Political news

Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET

Ahmed Chalabi, a former Iraqi exile who played a major role in persuading the U.S. to wage war against Saddam Hussein, has died of a heart attack in Baghdad. He was 71.

His death was reported by Iraqi state media and confirmed to NPR by Hashim al Moussawi, who works in his office, and by former parliamentarian Hassan al Alawi.

Religion is apparently weakening in America. A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that the percentage of Americans who say they believe in God, pray daily and attend church regularly is declining.

Among the findings:

  • The share of Americans who say they are "absolutely certain" that God exists has dropped 8 percentage points, from 71 percent to 63 percent, since 2007, when the last comparable study was made.

TransCanada, the company applying to build the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline that is designed to run from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico, has suspended its U.S. permit application while it works with authorities to gain approval for its preferred route through Nebraska.

TransCanada has asked the State Department to pause its review of the application to build the project, The Associated Press reports.

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The conservative Christian college Liberty University is the last place you'd expect to find a Jewish politician on Rosh Hashanah. But that's exactly where Bernie Sanders was on the first day of the Jewish New Year.

As the campus band sang about the resurrection of Jesus, Sanders stood at the back of the stage. Then he delivered a speech about social justice. And when it was over, without any publicity or fanfare, he went to the home of Michael Gillette, the mayor of Lynchburg, Va.

Dana Bowerman walked out of a federal prison camp in Bryan, Texas, Monday morning and for the first time in more than a decade, she chose her own breakfast.

"I had five pieces of different kinds of pizza," Bowerman told All Things Considered in an interview. "Been waiting 15 years for that. I about choked though because I got kind of emotional and I'd have a mouthful of pizza ... and it still feels very surreal."

After a Sunday night meeting, in which the Republican campaigns largely agreed on a framework to negotiate as a group with TV networks for upcoming debates, the Trump campaign has decided it will negotiate independently.

"Just like the CNBC debate, we will negotiate with the media," Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told NPR. "We're going to make sure we're going to work with the networks to make sure the candidate's interest is at the forefront to negotiate the best deal."

Former President Jimmy Carter took a break Monday from reprising his role as Habitat for Humanity's most recognizable champion to talk with All Things Considered's Kelly McEvers from Memphis, Tenn.

He says despite being diagnosed with brain cancer in August, he hasn't begun to cut back on his schedule yet "because I still feel good." He adds:

"I'm taking special treatments for the cancer in my brain and in my liver. Part of the liver was removed and they did the treatment on four places in my brain with radiation.

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The Supreme Court on Monday revisited the issue of racial bias in jury selection. At issue: the conviction of a 19-year-old African-American, sentenced to death in Georgia, by an all-white jury.

Jury selection, in the end, boils down to how prosecution and defense lawyers use their so-called peremptory strikes. These are the set number of prospective jurors who can be eliminated by each side without any stated reason.

The U.S. Supreme Court wrestles Monday with a problem that has long plagued the criminal justice system: race discrimination in the selection of jurors.

"Numerous studies demonstrate that prosecutors use peremptory strikes to remove black jurors at significantly higher rates than white jurors."

Thousands of federal inmates are getting out of prison because of a change in the way the U.S. government sentences drug criminals. It's part of a broader movement to reconsider tough-on-crime laws that were passed during the War on Drugs.

The decision to change sentencing guidelines — and apply the changes retroactively — was made last year, but the release of any inmates was delayed until this weekend.

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who straddled the worlds of Hollywood and Washington during a long career in the public eye, has died of lymphoma at 73.

"It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family," said a statement from Thompson's family. It continued:

Updated Sunday at 10:52 pm ET.

At a private meeting Sunday night, representatives from most of the Republican presidential campaigns agreed to negotiate directly with broadcasters who are sponsoring debates, pushing the Republican National Committee out of that role.

The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced Sunday that it will begin airing its first campaign ads on television in Iowa and New Hampshire starting Tuesday.

All week long, Bernie Sanders has been getting questions about sexism. The charges have been fueled by comments his campaign manager made, saying Sanders would consider Clinton for vice president.

These are not the sorts of questions the Vermont senator, who considers himself a feminist, and candidate for the Democratic nomination wants to be answering.

Should he even have to answer them? Is the accusation fair? Does it go too far?

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Can Democrats Find Their Southern Charm?

Nov 1, 2015

After a rough few decades for Democrats in the South, there's a recent bright spot: They could win governor's races in both Louisiana and Kentucky this year.

If they do, it would stand in stark contrast to the region's current politics, where Republicans have almost entirely taken over.

This isn't to say Democrats are suddenly on the verge of a resurgence in the South, but there are ways they can be successful under the right circumstances.

Jolene Ivey, Farajii Muhammad, and Ordale Allen join the Barbershop to discuss the video of the South Carolina student being disciplined by a deputy, Black Lives Matter interrupting a Clinton rally and news that processed meats are carcinogenic.

'It's All Politics' is packing up. We have decided to suspend the blog to consolidate NPR's political news and make it easier to find.

But don't worry, we're bringing you with us. You can find the same great news coverage, analysis, fact checking and more from NPR's political team streamlined here: NPR Politics.

We're also adding some new beats and angles to our coverage — more on that to come.

The numbers are in, and there's a clear consensus on who lost this week's Republican presidential debate, and in turn, who was this week's biggest political flop: "The Media."

Facebook says their top social moment of the debate was when Texas senator and presidential contender Ted Cruz criticized CNBC debate moderators and the questions they asked during the debate. Twitter also says that was the top moment on their network, as well the second when Florida senator Marco Rubio declared, "Democrats have their own SuperPAC, it's called the mainstream media."

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It's time now for sports.


It's becoming a monthly tradition — on the last day of the month, the State Department unloads thousands of Hillary Clinton's emails.

While Clinton maintains she never used her personal server to send or receive classified information, between 600 and 700 emails have been classified retroactively since the monthly releases began in May, according to Politico. The latest batch this month includes over 7,000 pages of new documents.

When Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned earlier this week he said, as he often has, that he's "just a regular guy, humbled by the chance to do a big job."

He's far from regular on Capitol Hill, but one of the few places in Washington Boehner can still get away with that title just might be Pete's Diner on Capitol Hill.

Most days of the week owner Gum Tong and her staff prepare the same breakfast for Boehner — "the regular standard, eggs and sausage," Tong said. "That's what he always has."

In a pile of books about the Obama presidency, Power Wars: Inside Obama's Post-9/11 Presidency stands out.

Author Charlie Savage provides the most thorough look yet at how this administration has handled counterterrorism and national security. There are sections on drones, detainees, spying, leak prosecutions and much more.

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