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.
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.
Publisher Phaidon's latest art endeavor, The Art Museum, presents the collection of an imaginary museum with the greatest works from art collections around the globe. That museum would have to be imaginary — the book itself weighs in at 18 pounds, measures 16 1/2 by 12 5/8 inches and runs nearly 1,000 pages.
The Art Museum is divided into 25 galleries, as opposed to chapters, and each gallery is divided into several rooms, which all told include reproductions of more than 2,700 works.
Greece's decision to scrap a referendum on new austerity measures added a note of urgency to the G-20 summit meeting that began in Cannes, France, on Thursday. President Obama and other G-20 leaders are trying to prevent the Greek debt crisis from spreading to the rest of Europe and beyond.
Before the G-20 summit formally got under way, Obama met privately with the leaders of France and Germany — Europe's two biggest economies. They're also the architects of a continental debt rescue plan.
Robert Siegel speaks to Mark Mazower, a professor of history at Columbia University and an expert on contemporary Greece, about the tensions between democracy and the need for decisive action in dealing with the euro crisis. Mazower says that the speed of financial markets, and the slowness of the democratic process, has increased this tension during the crisis.