Hundreds of thousands of homeowners who took out loans with Countrywide, and were overcharged for their loans when they fell behind on their payments can expect some money back soon. It's taken over a year for the Federal Trade Commission to figure out who will get parts of a $108 million settlement reached last summer with Countrywide. Countrywide will begin mailing checks today. Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, has also agreed to a steep fine of $85 million, for roping borrowers into costlier-than-necessary loans.
Rupert Murdoch and his son James testified before the British Parliament yesterday, as one of their company's papers is mired in an illegal phone hacking scandal. Apropos of this, we decided to take a look at the dynamic of dynasties in the newspaper industry with Emily Bingham. She is a historian and a descendant of the Robert Worth Bingham, who for decades owned numerous media properties in Louisville, Kentucky, including the Louisville Times and The Courier-Journal.
The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, called it correctly on yesterday's show, saying that the Gang of Six — a bipartisan group of senators who have been trying to formulate a deficit-reduction plan for months — would make a comeback. President Obama praised praised the group's proposal yesterday, calling it a "very significant step" toward a budget negotiation.
Demonstrators continue to protest in the streets of Athens today, amid violence and tear gas. Many Greeks are not happy with their government's upcoming vote on austerity measures, which would mean higher taxes and many spending cuts. If Greece's government does not pass the austerity measures, though, they would be at risk of not receiving a €12 billion bail-out, and becoming the first eurozone country to default.
The International Monetary Fund has a new managing director. Her name is Christine Lagarde, and she is the first woman to head the IMF, taking over for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Her reign begins with some obstacles, namely Greece on the brink of defaulting.
The Hotel Interncontinental in Kabul, Afghanistan was attacked by gunmen and suicide bombers yesterday. Gun fire was exchanged between the terrorists and police force for many hours, and ended with NATO helicopters shooting and killing three militants on the hotel's roof. The identity of the terrorists has not been confirmed yet, but many believe the Taliban are responsible.
President Obama emphasized nation building in his speech last week, announcing his plans for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. We have been asking Takeaway listeners: how would you like to see the government spend all of the money once spent on wars, here at home?
Many of you would like to see improvements in energy and a shift away from foreign oil dependence. President Obama suggested requiring all cars and light trucks to run at 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025. Is this feasible?
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made it official yesterday - she is running for president. She will go up against the likes of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Tim Pawlenty, for the Republican nomination. How will her entry change the race?
Illinois' embattled ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty yesterday on 17 counts of corruption, and could face up to 20 years in prison. Blagojevich was caught on tape trying to extort money in exchange for President Obama's vacated Senate seat in late 2008. Blagojevich had maintained his innocence throughout the trial, and was surprised by the guilty verdict. “I, frankly, am stunned," he told reporters.
Tens of thousands of Greeks are gathering in the streets of Athens today, as part of a 48-hour strike to protest an austerity package that includes deep spending cuts and higher taxes, and would need to pass in order for Greece to obtain a bail-out from the European Union. Parliament will vote on the austerity package tomorrow. Polls show eighty percent of Greeks are apposed to the package.
For the second time in history, an infectious disease has been eradicated. In 1979, smallpox was the first disease to be successfully wiped away. Now, a little-known disease called rinderpest is now joining the list. Rinderpest means "cattle plague" in German, and is a relative of the measles virus that infects cattle, deer, and other hoofed animals. The most virulent strains killed 95 percent of the herds they attacked, which was life-threatening for any society dependent on cattle. It has been blamed for speeding the fall of the Roman Empire.
The International Criminal Court decided this morning to issue a warrant for the arrests of Col. Muammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Gadhafi's intelligence chief, on charges of crimes against humanity. It has been 100 days since NATO began air strikes against Libya and Col. Muammar Gadhafi's forces.
Robert Gates will step down as Secretary of Defense this week, with Leon Panetta taking over. Panetta will have a lot on his plate, starting with the start of U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan later this week. Noel King, managing producer for The Takeaway, looks at what obstacles are in store for Panetta as he begins his reign as Defense Secretary.
President Obama will meet with Congressional leaders to try and come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, or face going into default. Charlie Herman, business and economics editor for The Takeaway and WNYC, looks at the economic effects this on-going debate could have if a conclusion is not reached soon.
The federal agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed to act on almost 100 complaints filed from July 2008 to October 2010, pertaining to possible foreclosure abuse and mortgage fraud at the taxpayer-owned mortgage finance agencies. The companies did not refer the complaints to criminal investigators or other law-enforcement authorities, according to a report issued late Tuesday by the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
First lady Michelle Obama continues her trip in South Africa today, after visiting former President Nelson Mandela. She headed to Soweto to give a keynote speech to the Young African Women Leaders Forum today. Tomorrow she will visit the prison cell Mandela lived for decades; and then addresses young people at the University of Cape Town.
With Jon Huntsman announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney is no longer the only Mormon in the running. Both candidates have the potential to become front-runners in the race, even though a recent Gallup poll shows 22 percent of the nation would not vote for a Mormon.
Greece's financial woes continue to teeter on the brink of collapse as they face the possibility of becoming the first Euro-zone country to default. Finance ministers gave the fledgling nation two weeks to shape up its finances or face not receiving anymore bailout money. On top of this, Prime Minister George Papandreou faces a vote of confidence in Parliament today, and the result of that could have major consequences as to which direction the country will be going.
Bothaina Kamel, is a television anchor in Egypt, but she is seriously thinking of changing careers. She has thrown her hat into the political ring, becoming Egypt's first female nominee for president. She joins us to talk about her campaign and her views on a post-Mubarak Egypt. Also joining us is Nancy Yousef, Egyptian-American and professor of English literature at the City University of New York-Baruch.
Saxophone legend Clarence "Big Man" Clemons passed away over the weekend, following complications of a stroke he suffered last week. For almost 40 years, Clemons was the saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band. With his passing, not only did we lose a legend, but also one of the last sax players in pop music. How many songs in recent memory have you heard on top 40 radio featuring a saxophone? David Hinckley, from the New York Daily News, joins us to talk about Clemons's legacy and the role of the sax (or lack thereof) in current pop music.
All the jawing and insult throwing has ceased for the time being as negotiations heat up on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling. Vice President Joe Biden said there are four meetings scheduled, and "now we're getting down to the really hard stuff." Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent, says Congress would love to get an agreement by the 4th of July—way ahead of the deadline in August.
As Washington tries to get the debt ceiling squared away, the Federal Reserve will meet on Wednesday to discuss interest rates. Housing numbers have been consistently awful for some time now, with no sense of relief in sight. Charlie Herman, economics editor for The Takeaway and WNYC, looks at what we can expect from Wednesday's meeting, and whether or not it's likely that the Fed will decide to leave interest rates close to zero.