of the credit card industry at the White House and recited the many ways he would like to see their business model change.
Here at The Takeaway we've been asking our listeners to call in with their stories of credit card woes and the occasional victory. We turn now to two of our listeners to tell their story and make their suggestions on how they'd improve the credit card industry. We are also joined by The Takeaway's personal finance guru Alvin Hall for his take on the President's makeover of the credit industry.
"Congress needs to look at this and say to the credit card companies 'Listen, if you change interest rates on a customer, you need to give them some time to adjust to this.'" —Financial adviser Alvin Hall on new rules for credit card companies
For months, if not years, the plight of the newspaper industry has been well documented. We've certainly covered it on numerous occasions. Circulation is down, reporters are being laid off, papers are being merged. So why is the life of the hard boiled, gritty, grizzled and determined journalist still so intriguing? Two films out now, The State of Play and The Soloist, have newspaper reporters as the central figures. Hollywood is still depicting newspapers as heroes on screen in a year when the industry's struggles have come to a full boil. The Takeaway is joined by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott to ask if these films are suddenly an anachronism.
It gets in your shoes, in your eyes, and your mouth and your hair and don’t get me started on when it gets in your space capsule. We're talking about lunar dust and any astronaut who has been to the moon will tell you: it sticks to everything. This incredibly stickiness is a hindrance to equipment and space armor and until now no one knew why. Now as NASA says it wants to make another lunar visit a priority, the solution may be at hand. Just yesterday details of a new study by Australian scientist Brian O’Brien came out giving some new facts on moon dust.
Joining The Takeaway to help us understand the sticky situation is Miles O'Brien, longtime intergalactic reporter, joins us to tell us all about it and everything else going on in outer space.
International intrigue and Latin America have long been partners in crime. So when Bolivian security forces killed an Irish man, a Romanian, and a Hungarian in a hotel room in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in a half-hour shoot out, it sounded like it was ripped from the pages of a high-flung spy novel. Now, Bolivian President Evo Morales said that this alleged assassination attempt by foreign mercenaries could have been backed by the U.S. Government reports say that the group was linked to rightist opposition groups against Morales’ leftist regime, but they have not released the details of their report to the Irish or Hungarian governments who have been seeking answers.
Naomi Daremblum who teaches about Latin American issues at New York University joins The Takeaway to talk about the alleged assassination attempt on President Morales.
The day of reckoning is at hand for banks required to undergo government "stress tests." Today federal regulators will meet with the leaders of the nation's biggest banks to tell them how they did. Banks have until early next week to dispute the results, which will be released to the public on May 4. Eric Dash, who writes about banking for the New York Times, joins The Takeaway with a look at what the tests are likely to reveal and what the results will mean for the recovery of the economy.
Tomorrow while most of us will be sleeping in, Iceland will be holding it’s first elections since the collapse of the Independence Party-led coalition government last October. In the face of the worst financial crisis in the nation's history, the Social Democrat /Left-Green alliance is expected to win the elections, and this could be the beginning of the end of the Independence Party, which has held power in Iceland for the past 18 years. Joining The Takeaway is Bjorn Malmquist, a reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, to tell us more about what can be expected from these elections.
Bjork is still the most well-known Iceland native, and it's Friday, so enjoy:
Cap and trade, it’s not a breakfast cereal or an off-season NFL strategy. Yes even though the NFL draft starts tomorrow, but no, it is not some new football strategy or rule. So what exactly is cap and trade, and why are some Republicans predicting that it’s going to cost each household in the United States over $3,000 if this Democrat-sponsored global warming proposal gets approved?
To answer these questions, The Takeaway is joined by John Reilly, an MIT Environmental Economist. He is the man behind the curtain who actually calculated the cost of the proposed cap and trade. And he says that the GOP has misrepresented his data.
In another indication of the gathering strength of the insurgency, Taliban militants have taken control of a gateway district close to the Pakistani capital. The district of Buner, home to almost one million, is just seventy miles from Islamabad and leads to speculation that the Taliban could be making plans for a move on the city. This increases concern that the government is unprepared to fend off the strategic advances of the Taliban. Now, U.S. officials are questioning the government's willingness to take on the insurgents. Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have warned of the consequences, Secretary Clinton went so far as to call it an "existential threat". So is Pakistan fighting for its very existence?
To help us understand the Pakistani point of view of the Taliban insurgency and the government's reaction, we turn to Ambassador Munir Akram. Ambassador Akram was Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations from 2002-2008.
**UPDATE: Pakistani officials and international press outlets are reporting that Taliban militants have begun withdrawing from the Buner district.**
"Pakistan can do without American aid. This is my honest opinion. Whatever money is committed, half the aid comes back to the donors." —Ambassador Munir Akram on U.S. involvement in Pakistan
Watch Secretary of State Clinton's comments on the situation in Pakistan below.
In another indication of the gathering strength of the insurgency, Taliban militants have taken control of a district close to the Pakistani capital. The district of Buner, home to almost one million, is just seventy miles from Islamabad and leads to speculation that the Taliban could be making plans for a move on the city. This increases concern that the government is unprepared to fend off the strategic advances of the Taliban. The bold move comes ten days after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari agreed that strict Islamic law, or Shariah, would be the law of the land in the Swat region of Pakistan, as part of a deal to appease the Taliban. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provocatively said she was concerned that Pakistan’s government was making too many concessions to the Taliban and emboldening the militants. For more on this story we turn to the BBC's Jonathan Marcus.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden released their 2008 tax returns last night. President Obama paid $855,323 in federal taxes on a combined household income of $2,656,902. In a press conference yesterday, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained President Obama's hefty return as being due to his book royalties. More surprising perhaps is that Joe Biden appears to be the poorest Senator. Biden's tax return showed only $269,256 and paid $46,952 in federally taxes. Our man on Capitol Hill, Todd Zwillich, joins us with a look at the bounty of public disclosures yesterday.
Our partners The New York Times have all 67-pages of the Obamas' tax return. Click here.
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