The Capitol on Monday, as Congress prepared to return for its post-election lame duck session.
Credit Alex Brandon / AP
This 1915 cartoon highlights the biennial departure of "lame duck" members of Congress after losing re-election. This illustration is meant to depict defeated Democrats heading to the White House in hopes of securing political appointments from President Woodrow Wilson.
Credit Clifford K. Berryman. Via U.S. Senate Collection - Center for Legislative Archives; Wikimedia Commons
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:23 pm
As the lame ducks waddle up to Capitol Hill for the final few weeks of this Congress, some political observers are hoping they will bring the "Spirit of 2010" with them.
Despite all the partisan bickering, the lame-duck session two years ago — bolstered by a bevy of outgoing Democrats with nothing to lose — actually got big things done, including the $850 billion stimulus and tax cut deal, a measure setting in motion the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," passage of the defense authorization bill and an arms treaty.
(We added a new top to this post at 12:40 p.m. ET to round up the latest developments.)
The White House did not insert politics into the process of determining what could be said about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in the days immediately afterward, former CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress this morning, according to lawmakers who were inside closed briefings today.
For those who want to buy Nintendo's new video game console, you may have to wait a while. The Wii U goes on sale Sunday, but many stores have already sold out pre-orders. On Amazon, you can find the new console, but for much more than Nintendo's $350 price.
To find out what's the big deal for gamers and for Nintendo is, we've called Daisuke Wakabayashi. He covers Japanese video game companies for The Wall Street Journal, and joins us from Tokyo.
Even though there were talks of a ceasefire to coincide with the visit of the Egyptian prime minister to Gaza, today, the fighting has instead escalated.
Avital Leibovich, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that for the first time, rockets fired from Gaza hit an area outside Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who leads the West Bank, said that the "escalation is at its peak," both in Gaza and out of Gaza.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. People trying to help victims of Hurricane Sandy have hit bottom. People sent clothes but did not think to send underwear. Apparently this is a regular problem for people in need. Enough so that a Colorado nonprofit called Underwearness exists to send underpants to the needy. They raise money with an annual race, which people run without any pants. This nonprofit is sending 2,500 pairs of kids' underwear to storm-soaked Staten Island. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer. A Japanese spa resort made quite a splash yesterday in a pool spiked with Beaujolais Nouveau, the first vintage of the season from the famous French wine region. The fresh and fruity drink was released yesterday. The spa near Mt. Fuji celebrated with wine in glasses, as well: sips and dips for spa customers. The spa also promised beautiful, smooth skin. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Former CIA Director David Petraeus is testifying before two congressional committees today. He's been called to discuss the CIA's role in the attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, back in September; an attack that took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. This also happens to be General Petraeus' first public appearance on Capitol Hill since he resigned over an extramarital affair.
Listen carefully to both President Obama and Republican leaders, and you hear hints of room for compromise. They're talking of taxes and spending as a deadline approaches, December 31st, when higher taxes and spending cuts would take effect. That would reduce the federal deficit, but also damage the economy, according to forecasters.
President Obama returned yesterday to the scene of Hurricane Sandy's devastation; this time, visiting hard-hit areas of New York. He promised to stick with residents until the rebuilding effort is complete. Here's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.
NPR's business news starts with more mortgage problems.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Independent auditors released a report this morning, showing that the Federal Housing Administration is facing a shortfall from losses on the mortgages it insures. The Obama administration says it's going to take steps to prevent a taxpayer bailout.
As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the FHA has been struggling since the foreclosure crisis hit four years ago.
Israel's neighbor Jordan had largely avoided the unrest sparked by the Arab Spring until now. Jordan's king has outlasted protests that have been much smaller than in other nations, but a government move to raise fuel prices sparked fresh protests and even calls for King Abdullah to step down. A protester who died in a clash with police has become a symbol of protesters' fury. NPR's Leila Fadel has the story.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 4:49 am
The two biggest fears of the fiscal cliff are defense cuts and tax hikes. The nation's mayors say the devastating effects of automatic cuts reach further than the Defense Department — right into their own cities. Steve Inskeep talks to the Democratic Mayor of Charleston, S.C., Jospeh Riley and Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about the impact sequestration could have in their cities.
Honda, which has long aspired to launch off the road and into the skies, is one step closer to that goal. It has started production on its HondaJet. It's a twin jet engine aircraft, being assembled in North Carolina, aimed at the business market. Industry insiders call it the "Honda Civic of the skies."
Originally published on Sun November 18, 2012 7:25 am
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
As Israel and Hamas continue launching attacks, residents of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv and communities to its south remain on alert for missile strikes. Sheera Frenkel reports that many fear the current round of violence is nowhere close to being over.
Voters in Washington and Colorado just approved measures legalizing marijuana for recreational use. But businesses that want to sell marijuana in those states will face a problem: No bank wants to do business with them.
I called several banks in Washington. I called a local credit union, a tiny bank in the San Juan islands. Everybody said basically the same thing. Even if selling marijuana is legal under state law, it's still illegal under federal law. And banks and credit unions worry that this could get them in trouble.
Whenever there's a disaster, people want to give, and Hurricane Sandy is no exception. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, U.S. charities collected more than $174 million in donations as of Nov. 9 to help respond to the storm.
But it's not only money that has been pouring in. Relief programs have also received mountains of clothes, food and other supplies, not all of which are needed.
Leo Tolstoy's epic novel Anna Karenina has captivated readers since the 1800s — and movie directors have been among the intrigued, adapting the story over and over.
The latest is from director Joe Wright, who with Pride and Prejudice and Atonement to his credit certainly knows his way around a literary adaptation. Those films starred Keira Knightley, who has worked with Wright once again as the story's tragic heroine.
Every so often, people at an NPR station discover a song they can't get enough of. On those occasions, we ask them to share their obsession with the nation. Ben Famous is the music director at KCEP Power88 in Las Vegas. He spoke to Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep about a new cut from R&B heavyweight Avant. It's called "You and I," and it features Keke Wyatt. "The first time we played it," says Famous, "the phone lines lit up, and people were like, 'Who was that?' 'What was that?'"
Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 12:51 pm
Wal-Mart is throwing its hat in the gourmet food ring just in time for the holidays this year. Wednesday, the megastore company launched a monthly food subscription service that sends customers a sampling of novel food products each month.
People hold pictures of Savita Halappanavar during a vigil outside Belfast City Hall, Northern Ireland, on Thursday. Halappanavar died Oct. 28 in Galway, Ireland, just days after she was denied an abortion.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:07 pm
The death of an Indian woman is prompting Ireland to examine the conditions under which abortions can be permitted in the country.
Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, died last month after she began to miscarry her 17-week-old fetus. Doctors denied her an abortion, a procedure that is illegal in the predominantly Catholic country, because the fetus had a heartbeat. The story gained traction this week after Halappanavar's husband took her body back to India for cremation and went public with the events that led to her death.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:13 pm
In an interview with All Things Considered's Melissa Block, Israel's Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said that Israel's calling of 30,000 reservists "signals a preparation for possible land action, which we may need to defend our citizens."
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:10 pm
Some Democrats complain that Republicans in recent decades have had the edge in House races because GOP state legislatures have been better at the gerrymandering game. Except that may not be true.
Some political experts believe there's an easier explanation, and perhaps a tougher one for Democrats to overcome: Voters supporting Republican House candidates, they say, are spread over more congressional districts than those who support Democrats. It's that simple. It's merely a matter of geography.
Sandy punched a hole in the barrier island that holds the affluent borough of Mantoloking, N.J., temporarily splitting the community in two. The storm also destroyed several multimillion-dollar homes and erased the island's protective system of dunes.
Credit Doug Mills / AP
Storm waves and currents removed sand from a beach in Long Branch, N.J., exposing rock and concrete walls.
A portion of Fire Island, N.Y., was breached during Sandy, creating a new inlet. Despite the breach, a fishing shack on nearby Pelican Island (yellow arrow) remained standing.
Storm waves and surge cut across the barrier island at Mantoloking, N.J., eroding a wide beach, destroying houses and roads, and depositing sand onto the island and into the back bay.
New Jersey's most affluent community, Mantoloking, sits on a narrow barrier island 30 miles north of Long Beach. As Sandy approached, most of the residents fled inland. But Edwin C. O'Malley and his father, Edwin J. O'Malley Jr., hunkered down in their 130-year-old house.
They tied a boat to their porch and then watched the storm surge break over the dunes and flood the streets.
"Overnight that night, lying in bed, I could actually hear waves hitting the side of the house — which obviously made it more difficult to get to sleep," the younger O'Malley says.
Voters were frustrated by a 2012 presidential race they called more negative than usual and more devoid of substantive discussion of issues, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
And voters are pessimistic about the prospect of a more productive Congress, Pew found.
Two-thirds of registered voters surveyed after Election Day said they believe relations between Democrats and Republicans will stay the same or worsen over the coming year.
When Chef Jose Garces, the Philadelphia-based restaurateur and author of The Latin Road Home, thinks back to the Thanksgiving table of his youth, he remembers the turkey, and his father's chicken giblet gravy.
But his parents, who emigrated to Chicago from Ecuador in the 1960s, whipped up Ecuadorean staples as well.