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Need to Know, July 22, 2011: Famine in Somalia, nuclear waste storage, Eric Cantor and the debt ceiling


This week, the United Nations declared a famine in parts of southern Somalia — the worst famine reported in the region in 20 years. We speak with the United Nations Refugee Agency to discuss how the famine has led to an estimate 4,000 Somalis fleeing the country daily in search of refuge.

We also travel to New Mexico to investigate a the nation’s only operating deep geologic nuclear waste disposal site. In the age-old debate over how to store the U.S.’s nuclear waste, could this plant offer a potential solution?

Also: We speak with anthropologist Gabriella Coleman, who has spent time researching the world of hackers like Anonymous and LulzSec.

And: Political reporter Jeff Schapiro sits down with us to discuss congressman Eric Cantor, the Republican who has emerged as a leading opponent of the White House’s attempt to broker a deal on the debt ceiling. Historian Richard Brookhiser also joins us  to discuss the larger implications of Washington’s recent impasse over the deficit.

Check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

The revolution will not be firewalled

Alison Stewart sits down with author and anthropologist Gabriella Coleman to discuss the tricky and complicated world of hackers.

Eric Cantor walks a fine line

Need to Know interviews Jeff Schapiro, a political reporter and columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, about Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, who has emerged as a leading opponent of the White House’s attempt to broker a deal on the debt ceiling.

Richard Brookhiser on divisions within the GOP

Need to Know turns to historian and senior editor at the National Review, Richard Brookhiser, for a broader perspective on the recent political machinations in Washington, and the age-old discussion over the size of government.

A solution for nuclear waste?

As the U.S. continues to try to resolve the decades old issue of what to do with nuclear waste, Need to Know visits a possible solution, a half-mile below the desert in New Mexico. The Department of Energy’s WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) is the nation’s only operating deep geologic nuclear waste disposal site. Alison Stewart goes underground for a tour.

Famine in Somalia: ‘A race against time to save lives’

Millions of Somalis are at risk of starvation because of the worst drought in decades. Recently, nearly 80,000 people have left Somalia for refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. Some of the hardest-hit areas in Somalia are controlled by the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which has complicated getting international aid to those who have not left the region. Need to Know speaks with Adrian Edwards of the U.N.’s Refugee Agency in Geneva after he returned from visiting Somali refugees at camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.