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Home construction rises slightly in November

Home construction nudged up in November after two months of declines. Builders broke ground last month on a seasonally adjusted 555,000 units, a 3.9 percent rise from October, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Even with the gain, housing starts are just 16 percent above the 477,000 unit pace from April 2009 — the lowest point on records dating back to 1959. And they are down 76 percent from their peak in January 2006, and 45 percent below the 1 million annual rate that analysts say is consistent with a healthy housing market. All the activity last month came from building
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Budget problems are hurting HIV patients

Cash-strapped states are cutting back on a program that provides free medicine to people with HIV, leaving thousands of patients to wonder where their drugs will come from and stirring fears of a return to the days when an AIDS diagnosis meant certain death. At least 19 states have taken such steps as capping enrollment, dropping patients, instituting waiting lists, lowering the income ceiling for eligibility, and no longer covering certain drugs or tests. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program is funded by the federal and state governments and run by the states. It provides free drugs in all 50 states
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Slow down or we’ll show you some leg

We’ve all heard stories about people trying to sneak into the carpool lane with a “passenger.” One that can be made from cardboard or inflatable plastic, that is. But the cops in the Czech Republic have been taking notes, it seems. Much like how you would distract your shoe-eating pooch with a “look over here!”, police are posting cardboard cutouts of female officers to get drivers to slow down. (Or crash. Whichever.) Now, are drivers slowing down because they think there are cops in the road? Or because these “cops” happen to be wearing miniskirts? No, really: The Cutout Cops
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Face it: This wasn’t a good year to be Tiger Woods…or his caddie

Steve Williams never imagined that losing his wallet could fuel so much speculation that he was on his way out as Tiger Woods’ caddie. Hours after the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where Woods closed with a 75 and offered some veiled criticism of his caddie’s advice in the final round, Williams was sitting alone in the Monterey airport while staring intently at his cell phone. A golf blogger recognized him, took his picture and posted it with the headline, “Steve Williams at the airport, without Tiger Woods.” Never mind that Williams lives in New Zealand and Woods lives in
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$30 million? I don’t need no stinkin’ $30 million

At some point, it seems, Cliff Lee figured it wasn’t about the money anymore. Baseball’s hottest free agent could have had $150 million and a spot on the biggest stage in the game with its most successful team — the New York Yankees, winners of 27 World Series. Instead, the star pitcher got up from the table and left $30 million behind. He picked the Philadelphia Phillies, winners of just two titles in more than a century — and a team that brusquely traded him after he led them into the World Series in 2009. The Phillies will give him
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Fat women are often poor women

Women who are poor are much more likely to be obese but men are not, U.S. government researchers said on Tuesday in a report that contradicts some common perceptions. They found income does not greatly affect whether a man is obese but that education seems to affect both sexes. “Among men, obesity prevalence is generally similar at all income levels, with a tendency to be slightly higher at higher income levels,” the team at the National Center for Health Statistics wrote. Obesity is a growing problem for U.S. policymakers. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, with 72 million
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Gun fight at California mall leaves mother dead, five wounded

A mother loading her 2-year-old son into an SUV was killed Tuesday and five others were wounded in a gunbattle at a strip mall in south Sacramento, authorities said. Two men were inside Fly Cuts & Styles barber shop just before 1 p.m. when two other men came in and started shooting, said Sacramento County Sheriff‘s Sgt. Tim Curran. The men in the barber shop were armed and returned fire, Curran said. The gunbattle apparently moved into the parking lot with at least one of the suspects getting into a white sedan. Curran said the gunfire continued as some of
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Gunman opens fire on school board, then kills himself

A gunman opened fire at a school board meeting Tuesday, sending spectators scrambling before he exchanged shots with a security guard and then killed himself, police said. No one besides the gunman was injured. Witnesses said the gunman walked up to a podium, spray painted a red “V” with a circle around it before he began firing. Bay District School board member Ginger Littleton said she hit the gunman in the arm with her purse when some of the people in the room were ordered out. “In my mind, that was the last attempt or opportunity to divert him,” she
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Televisions just not a Best Buy this Christmas

Best Buy Co.’s third-quarter net income fell more than expected as it lost sales of lower-priced TVs and laptops to competitors, and more expensive 3-D and Internet-connected TVs failed to catch on. Shares of the largest U.S. electronics chain fell nearly 15 percent Tuesday as the results raised fears over Best Buy’s holiday season. The company also cut its guidance below analyst expectations. Best Buy benefited when Circuit City went out of business last year. Now it’s getting squeezed between online sellers like Amazon.com and discount stores like Walmart and Target. All sharply reduced prices on flat-screen TVs to drive
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Are we ready for gross-out chick flicks?

Natalie Portman thinks gross-out, juvenile humor isn’t just for guys. She believes women appreciate lewd humor, too. In the January 2011 issue of Vogue magazine, the Academy Award-nominated actress says she’s started her own production company and is interested in making comedic films like “The Hangover” for women. In the article, Portman says women are typically “not allowed” to be “beautiful and funny.” She also believes it’s frowned upon for females to be vulgar. Her latest movie “Black Swan” is now in theaters. The January issue of Vogue goes on sale nationwide December 21. ___ Online: http://www.vogue.com/ http://www.foxsearchlight.com/blackswan/
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