It felt like 2008 all over again in Philadelphia this week. A DJ played a song by the Black Eyed Peas to warm up a crowd of about 500 students from local colleges. President Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, exhorted the crowd at the University of Pennsylvania to volunteer, to apply for internships and, of course, to vote.
"There's 8 million registered voters who are 18 to 21 who weren't old enough to vote last time, who are going to cast their first vote, and they're going to do it for Barack Obama," Messina said. "Raise your hand if you're 18 to 21!"
With Greece in flux over whether it'll remain in the eurozone, other weak economies like Spain are feeling the heat.
The worst could be yet to come in Spain — not because of public debt, but because its banks are still laden with unpaid real estate loans, putting both the banks and the housing market in jeopardy. Real estate prices in Madrid are still high, though salaries are frozen and unemployment soars. When Ireland's housing bubble burst, prices dropped more than 40 percent. But in Spain it's an 18 percent drop on average.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Ever since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a fresh layer of tension has crept into relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. The Navy Seals who landed undetected in Abbottabad left Pakistanis wondering if they might land somewhere else next. Some Pakistanis ask if the U.S. might seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
Swat Valley was once Pakistan's premier vacation spot. The area is trying to regain its appeal after regional conflict and massive floods. Co-hosts Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne report on an effort underway to rebuild Swat Valley's economy.
The sluggish economy means fewer travelers will be heading home for Thanksgiving this year, although it hasn't brought down prices. And as NPR's David Schaper reports, those who do fly will still find their flights packed.
Friday morning, the Labor Department releases its unemployment report for October. The unemployment rate has been stuck above 9 percent for most of the past three years, and it's not expected to dip below that this month. Host Renee Montagne speaks with NPR's Jim Zarroli about the numbers and the outlook for the U.S. economy.
Prime Minister George Papandreou has backed down from a referendum on the European Union bailout package and he faces a vote of confidence Friday. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells host Steve Inskeep his future is uncertain.
And the political and economic drama in Greece this week has moved to a glamorous resort in the South of France. European Union leaders are gathered in Cannes as part of a meeting of the world's most important economies. The group of 20 would have preferred a broad agenda, but Europe's troubles have overshadowed everything else at Cannes.
President Obama is there meeting with EU leaders and urging them to resolve the financial crisis. NPR's Eric Westervelt is also at the G-20 meeting and joined us. Good morning.
Last weekend brought the deadliest attack yet on NATO forces in Kabul, one of a series of attacks bold enough to make headlines, beginning with the 20-hour siege of the American embassy. Those attacks over several weeks raised new concerns about security in Afghanistan's capital. One militant group in particular, the Haqqani Network, is thought to have orchestrated the most spectacular attacks. Seth Jones is the author of "In the Graveyard of Empires." Good morning.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds wide gaps in how different generations view politics. Older voters are more conservative, more angry at the government and less hopeful about the future of the country. Younger voters lean left, wish the government played a greater role in their lives and believe the nation's best days are yet to come.
Fifteen percent of the food Americans eat is imported, including 80 percent of the seafood, and two-thirds of the fruit and vegetables. Our current food safety system can't even begin to keep tabs on the 24 million shipping containers loaded with food that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates arrived this year from overseas. Increasingly, that food is coming from China, which has suffered a series of scandals involving tainted food.
Imagine a critter about the size of a squirrel. Imagine it with big eyes and a long snout. Now imagine it with canine fangs about one-fifth the length of its head. That's the kind of a mammal that scientists said today was walking among dinosaurs more than 100 million years ago.
Scientists found the fossils in Argentina and the find is significant because scientists say it closes a 60-million-year gap in what they knew about mammals in South America during the late Cretaceous period.
No one seems to be talking about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan this week — including Herman Cain. Instead, he's had to deal with allegations that he committed sexual harassment when he was head of the National Restaurant Association.
On Wednesday night, he accused Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign of planting the story. Perry's campaign flatly denied it, and Cain has backed off.
Regardless, some political consultants have seen the invisible hand of opposition research during this campaign season — what's known as the "dark art of politics."
One of two women who settled sexual harassment complaints against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain when he headed the National Restaurant Association will know by Friday whether the group will release her from a confidentiality clause that prevents her from speaking about the agreement.
The woman, however, is unlikely to go public even if the lobbying group lifts the confidentiality requirements imposed as part of the 1999 cash settlement, her lawyer says.
Privately, U.S. officials have long complained that China and Russia are out to steal U.S. trade secrets, intellectual property and high technology. But in public they've been reluctant to point fingers and instead have referred obliquely to "some nations" or "our rivals."
President Obama's new plan to help millions of people stay in their homes by refinancing their mortgages at low rates raised hopes of easing the housing crisis.
But federal budget cuts have sharply reduced the number of housing counselors who can help distressed homeowners in the nation's hardest hit communities. Banks that own the properties are slow to pick up the tab.
"We are definitely concerned about counseling capacity," says Lemar Wooley, a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 4:19 pm
When it comes to improving health, there are carrots and there are sticks.
One way to try to influence people's habits is by tying how much they pay for health coverage to their behavior.
Starting next year, for instance, Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, will charge workers who smoke a penalty ranging from $260 to $2,340 annually on health insurance. That's a pretty big stick. As for a carrot, the retailer will offer free smoking-cessation help.
Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 7:55 pm
In the election held a year ago this week, Republicans took over control of the House with the help of nearly 90 newcomers to their ranks. Now, just a year before the 2012 contests, many of those freshman lawmakers find themselves facing tough re-election bids.
A year ago, nearly 1,000 U.S. Marine officers and enlisted men of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to restive Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as "Darkhorse" — suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the past 10 years of war. This week, NPR tells the story of this unit's seven long months at war — both in Afghanistan and back home.
To us it sounded like the premise of a particularly cruel reality TV show: Six men are picked to live in a windowless, cramped mock spaceship for 18 months to see how humans would react to conditions similar to what one would expect on a mission to Mars.
Tomorrow, after 520 days of isolation, the hatch will finally be open and the volunteers will return to normal life. With a cost of $15 million, the project, dubbed Mars500, is a serious experiment commissioned by the European Space Agency.
Beginning Nov. 10, citizens and permanent residents in Cuba will be able to buy and sell residential property on the island. The move is one of the more major acts of reforms instituted by President Raúl Castro.
Pull any packaged food item off the shelf and chances are it has a long list of mysterious ingredients with highly scientific names like "methylcellulose." If you're like us, you may puzzle and even worry a little over theseunappetizing words.
Why do we have so much weird stuff like methylcellulose and xanthum gum that's produced in a laboratory in our food? Texture, baby, texture. It's nearly impossible to understate the importance of texture and "mouth feel" to food companies, especially in an age when people fear the fat content in their food.