All Things Considered for Friday, November 15, 2013

President Obama's proposal — designed to help reverse the recent cancellation of some health policies — seems to leave the decision up to insurance companies. But there are other decision-makers in the mix who are just as important: state regulators.
Audie Cornish turns to regular political commentators E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution and David Brooks with The New York Times to discuss the week in politics. They discuss the president's attempt to delay insurance policy cancellations, the response from House Republicans, as well as nuclear talks with Iran.
Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines late last week, leaving behind devastation and plenty of questions yet to be answered. Authors Kevin Roose and Allan Gurganus suggest books that might provide readers with a glimpse past the week's ubiquitous headlines, to the human cost often left hidden.

More Changes For China After Leadership Conference

China's leadership said Friday that it will close forced labor camps and relax its one-child policy. The announcement followed a special four-day meeting of leaders, which resulted in a number of economic and social reforms. Both the "re-education through labor" camps and the population control measures are widely unpopular with the Chinese public; the leadership also announced changes intended to encourage greater urbanization in China, as the country tries to build a consumer-led economy.
Although the death toll from the typhoon disaster in the Philippines is still uncertain, it is known that hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, lacking food, water and even basic shelter. Just over a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck, the U.S. aid effort has now kicked into higher gear with the arrival off of the carrier USS George Washington and its support ships off the coast of the worst hit area, the island of Leyte.

Once An Ancient Village, Soon An Entertainment Complex?

In downtown Miami, archaeologists uncovered evidence of an American Indian village that was already centuries old when Columbus arrived in the New World. The city and developers are now deciding if the site will be preserved — which would require redesigning the final phase of a billion-dollar project.
The NFL is investigating allegations of hazing by a Miami Dolphins player against his teammate. Many in the league believe better performance can be achieved through peer-led actions that will "toughen up" perceived weaker members of the team. Do these methods work and what's considered crossing the line?
President Obama has launched basic research to help scientists peer deep into the individual nerve circuits in the brain. There's also a more practical effort to restore the memories of injured soldiers by outfitting them with specialized brain implants.

Steve Coogan, Tacking Toward The Funny Side Of Serious

In Philomena, the British comedian plays a journalist helping an older woman track down the son she was forced to give up for adoption. Coogan tells NPR's Robert Siegel about the project — one with a bit more weight than his usual work.

House Approves 'Keep Your Health Plan' Bill

On Thursday, President Obama offered a fix to the Affordable Care Act to deal with his promise that if you like your health plan, you can keep it. On Friday, the House passed a bill, 261-157, that would go further. It would give insurance companies the option of continuing all their existing plans for a year. This, and a related bill in the Senate, are garnering support among some worried Democrats.

What Makes A Health Plan Obamacare-Compliant?

Many people have been notified by their insurers that their health plans are being cancelled to meet benchmarks in the Affordable Care Act requiring coverage of a broader range of treatments. Robert Siegel talks to Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, about what makes insurance plans non-compliant with the health law's new standards.
ZenoRadio hooks up more than 1 million listeners to radio stations around the world by making a call to a U.S. phone number. The company founder came up with the idea when he realized that most U.S. cellphone plans have unlimited calling, and many immigrants have cellphones but no on-the-job Internet connection.
More than seven years since their previous releases, Sony and Microsoft are debuting new versions of their popular game consoles — PlayStation and Xbox. Hard-core gamers are excited, but once that initial rush is over, Sony and Microsoft will have to work a lot harder to expand beyond that market.
When Dalia Mogahed, a Muslim analyst who advised the White House on faith-based partnerships, met comedian and author Judy Carter, the two struck up an unlikely friendship.

Is Running Your Car On Rubbish The Future Of Fuels?

The EPA proposed a new standard on Friday for how much biofuel must be mixed into the nation's gasoline. The portion of vehicle fuel that comes from plants has increased dramatically over recent years to about 10 percent. But most of it comes from corn. Congress hoped that, by now, a billion gallons would be coming from advanced biofuels, which have much smaller greenhouse gas footprints. That hasn't happened. But the nascent cellulosic fuel industry says don't count it out. Several plants are on the verge of opening and more will be on the way.

After Further Review, MLB Okays Instant Replay

Other sports leagues have fully embraced instant replay to help officiating for years. Major League Baseball stubbornly held out...until Thursday. Owners approved a plan for instant replay starting next season. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis tells Robert Siegel about that development and other off-season baseball matters including, Derek Jeter: Book Publisher.

Amazon Opens An Entertainment Door With 'Alpha House'

The online retailer is premiering its first original show — a comedy about four senators bunking together in D.C. NPR's Eric Deggans says the series, which stars John Goodman, isn't quite the sharp comedy you might expect from creator Garry Trudeau.
Find an archived Episode: