U.S. News

It's All Politics
3:14 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

How Boehner's 'Critical Moment' Could Turn Out OK For Him

House Speaker John Boehner holds a press conference at the Capitol on Friday. The night before, he did not have enough backing from his own party to pass his fiscal cliff legislation.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 6:50 pm

"The House has done its part to avert this entire fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner said Saturday in his weekly address.

He cited the measure that passed Thursday, which would reorganize the automatic spending cuts to protect the defense budget and cut deeper elsewhere. He also pointed to legislation that would stop all tax hikes on Jan. 1.

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Around the Nation
3:11 pm
Sat December 22, 2012

It's Not Jolly, It's A Job: Pro Santas Say It's More Than Just The Beard

Charity workers dressed as Santa Claus wave to pedestrians in New York. Professional Santas say it's not an easy job, and it's not just as simple as putting on a beard.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 4:37 pm

WARNING: The following story contains Santa information that may not be suitable for youngsters.

So, you're considering becoming a Santa — getting a suit, throwing on a beard — after all, how hard could it be?

"Being a good Santa Claus, it's a calling," says Santa Jim Manning, aka Boston Santa.

Manning has been playing Santa for about a decade, doing mostly home visits. He says the first thing you're going to need to do is figure out is what kind of Santa you're going to be.

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U.S.
3:40 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Immigrants Welcomed: A City Sees Economic Promise

Adolphe Bizwinayo left Rwanda as a refugee and says his new city, Dayton, Ohio, helped him transition to American life with initiatives like the Dayton World Soccer Games.
Shawndra Jones for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am

If there's one common language that some recent immigrants in Dayton, Ohio, seem to share, it's soccer.

The first Dayton World Soccer Games kicked off earlier this year, an initiative hosted by the city to welcome an influx of immigrants. On the field, a rainbow of brightly colored jerseys represented nearly 20 of the different immigrant communities in the city.

"I've been really surprised to see that there's a lot of soccer going on in Dayton," says Adolphe Bizwinayo, who left Rwanda as a refugee.

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U.S.
3:38 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Democrats Slam NRA's Response To School Shooting

Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, speaks in response to the Connecticut school shootings, at a news conference in Washington on Friday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am

The nation's largest gun owners group had said little in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, broke that silence Friday with a call to place armed guards at all of the nation's schools.

The idea was met with immediate criticism from Democrats in Congress.

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The Two-Way
4:13 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Obama On Fiscal Cliff Talks: 'I Actually Still Think We Can Get It Done'

At a press conference Friday, President Obama urges Congress to pass a scaled-back package to avert end-of-year tax hikes and spending cuts.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

In a news conference Friday, President Obama said there were still things the parties could agree on about the automatic tax-rate increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. But he said parties would have to work together to get a plan approved in the next 10 days.

"Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done," he said, after meeting with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and speaking to Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

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It's All Politics
3:30 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Kerry's Cabinet Nod Sets Off Massachusetts Senate Fight

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., gets into his pickup truck after voting in Wrentham, Mass., on Nov. 6. Brown lost the election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but both he and his truck could be back on the campaign trail soon.
Gretchen Ertl AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 3:55 pm

President Obama's nomination of Democrat John Kerry to be secretary of state sets off a chain of events that could put another Kennedy in the Senate, at least on an interim basis.

And it gives ousted Republican Scott Brown a fighting chance of returning to the Senate by midyear.

On Friday, Obama nominated Kerry, the senior senator from Massachusetts, to replace Hillary Clinton as the nation's chief diplomat. A 27-year veteran of the Senate and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry should win easy Senate confirmation early in the new year.

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U.S.
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Obama Nominates John Kerry For Secretary Of State

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

President Obama tapped Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State on Friday. Kerry is expected to win easy confirmation in the Senate, which would be a relief in the midst of fierce partisan battles over taxes, spending and — coming next month — gun control. Melissa Block talks to Scott Horsley.

Around the Nation
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

One Week After Newtown Shootings, The Sound Of A Nation In Mourning

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. The sound of a nation in mourning. That's from the National Cathedral in Washington today. It's been one week since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and this morning at 9:30, bells rang out across the U.S. in honor of those who died.

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Politics
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Boehner's 'Plan B' Falters In The House

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

For more on yesterday's Republican meltdown, I'm joined by Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio. He would have voted for Plan B if it had come up for a vote. He's a strong ally of Speaker Boehner, and he joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman LaTourette, welcome to the program.

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE LATOURETTE: Thank you very much.

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Free Toy Shop Brings Cheer To Sandy's Displaced Families

Each FEMA-registered family with kids can pick out toys at the volunteer-run Staten Island store.
Margot Adler NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.

One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.

The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.

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Around the Nation
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

NRA: 'Only Thing That Stops A Bad Guy With A Gun Is A Good Guy With A Gun'

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today also brought the first detailed response to the Newtown shootings from the nation's largest gun rights group, the National Rifle Association. At a media event here in Washington, the group's CEO took a defiant stance and took no questions. NRA leaders had promised meaningful contributions on how to prevent more mass killings. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, they recommended more, not fewer, guns.

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Economy
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Failure To Avert Fiscal Cliff Could Damage World's Confidence In U.S.

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. It's time for Plan C. Washington's efforts to avoid massive tax hikes and spending cuts come January 1st seem to be in disarray. Last night, House Speaker John Boehner failed to get enough Republicans to go along with what he called his Plan B. NPR's John Ydstie talked with members of the business community about whether that failure is seen as a setback or clears the way for more productive negotiations.

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U.S.
2:33 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

For NRA, There's Nothing To Debate About Guns

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, holds a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

The National Rifle Association won itself no new converts with its news conference Friday.

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Shots - Health News
1:27 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Killer's DNA Won't Explain His Crime

A person's DNA can say a lot about a person, but not why someone has committed a horrific crime like mass murder.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Connecticut's chief medical examiner, Wayne Carver, has raised the possibility of requesting genetic tests on Adam Lanza, the man responsible for the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Carver hasn't said precisely what he may want geneticists to look for, but scientists who study the links between genes and violence say those tests won't reveal much about why Lanza did what he did.

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National Security
11:51 am
Fri December 21, 2012

John Kerry Already A Familiar Face To World Leaders

U.S. Sen. John Kerry (left), who was nominated Friday to be secretary of state, is shown shaking hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a trip to Pakistan last year.
Aamir Qureshi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Long before President Obama nominated John Kerry as the country's top diplomat, the Massachusetts senator was seen as a secretary of state in waiting.

He has been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has frequently jetted off to Afghanistan and Pakistan whenever the Obama administration needed him.

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Politics
9:16 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Sen. Kerry Gets Obama's Nod For Secretary Of State

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. This afternoon, President Obama is set to nominate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as the nation's next secretary of state. Kerry would replace Hillary Clinton, who's planning to leave that post after four years as the president's globe-trotting emissary. Joining us to talk about the move is NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley; and NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen, who's here in the studio with me.

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U.S.
7:41 am
Fri December 21, 2012

A Moment Of Silence To Remember Newtown Victims

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is raining in Newtown, Connecticut, where people observed a moment of silence seven days to the minute after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. NPR's Kirk Siegler is in Newtown; he's on the line. And Kirk, what do you see this morning?

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Around the Nation
2:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Newtown Copes With Grief, Searches For Answers

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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U.S.
1:23 am
Fri December 21, 2012

New TSA Standards: Carry On Small Snow Globes and Pies, Keep Checking Jam

One of these snow globes doesn't belong onboard. The one on the left, which is about the size of a tennis ball, is permitted in your carry-on luggage. The one on the right is not.
Ryan Smith NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

The airline industry predicts some 42 million of us will be flying this holiday season, and that this weekend before Christmas will be one of the busiest periods.

For tips on how to get through what's expected to be some long security lines, we turn to the Transportation Security Administration's Lisa Farbstein. She says there's a useful guide on the TSA's homepage that allows you to type in an item to see if it's allowed in your carry-on, as well as a mobile app.

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It's All Politics
4:05 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Financial Ties Bind NRA, Gun Industry

In this photo illustration, a Rock River Arms AR-15 rifle is seen with ammunition.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:51 am

Leaders of the National Rifle Association plan to break their weeklong silence Friday and make their first public comments on the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

They say they will be speaking for the NRA's 4 million members. But they will also be speaking for the gun industry, which has close financial ties to the association.

The NRA and the gun industry are reeling after last week's massacre. The primary weapon used — an AR-15-style rifle — is one of the most popular guns in America.

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U.S.
3:53 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System?

A hilltop view of the 18-foot fence along the U.S.-Mexico border west of Nogales, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 6:10 pm

Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents.

The government has constructed some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It has placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers and cameras along the border. And Customs and Border Protection is now flying drones and helicopters to locate smuggles and rescue stranded immigrants.

So here's the question: Is the Southwest border secure?

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Around the Nation
3:09 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Connecticut Residents Reevaluate Gun Control After Newtown Shootings

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Tomorrow, the National Rifle Association will hold a news conference here in Washington, weighing in, for the first time, since last Friday's shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. In and around Newtown, a public debate about gun violence and how the nation should respond has picked up in recent days.

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Law
3:08 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Chicago Inmates Still On The Run After Hollywood-Style Escape

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

In Chicago, there was a remarkable jailbreak this week. Two convicted bank robbers escaped from their high-rise cell, some 200 feet above the street. Federal and local authorities have been searching for the men since Tuesday. They don't know how the pair got away without anyone noticing. From member station WBEZ, Susie An reports that the escapees' unlikely plan depended on an awful lot of bed sheets.

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Business
3:07 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

NYSE To Change Hands In $8.2 Billion Deal

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

After more than two centuries as an independent company, the New York Stock Exchange is about to change hands. It's being acquired by Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange, or ICE, as part of a deal valued at $8.2 billion. In recent years, ICE has exploded in growth.

And as NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, today's announcement is the latest in a series of rapid-fire changes that have transformed the world of stock trading.

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Africa
3:06 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

State Department Concedes Errors In Benghazi Consulate Attack

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. We begin this hour with political fallout from the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died in that attack back in September, and this week, a scathing report set the stage for consequences.

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Politics
3:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Settle Back Into Standstill

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Just days after a deal on the fiscal cliff seemed imminent, things appeared on the verge of falling apart. How did it happen? David Welna talks to Robert Siegel about how the internal politics of the House have complicated a deal to avert massive, automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.

Energy
3:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

Most hydraulic fracturing in California is done to extract to oil in areas like this field in Kern County. The state is drafting fracking regulations for the first time.
Craig Miller KQED

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there's been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California is now wading into that arena with the release of the state's first fracking regulations. The state's earthquake-prone geology, however, could bring particular concerns.

Fracking itself isn't new. The technology behind it, though, has changed.

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The Salt
2:02 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

Food companies have begun quietly reducing salt in regular foods because low-salt items like these don't sell as well.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?

Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.

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It's All Politics
1:05 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Cory Booker Eyes (Chris Christie-Free) Path To His Political Future

Newark Mayor Cory Booker greets a 13-year-old at a relief center for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, in November.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:25 pm

Here was the choice facing Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Run next year against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity would have made the Republican exceedingly difficult to beat; or fix his gaze on the Senate seat now occupied by an 88-year-old fellow Democrat, Sen.

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The Two-Way
12:56 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Gun Control: 'Only Modest Change' In Opinion Since Newtown Shootings

A Sig Sauer handgun on sale at a shop in Tucker, Ga.
Erik S. Lesser EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:25 am

"The public's attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week's deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported Thursday afternoon.

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