National / International News
The two sides attended the indirect, Egypt-mediated talks Monday in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, but The Associated Press quoted a senior Israeli official saying the talks had not gone well.
Williams was a dervish of comedy — tossing off one-liners, biting asides and sidesplitting routines in a blizzard of accents, attitudes and goodhearted energy. He died Monday at 63.
Iraq's Nouri al-Maliki is refusing to give up his position as prime minister, as the U.S. congratulates Shiite politician Haider al-Abadi.
This past weekend, the word spread in the middle of the night in Sierra Leone: the way to prevent Ebola is to pray over hot salted water, then bathe in it.
First, a primer on payday loans from John Oliver (h/t @qz). Those short on time might want to skip to the last few minutes, for a cameo by Sarah Silverman.
Payday lenders, which charge notoriously high interest rates, are outlawed in some states, including New York. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has charged that a group of companies broke that law by making high-interest payday loans over the Internet, according to the New York Times.
According to the indictment, posted by the Times, a Tennessee man created a dozen companies that formed what the DA’s office calls a “payday syndicate.” Each company had a specific function. A shell company, officially incorporated in the West Indies, was structured so the company — as the indictment alleges — “owned no assets, had no officers or employees, possessed no bank accounts, and occupied no office space.”
A lawyer, also charged, allegedly told the defendants, essentially: Don’t worry about it. You’re officially based in the West Indies, and the loans happen in cyberspace. How could you be breaking New York laws? The indictment calls this advice "false."
The DA’s office says the companies loaned out $50 million to New Yorkers just in 2012 and collected $15 million in interest, breaking New York’s interest cap of 25 percent a year. The indictment lists one instance where the companies charged an effective rate of 1290 percent on a loan.
The companies may have violated laws in other states as well. The indictment says they loaned out $500 million in 2012 nationwide. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, 15 states have what Pew calls “restrictive” payday lending laws, and according to the National Council of State Legislatures, a few outlaw them altogether. However, Pew researchers also interviewed more than 33,000 people, and found that even in states where payday loans aren’t allowed, like Arizona, people still used them.
First up, more on the New York Times report that Manhattan's District Attorney's office has charged that a group of companies broke New York law by making high-interest payday loans over the Internet. Plus, last month, a water main broke on the campus of UCLA and flooded the Los Angeles campus. Since then, city officials say they're working overtime to fix the city's aging infrastructure. But as LA, and many other cities have discovered, the costs are daunting. And two decades after the collapse of the USSR, Armenia is forging closer links with its former Soviet parent Russia to boost its economic fortunes. It's also calling on Armenians who live abroad to publish positive stories about the nation, hoping to promote tourism and foreign investment.
Following the expensive water-main break that flooded UCLA's campus, Los Angeles officials say they're trying to aggressively fix the city’s aging infrastructure.
The costs are daunting. It’s going to take the city of Los Angeles billions of dollars to fix.
“They estimate some over 20 millions of gallons of water were lost and of course it wound up on that new floor at the Pauley Pavilion Basketball Arena,” says Greg DiLoreto, former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “We have some 240,000 water main breaks a year in this country. And the age of our water infrastructure continues to get older and older and older.”
DiLoreto says the country needs something like $84 billion dollars in water infrastructure investments between now and 2020.
Carolyn Berndt, program director at the National League of Cities, says local governments haven’t had the access to the kind of capital they need to make these upgrades.
“The traditional method has been through the state revolving loan funds," Berndt says. "Those numbers have been declining in recent years.”
Berndt says if cities are going fix their leaky pipes, they’ll need more financing than just a drop in the bucket.