Kathleen Sebelius is on the hot seat, the NSA chief goes on the offensive and a former mistress shocks at a murder trial.
It's Wednesday, and here are the "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." Every weekday morning around 6, we'll hit the top five stories of the day and clue you in on a few other buzzy items.
1. Kathleen Sebelius hearing
Her last stand?:
Kathleen Sebelius is making a stand at Congress today -- and some Republicans are hoping it's her last. They are demanding her firing and putting her on the hot seat to explain some recent epic fails. Her office was tasked with getting Obamacare website up and running smoothly. #Fail. She'll face a bevy of questions today. Here's a sneak peak of what lies in store. When did she find out about the problems with the website? Why wasn't more testing done? How much will the fixes cost? Her answers are critical. But one thing she may not have to say is sorry. Her lieutenant did that yesterday.
2. Teen killed by officer
Friends and family wept by the casket of 13-year-old Andy Lopez yesterday. The teen's death has brought questions and outrage. Last week, a sheriff's deputy mistakenly thought the teen was carrying an assault rifle. The deputy shot the teen dead near a California street only to learn that Lopez was carrying a toy gun. Police say they are investigating. Complicating the issue is the fact that the toy didn't have a red cap on it that indicates it was fake. The deputy believed there was a threat, police say. But that explanation has not stopped protests. And it hasn't soothed Lopez's parents, who were overcome with grief at the funeral.
3. MacNeill murder trial
There's been so much testimony about her. But she took center stage yesterday. Gypsy Willis, the woman prosecutors say Martin MacNeill killed his wife to be with. OK, let's back up. MacNeill is in the trial of his life. The 57-year-old Utah doctor is accused of giving his wife a powerful cocktail of drugs to kill her in order to be with his mistress. MacNeill says he did not do it. It was unclear yesterday if Willis' testimony helped him. She admitted that she had been MacNeill's mistress. In fact, she said, they were an item some two years before MacNeill's wife died. She also admitted that even though she had never been a nanny, she moved into MacNeill's home to take care of his kids. That happened weeks after his wife died. The couple never married but Willis said she used MacNeill's last name. Three of MacNeill's daughters are expected to testify this week.
4. NSA spying
Defending the agency:
Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. National Security Agency chief typified that adage at a congressional hearing yesterday. Despite criticism here and overseas about the NSA's tactics, Army Gen. Keith Alexander defended his agency. The NSA has been under fire since it was revealed that the agency spied on some world leaders' phones. A report that the agency may have collected telephone and e-mail records directly from Europeans added to the outrage. Not true, Alexander said. "To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we, and our NATO allies, have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations," he said. He vehemently defended NSA tactics, saying it has saved lives "not only here but in Europe and around the world."
5. Dying man's love letters
If you knew you were doomed. You had maybe days left and all you had was a pen and a pad, whom would you write to? A Kansas man, police say, was in that terrible predicament. Stuck in a wrecked van, 54-year-old David Welch spent his last hours penning love letters to his wife and sons. What's in the letters is private, authorities say. But the letters have been handed over to Welch's family. The desperate family had been searching for him since he went missing in early September. Police believe Welch, a salesman, fell asleep while driving. The car was found on October 18 down in a ravine.
There you go. All you need to know to get an early start to your morning.