Fifty years ago, the White House was the site of an unusual party.
It was a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation's centennial, held on Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and many of the guests were descendants of the people Lincoln's historic document freed.
But noticeably absent was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights leader had declined the invitation after earlier conversations with President Kennedy about segregation had yielded few results.
President Obama is expected to put specifics behind the vision he outlined in his inaugural address a few weeks ago. Get live updates from the speech and join NPR journalists in analyzing what it could mean for the future.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
It's evident to anyone who's visited New York City that it is a loud place to live. Also, that much of the noise is caused by frustrated drivers.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORNS)
SIEGEL: Well, when it comes to honking, New York is making a U-turn. City officials are removing hundreds of don't honk signs from the streets. They say there is no evidence the signs are working. But as NPR's Joel Rose reports, others say New York is admitting defeat in the war on noise.
And we turn now to the big political news of the day. In a matter of hours President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress, the first of his second term. Tens of millions of Americans will be watching as the president lays out his agenda and picks up where he left off in his inaugural address last month. He's expected to focus on job creation and talk about how leveling the playing field to give everyone a fair shot will help the economy grow.
The U.S. will bring home 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by this time next year. President Obama is expected to announce the news tonight in his State of the Union address. That will cut the force in half and set the stage for the pullout of most of the remaining U.S. troops by the end of 2014. The drawdown from Afghanistan is just one of several developments today on Capitol Hill that will have a big impact on the Pentagon.
Something that President Obama is not likely to dwell on tonight is the feeble state of campaign finance laws. It was three years ago that he used the State of the Union to challenge the Supreme Court on its Citizens United decision, which encouraged more corporate money in politics. This year, though, he has his own tax-exempt social welfare group backed with corporate contributions to help advance his agenda. NPR's Peter Overby reports.
Sometimes the best way to advance an argument is by looking back.
President Obama's second inaugural address was filled with historical allusions. His State of the Union address on Tuesday, which will lay out a long list of agenda items for the year and his second term, is likely to employ fewer references to the past.
The late civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who broke racial barriers in 1955 when she would not move to the back of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala., will be posthumously part of another barrier-breaking moment on Feb. 27.
The office of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Tuesday that a statue of Parks will be dedicated that day in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.
It's Fat Tuesday, the final day of indulgence before the fasting and penance of Lent begins. While the revelry in New Orleans tends to grab the spotlight, you can find some fascinating Mardi Gras traditions elsewhere.
From chasing chickens in Cajun Country to catching MoonPies in Mobile, communities all along the Gulf Coast have their own way of marking Carnival season.
Now we turn to an important and sensitive issue in education. If you follow the news in education or you find yourself around schools at just about every level, then you will probably have noticed that there are major gaps opening up between girls and boys, with boys on average falling behind girls in grades, in participation in advanced classes, and graduation rates.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms and dads in your corner every week. We check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. Now, we are continuing our conversation about the so-called achievement gap with boys.
Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 11:35 am
It's Mardi Gras, and down in New Orleans, the King Cakes, beignets and other gustatory delights are flowing freely. But if you prefer your culinary temptations with a side of history, allow me to introduce you to the calas, a Creole rice fritter with a storied past.
Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 4:24 am
The fired Los Angeles police officer who has been targeting other officers remains a fugitive. Chistopher Dorner is wanted in connection with three murders. Dorner claims he was fired because of racism. That claim has struck a chord with many of the city's Black and Latino residents
The Pentagon announced on Monday that it will offer benefits to same-sex military couples, including access to base facilities. But the military stopped short of providing base housing and burial at Arlington National Cemetery, saying those are still under review. Other benefits — like health care — are prohibited by federal law under the Defense of Marriage Act.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
In Los Angeles, a million-dollar reward has led to hundreds of tips in the search for former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner. Dorner is on the run, wanted for the murder of a police officer and two other people. His truck was found torched in a resort town in the mountains east of L.A. But a massive search through a snowstorm over the weekend turned up nothing.
President Obama is expected focus on middle-class job growth and the economy in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. And while the president has fought to make the tax code more progressive, broader efforts to address income inequality could be an uphill battle at a time when the government seems bent on tightening its belt.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. There's a new generation of boom towns across the American West sparked by the explosive growth of oil and natural gas. When these industries move in, small towns near the fields change almost overnight. Once-sleepy main streets suddenly boast improved schools, libraries and community centers. Quiet rural airports expand to take corporate jets. Restaurants and motels and hardware stores all thrive.
Commissary privileges, family center programs, dependent I.D. cards, joint duty assignments and space-available travel on military aircraft are among the military benefits the Pentagon will now extend to same-sex partners, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.
Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 12:01 pm
Pretrial hearings in the death penalty trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of planning the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks lasted a little more than an hour Monday before the judge recessed the session until Tuesday.
The men, who all came into the courtroom in camouflage vests and traditional garments known as shalwar kameez, have been in jail — awaiting this trial — for more than a decade.
Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 10:49 am
More than 3,000 cruise ship passengers who thought they'd be heading home today have instead been told they'll remain in the Gulf of Mexico until Wednesday, stranded by an engine fire that set their ship, the Triumph, adrift. Onboard power and sewer system outages have been reported. The ship, which was 150 miles north of the Yucatan Peninsula when the fire struck early Sunday, has a crew of more than 1,000.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we'll talk about hits and misses from last night's Grammy Awards. We'll talk about who won big and who got left out. That's in just a few minutes.
The Grammys were last night. Millions tuned in to see who won and who didn't and, of course, the most important thing, who wore what. This year, CBS sent out a memo outlining the expected dress code banning - and, forgive me, but I'm quoting here, "bare, fleshy under-curves of the buttocks and butt crack and puffy, bare-skinned exposure," among other things.
We're also following a story in Southern California: the ongoing hunt for a former policeman suspected of a killing spree. Christopher Dorner is sought in the shooting of three people last week. The mayor of Los Angeles announced the city is offering a $1 million reward for any information leading to his arrest. As NPR's Kirk Siegler reports, one of the largest manhunts in California history is now going into its fifth day, with no major leads.