Okay. So auto loans are easier to come by. To find out if that's the same for home loans, and to take a look at the overall housing market, we turn to David Wessell as we often do. He is economics editor of The Wall Street Journal. David, good morning.
DAVID WESSEL: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: You know, I got an email the other day that was offering, on certain kinds of mortgages, three percent interest, and I guess four percent is getting to be normal right now. So are more people taking advantage of that and buying homes?
Steve Inskeep talks to NPR's Quil Lawrence, who is embedded with U.S. forces in a volatile Afghan province near the Pakistani border. They discuss U.S. operations against the Taliban and Haqqani network, and the repercussions of last week's NATO airstrikes on an army border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
A new film called Shame arrives in theaters with several honors, including the best actor award from the Venice Film Festival. It also arrives with a rare NC-17 rating. Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, a New Yorker who's addicted to sex.
Austin Mitchell walks away from an oil derrick outside Williston, N.D. With what many are calling the largest oil boom in recent North American history, temporary camps to house the huge influx of workers now dot the sparse North Dakota landscape.
Credit John McChesney for NPR
The oil industry stages events like this energy festival parade in downtown Williston in an effort to maintain good relations with the community. Industry rigs and trucks of every description roar by as drivers throw candy to the kids.
The tough economy has taken its toll on most states, putting budgets deep in the red and putting people out of work.
But North Dakota has a low 3.5 percent unemployment rate and a state budget with a billion dollar surplus. That's because of a major oil boom in the western part of the state, a discovery of at least 2 billion barrels to be gained by fracking — the controversial process of injecting fluid deep into underground rock formations to force the oil out.
Producer Harvey Weinstein says Oscar wins can give film studios and financiers "the confidence to make daring movies and not do the same old you-know-what." He is shown above arriving at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in February 2009.
If you think the presidential campaigns are heating up, visit Hollywood — where campaigns of a different sort are kicking into overdrive. It's Oscar season, and studios are orchestrating a blitz of interviews, ads and billboards in an attempt to influence academy voters.
If this season has a commander in chief, it's producer Harvey Weinstein. He is credited with inventing the modern Oscar campaign — famously beating out Saving Private Ryan for best picture with Shakespeare in Love.
Chris Whitney lived in San Francisco in the 1980s, when there wasn't much known about AIDS. But then he tested positive for HIV in 1985. He explains what happened next to his frien Erin Kuka.
"The first person I told was the person I was dating at the time, and that was pretty much the last conversation I had with him," Whitney says. "You know, the fear just took over. That kind of made me really wary about opening up to people.