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Thursday, August 12, 2010

David Callahan looks into what he sees as a new trend in the United States—where the wealthy are drifting to the political left. Then, discover how the great heat wave of 1896 boosted Theodore Roosevelt’s career. Also, Aamir Khan on “Peepli Live”—the first Indian film ever shown at Sundance. Plus our latest Backstory segments look at a scandal at Arlington National Cemetery, and the history and use of the filibuster in the US Senate. 

Fortunes of Change

Historically, the wealthy have been inclined to vote for Republicans, but David Callahan, a senior fellow of the think tank Demos, discusses why the rich in America are becoming more liberal. In Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America he explores why some of America’s wealthiest people backed Barack Obama’s presidential bid, and are donating record sums to the Democratic Party and liberal organizations; even though they stand to see their taxes go up.

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Hot Time in the Old Town

Edward Kohn discusses one of the worst natural disasters in American history—the 1896 New York heat wave, which killed almost 1,500 people in ten days. In Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt, he tells how the heat coincided with a heated presidential contest between William McKinley and Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Their hopes for the presidency began to fizzle in the heat just as a bright young police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt was helping the city cope with the dangerously high temperatures by hosing down streets and handing out ice to the poor.

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“Peepli Live”

Aamir Khan, producer of “Peepli Live,” talks about the film, which is a heartfelt portrait of India today: the rural society, bureaucracy, media, politics and life itself. It tells the story of two brothers, farmers from rural India, who seek the help of a local politician after losing their plot of land over an unpaid government loan. When the politician mockingly suggests that the brothers commit suicide to benefit from government aid, it sparks a chain of events that reaches the highest levels of power in India’s political machinery. “Peepli Live” was the first Indian film ever shown at the Sundance Film Festival. It opens August 13 at AMC Village 7.

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Backstory: Grave Abuses at Arlington National Cemetery

Mark Benjamin, Salon.com'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.

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Backstory: The Filibuster

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.

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