Does the “Mass Collection of U.S. Phone Records Violates the Fourth Amendment”?

That was the question being debated on the most recent episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast.

Moderated by ABC News’ John Donvan, the debate featured Alex Abdo (American Civil Liberties Union) and Elizabeth Wydra (Constitutional Accountability Center) who argued for the motion; and Stewart Baker (Steptoe & Johnson) and John Yoo (University of California, Berkeley) who argued against the motion.

Here is description of the debate:

Some say that mass collection of U.S. phone records is a gross invasion of privacy. Others say that it is necessary to keep us safe. But what does the U.S Constitution say? “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Is collection of phone records a “search” or “seizure”? If so, is it “unreasonable”? Does it require a particularized warrant and probable cause? These are among the most consequential-and controversial-constitutional questions of our time.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Textbooks Cost So Much

Recently, the Planet Money podcast tackled a topic relevant to student: the increasing costs of textbooks.

Here is a description of the show from the NPR website:

Prices of new textbooks have been going up like crazy. Faster than clothing, food, cars, and even healthcare.

Listeners have been asking for years why textbooks are getting so expensive. On today’s show, we actually find an answer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Zakaria on Maher and Extremism

Recently, Bill Maher made some controversial statements about Islam and extremism. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria opened yesterday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS discussing Maher’s statements.

Here is a description of the segment:

When television host Bill Maher declares on his weekly show that “the Muslim world…has too much in common with ISIS,” and the author, Sam Harris (a guest on his show) concurs, arguing that “Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas,” I understand why people get upset. Maher and Harris made crude simplifications and exaggerations.

And yet, they were also talking about something real. I know all the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It is a vast world of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t fit these caricatures. That’s why Maher and Harris are guilty of simplification and exaggeration.

But let’s be honest: Islam has a problem today…There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrate violence and intolerance, and harbor deeply reactionary attitudes towards women and minorities. And while some moderates confront these extremists, not enough do so and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against ISIS in the Arab world today?

But now the caveat, Islam today, is important.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“The Cost of Cancer Drugs”

Recently, 60 Minutes ran a story about the inflated prices of new cancer drugs.

Here is how the segment began (from 60 Minutes website):

Cancer is so pervasive that it touches virtually every family in this country. More than one out of three Americans will be diagnosed with some form of it in their lifetime. And as anyone who’s been through it knows, the shock and anxiety of the diagnosis is followed by a second jolt: the high price of cancer drugs.

They are so astronomical that a growing number of patients can’t afford their co-pay, the percentage of their drug bill they have to pay out-of-pocket. This has led to a revolt against the drug companies led by some of the most prominent cancer doctors in the country

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Michael Pollan on Food and Public Health

Recently, the BBC’s Analysis programme sat down with author Michael Pollan to discuss food policy and public health.

Here is a description of the interview from the BBC’s podcast:

What should we eat? Jo Fidgen talks to the influential American writer Michael Pollan about what food is – and what it isn’t. In an interview before an audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science he criticises the way the food industry has promoted highly-processed products delivering hefty doses of salt, sugar and fat. He believes that the plethora of accompanying health claims have left us more confused than ever about what food really is, where it has come from and its impact on our health and the environment. His solution? To cook at home. He argues that this simple change will guarantee a healthy diet and stop us relying on big food companies to feed us. It is also, he says, a profoundly political act. But is it a realistic proposition for busy working families or simply a middle-class ideology?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

60 Minutes on Tax Fraud

Recently, 60 Minutes ran a story about prevalent IRS identity scam.

Here is a how the story began:

There have been lots of stories over the past few months on identity theft and how the information can be used against you. You may have heard something about stolen identity tax fraud. You may even have been a victim of it. It’s the biggest tax scam around now.

This is how it works. Someone steals your identity, files a bogus tax return in your name before you do and collects a refund check from the IRS. It’s so simple, you would think it would never work, but it does. It’s been around since 2008, and you’d think the IRS would have come up with a way to stop it, it hasn’t. Instead the scam has gone viral, tripling in the past three years.

The IRS estimates that it sent out nearly three million fraudulent refunds to con artists last year. And according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office out tomorrow, it cost tax payers $5.2 billion. The Treasury Department believes the numbers are much higher than that. Proving once again, what every con man already knows: there is no underestimating the general dysfunction and incompetence of government bureaucracy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

This American Life: Inside the New York Fed

The most recent episode of This American Life provided a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the New York Federal Reserve.

Here is a description of the podcast from the TAL website:

An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder and started secretly taping. ProPublica’s print version.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized