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Debt, Dares, Development

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

On today’s show: We’ll look into the parallels between the student loan debt crisis and the recent housing quagmire. Then, we’ll talk to Steve-O, one of the breakout stars of MTV’s outrageous stunt collective, “Jackass.” Filmmakers Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky talk about their documentary “Battle for Brooklyn, about the fight over the Atlantic Yards development. Plus, an update on what's happening in Syria, and our latest Backstory segment.

The Burdens of Student Loan Debt

Lauren Asher, Founder of the Project on Student Debt, and journalist Malcolm Harris, discuss the parallels between the student loan debt crisis and the recent housing crisis. The price of tuition has increased 900% since 1978, making student loans necessary for most students seeking higher education. The total student debt—currently at $830 billion dollars—has exceeded credit card debt in the U.S. Yet despite the trend in growth, some believe comparisons to the housing crisis may have been blown out of proportion.

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Steve-O, Professional Idiot

Steven “Steve-O” Glover, one of the stars of MTV’s "Jackass," talks about becoming famous for his crazy stunts and developing—and overcoming—a crippling addiction to drugs and alcohol. Professional Idiot: A Memoir recounts his rise to fame through risk-taking, skateboarding, stunts, and clown college. He writes candidly about his lunacy, debauchery, and stunts on "Jackass," and how they led to an obsession with fame, drug abuse, and, eventually, an intervention.

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Battle for Brooklyn

Filmmakers Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky, talk about their documentary “Battle for Brooklyn.” It’s an intimate look at the very public and passionate fight waged by residents and business owners of Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood facing condemnation of their property to make way for Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project—16 skyscrapers and a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets. “Battle for Brooklyn” has its theatrical premiere in New York City on June 17; it opens this year’s Brooklyn Film Festival on June 3; and will screen in the Rooftop Films summer series on June 9 in Fort Greene Park.

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Backstory: Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring

As countries across the Arab World have been protesting in the streets and overthrowing decades-old regimes, Saudi Arabia has been trying to prevent the spread of unrest within its own borders. On today’s first Backstory, New York Times United Nations Bureau Chief Neil MacFarquhar explains how the Saudi royal family has spent billions of dollars to try to keep its people happy – and how well their efforts have paid off. He’s also the author of The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday.

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Backstory: Debit Card Fee Vote

The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to keep new rules on debit card fees that were a major part of the financial reform bill championed by the Obama Administration. The vote comes after months of intense lobbying from both sides. We’ll speak with Ben Hallman, staff writer for iWatch News, an online publication of the Center for Public Integrity.

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Atlantic Yards and the Battle for Brooklyn

On today’s show, Leonard spoke to Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, the co-directors of the new documentary, "Battle for Brooklyn," which explores the opposition to the Atlantic Yards project. As the film details, despite the original announcement that framed the project as a done deal, the entire process has been endlessly complicated, and eight years later construction has only just begun. The Lopate Show and WNYC have been following the story over the years, and if you want to catch up on the some of the back story or just hear different perspectives on the topic, you can listen to some of these segments:

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Guest Picks: Steve-O

Find out what "Jackass" stuntman Steve-O has been reading and watching lately!

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An Update on the Thomas Drake Case

Back in May, we spoke to The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer about her article, “The Secret Sharer” as part of our Backstory series. Mayer’s article discussed the case of former National Security Agency executive Thomas Drake who is facing charges of violating the 1917 Espionage Act as part of the Obama Administration's efforts to crack down on national security leaks.

In today’s Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima reports that the government has withdrawn some of the documents that Drake had been accused of leaking to a Baltimore Sun reporter. Legal experts say that this weakens the government's case.

UPDATE: on Friday, June 10, The Wall Street Journal reported that Thomas Drake will plead guilty to the unauthorized use of a government computer, a misdemeanor offense. The government will drop the rest of the charges.

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