National News from NPR


SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. Libyan rebels say they've secured most of Tripoli and taken a key border crossing to Tunisia. That crossing is vital to getting food and supplies into the Libyan capital where the human situation is growing dire. Members of the rebel council in Benghazi say they're relocating to Tripoli where they will set up an interim government that will rule Libya into 2012. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Soraya, thanks for being with us.

Obama Considers New Housing Solutions

Aug 27, 2011

The Obama administration is considering several new ideas to help shore up the struggling housing market. As first reported by The New York Times this week, one proposal would allow homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance them at the current, lower interest rates. Host Scott Simon talks with Columbia University's Christopher Mayer, who helped introduce the mortgage refinancing proposal in 2008.

Disloyalty Charges Threaten N.H. GOP Chair

Aug 27, 2011

Presidential candidates aren't the only Republicans jockeying for position in the state that holds the first presidential primary. Jack Kimball, New Hampshire's GOP chairman, is fighting to remain in office. The Tea Party-backed newcomer was elected to lead state Republicans just seven months ago. He now faces removal amid charges of incompetence and disloyalty. New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers reports.

The memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., opened on the National Mall this week. NPR's Ari Shapiro introduces us to one man for whom this moment caps a long family story.

Mitt Romney's national front-runner status in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination took a hit this week, with national polls showing that he has been eclipsed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The magnitude-5.8 earthquake that rattled the eastern U.S. on Tuesday took everyone — even geologists — by surprise. But even when there are reasons to think an earthquake could be around the corner, scientists still can't make good predictions.

Pieces of twisted metal and scrap wood left behind by a massive tornado that tore through Joplin, Miss., are now sitting in a gallery in Kansas City. The sculptures and paintings from the wreckage are to be sold at auction Saturday.

Ann Leach is a grief counselor who has lived in Joplin for 14 years. She's one of the survivors of the May tornado, which left 159 people dead. When the tornado struck, Leach was protected by a slab of sheet rock that fell on top of her, forming a protective barrier.

Irene is already causing travel headaches: Airlines have cancelled 2,400 flights so far. As it works up its way through the East Coast of the United States, Bloomberg reports, it is forecast to move through busiest airspace in the country.

That means: Delta has cancelled 1,300 flights; Jet Blue will drop 75 percent of its weekend trips; American Airlines is planning to scrap 265 flights.

Bloomberg adds:

Three years behind schedule and several billion dollars over budget, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is finally set for its first commercial flight. The Federal Aviation Administration gave the plane its OK and Boeing will make its first delivery in September.

Bloomberg reports:

One of Moammar Gadhafi's last major strongholds in Tripoli has fallen to rebel forces. Among the survivors of the ferocious street fighting are prisoners from the Abu Salim prison, some of whom have been jailed for more than two decades.

Rain from Hurricane Irene has started falling off the coast of the Carolinas. All the way up to Maine, residents are preparing for the storm, which is expected to pound much of the East Coast this weekend.

On the Jersey Shore, Cape May County officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation.

The small community of Stone Harbor sits on a barrier island and early Friday morning, the sounds of tourists were replaced by drills as business owners covered windows with plywood.

Perry Hopes To Turn Medical Liability Record Into Votes

Aug 26, 2011

Just a few weeks into his campaign, Texas Gov. and presidential candidate Rick Perry isn't talking a whole lot about health care, except to criticize President Obama for last year's law. And he's not considered a health care expert. But he's is passionate on one point: Fixing the nation's health care system must include a major reform of the medical malpractice system.

Over the past decade or so, we've seen hurricanes pound the Gulf states. Of course foremost in the national consciousness is still Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall near New Orleans in 2005.

Not only that but if you exclude Florida, the last major hurricane — meaning category 3 or stronger — to make landfall in the Eastern Seaboard was Hurricane Fran, which made landfall in North Carolina in 1996. But during the past two decades, the Gulf Coast has seen Andrew in 1992, Opal in 1995, Bret in 1999, Charley and Ivan in 2004 and Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005.

More than 2 million residents along the Eastern Seaboard have been ordered to move to safer places as Hurricane Irene lumbers toward the Mid-Atlantic region.