Many Americans will spend extra time at the polls today, not just choosing candidates but also making law. They will vote on a variety of state ballot initiatives, which Josh Goodman of the Pew Center on the States is tracking.
I've printed out here a list of ballot initiatives in various states. And it's more than a page long. It's a ridiculous number. The Oregon Gillnet Fishing Initiative, the Utah Military Property Tax Exemption Amendment, Constitutional Amendment B 2012. We could go on for quite some time. This is quite a list.
New York's Mayor Bloomberg has hired a former FEMA official with experience in Hurricane Katrina to direct the city's housing recovery. NPR's Martin Kaste reports it's another sign of the seriousness of the housing shortage caused by the storm.
In Florida, Supreme Court justices are nominated by a commission and appointed by the governor. Every six years, they're up for retention. Voters decide whether to keep them on the bench or let them go.
Since the system was put in place in the 1970s, retention votes have been pro forma affairs, with justices doing little fundraising or campaigning.
Superstorm Sandy got officials in New York and New Jersey talking about how to prevent flooding in a time of global warming and sea level rise.
But the place on the East Coast that's most vulnerable to flooding is several hundred miles south, around Norfolk, Va. — and Norfolk has already spent many years studying how to survive the rising waters.
Scientists say what Norfolk has learned is especially important in light of new research showing that the coastline from North Carolina to Boston will experience even more sea level rise than other areas.
Now many who will cast presidential ballots in New York have been facing a complicated post-storm challenge - where they should vote. Superstorm Sandy has displaced many residents from their homes and some polling places are out of commission because of storm damage. Late today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an order, telling voters they can cast ballots wherever they want.
I asked NPR's Quil Lawrence in New York about just what Governor Cuomo said today.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 5:12 pm
With all the really big numbers flying around this campaign season, here's one more: $165,062,250.
That's how much Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS has spent attacking Democrats and helping Republicans this election. Perhaps this number doesn't seem so special, compared with the $1 billion spent by President Obama's campaign and at least $900 million by Gov. Romney's team.
A week after Hurricane Sandy hit the region, roughly 1 million people are still without power in the New York area, and more than one-third of those live on Long Island.
In the hierarchy of hurricanes that have hit Mastic Beach, N.Y., over the years, this one ranks near the top, says Mayor Bill Biondi.
"This is the worse we've had in a long time," Biondi says. "I guess the only thing that was worse than this ... was the hurricane of 1938. I haven't seen or heard anything in between those years that was worse than this one."
Early voting ended in Florida on Saturday. But on Sunday, some county elections officials opened their offices to allow people to vote using absentee ballots.
In Miami-Dade County, elections officials opened the office for over-the-counter absentee voting, but then inexplicably shut down. A couple of hundred waiting voters began chanting and pounding on the doors. An hour later, the office reopened.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 4:40 pm
The fighting in Syria was both nasty and widespread on Monday. Here's a summary of some of the worst fighting:
-- Two deadly car bombings took place, one in a residential neighborhood in Damascus that killed 11 people, according to Syria's state-run SANA news agency. The other one, near the central city of Hama, generated wildly conflicting claims. An activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the suicide attack killed 50 government soldiers and allied gunmen. But the government put the death toll at two civilians.
If you bought a Hyundai or Kia over the past three years, you could soon be getting some money back from the two automakers.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the South Korean carmakers, owned by the same parent company, overstated the gas mileage on 900,000 vehicles over the past three years. The EPA discovered the bloated figures during an audit of gas mileage tests undertaken by the companies. The agency said last week it was investigating how the carmakers arrived at the numbers.
If you've got the sniffles or need a shot, do you go to the doctor or stop in at a clinic in a nearby drugstore?
Lots of people are opting for the clinics, which are springing up inside grocery stores, big-box retailers and chain drugstores across the country. There are already 1,388 clinics like these in the U.S., according to data from Merchant Medicine, a consulting firm.
Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 2:14 pm
Election Day is Tuesday, and it's easy to forget about those who don't have a vote — children. But it can be a fun experience if parents take the time to include the kids, and maybe bribe them with a little sugar.
Over the weekend, the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum in Washington D.C, did just that. Kids got to make patriotic sugar cookies, personally meet all the American presidents' wax figures and vote for the next president of the United States.
He's a statue in many a monument, a profile on the penny, a face on the $5 bill, and an animatronic robot at Disneyland. He's even carved into a mountain in South Dakota. So, of course, Abe Lincoln has been a character in the movies — more than 300 of them, in fact.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 1:39 pm
The cost of the 2012 election will top a record $6 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. If you find it difficult to visualize that figure, here are a few other ways to think about what $6 billion could buy:
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 3:13 pm
NPR librarians continue to help us keep track of the recovery from Superstorm Sandy and the deadly toll from the storm that blasted New Jersey, New York City and other parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England one week ago.
-- Number of deaths: At least 115 in the U.S., by NPR's count. The Associated Press reports there were at least 106 fatalities. There were 69 Sandy-related deaths in the Caribbean and two in Canada.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 3:29 pm
This morning a shadowy Arizona group decided to disclose where $11 million in political contributions came from. The money was used to fight for an anti-union ballot measure and against a proposition from Gov. Jerry Brown to raise sales and income taxes.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 7:44 pm
(Revised at 5:46 pm ET)
On the final day of the 2012 campaign for the White House, President Obama and Mitt Romney are making the last push for votes in states each believes critical to achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory.
Obama was scheduled to campaign in three swing states, while Romney had events planned in four. The only overlap was in Ohio, considered the linchpin of the election.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Over the past few years, the definition of work has changed in parts of the American economy. More and more restaurants and retailers have half as many full-time workers as they used to and twice as many part-time. They save money on pay and benefits, and they use new technology to schedule part-timers based on the season, the time of day or even on the temperature.
In the run-up to Election Day, newspaper readers usually expect to see endorsements on the editorial page, but that tradition's come into question. Last month, the Los Angeles Times received a flurry of criticism following its endorsement of President Obama, and the editorial board responded with a defense of the practice. On the other hand, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is among the papers that's decided to stop endorsing political candidates altogether. We want to hear from you: Should newspapers make political endorsements?
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Since this time last week, parts of the Northeast have been transformed. The lights are back on in many areas, the floodwaters retreated, most public transportation is up and running, and most New York City schools reopened this morning. But wreckage still blocks streets, hundreds of thousands still lack power, gas is still short in North Jersey and on Long Island.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 3:50 pm
If you asked most people whether there's too much government in their lives, they'd probably say yes. But when given the chance to eliminate a layer of government, voters often refuse.
That's why a vote to merge the city of Evansville, Ind., with Vanderburgh County may go down to defeat Tuesday. Many residents are concerned that their access to services would be limited under a unified government, while taxes would increase.