NPR News



Tue August 2, 2011

After 15 Years, GOP Revives Balanced Budget Idea

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole on Capitol Hill on March 1, 1995 after he came up one vote short in his quest to pass a balanced budget amendment in the Senate.

It's an idea whose time may have come again.

There was lively debate about amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, but the issue seemed to die off in the face of the federal surpluses that marked the end of the Clinton years.

"The reason it fell off the radar screen then is we actually did it," says Robert S. Walker, who served on the House Budget Committee as a Pennsylvania Republican during the Clinton administration. "We simply said, look, if it's not possible to pass the amendment, let's balance the budget."

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Tue August 2, 2011

Some Worry French Military Stretched Too Thin

France has been engaged on numerous military fronts this year as the country's armed forces back up President Nicolas Sarkozy's active foreign policy. The French military's quick success in ousting Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was lauded, but other interventions — like the one in Libya — drag on, leaving many to wonder if public support and the country's budget will be able to keep pace.

Analysts say the French military is in crisis, strained by restructuring and budget cuts, and tested by three simultaneous conflicts abroad.

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Tue August 2, 2011

Worries Over Water As Natural Gas Fracking Expands

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 12:24 pm

Workers move a section of well casing into place at a natural gas drilling rig near Burlington, Pa. The industry is expected to drill as many as 10,000 new wells in the next few years.
Ralph Wilson AP

Drive through northern Pennsylvania and you'll see barns, cows, silos and drilling rigs perched on big, concrete pads.

Pennsylvania is at the center of a natural gas boom. New technology is pushing gas out of huge shale deposits underground. That's created jobs and wealth, but it may be damaging drinking water. That's because when you "frack," as hydraulic fracturing is called, you pump millions of gallons of fluids underground. That cracks the shale a mile deep and drives natural gas up to the surface — gas that otherwise could never be tapped.

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Tue August 2, 2011
Crime In The City

Taking On Crime In A Racially Divided D.C.

George Pelecanos' 17 crime novels take place in and around Washington, D.C. Pelecanos has also written for HBO's The Wire and Treme, which take place in Baltimore and New Orleans, but he says his novels will always be set in D.C.
Mai-Trang Dang via Flickr

All 17 of George Pelecanos' crime novels have been set in his hometown of Washington, D.C. — but he isn't writing about politicians, lawyers or lobbyists. Instead, Pelecanos' stories look at the city's greasers and drug dealers; its working black families and its ethnic neighborhoods.

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Mon August 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Pays House A Surprise Visit For Debt Vote

The House of Representatives' vote to approve a bill raising the U.S. federal debt ceiling ended weeks of uncertainty and bitter debate. But even as the vote tally came in, the loudest cheers in the chamber were heard when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) made her first appearance on the House floor since she was severely wounded by a gunman in January.

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