It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
We are following two major stories this morning. One is the fire and explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. We'll have more on that in a moment.
INSKEEP: We begin with a victory for gun rights groups and a stinging defeat for gun control. Senate Republicans joined a small group of Democrats to reject every major gun control proposal President Obama has been pushing since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Now, President Obama had promised to put the full weight of his office behind getting Congress to pass new gun control legislation. That weight was apparently not enough. When the legislation failed yesterday, Obama went into the White House Rose Garden and made a blistering speech, calling it a shameful day for Washington.
NPR's business news begins with some sky-high prices.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: If you travel, you might have noticed airfares are going up sharply in many markets - and the reason is mergers. This could be just the beginning. Prices may keep rising if government regulators approve another merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways.
To talk more about this, we reached Scott McCartney. He writes an airline's column for "The Wall Street Journal."
And we're also reporting on the aftermath of another tragedy. Four months after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, residents in Newtown, Connecticut are still trying to move forward. And the same goes for business owners, especially in Sandy Hook Village, just a mile from the school.
All right. In recent days, the government has begun sending out checks to about 4 million people whose homes fell into foreclosure during the housing crisis. This is part of a multibillion dollar agreement with banks accused of making serious errors in processing those foreclosures.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Most of these checks are not so big. They average several hundred dollars. But still a check, an effort to make amends, so this is a bit of a problem. When some of the home owners try to cash their checks, the checks bounced.
Two prominent Harvard economists have admitted there are errors in an influential paper they wrote on government debt. This paper was widely cited in recent budget debates. But the economists insist their mistakes do not significantly change their research.
NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: In their 2010 paper, Ken Rogoff and Carmen Rinehart argued that economic growth falls significantly when a country's debt level rises above 90 percent of its Gross Domestic Product or GDP.
Like many California cities hit hard by the real estate crash, Indio (near Palm Springs) has been forced to make steep cutbacks to avoid bankruptcy. But unlike other cities, Indio hosts the highest-grossing music festival in the world — Coachella — which wraps up this weekend. It has made city leaders eager to capitalize on Coachella's riches.
Sam Torres, plumber by day, Indio city councilman by night, says he was prepared to become the most hated man in the city, and he very well may have achieved that goal. His offense? Proposing a 6 percent tax on Coachella tickets.
April 18, 2013, is a big day for Superman. The Man of Steel, more powerful than a locomotive, turns 75. Most of us know Superman's story — faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Less well-known is that the superhero is not native to the lost world of Krypton, nor the rural Kansas burg of Smallville. Superman is Cleveland's native son — at least as far as the city's residents are concerned.
At the 2011 Academy Awards, the film Restrepo was among the documentaries nominated for an Oscar. It follows an American platoon on a remote mountaintop in what was, at the time, the most dangerous place in Afghanistan.
To make the film, writer Sebastian Junger teamed up with British photojournalist Tim Hetherington — who, walking the red carpet that night at the Oscars, might as well have been a young actor straight out of central casting: tall, handsome, charismatic.