The U.S. and its allies await details of Russia's proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons arsenal under UN supervision. Meanwhile, senior Obama administration officials are continuing to press for congressional approval of a potential military strike against the Bashar al-Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons in August.
Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 11:14 am
If ever a speech seemed to be President Obama's last, best chance to win public and congressional support for his plan to launch military strikes against Syria, it's his prime-time talk to the nation Tuesday.
With polls indicating that 60 percent of Americans oppose action against Syria for using sarin gas and congressional approval looking ever more like a long shot, Obama's speech is a high-stakes endeavor.
The shooting last year at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut just before Christmas and leaving little children dead looked for a moment like it would change gun laws. It didn't, expect in a couple of places. New York was one. That state quickly passed one of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, but it was hugely controversial, especially in rural parts of the state.
Virtually every president before President Obama has viewed the 1973 War Powers Act as unconstitutional, says historian Michael Beschloss. In a conversation with Renee Montagne, Beschloss analyzes Obama's decision to seek congressional approval for military action in Syria — and what it says about his presidency.
On Tuesday night, President Obama will address the nation — asking for support of his plan to punish the Syrian regime for a chemical weapons attack near Damascus last month. The president must deal with widespread skepticism about his plan.
President Obama on Tuesday meets with Democratic senators to press his case for military action against Syria. Two moderate senators are offering an alternative plan. It would delay military action for 45 days, and give Bashar Assad another chance to get rid of his chemical weapons. Steve Inskeep talks to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota about the plan.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. Congress did not expect to spend September debating Syria. Many Republicans, instead, were planning battles over the budget and over the healthcare law that's about to take affect. Tea Party activists are going ahead with meetings on their issues. One event comes in Washington D.C. today. NPR's Don Gonyea has been talking with activists.
Two prominent Democratic state senators could lose their jobs after lawmakers passed sweeping gun control laws following the theater shooting in Auro, Colo., and the Newtown school shooting in Connecticut. Gun rights activists collected enough signatures to force the historic recall elections.
The recalls follow a combative and bitter legislative session. Among the most controversial measures passed were universal background checks and limiting high-capacity magazines to 15 rounds.
Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 4:28 pm
Rep. Jim Himes is willing to vote against the wishes of his constituents. Probably not this time, though.
"Like the rest of the country, my constituency is pretty much opposed to the intervention in Syria," says the Connecticut Democrat. "Since health care reform, I haven't seen an issue that energized as many people."
His colleagues in the House and Senate report the same.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Seeking to win support in Congress for air strikes on Syria, President Obama addresses the nation tomorrow and also gives a series of TV interviews today. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is also going to America's airwaves. Asked on CBS if a strike on his country could provoke a retaliation involving chemical weapons, this was his response.
Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 3:05 pm
We're following several stories regarding Syria Sunday, including new comments from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There are also reports that an Islamist group with ties to al-Qaida has seized a town with a large Christian population. Elsewhere, officials in the U.S. and its allies are debating how to respond to the conflict that began in 2011, as President Obama's administration tries to shore up support for military action.
We'll update this post with news as it emerges today.
New York City voters go to the polls next Tuesday to choose their party's candidates to try to succeed three-term mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Anna Sale of member station WNYC has this look at the Democratic frontrunner.
The president is back in Washington Saturday after spending several days trying to convince world leaders at the G-20 summit in Russia that a U.S. strike against Syria is necessary. Ten of the G-20 leaders signed a statement in support of U.S. action. The other half remain wary.
President Obama has mustered limited international support for a military strike on Syria, stirred uncertainty about what he'll do if Congress fails endorse a strike (it may depend on the meaning of "intention") and faces growing Capitol Hill resistance.
Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 4:35 am
The interest groups opposed to U.S. military strikes against Syria had a very good week. That made it a very bad week for President Obama and those who support his plans.
Anna Galland, executive director of the liberal MoveOn.org — which opposes military action in Syria — said that by midweek, her group's members reported making 10,000 calls to Congress, contributing to an avalanche of calls from citizens opposed to military strikes.
Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 4:49 pm
President Obama on Friday declined to say whether he'd go ahead with military action in Syria if Congress votes against it — a what-if scenario that's attracting growing attention in the wake of preliminary House head counts that suggest there's nowhere near enough votes for passage.
It's a question that won't be answered until late next week when Congress is expected to vote.
Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 11:31 am
Do you have to be rich to be president of the United States of America?
Donald Trump told ABC News recently that he might run for president in 2016 and that he is qualified because, among other reasons, he has amassed a net worth of more than $10 billion. "I'd spend a lot" on a campaign, he says. "I'd spend whatever it took."
Republican congressional leaders support an American military strike in Syria, but the rank-and-file membership is divided. GOP Congressmen Doug Collins of Georgia and Luke Messer of Indiana serve on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. They talk about the debate in the Republican caucus.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later, it sounds like a bad walks-into-a-bar joke, but it wasn't. Recently, a representative of the KKK had a sit-down with members of the NAACP. This took place in Casper, Wyoming. Reporter Jeremy Fugleberg was there for the whole thing, and tells us what happened. That's in just a few minutes.
Crime has been bad on the south side of Stockton. Katherine Anderson, a lifelong resident of the Northern California city, says she's almost gotten used to hearing shots fired in her neighborhood.
Stockton has long had a problem with drugs. But there's been more crime because Stockton is broke.
Until Detroit's recent filing, Stockton's bankruptcy was the largest in U.S. history. Given widespread police layoffs and retirements, the city's gang intervention and narcotics teams have both closed shop. The result was a murder rate that last year broke all local records.
Curious about how social media sped up news cycles, amplified trivial events on the trail and enabled Washington's "worst tendencies" during the 2012 presidential race, one of the nation's top young political reporters decided to take a deeper look.
When Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York who quit in disgrace, entered the race for the lower profile job of New York City comptroller, that sleepy contest was suddenly front page news. Many observers started writing political obituaries for Spitzer's opponent. But with just days to go, the race is not too close to call, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Eliot Spitzer is the first to admit he's made a few mistakes.
Today is Janet Napolitano's last day as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Napolitano is leaving Washington D.C., heading for California, to become at the end of this month, president of the University of California System. NPR's Brian Naylor sat down with Napolitano yesterday for a look back at her tenure as head of one of the government's largest and most complex departments.
Let's talk next with a man who wants to secede from his state. The Board of Supervisors of a northern California county voted this week to take their county out of California. Michael Kobseff is one of the supervisors who voted yes in Siskiyou County with an eye to joining other counties in northern California, as well as southern Oregon, to form their own state. He's on the line. Welcome to the program, sir.