These days, the Federal Public Defender's Office in Tucson, Ariz., has lots of space. Since the federal budget cuts known as sequestration began, the office has lost a quarter of its staff to layoffs or furloughs.
Under the Constitution, clients still need legal representation, so judges have to appoint private attorneys to replace the public defenders.
The sequester was supposed to save money. But in this case, the sequester is costing federal dollars.
Are we seeing the beginning of a trend from the occupant of the Oval Office — a President Obama unbound?
That's the question after Obama cast aside his usual caution while speaking at a town hall-style meeting in Binghamton, N.Y., on Friday. Asked about his proposals for attacking soaring higher education costs, Obama said:
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee, Michel Martin is away. Coming up, for some music fans, Robin Thicke's megahit "Blurred Lines" sounds distinctly familiar, kind of like an old Marvin Gaye song. The Barbershop guys step to the mic with their verdict. That's ahead. But first, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington has given the nation an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King and the movement that he helped to shape.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Many thousands of people are expected to attend a commemoration of the March on Washington this weekend. It's the 50th anniversary of the iconic moment in civil rights history when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Coming up, we'll talk to one writer who explains how Asian-Americans have benefited from the struggle for civil rights of African-Americans.
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
N.B. — Book News is going on vacation next week. Your faithful correspondent will be in California sans laptop and praying that Jonathan Franzen doesn't choose this week to reignite any feuds with daytime talk show hosts. In the meantime, as always, leave your hot tips, scurrilous attacks and existential questions in the comments section or direct them to @annalisa_quinn on Twitter.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. President Obama is on a two-day back-to-school bus tour. He's holding a town hall meeting today at the State University in Binghamton, New York. Later he'll visit a community college in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The president is pushing his plan to make college education more affordable. NPR's Scott Horsley is along for the ride. He reports that the bus tour has the president in one of his comfort zones.
Despite promises by President Obama that people can keep the insurance they have once Obamacare is in full effect, millions will have to upgrade their policies to meet the benefit standards laid out by the Affordable Care Act. The measure will be in full swing this January.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 4:47 pm
The big idea in President Obama's new proposal for tackling the growing crisis in college affordability can be boiled down to this: linking federal higher education aid to a new grading system that would rate colleges and universities on the "value" they provide students.
President Obama was in Buffalo, N.Y., today, talking up the college affordability program at the SUNY campus there and urging Congress to do more to support higher education. The president also has a political agenda as he drives from town to town. NPR's Scott Horsley is with the president and joins us now.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 1:50 pm
Update at 3:40 p.m. ET. 'Tentative Agreement':
The law firm that has helped San Diego Mayor Bob Filner navigate the accusations of sexual harassment, says he and representatives of the city have "reached a tentative agreement," but declined to elaborate:
In New York, the city council is poised to vote today on some of the toughest police oversight laws in decades. The vote comes just weeks after a judge ruled that the NYPD violated the civil rights of minorities with its practice of stopping mostly young men of color on the streets.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is appealing the judge's ruling and refusing to back down on a policing program he has championed. NPR's Joel Rose reports.
President Obama is seen on a video camera as he delivers a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2010. In addition to footage of official events, the White House now has thousands of hours of behind-the-scenes video that it will archive.
Credit Jeff Swensen / Getty Images
White House videographer Arun Chaudhary stands in front of Air Force One in 2010.
There are alarming reports from Syria this morning of a chemical weapons attack near the capital. Syrian opposition activists say government forces have killed hundreds of people in air raids and shelling on rebel neighborhoods close to Damascus and a sizeable number of people, they claim, have died from poison gas. Those claims have not been confirmed and the Syrian government has strongly denied the accusations.
The federal government has awarded about $67 million in grants to groups around the country that will help people shop for health coverage. But Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the guidelines for these so-called navigators are inadequate.
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 3:54 pm
If Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) really wanted to put some positive spin on his birth in Canada, he could point out that none of the first seven presidents were born in the United States either.
Of course, that was because the U.S. didn't exist when presidents from George Washington through Andrew Jackson were born. They were all technically British subjects at birth. Martin Van Buren, born in 1782 in Kinderhook, N.Y., was the first president actually born in the U.S.
On this side of the Atlantic, the debate over the Snowden leaks and the NSA data sweeps have revealed renewed civil liberties concerns and criticism of the Patriot Act. A key provision of the act known as Section 215 allows investigators to seek business records or, quote, "any tangible things as long as they are relevant to a counter terror investigation." It's a mile-wide definition and the legal foundation that the Obama administration has used to justify its mass collection of Americans' phone logs.
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 10:34 am
President Obama, back from his vacation, is scheduled to address the college affordability crisis in a campaign-style bus tour that will take him to New York and Pennsylvania.
The tour, which takes place Thursday and Friday, is part of the president's overarching effort to highlight his agenda for middle-class Americans and to raise pressure on congressional Republicans to act on his second-term priorities.
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 3:39 am
The Heritage Foundation and its political activist arm Heritage Action are turning to the town hall format to try to stop the health care law. Foundation president and former GOP senator Jim DeMint was in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Monday night as part of a nine-city defund Obamacare tour.
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 6:41 am
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in the 2016 election. But to run for president, the U.S. Constitution says a candidate must be a "natural born" U.S. citizen; it doesn't mention dual citizenship.
Second-grade teacher Vickie Boudouris goes over a worksheet in an English-learner summer school class at the Cordova Villa Elementary School in June, in Rancho Cordova, Calif. Under Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget, California schools will receive an additional $3.6 billion this year, with much of it targeted to the neediest students.
Credit Rich Pedroncelli / AP
Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a copy of the education bill he signed during a ceremonial signing at California Middle School in Sacramento on July 1.
As the school year begins, districts in cities such as Oakland, Fresno and Los Angeles have not gone on a hiring spree.
But they might soon.
California has revamped its school funding formula in ways that will send billions more dollars to districts that educate large numbers of children who are poor, disabled in some way or still learning to speak English.
It's an approach that numerous other states, from New York to Hawaii, have looked into lately. But none has matched the scale of the change now underway in the nation's largest state.
"There is no question that there is a civil war that is waging within the party."
That Republican conflict, political science professor David Cohen adds, isn't between just two sides, but among a number of factions, including libertarians.
One of the most public battles has involved national security and civil liberties. Leaks about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs raised alarms for libertarians about the government's reach.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus introduces the first four members of its new "Rising Stars" program at the RNC summer meeting on Thursday in Boston. From left are Karin Agness, founder of Network of Enlightened Women; T.W. Shannon, Oklahoma speaker of the House; Priebus; New Hampshire state Rep. Marilinda Garcia; and San Jose, Calif., police officer Scott Erickson.
They talked about the Hillary Clinton documentary and miniseries. They talked about how well they're doing raising money. They talked about how they're building a state-of-the-art data mining and voter turnout operation.
Here's what the Republican National Committee members didn't talk about at their summer meeting, but, rather, talked around: their existential need to broaden their base of support, and how so far their traditional base is not exactly embracing the idea.