David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.

Having previously covered Congress over a 13-year period starting in 2001, Welna reported extensively on matters related to national security. He covered the debates on Capitol Hill over authorizing the use of military force prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the expansion of government surveillance practices arising from Congress' approval of the USA Patriot Act. Welna also reported on congressional probes into the use of torture by U.S. officials interrogating terrorism suspects. He also traveled with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Afghanistan on the Pentagon chief's first overseas trip in that post.

public defender refuse cases
6:50 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

St. Louis Public Defenders To Decline Some Cases

Several public defender offices around the state have notified courts they will not be taking cases beyond their maximum caseload this month.


The 18 offices around Missouri include ones in St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson City and Springfield.


In St. Louis instead of turning away all cases public defenders met with the 22ndCircuit Court and the Circuit Attorney’s office to craft a different solution.

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Metro East Levees
5:38 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Corps Sued Over Access To Information About Metro East Levee Repair Project

A levee along the Chain of Rocks canal in America's Central Port in Granite City, Ill.
(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Metro East environmental advocacy group is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over access to information about the Southwestern Illinois levees and plans to repair them.

In the suit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the American Bottom Conservancy (ABC) said the Corps had repeatedly failed to respond to federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The suit is seeking an injunction from the court to compel the Corps to comply with the Act.

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drought conditions
5:22 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Drought Conditions In Mo. Improve Slightly, Still Dry For Long Term

U.S. Drought Monitor map, as of Oct. 4th, 2012.
National Drought Mitigation Center, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln

Missouri’s overall drought picture remains dry, although there is some slight improvement in portions of the Show-Me State.

The latest map shows the drought still covering the entire state, and most of it in the severe category – although three pockets of land where drought conditions are only moderate have grown slightly larger over the past two weeks.  Those pockets are located in northeast, east-central and southwest Missouri.  Mark Svoboda is a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Women's Health - Contraceptives
5:04 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Study: Giving Women Free Birth Control Reduces Abortion Rates

IUDs and implants are 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy than short-term birth control options like the pill, patch, or vaginal ring (pictured).
(Via Wikimedia Commons/Victor byckttor)

Giving women free access to contraception can dramatically reduce abortion rates.

That's the finding of a new study out today from Washington University School of Medicine.

Researchers gave more than 9,000 St. Louis-area women free birth control for three years.

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St. Louis on the Air
5:01 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Missouri Term Limits: Pros and Cons

(via Flickr/Erik Fitzpatrick)

Term limits are a controversial topic in Missouri and there are persuasive cases both for and against them.  Currently, the Missouri constitution limits state senators to two four-year terms and state representatives to four two-year terms.

Host Don Marsh’s guests are:

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St. Louis on the Air
4:47 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

In Depth: St. Louis Mayoral Race - Lewis Reed vs. Francis Slay

(L) Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, (R) Mayor Francis Slay
(via City of St. Louis websites)

Not many people who watch city politics were surprised when Board of Alderman president Lewis Reed announced that he will challenge Mayor Francis Slay in next year’s Democratic primary in April.

Reed officially threw his hat into the ring on Wednesday at Sqwires in Lafayette Square, part of his ward before he ran for board president.

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David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

In his years at NPR, David has covered science's discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. He has also reported on energy issues, particularly nuclear and climate change.

David has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Politically Speaking
2:12 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

This Week's Politically Speaking Podcast

Jo Mannies (left), Jason Rosenbaum (center) and Chris McDaniel (right) come together every Thursday to talk about Missouri politics.
Alex Heuer

St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel joins Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum from the St. Louis Beacon to discuss a few political issues.

On today’s podcast: We start off with an update on Congressman Todd Akin's recent gaffs (financial and otherwise). We also chat about some curious developments with a ballot initiative that would give the governor more power over judicial appointees. And then we finish it all off with a discussion about Mayor Slay's new challenger.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

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Illinois Supreme Court
1:52 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Ill. Supreme Court Opens Door To Divorce For Mentally Disabled

The Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield, Ill.
(via Flickr/lilhelen)

The Illinois Supreme Court has opened the door to divorce for people who need guardians because of mental disabilities.

For years, Illinois has barred mentally disabled people or their guardians from seeking a divorce. Experts say that included people with severe brain damage but also people who could make their wishes known despite Alzheimer's disease or mental illness.

In a ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court said an outright ban is no longer appropriate. It said case-by-case hearings should determine what is in the disabled person's best interests.

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