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The Takeaway

In fight for democracy in Afghanistan, rights of women take back seat

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last week, hundreds of women marched in the streets of Afghanistan to condemn a new law that critics say legalizes marital rape. Outrage from both Afghan women and the international community over the passing of this law has been well-documented and President Karzai is reconsidering signing the law. But what does this indicate about the push to democratize Afghanistan? Are we seeing growing signs that some Afghan women have finally had enough of restrictive laws? The Takeaway talks to Gretchen Peters, former Afghanistan and Pakistan correspondent for ABC news and author of the forthcoming book, Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda.
"Many women in Afghanistan itself object to this type of legislation and want to see change in their country."
—ABC News correspondent Gretchen Peters on the protests in Afghanistan

Our partners at the New York Times have footage of the protests in Kabul:

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The Takeaway

The challenges for Obama's new border czar

Thursday, April 16, 2009

President Obama has appointed former U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin to the newly-created position of "Border Czar." Bersin will lead the effort to stop drug-related violence along the U.S.–Mexico border. The Takeaway talks to Amita Sharma an investigative reporter with KPBS, San Diego Public Radio, who has been following Bersin's career. And for more on what's needed along the border, we're joined by Diana Washington-Valdez, a reporter with the El Paso Times who is author of the forthcoming book, "Mexican Roulette: Last Cartel Standing".

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The Takeaway

Ambassadors of Freedom: Do Cuban-Americans want the job?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

President Barack Obama has made clear that he views Cuban Americans as “Ambassadors of Democracy” who can bring a message to Cuba when they visit their families there. But what do Cuban-Americans think? Are they excited at this new patriotic title bestowed on them? Or glad to be able to trace their roots back to the island nation? Are they unwilling to return to Cuba while the Castros are still in power? Or are they just happy to have another beach to visit? This morning we are listening to the response from younger Cuban-Americans who were born here in the U.S. and never personally knew life under Castro or in Cuba. The Takeaway talks to Danny Mendoza, a filmmaker and student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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The Takeaway

Viva la family visit: Obama lifts some restrictions on Cuba travel

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

President Obama has lifted restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans who wish to visit family or send money to their kin in Cuba. The Takeaway talks to Michael Voss, BBC correspondent in Havana and Joshua Johnson a reporter and anchor with WLRN, Miami Herald News, who has been covering the story from South Florida.
"This is a policy that was installed by Kennedy in the '60s, lifted the travel restrictions by Carter in the '70s, reinstalled by Reagan in the '80s, modified by Clinton '90s and tightened by George W. Bush in 2000. So depending on when you came up, your view is going to be different."
—Joshua Johnson of WLRN Miami Herald News on travel restrictions to Cuba

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The Takeaway

A showdown over student loans is the latest budget battle

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Obama administration appears to be headed for a tough battle with the private student loan industry and its supporters in Congress. The Congressional Budget Office wants to forgo subsidized loans for direct government lending, a move that the loan industry says may cost them billions. President Obama wants to end a subsidized loan program and redirect billions of dollars in bank profits to scholarships for needy students. For more on this looming battle, The Takeaway talks to David Herszenhorn from our partner The New York Times. For more on the looming budget battle, read David Herszenhorn's article, Plan to Change Student Lending Sets Up a Fight, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

U.S. offers to attend direct talks with Iran

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The delicate strategic dance between the Obama administration and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues: The U.S. has offered to attend direct talks with Iran aimed at resolving an ongoing dispute over Iran's nuclear program. But why now? The answer may be more complex than you think. The Takeaway talks to Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University. Also joining the conversation is Trita Parsi, author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States and President of the National Iranian American Council and President of the National Iranian American Council.

"They're not reducing Iran into a one issue country. It's not just about the nuclear issue. It's obviously a very important part of it, but they're not going to view Iran only through that prism."
—Author Trita Parsi on U.S. discussions with Iran

Here is CNN's report on opening lines of communications between the two countries:

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The Takeaway

Economic Recovery 101 with House Republican Whip Eric Cantor

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Congressional Republicans agree that President Obama's budget "spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much." So, what's the Republican argument for fiscal discipline in these times with this President and Congress? How is the GOP planning to participate in budget negotiations? We had a lot of questions and decided to go straight to the source: The Takeaway talks with Eric Cantor, the Republican representative of Virginia's 7th congressional district, who serves as the House Minority Whip about the Republican view of the President's economic recovery plan.

Read a transcript of the segment...

Related:
Education secretary Arne Duncan on how stimulus dollars could help schools
Senator Charles Grassley takes on the stimulus bill
Gov. Jon Corzine on buying into Geithner's toxic asset plan
The Takeaway is investigating the Recovery Act with you at ShovelWatch.org

Copy and paste this code to embed this segment's audio on your blog:

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The Takeaway

Push back from both sides on Obama's budget

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Democrats are re-tooling President Obama’s budget this week, while the president is pressing Congress hard to preserve his priorities of health care, energy and education. Meanwhile, Republicans are in an uproar over and even some Democrats are pushing back on some of Obama's $3.6 trillion budget. For more, we talk to our friend Todd Zwillich from Capitol News Connection.

"Don't expect any Republicans to sign on to this. This is the major wedge between them. And they use it, both sides, to define what they're about.
—Capitol News Connection's Todd Zwillich on President Obama's budget

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The Takeaway

Iranians and Iranian-Americans react to President Obama's video address

Monday, March 23, 2009

Last Friday, President Barack Obama addressed the people of Iran in a video message on Nowruz, the Persian New Year. In his appeal, Obama paid tribute to Iranian history and culture and stressed the need for stronger diplomatic ties. But how did that message resonate with ordinary Iranians and Iranian Americans? To answer that question, The Takeaway talks to Cyrus Razzaghi a marketing consultant from Tehran who joins us from his Nowruz celebration on the Caspian Coast. Also adding his voice to the discussion is Amir Farokhi is an Iranian-American attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who is running for a seat on the Atlanta City Council.

Watch President Obama's Nowruz message to the Iranian people below.

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The Takeaway

AIG boss faces House firing squad today

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are busy pointing fingers in the fallout over the $165 million bailout of AIG and the executive bonuses. There's more to come today, as AIG boss Edward Liddy testifies in front of furious U.S. lawmakers at a House subcommittee. The Takeaway talks to Todd Zwillich from Capitol News Connection for the reaction, the political implications and what's ahead.

"You don't have enough fingers on both your hands to count all the fingers that were pointed yesterday in every direction."
— Todd Zwillich or Capital News Connection on reactions to the AIG bonuses

See reactions from Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chuck Grassley in this clip from Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

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The Takeaway

Transportation officials cause confusion at White House recovery plan conference

Thursday, March 12, 2009

WNYC
The president stopped by a meeting of 49 state representatives gathered to discuss ARRA, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka "the stimulus bill") and got a big round of applause. But his aides were not treated so politely...

The White House called in a group of state representatives to discuss implementation of the stimulus bill — but several pool reports (see below) paint a picture of anxiety and confusion.

"You're giving governors a lot of responsibility to administer it, but we're not always kept in the loop," a representative from New Hampshire told Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Or take this exchange with Deputy Transportation Secretary Thomas Barrett (Another man asked how and why Maryland has already started transportation projects under stimulus, going back to the morning session's theme where some states are nervous they've missed opportunities to fund projects, or are behind the curve):

"They started using their own money," Barrett said.

"So we can do that?" the man said.

"If you have the money," Barrett said.

Then, following some back and forth...

"If there's confusion on it —" Barrett said, then was cut off by one of the state reps:

"There certainly is."

You get the idea. The full reports are worth a read and *bonus* there's a list of state representatives at the end of report #3.
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The Takeaway

First Lady as advocate for healthy living

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As President Obama enters his 50-some days in his presidency, the First Lady is starting to shape her own identity and agenda. Michelle Obama is known to be a champion of healthy food and living and has encouraged community vegetable gardening. White House officials say this will shape her overall agenda. Rachel Swarns covers Mrs. Obama for the New York Times talks with The Takeaway about the First Lady's healthy living habit.

Read more in Rachel's article, Michelle Obama’s Agenda Includes Healthful Eating in the New York Times.

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The Takeaway

No envoy envy here: Steep challenges ahead for Mitchell and Holbrooke

Friday, February 27, 2009

As George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East finishes up a day in the West Bank, we're taking a look at the challenges that lie ahead for all the President's envoys. Both Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, have long roads ahead of them. One man who can sympathize: Dan Simpson. Now an editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Simpson served as special envoy to Somalia from 1994 - 1995 and was an Ambassador to Congo and the Central African Republic. He joins us now with his insight into the world of the special envoy.

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The Takeaway

Japanese Prime Minister becomes first official visitor to the Obama White House

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yesterday, President Obama welcomed Japanese prime minister Taro Aso to the White House. This meeting came hot on the heels of Secretary of State Clinton making Japan the first stop on her first official trip overseas. While Japan has been a close ally of the United States for decades, why is the Obama administration stressing the relationship now? Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist and chronicler of post-war Japan, joins us to help answer that question.

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The Takeaway

Caring for the least of us: The ethics of health care reform

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

President Obama will move to tackle health care next week and he is expected to touch on the subject in his address to Congress tonight. He announced Monday that he will convene a summit to discuss what some call America’s health care crisis. Our guest calls it an ethical crisis. The Takeaway talks to Arthur Caplan, Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

For more of The Takeaway's coverage of health care in this country, click here and to listen to what the experts think President Obama needs to know about health care check out our Briefing Book series.

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The Takeaway

Third time's the charm? Former Gov. Gary Locke may be pick for Commerce Secretary

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Former Washington State Governor Gary Locke is reportedly President Obama’s pick for Commerce Secretary. His third pick... but hey, who’s counting? In Locke, Obama has found a nominee with extensive U.S.—China trade credentials who is also an Eagle Scout. For more details on this new pick, we are joined by Tom Banse a regional correspondent for Northwest Public Radio who covered Governor Locke from 1996 - 2004.

Who will Gary Locke be sitting next to if he becomes Commerce Secretary? Check out our handy guide to President Obama's cabinet for the answer.

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The Takeaway

A look ahead to President Obama's busy week

Monday, February 23, 2009

President Obama hasn’t been in office long enough to give a state of the union address. But on Tuesday he'll go for a test drive, when he addresses Congress in a state-of-the-union-like speech. For more on that, and what else is on the President’s agenda this week, The Takeaway talks to April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and Todd Spangler, Washington correspondent for the Detroit Free Press.

In case you missed it, here is President Obama's weekly radio address from February 21, 2009.

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The Takeaway

Afghanistan looms large for Obama administration

Friday, February 13, 2009

President Obama has no shortage of challenges before him on the home front. But overseas, no problem looms larger than that of Afghanistan, where Taliban militants continue to gain ground and popular support. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke is in Kabul on what has been called a fact-finding mission. And the Obama administration is expected to announce a troop surge soon. For in depth look at the situation in Afghanistan, The Takeaway is joined by Parag Khanna, a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation and author of The Second World. The BBC's Martin Patience remains to provide his insight.

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The Takeaway

Who loves high-speed rail? The $8-billion question

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When we went to bed last night, people who track transit spending were in agreement there would be $1 to $2 billion allocated for high-speed rail in the economic stimulus bill — and a document from the conference negotiations illustrates that. When we woke up, the wires were moving a story that said high-speed rail would get $8 billion. How is it possible that high-speed rail did so well, when everything else was getting cut? The answer goes about as high as you can go...
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The Takeaway

Alex Rodriguez's modified, limited hangout

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Somewhere hot and sulphery, Richard Nixon is grinning. The old man knows a modified, limited hangout when he sees one.

Nixon's newest soulmate is Alex Rodriguez. Faced with an utterly credible report over the weekend by Sports Illustrated that Rodriguez had tested positive for steroids in 2003, Rodriguez decided to get ahead of the story and admit what everybody knew, that he had used steroids — and not just for the few months implied by the positive test, but for three years, from 2001 to 2003 — his entire tenure with the Texas Rangers.

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