The word that Pentagon rules may soon "catch up a bit with reality" as the military considers formally allowing women to do something that they've already been asked to do in Iraq and Afghanistan — serve close to the front lines but technically not "in combat" — raises a question.
As NPR's Tom Bowman reports, the new rules still wouldn't allow women to serve in front line combat jobs such as infantry, armor or Special Forces.
H5N1 avian flu viruses (seen in gold) grow inside canine kidney cells (seen in green).
The World Health Organization has just one week left to prepare for a highly anticipated meeting on controversial bird flu research. One official says that 22 invitations have gone out and the WHO is still waiting to hear back from some of the invitees.
Recent experiments involving the H5N1 bird flu virus have caused a furor in the science community, and the WHO was urged to convene an international discussion.
After a surprise sweep of Tuesday's three election contests by Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney headed to Georgia on Wednesday for a fundraiser and rally in Atlanta.
As NPR's Kathy Lohr reports on Morning Edition, heading to Georgia — Newt Gingrich country — was "a bold move" for Romney. "Before a packed crowd at a local tile and flooring company, Romney talked about creating jobs and reducing government spending — and he also took aim at his GOP opponents," Lohr reports.
"After negotiating through the night," NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, states attorneys general, federal officials and five major banks have agreed on a plan that will provide about $26 billion in mortgage relief and aid to homeowners who got crushed when the housing bubble burst.
A Syrian rebel runs for cover during an exchange of fire with army troops in Idlib, Syria.
This anti-regime fighter retreated for medical treatment following an exchange of fire with army troops Wednesday in Idlib, Syria.
"Syrian forces fired mortars and rockets Thursday in the rebellious city of Homs, the latest salvo in a weeklong assault that has killed hundreds as President Bashar Assad's regime tries to crush increasingly militarized pockets of dissent," The Associated Press reports.
Relying on reports from activists and residents in Homs, the AP and other news outlets say it appears that a brutal crackdown continues.
Following up on a plan he unveiled last September to let states apply to be exempt from basic elements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law, President Obama will today announce the first 10 states that have qualified for such exemptions.
And that settlement is, of course, a priority for President Obama. But so is the debt crisis in Europe. Today, he hosts Italy's new prime minister, the technocrat who succeeded the controversial-but-flamboyant Silvio Berlusconi last fall. Mario Monti has not yet turned around Italy's economy, but as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, he's changed the government's image abroad.
We're going to look now at American military strategy for the war in Afghanistan. There's been some confusion lately about whether American forces would end their combat mission sooner than planned and also about how long the U.S. will remain in Afghanistan. So to try to make sense of it all, we're joined by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.
The big Swiss bank UBS awarded some of its investment bankers millions of dollars in bonuses for their work last year. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, it's taking some of that money back.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Or clawing it back. That's our last word in business today. Claw back provisions implemented after the financial crisis allow banks to recover bonuses from employees. A trading scandal last year cost UBS more than $2 billion and pushed it into the red.
Rick Santorum headed in a different direction after his wins on Tuesday.
Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Dallas.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: North Texas was a good choice for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to keep his campaign's momentum going. He met with evangelical pastors in the morning, Tea Partiers in the afternoon and a Republican women's group at night.
(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is our pleasure to introduce to you Rick Santorum. Give him a Texas welcome.
Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad has put it at odds with other countries in the Arab world.
Russia drew a lot of flack from Arab countries and the West when it vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at pressuring Assad to stop his crackdown on protesters. That has some analysts in Russia doubting whether the Kremlin really has a cogent strategy for the Middle East.
The dilemma for Russia policy in the Arab world can be illustrated by two very different events that took place this week.
Turn on the news on any given day, and you're likely to hear about the Dow Jones industrial average. It is the most frequently checked, and cited, proxy of U.S. economic health. But a lot of people — maybe most — don't even know what it is. It's just the stock prices of 30 big companies, summed up and roughly averaged. That's it.
And what does the daily movement of this number have to do with the lives of most Americans? Not much.
In December, Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman (from left), FHFA acting Director Edward DeMarco and Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams testified on Capitol Hill about the Federal Housing Finance Agency's performance.
A federal Inspector General's office confirmed Wednesday it is looking into Freddie Mac investments that act as bets against homeowners being able to refinance.
In addition, U.S. senators are expected to probe Freddie Mac's investment practices at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Freddie Mac, based in northern Virginia, is the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant whose public mission is to make homeownership more affordable for Americans.
Members of the Egyptian military stand guard as officials raid the offices of a nongovernmental organization in Cairo. Egyptian investigating judges referred international NGO workers to trial for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds, security officials said.
Credit Courtesy of the National Democratic Institute
A voter checks a sample ballot outside a polling station during the second round of municipal elections in Egypt. The National Democratic Institute says it has helped mobilize volunteers and make parties aware of citizens' needs in Egypt without promoting a particular ideology.
American lawmakers are furious about a mounting diplomatic crisis in Egypt, where dozens of nongovernmental workers, including 19 Americans, could face trial.
The United States says Egypt needs to let pro-democracy groups continue their work to help the country's transition, but Egypt accuses them of operating illegally.
The work of democracy promotion groups has raised suspicions in many countries, but Lorne Craner, who runs the International Republican Institute, says he has never seen anything like what's going on now in Egypt.