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After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to arbitration at the Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters, and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she made disparaging comments about him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb" comments about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":

Donald Trump wrapped up his public tryout of potential vice presidential candidates in Indiana Tuesday night with Gov. Mike Pence giving the final audition.

The Indiana governor's stock as Trump's possible running mate is believed to be on the rise, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also atop the list. Sources tell NPR the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is close to making a decision, which he's widely expected to announce by Friday.

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The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

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Donald Trump picked a military town, Virginia Beach, Va., to give a speech Tuesday on how he would go about reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs if elected.

He blamed the Obama administration for a string of scandals at the VA during the past two years, and claimed that his rival, Hillary Clinton, has downplayed the problems and won't fix them.

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The season for blueberries used to be short. You'd find fresh berries in the store just during a couple of months in the middle of summer.

Now, though, it's always blueberry season somewhere. Blueberry production is booming. The berries are grown in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan and the Pacific Northwest — not to mention the southern hemisphere.

But in any one location, the season is still short. And this means that workers follow the blueberry harvest, never staying in one place for long.


After Banks' Mistakes, Homeowners Pick Up Pieces

Nov 14, 2011

Federal regulators have announced the start of a nationwide review of foreclosures by the nation's largest banks. The goal is to reach homeowners who've been treated unfairly or who lost their house when they shouldn't have.

Banks have started mailing out letters to upwards of 4 million homeowners. The regulators have ordered the banks to find people who have suffered financial harm due to the banks' mistakes, and to offer "remediation."

Anyone in any stage of foreclosure during 2009 and 2010 is eligible for the review, but there's some skepticism about how rigorous all this will be. The effort is being overseen by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, but critics don't like the fact that the regulators are allowing the banks themselves to hire outside companies to conduct these reviews.

They say that structure puts the banks too much in control of their own policing, but an OCC spokesman says the reviews will be independent and monitored by the regulators.

Millions Of Foreclosures, Plenty Of Mistakes

Many homeowners feel they've been harmed because they didn't get what's called a loan modification.

Gary Klein, an attorney who represents homeowners, says many should have qualified for lower interest rates through President Obama's foreclosure prevention program known as HAMP, or Home Affordable Modification Program.

"There are tens of thousands of people across the country who — because the banks were doing such a bad job of implementing the program — didn't get a modification and who are therefore out of their homes," Klein says. "It's really quite shocking."

State regulators too have tracked these kinds of mistakes made by the banks or mortgage servicers, and attorneys general from around the country are negotiating a settlement with the banks aimed at improving their foreclosure prevention efforts.

One Mistake Can Create A Lot Of Damage

Christina King, a homeowner in Neenah, Wis., appears to have been the perfect candidate for President Obama's HAMP program. But Bank of America rejected her for a loan modification.

The bank now acknowledges she should have been approved. The Kings had saved up a $20,000 down payment when they bought the house but they ended up stuck in an expensive 10 percent interest rate home loan from Countrywide.

"This is not a big, huge house. This is a $130,000 house," King says.

It's a small modest home, she says, so it's not like the family bought something they couldn't afford. Rather, her husband had his hours cut back at work in the architecture and engineering field, and after that, the high interest rate loan got just too hard to keep paying.

HAMP could have allowed the Kings to lower that mortgage interest down to around 4 percent, which would have dramatically reduced her required monthly payment and made the loan affordable. But when the family tried to get a loan modification, King says, Bank of America repeatedly lost documents, and then claimed she didn't make a payment that she did make.

King says she tried to prove that she made the payment; she had the paperwork to prove it. She says she tried to talk to bank officials, and they said there's nothing they could do.

"We showed them that I had photocopies of the cleared checks, [but] no, they refused," she says.

The Kings have eight children, which they said made this whole experience that much harder. Eventually King was told she was being evicted. Whether the bank took ownership is unclear, but King says the bank put a big foreclosure sign on the front door and changed the locks.

Today, King, her husband and their eight children are living in a local church rectory. The church is letting them stay there while they look for a place to rent.

The Bank Admits Its Mistake

This September, Bank of America sent the Kings a pretty surprising letter — more than a year after they had left their house. Part of the letter reads:

"We told you that your loan was not eligible for this program because you missed a trial period plan payment. However this was incorrect. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you."

What the bank is doing, homeowner attorney Klein explains, "is they're acknowledging they made a very big mistake."

The letter goes on to offer the Kings a loan modification. But the problem now is that the their house has stood vacant for a year through a Wisconsin winter, and it's a wreck.

"There's over six feet of water in the basement, the furnace is destroyed, the sewer system backed up; there's sewage in the upstairs bathroom," King says. On top of all that, she says, the floorboards in the living room are buckling up and the place is now infested with mice.

Bank Pledges To Fix The House

After NPR contacted Bank of America about this case, the bank pledged to help the Kings. Dan Frahm, a senior vice president, told NPR the bank would repair the house.

"We are committed to working with them to ensure that their home is returned to the quality that they left it in," Frahm says. "We will absolutely invest to make the repairs necessary in the home. And in terms of what happens while those repairs are underway, we'll work with the King family to determine what's in their best interest but certainly we'll support them in their need for some temporary housing."

So in this case, it appears the Kings will get their house back.

But their case was not part of the new review process that's just getting underway, and there are bound to be tens or even hundreds of thousands of people who feel they've been harmed by similar mistakes.

Each case will probably require some legwork to dig into and sort out, and that will be a major undertaking. Some housing experts are skeptical that that many people will get a response from the banks like the Kings did.

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