Qassem Suleimani is the chief of a powerful branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. He is considered to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans during the Iraq War and now he is helping prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
Last fall, in the grip of a self-improvement fit, I realized that a MOOC was just the thing to turn me into a fascinating -- and sought-after -- dinner party guest. But which MOOC? Should I become insufferable on the topic of global poverty? Folklore? The human genome? Plant life? Algebra? Or, better yet -- the entire world!
I registered for “The History of the World Since 1300.” It was taught by a Princeton professor, and I imagined the new me dropping references to the Mongol invasion, and the role the environment played in the crises of the 14th century.
I had just decided to buy a Princeton scrunchy -- they sell those -- when a small problem emerged. Namely, the class started, and suddenly there was a textbook I was supposed to read, lectures I needed to watch, essays I had to write.
It was like college all over again, but this time complicated by a full-time job, my children -- and Netflix. I never did manage to catch that first lecture, or any subsequent ones. The weekly letters from the professor sat in my inbox, haunting me, like a thank you note I hadn’t written.
After a semester of pain, the emails ceased, and I decided to scale back my goals: maybe I’d try Pilates. But last week, there it was: another email from Coursera, the online education company. “Beth Teitell, we have recommended courses for you!"
I should have hit delete, I thought as I found myself pondering a class in climate literacy. But I’m not that strong. No -- I’m Al Pacino in "The Godfather III": “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
Reuters is reporting that the Federal Housing Administration will need emergency help -- in the form of a cash bailout -- from the U.S. Treasury Department, for the first time in its history.
According to Reuters:
The agency, which offers private mortgage lenders guarantees against homeowner default, has nearly exhausted its reserves for the mortgages it backs, making it necessary for the government agency to turn to the Treasury Department for a cash injection.
The FHA has never needed to tap the Treasury before because it has been able to take other actions, including raising insurance premiums, to stay solvent.
The White House projected in April that the FHA would face a shortfall of $943 million for the fiscal year that ends on Monday, but the agency said it would wait until the end of the budget year to make a final decision on whether to draw Treasury aid.
To better understand how the FHA works and why it may need a bailout, check out Paddy Hirsch's Whiteboard on the topic:
The FBI released its preliminary findings in its investigation of the Navy Yard shootings that left 13 people dead including the shooter. Aaron Alexis said he committed the massacre because he was being attacked by electromagnetic waves.
Hasan Rouhani spoke of moderation and said Iran was willing to talk to the West about its nuclear program. The U.S. and its European allies have reacted with cautious optimism, but not everyone is buying the new Iranian leader's charm offensive.
After a dramatic night, senators voted unanimously to move ahead. Democrats control the Senate. They plan to strip a House bill of a provision that defunds Obamcare. The Senate would then send the bill back to the House, setting up another cliff-hanger that could end with a government shutdown.