Your West Valley News: Local news from Phoenix's West Valley communities - Sun City West, Sun City Grand, Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, El Mirage, Youngtown

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  • Manage blood pressure with regular exercise

    Sun Health will offer a free class on ways to manage high blood pressure through exercise.The session will be from 2 to 3 p.m. Monday in the Community Room at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, 14719 W. Grand Ave., Surprise.This informational non-exercise class will provide methods to manage high blood pressure, including regular physical activity.Rhonda Zonoozi, exercise physiologist and health coach, will offer recommendations for safe exercise when you have high blood pressure.To register, call 623-455-5633.For information, visit www.sunhealth.org and click “Community Education” at the top of the page.

  • Foothills Library stocks up for book sale

    The semiannual Fabulous Fall Book Sale at Foothills Library, 19055 N. 57th Ave., is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Roadrunner and Hummingbird rooms.There will be something for everyone in the Roadrunner Room, with prices starting at 50 cents. Westerns, mysteries, romance, general fiction and non-fiction ranging in subjects from arts and entertainment to textbooks and travel will be available for all reading tastes.In addition to books for adults, teens and children, there will be DVDs and audiobooks for sale. These items generally sell quickly, so come early for the best selections.Additionally, a “Buck-a-Bag” sale will be all day in the Hummingbird Room. The library will provide bags which you can fill with books for just $1 per bag. Only cash will be accepted in the “Buck-a-Bag” room.Although the book sale begins at 10 a.m., note that the library itself does not open until noon.All proceeds from the sale will benefit the library. For information about the sale, call Janet at 623-930-3854. For information, visit www.glendaleaz.com/library.

  • City collects household hazardous waste

    The city of Peoria sponsors various collection days throughout the year in an effort to divert all residential household and hazardous waste from area landfills.The next household and hazardous waste drop-off event will take place Nov. 1 at Liberty High School, 9621 W. Speckled Gecko. For a list of acceptable items, visit www.peoriaaz.gov/hhw.For additional information, call the Solid Waste Division at 623-773-7160.

  • Halloween event hampers traffic near Peoria City Hall

    The city of Peoria is hosting its traditional Halloween event at a new site this year, which will force road closures and other traffic modifications near the Peoria City Hall campus.The annual Peoria Halloween Monster Bash is from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Plaza, behind City Hall, 8401 W. Monroe St. Road closures and traffic modifications along Monroe Street from 83rd to 85th avenues will take place starting this evening through early Sunday morning.  No vehicle access in or out of residences will be allowed during the closure. No-parking signs will be placed on the closed sections starting today to attempt to clear the streets for the event.

  • Peoria school promotes exercise

    Frontier Elementary School in Peoria will host a free Harvest Fest/Fuel Up to Play 60 Kick-Off event from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.The event will include health screenings, fun fitness and football activities along with a variety of harvest events, including a pumpkin patch, crafts, a fanatic football fan contest and a vendor fair.This event is designed to educate individuals on the Fuel Up to Play 60 Program, which is something the Peoria Unified School District encourages on its 42 elementary and high school campuses.Fuel Up to Play 60 works to combat childhood obesity by helping schools make positive changes which encourage healthy eating and daily physical activity.The program is sponsored by the National Dairy Council and the NFL and provides resources and opportunities for students and schools to learn about healthy life habits, to develop leadership skills and to earn fun incentives.Frontier Elementary School is at 21258 N. 81st Ave.

  • Culver’s of Surprise wins competition

    Culver’s of Surprise is a regional champion in the nationwide Culver’s Crew Challenge contest, where Culver’s restaurants compete in the areas of quality, service, cleanliness, hospitality and community outreach.Culver’s of Surprise is one of 48 restaurants out of nearly 500 to advance.“It’s great to reach regional champion status in the competition,” said Rob Bullock, operator of Culver’s of Surprise.“Our team members are committed to delivering the very best to our guests and this simply validates what we try to do every day.”The evaluation of restaurants and team members comes from the Culver’s support team, utilizing elements of our guest feedback program as well as input from secret shoppers.The competition includes prize money with $50,000 going to the first-place restaurant. The three runner-up restaurants will receive $10,000 each.

  • Poll: 2 of 3 Americans say IS threat is important

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixty-five percent of Americans now say the threat from the Islamic State group is very or even extremely important, and nearly half think the U.S. military response in Iraq and Syria has not gone far enough, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Most want to see America's partners step up their contribution to the fight, Less than half, 43 percent, approve of the way President Barack Obama is handling the danger posed by the extremist militants. Greg Franke, 24, of Columbia, South Carolina, was among the 55 percent of those who disapproved. Franke, a 24-year-old assistant editor at a research library, said he thought Obama was too hesitant in responding to the militants, who have employed brutal tactics to swiftly seize territory. "I understand the need to be hesitant, but this was a group that was marching across parts of the Middle East, which is already unstable," Franke said. "I think it warranted a swift and more decisive response." "I also think that his declaration that U.S. troops would not be involved was premature," he said. "I don't want U.S. troops involved. But I don't think we need to close doors." A majority, 66 percent, favor the airstrikes the United States has been launching against the militants, yet 65 percent of those surveyed say Obama has not clearly explained America's goal in fighting the Islamic State group. The president met with his national security team on Friday to discuss the Islamic State and talk via video teleconference with U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Baghdad and consulates in Irbil and Basra. Here's a look at the poll: IS ENOUGH BEING DONE? Forty-six percent said the U.S. military response has not gone far enough — up from 40 percent in September. Fifty-six percent said the military response from countries that have joined the U.S. in the fight against Islamic State militants has not gone far enough. The U.S. and partner countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been bombing Islamic State targets since August. "It shouldn't just be us. It shouldn't just be 'Oh, the United States is policing.' It should be everyone is there policing and everybody believes this is wrong and everyone — worldwide — is trying to stop this," said Kathy Robinson, 24, a Sterling, Virginia, woman who works at an information technology company. At the same time, she thinks the United States eventually will put troops on the ground in the region "just to make sure nothing starts back up — to keep the peace." Only 32 percent think Obama has done a good job in clearly stating U.S. policy against the IS group. More than six in 10 of them think it's either not likely or only moderately likely that the U.S. and its partners will achieve their goal in fighting IS. ___ ARE AMERICANS FOLLOWING DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAQ, SYRIA? While 47 percent of those surveyed said there's a very or extremely high risk of another terror attack inside the United States, just a third said they have been keenly following the news about the U.S. military action against IS. An additional 38 percent said they were following the action somewhat closely, and 31 percent said they were keeping up not too closely or not closely at all. ___ DO PEOPLE SUPPORT THE AIRSTRIKES? While Americans support the airstrike, when it comes to supporting the idea of deploying U.S. ground troops, respondents were more guarded. Thirty-seven percent said they opposed putting American forces on the ground, 33 percent favored the idea and 28 percent said they were neither for nor against it. Obama has said repeatedly that he has no plans to send ground troops to Iraq or Syria. However, 28 percent thought it was very or extremely likely that he would, and an additional 45 percent thought it was moderately likely. Just 24 percent said it was not likely. Michael Rainwater, 64, of Sammanish, Washington, doesn't particularly want to see U.S. troops sent in, but thinks they might be deployed at some point. "I think all of these things tend to escalate," he said. "You can't keep pouring fuel on the fire and expect the fire to get smaller. So every time we bomb or send in armed drones, you are creating more terrorists." He does not think, though, that the Islamic State is in a position to mount a 9/11-style attack against the U.S. Said Rainwater, a retired software company owner: "It is more of a criminal entity because basically what they are doing is kidnapping people for ransom, taking over oil refineries for the income." The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20 using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were given free access.

  • World War II airmen fly again in storied B-29

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The bomber best known for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan also flew countless other raids. Karnig Thomasian's final mission on a B-29 Superfortress ended in flames when bombs collided and exploded in the air over Burma in 1945.He parachuted out and spent six months in a Japanese prison camp.On Thursday, he was once again in a B-29, flying from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. He and other veterans will be on hand at the WWII AirPower Expo in New Orleans this weekend.As the bomber named Fifi took off in Baton Rouge, the 90-year-old Pompton Plains, New Jersey, native peered out of the glass-covered nose where the bombardier sat during missions. He moved the bombsight from side to side."I was thinking about my bombardier ... and how vulnerable he was. He was wide open to flak," Thomasian said of runs they often made through a barrage of anti-aircraft fire.Charles Chauncey was also on board. He flew 22 firebomb raids, including three on Tokyo in what he called the "blitz" of March 1945. Although official estimates put the death toll at 125,000 from the bombings, Chauncey said he believes many more died.

  • Sheriff's Dept.: 3 pose as police to invade home

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Pima County authorities say a 29-year-old man has been arrested after three people posed as police officers to gain entry into a Tucson-area home to conduct a home invasion robbery. The Sheriff's Department says two men and a woman dressed as police entered the home Thursday night, demanding money and drugs. The two men and two residents began fighting, and the residents were able to detain one of the suspects. The other two intruders left in a dark brown SUV. The Sheriff's Office says 29-year-old Alberto Herrera was arrested and jailed on suspicion of charges that included burglary, impersonating a peace officer and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

  • DuVal attacks Ducey on education priorities

    PHOENIX (AP) — Democrat Fred DuVal lashed out at his Republican opponent in the Arizona governor's race over his education funding plans Friday, upping his rhetoric in the campaign as the race nears its final week. DuVal called Republican Doug Ducey "the most anti-public education candidate for governor in my lifetime," and said Ducey's plans to cut income taxes will end up decimating school funding. "He wants to do giant tax giveaways to the rich that would cause the largest funding cuts to education in our state — it is simple math," Duval said. "The fact that he won't admit that his plan doesn't add up shows that Doug Ducey isn't honest enough to be our governor." The aggressive tone from DuVal comes two weeks after voters began casting early ballots and just 12 days before the general election and stands in stark contrast to the civil tone he took in five debates with Ducey. DuVal spoke at a news conference at the Phoenix headquarters of the Arizona Education Association and was joined by teachers who support his call to stop funding cuts. Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones, now a Ducey supporter, deadpanned and called DuVal's statement about Ducey a "slight exaggeration." "I think there's probably a slight exaggeration that Doug's the single-most antagonistic to public education in the history of his life," Jones said. "But I also think they have difference of opinion on how to fund things." In a statement, Ducey's campaign called the attack "both dishonest and false." "In just over one week, we are confident Arizona voters will elect Doug Ducey to lead on both education and the economy, and as governor, he will make certain there are no winners and losers in Arizona's schools." DuVal has made education funding a centerpiece of his campaigning, vowing not to cut another penny from K-12 schools and to stop fighting a court order that inflation funding be restored. Ducey wants to continue fighting the court order that the Legislature reset funding formulas to account for inflation, and he said if the state loses, he wants to review school funding formulas to make sure more money makes it into the classroom. The courts have ordered Arizona to pay an additional $1.6 billion to schools over the coming five years and may order $1.3 billion in back payments. That order came in a lawsuit won by schools over the Legislature's failure to fund voter-mandated yearly inflation increases, and is being appealed. In addition, the state is facing more than a billion dollars in deficits in the coming two years, a looming fiscal crisis the next governor will have to deal with as soon as he takes office in January. Both candidates have given general ideas about how to handle the deficit, but dodge when pressed for specifics, as DuVal did Friday when asked by reporters to say what he would cut if schools got full funding. "You asked the right question, which is OK, fine, you're not going to cut any more in education, but there's a whole lot more to the budget than just that, and you know that," Jones said. "You got to tell me where you're going to get the money from, and I think that's what Doug's been focused on."

  • County attorney fights to preserve law denying bail to illegal immigrants

    PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants a federal appeals court to give him what legal foes call a "do-over'' of his bid to salvage a state law denying bail to many people not in this country legally.Montgomery conceded in filings with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a prior county attorney did not present evidence showing that undocumented individuals were less likely to show up for court dates than citizens or legal residents. The appellate judges, citing that lack of evidence, ruled last week that lack of facts, coupled with disparate treatment of those without documents, make the 2006 voter-approved Proposition 100 illegal and unenforceable anywhere in Arizona.But Montgomery, in his latest plea, said that was because the challengers to the law effectively admitted that to be true. So he said there was no need to present any statistical evidence.Cecillia Wang, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that's not true. She said Montgomery is now seeking a "do-over'' for flaws in the way his office handled the case in the first place."They had every opportunity to show that Proposition 100 was supported by some indication there was a flight risk issue here,'' she said. "And they didn't do it,'' Wang continued. "You know why? Because those numbers don't exist.''Montgomery said he does have such data, even though former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who was in office when the law was challenged, chose not to present it. And he said the appellate court should give him a chance to make the case now.

  • Militant group said to be using chlorine bombs

    MURSITPINAR, Turkey (AP) — New allegations have emerged that Islamic State extremists have expanded their arsenal with chlorine bombs and captured fighter jets — weapons that could help the militants in Iraq and Syria. Kurdish fighters in the key Syrian border town of Kobani have held off a month-long offensive by the Islamic State group with the help of a U.S.-led campaign of airstrikes. Turkey's president said he will allow Syrian rebels to transit through his country to help the town's beleaguered defenders, but both the Kurds and the rebels denied any such plan was in the works, underscoring differences over strategy that are hindering efforts to roll back the extremists. In Iraq, officials said Islamic State militants used chlorine gas during fighting with security forces and Shiite militiamen last month north of Baghdad. If the reports are confirmed, it would be the first time the Sunni extremists tried to use chlorine since their seizure of large parts of Syria and northern Iraq earlier this year. The statements in Iraq came two days after Kurdish officials and doctors said they believed IS militants had released some kind of toxic gas in an eastern district of Kobani. Aysa Abdullah, a senior Kurdish official based in the town, mentioned the attack took place late Tuesday and that some people suffered symptoms that included dizziness and watery eyes. She and other officials said doctors lacked the equipment to establish what kinds of chemicals were used. U.S. Secretary of John Kerry said he could not confirm the Iraqi allegations that toxic gas was used against security forces and Shiite militias, but he called the charges "extremely serious." He said chlorine can be considered a chemical weapon if it is mixed with other toxic agents. "The use of any chemical weapon is an abhorrent act," Kerry said at a news conference in Washington. "It's against international law. And these recent allegations underscore the importance of the work that we are currently engaged in." Three Iraqi officials — a senior security official, a local official from Duluiya and an official from Balad — told The Associated Press that the Islamic State group used bombs with chlorine-filled cylinders during clashes in late September in the two towns. The militants have failed to capture both Duluiya, 75 kilometers (45 miles) north of Baghdad, and Balad, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the Iraqi capital. In the attacks, about 40 troops and Shiite militiamen were slightly affected by the chlorine and showed symptoms consistent with chlorine poisoning, such as difficulty in breathing and coughing, the three officials said. The troops were treated at a hospital and recovered quickly. The senior security official said it was most likely that the Islamic State fighters used chlorine from water purification plants located in the areas they had overrun. Earlier this year, a U.N. fact-finding mission sent to investigate alleged chlorine attacks in Syria was ambushed and briefly detained by armed men in rebel-held territory. The mission had said it was virtually certain chlorine had been used as a chemical weapon in northern Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed with the United States and Russia to dispose of his chemical weapons — an arsenal that Damascus had never previously formally acknowledged — after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack on the outskirts of the capital in the summer of 2013. Chlorine was not listed as part of the Syrian arsenal. Last week, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that IS militants flew three MiG fighter jets with the help of former Iraqi air force pilots who were now members of the extremist group. The report could not be independently confirmed, and U.S. officials said they had no reports of the militants flying jets. The group is known to have seized warplanes from at least one air base captured from the Syrian army in Raqqa province earlier this year. Militant websites had posted photos of IS fighters with the warplanes, but it was unclear if they were operational. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said this week that Syrian aircraft bombed two of the three jets on the runway as they landed at Jarrah air base in northern Syria. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Ankara would allow hundreds of Syrian rebels to travel to Kobani to help Kurdish fighters there battling IS militants. The announcement by Erdogan, made on a visit to Estonia, suggested more assistance for Syrian Kurdish fighters since mid-September, when the IS group launched an offensive to try to take Kobani. Militant positions around the town are under bombardment by airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition. Erdogan, a fierce opponent of Assad, said the Western-backed Free Syrian Army would send 1,300 fighters to Kobani. He told reporters that the rebels were negotiating their route with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, which governs Kobani. Syrian opposition activists denied there were any such plans, and Kurdish fighters reacted angrily to the announcement, viewing it as a slight to their dogged defense of the town over the past month. Syria's Kurds are seen as the most successful group fighting the IS militants on the ground. They are being aided by the U.S. airstrikes, and have received air-dropped shipments of weapons. The Syrian Kurds accuse Turkey of trying to undermine their efforts. Earlier this week, Turkey announced that Iraqi Kurds, who have better relations with Ankara, would enter Kobani through its territory. The Turkish government is reluctant to aid the Syrian Kurdish forces because it views them as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has waged a long insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and NATO. "We need weapons, we are not in need of fighters," said Nawaf Khalil of the PYD. "There has been no communication with us," Khalil said of Erdogan's announcement. A spokesman for the Western-backed Syrian opposition in exile, Kenan Mohammed, also said there were no plans to send fighters to Kobani. He and another spokesman said Syrian rebels were already badly overstretched trying to defend opposition-held areas, particularly in the countryside around Aleppo, from advancing government forces.

  • Kool cars line up Saturday at Westgate

    Car enthusiasts from all over the state will descend upon Westgate Entertainment District for the 10th Annual KOOL Classic Car Show from 94.5 KOOL FM.The event, hosted in conjunction with Nancy Perry Productions, will have classic cars from more than 50 classes, live music, activity booths and plenty of dining options at Westgate restaurants.The show is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Lots 1 and 5 behind the AMC Theater. Free for spectators.Car show is open to all makes, models and years. For information, visit www.westgateaz.com/events/special-events/.

  • Cuban filmmaker to screen award-winning movie at ASU’s West campus

    Acclaimed Cuban filmmaker Miguel Coyula will visit Arizona State University’s West campus Monday and Tuesday to interact with students and make public presentations.A highlight of the visit will be a screening of Coyula’s award-winning film “Memories of Overdevelopment (Memorias del Desarrollo)” Tuesday. The event begins at 6 p.m. with Coyula leading a discussion focusing on “50 Years of Cuba: Looking In, Looking Back.” The discussion will explore influences and scenes from other films that have marked Coyula as a director. “Memories of Overdevelopment” will be screened at 7 p.m. The discussion and screening will be in the Kiva Lecture Hall at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.The public also is invited to hear Coyula address “Digital Audiovisual Grammar: Understanding Independent Filmmaking as a One Man Crew” at 3 p.m. Monday in Second Stage West, in the lower level of the University Center Building.The events are free and open to the public. Visitor parking on campus costs $2 per hour.Coyula was born in Havana in 1977. He was part of a new wave of independent Cuban filmmakers working outside of the mainstream using digital technology on shoestring budgets. Early on, he came to the attention of the critics through his shorts which garnered many awards at various Cuban film festivals. After graduating from the prestigious International Film School of San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, in 1999, Coyula went to New York to study at the Strasberg Theater Institute and to direct his first feature, “Red Cockroaches.” The film gathered more than 20 awards.For his second feature film, Coyula embarked on the challenging job of directing “Memorias del Desarrollo,” a follow-up to the Cuban film classic “Memorias del Subdesarrollo” and also based on a new novel by Edmundo Desnoes. He received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in support of his work on the film.

  • Burns' series gives PBS a ratings milestone

    NEW YORK (AP) — Ken Burns' series "The Roosevelts" earned PBS its biggest audience in two decades, making it the documentary maker's third most popular film after "The Civil War" and "Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery." PBS said the seven, two-hour episodes that aired last month had an average audience of 9.2 million viewers. The most popular was the first night, on Sept. 14, which had 11.7 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. "It was power, it was sex, it was death, it was betrayal," PBS chief programming executive Beth Hoppe said on Thursday. "But it was also World War I and World War II and the president of the United States and his wife. It was this epic tale but it was told in a very intimate way. It was a lot like 'Downton Abbey,' but it was real. The series gave PBS its highest weekly viewer average since 1994, when Burns' series "Baseball" aired. Although the "Lewis & Clark" documentary in 1997 had more viewers, "Baseball" was stretched across a longer period, so PBS had a larger weekly audience when the sports documentary aired. PBS went wall-to-wall with the history of Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, airing each episode twice on a given night and making them available online; full episodes were streamed more than 1.85 million times, PBS said. Streams were not included in the individual episode viewing figures. There was evidence that many people used streaming to keep up with the series as it went along, Hoppe said. After the opening episode, the fifth night — FDR's first two terms and the preparations for World War II — had the most popular episode. Each person who watched "The Roosevelts" saw an average of nearly four hours of the series, PBS said. Burns is working on a shorter documentary on cancer that will air in a few months for PBS. His next big documentary series, on the Vietnam War, is scheduled to air on PBS in 2016.

  • U.S. stock market has best week in nearly 2 years

    NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market closed out its best week in nearly two years on a positive note Friday, helped by strong quarterly earnings from Microsoft and other big U.S. companies. Investors were able to set aside dismal third-quarter results from Amazon. The giant online retailer's shares took a beating, but that wasn't enough to drag the rest of the market down. After weeks of speculation over the fate of Europe's economy, Ebola fears and plunging oil prices, investors were able to get back to basics. Wall Street is in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year, when companies report their quarterly results. Ultimately what drives stock prices higher is the potential for that company to earn more profits, so higher profits generally mean higher stock prices. "What matters most to the market are earnings expectations and corporate fundamentals, and so far they're looking pretty good," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. Profits for S&P 500 companies are up 5.6 percent from a year ago so far this earnings season, according to FactSet, which is better than the 4.6 percent growth the market was looking for before the season began. Quarterly results from Microsoft and UPS helped lift the market Friday, but there have been other strong earnings reports all week. Caterpillar, 3M, Apple and others have all came in well above expectations. Microsoft reported sales and profits that were well above analysts' expectations. Cloud services, a business that Microsoft has been focusing on, also grew. Microsoft's stock rose $1.11, or 2.5 percent, to $46.13. UPS also reported strong quarterly results and expects December shipments to be up 11 percent from a year ago. Many investors consider UPS a bellwether for how the U.S. economy is doing, particularly during the crucial holiday shopping season. UPS rose 11 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $100.59. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 127.51 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,805.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 13.76 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,964.58 and the Nasdaq composite rose 30.92 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,483.72. With Friday's gains, U.S. stocks had their best week in nearly two years. The S&P 500 rose 4.1 percent for the week, the biggest gain since January 2013. But volatility can go both ways. Just as the market jumped sharply this week, it plunged just as sharply last week. Even with this week's gains, the S&P 500 is still down 0.4 percent for October. "We've seen the market sell-off and we saw people buy on the bounce, and that looks like it will continue," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial. One company that fell well short of investors' expectations was Amazon. The company reported a steeper-than-expected quarterly loss despite soaring sales. Investors have grown impatient with Amazon, which has been unable to deliver profits even as it gains ground as one of the world's largest retail companies. Amazon fell $26.12, or 8 percent, to $287.06. Investors are turning their focus to next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting for hints about the future of the central bank's bond purchases. The program has kept long-term interest rates extremely low to keep markets fluid and to encourage investment and hiring. Recent mixed signals about the strength of the U.S. recovery have prompted speculation that the Fed might let the program continue for longer than previously anticipated. Investors will also get another large batch of quarterly results from U.S. companies next week, when 159 members of the S&P 500 index report results, including Merck, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Visa. The price of oil fell Friday on further evidence of ample supplies and weak demand. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.08 to close at $81.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 70 cents to close at $86.13 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In New York, wholesale gasoline fell 2.5 cents to close at $2.182 a gallon, heating oil fell 1.7 cents to close at $2.482 a gallon and natural gas rose 0.1 cent to close at $3.623 per 1,000 cubic feet. The price of gold rose $2.70 to $1,231.80 an ounce, silver rose two cents to $17.18 an ounce and copper was flat at $3.04 a pound.

  • U.S. official: Auto safety agency under review

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the federal agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized by lawmakers and safety advocates for not acting aggressively enough regarding millions of vehicles with defective air bags or faulty ignition switches. A special Transportation Department team is examining whether "we have the dial set correctly on risk management and our safety posture in general" throughout the department, especially at the safety administration, said the official, who asked that he not be named as a condition of briefing reporters. The safety agency is part of the Transportation Department. Announcements related to the review are expected in the coming weeks, the official said. The White House is expected to nominate a new administrator to run the troubled agency within the next two weeks, he said. Further action also is possible involving air bag inflators made by Takata Corp., the official said. The inflators can rupture, ejecting shrapnel in a crash. Safety advocates say the problem has caused four deaths and multiple injuries. So far automakers have recalled about 12 million vehicles worldwide due to the problem, but recalls in the U.S. have been limited to vehicles registered in regions with high humidity. Millions more vehicles could be affected if the air bag recalls are extended nationwide, according to safety advocates. No firm cause of the problem has been identified. Takata and the safety administration are investigating the impact of prolonged absolute humidity, which is a measure of the moisture content in the air, on chemicals that propel the air bags in a crash. They're looking into whether moisture in the air can cause the chemicals to explode with too much force, causing metal parts to fracture. On Wednesday, the safety administration warned the owners of an additional 3.1 million vehicles to get their air bags checks repaired because of the potential danger to drivers and passengers. The agency has previously issued a warning covering 4.7 million cars and SUVs. "The investigation is not over," the official said. "What has happened this week is an initial round of actions, but I wouldn't assume there wouldn't be future actions related to it."

  • FedEx, UPS make plans for a better holiday season

    DALLAS (AP) — Facing an even bigger mountain of packages this holiday season, FedEx and UPS are hiring more workers to avoid the delays that frustrated shoppers and gift-recipients a year ago. Last December, the delivery giants were caught off-guard by bad weather and a surge in last-minute online shopping. An estimated 2 million packages were late at Christmas. On Wednesday, FedEx Corp. said it expects deliveries between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to rise 8.8 percent over last year, to 290 million shipments. Volume is expected to surge on each of the first three Mondays in December, with FedEx predicting a peak of 22.6 million shipments on Monday, Dec. 15. The delivery companies and Internet retailers are benefiting from a strengthening economy and optimism about consumer spending. At the same time, they're dealing with consumers who increasingly enjoy the ease of shopping on computers and mobile devices but expect the goods to show up almost as quickly as if they had shopped at a store. That expectation is often fed by online retailers, who hold out the promise of free delivery until right before Christmas. About 1.3 million express packages handled by UPS and 618,000 carried by FedEx failed to get delivered on time last Christmas Eve, according to ShipMatrix Inc., which makes software for shipment tracking. The firm's president, Satish Jindel, said UPS and FedEx were at fault only 30 percent of the time. In most cases, retailers promised guaranteed express delivery but tried to save money and didn't pay the delivery companies for that speedier service, Jindel said. The merchants face tough competition for consumers who base purchases first on price, and second on free shipping, and the faster the better. "Every single year the percentage of retailers offering free shipping goes up," said Vicki Cantrell, senior vice president at the National Retail Federation. "The consumer expects it. The retailer may or may not be able to afford it." Target Corp. has started offering free holiday shipping for any item on its website, a first for the retailer as it tries to compete better against online rivals such as Amazon.com Inc. The timing of the offer was stunning — weeks before the unofficial kickoff of holiday shopping. Cantrell said Target, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers are getting better at the shipping game. They will ship items from stores instead of a central warehouse if that is faster, or tell online customers when the product they want can be picked up at a store near their home. Those strategies could relieve pressure on the delivery companies and satisfy the shopper more quickly. The retail federation's online division, Shop.org, predicts that online sales in November and December will rise 8 to 11 percent over last year. To meet that demand, online retailers such as Amazon and the delivery companies are hiring more. FedEx plans to hire 50,000 seasonal workers, up from 40,000 last year. United Parcel Service Inc. says it will add up to 95,000 people, up from 85,000. Last year, both companies wound up scrambling to hire more seasonal employees than they had planned, which increased costs and cut into profits. FedEx also expects to invest $1.2 billion in its ground-shipping network in its current fiscal year, with most of that going to increase capacity and automation. The company said that the improvements have sped up ground delivery by a day or more in more than two-thirds of the U.S. UPS has also invested to boost shipping capacity during the holidays, said the company's chief commercial officer, Alan Gershenhorn. He said that UPS had improved it forecasting and package tracking. UPS has not issued a holiday forecast. Shares of FedEx fell $1.41 to $158.47; UPS shares fell $1.69 to $99.06.

Featured columns

  • Protect privacy when browsing Internet

    Last week, we began to cover the topic of the ways to limit the risks of loss of privacy via browsing the Internet. This week we will continue by revealing some of the methods available to make our browsing more secure from spying that is a very real threat.We have all been told about the foolishness of some young (and not so young) people putting racy pictures of themselves on Facebook, posting personal information in text messages or revealing family information on Twitter. There is not much that can be done to protect people from “shooting themselves in the foot” short of abridging their rights to free speech.Our goal is to help the many innocent people who try to use the Internet for its abundant informational power. Just like in olden times, innocent people become victims of avaricious merchants and dangerous criminals when they leave civilization traveling alone. Unfortunately, much of the Internet is uncivilized.When you browse the Internet, just your searching for websites that can provide you with bargains or useful information is revealed. Merchants want to know what you are searching for. They want to know what you want to buy, what brands you like, how much money you are willing to spend and all related information. Criminals want to know where you live. where you bank, and your identity numbers that will allow them to take money out of your accounts by pretending to be you.Your IP address flows through the network from your computer, through your Internet Service Provider and many, many routers on the way to your targeted website. When you get to that website, the owner can create a cookie and leave it on your own computer to collect data on your browsing activities. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and others collect information about what you are searching for. Your IP address provides the start of finding where you are browsing from. By patiently collecting information that flows from you over the Internet to sites you visit can ultimately reveal who, what and where you are.Browsing anonymously is the only way to keep your presence away from people who want to know all about you. To browse anonymously comes down to two essential components of your system for connecting to the Internet,  

  • OPINION: Sun City satisfaction

    Strange as it may seem to most of us who live in Sun City, occasionally we encounter situations we consider inappropriate for our senior adult community.How best to deal with such encounters?Ever felt frustrated?Actually, there are many avenues of approach to seek resolution that will lead to continued member satisfaction. During my time as a board director I have learned a great deal about this process and those of us on the board and in management think our corporate documents and practices provide excellent answers and paths to help residents in need of answers.The board of directors hosts two meetings each month (except July and August) in which members may bring concerns, questions, requests, etc., to the board. The Director/Member Exchange is held on the second Monday of each month and our monthly board meeting is generally the last Thursday of the month. At each of these sessions, residents may engage in interchanges with directors or members of our senior management staff, and it is not unusual for us to follow up with additional information following the meetings.During the year there are tens of thousands of resident and guest visits to our recreation centers, golf courses and bowling centers. We would be naïve if we thought every one of these visits were conducted without occasional misunderstandings or conflicts.

  • Mobile wallets offer different way to pay

    Ever stand at a cashier fumbling through your overstuffed wallet for the right credit, debit or loyalty card? An end to the frustration may be on its way, according to Consumer Reports.For several years, a number of companies have been trying to get you to input the details of your payment cards into a “mobile wallet” — an app that is stored in your smartphone. Then you can make a payment from the card of your choice and even accrue applicable loyalty points simply by waving your smartphone over a card terminal.Problem is, there haven’t been many merchants that can actually read the data stored inside mobile wallets. Google Wallet, which was introduced in 2011, and Isis Wallet, backed by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless and launched nationwide in 2013, require merchants to have or buy equipment that includes a technology known as near field communication, which has not yet been widely adopted. As a result, Google Wallet and Isis Wallet work at only about 200,000 U.S. merchants compared with 12 to 15 million that take plastic.But now a new player, LoopWallet, launched in February, uses magnetic pulse technology that allows its mobile wallet to work with 90 percent of existing card readers. That might be enough critical mass for the technology to become a viable option. However, a lot of pieces still have to come together for mobile wallet technology. Allied Market Research, based in Portland, Oregon, projects that mobile payments will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 127.5 percent, reaching a global market size of more than $5 trillion by 2020.Should you consider making the switch to LoopWallet or one of the others? Here’s what Consumer Reports says to consider:• The benefit. More smartphone owners are finding that their handsets are a convenient payment device, with 30 percent using them to make online purchases, 24 percent to pay bills and 17 percent to pay for store purchases, according to a recent Federal Reserve study. Mobile wallets provide one more payment option in today’s cell-savvy world.

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