Drive-By Truckers' new album, English Oceans, features a new set of songs from principal writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. The band has roots in the Muscle Shoals area of Alabama, where Hood's father David was a member of the legendary studio band. Drive-By Truckers' members are now based in Athens, Ga.
At one time, there was a third writing and guitar-playing member of the band, Jason Isbell, who left for what has become a successful solo career. The new album represents a return to writing for Cooley, who had suffered an extended period of writer's block.
The Marshall Islands, the Pacific chain where the U.S. carried out dozens of nuclear tests in the late 1940s and 1950s, has filed suit in the Hague against Washington and the governments of eight other countries it says have not lived up to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The Guardian says in the "unprecedented legal action" brought before the International Court of Justice on Thursday "the Republic of the Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear weapons states of a 'flagrant denial of human justice.' It argues it is justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race."
Besides the U.S., the Marshall Islands is also suing Russia, China, France and the U.K., which have all signed the non-proliferation treaty, or NPT, as well as four other countries who have never signed — India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel, which has never acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons.
In court documents, the Marshall Islands argues that the 1958 NPT, which did not come into force until 1970, amounts to a compact between nuclear haves and have-nots. Non-weapons states essentially agreed not to try to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for weapons states moving toward disarmament, the Marshalls claims.
According to the Guardian:
"Although the size of the arsenals are sharply down from the height of the cold war, the Marshall Islands' legal case notes there remain more than 17,000 warheads in existence, 16,000 of them owned by Russia and the US - enough to destroy all life on the planet."
The Marshalls were the site of 66 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958, including the first thermonuclear weapon in 1952 and two years later, the highest-yielding test ever conducted by the U.S., code named Castle Bravo, which was equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima bombs.
Although islanders were relocated from Bikini and Enewetak atolls — ground zero for the majority of the tests — three other Marshall atolls underwent emergency evacuations in 1954 after they were unexpectedly exposed to radioactive fallout. The Marshallese say they've suffered serious health issues ever since.
The Marshall Islands were governed by the U.S. until 1979 and won full independence in 1986.
The suit is not seeking compensation, but asks the court to require the nine nuclear states to meet their obligations.
"There hasn't been a case where individual governments are saying to the nuclear states, 'You are not complying with your disarmament obligations'," John Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, part of the international pro bono legal team, tells The Associated Press.
According to Burroughs, in 1996 the International Court of Justice said unanimously that an obligation existed to bring the disarmament negotiations to a conclusion but instead "progress towards disarmament has essentially been stalemated."
Retired Justice John Paul Stevens made some news in an interview with NPR's Scott Simon on Thursday.
Scott asked him if the federal government should legalize marijuana.
"Yes," Stevens replied. "I really think that that's another instance of public opinion [that's] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there's a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug."
Stevens' comments are perhaps not particularly surprising. Stevens was, after all, considered part of the court's liberal wing.
But he was appointed by President Gerald Ford and he considers himself a conservative. Also, just years ago a pronouncement of this kind would have been a bombshell.
Just think back to 1987, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg to the high court.
Nine days later, after Ginsburg admitted that he had smoked marijuana, he asked Reagan to withdraw his nomination.
The 94-year-old Stevens has been making waves recently with a new book, Six Amendments, in which he proposes six changes to the U.S. Constitution.
Among them: the banishment of capital punishment, a limit on the amount of corporate money that can be pumped into elections and a curb on the individual right to bear arms.
Scott also asked Stevens about gay marriage. Stevens says that the dramatic shift in public opinion on that issue gives him confidence that "in due course when people actually think through the issues they will be able accept merits of my arguments."
Much more of Scott's conversation with Stevens will air on Weekend Edition Saturday. Click here to find your NPR member station. We'll add the as-aired interview to the top of this post on Saturday.
For political junkies reading the 2016 tea leaves, Jeb Bush offers this newly emptied cup: "I'm thinking about running for president."
That's the report from an attendee of Wednesday's closed-door Catholic Charities fundraiser in New York to Fox News, who said this was in response to a question about the former Florida governor's immediate plans.
No, this isn't terribly different from things he's said in recent months: "I'm going to think about it later," and "There's a time to make a decision. You shouldn't make it too early, you shouldn't make it too late." But from the point of view of tone and nuance, Wednesday's remarks are clearly the most direct - the first-person pronoun coupled with the present-participle verb. No subjunctive "would" — or any other qualifier.
For more than a year, Bush and his team did their utmost to tamp down talk about 2016. (This continues, to a lesser extent, even now. Here is Bush's closest confidante, former chief of staff Sally Bradshaw, in a tweet yesterday: "Breaking: @JebBush also thinking about not running for President.")
There are plenty of good reasons for this. The vast majority of actual voters, even those in early primary states, are not paying much attention to the 2016 presidential contest. They don't much care who is or is not running, at least not yet.
But for lesser known hopefuls, every single day before the Iowa caucuses is an opportunity to improve name ID and line up potential donors. They have to start the rubber chicken circuit — yesterday, if not sooner.
Bush is in a different situation. As the brother of the last Republican president and the son of the one before that, he already has plenty of name ID. So for him, every single day between now and the Iowa caucuses is an opportunity for all those who might oppose him to dig up dirt and figure out how to disseminate it. The day he's officially in the race is the day the bull's-eye is officially pinned to his back.
Hence the balancing act. A lot of the party's biggest donors and bundlers are waiting for him to say the word. If he plays coy too long, they'll get antsy and start considering their options. So perhaps that's the best way of looking at Wednesday's comment - a little assurance for those writing the checks to hold fast.
In any event, now that he's gone this far, don't look for anything more definitive from Bush regarding his plans in the coming months. In fact, if history is a guide, Bush will hold his decision close to the vest until he's ready to jump in at full throttle.
In late October 1992, Bush was asked directly at an Orlando, Florida, political gathering if was going to run for governor in 1994. Bush held up his plastic beer cup for reporters and laughed: "Do you think I'd be doing this if I was running?"
Four months later, Bush told CNN: "I have every intention of doing it."
S.V. Dáte edits congressional and campaign finance coverage for NPR's Washington Desk.
Jason Bentley, KCRW Music Director
For her sixth album Food, R&B singer Kelis once again explores a new style with the help of a talented producer. This time, it's TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, who eased her transition from dance diva to a sound more rooted in funk, soul and gospel. On a recent night in Santa Monica, Kelis packed a 12-member soul band onto the small stage at Apogee Studio to showcase her new songs, including "Friday Fish Fry."