National News

GOP's 2014 Resolution: Keep Pounding Democrats On Obamacare

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 11:54

As far as Republicans are concerned, the ACA is the gift that keeps giving. That's why the RNC announced a series of hard-hitting radio ads aimed at various House and Senate Democrats.

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Venezuelan Beauty Queen, Telenovela Star Killed In Robbery

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 11:26

The 29-year-old Mónica Spear was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004 and went on to star in many soap operas aired in the United States by the Telemundo network.

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It's So Cold That You Might Need A Sweater To Read This

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 11:22

It's too cold to ski in parts of Minnesota, your favorite pizza place in Chicago might not be delivering, and schools are closing even in central Georgia. The polar vortex is throwing off everyday life around the nation.

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Extreme Cold Convinces Escaped Convict To Give Up: VIDEO

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 11:18

How cold is it? It's so cold that at least one escapee from prison asked to be put back behind bars. Robert Vick walked away from a minimum security facility in Kentucky on Sunday. By Monday evening, he'd had enough. So he turned himself in.

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Drinking Too Much? Don't Count On Your Doctor To Ask

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 11:11

Alcohol uses causes a lot of health problems, and most of the trouble strikes drinkers who aren't alcoholics. Something as simple as a five-question screening test and a brief chat about cutting back can help people change course. But more than 80 percent of adults say they've never discussed alcohol use with a health professional.

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Skiing Siblings Hope To Make It To Sochi, Together

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 11:09

Four years ago, cross-country skiers Erik and Sadie Bjornsen tried to make the Olympic team but came up short. This year, one has earned a spot; the other is waiting to find out.

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Scores Of NYC Officers, Firefighters Charged In Fraud Case

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 10:00

Authorities say many falsely claimed they were disabled by their response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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Frolicking Fido, Cozy Cats: How Your Pets Are Chilling Out

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 09:09

Some pets enjoyed playing outside in the snow, while others preferred curling up near the fireplace. We asked you for photos of how your pets are dealing with the weather — and you folks delivered.

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What Is The Polar Vortex And Why Is It Doing This To Us?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 09:00

This super cold air is usually whirling around the Arctic. But a big piece has plunged further south than normal. One way to think about what's happening: If a spinning ice skater extends her arms, she slows down. Sometimes, she wobbles and falls. The polar vortex has sort of stretched out an arm.

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Smithfield Prods Its Pork Suppliers To Dump Pig Crates

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 08:57

The world's largest hog and pork buyer wants its contract farmers to move pregnant sows out of constrictive crates and into group houses, generally considered more humane, by 2022. The move is significant because independent farmers supply about 40 percent of the company's sows.

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Fallujah Veterans Ask Hard Questions About Their Sacrifices

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 08:55

A radical group with links to al-Qaida has taken intermittent control of key parts of Fallujah in western Iraq. It's the same area where U.S. troops saw some of their bloodiest fights during the Iraq war a decade ago, costing the U.S. more lives than in any other region in Iraq.

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New Law Allows Transgender Students To Choose Bathrooms And Sports Teams

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 08:40

A new California law allows transgender students to choose restrooms and sport teams based on the gender they identify with. Host Michel Martin speaks with a parenting roundtable about the pros and cons.

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Chris Kluwe On What Cost Him His Job With The Minnesota Vikings

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 08:39

The punter says his outspoken support of same-sex marriage got him fired, but adds that he has no regrets. He tells NPR's Michel Martin: "If you're not willing to speak out for the rights of other people, then who do you expect to speak out for you when it's your turn?"

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How To Successfully Link GED Tests And Jobs

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 08:39

For hundreds of thousands of adult students, the General Educational Development test is a good way to finish their education. LaGuardia Community College in New York is going a step further, by tailoring prep courses for jobs in particular fields. Host Michel Martin speaks with Gail Mellow, the president of LaGuardia Community College to learn more.

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Health Care Inbox: From Medicaid Eligibility To Tax Credits

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 08:33

If you buy insurance through a marketplace and you lose your job, it will pay to let the marketplace know. The reduction in income while you're unemployed could make you eligible for a bigger tax credit to help pay for coverage.

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How Al-Qaida Returned To A Troubled Part Of Iraq

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 08:16

Western Iraq was one of the most chaotic parts of the country during the U.S. war there. Al-Qaida extremists were defeated once, but with U.S. forces gone, they've managed to return as Iraq continues to slide into chaos.

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Run Run Shaw, Kung Fu Movie Pioneer, Dies

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 07:59

The Hong Kong movie mogul's films included 1972's Five Fingers of Death, which was a kung fu classic. With his brother Ronnie, Shaw produced more than 1,000 films over five decades. He also helped produce some American films, including Blade Runner. Later, he became a prominent philanthropist.

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First Batch Of Chemical Weapons Material Shipped Out Of Syria

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 07:57

A U.N. official said a Danish commercial vessel carrying the cache is now in international waters, waiting on another batch.

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U.N. Suspends Counting Deaths In Syria's Civil War

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-07 07:55

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says it can't verify its sources and so will leave the figure at 100,000, where it stood in July.

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Senate paves way for jobless benefits extension

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-01-07 06:45

Now that the Senate has narrowly voted, 60 to 37, to take up a three-month extension of unemployment benefits, it likely sets the stage for the bill's Senate passage later this week. House Republicans have said they'd consider the idea, but only if the cost of the extended benefits is offset.

Deals like that are common in Washington, but that doesn't mean the savings always materialize as promised. 

“There’s a con going on,” says economist Donald Marron. 

Marron is a former economic adviser for George W. Bush, now at the Urban Institute.  He says Congress isn’t a bunch of cons, but he says its budget deals are pretty gimmicky, like when Congress ignores a program’s long-term costs, focusing instead only on short-term revenues.

“So they’ll show up and they’ll appear to be helping to pay for whatever the program is you want to pursue, but it still means in the long run that we’re going to lose money," Marron explains.

Now you see it.  Now you don’t.  That short-term thinking leads leads to itty-bitty deals, like the Senate’s proposed emergency unemployment extension, which would only last three months. 

“If it’s only for three months you can sort of slide it under the rug and you don’t have to pay for it," says Henrietta Treyz, a budget expert at Height Analytics.

Just don’t look under the rug.  Some Washington wonks say these kinds of games are inevitable right now.  Harry Holzer, who teaches public policy at Georgetown, says with some in Congress vowing to take huge bites out of the deficit, normal budget negotiations just aren’t possible.    

"It often has to be a bit of a shell game to square with their very severe rhetoric on fiscal austerity right now,” he says.

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