National / International News

Obama Hosts Business Leaders, Hopes They Change How They Hire

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:00

President Obama is hosting business leaders at the White House in order to discuss possible solutions to long-term unemployment. The president says that he hopes for companies to revise their hiring practices, which often appear to be stacked against those who have been unemployed for six months or more.

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Celebration Is In The Air. Or Is That Just Snow?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:00

Patty Chang Anker recommends a cookbook that eases the anxieties of anyone trying to cook Chinese-American meals, and Lev Grossman reminds us that there is a Seussian storm comparable to the one that shut down Atlanta this week.

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'Still Turning Heads' At Lunar New Year, An All-Female Lion Dance Troupe

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:00

A group of Asian-American women in Boston are redefining a Lunar New Year tradition every year by performing in an all-female lion and dragon dance troupe. The Chinese martial art is traditionally performed by men, often during new year's parades. The Lunar New Year starts Friday.

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Evacuation plan for coastal homes

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:43
More than 100 homes could be evacuated as storm force winds, huge waves and spring tides head towards England's south-west coast.

Mayor offers RMT Tube strike talks

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:31
London Mayor Boris Johnson offers to enter talks with the RMT union if it calls off the planned Tube strikes.

England can stay cool and beat Les Bleus

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:27
England have picked an inexperienced backline to take on France but Jeremy Guscott thinks they've got what it takes to win in Paris

When will the Superb owl start?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:20

This final note which comes to us courtesy of the letters SEO. As in search engine optimization. So here you go: What time is the Super Bowl? (It starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, by the way.) Turns out most people, don't know how to spell Superbowl.  Helpful hint: It's actually two words, both capitalized. A couple years back the Huffington Post published a story titled, "What time does the superbowl start?," just to game the web traffic. And, of course, it blew up. The rest of the Internet keeps trying to get a piece of that Super Bowl traffic. This year's version... the search words of choice … Superb owls.

U.S. Issues Keystone XL Pipeline Environmental Review

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:20

The report concludes that the production of Canada's tar-sand crude, which causes more greenhouse gases than other forms, won't be affected if the pipeline moves forward.

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School's Out For Online Students In 'State Sponsors Of Terrorism'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:10

Students in Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria — countries under U.S. trade and economic sanctions — were blocked from accessing material on Coursera this week. The company, one of the largest providers of massive open online courses, says it's working with the U.S. government on a resolution.

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School's Out For Online Students In 'State Sponsors Of Terrorism'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:10

Students in Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria — countries under U.S. trade and economic sanctions — were blocked from accessing material on Coursera this week. The company, one of the largest providers of massive open online courses, says it's working with the U.S. government on a resolution.

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Bloomberg named UN climate envoy

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:01
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appoints ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to the role of UN special envoy for cities and climate change.

Swede Kallstrom joins Arsenal on loan

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 12:01
Arsenal sign Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom on loan until the end of the season from Russian club Spartak Moscow.

S Sudan aid workers 'flee violence'

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:59
The medical charity MSF says 240 of its staff have been forced to flee into the bush in South Sudan to try to escape fighting.

It's True: Snowiest Places Are Least Likely To Close Schools

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:51

Crunching some data, a Reddit user has come up with a map that sure seems to confirm what many have been saying: It doesn't doesn't take much, if any, snow to close schools in much of the South. But up North? A foot or more is going to have to fall before the kids get to stay home.

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Drizzle and a gastropub for Hollande

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:48
Drizzle and a gastropub as PM greets Hollande

UK launch for £67bn EU research fund

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:16
The next round of the EU research budget, Horizon 2020, will be worth nearly £67bn (80bn euros) over the next seven years.

VIDEO: 'Likely' Sienna left Craig message

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:15
Actress Sienna Miller has told the phone hacking trial she could have left a message saying "I love you" on the voicemail of the James Bond star Daniel Craig.

Where will young people live when they're old and gray?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:06

Home ownership is a venerated ideal of middle class life in America, and most Americans aspire to own a home. But homeownership rates have been declining steadily since the peak of the housing boom in 2004.

The Census Bureau reports that the homeownership rate in Q4 2013 stood at 65.2 percent -- the lowest level since 1995. Homeownership hit a peak of 69.2 percent in mid-2004, as subprime mortgages and other exotic investment products were pushed out into the real estate market, and home prices were skyrocketing in many hot markets like Florida, Nevada and the Southwest.

Economists have predicted—and even welcomed—some decline in homeownership. The level achieved in the mid-2000s wasn't considered sustainable, and was driven by risky mortgages given to people who couldn’t pass even minimal underwriting standards, let alone the strict underwriting standards prevalent today.

But economists also worry that if the decline in the homeownership rate accelerates, it could be a warning sign for the economy and for the well-being of middle class families.

In many cities these days, there’s a lot of construction going on. And a lot of that is multi-family rental buildings, as opposed to single-family homes destined for sale to individuals and families.

Economist Patrick Newport at IHS Global Insight predicts the decline in homeownership will continue, and the rate will fall by at least another 1 percent or more in coming years. He says the trend is not surprising.

"It’s much more difficult to qualify for credit," says Newport. "And you have a number of people who have lost their homes to foreclosure. Those people are now becoming renters."

Who’s being shut out of homeownership? First, says Newport, anyone with low—or unreliable—income. That’s the type of borrower who could get a sub-prime mortgage back in the bubble years, and was then foreclosed in the recession or afterward.

Young people are also not entering homeownership at the same pace as before. Many 20- and 30-somethings have delayed forming households, buying a first home, marrying, or forming domestic partnerships—because jobs are scarce and incomes are stagnant.

The problem, says real estate expert Nicolas Retsinas at Harvard Business School, is that many working-class families—with steady but moderate income—are out of luck, too.

"They’re the ones who are not able to have anything left from their paychecks so they can accumulate savings to make a down payment," says Retsinas. "They’re the ones who have a difficult time paying back a mortgage, even with these very low interest rates."

Retsinas says, for many families, owning a home turned out to be a risky, unprofitable proposition in the late-2000s. "But for 50 years prior to that, it was a primary source of wealth creation," he says. "And I think that as families look at the option now, they’re nervous that if they’re not able to buy this home, get through the underwriting criteria, they will miss out on what might be rising prices, and thus rising equity."

Retsinas says that if home values rise steadily again, but middle-class families can’t buy into that, they’ll lose a key tool for building wealth and security in the future.

Chris Mayer studies housing at Columbia Business School. He sees an aging homeowner population. It’s a population that’s been able to build wealth over decades through home-price appreciation (the Great Recession notwithstanding), tax-savings (from the mortgage-interest deduction), and investment of sweat equity in their properties.

"If you look at people who are 65 years old, 86 percent of them are homeowners," says Mayer. "If what we’ve done is just push back the age at which people become homeowners, I don’t find that particularly alarming. Young people are suffering from student debt and other issues. But if we’re really going to move to a renter society, we’re going to have a lot of problems."

Starting with: Where will today’s young people live? And what will they live on -- if not accumulated home equity—when they’re old and gray?

Ohio man buried atop prized Harley

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:03
An avid motorcycle rider in the US state of Ohio is buried with his Harley-Davidson in a transparent casket.

Amazon tribesmen arrested for murder

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 10:54
Brazilian federal police in the Amazon region arrest five members of the Tenharim tribe accused of killing three contractors who have been missing since mid-December.

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