Need to Know, August 12, 2011: The history of debt, detainee abuse, living with Chinese drywall

This week on Need to Know: We team up with news organization ProPublica to examine the harmful effects of tainted drywall manufactured in China, and the legal frustrations consumers encounter when trying to sue foreign manufacturers for damages. We follow one homeowner whose family abandoned their home because of tainted drywall, and see how she eventually took her case to Congress.

Then: As the global economic situation worsens and the debt crisis grinds on, Need to Know talks with David Graeber, an anthropologist and author of “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” about the history of debt for both individuals and nations. Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times talks about recent violence in East Africa, and the prospects for peace and stability in that region after the independence of South Sudan.

Plus: In a joint investigation with The Nation Institute Investigative Fund and reporter Joshua Phillips, Need to Know reveals a little-known U.S. military task force charged with investigating abuse of detainees in Iraq. Despite hundreds of allegations of abuse and torture, one of the special agents in charge of the task force describes it as under-resourced, overwhelmed and unable to adequately investigate cases.

And finally, a look at Youngstown, Ohio, where officials are planning for a revitalized future — with a significantly smaller population.

Check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

Home sick: Living with Chinese drywall

We team up with news organization ProPublica to examine the harmful effects of tainted drywall manufactured in China, and the legal frustrations consumers encounter when trying to sue foreign manufacturers for damages. We follow one homeowner whose family abandoned their home because of tainted drywall, and see how she eventually took her case to Congress.

Are we slaves to debt?

Alison Stewart sits down with David Graeber, an anthropologist and author of “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” to talk about the history of debt for both individuals and nations.

Jeffrey Gettleman on violence in East Africa

Alison Stewart sits down with the New York Times East Africa Bureau Chief Jeffrey Gettleman to talk about how Africans view Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi and the chances for a successful transition of power in Africa’s newest country — South Sudan.

Look no further: The military’s detainee abuse investigation task force

In a joint investigation with The Nation Institute Investigative Fund and reporter Joshua Phillips, Need to Know reveals a little-known U.S. military task force charged with investigating abuse of detainees in Iraq. Despite hundreds of allegations of abuse and torture, one of the special agents in charge of the task force describes it as under-resourced, overwhelmed and unable to adequately investigate cases.

Youngstown, Ohio: The incredible shrinking city

With thousands of houses sitting empty and crumbling, experts say people won’t be moving back into the old industrial cities that pepper the rustbelt anytime soon. But what about the residents who continue to live there? In Youngstown, Ohio, a city tries out a plan to restore its former greatness, but on a smaller scale.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

 

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