Originally published on Mon October 24, 2011 12:22 pm
An advantage of being an Oval Office incumbent seeking re-election was readily evident Monday in President Obama's roll-out of his administration's latest effort to help struggling homeowners.
With many Americans either facing foreclosure and others, because of declining property values or much tighter lending standards, unable to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of lower interest rates, the Obama administration is doing extensive renovations of its current housing policies.
Michele Norris, an All Things Considered co-host since December 2002, is stepping away from that post until after the 2012 presidential campaign because her husband has taken a senior position with President Obama's re-election effort.
She is not leaving NPR's airwaves, however. While she will not be involved in coverage of the 2012 election, Norris will continue to report and produce projects for the organization.
Saying that "an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade ... has destroyed 95 percent of our revenue," WikiLeaks has suspended publishing operations and founder Julian Assange says it may have to shut down permanently by year's end.
A big fight is brewing in the Senate over the national defense policy bill. It's legislation that would authorize a pay raise and other benefits for U.S. troops.
But the bipartisan bill also contains a provision about detainees that's raising alarms at the White House, because the Obama administration says the measure would tie its hands in some terrorism cases.
The defense authorization bill has pitted President Obama's national security advisers against some prominent Democrats in the U.S. Senate.
Originally published on Mon October 24, 2011 4:50 pm
Update at 5:42 p.m. ET. As expected, President Obama announced that his administration was easing the terms of a federal program that would open the doors for homeowners to refinancing their homes no matter how far underwater their mortgage is.
The AP reports that the Federal Housing Finance Administration "estimated an additional 1 million people would qualify. Moody's Analytics say the figure could be as high as 1.6 million."
"Libya's transitional leader has ordered an investigation into the death of Moammar Gadhafi after the U.S. and other international powers pressed for the probe," The Associated Press reports. It adds that "Mustafa Abdul-Jalil told a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi that the Transitional National Council formed a committee to investigate the killing on Thursday, amid conflicting reports of how the dictator who ruled Libya for four decades died."
"The U.S. has pulled its ambassador out of Syria over security concerns, blaming President Bashar Assad's government for the threats.," The Associated Press writes. "State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Ambassador Robert Ford returned to Washington this weekend after 'credible threats against his personal safety.' "
I found The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, sitting on a coffee table at a writers' colony in 2009. It carried praise from J.M. Coetzee for its "restrained tenderness and laconic humor," which seemed ample justification for using it to avoid my own writing.
I finished it, weeping, a day later, and have been puzzling over its powerful hold on me ever since. I've recommended it again and again, and while I can't say it's entirely undiscovered — it won the 2010 IMPAC Dublin Award — no one I know ever seems to have heard of it.