New-home sales in 2010 fall to lowest in 47 years

| Thursday, January 27, 2011 | 0 comments |
by Martin Crutsinger

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Buyers purchased the fewest number of new homes last year on records going back 47 years. Sales for all of 2010 totaled 321,000, a drop of 14.4 percent from the 375,000 homes sold in 2009, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the fifth consecutive year that sales have declined after hitting record highs for the five previous years when the housing market was booming.

The year ended on a stronger note. Buyers purchased new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 329,000 units in December, a 17.5 percent increase from the November pace.

Still, economists say it could be years before sales rise to a healthy rate of 600,000 units a year. "The percentage rise in sales looks impressive but 10 percent of next-to-nothing is still next-to-nothing," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, referencing the December increase. "New home sales are bouncing around the bottom and we see no clear upward trend in the data yet."


Drug dealer avoids jail for sex-change

Liberal legal looniness: Judge frees drug dealer because
jail term would conflict with his sex-change surgery

by The Christian Institute
A transsexual drug dealer has escaped a jail sentence after a judge ruled it would ruin his chances of completing a sex change.

Ian Morris, 41, who changed his name to Jean in 2009, is due to start Government-funded hormone treatment next week.

He was on trial after police intercepted nearly 2kg of the hallucinogenic drug ketamine which was sent to his flat.

Mr Morris’s lawyers pleaded with Judge Mark Horton to spare him a jail term because of his sex change operation and asserted that he would find it “difficult” in a male prison.

The judge agreed and suspended Mr Morris’s eleven month sentence at Bristol Crown Court.

In July a transsexual who downloaded pornographic images of children was spared jail because the judge said prison would be an “appalling experience” for him.


Green technology fails when needed most

Eco Fail: Solar-powered volcano monitoring
devices fail when covered with volcanic ash

by Oyos Saroso H.N.

Indonesia: “Observation from the naked eye shows volcanic ash and smoke, spewing from Mount Anak Krakatau at around 600 meters high, still moving toward the east, or Banten,” said Hargopancuran observation station head Andi Suhardi.

He said volcanic ash emitted by Anak Krakatau was dangerous and carried materials such as hot rocks and pebbles, reaching temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius.

“We cannot monitor seismic activities because the seismometers are not working after their solar panels were covered with volcanic ash. We urge fishermen not to carry out activities around the volcano and advise vacationers not to approach the mountain up to 2 kilometers in radius,” he said.

Suhardi said his office had learned about the faulty monitoring devices installed on the slopes of Mt. Anak Krakatau on Dec. 27, thus failing to monitor volcanic activities from 6:30 p.m. until noon on Dec. 28, despite the fact that the volcano, located in the middle of the sea, was actively emitting volcanic materials.

“The devices could not be fixed despite the current alert status. We recommend the devices be installed in new places,” he said.


US Republican lawmakers taking aim at UN

by Desmond Butler

WASHINGTON – Newly empowered Republican lawmakers are taking their first shots at the United Nations, depicting it as bloated and ineffective as they seek to cut U.S. funding for the world body.

On Tuesday, a House of Representatives panel aired criticisms of the U.N. at a briefing expected to prescribe congressional action.

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, is seeking cuts and has introduced a bill intended to pressure the United Nations to change the way it operates and to make dues voluntary. She also is promising investigations into possible corruption and mismanagement.

"U.S. policy on the United Nations should be based on three fundamental questions: Are we advancing American interests? Are we upholding American values? Are we being responsible stewards of American taxpayer dollars?" she said in a statement that was read at the briefing, which she could not attend. "Unfortunately, right now, the answer to all three questions is 'No.'"