The Takeaway

Flynn Out, Atrocities in Syria, Oroville Dam

February 13, 201746 min
Coming up on today's show:
Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned late last night after reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia. The Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich joins us with the latest, including who might take over the job. 
Syrian government helicopters dropped chlorine on residential areas in Aleppo at least eight times from Nov. 17-Dec. 13, according to a report by Human Rights Watch that was published Monday. Ole Solvang, deputy director for emergencies at Human Rights Watch talked to us from Paris about his organization's report on chemical weapons use by President Bashar al-Assad's regime. His organization's report followed one from Amnesty International that up to 13,000 people were summarily hanged in secret from 2011-2015. Assad dismissed the report. Martin Chulov, who covers the Middle East for the Guardian joined us to discuss the current situation.
Net neutrality advocates are worried because FCC chairman Ajit Pai has unraveled several Obama administration polices in his first few weeks on the job. Also watching with trepidation has been commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who explained what these changes mean. 
Nearly 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from an area downstream of the tallest dam in the United States, and more rain is in the forecast. The dam's spillways have been eroded by the force of water rushing over it, but efforts are underway to shore them up. This is the scenario environmental groups were concerned about when they filed a lawsuit 12 years ago to try forcing regulators to strengthen the dam. Mark Ogden of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials is with us to explain. 
Attorneys for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are seeking to get his court martial dismissed because a member of his chain of command has already proclaimed the soldier a traitor and a deserter and suggested he be executed. That commander is President Donald Trump, whose comments on the campaign trail were shown to a military judge, who called it "disturbing material." Rachel VanLandingham, a retired Air Force lawyer and current law professor at  Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, joined us to discuss the implications.
When he was President, George Washington tried to get around laws prohibiting slavery in the North by sending his nine slaves south twice a year to "reset the clock" requiring them to be freed after six months. One time, one of them didn't come back. "Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge" tells her story, and author Erica Armstrong Dunbar is with us. 

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