National / International News

Ten Labour councillors quit group

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 09:25
Ten councillors in Wrexham, including the council leader Neil Rogers, resign from the Labour group and the Labour Party.

'Fundamental flaw' in Apple iCloud

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 09:22
Apple's iCloud facility has a "fundamental security flaw", an expert warns, after intimate images of celebrities were stolen and leaked.

Nigeria border town 'captured'

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 09:14
Islamist militants in Nigeria capture a border town near Cameroon, witnesses say, amid a warning that the country could be breaking up like Iraq.

Ukraine crisis: Timeline

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 09:10
Timeline of major events in recent Ukrainian history, from the Orange Revolution to the conflict in the east.

'Youngest hostage' returns to France

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:51
A mother arrives back in France from Turkey with her baby after her husband reportedly took the child to Syria.

Your Wallet: Hacking the grocery store

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:48

According to Gallup, families in America spend roughly $150 dollars a week on food:

Gallup

Marketplace Weekend wants to know, how do you save money at the grocery store?  

 

@MarketplaceWknd Plan meals around what's on sale (esp for meats) not just what you feel like eating.

— Karen Luck (@WhereIsMyKindle) September 3, 2014

 

Eat fast food whenever possible RT@MarketplaceWknd: What are your favorite tips and tricks to save money at the grocery store?

— SevenPointBuck (@SevenPointBuck) September 3, 2014

 

@MarketplaceWknd Reach for the back of the shelf (bread, meats, eggs, and so on). Later expiration dates for the same price.

— Dylan Campbell (@dylancampbell) September 3, 2014

Morgan denies ability groups plan

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:47
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says there are no plans to oblige secondary schools to divide pupils into ability groups.

Overdue reassessments hit homeowners hard

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:46

For David Bunzel, the bad news came in a letter, in March.

“I opened it up,” he says, “and I was surprised.”

Bunzel lives in Scarsdale, New York, just north of New York City. The community is doing its first town-wide property value reassessments in 45 years. And the letter Bunzel got came from the assessment office.

“The estimated value, from their perception, of our home went up overnight by about 30 percent,” he says.

The estimated value of your home helps determine how much you pay in property taxes.

Bunzel lives in a neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes, and a 30 percent increase would be a lot of money. (He wouldn’t say exactly how much.) Things were even worse for some of his neighbors. Some even saw their assessments double.

So Bunzel and a bunch of his neighbors are now challenging the revaluations. He says he understands property assessments were way overdue in Scarsdale, but the way their homes were assessed and the sudden spike, he says, aren’t fair.

“Who has sympathy for these people?” says Robert Berg, another Scarsdale resident. “They were getting a great deal that we were paying for, for 45 years in many cases.”

Berg was one of the people who pushed for the property revaluations. He says the owners of what are now some of the most expensive homes in town weren't paying property taxes that reflected that. So people in more modest homes had to pay more than their share of property taxes to make up for it, he argues.

“If someone's paying too little,” Berg says, “someone's paying too much. And the whole purpose of a revaluation is to periodically and systematically review all the property valuations in town, so you can get equity in the tax rolls.”

The state of New York doesn't require periodic revaluations, but they recommend cities reassess properties every few years. Some towns in the state haven't had property reassessments since the Civil War.

New York's not alone in these infrequent assessments. In California, for example, your property tax is based on how much you paid for your house. If you've been sitting on a home for 40 years, you're paying way fewer taxes than someone who bought a similar home at today's prices.

Kim Rueben, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, says to avoid revaluation controversies like the one in Scarsdale and similar situations in California, cities need routine state-mandated property assessments. They keep property taxes smoother for everyone, Rueben says.

“I think it would be easier,” she says, “for the county and the local governments if the state did mandate it. And so they could just say that it's the state law to do this.”

But if cities and towns have been collecting property taxes for centuries, why haven't they figured this out yet?

“Some of this is much more political than fiscal,” Rueben says. “So the whole idea that you're not going to reassess properties has more to do with who has political power and who's going to end up being winners and losers.”

She says reassessments usually put the biggest dent in the pocketbooks of the upscale homeowners, so politicians might avoid enforcing reassessments to avoid upsetting wealthy voters.

“But,” she says, “it's never going to be any easier for them to do the reassessment.”

At some point, towns that have held off on reassessments are going to have to bite the bullet. Scarsdale's property revaluations are still under review, but they should go into effect later this month.

Organizers Of New York St. Paddy's Day Parade Lift Ban On Gay Groups

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:39

A gay group will be able to march under its own banner for the first time in the world's largest St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade lost sponsors and supporters this year because of the ban.

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Man charged over Murphy egg incident

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:37
A 45-year-old man is arrested and charged over an incident in which Labour MP Jim Murphy was hit by an egg in Fife last week.

Warning over 'vanishing migrants'

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:30
A "dramatic" rise in migrants absconding after failing border checks threatens jihadist crackdown, a senior MP warns.

Director Andrew McLaglen dies at 94

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:29
Director Andrew V McLaglen, who was best known for Westerns and action films including The Wild Geese and McLintock!, dies at the age of 94.

VIDEO: Sony brings PS4 games to phones

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:19
Sony thinks it has solved the problem of when the family wants to watch TV - but the gamer wants to carry on playing.

VIDEO: Rouble surges with hope of truce

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:15
Russian shares and the value of the rouble have surged, thanks to that announcement of a permanent ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

Warning over 'On the Run' letters

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:08
The Northern Ireland secretary says the government is "no longer standing by" letters sent to "on the runs".

VIDEO: Ukraine conflict so far - in 2 mins

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:00
Tim Willcox presents a timeline summary of the events that bought the country to it's present situation.

Burned dog Cody trial gets under way

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:00
The trial of two men accused of setting fire to a family's pet dog in County Antrim has started at Belfast Crown Court.

Police honour for Clutha crash dead

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 07:57
The names of three officers who were among 10 people killed in the Clutha police helicopter crash are added to the Scottish Police Memorial.

VIDEO: Rotherham: 'Culpable should resign'

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 07:54
The deputy leader of Rotherham Council says he thinks there should be resignations, after a report last week revealed that hundreds of children had been abused in the town.

VIDEO: Lib Dems pledge more free childcare

BBC - Wed, 2014-09-03 07:39
The Liberal Democrats are promising 15 hours of free childcare for all two-year-olds in England, as they begin to set out their policies ahead of the next general election.
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