FAA to maintain airports
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Friday it would be able to keep in service 149 small airport control towers and avoid worker furloughs after the US Congress reinstated funding lost in the “sequester” cuts. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement that the April 27 action by Congress to reverse the sudden, severe cuts for the aviation regulator would avoid service cuts that threatened to tie up airlines and airports heading into the summer vacation season. The April 27 legislation “will allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to end employee furloughs and keep the 149 low-activity contract towers originally slated for closure in June open for the remainder of fiscal year 2013,” LaHood said.
Workers demand pay raise
Hundreds of fast-food employees in Detroit walked off the job on Friday, temporarily shuttering a handful of outlets as part of a growing US worker movement that is demanding higher wages for flipping burgers and operating fryers. The protests in the city marked an expansion in organized actions by fast-food workers from ubiquitous chains owned by McDonald’s Corp, Burger King Worldwide and KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands Inc. Fast-food workers, who already have taken to the streets in New York, Chicago and St Louis, are seeking to roughly double their hourly pay to US$15 per hour from around minimum wage, which in Michigan is US$7.40 per hour. Organizers said more than 400 people turned out for the Detroit event, the most to date.
Banking restrictions eased
Authorities have dropped controls on money transfers and withdrawals for international clients of four foreign banks with branches or subsidiaries in the bailed-out country. The Finance Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the exemption extends to the nation’s branches of Lebanon’s BLOM Bank, the Lebanese and Gulf Bank, Russia’s OJSC Promsvyazbank and Russian Commercial Bank.
However, limits which include a daily withdrawal cap of 300 euros still apply to the banks’ domestic clients. The nation imposed the limits in March to prevent a bank run after it agreed on a 23 billion euro (US$30 billion) bailout deal with its euro partners and the IMF. The deal’s terms demand that large depositors in the country’s two biggest banks take substantial losses on their savings.
Banks seize 40,000 homes
Banks seized nearly 40,000 homes last year due to unpaid mortgages, official data showed on Friday, as a sharp economic downturn and record unemployment took its toll. A total of 39,167 homes were seized last year, the Bank of Spain said in a bulletin based on a survey of lenders which approve over 85 percent of mortgages in the country. It is the first time the central bank has published figures on the number of homes seized by banks. Over half of the primary dwellings seized last year, or 18,325, were handed over voluntarily while in 14,165 cases lenders had to go to court to gain control of the property. Under the country’s law most people still have to pay off their mortgage debt even after eviction.