National News

Ashton Carter, President Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of defense, talks with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, during a break in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. The panel approved Carter's nomination Tuesday.

Senate Panel Approves Carter's Nomination As Defense Chief

In a vote that sends his nomination to the full Senate, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved Ashton Carter's bid to be the next secretary of defense Tuesday. Carter had strong support in the vote, with 25 members voting in favor.

"Hopefully, we can get a vote perhaps even as early as tomorrow" on the floor of the Senate for Carter's confirmation, said Sen. John McCain, who chairs the panel.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen during the filming of an interview with the BBC in Damascus Monday. Assad said third parties including Iraq were conveying information about a U.S.-led campaign of air strikes against the self-declared Islamic State group in Syria.

Syria Has Learned About Airstrikes On ISIS Via 'Iraq And Other Countries'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his government is being informed about the U.S.-led coalition's attacks on the extremist group ISIS — but that there's no dialogue between Syria and the Americans. Assad said word comes through Iraq and other nations.

"There is no direct cooperation or link," he said, adding that information comes "through third parties... Iraq and other countries. Sometimes they convey [a] message."

In Dakar, Senegal, privately owned pharmacies dot the urban streetscape.

Senegal's Pharmacies Are Much, Much Better Than Your Local Drugstore

Senegal is full of tourist attractions: sandy beaches, historic buildings, religious sites. But when historian Donna Patterson visits, she heads to the drugstore.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves the chamber Feb. 3 after another House vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Is Now The Time To Fix Rather Than Scrap Obamacare?

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, "repeal and replace" has been the rallying cry for Republicans who opposed it. But now that most of the law's provisions have taken effect, some health experts are pitching ways to tweak it, rather than eliminate it.

An ideologically diverse panel at the National Health Policy Conference on Monday presented different ideas to make the law work better. But the panelists agreed on one thing: The Affordable Care Act is too complicated.

Greg Burkett clears snow from a winter storm in Cambridge, Mass., on Monday. Boston has had more than 6 feet of snow in the past 30 days.

Snowfall Obliterates Records In Boston: 'Another Winter Storm?!'

Boston has had more than 72 inches of snow in the past 30 days, breaking a record set in 1978, the National Weather Service says. The city has repeatedly been among the hardest-hit by several winter storms — and it could get another 4 to 6 inches later this week.

Great Teachers: We Had Our Say, Now It's Your Turn

Last week we told the stories of our favorite teachers. We hoped that would inspire you, and we weren't disappointed.

We've heard from hundreds of people — on social media, in comments on the blog and via email. Here are a few of our favorites:

Lets start with Facebook. Here's Felix Flauta Jr. in a comment on the NPR page:

ISIS Seen Profiting From Informal Money System In Spain

The extremist group ISIS is exploiting an informal finance network in Spain to pay its fighters in Syria, according to intelligence officials in Spain. The system has no oversight; it's often used by immigrants to send money to their families back home.

From Madrid, Lauren Frayer reports:

"Spanish officials are investigating a network of 250 local businesses — butchers, small grocery stores, mobile phone shops — allegedly funneling money to jihadi fighters in Syria. They're accused of doing so through Spain's hawala network.

Democratic Party possibilities for 2016 (clockwise from top left): former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Vice President Joe Biden; former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

In Likely Democratic Primary, Who's Joining Hillary Clinton?

There may not be any officially declared candidates for president yet, but prominent Republicans from Jeb Bush to Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are making big speeches and jostling for consultants and donors. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton may not formally announce whether she is running for months. But any number of polls would indicate, without even declaring, she has a lock on the Democratic nomination.

Which got me thinking — who are the other potential Democratic candidates?

Elizabeth Ebinger in Maplewood, N.J., bought her solar panels, while neighbor Tim Roebuck signed a 20-year lease. Both are happy with the approach they took, and both are saving money on energy bills.

The Great Solar Panel Debate: To Lease Or To Buy?

More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today — up dramatically from just a few years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Leasing programs that require little or no money up-front have played a key role in that growth.

But here's a question for homeowners: Is it better to lease or buy?

Blue Cross Blue Shield takes aim at Target — or, rather, at Target shoppers in San Antonio who might be interested in buying health insurance.

Insurers And Austin Mayor Promote Obamacare To Texas Latinos

More than 900,000 Texans have signed up for health insurance so far this year – about 200,000 more than last year. The deadline for signing up for a health plan on HealthCare.gov is Saturday, and some groups in south Texas are making a big push to get Latinos to enroll.

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