The Obama administration is renewing its sales push for the president's signature health care law. On Wednesday, officials host a "youth summit" at the White House, where young people will be encouraged to sign up for insurance coverage. Their participation is crucial to help balance out the cost of insuring older, sicker people.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill face a lengthy to-do list before they head home for the holidays. Near the top is an issue deemed a priority after last year's election — immigration reform. So far, only the Senate has passed a bill.
Despite the standstill, supporters of immigration reform are pushing to keep the issue alive on a crowded legislative slate.
Bangladesh is the cheapest place in the world to make a T-shirt. But this month, the minimum wage there will rise from $39 a month to $68 a month. That's got some factory owners nervous about whether Western retailers there will pull out. Our Planet Money team examines the future of the garment industry in Bangladesh.
A federal judge has ruled Detroit qualifies for bankruptcy. But the cash-strapped city, laden with roughly $18 billion in long-term debt, faces a long road to regain financial solvency. Unions whose members face pension payment cuts are appealing the ruling, and the ultimate decision about paying the pensions may be made by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers will face its first test this weekend. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are due to make a long-delayed visit to a nuclear site in Iran where plutonium could be produced.
A nuclear reactor and associated production plant in Arak are a special concern because plutonium can be used in a nuclear bomb. Under last month's accord, Iran promised to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Officials on both sides say they are committed to the nuclear deal, but keeping it on track will be a challenge.
Let's turn now to the Middle East. In the Gaza Strip, it makes for good news that sewage is no longer flooding the streets. The sewage was one byproduct of an ongoing power shortage that seems to be easing, although just slightly. Hospitals and government offices should soon get electricity for more than the few hours a day, which has been the norm for weeks now.
NPR's Emily Harris reports that people expect, though, that they will still be cooking on open fires until Palestinian leaders mend a political split.
Thousands of protesters in Ukraine continue to occupy Kiev's Maidan square and to prevent the government from functioning after President Victor Yanukovich refused to allow the country to strengthen trade ties with the European Union. Ukraine is under intense Russian pressure to continue aligning itself with a customs union comprising countries of the former Soviet Union.
It must be said the NFL game between the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars tomorrow night, is not a marquee matchup. The Texans are two-and-10, the Jaguars look a little better, having won three of their last four games, but that was only after losing the first eight games of the season. In fact, these teams combine for the lowest-winning percentage in the history of the NFL Network's "Thursday Night Football" games.
In 2009, Mike Bender was horrified to find that his mother had hung a particularly embarrassing family photo.
"It was a vacation photo. It was my dad's 50th birthday. I was 13," he says. "My dad had my brother and I do a Rockette's kick with our skis. We were on top of a mountain, right by the lift, and I just remember feeling, you know, stuck in that pose: This. Is. Awkward."
But as an adult he realized that the photo was not only awkward — it was hilarious.
The Sunday pregame shows feature interchangeable ex-players and ex-coaches saying the same banal things, one after another.
"They've got to cut down on turnovers."
"They've got to convert more third-down situations."
And so on. There's no human interaction, just mirthless recitations. But on female-centered shows like The View and The Talk, the hosts actually discuss, argue, hash things out, laugh for real and behave like flesh-and-blood human beings. And they dare do it all without a net, before a live audience.
Just about every Mustang owner has a story about how their love affair with the car began.
Laura Slider's story began the day a red Mustang appeared in the driveway across the street.
"I've wanted one ever since I was 15," she says. "It was owned by a very cute boy that I liked. And then we rode in it and it was very fast and sporty and fun and pretty, and I thought, I want one someday."
Now, decades later, she has one. And, yes, it's red.
In 2000, Auliya Atrafi paid thousands of dollars and risked his life to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. He spent 12 years in England getting educated and becoming a documentary filmmaker.
Last year, he gave up life in the West and returned home to southern Helmand province. Now, he's the father of twins and he's working in a rural government office while trying to readjust to life in a conservative society that he finds dysfunctional.
The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees are meeting Wednesday as they continue to try to work out the differences between their respective farm bills. If they fail, the country faces what's being called the "dairy cliff" — with milk prices potentially shooting up to about $7 a gallon sometime after the first of the year.
Here's why: The nation's farm policy would be legally required to revert back to what's called permanent law. In the case of dairy, that would be the 1949 farm bill.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:03 pm
When I was growing up, my uncle Richard farmed mint. In the late summer, he and his crew would mow the mint fields like hay and collect the leaves in enclosed wagons, then drive them down to the still, where they would seal them and pump them full of steam. The steam caused the oil in the leaves to turn to vapor, which re-liquefied when pushed through a condenser.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:19 pm
A scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears raised alarms about climate change has received $100,000 to settle a whistle-blower complaint against an agency of the Department of the Interior.
Under the settlement, wildlife researcher Charles Monnett retired from his job at the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Nov. 15, and the agency agreed to remove a letter of reprimand that officials had placed in his file.
AM radio once played a central role in American life. The family would gather around the Philco to hear the latest Western or detective drama. The transistor radio was where baby boomers first heard the Beatles and other Top 40 hits. And, of course, there's no better way to take in a ballgame.
President Obama has made it a priority to choose federal judges who are diverse in terms of race or gender. But for the most part, he's avoided controversy for those lifetime appointments.
That's why the nomination of a Missouri lawyer named Ronnie White has raised the eyebrows of experts who've been around Washington for a while. Old hands remember that White was rejected for a federal judgeship back in 1999 after a party line vote by Senate Republicans.
Now, in what experts say could be an unprecedented step, he's getting another chance.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:02 am
A newer form of mammogram may do a better job of finding cancer, a study finds. But the technology is still too untested to know if it's going to be useful for most women or even to know for sure who might benefit.
It's called breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography. Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, the new type of scan has been touted by radiologists.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:44 pm
The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it's received from the former NSA contractor.
In testimony before Britain's Parliament, Alan Rusbridger told lawmakers that about 58,000 files obtained from Snowden, or "about 1 percent," had been used by the paper for its stories. However, he added: "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."
Keith Jarrett is a jazz legend. His catalog of recordings includes solo piano improvisations, trio and quartet works, classical performances, early sessions with Charles Lloyd and late ones with Miles Davis. But there's nothing quite like Jarrett's new double-CD set No End: It was recorded in his home studio in 1986, and he plays all the instruments — notably drums, bass and electric guitar.
The U.S. and other major powers have been holding historic negotiations with Iran to try to curb that country's nuclear program. But Washington still has many other concerns about Iranian behavior. And while some diplomats may hope to build on the nuclear talks to push Iran to play a more constructive role in the region, experts remain skeptical.
Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says there are a couple of ways to look at the negotiations with Iran.
They're louder than a jet on takeoff and they make the earth tremble.
We're talking about fans of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
During the team's home game Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, "Seahawks fans jumping up and down during" a fumble return for a touchdown "registered about a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake," The Seattle Times' The Today File blog reports.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:30 am
Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Wednesday:
Federal investigators in New York announced late Tuesday that they had removed the rail employees union, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, as a participant in the investigation. According to The Associated Press, investigators cited a breach of confidentiality after Anthony Bottalico, leader of the union, spoke to the media concerning comments train engineer William Rockefeller had made about what happened moments before Sunday's derailment.
With HealthCare.gov able to handle an increasing number of users, the Obama administration finally went on the offensive to urge Americans to sign up for new health insurance. The administration had planned a massive advertising and social media campaign to support the Affordable Care Act back in October, but the push was delayed for two months after the health insurance exchange website failed in its debut. The effort comes as the deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting next year looms.