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.
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.
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.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is at the center of a media firestorm after revelations he was accused of sexual harassment in the 1990s. Although details of the allegations continue to trickle out, several polls show him near the head of the Republican pack. But for many political watchers, there's a lingering question: Is Herman Cain serious?
Cain doesn't fit the mold of a typical presidential candidate — and he's proud of it.
Remembering even the smallest details of her life can be hard for Gweneviere Mann. She has suffered from short-term memory loss since 2008, caused by complications from an operation. But that's not enough to stop Mann and her boyfriend, Yasir Salem, from running a marathon — with a unique strategy.
Recently, Mann, 41, sat down with Salem, 34, to talk about her daily life.
Republican Herman Cain, facing allegations of sexual harassment, returns Friday to a familiar, and presumably friendly, venue — the annual convention of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group founded by billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch.
The group has a long relationship with Cain. The organization first enlisted him in 2005 to spearhead what it called the Prosperity Expansion Project. Cain went on the road, networking at state chapters of AFP. When he landed in Wisconsin, he met his campaign-manager-to-be, Mark Block.
There's been a shift in the economic discussion in American politics. For months, the debate was focused on government spending, regulations, debt and taxes. Now there's something new: income inequality.
And it's not just the Occupy Wall Street protesters who are worried about the growing gap between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America. The gap has been growing for 30 years, but in the midst of the recession, it appears to have reached a tipping point.
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 2:19 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 5:55 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.
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.
The Greek government is teetering on the brink of collapse Thursday, following the decision of Prime Minister George Papandreou to call off a referendum on the Europe bailout package for his country. The finance minister and other party colleagues have turned against Papandreou, amid talk of a national coalition government to prepare for new elections. Guy Raz talks to Joanna Kakissis, who has the latest from Athens.
Groupon, the daily deals website, is getting ready for its initial public offering Friday. But is stock in the company itself a good deal? Guy Raz talks with Wailin Wong, a business reporter from the Chicago Tribune, about the Groupon IPO.