All Things Considered for Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Senate Committee Grills Sebelius Over Health Law

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was back on the Hill Wednesday, this time to be grilled by the Senate Finance Committee about problems with the Affordable Care Act.
It's been a year since Washington state voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. That's meant some big changes along Interstate 5, sometimes called the "Marijuana Highway." Police are phasing out pot-sniffing dogs, but are becoming more vigilant about what some call "green DUIs."
On Tuesday, some Colorado counties voted to secede from the state. Their secession effort was largely symbolic — and it has been done elsewhere in the U.S. with great regularity.
Female farm workers are starting to speak up about the hidden price some pay to keep their jobs in the fields: enduring sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. It can be emotionally difficult for any rape victim to press criminal charges, but for female farm workers, there are other obstacles.
The major soccer convention that was to be staged in Rio de Janeiro on the eve of the World Cup draw has been cancelled. Due to happen next week, organizers said it won't go ahead because of ongoing civil unrest. Brazil's government says it has to do with funding.
Secretary of State John Kerry spends Wednesday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders just after the peace negotiations he set in motion hit their lowest point yet. The announcement of more Israeli settlements led the Palestinian team to nearly quit over the weekend, while settlers applauded the move. Kerry plans to speak very little while here, keeping in line with his mum's-the-word approach even as speculation of a backdoor U.S. plan rages in Israeli media.
A triple stabbing at a Chinese hospital is the latest in a string of attacks against doctors by disgruntled patients. Policies intended to improve and expand health care have led to overcrowded facilities, overwhelmed doctors and corruption.
Audie Cornish talks to reporter Rich Paloma of The Oakdale Leader about a brazen crime wave in California farm country. It's the latest in a series of walnut thefts and the largest yet. Thieves made off with more than 140,000 pounds of walnuts from Gold River Orchard. That works out to about $400,000 worth of walnuts were stolen from the Escalon farm, and the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation says crimes like these are on the upswing. It's one of the largest nut thefts in recent memory.
A national project found that hundreds of former Michigan students had enough credits for an associate degree — but they'd never claimed them. Thousands more were close. Those credentials could make ex-students more employable or eligible for better-paying jobs.
More than a year after her death, Nora Ephron — beloved reporter, screenwriter, director, and novelist — has been memorialized in a collection of her writings. Meg Wolitzer, who enjoyed a 20-year friendship with Ephron, says The Most of Nora Ephron forms a picture of an ambitious, honest feminist who demanded a lot from life and gave back even more.

Now That Election 2013 Is Over, What Does It All Mean?

Elections across the country installed a Democratic governor in increasingly purple Virginia and gave a Republic governor more than 50 percent of the vote in deep blue New Jersey. Those were just two races that were closely watched around the nation Tuesday night. With the election over, it's time to read the tea leaves to see what the outcomes of various races could mean for politics and policy in the coming year.
Gov. Jerry Brown is now on the longest-serving governor in California history. Not long ago, the state was in economic crisis. Today, California's finances are healthier than they've been in years. Now, many in the nation's capital are looking to the state — and its governor — for what lessons Washington might learn from Sacramento.
Republicans will be looking for lessons in Tuesday's gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia. The battle for the future of the party also played out in a smaller contest: a special primary election for Congress in southern Alabama.

New Jersey Votes To Increase Minimum Wage

New Jersey voted Tuesday to re-elect Gov. Chris Christie. Also on the ballot in the state was a proposal to increase the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour. Gov. Christie opposed the increase, but voters approved it by a wide margin.

San Franciscans Nix Waterfront Development Plans

Voters in San Francisco have rejected a referendum that would have allowed a major new condominium development on the city's waterfront.

The Vatican Reaches Out, A Cricket Match At A Time

The Vatican is vowing to defeat the Church of England — not in the pews but on the cricket pitch. The Vatican has launched a cricket club, which draws from seminarians and priests of different nationalities who live and study in Rome. It's hoped the club will forge ties with teams of other faiths.
One thing Twitter has that other social networks don't: Users who talk about the world in real time. That could be worth a lot.

What's In A (Panda Cub's) Name?

The Smithsonian's National Zoo has put forward five names for the new panda cub. The zoo is asking the public to vote on the names, which are: Bao Bao, Ling Hua, Long Yun, Mulan, and Zhen Bao.
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