For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.
The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.
The number of homeless people in the U.S. has declined for the third straight year. New numbers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development show a large decrease in the number of homeless veterans. Though there are still large numbers of homeless, mainly concentrated in large cities, including New York City and Los Angeles.
For the third time this year, the Democrats who run the Senate are threatening to change that chamber's rules on the Republican minority's most potent weapon: the filibuster. They say the GOP's obstruction of President Obama's nominations leaves them no other choice.
Democrats say that this time, they're ready to pull the trigger on what's known as "the nuclear option." Doing so would amount to altering the rules not with the traditional two-thirds majority but a simple majority of 51.
Bitcoin, the virtual currency that exists as alphanumeric strings online, is on the verge of getting into politics.
The Federal Election Commission is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to allow bitcoin contributions to political action committees — even as skeptics say that bitcoins could undermine the disclosure standards of federal law.
Buried in the paltry enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act that were released last week was something that came as a surprise to many — the success states are having signing people up for the Medicaid program, which provides health care to low-income people.
A former president, a media mogul and a Cuban jazz trumpeter are among the 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday. That Cuban jazz trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval, happened to be performing not too far away from NPR West, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, last Friday. So I went to pay him a visit during rehearsals.
NPR's Richard Harris has covered the U.N. climate talks since the first treaty was negotiated in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. He's monitoring these new talks, and he joins us now to talk about this long-running argument over climate-related funding for the developing world. Richard, thanks for being here.
RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: My pleasure.
BLOCK: And we just heard Mr. Khan mention this goal of $100 billion in aid per year, starting in 2020. He thinks that's realistic. What does it look like from where you sit?
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in some hot water over remarks he made last week suggesting that opposition to Common Core of Standards was coming from "white suburban moms." He has since pulled back from those remarks.
Cyclists negotiate rush hour traffic in central London on Nov. 15. Fourteen London cyclists have died so far this year, all in accidents involving heavy goods vehicles.
Credit Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
A cyclist receives emergency medical treatment after being involved in an accident with a truck on Monday in London.
Credit Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
London Mayor Boris Johnson (shown last year in London) has angered cyclists by suggesting that cyclists should be more careful, in response to recent deaths on London streets. He also says he won't be bullied into wearing a helmet.
An Afghan soldier stands guard in the western city of Herat in October. U.S. Maj. Gen. James McConville, who commands coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, says Afghan forces did hold their ground this year, but "they're not winning by enough that the enemy is willing to stop fighting yet."
Shiite Muslims gathered in Kabul last week to celebrate Ashura, one of the holiest days on their religious calendar. Hundreds of shirtless men chanted and flogged themselves with chains tipped with knife-like shards of metal.
In the past, these public Shiite commemorations have become targets of the Taliban and other Islamist extremists. In 2011, a suicide bomber killed 56 Shiites marking Ashura. But this year, security was particularly tight.
Shopkeeper Noor Aga said the celebration was magnificent, and he felt safe.
An Egyptian woman kisses a poster of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as she arrives at Cairo's Tahrir Square to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war last month. Many are calling for the general to run for president next year, but so far he has remained coy.
Credit Amr Nabil / AP
A supporter of Sissi holds a poster with a photo of Bassem Youssef, the man known as "Egypt's Jon Stewart," during a protest in Cairo. The sign reads, "not Egypt, you are degrading to the media, fifth column."
For nearly three years Egyptians have battled for a different, and better, future. But the transition has been tumultuous, filled with pitfalls, death and disappointment.
Today, many are ready to settle for a return to the pre-revolution status quo: a strong, military man who can guide Egypt back to stability.
At the Kakao lounge in central Cairo, teenage girls sample chocolates that bear the face of Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The chocolates depict Sissi in sunglasses, Sissi saluting and Sissi's face in ornate chocolate frames.
A lineman grounds a line on a replacement pole in McNeill, Miss., after 2012 Christmas day storms downed both telephone and electric power lines and poles throughout the state. Upkeep on traditional landlines is expensive, and some are pushing for relaxing requirements that phone companies maintain these lines.
America's traditional phone system is not as dependable as it used to be. Just last month, the Federal Communications Commission told phone companies to start collecting stats on calls that fail to complete. According to one estimate, as many as 1 in 5 incoming long-distance calls simply doesn't connect.
Internet giants Google and Microsoft say they're going to be making it harder for pedophiles to search for child porn online. They made the announcement in a joint statement in London ahead of a British internet security summit.
It's a big week for the video game industry; Sony just released the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft will release its new Xbox games console Friday. All Tech Considered is kicking off the week with a look at just how big the industry has become and who plays these days. Robert Siegel talks with industry expert John Davison. He's currently general manager of content and publishing for video game company Red Robot Labs.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, president and chief executive Rod Beckstrom, speaks on expanding the number of domain name suffixes during a press conference in London in 2012.
On Thursday, authorities in Canada announced the bust of an enormous international child pornography operation. It was the end of a three-year investigation into a website that trafficked in illicit videos of young boys. More than 300 people have been arrested in connection with the videos, 76 of them in the United States.
In the course of a long and eventful life, author Doris Lessing was many things.
She was a mother — and a self-described "house mother" for a procession of starving artists, writers and political refugees. She was a refugee herself, from bourgeois respectability in 1940s Rhodesia. She was a campaigner against racism, a lover, an ardent communist, and a serial rescuer of cats.
It's a funny thing to read a book and realize two things simultaneously. One: some people you know, whose taste you trust, will really love it. Two: some people you know, whose opinions you value, will want to toss it across the room.
For me, the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami is a great example. He's one of the biggest authors in the world, a global bestseller. Millions of people love that guy, myself included. But I also know many people, readers and writers, who think he's a total sham.
On Wednesday, diplomats from the United States and Iran — along with five other world powers — go back to Geneva and the negotiating table. They'll be discussing a possible deal to limit Iran's controversial nuclear program, which has sparked international tensions for a decade.
The previous meeting between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members (Britain, China, France, Russia, the U.S.) plus Germany failed to produce an agreement.
Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last week, the largest Filipino community in America has come together to grieve and to help.
Friday night, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, members of Long Beach's Filipino community gathered at Grace United Methodist Church to hold a vigil for typhoon victims. One by one, attendees came to the microphone and named people who died or remain lost in the storm.
Magazine publishers continue to uneasily navigate print and digital worlds. Harper's Magazine publisher John MacArthur shared his perspective on the importance of online pay walls in the magazine's October issue. All Things Considered speaks with MacArthur, MediaFinder's Trish Hagood and the co-founder of year-old literary magazine The American Reader about the changing publishing industry. You can hear all of these conversations at the audio link above.
Working as a jazz musician in the 21st century is difficult enough, but hardly anybody tries to make a go of it with a big band anymore. Yet that's exactly what Ted Nash does on his latest album, Chakra.