The Two-Way
7:37 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Capping Worst Year On Record, Sales Of New Homes Drop In December

2011 was the worst year on record for sales of new homes. The dismal year was capped by a drop in home sales in December.

The AP reports:

"The Commerce Department said Thursday new-home sales fell last month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 307,000. The pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold in a healthy economy.

"About 302,000 homes were sold last year. That's less than the 323,000 sold in 2010, making 2011 the worst year on records dating back to 1963.

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The Salt
7:31 am
Thu January 26, 2012

The (Un)Usual Suspect: Why Organic Spices Aren't Always Safe

These celery seeds look safe, but could be tainted. Even if they're organic.
iStockphoto.com

The new food safety recall for salt really got our attention. How could salt be contaminated with salmonella?

If your blog's named The Salt, you've just got to find out. So we dug into the story, and found that it's a collision of two distressing trends: contamination of herbs and spices, and safety issues with organic products.

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Wolf advocates say grey wolves aren't killers
6:53 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Groups Boycott 'The Grey' For Portrayal Of Wolves

A new Liam Neeson action thriller opening Friday is receiving howls of protest from wolf advocates. They say “The Grey” wrongly portrays wolves as massive, bloodthirsty beasts. And as Jessica Robinson reports, some wildlife groups are organizing a boycott.

When a plane crash strands a scruffy bunch of guys in the wilds of Alaska, they find themselves going mano a mano against some very mean looking wolves.

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The Two-Way
6:50 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Australian Prime Minister Rescued From Angry Protesters

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is bundled out of a restaurant by security service agents after it was surrounded by furious Aboriginal rights protesters in Canberra on Thursday.
Lukas Coch AFP/Getty Images

Australia Day ended with a tense showdown between aboriginal protesters and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday.

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Unicare used unapproved methods to determine rates
6:43 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Insurer Fined For Charging Wash. Students Incorrect Rates

Washington State University students were among those charged incorrect rates by Unicare Life and Health Insurance.
Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington state insurance commissioner has fined an Indiana company $100,000 for charging Washington college students the wrong rates.

Unicare Life and Health Insurance sold over 8,000 insurance policies, primarily to international students, between 2004 and 2009. Most were short-term policies costing an average of $80 a month. The problem is, the company used unapproved methods to determine those rates. Unicare also excluded people from coverage whom they shouldn’t have. Rich Roesler is a spokesperson for the state’s insurance office.

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DeFazio hopes to counter loss of timber money
6:35 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Oregon Congressman Hopes To Restore Funding To Rural Counties

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio
Online Guide to House Members and Senators Wikimedia Commons

EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is hoping he'll soon be able to introduce legislation that will help fund rural counties who are bracing for the loss of federal timber payments.

Some counties face insolvency if the Secure Rural Schools Act is not renewed. Congressman DeFazio says he's working with fellow Democratic Representative Curt Schrader and Republican Representative Greg Walden for a temporary extension. They're also helping him with a long term plan.

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Convicts instead given life sentences
6:25 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Lawmakers Consider Abolishing Death Penalty To Save Money In Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are considering a plan to save money by abolishing the death penalty in the state. That idea got a hearing today in Olympia. Karil Klingbeil testified in support of the ban. Her sister, Candy Hemmig, was murdered 30 years ago in Olympia. The killer, Mitchell Rupe was dubbed “the man too fat to hang.” He initially got the death penalty, but after 20 years of appeals, received a life sentence instead. Klingbeil testified about the anger she used to feel.

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The Two-Way
5:45 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Unemployment Claims Up Slightly; Business Spending Increased

Over the past week, 21,000 more Americans claimed unemployment benefits, the Labor Department reports. Like most economic news, that's the bad news. The good news, reports the AP, is the that the four-week average is down 2,500, which "still signals a healthier job market."

The Commerce Department also has some good news on the economy: Orders for durable goods rose 3 percent, last month.

The AP reports that this marks a gain for the second straight month. The AP adds:

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It's All Politics
5:44 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Could The Crowd At The Final GOP Debate Make The Difference In Florida Vote?

Newt Gingrich greets supporters during a rally at Wings Plus in Coral Springs, Fla. on Jan. 25. The GOP candidates meet in Jacksonville Thursday night for a final debate before Tuesday's primary.
CARLINE JEAN MCT /Landov

As the Republican presidential hopefuls head into their final televised confrontation Thursday night at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville (at 8 p.m. ET on CNN), NPR's Ari Shapiro reports that the debate could sway the outcome of the close race.

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