All Things Considered for Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The State Of The Union Goes On Tour

A day after delivering his State of the Union, President Obama is beginning a four-city road trip. He plans to use the trip to push the priorities he emphasized during his address, with a focus on a raise to the federal minimum wage.

Income Inequality, As Seen From Two Angles

A key theme of President Obama's State of the Union was income inequality. For two different perspectives on the matter, Robert Siegel talks with Paul Krugman and Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Krugman is a columnist for The New York Times and a professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Holtz-Eakin is the president of the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute. He also served as the chief economist of the President's Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush.
North Dakota's oil sector is booming, but agriculture remains the state's largest industry. And while many farmers and ranchers are profiting from the oil beneath the prairie, others complain that drilling is interfering with their business — and changing rural life as they know it.

On A Roman Street, Graffiti Celebrates 'SuperPope'

What can't Pope Francis do? First he's Time's "Person of the Year," then he's a Rolling Stone cover story. Now, graffiti art in Rome is depicting the pontiff as a comic-book caped crusader. Even the Vatican approves.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio speaks to Robert Siegel about the president's proposals in Tuesday night's State of the Union.

A Fond Farewell To Fed Chairman Ben

Federal Reserve policymakers are wrapping up a two-day meeting as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke prepares to step down later this week. Investors expect the Fed to stick with its plan to "taper" bond purchases and keep short-term interest rates where they are.
John Moffitt once played for the Seattle Seahawks, but before this season opened, he was traded to the Denver Broncos. In midseason, as the Broncos were battling their way to the Super Bowl, he quit the team. Moffitt talks about why he walked away and what it's like to watch his two former teams make it to the NFL's biggest game.

A Medal Of Valor, 30 Years In Coming

Three decades after U.S. troops helped protect a Soviet defector during a firefight with North Korean troops, Mark Deville finally received his Silver Star. His comrades were awarded their medals years ago.
Kidjo's latest album, Eve, started when she was swept into a group of singing women in Kenya. She then took her music to Benin, traveling its width and breadth and recording nine different choral groups to back up her own lead vocals.

Atlanta Officials May Have To Dodge Some Snowballs

Snow and ice continue to plague parts of the Deep South, including Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala. As Rose Scott reports from Atlanta, city and state officials were surprised by the strength of the storm, and many people found themselves stuck on interstates highways.
Thousands of students spent the night stranded in Atlanta area high schools as a result of road closures from the Deep South freeze. Audie Cornish speaks with Reed Christian, an English teacher who along with her colleagues looked after more than 250 students through the night.
Turner's Wee Pals was the first nationally syndicated comic strip by a black cartoonist. It featured a rainbow tribe of young friends and gentle lessons in tolerance.
American Scholar magazine is looking for English versions of foreign words that we resort to using frequently — like mensch and schadenfreude. Robert Siegel talks with Ralph Keyes about the suggestions that readers have contributed.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky gave one of several GOP responses to the president's State of the Union on Tuesday night. Audie Cornish speaks with Paul about both his response and the state of his party.

Farm Bill Clears House, On Its Way To Senate

After two years of fits and starts, a new farm bill appears on the verge of passing Congress. The House passed the 959-page proposal on Wednesday, with the Senate likely to pass it next week. The compromise cuts $8 billion from food stamps over the next decade and replaces farm subsidies with more extensive crop insurance.

Welcome To Homs, A Syrian City Under Siege

Among the many issues in contention at the Syrian peace talks is the possibility of humanitarian relief for cities and villages under siege. No place is in greater need of assistance than the city of Homs in western Syria. One of the first regions to rise up against President Bashar al-Assad, Homs is now the site of an ongoing humanitarian aid crisis. Approximately two to three thousand people find themselves trapped in a disputed district and in increasingly desperate circumstances.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict includes a shadow war in which Israel turns to Palestinian informants to gather intelligence. Palestinian Abed Hamed el-Rajoub was imprisoned for fighting against Israel, but while in jail, he secretly gathered information from fellow Palestinian prisoners.
Overweight kindergartners are much more likely to be obese by eighth grade compared to their normal-weight peers, a study finds. The solution may be for women to avoid gaining too much weight during pregnancy, researchers say, as well as helping kids get exercise and eat healthy foods.

Meet The myRA — Obama's New Retirement Plan

On Wednesday, President Obama directed the Treasury Department to create a new retirement plan called "myRA." The decision, a circumvention of Congress, follows through on one of the promises made by the president in his State of the Union. As Yuki Noguchi reports, the success of the plan may depend on its ability to move beyond the limitations of existing retirement plans.

Neanderthal Genes Live On In Our Hair And Skin

Scientists know that a small percentage of humans' genes came from Neanderthals. But they were surprised to find that one-fifth of Neanderthal genes are in modern humans living today. That includes genes associated with diseases including Type 2 diabetes, Crohn's disease and lupus.
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