AM radio once played a central role in American life. The family would gather around the Philco to hear the latest Western or detective drama. The transistor radio was where baby boomers first heard the Beatles and other Top 40 hits. And, of course, there's no better way to take in a ballgame.

President Obama has made it a priority to choose federal judges who are diverse in terms of race or gender. But for the most part, he's avoided controversy for those lifetime appointments.

That's why the nomination of a Missouri lawyer named Ronnie White has raised the eyebrows of experts who've been around Washington for a while. Old hands remember that White was rejected for a federal judgeship back in 1999 after a party line vote by Senate Republicans.

Now, in what experts say could be an unprecedented step, he's getting another chance.

Illinois lawmakers have approved a sweeping plan to close a $100 billion shortfall in the state's pension system, which would cut retirees' benefits. But the legislation faces promised legal challenges from public employee unions.

Here's a variation of the does-a-falling-tree-make-a-sound-if-no-one-hears-it riddle: Can the House be considered productive if it passes bills the Senate won't ever take up and the president won't ever sign?

According to Speaker John Boehner, the answer is yes — the House can be judged as very productive under such circumstances.

A newer form of mammogram may do a better job of finding cancer, a study finds. But the technology is still too untested to know if it's going to be useful for most women or even to know for sure who might benefit.

It's called breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography. Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, the new type of scan has been touted by radiologists.

He had a great vision. And despite naysayers, he stuck to his guns and eventually saw a hard-shell taco splattered with neon-orange cheese dust become a staple in the country's fast-food scene.

Todd Mills, the inspiration behind Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos, died of cancer Thanksgiving morning.

He was 41.

USA Today brought Mills' story to our attention today. And it's an extraordinary tale. The paper reports:

The second book in ‘Homegrown,’ Valley Public Radio’s book club about the San Joaquin Valley, is ‘What You See in the Dark,’ by Dinuba native Manuel Muñoz.

The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it's received from the former NSA contractor.

In testimony before Britain's Parliament, Alan Rusbridger told lawmakers that about 58,000 files obtained from Snowden, or "about 1 percent," had been used by the paper for its stories. However, he added: "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."

Keith Jarrett is a jazz legend. His catalog of recordings includes solo piano improvisations, trio and quartet works, classical performances, early sessions with Charles Lloyd and late ones with Miles Davis. But there's nothing quite like Jarrett's new double-CD set No End: It was recorded in his home studio in 1986, and he plays all the instruments — notably drums, bass and electric guitar.

The U.S. and other major powers have been holding historic negotiations with Iran to try to curb that country's nuclear program. But Washington still has many other concerns about Iranian behavior. And while some diplomats may hope to build on the nuclear talks to push Iran to play a more constructive role in the region, experts remain skeptical.

Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says there are a couple of ways to look at the negotiations with Iran.

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