From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. In front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate today, President Obama stood, as he said, along the fault line where a city was divided. In a speech on the former path of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Obama said that while the barbed wire and checkpoints are gone from the city, the struggle for freedom and prosperity continues in many other parts of the world.
This artist rendering shows Supreme Court Justices (from left) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan in 2012.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The speaker clamps the Hastert Rule on immigration reform. Three Republican senators now support gay marriage. And the Bay State Senate race goes into its last week. It's Wednesday and time for a penultimate edition of the political junkie.
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PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
We didn't plan it, but somehow, it has turned into Potato Week here at The Salt. The latest twist in the tater tales takes us to Capitol Hill.
Americans love to pile on the potatoes – we consumed a whopping 112 pounds per capita last year. But lately, the potato industry has been playing the part of jilted lover and taking its heartache to Congress.
According to the National Potato Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture "discriminates" against fresh, white potatoes.
The White House says the United States will arm Syrian rebels, but a new poll shows most Americans don't like the idea. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with Shadi Hamid of The Brookings Institution, about America's current and future involvement in Syria.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (right) speaks with the committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, earlier this month, during a hearing on IRS conference spending.
Credit Released by House Oversight Committee Democrats
Credit Released by House Oversight Committee Democrats
Some other news: We have a more complicated view, this morning, of the scandal at the IRS. An inspector general critiqued the tax agency's targeting of conservative groups, many of them linked with the Tea Party movement. We knew that much.
And now, it's become apparent that more liberal or progressive groups were also targeted. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.
The president's administration has plenty to occupy it here at home. The director of the National Security Agency was on Capitol Hill yesterday, defending the surveillance program that's received so much attention in recent in recent days. General Keith Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee that the NSA programs in question have stopped dozens of terrorist attacks, here and abroad. Here's NPR's Ailsa Chang.
If the US Airways-American Airlines merger announced earlier this year is approved, the combined airline would control two-thirds of the takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National Airport, outside Washington, D.C.
The government could force the airline to give up some of those slots as a condition of the merger. But lawmakers warn that could have consequences for some small- and medium-sized cities. And, not coincidentally, it could affect flight plans for lawmakers themselves.
Faced with the threat of mutiny for what seems like the umpteenth time during his speakership, John Boehner moved to mollify fellow Republicans on Tuesday, saying immigration legislation would need the support of a majority of the House GOP before it could be brought to a floor vote.
After emerging from a meeting with House Republicans, following days of warnings by conservatives that the Ohio Republican had better not try to pass an immigration bill with mostly Democratic votes, Boehner sought to calm the roiling Republican waters.
You have to wonder if President Obama ever thought, when he first ran for the White House, that he would need to defend himself from accusations his presidency would be a mere extension of his Republican predecessor.
But there he was with journalist Charlie Rose having to explain why his approach to national security wasn't really like that of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 11:24 am
Hundreds of pages of transcribed interviews reveal that IRS employees in Washington were involved at an early stage in the improper targeting of Tea Party groups — but at least so far the trail stops well short of the White House.
Based on interviews with two longtime IRS employees working in the Cincinnati field office, there's no smoking gun, no direct connection to the Obama administration or even any indication that those involved in the flagging of conservative groups had political motives.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, data mining and privacy issues are in the news. But we want to talk about some data that could affect your life in ways you might not have considered. We're talking about your credit reports and we'll talk about how errors can appear and cost you plenty, and what to do about that. That's coming up later in the program.
A copy of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order requiring Verizon to give the National Security Agency information about calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.
The furor over recently exposed government surveillance programs has posed an abundance of political challenges for both President Obama and Congress. Relatively unmentioned in all of this, however, is the role of the courts — specifically, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, and how its role has changed since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Advocates of tougher voter registration standards have racked up wins in recent years — voter ID laws have taken hold across the nation, for example.
But those who believe that government should make voting as easy as possible just gained a significant victory with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision slapping down an Arizona law that required potential voters to prove their citizenship.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. You've probably heard that the Supreme Court is set to rule sometime soon on an important case about affirmative action in higher education. We decided we wanted to find out more about the young woman whose name is on the case, Abigail Fisher. That's coming up later in the program.
A 2013 Accord is ready to come off the line at the Honda automobile plant in Marysville, Ohio, in 2012. Accords built at the 4,400-employee plant are shipped to South Korea — an example of the importance of trade to manufacturing jobs.
Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 10:13 am
If economists were cheerleaders, their favorite shout-out might be: "What do we want? Growth! When do we want it? Now!"
They won't actually shout those words, but they may be thinking them as global leaders meet this week for a G-8 summit. Economists are hoping that at the gathering in Northern Ireland, leaders of eight major economies will discuss expanding global trade and investment to spur job creation.
Oxfam charity volunteers wear masks depicting G-8 leaders President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel around a large caldron to draw attention to the issue of world hunger in Northern Ireland on Sunday. G-8 leaders are gathering there for an annual summit.
Call it the Affordable Care Act, call it Obamacare, call it whatever you want — it's coming. And soon. In less than four months people without health insurance will be able to start signing up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.
A lot has been said about the law, most of it not that understandable. So starting now, and continuing occasionally through the summer and fall, we're going to try to fix that.
A little more than a year ago, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall election after an epic battle with unions that gave him folk-hero status with many conservatives. Some political observers now consider him a presidential contender.
But Walker is downplaying that talk, even as he takes steps that hint at national ambition.
The conflict in Syria may be first and foremost a civil war, pitting the Shiite-dominated regime of President Bashar Assad against mostly Sunni insurgents. But the region's turbulent geopolitics have turned it into a proxy fight that has drawn in the rest of the region as well as the U.S and other global powers.
The Supreme Court may rule on gay marriage this week. Advocates both for and against are glad the issue didn't reach the court any sooner.
They didn't want a repeat of the abortion issue. With its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, the high court stepped in and guaranteed a right to abortion but also triggered a backlash that has lasted for 40 years.
With same-sex marriage, by contrast, legislators and voters in nearly every state had the chance to make their feelings known before the Supreme Court weighs in.
Russia's foreign minister on Saturday warned that any effort by the U.S. and its allies to impose a no-fly zone over Syria would violate international law.
Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a news conference in Moscow with his Italian counterpart, referred to "leaks from Western media" that U.S. F-16 fighters and Patriot missile in Jordan might be used in neighboring Syria to suppress government forces fighting insurgents there.
"You don't have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law," Lavrov said.
Lawmakers in Illinois are headed back to work next week to address the state's $100 billion pension crisis, the worst unfunded pension liability in the nation. While almost all states faced pension funding issues during the recession, none of them are looking at a predicament as severe as in Illinois. Every day it doesn't get fixed, the burden on taxpayers grows larger.
Bruce Springsteen performs during halftime of the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., in 2009. In music, and increasingly in other industries, a relative handful of top performers take more and more of the spoils, says White House chief economist Alan Krueger.
White House economic adviser Alan Krueger took some ribbing from his boss this week. President Obama noted that Krueger will soon be leaving Washington to go back to his old job, teaching economics at Princeton.
"And now that Alan has some free time, he can return to another burning passion of his: 'Rockanomics,' the economics of rock and roll," the president said. "This is something that Alan actually cares about."
Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 10:53 am
American politics has become like a big square dance. When the music stops after an election, people switch to the other side on a number of issues, depending on whether their party remains in power.
That was pretty clear this week, when polls revealed more Democrats than Republicans support tracking of phone traffic by the National Security Agency — the exact opposite of where things stood under President George W. Bush.