Streams

Todd Zwillich

Washington Correspondent, The Takeaway

Todd Zwillich appears in the following:

Don't you dare bring that lunar dust into my house young man!

Friday, April 24, 2009

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.

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Bolivian president makes a play for international intrigue

Friday, April 24, 2009

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.

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Banks prepare for the results of government "stress tests"

Friday, April 24, 2009

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.

For more, read Eric Dash's article, U.S. to Tell Big Banks the Results of Stress Test, in today's New York Times.

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Nothing like a Saturday election in Iceland

Friday, April 24, 2009

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:

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Cap and Trade

Friday, April 24, 2009

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.

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State Department critical of Pakistani response to Taliban

Friday, April 24, 2009

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.

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Taliban militants take control of more of Pakistan

Thursday, April 23, 2009

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.

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The tax man takes Capitol Hill

Thursday, April 16, 2009

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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North Korea withdraws from nuclear talks. Again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

To protest the United Nation Security Council's condemnation of its missile, er...satellite launch, North Korea has withdrawn from six-party talks over the nation's use of nuclear power. Pyongyang has also vowed to start up the nuclear weapons program, er...power plant, it was supposed to be dismantling. We turn now to the BBC's Jonathan Marcus for an overview of of North Korea's actions and the international response.

For more of The Takeaway's coverage of North Korea, click here.

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Debtors' Prison: It lives in the 21st Century

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today we’re kicking off our series, “The Color of Money,” in an effort to examine how the economic downturn is affecting minorities. We’re starting the conversation with a look at modern day debtors’ prison—a 19th century relic that is alive and well in parts of 21st century America. While imprisonment for debt was officially abolished in the 1800s, for Edwina Nowlin, it is a harsh reality. Her teenage son was kept in prison until she could come up with the funds to pay the court-ordered $104/month fee. When she couldn't pay, she was sent to jail for 30 days. It took a lawsuit by the ACLU of Michigan to get her out.

With unemployment rates higher among African Americans and Hispanics, and the median income about $20,000 lower than it is for whites, these groups run a greater risk of falling into debt and bearing the consequences. Joining us to talk about these penalties and the rise of debtors' prisons is Stephen Bright. He’s the president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights. He also teaches at Yale and Georgetown Law School .

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Amazon gets hit over gay-themed books

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A strange thing happened yesterday on web megastore Amazon.com: all the gay-themed literature was suddenly recategorized as "adults only" and was removed from the all-important Amazon rankings. When the blogosphere and the twitterers noticed, the debated over Amazon's actions erupted online. Twitter went crazy. The hashtag #amazonfail quickly rose through the Twitter ranks as a top topic.

The company claims it was only trying to limit access to adult material, and that gay literature was inadvertently swept up in the category changes. So is Amazon anti-gay? Or just clumsy? It's not completely clear what happened, rumors of hacks and customer hate-based tagging abound, but the company is not helping clear the air over exactly what happened although they did apologize for being "ham-fisted".

Baratunde Thurston, better known by some as @baratunde, joins The Takeaway with his thoughts on what happened on Amazon.com.

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The rules of engagement for snipers

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When President Obama gave the order to rescue Captain Richard Phillips who was being held hostage on a lifeboat after bandits seized his boat, the Maersk Alabama, U.S. military snipers jumped into action. Moments later Captain Phillips was freed. But even when there is a standing order to shoot when the right opportunity arises, there are still a lot of decisions that have to be made. For example, what exactly the phrase “right opportunity” means. Our next guests know the challenges of making split second decisions in very special operations. The Takeaway is joined by Bryan Adams, a former Army Sniper, and William Dennis Brown Jr., a former Navy Seal.

For more of The Takeaway's coverage of the Somalian pirates, click here.

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Positive bank reports offer new hope for economy

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

As the nation awaits President Obama's speech on the state of the economy, some of the country's largest banks are reporting positive earnings. Both Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs reported even larger than expected first-quarter returns. Is this the hope we've been waiting for as we wait results from the other "too big to fail banks" this week? And what does it mean to be profitable when you owe the nation a multi-billion dollar debt? For some perspective on what this means for the state of banking and the public's perception of banks, The Takeaway is joined by James Surowiecki who writes The Balance Sheet blog and is a business columnist for The New Yorker.
"It's profitability with an asterisk. The one thing to remember is, every dollar these banks earn right now is, for the most part, a dollar that we're not going to have to put into them if we, say, were to take them over."
—The New Yorker's James Surowiecki on banks reporting positive earnings

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Hackers play around with the next generation of technology

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Hacker Spaces" are physical spaces for ordinary people to play with electronics. But they're also helping to create the technology we'll see in our households years from now. Takeaway producer Jim Colgan checked in on a “hacker space” in Brooklyn called NYC Resistor, where they were testing a homemade 3D printer that can be mass produced.

Plus: Click here for a Producer's Note from Jim.

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Underhill, Vermont awaits return of hometown hero Captain Phillips

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

After the five-day standoff with Somali pirates ended at dusk on Sunday, and the ship’s captain Richard Phillips was released, the nation breathed a sigh of relief. But that relief was felt with even more fervor in the town of Underhill, Vermont where Captain Phillips lives with his wife and children. Steve Zind, editor and reporter for Vermont Public Radio spoke with residents who felt like they knew Captain Phillips, even if they had never met him. He joins The Takeaway to talk about community reactions to the captain’s capture and release.

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North Africa and peace in the Middle East

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Former Maine Senator George Mitchell was appointed by President Obama to serve as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace in January. Since then he’s visited Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Filling his dance card with the rest of the Arab world, he’s now traveling in the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. But the role of these countries in the Middle East peace process is not well known. I. William Zartman, Professor Emeritus at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, joins The Takeaway with some history and an analysis.

Fore more information on George Mitchell's upcoming visit to the Middle East, watch the video below.

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Ken Salazar: Sheriff of the Wild West

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ken Salazar always wore his signature Stetson hat, but the sheriff's badge is new. When he was handed the reins of President Obama's Interior Department, he discovered that the department had been operating like a frontier town with oil and gas leases sparking a modern-day gold rush, rather than a law-abiding governmental body. So Salazar pinned on the badge and is going about reinstating law and order. In Rolling Stone, Contributing Editor Tim Dickinson paints a portrait of the Interior Department under President Bush as an environment of "cronyism", "corruption", and "pervasive scandals" that will have a lasting effect on the environment and America's pocketbook. He joins The Takeaway to talk Wild West politics, the legacy of the Bush Interior Department, and whether Salazar looks good in a sheriff's badge.

An excerpt of Tim Dickinson's article, Obama's sheriff is available on Rolling Stone's website.

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Viva la family visit: Obama lifts some restrictions on Cuba travel

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

President Obama has lifted restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans who wish to visit family or send money to their kin in Cuba. The Takeaway talks to Michael Voss, BBC correspondent in Havana and Joshua Johnson a reporter and anchor with WLRN, Miami Herald News, who has been covering the story from South Florida.
"This is a policy that was installed by Kennedy in the '60s, lifted the travel restrictions by Carter in the '70s, reinstalled by Reagan in the '80s, modified by Clinton '90s and tightened by George W. Bush in 2000. So depending on when you came up, your view is going to be different."
—Joshua Johnson of WLRN Miami Herald News on travel restrictions to Cuba

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Turmoil grows in Thailand

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Bangkok, anti-government protests have turned violent. Supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are calling for the removal of the current ruler, Abhisit Vejjajiva, who took office four months ago. Thai soldiers dispensed tear gas and fired shots at the protesters, who responded with throwing gasoline bombs. Around 70 people are injured, but there are no reported deaths. For more we turn to Seth Mydans, the Southeast Asia correspondent for the New York Times.

For footage of the violent protests, watch the video below.

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A closer look at school governance under mayoral control

Monday, April 13, 2009

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently advocated in favor of mayoral control of big-city schools. It is a system that is already in cities such as New York, Boston, and Chicago and Los Angeles, Dallas, and Newark are considering making the move. Is this growing trend good for the students? So far test results show that students aren't necessarily doing better in schools run by mayors. Here to help us take a closer look at the pros and cons of school governance is Joseph Viteritti, professor at Hunter College and editor of When Mayors Take Charge.

Listen to Educator-in-Chief Arne Duncan's interview on The Takeaway.

Who runs your school system? Tell us here!

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