The Madeleine Brand Show for October 24, 2011

Mercer 20437

President Obama announces new help to homeowners

President Obama was set to announce a new plan to allow underwater homeowners to refinance Monday. The Home Affordable Refinance Program was set up in 2008 to help homeowners who owe more than their home is worth. But it has helped far fewer people than was intended. Only about 800,000 homeowners have been able to refinance. A proposed revamp of the program would ease restrictions on loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, allowing a wider base of underwater homeowners to refinance. The President will make the announcement from Nevada, a state hit particularly hard by the mortgage meltdown as well as a key state in the 2012 election.
US President Barack Obama boards Air For

Obama visits Nevada, a critical swing state

President Obama begins a three-day fundraising campaign swing through western states Monday in Las Vegas. Nevada was hit hard by the housing downturn and the state has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Longtime Nevada political observer Jon Ralston says when President Barack Obama arrives in Las Vegas, he'll face a population that's been beaten down by the economy and is wary of political solutions.
Dr. Conrad Murray Trial
The trial of Conrad Murray, the doctor charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Michael Jackson, moves into its fifth and possibly final week today. The prosecution is wrapping up and the defense is expected to make their case.
Dangerous species like alligators and crocodiles haunt Florida’s waters, and in recent years, another water-dweller has joined their ranks. Marine biologist Pat Krug told Madeleine Brand on Monday that the poisonous lionfish has taken over much of the Caribbean, and Florida is desperate for ways to stunt the invasive species’ population growth.

Marijuana transforms the central valley

The fall harvest is under way throughout the Central Valley. This year, marijuana is setting production records by transforming the state's farm belt. But now federal authorities are stepping in and cracking down on landowners who lease to pot growers. The California Report's Central Valley Bureau chief, Sasha Khokha, explains.
Steve Inskeep, host of NPR's Morning Edition has just published a book about Karachi, Pakistan. He profiles this teeming city in "Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi." He joins Madeleine live in the studio to discuss his book.
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