- Pierre Thomas, Richard Coolidge, and Alexandra Dukakis at Power Players3 days ago
What do Monuments Men, Indiana Jones and James Bond have in common? All of them face villains who, among other offenses, are guilty of stealing prized pieces of art and artifacts. And in a striking comparison to these heroic treasure hunt stories popularized by movies, there is a real-life group of detectives working within the U.S. government today to restore lost and stolen art: Meet the FBI Art Crime Team.
“You’re not going to do the same type of investigation that you would for a Monet as you would do for a Chevrolet,” former FBI senior investigator Robert Wittman, who founded the Art Crime Team, told “Power Players.”
- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, Alexandra Dukakis, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players4 days ago
The Fine Print
Angus King may be one of only two Independent senators in Congress, but that doesn’t mean he’s excused himself from the table of party politics.
“I haven't traded lobsters, but I've bought a lot of ribs in here when I have friends for dinner – particularly senators,” the senator from Maine told “The Fine Print” during an interview at Kenny’s BBQ Smoke House in Washington, where he frequently picks up racks of ribs for bipartisan dinners he hosts at his nearby Washington home.
Menu options aside, King said he has a simple agenda for the Republicans and Democrats who sit down for dinner together at his house: Relax.
“The idea is to get us together in a kind of relaxed setting, and a non-partisan setting, because everything up there is always partisan,” King said of Congress. “You get a group of senators together and usually what you end up with is a sort of collective relaxation … telling stories about campaigns and what's going on — rarely policy.”
- Susan Saulny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players6 days ago
Chef Leah Chase, or as she’s widely known for her famous New Orleans cooking, the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” quite literally helped to feed the civil rights movement.
As the chef and owner of the renowned New Orleans restaurant named after her husband’s father, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant , Chase’s family took great risk in braving the South’s infamous “Jim Crow” laws to allow black and white organizers of the civil rights movement to use the popular restaurant as a safe meeting place.
“You just did the work you thought you were expected to do,” Chase said. “Anything you thought that could better people, you just did it.”
Fifty years after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Chase sat down with “Power Players” to remember the days when Freedom Riders worked from the upstairs level of her restaurant to plan their bus routes through the segregated South.
“I knew I had to feed them, and I knew I could not do what they were doing,” Chase said. “My whole life, honey, was this restaurant.”
- David Kerley, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players11 days ago
As the summer season has kicked into high gear, so too have Americans’ travel plans.
And as people prepare to make their way to their favorite Fourth of July destinations, former National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman sat down with “Power Players” to warn travelers about some of the biggest threats to travel safety.
The most glaring shortcoming in enforced travel safety, Hersman said, is that the use of child seats on airplanes is not required – and has even been discouraged in some cases – by airlines.
“We restrain our laptops, we restrain the coffee tops, but we don't restrain the most precious cargo on the airplane and that's our children,” said Hersman.
“It’s amazing when you look back 25, 35 years … things have completely changed when it comes to automobiles. All states have requirements for child passengers to be restrained,” Hersman said. “But yet the things that we take for granted when we're traveling 50 miles per hour, we aren't translating those to when we're traveling 250 miles per hour.”
- Karen Travers, Richard Coolidge, Alexandra Dukakis, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players13 days ago
In Belarus, the former Soviet country commonly dubbed as “Europe’s last dictatorship,” uncensored art is considered a crime.
But a group of actors – arming themselves only with a stage and a script with a political message – has dared to act out against the repressive two-decades-long reign of President Alexander Lukashenko and are the subject of a new HBO documentary “Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus,” set to premier on July 7.
“I was struck when I heard the story of the Belarus Free Theater who are operating illegally in Belarus and all they're trying to do is create art,” the film’s director and producer Madeleine Sackler told “Power Players.” “It's considered an economic crime for them to sell tickets – their audience members are videotaped by the KGB as they're coming in to see performances.”
As a price for their resistance, the actors of Belarus Free Theater risk their livelihood. They are blacklisted from ever holding a job in the country, where 70 percent of jobs are state-run.
- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players14 days ago
The Fine Print
A group of party elders say it's time to take a bite out of Washington gridlock.
“We see the two bodies, the House and Senate, they don't really communicate,” said former Sen. Trent Lott, R – Mississippi. “One body passes a bill, it goes nowhere; the other body passes a bill, it goes nowhere. So we reached a point, I think, the American people are really frustrated, they don't like what they're seeing, the lack of cooperation.”
Lott, along with former Sens. Tom Daschle, D –South Dakota, and Olympia Snowe, R – Maine, are co-chairs of the bipartisan “Commission on Political Reform” and sat down with “The Fine Print” to discuss their new report.
After years working in government themselves, this group of retired senators has their share of gripes with the Washington system.
Daschle pointed to Republicans’ “abuse of the filibuster” as his top complaint.
“I think Lyndon Johnson had one filibuster in the six years that he was majority leader. In the last six years, there have been 422 filibusters,” he said. “That's probably all you need to know about the abuse of the filibuster today.”
- Susan Saulny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players16 days ago
At a time when student loan debt exceeds $1 trillion and the cost of college continues to climb to new heights -- outpacing any other goods or services in the U.S. economy -- a new documentary asks the question: Is it worth it?
“Tuition has risen since 1978 by 1,120 percent, and during that same period state funding for colleges has declined by 40 percent,” filmmaker Andrew Rossi told “Power Players.”
Rossi’s film “Ivory Tower” traces the ballooning price tag for a college education to a shift in the national political and cultural mindset, by which college has come to be viewed as a private good, rather than a public one.
“In the ’60’s and ’70’s, conservative governors like Ronald Reagan argued, in Reagan's words exactly, that the states should not subsidize intellectual curiosity,” Rossi said. “There was a real shift in viewing higher [education] as a public good instead to a private good that is giving the graduate the opportunity to earn more money in their lifetimes; and that legacy has really continued on to today.”
- Rick Klein, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players18 days ago
Nearly a quarter-century after the notorious FBI sting that defined his political career, former D.C. mayor and current city councilman Marion Barry claims that the FBI was trying to kill him.
“I just think so, because during the trial the government refused to have that substance tested,” Barry said, referencing the crack cocaine that he was caught smoking in the raid. “I think that’s kind of strange, don't you think?”
Barry sat down with “Power Players” at D.C.’s Carolina Kitchen restaurant to discuss his new memoir, “Mayor for Life,” in which he tells all about the January 18, 1990 sting when Rasheeda Moore, a former romantic acquaintance of Barry’s, worked with the FBI to catch the then-mayor smoking crack cocaine on videotape.
“I wanted to, first of all, tell the truth … the good, the bad, and ugly, but also to educate people, to inspire people,” Barry said of his book.
- David Kerley, Matt Hosford and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players19 days ago
When you’re on a plane, do you ever worry about what would happen if it is struck by lightning? Will the aircraft survive?
“Power Players” traveled to Seattle to meet Boeing’s lightning guy: Rob Steinle, who along with a team of engineers, literally makes lightning – a million volts of electricity worth – and tests its effects on plane models.
“In here, we're learning where the attachment [lightning strike] is going to happen so we can beef up the materials in those areas, so we can be sure that they can sustain a major lightning attachment,” Steinle explained from inside Boeing’s lightning lab.
As shocking as it may seem, lightning doesn’t actually severely damage a plane. Jets are designed to shed the electricity -- acting like an extension cord that channels the electric current through the plane’s exterior shell without penetrating its interior. And it’s Steinle’s job to keep it that way.
“We have to make sure that the thicknesses are adequate, that the locations of those are going to work in that location, and that the protection on those surfaces is adequate,” he said.
- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players20 days ago
The Fine Print
Rep. Tammy Duckworth is no stranger to realities of the Iraq war. She lives with the consequences every day, as a veteran who lost both legs when the National Guard helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq.
And as President Obama prepares to send up to 300 Special Forces troops to advise the Iraqi military in its effort to combat the militant Islamist group ISIS, the Illinois Democrat said she is “disheartened.”
“I'm pretty appalled that the Iraqi military just abandoned their post after all of the time that American forces invested in training them…in both training but also arming them and equipping them,” Duckworth told “The Fine Print.”
“This is also a tragedy for the American people with all of the resources we put into that nation, as well as all the men and women who served in uniform there,” she added.
While proud of her military service, Duckworth said she didn’t agree with the United States decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003 and doesn’t support the prospect of recommitting military resources today – whether it is in the form of boots on the ground or even more limited air strikes.