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4:28 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Germany's Housing Market Is Hot. Is It Overheating?

Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, like many others across the city, is experiencing a real estate boom. Housing prices have risen by as much as 20 percent in the past year in some German cities.
Adam Berry Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 8:59 am

Few Western countries are as conservative about home ownership as Germany, where less than half the country's citizens own property.

German banks have tough lending rules. Would-be buyers are usually asked to provide hefty down payments to secure mortgages, meaning few Germans even think about buying a home until they are settled and financially secure.

But the European debt crisis appears to be changing the traditions around home ownership. The resulting surge in homebuying, some officials warn, is driving prices too high and threatens the nation's economy.

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Economy
4:27 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Long-Term Unemployed Seem To Be Staying That Way

Alecia Warthen, 43, has been unemployed since April. She says she's applied for more than 100 jobs and has received only four interviews and no offers.
Ailsa Chang NPR

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 11:42 am

The latest figures show December was another month of steady, moderate job growth. But for many people still struggling with long-term unemployment, the situation hasn't actually changed much at all.

For Alecia Warthen, the last eight months have been painfully stagnant.

She was the first person in her family to finish college, after growing up in one of the roughest sections of Brooklyn. She had earned an accounting degree and worked as a bookkeeper for most of the last decade.

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U.S.
4:26 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Illinois Claws At Mountain Of Unfunded Pension Liability

Illinois union members and supporters rally at the state Capitol on Thursday against legislation that would try to control the state's pension-fund shortfall by, in part, reducing pension benefits.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 12:45 pm

Illinois' pension-fund shortfall is by far the largest in the nation, and the clock is ticking for the state's governor and lawmakers to tackle the problem before a new Legislature is sworn in next week. So far, their proposals have stoked frustration from state employees and retirees.

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The Two-Way
4:11 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Big Quake Near Southern Alaska Coast Causes Tsunami

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 1:12 pm

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit off the coast of southeastern Alaska just before midnight local time Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS initially reported the event as a magnitude 7.7 quake.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says sea level readings indicate the quake caused a tsunami. "It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter," a NOAA report said.

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Music Interviews
1:03 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Preserving The Home, And History, Of New Orleans' Piano Professor

Professor Longhair performs at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, circa 1970.
David Redfern Redferns

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 1:10 pm

On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.

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Music Interviews
1:03 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Emel Mathlouthi: Voice Of The Tunisian Revolution

Emel Mathlouthi
Ghaith Ghoufa Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 8:59 am

With all that's going on in the Middle East right now, it's easy to forget that the Arab Spring began just two years ago in Tunisia.

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On Aging
5:14 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Baby Boomers' Last Wishes: Motorcycle Hearses And Facebook Obits

Lew Bird says that before passing away, his friend requested that his funeral include one last ride on a motorcycle.
Peter Gray for NPR

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 6:02 pm

Old Aristocracy Hill isn't a part of Springfield, Ill., that draws a lot of attention. The quiet neighborhood dates back to before the Civil War, its historic homes now carefully preserved by proud business owners.

But outside a stately funeral home, a large black-and-chrome Harley Davidson motorcycle trike pulls out of the parking lot, towing a matching casket in its glass-sided trailer.

It's not something you would expect to see, but it's exactly what 67-year-old Lew Bird says his friend Dave Rondelli wanted: one last ride.

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Latin America
4:58 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Policymakers Planning For A Venezuela After Chavez

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 6:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Hugo Chavez has dominated Venezuela for so long that it's hard to imagine what the country would be like without him in charge. Opposition leaders are hoping for a new, more democratic system. But powerful factions in Venezuela want things to stay just as they are. Because the country is a key player in the region, NPR's Tom Gjelten says the U.S. is now making its own plans for life after Chavez.

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It's All Politics
4:25 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Liberals In A Dither Over Whether Obama Blew It, Or Nailed It

President Obama leaves the Oval Office early Wednesday after the House passed legislation to retain tax breaks for most Americans, let tax rates rise for the wealthiest, and delay action on mandatory spending cuts.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 9:14 am

Fiscal cliff week has mercifully ended with a deal done, hurricane relief approved, President Obama vacationing, and both parties bickering internally over what was won — and lost — in the early hours of the new year.

What we have found most intriguing is the vigorous post-facto wrestling within the liberal community over what the fiscal cliff negotiations say about President Obama.

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The Two-Way
4:00 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

A Girl Fights To Be Called By Her Name In Iceland, Suing Government

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 7:31 pm

For 15 years, an Icelandic teenager has been called her given name, Blaer Bjarkardottir, by everyone except government employees and other officials. That's because "Blaer" (reportedly Icelandic for "light breeze") isn't on a list of government-approved names for girls.

So, in school and at the bank, she is often addressed as "stulka" — "girl" — before she explains the situation.

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