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It's All Politics
3:16 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

'Nuclear Option' Vote Marks Tectonic Shift In Senate Rules

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (from left), Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois defend the Senate Democrats' vote Thursday to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 5:15 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's move Thursday to make possible the confirmation of presidential nominees with a simple majority marks a tectonic shift in the rules and folkways of the Senate.

Back in 2005, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called this idea "the constitutional option" when he came close to invoking it on behalf of the judicial nominees of President George W. Bush.

That sounded a lot more dignified than the name Frist's predecessor, Trent Lott, had used just two years earlier: "the nuclear option."

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

'Catching Fire': The Hunger Games, Now With Real Heat

Effie Trinket taps Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, right) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) for the Hunger Games arena again — but this time the rules are different and the stakes are higher as rebellion brews in Panem.
Murray Close Lionsgate

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 2:10 pm

There's a moment of chilling violence in Catching Fire, the second of four planned movies adapting Suzanne Collins' dystopian Hunger Games novels, a moment in which the difference a director makes becomes immediately clear — and one that should give hope to readers who might have felt some disappointment with the first movie.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

A Foray Into The Blood-Soaked 'Cultura' Of Mexico's Cartels

In Narco Cultura, director and photojournalist Shaul Schwarz interrogates the collision of pop culture and Mexico's drug cartels — as personified by bands like Los Bukanas de Culiacan (above), who perform narcocorridos, or songs glorifying the drug trade.
Shaul Schwarz Cinedigm

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 1:03 pm

Following police through Mexico's Ciudad Juárez — reputedly the world's homicide capital — the Israeli filmmaker Shaul Schwarz finds mutilated corpses and gutters running with blood. But the resulting documentary, Narco Cultura, is not nearly so vivid as its most gruesome footage.

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Law
2:57 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Personhood In The Womb: A Constitutional Question

iStockphoto

Should a pregnant woman whose behavior has been deemed dangerous to her fetus be legally punished or forced into medical procedures against her will? A study released earlier this year found hundreds of cases across the country where pregnant women were arrested and incarcerated, detained in mental institutions and drug treatment programs, or subject to forced medical interventions, including surgery.

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The Two-Way
2:41 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Number Of Homeless Declines Again, But Gains Aren't Universal

A homeless man sleeps under an American flag blanket on a park bench in New York City. New U.S. data reports a drop in the number of homeless people — but not in New York and other states.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

The number of homeless people in the U.S. shrank from 2012 to 2013, according to a large government study that found the number of veterans and others who are homeless declined for the third straight year. But homeless numbers rose in New York and other states, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The study also found that nearly 20 percent of homeless people were in either New York City (11 percent of the U.S. total) or Los Angeles (9 percent).

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Politics
2:29 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

ATF Chief Faces Tough Challenge At Troubled Agency

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Director B. Todd Jones speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Aug. 29.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:54 pm

For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.

The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.

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National Security
2:29 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Women Pass Marine Training, Clear First Hurdle To Combat Role

Pfc. Katie Gorz (center) served as a squad leader during the training at Camp Geiger, N.C.
Tom Bowman NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:54 pm

More than 200 Marines have been training since late September in the pine forests of North Carolina. They've been hiking for miles carrying 87-pound packs and assault rifles, sleeping in the field, attacking mock enemy positions.

And for the first time, women took part in the training. Three of them made it to the end and graduated Thursday morning.

They were there at Camp Geiger to answer the question of whether women have what it takes to become combat infantry Marines.

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The Salt
2:15 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Food Stamp Program Doesn't Guarantee Food Security, Study Finds

A sign in a New York City market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just as the food stamp program has been hit with funding cuts, a small study out of Harvard has found that the program isn't doing enough to ensure that its participants get a complete and nutritious diet.

The researchers wanted to find out how much the benefits provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a critical source of food aid for 47 million needy Americans, improved individuals' food security.

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It's All Politics
1:51 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

GOP Enraged After Filibuster Vote, But Does It Change Much?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to the media on Thursday after passing the so-called nuclear option, which changes the Senate rules to eliminate the use of the filibuster on presidential nominees except those to the Supreme Court.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:48 pm

The political class was aflame Thursday with outrage (Republicans) and triumph (Democrats) as Senate Democrats voted to hem in the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees.

By a 52-48 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate carried out the so-called nuclear option. The leadership will now allow a simple majority of senators to override filibusters on nominations, with the exception of those to the Supreme Court.

Previous precedent, in place since the 1970s, required a 60-vote "supermajority" to end a filibuster.

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The Two-Way
12:34 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Alabama Pardons Scottsboro Boys In 1931 Rape Case

Attorney Samuel Leibowitz, confers with seven of the defendants in the Scottsboro rape case in 1935 in Alabama. Thursday, a judge pardoned the remaining three men who hadn't already been pardoned.
AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 3:05 pm

"Today, the Scottsboro Boys have finally received justice."

That was Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's reaction to a parole board's decision Thursday that brought an end to an eight-decade-old case that came to represent racial injustice in the Deep South.

The parole board unanimously approved a posthumous pardon for Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright — the three black men who weren't pardoned in the 1931 rape case.

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Parallels
11:58 am
Thu November 21, 2013

The European Union Says It Wants To Join The Drone Club

A handout picture shows Europe's biggest drone, Eurohawk, made by Northrop Grumman, at the start of its first test flight in Manching, Germany, on Jan. 11. If European officials have their way, the European Union will have its own drones within the next decade.
Cassidian DPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:44 pm

Seven EU countries say they want to join forces and start making their own military drones by 2020 rather than relying on the Americans.

The EU Observer website reported that the proposed "Medium Altitude Long Endurance (Male) craft ... can be used to strike military targets or for surveillance of migrant boats in the Mediterranean Sea."

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The Two-Way
11:09 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Kennedy Cousin Skakel Gets Bail As He Awaits New Murder Trial

Michael Skakel, pictured in October 2012, was granted bail Thursday.
Jessica Hill MCT /Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:00 pm

Michael Skakel, a cousin of the Kennedy family, was granted bail Thursday and released from prison as he awaits a new trial in the 1975 murder of his neighbor Martha Moxley.

The Associated Press reports:

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The Two-Way
11:04 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Senate Democrats Detonate 'Nuclear Option' To Curb Filibusters

Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 12:09 pm

(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)

There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.

In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.

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Around the Nation
10:49 am
Thu November 21, 2013

American Indian Leader Encouraged By White House Meeting

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, journalist Paul Salopek started walking a while ago. He'll keep walking for seven years. He's following the development of mankind from Ethiopia all the way to the bottom of South America. And we'll talk about how students in cities across the U.S. are falling in his footsteps. That's in a few minutes.

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World
10:49 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Walking The World: 7 Years And Counting

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Now to East Africa, where one man is currently on a journey of discovery.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

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On Disabilities
10:49 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Autistic Kids At Risk Of Wandering: How To Keep Them Safe

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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Parallels
10:45 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Everything You Wanted To Know About An Afghan Loya Jirga

Afghan delegates to the Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, listen to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday. Some 2,500 elders and community leaders have gathered in Kabul to discuss a U.S.-Afghan security agreement that would define the role of U.S. troops after the combat mission ends next year.
S. Sabawoon EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:25 pm

The U.S. military has been fighting in Afghanistan for 12 years, and its future role could be determined, or at least heavily influenced, in the next few days by an Afghan Loya Jirga.

So, what is a Loya Jirga?

It's a "grand assembly," an Afghan tradition dating back at least three centuries, that brings together elders and community leaders from across the land to discuss matters of major national importance.

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
10:45 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Debate: Has The Right To Bear Arms Outlived Its Usefulness?

Alan Dershowitz and Sanford Levinson argue in favor of the motion "The Constitutional Right To Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness" in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on Nov. 14.
Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared U.S.

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 12:48 pm

  • Listen To The Broadcast Version Of The Debate
  • Listen To The Full Audio Of The Debate

If Americans were writing the Constitution over again in 2013, would it make sense to include the right to bear arms? Or has it become outdated?

Some argue that states should have the ability to decide the laws they want around guns, instead of having a national standard. And they point to the Second Amendment's language about the need for well-regulated militias as evidence of its anachronism.

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The Two-Way
10:19 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Three Women May Have Spent 30 Years As Slaves In London

A very disturbing story is emerging from the U.K.:

-- "Two people have been arrested as part of an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude at a house in London sparked by a report on Sky News. The inquiry was launched after one of three alleged victims told a charity she had been held against her will for more than 30 years." (Sky News)

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All Songs Considered
9:27 am
Thu November 21, 2013

The Good Listener: Can You Meet Your Favorite Band Without It Getting Awkward?

You don't get many opportunities to hug Bono — better do it right!
Courtesy of beth.anderson2007 via Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:38 am

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the holiday gift baskets from which our interns will receive their only sustenance is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how to meet your favorite musicians without feeling like a complete stooge.

Helen Okolicsanyi writes via Facebook: "How can you not be awkward when you get a chance to meet your favorite musician in person? I never know what to say besides 'Love your music' without sounding like a fangirl."

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The Two-Way
8:44 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Yellen's Nomination To Fed Gets OK From Senate Committee

Janet Yellen during her confirmation hearing earlier this month. She's expected to win Senate approval to take over as head of the Federal Reserve.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 9:55 am

By a 14-8 vote that saw three Republicans join 11 Democrats in saying "aye," the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday morning approved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next head of the Federal Reserve.

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Shots - Health News
8:42 am
Thu November 21, 2013

A Son's Death Reveals Chasms In Emergency Mental Health Care

A hearse leaves the Deeds family home in Millboro, Va., on Tuesday, after 24-year-old Austin "Gus" Deeds died in an apparent suicide.
Don Petersen AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 11:49 am

Parents who have a child struggling with serious mental illness live in fear that the worst will happen.

The apparent suicide of a young man in Virginia after he allegedly attacked his father, a state senator, shows how difficult it can be for families to get help in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The recession brought deep cuts in states' spending on mental health. The reductions made it harder for people to get help before they're in crisis, mental health advocates say, and even harder to find a hospital bed in an emergency.

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The Salt
8:15 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Remember 'French Fries Cause Cancer'? Here's The Acrylamide Update

French fries: There are probably other reasons besides acrylamide to avoid these tasty snacks.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 1:02 pm

Back in 2002, french fry lovers around the world received a nasty bit of news: Those crunchy, fried strips of potato contained a known carcinogen. Now, all these years later, a new warning from the Food and Drug Administration has consumers once again puzzling over whether to fear the chemical acrylamide.

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Parallels
7:50 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Saudi Arabia's Global Arms Shopping Spree

A Leopard 2 A6 tank is in operation during the German army exercise in Bergen, Germany, on Oct. 2. Germany said it would sell 270 of the tanks to Saudi Arabia last year. According to official figures, the Saudis were the top buyers of arms from Germany.
Peter Steffen DPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:04 pm

Saudi Arabia has emerged as the biggest foreign customer for German arms, buying nearly a quarter of Germany's total weapons sales.

It's part of an emerging pattern of weapons purchases by Saudi Arabia and its neighbor, the United Arab Emirates.

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The Two-Way
7:46 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Family Asks North Korea To Release 85-Year-Old American

North Korean soldiers march through Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang. Merrill Newman, an American grandfather, has been missing since being removed from a plane about to depart North Korea on Oct. 26.
ED JONES AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 9:53 am

The family and friends of an 85-year-old California grandfather have appealed to North Korean officials to release the man, who reportedly has been held by authorities in the communist state since Oct. 26.

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Ask Me Another
7:43 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Killer Apps

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:14 am

Puzzle guru Will Hines leads this final round, in which every correct answer is a word, phrase or proper noun that contains the letters "a-p-p" in order. For example, if he said, "It's what you tear off your birthday presents," you would say, "wrapping paper." Word nerds everywhere who rule this game, we applaud you.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Ask Me Another
7:43 am
Thu November 21, 2013

R.L. Stine: What's Scarier?

Author R.L. Stine tries to guess whether Ask Me Another listeners find "ventriloquist dolls" or "a swarm of bees" scarier.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:50 am

You'd think a guy who writes scary books for a living would know a thing or two about what makes our hearts race and our palms sweat. We put the best-selling horror author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series to the test in this Ask Me Another Challenge based on an audience poll. Did Stine know what scares our listeners more: ghosts, or being alone for the rest of your life?

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Ask Me Another
7:43 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Sympathy For The Tasmanian Devil

Mick Jagger was reportedly inspired to write The Rolling Stones' hit song "Sympathy for the Devil" after reading Mikhaíl Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. We were inspired to re-write "Sympathy for the Devil" after watching Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes. As such, house musician Jonathan Coulton's musical clues in this game are about various Looney Tunes characters, from Tweety to Elmer Fudd.

Ask Me Another
7:43 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Zombie Gourmets

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:17 am

Zombies eat brains, everyone knows that. But if brains aren't available, zombies are not picky; they'll eat anything that rhymes with "brains." In this round, host Ophira Eisenberg and house musician Jonathan Coulton serve up clues to groups of nouns or names that follow this rhyming pattern. Points awarded to those who answer in a scary zombie voice.

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Ask Me Another
7:43 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Random Questions With: R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine: This man wants to terrify your children.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 10:13 am

If you're a person of a certain age, R.L. Stine probably scared or delighted you with his Goosebumps and Fear Street series. (And you'll be happy to hear Stine recently announced a Fear Street reboot.) But the man who declares "terrify[ing] kids" as his job description actually started out as a humor writer — and his "jovial" nature remains intact.

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