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THURSDAY BRIEFING

Outlook for home prices

September 28, 2006|Andrew Malcolm and Brian Hanrahan | Times Staff Writers

The UCLA Anderson Forecast has weighed in with its prognostications on the evolving market of slumping home sales.

In its closely watched quarterly report, the UCLA economic group, which was among the first to declare the housing market a bubble, now predicts that housing prices, at least in California, probably will not decline significantly any time soon.

It does believe that the crumbling housing sector will slow state and national economic output and job growth through 2008.

But, absent a recession or, say, a job loss, the report says homeowners would rather hold on to their existing property in hopes prices will start up again than sell now into a deteriorating market.

"Expect home prices five years from now to be about the same as they are today," says the forecast. Page C2

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Colorado key to political trends

Colorado has been a Republican stronghold since the mid-1990s.

But now evidence is mounting of Democratic inroads there, a crucial area if the party is to regain national political clout. Polls show Democrats holding an edge in most of the state's key contests, from an open House seat to the governorship.

The results there in November's midterm elections could not only tilt the balance of local power but help reshape the national political battlefield for the 2008 presidential election.

Necessity as much as opportunity is driving the new Democratic focus on Western states, including Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. This November's results will show whether the party can realistically hope to make further gains there in 2008. Page A20

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China moves on corruption charges

The Chinese government announces it has disciplined two officials for illegally seizing farmland, only 48 hours after it removes the Shanghai party chief on corruption charges.

Like many such moves, there's more there than meets the eye.

The moves come a week before the Communist Party's leadership meeting and could mean that President Hu Jintao is purging potential rivals while simultaneously appearing to respond to widespread popular unrest over government corruption.

Analysts say the moves are consistent with a major push against corruption. But the measures also allow repositioning of Hu allies for possible promotion in the coming months. Page A6

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The deputy's mysterious slaying

Remember that mysterious shooting of a female deputy sheriff seven months ago? She was found by a newspaper deliveryman early one morning shot twice in front of a friend's driveway in Long Beach.

There was speculation the death was tied to her job, that the real target was her friend or that she accidentally shot herself.

Now, authorities think they have it solved: She was simply the victim of a random crime. Two men tried to steal her purse early that morning. She reached for her service revolver, which jammed. And one of the robbers shot her twice.

Both men have been arrested, the police say. Page B1

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A vertical mall

A new style of high-rise mall -- San Francisco Centre -- opens in the heart of that city's historical commercial district. Designers say the vertical mall could be a model for downtown redevelopment in L.A. and other cities. Page C1

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BUSINESS

7-Eleven drops Citgo gasoline

Although the move had been in the works for some time, 7-Eleven Inc. announces that it will stop selling the Venezuelan-owned Citgo gasoline brand at its convenience stores.

Citgo has been targeted for boycotts because of comments Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made about U.S. foreign policy and President Bush. Last week at the United Nations, Chavez called Bush "the devil."

Citgo's 20-year contract with 7-Eleven expires at the end of the month. The convenience chain began making the transition to a Torrance-based fuel supplier, Tower Energy Group, two months ago. Page C1

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Dunn defends HP leak investigation

Former Hewlett-Packard Co. chairwoman Patricia Dunn will tell a congressional hearing today that it was her duty to pursue boardroom leaks.

Dunn, who lost her job because of the uproar over the corporate spying, says much of the investigation "struck me as old-fashioned detective work." Dunn says she initiated but did not direct the spying, which also involved surveillance and an attempt to plant "tracing" software in a reporter's e-mail.

"I did not find it objectionable that suspected leakers might be followed to see if they were meeting with reporters," Dunn says in her written testimony. Page C1

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CALENDAR WEEKEND

Free ticket to TV land

If you have an itch to see the inner workings of Hollywood, Hollywood is willing to let you scratch its back. TV shows need studio audiences, and for you, the tickets are free. All you have to do is whoop it up and applaud on command, wait through the retakes and laugh at the punch lines. Page E28

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Bandmates, in every sense

Which is harder, keeping a marriage together or keeping a rock band together? What if two members of the band are married to each other -- does that count as double jeopardy?

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