National

Law
4:27 am
Tue December 16, 2014

From Judges To Inmates, Finding The Human Casualties Of Mandatory Sentencing

NPR's series looks at the human toll of mandatory minimum prison sentences. The White House and the Justice Department have taken the unprecedented step of asking for candidates who might win early release from prison through presidential pardons or commutations in the final years of the Obama presidency.
Dan Henson iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 2:34 pm

The United States spends nearly $7 billion a year to operate a network of federal prisons that house more than 200,000 inmates. About half of them are incarcerated for drug crimes, a legacy of 1980s laws that prosecutors use to target not only kingpins but also low-level couriers and girlfriends. Multiple convictions for small-time offenses under those laws mean thousands of people are locked up for decades, or even the rest of their lives.

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Shots - Health News
3:28 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Alaska's Governor Eager To Expand Medicaid

Valerie Davidson was appointed health commissioner by Alaska's Gov. Bill Walker to help him expand Medicaid in the state. She'll look for middle ground with Republicans to get it done, she says.
Lori Townsend/Alaska Public Media

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:31 am

Alaska's new governor won his election in one of the tightest races in the country, a race that was too close to call even a week after election night. Bill Walker, who ran as an independent (unaffiliated with the Republicans or Democrats), took office on Dec. 1, after campaigning on the promise that he would expand Medicaid as one of his first orders of business.

To make good on that, he'll have to face a Republican-controlled legislature that hasn't been willing to even consider the idea.

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U.S.
3:26 am
Tue December 16, 2014

President's Task Force To Re-Examine How Police Interact With Public

President Obama announces the creation of a policing task force Dec. 1 as Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (left) and George Mason University criminology professor Laurie Robinson look on.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:09 pm

Earlier this month, after the events in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y, the White House announced the creation of what it's calling a Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The group's job is to find ways to strengthen the relationship between police and the public, and to share recommendations with the president by late February.

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The Two-Way
2:03 am
Tue December 16, 2014

2015 Rock Hall Of Fame Class Includes Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Green Day

Billie Joe Armstrong (left) and Mike Dirnt of Green Day play the Reading Festival. Green Day and five other acts will join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.
Yui Mok PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 8:49 am

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All Tech Considered
7:26 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Hustle Behind The Wheel: What It's Like To Be An Uber Driver

Ride-hailing services like Uber have changed ground transportation for both passengers and drivers. As Uber rapidly grows, it becomes more difficult for its drivers to keep up with the hustle.
David Ramos Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 8:09 pm

The popular ride-hailing service Uber is valued at a staggering $40 billion — even though it's besieged by lawsuits, bad PR and outright bans in some cities.

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The Two-Way
6:31 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

The U.S. Has A Surgeon General, For The First Time In 17 Months

More than a year after he was nominated, Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed as the next surgeon general Monday. Back in February, Murthy testified about his nomination before a Senate panel.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 7:14 pm

A job that's been open in President Obama's administration since July of 2013 was finally filled Monday, as the Senate voted to confirm Vivek Murthy as America's new surgeon general.

The tally was 51-43, ending a confirmation process that began after Obama nominated Murthy to the post in November of 2013 — yes, that's one year ago.

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Law
6:04 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Supreme Court Refuses To Limit Abortion Drug's Use

Bottles of the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 are shown in 2010 at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 7:53 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of an Arizona law aimed at limiting use of the increasingly popular abortion pill. In 2012 nearly half of the abortions in the state were via the pill, known as RU-486.

The pill was approved by the FDA in 2000 for the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Since then, scientists have developed safer and smaller doses that allow the drug to be used through the ninth week.

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Goats and Soda
5:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Dr. Kent Brantly: Lessons Learned From Fighting Ebola

Dr. Kent Brantly speaks about the world's response to Ebola during the Overseas Security Advisory Council's Annual Briefing in Washington, D.C. last month.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 1:23 pm

Dr. Kent Brantly considers himself a lucky man.

He was diagnosed with Ebola five months ago while working with Christian aid group Samaritan's Purse at a hospital in Liberia's capital, Monrovia. He became so sick that he thought he was going to "quit" breathing.

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Around the Nation
5:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Nebraska Landowners Sit At The Heart Of Keystone Controversy

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:58 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Keystone XL - for years now, the pipeline has been tied up in polarizing argument about energy, jobs and the environment. Keystone's been argued in the U.S. Congress, in state court, at protests around the country and on late-night television.

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Code Switch
4:50 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Serial Isn't About Ferguson. (But It's Kind Of About Ferguson.)

Serial focuses on Adnan Syed, who was a teenager when he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, despite big question marks in the case. (But you almost certainly knew that already.)
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:16 pm

As The Conversation About Serial reaches a fever pitch in certain circles, those of us behind Code Switch and Monkey See have been talking quite a bit about the show. You can read Matt Thompson's initial entry in this conversation here.

Below is the second part of our exchange, from Code Switch blogger Gene Demby.

Matt, Linda and Kat,

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Around the Nation
4:34 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

From Water Cutoffs To An Art Scare, Detroit Has A Tumultuous Year

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 5:12 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Code Switch
4:34 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

150 Years Later, A Formal Apology For The Sand Creek Massacre

As part of their annual remembrance, descendants of massacre survivors erected teepees at the historic site over the weekend of Dec. 13. Some were for public visitors, while others were used in closed ceremonies.
Megan Verlee Colorado Public Radio

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:16 am

A stretch of dry, empty prairie where the Sand Creek Massacre took place in Colorado has hardly changed in a century and a half.

Back in December 1864, America was still months from the end of the Civil War. Gen. William Sherman was making his infamous march across Georgia. And from the Western Frontier, word of the shocking Sand Creek Massacre was starting to trickle out. A regiment of volunteer troops in Colorado had attacked a peaceful camp of Native Americans, slaughtering nearly 200 of them — mostly women and children.

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Code Switch
4:34 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

LAPD Chief Has Lessons To Share About Department's Past 'Ghosts'

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, a reformer hand-picked by former LAPD Chief William Bratton, is seen as an innovator and also someone respected by the old guard.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 6:33 pm

On the 11th floor of the Los Angeles Police Department's downtown high-rise, Chief Charlie Beck has been fielding a lot of calls since the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Beck's counterparts around the country are calling to find out how his department addressed what he calls the "ghosts of LAPD's past."

"I don't want people to have to have their city go up in flames like Los Angeles did in 1992 to learn these lessons," he says.

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

To Get To The Bottom Of Your Microbiome, Start With A Swab Of Poo

After a quick swipe and online registration, these test tubes were ready to ship back to the lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder for sequencing and analysis.
Katherine Harmon Courage for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 4:53 pm

Understanding the human microbiome takes much more work than just identifying the organisms that live in a person's gut. A genetic census of these microbes is really only the start of figuring out what they have to do with health and disease.

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Law
3:16 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Supreme Court Upholds North Carolina Traffic Stop

In 2009, Nicholas Heien and a friend were traveling down a North Carolina highway when they were pulled over for having a broken tail light. A subsequent search of the car found a plastic bag containing cocaine.
iStockPhoto

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 5:20 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that police officers don't necessarily violate a person's constitutional rights when they stop a car based on a mistaken understanding of the law. The ruling prompted a lone dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who warned that the court's decision could exacerbate public suspicion of police in some communities.

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