Author: Associated Press

Americans buy existing homes at fastest pace in a decade

BY CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER – AP ECONOMICS WRITER WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans shrugged off rising mortgage rates and bought existing homes in January at the fastest pace since 2007. Home sales rose 3.3 percent in January from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Steady job gains, modest pay raises and rising consumer confidence are spurring healthy home buying even as borrowing costs have risen since last fall. Some potential buyers may be accelerating their home purchases to get ahead of any further increases in mortgage rates. Buyers are...

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Jay Z to become 1st rapper in Songwriters Hall of Fame

BY MESFIN FEKADU – AP MUSIC WRITER NEW YORK (AP) — Jay Z is set to become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Songwriters Hall announced Wednesday that songwriting heavyweights in the industry, including Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Max Martin and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis will also be part of its 2017 class. The organization’s 48th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner will take place June 15 in New York. Chicago band members Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera, along with Motown founder Berry Gordy, who deferred his induction in 2016, will also...

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Testosterone gel shows no benefit for older men’s memories

BY LINDSEY TANNER – AP MEDICAL WRITER CHICAGO (AP) — Testosterone treatment did not improve older men’s memory or mental function in the latest results from landmark government research that challenges the anti-aging claims of popular supplements. While testosterone use for one year appeared to strengthen bones and reduce anemia, it also showed signs of worsening artery disease and questions remain about other potential risks. The researchers said more studies are needed to determine long-term effects – the kind of research the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already asked supplement makers to conduct. "I don’t think anybody would...

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SpaceX aborts approach to space station, delivery delayed

BY MARCIA DUNN AP AEROSPACE WRITER CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A navigation error forced SpaceX to delay its shipment to the International Space Station on Wednesday, following an otherwise smooth flight from NASA’s historic moon pad. SpaceX’s supply ship, the Dragon, was less than a mile from the orbiting outpost when a problem cropped up in the GPS system. The approach was aborted, and the Dragon backed away. NASA said neither the station nor its six-person crew was in any danger, and another attempt would be made Thursday. "As a pilot it is sometimes better to accelerate and...

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US stocks start week at new highs on deals and earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are breaking records again Tuesday. Energy companies are rising more than the rest of the market. Consumer goods giant Kraft Heinz is falling after it withdrew a $143 billion offer for competition Unilever, but several other food and household goods makers are rising as investors bet Kraft will make an offer for one of those companies instead. KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 93 points, or 0.5 percent, to 20,717 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,361. The Nasdaq...

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Yahoo salvages Verizon deal with $350 million discount

NEW YORK (AP) — Yahoo is taking a $350 million hit on its previously announced $4.8 billion sale to Verizon in a concession for security lapses that exposed personal information stored in more than 1 billion Yahoo user accounts. The revised agreement announced Tuesday eases investor worries that Verizon Communications Inc. would demand a discount of at least $1 billion or cancel the deal entirely. The hacking bombshells, disclosed after the two companies agreed on a sale, represent the two biggest security breaches in internet history. Under the amended deal, Yahoo will be responsible for 50 percent of any...

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Welcome to NBA trade season, already underway in earnest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jahlil Okafor viewed New Orleans during All-Star weekend with a different lens than usual, since he thought there was a chance it may have been his next home. That’s life in the rumor mill. Welcome to trade season, already underway in earnest and will remain so until Thursday afternoon’s deadline. All-Star DeMarcus Cousins is changing his address from Sacramento to New Orleans, Serge Ibaka was sent last week from Orlando to Toronto – and the next few days will likely see Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Reggie Jackson and many more all discussed by...

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Noted movie critic Richard Schickel dies at 84

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Richard Schickel, a noted movie critic for Life and Time magazines who also wrote dozens of books and made documentaries about Hollywood, has died. He was 84. Schickel, who’d had a series of strokes, died on Saturday in Los Angeles from complications of dementia, his daughter, Erika Schickel, told the New York Times. "He was one of the fathers of American film criticism," she told the Los Angeles Times. "He had a singular voice. When he wrote or spoke, he had an old-fashioned way of turning a phrase. He was blunt and succinct both on...

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NASA aims to measure vital snow data from satellites

DENVER (AP) — Instrument-laden aircraft are surveying the Colorado high country this month as scientists search for better ways to measure how much water is locked up in the world’s mountain snows – water that sustains a substantial share of the global population. A NASA-led experiment called SnowEx is using five aircraft to test 10 sensors that might one day be used to monitor snow from satellites. The goal: Find the ideal combination to overcome multiple obstacles, including how to analyze snow hidden beneath forest canopies. "It would be, I would say, a monumental leap in our ability to...

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Study: Most Texas school districts have scant sex education

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — More than four-fifths of school districts offer no sex education or only teach abstinence in Texas, which has one of the country’s highest teen birth rates, according to a study released Tuesday. The study commissioned by Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning education watchdog group, found that 25 percent of roughly 1,000 school districts statewide didn’t offer any sex education during the 2015-2016 school year and about 58 percent only taught students to abstain from sex. The remaining 17 percent, including eight of the 10 largest school districts in America’s second most-populous state, stress abstinence, which...

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Altering heredity to fight disease?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Don’t expect designer babies any time soon – but a major new ethics report leaves open the possibility of one day altering human heredity to fight genetic diseases, with stringent oversight, using new tools that precisely edit genes inside living cells. What’s called genome editing already is transforming biological research, and being used to develop treatments for patients struggling with a range of diseases. The science is nowhere near ready for what would be a huge next step – altering sperm, eggs or embryos so that babies don’t inherit a disease that runs in the family,...

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Disney ends deal with YouTube star over anti-Semitic stunt

NEW YORK (AP) — Disney’s Maker Studios and Google’s YouTube are distancing themselves from a top YouTube star after he made jokes construed as anti-Semitic and posted Nazi imagery in his videos. Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, has the most popular YouTube channel, with more than 53 million subscribers. The Swedish YouTube star rose to fame by posting videos of him playing and commenting about video games. More recently, he branched out into non-gaming videos that show him performing skits, stunts or making jokes. Disney, whose Maker Studios runs Kjellberg’s channels and network, said he crossed the line...

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Jumping Bank Stocks Push Us Indexes Higher; Bond Yields Rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank stocks rallied Tuesday on hopes that bigger profits are ahead, and the gains were enough to offset weakness elsewhere in the market and push U.S. indexes further into record territory. Bond yields rose after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank is still on track to raise interest rates gradually. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,335 as of 3:36 p.m. Eastern time, close to its highest level of the day. It was earlier down as much as 0.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average rose...

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A-Rod, Nick Swisher among Yankees’ guest instructors

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher are joining the group of guest instructors at New York Yankees’ spring training this year. Both are on the list released by the team Tuesday when New York pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. A-Rod and Swisher were both instructors with the Yankees’ instructional league team last fall. This is the first time they’ll be in the coaching role at spring training. The pair joins holdovers that include Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, Stump Merrill and Lee Mazzilli. Recommended: No...

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Britain: 65 percent of large companies suffered cyberattacks

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s treasury chief has warned that cyberattacks are increasing in severity and sophistication as authorities open a new center devoted to thwarting such threats. Philip Hammond has urged businesses to “sharpen” their approach as the attacks intensify. Hammond says 65 percent of large businesses have reported a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months – but that many businesses don’t have plans in the event of a breach. The new center’s technical director, Ian Levy, says the government will act as “a guinea pig for all the measures we want to see done by...

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Aetna, Humana call off $34 billion deal

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Aetna and Humana called off a $34 billion proposal to combine the two major health insurers after a federal judge, citing antitrust concerns, shot down the deal. The announcement Tuesday comes several days after another federal judge rejected a tie-up between two other massive insurers. Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem is attempting to buy Cigna for $48 billion. Anthem has vowed to appeal that decision. Aetna, the nation’s third largest insurer, had announced its bid for Humana in 2015. The deal would have given Aetna the opportunity to significantly expand its presence in the fast-growing market...

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