Ever feel like you missed the beginning of an important news story? Leonard will catch you up during Backstory. 

Recently in Backstory

Backstory: Judicial Elections

Thursday, October 21, 2010

State judicial elections, once relatively low interest affairs, recently have been flooded with money, often from outside groups seeking to influence judicial decisions—particularly for state Supreme Court justices. On today’s Backstory segment Adam Skaggs, counsel with the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, traces the history of judicial elections and examines what the political landscape looks like today.

Comments [7]

Backstory: Tidal Power

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Earlier this week, offshore wind farms got major financial investment from Google and Good Energies. On Backstory, we look at another way to harness the energy of the ocean: tidal power. Paul Jacobson, Ocean Energy Leader for EPRI, a non-profit electricity research company, and Michael Peterson, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine-Orono and leader of the University’s Tidal Power Initiative, join us to explain how the tides can produce electric power.

Comments [1]

Backstory: The Ex Gay Movement

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Today’s Backstory segment looks at the ex-gay movement, a collection of religious and psychological groups that espouse discredited theories about sexuality and claim to be able to "cure" homosexuality. We’ll talk with Peterson Toscano, an ex ex-gay with the group Beyond Ex-Gay, and with Dr. William Meyer, a clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at Duke University.

Comments [5]

Backstory: Hungarian Sludge Spill

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The toxic spill of red sludge from an alumina plant has finally reached the Danube River. On today’s Backstory segment, we’ll look into the messy method of producing aluminum and what can be done with all the so-called “red mud” that’s created in the process. We’ll speak with Dr. William Cary, a professor of ceramic engineering at Alfred University, Dr. Lex Van Geen, a geochemist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Gabor Figeczky, acting director of the World Wildlife Fund in Hungary.

Comments [1]

Backstory: U.S. Weapons Sales

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The United States Congress is poised to approve a major weapons sale to Saudi Arabia valued at over $60 billion, making it the largest arms sale in history. On today’s Backstory segment, William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, examines the deal, its political implications, and how the United States came to be the largest weapons dealer in the world.

Comments [4]

Backstory: Citizen's United and the Midterms

Thursday, September 02, 2010

We'll look at the impact the Citizen's United ruling has had on the 2010 midterm elections so far with Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Comments [2]

Backstory: India’s Maoist Insurgency

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An explosion of mining in India has fueled the country’s economic boom, but it has also helped fan the flames of a deadly Maoist insurgency there. On today’s Backstory segment we’ll talk with Jason Miklian, a researcher at Peace Institute Oslo, and Scott Carney, an investigative journalist and contributing editor for Wired, about their article on the insurgency called Fire in the Hole for the September/October issue of Foreign Policy magazine.

Comments [3]

Backstory: The Filibuster

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The U.S. Senate is set to tally up a record-breaking number of filibusters this term, slowing down the operation of what was already known as the “world’s most deliberative legislative body.” Brookings Institution Senior fellow and George Washington University political science professor Sarah Binder talks about the increasing use of the filibuster and it’s long-winded history. Though it's commonplace in the modern Senate, the filibuster came about because of a minor parliamentary rule change in 1806.

Comments [4]

Backstory: Grave Abuses at Arlington National Cemetery

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mark Benjamin,'s national correspondent and the reporter who first brought the abuses at Arlington National Cemetery to light, discusses how his year-long investigation culminated in both the firing of the top two officials at the cemetery as well as an ongoing Senate investigation. An Army investigation recently found gross negligence at the nation's most well-known cemetery—including over 6,000 misidentified graves, bodies interred on top of each other, and remains found in, what was assumed to be, an empty grave.

Comments [3]

Backstory: The Violence in Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The violence that broke out in Kyrgyzstan last week has killed hundreds of people and deepened mistrust of its neighbor Uzbekistan. On today’s Backstory we'll talk with Anna Neistat, senior researcher for the Emergencies Division of Human Rights Watch and with Paul Starobin, a contributor to The Atlantic and staff writer for National Journal explains what’s led to this crisis and gives us an update on the humanitarian crisis in Kyrgyzstan. He’s also the author of Five Roads to the Future: Power in the Next Global Age .



Backstory: Bhopal Sentencing

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mark Hertsgaard, a fellow at The Open Society Institute and The Nation's environment correspondent, talks about the ruling and the environmental legacy of the Bhopal catastrophe.

Comments [3]

Unusual Spill Solutions: A Nuclear Bomb

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Lots of ideas have been suggested to plug BP’s oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but none as incendiary as using a nuclear weapon. And yes, this has actually been tried before in previous petro-calamities.

Comments [8]

Backstory: Regulators, Lobbyists and the Gulf

Thursday, May 27, 2010

As the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico drags on, two reports have come out this week detailing some of the mismanagement, missteps and incentives that may have contributed to the spill.

Comments [5]

Backstory: The UK Elections

Thursday, April 29, 2010

British voters will head to polls next week to decide whether Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be replaced. On this edition of Backstory, Alex Barker, political correspondent for the Financial Times, and John Burns, London bureau chief for the New York Times, explains what the major issues have been in ...

Comments [2]

Backstory: Post Communist Hungary

Thursday, April 29, 2010

We’ll take a look at how Hungary has changed in the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union—and at the fallout from the main Hungarian center right party declaring victory in the recent parliamentary elections. We’ll be joined by Paul Hockenos, a journalist and political analyst based in ...

Comments [2]

Backstory: Post Soviet Poland

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We’ll take a look at how Poland has changed in the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union—and at the fallout from last week’s tragic plane crash—on today’s Backstory segment. We’ll be joined by Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University and a Poland expert. Mr. Snyder ...

Comments [2]

Backstory: Net Neutrality

Thursday, April 08, 2010

We’ll take a look at just what Net Neutrality is and its uncertain future in the wake of Tuesday’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the FCC lacks the authority to make broadband providers treat all Internet traffic equally. University of Michigan Law School Professor Susan Crawford ...

Comments [3]

Backstory: Post Soviet Ukraine

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We’ll talk a look at how Ukraine has changed in the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union as part of today’s Backstory segment. We’ll be joined by Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University. His article "Gogol Haunts the Ukraine" is in the ...

Comments [5]

Backstory: The Corporation as a "Person"

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission has been criticized as granting corporations the same freedom of speech as human beings. We’ll explore the history of this idea with Doug Kendal of the Constitutional Accountability Center. We’ll also be joined by Richard Briffault, ...

Comments [9]

Backstory: Terrible (and Real) Ideas from the Cold War

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cold War may have ended 20 years ago, but the constant threat of nuclear annihilation and the unlimited scientific potential of the atom led to some truly "out there" thinking, and we’re not just talking about Edward Teller’s idea to detonate an atomic bomb on the moon. The Kennedy ...

Comments [3]