Alan Greenblatt http://iowapublicradio.org en Deal In Detroit Could Signal Cuts To Pensions Elsewhere http://iowapublicradio.org/post/deal-detroit-could-signal-cuts-pensions-elsewhere It used to be that if you were a public employee, you knew your pension benefits could not be touched.<p>That's no longer the case.<p>Pensions have been under political attack in recent years, with some politicians arguing they can't afford to fund generous retirements at the same time they're cutting services. Numerous states and cities have trimmed the type of pension plans they're offering employees — mostly new employees.<p>But pension benefits already earned have always been sacrosanct, protected by federal law and, often, state constitutions. Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:06:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 44126 at http://iowapublicradio.org Deal In Detroit Could Signal Cuts To Pensions Elsewhere Congress' Latest Death Match Involves A Bank You've Never Heard Of http://iowapublicradio.org/post/congress-latest-death-match-involves-bank-youve-never-heard It sits in an imposing building just across Lafayette Square from the White House. Yet the Export-Import Bank, which has been offering credit to foreign purchasers of U.S. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 09:19:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 43657 at http://iowapublicradio.org Congress' Latest Death Match Involves A Bank You've Never Heard Of What's Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis? A Brief Explainer http://iowapublicradio.org/post/whats-causing-latest-immigration-crisis-brief-explainer It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.<p>Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.<p>President Obama has called on Congress to supply nearly $4 billion simply to deal with the problem. In the meantime, U.S. Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:54:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 43450 at http://iowapublicradio.org What's Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis? A Brief Explainer Federal Highway Program Could Run Out Of Money Next Month http://iowapublicradio.org/post/federal-highway-program-could-run-out-money-next-month Congress has yet another problem it can't solve.<p>For years, the main federal transportation program has been spending more money than it takes in. Thu, 03 Jul 2014 17:50:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 43179 at http://iowapublicradio.org Federal Highway Program Could Run Out Of Money Next Month Unions Fear High Court's Ruling Opens Door To More Trouble http://iowapublicradio.org/post/unions-fear-high-courts-ruling-opens-door-more-trouble It wasn't the worst possible outcome for public sector unions. But that could still happen.<p>The Supreme Court stopped short in its <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/06/30/326926651/supreme-court-rules-against-union-dues-for-some-home-care-workers" target="_blank">Harris v. Quinn decision</a> this week of eliminating unions' ability to collect compulsory dues from government workers who aren't union members but receive the same benefits. Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:35:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 43118 at http://iowapublicradio.org Unions Fear High Court's Ruling Opens Door To More Trouble Obama's First-Term Military Moves Give Way To Second-Term Caution http://iowapublicradio.org/post/obamas-first-term-military-moves-give-way-second-term-caution President Obama's first term was marked by the regular and dramatic use of military force: he ramped up troop levels in Afghanistan, increased drone strikes in several countries, bombed Libya and ordered the raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.<p>In his second term, he has used force much more sparingly and his recent foreign policy address at West Point came under considerable criticism for emphasizing what he considers the limits of U.S. Sun, 08 Jun 2014 09:49:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 41901 at http://iowapublicradio.org Obama's First-Term Military Moves Give Way To Second-Term Caution Illinois Declares Truce In Cupcake War http://iowapublicradio.org/post/illinois-declares-truce-cupcake-war No one really thinks 12-year-old Chloe Stirling presents a menace to public health.<p>The Illinois girl has a knack for baking cupcakes and has done pretty well selling them. So well, in fact, that her local newspaper published a <a href="http://www.bnd.com/2014/01/26/3021370/troy-11-year-old-turns-cupcakes.html" target="_blank">story</a> about her earlier this year. Fri, 06 Jun 2014 16:16:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 41816 at http://iowapublicradio.org Illinois Declares Truce In Cupcake War New Orleans District Moves To An All-Charter System http://iowapublicradio.org/post/new-orleans-district-moves-all-charter-system The nation's largest experiment with charter schools is expanding.<p>The Recovery School District, a state control board that runs most schools in New Orleans, shut down the last of its five traditional public schools this week, making it the first all-charter system in the nation.<p>"Twenty years ago, the first state charter laws showed that districts need not run every public school," says Andy Smarick, a senior policy fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank that backs charters. Fri, 30 May 2014 17:03:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 41474 at http://iowapublicradio.org New Orleans District Moves To An All-Charter System Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Keep Up Their Winning Streak http://iowapublicradio.org/post/same-sex-marriage-supporters-keep-their-winning-streak Same-sex marriage supporters continued to enjoy considerable legal momentum this week.<p>With officials in <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/20/280260080/oregon-wont-defend-states-ban-on-gay-marriage" target="_blank">Oregon</a> and <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2014/05/21/Corbett-won-t-appeal-ruling-to-allow-same-sex-marriage/stories/201405210178" target="_blank">Pennsylvania</a> deciding not to challenge court decisions overturning bans on gay marriage, they became the 18th and 19th states where same-sex couples can be granted legal recognition.<p Sat, 24 May 2014 15:46:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 41174 at http://iowapublicradio.org Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Keep Up Their Winning Streak Official: More Than 200 Dead In Turkish Mine Explosion http://iowapublicradio.org/post/least-20-workers-killed-turkish-mine-explosion <strong>Updated at 6:00 a.m. ET. Wednesday:</strong><p>Authorities in Turkey say at least 205 workers have been killed after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in the western part of the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared three days of national mourning.<strong> </strong><p><strong>Update at 11:19 p.m. ET. More Than 200 Dead: Tue, 13 May 2014 16:49:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 40562 at http://iowapublicradio.org Official: More Than 200 Dead In Turkish Mine Explosion Advocates Back Paid Sick Leave, But Opponents Won't Cough It Up http://iowapublicradio.org/post/advocates-back-paid-sick-leave-opponents-wont-cough-it If you've ever seen your waiter sneeze, you may have asked for a different server. If you've seen one sneeze repeatedly, you might wonder why he's still at work, serving tainted food.<p>See, most restaurant workers don't get paid when they stay home sick. But, some go to work anyway, when they've got the sniffles or worse, because they need the paycheck.<p>For labor advocates, that's a problem.<p>"The fact that we're forcing people to go to work sick is not something we want to do as a society," says Maryland state Rep. John Olszewski Jr., a Democrat. Thu, 08 May 2014 12:32:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 40321 at http://iowapublicradio.org Advocates Back Paid Sick Leave, But Opponents Won't Cough It Up States Struggle To Find An Execution Method That Works http://iowapublicradio.org/post/states-struggle-find-execution-method-works States have always struggled to find humane ways to carry out the death penalty. Wed, 30 Apr 2014 22:23:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 39965 at http://iowapublicradio.org States Struggle To Find An Execution Method That Works Gays In Cincinnati: From Second-Class Citizens To Fully Accepted http://iowapublicradio.org/post/gays-cincinnati-second-class-citizens-fully-accepted Ryan Messer decided he could go home again.<p>Messer was one of a number of gay men of his generation who packed up and left Cincinnati, a city with a history of official discrimination, for friendlier cities on the coasts.<p>"They still have this Cincinnati group in San Diego," he says. "They're doing great things, and we lost that talent."<p>But the city charter, which blocked legal protections for gays and lesbians up until a decade ago, has since been amended.<p>"When I was 23, we were such a novelty," Messer says. Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:18:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 39929 at http://iowapublicradio.org Gays In Cincinnati: From Second-Class Citizens To Fully Accepted At The NRA Meeting: Come For The Guns, Stay For The Camaraderie http://iowapublicradio.org/post/nra-meeting-come-guns-stay-camaraderie Ben Pickering can't believe his luck.<p>"Holy cow," he keeps saying. "Man, that's just incredible. That's just amazing."<p>Pickering won a drawing for an Ambush rifle, an $1,800 AR-15-style model. Sat, 26 Apr 2014 19:14:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 39759 at http://iowapublicradio.org At The NRA Meeting: Come For The Guns, Stay For The Camaraderie In Illinois, A Town That's Half-Destroyed But Filled With Hope http://iowapublicradio.org/post/illinois-town-thats-half-destroyed-filled-hope Washington is just starting to rebuild.<p>Much of the central Illinois town was wiped away by a half-mile-wide tornado in November. In all, 1,108 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable — a huge share of the housing stock in a city of 15,000.<p>"Early on, people were asking me how long it was going to take to rebuild the city, and I said we'll do it in a year," says Mayor Gary Manier. "That was wishful thinking."<p>Tornadoes typically strike the Midwest during the spring. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:38:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 39561 at http://iowapublicradio.org In Illinois, A Town That's Half-Destroyed But Filled With Hope Captains Uncourageous: Abandoning Ship Long Seen As A Crime http://iowapublicradio.org/post/captains-uncourageous-abandoning-ship-long-seen-crime Cowardice comes in many forms, but there's a special sense of shame reserved for captains who abandon ship.<p>South Korean authorities <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/04/18/ferry-captain-left-third-mate-at-helm-korea-prosecutor/7855637/">have arrested</a> Capt. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:56:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 39345 at http://iowapublicradio.org Captains Uncourageous: Abandoning Ship Long Seen As A Crime Lost Malaysian Plane Could Land In Cultural Lore http://iowapublicradio.org/post/lost-malaysian-plane-could-land-cultural-lore Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared more than a month ago, but it still compels significant attention, despite the passage of time and lack of definitive information about where it may have gone.<p>While many events over time fade from general knowledge, the circumstances surrounding this one may serve to secure its place in our collective memory.<p>"If it never gets found, I think its cultural penetration will increase in time, not go down," says Robert Thompson, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University. Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:18:00 +0000 Alan Greenblatt 38854 at http://iowapublicradio.org Lost Malaysian Plane Could Land In Cultural Lore