U.S.

The Two-Way
8:19 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Congress Approves $16.3 Billion VA Health Care Bill

With a 91-3 vote in the Senate Thursday, Congress has passed a massive $16.3 billion bill to address problems with health care for veterans and other problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The bill now moves forward to the White House for President Obama's signature. The House voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill on Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
7:34 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Ebola Patient Will Be Treated In Atlanta Hospital

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:31 pm

An isolation unit at Emory University's hospital in Atlanta will be used in the coming days to house and treat a patient infected with Ebola, the virus that has killed more than 700 people in a recent outbreak in West Africa.

Announcing the pending transfer of the patient Thursday, Emory, which like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based in Atlanta, issued a statement saying it will use "a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases."

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The Two-Way
6:07 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Most Of California Reported To Be In 'Extreme Drought'

A dried-out lawn is seen in the city of Glendora, east of Los Angeles, this week. About 58 percent of California is now under the most extreme drought conditions, a new report says.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

The latest Drought Monitor report from U.S. agriculture and weather experts finds 58 percent of California in the worst of its four drought levels, in conditions normally seen only once every 50-100 years.

For our Newscast unit, Nathan Rott reports:

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Around the Nation
5:03 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Three Years On, Utah's Immigrant Guest Worker Law Still Stalled

This statue is located in Utah's Capitol building, beneath a mural of Brigham Young and the first Mormon pioneers traveling out west. "Utah is a place that understands the value of immigration," says Utah's speaker of the House, Becky Lockhart.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:28 pm

At the Utah State Capitol, a mural of Brigham Young and the first Mormon pioneers brings some color to the building's spartan rotunda. Beneath it is a more modern sculpture — a woman walking forward with her son, who's holding a globe.

Underneath the statue are the words "Immigration and Settlement." The symbolism isn't lost on state House Speaker Becky Lockhart.

"Utah is a place that understands the value of immigration, the value of peoples coming to find a better life," she says, pointing up at the sculpture.

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The Salt
4:45 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

When China Spurns GMO Corn Imports, American Farmers Lose Billions

A corn purchaser writes on his account in northwest China in 2012. In November 2013, officials began rejecting imports of U.S. corn when they detected traces of a new gene not yet approved in China.
Peng Zhaozhi Xinhua/Landov

For a while there, China was the American farmer's best friend. The world's most populous nation had so many pigs and chickens to feed, it became one of the top importers of U.S. corn and soybeans almost overnight.

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Shots - Health News
3:20 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Amid Smoking Decline, Look Who's Still Lighting Up

Tobacco giant Reynolds American is buying Lorillard and acquiring Newport, a popular menthol cigarette. In a shrinking market, Newport is one of the few U.S. brands gaining market share. It is particularly popular among African-American smokers.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

Robin Koval is making a career of her changed tobacco habit.

"I'm a child of a smoker — my father was a heavy smoker," Koval says. "Really typical to the way the story goes, I started smoking when I was 15."

Now she is president and CEO of Legacy, a foundation devoted to preventing tobacco use.

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Politics
3:15 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

With Prosecutors Circling, Ethics Questions Get Serious For N.Y. Governor

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is surrounded by the media in Freeport, N.Y., on Wednesday, Cuomo was on Long Island to announce a new program to help victims of Superstorm Sandy but ended up fielding questions about the Moreland Commission.
Frank Eltman AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo swept into office promising to clean up a state government so corrupt he once described it as "a joke." But now Cuomo himself has become the punch line, facing scrutiny over reports that his administration interfered with its own anti-corruption commission.

"Basically, Cuomo formed a commission promising you could even look at me. And then when they looked at him, he said, you looking at me?" joked Jon Stewart, summing up the scandal for The Daily Show.

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U.S.
3:15 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

In Obama's Foreign Policy, Some See Patience; Some See Passivity

President Obama announced new economic sanctions against Russia at the White House on Tuesday.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

A new Washington Post-ABC poll shows fewer than half of Americans approve of the way President Obama is handling international affairs.

But the president's grade on foreign policy has actually improved slightly since the beginning of summer, even as crises around the globe have multiplied. And Obama says he's confident in his strategic approach, even as he cautions that there are no quick fixes.

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National Security
3:15 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

CIA Director Apologizes For Meddling In Senate Computers

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

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

Politics
3:15 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Facing Conservative Opposition, House Republicans Nix Border Bill Vote

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Politics
3:15 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Facing A Mass-Mailing Deadline, Lawmakers Get Frank Fast

Members of Congress are racing to take advantage of "franking" privileges, which allow them to replace postage with their signature. They are not allowed to use franking within 90 days of an election.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

Members of Congress face a deadline next Thursday — 90 days before the election — to put constituent newsletters in the mail. Carefully timing the mailings is just one fillip in the fine art of congressional communications, especially those that might suggest campaign messages.

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Law
3:15 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Star Witness Steps Up To The Stand In McDonnell's Corruption Trial

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

The corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell continues to unfold in Richmond. The prosecution's feature witness, Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie Williams, testified Thursday against McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. Jeff Schapiro has helped in the Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage of the trial, and he speaks with Ari Shapiro.

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Around the Nation
3:15 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Thousands Of Inmates Serve Time Fighting The West's Forest Fires

Emir Dunn, an inmate firefighter stationed at the Chamberlain Creek Conservation fire camp in California, at work on a fire. About 4,000 inmate firefighters battle blazes across the state.
Adam Grossberg KQED

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:07 pm

As wildfire season rages in California, firefighting help is coming from an unexpected place: prison. Thousands of low-level offenders have become a crucial component of how the state battles wildfires.

If there's a wildfire here, there are inmates battling it.

Emir Dunn is one of the inmates working a wildfire in the mountainous area of northern California near Oregon. The fire has already scorched nearly 13,000 acres and the temperatures here are unrelenting.

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The Two-Way
2:56 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Israel Allowed To Tap U.S. Munitions Cache For Gaza Offensive

An Israeli Merkava tank near the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, on Thursday. The Pentagon confirms that Israel tapped a U.S. weapons stockpile for tank rounds.
Debbie Hill UPI/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 4:52 pm

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET.

The Pentagon has confirmed that Israel was given permission last week to dip into a little-known U.S. munitions stockpile to draw tank shells and illumination rounds for its ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip.

NPR's Tom Bowman reports that the billion-dollar U.S. "emergency" stockpile, based on Israeli soil, was established in the 1980s as part of an agreement of expanded cooperation between the two nations.

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The Two-Way
2:21 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

House Cancels Vote On $659 Million Border Security Bill

Texas Parks and Wildlife wardens patrol the Rio Grande on the U.S.-Mexico border in Mission, Texas, earlier this month.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:54 pm

Updated at 8:50 p.m. ET.

House GOP leaders pulled the plug on a $659 million bill to deal with the influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. from Central America.

The vote on the legislation had been scheduled for this afternoon on the final day before the start of a five-week summer break for Congress.

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The Two-Way
1:50 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Kentucky Buoys Noah's Ark Park With Millions In New Tax Breaks

Mike Zovath, co-founder of Answers in Genesis ministries, poses for photos at the Ark Encounter headquarters, in 2011. Kentucky has granted the project tens of millions in tax incentives.
Dylan Lovan AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 4:10 pm

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET.

Kentucky has approved $18 million in new tax breaks for a controversial Christian theme park that is to feature a 510-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark.

Maryanne Zeleznik of member station WVXU in Cincinnati reports that the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the incentives for the Ark Encounter, to be built in Williamstown. The legislature must still OK the plan.

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Shots - Health News
11:36 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Hospitals Fight Proposed Changes In The Training Of Doctors

Chief Medical Resident Dr. Julia Vermylen (right) critiques interns during an "intern boot camp," held at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital in June.
Stacy Thacker AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 4:10 pm

An influential report that urges sweeping changes in how the federal government subsidizes the training of doctors has brought out the sharp scalpels of those who would be most immediately affected.

The reaction also raises questions about the sensitive politics involved in redistributing a large pot of money –mostly from Medicare — that now goes disproportionately to teaching hospitals in the U.S. Northeast. All of the changes recommended would have to be made by Congress.

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The Salt
9:01 am
Thu July 31, 2014

How To Order Pizza From A Nuclear Command Bunker

Getting a pizza delivered to a remote nuclear missle base is tricky. Unfortunately, the Air Force won't let you use its helicopters.
Dan Gage/USAF

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 11:33 am

I spent months working with the U.S. Air Force to get access to a remote underground nuclear bunker in Nebraska for our radio series on America's missile forces. There was only one question left to answer before I left.

What did I want for lunch?

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Thu July 31, 2014

20 Million Gallons Later, UCLA Water Main Finally Plugged

Water filled the stairs to a parking structure adjacent to the main entry doors of Pauley Pavilion, home of UCLA basketball, after a 30-inch water main burst on nearby Sunset Boulevard Tuesday.
Matt Hamilton AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 1:07 pm

After 30 hours, work crews have finally succeeded in shutting off the last of the water that gushed from a broken water main near the University of California, Los Angeles campus.

There was so much water that police and fire teams had to rescue people from underground parking garages that became flooded by the estimated 20 million gallons that spewed from the 30-inch pipe.

Albert Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, said the main was completely shut off at 9 p.m. PT on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

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Politics
5:33 am
Thu July 31, 2014

With Congress Set To Adjourn, Border Crisis Remains Unresolved

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:12 am

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

U.S.
5:33 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Community Prosecutions Credited With Drops In Crime

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:12 am

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

U.S.
5:33 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Is Fracking To Blame For Increase In Quakes In Oklahoma?

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:12 am

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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Politics
4:36 am
Thu July 31, 2014

In Kansas City, Obama Brushes Off House GOP's Vote To Sue Him

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 9:12 am

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

Shots - Health News
4:12 am
Thu July 31, 2014

What Somebody's Mummy Can Teach You About Heart Disease

Eduard Egarter-Vigl (left) and Albert Zink (right) sample Italy's mummified iceman for genetic analysis in November 2010. Previous research suggests he, too, was predisposed to heart disease.
Samadelli Marco/EURAC

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 1:47 pm

We think of heart disease as a modern scourge, brought on by our sedentary lifestyles and our affinity for fast food.

But a few years ago, a team of researchers discovered something puzzling — CT scans of Egyptian mummies showed signs of hardened, narrow arteries. Further scans of mummies from other ancient civilizations turned up the same thing.

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U.S.
4:09 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Milwaukee Neighborhood Rallies To Put Young Boys On The Right Path

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:12 am

Copyright 2014 Milwaukee Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wuwm.com/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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NPR Story
4:07 am
Thu July 31, 2014

New Bill Aims To Hold Colleges Accountable For Campus Sex Crimes

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:12 am

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

NPR Story
4:07 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Groundwater Is Drying Up Fast Under Western States, Study Finds

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:12 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Another battle is brewing over water in the West that could put farmers against city and suburb dwellers.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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The Two-Way
7:25 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Bankrupt California City May Turn To Taxing Pot

Robert Calkin, the president of the Cannabis Career Institute, spoke at an exhibition called Hempcon held in San Bernardino, Calif., last year
Courtesy of Robert Calkin AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:23 am

Lots of people are making money off marijuana sales. Officials in San Bernardino, a Southern California city that filed for bankruptcy in 2012, are suggesting that it might as well profit too.

Officials are considering a proposal floated by City Attorney Gary Saenz to regulate and tax medical marijuana dispensaries.

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The Two-Way
6:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

House Approves $16 Billion Plan To Improve Health Care For Vets

The House easily approved a deal to help veterans hammered out by Florida GOP Rep. Jeff Miller (left) and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 7:42 pm

The House voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would address widespread problems with health care for veterans.

The vote in favor of the $16.3 billion package was 420 to 5.

The problems veterans have had obtaining care has drawn national attention in recent weeks. A White House investigation into problems at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals found "significant and chronic systemic failures."

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The Two-Way
5:49 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

House Votes To OK Lawsuit Against Obama

Speaker John Boehner makes his way to the House chamber on Wednesday
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 6:17 pm

The House voted Wednesday to authorize a lawsuit against President Obama, claiming that he has overstepped the limits of his executive authority.

The vote to allow Speaker John Boehner to sue Obama was 225 to 201. Five Republicans voted no, while no Democrats voted in favor of pursuing the lawsuit.

Republicans say that Obama exceeded his constitutional authority by unilaterally deciding to delay the employer mandate for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

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