Politics & Government

Politics, elections, law, military and veteran's affairs

North Korea's army has been swearing oaths of loyalty to leader Kim Jong Un after he was given the new title of marshal of the nation, cementing his position. This comes just days after the army chief was dismissed for illness. Analysts suspect these announcements are masking far deeper changes, but there's disagreement about what it means.

Take one guy with an abiding interest in politics, another guy with website-building skills and throw in the shared desire to get people more engaged in the political process, and you have the ingredients for an interactive site called ISideWith.com.

The site's purpose is to show you which presidential candidate's views most align with yours by running you through a short quiz that asks your stance on various policy issues, then determines which candidate most agrees with you.

Now that a federal judge has ruled that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tenn., can open, the mosque's imam says muslims elsewhere should take notice.

Foreign Policy: The End Of The Political Solution

Jul 19, 2012

Michael Weiss is research director of the Henry Jackson Society.

A. Following the controversy-crazy U.S. presidential election of 2000, in which the Supreme Court was drafted to determine the outcome, there have been efforts by various groups to reform the country's electoral system. However, "we have not changed much of substance really since the 2000 debacle," says Norman Ornstein, a co-writer of the 2010 Election Reform Project report.

He was "looking like any other tourist," as NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro said on Morning Edition.

One day after three members of his inner circle were killed in an explosion, opposition fighters in Syria are continuing to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad as clashes with government forces draw near to the his palace in Damascus, residents tell Reuters.



This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The civil rights organization co-founded by Martin Luther King Junior meets in Sanford, Florida today for its annual convention. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has struggled in recent years with leadership battles and declining membership. Now members want to rebrand the SCLC. Here's NPR's Kathy Lohr.

The self-proclaimed "Toughest Sheriff in America" is facing one of his toughest tests. A trial begins Thursday morning in Phoenix accusing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of violating the civil rights of Latino citizens and legal U.S. residents. The class-action civil suit says the sheriff went over the line in his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

Ten members of the U.S. military who were involved in the Secret Service prostitution scandal have received punishment but will not face criminal charges.

NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Those disciplined include seven soldiers and two Marines. They received administrative punishment that could include penalties such as loss of pay.

"Another Air Force member has been reprimanded and investigations are continuing against two Navy sailors.

"Officials say there will be no criminal charges.

Authorities in Tuscaloosa are piecing together what led to a shooting at a downtown bar that left seventeen people injured.  

This is how the day ended.

“I’d like to report to the media and the public that we do have a suspect in custody at this time,” says Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson

This is how it started.

“At approximately 12:29 am, the Tuscaloosa Police Department started receiving 9-1-1 calls concerning an individual who was shooting at the Copper Top Bar.”

police photo, Nathan van Wilkins
Tuscaloosa Police Department / http://www.facebook.com/TuscaloosaPoliceDepartment

3:49 p.m.
Nathan Van Wilkins, 44 years old, of Northport has been charged with 1 count of Attempted Murder and placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on a $100,000.00 Bond. Investigators are currently obtaining 16 more warrants for Attempted Murder and 1 warrant for Shooting into an Occupied Building. Once the warrants are obtained Wilkins will have a $1,800,000.00 Bond.

1:00 p.m.
Jasper police have shooting suspect in custody after he surrendered to authorities.  APR News to bring more updates as they develop.

Alabama, Georgia, Missouri Water Trails Get Honor

Jul 16, 2012
Dave Stone / Flickr

Water trails in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama are among three designated Monday by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to be National Water Trails.

Purpose of the designations is to encourage state, local and federal governments to work together to increase water-based outdoor recreation, to promote tourism and help local economies.

PCI Gaming / Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Wind Creek Casino, owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, is at the heart of rising tension between the tribe and Escambia County commissioners. Robert McGhee is the Governmental Affairs advisor for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. He says since the casino opened the tribe has experienced a large boon in revenue. McGhee says a fact that hasn’t been lost on the county…

Pretty soon we'll be obsessing full time over Mitt Romney's running mate selection, but until then I thought I'd weigh in one on Veepstakes story that's been making the rounds in recent days.

Republican and Democratic strategists tell NPR that most of the estimated $4 billion to be spent by the campaigns, political action committees and others on the 2012 presidential race will make no difference in the outcome.

President Obama and his campaign are being "dishonest" when they attack his record as a business executive, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this morning on Fox & Friends as a new week on the presidential campaign trail began where the last one left off.

Nearly Half of Alabama Declared Drought Emergency

Jul 13, 2012
picture of dry river bed
taigasylvan / Flickr.com

The U.S. secretary of agriculture has declared a drought emergency in about half of Alabama's counties.

Gov. Robert Bentley and state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said the declaration by Secretary Thomas Vilsack makes farmers in 33 counties eligible for low-interest federal loans.

Uzbek Man Gets More Than 15 years For Obama Threat

Jul 13, 2012

A federal judge in Alabama has sentenced a man from Uzbekistan to more than 15 years in prison for plotting to kill President Barack Obama.

U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon imposed the term Friday on Ulugbek Kodirov (OO'-legh-bek KAH'-duh-rahv). He faced up to 30 years in prison.

A defense lawyer argued the 22-year-old Kodirov has accepted responsibility for his actions and is trying to straighten out his life.

Feds want Alabama to repay $5.1 million

Jul 12, 2012
U.S. Forest Service / Wikipedia Commons

The U.S. Forest Service says it will soon send the Alabama Forestry Commission a bill for $5.1 million due to unsubstantiated spending from a federal grant.

The notice was contained in a letter from the service's chief financial officer, Thelma Strong, to State Forester Linda Casey. Strong said the state has not adequately addressed unsupported costs.

Casey says the federal government is misunderstanding Alabama's accounting procedures for the grant, and her agency doesn't owe anything.

Fake Pot Is A Real Problem For Regulators

Jul 12, 2012

This week, President Obama signed a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw fake marijuana, which has been blamed for hundreds of emergency room visits and a handful of fatalities.

But the bans have proved largely ineffective, and there are fears that the federal law won't be any different.

Synthetic marijuana looks a bit like dried grass clippings. It's readily available on the Internet and in convenience stores and smoke shops, where it's sold as herbal incense or potpourri.

Troopers: 9 died on roads during holiday period

Jul 11, 2012

Alabama State Troopers say they investigated 386 traffic accidents resulting in 161 injuries and nine deaths during the Fourth of July holiday period.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety reported the numbers for the 120-hour Fourth of July holiday period from July 4 to July 8.

Officials say that because the same holiday in 2011 fell on a Monday and meant a long weekend for many travelers, it's difficult to compare those numbers with 2011 totals.

Mobile leaders reject smoking ban

Jul 10, 2012
khawkins04 / Flickr

Mobile City Council members are rejecting a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

The proposal received only four of the five votes it needed to pass on Tuesday.

The Mobile County Health Department has been trying to persuade cities to ban smoking in public places. The agency is promoting such ordinances with the help of a $2.25 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ala. House Democrats to fight districts in DC

Jul 10, 2012
Alabama Reapportionment Office / State of Alabama

Democrats in the Alabama House have decided to fight new legislative districts in Washington rather than in the state.

House Minority Leader Craig Ford of Gadsden said House Democrats have consulted with their attorneys and decided not to challenge the districts in state court. Instead, they will take their battle to the U.S. Justice Department. The Voting Rights Act requires the Justice Department to approve the new districts before they can be used in the legislative elections in 2014.

When Does An App Need FDA's Blessing?

Jul 10, 2012

Bernard Farrell obsesses over every bite he eats, every minute of exercise he gets, and everything that stresses him out. And, more than anything else, Farrell obsesses over his blood sugar.

He has to. Farrell, 55, has Type 1 diabetes.

"Pretty much everything affects our blood sugar," says Farrell, of Littleton, Mass.

There were 3.6 million jobs open and ready to be filled in May if the right candidates came along, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning.

That was up from 3.4 million in April, was the second-most for any month so far this year and was up 16 percent from the 3.1 million in May 2011.

The latest fundraising numbers are in for the two presidential campaigns, and the amounts are eye-popping. President Obama and the Democratic Party raised $71 million, which is an enormous haul. But it was dwarfed by Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee, which together raised $106 million in the month of June.

Feds: 11 years should punish Ala. casino bribery

Jul 9, 2012

Federal prosecutors are recommending that Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley spend nearly 11 years in prison for offering millions of dollars in bribes to Alabama legislators.

They're also suggesting that Gilley's lobbyist, Jarrod Massey, spend slightly more than 11 years behind bars for his role in the case.

Prosecutors filed their recommendations Monday with U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson. He's scheduled to sentence the two July 16, along with former state Rep. Terry Spicer of Elba.

Number of Alabamians on food stamps growing again

Jul 9, 2012
ajmexico / Flickr

Nearly one in five Alabama residents is getting food stamps, and the number is growing again after declining for a few months.

The number of Alabamians on food stamps peaked at 916,000 in December and then began declining slightly each month. It reached a low of 902,000 people in April.

Then, in May, the number rose to nearly 907,000 people on food stamps. That's the equivalent of 19 percent of Alabama's residents.

The increase coincided with Alabama's unemployment rate going up in May after declining for several months.

Former Ala. governor tries again on trial request

Jul 9, 2012
By Mike Disharoon / Wikimedia Commons

The attorney for Don Siegelman is asking a federal judge to set aside his order denying the former Alabama governor a new trial.

Siegelman attorney Peter Sissman filed the request Monday with U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller in Montgomery. The attorney wants a delay so he can have more time to try to get documents about former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary.

Canary was the chief federal prosecutor in Montgomery during the case, but she stepped aside. Siegelman's side contends she still had some involvement.