When Democratic Senator Kent Conrad announced his retirement, his seat in North Dakota was all but written off to the Republicans. Instead, on Tuesday, North Dakota voters chose Conrad's onetime protege at the State Tax Commissioner's Office, the state's former attorney general, Heidi Heitkamp, and she joins us now from her home. Welcome to the program.
SENATOR-ELECT HEIDI HEITKAMP: Thank you so much for having me.
I've covered hurricanes, earthquakes and even tsunami cleanup, but I've never had a disaster hit home.
My fiancee's family is from one of the areas suffering the most after Superstorm Sandy — Rockaway Park in New York City. You don't just live in Rockaway, it's a place that you're from. Sarah's mom grew up in Rockaway. It's where her parents bought their first home and where her grandmother has lived for more than 40 years.
Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 12:16 pm
Nearly two weeks after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the region, problems getting gas to stations and power outages that have left many pumps inoperable continue to plague drivers in New York City, New Jersey and some points nearby.
So starting today, New York City and Long Island are joining New Jersey by enacting gas rationing rules.
Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 4:18 pm
Every second-term president has to rebuild some or all of his Cabinet as high-profile members often time their resignations with the end of the president's first term. President Obama already is expected to receive a number of resignations, which he will have to fill.
With the guessing game under way, here's a look at some of the people who may emerge from a second-term Cabinet shakeup:
Howard Audsley has been driving through Missouri for the past 30 years to assess the value of farmland. Barreling down the flat roads of Saline County on a recent day, he stopped his truck at a 160-acre tract of newly tilled black land. The land sold in February for $10,700per acre, double what it would have gone for five years ago.
Heading out into the field, Audsley picked up a clod of the dirt that makes this pocket of land some of the priciest in the state.
If you've ever checked the ingredient list on a PowerBar or a high-protein smoothie, you probably have stumbled across these words: "Whey protein concentrate." You'll find it in a growing number of prepared foods.
This mysterious ingredient is derived from one of the oldest of human foods — milk. But capturing it requires huge factories that look more like oil refineries than farms.
As Barb mentioned, this week, Colorado and Washington State passed measures legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. We're going to hear reaction now from the country where much of America's pot is grown, Mexico. The sale, growth, and use of marijuana there remains illegal. And Mexico's incoming government fears these new laws will force them to rethink how they fight cross-border pot smuggling. But others think the measures could help fight narco-trafficking and cut into the cartels' power.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The political landscape of Washington, after more than a year of campaigning and billions of dollars in political spending, is stunningly unchanged. President Obama is in the White House. Republicans control the House of Representatives. Democrats hold the Senate.
Speaking of the fiscal cliff, let's take a minute to review what it is and how it all began. Imagine yourself standing on top of a cliff and it's December 31st, New Year's Eve and you're looking down, way down, toward New Year's Day. That's the deadline, the day a lot of fiscal policy will change and nearly all of us will feel it unless Congress acts.
During the holidays, family kitchens are ground zero for intense craziness: mixers whirling, timers buzzing, knives flying. So yes, it's understandable that many of us just stay out of way of the experienced cook. Especially when the knives come out and Mama is talking under her breath.
More than five million people in the U.S. claim some form of Native American identity. November is Native American Heritage Month and host Michel Martin is having a series of conversations with author Anton Treuer. Today, they talk about some of the particular political and economic challenges facing Indian Country.
Hundreds of thousands of service members are transitioning from bases to college campuses. As Americans get ready for Veterans Day, host Michel Martin discusses the challenges veterans face, and the programs that help them succeed. She talks with Meg Mitcham, a veteran and the head of veterans programs for the American Council on Education.
Still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, parts of New Jersey, New York City and surrounding regions are today digging out from a Nor'easter that dropped several inches of snow (more in some places) and caused more power outages.
We're following the news about the impact of the latest storm.
Update at noon, ET. Getting The Power Back On In New Jersey:
Mike Reynolds authored California's three-strikes law after his daughter, Kimber, was killed in a 1992 purse snatching. On Tuesday, Californians approved a ballot initiative that weakens the law — a measure Reynolds opposed.
Several thousand prisoners in California may be eligible to apply for sentence reductions, after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative Tuesday that alters the state's controversial three-strikes law.
But voters also rejected a proposition that would abolish the death penalty in the state. Proposition 34 would have replaced capital punishment with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
"U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder immediately sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license.
Patty Manfredonia, president of a volunteer ambulance company in Sayville, N.Y., has been collecting blankets for Long Island residents without power. A new storm Wednesday is already causing new outages.
Credit Steve Henn / NPR
Long Island Power Authority's <a href="http://www.lipower.org/stormcenter/outagemap.html">outage map</a>, as of 4 p.m. EST Wednesday. Blue indicates restored customers (in previous versions, blue represented areas without power).
Credit LIPA screen grab
Crews work to restore power in Bethpage, N.Y., on Saturday. As of Wednesday, more than 200,000 Long Island residents were still without power, as a nor'easter made new outages likely.
Normally, the nor'easter bearing down on the Northeast on Wednesday wouldn't be a tremendous cause for concern. But the storm, delivering snow, sleet and wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour, is expected to hit parts of Long Island and New Jersey still reeling from Hurricane Sandy.
Now a pair of historic votes among last night's many ballots measures. Voters in Colorado and Washington State passed initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. But as the governor of Colorado said last night, don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly
NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports that the measures are in direct conflict with federal law.
The number of states where gay marriage is legal will grow by at least two. On Tuesday, Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same sex marriage by popular referendum. It brings the number of states where such unions are allowed to eight. In the state of Washington, the vote on a similar measure is still too close to call. In Minnesota, voters turned down an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned gay marriage.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And Robert Siegel. The confetti has fallen in Chicago, where President Obama celebrated a decisive reelection win early this morning. Now comes the hard work of preparing for a second term. Before flying back to Washington this evening, Mr. Obama acknowledged some of the big issues ahead.
Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 3:33 pm
A very good general election for Democrats got even better on Wednesday when they retained U.S. Senate seats in Montana and North Dakota, both of which had looked ripe for Republicans throughout much of the campaign.
Victories by Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, in contests so close that concessions from the losing Republican candidates didn't occur until Wednesday, helped Senate Democrats reach 54 seats in the next Congress. That was a net increase of one seat from their current majority.
Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 8:43 am
Poor Chris Stewart. The former Air Force pilot had just won a landslide victory in his first bid for Congress in Utah, but the crowd of Republicans listening to his acceptance speech at a Salt Lake City hotel kept pointing to the massive television screen behind him.
"Do you want me to stop?" Stewart asked. "You would rather listen to Gov. Romney than to me, wouldn't you?"
Some in the crowd shouted "Yes!" and the sound of Romney's concession speech filled the room.
<strong>OUT:</strong> California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark arrives at an Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club endorsement meeting in Oakland, Calif., on Sept. 7. He lost his race Tuesday to a fellow Democrat.
Credit Jeff Chiu / AP
<strong>OUT:</strong> Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (foreground), with Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell, speaks during a May news conference on Capitol Hill. Walsh, a Tea Party freshman, lost to Democrat Tammy Duckworth.
Credit Alex Wong / Getty Images
<strong>OUT:</strong> Florida Republican Rep. Allen West, another Tea Party freshman, waves before a campaign rally for Mitt Romney last month in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Credit Lynne Sladky / AP
<strong>OUT:</strong> Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin and his wife, Lulli, acknowledge supporters before Akin makes his concession speech to incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill on Tuesday in Chesterfield, Mo.
Credit Charlie Riedel / AP
<strong>IN:</strong> Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann watches election results at a hotel in Bloomington, Minn., on Tuesday.
Credit Glen Stubbe / MCT/Landov
<strong>IN:</strong> New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel speaks during a news conference in Washington in June.
Credit Alex Wong / Getty Images
<strong>IN:</strong> Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson pumps up the crowd at a state Democratic Party rally in Orlando in 2010.
Credit Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP
<strong>IN:</strong> California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters smiles at her husband, Sidney Williams, during a House Ethics Committee hearing in September. Waters was cleared of charges that she steered a $12 million federal bailout to a bank where her husband owns stock.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin and his wife, Lulli, acknowledge supporters before Akin makes his concession speech to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill on Tuesday in Chesterfield, Mo.
Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 3:02 pm
Is civility about to stage a comeback in Washington? Some of the most controversial members of Congress have lost their seats.
Still, there appears to be little danger that vitriol is about to go out of style. A number of outspoken members are coming back, including at least one who had previously lost his seat.
Also, while there may be a net loss in the number of members who have attracted a great deal of media attention by making testy statements or ending up in ethics investigations, some who have been more moderate in temperament won't be coming back, either.
Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 2:16 pm
The much-hyped battle for the battleground states turned into more of a rout on Election Day, as President Obama swept through eight key states and looked on course to capture Florida.
Swing states — Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, New Hampshire — viewed as tossups a day before the voting fell without much fight into the blue column. Only North Carolina went for Romney.
Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 2:44 pm
Shall we dance?
That's the key question for Congress now that another budget crisis is near. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, today said he's ready to do a little two-stepping with Republicans to twirl away from the edge of the so-called fiscal cliff.
"It's better to dance than to fight," the former amateur boxer told reporters at a press conference. "Everything doesn't have to be a fight."
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're sure you know this by now, but just in case, President Obama won reelection and will serve a second term in office.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe we can seize this future together, because we are not as divided as our politics suggest. We are not cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.