Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners stay in their homes. But two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have not signed on to the idea.
Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.
The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.
But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.
There's been lots of talk on the Web and the news channels today about The Washington Post's front page account of what happened when Barbara Johnson went to Communion on Saturday during the funeral mass for her mother in Gaithersburg, Md.
The priest, Rev. Marcel Guarnizo said he would not give her the sacrament because she is a sinner.
Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy participates in a question-and-answer session with the Ministers' Association of Greater Houston on Sept. 12, 1960, in Houston. In a speech to the group, Kennedy addressed concerns about his Catholicism and his run for the presidency.
Credit Mark Humphrey / AP
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, shown at Temple Baptist Church in Powell, Tenn., on Wednesday, says John F. Kennedy set the foundation for expelling faith from politics.
When GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was growing up, he says, John F. Kennedy was a hero in his Catholic home.
In a speech last year, he said he had always heard glowing reports of Kennedy's speech about religion to Protestant ministers in 1960.
"And then very late in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up," Santorum told a group of college students last year. "You should read the speech. In my opinion, it was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square."
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 5:02 pm
On its opening weekend, the Navy SEAL's movie Act of Valor grossed over $20 million at the box office. The military movie is believed to be the first to feature active duty military personnel as actors in the film.
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 3:36 pm
Scary labels the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would require on cigarette packages later this year were nixed today.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington ruled the requirement that cigarette makers put the labels — some quite gruesome and all quite large — on their products would "violate the First Amendment by unconstitutionally compelling speech."
North Korea's military fires missiles during a drill in this undated photo released Oct. 6, 2010, by the Korean Central News Agency. North Korea has agreed to stop nuclear activities and allow inspections, while the U.S. says it will provide food aid to the country.
Credit KNS / AFP/Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (center) inspects army units at an undisclosed location in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on Monday.
North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and missile tests, and the U.S. says it will provide food aid. The agreement should set the stage for a new round of nuclear disarmament talks. But analysts caution this is a small first step.
U.S. State Department officials returned from three days of talks in Beijing with a deal meant to improve the atmosphere for a resumption of so-called six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the deal in Congress on Wednesday.
Mitt Romney's decisive victory in Arizona on Tuesday won him every one of that state's 29 delegates in what was a winner-take-all election. But it was quite a different story in Michigan.
Even though Rick Santorum finished 3 percentage points behind Romney, Santorum ended up with the same amount of delegates: 15. That's because Michigan awards most of its delegates according to congressional districts.
Every one of the 10 states voting next week on Super Tuesday will also award delegates on a proportional basis.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Deadly tornadoes swept through the Midwest overnight and this morning, killing at least eight people. The storm system hammered parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky, where it still poses a threat.
As NPR's David Schaper reports, hardest hit is the small city of Harrisburg in southern Illinois.
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 3:59 pm
(Updated at 5:57 pm ET)
A day after Senate Democrats' chances of keeping control of the chamber seemed to improve with the news that Maine Republican Olympia Snowe was retiring from a seat Democrats seem likely to gain, they got apparently more good news — Bob Kerrey finally decided to run for the soon-to-be-vacated U.S. Senate seat from Nebraska.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who narrowly won Michigan's Republican primary on Tuesday, traveled south to campaign in Toledo, Ohio on Wednesday. Ohio holds its primary next week on Super Tuesday.
In defiance of Congress, the Obama administration has issued new rules on how it will comply with a defense law mandating that many al-Qaida suspects be sent into military custody: It will issue waivers in many cases. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the trouble with waivers and the need for flexibility in dealing with suspects.
Robert Siegel talks to three former GOP party chairmen and governors about the results of Tuesday's primaries in Michigan and Arizona. Haley Barbour of Mississippi says the campaign should now focus on social issues. Marc Racicot of Montana agrees, but says attention must be paid to those who care about such issues, and Jim Gilmore of Virginia says he feels a connection must be made between the GOP and blue collar voters.
"The Syrian army is advancing on opposition positions in Homs, which has been under artillery bombardment for nearly a month, reports say. Security officials said the city's besieged district of Baba Amr would be 'cleaned' within the next few hours."
One week after saying "you'll have to ask President Obama" when asked if he believes the president is a Christian, Rev. Franklin Graham has issued an apology for "any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama."
Her father, Patrick, worked in the trucking trade, took care of his family and loved singing to his daughter.
When Joy got older, she moved to Atlanta for work and her parents retired to New Mexico. When she flew in for a visit in 2008, she noticed her father was changing. He would pay for gas but not fill up the tank. He would ask his wife, Jane, "Where's Jane?"
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 3:09 pm
As orchards go, truffle orchards are upside-down and backwards. The magic happens not on the branches of oak and hazel trees, but beneath them, where a richly flavored mushroom sprouts from fungal colonies laced about the trees' roots. This cultivated variety is the black Perigord truffle, or tuber melanosporum.
Our brains are filled with billions of neurons, entangled like a dense canopy of tropical forest branches. When we think of a concept or a memory — or have a perception or feeling — our brain's neurons quickly fire and talk to each other across connections called synapses.
How these neurons interact with each other — and what the wiring is like between them — is key to understanding our identity, says Sebastian Seung, a professor of computational neuroscience at MIT.