Larry Abramson is NPR's National Security Correspondent. He covers the Pentagon, as well as issues relating to the thousands of vets returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prior to his current role, Abramson was NPR's Education Correspondent covering a wide variety of issues related to education, from federal policy to testing to instructional techniques in the classroom. His reporting focused on the impact of for-profit colleges and universities, and on the role of technology in the classroom. He made a number of trips to New Orleans to chart the progress of school reform there since Hurricane Katrina. Abramson also covers a variety of news stories beyond the education beat.

The Two-Way
2:25 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Justice: Prison Compassionate Release Programs Inconsistent

Inmates file by a guard tower at California's Chino State Prison in 2010.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:18 pm

"Compassionate release" programs that free inmates with terminal illnesses and limited life expectancies are poorly run and lack clear standards, the Department of Justice's inspector general said on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports:

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World
2:24 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Why Chemical Weapons Have Been A Red Line Since World War I

Soldiers with the British Machine Gun Corps wear gas masks in 1916 during World War I's first Battle of the Somme.
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 5:48 pm

President Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons could change the U.S. response to the Syrian civil war. But why this focus on chemical weapons when conventional weapons have killed tens of thousands in Syria?

The answer can be traced back to the early uses of poison gas nearly a century ago.

In World War I, trench warfare led to stalemates — and to new weapons meant to break through the lines.

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It's All Politics
2:19 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

The Federal Deficit Is Actually Shrinking

The Treasury Department announced this week it will pay down some of its debt for the first time in six years.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 11:33 am

During the housing bust, taxpayers were forced to bail out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But thanks to the real estate recovery, Fannie Mae could end up paying tens of billions of dollars back to the Treasury this summer.

That's just one of the factors behind a better bottom line for the federal government. This week, the Treasury Department announced it will pay down some of its debt for the first time in six years.

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Renewable Enegry Fight
1:47 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Rural Power Cooperatives Fighting Legislation Requiring More Renewables

Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/79604620@N00/11350061

A bill requiring rural electric cooperatives to use more renewable energy sources is

on its way to the State House. Senate Bill 252 narrowly passed the senate earlier this month, over objections by rural republicans and some cooperatives.

 

The legislation would increase the amount of renewables, like wind and solar, coops must use from the current 10 percent standard to 25 percent. If it passed, these electric groups would have to meet that mark by 2020. Lee Boughey of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association says that's a difficult target.

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Measuring the Snowpack
1:29 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Snowpack, Good - Cold Temps, Better

Credit Photo by Elise Thatcher

Most residents in the Roaring Fork Valley probably won’t be surprised to hear

there’s more snow in the mountains. Drought conditions are in the area again this year... but while the snow is helping... it’s cold temperatures that are making the biggest difference.

Wendy Ryan is with the Colorado Climate Center. She says the snowpack in the Roaring Fork Valley is at 87% of what’s normal.

"It’s way better than we had been just a few weeks ago, so April has brought us some really good moisture, mainly along the northern tier of the state."

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Shots - Health News
1:20 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Mate Doesn't Have Your Back? That Boosts Depression Risk

Having a special someone won't fend off depression if that person doesn't have your back.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 7:21 am

Having a mate is supposed to be good for your mental health.

But if that mate is critical or can't be counted on when the going gets tough, that's worse than having no mate at all, researchers say.

"The quality of your relationships matters more than quantity when it comes to depression," says Dr. Alan Teo, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan who led the study.

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Afghanistan
1:16 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Secret Cash To Afghan Leader: Corruption Or Just Foreign Aid?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged a report this week that the CIA has regularly been sending him money. Afghans seem to have mixed feelings. The president is shown here speaking at an event in Kabul on March 10.
S. SABAWOON EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 5:48 pm

After a report in The New York Times this week, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged that the CIA has been secretly delivering bags of money to his office since the beginning of the war more than a decade ago.

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The Salt
12:46 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Chicken Diapers? Urban Farming Spawns Accessory Lines

Clucking all the way to the bank: A hen models a polka-dot diaper from MyPetChicken.com, a multimillion-dollar business that sells everything from chicken caviar treats to day-old birds.
Courtesy of MyPetChicken.com

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 8:19 am

There's free range and then there's free rein — around your house.

When Julie Baker's backyard birds started spending more time inside, it was tough to keep them clean. So she got innovative.

She sewed up a cloth diaper — chicken-sized, of course — added a few buttons and strapped it onto her little lady.

One thing led to another, and eventually, a business was born.

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The Two-Way
12:40 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

WATCH: Civil Unions Are Legal In Colorado

Anna, left, and Fran Simon, both of Denver, Colo., are the first same-sex couple to be issued a Civil Union license at a midnight ceremony in the Denver Office of the Clerk and Recorder, at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building on Wednesday.
Marc Piscotty Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 5:13 pm

At midnight, civil unions became legal in Colorado. The state joined eight other states with similar laws and nine others — plus the District of Columbia — to permit gay marriage.

As has become the custom, couples lined up at courthouses across the state in the middle of night, waiting for the clock to strike 12 to receive their paperwork and exchange their vows.

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