National / International News

Khan's MPs to quit Pakistan seats

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:35
The Pakistan opposition party led by Imran Khan says it is to resign all its seats in parliament in a bid to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

VIDEO: Abseilers clean Big Ben's clock face

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:32
The clock face of the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the famous Big Ben bell, is being cleaned, with the hands frozen at 12 o'clock.

Pope Says It's OK To 'Stop' Aggressors In Iraq To Protect Minorities

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:21

Pope Francis added "the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated." The comments come as the U.S. conducts airstrikes against militants of the Islamic State who are targeting minorities.

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Why we should bring back the Postal Banking system

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:19

When I was 12 years old, my Mum presented me with a little blue plastic-covered book with the design of a key on it.

It was my first savings account, provided by the British Post Office. There's no way that I would have been able to open an account with a bank, given the paltry amount of money I wanted to save, or the zero amount of money that I earned. But the Post Office didn't care that how skint or young or unemployed I was: it was determined to provide me with banking services, regardless. That savings account really did operate like a key. It helped me understand all sorts of thing about personal finance, including the magic of compounding.

I mention this because I just read a fascinating article about the history of the postal banking system in the US. First off, I had no idea that there used to be a postal bank system in America, but there was. And just like the Post Office in the UK, it was aimed at  providing banking services to people of modest means. The kind of people who today are widely denied access to banking services, and who are forced instead to reply on payday lenders.   The post office offered information to customers in 24 languages and would pass out leaflets right outside the ports of entry into the U.S.

The author points out that the rise of payday lending coincided exactly with the decline in postal banking. That began around 1965, when the postmasters general began to endorse ending it. The system died a quick, quiet death, which coincided with banks' withdrawal from low-income (and thus low-yield) neighborhoods in the early 1970s. That created a financial services vacuum, which was quickly filled by, you guessed it, payday loan operations.

Postal banking was America’s most successful experiment in financial inclusion—a problem we face again today.

The problem is that postal banking is expensive. It's a low-margin business, after all, as most customers probably won't have much money to save, and the post office would find it tough to upsell its banking customers into higher-yielding products, in the way banks do. It's also administratively expensive: a recent British government report on the unbanked in the UK found the cost of a simple banking transaction at the Post Office was about 100 times more expensive than a similar transaction done at a bank. 

Of course, that's not really the point. The point is that in the U.S. there are large sections of the population that are denied banking services, not because they don't understand how to use them, but because the banks have rejected them and the government has deserted them. As such, they are preyed upon by unscrupulous payday lenders, and often left even more disadvantaged than before.

The government has tried a private sector solution, demanding the banks set up shop and provide banking services in these neighborhoods, but the private sector has failed. Which leaves it up to the public sector.

Postal banking is a possible solution. It will be expensive, as most public services are. But the alternative, in the long run, will surely cost us more.

PM defends 'clear' Iraq strategy

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 10:02
Prime Minister David Cameron insists the government's position on Iraq is "clear" and says the UK will not deploy "boots on the ground".

Norway's Statoil in Russian deal

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:57
Norway's Statoil partners with Russian state energy giant Rosneft to search for oil in the Arctic, despite Western sanctions against Moscow.

MP wants answers on Sir Cliff search

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:49
South Yorkshire Police and the BBC are asked to explain to a committee of MPs how the broadcaster knew in advance Sir Cliff Richard's home was to be searched.

Paris Heist: Gunmen Take $335,000 From Saudi Motorcade

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:42

The thieves left with a stolen Mercedes that was later found burned along with one of two BMWs the robbers used to stop the convoy. Police say the team seems to be fairly experienced.

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'Refugee convoy hit' in east Ukraine

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:31
Many people died when rockets and mortars hit vehicles moving refugees from the Luhansk area of eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military says.

England call up Hales for ODI series

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:31
England call up Nottinghamshire batsman Alex Hales for the one-day series against India starting next week.

VIDEO: NI pipe band wins tenth world title

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:27
The Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, the most successful pipe band of all time, wins a tenth world title at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland.

Daughter smothered alcoholic mother

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:24
A 19-year-old who suffered "long-term cruelty" at the hands of her alcoholic mother is sentenced to four years and eight months' detention for killing her.

Medicare Patients Often See Nurses Instead Of Doctors For Skin Problems

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:22

Among the more than 4 million procedures for which office-based nurse practitioners and physician assistants independently billed Medicare in 2012, more than half were for dermatological surgeries.

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Many tributes paid to Sam Galbraith

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:19
Former Scottish education minister Sam Galbraith, thought to be the world's longest-surviving lung transplant patient, dies at the age of 68.

Elephant Slaughter, African Slavery And America's Pianos

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:11

Two New England towns dominated the world's ivory market from 1840 to 1940 — transforming imported tusks from African elephants into piano keys and combs. Today's residents grapple with a dark past.

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US health data hack hits 4.5 million

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:09
A major US hospital group said it was the victim of a cyber-attack resulting in the theft of 4.5 million people's personal data.

Calls for ambulance service inquiry

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 09:04
Members of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service trade union call for an external inquiry into how it is managed.

Ofcom probes Sky over MH17 report

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 08:39
Ofcom opens investigation into a Sky News report in which Colin Brazier rummaged through belongings at the MH17 plane crash site in Ukraine.

£224m payout over e-Borders sacking

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 08:34
The Home Office is told to pay £224m to a major US corporation it sacked for failing to deliver a controversial secure borders programme.

Men found guilty of shooting murder

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-18 08:14
Three men are found guilty of murdering a mother who was shot dead while out celebrating her 24th birthday in north-west London.
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