Regularly ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Afghanistan has implemented what for it is a novel new program: selecting provincial and district officials on the basis of their skills, rather than connections.
By all accounts, Afghanistan's corruption is endemic at all levels of government. It's hoped the new effort will begin to curb graft, patronage and nepotism in the country's 34 provinces and roughly 360 districts.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 2:39 pm
Maybe you were hoping you'd never hear the phrase "fiscal cliff" again after Congress passed legislation Jan. 1 to address that tax-break-expiration deadline.
Three more cliff-type deadlines are fast approaching. They involve: 1) raising the federal debt ceiling 2) modifying automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and 3) funding the government to avert a shutdown.
The deadlines all hit between Valentine's Day and Easter, which means new rounds of chaotic congressional negotiations may start up just after the Jan. 21 presidential inauguration parade ends.
Gov. Robert Bentley has become the first Alabama governor to serve as chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
The commission is an organization of 38 states involved in oil and natural gas production. Bentley's office said his goals as the chairman for 2013 include providing more extensive training for oil and gas inspector certification and bringing the states' regulatory and technical staffs together to share ideas and best practices.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep, with an offer you probably can refuse. Washington, D.C. hotels offer luxury packages for those attending President Obama's second inauguration. The Madison Hotel offers one for $47,000. It includes four nights at the hotel, a car and driver, a shopping spree, and the services of a social media butler. You, too, could have someone follow you around, take your picture and chronicle your moves on Facebook and Twitter.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Participants in a Statehouse summit meeting have agreed that preventing and reacting to incidents like the Connecticut elementary school shooting will be the top priority for the Alabama Legislature in the regular session that begins Feb. 5.
That was the consensus among speakers Wednesday at a meeting of lawmakers, law enforcement officers and educators at the Alabama Statehouse.
The meeting was called by House and Senate leaders to discuss the issue following the shooting last month that killed 26 at a Connecticut elementary school.
Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard of Auburn has appointed representatives to fill committee leadership vacancies prior to the Feb. 5 start of the 2013 regular session.
Republican Rep. Lynn Greer of Rogersville will replace Rep. Mac McCutcheon of Capshaw as chairman of the Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee. McCutcheon recently became chairman of the House Rules Committee, replacing former Rep. Blaine Galliher of Rainbow City. Galliher resigned his House seat to take a position on the governor's staff.
Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 9:20 am
It's amazing how many different kinds of people have been trying to abolish or at least change the government's payments to farmers. They include economists, environmentalists, taxpayer advocates, global anti-hunger advocates and even a lot of farmers. Some have been fighting farm subsidies for the past 20 years.
This past year, those critics laid siege to offices on Capitol Hill because the law that authorizes these programs — the farm bill — was about to expire. (It has to be renewed every five years.)
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 6:05 pm
With immigration expected to be a top issue in the new Congress, lawmakers in both parties continue to call for a bipartisan approach — while also preparing for battle.
The messaging from many House Democrats and Republicans about the chances of passing an immigration overhaul remains optimistic. And some of them, such as Republican Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California, have begun to meet privately.
But other moves indicate that lawmakers are hedging their bets and girding for a fight.
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 5:37 pm
After the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Obama asked Vice President Biden to lead a group tasked with drafting policies to reduce gun violence. One of the issues sure to come up in the Biden group's discussions is the role of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A federal judge in New Orleans has scheduled a Feb. 14 hearing to decide whether to accept the Justice Department's criminal settlement with Transocean Ltd. over the company's role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Transocean, which owned the rig that sank after an explosion killed 11 workers and spawned the spill, agreed last Thursday to pay $400 million in criminal penalties and plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act. The Switzerland-based company also agreed to pay $1 billion in civil penalties.
Alabama's liquor control agency has moved back a hearing to determine if the newly reopened VictoryLand casino in Shorter will get a license to serve liquor.
The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board initially set the hearing for Jan. 23 and then moved it up to Jan. 10 because VictoryLand requested an earlier date. ABC attorney Bob Hill said Friday the hearing has now been moved back to Jan. 23 because all the participants couldn't make the earlier date.
Anniston's new $15 million justice center is scheduled for completion in mid-March.
The 57,500-square-foot building will include a jail, the police department and the municipal court. Police Chief Layton McGrady told The Anniston Star that the jail and the administrative and investigative divisions of the police department should move in late March or early April. The new justice center is named for Officer Justin Sollohub, who was killed in the line of duty in 2011.