US home sales fall at fastest pace on record

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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.

British Parliament bans smoking in pubs, workplaces and clubs

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Friday, February 17, 2006

MPs at the British Parliament have voted by large majority of 200 to bring in legislation banning smoking in all pubs, clubs and workplaces in a landmark free vote. The ban is expected to come into force from summer 2007.

The originally proposed fine of £200 was raised to £2500 for failing to stop people smoking in banned areas in the late stages of the parliamentary process. Other fines include a fixed penalty notice of £50 for lighting up in banned areas and spot fines of £200 for failing to display no smoking signs in banned areas.

Smoking may also be banned in “substantially enclosed” venues such as railway stations and football stadiums; this may also include cars carrying passengers but no decision has been taken on this as yet. Ministers will finalise precise regulations after a three month consultation.

The vote was politically fraught, as the Labour Party in government had proposed a ‘compromise’ bill, in line with their election manifesto, which would allow pubs not serving food to be exempt from the ban. With many Labour MPs threatening to rebel against this compromise however, in favour of a full ban, Labour granted its members a free vote. MPs then voted for the full ban by a margin of 453 votes to 125,­ a majority of 328.

MPs then debated a last-minute amendment to exempt private members clubs, which was also rejected, by 384 votes to 184,­ a majority of 200. The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, voted for a complete ban along with his health secretary, Patricia Hewitt.

The ban will bring England in line with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, which will all be introducing a full smoking ban for pubs and clubs. The bill also gives ministers powers to increase the age for purchasing cigarettes from 16 to 18 which ministers will begin the consultation process upon shortly.

Information About Buying Used Cars

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Information About Buying Used Cars

by

Adriana Noton

When you decide to purchase a vehicle you will have a number of decisions to make. Each different option has its own advantages and disadvantages. There are certain things you should be sure to check, especially if buying used cars.

Whether you buy a used vehicle or a new one will often be determined by your budget. New ones can be very expensive and not always cost effective. You can often get a lot more for your money with a second hand one. There are often vehicles being sold as used that have barely had any use at all either by only being a year or two old or because they do not have many miles on the clock. There can often be a big difference in price between a brand new motor and a six month old one.

All second hand motors being sold through a dealer or on a lot should have gone through rigorous testing to make sure that they are up to scratch. This means that you will often get a very mechanically sound car at a much cheaper price.

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A new car can depreciate in value by up to thirty percent within its first year. This means that if you purchase it for ten thousand, after the first year it will only be worth seven thousand. If you buy a second hand one that is a year old for seven thousand you are saving nearly three thousand as it should not depreciate by such a large amount again.

If planning on going to a dealership, have a few comparison prices ready for similar vehicles elsewhere. Dealers generally mark up the vehicles they hold so if you have a rough idea of what things are selling for then you know whether they are trying to take you for a ride or not. This will also give you a better position from which to haggle when you have settled on your motor. This also applies to buying privately, however these prices will vary considerably and you may be able to negotiate a lot more.

If you are going to an approved dealership you can rest assured that the majority of the time the cars will have been well inspected and maintained. You may wish to look up a few key questions to ask the trader so that they know you are not a pushover. Should you be planning to buy from a private seller you will need to inspect the car much more thoroughly. If you are not mechanically minded it would be a good idea to take a friend with you who will know what to look for.

Things to look out for include any dents or scratches to the body work, that may indicate it has been in an accident. Look for corrosion or rust, particularly in older vehicles. Make sure there are not any ripples in the paintwork by standing behind the car and looking down the sides. If there are it could mean accident damage has been covered up. Always test drive it if at all possible to check that it is performing correctly.

Buying used cars over new ones could save you a lot of money. Be careful to check some of the above things and see if there is anything else to watch out for. Take a mechanic or a friend who knows what they are doing with you to help you inspect the vehicle before you hand over any cash.

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Oil spill hits Australia’s Sunshine coastline

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

200,000 litres of oil leaked into waters off the coast of Brisbane from the Pacific Adventurer when their fuel tanks were damaged in rough seas on Wednesday. The figure is about ten times higher than the original estimate of twenty thousand litres of oil. The devastating diesel oil spill has spread along 60 kilometres (37 miles) of the Queensland coast. In addition, 31 containers with 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser flew overboard during the violent storm.

Questions are being asked why the Hong Kong cargo ship was out in seas with nine meter waves caused by Cyclone Hamish, a Category 5 tropical cyclone, as well as why the fertiliser containers were not properly secured. One of the overboard containers ruptured the hull of the Pacific Adventurer, causing between 30 to 100 tonnes of oil to spew from the severely damaged ship.

If the ammonium nitrate mixes with the heavy oil, an explosion could occur. None of the containers have been recovered. Some of these may float, but it is believed that they may have sunk which then may cause algal blooms.

Disaster zones have been declared at Bribie and Moreton Islands, and along the Sunshine coast.

The vessel’s owner, Swire Shipping, reported that a second leak began on Friday, when the ship began listing after docking at Hamilton for repairs. “As full soundings of the vessel’s tanks were being taken at the port to determine how much oil had leaked from the vessel, a small quantity of fuel oil escaped from the Pacific Adventurer,” it stated. The ship was brought upright, and a recovery vessel was used to suck up the oil from the water. The leak produced a 500m-long oil slick down the Brisbane River. Booms were placed around this oil spill so that a skimmer could clean up the second spill.

Swire Shipping could face clean up costs of AU$100,000 a day as well as fines up to AU$1.5million (US$977,000; £703,000) if found guilty of environmental breaches or negligence.

Sunshine Coast beaches are slowly starting to be reopened. The beach of Mooloolaba was still closed following reports of burning sensations from swimmers. 12 beaches remain closed; however, 13 have been reopened.

Over 300 state government and council workers are using buckets, rakes and spades in the clean up effort. Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbott says the majority will be gone by Sunday afternoon. The full environmental impact on wildlife is not yet known. One turtle and seven pelicans have been found covered in oil.

There are concerns that the drinking water of Moreton Island is at risk, as the island uses water from the underground water table near the oil spill site.

“Every bucketload of contaminated sand has to be removed from the island by barge, and each bucketload from a front-end loader weighs about one tonne. It’s just an impossible task,” said Mr Trevor Hassard of the Tangalooma Dolphin Education Centre.

The commercial fishing industry has suffered from the incident. Trawlers won’t resume operations until Sunday evening, and any catches will be tested for human consumption.

Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the oil and gas industry are creating earthquakes. New information from the Midwest region of the United States points out that these man-made earthquakes are happening more frequently than expected. While more frequent earthquakes are less of a problem for regions like the Midwest, a geology professor from the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Paul K. Doss, believes the disposal of wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) process used in extracting oil and gas has the possibility to pose potential problems for groundwater.

“We are taking this fluid that has a whole host of chemicals in it that are useful for fracking and putting it back into the Earth,” Doss said. “From a purely seismic perspective these are not big earthquakes that are going to cause damage or initiate, as far as we know, any larger kinds of earthquakes activity for Midwest. [The issue] is a water quality issue in terms of the ground water resources that we use.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used by the oil and gas industries which inject highly pressurized water down into the Earth’s crust to break rock and extract natural gas. Most of the fluids used for fracking are proprietary, so information about what chemicals are used in the various fluids are unknown to the public and to create a competitive edge.

Last Monday four researchers from the University of New Brunswick released an editorial that sheds light on the potential risks that the current wastewater disposal system could have on the province’s water resources. The researchers share the concern that Dr. Doss has and have come out to say that they believe fracking should be stopped in the province until there is an environ­mentally safe way to dispose the waste wastewater.

“If groundwater becomes contamin­ated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system,” University of New Brunswick professor Tom Al said.

While the USGS group which conducted the study says it is unclear how the earthquake rates may be related to oil and gas production, they’ve made the correlation between the disposal of wastewater used in fracking and the recent upsurge in earthquakes. Because of the recent information surfacing that shows this connection between the disposal process and earthquakes, individual states in the United States are now passing laws regarding disposal wells.

The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak.

“The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak,” Doss said. “A perfect case-in-point is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, that oil was being drilled at 18,000 feet but leaked at the surface. And that’s the concern because there’s no assurance that some of these unknown chemical cocktails won’t escape before it gets down to where they are trying to get rid of them.”

It was said in the study released by the New Brunswick University professors that if fracking wastewater would contaminate groundwater, that current conventional water treatment would not be sufficient enough to remove the high concentration of chemicals used in fracking. The researchers did find that the wastewater could be recycled, can also be disposed of at proper sites or even pumped further underground into saline aquifers.

The New Brunswick professors have come to the conclusion that current fracking methods used by companies, which use the water, should be replaced with carbon diox­ide or liquefied propane gas.

“You eliminate all the water-related issues that we’re raising, and that peo­ple have raised in general across North America,” Al said.

In New Brunswick liquefied propane gas has been used successfully in fracking some wells, but according to water specialist with the province’s Natural Resources De­partment Annie Daigle, it may not be the go-to solution for New Brunswick due its geological makeup.

“It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Bruns­wick for lower volume hydraulic frac­turing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology,” Daigle said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with U.S. states to come up with guidelines to manage seismic risks due to wastewater. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is the organization that also deals with the policies for wells.

Oil wells, which are under regulation, pump out salt water known as brine, and after brine is pumped out of the ground it’s disposed of by being pumped back into the ground. The difference between pumping brine and the high pressurized fracking fluid back in the ground is the volume that it is disposed of.

“Brine has never caused this kind of earthquake activity,” Doss said. “[The whole oil and gas industry] has developed around the removal of natural gas by fracking techniques and has outpaced regulatory development. The regulation is tied to the ‘the run-of-the-mill’ disposal of waste, in other words the rush to produce this gas has occurred before regulatory agencies have had the opportunity to respond.”

According to the USGS study, the increase in injecting wastewater into the ground may explain the sixfold increase of earthquakes in the central part of the United States from 2000 – 2011. USGS researchers also found that in decades prior to 2000 seismic events that happened in the midsection of the U.S. averaged 21 annually, in 2009 it spiked to 50 and in 2011 seismic events hit 134.

“The incredible volumes and intense disposal of fracking fluids in concentrated areas is what’s new,” Doss said. “There is not a body of regulation in place to manage the how these fluids are disposed of.”

The study by the USGS was presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America on April 18, 2012.

Chocolate Brands Better Known For The Variety Of Quality Products}

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Chocolate Brands Better Known For The Variety Of Quality Products

by

Russ Murray

The brands such as Amedei, Reber, Lindt or Godiva easily become the talk of the town as they master the art of easily catering to the huge demand in the peak season of celebrations such as in the month of Christmas. Not just in the western countries but this holds true for the whole world. The big brands know that the chocolate lovers are the crazy lot and it is risky to ignore their peculiar needs. Thus, they keep experimenting with different chocolate recipes to satisfy their hunger for a strong chocolate flavour. It is not just important to grow the cocoa beans in an organic fashion so as to make sure that the end product is also delicious and hygienic but it is also equally relevant to pack the products in fresh packets.

There are many well known brands that offer best chocolate chips to be used as an ingredient in hot chocolate or chocolate biscuits, cookies, cakes or drinks. The brands like Asbach or Valor are well known for their optimum quality products and are always a threat to its competitors. They offer many innovations such as drinking chocolate, biscuits, chips, sugar-free chocolate or chocolate bars at the prices that are simply loved by the buyers. These days the chefs recommend the best chocolate chips to be used not just as a main ingredient but also as a garnishing agent to enhance the eye appeal of the final dish. The chocolate chips are available for different varieties such as dark or white one and may or may not be sweet in taste.

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Taste is given by ingredients. Reber Chocolates have nuts that give them crisp and sweet taste. If you search for the sweetest chocolates in Internet, you can find this name also. Kids, teens, couples, and more are the kind of people who consume this regularly. Skill of experts is the factor that make the timing and precision of these items to reach the market quickly. The present demand for these items had scaled up since people prefer to get taste immediately. You may even feel jealous of yourself and stop sharing the same with others. Dark chocolates, smooth in your hands make the minds enjoy each and every bite. Dealers also get business by dealing in Reber chocolates. When you go for a party or event and if you carry this item as gift, the person receiving this item will really be gifted. You had presented a unique and beneficial gift that others would not have given.

Valor, a brand that collects the raw cocoa beans from different places like Ghana, Brazil or Equador to make sure that its products maintain their uniqueness in the market that is flooded with many special products catching the eye of the buyers quite easily. The chocolates that are manufactured with the beans from different sources are available in layered form and are hence not slim and appear as thick bars. The different layers actually incorporate the unique taste of beans from different farms. Such chocolates have a fan following that differentiates itself from the one that loves to have single origin chocolates with a uniform taste throughout the whole product. There is no dilution in the taste of this kind of products and the consumer is bound to relish the same for its consistency.

The best chocolate chips or chocolate products sell like hot cakes not just in a particular season but round the year as an avid chocolate enthusiast simply cant wait for a specific occasion to enjoy his favourite chocolate item. So, if you are really fond of chocolates, then you can search for different varieties of the same online and place an order instantly.

Russ Murray is the owner of this website and writes articles for his own website.For further details about best chocolate chips and Valor please visit the website.

Article Source: eArticlesOnline.com

}

“Massive” oil spill in Alaska

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Monday, March 13, 2006

BBC News is reporting “up to 267,000 gallons (one million litres)” of crude oil has leaked from a pipeline in the Prudhoe Bay oilfield. Although not as large as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, this is thought to be the largest spill on record affecting the Alaska North Slope.

The Alaska Wilderness League reports that there is “no confirmation” of the quantity of oil lost; but it points out that it is not only the oil that causes problems. The cleanup efforts will also have environmental impacts.

The Associated Press first reported this spill on 2 March.

Things To Remember While Installing Solar Films}

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Things to Remember While Installing Solar Films

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Jeremy StevenSolar films serve as a great help in keeping homes or offices protected from the excessive heat. Sun Control Films not only help in reducing the brightness of the Sun indoors but also virtually eliminate the penetration of ultraviolet light. Apart from giving protection from the scorching outside heat they also help in reducing the energy consumption by air conditioners as the premises remains cooler. Solar films Installation in the homes and offices is a prudent choice and that’s why these films are used excessively. However, some important things need to be remembered if you are attempting to cover your windows with solar films.

Handle with Care

This is a very important instruction and needs to be followed carefully. The Sun Control Films are very delicate and they can get creased easily. In case, they get creased while handling, they will remain so forever and although you may still be able to use them the crease will remain visible and would leave a sloppy impression.

Choose the Solution Wisely

Sticky or concentrated solutions may look more appealing and workable but it is never a very good option to use them as these solutions don’t work very well with the solar films installation. Avoid using concentrated or degreasing detergents for making the solutions. These may not stick properly or upon drying may leave a cloudy impression on the windows.

Work in Team for Larger Windows

If you are planning to cover a window which is around 3-4’ wider or larger then always have someone by your side for help. Window Films Installation involves many steps like removing the liner, installation, trimming, etc. and in all these processes the film needs to be handled properly and alone that might become a very tall order. So, if you are thinking of working up a large window always having someone to assist you will be a good idea.

Work in Moderate Temperatures

Although solar films are used for providing protection against sunlight yet, starting to cover up your windows when the Sun is shining bright outside will not be a good idea. The direct heat may lead to sticking of the film very quickly without giving you the time to adjust it properly or take out the air bubbles. If the weather is freezing outside then the film may not stick at all and hence your attempts will fail. The best time to cover your windows with the solar films is either early morning or late evening when the temperature is moderate.

Be Careful of Dust

If the dust particles are trapped inside the film they will spoil the whole process and hence you must ensure that the area is dust free while you are covering the windows. Turn off the fans in the vicinity to minimize any chance of dust getting in the way of the whole process.

Do Not Lay Down the Windows

The best position to tint your windows is to keep them in the upright position. If for the sake of convenience you lay them down then the air bubbles will get trapped inside and your solar films will look badly done. So the best way to do this is to apply the films when the windows are hung vertically.

Films are not Reusable

Apart from making slight adjustments in the initial sticking phase, you must remember that the solar films are not reusable and hence whenever you are thinking of removing them always remember this fact. They can be removed easily without any leaving scar on the window but they cannot be reused again.

You should also take proper precautions if you are working on a window which is at a higher elevation or requires extra effort. Always keep the required things handy as the whole process needs to be completed fast and with efficiency.

The author has more than two decades of experience in the field of

Security Window Shields

. The author likes to share his experiences so that everyone can benefit from it.

Article Source:

eArticlesOnline.com}

Charles Lazarus, founder of US-based toy retail giant Toys ‘R’ Us, dies at 94

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

On Thursday, Charles Lazarus, the founder of United States toy retailer Toys “R” Us, died in Manhattan, New York, New York of respiratory failure. He was 94. His death came a week after Toys “R” Us announced that all of the stores were closing.

Toys “R” Us issued a statement in which they said, “There have been many sad moments for Toys “R” Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus. He visited us in New Jersey just last year and we will forever be grateful for his positive energy, passion for the customer and love for children everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.”

Michael Goldstein, who was a close friend and former Toys “R” Us chairman, said: “He was the father of the toy business. He knew the toys and loved the toys and loved the kids who would shop in the stores. His face lit up when he watched kids playing with toys.” In a phone interview Goldstein said that Charles Lazarus died in Manhattan.

Lazarus no longer held a stake in the chain, CNN reported. Lazarus took over his father’s bicycle repair shop in 1948 at the age of 25 and changed it to baby furniture. He opened the first Toys “R” Us store in 1957. Lazarus had remained its CEO until 1994.

Visa seeks to issue largest IPO in US history

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Visa, Inc. announced on February 25, 2008 that it would soon go ahead with a much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) of about half its shares. This would make it the single biggest IPO in United States history, according to the regulatory filing the company made. Visa hopes to raise about US$17-19 billion, emulating its main rival, MasterCard Inc., which successfully put out an IPO in 2006.

Shares are expected to range from $37 to $42 each. Visa is banking on a changing global economy which relies less on liquid cash and more on credit. Revenue at both Visa and MasterCard has climbed as consumers pay for more purchases with credit and debit cards, instead of cash. Cards are expected to be used for 55 percent of all U.S. consumer transactions by 2011, up from 40 percent in 2005.

Analysts have suggested that current economic conditions, the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the weakening dollar, may leave investors skeptical about Visa’s potential earnings. However, as both Visa and MasterCard charge fees for transactions made with their cards and do not actually give credit, they avoid the current credit crunch and possible defaulted loans. Nonetheless, a slowdown in consumer spending would hurt the revenue stream of both Visa and MasterCard.

The two other main competitors, American Express and Discover, operate their own credit-lending networks and could therefore be vulnerable to credit risks.

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