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.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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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.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
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.
We're going to hear a bit more now about Michael Sam and his decision to come out ahead of the NFL draft. Sam and his agents carefully crafted their coming out strategy with a small team. It included journalist and advocate Cyd Zeigler. He's editor and co-founder of OutSports.com. That's a website dedicated to covering LGBT athletes.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 3:16 pm
Sociologist and public intellectual Stuart Hall, who helped shape conversations about race and gender in Britain and around the world, has died at 82. For decades, the Jamaican-born Hall was also a fixture in leftist politics.
Hall, who died in England on Monday, was diabetic and had been ill for some time.
NPR's Neda Ulaby filed this report for our Newscast unit:
Trevor Cox has heard it all. He's a professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford in England, and he delights in discovering unusual noises. He's also author of The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World, which describes some of what he's found.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 9:57 am
Whether the Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Sub was the result of creative inspiration or an enormous workplace Fritos spill, we'll never know. What matters is it happened, and it's only a matter of time until all foods everywhere will be available topped with Fritos.
Ian: I like that they're thinking in texture. And adding crunch with Fritos is way better than McDonald's creepy BBQ McTickle.
Miles: Yeah, but let's be honest, crunches are the last thing anyone is going to be doing after eating this sandwich.
Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 3:11 pm
If you're happily in love, Mom and Dad may have helped.
Teenagers' relationships with their parents have a small but measurable impact on their romantic relationships up to 15 years later, according to researchers at the University of Alberta.
People who had a tumultuous relationship with Mom and Dad in their teens were more likely to face heartache down the road. And those who felt close to their parents during adolescence tended to feel more emotionally and physically satisfied in their adult romantic relationships.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 2:24 pm
It's been nearly four years since activists engaged in a battle over a Supreme Court nomination, and a tepid one it was.
Republicans barely pushed back on President Obama's 2010 nomination of Elena Kagan, his second appointment in as many years. She was confirmed by the Senate, 63-37.
At the time, influential Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona acknowledged the problem inherent in pursuing a high court battle: The GOP had only 41 Senate votes, making it "pretty difficult" to sustain a filibuster against Kagan, or any Obama appointee.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 4:26 pm
The Copenhagen Zoo has faced worldwide criticism over its decision to euthanize a healthy two-year-old giraffe known as Marius.
As Scott reported, zoo veterinarians performed a public autopsy on Sunday and parts of the giraffe were fed to the lions. Animal rights groups were up in arms and an online petition received 20,000 signatures asking the zoo to reconsider.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 2:26 pm
Leading up to the Olympics in Sochi, a dominant storyline was Russia's anti-gay propaganda law and what it might mean for athletes and other visitors. Would athletes protest in any way? Would Russian LGBT activists try to demonstrate against the propaganda law at the Olympics?
The answers (so far, at least) are: barely, and not really.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 8:07 am
Gold medalist Charles Hamelin of Canada celebrates with his girlfriend and fellow speedskater, Marianne St-Gelais, after winning the men's 1,500-meter short-track speedskating event Monday at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Four years ago, the pair shared a similar embrace after Hamelin's win in the 500-meter race in Vancouver.
Kayla Williams and Brian McGough met in Iraq in 2003, when they were serving in the 101st Airborne Division. She was an Arabic linguist; he was a staff sergeant who had earned a Bronze Star. In October of that year, at a time when they were becoming close but not yet seeing each other, McGough was on a bus in a military convoy when an IED went off, blowing out the front door and window.
Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch. Now, one of the things I mean by that is that Church is willing to take big chances such as "The Outsiders," the title track from his fourth album, and clearly a manifesto he's proud of.
"An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year," those officials tell The Associated Press.