The Two-Way
5:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Holds Firm Against Mortgage Write-Downs

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. But the regulator who oversees two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has rejected the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A federal regulator is blocking the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reducing the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosures.

Tuesday's decision came from Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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A former NPR Moscow bureau chief, Michele Kelemen now covers the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In her latest beat, Kelemen has been traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton before him, tracking the Obama administration's broad foreign policy agenda from Asia to the Middle East. She also followed President Bush's Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and was part of the NPR team that won the 2007 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of the war in Iraq.

Shots - Health Blog
5:11 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

NIH Official Calls For Extension Of Moratorium On Bird Flu Experiments

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said a voluntary halt to bird flu research should stay in effect.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A voluntary moratorium on certain experiments involving forms of bird flu altered in laboratories should continue until there can be more public discussion of safety concerns, a prominent government official told flu researchers at a meeting in New York City Tuesday.

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It's All Politics
5:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama And Bush's Shared First-Term Obsession: Battleground States

What does President Obama have in common with his immediate White House predecessor?

Both men spent a disproportionate amount of their first terms making appearances in battleground states, Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the U.S. Naval Academy, writes in a post on The Monkey Cage political-science blog.

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The Torch
5:08 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Phelps Sets New Olympic Record With 19 Medals; America's Schmitt Wins Gold

U.S. swimmers Conor Dwyer (left), Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens poses on the podium with their gold medals after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 6:35 pm

The U.S. men's swimming team has won the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a race that also gave Michael Phelps a record 19 medals in the Olympics. He netted his 18th, a silver, earlier in the day.

Update at 4:05 p.m. EDT: For the relay final, the American team swam in the fourth lane, next to their greatest rivals, the French, who posted the fasted qualifying time. The French are led by Yannick Agnel, who soundly defeated Ryan Lochte and others in the men's 200m freestyle Monday.

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Asia
5:06 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

India's Power Woes A Classic Story Of Supply, Demand

Muslim girls study by candlelight Monday inside a madrasa, or religious school, in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi. Three regional power grids collapsed, causing a massive power outage that blacked out more than half of India.
Parivartan Sharma Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 2:25 pm

It might be too early to say what the exact cause of India's latest massive power outage is, but in its simplest form, it probably has something to do with supply and demand –- not enough of the former and too much of the latter.

The outage, which left more than 670 million of the country's 1.2 billion people without power, snarled traffic, shut down electric trains and idled some businesses. Indian officials say they are rapidly restoring power, but it's unclear how soon the situation will be back to normal.

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Election 2012
4:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

On Iran, Romney's Plan Resembles Obama's Reality

Mitt Romney speaks in Jerusalem on Sunday, backing "any and all measures" to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Uriel Sinai Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 11:40 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says America's national security priority should be preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and he was talking tough about this in his recent stop in Jerusalem.

"History teaches with force and clarity that when the world's most despotic regimes secure the world's most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war," Romney said. "We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option."

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The Torch
4:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

With A Tiger's Help, Orange Juice Helps Lighten The Mood At Olympics

On their bottles, Innocent declares itself the juice of champions — before adding, "rather than bang on about it, we thought we'd show you a picture of a tiger running through his pre-swim checklist." The drinks are a welcome sight at the Olympic media center.
Vickie Walton-James NPR

When you spend hours on end at a media center, even if it's on an assignment as terrific as the Summer Olympics, the refreshments can get to be, well, familiar.

But no contempt has been bred here. That's partly because of Innocent brand juice — the "official smoothie and juice of the London 2012 Olympic games," as the label says.

And any drink that can make us chuckle on deadline is greatly appreciated. Especially if it's what's on the outside of the bottle that makes us laugh.

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World
4:41 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Opera Unfolds When A Cuban Cabaret Is Shut Down

Cuban performers ranging from dancers to opera singers were packing in audiences at Havana's El Cabildo restaurant and cabaret. In a case seen as a test of Raul Castro's commitment to economic changes, government inspectors recently closed the restaurant.
Desmond Boylan Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 3:18 pm

Ulises Aquino was already one of Cuba's best-known baritones when he founded his own company, Opera de la Calle, or Opera of the Street, in 2006. By combining Cuban rhythms and dance with his formal musical training, he won fans at home and abroad.

Aquino also considers himself a good "revolucionario," meaning he's a loyal supporter of Cuba's socialist system. And when President Raul Castro urged Cubans to increase productivity by starting small businesses, Aquino answered the call.

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The Salt
3:59 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness

A Bhutanese farmer puts her harvest of chilies on the roof of a shed to dry and protect it from wild boars, deer, and monkeys in 2006.
James L. Stanfield National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:32 am

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation's progress. If you're going to prioritize happiness, the Bhutanese thinking goes, you'd better include the environment and spiritual and mental well-being in your calculations.

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