Politics & Government

Middle East
2:22 am
Wed September 5, 2012

A Syrian Village Is Oasis Of Calm Amid Conflict

Dr. Mahmoud Hasson, a specialist in internal medicine, runs a new hospital in the Syrian village of Kfar Ghan, a protected area along the border with Turkey. The Turkish government warned that any Syrian military aircraft near the border would be a target.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:58 am

Driving into Kfar Ghan, you notice the difference right away: The shops are open, there are kids on the street, there's even a row of open-air vegetable stalls and a crowd of shoppers.

There is a full spread of watermelon, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. All the farmers from the area have brought their produce to the market in this Syrian village, about a mile from the Turkish border.

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It's All Politics
1:47 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Payroll Tax Holiday May Not Survive Year's End

The Social Security tax rate is scheduled to revert to 6.2 percent next year, up from the temporary reduction — to 4.2 percent on an employee's first $110,000 in wages — which has been in effect since January 2011.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 3:46 am

An occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.

If you work, you've probably been getting this tax break: Since January 2011, the government has knocked 2 percentage points off the payroll tax.

For someone making $50,000 a year, the payroll tax holiday works out to about $20 a week.

"We definitely notice it," says Steve Warner of Winter Haven, Fla., while on vacation with his family recently in the nation's capital.

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It's All Politics
11:43 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Michelle Obama: 'Being President ... Reveals Who You Are'

First lady Michelle Obama speaks Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 7:55 am

There were a lot of preliminaries, but it was Michelle Obama's show Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, and she used it masterfully — carrying a rapt crowd along with a narrative of family, hard work, and truth-telling.

Largely wrung of politics, the first lady's speech plotted parallels in her life and that of her husband, President Obama. She pointedly tracked their humble beginnings and strivings in an unspoken but clear contrast to the privileged upbringing of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

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It's All Politics
11:15 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Five Takeaways From Tuesday At The Democratic Convention

First lady Michelle Obama waves after addressing the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:41 am

If you missed the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., we live blogged it here.

We've also compiled five things that struck us about the night:

'Mom In Chief' Takes A Stand: There is no question that the first night of the convention belonged to first lady Michelle Obama, who delivered a sweeping, personal and dramatic endorsement of her husband, President Obama.

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Democratic National Convention
6:15 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Follow the DNC Live - Tuesday Night

It's All Politics
4:30 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

It's No Secret: Democrats Look To Women For Votes

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 2:14 pm

He may not declare out loud, like Ann Romney, that he loves women. But President Obama certainly needs them.

Obama's slight lead in national polls is almost entirely attributable to his support among women. It's an advantage Democrats intend to press throughout their convention this week in Charlotte, N.C.

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Disaster Loans
3:52 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

SBA Offering Disaster Loans Due To Alabama Drought

Disaster loans are available to small businesses and other organizations as a result of drought in Alabama.
sba.gov U.S. Small Business Administration

Federal officials say disaster loans are available to small businesses and other organizations as a result of drought in Alabama.

The U.S. Small Business Administration said in a statement that economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations in Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, DeKalb and Etowah counties.

The loans are available for drought conditions that occurred between July 3 and Aug. 27, 2012.

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Africa
2:34 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Decades Later, South African Miners Sue Employers

Armstrong Ngutyana (left), 55, and Dumisani Mjolwa, 65, were gold miners during the apartheid era. Both worked underground for nearly three decades. They developed lung disease and were forced to quit their jobs, but received only minimal compensation. They are now part of a class-action lawsuit against South African mining companies.
Anders Kelto for NPR

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 3:35 pm

South Africa's mining industry is under heavy scrutiny after 44 people died during protests at a platinum mine near Johannesburg. Now, the industry is facing challenges on another front: Lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against three of the country's biggest gold mining companies.

They're suing on behalf of miners who worked during the apartheid era and now have lung disease.

A settlement in the case — and another like it — could reach into the billions of dollars.

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The Two-Way
2:12 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

State Must Grant Murder Convict A Sex Change Operation, Judge Rules

Michelle Kosilek, formerly known as Robert, in 1993.
Lisa Bul AP

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 2:15 pm

A federal judge in Boston today "ordered state prison officials to provide a taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate serving life in prison" for murder, The Associated Press writes.

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Politics & Government
11:56 am
Tue September 4, 2012

New UA President sets goals

University of Alabama

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Middle East
10:38 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Syrian Rebel Leader Keeps Order On The Border

Syrian rebels captured the Bab al-Salam crossing on the border with Turkey in July. Large numbers of refugees fleeing northern Syria for Turkey come to the crossing, which is orderly and well-run, at least for now.
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 7:32 am

The Bab al-Salam border crossing, on Syria's northern border with Turkey, has settled into an orderly routine.

Back in July, rebel brigades wrested this border post in Syria's strategic Aleppo province from President Bashar Assad's army in a fierce battle. Now, passports are stamped and cars inspected by the rebels — polite, young, bearded men who wear mismatched military uniforms or civilian clothes.

While the military confrontation was a joint operation, bringing together many rebel brigades, the Northern Storm brigade retains exclusive control of the border post.

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The Two-Way
9:40 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Rumors Of Son's Sexcapade Behind A Ferrari's Wheel Rock China's Leadership

Ling Jihua, left, looked on in March 2010 as Chinese President Hu Jintao, signed a document at the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress in Beijing. Ling has been shifted to a lesser position.
Andy Wong AP

A top lieutenant to Chinese President Hu Jintao has been shifted to a lesser position because of "a lurid new scandal" involving the fiery crash of his son's Ferrari in March, The Associated Press writes.

According to the AP:

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It's All Politics
8:43 am
Tue September 4, 2012

At DNC, Julián Castro Tackles Comparisons To President Obama

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, left, and his twin brother State Rep. Joaquin Castro give an interview during preparations for the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday.
Streeter Lecka Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 8:52 am

As is traditional, first lady Michelle Obama will be the featured speaker on the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Thursday.

But the buzz in the political sphere and in the city is all about San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who has the distinction of being the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic convention.

Outside of Texas, however, Castro is essentially unknown.

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Politics & Government
8:18 am
Tue September 4, 2012

ACLU Opposing Ala Requirement for Prison Visits

The American Civil Liberties Union is criticizing a new policy that requires Alabama prison visitors to have their fingerprints scanned.


David Fathi of the ACLU's National Prison Project tells the Montgomery Advertiser (http://bit.ly/TbxlpG ) the new rule is "extreme."


Fathi says no other state has such a requirement. He says it's a barrier to people visiting state prisoners.


Prison spokesman Brian Corbett says the policy began last month as the department upgraded its computer systems.

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The Two-Way
8:10 am
Tue September 4, 2012

'Queen Of Cocaine' Is Gunned Down In Colombia

Griselda Blanco, the "queen of cocaine," in a 2004 photo posted by the Florida Department of Corrections.
Fla. Dept. of Corrections

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 11:18 am

Talk about your just deserts:

"A Colombian drug trafficker, known as the 'queen of cocaine,' has been killed in the city of Medellin," the BBC writes. "Griselda Blanco, 69, was shot dead by gunmen as she was leaving a butcher's."

That rather dry report doesn't do justice to the life and death of Blanco, though. As Miami New Times writes, her assassination on Monday:

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