Host Michel Martin and editor Ammad Omar dip into Tell Me More listeners' letters to get their take on the week's top stories. This week, Canadian listeners take exception to a comment made on Thursday's show.
They're baaack! Both Mark Sanford and Benghazi made triumphant returns to the national consciousness this week, as Sanford won the special election in South Carolina and career diplomat Gregory Hicks testified about what happened in Libya – testimony that pleased Republicans, displeased Democrats. Meanwhile, NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving are still seeking their own redemption.
On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene. Good morning.
Congress has held its first hearing on last month's Boston Marathon bombing. Boston's police commissioner testified yesterday that he did not know about an FBI probe into one of the suspects. He also said he's not clear the information would have made a difference.
But as NPR's Brian Naylor reports, lawmakers still want answers about the flaws and inadequacies of joint terrorism task forces.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Let's get an update now on one of this year's major policy debates. There is an immigration bill under consideration. The law, if passed, has the potential to be a major success story for President Obama and for the bipartisan group of lawmakers who drafted it. Opponents of the bill have major concerns about how it treats people who came to the U.S. illegally, and also about how much the law would cost.
Things got a little out of hand at the Missouri state Capitol late Wednesday. An unusual evening session of the House featured a representative wearing a tinfoil hat, a toy black helicopter flying around the chamber and some heated words between legislators.
"It was definitely tense," says Jonathan Shorman, a reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. "It was a moment of high drama for the session."
House Republicans have passed a bill that would tell President Obama which bills to pay first, should the U.S. Treasury run out of cash and risk default, like it almost did two summers ago. The proposal is not likely to move in the Democratic Senate, and the issue itself is fading in urgency as the deficit picture improves.
Colorado lawmakers approved two taxes on marijuana — a 15 percent excise tax, and a 10 percent sales tax. A photo depicts a quarter of an ounce, left, and one ounce of marijuana, along with a handful of rolled joints at a Denver dispensary.
Colorado is set to become the first U.S. state to regulate and tax sales of recreational marijuana, after lawmakers approved several bills that set business standards and rules. Legislators expect enforcement of the rules to be paid for by two taxes on marijuana — a 15 percent excise tax, and a 10 percent sales tax.
Other measures included in the package set limits on how much marijuana visitors to Colorado can buy (a quarter of an ounce), as well as a limit on how many cannabis plants a private citizen can grow (six).
Now we turn to a segment we call In Your Ear. Sometimes, after we've asked our guest about their work, we ask them about the music they listen to while they relax or play. Today, we hear from Ambassador Ron Kirk. He recently stepped down as United States Trade representative. But we caught up with him shortly before he left his post, and here's what he had to say about the music that kept him moving.
RON KIRK: Right now on now I'm enjoying "Once In A Lifetime" by Smokie Norful.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Later in the program, we will talk more about the story that's riveted the country, about those three women who were missing for a decade who were recently found alive. In a few minutes, we'll speak with a local columnist who stayed in touch with the mother of one of the missing women, who never gave up hope, but, sadly, did not live to see her daughter free. We'll hear more from columnist Regina Brett.
Steve Inskeep talks with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan about their bipartisan efforts to rewrite the tax code. On Thursday, the lawmakers launched TaxReform.gov in an effort to solicit direct input from Americans on simplifying the tax code.
Some progressive groups are angry with Facebook for running ads supporting GOP lawmakers on board with the immigration overhaul bill. The left-wing groups have turned a blind eye to what Facebook gets out of the overhaul measure, and what it may cost American tech workers.
A House committee held a hearing Wednesday into last year's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The event has been a key political weapon for Republicans, first against President Obama's re-election campaign, and now against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.
President Obama travels to Texas on Thursday for the second time in as many weeks. He will talk about job training and economic opportunity, but he may have a political opportunity on his mind as well.
Obama lost Texas by more than 1 million votes last year. But Democrats believe their fortunes in the Lone Star State may soon change, thanks to demographics and a new organizational push.
President Obama turns his attention back to his economic agenda Thursday when he travels to Austin, Texas, where he will visit a technology high school and a company that makes the machines that make silicon chips.
The White House says the trip is part of Obama's Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. It also appears to be an effort by the president to get back to the issues Americans care most about.
You've likely seen or heard a news story in recent years that began something like this. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, there are no second acts in American lives. But Fitzgerald clearly never met - fill in the blank.
It seems a whole generation of American politicians has fallen from grace only to rise again and disprove the line: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Eliot Spitzer. And just like night, South Carolina's newest congressman, Mark Sanford.
Iowa is home of the first electoral test for anyone seeking the White House. As 2016 contenders begin to test the waters, NPR Political Junkie Ken Rudin talks with Iowa Democratic Party chair Tyler Olson and Iowa Republican Party chair A.J. Spiker about the election ahead.
On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank bill. Reporter Gary Rivlin says "the passage of Dodd-Frank was something of a miracle." But to the chief lobbyist for the Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group that represents 100 of the country's largest financial institutions, it was just "halftime."
President Obama's job approval has inched up in recent weeks, but the percentage of Americans who say they believe he is effective has taken a hit, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday.
And while the image of Republican leadership remains "deeply negative," and continues bearing the brunt of the blame for Washington gridlock, the survey found that the GOP runs even with Democrats on the key issues of the economy, immigration and guns.
The Senate is considering legislation to prevent a global helium shortage from worsening in October. That's when one huge supply of helium in the U.S. is set to terminate. The House overwhelmingly passed its own bill last month to keep the Federal Helium Program going.
That was a relief to industries that can't get along without helium. The gas is used in MRI machines, semiconductors, aerospace equipment, lasers and of course balloons.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has been pitching a GOP rebranding effort he calls Making Life Work. The agenda is aimed at creating "conditions of health, happiness and prosperity" for American families, he says.
Credit Tamara Keith / NPR
House Republicans meet with business owners and working mothers in Northern Virginia on Tuesday to promote the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.