This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, Sheila Bridges stood out for many reasons in her chosen field of interior design. Her celebrity client list, being African-American, but then she began to stand out in a way she did not want - she started losing her hair. We'll talk about how that changed her life and her focus. She talks about that in her new memoir "The Bald Mermaid." And we'll have that conversation in just a few minutes.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're going to spend a good amount of time today hearing various points of view about how the U.S. and the international community should respond to events in Syria. Later, when we head into the Beauty Shop, we'll ask our panel of women journalists and commentators for their thoughts. And we also want to ask them about a list published by a business magazine of the smartest women on Twitter that was notably lacking in diversity. That's in just a few minutes.
During the more than three hour hearing on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain started playing poker on his phone. A photographer for The Washington Post snapped the photo. McCain confessed on Twitter, and said, "Worst of all I lost."
Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona approach the question of military strikes on Syria from opposite wings of the Republican Party. Paul from the isolationist wing and McCain from the traditional, more hawkish wing. Their disagreement played out in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, and serves as a preview for the far more consequential version of this debate among House Republicans.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 5:30 pm
With Republican House leaders lining up behind President Obama's planned U.S. military strike on Syria, the chances for congressional authorization seemed higher on Tuesday than they did over the weekend.
In Colorado, two state senators face recall elections next week. The recalls are the first ever for state lawmakers there. Just one issue is motivating the historic efforts: gun control. Robert Siegel talks to Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee about the recall campaigns.
Obama administration officials are making their case for action in Syria, with several Cabinet officials appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Secretary of State John Kerry argues that the U.S. needs to hold Bashar Assad's government accountable for the use of chemical weapons.
Sixteen party leaders and key committee figures from both the House and Senate met with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday. House Speaker John Boehner was among those who emerged to say they backed the idea of military intervention in Syria.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 5:14 pm
President Obama cleared one of the most important hurdles Tuesday in his effort to win support in Congress for taking action against Syria: Both of the top Republican House leaders — Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia — said they would support such a resolution.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 12:30 pm
President Obama's call for Congress to give him the go-ahead to strike targets in Syria has put House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the same side of an important issue for one of the few times in recent years.
Calling Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons "a barbarous act," Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House to say he supports Obama's request.
While President Obama is trying to convince members of Congress that action is needed in Syria, one Washington-based group is already aiding opposition forces. Host Michel Martin talks with Dan Layman of the Syrian Opposition Group about their efforts to fund the Free Syrian Army.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 9:25 am
The White House is working with congressional leaders to shape a resolution that authorizes the type of military action that would send a "clear message" to President Bashar Assad and cripple the Syrian leader's "capability to use chemical weapons not just now but in the future," President Obama said Tuesday.
Sitting with leaders from both major parties, the president also said he is confident lawmakers are "going to be able to come up with something that hits that mark."
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Here's a simple reality of democracy. The president can ask people for support, and if they give it, he's stronger. But they can also say no. That's the reason that presidents have often launched military action without a formal vote in Congress.
All over the country, lawyers who defend poor people in criminal cases have been sharing their stories about painful budget cuts. Some federal public defenders have shut their doors to new clients after big layoffs. And in many states, the public defense system has operated in crisis for years.
But an unprecedented recent court filing from the Justice Department has cheered the typically overburdened attorneys who represent the poor and could have dramatic implications for the representation of indigent defendants.
Twenty-four hours after President Obama announced on Saturday that he'll wait for congressional authorization before launching strikes on Syria; members of Congress attended a classified briefing at the Capitol.
For days, most of the discontent among members of Congress has been about not being included in the deliberations on Syria, about not getting the chance to vote. Now that they've gotten their way, each member of Congress will have to go on the record.
Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 2:46 pm
Secretary of State John Kerry says that tests have shown evidence of Syria's use of the chemical agent sarin in an attack on the opposition last month that the White House has blamed on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"I can share with you today that blood and hair samples that have come to us through an appropriate chain of custody from East Damascus, from first responders, it has tested positive for signatures of sarin," Kerry told CNN on Sunday.
Members of Congress have been arguing for a week that the president should seek their approval on a military response to Syria. Now that Obama has agreed, it may be a case of "careful what you wish for." Guest host Wade Goodwyn asks NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson what Congress might do.
This morning, Secretary of State John Kerry said he has evidence that the Syrian regime used sarin gas. The evidence was found in blood and hair samples gathered by first responders, and is separate from that collected by U.N. inspectors. With us now to talk about the president's announcement yesterday is NPR's Congressional reporter, Ailsa Chang. Good morning, Ailsa.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Good morning.
GOODWYN: OK. So, the president got the message. How loud have the cheers been from members of Congress?
Tom Cole is a U.S. congressman from Oklahoma. He's a Republican and has served in the Congress since 2003. Congressman Cole, thank you for being with us.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM COLE: Thank you.
LYDEN: Congressman, you signed a letter with more than 100 of your colleagues asking the president to consult with Congress before acting in Syria. Well, President Obama now says he will do exactly that. Are you happy with the president's approach?
With us now to talk about congressional reaction to the president's announcement this afternoon is NPR's congressional reporter Ailsa Chang. Thanks for being with us.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: You're welcome. Good to be here.
LYDEN: So it seems the president has been listening to the rancor this week, Ailsa, from members of both parties. What's been the reaction from congressional leaders you've had a chance to speak to since the announcement?
This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
It was a stunner today for pundits on the Potomac. President Obama announced in the Rose Garden that while he has the authority to unilaterally attack Syria for its use of chemical weapons, he won't use it. Only 24 hours after Secretary of State John Kerry made the case for military action, the president made the case for congressional approval.
A transcript of President Obama's remarks on possible U.S. military action in Syria, as released by the White House:
Good afternoon, everybody. Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people.
President Obama said Saturday he had decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons, but that he will seek a congressional authorization for the action that could come "tomorrow, or next week or one month from now."
Speaking from the Rose Garden, the president said he believed that he had the authority to act without Congress, but said, "I know the country will be stronger if we take this course."
Nearly 200 members of Congress have signed letters insisting that the president submit plans for any military strike in Syria for authorization. Host Scott Simon talks with Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, who has signed one of the letters.