Tue July 12, 2011

The Problem With A Slow-Growth Economy

President Obama tours the Automotive Training Program at the Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria campus, in June, Va. Slower economic growth means fewer opportunities for U.S. companies, which in turn leads to less hiring.
Jim Lo Scalzo Pool/Getty Images

In the United States the recession officially ended two years ago, but in much of the country housing prices are still falling, jobs are hard to come by and growth remains weak.

A low growth rate is much more than just a number. Economists say that over time weak growth can have an insidious effect on a country's prospects and options in ways not everyone appreciates.

This was supposed to be the year the U.S. economy finally gained traction. Instead, it looks more and more like it's stuck in the mud, says former Federal Reserve member Alan Blinder.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
Around the Nation

'Sister Wives' Family To Challenge Anti-Bigamy Law

Last summer, members of the Brown family — Meri (from left), Janelle, Kody, Christine and Robyn — spoke to the media as they prepared for the debut of their reality TV show, Sister Wives.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

It's the latest episode in Sister Wives. But this time it's playing out in the courtroom, not on cable. On Wednesday, the Brown family — the husband, four wives, and 16 children who star in the reality TV show — plans to file a lawsuit in federal court in Utah. The family members say the state's anti-bigamy law is unconstitutional and that Supreme Court precedent backs them up.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
The Two-Way

A General At The End Of His Afghan Tour

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:40 am

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 U.S. officer in Afghanistan, steps down from his post Monday. The commander met last month with U.S. troops in Helmand Province.
David Gilkey David Gilkey/NPR

Today was the last day of a two-year tour in Afghanistan for Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, who has been responsible for the day-to-day operations in the war.

NPR's Tom Bowman and photographer David Gilkey spent a some time with him at Camp Dwyer, a desert base in Helmand Province. Tom was there when Rodriguez gave a pep-talk of sorts to several dozen Marines. He talked to Rodriguez about what's next for the U.S. in Afghanistan, especially after President Obama announced his plans to withdraw 10,000 troops.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011

A Conservative Spins Out The GOP's Debt Endgame

Longtime GOP aide Steve Bell believes a fear of primary challenges is driving politicians to hew to the party line.
Bipartisan Policy Center

As stop-and-start debt ceiling negotiations between President Obama and Republican leaders continue, longtime Capitol Hill conservative Steve Bell predicts that the two sides will strike a "mediocre," no-new-taxes-now deal before Aug. 2.

But he also suggests that his party may pay the price at the ballot box next year for its insistence on protecting tax cuts for the nation's highest earners.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
It's All Politics

138 Minnesota Lawmakers Are Accepting Pay Despite Shutdown

This weekend, The Minnesota Star Tribune printed a list of 138 legislators who are still collecting paychecks despite the state government shut down. The paper reports that Gov. Mark Dayton, as well as 14 senators and 48 representatives, announced they would not accept pay as long as the shutdown lasts.

But that means that 72 percent of Republicans are still cashing their paychecks and 65 percent of Democratic-Farmer-Labor party members are still getting paid.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Hold the Sodium, And Pass The Potassium-Rich Produce

Processed foods are generally high in sodium and low in potassium.

Only last week a scientific review of the health effects of salt concluded that reducing the amount of salt in one's diet isn't all it's cracked up to be.

"Cutting down on the amount of salt has no clear benefits in terms of likelihood of dying or experiencing cardiovascular disease," reads the plain-language summary from the Cochrane Collaboration. The reviewers called for more rigorous testing of sodium reduction to settle the matter.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Multi-Million Dollar Oversight

Health insurance costs have caused headaches for employers, both private and public.  Now, they're giving a big headache to city officials in Lexington. The city has failed to collect enough money from its workers for health care.  As a result, Lexington has lost tens of millions of dollars. The news comes at a bad time. Leaders at Lexington City Hall have just balanced their budget for next year.  Now they must find their way out of a ten million dollar hole that they are digging this year.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
The Commonwealth

For Gay Presbyterians, Rights Vary by Region

A gay elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) says the recent rule change that removes any doubt over the legitimacy of her position makes the church more accepting, though intolerance still exists in many areas. Beth Van Sickle was ordained in her Ohio congregation in the 1980s and faced challenges to her post. But yesterday , the church’s constitution was changed to allow unmarried, noncelibate clergy. Van Sickle says it makes the church appear more accepting to young people, who may be questioning the conflict between their religion and their sexuality.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Lawyers Claim Inbreeding Skews Mine Data

Last month, researchers at Washington State University and West Virginia University released a study that found a correlation between mountaintop removal mining birth defects. A law firm with ties to the National Mining Association has refuted the study’s findings, but in the process, insulted many Appalachians. Inbreeding in Appalachia is one many stereotypes, perpetuated by movies and even Vice President Dick Cheney in 2008 at a National Press Club Event:

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
The Two-Way

Israeli Legislature Sparks Discussion On Free Speech With 'Boycott Law'

Israel's Knesset, the country's unicameral legislature, passed a controversial law that has sparked heated discussion about what it means for free speech in the country.

With a 47-38 vote, today, the Knesset passed into a law a bill that will make it a civil penalty to call for a boycott on Israel or its settlements. The bill allows any person to sue another for declaring a boycott. The bill would also strip any business calling or participating in a boycott against Israel of any government funds.

Read more