Money Talking

Why Walmart Fought for LGBT Rights

Friday, April 03, 2015

CEOs from Fortune 500 companies were among the first to denounce recent religious freedom laws.


The Takeaway

What Does Religious Freedom Mean, Exactly?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Some are surprised by Indiana's religious freedom law. But scholars say the Supreme Court legalized this type of discrimination with their Hobby Lobby ruling last summer.

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The Takeaway

Battling For Civil Rights in Indiana and Arkansas

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is backtracking on the state's religious freedom law. Now, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson must decide whether to sign a similar bill in his state.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

#Boycott Indiana

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New York Times Magazine correspondent Emily Bazelon offers legal analysis of the law that inspired the social media campaign "#Boycott Indiana."

Comments [62]

The Brian Lehrer Show

#BoycottIndiana; StoryCorps in Your Smartphone and Public Shaming

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#BoycottIndiana; mental illness in pilots; StoryCorps comes to your smartphone; how social media has made it easier than ever to publicly shame people and a public art debate.

The Takeaway

Boycott Indiana: The Backlash Against New 'Religious Freedom Law'

Monday, March 30, 2015

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana under pressure after signing a bill last week that allows business to deny services based on religious faith.

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Audra McDonald Takes to Twitter to Criticize Indiana 'Religious Freedom' Law

Friday, March 27, 2015

Audra McDonald has taken to Twitter to sharply criticize Indiana's new law that allows businesses the right to deny service to gays and lesbians.
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Comments [31]

The Takeaway

Indiana: A Public Health Emergency Due To HIV Epidemic

Friday, March 27, 2015

Officials in Indiana have declared a health emergency after an HIV outbreak in rural Scott County.

Comments [1]

The Sporkful

True Crime: Investigating An Office Fridge Food Theft

Monday, March 09, 2015

It’s Elkhart, Indiana, 2001. Two inches of Heather Coleman's turkey club disappear from her office fridge. The thief is nowhere to be found. And Heather’s life will never be the same.

The Takeaway

Senate Races to Watch: Indiana and Wisconsin

Monday, November 05, 2012

The battle for the Senate will come to a close tomorrow, but before it does, we’ve got two more races to watch before Election Day arrives. Mary Beth Schneider, political reporter at The Indianapolis Star, and Chuck Quirmbach, reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio, discuss the fight for Senate seats in Indiana and Wisconsin.


The Takeaway

Tuesday's Indiana Primary May be Dick Lugar's Last

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Tea Party hasn't been making headlines recently, but in the Indiana Republican primary Tuesday, six-term Senator Dick Lugar may be unseated by a much more conservative candidate. Richard Mourdock, currently the state's treasurer, has a Tea Party backing that's given him a ten-point lead in the polls. In 2010, the Indiana Tea Party split three ways, and Dan Coats, a Republican candidate that the Tea Party considered too moderate, won the election. During 2012's election cycle, Mourdock's success is a testament to the group's newfound unity. Mary Beth Schneider, a political reporter at the Indianapolis Star, discusses her expectations for Tuesday.


The Takeaway

Where Will Peyton Manning Play?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

After 14 years with the Indiana Colts, quarterback Petyon Manning is parting ways with the team he helped transform and lift to a 2006 Super Bowl victory. Now, the NFL's only four-time most valuable player becomes a free agent. Where will he end up? A Jets fan and a reporter following Mr. Manning give us their take.


The Takeaway

A Home Destroyed: Rebuild or Leave Behind?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Small towns across the South and Midwest continue to rebuild this week after a series of deadly tornadoes and storms swept through late last week. What happens when the destruction of a town is so severe that you can’t pick up the pieces? What happens if you can’t patch a community back together?

Marysville is a small town in southeast Indiana. It’s the type of town with only one store, a community center, a church, and a couple dozen houses, all confined to little more than a single block. Today, the town lies in ruins. A twister swept through last Friday, destroying nearly all of the homes and ripping apart the community center and church.


The Takeaway

Tornadoes Leave Destruction in Midwest and South

Monday, March 05, 2012

A powerful storm system stretching across a dozen states in the Midwest and the South brought on between 80 to 100 tornadoes over the weekend, leveling entire towns and killing 39 people.  In total, 17 million people were affected by the storms.  The town of Henryville, Indiana was among one of the hardest hit when an "EF4" level tornado with windspeeds of over 175 miles-per-hour tore through the town.


Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Detroit's Light Rail Plan is Dead, a BRT Plan Emerges; Republicans Link Payroll Tax to Keystone Pipeline; Rio Relaunches Bike Share

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The NTSB wants a federal ban on cell phones while driving. (Link)
Overcoming travel phobias: a success story. (Link)
Picture this: got a flat? Call the tow bike. (Link)

Bike share in Rio (photo by riopravoce via Flickr)

NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman tells the Takeaway the urge to tweet in a car is just too great (The Takeaway).

A controversial Republican version of the payroll tax -- now linked to the Keystone XL pipeline -- passed the House and heads to the Senate. (Washington Post)

California's governor announced $1 billion in budget cuts; free school bus transportation is among the programs slashed. (Los Angeles Times)

Plans for light rail in Detroit have been scrapped in favor of a system of high-speed city and suburban buses. (Detroit Free Press)

Rio de Janeiro relaunched its bike share program -- with better results. (Atlantic Cities)

The cost of canceling Toronto's planned Transit City light rail lines could exceed $65 million. (Globe and Mail)

New York's Court of Appeals rules that selling MetroCard swipes is not larceny; overturns 2009 conviction. (New York Times)

Indiana unveiled a ten-year, $1.3 billion transit overhaul. (Indianapolis Star)

New York Times editorial: Governor Cuomo, you don't need more meetings about the taxi legislation--just sign it.

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The Arts File

After Tragic Indiana Stage Collapse, A Look at Stage Inspections

Friday, August 19, 2011

In this week's Arts File, Kerry Nolan speaks with NPR reporter Joel Rose about who's supposed to inspect outdoor stages following a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair that killed five people.


Transportation Nation

Is the Indiana Toll Road Operator in Danger of Default?

Friday, July 29, 2011

(Matt Dellinger – Transportation Nation) For the last month, while national news coverage has focused on the federal debt ceiling and the threat of a historic default, transportation watchers have been nervously contemplating the possible failure of the largest toll road privatization from the last decade.

Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, a 50/50 consortium made up of the Spanish operator Cintra and the Australian bank Macquarie, paid $3.8 billion dollars in 2006 for a 75-year lease of the Indiana Toll Road. The bid, made at the height of the economy and in the first blush of real PPP highway investment in America, exceeded that of the nearest competitor by a billion dollars. In what seemed like significant serendipity, the money changed hands on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which initiated construction of the Interstate highway system. The sum was so large that it had to be sent in several wire transfers.

At the time, critics of the plan complained that the lease of a public asset for profit amounted to a corporate giveaway. But proponents lectured that the road would never be worth that amount in public hands, and pointed out that any potential for gain came along with some significant risks.

The 2008 banking crisis and resulting recession have proven them right. A month ago, on the five-year anniversary of the lease, Debtwire, a subscription-only wire service operated by London Financial Times, estimated that the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company was in danger of defaulting on its debt as soon as early next year. With the economy in a slump, traffic and revenues were well below the company’s projections.

Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana, who spent significant political capital to ink the deal, gloated to the Associated Press. “They overpaid,” he said. "That's why you hold an auction. Sometimes you hit the jackpot."

Michael Lindenberger, the transportation reporter for the Dallas Morning News, immediately picked up on the report and Bloomberg Businessweek soon followed. For some, the mere specter of default was cause enough for worry. National and state leaders from across the political spectrum have  championed public-private partnerships as a way to help us “do more with less.” A major default could make such deals seem riskier, and might mitigate the excitement among banks to invest.

Aware of these reports, Cintra US put out a press release earlier this week, in which Patrick Rhode, vice president of corporate affairs, insisted that the concessionaire was on solid financial footing. "The Indiana Toll Road project is fulfilling all of its financial obligations and payments, and will continue to do so," he said. "In public private partnerships, the underlying financial condition of the investor is key, and in our case extremely robust, with net cash position at our parent company level [Ferrovial] and available capacity to invest of over $1.5 billion."

Cintra's business, it should be noted, is built on patient investment: The lease term is more than double that of a thirty-year mortgage, and allows for many economic ups and downs. But is turbulence for Cintra enough to limit the investment appetite of other banks?  We’ll be watching this story, and will have more thoughts shortly on what default would look like — and what it might mean.


Matt Dellinger is the author of the book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway. You can follow him on Twitter.

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The Takeaway

American Sign Language on the Brink of Extinction

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

American Sign Language could be a dying form of communication, thanks to dwindling education funding and technological alternatives. Many deaf people are adamant that sign language will always be essential, but state budget cuts are threatening to close schools that teach it. This adds to the existing debate in the deaf community, between those who communicate with sounds and high-tech cochlear implants, and those who utilize sign language.

Comments [14]

The Takeaway

States Cut Funding to Planned Parenthood

Monday, June 20, 2011

After failing to get a measure to defund Planned Parenthood through the Senate in April, Republican lawmakers are now taking their fight against the organization to the state level. And they seem to be succeeding. Last week, North Carolina became the third state to ban federal funding from going to the health care provider, joining Indiana and Kansas. Now several other states, including Wisconsin and Texas, are considering similar legislation. Joining us is Sarah Kliff, health care reporter for Politico, and Dr. Andrea Price, an OBGYN with the Women’s Health Alliance of New Jersey.

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Transportation Nation

If We Can't Afford to Fix Roads, Can We Afford to Build Roads?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New highway construction in Mississippi. Photo by Matt Dellinger.

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation)  When Scott Walker was running for Governor of Wisconsin last fall, he peppered the airwaves with a campaign spot that made very clear why he planned to stop the proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee high speed rail line: It was going to cost about $810 million dollars to build, he said, and “I’d rather take that money and fix Wisconsin’s crumbling roads and bridges.”

But a new report by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) takes Governor Walker to task for cutting $48 million in local transportation assistance—much of which would be used for road and bridge repair—while proposing a 13% increase in spending on new highway capital projects. WISPIRG’s report “Building Boondoggles?” isn’t fooling anyone with the question mark in its title. The authors, Kyle Bailey and Bruce Speight, make no bones about the “troubling” nature of Walker's “new construction largess.”

In response to a $3.6 Billion state deficit, Bailey and Speight point out, the Governor has suggested cuts “in most areas of the state budget, including education, health care and state assistance for local cities, towns and counties. State funding for local road repair and transit have also been put on the chopping block. Transit in particular has been put at risk by receiving a 10% across the board cut.” At the same time, Walker's belt-tightening left room for a billion-dollar widening of Interstate 90 south of Madison, a $390 million widening of the Tri-County Freeway in Winnebago and Calumet Counties, and the $125 million construction of a four-lane road through Caledonia county between Milwaukee and Racine.

WISPIRG questions the wisdom of these specific projects, which, to be fair, were kicking around for years before Walker became Governor (but then again, so was the Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail project). But more to the point, Bailey and Speight raise the question of how Governor Walker can suggest adding to the new-road budget an amount—$328 million—that could have prevented his cuts to transit and maintenance. (Walker's office respectfully declined to comment for this story.)

Expanding the system while deferring maintenance is not just a Wisconsin thing. According to another report, released today by Taxpayers for Common Sense and Smart Growth America, this is a nationwide habit. The two groups found that between 2004 and 2008, while bridges crumbled and roads deteriorated, states spent 57 percent of their highway budgets on road widening and new road construction.

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