Early in life, Myat Thu knew that his destiny as a cook lay in salads. Not the light, leafy green salads that are so common in American restaurants, but heavy, hearty Burmese salads.
Myat Thu grew up in Burma, also known as Myanmar. He was just 14 when his mother placed him in charge of making dinner. Unsure of what to prepare, he studied the salad vendors on the streets of Rangoon.
President Obama is now about to enter into a series of difficult talks on the so-called debt ceiling and the impending fiscal cliff. Lawmakers have until Dec. 31 to come up with a deal to prevent $700 billion from being cut from the federal budget.
Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Shankar Vedantam about the psychology behind the fiscal cliff negotiations. Vedantam says humans evolved as short-term thinkers, which makes dealing with the long-term problem of the national debt particularly difficult.
The election has also triggered some soul searching among evangelical Christian voters. Now, one of the movement's top leaders says it's time to stop the war rhetoric and start reaching out for compromise. Host Rachel Martin talks with Jim Daly, the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, about the post-election direction of the conservative evangelical movement.
Sen. Barbara Boxer says we can finally stop using the term "Year of the Woman" once the Senate reaches a 50-50 split of men and women. "That's the goal," she says.
We're not quite there yet. But in 2013, more women will be serving in Congress than ever before. There will be 20 women in the Senate. When Boxer took her seat in 1993, there were six — and that was after tripling from two the term before.
So what does the California Democrat have to say about the fact that there's still a gender gap? Let's put this in perspective.
Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 1:53 pm
For the sake of argument, let's agree that when we use the word "inauguration" in this particular post, we are talking about the multiday, ball-bestrewn, soiree-soaked, tuxedo-dappled extravaganza that costs tens of millions of dollars and often leaves many Americans out in the cold — figuratively and literally.
As President Obama and congressional leaders started negotiations Friday to find a way to avoid the nation's going over the fiscal cliff, it was fairly plain that even some of those who are wisest in the ways of Washington couldn't agree on whether policymakers would actually be able to prevent the federal government from becoming a cliff diver.
President Obama hasn't even named his choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who plans to step down at the end of this term. But there's been a lot of heated rhetoric this week over one of the front-runners, Susan Rice.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke on behalf of the administration on five Sunday talk shows days after the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. At the time, she suggested the attack began as a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video. U.S. officials now say it was a terrorist attack.
Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 12:16 pm
David Petraeus' resignation from the CIA further complicated the debate over the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Petraeus, a key figure in the events, stepped down as director after admitting to an extramarital affair. But members of Congress were so anxious to hear from him that they brought Petraeus back to Capitol Hill on Friday to get his version of the Benghazi story.
Fresh off his re-election, a politically fortified President Obama summoned the top four congressional leaders to the White House on Friday for the first of what could be many rounds of talks for a deal to avert fiscal calamity.
The meeting was part of the opening moves to keep the nation from sailing over the so-called "fiscal cliff" — those across-the-board tax hikes and deep spending cuts set to kick in at year's end.
In welcoming the quartet of lawmakers, Obama struck a conciliatory note.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 4:56 pm
A Florida judge on Friday denied Republican Rep. Allen West's last-ditch bid for a recount of early-voting ballots in the close and ugly re-election race he is losing to Democrat Patrick Murphy.
West's effort to wrest the race from Murphy, who is leading in a race that has yet to be officially called, now goes to the St. Lucie County elections board, which was scheduled to review his complaint late Friday.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you're a political junkie, I'm guessing a couple of words will make your skin crawl: hanging chads. Or you might like pregnant chads or whatever - we didn't know what a chad was before then. After the problems counting ballots in the 2000 election in Florida, municipalities around the country moved to adopt electronic voting systems with the thought that they would be easier to use, more straightforward to count.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 10:13 am
President Obama and congressional leaders from both major parties met at the White House this morning for the first of what will likely be many negotiations aimed at averting a plunge over the so-called fiscal cliff.
We watched for news from the key players — who include House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio — and updated with highlights.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:23 pm
As the lame ducks waddle up to Capitol Hill for the final few weeks of this Congress, some political observers are hoping they will bring the "Spirit of 2010" with them.
Despite all the partisan bickering, the lame-duck session two years ago — bolstered by a bevy of outgoing Democrats with nothing to lose — actually got big things done, including the $850 billion stimulus and tax cut deal, a measure setting in motion the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," passage of the defense authorization bill and an arms treaty.
(We added a new top to this post at 12:40 p.m. ET to round up the latest developments.)
The White House did not insert politics into the process of determining what could be said about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in the days immediately afterward, former CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress this morning, according to lawmakers who were inside closed briefings today.
Listen carefully to both President Obama and Republican leaders, and you hear hints of room for compromise. They're talking of taxes and spending as a deadline approaches, December 31st, when higher taxes and spending cuts would take effect. That would reduce the federal deficit, but also damage the economy, according to forecasters.
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 4:49 am
The two biggest fears of the fiscal cliff are defense cuts and tax hikes. The nation's mayors say the devastating effects of automatic cuts reach further than the Defense Department — right into their own cities. Steve Inskeep talks to the Democratic Mayor of Charleston, S.C., Jospeh Riley and Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about the impact sequestration could have in their cities.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:10 pm
Some Democrats complain that Republicans in recent decades have had the edge in House races because GOP state legislatures have been better at the gerrymandering game. Except that may not be true.
Some political experts believe there's an easier explanation, and perhaps a tougher one for Democrats to overcome: Voters supporting Republican House candidates, they say, are spread over more congressional districts than those who support Democrats. It's that simple. It's merely a matter of geography.
Voters were frustrated by a 2012 presidential race they called more negative than usual and more devoid of substantive discussion of issues, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
And voters are pessimistic about the prospect of a more productive Congress, Pew found.
Two-thirds of registered voters surveyed after Election Day said they believe relations between Democrats and Republicans will stay the same or worsen over the coming year.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Fault lines are forming in the Republican Party over comments from Mitt Romney about why he lost last week's election. In a conference call yesterday, with some of his biggest donors and fundraisers, Romney said President Obama won by bestowing gifts on targeted groups, including young people and minorities.
We're going to dig into some of those policy differences now between Republicans and Democrats. When it comes to reducing the deficit, both sides insist it's time for compromise. But President Obama says tax cuts for the richest Americans must end.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When it comes to the top two percent, what I'm not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don't need it.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. In a few minutes, we will speak with the winner of the prestigious National Book Award for Nonfiction, author Katherine Boo. She was honored for her book about the people in a neighborhood in Mumbai, and she'll tell us more about it in a few minutes.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 2:16 pm
There has been no dearth of post-election Republican self-flagellation.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, on the eve of heading out to a meeting of Republican governors in Las Vegas, warned the GOP to "stop being the stupid party." At the gathering Wednesday night, he leveled more harsh criticism at party presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: One commentator called it the demographic cliff. With young voters trending blue, and more and more of them coming of age each election, it doesn't bode well for the GOP.
MEGAN HIGGINBOTHAM: What do y'all feel?
SMITH: Twenty-three-year-old Megan Higginbotham sat in a local restaurant in Georgetown, Texas, this week, commiserating with other members of her Young Republicans Club - like 25-year-old Kristen Smith.
The Republican Governor's Association is meeting this week in Las Vegas. Republicans lost seats in the House, Senate and the presidential race. But the GOP gained one more state, North Carolina, to put the number of Republican governors at 30. The governors say there's nothing wrong with the party that a few changes around the margins won't fix.
Both House and Senate committees hold closed-door hearings Thursday to question administration officials about the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. Some leading Republicans say only a dedicated Watergate-style committee can get to the bottom what happened.