Democrats and Republicans have exhausted themselves politically after failing to reach a grand bargain to reduce the debt. Now there's a new economic debate in Washington over economic growth, mobility and income inequality.
But without dealing with the debt, Republicans and Democrats might not be able to navigate even the issues they agree on.
Michael Dunn (right), who faces first-degree murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, stands with his attorney Cory Strolla (left) at Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday.
They're events that took just several minutes, but in a courtroom in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday, prosecutors and the defense laid out different versions of how Michael Dunn, who is white, came to shoot and kill Jordan Davis, a black teen.
It was in 2012, the day after Thanksgiving, that Davis, 17, and three friends stopped at a gas station and convenience store in Jacksonville. They were in an SUV and were playing their music — loud.
Olympic volunteers pet a stray dog in downtown Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. The city's long-standing contract with a pest control company has animal right groups concerned about the fate of the many strays roaming the area.
Credit Kevin Dietsch / UPI /Landov
The Center to Protect Animals, an animal rights organization, operates a makeshift shelter on Sochi's outskirts. The group's volunteers are finding and housing as many strays here as they can, including Simba, the dog at front.
It's after dark in Sochi, and a pack of stray dogs is hogging the sidewalk like they own the place. There are a dachshund mix, several random mutts and one dog that looks like it may be part chow. They're cute and look like pets; seemingly well-fed and with decent pedigrees.
That is, until a fight breaks out. It's loud but ultimately more dog park than street fight, and the dogs quickly get back to prancing around and eating abandoned leftovers.
On Friday, President Obama is scheduled to sign a new farm bill into law. It contains a provision that allows all dairy farms to be part of a safety net. The point is to offset risk when milk prices are too low or feed costs too high. But Abbie Fentress Swanson reports that even in good times, smaller dairy farms in traditional milk producing states are now giving up.
Police in Milwaukee have recovered a Stradivarius violin and arrested three suspects in its theft. The instrument, said to be worth approximately $5 million, was stolen in a brazen armed robbery from the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra late last month. Mitch Teich of WUWM in Milwaukee reports on the violin's recovery.
At a 10,000-foot summit in Yosemite National Park, Frank Gehrke clicks into his cross-country skis and pushes off down a small embankment onto a meadow of crusty snow. He's California's chief of snow surveys, one of the most influential jobs in a state where snow and the water that comes from it are big currency. He's on his monthly visit to one of a dozen snowpack-measuring stations scattered across the high country of the Sierra Nevada.
Volunteers with the Dan River Basin Association, graduate students from Duke University and staff with the environmental group Appalachian Voices collect water samples on the Dan River after a massive coal ash spill.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman of its board and into a new role, which the company is calling "technology adviser." The change comes as a new CEO — Satya Nadella — takes the helm. Gates says he will actually be spending a little more time at Microsoft. Microsoft watchers say if he manages his new role well, it will be good for the company.
And finally this hour, a U.S. Olympic athlete in her own words. Kacey Bellamy plays defense for the U.S. women's hockey team. This is her second trip to the Olympics. She was on the team that made it to the final round in Vancouver in 2010. They lost to Canada, 2-0. Bellamy grew up in Westfield, Massachusetts. And as she prepares for this year's games, she took some time to reflect on the role her family has played in her career.
2013 saw a record number of exonerations in the U.S.; 87 prisoners were set free after they were shown to have been falsely convicted of crimes. That's according to a study of exoneration, released this week by law school researchers who study these cases.
Craig Watkins has been a trailblazer in re-examining questionable convictions. And what's surprising is that he's a prosecutor. He's the district attorney of Dallas County. When he took office, he created a Conviction Integrity Office, the first of its kind in the country.
Pitmaster Rodney Scott seasons a roasting hog behind a barbecue restaurant in Birmingham, Ala. Scott has been touring the South with a makeshift barbecue pit to raise money to rebuild his family's cookhouse after it burned down in November.
Credit Debbie Elliott/NPR
Scott's whole hogs are butterflied down the middle and roasted for eight to 12 hours, then bathed in his family's secret sauce.
In the tiny town of Hemingway, S.C., the Scott family has been selling barbecue out of its roadside general store for nearly a half-century. The smoky, vinegary pork has reached legendary status around the South.
So when the Scotts' wooden cookhouse went up in flames late last year, barbecue brethren cooked up a plan to get them back in business. What resulted is a part road trip, part old-fashioned barn-raising tour called Rodney Scott's Bar-B-Que in Exile Tour.
Detroit's Belle Isle Aquarium is getting a little help from its friends in Washington, D.C. The National Aquarium closed late last year after more than 100 years. Thousands of dollars' worth of equipment went to the Motor City, where its own century-old aquarium is beautiful and historic — but starved for resources. Budget shortfalls forced its closure in 2005. But a scrappy team of volunteers has worked to open it to the public on a limited basis, and they hope the fake coral, fiberglass tank props, and other equipment from D.C. will help it regain some of its luster.
The 2011 Asparagus Queen, Megan Roskan, and runner-up Christine Merten wave to spectators during an Independence Day parade in Whitehall, Mich. With interests waning in agricultural pageants, organizers are relaxing the requirements to encourage more people to apply.
Think you've got what it takes to be the Asparagus Queen?
Mainstream beauty pageants still get tons of applicants every year (even after the dip in participation during the 2008 recession). The same can't be said for the rural festival pageant circuits, The Wall Street Journal's Lindsay Gellman tells Audie Cornish on All Things Considered.