General Motors issues another recall, while Amazon promises its new smartphone to AT&T.
U.S. Housing Starts Drop in May
The Commerce Department Tuesday announced that groundbreaking for new homes fell 6.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of one million units, a drop that indicates the housing recovery is not going as well as expected. March housing starts were revised to show a 12.7 percent increase, a drop from the previously reported 13.2 percent rise. New housing continues to battle an increase in mortgage rates and a jump in housing prices. Groundbreaking for single-family homes, fell 5.9 percent in May while starts for multi-family homes decreased 7.6 percent. Permits to build homes fell 6.4 percent to below one million units.
AT&T Gets Amazon Phone
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Amazon has decided to sell its new smartphone through AT&T. The phone is expected to be shown to the public Wednesday. AT&T already carries Amazon’s Kindle tablets and electronic readers. The Journal reports the new smartphone will include retina-tracking technology and three-dimensional images that can be seen without special glasses. Amazon is expected to begin shipping the phones by the end of September.
General Motors Keeps Recalling Cars
General Motors announced this week another recall, this time of 3.36 million North American cars with faulty ignition switches that can be jarred out of the “run’’ position by a poorly designed key. The recalled cars range in model years from 2000 to 2014. The switch issue is similar to the defect linked to at least 13 deaths in an earlier recall of Chevrolet Cobalt’s and other small cars. GM fired switch designer Ray DeGiorgio after an earlier recall of 2.58 million small cars. GM said it would replace or rework the ignition keys on the cars in the new recall, which it says was responsible for eight known crashes and six known injuries.
Go Ahead, Use Sherlock Holmes
A U.S. appeals court said 50 Sherlock Holmes works published before 1923 by Arthur Conan Doyle are in the public domain and may be referred to freely without paying licensing fees to the writer’s estate. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said U.S. copyright law did not cover earlier works depicting the brilliant detective. It includes references to Holmes, Dr. Watson, the arch-criminal Professor Moriarty and other Holmes details. Conan Doyle’s last 10 Holmes books, which were published between 1923 and 1927 deserve copyright protection. Conan Doyle died in 1930. The decision was seen as a victory for Leslie Klinger, editor of "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes'' and other Holmes books.
UPS Follows FedEx In Pricing Plan
Following in the steps of rival FedEx, United Parcel Service announced Tuesday it will start charging by the size of the packages it delivers on all ground services in the United States to offset rising costs. FedEx announced the same plan in May. UPS’ new pricing plan will begin at the end of December, and will include any shipments to Canada. UPS already charges by bulk as well as weight for air shipments.
Iraq Oil Refinery Shuts Down
Amid the 10 days of turmoil reported in Iraq, the country’s biggest oil refinery in Baiji, has been shut down and its foreign staff has been evacuated, according to refinery officials. Only local staff remain in place and the military is in control of the facility. Members of the militant group that has overrun the country of Iraq has invaded the town of Baiji and has surrounded the facility. Baiji is one of only three oil refineries in Iraq. The other two are located in Baghdad and south of that and are firmly in control by the government at the present.