Is it worth 300-thousand dollars to make your SUV battle-ready? To many professionals living and working along the Mexico border, the answer is yes. As Fronteras Changing America Desk correspondent Hernán Rozemberg reports, a Texas company has a growing list of high-profile clients who are spending big bucks armoring themselves against the violence of Mexico’s bloody drug war.
Carol Sikler has spent years repaying a debt. Her husband needed blood during treatment before he died in 2003. Since then, she has donated more than 140 units. Now she gets a reward. The Indiana Blood Center gave her tickets to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Martin Scorsese got 11 Oscar nods for his film "Hugo." Still, he's calling in the L.A. Times a write-in campaign for an actor he feels has been snubbed. Blackie, the Doberman in "Hugo," failed to get a nomination for a Golden Collar, awarded by Dog News Daily. The cute Jack Russell who starred in "The Artist" was nominated, but Blackie is an anti-hero. And just a few hundred Facebook votes will earn him a chance at top dog. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
One of Freddie Mac's restrictions blocks people who have a short sale in their past from refinancing for two to four years following the short sale.
Credit Joe Raedle / Getty Images
In West Palm Beach, Fla., homeowners lined up for the 2010 Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America "Save the Dream" tour, hoping to restructure their mortgage loans.
Credit Chris Arnold / NPR
If Jay and Bonnie Silverstein were able to refinance their mortgage, they could save nearly $500 a month. "We're living paycheck to paycheck," Jay says.
Credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
Freddie Mac has invested billions of dollars betting that U.S. homeowners won't be able to refinance their mortgages at today's lower rates, according to an investigation by NPR and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom.
Credit Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
In December, Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman, FHFA acting Director Edward DeMarco and Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams testified on Capitol Hill about the Federal Housing Finance Agency's performance.
Freddie Mac, a taxpayer-owned mortgage company, is supposed to make homeownership easier. One thing that makes owning a home more affordable is getting a cheaper mortgage.
But Freddie Mac has invested billions of dollars betting that U.S. homeowners won't be able to refinance their mortgages at today's lower rates, according to an investigation by NPR and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom.
At the end of last week, an employee sent an email with a simple request: Please bring me a copy of the new directory. She accidentally copied every member of the legislature and all of their staff. The email went to some 4,000 people. Recipients then started to reply-all with many messages, and the system couldn't handle it.
A new casino set to open in Atlantic City, N.J., has announced it will set term limits for its front-line staff. When employees' terms run out, they'll have to go through the hiring process again. The casino says the policy will keep its service fresh. Others say the company is taking advantage of a tough job market.
From bellhops to dealers, employees of the new casino — called Revel — will be hired for terms from four to six years. After that, they have to reapply for their jobs and compete against other candidates.
While the Internet may aid the spread of democracy, democracy doesn't necessarily mean a free and open Internet. In her new book Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, Rebecca MacKinnon, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and co-founder of Global Voices, a citizen media network, investigates the corrosion of civil liberties by the governments and corporations that control the digital world.
The transport minister in Australia denounced a political opponent. He said the opponent wasn't interested in fixing a problem, only in making people "afraid of it" and telling them "who's to blame for it." Critics note Michael Douglas used that line in Aaron Sorkin's movie The American President.
Egyptian authorities are preventing six Americans, including the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, from leaving the country. They work for non-governmental agencies that were raided by Egyptian security forces last month.
Teri Schultz is in Brussels and reports on EU efforts to strengthen online protections of personal information.
A Los Angeles restaurant famous for its 9 cent cup of coffee is raising the price to 45 cents -– 50 cents with tax. Management at Philippe the Original told the Los Angeles Times they can no longer keep up with the cost of coffee.
The crippled cruise ship off the coast of Italy needs to be removed from the area where it ran aground. Joel Farrell, president and founder of Resolve Marine has been salvaging vessels for more than 30 years. Renee Montagne asks him to explain how the half-submerged cruise ship can be salvaged.
Comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have known each other for years. They were both in the cast of MadTV. Now they're starting their own sketch-comedy series, due to launch on Comedy Central on Tuesday.
Standard issue military eyeglasses are considered so unflattering, service members have an acronym for them: BCGs or Birth Control Glasses. For the first time in more than 20 years, the military is updating its look. Instead of those thick brown plastic frames, recruits can get sleeker black plastic specs.
Fans of Uggie in the silent movie The Artist were outraged when the dog didn't get an Oscar nomination. Now Uggie's owner tells a magazine that movie was the Jack Russell terrier's last. He's retiring the 10-year-old animal. Uggie wants to relax.
They say two things are certain: death and taxes. But Amazon is still hoping to avoid at least one of those things. The online retailer is reportedly promising Florida lawmakers it will create up to 3,000 jobs in the state and build new distribution centers in Florida, if lawmakers give Amazon a two-year break from collecting state sales tax.
And let's go next to my home state of Indiana, where state lawmakers now look certain to pass controversial right-to-work legislation.
Democrats have been trying to block that bill. But yesterday it passed the state's Republican-controlled House. And so Indiana is poised to become the first state to approve this kind of legislation in a decade.
We have more from Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting.
And our last word in business today comes from Alaska Airlines. The carrier has been putting prayer cards on the meal trays it serves passengers since the 1980s. Flying can be nerve-wracking and the airline figured people might find comfort in a psalm from the Old Testament, along with the soothing image of a beach or the mountains.
It was also a marketing strategy so the airline could differentiate itself from competitors. Many passengers didn't mind.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Take a map of the United States and stick pins in every state President Obama visits this week, and you would have a partial picture of how he hopes to win re-election. The president is visiting states he hopes to win this fall.
Cuban-Americans are an important part of the Republican presidential electorate in Florida. Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have reached out to these voters in Spanish-language TV and radio ads. Romney, in particular, has racked up many endorsements from prominent Cuban-American political figures.
Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are scrambling to tie up votes in Florida, which holds its winner-take-all primary next Tuesday. Steve Inskeep talks to conservative writer David Frum about the state of the GOP race.
During a candlelight vigil in Dharamsala, India, on Wednesday, Tibetan Buddhist monks hold pictures of Tibetans they say were shot by Chinese security forces earlier this week.
Credit Peter Parks / AFP/Getty Images
Ethnic Tibetan monks (left) walk past police vehicles on a street in Chengdu in China's Sichuan province Thursday. The Tibetan-inhabited region of West Sichuan appeared to be under lockdown after recent clashes.
Frustrated Tibetans this week staged some of the largest protests against Chinese rule in nearly four years. Chinese security forces responded by opening fire on demonstrators, killing up to four and wounding more than 30, according to Tibetan rights groups.
The demonstrations were inspired — in part — by a disturbing new trend in Tibetan dissent: Tibetan people lighting themselves on fire.
President Obama visits Nevada on his post-State of the Union trip Thursday. He won the state in 2008. But with unemployment now at nearly 13 percent, the state will be more of a challenge in this fall's presidential election.
The federal government has come out with its new standards for school meals - less fat, less salt, less sugar and more fruits, grains and vegetables. Devin Katayama from member station WFPL reports on how the Louisville, Kentucky school district is trying to comply with the guidelines and satisfy student tastes.
DEVIN KATAYAMA, BYLINE: Meet fourth grade food critic Jackson Schleff.
The Sundance Film Festival wraps up this weekend in Park City, Utah. Movies and more movies have been on offer at the gathering, famously backed by Robert Redford. Our own Kenneth Turan is taking it all in and joined us from member station KPCW in Park City.
KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Well, let us begin with the dramatic films. What stands out for you this year?
An Iranian man counts banknotes after exchanging a gold coin for cash in Tehran on Monday. Gold coins were being exchanged for over 10 million rials as the Iranian currency continues to lose value against the U.S. dollar.
Credit Behrouz Mehri / AFP/Getty Images
On Jan. 24, the exchange rate plummeted to 23,000 rials to the U.S. dollar. For years, the value of the Iranian currency was artificially maintained. Now, international sanctions and domestic politics are forcing a devaluation.
The value of Iran's currency — which had been sliding steadily for months — took another plunge this week. Faced with new economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe, the rial now seems to be in free fall.
But at least part of the dive could be linked to currency manipulation by the government itself in an effort to fund candidates in upcoming elections.
In images posted on the Internet, hundreds of Iranians are seen gathered outside the headquarters of the Bank Melli in Tehran Monday. They wanted to buy dollars, but there were no dollars to be had.