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Despite a price tag of almost a trillion dollars, this year's Farm Bill is expected to pass both houses of Congress. Critics say much-touted reforms are bogus, but there's enough pork barrel spending to earn the support of both Democrats and Republicans.  Could it be a model for the bipartisanship that will be required after November's elections? Also, a Syrian pilot defects as the CIA helps arm rebels, the Hawaiian Island of Lanai is being sold by one billionaire to another. What will that mean for 3200 people who live there?

Banner image: As a new federal farm bill is debated in Washington, DC, a customer shops for nectarines on June 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Making News Syrian Pilot Defects as CIA Helps Arm Rebels 7 MIN, 7 SEC

The Obama Administration insists that it's not providing arms to Syrian rebels, but other countries are, and weapons are being slipped across the border from Turkey. Today's New York Times reports that CIA officers are part of the operation. Terrorism correspondent Eric Schmitt wrote the story.

Eric Schmitt, New York Times (@ericschmittNYT)

Main Topic The Farm Bill: Real Reform or Political Bait and Switch? 34 MIN, 4 SEC

Every few years, Congress takes up the massive Farm Bill, with members of both parties loading it up with pork barrel spending. After George W. Bush vetoed the Farm Bill in 2008, the Senate over-rode him with 82 out of 100 votes. This year, the bill totals almost a trillion dollars with passage expected before the end of this week. It's the historic epitome of pork barrel spending — but, in this era of partisan gridlock, it's also a sign that the parties can get together if only they want to. Direct payments to farmers are being abolished, but critics complain that new subsidies for crop insurance are really the same thing. Will a last-minute fight over food stamps derail the last major legislation expected to pass before the November election?

Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News (@AlanBjerga)
Joe Boddiford, peanut farmer
Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post (@edatpost)
Bruce Babcock, Iowa State University
Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation

Endless Appetites

Alan Bjerga

Reporter's Notebook Oracle Chief to buy Lanai 9 MIN, 2 SEC

Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle, plans to pay cash for the Hawaiian island of Lanai — 88,000 acres of land with two resorts, two golf courses, a stable and no traffic lights. What will it mean for 3200 people who live there? Part of the county of Maui, 98 percent of the Lanai is owned by David Murdoch's company Castle and Cook. Locals say Murdoch was disappointed he couldn't develop Lanai more. Murdoch says he's been looking for a buyer with, "the right enthusiasm, commitment and respect for the island's residents." Butch Gima is the president of Lanaians for Sensible Growth.

Butch Gima, Lanaians for Sensible Growth

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