The U.S. Capitol at sunrise on Monday, before President Obama's second inauguration. While the president raised big issues in his inaugural address — climate change, gay rights, immigration, the shooting of schoolchildren — none of them appear to top the agenda of Congress, which returned to work Tuesday.
The Senate picked up Tuesday exactly where it left off nearly three weeks ago. By a twist of the rules, the Senate chamber remains in its first legislative day of the 113th Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he's kept things at the starting point so that he and his fellow Democrats have the option of changing the rules on the filibuster by a simple majority vote.
"The Senate will take action to make this institution that we all love, the United States Senate, work more effectively," Reid said Tuesday. "We'll consider changes to the Senate rules."
In response to a December rocket launch, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously today to tighten sanctions on North Korea.
The United States said the new sanctions are an appropriate response to a "reckless" act.
NPR's Michele Kelemen filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"The security council resolution condemns the launch in December and adds North Korean companies, individuals and the the country's space agency to a sanctions list. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice says the council is sending a strong and united message.
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 7:24 pm
It may have struck many people as odd that Lamar Alexander, the senior senator from Tennessee, gave a shout-out to Alex Haley, the author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, during his remarks at the presidential inauguration.
If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, what would be the impact on Israel?
Some say this would be an existential threat that Israel cannot tolerate. Iranian nuclear weapons would raise the stakes most every time there was a conflict in the region.
But others argue that Israel could live with a nuclear Iran because the Israelis have such a powerful military of their own, including nuclear capabilities. In addition, an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities could unleash a cascade of events that would further destabilize the region.
Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 1:47 pm
In 1983, buoyed by a $10,000 grant from a city arts fund, a new concert presenter in San Francisco put together a festival called Jazz In The City. Fast-forward 30 years, and that organization — now called SFJAZZ and presenting more than 100 concerts a year — has raised $64 million, largely in private donations, for a new state-of-the-art performance space and permanent home. The SFJAZZ Center held a grand-opening ceremony Monday, and will celebrate Wednesday night with an all-star opening-night concert.
President Obama pulled out a surprise in his inaugural address on Monday. After barely mentioning climate change in his campaign, he put it on his short list of priorities for his second term.
"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said. Today the White House had scant detail on what the president plans to do.
This undated image shows the Amenas natural gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages last week. Dozens of hostages and their captors were killed when Algerian forces subsequently raided the facility.
The prime minister of Algeria is defending his government's response to last week's attack on a natural gas plant that left 37 hostages dead. He says the Islamic militants who were behind the attack planned to blow up the facility and would have killed a lot more people if they hadn't been stopped.
The attack happened at a huge, internationally operated facility in the Sahara. And it underscores the dangers that energy companies face when they do business in politically unstable places.
The man who says he masterminded last week's attack on a BP-operated gas facility in Algeria claimed responsibility in a video.
"We are behind the blessed daring operation in Algeria," says Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former member of al-Qaida's arm in North Africa. "Forty men from Muslim and Western countries took part in the operation," he continues. "We did it for al-Qaida."
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 5:37 pm
Should emergency rooms track the number of people who get hurt or sick after drinking coffee? That's what the maker of Monster Energy drinks suggests in response to a recent report that emergency room visits involving caffeine-laced energy drinks doubled from 2007 to 2011.
More than 30 men set out to sea in the titular boat of The Pirogue. With that many actors and only an hour of time, not every character gets fleshed out — but the director's eye for singular faces helps.
Credit ArtMattan Productions
Baye Laye (Souleymane Seye Ndiaye) is among a ragtag assortment of emigrants on a shaky boat, seeking economic opportunity in Europe.
The journey from Senegal and poverty to Europe and supposed prosperity takes seven days by fishing boat. The Pirogue spends only about an hour on open water, but that's enough to convey the risks that make the trip foolish, and the desperation that makes it inevitable.
Congress faces a battle over gun laws that could be the biggest in a generation.
Leading the charge for gun rights is the National Rifle Association, with its huge budget and grass-roots operations. On the other side, a new leader has emerged in recent years: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not only outspoken on gun control, he has also opened his substantial wallet for the cause.
Today was election day in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected to lead the Israeli parliament, but his right-wing alliance lost at least 10 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. The Likud-Beitenu bloc gave up ground both to the far right and to the center left. And that means Netanyahu could have a tough time building a stable coalition government.
A wave of racist tweets prompted a Jewish student organization to file a lawsuit asking the American company Twitter to reveal the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. Twitter says data on users is collected and stocked in California, where French law cannot be applied.
A French judge will decide this week if Twitter must hand over the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. The case, brought against Twitter by a Jewish student organization, pits America's free speech guarantees against Europe's laws banning hate speech.
The controversy began in October, when the French Union of Jewish Students threatened to sue Twitter to get the names of people posting anti-Semitic tweets with the hashtag #unbonjuif, or "a good Jew."
Contrary to its aim of promoting justice and equality before the law, in practice the American legal system increasingly favors moneyed and politically influential groups. The capture of Congress by campaign donors and lobbyists, accelerated by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, is one prominent example, but this power dynamic is ubiquitous in political and legal institutions. This favoritism for the powerful can be best understood as deeply intertwined with, and even an inevitable result of, increasing complexity in legal institutions.
Patient William Wishart, age 4 months, looks on as Dr. Melanie Walker uses a portable computer to enter information from his exam into an electronic medical records system, in North Raleigh, N.C., in November.
Information technology has transformed much of the American economy, but its use in health care still lags, especially when it comes to electronic medical records.
Here's an example: The state of Colorado runs a computerized registry where any provider who gives a child a vaccine can report that information. The system should help kids stay current with their immunizations.
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 4:46 pm
President Obama mentioned him five times in Monday's inaugural address — God, that is.
In modern times, religion has become so intertwined in our political rhetoric that the failure of any president to invoke God in a speech as important as the inaugural could hardly escape notice. Thanks to this graphic in The Wall Street Journal, we noticed the presidents who did (nearly all) and the few who didn't (Teddy Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes).
Robert Redford's annual Sundance Film Festival draws thousands of filmgoers and millions of dollars to snowy Park City, Utah. But a state subsidy contributing to the event is drawing controversy from some conservatives, who say films screened at the festival don't reflect the values of the state.
Credit Mark Davis / Getty Images
Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford speaks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, at an event at the festival in Park City, Utah.
A disagreement between supporters of the Sundance Film Festival and a conservative think tank in Utah is raising questions about whether tax dollars should support the arts. The Sutherland Institute says some films screened at Sundance do not reflect Utah values.
This isn't the sort of picture of a French soldier that his commanders want to see. Photographer Issouf Sanogo says troops were protecting their faces from dust kicked up by a helicopter landing in central Mali on Sunday.
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 6:54 pm
The photo is quite striking, to be sure.
Agence France Press photographer Issouf Sanogo writes that when he was with French soldiers in central Mali on Sunday, "a helicopter was coming in to land and churning up tremendous dust clouds. Instinctively, all the soldiers grabbed their scarfs to avoid getting a mouthful of sand."