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November 11, 2012 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON — Though there are still some snares and drawbacks for participants, one of the federal government's most important financial relief efforts for underwater homeowners started operating Nov. 1. It's a new short-sale program that targets the walking wounded among borrowers emerging from the housing downturn — owners who owe far more on their mortgages than their current home value but have stuck it out for years, resisted the temptation...
September 29, 2012 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
Over objections of Central Coast residents and environmental groups, Pacific Gas & Electric plans to map earthquake fault zones near its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by blasting high-decibel air cannons under the surface of the ocean. PG&E's plan calls for towing a quarter-mile-wide array of underwater "air cannons" that emit 250-decibel blasts into the ocean every 15 seconds for 12 straight days. The sonic reflections would be picked up by underwater receivers and analyzed to provide detailed 3-D images of the geometry, relationships and ground motions of several fault zones near the Diablo facility, which generates enough energy to meet the needs of more than 3 million Northern and Central Californians.
September 18, 2012 | By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times
U.S. interest rates are at rock-bottom levels, but that's not helping most Americans with mortgages. And those high-cost loans remain a big drag on the economy, experts say. Roughly 69% of American homeowners with mortgages at the end of the second quarter had rates of 5% or higher and about 33% of them had rates above 6%, according to detailed mortgage data provided to The Times by Santa Ana research firm CoreLogic. Meanwhile, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 4% every week but one this year, and the average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, popular among buyers looking to refinance, has been below 3% since the last week in May, according to Freddie Mac. Several factors may be keeping homeowners from securing lower mortgage rates, economists said, including battered credit, insufficient income, stricter lending standards and the costs of refinancing.
September 12, 2012 | By Alejandro Lazo
New data show the number of underwater borrowers in the U.S. is continuing to decline as home prices improve, meaning one of the most stubborn roadblocks to the housing market's recovery is slowly lifting. The Santa Ana research firm CoreLogic estimates that the number of homeowners in the U.S. who owed more on their homes than those properties are worth totaled 10.8 million American households, or about 22.3% of all homes with mortgages, at the end of the second quarter. That was an improvement from the first quarter, when there were about 11.4 million underwater homes, amounting to about 23.7% of all mortgaged homes.
August 30, 2012 | By Tina Susman, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
NEW ORLEANS - After three days of mayhem, a weakened Isaac edged northward out of Louisiana on Thursday, leaving a third of the state without power, more than 60,000 residents evacuated and worried officials preparing to release water from a storm-stressed dam near the Mississippi border. At least one death was reported. Hundreds of homes remained underwater, and nearly 5,900 weary residents in Louisiana and more than 1,800 in Mississippi scrambled to makeshift shelters. At least 500 people who had gambled on riding out the storm were rescued by helicopter or boat, as Isaac was downgraded late Thursday to a tropical depression - a far cry from its 80-mph winds at landfall.
August 16, 2012 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
The big heat gripping Southern California leaves me daydreaming about big ocean adventures, like this one in Honolulu. It's described as an underwater scooter and snorkeling experience in Maunalua Bay, where you can see fish and sea turtles up close. For a limited time, the excursion is on sale for $99 per person, courtesy of Travelzoo . The deal: The Travelzoo discount cuts the cost of this two-hour excursion in half. As always, you purchase a voucher that can be redeemed with the dive company Island Water Sports based in Honolulu.
August 9, 2012 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
"Garden in the Sea," a lovely documentary from German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, follows Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias as she creates a sculpture that will sit deep inMexico's Sea of Cortez just at the edge of Espiritu Santo Island. It makes for a very internationally flavored film, one that ultimately relies on the language of sight and sound to speak eloquently about art and ecology and how they can be fused into something extraordinary. The film begins in Madrid not long after Mexican philanthropist Manuel Arango's foundation commissioned Iglesias to create a piece that would reflect his country's efforts to preserve the natural habitat of the island.
August 6, 2012 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
On a recent sunny morning off Long Beach, Philip Cruver throttled down his boat at the spot where his company expects to develop the first shellfish ranch in federal waters. "Our goal is to show this can be done and put a dent in the nation's $10.4-billion seafood deficit," Long Beach entrepreneur Cruver, 67, explained from the deck of his 27-foot vessel. If all goes according to plan, construction of a pilot 100-acre underwater plot will begin early next year, with the first harvest of a half a million pounds of plump Mediterranean mussels and 500,000 Pacific oysters expected about eight months later.
August 3, 2012 | By Deborah Netburn
Athletes, journalists and fans aren't the only ones who have been tweeting from the London Olympics. For a more surreal look at the games, consider following the Twitter feed of the Olympic pool camera: @L2012PoolCam . That's right, a camera stationed at the bottom of the Olympic pool has been tweeting pictures of the world's fastest swimmers as they cut through the water, and the photos are eerie, gorgeous and awesome. "I match the world's best swimmers, stroke for stroke," the pool camera's Twitter bio reads.
July 21, 2012 | By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO - In a huge tank at a once-secret Navy base on Point Loma, students from the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok are testing their autonomous underwater vehicle, the AUV Junior. The vehicle may be a miniature, but the significance is huge: It's the first time a team from the Russian Federation has entered the annual RoboSub competition, which is co-sponsored by the Pentagon's Office of Naval Research. For the engineering-minded, this is the Super Bowl of underwater contests.
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