Headline News

  • US home prices rise in July at slowest pace since November 2012 amid slowing sales


    WASHINGTON –  U.S. home prices in July increased at the slowest pace in 20 months, reflecting sluggish sales and a greater supply of houses for sale. The Standard Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.7 percent in July from 12 months earlier. That’s down from an 8.1 percent gain in June and the smallest increase since November 2012. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT Nineteen of the 20 cities in the index reported lower annual gains than in June. And a new national index of home prices compiled by SP rose just 5.6 percent. Lower price gains should make homes more affordable for would-be buyers. Sales of existing homes picked up over the summer but then dipped in August. Sales have fallen 5.3 percent in the past year.

    September 30, 2014 8:24 am
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Politics

  • Family Ties May Not Be Enough to Save Vulnerable Senators


    By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 5 a.m. Sept. 30 0 Tweet Landrieu may not be laughing come November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo) It seems like everyone wrote the story: Family political dynasties were supposed to save Mark Begich, Mark Pryor and Mary L. Landrieu, the trio of vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in Republican-leaning states. But as the sports adage says, “That’s why they play the games.” The three Democrats’ strong family connections to voters in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana respectively has been one of the most popular narratives of the 2014 cycle. Roll Call, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek and National Journal all wrote similar stories, just to mention a few. But with five weeks to go before Election Day, Pryor, Begich and Landrieu are even more vulnerable than they were when the cycle started. And their Democratic colleague, North Carolina Sen. Kay …

    September 30, 2014 7:43 am
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Stocks

  • Home prices rise 5.6%


    Home prices rose in July but as a slower rate, as the real estate market’s rebound continues to cool off. National home prices were up 5.6% annually, down from a 6.3% gain in June according to the SP/Case-Shiller index, a closely-watched measure of home values. The pace of price gains has slowed for seven straight months. The slowdown is consistent with other signs of a cooling market, including declining sales of previously owned homes. The National Association of Realtors attributes that sales dip to a marked decline in all-cash sales from investors.

    September 30, 2014 8:44 am
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Sports

  • Controversy sparked after Chiefs player, devout Muslim, slides to knees following touchdown


    KANSAS CITY, Mo. –  Husain Abdullah knew before he even reached the end zone Monday night that he would drop to his knees in thankful prayer after intercepting Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 41-14 victory over New England. He had no idea he would be penalized for it. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT But after sliding to the grass in the end zone at Arrowhead Stadium, that’s exactly what happened. The devout Muslim, who stepped away from the game for a year to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, saw yellow flags flying from the game officials. The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty touched off a firestorm of controversy on social media, with many wondering how it was different than players dropping to one knee in Christian prayer. It turns out the referees were flagging Abdullah for the slide, not the prostration, and even Abdullah acknowledged that the NFL prohibits sliding to the knees in …

    September 30, 2014 8:24 am
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World News

  • Israeli airline urged to stop bullying of women by ultra-orthodox passengers


    Israel’s national airline, El Al, has been criticised for allowing ultra-orthodox Jewish men to disrupt flights by refusing to be seated next to women. A petition on change.org is demanding that the carrier “stop the bullying, intimidation and discrimination against women on your flights”. One flight last week, from New York’s JFK to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, descended into chaos according to passengers, after a large group of haredim, or ultra-orthodox Jews, refused to take seats next to women, in accordance with religious customs. The episode has prompted other women to come forward with similar stories on international flights to and from Tel Aviv. Amit Ben-Natan, a passenger on last week’s El Al flight from New York, said take-off was delayed after numerous and repeated requests by ultra-orthodox men for female passengers to be moved. “People stood in the aisles and refused to go forward,” she told the Ynet website. “Although everyone had tickets …

    September 30, 2014 8:24 am
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Technology

  • eBay, PayPal to split into separate companies in 2015


    Online auction house eBay said Tuesday it plans to split its PayPal unit into a separately traded company next year. PayPal and eBay are going through a separation. eBay The separation will bring in two new leaders. Devin Wenig, eBay Marketplaces president, will become the new CEO of eBay. Dan Schulman, president of the American Express Enterprise Growth Group, will serve as the new CEO of PayPal. Current eBay CEO John Donahoe and CFO Bob Swan will help with the transition but then no longer serve as executives at either of the companies. The split is expected to happen in the second half of 2015. The move marks the end of what has been seen as an awkward partnership since eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002. The deal was initially pitched as a way for eBay to boost PayPal transactions by driving auction participants toward the online payment service. But eBay itself apparently …

    September 30, 2014 7:43 am
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Science

  • Brief depression questionnaires could lead to unnecessary antidepressant prescriptions


    Short questionnaires used to identify patients at risk for depression are linked with antidepressant medications being prescribed when they may not be needed, according to new research from UC Davis Health System published in the September-October issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Known as “brief depression symptom measures,” the self-administered questionnaires are used in primary care settings to determine the frequency and severity of depression symptoms among patients. Several questionnaires have been developed to help reduce untreated depression, a serious mental illness that can jeopardize relationships, employment and quality of life and increase the risks of heart disease, drug abuse and suicide. The UC Davis team was concerned that the questionnaires might lead to prescriptions for antidepressant medication being given to those who aren’t depressed. Antidepressants are effective in treating moderate-to-severe depression but can have significant side effects, including sexual dysfunction, sedation and anxiety. They also have to be taken …

    September 30, 2014 8:03 am
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Health

  • France uses tax to put pressure on hepatitis C drug prices


    PARIS (Reuters) – France will tax drugmakers whose costly hepatitis C drugs threaten to throw off course its healthcare budget, the government has said, heaping pressure on pharmaceutical companies like Gilead Sciences to cut their prices. The Socialist government said it had designed a “progressive contribution scheme” ensuring all patients can access new and more effective treatments against the liver-destroying virus, while limiting the burden of these drugs on state finances. The government will selectively tax drugmakers when the total cost to the state from their hepatitis C drugs exceeds a certain amount each year, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said, as she unveiled the country’s 2015 social security budget bill on Monday. If social security spending on hepatitis C drugs exceeds 450 million euros ($567 million) in 2014, the makers of those drugs will be taxed based on the revenue they had reaped in excess of that cap, the ministry said in a presentation. In …

    September 30, 2014 7:43 am
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Entertainment

  • Stevie Nicks says the world isn’t ready for her memoir


    Susan Sarandon admits to affair with rock legend David Bowie While the Fleetwood Mac front woman isn’t quite ready to face up to the debauchery of her heyday, she insists her discretion is actually to protect other parties involved. “I wouldn’t be able to tell the whole truth. The world is not ready for my memoir, I guarantee you,” Nicks said in a recent interview with Billboard magazine. “All of the men I hung out with are on their third wives by now and the wives are all under 30. If I were to write what really happened between 1972 and now, a lot of people would be very angry with me. It’ll happen someday, just not for a very long time. I won’t write a book until everybody is so old that they no longer care. Like, ‘I’m 90, I don’t care what you write about me.’” That’s quite the cruel little teaser that …

    September 30, 2014 7:23 am
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Editorial

  • Emma Watson’s new feminism: Count me in


    Sept. 20, 2014: UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson attends the HeForShe United Nations campaign launch party at the The Peninsula Hotel in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini Invision/AP) Intelligence and inspiration are rare commodities these days at the United Nations. But a 24-year-old British actress awakened the sleepy diplomatic community at Turtle Bay on September 20 with a stirring, impassioned speech about gender equality and feminism. Emma Watson’s eloquence and courage were rewarded with a standing ovation. It was richly deserved. “Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” said the newly named U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.” She is right. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT But how did we come to conflate feminism with man-hating? Why are women, asked Watson, choosing not to identify as feminists? Turns out, there is blame enough to go around. Let’s begin with …

    September 30, 2014 3:41 am
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Odd News

  • Belgian police waive traffic fines in protest over pensions


    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgians who drive a bit over the speed limit, forget to buckle their seat belts or park illegally can breathe easier this week as police turn a blind eye in protest against plans to raise their retirement age. The country’s police are up in arms over plans by the incoming government to raise their pension age to 62 from 58 as part of its efforts to cut the federal budget. Some 40,000 officers demonstrated against it in Brussels two weeks ago. They began the next step in their protest on Tuesday by going easy on minor infractions for the next week. “Clearly this wouldn’t cover major offences, such as reckless or drunken driving,” said Vincent Houssin, deputy chairman of the 18,000-member VSOA police union. Police unions say the officers will continue to uphold traffic safety, but for a week at least the state budget will not get the benefit of their work. …

    September 30, 2014 8:03 am
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