START Treaty Stalled
President Obama on Saturday pressed senate Republicans to stop blocking his updated nuclear arms pact— the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START. The agreement was negotiated with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and aims to limit the number of strategic nuclear warheads held by the United States and Russia and to set up a system to inspect and verify the other's arsenal. President Obama called the treaty a "national security imperative for the United States." But Senate Republicans worry it could limit U.S. missile defenses and want more time to consider the consequences. Republican leaders say they won't support a vote until the start of the new congress. Today host Neal Conan talks about the ratification fight over the new START treaty and the consequences of approving — or blocking — the pact.
More Marines Back "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Seventy percent of the 400,000 active-duty and reserve troops surveyed in an upcoming Pentagon report said the effect of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent. However, 40 percent of Marines surveyed expressed concern about lifting the ban. Those results leaked earlier this month. The final report is due out November 30th. In Sunday's Washington Post, Tammy Schultz, director of national security and joint warfare at the U.S. Marine Corps War College, argues that resistance to ending the policy is embedded in Marine culture. On today's opinion page, Schultz talks about why the Marines are the biggest backers of "don't ask, don't tell," and why the culture of the Corps also makes Marines more likely to accept any eventual change in the policy.
Does College Football Need a Playoff?
Four college football teams stand undefeated. Three letters will prevent two of them from playing for the national championship: BCS. The current system of bowl games uses computer formulas and polling to pick the top teams, and many sports fans argue it's time for playoffs in college football. The bowl commission argues that the current setup makes every game important and that student-athletes favor the BCS over a playoff system. The series is also a moneymaker for many colleges. But critics say competing schools are actually losing money, smaller programs get overlooked and it's tarnishing the value of the game. Neal Conan talks with NPR's Tom Goldman, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports, and Bill Hancock of the Bowl Championship Series about the controversy surrounding the system and whether college football needs a playoff.