National

It's All Politics, June 7, 2012

Jun 8, 2012

All the interpretations you ever wanted to hear about the Wisconsin recall results are in this week's podcast: what it means for labor, what it means for November, and, most importantly, what it means for NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin. Plus, a look at Tuesday's primaries in California and New Jersey. And what is Bill Clinton up to, anyway?

NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin bring you the latest in this week's roundup.

President Obama used the White House press briefing room this morning to again make the case that Congress — and in particular the Republican-controlled House — needs to take up more of his ideas about how to boost job growth.

He also said it's "offensive" to suggest "my White House" may have leaked some secrets to gain political advantage.

We updated with highlights, so hit your "refresh" button to be sure you're seeing our latest.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. Romney Says Obama Is 'Out Of Touch':

NPR President on The Diane Rehm Show

Jun 8, 2012

Gary Knell, the new President of NPR, was a guest on the Diane Rehm Show on Thursday, June 7th to discuss the future of NPR, including financing, competition for audience and changing technology. Knell answered questions from Diane and took listener calls. You can listen to the show or read a transcript. From their website:

The NAACP recently took what was for some in the organization a controversial step, when it endorsed same-sex marriage. That move has now led some local officers around the country to resign — including the group's most outspoken critic of gay marriage.

The NAACP board says it stands by its resolution calling for marriage equality. But as the nation's oldest civil rights group prepares for its national convention in July, some in the ranks say the resolution caught them by surprise, and that such an important decision deserved open debate.

States around the country are hosting their regional Special Olympics games this summer. In New Jersey, the games' opening ceremonies begin Friday.

Jose Rodriguez participated in the New Jersey Special Olympics back in 2003, when he was 13. Special Olympics offers a chance for people with intellectual disabilities to pursue a sport. Jose has trouble learning — mostly through reading and writing.

Speaking at StoryCorps, Jose, 23, told his former basketball coach, Charles Zelinsky, 57, what his life was like before he found the games.

Federal election law has required the public disclosure of campaign donors for nearly 40 years.

But this year, outside groups are playing a powerful role in the presidential election. And some of them disclose nothing about their donors. That's despite what the Supreme Court said in its controversial Citizens United ruling two years ago.

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Wisconsin has been the most high-profile battleground in the fight over public sector union rights and benefits. But on the same day voters there refused to recall Governor Scott Walker, two cities in California also waded into the union debate.

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Each school year, more than 700,000 California students — predominantly black and Latino — are suspended or expelled.

Robert, a talkative sixth-grader in the city of Richmond, has been suspended three times from his elementary school in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. If he gets suspended one more time, he says, he might get expelled. [NPR has withheld his last name because he is a minor.]

The United States named its 19th poet laureate today: Natasha Trethewey, a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. She is the nation's first poet laureate to hail from the South since the initial laureate — Robert Penn Warren — was named by the Library of Congress in 1986.

Tiny Ovens For Tots: A Kitchen Evolution

Jun 7, 2012

When curators at the National Building Museum were arranging domestic bric-a-brac for the recently opened House & Home exhibit, they agonized over the placement of an original 1963 Easy-Bake Oven. Did it belong, they wondered, in the playroom? Or in the kitchen?

The state of Idaho's Liquor Division has changed its mind about Five Wives vodka.

The vodka, which as we said last week had been banned from Idaho's liquor stores because its name and label might offend women and Mormons, is going to be allowed to be sold in the state.

-- Updated at 4:33 pm ET --

No question Republicans supporting Mitt Romney's White House bid should and will be pleased that his campaign raised more money in May than President Obama's effort.

Kristi Taylor can pinpoint the precise moment she let go of the dream of homeownership. It was a few months ago, as she and her husband and infant son were driving through a neighborhood of homes near their apartment in Athens, Ga.

"As we were passing through, I realized that I don't really look at houses like I used to, when we would point out homes and say, 'That can be ours someday,' " says Taylor, who is 28. Now, she says, "the idea of homeownership is so vague, it doesn't even strike me as something that's in our future."

If the Supreme Court follows the election returns, its members also no doubt pay attention to opinion polls.

Not that public opinion is the sole driver in the high court's decisions. But the justices certainly are aware of, say, the fact that Americans keep expressing their unhappiness with the Affordable Care Act.

Pity the poor, almighty, soybean. It's the nation's second blockbuster crop, corn's only serious rival, but nobody throws it a party.

"A massive dock" that was washed away from a city on Japan's northeast coast by the devastating March 2011 tsunami landed this week on an Oregon beach. It's a warning sign that dangerous chunks of debris from that disaster are reaching the Pacific coast of the mainland U.S. much sooner than predicted, The Oregonian reports.

There were 377,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 12,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

But in yet another mixed signal about how the economy's doing, that welcome dip is tempered by the fact that the "4-week moving average was 377,750, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average of 376,000." Economists watch that average because it offers a slightly larger look at the trend.

Imagine a school where every child gets instant, personalized writing help for a fraction of the cost of hiring a human teacher — and where a computer, not a person, grades a student's essays.

It's not so far-fetched. Some schools around the country are already using computer programs to help teach students to write.

There are two big arguments for automated essay scoring: lower expenses and better test grading. Using computers instead of humans would certainly be cheaper, but not everyone agrees on argument No. 2.

The writer, poet and critic Dorothy Parker was technically not a native New Yorker; she was born at her family's beach cottage in New Jersey. But she always considered New York City to be her beloved hometown. It's where she grew up, where she struggled during her early days as a writer, where she became famous, and where she died of a heart attack at the age of 73.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker triumphantly returned to the Wisconsin Capitol Wednesday, fresh off of his decisive victory in Tuesday's bitter recall election.

The governor appears to be emerging from the tough recall fight stronger, and with his national profile rising.

Two domes dominate the skyline of St. Paul: up high, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Paul, and downhill, the Minnesota Capitol. On a recent Sunday afternoon, hundreds of Catholics assembled on the steps of the Capitol for the annual Family Rosary Procession.

"How do we define marriage?" the crowd was asked. Their response: "One man and one woman!"

An auxiliary bishop in purple robes, Knights of Columbus in their plumed chapeaus and capes, and a white statue of the Virgin Mary led the faithful up to the cathedral, reciting the rosary.

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Will Failed Wis. Recall Boost Tea Party?

Jun 6, 2012

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Does the Wisconsin recall result have national implications and is the message a victory for the Tea Party? Well, we're going to ask a Republican political consultant who is very much identified with Tea Party candidates.

The job market is still bleak for young people with only high school diplomas. Nearly half of high school graduates are still looking for full-time work, according to a new report by Rutgers University's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. We focus now on changes in American military strategy. One war is over in Iraq and another is winding down in Afghanistan, so the Pentagon is asking where are America's strategic interests now? And its answer is in Asia and the Pacific. That's where Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been traveling all week, outlining plans to place the region at the center of U.S. military strategy.

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