• Japan data signal slow recovery despite lower energy costs

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    TOKYO (AP) — Japanese factories churned out more machinery and electronic devices in January as export shipments rose, but lower energy costs due to cheaper crude oil failed to provide a boost to consumer spending. Weak retail sales and a cooling of already slow inflation underscored the fragility of the recovery of the world's third-largest economy. It also raised the potential for further monetary stimulus from the central bank. Core inflation, excluding volatile food prices, was 2.2 percent, compared with 2.5 percent the month before and the lowest in 10 months. Excluding energy costs and food, the consumer price index rose 2.1 percent, level with the previous two months.

  • LA teachers, union leaders rally amid stalled talks

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dressed in red and raising signs into the air, thousands of teachers filled a downtown Los Angeles park on Thursday in demand of higher wages and smaller class sizes amid stalled contract negotiations. "Everybody in this country is watching this struggle," said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. "It's a fight about the nature of public education. What is public education going to look like?" The rally was the largest action yet amid an escalating standoff between union and Los Angeles Unified district leaders: United Teachers Los Angeles is demanding an 8.5 percent salary increase, a demand interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines contends the district cannot meet without s

  • Investigators find 32,000 emails in IRS probe

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Investigators said Thursday they have recovered 32,000 emails related to a former IRS official at the heart of the agency's tea party scandal. But they don't know how many of them are new. The emails were to and from Lois Lerner, who used to head the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. Last June, the IRS told Congress it had lost an unknown number of Lerner's emails when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011. At the time, IRS officials said the emails could not be recovered. But at a congressional hearing Thursday evening, investigators said they recovered thousands of emails from old computer tapes used to back up the agency's email system.

  • $150K dress worn by Lupita Nyong'o at Oscars reported stolen

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The theft of a $150,000 pearl-covered gown worn by Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars doesn't surprise Hollywood stylists who have personally experienced the seedy side of red carpet fashion. Style expert and fashion commentator Mary Alice Stephenson has for years heard stories about similar stolen celebrity items. "It's not shocking to me that this would be taken out of her hotel room," said Stephenson, who once had a nabbed Fendi bag held for ransom. A dress like the custom ivory one designed by Francisco Costa for the Calvin Klein Collection could fetch a lot of money on the black market, Stephenson said. "There are a lot of collectors out there who are very private and have private collections o

  • Asian stock markets lackluster after Wall Street decline

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks were lackluster Friday after U.S. markets drifted lower and Japan reported faster growth in factory output but weaker retail sales. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.3 percent to 18,840.77 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent 3,300.19. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.6 percent at 24,058.10 and Seoul's Kospi shed 0.1 percent to 1,991.20. Sydney and Jakarta gained while Singapore and New Zealand declined. JAPAN SIGNALS: Industrial output in the world's third-largest economy jumped by 4 percent month-on-month in January compared with December's 0.8 percent rise, government data showed. That raises production to levels recorded ahead of last year's sales tax hike, which crim

  • Walker: Protesters prepared him to confront global terrorism

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday that his experience taking on thousands of protesters in his state helped prepare him to take on terrorists across the world. The likely Republican presidential contender sparked pointed criticism from labor union leaders across the country after remarks delivered on the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington. The annual conference features more than a dozen potential Republican presidential contenders over three days hoping to win over conservative activists. Asked how he would handle the Islamic State group if elected president, Walker said, "For years I've been concerned about that threat, not just abroad but here on

  • TV audience increases as O'Reilly faces criticism of work

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — More viewers have tuned in to watch Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly as he faces criticism for some of his past reporting. His show, "The O'Reilly Factor," drew just over 3 million viewers Wednesday night. That's up 11 percent over the same day last year. The Nielsen ratings company says O'Reilly had his largest audience since November among the 25-54 age demographic, the basis of most ad sales for news programming. The audience among that younger demo was up 64 percent over last year for O'Reilly, who usually has a decidedly older audience. Stories over the past week have accused O'Reilly of falsely saying he was reporting from a war zone in the Falklands War and was at the site of the suicid

  • South Korea renews license of 2nd-oldest nuclear plant

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean nuclear regulator said Friday it renewed the operating license of the country's second-oldest nuclear power plant until 2022, overriding the objections of residents and anti-nuclear groups. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said that seven of nine commissioners voted to restart the Wolsong No. 1 reactor located in Gyeongju city, 275 kilometers (170 miles) south of Seoul. It was the first such decision in South Korea since safety concerns about nuclear energy and older plants were raised following the meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi reactors in 2011. South Korea's 23 nuclear power plants mostly located in the country's southeastern coast provide about one-third of it

  • New York Daily News, tabloid NYC paper, may be up for sale

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Daily News may be up for sale. Mort Zuckerman, the owner and publisher of the New York City tabloid newspaper, sent a memo to employees on Thursday that said he was approached about a potential sale a few weeks ago. The memo was sent to The Associated Press. "Although there were no immediate plans to consider a sale, we thought it would be prudent to explore the possibility and talk to potential buyers and/or investors," Zuckerman wrote in the memo. He has hired the financial advisory firm Lazard to help with the process. Zuckerman did not say who the potential buyer is and his spokesman Tom Goodman had no comment beyond the memo.

  • Obama talks oil-train safety in Oregon television interview

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — President Barack Obama said the federal government plans to strengthen regulations regarding oil train safety. Obama made the remarks during a brief interview with KGW-TV's Laural Porter, who was invited to Washington, D.C., as part of a round of local television interviews on Thursday. The president's interviews focused on the importance of exports and trade to the American economy. Obama told KGW that the Department of Transportation is talking to all stakeholders to strengthen and secure how oil-train cars are passing through the region. A spill in the Pacific Northwest, Obama said, "could end up having a devastating effect on some of our most beautiful landscapes.

  • Arkansas court affirms class-action status in tobacco suit

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court says a lawsuit against tobacco giant Philip Morris USA can proceed under class-action status. The lawsuit seeks refunds on every pack of Marlboro Lights sold in Arkansas from 1971 to 2010. The plaintiffs claim Philip Morris, which is part of the Altria Group, deceived smokers about health risks. The justices' 6-1 decision was released Thursday. The company wants each case considered separately, saying some smokers bought the cigarettes for their taste, packaging or brand reputation — not for claims they had lower tar and nicotine. Philip Morris also said courts elsewhere have rejected class-action status for similar claims.

  • NYC police sergeants union signs new labor contract

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — Two months ago, amid a searing rift with City Hall, the president of the New York Police Department's sergeants union turned his back to Mayor Bill de Blasio and later called him "a total nincompoop." On Thursday, that union head, Edward Mullins, fixed a wry smile to his face and allowed a jubilant de Blasio to wrap his arm around his shoulders in celebration of the union signing a new labor contract with the administration. The contract was another marker along the road to a tentative truce between City Hall and the NYPD's officers after months of friction fueled by the cops' anger over de Blasio's handling of anti-NYPD protests that swept the city after an officer was not indicted in the chokehold death of

  • Nevada gambling regulators sign off on Olympic betting

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Come summer 2016, when the best of the best athletes climb podiums wearing gold, silver and bronze medals, Las Vegas gamblers could very well be counting their green. Nevada gambling regulators voted Thursday to allow the state's sports books to offer bets on the Olympics for the first time in years. It was a move unopposed by anyone in the industry and cheered by the regulators themselves. International sports books in Great Britain, Ireland and Australia and offshore Internet sites already allow such bets. Johnny Avello, the longtime odds-maker and sports book director for Wynn Las Vegas, said he hasn't paid too much attention to Olympic events for a while, but will now.

  • Ohio oil well output doubles in a year; natural gas triples

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Oil production has more than doubled and production of natural gas has tripled in Ohio in one year, bolstering arguments by the administration of Gov. John Kasich that the industry is thriving enough to sustain a tax increase. Kasich wants to use the proceeds to reduce the state's income tax. Statistics released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources showed more than 3.5 million barrels of oil and 164 billion cubic feet of natural gas were produced during the last three months of 2014. During the same quarter in 2013, Ohio wells produced 1.4 million barrels of oil and 43 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The increase was fueled by a building boom of wells.

  • Obama steps up pitch for trade, exports, targets Democrats

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Relying on Republicans and going against the grain of his own party for his legislative successes has not been much of a go-to play in President Barack Obama's game plan. Then there's international trade. On Thursday, Obama stepped up his campaign for expanding exports and negotiating new trade deals in Asia and Europe, a rare spot of common ground with Republicans and a raw point of friction with Democrats. Obama pushed his trade themes in interviews with television stations from states represented by some of the handful of Democratic senators who may be willing to side with the president on his plans for new commerce agreements.

  • UnitedHealth tightens rules covering hysterectomies

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — UnitedHealth is tightening its coverage rules on hysterectomies. The largest U.S. health insurer will require health care professionals and facilities and providers to notify it in advance if they plan to perform some types of hysterectomies. UnitedHealth said it won't approve the procedure if it concludes that the operation isn't medically necessary. UnitedHealth Group Inc. says the changes are based on recommendations from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says vaginal hysterectomies are recommended over abdominal procedures and "keyhole" laparoscopic procedures because they are associated with better outcomes and fewer complications. The Minneapolis company said the gui

  • Oklahoma lawmakers seek more regulations on wind industry

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — With wind energy production in full swing in Oklahoma, legislative leaders are looking to impose some new restrictions on the booming industry. The Senate Energy Committee approved a bill Thursday by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, to require planning for when wind farms are decommissioned and set minimum distances from places like schools or airports. The bill also requires wind developers to provide certain public notice before the giant turbines can be erected. Bingman said details are still being worked out, but that Oklahoma's Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague is negotiating on language with lobbyists for wind developers and a coalition of landowners.

  • Asia-bound cargo ship held in Alaska harbor cleared to leave

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A cargo ship that has been held two weeks in Alaska amid a federal environmental crimes investigation has been cleared to leave port, a federal prosecutor said Thursday. The German owners and operator of the 600-foot Lindavia entered into a security agreement and posted a bond Thursday, which will allow the ship to leave the port in Dutch Harbor, probably within a few days, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said. When the Lindavia entered Dutch Harbor Feb. 12 to pick up fish for delivery to Asia, the crew notified the Coast Guard that it had suffered damage to some navigation lights and radar systems during storms on its voyage to Alaska from China, Feldis said.

  • Medical pot proposal passes first test in conservative Utah

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A panel of Utah lawmakers gave initial approval Thursday to a proposal that would allow residents of the conservative state who have chronic and debilitating diseases to consume edible medical marijuana products. The legislation forbids the smoking of marijuana, but allows businesses to grow marijuana and sell pot-infused products such as brownies, candy and lozenges. A Senate committee voted 3-2 to approve the bill and send it to the full Senate after a nearly two-hour debate about the legal and moral dangers of allowing a medical marijuana program in the heavily Mormon state. Woods Cross Republican Sen. Todd Weiler said he recently traveled to Nevada, where a medical marijuana law has passed an

  • Heat blamed for spray vaccine's failure against swine flu

    Updated: Thu, Feb 26, 2015

    ATLANTA (AP) — The makers of the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine say now they know why it has failed to protect young U.S. children against swine flu — fragile doses got too warm. The AstraZeneca FluMist vaccine works well for most flu strains, but small studies found it didn't work very well against the swine flu bug that first emerged in 2009. Swine flu has returned each year since but wasn't a big player this flu season. The problem first came to light last year, when swine flu was behind most illnesses. At a medical meeting Thursday, company officials said they investigated and concluded that the swine flu part of the vaccine is unusually sensitive to heat.




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