National / International News

VIDEO: Theresa May at Tunisia attack resort

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 04:53
Home Secretary Theresa May has visited the scene of the attack in which at least 30 Britons were killed.

Resistance to US gay marriage ruling

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 04:48
Top lawyer in Texas vows to support state workers who refuse to marry gay couples on religious grounds after US Supreme Court legalised gay marriage.

£50,000 bet on Murray at Wimbledon

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 04:38
A punter in Aberdeen places a bet of £50,000 on Andy Murray to win Wimbledon.

Boy admits stabbing supply teacher

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 04:34
A fourteen-year-old boy admits stabbing a supply teacher in a school classroom in Bradford.

Will Congress scupper US nuclear deal with Iran?

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 04:26
As crunch time nears for an Iran nuclear deal, Washington heavyweights are piling on the pressure which could scupper an accord, writes the BBC's state department correspondent Barbara Plett Usher.

Eurosport wins Olympic TV rights

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 04:24
The European television rights for the Olympic Games are awarded to Eurosport and its parent channel in a $1.45 billion deal.

Pope 'to chew coca leaves in Bolivia'

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:50
A Bolivian minister says that the Pope has requested to chew coca leaves, which are considered sacred by many in Bolivia, on his forthcoming trip there.

Captured Convict David Sweat In Critical Condition

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:40

Sweat and his accomplice, Richard Matt, both convicted murderers, escaped June 6 from a prison in New York. Matt was shot and killed Friday. Sweat was captured Sunday.

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South London road hit by flooding

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:33
A burst water main floods properties and closes a road in south London.

EU chief feels 'betrayed' by Greece

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:32
The European Commission chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, attacks the Greek government, saying he feels "betrayed" by "egotism" and "populism" in the failed debt talks.

University standards checks overhaul

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:28
The way universities are inspected will put more emphasis on students, in a proposed shake-up of monitoring quality.

Legal battle over shot-down drone

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:28
A US court has found in favour of a drone owner who sued a man who shot his hexacopter out of the sky.

Tunisia attack: What can UK police do?

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:16
The investigation into the Tunisia beach attack has become one of the largest counter-terrorism operations the UK has seen in a decade. What will the police be doing?

MPs to debate devolution proposals

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:11
The SNP challenges other opposition parties to back its proposals to increase the powers contained in the Scotland Bill ahead of a debate in the Commons.

Global Markets Dive As Greek Exit From Eurozone Looms

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:05

There are fears a Greek exit from the bloc that uses the euro could have a broad impact on the world's financial system. Greek banks are closed today after the government imposed capital controls.

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Reveller dies from inferno injuries

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 03:01
A woman who was badly injured after a fire tore through the crowds at a Taiwan amusement park, hurting about 500 people, has died, officials say.

Museum seeks BBC Micro repairers

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 02:49
A public appeal for people who can repair BBC Micro computers has been launched by a museum.

Council blocks fracking application

BBC - Mon, 2015-06-29 02:36
Lancashire County Council refuses planning application for fracking at a site in Little Plumpton

Seven Solutions That Would Improve Graduation Rates

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 02:28

We got lots of feedback on our grad rates project. Here are some of the top suggestions.

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Puerto Rico faces debt deadline

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-29 02:24

Puerto Rico is staring down a deadline on July 1st when some of its $72.3 billion in public debt will come due. There’s the $630 million payment on general obligation bonds, and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority owes money on its $9 billion debt.  

“They’re reaching the Rubicon now and have to decide how to proceed, debts are coming due, they don’t have the money in the bank to pay them,” says Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue. In an interview with the New York Times, Puerto Rico's Governor Alejandro García Padilla openly admitted the island is not able to pay its debt. 

Moody’s has rated Puerto Rico’s debt at CAA2, one of the lowest ratings the agency can give — On a 21 level scale, CAA2 is third from the bottom and considered ‘junk’ status.

“It indicates a high risk of default and significant expected losses for bond holders,” says Ted Hampton, Vice President and senior credit officer at Moody’s Investor Service.

Moody’s downgraded Puerto Rico’s debt a month ago, driven by disclosures the commonwealth had made about its declining cash reserves and the potential that if it couldn’t sell more debt it would run out of cash this summer. 

“The house of representatives passed a measure that would suspend the practice of setting aside the money they need to pay future bond service,” says Hampton. "That’s an indicator of severe distress and lack of liquidity, even if that law is not enacted.”

Charles Blitzer, principal at Blitzer Consulting and a former IMF official, sees some potential for a turnaround. “I’ve seen many distressed sovereigns suffering from fiscal crises in my career and I would say this is the most stress for least fundamental reasons,” he says. “This can be solved without too much effort.”

The government raised the sales tax in May from 7 percent to 11.5 percent, though that won’t help with the July 1st deadline as revenues won’t come in until late in July. 

While most investors have abandoned the territory, Puerto Rico is negotiating right now with hedge funds for loans to keep its budget afloat.

Some proposals involve raising electricity bills, and one lawmaker has warned of massive furloughs of government workers. This has left Puerto Ricans swimming in uncertainty.

Christina Sumaza is an entrepreneur who moved back to the territory to pursue business interests and fight the exodus of talent from the island. “I try to look at the positive side of things and be solutions oriented, but a lot of people are very very frustrated and scared even. Can the government sustain itself economically for the next few months, you know what’s going to happen?”

Puerto Rico’s troubles have several origins. In 2006 a U.S. tax break  that incentivized manufacturers to produce in the territory expired. “At one time about half of all pharmaceuticals used in the U.S. were manufactured in Puerto Rico,” says Peter Hakem. “When Washington decided to phase out that tax free situation, by the end of it the companies were leaving Puerto Rico and unemployment jumped very high very quickly.”

Hakem says government leaders in Puerto Rico have not been held accountable for economic management because so much economic power and support derives from Washington.

The territory borrowed to finance current expenditures, and combined with the recession found itself having difficulty repaying those debts.