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DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And now some pregame analysis from Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays. And, Cokie, tempted as I am to talk about baseball with you, I guess we should focus on the politics (laughter) if you want, unless you disagree with that.
Baseball fans endure the long winter in part because they know, come March, the game will again come alive. They can't wait for their radio, TV, computer screen or smartphone to come alive with scenes from warm climates featuring men in crisp uniforms pitching and catching.
Major League Baseball's spring training is underway, but at this stage, wins and losses aren't really important. It's all about fundamentals: getting ready for the regular season and hopefully the playoffs.
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Switzerland today for more talks with Iran's foreign minister on the Islamic republic's nuclear program. The meeting comes a week after Senate Republicans signed an open letter to Iran suggesting any deal reached would lapse the day President Obama leaves office.
NPR's Peter Kenyon, who is reporting on the talks for our Newscast unit, says:
About three-quarters of the way through his joke routine, President Obama chuckled and said "this lame-duck stuff is fun." Indeed, unencumbered by re-election concerns, Obama seemed to relish his role of comic-in-chief at the 130th annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, the oldest and most exclusive club for members of the Washington press corps.
Here are five notable lines from Obama's appearance, in order of delivery:
The U.S. air war in Iraq and Syria against the self-proclaimed Islamic State is now in its eighth month.
American officials say dropping bombs won't be enough to defeat that group; it will also require fighting on the ground. So the U.S. is trying to put together a ground force in Syria by training and equipping thousands of Syrians.
One big question is what the U.S. will do if these Syrian rebel forces get attacked by the regime of Bashar Assad — and so far, the U.S. doesn't have an answer.
Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 1:26 am
Science journalist Maia Weinstock recently got the idea to create a custom Lego set to celebrate the female justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. She researched the Supreme Court building, the justices and their traditions, all the way down to the silver mugs that they often carry out to the bench when hearing oral arguments.
The man behind a letter 47 Senate Republicans addressed to Iranian leaders this week is a freshman senator who's been in the chamber just over two months. Tom Cotton was the unusual GOP candidate last fall who thrilled both the Tea Party base and the Republican establishment.
And now, the young Iraq War vet is a rapidly rising star among his new colleagues.
All week – even against a crescendo of backlash about the letter – there were still plenty of Senate Republicans gushing about the youngest member of their chamber.
President Obama and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visit the veterans hospital in Phoenix Friday to announce a new outside advisory committee to help the VA with customer service. A scandal last year at the Phoenix facility led to revelations of long wait times for veterans throughout the VA medical system.