This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Earlier this hour, President Obama spoke in the White House about the impacts of deep spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect a week from Friday. A group of first responders in uniforms stood behind him. The president said if Congress does not stop these cuts, these men and women in uniform will not be available to help communities respond to, and recover from disasters.
The Defense Department and other government agencies are preparing for the possible government budget cuts known as sequestration. Host Michel Martin talks with Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins of the Defense Department and Washington Post 'Federal Diary' columnist Joe Davidson about who'll be affected.
Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 9:54 am
Standing in front of first responders who he says could lose their jobs, President Obama pushed Tuesday for Congress to act now to avoid $85 billion in "automatic, severe budget cuts" set to kick in starting on March 1.
The cuts due because of the so-called sequestration "are not smart, they are not fair [and] they will hurt our economy," the president said.
Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 10:25 am
Nobody saw this one coming.
Sen. Mike Johanns, a reliably conservative Republican from Nebraska, announced yesterday (Feb. 18) he would retire rather than seek a second term in 2014 ... one where he was considered the overwhelming favorite. A former two-term governor and agriculture secretary under President George W. Bush, Johanns wrote his constituents an open letter that was also signed by his wife Stephanie:
These should be good times for Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.
New Jersey voters re-elected him last fall in a landslide, and he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a few weeks ago. But along the way, Menendez has come under scrutiny by the Senate Ethics Committee and perhaps other government investigators — and certainly the media — for his connections to a longtime friend and generous campaign donor.
Tens of thousands of protesters turned out on the National Mall Sunday to encourage President Obama to make good on his commitment to act on climate change.
In his Inaugural address from outside the U.S. Capitol, the president said: "We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."
Just a few weeks later, next to the Washington Monument, Paul Birkeland was one of a couple dozen people holding a long white tube above their heads.
The federal government once considered whistle-blowers a nuisance or worse. But over the past few years, that attitude has slowly started to change. More agencies have been reaching out for tips about fraud and abuse in and outside the government, even if digging through the stacks of complaints can present a challenge.
Think back to those movies in the 1970s — movies filled with heroic figures who risked it all to expose unsafe factories and police corruption, like New York cop Frank Serpico exposing his less-than-clean colleagues.
Originally published on Sun February 17, 2013 12:08 pm
The White House and congressional Democrats are sounding the alarm bells over the consequences of the sequester, the across-the-board cuts to the budget that are scheduled to go into effect in March.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the cuts would offset "pretty good" economic activity over the past few months. He said President Obama had a plan to cut an addition $1.5 trillion from the deficit.
Did you pay attention to the State of the Union Address? Were you struck by the countless complexities President Obama has to deal with? The economy. The national budget and deficit. Health care. Tax reform. Education. Jobs. Energy. Climate change. The national infrastructure. Immigration. Gun violence and on and on and on.
The president's speech, which they watched on a giant flat-screen TV, was punctuated with groans, rebuttal, criticisms and sarcasm from this young audience. These students worked hard, to no avail, to deliver the much prized battleground state of Ohio to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
"It's good to be home," President Obama said to a crowd, including uniformed high school students, at Chicago's Hyde Park Academy on Friday.
The school is in the same neighborhood where the Obamas raised their children, but the topic of the president's visit was raising Chicago's children — and the nation's. The president returned to his hometown to address the scourge of gun violence that's plaguing the city and many other parts of the country.
Politics is a subjective business, but a recent study seems to indicate — with some manipulation — people can claim to recall political events that never actually occurred. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon speaks with NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam about the research.
President Obama's also trying to get the government more involved in trying to stop gun violence, but his supporters in Congress face an uphill battle in getting new gun control measures passed. Senator Richard Durbin's Senate judiciary subcommittee held hearings this week. The senator from Illinois, who is also majority whip, joins us now. Thanks for being with us.
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN: It's good to be with you, Scott.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, up from its current rate of 7.25.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That's wrong.
Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon considers all the attention Sen. Mark Rubio received, not for his comments on President Obama's State of the Union address, but for the water the Florida senator drank while delivering his remarks.
Robert Siegel speaks with political commentators E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and syndicated columnist Mona Charen. The discuss the State of the Union, and Chuck Hagel's nomination for defense secretary.
One of the more memorable moments in President Obama's State of the Union address this week was his introduction of an elderly woman sitting in the House gallery. The president said that Desiline Victor had to wait three hours last year to vote in North Miami.
"Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line to support her," Obama said. "[Because] Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read, 'I Voted.' "
Earlier this week, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be retiring from his position, but he's not the only prominent Catholic stepping down. Host Michel Martin speaks with top Catholic lobbyist and policy adviser, John Carr, about his own retirement and what's next for him and the Church.
President Obama argued for raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address, but will it really help keep up with the cost of living? And the manhunt for Christopher Dorner kept the country on its toes for a week. Now that it's over, what questions remain? Host Michel Martin and the guys weigh in.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we've heard President Obama's State of the Union speech, but what about the state of Indian Nations? We'll hear more about the message from Indian Country in just a few minutes.
But first we turn to Los Angeles, where the hunt for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner is now over. Dorner's remains have now been positively identified after they were removed from the mountain cabin that burned down after a fiery standoff with authorities.
Mr. Speaker, The Podcast of the United States! NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving dissect President Obama's State of the Union address, make the obligatory and sophomoric quench-filling jokes about Marco Rubio and look at what seems to be the makings of a filibuster against Defense Secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel.