At the beginning of What About Dick?, a stage performance released this week as a digital download, writer/performer Eric Idle announces that the audience will be witnessing "Aural Cinema." The story — a tangential, broadly comic yarn involving the decline of the British Empire and "the birth of a sex toy invented in Shagistan in 1898" — is to be performed in the style of a radio play, with the actors (Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard, Billy Connolly, Tim Curry and Tracey Ullman, to name five) reading their parts from scripts into
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 7:23 pm
As the lame ducks waddle up to Capitol Hill for the final few weeks of this Congress, some political observers are hoping they will bring the "Spirit of 2010" with them.
Despite all the partisan bickering, the lame-duck session two years ago — bolstered by a bevy of outgoing Democrats with nothing to lose — actually got big things done, including the $850 billion stimulus and tax cut deal, a measure setting in motion the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," passage of the defense authorization bill and an arms treaty.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. People trying to help victims of Hurricane Sandy have hit bottom. People sent clothes but did not think to send underwear. Apparently this is a regular problem for people in need. Enough so that a Colorado nonprofit called Underwearness exists to send underpants to the needy. They raise money with an annual race, which people run without any pants. This nonprofit is sending 2,500 pairs of kids' underwear to storm-soaked Staten Island. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 6:03 am
Friday was supposed to be the deadline for a key part of the health care law: states were to tell the federal government about their progress on building a state exchange. But the deadline has been extended for the second time in a week. States now have until Dec. 14.
President Obama returned yesterday to the scene of Hurricane Sandy's devastation; this time, visiting hard-hit areas of New York. He promised to stick with residents until the rebuilding effort is complete. Here's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.
Listen carefully to both President Obama and Republican leaders, and you hear hints of room for compromise. They're talking of taxes and spending as a deadline approaches, December 31st, when higher taxes and spending cuts would take effect. That would reduce the federal deficit, but also damage the economy, according to forecasters.
NPR's business news starts with more mortgage problems.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Independent auditors released a report this morning, showing that the Federal Housing Administration is facing a shortfall from losses on the mortgages it insures. The Obama administration says it's going to take steps to prevent a taxpayer bailout.
As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the FHA has been struggling since the foreclosure crisis hit four years ago.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 6:49 am
The two biggest fears of the fiscal cliff are defense cuts and tax hikes. The nation's mayors say the devastating effects of automatic cuts reach further than the Defense Department — right into their own cities. Steve Inskeep talks to the Democratic Mayor of Charleston, S.C., Jospeh Riley and Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about the impact sequestration could have in their cities.
Voters in Washington and Colorado just approved measures legalizing marijuana for recreational use. But businesses that want to sell marijuana in those states will face a problem: No bank wants to do business with them.
I called several banks in Washington. I called a local credit union, a tiny bank in the San Juan islands. Everybody said basically the same thing. Even if selling marijuana is legal under state law, it's still illegal under federal law. And banks and credit unions worry that this could get them in trouble.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 6:10 pm
Some Democrats complain that Republicans in recent decades have had the edge in House races because GOP state legislatures have been better at the gerrymandering game. Except that may not be true.
Some political experts believe there's an easier explanation, and perhaps a tougher one for Democrats to overcome: Voters supporting Republican House candidates, they say, are spread over more congressional districts than those who support Democrats. It's that simple. It's merely a matter of geography.
New Jersey's most affluent community, Mantoloking, sits on a narrow barrier island 30 miles north of Long Beach. As Sandy approached, most of the residents fled inland. But Edwin C. O'Malley and his father, Edwin J. O'Malley Jr., hunkered down in their 130-year-old house.
They tied a boat to their porch and then watched the storm surge break over the dunes and flood the streets.
"Overnight that night, lying in bed, I could actually hear waves hitting the side of the house — which obviously made it more difficult to get to sleep," the younger O'Malley says.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 5:22 pm
Voters were frustrated by a 2012 presidential race they called more negative than usual and more devoid of substantive discussion of issues, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
And voters are pessimistic about the prospect of a more productive Congress, Pew found.
Two-thirds of registered voters surveyed after Election Day said they believe relations between Democrats and Republicans will stay the same or worsen over the coming year.
President Obama visited New York today, touring sections of Queens and Staten Island that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. He promised the federal government will help people rebuild and, more immediately, help restore necessities that many have done without for more than two weeks now.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There's still a lot of cleanup to do. People still need emergency help. They still need heat. They still need power. They still need food. They still need shelter.
To understand what the environmental impact of the BP oil spill has been over the last two years, we turn now to Dr. Jim Cowan. He is a professor of oceanography and coastal science at Louisiana State University. Dr. Cowan, welcome to the program.
DR. JIM COWAN: Happy to be here.
CORNISH: So you've been out on the water examining the impacts of the spill since the early days. What were the sort of concerns at first and how has that changed over time?