Carrie Johnson

California Gov. Jerry Brown has made some of the state's temporary water restrictions permanent. The executive order, in response to the state's drought, permanently bans wasteful practices like hosing sidewalks and washing cars with hoses that don't have shut-off nozzles.

The speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress on Monday annulled last month's vote on the impeachment of embattled President Dilma Rousseff. But shortly afterward, the leader of Brazil's Senate announced he will ignore the lower house leader's decision and press on with the impeachment process.

The political seesawing further complicates the already chaotic struggle for political power in Brazil's government.

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Bernie Sanders has some of the most ambitious and sweeping policy proposals of all the presidential candidates. His campaign has centered on a promise of "revolution."

When King Salman assumed the throne in Saudi Arabia last year, he was pushing 80, his health was questionable and many thought he would be more a caretaker than a monarch of note.

Yet Salman has unleashed major initiatives and shaken up the kingdom, setting a course for change in a land where the watchwords have long been tradition, stability and continuity.

West Point is investigating whether black female cadets violated any rules by raising their fists in a photo. The 16 women, following school tradition, posed in historical-style uniforms ahead of graduation later this month.

The investigation will look into whether the cadets violated the school honor code or a Department of Defense rule about political activities while in the Armed Forces.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists just released a searchable database with the names of more than 300,000 people and companies included in the so-called "Panama Papers."

The database is barebones, containing the name of the entity and how its connected to an offshore account.

Private Medicare Advantage plans treating the elderly have overbilled the government by billions of dollars, but rarely been forced to repay the money or face other consequences for their actions, according to a congressional audit released Monday.

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Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

The Justice Department has named a veteran prosecutor from Philadelphia as the new leader of its pardon office, which is trying to review more than 9,000 petitions in the final year of the Obama presidency.

Robert Zauzmer, 55, has worked since 1990 at the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Justice Department leaders said Zauzmer represented a "natural choice" for the pardon job, in part because of his experience training prosecutors all over the country in how to evaluate prisoners' requests for early release.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued "an urgent call to action" Tuesday to overhaul the nation's federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade.

For months, FBI Director James Comey has been warning about a troubling spike in homicides in some of America's biggest cities.

On Tuesday, the bureau released preliminary crime statistics that back up some of his concerns. The FBI reported that violent crime rose in the first six months of 2015, with murders increasing by more than 6 percent over that same stretch the year before.

It's not every day the White House and Republican leaders in Congress have a meeting of the minds.

But before he left for the holidays, the president singled out an issue he considers ripe for compromise next year. "I still want to work with Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to reform our criminal justice system," President Obama said.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has been sounding a hopeful note, too, telling an audience recently: "I do believe that there are things where we can find common ground on next; criminal justice reform is a good example."

The Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania unanimously ruled Wednesday that a state law that prevents convicted criminals from getting full-time jobs in nursing homes or long-term-care facilities is unconstitutional.

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The jurors who will be chosen to hear the first case against a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore will be anonymous, at least for now.

A judge has ruled that their identities can be shielded from the public. That practice is controversial, but not unheard of in high-profile cases.

The bipartisan effort to overhaul the criminal justice system for drug offenders has hit a speed bump.

Some members of Congress are trying to tie those lighter punishments for drug defendants to a new bill that the Justice Department says would make it harder to prosecute a range of crimes from food safety to business fraud.

The plan, passed by voice vote by the House Judiciary Committee to little notice last week, would require prosecutors to prove guilt to a higher standard in many cases, by default.

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