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America's female soldiers served on the front lines in Iraq, and they're doing the same thing in Afghanistan. But the law says they cannot be assigned to combat. Does that unfairly limit their military careers? What about the guarantee of equality under the law? We hear about a dispute that's raging from the courts to the Pentagon to the Halls of Congress. Also, a new report says Countrywide used loans to win favor, and Kansas has gone from a swing state to a model of corporate-dominated conservatism.

Banner image: Army Major Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth suffered the loss of both legs when a rocket-propelled grenade penetrated her helicopter beneath her feet and exploded at her knees in Iraq. Photo by Rudi Williams

Making News Report Says Countrywide Loans Used to Win Favor 7 MIN, 21 SEC

Countrywide Financial, which helped create the sub-prime mortgage crisis, discounted hundreds of loans to members of Congress and officials of Fannie Mae, protecting its business and fending off regulation. That's the result of three years of investigation by a House committee chaired by Republican Darrell Issa of California. Clea Benson reports for Bloomberg News.

Clea Benson, Bloomberg News

Main Topic Should Women Soldiers Be Assigned to Combat? 37 MIN, 20 SEC

During the Iraq war, an Army medic ran through gunfire to rescue wounded comrades, earning a Silver Star. But one rescued man said she should never even have been there. The medic was a woman, even though women are never assigned to combat. They're getting closer and closer, and there's a budding movement to make them eligible for all things men do, if they can meet the qualifying standards. But that's hugely controversial.  Is it just about equality under the law?  Is it a cultural issue, deeply ingrained despite the guarantees of the Constitution?

Anne Coughlin, University of Virginia School of Law (@UVALaw)
Anna Mulrine, Christian Science Monitor
Claire Russo, Council on Foreign Relations
Wilma Vaught, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation

Reporter's Notebook What's Still the Matter with Kansas? 6 MIN, 3 SEC

In 2004, as his home-state politics were swinging between the moderate and conservative wings of the Republican Party, Thomas Frank wrote the book, What's the Matter with Kansas? Now, in Harper's magazine, he says former US Senator Sam Brownback "has treated his governorship as a chance to enact the entire conservative wish list all at once." Frank, who remembers Kansas as a place where "the machinery of the state" was used "to support small towns and small farmers and build a system if interstate highways," now says there's a "collective hallucination" that's turned the political climate "toxic."

Thomas Frank, Salon / The Baffler

Pity the Billionaire

Thomas Frank

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