Politics & Government

Politics
4:02 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Senate Democrats Use Waning Majority To Push Through Judges

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:46 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Law
3:04 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

After 17 Years Behind Bars, Coming Home To A Different Life

Stephanie George (right) with her daughter, Kendra, and son Courtney. They were 5 and 8 when she went to prison on a drug charge. Last December, President Obama commuted her sentence.
Marisa Peñaloza NPR

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:59 pm

When she went to prison on drug charges, Stephanie George was 26 years old, a mother to three young kids.

Over 17 years behind bars, her grandparents died. Her father died. But the worst came just months before her release.

"I lost my baby son," George says, referring to Will, shot dead on a Pensacola, Fla., street.

"I feel bad because I'm not coming home to all of them, you know," sobs George, now 44. "He was 4 when I left, but I miss him."

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Politics & Government
2:42 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Audit Identifies Problems in Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development

According to the state audit, the DWD failed to answer 1.7 million calls about unemployment and overpaid nearly $168M in benefits.

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It's All Politics
12:28 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

With Facebook Post, Jeb Bush Takes A Big Step Toward 2016

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Facebook announcement comes following a series of statements that he would soon decide on a presidential run.
Facebook

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:21 pm

After months of hints and Hamlet-esque worries about the woes of a modern presidential campaign, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced on a Facebook post that he is "actively" exploring a presidential run.

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Business
12:23 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Economists: Congress Gets A Hat Tip (Barely) For Its Efforts

The Capitol's dome and Christmas tree are illuminated on Dec. 11 as Congress worked to pass a $1.1 trillion U.S. government-wide spending bill and avoid a government shutdown.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 9:59 pm

As the latest Congress draws to a close, economists are looking back — and seeing little.

Lawmakers passed no measures addressing tax reform, trade, immigration or even the minimum wage.

But judged by the very low standards of recent years, the 113th Congress did manage to win at least light applause from economists who are watching as the curtain goes down.

Sure, Congress allowed a disruptive government shutdown in 2013 — but it avoided repeating that drama in 2014.

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The Two-Way
9:38 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Jeb Bush Announces He Will 'Actively Explore' Presidential Run

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush talks to supporters after speaking at the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC's annual luncheon in Coral Gables, Fla., on Dec. 2.
J Pat Carter AP

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 11:06 am

Jeb Bush, the former Republican governor of Florida and the brother and son of two former U.S. presidents, has essentially kicked off the 2016 presidential campaign with a pre-announcement announcement on Facebook.

Saying he had conversations with his family about the future of the country, Bush said he had decided to "actively explore" a presidential run.

He went on:

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Politics
4:15 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Siding With Obama On Deportations Hurts Saldana's Bipartisan Support

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:31 am

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

Law
3:39 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The shocking death of basketball player Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in 1986 led Congress to pass tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:08 pm

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

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Law
3:09 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 Tue December 16, 2014 12:12 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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Parallels
2:47 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Kurdish Officials Worry About Kurds Joining The Islamic State

The Iraqi town of Halabja is dominated by Kurds, the group that has been fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq. However, some Kurdish residents have been slipping away to join the Islamic State.
Yahya Ahmad Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:15 pm

In the northern Iraqi city of Halabja, near the border with Iran, we knock on the door of a 16-year-old boy who disappeared. His family says he lied to them, saying he was going on a picnic with a teenage friend. But they never came home.

"He disappeared in May," says the boy's older sister. "A few days later a letter arrived in his handwriting. It said, 'I'm in Syria. Don't look for me.' "

The boy, like most everyone in this city, is a Kurd, most of whom are Sunni Muslim. He joined the so-called Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim extremist group also known as ISIS.

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