Politics
5:20 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

5 Takeaways From The President's NSA Speech

President Barack Obama talks about National Security Agency surveillance Jan. 17 at the Justice Department in Washington. Seeking to calm a furor over U.S. surveillance, the president called for ending the government's control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and immediately ordered intelligence agencies to get a secretive court's permission before accessing the records.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:21 pm

What does it mean when lawmakers as different as Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall and New York Republican Rep. Peter King offer praise for the president's long-awaited speech on surveillance reforms?

Mostly that resolution to the biggest controversies after leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been put off — or pushed to working groups in the executive branch and the lawmakers themselves.

Still, the president's NSA reforms speech Friday offered a revealing look into the nation's phone data collection program and the direction of the surveillance policy debate.

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The Two-Way
5:04 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Supreme Court To Decide If Warrant Needed To Search Cellphone

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide if police can seize and look through a suspect's cellphone without getting a warrant. This photo shows women in Los Angeles using smartphones on Jan. 7.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 5:26 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court is delving into the technology-versus-privacy debate, agreeing to hear two cases that test whether police making an arrest may search cellphones without a warrant.

The court's announcement Friday that it would take the cases came just hours after President Obama outlined his proposals to address government retention of citizen phone data as part of his speech outlining reforms at the National Security Agency.

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It's All Politics
5:01 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Congress Vows To Step Up To Surveillance Policy Challenge

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., after President Obama's speech.
Charles Dharapak AP

If there was a consensus emanating from Congress Friday after President Obama's NSA reform speech, it was — not surprisingly — that Congress itself has a major role to play in the ultimate fix.

Whether from strong NSA supporters or agency critics, the reactions sounded similar: Congress intends to do much of the steering in the drive to overhaul the NSA's gathering of certain non-public information, especially consumer phone records, in the nation's counterterrorism efforts.

Even so, if you listened closely, you could hear the sound of politics in some of the reaction.

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The Two-Way
4:39 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Signs Trillion-Dollar Federal Spending Bill

President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill into law Friday afternoon, enacting more than 1,500 pages of legislation that received broad support in the House and Senate earlier this week. The expansive bill ensures the U.S. government won't face a potential shutdown until at least October.

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The Two-Way
4:15 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Chemical Company In West Virginia Water Crisis Files For Bankruptcy

Freedom Industries, which has been blamed for a chemical spill that left thousands of people without water, has filed for bankruptcy. The company's facility on Barlow St. is seen here on the banks of the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia.
Tom Hindman Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:40 pm

Freedom Industries, the West Virginia company that's been blamed for a chemical spill that left around 300,000 people without water for days, has filed for bankruptcy. The chemical used in cleaning coal leaked into the Elk River and into the public water system.

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Author Interviews
3:25 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

A Strange Composition: Classical Music Meets Bioterror In 'Orfeo'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:33 pm

Richard Powers' new novel, Orfeo, tells the story of an avant-garde classical music composer who finds himself dabbling in DNA. Like the Orpheus myth that inspired the book's name, this story takes its hero, Peter Els, on a journey. He becomes a fugitive accused of bioterror, but what follows is also a walk back into the recesses of his own memory told through the music and people he's loved and lost.

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All Tech Considered
2:53 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Week That Was: Smart Fridge Hack, Net Neutrality And The NSA

An LG representative shows off a smart refrigerator at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Nothing ends the tech week with a bang like the president's much-anticipated words on the NSA. But let's start with the weekly roundup of tech news from here at NPR and our friends at publications around the country.

ICYMI

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It's All Politics
2:46 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Tom Coburn, GOP Budget Hawk And Obama Friend, To Leave Senate

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., outlines his annual "Wastebook," which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, on Dec. 17 on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 5:12 pm

Tom Coburn will leave the Senate with a reputation as "Dr. No," but not necessarily as doctrinaire.

The Oklahoma Republican, who at age 65 is undergoing his fifth bout of cancer, announced that he will resign in December, two years before his second term expires.

"This decision isn't about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires," Coburn, a physician, said in a statement. "As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere."

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The Two-Way
2:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Pope Benedict Reportedly Defrocked Hundreds Of Priests For Abuse

Pope Benedict XVI, seen here in London in 2010, defrocked nearly 400 priests from 2011-2012 for abusing children, according to a document from the Holy See that was obtained by the AP.
Peter Nicholls AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:13 pm

In a period of just over two years, Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for molesting children, according to the AP, which says it obtained a document representing a rare collection of such data.

As of Friday afternoon, NPR hasn't independently confirmed the AP's information, not having seen the document. Here's a bit of context from NPR's Sylvia Poggioli in Rome:

"If confirmed, the number of nearly 400 marks a sharp increase over the 170 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of defrocked priests.

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The Two-Way
1:44 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

What's Inside This Mystery House In North Carolina?

A close look at this house at 3215 Wade Ave. in Raleigh, N.C., suggests not all is as it seems. There isn't a driveway, for instance, and there's no walkway to the front door.
Eric Mennel WUNC

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 4:17 pm

From the outside, it's nothing special. Just another 1970s-era house with a landscaped yard, white columns, and green shutters. Thousands of people drive past the split-level on Wade Avenue in Raleigh every month, without a second glance.

And that's just what its owners intended — because this house is far more unusual than its appearance would suggest.

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