Amid the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration and a general belt-tightening mood among many on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon is being asked to reduce its spending after a decade of increases.
Some argue that even with cutbacks, the U.S. spends far more than other countries on defense, and that the drones and special operations forces increasingly being used in the counterterrorism fight cost less than conventional military operations.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. This morning in a much anticipated decision, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Writing for a five-four majority, Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that Congress' action to protect minority voting rights in nine states was based on outdated data, and the formula used to determine which areas were subject to federal oversight was thus unconstitutional.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program, we are going to take a look at a sensitive topic. We are going to talk about infidelity. Sure, we talk about it when a politician or a celebrity gets caught, but what about friends, neighbors, ourselves? Hundreds of listeners have been sending in their stories. We'll hear some of them and new research about this topic. That's later in the program.
President Obama today is scheduled to announce a sweeping plan to address climate change. The president has framed the issue as a moral responsibility, to leave the Earth in good shape for generations. Certainly though, the nitty-gritty of any serious plan to address climate change is a huge challenge because it means gradually moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy supplies. That will involve economic winners and losers.
Joining us to talk about the plan's specifics is NPR's Richard Harris. Good morning.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
The scandal at the Internal Revenue Service is becoming more of a muddle. We're learning more this morning about which groups were targeted for extra scrutiny. Turns out both conservative groups and progressive groups were on the so-called Be on the Lookout List at the IRS. Meanwhile, the man currently leading the agency says an internal investigation has found no evidence of intentional wrong doing.
Both candidates for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts are finishing a frantic day of campaigning ahead of Tuesday's special election to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Veteran Democratic Rep. Ed Markey is running against Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez. But they are struggling to get voters to the polls in a summer election that has yet to capture much attention.
"Common Core" is one of the biggest phrases in education today. To many educators and policymakers, it's a big, exciting idea that will ensure that America's students have the tools to succeed after graduation.
But a growing number of conservatives see things differently.
For years, states used their own, state-specific standards to lay out what K-12 students should be learning, for everything from punctuation to algebra. But those standards varied wildly, so the Common Core replaces them with one set of national standards for math and English language arts.
And now to an issue that lawmakers are not spending a lot of time debating: climate change. Tomorrow, President Obama will lay out a strategy to address the problem, using executive powers. It's an admission that's sweeping climate legislation stands little chance of passing Congress as NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.
JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Aides say Mr. Obama's plan includes limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The reaction from House Speaker John Boehner was blunt.
That "be on the lookout list" used to flag Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny of their tax-exemption applications?
It turns out it wasn't the only one the Internal Revenue Service had been using.
There were also other lists, covering a "broad spectrum" of categories and cases, according to a preliminary IRS report released Monday.
"Once we came to that conclusion, we took immediate action to suspend the use of these lists in the Exempt Organizations unit within IRS," said Danny Werfel, the new acting chief of the IRS, in a conference call with reporters.
The U.S. Supreme Court sent a case involving the use of race in the University of Texas' admissions process back to a lower court for stricter scrutiny on Monday. It's one more chapter in the university's long struggle with how it chooses who gets in.
It's no great secret that Republicans are behind in applying digital technology to politics. They admitted as much after the last presidential election. And in an effort to catch up, over the weekend, political conservatives staged an event called the Liberty Hackathon in San Francisco. The sponsor of the app building competition was the Charles Koch Institute, named for its benefactor the billionaire backer of the Tea Party Movement.
NPR's Nathan Rott went to the event and sent us this report.
Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insist that gun control legislation is not dead — they say they're strategizing on how to bring the issue back to the Senate floor.
Even if it does return, one proposal unlikely to survive is an assault weapons ban. Military-style assault rifles now form a nearly $1 billion industry supported by gun owners who spend thousands of dollars collecting these firearms.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on a case that may shake up race-conscious admissions in higher education. The justices could change the shape of affirmative action or even strike it down altogether.
California is one of eight states that have already scrapped affirmative action. That means state schools can no longer consider the race of its applicants. At the University of California, Los Angeles, the change has been messy, ambiguous — and sometimes a little ugly.
Originally published on Sun June 23, 2013 11:01 am
The national debate over immigration may be churning on in Washington, D.C., but there's one policy a growing number of states can agree on: driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Vermont, Connecticut and Colorado passed new laws this month allowing drivers without Social Security numbers to receive licenses or authorization cards. They join Nevada, Maryland and Oregon, whose governors signed similar laws in May. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn started the trend this year when he signed Senate Bill 957 in January.
Working its way through the Ohio Legislature is a state budget bill that has major implications for the way family-planning services are provided. The Ohio budget contains language that puts family-planning clinics at the bottom of the list to receive funding.
Family Planning Association of Northeast Ohio operates several independent family-planning clinics. They do not provide abortions and have no affiliation with Planned Parenthood, but the clinics are still at the end of the line under a new tiered system because they give referrals.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. The U.S. Congress continues its hearings into the IRS flagging of Tea Party groups that apply for tax-exempt status. What may have been overlooked is the fact that this status would have offered little practical benefit to most of the groups that were targeted.
Joining us now to help explain all this is NPR's S.V. Date who coordinates campaign finance coverage for NPR. Shirish, thanks very much for being with us.
Between his trip to Europe last week and his travels to Africa next week, President Obama is doing a lot of gift exchanges with foreign leaders.
In the past, he has gotten mixed reviews. Four years ago, he was panned for giving the queen of England an iPod. Other presents have gone over better. But the president does not personally select these gifts — a staffer does.
Sen. Marco Rubio has a problem. He has transformed from conservative hero to suspect in the eyes of many on the political right because he now supports "a path to citizenship" for people unlawfully in the U.S. after forcefully opposing it in 2010 when he was running for U.S. Senate.
Republicans and Democrats are looking at this year's race for governor in Virginia as a possible harbinger of the 2014 election. The contest pits Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against Democratic Party fundraiser Terry McAuliffe. Both candidates are strongly supported by their respective bases, but sport strong negatives among moderate voters. The outcome could come down to turnout.
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Seven months ago many voters waited in long lines to cast ballots in the presidential election. Well, today a presidential commission charged with fixing the problem was finally up and running. As NPR's Pam Fessler reports, the panel's looking for answers to questions that have challenged election officials for a long time.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, you've heard about gay marriage and affirmative reaction cases before the Supreme Court, but we'll talk about another important case that isn't getting a lot of attention in just a few minutes. But first, over the past few decades, obesity has become a serious health care issue in the United States. The obesity rate was 13 percent in 1962, it now stands at 34 percent of adults and 17 percent of children.
Now we turn to the Supreme Court. The country is waiting on several rulings, important cases dealing with affirmative action, voting rights, and same-sex marriage. But there are other pending cases with lower profiles that still carry really profound implications for the country.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michelle Martin is away today. And it's time, yet again, for our weekly visit to the barbershop. The guys are going to talk about what's in the news, what's on their minds.
Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week - writer and culture critic Jimi Izrael, contributing editor for The Root, Corey Dade. Arsalan Iftikhar - he's senior editor of the Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com. They're all here in D.C. with me. How're you guys doing?
The Food and Drug Administration Thursday evening approved over-the-counter sale, with no age restrictions, of Plan B One-Step. That's the morning-after pill whose status has been the subject of a dozen years of political wrangling and legal dispute.
NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin weigh in on President Obama leaving controversies like the IRS and the NSA behind as he attended the G-8 summit in Europe. Back in Washington, the House OKs a far-reaching 20-week abortion ban bill. And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) raises eyebrows saying immigrants are "more fertile" than U.S.-born citizens.
Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 11:00 am
The death penalty has become a bit like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. It may never fade away entirely, but capital punishment is certainly less visible or actively pursued than it used to be.
In May, Maryland became the sixth state in as many years to abolish the death penalty. Across the nation as a whole, fewer criminals are being put to death. Last year, 43 were executed, down significantly from the peak of 98 back in 1999.
The chances of an immigration overhaul bill getting through the Senate greatly improved on Thursday. A deal was reached on a border security plan. Steve Inskeep talks about the deal with two of the senators in the so-called "Gang of Eight," who are working on a bipartisan approach to immigration, Arizona Republican Jeff Flake and Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin.
Members of the House on Thursday rejected the measure, studded with Republican priorities. In the past, the farm bill has been a model of bipartisan support. But defections in both parties spelled the bill's doom.