Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 3:56 pm
The Justice Department is poised to declare that former police officer Darren Wilson should not face civil rights charges over the death of Michael Brown, law enforcement sources tell NPR. Wilson, who is white, shot and killed Brown, who was black, in August. Brown was not armed.
"Two law enforcement sources tell NPR they see no way forward to file criminal civil rights charges" against Wilson, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports. She adds, "Those charges would require authorities to prove the officer used excessive force and violated Brown's constitutional rights."
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 5:30 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-to-2 vote, ruled in favor of a fired air marshal on Wednesday. In a decision of great interest to federal employees and air travelers, the court said that the air marshal's alert about safety concerns was shielded by the federal whistleblower protection law.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 2:25 pm
Right off the bat, the president touted the fact that more kids are graduating from high school and college than ever before. "We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world," he said in Tuesday's State of the Union speech. "And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record."
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 7:12 am
Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Ritze is a foot soldier — one of hundreds — in a passionate war over the Affordable Care Act that is reigniting as state legislatures convene across the country.
The Republican lawmaker, a family doctor, has stood behind three anti-Obamacare bills supported by conservative groups in Oklahoma and other states. None has made it into law, but Ritze plans to pick up the fight in the 2015 legislative session that convenes in the Sooner State next month.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 6:58 am
Even with free agency, our professional leagues show a reliable sort of sameness from year to year. Oh sure, each season there are a few teams that surprise, but mostly, changes in the standings are evolutionary. That said, I don't believe I've ever seen a league that looks so cockeyed as the NBA is this year.
First of all, it's just plain weird to see the two historically glamorous franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, both down near the bottom of the standings, while up top are teams that previously were nondescript also-rans.
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 10:14 pm
President Obama mentioned Congress 13 times in Tuesday's State of the Union address. He called on Congress to pass a law to ensure women are paid the same as men, to raise the minimum wage, to support the president's plan to make community college free, to help students with loans reduce their payments ... you get the idea.
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 11:36 pm
The city of Albuquerque and the U.S. Justice Department have selected an independent monitor, Dr. James R. Ginger, to oversee police reforms. Ginger's selection is part of a settlement the city negotiated with DOJ over the police department's use of force. Ginger previously served as an independent monitor for a similar agreements reached with Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and the New Jersey State Police. He was selected from a pool of 17 applicants. A judge is expected to sign off on his selection Wednesday.
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 9:59 pm
President Obama's guest list for tonight's State of the Union address includes Alan Gross, the Maryland man who was freed from a Cuban prison in December after five years of captivity — an event that was announced along with a new era of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Gross will be attending with his wife, Judy, who worked to gain his release.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 6:05 am
After more than five years away, and at a significantly smaller weight, J.C. Penney Co.'s print catalog is back. The company discontinued its often 1,000-page "Big Book" in 2009 and phased out several smaller, specialty catalogs over the past few years as well. But the company announced this week that it's re-entering the print catalog game.
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 10:48 pm
Delivering his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama faced a Congress that's now controlled by his Republican opponents. His speech included possible areas of cooperation — and a threat to use his veto power.
Tax proposals that would boost middle-class families were in the president's speech; so were calls for a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges.
Obama also called on Congress to pass a resolution to authorize using military force against the extremist group ISIS.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 9:25 am
New Orleans' most visited neighborhood rarely sees the type of violent crime that plagues other parts of the city. Recently, several high-profile robberies have rattled the region and led to criticism of the police department and the mayor, both of whom are rethinking safety measures.
Over the next few weeks, more and more visitors will roam the city's famous French Quarter, drinks in hand, for Mardi Gras. In less than 2 square miles, the French Quarter combines hotels, restaurants, street performers, and all-night bars with historic homes and tight-knit neighbors.
Schools are offering more and more healthy foods for lunch. And schools that participate in the National School Lunch program require students to choose a fruit and a vegetable side. Yet plate waste is a big problem in schools; as The Salt has reported, kids throw away anywhere from 24 to 35 percent of what's on their trays.
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 3:50 pm
On the education front, President Obama's State of the Union address is likely to focus on three big proposals:
First, the president wants to talk about the idea he floated last week of making community college tuition-free. This is new.
The plan would benefit about 9 million full- and part-time students and would cost the federal government about $60 billion over 10 years. According to the administration's numbers, that would account for three-fourths of the total cost. States and community colleges would come up with the rest.
Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 9:25 am
New York is one of only two states that still locks up 16- and 17-year-olds in adult prisons. A commission report released this week found that those young people — most of them black and Hispanic — face a high risk of assault and victimization behind bars and an increased risk of suicide. Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says he'll push the legislature to raise the age of adult incarceration to 18, a move that could mean the transfer of more than 800 teenagers out of state correctional facilities.
Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 6:05 am
Although vaccines are among the safest, most effective ways to protect children from major communicable diseases, some parents still doubt this. As a result, some choose immunization schedules that defy science or refuse to vaccinate altogether.
Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 7:26 am
In Nigeria, Barbie has some fierce — some brown — competition: Taofick Okoya, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, has created Queens of Africa dolls and Naija Princess dolls that are outselling Mattel's classics. Okoya tells Reuters that he sells about 6,000 to 9,000 dolls a month and that he has "about 10-15 percent of a small but fast-growing market."
Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 2:15 pm
Asthma affects children regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. But scientists have long thought that living in poor urban neighborhoods adds an extra risk for this troublesome lung inflammation. A new study suggests that's not necessarily the case.
Asthma is often triggered by something in the environment, so in the 1960s, scientists started looking for places where asthma was especially bad.