South Carolina is getting a new U.S. senator. Governor Nikki Haley announced today that she is appointing Republican Congressman Tim Scott to fill the seat being vacated by Jim DeMint who's retiring. Scott is a freshman member of the House.
And as NPR's Brian Naylor reports, he will be the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.
Inside a modest storefront in Loxley, Ala., 18-year-old Maria Lola Melisio points out the Mexican spices and other products for sale in her mother's market.
"There are the leaves where you make your tamales — you roll them up in that," she says.
Melisio has long dark curls and is wearing a houndstooth scarf in support of the Alabama Crimson Tide. When she was 7 years old, she entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico with her mother, and still has a scar on her back from crawling under the border fence. It's a story she's kept secret until now.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein, reacting to the shooting deaths in Newtown, Connecticut, called yesterday for reinstating the Assault Weapon Ban, which was in effect from 1994 until 2004 when the law expired. How effective was it?
Well, we're going to ask Professor Daniel Webster who studies firearm policy and gun violence prevention. His field is public health, and he's at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Webster, welcome to the program.
Discussions here in Washington are intensifying between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama as they try to find an agreement to avert a raft of year-end spending cuts and tax increases. The two men met today at the White House for 45 minutes. NPR's Tamara Keith joins us now from Capitol Hill with an update. And, Tamara, there does seem to have been something of a breakthrough in negotiations. Speaker Boehner agreed to let tax rates rise. President Obama came back with a counteroffer. Where are we right now?
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 5:55 am
In a pair of recent decisions, the Supreme Court has made it clear that Americans have a constitutional right to own handguns for self-defense. But the court will nonetheless allow "reasonable regulations" on firearms.
The country appears set, following the mass shootings at a school in Newtown, Conn., to have a debate about what restrictions should be put in place.
Members of Congress have already signaled their intent to introduce gun-control legislation next year, which President Obama has indicated in recent days will be a priority.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 12:10 am
It's a big day in the religious and culinary calendar of the Republic of Georgia. Georgian Orthodox believers observe Dec. 17 as St. Barbara's Day, in honor of an early Christian martyr. And they typically mark the occasion by eating a type of stuffed bread called lobiani, baked with a filling of boiled beans with coriander and onions.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Last night President Obama broke a long silence and called for a meaningful response to Friday's atrocity in Newtown, where a gunman murdered 27 people, including 20 first grade students, and then shot himself.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 12:50 pm
Remember the important contributions Republicans made to civil rights legislation back in the 1960s?
They've almost been lost to memory. When Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the GOP presidential nominee that year, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it, and Republicans have never recovered their former share of support among African-Americans.
House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the White House on Thursday for a meeting with President Obama. The two men met again in private on Monday in an effort to reach a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:48 am
If President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner's closed-door meetings aimed at solving the fiscal cliff crisis trouble anyone, you'd expect it to be the open-government watchdogs who routinely bark their outrage at public officials who work overtime to avoid public scrutiny.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program we are going to revisit a story that caught our attention about poverty in a place that often seems overlooked. We'll hear about a young woman in the Rust Belt trying to figure out a path to a better life.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 4:26 am
Police on Sunday said 20-year-old Adam Lanza was armed with a high-powered rifle, two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he forcibly entered a Newtown, Conn., elementary school and proceeded to gun down 20 young students and six faculty members.
The latest information on the tragedy, the worst violence at an elementary school in U.S. history, came ahead of President Obama's arrival in the town where Friday's mass shooting took place. The president met with families of the victims and planned to attend an evening vigil, where he will speak.
The United States is now just over two weeks away from a plunge over the "fiscal cliff" — that is, unless Congress can agree on a deal to prevent automatic tax hikes and spending cuts in the new year. But once again, Congress seems headed for the brink.
That's been happening more and more in recent years. And it was noted sadly by a string of retiring senators as they were bidding their colleagues farewell this past week.
Then-Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., observe voting in parliamentary elections in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2008. President Obama is reportedly considering Hagel as his next defense secretary, and Kerry for secretary of state.
Credit Getty Images
Michele Flournoy is reportedly among those President Obama is considering for defense secretary.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:50 am
In the category of unintended consequences, Susan Rice's announcement about her future could — under one scenario — mean a Republican in President Obama's inner circle, decorated Vietnam veterans overseeing the nation's military and its foreign policy, and another special election for Senate in Massachusetts.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
In front of the White House today, the flag flies at half-staff. And across the country, Americans are expressing their grief and their sense of despair. This morning, in his weekly address, the president spoke out about the tragedy.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:22 pm
Horrible acts of violence have forced President Obama to speak to a shocked nation after several mass shootings — at a shopping center in Arizona, a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and, on Friday, a Connecticut elementary school.
Each time his sadness has been readily visible, mirroring the feelings of millions of Americans.
In this week's Barbershop, the guys weigh in on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrawing her name from consideration for secretary of state. They also discuss Michigan's right-to-work law and whether unions are still relevant today.
Labor pains in Michigan, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner head to the cliff, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is steamed, and we're still waiting for a Senate replacement for Jim DeMint in South Carolina.
It looks like the only folks smiling in this week's podcast are Ken Rudin and Ron Elving.
"In recent weeks, new lines of attack have been raised to malign my character and my career. Even before I was nominated for any new position, a steady drip of manufactured charges painted a wholly false picture of me."
The Consumer Price Index is one of the most familiar measures in economics and politics. But some in Washington want to change the way the index is calculated to better reflect people's shopping habits.
While the proposed change is described as a technical fix, it could also cut the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) leaves after his weekly news briefing at the U.S. Capitol Thursday. Boehner said negotiations with President Barack Obama to are stalled until the White House offers more federal budget spending cuts.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:01 am
President Obama hosted House Speaker John Boehner today, spending nearly an hour together in which they reportedly discussed ways to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes that are due to strike at the end of 2012. Boehner left the White House at 6 p.m., ET, apparently without reaching a deal. As Politico reports, the Republican plans to return to his home state of Ohio this weekend.
Well, even if Americans largely agree on addressing the deficit with a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, the consensus falls apart when you get specific about those spending cuts. And that may be why politicians have been wary of discussing cuts in too much detail. We're going to try to remedy that now with NPR's Scott Horsley. Hi, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Robert.