The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. is second only to the United States Supreme Court in terms of the important cases it decides. But the court, known as the D.C. Circuit, has been limping along with four vacancies. President Obama's first nominee recently withdrew after two Senate filibusters blocked her path. The White House is hoping its other nominee will have an easier ride.
Now the Federal Housing Administration might need its first bailout in its 79 year history. So-called reversed mortgages are at the heart of the problem here, as fallout from the housing crisis continues.
NPR's Dan Bobkoff explains.
DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: Perhaps you've seen ads like this one on TV.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV AD)
FRED THOMPSON: A government-insured reverse mortgage allows seniors to stay in their own home and turn their equity into tax-free cash...
On Capitol Hill, the Senate is set to open debate this morning on the first major gun control legislation to reach Congress in two decades. Some Republicans, though, say they have a pretty good reason to hold up that debate. NPR's Ailsa Chang explains.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Senator Mike Lee of Utah is one of the Republicans who say they're filibustering, and here's his rational: He's not actually trying to block debate. He's just trying to buy more time to consider the proposals.
In recent elections the Republican Party has struggled to find much support among African-American voters. That though did not dissuade Kentucky's Republican Senator Rand Paul from making a pitch yesterday at Howard University, the historically black college in the nation's capital.
NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson was listening.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Rand Paul spoke carefully from a teleprompter and posed this question to his audience of young African-American students.
Well, the first round of golf's first major tournament of the year tees off today. And if people are not excited enough about the Masters, there is added drama this year. The most recognizable golfer on the planet, Tiger Woods, is a bonafide favorite to win his fifth green jacket. NPR's Tom Goldman has been wandering, strolling the grounds of golf's most storied course. He joins us now from Augusta, Georgia. And, Tom, how did you get this assignment?
Tonight, in Flint, Michigan, a limousine is going to pull up to a nursing home and take a 79-year-old patient for a long-awaited night out on the town. Seven years ago, Evie Branan suffered a stroke that left her in a semi-coma. In May of 2011, she tumbled out of her bed, bumped her head and woke up, and her very first words were a request.
EVIE BRANAN: I said I wanted to go to a Bob Seger concert.
And let's get an update now on those tensions on the Korean peninsula. South Korea's foreign minister has warned that North Korea could launch a medium-range missile at, quote, "any time." Also, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the North Koreans are skating close to a dangerous line. Both the United States and South Korea have put their forces in South Korea on heightened alert, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due in Seoul tomorrow to assess the situation.
In the days before elevators, there was no such thing as a penthouse on the top floor. The highest floors of a building had cheaper rents because the stairs were hard to climb.
Caracas, Venezuela, is organized roughly the same way, with many poor neighborhoods climbing up the sides of a mountain valley. Some of the poorest homes are among the most remote, accessible not by any road but by alleyways and long flights of stairs.
As Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez thought in grandiose terms, and his country's vast oil riches enabled him to act on his vision. But Chavez died before he had to deal with the flaws in his model, and some hard choices await his successor.
Key to Chavez's notion of "21st Century Socialism" was the redistribution of Venezuela's oil earnings. The country's oil reserves — estimated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to be the largest in the world — are worth tens of billions of dollars a year in potential revenue.