Nearly nine months after Hurricane Katrina struck one of America's favorite cities, NOW returns to New Orleans to talk to residents hit hard by the storm about who they believe will be the best man to run the beleaguered city.
The issue of reconstruction is central to the election -- between incumbent Ray Nagin and Louisiana's Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu -- as many homes and businesses still lie demolished throughout the city.
"When people say, why are you crying? You can't help it. I still cry about it," Catherine Britton told NOW. Britton and her family have returned to the largely demolished Ninth Ward of New Orleans to rebuild their home.
Forecasters are predicting another active hurricane season this year and the Army Corp of Engineers has just announced that it will not make the June 1 deadline to have the levees ready for this year's storms.
Just ahead of the elections, NOW looks at how far New Orleans has come and her tough road ahead with a new hurricane season just around the corner.
Lockdown: Detainees in the "War on Terror"
This week we also return to the issue of how our government is treating detainees of the global "war on terror."
In recent months the Pentagon has been forced to release thousands of documents, including transcripts of Guantanamo Bay hearings, giving the public more clues as to how detainees are being treated.
A number of detainees claim they have been subjected to torture and mistreatment at the hands of the U.S. military, a charge the Pentagon firmly denies. Only ten of the estimated 480 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay -- a U.S. naval base in Cuba -- have been formally charged.
"... You can't just lock people up and throw away the key without some process and some reason for holding them," Tom Wilner, who represents several Guantanamo prisoners, told NOW.
New photographs documenting alleged torture at the now-infamous Iraqi prison Abu Ghraib have also surfaced in recent months on the online magazine webs
NOW goes inside the immigration debate, investigating the guest worker program. Also, an interview with Lila Azam Zanganeh on what Americans need to understand about Iran.
Congress is considering legislation that critics charge would set up a discriminatory tollbooth system on the information superhighway.
Did car companies sabotage one of their most fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly products because it stood in the way of big profits? A new documentary by filmmaker Chris Paine charts the promising life and untimely death of the electric car.
As oil and gas companies continue to make enormous profits in a time of record-high gas prices, watchdog groups are accusing these companies of shortchanging American taxpayers out of billions of dollars in royalties for drilling rights on public property. Members of Congress are also being blamed for making sweetheart deals with Big Oil engineered to avoid the payment of royalties.
"These oil companies along with some members of Congress have really engineered one of the greatest train robberies of all time," says California Congressman George Miller.
You might not realize it, but American taxpayers own some very valuable property, some of it located in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. If oil and gas companies want to drill on this territory they are required to lease it out from the U.S. government, which collects royalties from them on the taxpayers' behalf.
It's no paltry sum. Royalties from oil and gas exploration are the government's second largest source of revenue, behind income tax.
"I think the American taxpayers are losing billions of dollars," Kevin Gambrell, former director of the Federal Indian Minerals Office in Farmington, New Mexico, told NOW.
Gambrell worked for seven years collecting royalties from petroleum companies working on federal and Native American lands in the Four Corners region.
"I think oil and gas companies were always trying to figure out how not to pay royalties or to pay as little as possible," Gambrell said.
He said he caught many oil and gas companies lying and cheating to avoid paying the full royalties owed. He adds that when he tried to go after a company for the royalties they owed, he received phone calls from Congressional offices leaning on him to side with industry.
The Royalty Treatment
Back in 1995, Congress passed the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act that reduced the amount of royalties oil and gas companies had to pay. At the time, when gas prices were fairly low, the move wa
America's guest worker program is coming under increasing scrutiny as Congress scrambles to find a solution to the country's immigration crisis and considers expanding the current program. But how is America treating guest workers who are already here? Are we welcoming temporary employees with open arms, or are they being exploited in ways that make employee rights groups cringe?
This week on NOW we travel to the remote mountains of Montana and follow a number of guest workers, most of them from Mexico, to find out what life is really like on this side of the border.
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"That's why we Hispanics are here. Because of the difficult work. [Americans] wouldn't do it, and much less for the pay that one makes," says Ausencio, a guest worker from Mexico.
Ausencio is one of thousands of guest workers, mostly Latinos, who toil in America's forests performing tough, repetitive, physical labor. He says he often works six days a week, sometimes more. Once hired, a guest worker cannot switch employers, which some say has led to widespread abuse.
Ausencio is one of many men nicknamed 'los pineros', which means 'men of the pines' in Spanish, who work for companies contracted by the U.S. Forest Service.
View a photo essay on guest workers Roman Ramos, a paralegal with the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aide, has worked as an advocate for many guest workers in their complaints against unfair treatment by U.S. companies.
"[The guest worker] has to put up with whatever crap that employer wants to put on him ... I've seen workers get fired for asking for clean drinking water," Ramos said.
One guest worker who says he was threatened for demanding his paycheck is Hugo Martin Recinos Recinos, from Guatemala, who worked for Express Forestry for four seasons.
He says he paid a recruiter in his home country around $1,580, which did not include his travel expenses, to come to the U.S.
STORY UPDATE (2.14.08): Congress may step up efforts to regulate broadband Internet providers and enforce what's known as "net neutrality" - allowing open access to Internet content. In February 2008, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced legislation to prevent broadband Internet providers from interfering with subscribers' access to content. The bill would authorize the Federal Communications Commission to monitor Internet providers to make sure they're delivering traffic fairly.
Is the wild west culture of the Internet about to become a thing of the past? Big business is staking its claim on the information superhighway, lobbying Congress for an exclusive faster lane, which consumers could end up paying for. This week on NOW we look at a major battle brewing in Washington D.C. over the future of the Internet.
We follow the story of Blip.tv, an ambitious video-streaming startup. They're fighting for a corner of the Internet marketplace in the midst of a battle over so-called 'net neutrality' -- the idea that all Internet content and websites are given the same access to audiences and customers.
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If telecommunication giants have their way, companies like Blip.tv might be forced to compete in a marketplace wherein firms with large coffers can buy access to greater bandwidth and faster Internet speeds, leaving sites who can't afford to pay in the slow lane.
Craig Aaron of Free Press, a media watchdog group, says big telecom companies have declared open season on 'Net neutrality.' He's afraid these companies will dictate how we use the Internet.
"I think one of the beauties of the Internet is that it's been open to views across the political spectrum. And if you hand the control of the information so that some can be preferred over others, you're going to be handing that control to the big media companies that already control our television, airwaves, radio,