National / International News

Health Advocates Lament GOP Move To Relax School Lunch Rules

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 09:10

A House committee Thursday approved a measure that would give schools a way to opt out of new, federal healthy school lunch standards. But advocates say kids' health should take precedence.

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Richard III: Not The Hunchback We Thought He Was?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 09:08

Scientists say 3-D skeletal modeling shows the English monarch had a common form of scoliosis. The physical condition of King Richard III has been a subject of debate for centuries.

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Cancer waiting time targets slip

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 09:03
A key government target for treating people diagnosed with suspected cancer has been breached for the first time since it was introduced in 2009

New Orleans District Moves To An All-Charter System

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 09:03

Charter schools have lifted test scores and graduation rates in New Orleans, but racial disparities remain a problem as charters are given responsibility for nearly all the city's children.

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Saracens' Vunipola misses England tour

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:53
Saracens prop Mako Vunipola misses England's tour of New Zealand following knee surgery and is out until next season.

'Google should forget me'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:48
One BBC reader's plea for a second chance

Monaco's royal couple expecting baby

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:36
Monaco's Prince Albert II and his South African wife Princess Charlene have announced that they are expecting their first child.

Nigeria traditional leader shot dead

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:28
A northern Nigerian traditional leader, the emir of Gwoza, is shot dead after his convoy comes under from suspected Boko Haram militants.

VIDEO: Could the way we move be a password?

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:10
The way we move, talk and even how we interact with our computer could be used as an alternative to passwords.

VIDEO: The handheld cancer detector

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:08
A device consisting of a smartphone, lens and some lights could help detect tumours.

Democrats Plan Ad Buys In Some Rather Blue Places

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:03

Part of the $44 million that House Democrats plan to spend on TV ads this fall is allocated to places like California, Illinois and Massachusetts.

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VIDEO: The migrant horror behind white walls

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 08:00
The BBC's Quentin Sommerville found illegal immigrants being held in squalor in Libya, after they were captured trying to make the crossing to Europe.

Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Resigns

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:57

VA Sec. Eric Shinseki resigned Friday after meeting with President Obama. Obama praised Shinseki, but said the retired general feels that new leadership is needed to address the department's problems.

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The man behind Fannie and Freddie

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:54
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 04:50 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden ceremonially swears in Mel Watt as the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency as his wife Eulada Watt, looks on

In the world of real estate, few people are more powerful than Mel Watt, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Together, the two mortgage giants guarantee about 60 percent of all new home loans. 

Watt hasn’t made a lot of public appearances since he was appointed head of the FHFA in January. In fact, his first major speech wasn't until May 13, at the Brookings Institution. 

“We’re balancing, in a number of instances, contradictory mandates,” he told the audience.

For example, the mandate to protect the taxpayers while trying to get banks to lend more but not make risky loans, which Fannie and Freddie would still have to guarantee. After the speech, Watt hung around outside Brookings and chatted for a while -- Maybe not what you’d expect, but perhaps a throwback to Watt’s previous job. He served in Congress for more than two decades, representing the banking hub of Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The Senate Banking Committee has passed legislation that would gradually wind down Fannie and Freddie, something Watt’s predecessor also tried to do, but without input from Capitol Hill.  

But Congress isn’t likely to act this year, leaving Watt in charge of Fannie and Freddie’s fate.  

“I think he’ll work cooperatively with Congress,” says David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, who adds that he thinks Watt will let Congress decide what to do with the mortgage giants.

“He gets it.  Mel understands his role," Stevens says. "He understands the role of Congress.”

Watt’s role also involves dealing with a lot of money. Since Fannie and Freddie were taken over by the government in 2008, their profits have gone to the U.S. Treasury.

“Even in this town, $25 billion a year is a lot of money,” says Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, a homeowner advocacy group.   

Sitting in Calhoun's Washington office, I ask him whether all that money led to pressure on Watt, maybe from people in the White House who don’t want to change Fannie and Freddie because they’re afraid of cutting off the spigot of cash. But Calhoun doesn't think that'll happen.

“They know he is going to be independent.  He’s in his mid 60s," Calhoun says. "He’s quite comfortable standing his ground.”

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday June 4, 2014 Nancy Marshall-Genzer

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt spoke at the Brookings Institution on May 13.

by Nancy Marshall-GenzerPodcast Title The man behind Fannie and FreddieStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

VIDEO: Celebrating the life of Stephen Sutton

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:50
Speaking to the BBC the Dean of Lichfield, Very Reverend Adrian Dorber said there was a "touch of the Princess Di syndrome" with a showing of public grief.

£40,000 fine for bay boat crash

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:48
A yacht club is fined £40,000 after two motor boats crashed in Cardiff Bay, leaving a schoolgirl brain damaged.

No verdict in teen terror retrial

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:46
The jury in the retrial of a teenager accused of plotting a terrorist attack at his Leicestershire school again fails to reach a verdict.

Dengue Fever 101: How Serious Is This Disease?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:38

The odds are that a victim will recover. But the mosquito-borne virus can be incredibly painful. It's also a growing health concern around the globe and has even been spotted in the United States.

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Labour 'must understand UKIP vote'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:22
It is important to understand why people voted for the UK Independence Party at last week's European elections, says First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Japan urges regional security role

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-30 07:14
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Japan will play a "greater and more proactive role" in regional security in Asia, angering Beijing.
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