National News

Texas Set To Execute Nicaraguan National, Despite Legal Controversy

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 10:55

Bernardo Tecero was convicted of killing a Texas school teacher. Supporters say he should not be executed because he wasn't informed of his right to contact a consular official.

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China's Financial Capital Tries To Become A Cultural Capital

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 10:50

Private museums are sprouting up along Shanghai's river bank. The city that lures people seeking their fortune is also attempting to become a destination for art.

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Bicycling In India Has Its Risks (Cow Ahead!) And Its Rewards

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 10:33

Especially when it comes to repairs. You don't have to make an appointment to see a mechanic. You don't have to wait a week for the work to be done. And the price is definitely right.

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Parisians On Hunt For Baguettes As Bakers Get Nod To Take Vacation

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 10:19

An arcane law required bakers to tell city hall when they wanted to close up shop. Now that it's been scrapped, bakers can close any time, leaving Parisians hungry for good bread amid summer holidays.

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Stephen Hawking: Black Holes 'Are Not The Eternal Prisons' We Once Thought

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 10:13

The world's most famous physicist unveiled a novel idea that he says solves the mystery of the information paradox. Essentially, he explained, information can escape a black hole.

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Biden's Path: Time Is Not Exactly On His Side

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 09:54

History hasn't been kind to late presidential entrants. But with the vice president's name ID and position, his campaign could break the mold and challenge and sharpen Hillary Clinton.

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Not Over 'Til It's Over: Runner's Early Celebration Costs Her The Bronze

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 08:43

American distance runner Molly Huddle is the latest athlete to learn the hard way about premature victory celebrations.

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Why Your Doctor Won't Friend You On Facebook

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 08:35

Public professional Facebook pages focused on medicine are catching on. But doctors aren't ready to share vacation photos and other more intimate details with their patients.

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Tech stocks were on sale yesterday — and people bought

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-08-25 08:15

If all of a sudden there were a huge sale on what are normally out-of-reach, expensive goods, you'd probably go shopping, right? 

Well, that sale happened yesterday, when Black Monday became a two-fer: A massive selloff on Wall Street, and also an opportunity for bargain shopping, Black Friday style. Tech stocks had huge and high-profile markdowns, and today they're leading the rebound. That's because, in some ways, Netflix, Apple and Google are like the Chanel, Hermes and Prada of Wall Street: They never go on sale, so when they do? You get in line. 

By midday, Netflix was up nearly 10 percent, Apple over 5 percent, Google 4 percent and Facebook nearly 5 percent. Tesla, Amazon and Twitter were also big movers. Tech stocks had been among the hardest hit in Monday's selloff, especially Netflix, which has been on an absolute tear in recent months. The tech-heavy Nasdaq suffered its first 10 percent drop since November 2012.

But why were these stocks hit so hard in the first place? Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research says tech stocks probably got caught up in the overall frenzy, and because they're the big names in many big indices, they suffered hardest.

"It’s kind of baffling, in some ways," he says. 

And Dawson says the tech buyback has as little to do with reality as the selloff.

"So much of it seems to be reaction to what other people are doing," Dawson says. "It's not as if there's some underlying concern about these businesses versus some other view just discovered today."

Netflix specifically, he says, has no reason to be a volatile stock.

"Its underlying financials are fantastic, it's growing rapidly, its DVD business covers the cost of expansion internationally," Dawson says. "There's no new reason in the last couple weeks to think Netflix is going to have a hard time."

So, tech stocks are really just the big-name representatives of whatever mysterious forces are driving Wall Street's sudden plunge and delirious rebound: a combination of emotion, swarm behavior and fear of missing out. But if you were planning to stock up on Apple stock while it was on sale, it looks like you've missed your chance until the next Black Monday. 

Donald Trump's Evolution On Campaign Fundraising

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 07:54

When billionaire developer Trump entered the presidential race two months ago, he drew a sharp line between other candidates – needy candidates, always trading favors for money – and himself.

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U.S. To Accept Up To 8,000 Syrian Refugees Next Year

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 06:46

In 2016, The U.S. will take in between 5,000 and 8,000 Syrian refugees. As of June 2015, fewer than 1,000 had been admitted.

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Market Update: our coverage of this week's stock chaos

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-08-25 05:36

Here's another way the markets are not like the real world: in the markets, the B word is worse than the C word. So much worse!

C is for Correction, a sharp drop in prices, with a defined ending and a recovery.

B, on the other hand, is for bear market, a long-term drop, with no obvious end.

Here's a short video explaining the difference: 

Right now it looks as though we are in correction territory. We've had a sharp drop — a very sharp drop — but it doesn't feel like that relentless, long-term slide that we were on back in 2008, where day after day it just got worse and worse. In fact, today the market is up, prices appear to have stabilized in most markets (China is a notable exception), and most commentators are cautiously optimistic. Few are using the B word. Instead, they're pointing to health of the U.S. economy, and the upward growth trajectories of the large economies in Europe.

But that doesn't mean we're out of the woods. The situation in China is unstable, and China is one of the biggest economies in the world. If things go really bad there, it will have enormous ripple effects, and it will definitely affect the U.S. economy. But even with the Chinese government's inept futzing with its currency and its banks, and even with the meltdown in the Chinese stock market, the country is still projected to grow at around 6.7 percent this year. That's not as good as the 7 percent China would prefer, but it's hardly a bearish forecast.

So for now, call it a correction. But keep your weapon clean and your bear ammo close. Just in case.

For more analysis, check out Paddy's live blog:

Market Update: our live blog of this week's stock chaos

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-08-25 05:36

Here's another way the markets are not like the real world: in the markets, the B word is worse than the C word. So much worse!

C is for Correction, a sharp drop in prices, with a defined ending and a recovery.

B, on the other hand, is for bear market, a long-term drop, with no obvious end.

 

 

 

 

Here's a short video explaining the difference: 

Right now it looks as though we are in correction territory. We've had a sharp drop — a very sharp drop — but it doesn't feel like that relentless, long-term slide that we were on back in 2008, where day after day it just got worse and worse. In fact, today the market is up, prices appear to have stabilized in most markets (China is a notable exception), and most commentators are cautiously optimistic. Few are using the B word. Instead, they're pointing to health of the U.S. economy, and the upward growth trajectories of the large economies in Europe.

But that doesn't mean we're out of the woods. The situation in China is unstable, and China is one of the biggest economies in the world. If things go really bad there, it will have enormous ripple effects, and it will definitely affect the U.S. economy. But even with the Chinese government's inept futzing with its currency and its banks, and even with the meltdown in the Chinese stock market, the country is still projected to grow at around 6.7 percent this year. That's not as good as the 7 percent China would prefer, but it's hardly a bearish forecast.

So for now, call it a correction. But keep your weapon clean and your bear ammo close. Just in case.

Market Update: Is it a correction?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-08-25 05:36

Here's another way the markets are not like the real world: in the markets, the B word is worse than the C word. So much worse!

C is for Correction, a sharp drop in prices, with a defined ending and a recovery.

B, on the other hand, is for bear market, a long-term drop, with no obvious end.

 

 

 

 

Here's a short video explaining the difference: 

Right now it looks as though we are in correction territory. We've had a sharp drop — a very sharp drop — but it doesn't feel like that relentless, long-term slide that we were on back in 2008, where day after day it just got worse and worse. In fact, today the market is up, prices appear to have stabilized in most markets (China is a notable exception), and most commentators are cautiously optimistic. Few are using the B word. Instead, they're pointing to health of the U.S. economy, and the upward growth trajectories of the large economies in Europe.

But that doesn't mean we're out of the woods. The situation in China is unstable, and China is one of the biggest economies in the world. If things go really bad there, it will have enormous ripple effects, and it will definitely affect the U.S. economy. But even with the Chinese government's inept futzing with its currency and its banks, and even with the meltdown in the Chinese stock market, the country is still projected to grow at around 6.7 percent this year. That's not as good as the 7 percent China would prefer, but it's hardly a bearish forecast.

So for now, call it a correction. But keep your weapon clean and your bear ammo close. Just in case.

VIDEO: 12-Year-Old Boy Trips, Rips Hole In $1.5 Million Painting

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 05:25

It is every parent's nightmare. Luckily the 350-year-old Paolo Porpora oil on canvas was insured, and the boy's family will not have to pay for the restoration.

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After Days Of Talks, Tense Standoff, North And South Korea Reach Detente

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 04:09

South Korea has agreed to stop blaring propaganda from speakers across the border and the North has agreed to lift its semi-war status.

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Two Polls Span Two Poles On Testing

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 03:03

Does the public support or oppose federal standardized tests? Depends how you ask.

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Here's one reason bank-owned homes sit vacant

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-08-25 03:00

This summer, a group of Chicago men were arrested for taking over 14 vacant, foreclosed homes in prosperous neighborhoods — living in some and renting out the rest. How do foreclosed houses stay vacant so long?

One of the houses, a brick three-bedroom on the corner of 98th and Damen, went into foreclosure in five years ago.

The foreclosed homeowner didn't move out until early 2014. Ruben Nodal, who lives across the street, remembers when a new family arrived a few months later. "I went across the street and said, 'Welcome, neighbors!'" he recalls with a laugh. "I didn’t know. I was this close to having my wife bake them cookies."

He didn’t know until later that the new family was illegally; they were squatting. But he does know local real estate. He flips houses for a living.

With this house empty again, back on the market, he thinks the owner. Fannie Mae, set the $514,900 price too high.

"That’s crazy for a foreclosed home that needs a lot of work," he says. "I know. I've been in that house. It’ll sell at 450, if we’re lucky, when somebody puts a hundred grand into it."

Seven years after the financial crisis, Nodal thinks financial institutions still don’t have their act together.

"It’s bureaucracy," he says. "They don’t care! I'm dealing with a closing right now...."

He says he's trying to pay cash for a foreclosure, but the bank that owns the house just won’t schedule the closing.

Another local expert shares Nodal's opinion. Maurice Hampton, who lives in the neighborhood and works there as a broker, also thinks the house on 98th is overpriced. "The banks are not realistic," he says. "They’ve never been realistic throughout this process."

He does appreciate the logistical challenge institutions faced after the crash, dealing with bad loans and big real estate portfolios.

"These banks went from lending money — their sole job every day, and all their employees, was to give money away —  and then it turned around to, 'We have to absorb massive losses, and we have to pay staff who are completely untrained in finance, short sales, real estate?' So you open up brand new departments, and these people just push paper from one end to the other with very little direction, very little guidance."  

He’s speaking from experience. He and his wife missed a mortgage payment in 2009 and ended up in foreclosure. He says the bank wound up settling last December after his attorney documented the many times an ever-changing lineup of bank representatives had dropped the ball.

"The reps would turn over every month, twice a month, three times a month at times," he recalls.

About the house on 98th, he thinks $330,000 is more like it.

Fannie Mae executive P.J. McCarthy, a vice president in the company's real estate division, says Fannie's pricing savvy is worth defending. "It is not beneficial to anybody to overlist a property," he says. "But we believe we’re very good at valuing properties, and we believe we are very good at selling those properties quickly. The vast majority of our homes sell within the first two months."

A few days after McCarthy spoke to Marketplace, Fannie dropped the price on the house by $35,000.

Chinese Markets Stumble Again, But World Markets Stabilized

NPR News - Tue, 2015-08-25 02:56

The Shanghai Composite ended 7.6 percent lower and below 3,000 for the first time since December. European markets, however, seemed to shrug off the Chinese rout.

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Housing market is one upbeat note right now

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-08-25 02:00

A key asset class for many American households that is not suffering from a crisis of investor confidence and wild volatility is the U.S. housing market.

After the recession, housing was the missing leg of the recovery, beset by depressed prices, extremely tight credit, millions of homeowners underwater and a large percentage of properties in default, foreclosure or bank-owned. Home construction ground to a halt. 

Now, housing is finally contributing consistently and strongly to overall economic growth. Home prices have been rising steadily — by 4 percent to 5 percent per year for several years, and decent houses (homeowner-owned, in good condition) don’t stay “for sale” very long in many markets.

Economist Christopher Mayer at Columbia University credits low mortgage rates and says the current stock market meltdown could actually help.

“The upside of global financial unrest is people rush to U.S. treasuries for safety,” says Mayer. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below 2 percent on Monday as the stock market plunged. That will tend to drive mortgage rates—which are already low, averaging under 4 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage right now — down even further.

“That really makes mortgage rates very attractive for people who do have a down payment and excellent credit,” says Mayer. “Potential homebuyers, and homeowners who want to refinance, all benefit — as long as the global unrest doesn’t translate into a recession.”

Builders are showing more appetite to break ground for starter and luxury homes, says economist Robert Dietz at the National Association of Home Builders.

“We expect additional growth as household formations recover, as renters become home buyers,” says Dietz. “And that will be helped by the good job numbers that we’ve been seeing, and that we expect to continue.”

On the other hand, rents have been going up as housing remains tight and few new single-family homes have been built (in historic terms) since the recession. So some renters are finding it hard to save for a down payment. Plus, in the hottest real estate markets, places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., sharply rising home prices are putting home ownership out of reach for many.

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