Seven months after his was nominated, the U.S. Senate this week confirmed former Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant companies that control much of the mortgage market.
The vote occurred after Democrats changed the rules on filibusters — now the Senate can confirm presidential nominees with a simple majority.
For people who watch the U.S. housing market, Watt's confirmation is a very big deal that could mean easier credit.
On Saturday, Army and Navy will take the field to renew their legendary football rivalry for the 114th time. The teams are playing in Philadelphia, which is also where they faced off in 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The players that year faced a sobering new reality: The nation was at war, and they'd soon leave the football field behind for the battlefield.
The North America's grizzly bear is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Its population was virtually wiped out in the lower 48 states. One group of bears, though, may soon lose that protection - the Yellowstone grizzly. Some scientists say that group is thriving. Others disagree. NPR's Christopher Joyce has more on the battle over the bear.
And another story of intrigue with plenty of unanswered questions. An American claiming to be a businessman went to Iran seven years ago and then he vanished. An Associated Press investigation into Robert Levinson's disappearance uncovers that he was actually part of a sensitive covert and apparently rogue operation that shook the CIA when it came to light.
Matt Apuzzo is part of the reporting team at the AP who broke this story. Matt, welcome back to the program.
Apparently, the queen of England is going nuts about Buckingham Palace Guards snacking on the job. This is a detail that came out during the long trial of defunct Murdoch tabloid News of the World. According to emails read in court, the queen's staff placed bowls of nuts around the palace for her. But royal police roaming the corridors couldn't resist. So her highness drew lines on the bowls to keep track of the snack levels.
Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:59 pm
President Obama's oft-repeated promise that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it" is 2013's "lie of the year," according to the fact checkers at the Tampa Bay Times' nonpartisan PolitiFact project.
The citrus industry is facing a crisis. It's called citrus greening — a disease that has devastated orange production in Florida since it first showed up eight years ago. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new effort to try to control the disease before it destroys the nation's citrus industry.
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., one year ago sparked a national conversation about the country's troubled mental health system. Politicians convened task forces and promised additional funding and new laws. But today, despite those promises, patients and advocates say treatment for mental health is still in shambles.
As Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy sped from Hartford to Newtown nearly a year ago, the death toll kept rising. When he arrived on the scene, he found himself in charge — and it fell to him to answer the question: How long should family members have to wait to learn that their loved ones were gone?
Malloy decided that he was going to do what he thought was right. Still, standing in front of more than two dozen families gathered in a firehouse, he doubted that it was.
Three years ago, Maria Vasquez-Rojas received news to celebrate: After many attempts to conceive, she was going to have a baby. But while pregnant with her daughter, Ellie, Maria was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.
"If I had not gone in for that ultrasound they would have never caught it. [Ellie] saved my life," Maria tells her brother, Francisco Vasquez, on a visit to StoryCorps in Los Angeles.
Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:05 am
North Korea has announced that Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and formerly the second most powerful man in the country, has been executed after being found guilty of treason by a military tribunal.
"The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.