The conflict in Syria may be first and foremost a civil war, pitting the Shiite-dominated regime of President Bashar Assad against mostly Sunni insurgents. But the region's turbulent geopolitics have turned it into a proxy fight that has drawn in the rest of the region as well as the U.S and other global powers.
The Supreme Court may rule on gay marriage this week. Advocates both for and against are glad the issue didn't reach the court any sooner.
They didn't want a repeat of the abortion issue. With its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, the high court stepped in and guaranteed a right to abortion but also triggered a backlash that has lasted for 40 years.
With same-sex marriage, by contrast, legislators and voters in nearly every state had the chance to make their feelings known before the Supreme Court weighs in.
Russia's foreign minister on Saturday warned that any effort by the U.S. and its allies to impose a no-fly zone over Syria would violate international law.
Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a news conference in Moscow with his Italian counterpart, referred to "leaks from Western media" that U.S. F-16 fighters and Patriot missile in Jordan might be used in neighboring Syria to suppress government forces fighting insurgents there.
"You don't have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law," Lavrov said.
Lawmakers in Illinois are headed back to work next week to address the state's $100 billion pension crisis, the worst unfunded pension liability in the nation. While almost all states faced pension funding issues during the recession, none of them are looking at a predicament as severe as in Illinois. Every day it doesn't get fixed, the burden on taxpayers grows larger.
White House economic adviser Alan Krueger took some ribbing from his boss this week. President Obama noted that Krueger will soon be leaving Washington to go back to his old job, teaching economics at Princeton.
"And now that Alan has some free time, he can return to another burning passion of his: 'Rockanomics,' the economics of rock and roll," the president said. "This is something that Alan actually cares about."
The growing problem of sexual assaults in the U.S. military has led to arguments in Congress, where lawmakers disagree over how to confront the issue. Top military officers have also weighed in on the topic. But in Australia, where the military has its own sexual assault problem, the army chief has a simple solution: "Show moral courage and take a stand."
Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 10:53 am
American politics has become like a big square dance. When the music stops after an election, people switch to the other side on a number of issues, depending on whether their party remains in power.
That was pretty clear this week, when polls revealed more Democrats than Republicans support tracking of phone traffic by the National Security Agency — the exact opposite of where things stood under President George W. Bush.
This week's podcast highlights the familiar choice facing Americans in the wake of the NSA news: privacy vs. security. The case of Edward Snowden offers up another choice: hero or traitor? For Massachusetts voters, it's Ed Markey vs. Gabriel Gomez. In New Jersey, it's Cory Booker vs. the rest of the field. The real choice facing our nation: Ken Rudin vs. Ron Elving.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
They're calling it the Road to Majority. It's the third annual meeting of conservative religious activists with the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The conference is underway now in Washington, D.C. Its stated aim: To boost the conservative vote for next year's midterm election.
As NPR's David Welna reports, it's also a platform for Republican stars eyeing the White House in 2016.
The U.S. Census Bureau released its list of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties Thursday, and here's what we learned: They're mainly clustered in the South and West, and their rapid population gains are fueled by a wide variety of economic and cultural factors including the energy boom, military realignment, Hispanic immigration, student enrollment and changing retirement patterns.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans say they feel more accepted in society than they did 10 years ago, and they're overwhelmingly optimistic that the trend will continue. But a sweeping new Pew Research Center survey also finds persistent levels of stigmatization and secrecy in the community.
An obviously unhappy Judge Edward Korman has approved the Obama administration's proposal to make just one formulation of the morning-after birth control pill available over the counter without age restrictions.
But in a testily worded six-page memorandum, the federal district judge made it clear he is not particularly pleased with the outcome. He has been overseeing the case in one way or another for more than eight years.
Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 10:36 am
The Senate has defeated a Republican measure that would have blocked implementation of a "path to citizenship" for undocumented workers until after the U.S.-Mexico border has been deemed secure for a period of six months.
The amendment to the larger overhaul of U.S. immigration law was sponsored by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. It was defeated Thursday in a 57-43 vote.
NSA Director Keith Alexander told a Senate panel that his agency's program did indeed protect American's privacy while gathering data on terrorist activity. Alexander told lawmakers he wants to declassify more details to reassure everyone the programs are legal and effective.
With two weeks until the Massachusetts special Senate election, the obvious question is: Can Republicans pull off another stunning upset like they did three years ago?
Back then, in the very blue Bay State, Republican Scott Brown won the seat left vacant by Ted Kennedy's death by riding a Tea Party and anti-Obamacare wave amplified by voter distress over a sour economy.
Forty years after the Senate committee hearings on the Watergate scandal, Political Junkie Ken Rudin talks with Lowell Weicker, who served on the Senate Watergate committee. Former White House speechwriters Paul Glastris and Peter Robinson talk about writing speeches amid scandal.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. The U.S. Senate has opened debate on a sweeping immigration bill. And President Obama says it's the best chance in years to fix what he calls a broken immigration system. The measure took a step forward yesterday when a big, bipartisan majority of senators voted to take up the bill. But it still faces serious obstacles, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
When a former IT contractor at the National Security Agency gave The Guardian U.S. government surveillance information, he told the paper that his only motivation was to spark a public debate about government surveillance.
"This is something that's not our place to decide," Edward Snowden said. "The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong."
Viewed out of context, recent Washington revelations paint a disturbing portrait of the vast amount of electronic data the nation's spy agencies are collecting. But the blockbuster news stories belie a simple truth: Personal privacy rights have been under sustained assault since well before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And it's not just government that's vacuuming up information.
If you're a member of Congress and you didn't know about the National Security Agency's phone records program before it was disclosed last week, President Obama has this to say to you: Where have you been?
"When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program," Obama said to reporters last Friday.