National / International News

UK finances to see '£6bn windfall'

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 11:00
UK government finances will look £6bn rosier around the Budget when projections of lower oil prices dragging on inflation are taken into account.

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns Amid Spending Questions

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-17 11:00

The 33-year-old Republican had come under heavy scrutiny. In a statement, he said that "the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction."

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Syria military 'used chlorine bombs'

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:56
Syrian activists accuse government forces of using chlorine in an attack in the country's north-west on Monday, but officials deny the claim.

EU steps up war on people-smugglers

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:51
A new EU police unit aims to get better intelligence on people-smuggling gangs operating in the Mediterranean.

Dutch UN helicopter crashes in Mali

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:44
A Dutch UN peacekeeping helicopter crashes near Gao in northern Mali, with two people reported killed.

'Buy some medicines yourself', call

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:44
A north Wales health board urges patients to buy cheaper medicines themselves, rather than use free prescriptions, to save the NHS money.

US veteran 'tried to join IS'

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:31
Prosecutors say Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, a former US airman, tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants.

Footballer Johnson's bail extended

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:22
England and Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson has his bail extended following his arrest on suspicion of having sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

Fewer homeowners are now 'underwater'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:19

From 2009 to 2011 — after home prices had crashed in the wake of the housing crisis — more than 25 percent of American homeowners were underwater. CoreLogic now reports that as of the end of 2014, 10.7 percent of homeowners were underwater: A situation also known as negative-equity, in which a homeowner owes more on their mortgage(s) than the house is currently worth.

Percentage of U.S. homeowners who are 'underwater' and have negative-equity in their property, i.e., they owe more on their mortgage (or multiple mortgages) than the mortgaged property is currently worth.  

CoreLogic

CoreLogic senior economist Frank Nothaft says some of the decline in negative equity in recent years is due to underwater homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure, or eliminating their mortgage through a short-sale. But he says most of the improvement has resulted from the gradual rise in home prices. Nothaft anticipates that the improvement will continue, with home prices rising 5 percent in 2015.  

CoreLogic reports that some states still have very high rates of negative equity: Nevada (24 percent), Florida (23 percent), Arizona (19 percent), Mississippi (17 percent), Illinois (16 percent), Rhode Island (16 percent), and Ohio (15 percent). Those rates have also fallen; as many as 50 to 75 percent of homeowners were underwater in some of these states during 2009-11.

CoreLogic

The current nationwide negative-equity rate of 10.7 percent is still extremely high by historic standards, says Nothaft. “We still have about 5 million homeowners underwater, but continuing to be current on their mortgages and making their monthly payments,” he says.

Such a homeowner may not face foreclosure or bankruptcy, but they’ll find it difficult to sell — to upsize or downsize as their lifestyle or family-composition changes — or to relocate to a different region for better job opportunities or retirement.

“I think of it as freezing people in place,” says Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy. Domestic migration fell dramatically during and after the recession, he says, with people’s mobility limited by “houses they couldn’t sell and fear of changing jobs.”

Now, domestic migration is picking up again. Johnson says a direct causal link to the improving job and housing market is hard to prove, but he believes that’s part of what’s driving the change.

“One of those places where we're seeing growth pick up is in amenity and retirement areas, places with lots of golf courses and things like that,” says Johnson. Florida, for instance, is again gaining population — likely driven in part by retirees selling their homes in northern climes.

Also, employers are now competing more aggressively for qualified workers, says economist John Canally at LPL Financial. So a potential employee who is locked in by negative equity might now be able to move, care of their new employer. “Companies today might be a little more willing to help someone who’s relocating,” says Canally, “to buy that person's home in Miami and help them relocate in Dallas, where four or five years ago they were not.”

Fewer homeowners are now 'under water'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:19

From 2009 to 2011 — after home prices had crashed in the wake of the housing crisis — more than 25 percent of American homeowners were underwater. CoreLogic now reports that as of the end of 2014, 10.7 percent of homeowners were underwater: A situation also known as negative-equity, in which a homeowner owes more on their mortgage(s) than the house is currently worth.

Percentage of U.S. homeowners who are 'underwater' and have negative-equity in their property, i.e., they owe more on their mortgage (or multiple mortgages) than the mortgaged property is currently worth.  

CoreLogic

CoreLogic senior economist Frank Nothaft says some of the decline in negative equity in recent years is due to underwater homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure, or eliminating their mortgage through a short-sale. But he says most of the improvement has resulted from the gradual rise in home prices. Nothaft anticipates that the improvement will continue, with home prices rising 5 percent in 2015. 

CoreLogic reports that some states still have very high rates of negative equity: Nevada (24 percent), Florida (23 percent), Arizona (19 percent), Mississippi (17 percent), Illinois (16 percent), Rhode Island (16 percent), and Ohio (15 percent). Those rates have also fallen; as many as 50 to 75 percent of homeowners were underwater in some of these states during 2009-11.

CoreLogic

The current nationwide negative-equity rate of 10.7 percent is still extremely high by historic standards, says Nothaft. “We still have about 5 million homeowners underwater, but continuing to be current on their mortgages and making their monthly payments,” he says.

Such a homeowner may not face foreclosure or bankruptcy, but they’ll find it difficult to sell — to upsize or downsize as their lifestyle or family-composition changes — or to relocate to a different region for better job opportunities or retirement.

“I think of it as freezing people in place,” says Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy. Domestic migration fell dramatically during and after the recession, he says, with people’s mobility limited by “houses they couldn’t sell and fear of changing jobs.”

Now, domestic migration is picking up again. Johnson says a direct causal link to the improving job and housing market is hard to prove, but he believes that’s part of what’s driving the change.

“One of those places where we're seeing growth pick up is in amenity and retirement areas, places with lots of golf courses and things like that,” says Johnson. Florida, for instance, is again gaining population — likely driven in part by retirees selling their homes in northern climes.

Also, employers are now competing more aggressively for qualified workers, says economist John Canally at LPL Financial. So a potential employee who is locked in by negative equity might now be able to move, care of their new employer. “Companies today might be a little more willing to help someone who’s relocating,” says Canally, “to buy that person's home in Miami and help them relocate in Dallas, where four or five years ago they were not.”

Here's What People Are Saying About Starbucks' 'Race Together' Campaign

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-17 10:17

Starbucks doesn't shy from controversy, however its attempt to talk about race relations has been met with some blunt opposition— and snark.

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To Eat Authentically Irish This St. Patrick's Day, Go For The Butter

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:47

From 3,000-year-old peat bogs to 19th-century Brazil to modern foodies, the love of Irish butter has spread far. The secret to Ireland's deliciously rich, creamy butter is in its rolling green hills.

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Thailand Cautions Women Against 'Underboob Selfies'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:47

Citing both potential harm to society and a 2007 law, Thailand's Culture Ministry warns women to resist a trend of taking photos that focus on the midriff and the lower portion of their breasts.

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Travel ban on Syria fighters' brother

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:41
A 16-year-old boy whose two elder brothers were killed fighting Assad's forces in Syria has been barred by the High Court from travelling abroad.

Lawyer for 'Bin Laden doctor' killed

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:40
The former lawyer of the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden is shot and killed in Peshawar.

Can Advocaat save ailing Sunderland?

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:38
Dutch journalist Marcel van der Kraan tells the BBC that Dick Advocaat will lay down 'strong foundations' at Sunderland.

Talking About Great Teachers At SXSWedu

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:33

Education thinkers at SXSW gave us the details on the teachers who inspired them.

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VIDEO: Who was Spain's Miguel de Cervantes?

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:32
Forensic scientists believe they have found the bones of Spanish literary giant, Miguel de Cervantes. But who was Cervantes? BBC News explains.

House GOP Budget Sets Stage For Showdown With The President

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:25

House Republicans unveiled a draft budget Tuesday, aimed at balancing spending with revenues over the next decade without raising taxes.

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'No German Grand Prix this season'

BBC - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:24
The boss of German Formula 1 circuit Hockenheim has reportedly said there will be no German Grand Prix this year.

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