'What Good' Does Congress Do? Don't Ask

Apr 28, 2012



The U.S. Congress doesn't win any popularity contests. Approval ratings for the legislative branch run the gamut from dismal to embarrassing. Nine percent at their lowest, and all the chaos and discord in the 112th Congress have distressed a lot of its members too. Democratic representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri called the last-minute deal to raise the debt ceiling, quote, "a sugar-coated Satan sandwich. If you lift the bun, you will not like what you see."

Immigrant Sweeps In Greece Spark Protests

Apr 28, 2012



The economy is still the biggest issue for Greeks in next weekend's early parliament elections. But polls show that immigration is also high on the list. Politicians are responding by cracking down on undocumented migrants.

Joanna Kakissis has the story from Athens.


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the week in the spotlight as the latest potential running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The Hispanic lawmaker, anointed as the party's best hope for appealing to more Latino voters, came loaded for bear — rolling out an alternative to the Democrats' Dream Act.

The guilty verdict against former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone this week, is sinking in across West Africa. The historic judgment of the first African president to be prosecuted in an international court leaves Taylor facing a lengthy sentence in a British prison.

The past few years in Texas have seen a parade of DNA exonerations: more than 40 men so far. The first exonerations were big news, but the type has grown smaller as Texans have watched a dismaying march of exonerees, their wasted years haunting the public conscience.

Yet a case in Williamson County, just north of Austin, is raising the ante. Michael Morton had been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. He was released six months ago — 25 years after being convicted — when DNA testing proved he was not the killer.

The general election campaign for president is springing to life, now that Mitt Romney is all but certain to be President Obama's Republican opponent next fall. On Capitol Hill, though, the battle over who will sign or veto Congress' bills next year is already blazing.

In two key votes this past week, many Republicans fell in step with candidate Romney and his quest for more support from younger voters and women.

Yulia Tymoshenko is "wasting away in prison," her family told the AP. Tymoshenko went on a hunger strike and her family said she was "bruised from prison beatings and afraid she will be force-fed by her political foes."

On a chilly grey morning I come across a big, lush patch of nettles in a Pittsburgh park. Leah Lizarondo, the food writer who brought me here, has her hands wrapped in old plastic bread bags.

Those bags are crucial because touching stinging nettles with your bare hands can be pretty unpleasant. "It's like something pricked you, like a little ant bit you, and then it starts being a little painful," said Lizarondo.

General-election battle lines are taking shape between President Obama and likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Romney is sticking with his long-standing attack on the president as someone not up to the huge job of turning around the economy.

But the Obama campaign has recently changed its message: Instead of portraying Romney as a flip-flopping, say-anything politician, it is now arguing that the former Massachusetts governor is a man with extreme positions far outside the American mainstream.

The fallout from the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia continues: Now the Secret Service says it is tightening and clarifying its policies for traveling employees.

NPR's Tamara Keith spoke to a Secret Service spokesperson who says the Secret Service leadership detailed the new rules in an internal message regarding personal conduct sent to all employees.

The new policy covers alcohol consumption and what types of businesses employees can patronize, Tamara tells our Newscast unit. "The Agency is also adding additional briefings on standards of conduct."


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Democrats are having a moment. They managed to win a House seat in Republican-leaning, industrial Pennsylvania and a Senate seat in the deep-red state of Alabama.

Marcy Kaptur didn't plan for this.

First elected in 1982, the Ohio Democrat didn't set out to become the longest-serving woman in House history.

"The reasons that I ran, to change certain practices and policies, [I thought] could be done much more quickly," she said in an interview with NPR. On Sunday, Kaptur becomes the longest-serving woman ever to serve in the chamber with a tenure that spans 35 years, two months and 15 days.

Patrick Desbois, a Roman Catholic priest, has spent the last 15 years investigating and uncovering the details of Nazi massacres across Eastern Europe and Russia, crimes known as the "Holocaust by bullets."

During World War II, the Nazis killed some 1.5 million Jews and Roma across the Soviet Union. While the Nazi death camps are well documented, much less has been known about the systematic murdering of Jews in what are today Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and other countries.

Maryangel Garcia Ramos wears silver glitter eye shadow. She once raised hell at a Killers concert because the venue wouldn't let her rock out with her wheelchair in front of the stage. And she wants you to know that yes, people with disabilities do have sex.

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