Home-builder outlook worsens in September
The outlook of U.S. home builders worsened in September, as foreclosures and anxious buyers hurt construction and sales activity.
The National Association of Home Builders says its index of builder sentiment in September fell to 14 from 15. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. It hasn’t reached 50 since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom.
Last year, the number of people who bought new homes fell to its lowest level dating back nearly a half-century. Sales this year haven’t fared much better.
While new homes make up a small portion of sales, they have an outsize impact on the economy. The builders’ trade group says each new home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes.
Murdoch close to payout to hacking victim’s family
In a statement, News International said it was “in advanced negotiations with the Dowler family regarding their compensation settlement.”
The BBC and Sky News reported that the company has offered to pay the family $2 million pounds ($3.2 million), and to donate 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to charity.
Dowler family lawyer Mark Lewis did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.
The revelation that the News of the World had hacked into the voicemail of 13-year-old Dowler shortly after she disappeared in 2002 horrified Britain and triggered a scandal that forced resignations of senior police officers and executives of Mr. Murdoch’s media empire.
The newspaper is accused of hacking into Dowler’s voicemail and deleting several messages, giving her parents false hope that she was alive and potentially damaging the police effort to find her.
She was later found murdered. A nightclub doorman has been convicted of the crime.
Tentative pact reached in grocery labor talks
LOS ANGELES | Union leaders said Monday they reached a tentative deal with some of Southern California’s largest grocery chains that would head off the threat of a strike by more than 60,000 workers.
The deal, which must be approved by the union’s membership, protects workers’ health policies, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324 President Fred Conger said,
“Thanks to the unity of our members and the hard work of our negotiating team, we were successful in bargaining an agreement that grocery workers can be proud of,” Mr. Conger said in a prepared statement.
The deal was announced a day after the passage of a Sunday evening deadline that would have permitted union leaders to begin a strike at any time.
Members voted last month to authorize leaders to call a strike after the two sides failed to reach agreement over payments to the union’s health care trust fund.
Conflicted columnist quits Cleveland newspaper
CLEVELAND | Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz resigned from the Plain Dealer in Cleveland on Monday to avoid ethical conflicts as her husband, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, prepares to seek re-election next year.
Ms. Schultz explained her decision in a letter to colleagues posted on the newspaper’s website.
She said it had become “painfully clear” to her in recent weeks that her professional and personal independence “is possible only if I’m no longer writing for the newspaper that covers my husband’s Senate race on a daily basis.”
Ms. Schultz apologized in early September for her column about a tea party event featuring a potential Republican challenger to Brown, state Treasurer Josh Mandel. She had not mentioned Mr. Mandel’s appearance at the event and she said that was a mistake.
“I’m sorry I didn’t let you know Mandel showed up,” she wrote.
Ms. Schultz won a Pulitzer for commentary in 2005.