The Senate Intelligence Committee today delivered its analysis of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed in that attack, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. It's a bipartisan report. Democrats and Republicans on the committee agreed, among other things, that the attack might have been prevented if the State Department had taken better precautions at the Benghazi post.
In other personnel news, the president has nominated Stanley Fischer to serve as the next vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. He would replace Janet Yellen, who's been promoted to chairman of the central bank. Yellen reportedly recruited Fischer personally to serve as her deputy. He spent much of the last decade running Israel's central bank.
As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, Stanley Fischer is credited with helping that country weather the financial crisis better than most and with training many of the world's top economists.
When German farmers and activists descended upon Chancellor Angela Merkel's office building Wednesday morning, they brought along some special guests — 17 pigs. The stunt was the latest European backlash against a proposed free trade deal with the U.S. that could lift restrictions on American meat sold in Europe.
Under the watchful eye of German police officers, the pigs munched happily on straw strewn across the pavement to keep the herd from running amok.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. President Obama has been talking a lot lately about income inequality. Today, he visited a factory in North Carolina and announced new steps that he said would create more good-paying, middle class jobs. He plans to do that by boosting American manufacturing and at the center of that plan is a big idea: a new, federally-funded innovation institute.
Those machines in drugstores and supermarkets that let people check their blood pressure also may be selling people's contact information to insurance companies trolling for new customers.
One of these kiosks sits in Aisle 10 of a Safeway in a city near San Francisco. Sitting down at the machine is like slipping into the cockpit of a 1980s arcade game. There are a big plastic seat and footrest for measuring weight and body mass index, a window for testing vision, and a blood pressure cuff. The kiosks don't charge people for the blood pressure measurement.
Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 3:19 pm
The House on Wednesday passed a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill — a compromise that appeared to get past the bitter partisan showdowns that have caused an unpopular federal government shutdown and nearly tipped the U.S. into default.
The 359-67 vote was a sign of considerable support from Republicans, thanks to a bipartisan deal worked out last month laying out spending for the next two years.
Quick question: How many times do you pay for stuff in a given month? Not how much do you spend, but how many times do you exchange dollars for goods or services — pay a bill, put gas in your car, download a song from iTunes, pick up a sandwich for lunch, whatever.
After 15 months of acrimony, the longest labor dispute at a major American symphony orchestra has ended. The Minnesota Orchestra and its musicians reached an agreement last night and players will return to work on February 1. While all sides are relieved, most admit the hard work of rebuilding some seriously damaged bridges is just about to begin.
Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 3:50 pm
Despite a $7 billion effort to eradicate opium production in Afghanistan, poppy cultivation there is at its highest level since the U.S. invasion more than a decade ago, sparking corruption, criminal gangs and providing the insurgency with hard cash, says John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.
In testimony before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, he warns Wednesday that Afghanistan could degenerate into a narco-criminal state.
Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 2:55 pm
There has been a carefully guarded secret in medicine: Evidence is often inconclusive, and experts commonly disagree about what it means.
Most medical decisions aren't cut and dried. Instead they're usually made with uncertainty about what is best for each person.
This uncertainty secret has been revealed in a very public disagreement among experts about who should be treated for high blood pressure. The controversy hinges on the level of blood pressure that should serve as a trigger for treatment.
Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 7:05 pm
The biggest problem the United States faces is not unemployment or the economy — it's the country's government, according to a plurality of Americans cited in a recent Gallup poll. Among Republicans, Democrats and independents, dissatisfaction with the U.S.'s political leadership topped all other issues.
Centuries before the U.S. was colonized, the British were handing down estates and titles from father to son. Never from mother to daughter.
Then came the royal pregnancy last year. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka William and Kate, had a boy, George. But before the prince was born and his sex known, Parliament changed British law so a first-born girl could inherit the throne. And a group of female aristocrats began fighting to apply the principle more broadly.
Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:04 pm
Women who work out with weights an hour a week cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and yoga or stretching exercises count, too, according to a study that tracked the health of almost 100,000 women.
Doctors have long known that regular exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, but that's always been translated as aerobic exercise like jogging or brisk walking.
Finally today, I'd like to end the program where we started: talking about poverty. We, like a lot of other people in the news business have been talking about poverty a lot this week and last.
We're doing this because we have something called a news peg — which is a fancy word for a reason to talk about something we want to talk about anyway. And that news peg is the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's first State of the Union address, when he said this:
"This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America."
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, some corners of the Internet are melting down because of a reported shortage of Velveeta. And don't try to act like you don't know what that is. We'll talk about the history of the ooey, gooey stuff and why, in a buffalo mozzarella world, we still like it. But first, to football. This is golden time for pro-football lovers. Two teams will book their tickets to the Super Bowl this weekend after a long season of hard hits.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later, we want to hear about why a federal judge has rejected a nearly multibillion dollar settlement - sorry, a multimillion dollar settlement that the NFL reached with former players. We'll hear what that could mean going forward. But first, we want to talk about a new report from the Pew Research Center that finds that only 80 percent of African-Americans are Internet users compared with 87 percent of whites.
Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 10:50 am
Several donor nations have each pledged tens of millions of dollars for civilians affected by Syria's civil war.
The pledges, including $500 million from Kuwait and $380 million from the U.S., came Wednesday at the start of a conference in Kuwait City to raise money for the humanitarian suffering caused by the more than two years of fighting. The U.N. wants $6.5 billion for the effort to assist Syrian refugees. It's the largest-ever appeal for a single crisis.
The maritime watchdog says there were 264 strikes against shipping worldwide last year — a drop of 40 percent since attacks peaked in 2011. And there were just 15 attacks off the coast of Somalia; by comparison, that same area saw 75 attacks in 2012 and 237 the year before.