This month, Rhode Island became the third state in the nation to offer workers paid family leave to care for a loved one. And on Tuesday, Newark, N.J., became the latest in a small wave of cities to mandate paid sick leave.
The policies cover both public and private sector workers, and a dozen more areas are considering some variation of them.
President Obama is expected to propose an expansion of preschool programs in his State of the Union Address. Most states have bought into the idea and restored funding for the programs. What's less clear is where the long-term funding is going to come from, and whether the quality of these programs are worth the investment.
The political unrest in Ukraine is spreading. Steve Inskeep talks to Steven Pifer, senior analyst at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, about the issues behind the upheaval in Ukraine.
A tireless campaigner for his own vision of a utopia marked by peace and togetherness, Pete Seeger's tools were his songs, his voice, his enthusiasm and his musical instruments. A major advocate for the folk-style five-string banjo and one of the most prominent folk music icons of his generation, Seeger was also a political and environmental activist. He died Monday at age 94. His grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, said he died of natural causes.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.
On the way into work this morning, I felt a blast of cold air on my face. It was 19 degrees in Washington, unpleasant even for a few minutes. And we're going to hear next about people who spent the whole night outside in temperatures that were even lower.
All that took was a two year delay. House and Senate negotiators last night reached a compromise on the Farm Bill. That legislation deals with agriculture, of course, and also governs the federal food stamp program, from which billions will be cut. Derek Wallbank of Bloomberg News has been covering this story. He's on the line. Welcome to the program.
DAVID WALLBANK: Thank you very much for having me.
When President Obama gives his State of the Union Address, he's likely to hit on familiar themes: expanding opportunity for all Americans, pushing for immigration overhaul and investment in infrastructure. And he's expected to say that if Congress doesn't act, he'll move forward with his own initiatives through executive action. This comes as Congress gave him very little of what he asked for last year.
Here's another item likely to be part of tonight's State of the Union address: helping the long term unemployed. The president is expected to announce that some of America's firms have signed a pledge not to discriminate against the long term unemployed when they're hiring. This week, the president plans to meet with many of the CEOs of those companies. NPR's Zoe Chace from our Planet Money team reports on the surprising experiment that, in part, lead to this meeting.
NPR's business news starts with income inequality.
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INSKEEP: President Obama has dropped a few hints that one of the themes of his State of the Union address tonight will be the growing gap between the rich and the poor. He recently called economic mobility and inequality the defining challenge of our times. So is it?
Harvard researchers have been examining this question, including a co-author of a study, Nathan Hendren.
Mexican authorities have arrested one of the top drug cartel leaders in the western state of Michoacan. Federal forces recently moved into the state to disarm civilian vigilantes who have been fighting to reclaim their communities from the cartel.
Supporters of the new Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states say the standards hold American students to much higher expectations, and move curriculum away from a bubble-test culture that encourages test preparation over deeper learning.
In 2004, Morning Edition contributor Cokie Roberts published a book about the ways in which the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of America's Founding Fathers helped forge the nation. Now she's back with an illustrated version aimed at children. It's called Founding Mothers: Remembering The Ladies.
During President Obama's speech Tuesday night, Sen. Carl Levin will be doing what he's done at every State of the Union for decades: sitting with his older brother and fellow Michigan Democrat Rep. Sandy Levin.
No two siblings in the nation's history have served longer than the 32 years the brothers Levin have been together in Congress. Both have held powerful committee chairmanships.
But this will be their last State of the Union together. Carl, who was first elected to Congress four years before his brother, has decided to retire at the end of the year.
An effort by the international coalition in Afghanistan to teach Afghan security forces to read and write has had limited success and has been plagued by problems, a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction finds.
The $200 million effort was funded by the U.S. and after more than three years of the program, the report found that about half of the members of the Afghan National Police are still illiterate.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 2:09 pm
Multi-millionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins tried to apologize â€” kind of â€” for comparing the protests against the techno-affluent to Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi rampage that led to 91 killings and 30,000 Jews sent to concentration camps.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 6:55 am
Members of the House and Senate have reached a bipartisan agreement on a five-year farm bill that will end months of uncertainty for farmers and agriculture workers, its backers say. If enacted, it would close the gap left when the previous farm bill expired late in 2013, after an emergency extension lapsed.
The Agricultural Act of 2014, which will likely come up for a vote on Wednesday, reflects the many agendas that helped to complicate its creation.
Nick Goepper is headed off to the Olympics in a couple of days, but he's not taking it easy: He spent the weekend hurtling through the air on ESPN at the X Games.
The sport is slopestyle. If you've watched any extreme skiing on television, you'll know it well: Skiers hit rails and walls and massive jumps; they seem to spend more time in the air than on the snow.
The extra point might just be the most unexciting play in football. After all, the post-touchdown, 1-point kick is successful 99.5 percent of the time â€” so successful that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently talked about eliminating it.
I have to admit that the first time I tried to read Middlemarch by George Eliot, I ended up putting it aside after only 20 pages. My teenage self, feeding heavily at the time on Pearl S. Buck and Go Ask Alice, found the novel difficult and dry. But then one day, when I was older and more discerning and less antsy, I tried again, and this time I was swept in. This time, I guess I was ready.
It's been a good month for U.S. figure skater Jason Brown. At only 19, he placed second at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, securing a spot on the team going to Sochi for next month's Winter Olympics. But it was his free skate at the national competition that electrified the crowd and made a YouTube star of Brown.
Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 4:53 pm
Internet companies that receive U.S. government requests for information about their customers will be able to disclose more details about surveillance than has been allowed, according to a deal announced today by the Justice Department.
The shift will allow technology and communications companies "to publish the aggregate data ... relating to any orders issued pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)" â€” and in more ways than had been previously allowed.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 7:41 am
Republicans have offered a wide array of proposals to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act since it became law in 2010. But few have come with the pedigree of the plan just unveiled by a trio of senior Senate Republicans.
The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE for short, is a proposal being floated by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 11:56 am
As China gets ready to usher in the Year of the Horse on Friday, millions of them will find it hard to buy chicken for traditional Lunar New Year feasts. That's a mark of the nation's growing anxiety about a poultry-borne flu virus called H7N9.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong agricultural workers will begin destroying 20,000 chickens. The bird flu virus H7N9 was found in a single live bird from a farm in neighboring Guangdong Province.
"The Commitments" was the first novel from Irish writer Roddy Doyle. The story introduced us to a young Dubliner named Jimmy Rabbitte, the founder of a neighborhood soul band. Subsequent books stayed with the Rabbitte family, detailing life's trials as they've aged. Well, now a new novel and we have the story of a middle aged Jimmy Rabbitte recovering from cancer surgery.
A couple of minutes ago, we heard White House aide Dan Pfeiffer speak of using every ounce of creativity to advance policies that the president favors and that Congress will not approve. That is an illusion to the realm of executive orders, directives from the White House that bypass Capitol Hill. And joining us to explore that realm is Kenneth Mayer, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and author of "With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power." Welcome.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. President Obama prepares to hit the proverbial reset button on his second term tomorrow night. The president will lay out his agenda in the State of the Union address. After a rough and tumble 2013 sparing with Congress over the budget and Obamacare, the president is expected to make some adjustments.
The home of the Ford Model T is now an abandoned factory complex along busy Woodward Avenue in Highland Park, Mich., and there's not much to distinguish this place from Detroit's other industrial ruins.
Prickly relations between the U.S. and Islamabad are becoming even thornier because of one issue: the case of Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden in 2011. Afridi is seen as a hero by many Americans, but that didn't deter Pakistan from jailing him for alleged militant ties. The U.S. Congress is withholding $33 million in aid to Pakistan until the doctor is freed. But Afridi's lawyer fears this tactic will antagonize Islamabad. He urgently wants Afridi freed, warning that the doctor is at severe risk of being killed by fellow prisoners.