Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 12:28 pm
A year after losing the popular vote for the fifth time in the past six presidential elections, the Republican Party has crafted a series of rules tweaks designed to regain control of — and dramatically shorten — its presidential nominating process.
The subcommittee charged with looking for fixes has approved five proposed changes for review by the Republican National Committee's rules committee at its January meeting. The full RNC would then need to pass the changes by a three-quarters supermajority.
At the end of this month, Michael Bloomberg ends his three terms as mayor of New York City. Assessing Bloomberg's legacy, a man who went from Republican to Independent, is not a simple thing to do. His 12 years in office were groundbreaking, locally and even globally.
But at the same time, many New Yorkers found him arrogant and insensitive to the poor. It's a vein that was tapped successfully by Democratic Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who described New York as a city of haves and have nots. But the changes implemented by Bloomberg will impact generations of New Yorkers to come.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. It's been 20 years since President Bill Clinton signed into law a trade pact that wiped out many of the commercial barriers between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement was controversial. Although Congress in the end approved NAFTA, it divided lawmakers, and on both sides of the aisle.
Abortion rights activists are working on a counterattack to the 200 bills that have passed in states across the U.S. since 2010.
In the past three years, Republican-led legislatures have backed bills to regulate abortions and the doctors and clinics that perform them.
Bills to ban abortions at 20 weeks are among the laws that cropped up three years ago and have now passed in about a dozen states. This year, North Dakota pushed to end abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy.
This month, NPR's been looking at some of the numbers that bring 2013 into focus. Today, the number 10. That's how many cities and states have passed laws guaranteeing access to some kind of family leave this year, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. That group's long championed such leave policies. And joining us now to talk about such trends is Vicki Shabo, the partnership's director of work and family programs. Welcome.
VICKI SHABO: Thank you, Jennifer. It's so great to be here.
Secretary of State John Kerry helped broker the deal to remove chemical weapons from Syria. He's been in his State Department post since February, and in that time has had a full portfolio - Syria, Iran, another attempt at Mideast peace talks. To better gauge how John Kerry's performed during his first year on the job, we called David Ignatius. He is a columnist for the Washington Post. Thanks so much for joining us.
This was a busy year for Vice President Joe Biden: He was President Obama's point man on gun control; he traveled widely, pushing for infrastructure spending; and he recently returned form a trip to Asia, where he met with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea.
In 2014, Biden may face an even busier schedule, as he stumps for Democratic congressional candidates in advance of November's midterm elections and tries to decide whether to make another run for president himself.
Now, we'll take a look down the Mall and across the aisle at the Republican Party, which had a pretty tumultuous 2013. NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving is here to give us the GOP's greatest hits of the past year. Ron, Happy New Year, almost.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Almost Happy New Year to you, too, Linda.
WERTHEIMER: Let's start with some good news for the GOP. There is a new poll which was out yesterday. If you could vote today, would you vote for Republicans or Democrats and Republicans got a five-point lead.