With the solemn ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks now over, Washington returns to the subject most likely to dominate the political debate between now and the November 2012 presidential election:
Last year, as part of a reporting project, we bought a toxic asset — one of those complicated financial instruments that that nearly brought down the global economy.
We spent $1000 of our own money and bought a tiny slice of a bond backed by mortgages. We paid just a fraction of what it originally cost. It was such a good deal, we thought maybe we'd make a few bucks, which we'd give to charity.
NATO planes are still in the air and bombing targets over Libya and Moammar Gadhafi is still on the loose. Nonetheless, NATO is taking something of a victory lap in the wake of an operation that broke new ground for the military alliance.
But the Libyan operation also raised questions about its mission, its future role in such conflicts, and how it determines when to intervene.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told NPR he sees the Libya operation as a template for future NATO missions and proof the United Nations can outsource its muscle to the alliance.
Scientists say they have figured out how a very clever virus outwits a very hungry caterpillar.
The caterpillar is the gypsy moth in its larval stage, and the invasive species damages roughly a million acres of forest in the U.S. each year by devouring tree leaves.
But the damage would be greater if it weren't for something called a baculovirus that can infect these caterpillars and cause them to engage in reckless, even suicidal behavior, scientists say. The virus is so effective that the government actually sprays it on trees to help control gypsy moth outbreaks.
It's been six years since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and the rebuilding continues. In Mississippi, the largest project under construction is the Port of Gulfport. Some $500 million in statewide recovery funds are being used to rebuild the port. The state calls it a critical resource, but some residents hit hard by Katrina fear they won't see the benefits.
The Port of Gulfport sits just off Highway 90, a main road that runs all along the coast. Katrina's 30-foot storm surge nearly destroyed this facility, which is the size of about 50 city blocks.
In Libya, there's growing concern over the vast arsenals of weapons that have flooded on to the streets since Moammar Gadhafi's ouster. Warehouses of surface-to-air missiles, mortars and anti-tank mines have been looted.
Soon after the rebels overran the headquarters of Gadhafi's much feared Khamis Brigade on the south side of Tripoli, rebels and ordinary citizens scavenged through a bombed-out warehouse on the base.
When Leon Panetta was CIA director, he helped lead the effort to find and kill Osama bin Laden.
Now, Panetta may have an even harder job.
He's two months into his tenure as secretary of defense and here's what Panetta has to do: Run two ground wars, keep up the fight against al-Qaida and at the same time figure out how to cut what could end up being a trillion dollars from a Pentagon's budget.