Pending US home sales reach 3-year high in March

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in March to the highest level in three years. The National Association of Realtors says that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 1.5 percent to 105.7. That’s the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer’s tax credit boosted sales. It’s also above February’s reading of 104.1. Signed contracts are 7 percent higher than they were a year earlier. Continue Reading

Shot fired at Ohio high school, police say

Authorities say a shot has been fired at a Cincinnati area high school, injuring one person, while another person has been taken into custody. The Hamilton County sheriff’s office said there is no longer active shooter at La Salle High School, a private school west of Cincinnati. Authorities say one person was transported to a hospital. A shot was reported at the school Monday morning at around 9 a.m. The school then went into lockdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Continue Reading

40 ex-LAPD officers seek reviews of dismissals

Dozens of fired Los Angeles police officers are taking up the chief’s offer to re-examine their dismissals since a deadly rampage by Christopher Dorner, who claimed that he was wrongly expelled from the force. The Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/Y7E2uY ) reports 40 former officers have requested case reviews in the two months since Dorner killed four people before apparently committing suicide in a mountain cabin. Dorner claimed his 2009 firing was prompted by racism. Chief Charlie Beck vowed he would re-examine the cases of other officers who believed they were wrongly expelled. However, the Times reports the officers have been told the city charter prevents the LAPD from reinstating officers who were fired more than three years ago. Continue Reading

JC Penney to get $1.75B in financing, shares rise

J.C. Penney is confirming that Goldman Sachs will provide it with $1.75 billion in financing, sending shares up 3 percent in trading. Rumors about the financing had begun to circulate Friday. The five-year senior secured term loan can be used to fund the company’s operations as well as pay off some of its debt. It will be secured by real estate, as well as an interest the company’s other assets and some of its subsidiaries. The company has been burning through cash. Continue Reading

Search for Survivors Over in Bangladesh; Concentration Now on Bodies

SAVAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Crews are using heavy machinery to cut through what’s left of an 8-story building that collapsed five days ago in Bangladesh.  

At least 382 people were killed and officials expect more bodies to be found. They are no longer searching for survivors. The owner of the illegally-constructed building was arrested and brought to court in a bullet-proof vest. Continue Reading

Tupelo, Mississippi Man Charged with Trying to Poison Obama

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who describes himself as a patriot with no grudges against anyone is expected to appear in a federal court today on charges that he sent ricin-filled letters to President Barack Obama and others.  

Authorities zeroed in on James Everett Dutschke after they had first arrested another man. The FBI arrested Dutschke at his house in Tupelo, Miss., on Saturday. He’s charged with making and possessing ricin for use as a weapon. Continue Reading

Branstad Says Fuel-Tax Hike “Could be Considered” This Session

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — With time running out in this legislative session, Gov. Terry Branstad still isn’t ruling out the possibility of increasing the state fuel tax, though lawmakers seem less optimistic.  

Branstad told reporters this week that if the Legislature approves proposed cuts to the commercial property tax, then a fuel tax increase “could be considered.” For years, legislators have debated increasing Iowa’s fuel tax — currently 22 cents per gallon of gasoline, including fees — but they haven’t taken action. The tax has not gone up since 1989. A commission appointed by Branstad in 2011 recommended an increase of 8 to 10 cents to support the state network of bridges and roads, many of which are considered deteriorating or deficient. Continue Reading

Osage Teen Accused of Killing Mom to Go on Trial

CLARION, Iowa (AP) — Jury selection in the trial of a 14-year-old Osage boy accused of fatally shooting his mother is scheduled to begin this week.  

The Mason City Globe Gazette reports jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday in Wright County District Court in Clarion. The trial was moved to Wright County from Mitchell County. A judge granted a change of venue request late last year after the boy’s attorneys cited negative pretrial publicity. Authorities say the boy was 13 when he shot his mother with a rifle in March 2012 at the family’s rural home. Continue Reading

Mother of bomb suspects found deeper spirituality

In photos of her as a younger woman, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva wears a low-cut blouse and has her hair teased like a 1980s rock star. After she arrived in the U.S. from Russia in 2002, she went to beauty school and did facials at a suburban day spa. But in recent years, people noticed a change. She began wearing a hijab and cited conspiracy theories about 9/11 being a plot against Muslims. Now known as the angry and grieving mother of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tsarnaeva is drawing increased attention after federal officials say Russian authorities intercepted her phone calls, including one in which she vaguely discussed jihad with her elder son. In another, she was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, U.S. officials said. Continue Reading