U.S. News

It's All Politics
2:07 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Is Sen. John Cornyn Conservative Enough For Texas?

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the Senate minority whip, questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius before the Senate Finance Committee on Nov. 6.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Being an incumbent ain't what it used to be.

Texan John Cornyn is the No. 2 man in Senate GOP leadership and by most measures holds high conservative ratings — according to National Journal's rankings, he was the second most conservative senator in the last Congress.

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Shots - Health News
1:35 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

FDA Warns Against Test Touted As Mammogram Alternative

When it comes to taking care of the girls, mammograms are still the way to go.
iStockphoto

Mammograms are no woman's idea of fun, but if someone suggests that you could skip that aggravation just by vacuuming a little bit of fluid from the breast, think again.

Nipple aspirate tests being offered in doctors' offices are no substitute for mammograms, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

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The Two-Way
1:10 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

White House: American Seized In Iran Wasn't On CIA Payroll

A photo provided by Robert Levinson's family shows the retired FBI agent in captivity in April 2011.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:37 pm

A day after The Associated Press reported that an ex-FBI agent who went missing in Iran nearly seven years ago was on a rogue mission for the CIA, the White House has reiterated its long-held position that Robert Levinson was not on the U.S. payroll when he disappeared.

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All Tech Considered
12:26 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Week That Was: Cookie Hacking, Phone Unlocking, Year-Enders

Unlocking phones allows the devices to be used on another carrier's network.
Flickr Scallop Holden

Happy Friday! That means it's time for our weekly roundup of headlines from here at NPR and beyond.

ICYMI

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Environment
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Scientists Battle Over Fate Of Yellowstone's Grizzlies

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The North America's grizzly bear is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Its population was virtually wiped out in the lower 48 states. One group of bears, though, may soon lose that protection - the Yellowstone grizzly. Some scientists say that group is thriving. Others disagree. NPR's Christopher Joyce has more on the battle over the bear.

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Shots - Health News
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Promises To Fix Mental Health System Still Unfulfilled

Rheanna Kathleen Morris hugs her mom, Peggy Sinclair-Morris.
Jenny Gold for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 8:23 am

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., one year ago sparked a national conversation about the country's troubled mental health system. Politicians convened task forces and promised additional funding and new laws. But today, despite those promises, patients and advocates say treatment for mental health is still in shambles.

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Opinion
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

A Baby Who Saved Her Family From 'The Dark Moments'

Francisco Vasquez says his niece, Ellie, and his sister's battle with cancer have transformed his life "forever."
Courtesy of Maria Vasquez-Rojas

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 12:34 pm

Three years ago, Maria Vasquez-Rojas received news to celebrate: After many attempts to conceive, she was going to have a baby. But while pregnant with her daughter, Ellie, Maria was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.

"If I had not gone in for that ultrasound they would have never caught it. [Ellie] saved my life," Maria tells her brother, Francisco Vasquez, on a visit to StoryCorps in Los Angeles.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

One Year After Newtown, Still No Answer To 'Why'

A crime scene photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows a rifle in the master bedroom in Adam Lanza's house.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:52 am

As Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy sped from Hartford to Newtown nearly a year ago, the death toll kept rising. When he arrived on the scene, he found himself in charge — and it fell to him to answer the question: How long should family members have to wait to learn that their loved ones were gone?

Malloy decided that he was going to do what he thought was right. Still, standing in front of more than two dozen families gathered in a firehouse, he doubted that it was.

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The Two-Way
7:11 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Chinese Ag Scientists Charged With Stealing Patented Seeds

Two agricultural scientists from China have been accused of trying to steal patented seeds from a biopharmaceutical company in Kansas.

Separately, six men from China, including the CEO of a seed corn subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate, were charged Thursday with conspiring to steal patented seed corn from two of the nation's leading seed developers, prosecutors said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

It wasn't immediately clear if the arrests were related, but The AP wrote of the group of six charged:

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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

American Who Disappeared In Iran Reportedly Worked For CIA

A "proof of life" photo provided to the family of ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson in April 2011.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:05 am

The Associated Press reports in an investigative piece that an ex-FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 and was last seen in a "proof of life" photograph more than two years ago had been working for the CIA, despite official denials from the U.S.

Robert Levinson, who would now be 65, vanished after traveling in March 2007 to the Iranian island of Kish, described by The Associated Press as a resort "awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures."

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All Tech Considered
5:45 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Wireless Companies, FCC Reach Deal On 'Unlocking' Cellphones

U.S. wireless carriers reached a deal with the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday that will make it easier for consumers to "unlock" their mobile phones and use them on a competitor's network.

The deal came in the wake of a consumer rebellion over the policy of locking cellphones to a carrier. A petition that garnered more than 114,000 signatures landed at the White House, and the Obama administration sided with the petitioners.

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The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

House Approves Budget Deal; Compromise Heads To Senate

House Speaker John Boehner leaves a news conference Thursday, after criticizing conservative groups that he said held too much sway in Republican politics, "pushing our members in places where they don't want to be."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:05 am

The House has approved a bipartisan budget deal to cut around $23 billion from the federal deficit over 10 years while removing the threat of a possible government shutdown until 2015. A shutdown deadline had loomed for Jan. 15.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 also sets spending levels for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, which its backers say will add more stability to both the U.S. economy and the government's operations.

Update at 6:35 p.m. ET: The Vote Tally

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It's All Politics
4:48 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Conservative Grass Roots Remains Skeptical Of Budget Deal

The Texas chapter of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity held an event Wednesday called "All I Want for Christmas is Less Federal Spending."
Alan Greenblatt NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:26 pm

John Boehner has had it with fielding complaints from the right.

The House Speaker's frustration with conservative groups opposing the budget deal boiled over Wednesday, when he delivered an unusually stinging critique, and again the next day.

"Frankly," he told reporters Thursday at a news conference, "I just think they've lost all credibility."

With Boehner, perhaps.

But at the grass-roots level, a Wednesday event held by one of those groups suggested the speaker's view of the budget agreement will still get some pushback.

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It's All Politics
4:18 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Boehner Blasts Tea Party Groups Over Budget Deal Criticism

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise during a Thursday news conference on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Some moments feel like turning points. Speaker John Boehner's rhetorical takedown of his party's Tea Party faction seems like one such moment.

For two days running, Boehner, R-Ohio, has made clear that he's heard just about enough from conservative advocacy groups such as the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks.

On Wednesday, he called them "ridiculous." On Thursday, he said "they've lost all credibility."

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The Two-Way
3:38 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Secret U.S. Stealth Drone Flies Out Of The Shadows

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:34 pm

In retrospect, it should come as no surprise that this story did not immediately appear on our radar: Last week, Aviation Week reported that the classified RQ-180 stealth drone has begun test flights at Area 51.

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Around the Nation
3:35 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

'Mother Jones' Tracked Child Gun Victims Since Newtown Shootings

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:44 pm

An investigative report by Mother Jones magazine looks at the number of children who have been shot and killed with guns in the year since the Newtown tragedy. Melissa Block speaks with Mark Follman, senior editor at Mother Jones, for more.

Law
3:35 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Family Of Ga. Teen Found Dead In A Gym Mat Pushes For Answers

Demonstrators attend a rally on Wednesday in Atlanta for Kendrick Johnson, the Georgia teenager found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his school.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 5:16 pm

Activists from across the country are asking Georgia's governor to support an investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old discovered dead in a high school gymnasium almost a year ago. His body was found in a rolled-up gym mat.

State investigators ruled out foul play, but Johnson's parents don't believe it.

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Environment
3:35 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Long Island Wins Ultimate Faceoff Against Hurricane Sandy

Sediment samples from the seafloor near Long Island.
UT Austin Institute for Geophysics

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:50 pm

Hurricane Sandy last year did more harm to coastal cities and homes than any hurricane in U.S. history, except Katrina. Most of that damage has been repaired. But there's other damage that people can't see to the underwater coastline, known as the shore face.

Apparently, Long Island's shore face did remarkably well against the storm of the 21st century.

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Around the Nation
3:35 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

National Cathedral Holds Vigil For America's Gun Victims

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:44 pm

One year ago this Saturday, a gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. At the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, people gathered Thursday to remember those who have been killed by gun violence since that attack. A bell tolled for three minutes in memory of roughly 30,000 people who have lost their lives over the past year. We hear some of the service.

Shots - Health News
3:12 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Why Meningitis That Hit Princeton Is Hard To Beat With Vaccines

Developing a vaccine for meningitis B was tricky. Even the existing vaccine doesn't protect against all B strains.
Josef Muellek iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:46 pm

There's been a lot of talk about meningitis B lately. That's the type responsible for outbreaks at Princeton and the University of California in Santa Barbara.

And it got us thinking. How come this form of the illness isn't fazed by the vaccines given routinely to most young people in the U.S.?

This week, Princeton is administering an imported vaccine not approved for general use in this country, with special permission from the Food and Drug Administration.

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All Tech Considered
1:41 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Take A Look At The Top Tweeted Moments Of The Year

Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:02 pm

We're preparing to bid adieu to 2013, which means it's time for the ever-reliable year-end lists. NPR's Book Concierge lets you explore the best books of the year. NPR Music chronicled the best albums. And Twitter is out with the biggest tweets and most-tweeted moments of 2013.

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All Tech Considered
12:48 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

A Rush To Reconcile Health Enrollment Data, By Hand

Affordable Care Act navigator Nini Hadwen helps Floridians shop for health insurance in October.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:44 pm

With just a few weeks left before a deadline to get health coverage, lingering bugs lurk in the part of HealthCare.gov that you can't see. And since time is running out to get things right, health officials on Thursday urged insurance companies to cover some enrollees even if their premium checks haven't come in.

Under the law's guidelines, consumers have to sign up for a health insurance exchange — and pay their first month's premium — by the end of December if they want coverage in January.

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Shots - Health News
10:15 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Scientists Turn To The Crowd In Quest For New Antibiotics

Yes, you could do this at home. Growing bacteria you find in a pile of dirt or a local pond might reveal the next big antibiotic.
Charlotte Raymond Science Source

Could you dig up the next antibiotic in your backyard? Two scientists would like you and, if they're lucky, millions of other people to give it a try.

The researchers hope that lots of do-it-yourself scientists around the world can come up with the next big idea for much-needed drugs.

There are plenty of precedents. Many blockbuster antibiotics were found in soil, where many bacteria produce chemicals to keep rivals out of their territory.

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Law
4:42 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Miami Gardens Under Fire For Zero-Tolerance Crime Policy

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:00 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. The police chief of Miami Gardens, Florida has stepped down over allegations that his officers have been violating civil rights. The town is just north of Miami and it's been struggling with a string of deadly shootings. In response, it began what it calls zero tolerance operations, including arrests even for misdemeanors. Which in turn has led to a federal lawsuit. From Miami, NPR's Greg Allen has the story.

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Around the Nation
3:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Newtown Parents Seek A Clearer Window Into Violent Behavior

Avielle's artwork hangs on the walls and windows of Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel's home.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 9:22 am

The shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December has left families of the 26 victims, most of them children, struggling to heal in different ways.

Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel are one such family. They lost their only child, 6-year-old Avielle, in the shooting. In the year since, they've responded as any parents would: Asking why such a tragedy could have happened.

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Around the Nation
3:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Scandal May Bring New Oversight To LA County Sheriff's Department

After the FBI released results of a federal probe on Dec. 9, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said he was troubled by the charges and called it a sad day for his department.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:41 am

Longtime civil rights attorney Connie Rice has been following this week's indictments against officers in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. She says it points to a subculture of corruption within certain units, much like the city's scandal-ridden police department of the 1990s.

In the main downtown jails, sheriff's officers are accused of beating and choking inmates without provocation, harassing visitors and then covering it all up.

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Veterans And Other-Than-Honorable Discharges
3:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Filling The Gaps For Veterans With Bad Discharges

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 9:18 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

All this week on MORNING EDITION we've been hearing about veterans we don't usually discuss, people who served in the military and then left with a less than honorable discharge. Even if they saw combat, veterans with bad paper, as it's called, do not get the healthcare or benefits accorded to most vets.

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The Two-Way
5:13 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Miami-Area Police Chief Resigns Amid Charges Of Racial Profiling

The Quick Stop convenience store in Miami Gardens, Fla., was equipped with video cameras that recorded many questionable encounters and arrests by the police. The city's police chief resigned Wednesday.
Lynne Sladky AP

The police chief of Miami Gardens is resigning, weeks after allegations arose that his officers stopped and searched customers of a convenience store as a matter of routine. Charges of racial profiling and civil rights abuses were bolstered by videos that showed police frisking and arresting people.

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The Two-Way
4:09 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Extended Unemployment Benefits On Track To Expire Dec. 28

A prospective job seeker gets information at a job resource fair for military veterans in Van Nuys, Calif., on Oct. 24.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:38 pm

Unless Congress acts very quickly, some 1.3 million workers will lose their extended jobless benefits on Dec. 28.

Democrats were scrambling late Wednesday to link an extension of benefits to a budget deal that is expected to get a vote as soon as Thursday. But if the effort fails, they will come back at it in 2014.

"We're going to push here after the first of the year for an extension of emergency unemployment insurance when the Senate convenes after the new year," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
4:08 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

FBI Agents Support Bipartisan Spending Deal

James Comey in the White House Rose Garden as President Obama nominates him for the top FBI post on June 21.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 5:04 pm

FBI agents across the country have been among the most vocal opponents of the spending cuts triggered by sequestration, warning about everything from having to abandon surveillance work to a lack of gas money.

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