This spring lox flatbread is made with everything bagel cream cheese

Welcome to Best Bites, a twice-weekly video series that aims to satisfy your never-ending craving for food content through quick, beautiful videos for the at-home foodie. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for More »

Mortgage Rates Still Moving Lower After Last Week’s Stellar Drop

Mortgage rates continued deeper into long-term lows today as the underlying bond market experiences its most impressive rally of the year.  In a rally, bond prices are moving higher and rates are moving More »

Is Conor McGregor actually retiring? Dana White says if he were him, ‘I would retire, too’

During an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Monday, former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor said he was negotiating for a July fight. That would be big news, because More »

Ann Coulter slams Trump despite Mueller report summary

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter on Sunday continued to slam President Trump despite the Mueller report summary indicating neither the president nor his campaign worked with Russia in its efforts to swing the More »

MBS RECAP: March Continues Delivering on "Big Move" Promise

There were no significant economic reports today and no obvious market-moving news headlines.  Nevertheless, bonds went on yet another snowball rally run to new long-term lows.   Today’s version was even more interesting More »

This spring lox flatbread is made with everything bagel cream cheese

Welcome to Best Bites, a twice-weekly video series that aims to satisfy your never-ending craving for food content through quick, beautiful videos for the at-home foodie. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new episodes!

Is it a bagel? Is it a pizza? No, it’s even better! This crunchy flatbread is packed with luscious lox, creamy avocado and crunchy cucumbers and it’s taking the brunch game to another level.


  • 8 ounces cured salmon can, substitute smoked salmon
  • 2 pieces naan bread, flat bread or 1 pre-baked large pizza crust

Optional toppings:

  • 1 avocado sliced or diced
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • cherry Tomatoes
  • microgreens
  • English Cucumber thinly sliced
  • radishes thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of Fresh Herbs Dill, Chives, Parsley
  • capers drained
  • lemon Zest

For everything bagel cream cheese:

  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese at room temperature
  • Everything bagel seasoning, or:
    • 1 tsp dried minced onion
    • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
    • 1 tsp toasted sesame Seeds
    • 1 tsp caraway seeds
    • 1 tsp dried chopped chives
    • 1 tsp poppy seeds
    • ½ tsp sea Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray for easy clean up.
  2. While the oven is preheating, make the everything bagel flavored cream cheese: In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese and all the seasonings. If a looser cream cheese consistency is desired, stir in milk or cream, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Bake the Naan: Place the pieces of naan on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the naan is golden brown and toasted.
  4. To Assemble: Remove naan from the oven and spread heaping ¼ cup (or more to taste) of the flavored cream cheese on top. Scatter the salmon on top of the cream cheese and top with desired garnishes.
  5. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

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Report: Browns asking NFL to allow Kareem Hunt to stay with team during suspension

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt is suspended for the first eight games this season after he was seen assualting a woman in a Cleveland hotel hallway in 2018, meaning he has to stay away from all team activities from the official start of the season until that suspension is lifted.

The Browns, though, are working with the NFL to get around that, hoping to allow their newly-signed running back to remain with the organization while he serves that suspension, according to Mary Kay Cabot of

The goal, per the report, is to allow Hunt to continue to work out at the team facilities and attend team meetings during the suspension — both of which would be extremely beneficial for a running back entering a completely new organization.

Video surfaced in November of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in 2018, and was investigated for punching a man at an Ohio resort. Hunt was quickly released from the Kansas City Chiefs, and suspended by the league for the first eight games of the 2019 season. The Browns then signed Hunt to a one-year deal in February.

Part of Hunt’s treatment protocol takes place at the Browns’ facility, too, something general manager John Dorsey said he hopes to continue even when the suspension kicks in on August 31.

Either way the ruling comes down, Dorsey said, they’ll be prepared.

“There will be a plan in place,’’ Dorsey said Monday, via “The NFL will set certain rules, and once we understand those rules and restrictions, that’s something we’ll work through. But we’ve already laid the plan moving from here all the way to up to September, then we’ll have to wait and see what the league says. Then we’ll act accordingly.’’

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Fewer GSE foreclosure impediment actions in a fourth quarter

Home influence actions for loans owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac declined in a fourth entertain and that trend is approaching to continue given a clever economy.

In a fourth quarter, there were 39,281 home influence actions attributed to a government-sponsored enterprises, down from 61,034 in a third quarter, according to a Federal Housing Finance Agency.

“Defaults have been comparatively good underneath control,” pronounced Gagan Sharma, boss and CEO of BSI Financial Services, a debt servicer formed in Irving, Texas. “On a MSR book that we own, defaults are reduce than expected. That might be a duty of a economy doing good and so consumers only have a ability to stay stream on their mortgage.”

But no matter if a economy is good or bad, there will always be a commission of debt late payments since consumers run into issues like injury, illness or pursuit loss.

This happens either a economy is good or bad, “so we as servicers always need to be prepared for that,” Sharma said.

The short-term trend for defaults is looking good, that means fewer modifications would be needed.

Now that a holiday deteriorate is over and income taxation refunds are being sent out, consumers have some-more supports in their pockets in a initial entertain to compensate their mortgages. “This time of a year, consumers are removing their taxation refunds and have some some-more liquidity. On a margins that helps,” Sharma said.

Some media reports state consumers were unhappy with a distance of their reinstate following a thoroughfare of taxation reform.

“They might be awaiting some-more and it might be a smaller series though it’s still a refund,” Sharma said.

Mortgage delinquencies were trending downward, although, for a initial time in over a decade there was a month-to-month increase in February, according to Black Knight.

Loan alteration activity fell to 25,969 from 49,382 in a prior quarter, a FHFA news said.

However, a series of patience skeleton offering increasing to 5,238 from 3,322 in third quarter.

There were also 1,188 brief sales and 593 cases where a borrower tendered a deed-in-lieu of a foreclosure, compared with 1,451 and 708, respectively, in a third quarter.

But foreclosure starts increasing to 36,002 from 32,557, even as a derelict register shrunk compared with a third quarter. There were 364,333 loans between 30 and 59 days late with their remuneration in a fourth quarter, compared with 403,463 a prior period, while those loans 60 days or some-more late fell to 302,211 from 313,626.

For all of 2018, there were 234,263 unsettled loans where a borrower was means to keep a home, adult from 190,248 for 2017. Total foreclosure preventions, including situations where a borrower willingly gave adult a skill in a brief sale or deed-in-lieu transaction, totaled 243,578, compared with 206,898 in 2017.

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Mortgage Rates Still Moving Lower After Last Week’s Stellar Drop

Mortgage rates continued deeper into long-term lows today as the underlying bond market experiences its most impressive rally of the year.  In a rally, bond prices are moving higher and rates are moving lower.  This particular rally is bifurcated on several levels.

On one level, different maturities of US Treasuries are moving at very different paces.  For instance, the 2yr Treasury dropped by .07% today while the 30yr Treasury fell by less than 0.01%.  This has to do with investors betting on central banks keeping short-term interest rates low (or cutting them to even lower levels) among other things.

On another level, US Treasuries are moving at a very different pace compared to the bonds that underlie mortgages (mortgage-backed-securities or MBS).  Part of last week’s big news from the Fed spoke to the way it would be buying bonds in the future.  In an oversimplified nutshell, that news greatly favored Treasuries.  On top of that, when the overall bond market is moving as quickly as it is right now, Treasuries simply tend to do better than mortgages.  The tradeoff is that mortgages will be a bit more insulated in the event rates bounce higher.

Loan Originator Perspective

The rally in bonds is continuing today.   As of 2pm eastern, only a couple lenders have issued improved rate sheets.   With bonds rallying with no direct cause, i think it would be wise to float overnight to see if this continues.   If you do want to lock today and remove all risk, then wait as late as possible to allow lenders time to maybe reprice for the better.  –Victor Burek, Churchill Mortgage

Today’s Most Prevalent Rates

  • 30YR FIXED – 4.00-4.125
  • FHA/VA – 3.875-4.00
  • 15 YEAR FIXED – 3.875%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS –  3.875-4.25% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • Early 2019 saw a rapid reevaluation of big-picture trends in rates and in markets in general

  • The Federal Reserve has been a key player, and while they aren’t the ones pulling the global economic strings, their response to the economy has helped rates fall more quickly than they otherwise might.

  • Based on the Fed’s laundry list of concerns, their current outlook for rate hikes and economic growth, and their bond-buying policy shifts, we’ve all but certainly seen the highest rates of this economic cycle in late 2018.  
  • Rates discussed refer to the most frequently-quoted, conforming, conventional 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers among average to well-priced lenders.  The rates generally assume little-to-no origination or discount except as noted when applicable.  Rates appearing on this page are “effective rates” that take day-to-day changes in upfront costs into consideration.

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Is Conor McGregor actually retiring? Dana White says if he were him, ‘I would retire, too’

During an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Monday, former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor said he was negotiating for a July fight. That would be big news, because it would be his first fight since a submission loss to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in their Oct. 6 grudge match in Las Vegas.

But at 10:18 Pacific on Monday, a little more than five hours after taping for “The Tonight Show” concluded, McGregor put out a tweet announcing his retirement.

“Hey guys quick announcement,” it read. “I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art’ today. I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition. I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!”

Most likely, the retirement announcement is McGregor fooling around. He announced his retirement once previously, in 2016 when he was angry that UFC president Dana White demanded he attend a news conference in Las Vegas to promote a rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 200. McGregor was training in Iceland and didn’t want to break camp to do it.

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White stuck to his guns and yanked McGregor from the card. He eventually fought Diaz at UFC 202 in August of that year.

White, though, issued a statement to Yahoo Sports on Monday in which he said it makes sense for McGregor to retire. He’s young and in good health, and having success selling his line of Irish whiskey, Proper 12.

“He has the money to retire and his whiskey is KILLIN it,” White texted to Yahoo Sports. “It totally makes sense. If I was him, I would retire, too. He’s retiring from fighting, not from working. The whiskey will keep him busy and I’m sure he has other things he’s working on. He has been so fun to watch!!! He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and I look forward to seeing him be as successful outside of the octagon as he was in it.”

UFC president Dana White, left, told Yahoo Sports it “totally makes sense” for Conor McGregor to retire right now. (Getty)

White told Yahoo Sports that he hasn’t spoken to McGregor in several weeks, and he described their last talk as “great.” White said he’d never had a bad conversation with McGregor.

Before sending the tweet, McGregor told Fallon, “We’re in talks for July, so we’ll see what happens. [There are a] lot of politics going on. The fight game is a mad game but as I said again, to my fans, I am in shape and I am ready.”

His reference to “politics” is apparently in regard to White saying McGregor wouldn’t headline a July pay-per-view because it’s not the main event, and he doesn’t want to have a non-title fight atop a pay-per-view show again.

It’s hard to believe McGregor would retire in his prime, particularly with so many lucrative fights ahead of him. His fight vs. Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 ended up with 2.5 million buys on pay-per-view, setting a company record. His 2017 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather sold 4.4 million, and is the second-largest pay-per-view ever, trailing only the 2015 boxing match between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao that sold 4.6 million.

A rematch with Nurmagomedov would likely sell more than two million, while bouts with the likes of Diaz and Donald Cerrone would likely do well over a million.

If McGregor follows through on his vow to retire, he’ll do so as by far the biggest draw in the history of the sport and as one of the greatest fighters in the sport’s history.

He became the first man in UFC history to simultaneously hold championships in two divisions. He won the featherweight title at UFC 194 when he knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. Then, he became lightweight champion at UFC 205 in New York when he stopped Eddie Alvarez in the second round.

McGregor is 21-4 overall in MMA and he’s gone 9-2 in the UFC. He has had wins over the former featherweight champion Aldo and current featherweight champion Max Holloway, along with Diaz, Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.

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Blacks Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson loses defamation lawsuit against Jeanine Pirro

A judge has tossed a defamation lawsuit filed by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson against Jeanine Pirro on the ground that the Fox News host specializes in “loud, caustic” opinion.

McKesson, who is also a podcast host, sued Pirro in December 2017 for claiming on-air that he had “directed” violence against a Baton Rouge police officer. McKesson said that wasn’t true.

Pirro argued that she was merely expressing the opinion that the injured officer could sue McKesson, arguing he is liable for the officer’s injuries.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Robert Kalish agreed that Pirro had the right to express such an opinion, and noted that Pirro’s lawyer had described her shtick as “loud, caustic and hard hitting.”

“Pirro’s lack of temperament, and caustic commentary is what she is known, celebrated and frequently criticized for,” Kalish wrote.

“However divisive one might find the subject two-minute sequence, the law of this state protects the expressions of opinion it represents.”

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The judge noted there were clear racial overtones in the September 2017 segment that aired on “Fox Friends.”

“That the Court find’s Pirro statement’s to be protected statements of opinion does not mean this Court agrees with Pirro’s opinions or condones her behavior or rhetoric. This Court is not blind to the undertones in this segment,” Kalish wrote.

Fox News declined comment. Messages for McKesson and his attorney were not returned.

Pirro’s program, “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” has recently not aired on Fox News following anti-Muslim remarks she made about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The 67-year-old former Westchester County Court judge suggested Omar’s Muslim headdress indicates disregard for the rule of law.

“Omar wears a hijab,” Pirro said. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”

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Yara Shahidi on getting her own Barbie, inspiring civic engagement and feeling represented in the media (Exclusive)

Having her own Barbie? Check!

Yara Shahidi has already put together an impressive resumé both on and off the screen, and at 19 years old, the “Grown-ish” star added another moment to her long list of accomplishments when she was included in Barbie’s latest unveiling, a line of dolls representing 20 women across multiple countries, races, ages and shapes, all breaking boundaries across industries.

The line is part of the brand’s 60th anniversary celebration as it continues to celebrate diversity and inclusion, while also making sure to put its money where its mouth is: For every doll sold, Barbie will donate one dollar to its Dream Gap Project Fund, which strives to level the playing field between girls and boys.

Barbie couldn’t have asked for a more deserving and inspiring face to represent its brand: In addition to continuously proving her acting chops weekly on “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish” for years, Shahidi has also become one of the most outspoken and active actresses in the industry when it comes to working on social issues and encouraging her peers to inspire civic engagement.

AOL caught up with Yara Shahidi to talk about getting a Barbie made in her likeness, the importance of representation in toys and the media for young girls, and which issues she feels deserve the spotlight in 2019. Check out our conversation below:

You have your own Barbie now, which definitely would be a bucket list moment for a lot of people. How does it feel? There’s a lot of meaning behind there being Barbies that look like you and the rest of the diverse women that are part of the brand’s 60th anniversary celebration.

What’s really exciting is the ability to contribute to inspiring [others]. The purpose of the doll isn’t to be like, “Oh, my gosh! Look at how excellent I am!” But to make this idea of being whatever you want to be possible. This entire collection is about setting these norms. When you look at the fact that there are 20 women, and they represent a fraction of what we’re doing … it’s a fantastic, beautiful fraction, and each doll represents that this is within the realm of possibility. It has been achieved before and can be achieved again.

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This is the 60th anniversary of Barbie and truly does represent a big step forward in terms of inclusion and diversity. Talk to me about the importance of the idea that girls can begin to see themselves in the toys they play with.

Toys set a subliminal message of who is belonging, who is to be celebrated and so to be able to move into the 60th decade with the idea of inclusion being important, but also more than that to have the other aspects of Mattel really supporting the vision of supporting young girls is very cool. Not only do they have the Barbies, but they also have the research and the funds that they’re investing in helping girls reach their fullest potential and what social barriers prevent us from dreaming as big as we want. That is what makes it doubly impressive: It’s more than just the dolls themselves, but it’s also about the research that they’re doing to make continuous strides.

Going off that, Barbie is donating one dollar from every doll sold to the Dream Gap Project Fund, which is dedicated to leveling the playing field for girls. It’s a mission that feels very much in line with what you stand for as a public figure.

It does. It’s about the idea of being purpose-driven. It’s very important to work in collaboration with corporations who have made that a mission statement, rather than treating it as a trend or something that is cool commercially. This is an investment.

Did you feel the so-called “dream gap” growing up? Or did you always feel as though the sky was the limit?

I had the great good fortune to be surrounded by women who continue to push barriers, so I very much grew up with the idea of, “Of course it’s possible, because I have a family member doing it.” In that way, I’m extremely grateful, because I definitely came with a different base reality than most of my peers, because … I didn’t watch a lot of TV and did a lot of reading, so a lot of what was around me were people who looked like me and people who didn’t look like me all doing extraordinary things. So, it really wasn’t until I hit that elementary, middle school moment where I realized that that wasn’t everyone’s reality.

The amount of career paths that I wanted to have that were genuine considerations… I wanted to be part of the C.I.A. until I realized I told too many people and blew my cover [Laughs]. I wanted to be a historian, and still kind of do. I wanted to be a professional jet ski rider — the person who rides on the back. I continue to want to be a thought leader. Just looking at the couple of careers that I seriously considered just represents the idea that I firmly believe, “Of course I can do that.” A lot of what I try to do, then, philanthropically and in terms of social engagement work, is to try to spread the privilege that I had in my growing up to establish new base realities: How do I give people the same foundation that I was so grateful to have? So many times, not only do you not have that space at home, but there’s this idea that limits on your possibility are reinforced in academic and social environments.

You started Yara’s Club seemingly to combat just that by providing a digital space to allow young people to feel safe. That’s where a lot of young people’s first interactions and community building is happening now. Talk to me about the importance of those spaces for the next generation.

When you think about social media, what I love most about the digital space is that it’s created a sense of globalism engrained in the way we maneuver. Because we can interact with people around the world, you can’t pretend not to care. You’re hearing international stories. We now have methods of receiving information around all the things that we usually don’t hear about. I think that’s inherently made us feel like we believe we have a global community. With that, we get to hear so much more about the incredible stories that shape who we are. We have to begin to care about the layers of identity as they affect us and really think about the fact that identity and equity aren’t linear things and that every person is dealing with their own amalgam of barriers. It’s important to find ways in which we can advocate for everyone and keep in mind the fact that people have different struggles that we can’t account for. A large part of the digital space is allowing people to reclaim their own narrative, rather than being dependent on somebody with a larger platform to share or commodity or alter their story. Their are plenty of people where that’s not the intention who are doing incredible work, but now the idea is that we can amplify the original message and allow people to have control over their own narratives.

Do you remember when you truly felt represented in media? You said that didn’t watch a lot of TV, but maybe there was a book that you latched onto while growing up?

My family collected different versions of Cinderella. So we had the Iranian Cinderella, the African Cinderella, the Korean Cinderella storybooks and a couple other ones. Oh, and the Egyptian Cinderella, so basically I had two African Cinderellas. I remember that making an impact on me, because Cinderella is one of those universal stories, but oftentimes it’s not made with that view in mind. It’s usually more aspirational rather than attainable — and even this idea of what is considered aspirational is really jaded. Having that definitely made a large impact and having those books readily available was incredible.

In ninth grade, it was pivotal when I was introduced to Zora Neale Hurston and Sandra Cisneros. We were at an all-girls Catholic school, and our first issue was on August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” and the second one was on Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Mind you, my entire class had to write about it, which normalized the idea that these stories matter and require our attention. So many times, these fall under special fields of study. It was also where I was introduced to James Baldwin.

What’s something in 2019 that you’re specifically focused on in terms of a social issue or something that you think deserves more of a spotlight?

Looking at Eighteen x 18, it was very focused on voter registration and voter education, and the one thing in going through that process and learning about those topics, I realized how interconnected everything is. It may sound vague, but I feel like we’re moving into an idea this year that there is no off-season, in terms of political engagement. So many times, and rightfully so — I understand why people come to this conclusion — people think that you vote on election day and then that’s it. It stops. Even Election Day is skewed, because it’s not something that everyone can participate in, since it’s not mandatory to get it off [from work]. The idea that’s been really important to me is, how do you make civic engagement an everyday activity? How do you expand what you know and do something small or large on a daily basis? For me, that’s been a fun activity to try to figure out for myself and then figure out messaging for it for my peers. 

What’s a little thing you tell people that they can be doing every day to help fulfill that need?

Just looking at the organizations that are in your neighborhood. There are so many organizations doing incredible work on a local scale. Just go to a meeting or understand your knowledge of something. Many times we don’t understand how we participate in certain systems, because it’s so insidious and you have no awareness of how it’s working against you, because you haven’t been told. Of course there’s no awareness, because that’s intentional. Things like that are really important, as are self-education and mentorship. I wouldn’t be anywhere without women guiding me.

You’ve obviously gotten a reputation of being socially engaged outside of your acting, and I’m curious how that affects your acting and informs what roles you take. Do you ever feel pressure to not take things that are lighter and disconnected from that part of your identity?

First and foremost, I definitely have the privilege of being specific with what I choose. Having that familial support network, there’s never been a moment where I felt, like, “I need that next job!” I just have to recognize that that has definitely made a difference for me. And I think that there are two things: One, not taking things that are socially detrimental that are actively negating a movement, and really looking at the impact of a role. But it’s also important to play roles that aren’t Yara, because that would be redundant. I intentionally do that work that I do as Yara to be able to play characters that are different from me. A real marker for film progress is when every identity group gets their Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye,” where we can spend an entire book or movie watching them doing practically nothing, because it makes an investment — I’m interested enough in your wellbeing to watch you basically not do anything.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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The Trump administration says it supports striking down the entire Affordable Care Act

The Trump administration said in a Monday court filing that it supports striking down the entire Affordable Care Act.

In two sentences, the Department of Justice made an about-face on its previous stance on the health care law colloquially known as “Obamacare.”

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the letter to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reads. “Because the United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed, the government intends to file a brief on the appellees’ schedule.”

The letter refers to a December decision by US District Judge Reed O’Connor in the Northern District of Texas, which ruled that the individual mandate — which is at the crux of the law — is unconstitutional and therefore the entire health care law is unconstitutional.

In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as a tax penalty: you could be taxed if you weren’t covered; in 2017, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act eliminated the tax penalty for those who didn’t have health insurance, and in February 2018, Texas and 19 other states filed a lawsuit saying that the individual mandate was now unconstitutional.

Judge O’Connor agreed and said that the entire law could not stand. That decision was appealed and the lawsuit is currently in a federal appeals court.

Under the former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ declined to defend provisions protecting people with preexisting conditions — but said the rest of the law could stand, CNN reported. The ACA also includes Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help people purchase insurance, an allowance for kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old, and more.

U.S. President Donald Trump, from left, gestures while arriving with First Lady Melania Trump, Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, at Lawson Army Airfield in Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S., on Friday, March 8, 2019. Trump travels to Alabama on Friday after directing federal emergency personnel to provide ‘A Plus treatment’ in assisting the state’s recovery from tornadoes that killed 23 people last weekend. Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Now, in an apparent shift, the DOJ under the current attorney general William Barr is siding with the judge’s ruling.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal,” Kerri Kupec, a DOJ spokesperson, told CNN.

Led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a group of 17 attorneys general are defending the law, and last week newly-elected Democratic governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers pulled his state out of the lawsuit against the ACA.

The complete dissolution of the ACA would upend the current health care system and could leave millions without health insurance.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that “11.4 million people have signed up for coverage this year under former President Barack Obama’s health law.”

After the filing, Obamacare supporters and Democratic lawmakers issued statements condemning the Trump administration’s decision. Some also criticized Barr’s decision to not support one of the country’s laws in court.

“The ACA means health care coverage for 800,000-plus more people in Washington,” Gov. Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter after the news broke. “Trump is attacking our health care again. We’ve stopped them before and we’ll stop them again. Hands off our healthcare.”

Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives, running in part on protecting health insurance for Americans; many of the 2020 Democratic candidates are also running on expanded access to health care — including supporting proposals like Medicare for all.

President Donald Trump, for his part, has promised health care solutions. However, Republicans have been unsuccessful in “repeal and replace” attempts in Congress.


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Declining mortgage rates champion home-buying power, but for how long?

In January 2019, home prices retreated 1.9%, but increased 7% year over year, according to First American’s Real House Price Index.

According to First American’s data, unadjusted house prices sit 1.6% above the housing boom peak. This means consumer buying power moved forward 2.3% between December and January, declining 1.6% year over year.

So, when consumer house-buying power is factored in, home prices are actually 38.8% below their 2006 peak and 14% below prices from January 2000.

“While 2018 was largely characterized by declining affordability, ending the year with a 5% yearly decline in house-buying power, this trend reversed sharply in early 2019,” First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming said. “Moderating home prices, in conjunction with gains in household income and declining mortgage rates, boosted affordability for potential home buyers.”

In fact, the decline in mortgage rates from 4.64% to 4.46% in January boosted house-buying power by $7,500. This means a home buyer with a 5% down payment and a mortgage rate of 4.46% saw their house-buying power increase to $373,100, according to Fleming.

“The decline in mortgage rates over the last two months and the positive impact from the strong job market and the demographic tailwind from the Millennial generation aging into homeownership should translate into higher demand,” Fleming said.

And Fleming is right, as the Mortgage Bankers Association reported new home mortgage applications surged 43% in January compared with the previous month.

That being said, Fleming warns that the increase in homeownership demand is likely to tighten supply.

“As wages continue to grow and mortgage rates remain low going into spring, we except demand to rise further,” Fleming said. “What happens when increasing demand for homes meets a market with tight supply? A rebound in house price appreciation appears likely, so the home-buyer power play may be short lived.”

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Gateway Mortgage names new chief banking officer

Gateway Mortgage Group has hired Joe Siegel as chief banking officer.

As such, Siegel will oversee company’s commercial, consumer and specialty lending activities as well as its retail banking services.

Prior to joining Gateway, Siegal – who has more than 35 years of banking experience – was managing director of corporate finance at Everett Advisory Partners. He has also held senior leadership roles at BBVA North America, BBVA Compass and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The move is the fifth executive hire the company has made in the last several months amid news that it is shuttering its California branches and laying off dozens of its retail employees.

SiegelIt’s all part of the lead-up to its pending merger with Oklahoma-based Farmers Exchange Bank, which was approved last month by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Together, the two companies will create Gateway First Bank, which Gateway said will aim to provide a broader suite banking services for consumers and business. It will operate mortgage loan offices across the country and maintain its bank branches throughout Oklahoma.

“Joe has had a distinguished career in banking, holding leadership roles in commercial, corporate and private wealth lending at a variety of institutions” said Gateway CEO Stephen Curry. “He has a proven track record of revenue generation, relationship management, and advisory services. We are excited to welcome him to Gateway and he is a core part of the team we have assembled to achieve our strategic objectives.”




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