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In brief: Mortgage chief nominated

Sat., Nov. 13, 2010

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Friday tapped North Carolina’s top bank regulator to take over troubled mortgage-lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, potentially putting him at the center of one of the major economic debates facing Congress next year.

Joseph A. Smith Jr., 61, would become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency if confirmed by the full Senate.

In Smith, Obama has chosen a regulator experienced in pushing back against the types of housing deals that helped plunge the country into its financial crisis. North Carolina was the first state in the country with an anti-predatory lending law, and Smith has testified before Congress about increasing consumer representation.

HICKORY, N.C. – The mystery of how a disabled 10-year-old girl was killed deepened Friday when police matched a bone to the girl and said they believed remains uncovered five miles away were also hers.

The bone, found in some brush alongside Zahra Baker’s prosthetic leg, was discovered near where Zahra’s stepmother, Elisa Baker, once lived. She is currently in jail, charged with trying to throw off investigators with a bogus ransom note.

Hickory police Chief Tom Adkins said investigators matched the bone with Zahra’s DNA. Police found a child’s remains earlier this week, and they need to be tested to make sure they are Zahra’s, Adkins said.

The freckle-faced Zahra, who had bone cancer that forced her to use a prosthetic leg and hearing aids, was reported missing Oct. 9.

GOP’s Steele challenged

WASHINGTON – A prominent Michigan Republican said Friday he is running against Michael Steele, arguing the GOP can win in 2012 only if the party chairman steps out of the limelight and allows candidates to be the voice and face of the party.

Saul Anuzis, who lost his bid for Republican National Committee chairman two years ago, announced his plans in an e-mail.

“I have no interest in running for office. I won’t be writing a book. It is not my goal to be famous,” said Anuzis.


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