It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
Activists and human rights groups in Syria contend the government has now killed hundreds of civilians this week alone. It's hard to verify that number, but it is clear that mortars, rockets and tanks continue firing into the city of Homs. That gunfire has served as a week-long punctuation mark on the United Nation's failure to approve a resolution against Syria. NPR's Kelly McEvers is following the situation from Beirut. She joins us once again.
NPR's business news starts with social networking profits.
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INSKEEP: You can get attention on the Internet. You can even draw a massive crowd in seconds. The question always is how to make money. Investors have been scrutinizing Facebook's plans to go public and trying to figure out the company's prospects.
Greek politicians on Thursday agreed on massive cuts to bring their budgets in line with what the European Union has demanded. It's the latest act in a months-long drama to bring down the Greek debt load.
The multi-billion dollar bank mortgage settlement could have some unanticipated consequences for borrowers in trouble. There will likely be an initial surge of foreclosures. Banks, freed from uncertainty over the investigation, will probably pick up the pace of home seizures. But the foreclosure rate will probably fall over the longer term as banks ease the burden on borrowers through principal reductions.
President Obama is touting Thursday's mortgage foreclosure settlement with big banks. Nearly two million people could benefit from the landmark settlement between states and big mortgage companies. But many homeowners and former homeowners are not too excited about the deal.
If George Lucas had never created that annoying, slapstick-prone CGI character in The Phantom Menace, history would be different. No amount of "meesa so sorry" can make up for this abomination. And to add insult to injury, Lucas is sending a 3D Jar Jar Binks into theaters on February 10th.
At the JS West egg farm, south of Modesto, Calif., one chicken house has the new, spacious cages that egg producers and animal welfare advocates say keep chickens happier.
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Gene Gregory (left), head of the United Egg Producers lobby, and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, visit Washington to lobby Congress for a law requiring larger cages for egg-laying chickens.
Credit John Rose / NPR
Pacelle and Gregory have different backgrounds and dietary preferences, but there seems to be genuine respect between them.
In 2002, state lawmakers in Massachusetts approved legislation requiring most employers to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. One of the groups pushing for the law was the Coalition for Choice, led by Melissa Kogut (center).
The conflict between the Catholic Bishops and the White House over contraceptive coverage has American Catholics choosing sides.
Catholics narrowly support the White House position in polls. There are potential political consequences: In presidential elections, Catholics are swing voters. They supported Al Gore in 2000, President George W. Bush in '04 and President Obama in '08.
The GOP presidential hopefuls are certainly using this issue. Framing it as a question of religious freedom is a guaranteed way to fire up the conservative base.