Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 10:10 am
Over the past week, two high-profile leaders in the New York metropolitan area found themselves at the center of unfolding political scandals. At least one, it seems, has some plausible deniability.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie's political future is in doubt over the ever-widening "Bridgegate" fiasco, as emails revealed that members of his closest inner circle were involved. But just across that bridge, New York City's newly installed mayor, Bill de Blasio, became embroiled in another kind of drama: "Forkgate."
Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 12:37 pm
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 rifle who died last month at the age of 94, wrote a letter in 2012 to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church expressing "spiritual pain" over the deaths caused by the ubiquitous weapon.
More than 100 million AK-47 and variants have been sold worldwide since it was first produced in the Soviet Union in 1949. The Kalashnikov rifle quickly developed a reputation for being cheap to make, reliable and easy to use, making it the weapon of choice for many of the world's infantry soldiers, freedom fighters and terrorists.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a big constitutional fight over the balance of power between the president and the Senate. President Obama has said he supports the move by Senate Democrats to make it harder for Republicans to block his nominees.
Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 10:51 am
Transcript of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' unedited interview with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep on Jan. 10.
STEVE INSKEEP: I want to begin, though, at the end, in a sense — and it's something you allude to at the very beginning of the book and that you allude to at the end. And it's the reasons that you retired from the job. And you said it had to do with your emotions, in a way. So would you just tell me, in your own words, why did you leave your post as secretary of defense?
When it comes to American foreign policy, the hot topic this week wasn't Syria. Instead, pundits and commentators of all types were furiously debating how President Obama handled the wars in his first term. That was thanks to retired Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' new book "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War." Even though the book hasn't hit stores yet, critics of the White House have been crowing over Gates' unvarnished critique of President Obama and Vice President Biden.
Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 1:22 pm
Like all newly elected politicians, the class of mayors being sworn in as the year begins has made many grand promises.
From New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's pledge to provide universal pre-kindergarten classes, financed through taxes on wealthy individuals, to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's push for a $15 minimum hourly wage, their agenda looks decidedly liberal.
New mayors in cities such as Boston, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh have also been talking about the importance of racial inclusion and the need to address income inequality.
Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and his wife Kim give an interview at the Arkansas Capitol building on Monday. After weeks of pressure to step down from both sides of the aisle, Darr announced his resignation on Friday.
Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 3:26 pm
In the end, Mark Darr had to give in.
Darr, the Republican lieutenant governor of Arkansas, announced Friday that he will resign Feb 1. Earlier this month, he agreed to pay the state ethics commission $11,000 in fines for making personal use of campaign funds and receiving improper expense reimbursements from the state.
Darr called his errors "careless and lazy," but said they were not intentional violations of the law. In a series of interviews with Arkansas news outlets Tuesday, Darr said he would refuse to resign.
Just as the Senate seemed to descend into another round of partisan gridlock, this time over extending emergency jobless benefits, the arrival of a surprisingly weak December jobs report raised the pressure on Congress to act.
The question is whether news that the economy created a mere 74,000 jobs last month — far fewer than the 200,000 forecasters predicted — delivered enough of a jolt to Capitol Hill, where what seemed like bipartisan progress on the issue early in the week had reverted to partisan nastiness.
Newly released documents depict officials discussing the controversial September closure of several lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. Here, the New Jersey side of the bridge, which leads to New York City, is seen Thursday.
A New Jersey State Assembly committee released a trove of documents Friday that shed more light on the bridge lane-closure scandal that is embroiling Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration. The panel is seeking details on what's seen as an act of political retribution, which targeted the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. It obtained the documents under a subpoena.
Trish Gallagher holds a sign for passing motorists to read during a demonstration in support of a higher minimum wage near a Burger King in Boston on Dec. 5. Massachusetts is one of several states considering a minimum wage ballot measure.
You never know where you might find a volunteer with a clipboard looking for signatures trying to get a voter referendum on the local ballot – like Ed Flanagan in the town of North Pole, Alaska.
"I'm out in what's called the North Pole transfer station. This facility has about 50 metal dumpsters arranged in a fenced area. Folks back up and throw their household trash in there. This is a very busy place," he says.
When people talk about the Volcker Rule, they often mention JPMorgan Chase, the giant bank where a trader recently made a bad bet that lost $6 billion. The Volcker Rule is supposed to put an end to that sort of thing, by prohibiting banks from trading with their own money.
But some banks that are very, very different from JPMorgan Chase are struggling with an obscure provision in the rule. Specifically, footnote 1,861, which bars banks from investing in something called trust-preferred securities — a rather obscure investment favored by lots of small, community banks invest
Changes are coming soon to the way the National Security Agency gathers information about people all over the globe. President Obama is slated to speak next Friday about what action he'll take to revamp the NSA surveillance programs, which were revealed in news leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The president has been meeting with stakeholders for several months, including executives from some of the biggest technology firms.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's lengthy mea culpa has not put an end to the scandal surrounding lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. He continues to face the fallout from a scandal that has received national coverage.
We'd like to turn now to a story getting a lot of buzz in Washington. "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," written by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, isn't scheduled to be released until next week, but some journalists have already gotten their copies and it's already making headlines.
One man produced physical versions of bitcoins (before he realized he was <a href="http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/12/casascius/">angering the feds</a>). Bitcoin is a virtual currency that has been the subject of a recent Federal Election Commission discussion.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave an epic press conference yesterday. It went on for almost two hours, almost as long as the traffic jams that prompted him to meet with the press in the first place. Governor Christie denied knowing about the plan carried out by members of his staff to deliberately clog traffic going from Fort Lee, New Jersey over a bridge to Manhattan.
This week, we've been looking back at the legacy of the "War on Poverty," launched by Lyndon Johnson 50 years ago. The arsenal included government programs such as Head Start, food stamps and a push to increase the nation's minimum wage.
"We must extend the coverage of our minimum wage laws to more than 2 million workers now lacking this basic protection of purchasing power," Johnson said.
Low-wage workers actually saw their purchasing power peak while Johnson was in office. Adjusting for inflation, minimum wage workers earn less today than they did in the late 1960s.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. As listeners to this program know, the Syrian civil war has created a vast refugee crisis. More than two million people have fled the country. Many have fled their homes inside that country. People are overwhelming the countries around Syria where they often live in crowded makeshift camps or fan out among the population.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has found the George Washington Bridge in his way on the road to a potential 2016 presidential run. Right now, it's still an open question whether he'll get over it.
Thursday's marathon news conference was certainly an important moment in that journey. The heretofore 2016 Republican frontrunner apologized and took responsibility for members of Team Christie exacting political revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., by closing lanes to the nation's busiest bridge in September, causing major traffic snarls.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
Today, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state's healthier finances will mean billions of dollars of new spending. The winners in the governor's proposed record budget include schools and welfare. He also wants millions spent on maintaining roads and parks.
Mike Murphy is a Republican consultant. He's advised several GOP governors, typically moderate-centrist Republicans. And he joins us now from Arizona. Welcome to the program.
MIKE MURPHY: Oh, good to be here, Robert.
SIEGEL: Chris Christie is seen as a contender for the 2016 presidential nomination. Where would you land today on a scale from showed he can weather a crisis to he's damaged goods to nationally he's toast?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Audie Cornish.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held a marathon news conference today. This after revelations that top staffers apparently caused massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey as political payback against the city's mayor. As of this morning, two members of Christie's team had been let go, and the governor himself had begun answering the many questions raised by the scandal. NPR's Joel Rose begins our coverage.
At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, a bevy of tax breaks expired in Washington D.C., everything from a tax benefit for people who commute to work using mass transit, to a subsidy for NASCAR racetracks. Some of these are probably less crucial for the national economy, but others are vital to the health of certain industries. At least that's what the businesses that benefit say, as NPR's Chris Arnold has been finding out.
To better understand the proposals for reforming NSA data-gathering, we turn to someone who was in the White House meeting today. Senator Mark Udall is a Democrat from Colorado and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He's been a long time vocal opponent of the NSA's surveillance tactics. He says he urged President Obama to follow the recommendations of the president's own taskforce on the subject.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. Today, President Obama hosted a select group of lawmakers at the White House. The topic of the talks, the National Security Agency's controversial spying programs and how to change them to deal with privacy fears. In a moment, we'll hear from Colorado Senator Mark Udall who was in the meeting, but first, NPR's White House correspondent Tamara Keith has this update on the president's review of NSA practices.