U.S. News

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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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Some Young Athletes May Be More Vulnerable To Hits To The Head

Dartmouth defenders sandwich a New Hampshire wide receiver during a game in Durham, N.H., in 2009.
Josh Gibney AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 1:31 pm

Concussions have deservedly gotten most of the attention in efforts to reduce the risk of head injuries in sports.

But scientists increasingly think that hits too small to cause concussions also affect the brain, and that those effects add up. And it looks like some athletes may be more vulnerable than others.

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The Two-Way
3:38 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

The Things We Did And Said In 2013, According To Facebook

What the world was talking about on Facebook in 2013. The social media site released a review of the most popular topics, events, and places Wednesday.
Facebook

Did you travel in 2013? Perhaps you went to Disneyland. Or maybe you met someone special or watched the Super Bowl. Those moments of commonality are being highlighted by Facebook, which today released its list of the year's most popular topics, events and places.

After we spent a few moments reviewing the most common life events people reported in 2013, the list reads a bit like a 10-sentence short story — perhaps a fable or a coming-of-age tale.

See what you think: Here are the events Facebook says "people added to their Timeline most frequently in 2013."

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Around the Nation
3:27 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Florida Man Airs Grievances With Festivus Pole In Capitol

Florida lobbyist Keith Arnold stops to look at Chaz Stevens' Festivus pole made out of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee.
Mark Wallheiser Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 6:14 pm

There's a brand-new holiday display at Florida's state Capitol in Tallahassee: a pole celebrating the fake holiday Festivus from the TV show Seinfeld.

It's the latest protest exhibit after a Nativity scene was set up in the rotunda last week.

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The Salt
3:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Drug Companies Accept FDA Plan To Phase Out Some Animal Antibiotic Uses

Young broilers nibble feed at a chicken farm in Luling, Texas. The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance on how drug companies label antibiotics for livestock.
Bob Nichols USDA/Flickr

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 6:07 pm

If drug companies follow guidance issued Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, within three years it will be illegal to use medically important antibiotics to make farm animals grow faster or use feed more efficiently.

The FDA's announcement wasn't a big surprise; a draft version of the strategy was released more than a year ago.

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The Impact of War
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

After Discharge Upgrade, Marine Finally Finds A Reason To Live

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 9:19 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. We're reporting this week on what happens to veterans who leave the service with less than honorable discharges; troops who made big mistakes while still in uniform - used drugs, drove while drunk or worse - and got kicked out of the military. Turns out that discharge is something of a life sentence. These vets often lose access to veterans' health care and other benefits, and it's hard for them to find jobs.

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Law
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Supreme Court Bolsters Prosecutors' Use Of Psychiatric Exam

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Kansas Supreme Court should not have overturned the conviction and death sentence of a Kansas man.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:23 pm

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that when a criminal defendant claims he did not have the requisite intent to commit a crime, the state may put on contrary evidence derived from a state psychiatric exam.

In such circumstances, the court said, using the psychiatric evaluation does not violate the Constitution's privilege against self-incrimination.

The decision involves a brutal 2005 murder case from rural Kansas.

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Energy
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work

PG&E, a Northern California utility company, is already experimenting with big batteries to store wind-generated electricity at its Vaca-Dixon Substation.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:57 am

Giant batteries are coming to a power grid near you. In fact, they're already starting to appear on the grid in California.

That's because California is planning to rely increasingly on power supplies that aren't necessarily available every minute of every day. The state plans to get one-third of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2020.

Utilities in the state are trying to figure out how they can cope with that uncertain power supply. Batteries aren't a panacea, but they could help.

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Code Switch
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

A Midwestern Meatpacking Town Welcomes Immigrants

Binh Hua (left) and My Nguyen, both 18, work in the Garden City Community College chemistry lab. Both of their parents are employed by the Tyson Foods plant in Garden City, Kan.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:42 pm

Meatpacking plants used to be located in urban centers like Kansas City and Chicago. Over the past few decades, many plants have moved to rural Midwestern towns, which have seen a huge influx of immigrants as a result. Yesterday, we reported on tiny Noel, Mo., which has struggled to help assimilate the newcomers who work at a large poultry plant.

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U.S.
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

After Fight Over Colo. Gun Laws, Two Sides As Dug In As Ever

A man holds a sign advocating the recall of state Sen. John Morse in Colorado Springs, Colo., in September. Morse and a second state senator who backed the state's new gun control measures were recalled during a special election that month.
Matthew Staver Landov

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 6:47 pm

John Morse was president of the Colorado Senate until September, when he became the first elected official recalled in the state's history.

Three months later, he's climbing the rotunda steps of the gold-domed Capitol building — his office for seven years. He hasn't been here since October. Gazing up at the dome, he says, "This is one of my favorite things to do. That's my version of smelling the roses."

Morse's political career ended over the gun bills he pushed through these chambers eight months ago. But he says he would do it all again.

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Shots - Health News
2:02 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Staph Germs Hide Out In The Hidden Recesses Of Your Nose

The interior of the nose is like a lush rain forest that's barely been explored.
Courtesy of Sunje Pamp

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 1:33 pm

Otherwise innocuous bacteria can cause deadly infections when people have surgery or fall ill. To prevent trouble, patients sometimes have their bodies scrubbed clean of Staphylococcus aureus.

But it doesn't always work.

That may because the germs thrive in upper recesses of the nose, far from the spots typically tested for staph bacteria, or where antibiotics are applied.

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Shots - Health News
11:37 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Health Exchange Enrollment By State, In 2 Charts

HHS

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 1:48 pm

Numbers released by the Obama administration show enrollment in health exchanges edged up in November, but the uptake remains far short of the administration's initial targets.

Roughly 264,000 people signed up for private insurance coverage last month through the federal and state exchanges, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department. That brings the total to about 364,000 for October and November.

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Digital Life
10:05 am
Wed December 11, 2013

'Civic Tech' Skips The Red Tape

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:53 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Maybe at some point, you've gotten upset about a political issue, and you decided to write your congressman or congresswoman. That used to mean you grabbed your pen, paper, an envelope, a stamp.

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Technology
10:05 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Kids Create Mobile Apps In the Classroom

Xavier Manning and Ciara Chase are students at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science. They stopped by NPR with their guidance counselor Carletta Hurt and teacher Patrick Gusman.
Davar Ardalan NPR

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 9:11 am

Tell Me More's social storytelling series is happening online using #NPRBlacksinTech. Since December 2nd, black tech innovators from all over the country have spent a day tweeting about their lives. The social media series is creating new storytelling opportunities that run parallel to what Tell Me More does every day on the radio.

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Health Care
8:10 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Exchange Enrollment Growing But Still Short Of Forecasts

The Obama administration just released the latest sign-up numbers for its troubled health insurance exchange website. Enrollment picked up last month, after a disastrous start in October. Still, the number of people signing up for coverage is below the administration's original forecasts.

Shots - Health News
7:06 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Enrollment Jumps At HealthCare.gov, Though Totals Still Lag

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' shadow appeared behind the lectern as she spoke about the implementation of the federal health law in Detroit in November.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:56 am

Enrollment in the federal government's new health insurance exchange picked up sharply in November, but the number of people signing up for coverage still trails original forecasts. Officials from the Obama administration say they expect the pace of enrollments will continue to increase now that the insurance website is working more smoothly.

Users have until Dec. 23 to sign up for coverage that begins in January.

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U.S.
4:56 am
Wed December 11, 2013

What's The Interim Iran Nuclear Deal Really Worth?

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Renee Montage talks to David Cohen, the U.S. undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, about the sanctions against Iran and their role in curtailing the Iranian nuclear program.

Health Care
4:56 am
Wed December 11, 2013

What's At Stake For States That Reject Medicaid Expansion

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

The Affordable Care Act has produced a surge in the number of people signing up for Medicaid. The ACA offers billions of federal dollars to states to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor. But only 25 states have accepted the federal government's offer, and those that haven't could face economic and budget losses.

Veterans And Other-Than-Honorable Discharges
3:07 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Path To Reclaiming Identity Steep For Vets With 'Bad Paper'

Michael Hartnett was a Marine during the Gulf War and served in Somalia. He received a bad conduct discharge for abusing drugs and alcohol. His wife, Molly, helped him turn his life around.
Quil Lawrence NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 9:19 am

When Michael Hartnett was getting kicked out of the U.S. Marine Corps, he was too deep into post-traumatic stress disorder, drugs and alcohol to care as his battalion commander explained to the young man that his career was ending, and ending badly.

"Do you understand what I'm saying to you, son? It's going to be six and a kick," Hartnett recalls the commander telling him.

The "six" was an expected six months of hard labor in the brig. The kick happened at Hartnett's court-martial, and finally woke him up out of the haze.

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Around the Nation
3:07 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Parents Worry Schools Overlook Girls Who Aren't College-Bound

Kyrah Whatley, 17, is confident she can become a mason after finishing high school. But around the U.S., many parents think schools are not adequately preparing girls for the workforce.
Claudio Sanchez NPR

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Kyrah Whatley, 17, is a bright student with pretty good grades. But the thought of spending two to four more years in a college classroom is depressing, she says.

Masonry, on the other hand, intrigues her. "I'm a kinesthetic learner. ... I learn with my hands," she says.

That's why Kyrah is thinking of joining the Navy as a certified mason right after she graduates from Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio.

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The Two-Way
4:45 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Bipartisan Negotiators Unveil Budget To Avoid January Shutdown

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announce a proposed spending plan at the Capitol on Tuesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:07 pm

Congressional negotiators announced Tuesday that they'd reached a budget proposal to restore about $65 billion worth of sequestration cuts in exchange for cuts elsewhere and additional fees.

If approved by both the House and Senate, the plan — hammered out by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington — would avoid another government shutdown on Jan. 15.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening, Ryan said the budget plan doesn't raise taxes and that it's a "step in the right direction."

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It's All Politics
4:39 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Is Economic Populism A Problem Or A Solution For Democrats?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at a November hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. A recent op-ed critical of Warren's brand of economic populism sparked an intraparty dispute among Democrats.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:09 pm

The fight over taxes, entitlements and income inequality has clearly been reignited in the Democratic Party, sparking questions about whether, and how hard, to push economic populism as the party approaches the 2014 midterm elections and beyond.

The latest flare-up came between centrist Democrats at the Third Way think tank and liberals who view Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as their champion.

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The Salt
4:14 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Congressional Work On Farm Bill Likely To Spill Into 2014

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., during a Dec. 4 break in negotiations on the farm bill. On Tuesday, Stabenow said the bill likely won't pass Congress until January.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 5:14 pm

House and Senate negotiators working to finish a farm bill say it is unlikely their work will be completed before the end of the year. The House is only in session for the rest of the week, and according to one of the negotiators, this week's snowy weather has delayed some numbers-crunching needed to figure out how much elements of a possible deal will cost.

"We're going to pass it in January," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., as she left a closed-door meeting to negotiate details of the five-year farm bill.

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The Two-Way
4:05 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Woman Pleads Guilty To Mailing Ricin To Obama, Bloomberg

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 5:36 pm

A former actress who sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pleaded guilty in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, as part of a deal to limit her sentence to no more than 18 years.

Shannon Guess Richardson, a mother of six from Texas, had minor roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side. She mailed three ricin-laced letters from New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana, and then contacted police to say that her estranged husband had done it.

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Shots - Health News
3:44 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Popular Antacids Increase The Risk Of B-12 Deficiency

Drugs that reduce acid production can make it harder for the stomach to absorb vitamin B12.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 2:22 pm

Acid-inhibiting drugs like Zantac and Prilosec have become hugely popular because they're so good at preventing the unpleasant symptoms of heartburn and acid indigestion.

But the drugs also make it more likely that a person will be short on vitamin B-12. And that can contribute to health problems including depression, nerve damage and dementia.

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The Two-Way
2:56 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Missing Couple, Four Kids Found Safe In Nevada Mountains

This undated family photo provided by the Pershing County Sheriff's Office shows Shelby Fitzpatrick (left) and Chloe Glanton, two of the children who were found "alive and well" after an extensive search in northern Nevada.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 5:42 pm

A couple and four children who had been missing since Sunday in the mountains of northern Nevada amid subzero temperatures have been found in good shape, officials said.

"We have located the people. They have been taken to the hospital. They are alive and well." Pershing County Undersheriff Thomas Bjerke said Tuesday. "They are in pretty good shape."

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Shots - Health News
2:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Despite Big Market In Florida, Obamacare Is A Hard Sell

Enroll America outreach workers talk to congregants at the Mt. Calvary Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Eric Whitney

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 12:39 pm

Getting people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act remains an uphill battle in much of Florida.

Politicians in the state erected roadblocks to the law from the beginning — from joining in the 2010 lawsuit to thwart the law to placing restrictions on what insurance helpers called navigators can tell people seeking advice.

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Around the Nation
2:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

New Orleans' Rat Fighters Go Beyond Baiting Traps

A rat forages for food in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans in 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina. Blighted buildings and fewer people led to an increase in the city's rat population.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:30 am

Marvin Thompson knew he faced a difficult task when he was hired last year as principal at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans.

"The day that I pulled up to this building, I thought it was condemned," Thompson says.

The structure, built in 1898, was sagging and leaky and missing entire window panes. Inside, students were underperforming academically.

And then, there were the rats. Thompson and his two children didn't even finish unpacking his office before they discovered that problem.

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