Here's the latest news for Thursday, Feb. 16th:
Top bargainers announce payroll tax cut deal:
WASHINGTON — Relieved congressional bargainers say they've reached agreement on compromise legislation extending payroll tax cuts and benefits for the long-term unemployed through 2012, edging a white-hot political battle a major step closer to finally being resolved.
Rep. David Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the two top negotiators, strode from a conference room minutes after midnight Thursday to say that only technical issues and the drafting of legislative language remained. The bill would assure a continued tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for several million others, delivering top election-year priorities for President Barack Obama.
"It's a very good deal for the country," said Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.
Report: Most Honduras fire inmates awaited trial:
(COMAYAGUA, Honduras) — The prisoners whose scorched bodies were carried out piece by piece Thursday morning from a charred Honduran prison had been locked inside an overcrowded penitentiary where most inmates had never been charged, let alone convicted, according to an internal Honduran government report obtained by The Associated Press.
More than half of the 856 inmates of the Comayagua farm prison north of the Central American country's capital were either awaiting trial or being held as suspected gang members, according to a report sent by the Honduran government this month to the United Nations.
Foreclosure activity edges higher in January:
Banks took back more U.S. homes in January than in the previous month, the latest sign that foreclosures are accelerating after slowing sharply last year while lenders sorted out foreclosure-abuse claims.
Foreclosures rose 8 percent nationally last month from December, but were down 15 percent from a year earlier, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
Despite the annual decrease at the national level, some states posted sharp increases compared to January 2011. In New Hampshire, foreclosures jumped 62 percent. In Massachusetts, 75 percent.
That trend is expected to strengthen this year in light of last week's $25 billion settlement between the nation's biggest mortgage lenders and 49 state attorneys general over the industry's handling of foreclosures.