From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Melissa Block. Virginia's newly elected attorney general announced today that he will not defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Democrat Mark Herring revealed his decision this morning on NPR's MORNING EDITION. He says he wants to ensure that Virginia is, as he puts it, on the right side of history and the law. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
In election years, we hear a lot of reporting from swing states: Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin. We do not usually hear as much from a place like Idaho, because it is so deeply one color: red. But this midterm election year, Idaho is home to one of the most closely watched races in this nation. A Republican is battling another Republican in a primary campaign that may point to where the party, as a whole, is heading.
The Virginia case is one of several that is barreling its way toward the Supreme Court. There have been debates on the gay-rights side over whether to move this issue forward in the political arena or use the court system.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey manages the biggest port on the East Coast, along with three major airports, the key bridges and tunnels across the Hudson River, bus and rail lines, and even the World Trade Center site.
If you don't live in the Northeast, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey may sound like just another obscure government agency. But it's suddenly been in the spotlight because of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.
The agency's name is a bit of an understatement. The Port Authority manages the biggest port on the East Coast, along with three major airports, the key bridges and tunnels across the Hudson River, bus and rail lines, and even the World Trade Center site.
Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 4:21 am
An independent panel created after the 9/11 attacks says bulk collection of billions of American phone records violates the letter and the spirit of the law.
The new report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board undercuts the foundation of the National Security Agency's long-running phone metadata program, and suggests it conflicts with plain language in the Patriot Act and other laws on the books.
NPR obtained a copy of the report, which will be discussed and voted on Thursday at an open board meeting.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 10:58 pm
In the annals of corrupt governors, former Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell's place remains to be seen.
He was indicted along with his wife Tuesday for allegedly taking illegal gifts, vacations and loans while in office, but the governor says he's innocent.
Either way, in light of the allegations against McDonnell, the first governor in Virginia history to face felony charges, we thought we'd take a look back at other examples of gubernatorial bad behavior in recent decades that resulted in fines, probation or even a prison stint.
One in five women: that's the number of women who have been sexually assaulted in college, according to a new White House report. As NPR's Tamara Keith tells us, today, President Obama formally set up a task force that's charged with protecting students.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: President Obama made it clear that preventing sexual assault is personal for him.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a priority for me not only as president and commander in chief but as a husband and a father of two extraordinary girls.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. Remember the scenes of those endless voting lines in the 2012 presidential election? Some voters waited for six hours or more to cast their ballots. Well, now a presidential commission has come up with some ways to fix the problem. The panel, appointed by President Obama himself, suggests that more early voting and better voting technology would help. But, as NPR's Pam Fessler reports, they're just recommendations.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we'll hear how one southern town took a new approach to violent crime and is now seeing dramatic results. That's in a few moments. But first, it's time to visit the Beauty Shop. That's where our panel of women commentators and journalists get a fresh cut on the week's hot topics. Sitting in the chairs for the new 'do this week are Connie Schultz.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 12:31 pm
A bipartisan presidential commission has endorsed more early voting, expanded online voter registration by the states and the increased use of schools as polling places.
The 10-member panel, appointed by President Obama after his 2013 State of the Union pledge to identify ways to shorten lines at polling places, released its recommendations Wednesday after six months of work.
Eight-term Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson has used his seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee to bring home funding for the Idaho National Laboratory. The nuclear research facility is spread over nearly 900 square miles of southeastern Idaho, including the above area.
In 2013, the battle lines were drawn within the Republican Party. This year, war may be breaking out across the country.
The Tea Party has already proven it has the energy, influence and cash to change elections and shape the landscape of Congress. Now, moderate and establishment-oriented Republicans are trying to match their intensity.
Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 5:36 pm
Wendy Davis' meteoric rise, from Texas state senator who barely won re-election to Democratic candidate for governor and darling of the national party, has hinged on her powerful personal story and a famous filibuster.
Just 10 days after leaving office, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was indicted today by federal prosecutors for corruption. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are charged with accepting gifts from a wealthy Virginia businessman.
Pope Francis waves to faithful during the <em>Angelus</em> prayer from his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday. President Obama will meet with the pope for the first time in March.
President Obama plans to meet this spring with Pope Francis.
On Tuesday, a White House spokesman announced the president will visit the Vatican as part of European trip in March. The president is said to be looking forward to talking with the pope about their "shared commitment to fighting poverty" and income inequality.
The rest of Washington may have shut down for the snow, but not the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the justices heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could decimate public employee unions. At issue: whether nonunion members can be required to pay fees to help cover the cost of negotiating a contract from which they benefit.
Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 3:50 pm
That President Obama could openly speculate about marijuana being less dangerous than alcohol — and embrace the state-level legalization of the drug — is a measure of just how far the nation has moved since the 1980s.
Back then, the Reagan administration's approach was absolute: "Just Say No." It's more complicated today.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is facing new allegations, this time coming from the mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer. Mayor Zimmer says Christie's lieutenant governor threatened to withhold Hoboken's federal recovery money after Superstorm Sandy unless she backed a redevelopment project that Governor Christie supported. Matt Katz of member station WNYC reports.
Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 4:34 pm
New Jersey's Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is firing back at Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who says Superstorm Sandy recovery funds to her city were held up when she refused to sign off on a politically connected real estate deal.
Zimmer said over the weekend that during a mall opening event in May, Guadagno pulled her aside to say she needed to "move forward" on the real estate deal or "we are not going to be able to help you."
Zimmer says she asked the state for $100 million in aid. She received around $142,000.
Roger Ailes is a hero to the political right and a boogeyman to the left for leading the Fox News Channel to become the top-rated force in cable news --- the competition is not even close. Ailes and Fox refused to cooperate with author Gabriel Sherman.
President Obama has a new phrase he's been using a lot lately: "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone."
He's talking about the tools a president can use if Congress isn't giving him what he wants: executive actions and calling people together. It's another avenue the president is using to pursue his economic agenda.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is shown here with former top lieutenant Bridget Anne Kelly last September, as they toured fire-damaged boardwalk areas. This month, Christie fired Kelly, his deputy chief of staff.
Credit Reuters /Landov
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates promotes his new book during a visit to 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart' on Jan. 15 in New York. In the book, Gates criticizes both his former boss, President Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden.
Those close to a powerful elected official, like a governor or the president, may owe their success to the boss. Yet there are times when the interests of the person on top and those who serve will diverge, and the outcome is predictable.
"When you're a staffer or consultant, at some level you have to understand that you're a bit like a milk carton and at some point you'll reach your expiration date," says Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant. "There could always be a time when the principal is going to have to effectively throw you under the bus."
Back in the U.S., while there were complaints that some of the recommendations were vague, reactions have been nonetheless swift, especially in Congress. Joining us to talk about the political fallout at home is NPR's political correspondent Mara Liasson. Good morning, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, the president's NSA proposals, how are they going over on Capitol Hill?
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:21 pm
Subpoenas are hitting his closest aides and allies. His approval rating in New Jersey has taken a modest hit. And suddenly, politicians long afraid of him are speaking out about his revenge-style of governing.
But headed into a three-day weekend, there's some good news for Christie. The conservative base of the Republican Party, long skeptical of the New Jersey governor because of his bro-hug with President Obama after Sandy, is beginning to rally to his side. Here's some evidence:
President Barack Obama talks about National Security Agency surveillance Jan. 17 at the Justice Department in Washington. Seeking to calm a furor over U.S. surveillance, the president called for ending the government's control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and immediately ordered intelligence agencies to get a secretive court's permission before accessing the records.
What does it mean when lawmakers as different as Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall and New York Republican Rep. Peter King offer praise for the president's long-awaited speech on surveillance reforms?
Mostly that resolution to the biggest controversies after leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been put off — or pushed to working groups in the executive branch and the lawmakers themselves.
Still, the president's NSA reforms speech Friday offered a revealing look into the nation's phone data collection program and the direction of the surveillance policy debate.