A week that began with promising movement toward a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff ended with apparent backward progress. House Speaker John Boehner offered no evidence he had control of his unruly caucus, while President Obama avoided the topic entirely.
Police officers detain a protester outside the lower house of Russia's parliament on Wednesday. This week, Russian legislators passed a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children after the U.S. passed a law that rebukes Russia for human rights abuses.
Credit Misha Japaridze / AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference in Moscow on Thursday. Putin has voiced support for a measure that would ban U.S. adoptions of Russian children.
Russian lawmakers have approved a measure that would bar Americans from adopting Russian children, a move that comes in retaliation for a U.S. law that seeks to "name and shame" Russian officials who violate human rights.
President Vladimir Putin has voiced support for the adoption ban, but it's not clear whether he'll actually sign the measure, which has potential pitfalls.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am
An update on last weekend's rape of a student in New Delhi, an incident which provoked widespread outrage, and calls for a crackdown on sexual violence in India. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Julie McCarthy in India.
As we've just heard, this breakdown in negotiations within the Republican Party is troubling for Speaker Boehner. It also stifles negotiations to avert the combination of deep spending cuts and tax increases. That will come without a bipartisan agreement.
We're joined by Norm Ornstein, an experienced observer of Congress and politics. He's resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks for being with us.
Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks with Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg about the massacre in Newtown, Conn. He wrote the cover story in this month's issue, titled "The Case For More Guns — And More Gun Control." In it, Goldberg posits that it's impossible to reduce gun crime with the number of guns already on the street, and that maybe the answer is to allow more people to carry them.
Discovering Brazil has been a series of wonderful revelations for me. As principal conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra for the past year, I have been deeply moved and even changed by my exposure to this culture of passion and positivity.
Brazil's inherent societal belief that music improves quality of life, contributes to improved social behavior, and is an important vehicle to establish a peaceful society filled with tolerance and respect is a philosophy I once thought existed only in my utopian dreams.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:40 am
If there's one common language that some recent immigrants in Dayton, Ohio, seem to share, it's soccer.
The first Dayton World Soccer Games kicked off earlier this year, an initiative hosted by the city to welcome an influx of immigrants. On the field, a rainbow of brightly colored jerseys represented nearly 20 of the different immigrant communities in the city.
"I've been really surprised to see that there's a lot of soccer going on in Dayton," says Adolphe Bizwinayo, who left Rwanda as a refugee.
There's snow across much of the country this weekend. In eastern North Carolina, where it doesn't snow a lot, snowflakes are an occasion for some folks to flock outside, scooping up what falls to make "snow cream."
That's ice cream made from fresh snow — but you have to mix it fast, before it melts.
Chloe Tuttle runs a bed and breakfast in Williamston, N.C., and she's a bit of an expert on snow cream. She tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon the trick is to use soft, freshly fallen snow.
The nation's largest gun owners group had said little in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, broke that silence Friday with a call to place armed guards at all of the nation's schools.
The idea was met with immediate criticism from Democrats in Congress.
Fred Armisen is a cast member on Saturday Night Live, a star and writer of Portlandia on IFC, a former drummer in a bunch of punk rock bands, and for a while, the world's preeminent Barack Obama imitator.
In a news conference Friday, President Obama said there were still things the parties could agree on about the automatic tax-rate increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. But he said parties would have to work together to get a plan approved in the next 10 days.
"Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done," he said, after meeting with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and speaking to Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., gets into his pickup truck after voting in Wrentham, Mass., on Nov. 6. Brown lost the election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but both he and his truck could be back on the campaign trail soon.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 3:55 pm
President Obama's nomination of Democrat John Kerry to be secretary of state sets off a chain of events that could put another Kennedy in the Senate, at least on an interim basis.
And it gives ousted Republican Scott Brown a fighting chance of returning to the Senate by midyear.
On Friday, Obama nominated Kerry, the senior senator from Massachusetts, to replace Hillary Clinton as the nation's chief diplomat. A 27-year veteran of the Senate and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry should win easy Senate confirmation early in the new year.
In 10 days, virtually all Americans will be hit with a tax increase and deep government spending cuts will follow shortly behind. That is, unless Congress and President Obama can find a way to avert the "fiscal cliff."
It's not looking very promising at the moment. On Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the plug on a measure he was calling his "Plan B" and sent his members home for Christmas.
For more on yesterday's Republican meltdown, I'm joined by Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio. He would have voted for Plan B if it had come up for a vote. He's a strong ally of Speaker Boehner, and he joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman LaTourette, welcome to the program.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVE LATOURETTE: Thank you very much.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. It's time for Plan C. Washington's efforts to avoid massive tax hikes and spending cuts come January 1st seem to be in disarray. Last night, House Speaker John Boehner failed to get enough Republicans to go along with what he called his Plan B. NPR's John Ydstie talked with members of the business community about whether that failure is seen as a setback or clears the way for more productive negotiations.
If you're listening to me say this then you've already figured out the world did not end today. It's been widely rumored that on December 21st, 2012, the world would seize to exist. Many point to a mistake in interpretation of the ancient Mayan calendar as a source of that apocalyptic prediction that then caught fire on the internet. Modern day Maya scoff at such doomsday interpretations. But as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Merida, Mexico, they are enjoying a boost in tourism that's come with all the hype.
A the U.S. wages a debate on its gun laws, some Australians are urging Americans to consider their experience.
For Australia, the turning point came on April 28, 1996, when a lone gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle in Port Arthur, a popular tourist destination in the state of Tasmania.
Cathy Gordon was there that day, escorting six visiting musicians as part of her job with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. They were leaving a cafe just as the shooter, Martin Bryant, pulled out an AR-15 assault rifle.
The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.
One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.
The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.
Today also brought the first detailed response to the Newtown shootings from the nation's largest gun rights group, the National Rifle Association. At a media event here in Washington, the group's CEO took a defiant stance and took no questions. NRA leaders had promised meaningful contributions on how to prevent more mass killings. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, they recommended more, not fewer, guns.
President Obama tapped Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State on Friday. Kerry is expected to win easy confirmation in the Senate, which would be a relief in the midst of fierce partisan battles over taxes, spending and — coming next month — gun control. Melissa Block talks to Scott Horsley.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. The sound of a nation in mourning. That's from the National Cathedral in Washington today. It's been one week since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and this morning at 9:30, bells rang out across the U.S. in honor of those who died.
An entrepreneur says he's got a plan to curb urban blight in parts of Detroit. He's buying up acre after acre of abandoned lots and planting thousands of trees. But where backers of the plan see a visionary proposal, critics see a land grab.
Entrepreneur and Detroiter John Hantz, owner of Hantz Farms and the tree-planting effort called Hantz Woodlands, wants to plant at least 15,000 trees on about 140 acres. Hantz promises to clear out all the trash and keep the grass cut, things the city cannot afford to do now.