The Senate surprised quite a few people in Washington today when it voted to proceed on a bill to temporarily extend emergency unemployment benefits. Six Republicans joined Democrats in voting to get the measure over a key procedural hurdle.
But it was only the first step, and the president is applying pressure to keep it moving.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour with the rising violence in both Syria and Iraq and American military options in the region. A group linked to al-Qaida has been fighting in Syria, battling the regime of Bashar al-Assad. That group has also crossed the border into Iraq where it is fighting for control of Ramadi and Fallujah, cities where hundreds of Americans died years ago.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca made a surprise announcement today. He is resigning at the end of the month. A series of department scandals in the past few years and the prospect of a bruising re-election race may have been factors, as NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports.
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: Ramrod straight, impeccably creased with the five stars of his rank glittering on his collar, Sheriff Lee Baca squinted into the sunlight and told reporters his decision to leave office after 15 years was exactly that, his decision.
Sub-zero temperatures broke records in the Midwest, the East and even the South. In Chicago it was minus 16 degrees, in Atlanta a record low of six degrees. And the temperature at Baltimore-Washington Airport hovered near zero.
Many people had to change their routines, even our reporter Margot Adler in New York City, where the low of four degrees broke a-century-old record.
As snowboarders, skiers and skaters finish their qualifying events to get to the Winter Olympics next month, cross-country skiing siblings Erik and Sadie Bjornsen are waiting to find out if their special edge — each other — will get them both to the games.
Sadie has secured a spot on the Nordic team based on her good season; for Erik, the next two weeks will be the clincher.
In New York City, 80 police officers and fire fighters are facing fraud charges. They're accused of a massive scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration. The scheme ran for over a decade and allegedly cost US taxpayers millions of dollars in false claims.
In a separate action, the-court appointed trustee who's charged with recovering what he can for the investors who were fleeced by Bernard Madoff, today, announced a proposed settlement of his claims against JPMorgan. Trustee Irving Picard submitted two agreements to the bankruptcy court, agreements that add up to $543 million.
Joining us from New York are Mr. Picard and his counsel, David Sheehan. Welcome back to the program.
JPMorgan Chase has agreed with the U.S. government to settle criminal charges that it failed to report suspicious activity in Bernard Madoff's accounts. The settlement comes to $2.6 billion, but a representative for Madoff's victims says the amount is too small. Madoff bilked investors out of many billions of dollars while JP Morgan Chase was his primary bank.
Poverty and income inequality have long been staples of the Democratic Party platform, but they haven't often been high priorities. This year, that appears to be changing, and what's more, some Republicans seem eager to join the conversation.
For years, tech companies raced to make the smartphone a beautiful device with soft curves and bright screens. Now, the industry is racing to make clothes that free up your hands from the phone while still connecting you to streams of digital information.
Beloved sleuth Sherlock Holmes has stumbled onto a new conundrum: A federal judge in Chicago recently ruled that the characters in Arthur Conan Doyle's stories — including Holmes and his partner, Dr. John Watson — now reside in the public domain.
That means anyone who wants to write new material about the characters no longer needs to seek permission or pay license fees to the Doyle estate. That is, as long as you don't include any elements introduced in the last 10 Sherlock Holmes stories released in the U.S. after 1922.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
The U.S. Olympic ski team lost one of its biggest stars today. Gold medallist Lindsey Vonn announced that she will miss the games in Sochi next month because of injuries. NPR's Ted Robbins looks at what the defending Olympic champion's exit means for her and for her team.
TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Lindsey Vonn blew out her right knee almost a year ago during a Super-G race in Austria.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 8:00 pm
Here I sit shivering, wishing I were a dog or cat to get through this cold snap.
A built-in fur coat, no commute and maybe some quality time by the fireplace. What could go wrong?
Quite a few things, it turns out.
The friendly animal lovers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's Ryan Hospital report seeing a few wintery problems for pets in the ER over the last few days. Some you might not have expected.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 6:55 pm
With his department steeped in scandal, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced he would retire at the end of the month.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Baca said he would not seek reelection for a fifth term as sheriff.
"The reasons for doing so are so many. Some are most personal and private, but the prevailing one is the negative perception this upcoming campaign has brought to the exemplary service provided to the men and women of the Sheriff's Department," Baca said.
In 2010, Peter Gabriel released the first half of a two-part project, singing favorite songs written by living musicians. He titled it Scratch My Back. Now comes the sequel, titled And I'll Scratch Yours. It features most of the acts whose songs he covered, returning the favor by performing Peter Gabriel songs.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 6:37 pm
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a book due out later this month, describes President Obama as "a man of personal integrity" who nonetheless was skeptical of his administration's "surge" strategy in Afghanistan and openly distrustful of the military leadership, The Washington Post and
Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 7:20 pm
We have taken on the issue of science and politics a lot in this blog. As a culture saturated with science, one of the most pressing issues we face is how to evaluate research when its conclusions challenge our world-views. This is certainly the issue with climate change, where Al Gore's championing the case for climate action galvanized many against it.