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FROM THIS EPISODE

The American dream of homeownership is in big trouble, and the Obama Administration's efforts to help struggling homeowners are not working out. We hear what's going wrong and what it could mean for the future. Also, Also, an alleged Iranian assassination plot is drawing skepticism, and Pennsylvania's capital city declares bankruptcy. What's happening to American towns and cities?

Banner image: Brandie and Dan Barbiere sift through their household possesions after their home was foreclosed upon on October 5, 2011 in Miliken, Colorado. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Producers:
Caitlin Shamberg
Katie Cooper
Sonya Geis

Making News Alleged Iranian Assassination Plot Is Drawing Skepticism 7 MIN, 31 SEC

In a Detroit federal court today, the so-called "underwear bomber" pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a plane to avenge what he called "the US wreckage of Muslim lands and property." The evidence against Umar Farouk Abdul-mutallab was overwhelming.  But there is some skepticism about yesterday's US claim that Iran plotted to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US on American soil, working through a Mexican drug cartel. P.J. Crowley, a former spokesman for the US State Department, is now a research professor at George Washington University.

Guests:
PJ Crowley, George Washington University (@PJCrowley)

Main Topic Homeownership and the Fading American Dream 35 MIN, 56 SEC

Since the Great Depression, the US government has encouraged home ownership, most conspicuously with the homeowner's tax deduction. In the aftermath of the housing market collapse and the sub-prime mortgage scandal, President Obama promised help for millions of homeowners trying to avoid foreclosures. Now six million Americans are facing foreclosure, but new federal programs may be doing more harm than good. Instead of help with mortgage modification or refinance, desperate homeowners face a blizzard of paperwork and official errors with little or no supervision. Is homeownership all that it's cracked up to be?  If not, what are the consequences for the economy and a cornerstone of American culture?

Guests:
Paul Kiel, ProPublica (@paulkiel)
Cembrye Ross, 14-year homeowner
Alyssa Katz, Columbia Journalism School
John Taylor, National Community Reinvestment Coalition

By Alyssa Katz

-Bloomsbury USA-

Reporter's Notebook Pennsylvania's Capital Declares Bankruptcy 7 MIN, 5 SEC

It's been 20 years since Orange County, California filed bankruptcy under what's called "Chapter 9."  Now the capital of Pennsylvania, has invoked that little-used provision of the bankruptcy code. Harrisburg says it can't continue providing critical services at the same time it's paying off $300 million in debt for an incinerator project. The city council's attorney says Chapter 9 will give it bargaining power with creditors and the state, which is considering a takeover. Are other cities in trouble, too? We ask Michael Pogano, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Guests:
Michael Pogano, University of Illinois at Chicago

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