Politics & Government

Federal Budget Cuts
6:42 am
Wed February 27, 2013

16,000 Alabamians to See Cut in Jobless Benefits

The long-term unemployed in Alabama will be among the first to feel automatic federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect Friday.

A spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Labor says federal officials have advised the department to prepare for a cut of 9 percent to 10 percent in unemployment benefits for Alabamians who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits and are now getting the extended 37 weeks of federal benefits.

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Around the Nation
5:40 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Ex-State Rep. Likely To Replace Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 9:34 am

Former Illinois legislator Robin Kelly has captured the Democratic nomination in the race to replace disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. She is all but assured a win in April's general election because the Chicago-area district is overwhelmingly Democratic.

Law
2:03 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Supreme Court Weighs Future Of Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court on Wednesday weighs the future of a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 7:48 am

Once again, race is front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. And once again, the bull's eye is the 1965 Voting Rights Act, widely viewed as the most effective and successful civil rights legislation in American history. Upheld five times by the court, the law now appears to be on life support.

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The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
5:19 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Advocates Warn Sequester Could Mean Big Cuts For The Low-Income

A nutrition specialist prepares a Meals on Wheels delivery in upstate New York. The national organization says the sequester could mean significant cuts in the number of meals they serve to homebound seniors.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 6:05 pm

Many programs affecting low-income Americans — like food stamps, Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — are exempt from across-the-board spending cuts set to go into effect March 1.

But many other programs are not, and that has service providers scrambling to figure out how the budget stalemate in Washington might affect those who rely on government aid.

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Aviation Jobs
5:16 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Alabama Looks To Limit Lawsuits For Airbus Suppliers

The state looks to to cut down on competition from Mississippi and Florida for Airbus suppliers by limiting lawsuits commercial aircraft manufacturers and companies that supply them with parts.
Credit timesfreepress.com

Alabama officials are trying to cut down on competition from Mississippi and Florida for Airbus suppliers by limiting lawsuits against commercial aircraft manufacturers and companies that supply them with parts.


The Senate and House committees voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill that would limit lawsuits to 12 years after a large plane is delivered. The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster, says there is no limit now. His bill is narrowly tailored for planes exceeding 100 seats.

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Politics & Government
5:09 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Because Of Budget Cuts, U.S. Releases Hundreds Of Illegal Immigrants

Karnes County Detention Center in Karnes City, Texas.
ICE

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 5:37 pm

The U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) says it released several hundred detainees in an effort to prepare for the across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to go into effect March 1. More people may be released in the coming days.

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Politics & Government
4:57 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Can U.S. Embassies Be Safe Without Being Unsightly?

The U.S. Embassy in central London in 2009.
Shaun Curry AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 6:05 pm

There's been a tug of war between aesthetically pleasing and safe when it comes to American embassies around the world.

Many embassies have been slammed as bunkers, bland cubes and lifeless compounds. Even the new Secretary of State John Kerry said just a few years ago, "We are building some of the ugliest embassies I've ever seen."

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It's All Politics
4:47 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Has The U.S. Outgrown The Voting Rights Act?

A supporter of the Voting Rights Act attends a rally Columbia, S.C., on Tuesday.
Richard Ellis Getty Images

The nation has twice elected an African-American president.

Black voters have been turning out for general elections in rates that for the first time in U.S. history rival those of whites.

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School Flexibility
4:42 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Ala. Senate Delays School Flexibility Bill

It will be Thursday before the Alabama Senate considers a school flexibility bill approved by the state House.

A school flexibility bill recently passed by the Alabama House won't come up in the Senate until at least Thursday.


The Senate's Republican leadership had planned to ask the Senate to pass the bill Tuesday. But Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, says they decided to wait because three Republican senators were either absent or late Tuesday. He says he hopes to bring up the bill Thursday.

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Medicaid Expansion
4:37 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Alabama Democrats Push For Medicaid Expansion

Ala. Senate Democrats has prepared legislation to require the state to expand its Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Credit texastribune.org

The Democratic minority in the Alabama Senate has prepared legislation to require Alabama to expand its Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act.


Democratic Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma said Tuesday the legislation is a life-or-death matter for some of the 300,000 people who would be covered by Alabama's Medicaid program.

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Politics
3:53 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Obama Tries To Build Public Pressure On Congress Over Looming Budget Cuts

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 6:05 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Tick-tock goes the sequester clock. Three more days until automatic across-the-board spending cuts kick in. And today, President Obama was once again on the road trying to build public pressure on Congress to delay or replace the cuts. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson begins our coverage.

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Politics
3:53 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

House Makes Little Movement Toward Avoiding Automatic Budget Cuts

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 6:05 pm

With automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion scheduled to start Friday, Congressional leaders and President Obama continued maneuvering to avoid the political fallout. Melissa Block talks to Tamara Keith about the state of play and has details from a poll that suggests that Americans want to cut the deficit, but only in the abstract.

Politics
3:53 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Most Republicans Who Signed Support For Same-Sex Marriage Aren't In Office

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 6:05 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Next month, the Supreme Court will take up a highly anticipated challenge to California's Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage. Today, a group of prominent Republicans weighed in with a legal brief opposing the ban. That puts them at odds with their party's position. But as NPR's Don Gonyea reports, it puts them in line with public opinion.

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Politics & Government
3:08 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Sanctions Bite, But Iran Shows No Signs Of Budging

An Iranian woman shops at a supermarket in the capital, Tehran, on Feb. 22. International sanctions have hurt Iran's economy, but prospects for a breakthrough on Iran's nuclear program are dim as negotiators meet in Kazakhstan.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 11:31 am

A new round of international talks on Iran's nuclear program is under way in Kazakhstan, where the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany are asking Iran to give up any thought of building a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from sanctions.

Western leaders do not predict a breakthrough, but they say small steps could be taken that would increase confidence on both sides.

Still, it's hard to imagine how such negotiations could proceed with lower expectations for progress.

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The Two-Way
2:33 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Liberal SuperPAC Under Fire For Tweets About McConnell's 'Chinese' Wife

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife Elaine Chao at last summer's Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Mike Thelier UPI /Landov

From NPR member station WFPL:

"A Democratic group is under sharp criticism for controversial online messages about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's wife.

"For months, the liberal superPAC Progress Kentucky has attacked McConnell and held demonstrations at his offices and home.

"Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race.

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