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In our second hour, guests talk about pockets of strength in the economy, including how things are looking up in the agriculture sector. (flickr)

March 15th: What's On Today's Show

Mar 15, 2012

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Middle East Peace Without A Deal?
Israel's military and Palestinians in Gaza traded missile strikes today as tensions continue to escalate in a local conflict that has been largely eclipsed by Israeli concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions. When President Obama held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, the topic of the Israeli-Plaestinian conflict was largely absent from the public discussion. In a Washington Post op-ed, Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller write that the topic was missing from the discussion because neither of the parties involved appears to have much incentive to negotiate. Malley and Miller fear that a "de facto" solution to the conflict could arise that would not be "comprehensive or conflict-ending" and suggest that steps can be taken toward peace even without a major breakthrough. Host Neal Conan speaks with Robert Malley about the current state of affairs between Israel and Palestinians and what's at stake for the each side.

Obama: Iran's Window For Diplomacy "Shrinking"
The Iranian government refused to allow United Nations inspectors onto a military base suspected of being part of that country's nuclear program. The decision is the latest in a growing tug-of-war between the West and Israel and Iran over Iran's nuclear ambitions. A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans prefer to give economic sanctions more time to work, rather than resort to immediate military action. Long-time diplomat Dennis Ross agrees. In a New York Times op-ed he wrote last month, Ross argues that since Iran is "reeling from sanctions, the proper environment now exists for diplomacy to work. But yesterday, President Obama said "the window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking." Host Neal Conan speaks with Ambassador Dennis Ross about the United States relationship with Iran and the possibilities and limits of diplomacy.

Are Things Looking Up For You?
Millions of Americans are still out of work. Many homeowners are underwater or facing foreclosure. But five years after the start of the Great Recession, there are signs that things are looking up. The Labor Department reports that applications for unemployment dropped again last week and that February marked the best three months of hiring in two years. Manufacturing, agriculture, energy, technology and automotive companies are helping to boost the overall economy. Many companies are hiring, and housing is slowly picking up. Host Neal Conan talks with NPR Senior Business Editor Marilyn Geewax about what's driving the optimism in the economy, and whether or not it can last. Backcountry.com CEO Jill Layfield, whose company is expanding and hiring, also joins the conservation to talk about what she's seeing in the services and technology industries.

Advice For Blagojevich As He Heads To Prison
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich walked off a plane in Denver today on his way to begin a 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges in a Colorado prison. Roughly one in one hundred Americans are currently serving time in prison, and in 2010 former Missouri state senator Jeff Smith was one of them. He served a year in federal prison on obstruction of justice charges. In a piece in the Chicago Tribune, he offers sober advice to Blagojevich on what to expect, and what and what not to do behind bars. Among the tips: Listen, watch and learn; get in the best shape of your life; never snitch; forgive your enemies; and learn something new — rules Smith had to learn the hard way. Host Neal Conan talks with Smith, now a politics professor at The New School, about his piece "12 tips for Blagojevich."

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