National / International News

Late springs warms up housing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-25 02:00

Spring and summer are often a hopeful time for anyone involved in the housing economy. Houses show well; potential buyers go looking; homebuilders are building.

Bad winter weather in early 2015 made for a poor start to the year for housing. But figures for April suggest the housing economy might finally be on the rebound. “Improvement in housing really has been a missing piece to this recovery,” says Michael Baele, managing director of U.S. Bank’s wealth management division. “And we are encouraged to see some better numbers.”

Here are some key recent housing indicators:

• Housing starts rose 20 percent in April. (U.S. Census)
• Permits were up 10 percent in April. (U.S. Census)
• New home sales have increased from 434,000 units (annualized) in Q3 2014, to 513,000 units in Q1 2015. (U.S. Census)
• Existing home sales fell 3.3 percent in April. (National Association of Realtors)
• The one-month supply of homes rose by 0.7 to 5.3 months in April. (National Association of Realtors)
• The median price of a single-family home rise 10 percent from April 2014 to April 2015. (National Association of Realtors)
• Construction payrolls were up by 45,000 in April. Year-over-year, construction employment has increased by 280,000. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The oil economy, as measured in hot dogs and U-Hauls

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-25 01:57

You can learn a lot about the economy in Williston, North Dakota, based on Mitch Petrasek’s recent hot dog consumption. 

When I met him in March outside the U-Haul where he was working in Williston, the capital of the state’s oil patch, he had eight dogs lined up on a grill.

“I'll eat two now, two for dinner and two for breakfast,” he says. The remaining two, he says, would be offered to his boss.

Petrasek’s diet includes a few other things, like power bars and granola bars — the kind of stuff that didn't need to be warmed up or refrigerated.

“That's the worst thing off living in a car is the eating situation," he explains.

Petrasek was living out of his car even though he was making nearly $18 an hour at U-Haul. That’s not entirely surprising for a place like Williston. The oil boom pushed wages sky high. Ditto for rents.

“I could pay $1,000 to stay in a crappy apartment with someone or I could save a $1,000 in my bank account,” Petrasek says.

But the economic forces pushing him to sleep in what he called his “house-car” were shifting right under his nose. Petrasek's boss at the Williston U-Haul, Brian Way, says it was getting hard to maintain a decent inventory of moving trucks. A slowdown in the oil patch meant people were renting trucks to leave town.

“The issue now that I see it is that we just don't have many people moving in,” says Way. “We used to have two or three a day, where now we have two or three a week.”

That was at the end of March. Since then, the picture hasn't brightened much for the oil industry. The number of drilling rigs in North Dakota has dropped further to about 80 today.

When I called the U-Haul for an update, I learned neither Petrasek nor Way worked there anymore. Both had transferred to another facility in Fargo, North Dakota, on the other side of the state. Petrasek just moved a couple weeks ago. He says the situation in Williston hadn’t changed much since we last spoke.

“Oh yeah, there [are] still way more people going out than coming in,” he says.

He says he’s making a lower hourly wage now in Fargo, but he can afford housing. He and Brian Way are now roommates, and Petrasek says he's expanded his diet far beyond hot dogs.

The oil economy, as measured in hotdogs and U-Hauls

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-25 01:57

You can learn a lot about the economy in Williston, N.D., based on Mitch Petrasek’s recent hotdog consumption. 

When I met him in March outside the U-Haul where he was working in Williston, the capital of the state’s oil patch, he had eight dogs lined up on a grill.

“I'll eat two now, two for dinner and two for breakfast,” he says. The remaining two, he says, would be offered to his boss.

Petrasek’s diet did include a few other things, like power bars and granola bars — the kind of stuff that didn't need to be warmed up or refrigerated.

“That's the worst thing off living in a car is the eating situation," he explains.

Petrasek was living out of his car even though he was making nearly $18 an hour at U-Haul. That’s not entirely surprising for a place like Williston. The oil boom pushed wages sky high. Ditto for rents.

“I could pay $1,000 to stay in a crappy apartment with someone or I could save a $1,000 in my bank account,” Petrasek says.

But the economic forces pushing him to sleep in what he called his “house-car” were shifting right under his nose. Petrasek's boss at the Williston U-Haul, Brian Way, says it was getting hard to maintain a decent inventory of moving trucks. A slowdown in the oil patch meant people were renting trucks to leave town.

“The issue now that I see it is that we just don't have many people moving in,” says Way. “We used to have two or three a day, where now we have two or three a week.”

That was at the end of March. Since then, the picture hasn't brightened much for the oil industry. The number of drilling rigs in North Dakota has dropped further, to about 80 today.

When I called the U-Haul for an update, I learned neither Petrasek nor Way worked there anymore. Both had gotten transferred to another facility in Fargo, N.D., on the other side of the state. Petrasek just moved a couple weeks ago. He says the situation in Williston hadn’t changed much since we last spoke.

“Oh yeah there's still way more people going out than coming in,” he says.

He says he’s making a lower hourly wage now in Fargo. But he can afford housing. He and Brian Way are now roommates. And Petrasek says he's expanded his diet far beyond hot dogs.

Carmichael rejects calls to resign

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 01:47
Former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael rejects calls for him to resign over a leaked memo and says he wants to "get on with" being an MP.

Australia great Smith joins Wasps

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 01:11
Wasps sign 111-cap Australia flanker George Smith, who turns 35 in July, from French club Lyon for next season.

NI first minister taken to hospital

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 01:02
Northern Ireland's first minister Peter Robinson is ill and has been admitted to hospital, the DUP has confirmed.

Man charged over pub shooting

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 01:01
A man is charged with attempted murder following a shooting at a pub in Bristol.

Soldier opens fire at Tunis base

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 00:57
A Tunisian soldier is shot dead after opening fire on other troops at a military base in Tunis, the country's defence ministry says.

Nigeria bank to close over fuel

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 00:54
One of Nigeria's largest banks is closing branches because of the fuel scarcity as the shortage threatens the economy ahead of the presidential inauguration.

Two killed in Carmarthenshire crash

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 00:54
Two people die in a four-vehicle crash near Peniel in Carmarthenshire, say Dyfed-Powys Police.

Solar Impulse faces 'moment of truth'

BBC - Mon, 2015-05-25 00:44
In what will be its greatest challenge yet, the zero-fuel aeroplane Solar Impulse will try to fly non-stop from China to Hawaii - a journey of more than 8,000km across the Pacific Ocean.

An Island Wonders: Why Are The Sharks Attacking So Often?

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-25 00:29

The Indian Ocean island of Reunion has had 16 shark attacks, seven of them fatal since 2011. It's a sharp rise from previous years and Australia is the only country with more deaths during this span.

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Trying To Organize A Marathon, An Arab-Israeli Woman Runs Into Opposition

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:59

Conservatives in Tira pushed back hard at the idea of women and men running together in a public race. Someone went so far as to shoot at race organizer Haneen Radi's car. For now, the run is off.

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VIDEO: Who will win £120m Wembley final?

BBC - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:59
Dan Walker is joined by Phil Neville and Mark Lawrenson as they look ahead to the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Sports venue at ex-Burberry site

BBC - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:56
A multi-purpose sports venue opens on the site of a former Burberry clothes factory in Rhondda Cynon Taff.

Limited powers 'harming road safety'

BBC - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:45
Limited devolution may be harming road safety progress in Wales, the motoring charity RAC Foundation claims.

China cuts taxes on range of imports

BBC - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:45
China will cut import taxes on consumer goods by an average of more than 50%, in a bid to kick-start its economy.

VIDEO: Exploring seven decades of kids' TV

BBC - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:43
A new exhibition in Coventry has been opened to explore children's television produced in the UK over the last 70 years.

It's Not Rude: These Portraits Of Wounded Vets Are Meant To Be Stared At

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:43

Photographer David Jay says, "I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we're not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them."

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On Memorial Day, Learning The Story Behind The Markers

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-24 23:39

In a Boston neighborhood, WBUR's Steve Brown seeks out the story of a Marine honored by one of the many markers throughout the city that commemorates sacrifice in war.

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