You might think that everything would have changed for the chemicals industry on April 16, 1947. That was the day of the Texas City Disaster, the worst industrial accident in U.S. history. A ship loaded with ammonium nitrate — the same chemical that appears to have caused the disaster last month in West, Texas — exploded. The ship sparked a chain reaction of blasts at chemical facilities onshore, creating what a newsreel at the time called "a holocaust that baffles description."
Heritage Action, the political activist offshoot of the conservative Heritage Foundation, has some advice for House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor: focus on the scandals plaguing the Obama administration and stay away from legislation that could "highlight major schisms" within the House Republican Conference.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we go to Ohio where black business owners are meeting to swap some new ideas. Basketball legend Magic Johnson even got a lead on an investment there. We'll tell you more about that in just a few minutes. But first, House Republicans voted yesterday to repeal President Obama's signature healthcare law - again.
I'm Celeste Headlee. This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away and it is time yet again for a visit to the Barbershop. That's where the guys talk about what's in the news, what's on their minds.
NPR's Ron Elving and National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson, sitting in for Ken Rudin, look back at the week of scandals rocking the Obama administration. The president says he's angry and fires the IRS chief for the agency's targeting of groups with names that include "Tea Party" and "patriot" for extra scrutiny. And Attorney General Eric Holder is back on Capitol Hill, this time testifying on the Justice Department's seizing of phone records of journalists.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was front-and-center during the Republican-led impeachment of President Clinton in 1998, is cautioning his GOP colleagues about the risk of appearing to be too eager as they dig into the scandals now dogging the Obama administration.
Next week, voters in Falmouth, Massachusetts decide whether to spend $14 million to tear down two wind turbines - or turbines if you prefer. The Cape Cod town installed these turbines just three years ago in an effort to produce renewable energy and cut costs. Nearby residents says the turbines are a health hazard and that the only cure is to take them down.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Renee's in Afghanistan. I'm Steve Inskeep. President Obama's administration has gone through entire seasons when it seemed the bottom was falling out. The administration's outward approach at times like this has been to seem unflappable and move on.
The candidates have spent a record amount of money. They've stumped hard in a city that isn't easy to campaign in — 470 square miles sliced up into neighborhoods divided by a web of freeways.
Yet despite nearly $20 million in spending in the March primary alone, turnout is expected to be low next Tuesday in Los Angeles when voters go to the polls to pick a new mayor to replace the term-limited Antonio Villaraigosa.
As a result, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and his opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel, are engaged in an all-out blitz for votes across the sprawling city.
On the same day House Republicans scheduled their latest symbolic vote to repeal Obamacare, as part of their full-court press against the law they also took to Twitter to say, in three words, why they oppose the legislation.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Turkey's Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Washington today. After meeting with President Obama, the two leaders took questions from the press in the White House rose garden. As NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, the president took the opportunity to respond to some of the controversies that have been buffeting his administration.
A couple generations ago, when older Americans retired they could rely on pension plans to support them. Then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, many companies switched their retirement plans over to 401(k) accounts. The security of workers' retirement savings suddenly became subject to the vagaries of the stock market.
Update at 5:38 p.m. ET. One More IRS Official To Leave
Another official is out at the embattled agency.
The Associated Press reports that Joseph Grant, commissioner of the IRS' tax exempt and government entities division, will retire June 3. The division scrutinized Tea Party groups when the applied for tax-exempt status.
Update at 4:45 p.m. ET. Obama Names New IRS Acting Chief
On a Thursday, it's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. There are some weeks when a White House controls the agenda, and there are weeks like this one, when the White House is forced largely to react. President Obama has been juggling multiple controversies, and last night his White House tried to take two of them head-on.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is introducing legislation with other lawmakers Thursday that would change how the military handles sexual assault cases. The proposal would let military prosecutors — rather than commanders — decide whether to bring serious military crimes to trial.
It's the latest high-publicity move for a senator who was virtually unknown four years ago when she was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's senate seat. Now, she's on some lists for possible candidates for vice president — even president.
President Obama announced late Wednesday that the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Steve Miller, has resigned in the wake of a report that employees at the agency engaged in partisan scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
The president, appearing for a brief statement at the White House, said he had directed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew "to accept the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS."
Revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted some conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny have put a spotlight on a part of the tax code increasingly popular with political groups: section 501(c)(4).
But what's the benefit for organizations to get approved for 501(c)(4) status?
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The IRS targets the Tea Party; the Justice Department picks on the press; but the president waves off Benghazi as a distraction. It's Wednesday and time for a...
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: A sideshow...
CONAN: ...edition of the Political Junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
Update at 6:42 p.m. ET: Reaction From Boehner's Office
In a statement, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said the emails "contradict statements made by the White House that it and the State Department only changed one word in the talking points."
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program we'll talk about a story that another U.S. service member is being investigated for sexually abusing subordinates. This after a survey showed that service members reported tens of thousands of sexual assaults last year alone. We'll speak with three women in the Beauty Shop who know a lot about this subject to talk about why this problem persists and what can be done about it.