Robert Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination provoked a lasting partisan divide over judicial nominations, died Wednesday at age 85.
A former federal judge and conservative legal theorist, he subsequently became a hero to modern-day conservatives. And as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, he played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis. In what came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the attorney general and deputy attorney general refused President Nixon's firing order and quit.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:35 pm
Advocates of stricter gun control legislation are hoping that history will not repeat itself.
Last Friday's shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., have shaken the country, but it's unclear whether the intense feelings of the moment will translate into legislative action. Many times in the past, outrage over gun violence has dissipated before Congress has chosen to act.
With days ticking down to the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts deadline, President Obama took his case to the American public again on Wednesday — and House Republicans were not happy about it. House Speaker John Boehner responded with a statement that barely lasted a minute as the House prepared to vote on competing plans to avert the tax hikes but which do not address the spending cuts.
President Barack Obama said that gun control would be a "central issue" in his second term on Wednesday. He also announced that Vice President Joe Biden will head up a panel that will offer proposals by mid-January to curb gun violence. The announcement, however, turned to an impromptu press conference, in which the president pivoted to questions about the fiscal cliff. He said the events in Newtown, Conn., should "give us some perspective" on the debate and urged quick action in Congress.
President Obama tapped Vice President Biden to lead a new government effort against gun violence on Wednesday. It's the first step toward what Mr. Obama promised as "meaningful action" in the wake of deadly shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. prompted new conversations about gun regulation in America. President Barack Obama has vowed to take "meaningful action," but the current political landscape poses challenges for the administration and members of Congress who want stricter gun legislation.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:28 am
Saying the nation has a "deep obligation" to take steps to reduce gun violence, President Obama confirmed Wednesday that he's asked Vice President Biden to head a task force charged with drafting "concrete proposals, no later than January."
And, Obama said, he will push them "without delay."
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, when rap pioneer Run from the group Run-DMC decided to get active in church, he had no idea how far it would go. We'll talk with him about his transition from rapping to preaching. That's later in the program.
The White House is promising to veto a new tax proposal from House Speaker John Boehner. But who's bluffing and what's believable when it comes to fiscal negotiations? And what happens if talks break down? For Tell Me More's 'Why Not?' series, host Michel Martin takes a look at what might be on the other side of the fiscal cliff.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Even before the events of the last few days, Congress had a busy agenda. Lawmakers are negotiating over taxes and spending that could affect the economy in the year ahead, not to mention almost every part of the federal government and the take-home pay for millions of Americans.
One person who did have a lot to say about gun control is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. He spent several days with grieving residents in Newtown. The Democrat then returned to Washington, and on the Senate floor yesterday, made an emotional plea for stricter gun control. We spoke to him just afterwards.
Senator, this has been a horrible time for the people of your state. We really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 4:50 am
Gov. Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed pistols to be carried in schools and other places where they had been banned. The Michigan legislature had approved the legislation when its lame-duck session ended Thursday — one day before the Newtown elementary school shootings.
As NPR's Rick Pluta reported for today's Morning Edition, Snyder has said that Friday's tragedy played a role in his consideration of the bill:
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 4:23 pm
If President Obama takes the lead in a movement for more effective gun control now that he's been stirred to action by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it would mark a significant break from his pattern so far as chief executive.
For while Obama has dutifully served as the nation's consoler in chief in localities where the all-too-frequent mass shootings have occurred, that has seemed the extent of the official response observable to White House outsiders.
The National Rifle Association of America has broken its silence to comment on Friday's gun violence that ravaged a tight-knit Connecticut community, releasing a statement in which the gun-owners' rights group said it "is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
Over the weekend, President Obama delivered a passionate plea to prevent gun violence, saying we haven't done enough as a country to keep our children safe. The president promised to use all the powers of his office to address the issue in the coming weeks. NPR's Scott Horsley reports on the president's next steps.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. One week before Christmas and there's still no deal to avert the big tax increases and federal spending cuts slated for the end of the year. Today, House Speaker John Boehner is floating the idea of a backup plan if talks between him and the president break down.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: At the same time that we're going to continue to talk with the president, we're going to also move plan B.
Ask the average person — even in Washington — who serves as President Obama's chief of staff and you'll probably get a blank stare.
Jack Lew hasn't been heard or seen in the "fiscal cliff" drama unfolding between the White House and Congress. But the former budget director, who took over the top White House job last January, has become a key player behind the scenes.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, now that a couple of states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, can parents still tell their kids to just say no? We'll hear from a pediatrician who works with substance-addicted teens about why it's still important to have the talk about drug use, and to pay attention to what you as a parent are modeling with your own behavior. That's coming up.
Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii passed away Monday at the age of 88. Inouye was one of the longest-serving members of the Senate and a veteran of World War II. Host Michel Martin pays tribute to the senator, reprising a conversation they had on the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:35 am
It's not the cutting, it's the uncertainty.
That's the lament these days from governors and mayors awaiting the outcome of federal budget negotiations.
They know they're likely to take a hit; they just don't know how bad it's going to be.
"How do you budget for the unknown?" wonders Ed Long, the county executive in Fairfax County, Va. "Our worst fear is that by [the federal government] not acting, the economy is going to get worse going forward."
Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, the Senate's senior member, died at a Bethesda, Md., hospital Monday. He was 88 years old and was suffering from a respiratory ailment. The Japanese-American was known for his heroism in World War II and for breaking racial barriers.
Born to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii in 1924, the young Inouye dreamed of becoming a surgeon, but world events intervened as he was listening to the radio on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941.
Rick Snyder faces a stark choice on whether to allow concealed pistols in schools. In the closing hours of its lame duck session — and the day before the Sandy Hook killing spree — Michigan's legislature approved a bill that would allow concealed pistols in places where they are currently banned. The bill has yet to be formally presented to the governor, but once it is, he has 14 days to decide what he will do.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley named a fellow Republican, Rep. Tim Scott, as the state's next senator on Monday. He replaces retiring Republican Sen. Jim DeMint and will make history as the first black senator from the South since 1881.
Haley, however, wanted everyone to know her selection was based on Scott's merit, not his race.
South Carolina is getting a new U.S. senator. Governor Nikki Haley announced today that she is appointing Republican Congressman Tim Scott to fill the seat being vacated by Jim DeMint who's retiring. Scott is a freshman member of the House.
And as NPR's Brian Naylor reports, he will be the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.
Inside a modest storefront in Loxley, Ala., 18-year-old Maria Lola Melisio points out the Mexican spices and other products for sale in her mother's market.
"There are the leaves where you make your tamales — you roll them up in that," she says.
Melisio has long dark curls and is wearing a houndstooth scarf in support of the Alabama Crimson Tide. When she was 7 years old, she entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico with her mother, and still has a scar on her back from crawling under the border fence. It's a story she's kept secret until now.