Heading into Friday's news conference, President Obama had a delicate balancing act before him: how to acknowledge widespread concerns about National Security Agency surveillance without in any way legitimizing the actions of leaker Edward Snowden.
The best course, the president decided, was to acknowledge that Snowden's revelations to some degree forced his administration to accelerate and expand a review of the federal government's surveillance activities.
Second term GOP congressman Blake Farenthold is being targeted during Congress' summer recess by advocates of the Senate's immigration bill. Activists are organizing petitions and a demonstration at Farenthold's "open house" at his Corpus Christi office. And opponents are fighting back.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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At the White House today, on the eve of his vacation, President Obama stepped up to the microphones for his first solo press conference since April. Sometimes joking, sometimes defiant, the president hit on a wide range of issues - relations with Russia, health care. But the president put one issue front and center, balancing the government's need to gather intelligence while protecting American civil liberties.
Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 6:28 am
A Mexican court has thrown out the conviction of infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, 28 years after he was convicted and imprisoned for the 1985 kidnapping and murder of U.S. DEA agent Enrique Camarena.
Quintero had been serving a 40-year sentence for torturing and killing Camarena, but the court voided the sentence on a technicality — saying he should have been tried in a state court instead of the federal court where he was convicted.
A police officer checks a car Wednesday at the entrance of Yemen's Sanaa International Airport. Security forces in the Middle East and Africa have been on heightened alert because of concerns about potential terrorist attacks.
Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 1:01 pm
Revelations this week that the U.S. intercepted communications between top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri and other key terrorist figures in the Arabian Peninsula offered a pretty good plug for the work of the National Security Agency.
As leaks go, this was a big one. Was it a signal that government officials are going to be more open about intelligence gathering in the aftermath of the Edward Snowden affair?
Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 1:04 pm
President Obama, appearing Friday for his first news conference in more than three months, will no doubt be fielding tough questions on a new round of revelations regarding the NSA's top-secret electronic surveillance programs.
President Obama is set to hold a news conference at the White House on Friday at 3 p.m. ET — his first such formal give-and-take with the press corps since "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden starting spilling secrets about National Security Agency surveillance programs in June.
So we should expect questions about Snowden, spying and civil liberties, as well as strained relations with Russia, the economy and other subjects.
Hillary Clinton has been one of the big stories this week, both in Washington and also in the entertainment world. Two movies were recently announced about the former Secretary of State, former senator, former first lady and also possible 2016 presidential candidate. These projects, one from NBC, the other from CNN, are only in the planning stages right now. But they've already sparked a lot of criticism from the both the right and the left.
The U.S. Postal Service lost some $16 billion last year and continues to bleed red ink. Congress has been unable to agree on a rescue plan.
The latest proposal would allow the post office to end Saturday delivery in a year and enable it to ship wine and beer.
The Postal Service's woes are familiar: People don't really send letters anymore, so first-class mail is down, and Congress makes the post office prepay future retiree benefits to the tune of $5.5 billion a year.
More than six months have passed since Hillary Clinton stepped down from her position as Secretary of State. At the time she said she was eager for some down time — to rest and do the things she didn't normally have time for, like catch up on episodes of Love It or List It. But Amy Chozick of the The New York Times, who has been following Clinton's transition out of office, tells Melissa Block that there hasn't been much R & R in her agenda.
The federal government runs out of money on Oct. 1, unless spending authority is granted to agencies for the new fiscal year. If Congress can't pass its spending bills by then, most of the government will shut down.
It's no empty threat. Many who watch the budget process closely think there's a very good chance that's exactly what's going to happen.
President Obama, like his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, has chafed at the conventions of communicating through the mainstream media. So while he uses print and broadcast every day, he and staff have sought out a host of non-traditional media means for reaching new audiences in new ways.
Every year, the U.S. Congress appropriates more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt. But that money never gets to Egypt. It goes to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then to a trust fund at the Treasury and, finally, out to U.S. military contractors that make the tanks and fighter jets that ultimately get sent to Egypt.
The U.S. started sending M1A1 Abrams tanks to Egypt in the late '80s. In all, the U.S. sent more than 1,000 tanks to Egypt since then — valued at some $3.9 billion — which Egypt maintains along with several thousand Soviet-era tanks.
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 5:33 pm
Commotion over a pair of movies that haven't even been made proves, if anything, that the Clintons need not lift a finger to inspire a controversy.
That said, the hubbub over a planned CNN documentary and a proposed NBC Entertainment miniseries on Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state, does feel somewhat premature. Clinton hasn't said whether she intends to run for president in 2016.
But it's never too early to take a Democratic Party titan down a few pegs, especially one who polls well ahead of all Republican presidential possibilities.
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 8:59 pm
Two military veterans are the latest women making allegations against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
Eldonna Fernandez, a retired master sergeant from the Air Force, and Gerri Tindley, an Army veteran, said Filner made unwanted advances back when Filner was serving his 10th term as a U.S. congressman in 2012. What's more, they told CNN in an interview, he did so knowing the two women had said they were raped while in the military.
Members of the audience argue before a town hall forum on the health care overhaul hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in Reston, Va., on Aug. 25, 2009.
Credit Bradley C. Bower / AP
Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter listens to a man voice his complaints during a town hall meeting on Aug. 11, 2009, in Lebanon, Pa. Specter was voted out of office the following year and died in 2012.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
President Obama has canceled a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision comes not long after Russia announced it was granting temporary asylum to Edward Snowden. He faces charges in the U.S. that he leaked secret documents on government surveillance programs. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, today's reversal is just the latest sign that U.S.-Russia relations are not in a good place.
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 8:48 am
Tim Oviatt was once a successful businessman. For 32 years, he owned an apparel store in San Francisco called All American Boy.
"If you wore my logo T-shirt, people knew you were gay all over the world," he says.
Now, Oviatt finds himself symbolizing something stark about the gay community. Having lost his business, his longtime partner and finally his home, Oviatt, who is 64, has mostly been sleeping in his car the past nine months.
President Obama is in California, where he'll visit Marines at Camp Pendleton. On Tuesday, he spoke about housing in Phoenix. Among other items, he talked about winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the companies that guarantee most long-term fixed-rate mortgages in the U.S.
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 4:10 am
Less than four weeks after Detroit filed for the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy in history, city residents went to the polls Tuesday to narrow down the field of 16 mayoral contenders for the November election. There are also more than 50 hopefuls seeking nine city council seats.
Sit down with the attorney general to ask him about his priorities, as NPR did earlier this year, and he'll talk about voting rights and national security. But if you listen a bit longer, Eric Holder gets to this: "I think there are too many people in jail for too long, and for not necessarily good reasons."
This is the nation's top law enforcement officer calling for a sea change in the criminal justice system. And he's not alone.
"We don't have a domestic spying program," Obama said on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. ... That information is useful."