President Obama held a year-end press conference Friday at the White House. He touted successes under his watch including improved jobs numbers and a stronger economy, increased oil and gas production, and said a million people had signed up for private health plans on state and federal exchanges. He also chided lawmakers for allowing extended unemployment benefits to lapse. And he took questions from reporters on a range of other issues.
Melissa Block speaks with regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution and David Brooks of The New York Times for the latest in political news. They'll talk about another looming debt ceiling fight in early 2014, new changes to the Affordable Care Act, and a White House panel's review of NSA surveillance programs.
The presidential panel on NSA has brought renewed attention to the practice of spying this week. Phone tapping, searching records and general intrigue — these have been popular topics in literature and film for well nigh a century. But espionage is not often a glamorous task, as author Julia Keller reminds us.
Many neighborhoods in Detroit are in the dark — not because of a power outage but because fewer than half of the city's 88,000 streetlights actually work. A bankruptcy judge recently approved $60 million in bonds to begin to repair them, but that means the city will have to take on a new debt.
Detroit is one of the most dangerous cities in the country, and police officers there are being asked to do more for less money because the police force has been shrinking faster than the city's population. But many hope that a newly hired top cop will change this. James Craig spent the bulk of his career on the Los Angeles police force, but he started as a beat cop in Motor City in 1977. Audie Cornish talks to Craig about his return home and the city's tough law enforcement situation.
One upon a time, the National Football League had trouble packing its stadiums. To encourage fans to attend games instead of watching them at home, the games did not air on local TV. Today, filling stadium seats is not usually a problem, but the so-called blackout rules endure — at least for now. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joins Audie Cornish to talk about that and check in on the NFL's season.
Director Asghar Farhadi's film — which follows a man returning to his estranged wife to finalize a divorce — has garnered quite a few awards. NPR's Bob Mondello says that it definitely deserves its accolades. (Recommended)
Ahead of his trip to Hawaii for the holidays, President Obama held a year-end press conference at the White House Friday. Despite a tough year, the president insisted he had successes under his watch as well, and said he still hoped 2014 could be a "breakthrough year."
The White House announced another rule change for people signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Just in time for the holiday rush, the Obama Administration said people whose policies have been cancelled will be allowed to buy so-called catastrophic coverage plans. The high-deductible, low-premium plans that cover the basics and not much more had previously been limited to people under the age of 30 who had demonstrable financial need.
NASA astronauts will be heading out to conduct critical repairs on the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The 6 1/2-hour spacewalk, the first in a series, will replace a faulty piece of cooling equipment.
The story of the woman famously referred to as a "welfare queen" in Ronald Reagan's 1976 campaign is far more bizarre and unsettling than the stereotype she became the emblem for, as a stellar long read from Slate reveals.
Known for his broad comedies, the actor takes a more serious turn in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, playing a man who copes with his boring life by creating a wild fantasy existence. He spoke with NPR's Melissa Block about the film, which he also directed.