For decades, Myanmar was isolated diplomatically, an economic backwater that seemed almost frozen in time amid a Southeast Asian region that was modernizing at a rapid pace.
But the political reforms under way in Myanmar, also known as Burma, are redefining its place in the world. President Obama's visit in November was a sign of the dramatic turnaround in relations with the United States.
In Sumter, S.C., home of Shaw Air Force Base and the 20th Fighter Wing, cars sport bumper stickers that say, "Jet noise is the sound of freedom."
Throughout the day, F-16s on training runs blast from a runway on base, disappearing into the foggy sky. But if automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts slated for March 1 go into effect, there will be a lot less of that sound.
"To cut to that level, we just could not pay for the amount of flying hours that we currently have," says Capt. Ann Blodzinski, the base's chief of public affairs.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. The Japanese flag flew over Blair House in Washington today. That's where foreign leaders stay when they visit the White House. Japan's new prime minister is here for his first meeting with President Obama, and they've been discussing economic and security issues as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.
This year's flu vaccine looks like it's not doing much to protect older people. New numbers in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the vaccine has only been effective about a quarter of the time for people 65 and older. NPR's Rob Stein joins me to explain what that means. And Rob, tell us more about these numbers coming from the CDC.
How much is a best-picture Oscar worth? Not the statuette â winners are required to sell that back to the Academy for a buck if they want to get rid of it. No, what's the Oscar worth at the box office?
CNBC is far and away the television ratings leader in the financial cable news business. Now, evidence arrives that its executives, producers and reporters are going to great lengths to maintain its status.
The channel has adopted a policy that prohibits guests from appearing on rival channels amid breaking news if they want to be seen by CNBC's larger audience.
In the back and forth between Congress and the White House over immigration, both sides seem to agree that people now in the U.S. illegally should wait at "the back of the line" for legal residency â meaning no green card until all other immigrants get theirs.
But that presents a problem, because the wait for a green card can take decades.
Maria has been waiting in line with her husband for 16 years and counting for what the government calls a priority date for legal residency. Because she is in the U.S. without documents, Maria asked NPR to use only her first name.
The most heated part of the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new rules that require most health plans to cover contraception actually has nothing to do with birth control. It has to do with abortion.
Finally, this hour, have you ever heard a story about homeless children that wasn't a grim, dark bummer?
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "INOCENTE")
INOCENTE: (as herself) My name is Inocente. I'm 15 years old, and I live in San Diego, California. I pretty much grew up homeless. I never really had something to call home.
BLOCK: A great deal of Inocente's life has been grim and dark, but the teenager with her clothes, her makeup and most importantly her art lives almost exclusively in bright colors despite all of her hardships.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
Among the many charges thrown at Chuck Hagel, as he seeks confirmation as defense secretary, is this one: that he received funding from a group called Friends of Hamas. That explosive claim first surfaced on the conservative website breitbart.com. It got traction and spread among conservative media.
Thing is there's no evidence that any such group exists, not to mention any evidence of a Hamas-Hagel connection.
There is no end, it seems, to revelations of corruption in Spain, exacerbated by the country's economic crisis. The latest scandal threatens to topple the pedestal on which Spain's royals have long stood.
The newest suspect is the king's son-in-law, who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars in public funds and faces a judge this weekend.
Food doesn't matter much in novels. Years will pass in a person's life without a single description of a snack. Not a moment between adverbs for a taco. No wonder so many characters in contemporary fiction are glum: They're not hopeless; they're hungry.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 banning violence against women. But the parliament, which is currently on its winter recess, has been unable to pass it and give it permanence as a law.
There's major disagreement on key provisions where Islamic and secular law come into conflict. And activists say the gains made in women's rights since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 are slipping away.
Masooda Karokhi, a female member of parliament, has been pushing to get the proposal through the male-dominated legislature.
There's an underground bunker at a radio station in Charlotte, N.C., where time has stopped. Built decades ago to provide safety and vital communications in the event of a nuclear attack, it's now a perfectly preserved relic of Cold War fear that's gained new relevance.
The secret bunker is part of the office lore that old-timers at WBT Radio whisper to the newbies. That's how radio host Mike Collins learned of it back in the 1980s.