Some other news. Thirty-two people from New York and New Jersey are charged with using threats of violence to control garbage pickup routes.
Authorities say many have ties to the mob, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Organized crime has a long history of infiltrating the trash collection business in New York and New Jersey. It's also the official family business of America's most famous TV gangster, Tony Soprano.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Renee Montagne.
President Obama says he's done what he could on his own. Yesterday he signed 23 executive orders related to gun control. They will allow federal agencies to strengthen the existing background check system and improve the tracking of stolen guns. The big ticket items, like universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips, will need congressional action.
The Federal Reserve, yesterday, released its latest snapshot of the state of the U.S. economy. Retail and auto sales were up slightly over the year before, as was activity in the all important housing sector. Real estate sales were seen as steady or improved across much of the country.
For more on housing prices and economic recovery, we turn this morning, as we often do, to David Wessel. He's economics editor of The Wall Street Journal. Good morning.
The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau is unveiling today the second half of its new mortgage rules. It will outline how the mortgage industry must manage loans that are delinquent or in the process of being foreclosed.
NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports that these rules, among other things, aim to make it easier for borrowers to communicate with the people handling their mortgages.
Star Linebacker Manti Te'o's play gained national attention. His achievements were particularly noteworthy because his last year of play was marred by the deaths of his grandmother and of his girlfriend. Now it appears the girlfriend didn't exist.
You heard the president acknowledge that in some parts of the country - and more specifically, some congressional districts - gun ownership is stronger than in other parts of the country. He would need allies in those places to overcome or persuade the gun industry and its lobbying groups. Industry officials are ready to fight.
As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, some of the proposals, especially a ban on assault weapons, could take a bite out of gun-makers' revenue.
Dr. Beth Zeeman says she can spot a case of influenza from 20 paces. It's not like a common cold.
"People think they've had the flu when they've had colds," Zeeman, an emergency room specialist at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., tells Shots. "People use the word 'flu' for everything. But having influenza is really a different thing. It hits you like a ton of bricks."
Peyer says that even though she and her husband believe different things when it comes to God, they have found ways to accept and support each other's beliefs.
Credit Leah Nash for NPR
Mike Bixby and Maria Peyer at their home in Longview, Wash. They have been married for two and half years but have known each other since 1981. Peyer is a church-attending Lutheran, and Bixby is an atheist.
Credit Leah Nash for NPR
Bixby and Peyer (center) with their four children (from previous marriages). From left: Hope and Sierra Bixby, Bixby, Peyer, and Grace and Luke Peyerwold.
Maria Peyer and Mike Bixby are one of those couples who just seem made for each other. They hold hands when they sit and talk. They're happy to spend the morning cooking brunch with their children in their home in southern Washington.
Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago.
"It just hadn't been the right time, until it was. God bless Facebook," says Peyer.
"She Facebooked me, and asked if I remembered her, and then it just went from there," Bixby says.
This is the second of a two-part discussion. Read Part 1.
A third of young adults in this country say they don't identify with any organized religion. NPR's David Greene wanted to understand why, so he met with a group of men and women in their 20s and 30s, all of whom have struggled with the role of faith and religion in their lives.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 3:13 pm
In this "Sense of Place" installment, we meet the blue-collar Memphis rock band Lucero, which performs a stripped-down session in Ardent Studio A, where they worked on their album 1372 Overton Park.
In the beginning, Lucero was all about combining a punk aesthetic with Tom Waits' lyrical sensibility. Over the years, the Memphis sound has crept into the band's music, including a horn section on its last two albums.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 8:25 am
Our "Sense of Place" visit to Memphis, Tenn., moves away from soul music to the place where some of the seminal American power-pop records were created. Ardent Studios is where the Memphis band Big Star made three albums that helped define the genre.
Childhood vaccines for diseases like measles, polio and whooping cough have repeatedly been proved safe and effective. Even so, some parents still worry that the schedule of vaccinations — 24 immunizations by the age of 2 — can be dangerous. That worry is likely misplaced, according to a yearlong review of all available scientific data.
In Syria, the staple of most meals is a thin, round, flat bread that we would probably call pita.
Back in November, as fierce fighting raged across Syria, people started to run out of this bread. Government forces were attacking bakeries in rebel-held areas and cutting off electricity so mills couldn't grind flour. By late last year, Syrians were desperate.
As President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals Wednesday, he highlighted mass shootings at schools in Colorado, Virginia and Connecticut. He also mentioned another group of children, not in school — the ones on the street corners of Chicago.
Chicagoan Annette Holt was at the White House during Obama's address. Her teenage son, Blair, was shot to death five years ago on a Chicago bus as he shielded a fellow student from a spray of bullets.