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Need to Know, March 11, 2011: Public unions and state budgets, blood transfusions

The ongoing conflict between public unions and state governments in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Ohio revolves around a central question: Are public unions in part responsible for states’ budget problems? This week, Need to Know explores the facts to provide an answer.

Also: A growing number of people in the medical community are questioning how blood transfusions are used in the United States. They are concluding that, for many patients, the risks can outweigh the benefits. We take a look at the practice of blood transfusions and some alternatives that have been developed to avoid the potential risks that transfusions may pose.

And: Editorial illustrator Steve Brodner conducts an “illustrated interview” with author Eduardo Porter about income inequality in America.

The episode airs Friday, March 11 — check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

Union salaries and state budgets

Are public unions to blame for states’ budget woes? Governors from a number of states — not just in Wisconsin — say that public union workers’ salaries and benefits are wreaking havoc on their state budgets. But are state workers really to blame for the economic plight of states? Need to Know examines the facts behind one of the most contentious arguments in the news today.

Blood test: What you don’t know about blood

Since World War ll, blood has been considered “the gift of life.” But today a growing number of experts are questioning whether blood transfusions should be so widely used. For more about transfusions, watch these First Look videos on the Centers for Disease Control’s new “hemovigilance” program, and the more than 100 blood management initiatives at hospitals across the country. (Original air date: August 20, 2010)

For high speed rail, a tale of two governors

President Obama’s vision for high speed rail has been rejected by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, and embraced by Illinois governor Patrick Quinn, a Democrat. For more reports from our partner at Blueprint America, check out Need to Know’s Transportation Desk. (Original air date: January 14, 2011)

Interview with Stacy Schiff

Jon Meacham speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff about her best-selling book about Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. (Original air date: December 24, 2010).

A Steve Brodner editorial cartoon

Editorial cartoonist Steve Brodner conducts an “illustrated interview” with author Eduardo Porter about income inequality in America.

Living large: The tiny house movement

Need to Know visited one of the proponents of the “tiny house” movement, Dee Williams, who lives in a simple but stylish 84-square-foot home in Olympia, Wash. (Original air date: July 30, 2010)

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

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