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Obama To Visit Cuba Next Month

Feb 18, 2016

Building on the opening to Cuba he launched 14 months ago, President Obama will visit the island as part of a multi-nation Latin America trip planned for next month.

According to Thursday's formal announcement by the White House, the president and first lady will travel to Cuba on March 21-22. "In Cuba, the President will work to build on the progress we have made toward normalization of relations with Cuba — advancing commercial and people-to-people ties that can improve the well-being of the Cuban people, and expressing our support for human rights," the statement read.

A Los Angeles hospital paid a nearly $17,000 ransom to hackers who breached and disabled its computer network, the hospital said in a statement Wednesday.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid the ransom of 40 bitcoins, which is currently worth $16,664, in order to restore the computer system that was infiltrated on Feb. 5.

The hackers used a malware that locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key.

In a battle for the Republican Party's conservative base, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are exchanging heavy blows, with Trump most recently threatening to sue Cruz over a political advertisement.

But in the midst of this fierce contest for the Republican nomination, the party's top official, Reince Priebus, says it's not his role to referee the drama.

A federal magistrate judge ruled Wednesday that the State Department wrongfully seized the passport of a naturalized U.S. citizen in Sanaa, Yemen, leaving him stranded in that war-torn country for over a year with no way of returning to his home in California.

After Donald Trump threatened to sue Ted Cruz for defamation over an ad he's running on Trump's past support for abortion, the Texas senator had one message for the billionaire businessman: Bring it on.

For the oil industry, this is what passes for good news:

Iran said Wednesday that it would be great if other countries would limit their oil production to boost prices.

As for itself, Iran will continue to ramp up oil production.

That may not sound like much reason for celebration, but Iran's expression of support for multi-nation plan to restrain oil output was enough to give the energy market a boost. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained $1.62, or 5.6%, to settle at $30.66 a barrel.

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Recent claims about Bernie Sanders' economic proposals are hurting the Democratic Party, say four former White House economists.

Midway through Matt Keil's second deployment in Iraq, he came home and married his fiancee, Tracy, in 2007.

He had two weeks R&R; no time for a honeymoon.

Before he went back to war the couple had the sort of conversation unique to newlyweds in the military. "I told her if you get a phone call that I'm injured, I'm probably fine," Matt says. "But if they come to the apartment or to your work in person, then I'm dead."

The presidential primary season has ended. See who won each contest and how many delegates were at stake in each state.

For the latest on the delegate race, check out our Delegate Tracker.

On a chilly afternoon in south Georgia, more than 100 Transportation Security Administration trainees are huddled together on metal bleachers overlooking a field. They're watching an explosives instructor demonstrate what can happen if they don't do their job well.

"All right, confined smokeless powder in three, two, one."

BOOM!

The trainees (and an observing reporter) jump, startled by the explosion 100 yards or so before them.

More blasts follow, with different explosives. The lesson for these new hires? That the consequences of a mistake are deadly.

This past Sunday during 11 a.m. worship service at Bible Way Church of Atlas Road in Columbia, S.C., there was a short celebration of Black History Month. The church honored John Wesley Matthews Jr., a long-serving black state senator.

After Matthews accepted an award, the pastor of the church, Darrell Jackson Sr., took time to acknowledge another special guest.

Taxpayers Confused By Late Health Law Forms

Feb 17, 2016

As the 2015 tax filing season gets underway, tax preparers said a delay in health law tax forms is tripping up some consumers, while others want details about exemptions from increasingly stiff penalties for not having insurance.

Under the law, most people must have health insurance or pay a fine. In 2015, the penalty was $325 per adult and $162.50 per child up to $975, or 2 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

America Is Obsessed With Identity. Thanks, Obama?

Feb 17, 2016

When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, there was a lot of talk about "The Obama Effect": how the nation's first black president signaled a new era of racial harmony and understanding.

That didn't happen. But what did? The Obama family's tenure in the White House has overlapped a revolution in the way Americans deal with identity. From race to religion, from gender to sexual orientation and beyond, marginalized groups that historically worked and waited for "a seat at the table" increasingly demanded their share of cultural power.

President Obama backed a bill in Illinois last week that would automatically register people to vote when they apply for a driver's license or state ID.

"That will protect the fundamental right of everybody," he said. "Democrats, Republicans, independents, seniors, folks with disabilities, the men and women of our military — it would make sure that it was easier for them to vote and have their vote counted."

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio Campaign Fodder

Feb 17, 2016

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A U.S. magistrate has ordered Apple to assist the government in unlocking the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. The FBI is seeking information that may be on Farook's employer-issued phone as it investigates the Dec. 2 shootings that left 14 people dead.

At the time of the attack, Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, destroyed two personally owned cellphones and removed a hard drive from their computer.

Dr. Seth Ammerman listens intently to his new, 21-year-old patient. Ernesto, who does not want his last name disclosed, is homeless. He is earning a high school degree and working part time, but at night, he and his brother share a tent that they set up on the streets of San Jose, Calif. The daily stress of being homeless is wearing Ernesto out, and making him light up too many cigarettes.

"I just want to cut down on my smoking," says Ernesto, in a tentative, soft voice. "I've been on the streets all the time, you know? I just want to make sure I'm OK."

The unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the looming face-off between the White House and the Senate over his replacement have revived proposals that would limit the tenure of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Legal scholars from both political parties renewed a call Tuesday to reconsider how much time justices spend on the high court. Many of them cited, with disapproval, a bruising and protracted clash building between President Obama and the GOP-controlled Senate over when and how to fill Scalia's vacancy.

In northeast Scotland, there is a cluster of homes on the outskirts of a pristine golf course near Aberdeen owned by none other than Donald Trump. The U.S. presidential hopeful's business venture promised thousands of jobs, tourism and a new way to diversify the oil economy.

Trump wanted to build the golf course in Scotland, he said, because his mother was born there. But almost a decade later, he has angered his neighbors and turned some of his former supporters against him.

Maybe it's understandable that immigration reform remains stalled in Congress during an election year. And that the fate of President Obama's executive actions on immigration before the U.S. Supreme Court remains unclear, especially in the aftermath of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Millions of Americans have been freezing in record-low temperatures this month.

Now many are mapping out road trips, preparing to head south soon for Easter and spring breaks. And with gas prices averaging just about $1.70 a gallon nationwide, they are looking forward to affordable travel.

But on the other side of the world, oil producers are trying to engineer a different kind of freeze — one that could heat up gas prices again.

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U.S. manufacturers of medical devices started 2016 with a windfall — a two-year suspension of a controversial tax on their revenue.

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