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.
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.
For some, bringing in the new year means praying for good things to come. Kristina Olsen ponders the reasons for prayer in her song, "Prayer Flags." She tells the story behind it in the latest edition of What's in a Song, a series from the Western Folklife Center.
President Obama says immigration reform will be a priority for the White House early next year. The last time Congress tried to tackle the divisive issue it failed. In the meantime, states have become the center of debate following Arizona's lead in passing their own strict laws intended to curtail illegal immigration. NPR's Debbie Elliott has been following the issue. She joins us now. Good morning, Debbie.
This last weekend of the year, we're looking back on some of the best books of 2012. In this encore broadcast, Glen Weldon highlights two graphic novels from the past year, starting with one called "Drama" by Raina Telgemeier.
GLEN WELDON: "Drama" is a young adult graphic novel about a middle-school girl named Callie...
There is nothing new about the Congress coming to a hostile halt at a critical moment - fussing and fuming, holding impromptu news conferences at the Ohio Clock - that's a nearly 200-year-old timepiece that counts the hours outside the Senate Chamber - or representatives stopping to chat in the beautiful Rayburn reception room outside the House with George Washington looking disapprovingly down from his portrait.