President Obama's nominee to head the Labor Department, Thomas Perez, appeared before a Senate committee today where he tried to portray himself as a bipartisan problem-solver who could listen to all sides. While the tone of the hearing was friendly, Perez faced some skeptical questions about a housing discrimination case he was involved with at the Justice Department.
Robert Siegel talks to Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma about why he voted no against the measure to expand background checks. The measure failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling has been looking into the history of this fertilizer plant and explosions that have happened at other fertilizer plants. And Danny, what can you tell us about West Fertilizer and its history? Have there been safety problems before?
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. We're learning a little more, today, about the devastation in the small town of West, in Texas. It was the scene of last night's massive explosion at a fertilizer plant. And while there's still no official word on the number of dead, authorities estimate that between five and 15 people were killed. More than 160 were injured.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. The search and rescue operation is still underway in the town of West, Texas, the scene of that devastating fertilizer plant explosion last night. Crews are going through the wreckage of some 75 homes and other buildings, many of them leveled in the blast.
If it seems perplexing why an idea that has broad support nationally could fail to pass the U.S. Senate, here's an important reminder: The Senate is not a democratic institution.
It never has been, and it was never designed to be. Rather, it was structured to give small or sparsely populated states the ability to stop the majority's will. And on Wednesday, that's how it worked out, as the Senate failed to reach a 60-vote threshold to support new background checks on gun purchases.
Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 2:38 pm
Among the semi-literate journals submitted by his high-school students, jaded French literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) is jazzed to find a rough diamond from a new pupil, Claude (Ernst Umhauer).
In weekly installments, the ingratiating but enigmatic teenager, who looks as though he just stepped out of a Pasolini movie, chronicles his efforts to insinuate himself into the family of one his classmates, an amiable but awkward underachiever named Rapha (Bastien Ughetto).
The score for Oblivion was composed by M83, a superb French electronic outfit that derives its name from one of the spectral pinwheels known as spiral galaxies. I point this out because it's the best element of the movie — a cascade of dreamy synthesizers that registers as appropriately futuristic (at least the future as suggested by '80s pop) while allowing an undercurrent of romantic yearning.