US News

The Two-Way
9:21 am
Tue December 23, 2014

U.S. Economy Grew At A 5 Percent Rate; Dow Surpasses 18,000

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 2:55 pm

The U.S. economy grew at a surprisingly fast 5 percent annual rate in the third quarter of 2014, up sharply from the 3.9 percent of the last revision. The figure blew past the consensus estimate of 4.3 percent put forth by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

It's the fastest the U.S. economy has grown in one quarter in more than a decade: The GDP grew at a 6.9 percent pace in the third quarter of 2003.

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: Dow Tops 18,000 For First Time

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The Two-Way
10:25 am
Thu December 18, 2014

2014 Saw Fewest Executions In 20 Years, Report Finds

The gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla., in 2008.
AP

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 1:20 pm

There was a significant drop in the number of executions and death penalty sentences in 2014, a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center finds.

The group's year-end accounting finds that:

-- States conducted 35 executions in 2014 — the lowest since 1994.

-- And the justice system sentenced 72 people to death — the lowest number in 40 years.

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The Two-Way
9:09 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Obama Unveils 'New Approach' On Cuba As Former Foes Chart New Course

President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. will work with Cuba to normalize diplomatic ties.
Doug Mills UPI /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:41 pm

Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET

President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Obama said "we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries."

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Around the Nation
5:35 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

On Nebraska's Farmland, Keystone XL Pipeline Debate Is Personal

Susan and Bill Dunavan own 80 acres of land in York County.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:46 pm

Drive down gravel Road 22 in Nebraska's York County, past weathered farmhouses and corn cut to stubble in rich, black loam soil, and you'll find a small barn by the side of the road.

Built of native ponderosa pine, the barn is topped with solar panels. A windmill spins furiously out front.

Known as the Energy Barn, it's a symbol of renewable energy, standing smack on the proposed route of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline — a project of the energy giant TransCanada.

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Law
4:39 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The shocking death of basketball player Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in 1986 led Congress to pass tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:08 pm

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

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U.S. News
3:26 am
Tue December 16, 2014

President's Task Force To Re-Examine How Police Interact With Public

President Obama announces the creation of a policing task force Dec. 1 as Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (left) and George Mason University criminology professor Laurie Robinson look on.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:09 pm

Earlier this month, after the events in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y, the White House announced the creation of what it's calling a Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The group's job is to find ways to strengthen the relationship between police and the public, and to share recommendations with the president by late February.

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Around the Nation
6:16 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Do Guns On The Premises Make Workplaces Safer?

In 2010, Omar Thornton killed eight colleagues in Manchester, Conn., before killing himself. Private employers used to create their own rules about guns on their property. But over the past five years, many states have adopted laws that allow employees to keep firearms in their vehicles at work.
Douglas Healey Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 8:49 am

This year, Tennessee joined 21 other states that allow employees to leave guns in their cars in the office parking lot. The laws have left many employers debating how best to ensure safety at work.

After Georgia passed its law allowing employees to keep firearms in their employers' parking lots, Sally Roberts installed a sign on her newspaper firm's door. It read: "No Weapons Allowed."

A job candidate once threatened her, says Roberts, human resources director at Morris Communications. "She did become violent, and I'm very thankful she did not have a weapon."

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Here & Now
11:15 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Beyond The Pump: What Falling Oil Prices Mean For U.S. Producers

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Chief Economist Brian Pearce speaks at the IATA global media day on December 10, 2014 in Geneva. Global airline association IATA on December 10 raised the sector's profit forecast to a record $19.9 billion for 2014 and $25 billion for 2015, as plunging oil prices drive down costs. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 3:19 pm

Oil prices have plunged more than 40 percent since July, to a five-year low, and they continue to fall. As of Wednesday morning, crude was trading below $62 a barrel.

That’s good news for drivers, but beyond low gas prices, what does it mean for U.S. oil producers, and the economy?

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks to Juli Niemann, a financial analyst with Smith Moore and Company.

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Immigration
6:04 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Pruitt Adds Oklahoma to List of States Suing Obama

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt prepares to greet Gov. Mary Fallin at the 2013 State of the State address at the state capitol.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Attorney General Scott Pruitt is adding Oklahoma to the list of 20 states suing President Barack Obama over his executive action to spare from deportation nearly 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally.

Pruitt announced Tuesday that Oklahoma would join the multistate lawsuit filed in federal district court in Texas.

In a statement, Pruitt said the president's executive actions are "unlawful and unconstitutional."

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US News
3:39 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

'Torture Report': Did Harsh Interrogations Help Find Osama Bin Laden?

The CIA has long maintained that its advanced interrogation techniques led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Rahimullah Yousafzai AP

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 6:52 pm

One of the big arguments the Central Intelligence Agency has used to defend its enhanced interrogation techniques is that information stemming from those interrogations led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

More specifically, officials have argued that those types of questionings led to important information about Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, the courier that led the U.S. to bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.

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