Monday, January 25, 2010

Sales of previously owned homes in the US fell at the fastest rate ever recorded last December, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

According to the association, existing home sales fell 16.7% last month, to an annual rate of 5.45 million, the largest crash since 1968. The figure was less than the 5.90 million units, or an eleven percent drop, predicted by most analysts.

Sales of homes went up for the entire of 2009 to 5.156 million units, or 4.9% for the year, and prices dropped from 2008 by 12.4%.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun described the figures as being “probably the largest annual drop since the Great Depression”. He said that “the market is going through a period of swings driven by the tax credit. We’re likely to have another surge in the spring. Job creation is the key to a continued recovery in the second half of the year.”

Pierre Ellis, a senior economist for Decision Economics in New York, commented on the figures, saying: “The drop in home sales is the payback for the acceleration of sales that occurred with the original first-time home buyers tax credit. […] There is an issue as to whether the decline represents a fundamental weakening.”

“The housing market continues to face significant headwinds, including high unemployment, record delinquencies and foreclosures, the specter of rising mortgage rates as the Fed’s [mortgage-backed securities] purchase programs comes to a close in late March, and tight credit,” Omair Sharif, an economist for RBS Securities, noted.

“Still, the resale market showed resilience in the second half of 2009, and the expansion and extension of the tax credit to April 30 could boost purchases during the spring selling season,” he said.

“We’ll see a pickup in existing home sales in the next couple of months as people take advantage of the tax-credit extension”, economist Adam York of Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina claimed. He fore-casted a pace of 5.4 million. He said that there were unlikely to be buyers of homes, despite the fact that the U.S. was “past the bottom.”

All four regions of the country saw a decline in sales. In the Northeast, sales fell 19.5 percent, in the Midwest, they plunged 25.8 percent. The South, the country’s largest region, saw a 16.3% decline, while in the West, sales waned by 4.8%.

US stocks fell slightly after the announcement, but went back up later in the day.



Saturday, January 5, 2008

An eight-month old boy, Andrew, was attacked and killed by a Doberman pinscher in Brooklyn, New York. The dog was a three-year old named Mackabee, who is also neutered.

The grandmother was babysitting the boy. While she was in the kitchen she heard the boy scream and ran next door to a neighbor for help. The neighbor took the dog off the boy, rescued him and brought him to his house to try and perform CPR on the boy, while he called 911 for help.

Police said the baby’s head was in bad shape and the dog broke the boy’s skull. Andrew was sent to Kings County Medical.

The doctors tried to save his life by working on him for nearly an hour, but the boy died at 3:06 pm local time. The parents of the child were not home at the time of the incident. The dog was shot with a tranquilizer and was sent to a care center. The city Department of Health is investigating. The dog may have to be put down because of the incident.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, the Doberman Pinscher is not frequently involved in fatal attacks on humans in comparison to several other dog breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers and others.



Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Zach Scruggs, a lawyer for United States Senator Trent Lott, says that State Farm Insurance Company is destroying records related to claims for damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The records allegedly contain information saying that State Farm fraudulently denied insurance claims made by its policy holders, including Lott, that had homes there were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Katrina came ashore on the Gulf Coast.

Scruggs said that Lott has “good faith belief” that many employees of the insurance company in Biloxi, Mississippi are destroying engineer’s reports that were inconclusive as to whether or not water or wind was the main cause of damage to the buildings affected by the hurricane.

Lott is among thousands of home and/or business owners who had their property damaged or destroyed during the hurricane and had their claims denied because State Farm claimed that their policies don’t cover damage caused by floods or water that was driven by the wind.

State Farm has not issued a statement on the matter so far.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Art thieves in Greece broke into the Athens National Gallery on Monday and stole three valuable works of art.

Among them was a painting by famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, dated 1939, called Woman’s Head which was a gift to the Greek people for their resistance to the Nazis during World War 2. The other two works were Mill by Piet Mondrian and a sketch of St. Diego de Alcala by Guglielmo Caccia. A fourth painting, Landscape, also by Piet Mondrian was dropped by the thieves when pursued by security. All three works stolen were stripped from their frames.

The police stated multiple alarms during the evening of the heist in other parts of the building had distracted the gallery guard. Investigating yet another alarm, he saw the shadow of a fleeing individual. Citizen’s Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis apologized for the loss, citing that the security at the gallery was “non-existent”.

The value of the works stolen was not yet determined by gallery officials. The artwork in question was on display at the gallery as part of an exhibition called “Unknown Treasures”, including works of Albrecht Durer and Rembrandt.



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Volkswagen emissions scandal continued yesterday with the company announcing 800,000 mainly diesel vehicles may also be affected by carbon dioxide emissions problems.

The company stated “the safety of the vehicles is in no way compromised”. They estimated potentially this could cost them €2bn on top of the €6.7bn set aside to pay for the cost of correcting 11 million cars affected when the scandal broke, in addition to fines by regulators.

the safety of the vehicles is in no way compromised

This follows Monday’s revelation that the emissions scandal has affected up to 10,000 vehicles sold in the USA by brands in the Volkswagen group, although the company refutes the allegation. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the regulatory body which has been investigating Volkswagen, claims the company fitted a number of recent Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen models with technology that initiates secret components during emission tests to ensure the results are favourable.

The scandal began with damaging revelations that the car manufacturer has been using illegal software to enable diesel cars to cheat on mandatory emissions tests. This lead to a public apology on September 20 by then-chief executive Martin Winterkorn and the promise of an outside inquiry. He then resigned on September 23, and was replaced by Matthias Müller. The new allegation about Porsche is of particular concern for Müller, because he had previously been in charge of Porsche.

The company is expected to foot the bill for the recall of close to 500,000 VW and Audi cars affected at the time. There is also the possibility of Volkswagen having to pay federal fines of up to US$18 billion dollars because the US Clean Air Act sets a maximum fine of US$37,500 for each vehicle that contravenes the requirements of the Act.

An investigation into alleged breaches of environmental law was originally initiated on the advice of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a European non-governmental organisation. The EPA requested tests be carried out by West Virginia University, where the secret software was discovered.

The software, known as a “defeat device”, enabled cars to identify when they were being tested and to switch on the emission control system. The devices may have been adding urea to the car exhaust because that would reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide. The car would release a fraction of the nitrogen oxide compared to when they were being driven normally. Emissions of nitrogen oxide contribute to smog and are thought to have caused a rise in respiratory illnesses like asthma.



byAlma Abell

Life is quite unpredictable in nature. The things that you take for granted thinking they will always be around can disappear in a matter of seconds. The same applies to human life. To make sure that your children are well taken care of when you are no longer around, you need to think about choosing the right premium for Life Insurance in Katy TX. Here are some tips that will help you make a good choice.

Deciding on the policy type to buy

The type of product that you purchase depends on your health and family situation. For instance, if you are below forty and do not have any life threatening condition, you can go for a term insurance. This offers you a death benefit but does not have any cash value. The benefit of getting this type of coverage is of course the fact that it is cheaper for you. Visit ASAP Insurance for more information.

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Determining how much coverage you need

To figure out how much life insurance in Katy TX will be enough for you, you need to think about:

* The amount of income that you have at your disposal. In case you have an average to little income, you should go for the insurance cover that will not strain you financially. On the other hand, if you can afford something more comprehensive, but more expensive, you can think about going for it.

* The amount of dependents you have and your disposition to getting a life threatening illness. If you have dependents, you should probably go for whole life insurance as opposed to term insurance. The same case applies to people who have illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

If you are unable to make a sound decision about the policy type that you want to go for, you can consult an expert to guide you through the process. The most common products that are available are as follows:

* Whole life insurance

* Variable life insurance

* Universal life insurance

It is important to read and understand all the terms and conditions that are attached to a different insurance policies. This will help you avoid making mistakes that could complicate the process and cost you money. Remember that insurance companies are in the business to make money.



Tuesday, December 9, 2008File:Charrest.jpg

In the Quebec general election held in the Canadian province of Quebec on December 8, 2008, premier Jean Charest was elected for his third mandate, and formed a majority government of Quebec.

This is the first time since the 1950’s, Maurice Duplessis and the Union Nationale that a party and/or leader has been elected to a third consecutive mandate, and the first for the Liberals since the 1920’s and Premier Taschereau. The ruling Liberals have won a slim majority, taking 66 of the provincial legislature’s 125 seats, while the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ), led by Pauline Marois, finished second, and took 51 seats.

John James Charest, PC MNA, is a Canadian lawyer and politician from the province of Quebec and a former leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party (1993–1998), the current leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, and the 29th and current Premier of Quebec. In November 5, 2008, seeing a chance to win a majority, Charest called a snap election for December 8. His party captured a slim majority of seats in the election.

Meanwhile, Action democratique du Quebec leader Mario Dumont announced that he will be leaving politics: “You will not be surprised to hear me tell you that I will not be at the head of my party during the next general election in Quebec. It is with much passion that I have served Quebec for more than 14 years as an MNA and more than 20 years as a party activist. I have loved what I did, but the time has come for me to turn the page.”

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois claims that the PQ is a big winner, for she greatly improved on the party’s 2007 disastrous performance: “Today we form the strongest Official Opposition since the Quiet Revolution. Tonight we have been reminded that the Parti Quebecois is a great party. It is a party that has rediscovered its fire […] Even if we are a little disappointed tonight, the great dream we have for Quebec is very much alive.”



Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January’s second Interview of the Month was with Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on 23 January in IRC.

The EFF is coming off a series of high-profile successes in their campaigns to educate the public, press, and policy makers regarding online rights in a digital world, and defending those rights in the legislature and the courtroom. Their settlement with Sony/BMG, the amazingly confused MGM v Grokster decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the disturbing cases surrounding Diebold have earned the advocacy organization considerable attention.

When asked if the EFF would be interested in a live interview in IRC by Wikinews, the answer was a nearly immediate yes, but just a little after Ricardo Lobo. With two such interesting interview candidates agreeing so quickly, it was hard to say no to either so schedules were juggled to have both. By chance, the timing worked out to have the EFF interview the day before the U.S. Senate schedule hearings concerning the Broadcast flag rule of the FCC, a form of digital rights management which the recording and movie industries have been lobbying hard for – and the EFF has been lobbying hard to prevent.



April 7, 2005

The state Premier of Western Australia (WA), Dr Geoff Gallop, gave an apology to children physically and sexually abused in institutional care within the state between the 1920s and 1970s. The statement was given in reaction to an Australian Senate inquiry into institutional child abuse published last year.

“We acknowledge our state’s history, the role played by the state in providing care for children and particularly past practices in the provision of care,” Dr Gallop told Australian Associated Press.

“We apologise to all those people who were harmed as children while in institutional care, and express deep regret at the hurt and distress caused. We recognise that the effects of physical, psychological and sexual abuse did not end when these children became adults.”

Many of the children had been placed in care by government agencies.

“Overwhelmingly, the (submissions) make tragic and distressing reading. They tell of neglect, of shocking abuse, of predatory behaviour from so-called carers and of criminal activity,” Senator McLucas told federal parliament at the time of the Forgotten Australians report, last year.

“The evidence is also there that authorities in the church and in governments either knew or should have known that much of this horrific activity was occurring.”

The inquiry found that an apology was an important symbolism in recognising past wrongs and helping victims gain closure, according to an ABC News report. And Dr Gallop said the victims’ personal histories must be heard and acknowledged in order to build a better care system for the future.

WA’s Community Development Minister, Sheila McHale, said those wishing to find out about their time in care in WA as children should contact the Department for Community Development, which is also providing counselling services to those who were abused in an institution.



Monday, March 19, 2007

At least 10 pets, 9 cats and 1 dog have died as a result of eating contaminated pet food, says the United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. The contamination caused cats and dogs to both go into kidney failure.

At least 51 brands of cat food and 40 brands of dog food have been recalled. The manufacturer of the food is Menu Foods, which is based in Mississauga, Ontario in Canada. The brands include: Iams, Nutro, and Eukanuba pet foods. Nestle, Purina PetCare Co., Procter & Gamble and Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. are voluntarily recalling their pet foods as a precaution. The FDA says that only wet food has been reported to have caused the deaths. The food was sold between December of 2006 and March 3 of 2007. The recall includes pouches and cans of wet food that total over 60 million.

“We are still trying to find out what the true picture is out there of animals. We’re talking about 1 percent of the pet food [supply] and it’s really just impossible to extrapolate at this point,” reported the FDA’s head veterinarian, Stephen F. Sundlof.

The manufacturer is currently performing tests to determine what might have caused the contamination, but so far, the source has not been identified.

“We’re testing and testing, but we can’t identify the problem in the product,” said Sarah Tuite, a spokeswoman for Menu Foods.

Anywhere from 40 to 50 cats and dogs were fed the contaminated food during testing by Menu Foods, and at least seven of those animals died. The species or how many cats or dogs died during testing is not known.

The FDA says that the possible cause of the contamination could be from heavy metals, lead or fungi inside wheat gluten which is used in pet foods as a “filler.”

A complete list of the products recalled can be found here: Menu Foods Recall List. Pet owners are urged to stop using any and all food on that list that may still be in their home. Owners are also asked to seek immediate veterinarian attention if the pets are suspected of eating the food.

The recall could cost over 30 million USD.



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