Ever feel like you missed the beginning of an important news story? Leonard will catch you up during Backstory.
During Monday's Presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked just one question about U.S. drone-strikes, despite the fact that the controversial drone program is now one of the cornerstones of the country's counter-terrorism policy. Washington Post intelligence reporter Greg Miller tells us about his investigation of a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.” He's written about it in the Washington Post's special report, the Permanent War.
Verizon Wireless recently came under fire when it was revealed the company has begun selling information about its customers—including users’ geographical locations, app usage, and web browsing activities—to third parties. Last month the ACLU released documents showing a massive increase in electronic surveillance by the government. For this week's Backstory, CNET’s Declan McCullagh gives an update on digital privacy, explaining who is pushing the boundaries of what can be done with our personal data, and what some activists are trying to do about it.
Since the mid 1990s, 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws. In some states, like California, a vast growing and dispensary system has sprung up for a drug that the federal government still considers illegal. Journalist Jim Rendon went behind the scenes with many of the people who work in what is both an illicit and quasi-legal industry. His book is called Supercharged: How Outlaws Hippies and Scientists Reinvented Marijuana.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court vacated a ruling earlier this summer that had upheld the state’s Voter ID law. On this week’s Backstory, Richard Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California Irvine School of Law, talks about how Pennsylvania is just the latest state where Voter ID laws are being challenged or struck down. And we’ll find out what that means for the election in November.
ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger looks at the early days of Bain Capital, the private equity firm that Mitt Romney ran in the early 1990s. The firm’s work in turning around Staples is well known, but Bain was also sued several times for buying companies and selling them for a profit, without paying a finder’s fee.
For more than a year we’ve known about the New York Police Department’s controversial Demographics Unit, which in conjunction with the CIA has conducted surveillance of Muslim communities in the New York metro area. This week, we learned that in its six years of existence the unit has failed to produce a single lead or generate a terrorism investigation. Associated Press reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, who were part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team that broke the story of the Demographics Unit, give us an update.
Earlier this week, the British bank Standard Chartered announced that it would pay $340 million in civil penalties to a New York State regulator to end an inquiry into whether the bank had processed $250 billion in transactions with Iran. On today’s Backstory, Thomas Easton, New York Finance and Economics Correspondent for the Economist, explains what happened at Standard Chartered, why other agencies are now investigating what happened, and what this and recent incidents tell us about bank regulation today.
Village Voice contributor Chris Parker looks at the multibillion dollar world of for-profit colleges on today’s first Backstory segment. A number of for-profit colleges have been known to charge premium rates for a questionable education. Parker's article "For-Profit Colleges Only a Con Man Could Love" appears in the August 1 issue of the Village Voice.
This year’s lobster catch from Maine to Massachusetts has been near historic highs, causing prices to drop. But you probably wouldn’t know that if you ordered the crustacean in a New York restaurant. Dave Casoni, a lobsterman in Cape Cod, talks about what he’s catching this year. He's joined by Bob Bayer, professor and director of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute.
More than half of counties in the United States have been declared disaster zones due to drought. But the United States isn’t the only country experiencing crop failures or higher food costs as a result. On today’s second Backstory, Earth Policy Institute President Lester Brown talks about water shortages in Pakistan, East Africa, and elsewhere—and how they’re affecting food supplies.
Over the last few years, Burma has been transformed from a repressive dictatorship to a developing democracy. But unlike other revolutions, this has been a top-down change. New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos talks about how Burmese citizens are responding to the rapid changes and the transition to democracy. His article, “The Burmese Spring,” appears in the August 6 issue of the magazine.
Earlier this week Iraq was rocked by a series of coordinated attacks, which killed at least 115 people across the county. The associated press called the attacks the worst the country has seen in two years. Sebastian Walker, a correspondent for Fault Lines, on Al Jazeera English, looks at the situation in Iraq since the United States withdrawal.
This week the Senate held hearings on HSBC’s failure to halt illegal foreign transactions involving Mexican drug traffickers and Middle Eastern banks with suspected ties to terrorists. Tom Easton, the New York finance and economics correspondent for The Economist, talks about why the bank was overwhelmed by compliance demands of so many different countries—and why its competitors may be as well.
Ashraf Khalil joined us in January 2011, as protesters filled Tahrir Square. On today’s Backstory, he updates us on how Egypt’s democracy has taken shape, the growing power struggle between the country’s military and its democratically elected officials, and the mixed messages of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit there earlier this week. Ashraf Khalil is the author of Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.