Lifestyle

GE says smart panel to cut power bills
October 29, 2007 11:06 PM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric Co said it is developing a control panel that should allow homeowners to trim rising utility bills by helping manage power and water consumption.

The "eco-dashboard" will be available in December in new home developments in southern and western U.S. states, areas where power and water supplies are particularly stressed, Juan de Bedout, a renewable energy specialist at GE's global research center in Niskayuna, New York said late last week.

New York may join crackdown on plastic bags
October 29, 2007 10:57 PM - Edith Honan, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City may follow an international trend and crack down on plastic shopping bags, seeking to cut their use with a plan officials hope will be a model for other cities.

A proposal introduced on Monday requires stores larger than 5,000 square feet to set up an in-store recycling program and sell reusable bags.

Some 700 food stores plus large retailers such as Target and Home Depot would have to collect used bags and provide a system for turning them over to a manufacturer or to third-party recycling firms.

Weight-loss scams top form of fraud: FTC
October 29, 2007 10:50 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Weight-loss scams, foreign lottery offers and buyers clubs were the top ways that scam artists separated 30 million Americans from their money in one year, a U.S. agency said on Monday.

Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to fall victim to scam artists than whites, the Federal Trade Commission said in a statement discussing its most recent survey on fraud. Twenty percent of blacks and 18 percent of Hispanics reported being defrauded, compared to 12 percent of whites.

Overall, 13.5 percent of U.S. adults fell victim to fraud, the FTC said.

 

 

 

 

Double-digit California home price drop seen
October 29, 2007 10:23 PM - Peter Henderson, Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California faces a double-digit fall in housing prices over the next year and a half, a major builder, a lender and the state treasurer said on Monday in a discussion of how long the subprime mortgage crisis would drag on the Golden State.

As attendees at a conference voted on how bad they thought the housing market could get in the most populous U.S. state, panelists Jeffrey Mezger, chief executive of home builder KB Home; Angelo Mozilo, CEO of lender Countrywide Financial; and California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer discussed the question in comments picked up by a microphone and audible in the audience.

U.S. consumer group flags more toys with lead
October 29, 2007 07:23 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dishes, toys, jewelry and backpacks that have not yet been recalled all carry "worrisome" levels of lead, the nonprofit Consumers Union said on Monday.

The group's Consumer Reports magazine staff recommended that people immediately stop using some of the products tested.

"Our lab tests detected lead at widely varying levels in samples of dishware, jewelry, glue stick caps, vinyl backpacks, children's ceramic tea sets and other toys and items not on any federal recall list," the group wrote in a magazine report.

Lawyers' group urges death penalty moratorium
October 29, 2007 11:34 AM - James Vicini, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The American Bar Association said on Monday it was renewing its call for a nationwide moratorium on executions, based on a three-year study of death penalty systems in eight states that found unfairness and other flaws.

The lawyers' group said its study identified key problems, such as major racial disparities, incompetent defense services for poor defendants and irregular clemency review processes, making those death penalty systems operate unfairly.

The American Bar Association in 2001 launched its Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project as the next step toward a nationwide moratorium on executions. The study was part of that project.

German carmakers blast motorway speed limit idea
October 29, 2007 11:27 AM -

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Imposing a standard speed limit of 130 kph (80 mph) on German motorways would have scant impact on the environment and only hurt domestic carmakers, the country's VDA auto industry group said on Monday.

"Such fixed speed limits would be an ecological zero-sum game and would damage the German auto sector," VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement to Reuters.

Germany is unusual in that stretches of its motorways still have no speed limit, and the country's influential car industry has lobbied hard against any national rules.

Spain to demolish illegal coastal homes: report
October 29, 2007 11:21 AM -

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain plans to demolish illegally built homes and hotels along an eighth of its coastline to halt rapid destruction of its Mediterranean and Canary Island beaches, the El Pais newspaper reported on Monday.

The 5-billion-euro ($7-billion) plan aims to reclaim 482 miles of coastline and put an end to illegal urban development that threatens Spain's tourism industry, one of the country's biggest sources of foreign cash, El Pais reported.

The Socialist government will present the plan to regional authorities on Wednesday and promote it as a means to attract wealthy tourists who seek natural beauty rather than concrete resorts, the newspaper said.

Expert: Burma's Junta No Match For Internet
October 29, 2007 10:57 AM - Barry Bergman, UC berkeley

Berkeley, California - Darren Zook, a UC Berkeley political scientist and Southeast Asia scholar, says there is one huge difference between today's protests in Burma and those of nearly two decades ago: the Internet. The military has arrested thousands of dissidents, many of them Buddhist monks, and estimates of the dead range from dozens to hundreds; Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past 18 years in detention, remains under house arrest. Yet the ability of a relatively few determined activists inside Burma to connect with the outside world has turned the current turmoil into a teachable moment on a global scale.

California Wildfires Destroy Animal Habitats : USFWS
October 29, 2007 10:00 AM - Reuters

Los Angeles - Wildfires that began last week and continue to burn in southern California have destroyed thousands of acres of vegetation and habitat on Hopper Mountain and San Diego National Wildlife Refuges, forced the temporary closure of the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, and spurred deployment of more than 40 Service firefighters to the region.

As of Wednesday, more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed by wildfires in five southern California counties. Property damage is estimated at $1 Billion in San Diego County alone. All Service employees in the affected areas are accounted for and no employees' homes have been damaged by fire.

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