President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill into law Friday afternoon, enacting more than 1,500 pages of legislation that received broad support in the House and Senate earlier this week. The expansive bill ensures the U.S. government won't face a potential shutdown until at least October.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown has signed an emergency drought declaration, saying his state is seeing the driest weather in about a century. This is California's third consecutive dry year with no appreciable rain in sight. As NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, cities and counties across the state are taking drastic measures.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Melissa Block. In New Orleans, a court decision threatens to bankrupt the public school system. A state appeals court ruled that the school board for Orleans Parrish wrongly terminated some 7,000 teachers and other school employees after Hurricane Katrina. They're to be awarded two to three years back pay.
When peace talks open in Switzerland, one common concern between the West and Syria is expected to be the threat of Islamist extremists and the rise of al-Qaida-linked militias. Thousands of Sunni militants from around the world have joined the rebel groups in Syria, but there are other groups of militant foreign fighters who support the Syrian regime. Iraqi Shiites are being recruited in the thousands to bolster Syria's armed forces. Recruiting billboards and social media help portray the fight as an existential battle between Sunnis and Muslims.
Last year, Venezuelans suffered from a shortage of toilet paper. Well, now thanks to government bureaucracy, another kind of paper is in low supply, newsprint. As John Otis reports, that's forced some Venezuelan newspapers to trim their size or, worse, stop printing all together.
After months of debate about the National Security Agency, President Obama delivered statements on Friday about how the agency collects intelligence. He declared that advances in technology had made it harder "to both defend our nation and uphold our civil liberties." He also announced changes to surveillance policies.
Embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie travels to Florida this weekend but the trip is hardly a vacation. Christie is the star attraction at a series of fundraising events across the state. It's Christie's first major trip as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. And as NPR's Joel Rose reports, it may be an important test of how the scandal over lane closures at the George Washington Bridge is affecting his national ambitions.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut shares his reaction to President Obama's proposed reforms of the National Security Agency. Blumenthal has pushed for reforms of the courts established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.