When Energy Secretary Steven Chu appears on Capitol Hill on Thursday to defend the Obama administration's solar energy subsidy program, he will face questions about the solar panel firm Solyndra, which went belly up this summer.
The Energy Department has drawn stiff criticism over a government loan guarantee program that lent the company half a billion dollars, but the government has a long history of subsidizing many forms of energy.
Dozens of gun violence survivors and family members of victims traveled to Capitol Hill this week to try to convince lawmakers to pass a bill that would tighten loopholes in the background check system for people who buy firearms.
As confounding as was the failure of Penn State officials to act, the consensus explaining the motives for their ignoble behavior is that, first, Joe Paterno didn't want to scar the reputation of himself or his football program; and then, university executives wanted to protect the reputation of the dear old coach and his moneymaking team.
Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 1:06 pm
When it comes to the politics of school lunch programs, the easy part is agreeing that kids should be eating more fruits and vegetables.
The hard part? Determining what counts as a vegetable. Take, for instance, the tomato sauce on pizza. As part of new nutrition standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, schools would need to use about one-half cup of tomato paste on pizza in order for the sauce to count as a vegetable serving.
Lawmakers say pizza and french fries deserve to keep their place in school cafeterias. New nutrition standards aimed at putting more fresh and healthy food in front of kids are being revised in a current House agriculture appropriations bill. The latest version says the tomato sauce on a slice of pizza is the equivalent of a vegetable. Critics are likening it to the "ketchup-as-a-vegetable-controversy" during the Reagan administration.
In an interview with NPR, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu vigorously defended the actions of the Department of Energy with regards $528 million in loans it gave the now-bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra.
Chu told All Things Considered's Melissa Block that neither he nor any of his staff working on DOE loans program was swayed by politics and that even in hindsight there was no way to know that Solyndra would fail.
Polls continue to show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich solidly in the top tier of Republican presidential contenders. But at the same time, he is dogged by questions about a job he had after leaving Congress: consulting for the mortgage giant Freddie Mac β but not, he says, lobbying.
The questions began at the candidates' debate in Michigan last Wednesday, when CNBC's John Harwood asked Gingrich what he did for a $300,000 contract with Freddie Mac in 2006.
"I offered them advice on precisely what they didn't do," Gingrich said last week.
A State Supreme Court judge has backed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the owners of Zuccotti Park, saying police had a right to enforce rules that prohibit camping at the park overnight. In the pre-dawn hours, Bloomberg ordered the removal of protesters from the park.
Earlier, another Supreme Court judge had issued a temporary injunction and ruled the protesters could return to the park with tents and sleeping bags.
When the United States Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the health care reform law, the Court also announced that the parties would have more than the usual one hour to argue the case before the justices. That is not unheard of in particularly important cases β Bush v. Gore was allotted ninety minutes. But at five and a half hours, the length of time given for the health care case is nearly unprecedented in the modern Court.
Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 7:19 pm
Army defectors ambushed dozens of Syrian troops, and regime forces gunned down civilians during one of the bloodiest days of the country's 8-month-old uprising, which appeared Tuesday to be spiraling out of President Bashar Assad's control.
The federal Centers for Disease Control calls fluoridated water one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. But many people still aren't convinced.
In Florida, opponents recently persuaded Pinellas County commissioners to stop adding fluoride to the water supply β a practice the county began in 2003. By the end of the year, Pinellas will once again be the largest county in Florida without fluoridated water.
Woody Allen: A Documentary is the result, though not the culmination, of three very long and distinguished careers.
First, there's Robert Weide, the writer-director whose examination of Allen's life and art follows similar β and similarly impressive β documentaries on the Marx Brothers, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce.
Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 11:09 am
As pressure mounts in cities across the country to evict Occupy protesters from parks and squares, the movement's supporters face a decision about what to do next.
After months-long sit-ins that have brought international attention to the movement's demand for greater economic equality, as well as occasional clashes between demonstrators and police, cities in recent days have moved in force to end the protests.
Well, here's another twist in the debate over whether birth control is an essential health benefit. More than 1.5 million American women use birth control pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, a new analysis finds.
It's been a bumpy ride these past few years for investors looking for easy ways to make money. Stocks, bonds and real estate have all seen wild swings or simply delivered disappointing results.
But a taxi medallion is one investment that keeps going up in value: Two of them recently sold for a record $1 million each.
A taxi medalliongives the bearer the right to pick up rides for hire. It turns out it's also a great investment vehicle. When New York cab driver Sushil Maggoo bought his in 2003, for example, he paid around $215,000.
Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 3:52 pm
Today, a subcommittee of the Committee On The Judiciary heard some fascinating testimony about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). (We know what that sounds like, but bear with us.)
The hearing, titled "Cyber Security: Protecting America's New Frontier," really focused on big cyber threats to the country's infrastructure, but there was another juicier question that came out of the hearing: The way the Justice Department wants to interpret a current law, lying on the Internet would amount to a crime.
Top Pentagon leaders went to Capitol Hill Tuesday and took tough questions from lawmakers on the future of the U.S. relationship with Iraq. Specifically, they addressed how the decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops by the end of this year will impact Iraq's stability and U.S. national security interests in the region. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a congressional committee that, while U.S. military commanders wanted to keep a contingency force on the ground, it was Iraq's decision to make.
Delegates from across Afghanistan will convene tomorrow in Kabul. The Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly, will discuss a long term strategic partnership with the United States. The issue is controversial in Afghanistan because it could involve permanent American military bases. The meeting itself is also controversial. President Hamid Karzai says the Loya Jirga will provide him with advice from the public, but his political opponents say Karzai is trying to use the assembly to extend his mandate.
After weeks of game postponements, the NBA league made a final offer to players β and the players rejected it. Cancelling games affects the players and the fans, but it can also be devastating for the many businesses that revolve around the industry.
In the wake of high-profile child sex abuse scandals, the public often focuses on the accused. Victims and their needs often draw far less attention. Experts who work with young victims explain how children respond to abuse, and what treatment options can help them cope with the aftermath.
Occupy Wall Street and reports on the nation's growing income gap have helped rally the political left, argues Matthew Continetti of The Weekly Standard. It is not the government's responsibility to redress wealth disparities, he says, and the GOP must do a better job of communicating that message.
BRIAN NAYLOR, host: It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. When we talked to author P.J. O'Rourke about his new book "Holidays in Heck," many of you offered suggestions of where P.J. should go next. Wu Nyen Proul(ph) in Franklin, Kentucky, wrote: Visit Easter Island. It's such a humbling experience to stand before the Moai, sleep to the sound of waves, pure unpolluted air and great fish. Even a 4G iPhone can't get a connection. You and your family will enjoy what it's like to live without the Worldwide Web - these days, something one can only imagine.
The trail of tears β The forced migration of thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral homeland in the south West to Oklahoma β is taught in many classrooms as one of the darkest moments in American history.
Earlier this year, on Jan. 8, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head as she met with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. She was one of 13 people injured that day. Six people were killed.
It had been four years since Giffords arrived in Washington as a wide-eyed freshman and told NPR: "Life's good and [I'm] very, very excited β so optimistic about taking our country in a new direction."
Police officers removed Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York City early Tuesday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the operation took place at night to "reduce the risk of confrontation." But clashes erupted and about 70 people were arrested.