When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.


Settlements Underscore Damage Done In Housing Crash

Jan 8, 2013
Originally published on January 8, 2013 6:06 am



Some other news: Some of the biggest banks in the country have agreed to pay more than $18 billion to settle allegations of wrongdoing in their mortgage lending. That's today's "Business Bottom Line."

Bank of America said yesterday it would pay more than $10 billion to the mortgage company Fannie Mae because of bad loans sold during the housing boom. And in a separate settlement, 10 banks agreed to pay more than $8 billion in total, to settle claims that they made errors in foreclosing on people's homes. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: These two settlements aren't really related but together, they underscore how damaging the housing crash was for homeowners, and how pervasive a problem it's been for banks.During the housing boom, a lot of banks wrote risky mortgages that later turned sour. And the mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which purchase home loans, found themselves stuck with a lot of bad debt.

Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, says Fannie and Freddie later sued the banks, saying they had lent money to risky borrowers.

GUY CECALA: There are, literally - you know, tens of billions of dollars of claims outstanding to many lenders. Out front, by far, has been Bank of America.

ZARROLI: Cecala says Bank of America was never a big player in the risky mortgage market. But in 2008, it bought Countrywide Financial - which was. And it became legally responsible for its debts.

Yesterday, the bank said it had agreed to settle the claims filed by Fannie Mae. Cecala says the bank was under pressure to make peace with Fannie Mae.

CECALA: Investors basically hammered Bank of America because it had this huge liability to Fannie Mae. And they saw it on their earnings release every quarter, and it had a negative effect.

ZARROLI: When the mortgage market finally collapsed around 2008, a lot of lenders began foreclosing on homeowners. And it soon became clear that a lot of them were cutting corners in the foreclosure process. That was the genesis of yesterday's second settlement. Bank officials were accused of signing foreclosure documents without adequately reviewing them.

Alys Cohen is with the National Consumer Law Center.

ALYS COHEN: The banks were not holding up their end of the bargain. You're not supposed to be able to take someone's house if you don't have the authority to take their house.

ZARROLI: Cohen says these weren't just paperwork errors. She maintains that some homeowners might have been eligible for loan-modification programs that would have saved their properties, if banks hadn't rushed them into foreclosure. But it was never clear how many homeowners were hurt by the errors, and whether they would have lost their homes anyway. Regulators set up a program to review the documents of people who'd lost their homes. But Guy Cecala says the program wasn't a big success.

CECALA: There were relatively few borrowers that responded to the request to step forward. And the ones that did, the reviewers found very little evidence of actual losses.

ZARROLI: But critics say there were problems with the program. For instance, the people who reviewed the documents weren't well-trained in what to look for. So they say the result underestimates how much people lost as a result of bank error.

Yesterday, U.S. officials said they had let the program expire. They also said 10 banks had agreed to pay more than $8 billion to victims of foreclosure error. Alys Cohen says it's good that some money is going to homeowners.

COHEN: That said, the total amount is woefully inadequate, and so significantly undercompensates homeowners, that it raises real questions about - about the regulators.

ZARROLI: Federal regulators say they were able to get some data about how widespread these bank errors were, and they will release it down the road. In the meantime, they say it's time to provide at least some money to the victims of bank error.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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