No big surprises in these bits of news about President Obama's cabinet:
-- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as expected, this morning approved the nomination of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be the next secretary of state. Kerry, the committee's chairman, is set to replace Secretary Hillary Clinton after he gets the approval of the full Senate, which also is expected.
A woman takes the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the district office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Newark, N.J.
Credit Steven Senne / AP
GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin (right) greeted former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at a campaign event last spring. Sensenbrenner sponsored a controversial 2005 House bill on immigration.
Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 7:32 am
After years of inaction, immigration policy changes suddenly have notable momentum in Washington.
President Obama will address the issue in a speech Tuesday in Las Vegas — a day after a bipartisan group of senators outlined their ideas for a bill that could move through the chamber as early as this spring.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
This week, talk of new immigration laws serves as a reminder that timing is everything. Wait until after a momentous election and it becomes possible to discuss an issue that previously seemed impossible.
INSKEEP: In this quiet week between the government's ongoing fiscal storms, President Obama today unveils an immigration plan.
MONTAGNE: A bipartisan group of senators has already made a proposal.
An immigration plan announced Monday by a bipartisan group of senators would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country and overhaul legal immigration. It also calls for improved border security and better tracking of individuals in the U.S. on visas. Steve Inskeep talks with one of the senators behind the plan, Republican Jeff Flake from Arizona.
Pope Benedict XVI leads prayers on Nov. 27, 2011, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The leader of the world's Roman Catholic Church called for a "responsible, credible and united response" to the problem of climate change. But in the U.S. at least, studies show the view even of religious Americans on climate change is much more likely to be shaped by their politics than their faith.
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 5:27 pm
When President Obama during his inauguration speech made a case for tackling human-driven climate change, it felt like deja vu for many in the environmental community — including members of religious groups who have long looked to him for action.
After all, Obama made a similar pledge during his first inauguration address in 2009, and left-leaning and progressive faith-based organizations were among activist groups that pushed for quick congressional action on major climate legislation.
Five of the eight senators who proposed a bipartisan plan for an immigration overhaul attend a Capitol Hill news conference Monday. From left are John McCain of Arizona, Chuck Schumer of New York, Marco Rubio of Florida, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 3:41 pm
A bipartisan Senate plan unveiled Monday to overhaul the U.S. immigration system frames a pitched debate expected in Congress around the areas of border enforcement, a path to citizenship for those already in the country and the future flow of new arrivals.
Visitors take in a re-created scene at the massacre museum at Vietnam's My Lai village. Researcher Nick Turse says atrocities of all kinds were more common in the Vietnam War than most Americans believe.
Credit Tam Turse / Metropolitan Books
Nick Turse is the author of KillAnything That Moves, about the Vietnam War.
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 2:06 pm
On March 16, 1968, between 347 and 504 unarmed Vietnamese civilians were gunned down by members of the U.S. Army in what became known as the My Lai Massacre.
The U.S. government has maintained that atrocities like this were isolated incidents in the conflict. Nick Turse says otherwise. In his new book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, Turse argues that the intentional killing of civilians was quite common in a war that claimed 2 million civilian lives, with 5.3 million civilians wounded and 11 million refugees.
Saying their proposal would "secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system" and create "a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here," eight senators unveiled a "bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform."
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 9:07 am
Washington, D.C., has never been a "love thy neighbor" kind of place, certainly not in the past four years when Republicans worked to stymie President Barack Obama at all costs, or the eight preceding years when Democrats had similar feelings about President George W. Bush.
So how do you explain the love affair of the past few years between Republicans and Hillary Clinton?
Hemp products for sale in Washington, D.C., in 2010. The U.S. is the world's largest consumer of hemp products, although growing hemp is illegal under federal law. Colorado recently passed a measure that legalizes growing hemp.
Credit Courtesy Michael Bowman
DEA Special Agent Paul Roach says federal law does not distinguish between hemp and marijuana.
With recreational marijuana now legal in Colorado, small-scale pot shops will open up soon in places like Denver and Boulder. But that's not the only business that could get a boost: Large-scale commercial farmers may also be in line to benefit.
Why? When Colorado voters legalized marijuana last November, they also legalized hemp.
This week, the Senate passed a rules change to make it just a little harder for members to start a filibuster. Some think it's not enough action, and others think it's too limiting, but most agree that a compromise is better than nothing. Weekends on All Things Considered host Robert Smith talks with political scientist Sarah Binder about how the filibuster grew in to such a road-blocking nuisance in the first place, and asks Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., what these changes will mean for the senate filibuster.
President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, talks at the White House on Jan. 16 about proposals to reduce gun violence. Obama has called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and is pushing other policies in the wake of the mass shooting last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Vice President Joe Biden participates in a round-table discussion on gun violence at Virginia Commonwealth University with Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on Friday. The panelists included people who worked on gun safety after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
In their first big party gathering since Election Day, Republican leaders from around the country met in Charlotte, N.C., this week.
The GOP is promising a great deal of change in advance of the next election, but one area where there will be no change for the party is in its leadership. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was elected to another two-year term.
In his acceptance speech, he cited a simple reason why Republicans failed to win the White House and lost seats in the House and Senate in November.
In a bombshell decision on the limits of executive power, a federal appeals court panel in Washington, D.C., has invalidated President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
Legal experts say the court's reasoning upends decades of conventional wisdom and deals a big victory to Senate Republicans in an era of congressional gridlock.
The Cathedral of Alcala de Henares is one of many buildings owned by the Catholic Church in Alcala de Henares, Spain. The town, which is outside Madrid, is broke and is pursuing a plan to have the church pay additional taxes.
Credit JMN / Cover/Getty Images
The Catholic Church owns more than just places of worship. It also owns apartments and retail buildings. Here, arcades line the busy Calle Mayor (Main Street) in Alcala de Henares, Spain, in 2008.
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 2:00 pm
Not many Americans are fans of the Electoral College. But trying to change the way electoral votes are allocated makes lots of people unhappy, too.
That's what Republicans in a number of states are finding just now. There are a half-dozen states that President Obama carried last November where both the legislature and the governor's office are controlled by the GOP — Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia.
In most of those states, there are efforts under way to change how electoral votes are distributed.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., won't seek re-election next year, he announced Friday.
The conservative Capitol Hill veteran faced recent criticism from the right for seeking a bipartisan compromise on deficit issues, and for being among the first high-level Republicans to question fidelity to Grover Norquist's no-new-taxes pledge after the November elections.
Those stances had raised speculation about a possible Tea Party-backed GOP primary challenge next year, when Chambliss would have been seeking a third six-year term.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we'll talk with a minister whose latest assignment has provoked unexpected questions about race and faith. More on that in our weekly Faith Matters conversation. But first we return to the issue that's still so much on the minds of the nation and national leaders, which is how to keep citizens safe from gun violence while still balancing this country's historic commitment to gun rights.
The fact that President Obama's second inauguration took place on the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday felt right to many people, but some critics say the comparison is all wrong. Host Michel Martin and the Barbershop guys weigh in on that and other news.
Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 11:26 am
Now that President Obama is ensconced in his second term, speculation about the future of American politics is wildfire-ish.
In a post-inaugural story, the Associated Press reports that the name of Democratic Vice President Biden "has surfaced as a potential presidential candidate in 2016." Politico says Biden is intoxicated by the prospect.
Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 11:05 am
Saying he is choosing "one of my closest friends and one of my closest advisers" for the job, President Obama on Friday said that longtime aide Denis McDonough will be his next chief of staff.
During a midday event at the White House that was remarkable for the expansive comments the president made about his friend's character, his dedication and the respect he gets from those who work in the administration, Obama said McDonough has "the kind of heart that I want in the White House."
This week, NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving lip sync the entire podcast, focusing on the themes from the inauguration as well as musing over what has changed since 2009 — for America as well as President Obama. Plus: Hillary Clinton's give-and-take with congressional Republicans over Benghazi and a sleight-of-hand move by the GOP in Virginia.
Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 5:54 pm
Organizers say today's March for Life rally in the nation's capital may bring more anti-abortion activists to the streets than last year's estimated 400,000. By midday, a large crowd was gathered in the National Mall, listening to speeches from former GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum and others and preparing to march toward the Capitol and the Supreme Court.
GOP leaders are in Charlotte, North Carolina, trying to map out a comeback from the drubbing they took in the November elections. The Republican National Committee says it will not abandon core conservative principles. But party officials are looking to attract Latinos and other minority voters, along with young people.