Jim Howard

Washington correspondent

Howard covers news from Washington DC, of importance to the St. Louis Region.  His beat includes following the legislative activities of area lawmakers on Capitol Hill as well as developments from The White House, Supreme Court and numerous federal agencies and departments.  Prior to joining St. Louis Public Radio, he was a long-time newscaster and producer at NPR in Washington.  Howard also has deep roots in the Midwest.  Earlier in his career, he was statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio where he directed news coverage of state government and politics for a 13-station network.

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Beyond Ferguson
10:24 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

President Names Packnett -- Local Activist And Educator -- To Task Force On Policing

Brittany Packnett
Credit File photo

Brittany Packnett says she’s made a career of “listening intently and intensively” to the needs of young people.  The former third-grade teacher, current Ferguson activist and executive director of Teach for America in St. Louis will now put her listening and leadership skills to use as a member of President Barack Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing.

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Politics & Issues
8:59 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Durbin Delivered Message To Push Improved Relations With Cuba

Sen. Dick Durbin met with Alan Gross, a contract worker for the Agency for International Development, in Cuba in 2012. Gross had been imprisoned since 2009.
Credit Provided by Sen. Durbin's office

In 2012, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., traveled to Cuba to meet with imprisoned AID worker Alan Gross, but he also carried a message from President Barack Obama to leaders in Havana. “I told them this president was genuinely committed to looking for the right opportunity to improve relationships with Cuba,” Durbin said.

In conveying that message Durbin carried the credibility of being a long-time friend of the president and a high-ranking member of the Senate. “And I told them one of the big problems of course was the American prisoner, Alan Gross.”

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Politics & Issues
10:44 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Area Lawmakers Make Mark On Budget, Policy Bills -- Growler Funding, Sexual Assault Prosecution

U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, a Republican, and Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.
Credit Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

Were area members of Congress to sum up this session in a single word, that word would most likely be “Growler.”  The funding for 15 of Boeing’s high-tech E/A 18G Growlers, which are built in St. Louis, is included in the $1.1 trillion government funding package approved by the Senate over the weekend.

Support for the Growler is the one thing most frequently mentioned by Missouri lawmakers.  That bipartisan support helped secure nearly $1.5 billion to keep the Growler going through the end of 2017.

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Beyond Ferguson
10:20 am
Sat December 13, 2014

'National Day of Resistance' Features Marches In Washington, New York And Across The Country

Protest organizer Juliette Iacovino shouts into a bullhorn.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

WASHINGTON -- Thousands took to the streets Saturday in cities across the country for a so-called “National Day of Resistance” to protest the decision of grand juries not to indict police officers for the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York.

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Politics & Issues
11:53 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Senate Grapples With Racial Disparities In Justice System

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Credit File photo

This week, the Senate gave final approval to legislation that requires police departments to report the deaths of individuals in police custody. The bill’s passage on Wednesday came one day after witnesses before a subcommittee on human rights also expressed their support for the measure; their testimony illustrated why the legislation is needed. The bill, which passed the House last year at this time, now goes to the president for his signature.     

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Illinois Politics
3:35 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Remembering Judy Baar Topinka, A Friend And Public Servant

Judy Baar Topinka
Credit Illinois Comptroller website

Two things were unique about Judy Baar Topinka: her hair color and everything else.

Both endeared her to nearly everyone she met. For many years, Judy sported a burnt orange to mahogany hair color that was as much a part of her personality as anything else. She cared deeply for the people of Illinois – all of them. Every single person she met over the course of her political career mattered to Judy, and in most cases they knew it and loved her all the more for it.

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Military Sexual Assault
10:45 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Pentagon Reports On Sexual Assaults; McCaskill Looks For Improvements

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Credit Sen. McCaskill's Flickr page

The Pentagon is set to release its first report today on the effectiveness of more than 30 reforms aimed at curbing sexual assaults in the military.  Congress approved the measures last year at this time and President Barack Obama signed them into law in January.      

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Beyond Ferguson
3:41 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

McCaskill: Building Trust Between Police, Community Is A National Problem

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Credit Bill Greenblatt | UPI

For months following Michael Brown’s shooting, the national and international media have focused on Ferguson and the St. Louis region. But when the White House held meetings earlier this week to discuss questions raised by the shooting and the decision not to indict the police officer who shot Brown, it did not invite any elected, community, faith or law enforcement leaders from Missouri. 

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Quality of Life
4:12 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Local Activists Hope For Change After Meeting With Obama

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with elected officials, community and faith leaders, and law enforcement officials on Dec. 1 to discuss how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods.
Credit Lawrence Jackson | White House

St. Louis area activists who met with President Obama Monday say their meeting is an “affirmation that the movement is working.” Ashley Yates, co-founder of Millennial Activists United, says the meeting was the result of “people power” and an “agitation of the system” that got the attention of the White House.

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Militarization Reviewed
2:21 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Ferguson Activists Get Their Say In The Oval Office; Obama Announces Plans For Reform

Ashley Yates and Tory Russell on the Global Grind
Credit YouTube screen capture

Ashley Yates’ meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office Monday began with a Twitter feed about a dead body in the street. That was Aug. 9, and her curiosity led her to where others were gathered near Michael Brown’s body. “And that led from there to trying to seek some answers and the next day being tear-gassed for the very first time,” she said in a phone interview Monday night.

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