David Rainey, a former BP vice president during the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, leaves federal court after being arraigned on obstruction of a federal investigation in New Orleans on Nov. 28, 2012. A federal judge Monday dismissed the charge that Rainey obstructed a congressional investigation into the 2010 spill.
A federal judge in Louisiana has thrown out the central criminal charge against a former BP executive because prosecutors failed to prove he knew about a pending congressional investigation into oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt also ruled that a Democratic House member who inquired about the oil flow rate was acting as head of a subcommittee, not a full congressional committee, as required under the federal Obstruction of Justice statute.
ATF Special Agent Charles Houser runs the National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Credit Melissa Block / NPR
Document prep technician Carol Sine (left) and tracer Debra Barrett process firearm transaction documents at the National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Credit Cliff Owen / AP
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) processes firearm transaction documents from firearms dealers no longer in business, no matter the condition of the documents, such as this fire-and-water damaged ledger at their National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Opponents of expanding background checks for gun sales often raise the fear that it would allow the government to create a national gun registry — a database of gun transactions. In fact, federal law already bans the creation of such a registry. And the reality of how gun sales records are accessed turns out to be surprisingly low-tech.
Boeing's 787 jetliners are returning to the skies. Four months ago, the entire fleet was grounded following serious battery problems on two jets, but the batteries have now been redesigned. Planes have been retrofitted, and airlines are beginning to put them back into service. Today, United Airlines, the only U.S. carrier flying the 787, put two of them back into service. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.
For the first time in nearly five decades, the president of Myanmar paid a visit to the White House. Thein Sein has overseen some dramatic changes in his country, long a pariah on the world stage. And the Obama administration has been trying to encourage those reforms by easing sanctions. President Obama himself went to Myanmar, also known as Burma, last year. But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, there is still a lot of work to do.
Melissa Block talks to teacher Shelly Hoisington. Hoisington teaches fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade at McCormick Elementary School — a one-room school in Troy, Mont. Hoisington recently convinced Gov. Steve Bullock to speak at the graduation ceremony for the five students in eighth grade.
For the first time in years, the Obama administration appears to be focused on shuttering the Guantanamo Bay prison and – at a minimum — has redoubled its efforts to reduce the number of people held there.
The key, officials familiar with the administration's thinking say, may lie with 56 Yemeni detainees, a group of men who have been at the island facility for more than a decade though U.S. officials cleared them for transfer years ago.
"If we can send the Yemenis home," one official said, "that could get the ball rolling."
When movie stars become unbankable, they're no longer a slam dunk at the box office. When investments become unbankable, they're relegated to the Wall Street's junk pile. For ordinary Americans deemed unbankable — those who don't have a traditional checking or savings account — it can be hard to simply pay bills.
And that absence of a bank account is about to become a big problem for those who also lack health coverage — and for the health insurance companies trying to sell them coverage. After all, how do you sell a product to a customer who has no easy way to pay you?