Streams

Todd Zwillich

Washington Correspondent, The Takeaway

Todd Zwillich appears in the following:

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To protest the United Nation Security Council's condemnation of its missile, er...satellite launch, North Korea has withdrawn from six-party talks over the nation's use of nuclear power.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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A sudden death close at the Masters

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia came to an extraordinary close yesterday with a sudden death victory by Angel Cabrera, the first Argentine in history to win the tournament. Joining The Takeaway to take a look at the exciting finish is sports blogger Ibrahim Abdul-Matin.

In case you missed Cabrera's winning shot, you can watch it below.

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Olympic committee in Chicago meets neighborhood resistance

Monday, April 13, 2009

The International Olympic committee's visit in Chicago created quite a stir, because the positive responses from the committee's members made it seem that Chicago was a viable contender for the 2016 Olympics. If the Olympics were to be in Chicago, the proposed site would be in the South Side — Bronzeville to be exact. Bronzeville is a low-income community that has fought against wide-spread gentrification and is worried that having the Olympic site in their neighborhood may encourage this. Natalie Moore, reporter with WBEZ for the South Side Bureau, joins The Takeaway to talk about neighborhood reaction to the IOC meeting. She actually grew up in Bronzeville and still lives there today.

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A showdown over student loans is the latest budget battle

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Obama administration appears to be headed for a tough battle with the private student loan industry and its supporters in Congress. The Congressional Budget Office wants to forgo subsidized loans for direct government lending, a move that the loan industry says may cost them billions. President Obama wants to end a subsidized loan program and redirect billions of dollars in bank profits to scholarships for needy students. For more on this looming battle, The Takeaway talks to David Herszenhorn from our partner The New York Times. For more on the looming budget battle, read David Herszenhorn's article, Plan to Change Student Lending Sets Up a Fight, in today's New York Times.

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The pirate's life: The romantic allure vs. the grim reality

Monday, April 13, 2009



The world breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when the captain of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama was rescued unharmed from Somali pirates who had held him hostage for five days. But though this one prominent case is over, the crews of about twelve other ships—more than two hundred people—are still being held by Somali pirates, according to the watchdog group the International Maritime Bureau. Author and broadcaster Nick Rankin made a three-part report on pirates for the BBC last year. He joins The Takeaway with a look at the menace of piracy and its hold on our imaginations. Because despite the harsh reality of armed impoverished Somalis on lifeboats, from Pirates of the Caribbean to the Dread Pirate Roberts, Captain Hook to Treasure Island, there is something about the pirate life that captures our imagination.

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This week's agenda with Marcus Mabry

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's Monday and once again we are asking New York Times International Business Editor Marcus Mabry to peer into his crystal ball and give us a clue as to the week ahead. This week his prognostications include reports from the big banks, leaks of information about the toxic asset valuation program, President Obama's trip to Mexico, and, of course, the new First Dog.

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Captain Richard Phillips freed after fire fight with Somali pirates

Monday, April 13, 2009

For five long days Richard Phillips, the captain of the American cargo ship Maersk Alabama, was held captive on a lifeboat by Somali pirates. In a dramatic rescue yesterday U.S. Navy snipers freed him. The standoff was ended, but the bigger situation is far from over. Pirates are still holding a dozen ships with more than 200 crew members from countries around the globe. Add to that the fact that some maritime experts expect the number of pirate attacks around the Horn of Africa to actually increase after this capture. For an overview of the pirates' life we are joined by New York Times reporter Scott Shane.

For more, read Scott Shane's article In Rescue of Captain, Navy Kills 3 Pirates in today's New York Times.

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