The Obama Administration is delaying the part of the Affordable Care Act that affects businesses and the insurance they offer - again. As NPR's Julie Rovner reports, this time, the administration is calling its changes to the new law a phase-in.
JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: OK, first off, the very smallest employers, those with fewer than 50 workers? They never had to do anything, and still don't.
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SENATOR JAY ROCKEFELLER: I wouldn't drink that water if you paid me.
INSKEEP: That's West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller yesterday, telling NPR he does not trust his own state's water. More than a month has passed since a chemical spill left 300,000 West Virginians without usable tap water. Specifically, residents were told not to drink or cook with the water.
and we've been hearing in recent weeks about a propane shortage, which is really more about distribution. Companies are having trouble transporting their gas from where it's stored to where it's needed. Now the agency that regulates pipelines is taking an unprecedented step to try to fix that problem.
A well-known name at The New York Times is making the change to digital. After 30 years at The Times as foreign correspondent, executive editor and columnist, Bill Keller announced yesterday he is leaving the paper. He joins journalist and former Wall Street money manager Neil Barsky to report on the criminal justice system. The new venture is called The Marshall Project.
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In the coming weeks, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik will tell us about media outlets grappling with how to report and present the news, and how to pay for that reporting amid major changes in the industry. In this, his first story, David reports on a new news organization called First Look Media, which made its debut yesterday.
The U.S. soccer team got one of the toughest draws in the World Cup. The worst of the worst, as its head coach said. When they get to Brazil not only will they be playing in the opening round with some of the most talented teams in the world, but they'll be facing those teams in less than hospitable surroundings, namely the Amazon; it's hot and humid and thousands of miles away from where the U.S. team will be based.
Governments, schools and companies all keep track of your race. The stats they collect are used to track the proportion of blacks and whites who graduate from school, for example. They tell us how many people identify themselves as Native American or Asian. They help us to measure health disparities between races. But there's a problem with all of those statistics and with the deeper way that we think about race. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to explain. Hi, Shankar.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Most Americans who own a house know something about housing bubbles. This country is still recovering from the last one.
MONTAGNE: In Afghanistan, a housing bubble created by the influx of international organizations and their thousands of workers over the past 12 years, is bursting, and it's taking a big bite out of the local economy. NPR's Sean Carberry can hear the last gasp of that bubble on his own street.
NBC says its coverage of the Winter Olympics drew more than 100 million viewers over the last weekend of the Games. That indicates lots of interest, which will fill more than 1,500 hours of coverage across all of NBC's platforms - broadcast network, cable channels and online. With all this coverage and so many ways to watch, we turn to NPR television critic now, Eric Deggans for some tips. Good morning.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: How are fans getting their Olympics coverage these days - for the most part?
Let's say you're skiing in the backcountry, looking for some powder — but instead, you trigger an avalanche.
If you have an avalanche air bag pack strapped to your back, you just yank the cord. That deploys the air bag, which keeps you close to the surface and easier to dig out, says Andy Wenberg with Backcountry Access, one of several companies making the devices. When deployed, his company's version of the air bag comes out like wings.
"The whole idea when you deploy that thing in an avalanche is you're avoiding burial death," he says.
Wednesday, the American women's hockey team meets its arch rival Canada on the ice in Sochi at the Winter Olympics. It's an early round game, but when it comes to these two teams, which are expected to meet in the gold medal game, there's no such thing as a low-stakes match.
Tyson Gay, the U.S. sprinter whose comeback was derailed by failed drug tests in 2013, is believed to have used a cream containing banned substances he obtained from an Atlanta chiropractor and anti-aging specialist, according to a report by ProPublica and Sports Illustrated.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 5:59 pm
The Winter Olympics brings up many questions about the sports themselves. But people are also wondering whether announcers might use the big time difference between Sochi and the U.S. to improve their coverage.
That idea came up over at Quora, the question-and-answer site:
On Monday, Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen came a ski-length away from winning a 13th Olympic medal and becoming the most decorated athlete ever at the Winter Games.
The biathlon pursuit Olympic event — cross-country skiing with rifle shooting — is a pretty devious race. The fastest man goes first, and then everyone else in the race tries to catch him before the finish line. And in Monday's competition, Bjoerndalen went first.
Much of the attention on the slopestyle events in Sochi has been focused on snowboarders like Shaun White. But Devin Logan and her other American teammates twist and soar down mountains, too — on skis.
I first met Logan at an Olympic qualifier event in Colorado back in December. We were hanging out at the base of the halfpipe watching the competition. She's 20. She smiles a lot. We bonded over Instagram and 2 Chainz. I told her I'd look for her in Sochi — but she didn't know then if she'd even make the U.S. team.
The Obama administration is, again, delaying implementation of a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide health insurance to their workers (or, potentially, face penalties). But this time it's not the entire "employer mandate" that's being delayed (as it was in 2013) — just part of it.
Published as Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir in the U.S., Penelope Lively's new book carries the alternative subtitle "A Life in Time" in its British incarnation. This seemed more apt to me, for this is less a memoir in the conventional sense and more a collection of thoughts, a scattering of advice and a reading list to treasure.
After several lean years of cutting budgets to the bone, states hit hard by the deep recession finally have good fiscal news: Many states are now projecting budget surpluses.
But in an election year for three dozen governors, these surpluses are setting up potential political battles over what to do with the extra cash.
The first salvos are coming from governors themselves, in their annual State of the State addresses, as many of them take credit for bringing budgetary warmth to states that suffered through long, bitterly cold economic winters.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 6:27 pm
When the federal government hits its debt ceiling at the end of the month, don't expect another big red-on-blue confrontation.
The appetite in the House Republican conference for that kind of debt-defying standoff isn't what it was last fall when the nation was hit by the double whammy of the debt limit and partial federal government shutdown.
And the House GOP can't even agree on what points to negotiate with President Obama — who has said he's not willing to negotiate on the debt ceiling anyway.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 6:50 pm
The Obama administration says businesses employing 50-99 people now have until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide health insurance, rolling back part of the requirement known as the employer mandate. Under the Affordable Care Act, larger companies must offer the coverage in 2015.
NPR's Julie Rovner filed this update for our Newscast desk:
A Mexican national has been sentenced to 30 years in prison over the shooting death of border patrol agent Brian Terry.
If you remember, Terry's death resulted in the uncovering of a botched gun-walking scheme known as "Fast and Furious." Weapons, which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed criminals to buy, were found at the scene of the shootout.
There is a fake John Kerry wandering around Jerusalem these days. He stars in several satirical videos criticizing the U.S. effort to negotiate a peace agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The State Department suggests it is just the latest sign that Kerry has put real pressure on Israel to move toward a peace deal. NPR's Emily Harris reports.
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And I'm Melissa Block. Great Britain is known for its soggy weather, yet this winter has defied even Britain's damp expectations. Storms over Christmas led into the rainiest January on record. Now, some parts of England have been under water for more than a month and the forecasts aren't getting better. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from London.
Is the water safe to drink? As we've just heard, that's the question still plaguing hundreds of thousands of West Virginians who live in and around Charleston. I spoke earlier today with the other U.S. senator from West Virginia, the senior senator, Democrat Jay Rockefeller.
Senator Rockefeller, welcome to the program.
SENATOR JAY ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Melissa. I wouldn't drink that water if you paid me.
BLOCK: Really? Well, that was my first question, would you drink the water? And you say no.
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Officials in Charleston, West Virginia, testified today that the water there is now suitable for drinking and bathing, but nobody seemed ready or willing to call it safe. The testimony came at a field hearing held by members of Congress one month after a chemical in spill in the Elk River tainted the water for some 300,000 people. NPR's Brian Naylor was there today and he filed this report.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Robert Siegel. The fate of the former mayor of New Orleans is now in the hands of a jury. Ray Nagin is accused of using his public position for personal financial gain. Nagin is a Democrat. He became known worldwide as the face of city government when Hurricane Katrina struck. He held office for two terms. NPR's Debbie Elliot was in federal court today to hear closing arguments in this case and she joins us now.
The film Her, about a man who falls in love with his computerized personal assistant, has been nominated for five Oscars including best picture. It takes place at an unspecified time in the future when computer voices sound like Scarlett Johansson instead of Siri. This made me wonder if it was really possible to fall in love with an artificially intelligent being.
The Deep South is preparing for another blast of wintry weather. Snow, ice and freezing rain are expected in parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, over the next day. In Alaska, people are watching with envy. That's because the state is enduring the opposite: record high temperatures and very little snow. Organizers of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race are considering moving the starting line from Anchorage, hundreds of miles north to Fairbanks. And the weather has also made life difficult for the state's avid skiers.