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Politics
12:00 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

How Santorum's Surge Is Changing The 2012 Race

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum swept caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and the Missouri primary, gaining considerable ground on Mitt Romney's primary lead. NPR's Ken Rudin and Dan Balz, of the Washington Post, recap the week in politics.

Around the Nation
12:00 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

China's V.P. Strengthens Ties In Muscatine, Iowa

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the heir apparent to the presidency, visited Muscatine, Iowa Wednesday. He spent a week with a family there in 1979 to learn about American agriculture. Des Moines Register reporter Kyle Munson discusses the relationships foreign leaders form with U.S. towns.

The Two-Way
11:39 am
Wed February 15, 2012

President's 2013 Budget Includes Slight Boost For Arts, Cultural Agencies

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 4:25 pm

The 2013 budget proposed by President Obama includes many cuts made to conform with new spending limits. But several arts and cultural institutions saw their allotment rise by about 5 percent in the proposed plan. The proposed spending of $1.576 billion — in a budget of $3.8 trillion — includes some good news for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Endowments for the Arts.

For the Newscast desk, Elizabeth Blair filed this report:

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It's All Politics
11:23 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Election-Year Realities Bring Compromise On Payroll Taxes And More

Speaker John Boehner didn't cite it being an election year or Congress' low approval ratings for the GOP's new flexibility but it's hard to ignore such realities.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:11 pm

Part of President Obama's 2012 re-election strategy was to run against a do-nothing Congress. But congressional Republicans now appear determined to make that approach harder for him by coming to terms on some Democratic priorities.

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National Security
11:22 am
Wed February 15, 2012

As Wars Wind Down, What Are U.S. Security Needs?

U.S. soldiers are expected to be in Afghanistan for a couple more years. But already there's a debate about future U.S. security needs worldwide. Here, soldiers examine the site of a suicide bombing in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Jan. 19.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 12:07 pm

U.S. troops have already left Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, and there hasn't been a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 2001.

So is America now safe enough to scale back its emphasis on security? Or are the potential threats no less dangerous — just less obvious?

These questions are not just philosophical, but practical. They're also the underpinning of the current argument about what the level of defense spending should be.

Cuts, But How Big?

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Shots - Health Blog
11:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Does Contraception Really Pay For Itself?

Birth control will be paid for by employees' insurance companies, if their employers refuse to do so.
istockphoto.com

Last week, President Barack Obama announced that religious groups won't have to pay for contraceptive services themselves. Instead, the cost would be borne by their insurance companies.

That compromise has raised a whole new set of questions on its own, though.

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Education
11:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Big Changes Ahead For American Schools?

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:46 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

President Obama's new budget is the talk of Capitol Hill this week. And while most of the headlines are about the ongoing fight over how best to reduce the federal deficit, the president's proposal also calls for a significant boost in education funding. It's yet another window into his administration's philosophy around education.

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Politics
10:38 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Why America Pursues More Perfect Politics

Americans are always searching for a "more perfect union." Volunteers roll up a giant banner printed with the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution during a demonstration against the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Oct. 20, 2010.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Americans are obsessed with perfection.

We implement zero-tolerance policies in our schools and businesses. We improve on the atomic clock with the quantum-logic clock that is twice as precise. We use multi-angle instant replay cameras in certain professional sporting contests to make sure the referees' calls are flawless. We spend millions on plastic surgery. We strive for higher fidelity, resolution, definition, everything.

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Author Interviews
10:26 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Nathan Englander: Assimilating Thoughts Into Stories

Nathan Englander grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family. He now splits his time between New York and Madison, Wis.
Juliana Sohn

The stories in Nathan Englander's new collection are based largely on his experiences growing up as a modern Orthodox Jew with an overprotective mother.

In What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Englander writes about his own faith — and what it means to be Jewish — in stories that explore religious tension, Israeli-American relations and the Holocaust.

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The Two-Way
10:24 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Administration Proposes $5 Billion Competition To Improve Teacher Quality

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 10:26 am

Using its Race to the Top program as a model, the Obama administration is expected to announce a $5 billion competition designed to improve teacher quality.

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