Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., listens as President Obama announces his nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt was nominated in May, but Republicans blocked his confirmation until this week.
Credit Jacquelyn Martin / AP
More than 90 percent of home mortgages flow through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration. Fannie and Freddie get to decide who can qualify and who can't for loans they guarantee. And they just got a new top boss.
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.
Well, it is that time of year again. For millions of Americans, the good cheer of Christmas and all the other festivals is marred by what many call the winter blues. Counselors, therapists, self-help books counsel us on how to beat the onset of depression brought on by wintertime.
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.