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February 12 2014

07:51

Drones And The Kill List Now

The White House debates a drone attack against a U.S. citizen and terror suspect in Pakistan. We’ll look at Washington’s kill list and American drone policy.

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants' hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants’ hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)

Guests

Greg Miller, intelligence reporter for the Washington Post. (@gregpmiller)

Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for the Guardian U.S. (@attackerman)

Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow in the Center for Preventative Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. Author of “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies” and “Between Threats and War: U.S. Discrete Military Operations in the Post-Cold War World.” (@MicahZenko)

Philip Mudd, director of global risk at SouthernSun Asset Management. Former deputy director of the counter-terrorism center at the C.I.A.  Former senior intelligence adviser and deputy director of the F.B.I.’s National Security branch.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: U.S. weighs lethal strike against American citizen — “The Obama administration is weighing whether to approve a lethal strike against a U.S. citizen who is accused of being part of the al-Qaeda terrorist network overseas and involved in ongoing plotting against American targets, U.S. officials said.”

Council On Foreign Relations: Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies – “Like any tool, drones are only as useful as the information guiding them, and for this they are heavily reliant on local military and intelligence cooperation. More important, significant questions exist about who constitutes a legitimate target and under what circumstances it is acceptable to strike. ”

The Intercept: The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program — “According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.”

February 10 2014

05:51

‘The Snowden Files’

A new biography of Edward Snowden lays out the life and motivations of the world’s “most wanted man.”

This handout file photo taken on Friday, July 12, 2013, and made available by Human Rights Watch shows NSA leaker Edward Snowden during his meeting with Russian activists and officials at Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow, Russia . (AP)

This handout file photo taken on Friday, July 12, 2013, and made available by Human Rights Watch shows NSA leaker Edward Snowden during his meeting with Russian activists and officials at Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow, Russia . (AP)

Guests

Luke Harding, foreign correspondent for The Guardian. Author of “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man.” Also co-author of “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy,” which served as the basis of the film “The Fifth Estate.” (@lukeharding1968)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: The Needles in the Monumental N.S.A. Haystack –”The portrait he creates of Mr. Snowden is a familiar one — a geek and gamer most at home online, who never graduated from high school but whose ‘exceptional I.T. skills’ landed him a job with the Central Intelligence Agency and later as an N.S.A. contractor.”

CNN: Edward Snowden: World’s most wanted man, says new book — “The Guardian is a key player in the Snowden saga, having provided an outlet for the former NSA contractor-turned-whistle-blower to expose what he knew about the U.S. government’s mass surveillance programs. Harding accessed a wealth of inside information, such as this story about how Snowden first connected via e-mail with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald.”

The Daily Beast: Snowden Keeps Outwitting U.S. Spies – “Some allies of Snowden have speculated that any kind of master file of Snowden documents could only be accessed through a pass code or cryptographic key broken out into pieces controlled by several people in multiple jurisdictions throughout the world. That way. No one government could force a single person to give up access to Snowden’s motherlode.”

Read An Excerpt Of “The Snowden Files” By Luke Harding

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February 03 2014

06:51

Shedding Light On Forced Marriage In America

Forced marriage in America. Muslim. Hindu. Jewish. More. A big new exposé tells the story. We’ll hear it.

Vadya Sri tells the story of her forced marriage, which happened more than 25 years ago. (Courtesy Sarah Fournier)

Vadya Sri tells the story of her forced marriage, which happened more than 25 years ago. (Courtesy Sarah Fournier)

Guests

Alyana Alfaro, co-author of an Al Jazeera America four-part series on forced marriage in America. (@AlyanaAlfaro)

Vidya Sri, fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Founder of GangaShakti, a support and research organization for women in forced marriages.

Fraidy Reiss, founder and executive director of Unchained at Last, an organization dedicated to helping women avoid and leave forced marriages. (@thefraidycat)

From Tom’s Reading List

Al Jazeera America: Till death do us part: The forgotten US victims of forced marriage — “For those who might think that forced marriage isn’t much of an issue in the U.S., a host of organizations, scholars and victims beg to differ. A constellation of factors — from cultural misunderstandings to lack of legislation — keeps the issue in the shadows here, although activists are hoping that a growing awareness in Europe will bring changes in the U.S. as well.”

Salon: Can a spoon end forced marriage? — “Last year, the U.K. Foreign Office’s Forced Marriage Unit received its largest cluster of complaints — 400 of them —  between the months of June and August. It’s estimated that anywhere between 1,500 and 5,000 girls in the UK are forced into marriage every year – and up to a third of them are under age 16. And girls trapped into marriage and motherhood are girls who are being abused, period.”

Columbia Journalism Review: How I got that story – “ I’m French and my grandmother was in the Jewish community in France, and got into sort of an arranged marriage—but she didn’t really have the choice to say no. She wasn’t threatened or anything, or what we describe in the article, but it’s a slippery slope…It was weird for me to think about the fact that my grandparents and my mother and me wouldn’t exist without that marriage.”

January 27 2014

19:35

The Realities And Requirements Of A Living Will: A Guide

Our Monday, Jan. 27 hour looked at the case of Marlise Muñoz , a 33-year-old paramedic and mother kept alive on life support against her family’s wishes  for more than two months, due to her pregnancy.  The state of Texas used a law which states that even a person with a living will which says they do not wish to kept alive in such a condition cannot be taken off life support if they are pregnant.

Muñoz did not have a written living will, but her husband, Erick had said his wife had expressed a desire to be removed from life support in such a case, but the vague qualities of the situation lead to the lengthy and controversial stand-off.

Meredith Beers (Courtesy Holland & Knight)

Meredith Beers, partner at the law firm Holland & Knight (Courtesy Holland & Knight)

In preparing for the hour, we realized we had a lot of questions on living wills (also known as advance directives). On Point’s Emily Alfin Johnson spoke with Meredeth Beers – a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight in Boston — and Dr. Paul Mueller – Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Ethics at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine — to get some answers.

Dr. Paul Mueller, Chair, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester. (Courtesy Paul Mueller)

Dr. Paul Mueller, Chair, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester. (Courtesy Paul Mueller)

It is of course  important to check on the rules and regulations regarding living wills in your state before you get too far along in the planing process. The rules and regulations vary from state to state, and what is sufficient to convey your wishes in court in one state may not be in another. You can find your state’s guidelines at the state Attorney General’s website, or at the National Healthcare Decisions Day site.

What is a living will?

A living will “allow a person to provide specific healthcare-related instructions and preferences and healthcare-related values and goals,” Mueller explained.

Often, a living will is part of a larger document — an advanced directive used “in the event that person loses decision-making capacity,” Mueller said. The other piece of an advanced directive (AD) is your healthcare proxy or medical power of attorney.

Living wills can come in all forms, with all different kinds of information.

“They can get into specifics with checklists and lists of illness while others are very vague,” Beers said. “Doctors in states where living wills are legal documents want them to be specific as possible. “ Both are valuable, Beers said. “But legally, if you sit someone down with a list of horrible things, it can be a very hard process for people to handle,” Beers said. “Often the more general the living will, the easier it is for someone to swallow.” 

A living will should not be confused with a DNR – or “do not resuscitate” order, which informs people that, should you collapse, you do not want anything done to bring you back. to consciousness. “DNR’s are only given to patients on the edge – terminally ill or close to death,” Beers said. “They’re not appropriate for perfectly healthy people to sign.”

Why do a living will?

Living wills allow you to guarantee that the person you want to be making your decisions is empowered to make those choices in the event that you are incapacitated.

In the absence of an AD, state law determines the hierarchy of who makes decisions for patients,” Doctor Mueller said. Often that will be defined as your next of kin. Should you be unmarried, without close family, it’s wise to define who you want in that decision making role – so that it’s not up to the hospital to have to make the decisions.

Taking the time to specify can make life easier for love ones, as Doctor Mueller explained.

“Some of the unfortunate cases that have received national press coverage have involved patients who did not have ADs, and there was lack of clarity regarding values, preferences and so on,” Mueller said.

Why does it matter what state I live in?

A living will is not considered a “legal” document (meaning it doesn’t hold up in court,) in every state. That does not mean they do not serve a valuable purpose for your family and doctors should you be unable to convey your wishes.

In some states, such as Massachusetts, you must designate someone as your healthcare proxy (or Medical Power of Attorney), Beers said..  In states like these, your healthcare proxy is responsible for voicing your decisions – not your living will.  However, “the person who has to make those decisions is in an awful place,” Beers said. “No one wants to pull the plug on a loved one.  A living will makes your wishes clear and provides comfort for those who do have to make the choice.”

Even if your state does not consider a living will a legal document, making your wishes known can keep an already difficult time from getting harder for the ones you love.

When should you get a living will?

“Any time once you’re over 18, when you can legally sign a document, it’s a good idea to have a legal will,” Beers said.

“Although it can be difficult for people to anticipate what might happen in the future, most people can determine who they trust and would like to make decisions for them,” Mueller said.

But it’s not enough to have one done and forget about it.

“The classic example is Ted Williams,” Beers said. “He signed a living will years before died, and in it he had mentioned wanting to be cremated. When he died about ten years later, his son said he had actually wanted to be frozen.  Not only is it good idea to have a living will, it’s a good idea to update it every few years, to avoid an equally confusing situation.”

What should I do with my living will? Does it need to be witnessed and notarized?

First, your physician should have a copy, Beers and Mueller stressed.It doesn’t hurt to make sure your healthcare proxy has one, or at least knows where you keep your copy, too.  It’s also a good idea to talk it through with your healthcare proxy, your doctor and your family, Mueller said.  Make sure to store your copy somewhere it is easily accessible – placing one in a safety deposit box or hidden away somewhere secret doesn’t help if you’re not around to get to it.

In states where it’s not a legal document, your living will does not need to be notarized. If it is a legal document it generally must be notarized or signed by two witnesses. Double check with your state to find out exactly what they require.

You can find more resources and information on living wills, healthcare proxies and other key documents herehere and here.

16:00

Texas ‘Right-To-Die’ Drama

Life, death, mother, fetus and the state of Texas.

Erick Muñoz's wife, Marlise, is said to be brain dead. The Fort Worth, Tx. hospital where Marlise is under observation will not permit her family to remove the pregnant woman from life support until her child is born. (AP)

Erick Muñoz’s wife, Marlise, is said to be brain dead. The Fort Worth, Tx. hospital where Marlise is under observation will not permit her family to remove the pregnant woman from life support until her child is born. (AP)

The story of Marlise Muñoz lying brain dead and pregnant in Texas, kept alive by machines for a damaged fetus, sounds ghoulish enough for Edgar Allen Poe.  Her body decomposing in a hospital bed.  The life within deeply damaged.  Her family begging she be let go.  The hospital citing Texas law and saying no for long weeks.  On Friday, a Texas judge said enough.  No more life support.  The remains of Marlise Muñoz have been released to her family.  But the story of what happened in that hospital in Texas is still stirring controversy.  This hour On Point:  a woman and a fetus, life and death, and the law in Texas.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Diane Jennings, reporter for The Dallas Morning News. (@djennings)

Tom MayoAltshuler University Distinguished Teaching Professor and associate professor of law at Southern Methodist University. (@tangowhiskymike)

Joe Pojman, executive director, Texas Alliance For Life (@joepojman)

Andrea Grimes, senior political reporter at RH Reality Check. (@andreagrimes)

Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate. Contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. Fellow for creative writing and law at Yale Law School. (@emilybazelon)

From Tom’s Reading List

Dallas Morning News: Fight to take pregnant Tarrant woman off life support goes to judge Friday — “In court documents, Erick Muñoz said that doctors told him his wife was brain-dead and that he asked that she not be kept on life support. Both husband and wife had worked as paramedics and knew of each other’s end-of-life wishes, court filings say. Marlise Muñoz’s parents agreed with their son-in-law’s request. But officials at John Peter Smith refused to turn off life-support equipment, citing Texas law prohibiting removal if a patient is pregnant.”

ABC News: Why Texas Fetus Might Have Had ‘Abnormalities’ Before Mother Was Brain Dead — “The family of Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old paramedic who was 14 weeks pregnant when a suspected pulmonary embolism left her brain dead two months ago, is suing John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth because doctors there told the family a Texas law forbade it from withdrawing life support until the fetus’s birth or a miscarriage occurs. The fetus has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, a possible heart condition, and ‘lower extremities that deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined,’ lawyers representing Munoz’s husband announced Wednesday evening.”

Slate: Brain-Dead Marlise Munoz’s Fetus Is ‘Distinctly Abnormal.’ Please, Texas, Let This Nightmare End — “How can the state supersede the wishes of Erick in this scenario? The answer is that it can’t. Hospitals cannot provide ‘life-sustaining treatment’ to a person who is dead, and that’s what brain dead means: death. This is not the same as being in a vegetative state, where you can breathe without a respirator. In all 50 states, brain dead means you are legally dead.”

January 23 2014

18:13

Mandatory Sentencing: Victims Speak Out

Our Jan. 22 hour discussed the national struggle around how to justly sentence violent juvenile offenders. For many years, courts handed down mandatory life sentences without hope of parole to young adults who had committed a crime before the age of 18.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled such sentences should no longer be mandatory and that such sentences should be considered cruel and unusual. The court felt children’s brains were still developing and that judges should be empowered to make a judgment on a case by case basis. But what they didn’t tackle was the more than 2,500 inmates, living out life sentences without parole for crimes committed as juveniles. Did the rule apply to them? It’s a question that many states have been struggling to answer in the year since.

An important voice in the conversation is that of a victim’s family — the people who lost a love one at the hands of these offenders, who could now be facing re-sentencing hearings, and even a lifetime of parole hearings. During our hour, heard from three people who had lost someone at the hands of a juvenile offender in our hour today. All three offenders were sentenced to the mandatory life without parole, but in the wake of these new decisions, that all may change.

PAUL DOWNING “He knew right from wrong, and there’s nothing that could justify, what he did.”

Janet Downing, who was murdered in 1995 by a 15-year-old neighbor. (Courtesy the Downing Family)

Janet Downing, who was murdered in 1995 by a 15-year-old neighbor. Janet is pictured here in the fall of 1990.  (Courtesy the Downing Family)

On July 23rd, 1995, Janet Downing, a 42 year old mother of four, was murdered in her Somerville, Mass. home. The perpetrator, Edward O’Brien, who was 15 years old at the time of the murder, stabbed Downing 98 times.  A family friend and neighbor, O’Brien had lived much of his life across the street from Janet Downing. A little more than two years later in October of 1997, O’Brien was found guilty of first degree murder and automatically given the mandatory sentence – life without parole.

This past Christmas Eve, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that such mandatory sentencing would no longer be allowed in compliance with a ruling by the Supreme Court in 2012. As a result, the state announced that it would begin looking back at all of its juvenile life without parole sentences and holding new sentencing hearings.  Janet’s son, Paul testified in his mother’s murder case when he was barely older than his mother’s killer. He and his family must now prepare themselves for the possibility that O’Brien will be resentenced in the coming months. Paul, now 35, joined us during our hour.

Tom Ashbrook: What do you think of this ruling that would mean a reconsideration of the life without parole sentence of your mother’s murder, Edward O’Brien?

Paul Downing: It’s definitely reopening a wound for the entire family. It’s a very scary thought that this person possibly could be among us again. It’s… it’s not going very well with a lot of us. For a lot of people that supported us.

TA: It was a terrible murder, you were neighbors, his grandfather had been chief of police in your town – Somerville. He was only 15. A big boy, 6’4”, 250 lbs., 260 – but even for all that – he was only 15. I mean, is it a matter of justice, vengeance, what Paul, that he should be in prison for the rest of his life? When you think about this case, do you think, well maybe, maybe he’ll change over 20, 30, 40, 50 years?

PD: There’s nothing to excuse what he did. My mother suffered over 90 stab wounds, and it was an extreme atrocious act. From someone she knew very closely. Whether his brain was developed, or not at that point, he knew right from wrong, and there’s nothing that could justify, what he did. There’s just nothing to excuse it.

TA: have you heard exactly what might happen now? What will happen with the Massachusetts high court ruling?

PD: We’re currently in limbo. My family won’t know more till about June? I would say? Where he may be up for parole at that time. So yes, he has the ability to appeal his case, and who knows where he might go with the direction of how he might get himself out. And the thought of that – it’s very terrifying.

TA: Resentencing means getting back into all of that, and it was clearly terrible. But what about – you’re older now; he’s older now, what about someday when he’s 50 years old, when he’s 60 years old, 70 years old, maybe even 80 years old? At which point you may think – well it was terrible, but that’s a lot of time, let’s say enough.

PD: If I can get my mother back, then maybe – I’d say okay, it’s alright. But you know I’m sorry, a life was taken, a person is never going to exist again. My mom will never be alive, so fair is fair. You did what you did. You get to live still. Don’t forget that.

SEAN AYLWARD: “the cruel and unusual punishment here is to victims and their families, not to these convicts.”

In 1992, Beth Brodie was a 15-year-old high school cheerleader in Groveland, Mass. That November, Richard Baldwin, 16, beat her to death with an aluminum baseball bat.

In 1994, Baldwin was convicted of first degree murder – with the mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Like Edward O’Brien, Richard Baldwin’s case falls under those up for resentencing in Massachusetts. Beth’s family and friends are outraged that the perpetrator of such a violent crime would have the hope of parole available to them.

Beth’s brother, Sean Alyward. called us to share his sister’s story and his feelings about the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision.

Sean Alyward: She was 15, he was 16, and she did not pursue a romantic relationship with him and he took offense to that. Throughout the course of a day, in conversations with her mutual friend, he drove to the home of a mutual friend with a baseball bat, and lured her to the home – and then bludgeoned her to death.

TA: We will remain always sorry for that whole story, how are you thinking about the Supreme Court ruling now Sean, and what ought to happen with the killer of your sister?

SA: Well what the family cannot understand is the retroactivity behind this, and I have heard the arguments in the last few minutes about it. But had the states still abided by death sentences laws, what would we do then? How far back do you go and where do you draw the line? To bring this back up and strip victims’ families of their rights or solace that they may have found since it happened, is just tragic. It’s not right; the cruel and unusual punishment here is to victims and their families, not to these convicts.

TA: It’s an absolutely heinous crime. There’s no question about it, but what about the notion of redemption over time Sean? Your sister was 15, she deserved to live, this was a 16 year old boy who did a terrible thing, what about the idea that over many years, a) there’s punishment and b) the human brain is not fully developed at 16 – there’s room for redemption – how do you think about that Sean?

SA: We’ll her brain wasn’t fully developed either, if this is the argument, yet she knew the difference between right and wrong. She didn’t do anything wrong.  She was a saint. She recognized that this was not somebody she wanted to have a romantic relationship with. So in his eyes, the proper thing to do here is take somebody’s life? That’s just simply not fair, so why should he experience any of the rights and freedoms that she could have used up to this point.

TA: Sean, do you know what process is now underway?  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled on this so presumably resentencing will come to this – do you have a sense of how that will unfold Sean?

SA: We’re actually preparing for the parole now. Preparing with District Attorney Blodgett  and he’s been very proactive in this, and he’s been very supportive. He’s got probably the best attorneys from his office working on our parole hearing. But it’s just unfortunate that my family is going to spend the rest of our lives preparing for these (hearings) because even if he is denied parole in this first hearing, he’s going to be up for parole in whatever the court sees is fair. Whether it’s three or five or even ten years, (we’ll be) constantly preparing for this parole.

I think the argument here should be left open for the judges in these cases. Take the mandatory out but leave (life without parole) as an option, cause in some cases these guys need to go away without the option of parole.

Jeanne Bishop and her sister, Nancy, in Scotland in 1990. Nancy was killed later that year. (Courtesy Jeanne Bishop)

Jeanne Bishop and her sister, Nancy, in Scotland in 1990. Nancy was killed later that year. (Courtesy Jeanne Bishop)

JEANNE BISHOP: “This sentence is merciless. It freezes in time forever something someone did at a very young age.”

But there are those who have lost love ones who have decided to support the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In April of 1990 Nancy Bishop Langert and her husband Richard were murdered in their Winnetka, Illinois home just outside of Chicago. Nancy was just 25 and pregnant with the couple’s first child.  In her last moments, she left a message for her family – a heart, and the letter “U,” scribbled out in her blood.

Six months after that night, 16 year-old David Biro was arrested for the murder. He was sentenced to life with no chance of parole. Jeanne’s family was overcome with relief.

Nancy’s sister Jeanne, has spent more than 20 years since working as a public defender with Cook County (which includes the city of Chicago.) Through her work, and her faith, she decided that her sister’s killer deserves the change of hope, redemption, and mercy that comes with knowing parole is possible.

Jeanne joined us during our hour to share her sister’s story and how she came to this conclusion.

TA: do you support the Supreme Court in saying, let’s leave open a chance for redemption or not?

Jeanne Bishop: I do support that Tom, and I do because I believe that any kind of mandatory sentencing for adults or juveniles ignores the unique circumstances of the facts of the case, of the characteristics of that person. I just don’t think we can take a cookie cutter approach. And I also have to say in my own case, the young man who killed my family members received a mandatory sentence for killing my sister and her husband, but he received a discretionary life sentence for killing their unborn child. With the respect to the mandatory sentence, my family was not even allowed  to do a victim impact statement at sentencing because there was not aggravation and mitigation hearing, there was no possibility for us to have input into the sentence.
TA: how has your attitude about that sentence evolved over the years if it has? Were you satisfied at the beginning, were you happy to see him put away for life, mandatory – If it’s changed why? How?

JB: When he was sentenced my mother turned to me and said, “We’ll never see him again,” and I was glad of that. I wiped him off my hands like dirt. And over the years having worked as a public defender, seeing the clients that I have up close, and seeing my own thinking on things evolve, and having children, young  men – boys of my own, to realize that this sentence is merciless. It freezes in time forever something someone did at a very young age. People do have the capacity for remorse – to rethink what they’re doing. And that’s true in the case of the person that took my sister’s life. He started out remorseless – denying the crime. He took the stand and blamed it on someone else. But when I got in touch with him now that he is age 40, he wrote me a 15 page letter, apologizing, confessing to the crime and kind of tracing the arch of his thinking on his crime.

January 22 2014

08:40

Jail Time And Violent Juvenile Offenders

Fighting for life without parole for young offenders. Tough states do not want to back down – or re-open old cases.

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, right, hugs Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo after he cast a vote for her bill that would give teenage criminals with long-term prison sentences, a chance for parole, during the Assembly session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. By a 51-21 vote, the Assembly approved Hancock's SB260 which would create a parole review process for cases where an individual, who was younger than 18 at the time of the offense and prosecuted as an adult, would be able to come up for parole after serving a lengthy minimum sentence. (AP)

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, right, hugs Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo after he cast a vote for her bill that would give teenage criminals with long-term prison sentences, a chance for parole, during the Assembly session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. By a 51-21 vote, the Assembly approved Hancock’s SB260 which would create a parole review process for cases where an individual, who was younger than 18 at the time of the offense and prosecuted as an adult, would be able to come up for parole after serving a lengthy minimum sentence. (AP)

Guests

Erik Eckholm, national legal correspondent for The New York Times. (@eckholm)

Jody Kent Lavy, director and national coordinator at The Campaign For the Fair Sentencing of Youth. (@jkentlavy)

Paul Downing, son of Janet Downing, who was murdered by Edward O’Brien in Somervile, MA in 1995.

David Freed, district attorney for Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. President of the Pennsylvanian District Attorneys Association.

Jeanne Bishop, assistant public defender in the office of the Cook County, Illinois Public Defender. Sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was shot to death at age 25 along with her husband and their unborn child. (@jeannebishop)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Juveniles Facing Lifelong Terms Despite Rulings – “Lawsuits now before Florida’s highest court are among many across the country that demand more robust changes in juvenile justice. One of the Florida suits accuses the state of skirting the ban on life without parole in non-homicide cases by meting out sentences so staggering that they amount to the same thing. Other suits, such as one argued last week before the Illinois Supreme Court, ask for new sentencing hearings, at least, for inmates who received automatic life terms for murder before 2012 — a retroactive application that several states have resisted.”

Detroit Free Press: Parole hearings on hold for 360 Michigan juveniles serving life sentences – “The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Attorney General Bill Schuette a stay of a federal judge’s order that would require parole hearings for about 360 Michigan juveniles now serving life sentences for murder with no possibility of parole. Today’s order is an early Christmas gift for families of murder victims who have been traumatized by the possible release of teenaged murderers sentenced to life without parole,’ Schuette said in a news release.”

NPR: Unlikely Advocates For Teen Killers: Victims’ Families — “One man’s mother had been killed by four teenage girls. Another man’s son was killed by a teenage boy. Yet all of them want the court to find life without parole for juveniles unconstitutional. It’s not a group you often hear about. Many in the room said they frequently are unwilling to share their feelings about the issue because they have been accused of not missing their loved ones enough. On this day, there was enough sorrow in the room to fill an afternoon — but also enough forgiveness.”

January 21 2014

09:50

Who’s Afraid Of ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is making waves well beyond its Academy Award nominations. We’ll catch the controversy.

Banker Jordan Belfort (Leonard DiCaprio) runs a high-profile penny stock firm that pulls in big fees on nearly worthless stocks in the Martin Scorese film,

Banker Jordan Belfort (Leonard DiCaprio) runs a high-profile penny stock firm that pulls in big fees on nearly worthless stocks in the new Martin Scorsese film, “The Wolf Of Wall Street.” (Paramount Pictures)

Guests

David Edelstein, chief film critic for New York Magazine. Film critic for NPR’s “Fresh Air” and CBS’ “This Morning.”

Issac Chotiner, senior editor at The New Republic. (@IChotiner)

Joel Cohen, prosecutor with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Sam Polk, founder and executive director of Groceryships. Former Wall Street trader. (@SamPolk)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wrap: War Over ‘Wolf of Wall Street’: Scorsese’s Latest Ignites Online Brouhaha — “The donnybrook that has emerged online, however, covers much broader ground: Is Scorsese, some viewers ask, satirizing the outrageous behavior he’s portraying onscreen, or is he celebrating it? Belfort, after all, gets off (spoiler alert) with a slap on the wrist for his crimes, and the film never takes a pronounced stance regarding Belfort and his colleagues bilking their clients out of millions of dollars.”

L.A. Weekly: An Open Letter to the Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Wolf Himself — “As an 18-year-old, I had no idea what was going on. But then again, did anyone? Certainly your investors didn’t – and they were left holding the bag when you cashed out your holdings and got rich off their money. So Marty and Leo, while you glide through press junkets and look forward to awards season, let me tell you the truth – what happened to my mother, my two sisters and me.”

New York Times: For the Love of Money –”I wanted a billion dollars. It’s staggering to think that in the course of five years, I’d gone from being thrilled at my first bonus — $40,000 — to being disappointed when, my second year at the hedge fund, I was paid ‘only’ $1.5 million.”

January 17 2014

09:01

Week In The News: Bad Water, School Shooting, Net Neutrality

Poisoned water in West Virginia. Net neutrality takes a hit. Another school shooting – New Mexico. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Water buffaloes are made available to local residents in South Charleston, W.V. to fill coolers and other containers at the GeStamp Stamping Plant-South Charleston Sunday morning, Jan. 12, 2014. The ban on using water for drinking, washing and cleaning remains in effect following the chemical spill Thursday in the Elk River that has contaminated the public water supply in nine counties. (AP)

Water buffaloes are made available to local residents in South Charleston, W.V. to fill coolers and other containers at the GeStamp Stamping Plant-South Charleston Sunday morning, Jan. 12, 2014. The ban on using water for drinking, washing and cleaning remains in effect following the chemical spill Thursday in the Elk River that has contaminated the public water supply in nine counties. (AP)

Guests

John Heilemann, national affairs editor at New York Magazine and MSNBC political analyst. Co-author with Mark Halperin of “Double Down: Game Change 2012” and “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime.” (@jheil)

Nancy Cordes, Congressional correspondent for CBS News.  (@nancycordes)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN: ’Pay to play’ on the Web?: Net neutrality explained — “How would you like to have to pay a fee to be able to stream YouTube videos at full speed? What if you liked downloading music from, say, Last.fm or Soundcloud, but those sites suddenly became infinitely slower than bigger sites like Amazon or iTunes? Those are the kind of major changes to the Internet some folks are envisioning after a federal court ruling this week on what’s come to be called ‘net neutrality.’”

Politico: House approves bipartisan spending bill — “The House approved and sent to the Senate a landmark $1.1 trillion spending bill that fills in the blanks of December’s budget agreement and sets a new template for appropriations for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s second term. Adopted 359-67, the giant measure literally touches every corner of government. And more than any single document to date, it defines the new budget reality that faces the president and his activist agenda.”

Reuters: Pregnant women warned off West Virginia water in cleared areas — “One week after the spill into the Elk River prompted authorities to order some 300,000 people not to drink or wash with their tap water, officials have cleared more than 200,000 of them to start drinking the water again after tests showed levels below the 1 part per million level safety standard set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But pregnant women should continue to steer clear of the water in an ‘abundance of caution’ until the chemical is completely undetectable, West Virginia American Water said.”

January 16 2014

07:01

NSA Reform And Resistance

Reforming the NSA. The President prepares to speak. The whole world is waiting to hear. We’ll go to Washington, Silicon Valley and beyond.

The cover story of the February 2014 issue of

The cover story of the February 2014 issue of “WIRED” (shown here) focuses on how NSA push back nearly “killed” public trust in technology. (courtesy WIRED Magazine)

Guests

Siobhan Gorman, terrorism, counter-terrorism and intelligence reporter for The Wall Street Journal. (@Gorman_Siobhan)

Steven Levy, senior staffwriter for Wired. Author of “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives” and “Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy In the Digital Age.” (@StevenLevy)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wired: How The N.S.A. Almost Killed The Internet — “If the net were seen as a means of widespread surveillance, the resulting paranoia might affect the way people used it. Nations outraged at US intelligence-gathering practices used the disclosures to justify a push to require data generated in their countries to remain there, where it could not easily be hoovered by American spies. Implementing such a scheme could balkanize the web, destroying its open essence and dramatically raising the cost of doing business. Silicon Valley was reeling, collateral damage in the war on terror. And it was only going to get worse.”

The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Debate Overhauls to NSA Spying Programs — “The divide Tuesday on Capitol Hill—over just how far changes should go—raises the stakes for President Barack Obama as he prepares a Friday morning speech on his response to a domestic and international furor over disclosures by former NSA contractorEdward Snowden about U.S. surveillance practices. While Mr. Obama isn’t obligated to accept any of his review panel’s recommendations, its report has defined the range of potential changes. Mr. Obama now is in the position of accepting or rejecting each of the recommendations and explaining his decisions to sharply opposed camps.”

National Journal: NSA Unleashed, Obama Tells Public, ‘Trust Me’ — “Nearly six months ago, President Obama sought to temper outrage over the nation’s mushrooming surveillance programs by pledging new steps to balance privacy and safety. ‘It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs,’ he said. ‘The American people need to have confidence in them as well.’ In other words, no government, not even one led by a liberal constitutional lawyer, can shield bad policies with empty promises. It’s not enough to say, ‘Trust us,’ while curbing sacred liberties — and yet that still appears to be Obama’s position.”

January 13 2014

06:31

A Heroin Scourge In Idyllic Vermont

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin just devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. We’ll look at the heroin tide in pastoral Vermont and across the nation.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, right, departs the Statehouse House Chamber after the Governor's State of the State Address in Montpelier, Vt., on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP)

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, right, departs the Statehouse House Chamber after the Governor’s State of the State Address in Montpelier, Vt., on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP)

Guests

Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT), governor of the state of Vermont. (@GovPeterShumlin)

Tristram Coffin, U.S. District Attorney for the District of Vermont.

Caleb Banta-Green, research scientist and epidemiologist at the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington. Representative to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s ‘Drug Trends Work Group.’

From Tom’s Reading List

State of Vermont: Gov. Shumlin’s 2014 State of the State Address — “In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us. It threatens the safety that has always blessed our state. It is a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many, but is already highly visible to law enforcement, medical personnel, social service and addiction treatment providers, and too many Vermont families. It requires all of us to take action before the quality of life that we cherish so much is compromised.”

ABC News: Scourge of Heroin Abuse in Vermont Mirrors National Epidemic –”The governor of Vermont devoted his entire State of the State speech on Wednesday to address the scourge of heroin abuse, a problem he described as a ‘full blown… crisis’ in his state, but which is also spreading across the country. Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, described an epidemic that ‘may be invisible to many,’ but which has increased in his state by 770 percent since 2000.”

Here & Now: Vt. Governor Confronts State’s Opiate Addiction Crisis — “Vermont, like most of New England, has become an epicenter for heroin and prescription opiate trafficking. Since last year, deaths from opiate overdoses have doubled in Vermont, and the number of Vermonters seeking treatment has increased 771 percent since 2000. Crimes related to opiates has also increased. Now, 80 percent of Vermont’s inmates are locked up for drug-related crimes.”

Watch A Trailer For “The Hungry Heart”

January 08 2014

05:51

Quantum Computing, The N.S.A. And The Future Of Cryptography

The NSA can already crack most cryptography; now it’s working on a quantum computer to bust the rest. Is it the end of for-your-eyes-only?

A June 6, 2013, file photo, is an aerial view of the cooling units at the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. Electrical failures are complicating the opening of the National Security Agency’s largest data storage center. (AP)

A June 6, 2013, file photo, is an aerial view of the cooling units at the NSA’s Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. Electrical failures are complicating the opening of the National Security Agency’s largest data storage center. (AP)

Guests

Steven Rich, database editor for the investigative at The Washington Post. (@dataeditor)

Seth Lloyd, professor of quantum mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Matthew Green, cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins University. Author of the blog, “A Few Thoughts On Cryptographic Engineering.” (@Matthew_D_Green)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption — “The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.”

Wired: The quest to make encryption accessible to the masses — “Kobeissi’s challenge, to make encrypted online messaging user-friendly, has long been a bugbear of the crypto community. A paper, written in 1999, demonstrated that the encryption program PGP completely baffled most users in a series of tests. The study, now fourteen years old, is still frequently cited today as a long-unanswered call to arms.”

A Few Thoughts On Cryptographic Engineering: How does the NSA break SSL? — “You see, the NSA BULLRUN briefing sheet mentions that NSA has been breaking quite a few encryption technologies, some of which are more interesting than others. One of those technologies is particularly surprising to me, since I just can’t figure how NSA might be doing it. In this extremely long post I’m going to try to dig a bit deeper into the most important question facing the Internet today. Specifically: how the hell is NSA breaking SSL?”

December 27 2013

09:01

Week In The News: 2013 In Review

Our weekly news roundtable –live and lively–in the studio looks back over a whole year, 2013.

Protesters hold posters of former National Security Agency member Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, prior to a special meeting of the parliament on US-German relationships, in Berlin, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.  (AP)

Protesters hold posters of former National Security Agency member Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, prior to a special meeting of the parliament on US-German relationships, in Berlin, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. (AP)

Guests

Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for The Washington Post. (@ktumulty)

David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. (@SangerNYT)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: White House Tries to Prevent Judge From Ruling on Surveillance Efforts –”The government said that despite recent leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, that made public a fuller scope of the surveillance and data collection programs put in place after the Sept. 11 attacks, sensitive secrets remained at risk in any courtroom discussion of their details — like whether the plaintiffs were targets of intelligence collection or whether particular telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon had helped the agency.”

Washington Post: Republicans reassess after shutdown debacle — “The GOP establishment has embarked, once again, on a round of soul-searching. But this time, the question is: What will it take to save the Republicans from the self-destructive impulses of the tea party movement? That the government shutdown was a political disaster for the party that engineered it is widely acknowledged, except by the most ardent tea partners. And that near-unanimity presents an opportunity for the establishment to strike back — and maybe regain some control from the insurgent wing.”

Boston Globe: The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev — “Federal investigators have suspected that Tamerlan, the 26-year-old boxer from southern Russia who is believed, along with his brother, to have set off the deadly Boston Marathon bombs in April, was motivated, if not deliberately directed, by real life jihadist revolutionaries on the other side of the globe. But an investigation by the Boston Globe suggests that Tamerlan was in the perilous grip of someone far more menacing: himself.”

December 23 2013

20:24

Jonathan Turley: Polygamy Case ‘A Victory For Morality’

Jonathan Turley, a well-regarded lawyer, legal scholar and professor of law at The George Washington School of Law, represented the Brown family of Utah in a recent court case in that state arguing for the family’s right to practice polygamous co-habitation. He joined us on our Dec. 23, 2013 show looking at a case that many see as the effective de-criminalization of polygamy.

Turley explained some basic legal definitions in the complicated case:

“People have been prosecuted under this since the 1950s…There is no cohabitation clause anymore, that was struck down, the court did what we suggested. Utah now has a conventional bigamy law…Many people are confusing bigamy with polygamy. Bigamy is having multiple marriage licenses. That’s a crime that is committed almost exclusively by people who hold themselves as monogamists. It is not a crime that is generally committed by polygamists who traditionally have one marriage license and the rest are spiritual marriages. So what Utah has now is it says that anybody, regardless of the structure of your family, with more than one license can be prosecuted. We have no problem with that. Polygamy is legal. In the same way that homosexual was decriminalized in Lawrence v. Texas. It is now legal to be plural in a family. Polygamy does not mean having multiple marriage licenses, it means having a plural family.”

Turley also cheered the recent ruling as a “victory for morality.”

“Reynolds in my view is one of the most infamous decisions the court has ever handed down. It was filled with rather racist and hateful statements directed against Mormons. The language the courts used was clearly to denounce what it considered to be an amoral practice that it associated with Africa and Asia. It’s an opinion that I recommend that people read, because it’s truly horrific.  It’s astonishing that it has never been overturned. In fact, it is the foundation for what are called morality laws. The most interesting aspect of Judge Waddoups’ opinion is it shows a clean break from our long history of morality laws that banned everything from fornication to adultery to cohabitation.  These are laws in which the majority simply criminalizes things they consider to be fundamentally immoral. This case represents part of a trend in which we’re moving away from those laws and in my view we’re a better nation for it. I happen to think that the Sister Wives’ case is a victory for morality in the sense that it lets every family follow its own faith and values so long as they don’t harm others. For me that’s a victory for morality, and it’s also a victory for privacy. In fact, I think this has a lot more to do with privacy than it does with polygamy.”

Turley further explained the fundamental differences between violation of privacy and legal proof of harm as the underpinnings to both 2003′s Lawrence v. Texas ruling and the current Sister Wives’ case.

“This law violates both the due process clause, which goes to Lawrence v. Texas, but he also ruled that it  violates the free free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. As to Lawrence, we argued that this case is really indistinguishable. There’s a difference between the criminalization of a consensual relationship and the recognition in terms of a marriage. This is very similar to Lawrence, and in the same way that before Lawrence, states could criminalize homosexual relationships. This did the same for people in polygamous unions or relationships. That’s the reason after Lawrence, homosexulaity could not be criminalized, it was legal and we still have the question of whether you want to recognize same-sex marriage. The same is true with polygamy, that it’s no longer criminalized, it is legal to have a polygamous family. We did not ask and we do not intend to ask for the legalization of multiple marriage licenses.

Although I support same-sex marriage, Lawrence does not dictate that states have to recognize same-sex marriage, this does not dictate that the states have to recognize plural marriage. These are two different issues in terms of criminalization  – one goes to the privacy of the home and the other goes to what a state is required to do under equal protection.”

What do you make of the Utah judge’s ruling that polygamous co-habitation should be legal? Do you see legal justifications but moral slippage? Is Turley right? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Tumblr and @OnPointRadio.

11:51

A Comeback For Polygamy In Utah?

Polygamy, sister wives, plural families get a boost from a court ruling in Utah. We’ll ask, “What Now?”

Members of the polygamous Brown family of Utah gather for a Christmas gift exchange. A lawsuit the family brought against a Utah statute banning polygamous-style co-habitation was successful in a court ruling in late December. (DCL / TLC)

Members of the polygamous Brown family of Utah gather for a Christmas gift exchange. A lawsuit the family brought against a Utah statute banning polygamous-style co-habitation was successful in a court ruling in late December. (DCL / TLC)

Guests

Jim Dalrymple, reporter covering polygamy for The Salt Lake Tribune. (@jimmycdii)

Jonathan Turley, professor of law at The George Washington School of Law. He represented the polygamous Brown family  from the TLC reality series, “Sister Wives.” (@JonathanTurley)

Ken Klukowski, director of the Center For Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. Senior legal analyst at Brietbart News. (@kenklukowski)

Kristyn Decker, a former spouse in a polygamous family. Author of “Fifty Years In Polygamy: Big Secrets and Little White Lies.” (@KristynDecker)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: Polygamy supporters pleased that parts of Utah law are struck down – “Proponents say polygamist cohabitation among fundamentalist Mormons traditionally involves one marriage certificate; any additional wives represent religion-based relationships that are protected under the Constitution. They say the judge’s ruling has preserved laws against bigamy, which involves more than one marriage license. Waddoups ruled that while there was no ‘fundamental right’ to practice polygamy, the central issue was religious cohabitation, and that the language in the Utah law — ‘or cohabits with another person’ — should be struck.”

Salt Lake Tribune: The Utah polygamy ruling: Questions and answers – “In a nutshell, what did the judge say? He said the state could show no public interest in broad language that lumps cohabitation into the category of bigamy and the law was applied unevenly over the decades. Utah used it to prosecute people subscribing to early Mormon teachings and who were public about it rather than investigating anyone it suspected of breaking the statute. This, Waddoups said, amounted to violations of the First and 14th amendments.”

The Daily Beast: Was Rick Santorum Right About Polygamy After All? — “A decade ago, Rick Santorum said polygamy, among other things, would be allowed if bans on sodomy were struck down by the Supreme Court. ‘Sometimes I hate it when what I predict comes true,’ the once and likely future Republican presidential candidate tweeted Sunday after a federal judge decriminalized polygamy in Utah. Judge Clark Waddoups ruled late Friday that parts of the state’s law are unconstitutional, based on a Supreme Court ruling that legalized sodomy across the nation.”

December 18 2013

07:22

Reining In The N.S.A.

A Federal judge throws down the gauntlet on the National Security Agency. How will the N.S.A. respond? We’ll go deep with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities” . (AP)

Guests

Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. (@RyanLizza)

Devlin Barrett, Justice Department reporter for The Wall Street Journal. (@DevlinBarrett)

Vincent Bevins, Brazil correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Runs the “From Brazil” blog at Folha de S. Paulo. (@Vinncent)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker: State of Deception — “In the days after 9/11, General Michael Hayden, the director of the N.S.A., was under intense pressure to intercept communications between Al Qaeda leaders abroad and potential terrorists inside the U.S. According to the inspector general’s report, George Tenet, the director of the C.I.A., told Hayden that Vice-President Dick Cheney wanted to know ‘if N.S.A. could be doing more.’ Hayden noted the limitations of the fisa law, which prevented the N.S.A. from indiscriminately collecting electronic communications of Americans. The agency was legally vacuuming up just about any foreign communications it wanted. But when it targeted one side of a call or an e-mail that involved someone in the U.S. the spy agency had to seek permission from the fisacourt to conduct surveillance.”

The Washington Post: Judge: NSA’s collecting of phone records is probably unconstitutional — “‘I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,’ said Leon, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. ‘Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.’”

Lawfare: Matinee Idols: Ryan Lizza’s Flawed Account of Surveillance Law — “The piece is marred by Lizza’s flawed description of surveillance law.  He oversimplifies, and therefore distorts, the legal issues in a way that fits his narrative of Senator Wyden as the hero of his story.  Perhaps the most important problem is that Lizza doesn’t understand the issue with FISA prior to September 11 that led to these programs. He explains that while the NSA ‘was legally vacuuming up just about any foreign communications it wanted,’ it needed FISA court permission ‘when it targeted one side of a call or e-mail that involved someone in the United States . . . .’”

December 04 2013

05:52

What’s Your Poison?

The history and mystery of poison in nature, murder, myth and now, medicine.

Guests

Mark Siddall, curator at the American Museum of Natural History and the current exhibit, “The Power of Poison.” (@TheLeechGuy)

Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer, professor and author of “The Poisoner’s Handbook; Murder and the Birth of Forensic Evidence in Jazz Age New York.” (@DeborahBlum)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Daily News: Mark Siddall of the American Museum of Natural History points out poisons all around us — “Just because the city’s murder rate is on pace for a historic low doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers at every corner. Wherever you step in the Big Apple — from the gutter to the grocery store — you’re surrounded by potential poisons. It’s not cause to panic — but there’s reason to study up, according to American Museum of Natural History poison expert Mark Siddall. ‘We live in a pretty safe environment,’ says Siddall, who recently discovered a new species of venomous leech in the Amazon rain forest. His new exhibit, ‘The Power of Poison,’ opening Saturday, tracks toxins throughout history, from Cleopatra’s deadly snakebite to the possibility Napoleon died due to arsenic in his wallpaper.”

Bloomberg: Poison Show Inspired My Thanksgiving — “‘The Power of Poison’ takes us on a focused journey through the realms of myth, history, medicine, literature, murder and dementia starting with a glittering display of chocolates. In the interest of domestic harmony, resist leaving an opened box of Godiva on the coffee table within reach of the yappy canine belonging to your annoying sister-in-law. Like so many exhibitions at the museum, ‘The Power of Poison’ is entertaining, illuminating, inspirational and definitely spellbinding. Sit down and watch a film of a poisonous water snake take on a freaky Moray eel. It’s hard to know who to root for, but that toothy eel has my vote.”

Mother Jones: Study: Everything I Like to Ingest Has Arsenic — “In a study apparently designed by my friend for revenge on me, Dartmouth researchers found an association between bodily arsenic loads and consumption of the following substances I have swooned over in print (and enjoy in really life pretty much every chance I get): white wine, beer, Brussels sprouts, and ‘dark meat fish,’ a category that includes my beloved sardines. For people who drink 2.5 beers or glasses of white wine per day, they found, arsenic levels were 20 percent to 30 percent higher than for nondrinkers. Gulp. Or, perhaps better: Stop gulping.”

November 22 2013

05:22

Week In The News: Afghan Deals, Midwest Storms, J.P. Morgan Fine

Midwest destruction, Afghan troop talks, a big fine for J.P. Morgan and gay marriage and the Cheney sisters. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Guests

Trudy Rubin, Worldview columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. (@TrudyRubin)

Bill McKenzie, editorial columnist for The Dallas Morning News. (@Bill_McKenzie)

Jack BeattyOn Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Bluster from Congress on Iran, but to what end? – “I can understand Netanyahu’s thinking: He distrusts Tehran and wants President Obama to back an Israeli military strike on its nuclear sites. But I can’t grasp the ‘thinking’ in Congress. Are the sanctions hawks really ready to push America into another unnecessary Mideast war? The hawks argue that if strong economic curbs pushed the Iranians into talks, then harsher punishment will make them give up their nuclear program. But when it comes to Iran, that kind of strategy has failed badly in the past.

The Dallas Morning News:  A second president’s profile in courage — “Johnson’s reaction went beyond an ability to handle emergencies; I think another factor was in play. He was absolutely comfortable using his authority to achieve his goals. That trait separates political leaders from those who follow in their wake. Johnson’s indomitable will certainly helped him prepare to lead from the moment he arrived at Andrews. The late George Plimpton described some leaders as having an X factor that defines them and puts them in a special category. For some, that could be charisma, which Kennedy had in large doses. But Johnson’s ability to tower over others was his X factor. He used it often as Senate majority leader in the 1950s to move legislation. And, of course, he put it to use in carrying out JFK’s domestic legacy.”

Politico: Liz Cheney tries to repair hostile relations with Wyoming press — “The question is whether she can undo the initial damage in a state with such a strong newspaper tradition. The primary contest is nine months away, but political pros say Cheney faces a steep uphill climb against the incumbent, Sen. Mike Enzi. Cheney was widely seen as a carpetbagger from the moment she entered the race — she moved her family to the state last year — and the attacks on the state’s newspapers, which have a loyal readership, have left a sour taste.”

November 15 2013

15:00

Week In The News: Typhoon Recovery, Obamacare Reversal, Iranian Stalemate

Typhoon tragedy.  Obamacare reversal. New guidelines for statins. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Big news on health reform this week.  President Obama stands down on a hot portion of Obamacare.  The “you can keep your coverage” promise will be kept, for a while.  It’s a reversal.  And knives are out for more.  In the Philippines, an epic typhoon leaves devastation so deep that relief is hard to deliver, even when it comes.  Now it’s hunger and thirst.  We’ve got Janet Yellen lining up to be Fed chief.  John Boehner saying no to big immigration reform.  Heat over nuclear talks with Iran.  A giant airline merger.  And Amazon does a Sunday deal with the US Mail.  Up next On Point:  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Margaret Talev, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. (@margarettalev)

Ben Pauker, managing editor at Foreign Policy. (@BenPauker)

Jack Beatty, On Point News Analyst

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Obama Needs His Friends Back — “On Tuesday, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Obama with the lowest approval rating of his presidency. Only 39 percent approved of his performance; 54 percent disapproved. The numbers echoed those of a recent Pew survey that pegged the president’s job approval at 41 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. In situations of this sort, there is always a search for an instant repair. ‘Fix the Web site’ is the most obvious, and it’s certainly necessary. But a tech problem has been compounded by the reality of health-care reform itself. ”

Wall Street Journal: Escape From Obamacare — “The particular irony of this Democratic flight for the exits is that their bill would make ObamaCare even less viable. If people are allowed to choose a competitive insurance alternative, the exchanges are unlikely to survive financially. That’s why the White House is trying to stuff in as many people as possible, however unsuccessfully. House Republicans have the better argument. There’s a substantive difference between letting people keep their plans through deregulation and through a new mandate that is supposed to counteract the damage from the old mandates. They should build on this insight and promote more ways for people to elude ObamaCare if they prefer.”

Foreign Policy: John Kerry’s Iran Briefing Succeeds…In Solidifying GOP Against Him — “In an effort to slam the brakes on a new round of Iran sanctions coming through Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry held a classified briefing with the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday. Although the purpose of the briefing was to convey how new sanctions could derail the delicate negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, Republicans stormed out of the closed-door session in opposition to the Obama administration’s message. At the same time, top Democrats remained silent or refused to comment as they exited the Capitol.”

November 08 2013

16:00

Nazi Treasure Trove Discovered

The story behind the amazing, newly-revealed trove — Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Renoir — of Nazi-plundered art.

It’s no secret that the Nazis stole, looted, a mountain of art in World War II.  Huge quantities of priceless paintings, cultural artifacts, trucked and trained and hidden all over Europe by Adolf Hitler’s men, looking to remake European culture in the image of the Third Reich.  The Allies fought back on this front too, sending in units of their own to find and save the treasures of Europe.  But they missed a lot.  This week, news out of Munich of a newly-revealed trove.  Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Picasso.  Up next On Point:  the story behind the amazing newly-revealed trove of Nazi-plundered art.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Thomas Röll, one of two reporters who first the story for the German weekly magazine Focus.

Jonathan Petropoulos, professor of European History and chair of the history department at Claremont McKenna College. Author of “The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany” and “Art as Politics In the Third Reich.”

Robert Edsel, founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, co-producer of the documentary, ‘The Rape of Europa.” Author of “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe’s Great Art, America and Her Allies Recovered It” and “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures From the Nazis.” (@RobertEdsel)

David Rowland, partner at the New York City law firm Rowland & Petroff, which specializes in art recovery representation.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Cache of Nazi-Seized Art Discovered in Munich Apartment– “The works, by artists including Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, are estimated to be worth about €1 billion ($1.35 billion), according to a preliminary analysis for authorities undertaken by an expert at Berlin’s Free University. German authorities made the discovery more than two years ago but kept the finding a secret, they say, pending the completion of their investigation.”

New York Times: In a Rediscovered Trove of Art, a Triumph Over the Nazis’ Will — “Among the very first goals of the Nazis was to purge German museums and ransack private collections. Perversely, they stockpiled the modern art they hated, some to sell abroad in exchange for hard currency. Hildebrand was one of the dealers whom Joseph Goebbels picked for this task. Some art they paraded in an exhibition of shame. The show ended up a blockbuster, infuriating the Führer. After that, thousands upon thousands of confiscated works disappeared.”

Los Angeles Times: George Clooney’s ‘The Monuments Men’ pushed to 2014 — “George Clooney’s World War II drama ’The Monuments Men’ will not arrive in theaters this year as planned because the film’s visual effects could not be completed in time, the actor and director said. The tale of a ragtag band of art historians, museum curators and academics racing to rescue paintings and sculptures looted by the Nazis — slated to open Dec. 18 — now will be released by Sony Pictures early next year.”

Gallery Of Looted Art Discovered In Munich

Likely List Of Art Included In Stash

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