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BUSINESS
February 26, 2014 | By Tiffany Hsu
The massive theft of Target Corp. customer data contributed to a huge drop in fourth-quarter profit as the retailer scrambled to win back the trust of consumers and shore up its hobbled payments system. The Minneapolis-based chain reported that profit was nearly halved from a year earlier to $520 million and revenue slid 5% to $21.5 billion. Target also racked up $61 million in expenses related to the hack, though it expects all but $17 million of that to be covered by insurance.
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BUSINESS
February 26, 2014 | By Andrew Khouri
More California homes went under contract last month, as buyers showed signs of life heading into the spring season. Pending home sales across the state rose 22.9% from December, the first increase since October, the California Assn. of Realtors said Wednesday. The January figures boost confidence in a market that cooled after a torrid rebound early last year. Buyers have struggled with low inventory, higher mortgage rates and sharply higher prices. That has raised questions about just how robust the upcoming spring home-buying season will be.  Quiz: How much do you know about mortgages?
BUSINESS
February 25, 2014 | By Jessica Guynn
SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook is in talks with two gun control groups that are pressuring the giant social network to crack down on illegal gun sales and trades. "We are talking with a number of organizations around our policies on guns," a Facebook spokesman said. Facebook also noted that it's common for the company to engage with advocacy groups concerned about hate speech, bullying and other hot-button issues. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have stepped up their demands after recent gun arrests were tied to sales of guns facilitated through Facebook.
NEWS
February 24, 2014 | By David A. Keeps
Celebrated for his more-is-more interior designs, Hollywood legend Tony Duquette (1914-99) was, fittingly, more of a Renaissance man. He not only decorated the homes of Mary Pickford, Elizabeth Arden, J. Paul Getty and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, but he also designed costumes and sets for the stage and MGM musicals, crafted jewelry and sculpture for the jet-set elite and was the first American artist to have a solo exhibition at the Louvre in...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 24, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - Party hosts who ask guests to pay a cover charge to defray costs may be held legally responsible if an underage drinker becomes intoxicated and hurts himself or others, the California Supreme Court decided Monday. In a unanimous ruling, the high court said a cover charge amounts to a sale of alcohol, and state law creates liability for those who sell alcohol to obviously intoxicated minors. The decision, which overturned two lower court rulings, is most likely to affect student parties, where underage drinking and cover charges are common.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 23, 2014 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
If a product doesn't sell, try repackaging and renaming. That's a proven strategy, whatever you're peddling. Good timing also helps. Thus, when the governor's California Water Action Plan sits on a shelf unnoticed for a while - and outside it is very dry - reshape and rewrap the contents as Emergency Drought Legislation. Bingo. There's a buying frenzy. Gov. Jerry Brown and his administration spent months, behind the scenes, crafting his Water Action Plan. On Jan. 10, he devoted significant space in his annual budget proposal to the $619-million plan.
BUSINESS
February 21, 2014 | By Andrew Khouri
Sales of previously owned homes plunged in January as severe weather and high costs handcuffed would-be buyers. Existing home sales tumbled 5.1% from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, reaching the lowest level in more than a year, the National Assn. of Realtors said Friday. Sales also fell 5.1% from a year earlier. Although harsh weather held back sales, the trade group said there was more behind the poor figures. “We can't ignore the ongoing head winds of tight credit, limited inventory, higher prices and higher mortgage interest rates,” Lawrence Yun, the group's chief economist, said in a statement.
BUSINESS
February 21, 2014 | By Andrew Khouri
The first homes in Playa Vista's final phase will open for sale this weekend as completion of the Westside master-planned community nears. Eventually, 2,800 new for-sale and rental units will rise in the second phase, injecting new inventory into the expensive Westside. Touted as an urban village, Playa Vista has been under construction for more than a decade. It now has roughly 3,100 housing units and 1.5 million square feet of commercial space. Saturday's opening marks the beginning of the end of development at Playa Vista, located on land once controlled by aviation mogul Howard Hughes.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 20, 2014 | By Lee Romney
SAN FRANCISCO - The independent watchdog for the U.S. Postal Service has raised new concerns about an exclusive contract with real estate giant CBRE Group Inc. to handle leases and sales of postal properties nationwide, saying the arrangement presents “potential financial risks.” The office of inspector general has also sought an independent real estate firm to review all appraisals tied to transactions under the 2011 contract to ensure that...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 19, 2014 | By Martha Groves
The Beverly Hills City Council has joined its Los Angeles counterpart in voting to treat electronic cigarettes as tobacco products and to regulate their sale and use. "Smoking of any kind should be discouraged, especially for teenagers," Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch said in a statement. "By taking these steps, the city is sending a strong message to the community that we take the health of our citizens very seriously. " Calling them a potential health risk and a gateway to tobacco, the Los Angeles City Council voted in December to regulate the sales of e-cigarettes and other "vaping" devices.
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