AirTalk for May 4, 2011

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There appears to be a hot debate at the top levels in Washington over whether to release photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have reportedly advised the President not to release the images. However, CIA Director Leon Panetta thinks it's important to do so. There have been voices of skepticism of bin Laden's death -- perhaps easily refuted by the absence of the man himself. Some Pentagon and State Department officials are concerned about a potential backlash against the U.S. for killing of the al-Qaida leader. According to a senior government source, the White House has three sets of photographs, including one close-up image described as too gruesome for the front page of newspapers. Should the photos be released anyway? What’s the White House’s strategy regarding the photos? What are the pros and cons of releasing them? Does the world need photographic proof to believe bin Laden is really dead?
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Palestinian unity deal to be signed today

Hamas and Fatah, the two major Palestinian political movements, are reportedly hours away from signing a unity deal in Cairo. The Egyptian-brokered talks, kept secret until last week, received further support today from fifteen Palestinian factions. But Israel has taken swift action against the reconciliation by withholding funds owed to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The finance minister of Israel wants the PA to guarantee that none of the money would end up with Hamas – classified as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. After a lengthy and bitter split, what has brought Hamas and Fatah together? What divisions remain? How will the international community view Israel's position against the deal?
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Pac-10 secures landmark $3-billion TV deal

The Pac-10/12 formerly announced a 12-year, $3-billion television deal with Fox and ESPN at a news conference in Phoenix today. The record contract, which will begin with the 2012-13 season, is worth $250-million a year. Most of the high-profile football and basketball games will be on channels owned by Fox or ESPN. But there are other games still in play, which could provide content for the conference to start its own network. Given today’s economic landscape, is this huge deal a gamble for the networks? Or does it prove that sports are king? Will fencing fans finally have a place to get their foils on…TV?
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Understanding Bernie Madoff and his crimes

How did Bernie Madoff pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history and how does he feel about it now? In her new book, “The Wizard of Crimes,” New York Times senior financial writer Diana Henriques digs into these questions, revealing the man and motives behind these crimes. Drawing on in-person interviews with Madoff in prison and over a hundred of interviews with people related to the crimes, Henriques reveals who Bernie Madoff really is, how he started his first money borrowing cover-up scheme and how that scheme grew into the full blown scandal. Madoff was one of Wall Street’s most successful and respected traders. How did he go from trusted New York financier to swindling his relatives, friends and investors out of $65 billion through a fraud that lasted for decades?
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California kills death penalty for 2011

Looks like California won’t resume executions this year. Corrections officials have asked a federal judge who halted executions four years ago to wait until December before reviewing the state’s revised lethal injection procedures and its new death chamber at San Quentin State Prison. There are currently 713 condemned inmates on death row. Why is the review being delayed? Will the state’s revised three-drug execution method ever pass muster? Should California join the national trend away from seeking new executions?
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How we reached the Information Age

As smartphone-carrying members of the Information Age, we often take for granted the fact that data has not always been so easily categorized for easy access and retrieval. Actually, there was a time when information as we know it didn’t even exist. Any thought or idea, no matter how small or significant, evaporated as soon as it originated. Before the dawn of speech, language, communication and documentation, there was no way of voicing, transferring and recording info. In James Gleick’s new book The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, the author details how humanity has learned to harness sounds, symbols and eventually logic itself to create and develop a complete theory of information. How far have humans come in their wielding of data, ideas and facts? What specific figures does Gleick examine in his book and why? How will information evolve in the future?
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