Friday, January 31, 2014

Sales of $1-million-plus homes went through the roof in California

Crowned by the sale of a Malibu estate for $74.5 million, the number of houses sold last year at $1 million and above statewide jumped to a six-year high, according to real estate information service DataQuick.

In the strongest showing, the number of homes sold at $2 million and up set state, Southern California and L.A. County records.

"The luxury market did bounce back last year," said housing market analyst Paul Habibi, a real estate lecturer at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. "A lot of people were stepping back into the waters."

Among them were lucrative investors looking for a place to park their dividends.

"The stock market lined the pockets of high-end buyers," Habibi said. "That translated into home purchases."

Appreciation-fueled gains in home equity allowed others who had been waiting On Sales the sidelines to move up to bigger and better digs, releasing pent-up demand from recent years.

"It's a herd mentality," said Westside Estate Agency co-founder Stephen Shapiro, who last year saw well-priced homes drawing multiple bidders. "When people start paying more for houses, other people don't mind paying more."

Statewide, 39,145 homes changed hands for $1 million or more in 2013, up 45% from the year before and the best showing since 2007, DataQuick said. This slice of the market outpaced overall sales, which were essentially the same as in 2012, down only 0.6%.

An all-time high of 7,383 homes sold in the state at the $2-million-and-above mark, up 33% from the 5,536 that changed hands in 2012. Southern California broke a record with 4,514 sales at $2 million and above, and L.A. County also eclipsed previous highs with 2,628 sales.

In L.A.'s ultra-luxury market, locals, foreigners, flippers and celebrities came to the party, with billionaires playing musical houses in the $20-million-and-up price range.

Oaktree Capital Management Chairman Howard Marks had the priciest sale statewide, unloading his 9.5-acre estate in Malibu in an off-market deal for $74.5 million. The beachfront property includes a 15,000-square-foot main house, two guesthouses, a gym and a swimming pool.

Just down the street, "Karate Kid" producer Jerry Weintraub had the next highest 2013 sale for L.A. County, based on public record searches conducted by and Coldwell Banker. His bluff-top seven-acre compound, with two guesthouses, a swimming pool, a tennis court and a guardhouse, sold for $41 million.

"Our market has finally caught up with what is happening globally," said Coldwell Banker's Bobby Syed, who brokered an off-market deal last year of a 12,000-square-foot Beverly Hills estate priced in the $37-million to $39-million range. "A lot of foreign money is coming in, particularly to Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, which are still very cheap by comparison" to other major cities.

The 2.5-acre property he sold boasts a large flat area and expansive vistas, Syed said. "It was the biggest view from here to Taiwan," he said.

He represented the buyers and the sellers, who had bought the property in the 1970s from actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Serial house buyer and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was among celebrities who did their part to push high-end home sales, buying a 13-acre estate centered on a Tuscan-style villa in Santa Barbara County's Toro Canyon that had been listed at $26.5 million.

She then started this year off with another big purchase, snagging a modernist trophy home on the Westside for $39.9 million.

Madonna pitched in too, ditching her 1.25-acre compound in Beverly Hills for $19.5 million.

Getting in on the high-end home-flipping act was retired actor Kristoffer Winters, who renovates homes with actor Jeremy Renner. Winters and his investors raked in $24 million for a mansion on two acres in Holmby Hills. The Roaring '20s Art Deco-style house, reached by a cobblestone driveway, includes five fireplaces, six bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and 10,005 square feet of living space.

Statewide, areas with the highest number of sales at $1 million-plus were led by Manhattan Beach, Hillsborough and La Jolla. Brentwood and Beverly Hills came in sixth and seventh, respectively.

In some communities, such as Santa Monica, Rancho Santa Fe, Atherton and Los Altos, almost all home sales were in the $1-million-and-up category, partly because of rising prices.

"A lot of homes have just popped up over the $1-million mark with appreciation," said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. Twitter: @LATHotProperty

US says Syria must comply with chemical arms deal

<Amazon Salesp>BEIRUT (AP) — The United States accused the Syrian government Thursday of using stalling tactics to delay efforts to remove and destroy chemical agents, an indication that the international community's patience is wearing thin over the slow pace of the operation.

The comments, delivered by the U.S. representative to the international chemical weapons watchdog, marked some of the strongest public criticism of Syria's commitment to relinquish its chemical stockpile.

Syria agreed to surrender its arsenal after a deadly chemical attack in August on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus raised the threat of punitive U.S. missile strikes. President Barack Obama has touted the agreement as a victory and a major policy achievement for his administration on Syria's intractable civil war.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is leading the mission to eliminate Syria's 1,300-metric ton stockpile by a June 30 deadline.

Under the OPCW's tight timeline, the most toxic chemicals in Syria's arsenal were to have been removed from the country by Dec. 31, but that deadline was missed due to poor security amid Syria's raging civil war as well as other factors. So far, just two small consignments of chemicals have been shipped out.

"The effort to remove chemical agent and key precursor chemicals from Syria has seriously languished and stalled," Robert Mikulak told the OPCW's 41-nation executive council in a closed-door meeting. His remarks were later posted on the State Department's website.

Mikulak, who is the U.S. representative to the OPCW, acknowledged that the timeline for the removal of Syria's most dangerous chemicals was ambitious, but he expressed frustration that a month after the deadline "only 4 percent" of the chemicals has been removed "and the Syrian government will not commit to a specific schedule for removal."

He called on Damascus to comply with the U.N. resolution for Syria to relinquish its chemical stockpile.

According to the OPCW timeline, all but 100 tons of chemicals are to be removed by Feb. 5 — a deadline that surely will not be met.

Mikulak said Damascus has cited security concerns for the delay in transporting the chemicals to the port city of Latakia for destruction abroad. But he dismissed Syria's insistence on receiving additional security equipment, such as armored jackets for shipping containers and high-tech electronics, to secure the convoys, saying the demands were "without merit."

"Syria's requests for equipment and open-ended delaying of the removal operation could ultimately jeopardize the carefully timed and coordinated multi-state removal and destruction effort," he added. "For our part, the international community is ready to go."

An American ship, the MV Cape Ray, is on its way to the Mediterranean Sea to pick up the most toxic chemicals in Syria's stockpile, including mustard gas and raw materials for making sarin nerve agent. The Cape Ray is equipped with two machines that will render the chemicals them inert.

Danish and Norwegian cargo ships are picking up the chemicals from Latakia and will transfer them to the Cape Ray in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro.

"There should be no doubt that responsibility for the lack of progress and increasing costs rests solely with Syria," Mikulak said.

The Syrian government had no immediate comment.

The mission to rid Syria of its chemical arsenal is one layer in the country's exceedingly complex and bloody civil war. The conflict, which began in March 2011 as largely peaceful protests before shifting into an armed insurgency, has killed more than 130,000 people, forced 2.3 million to seek refuge abroad and unleashed a devastating humanitarian crisis at home and across the region.

On Thursday, the United Nations delivered hundreds of relief parcels to a besieged rebel-held Palestinian neighborhood in the Syrian capital that has suffered from crippling shortages of food and medicine for months.

The Yarmouk camp, located on the southern edge of Damascus, is one of the hardest-hit of a number of opposition enclaves under tight blockades imposed by pro-government forces. Activists said Wednesday that at least 85 people had died in Yarmouk since mid-2013 as a result of starvation and illnesses exacerbated by hunger or lack of medical aid.

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N.'s UNRWA agency that supports Palestinian refugees, said a convoy carrying 900 food parcels entered Yarmouk on Thursday morning. He added that despite "chaotic scenes," by noon 720 parcels had been distributed.

"We are encouraged by the delivery of this aid and the cooperation of the parties on the ground," Gunness said, adding that 18,000 Palestinians, including women and children, were in need of assistance.

Anwar Raja, a Palestinian official in Syria, said a number of elderly people also were to be evacuated from Yarmouk.

In the nearby suburb of Daraya, meanwhile, Syrian army helicopters dropped barrels packed with explosives and fuel, killing at least 11 people, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In a new report released Thursday, Human Rights Watch accused the government of using controlled explosions and bulldozers to raze thousands of residential buildings, in some cases entire neighborhoods, in a campaign that appeared designed to punish civilians sympathetic to the opposition or to cause disproportionate harm to them.

The demolitions took place between July 2012 and July 2013 in seven pro-opposition districts in and around the capital, Damascus, and the central city of Hama, according to a 38-page report by Human Rights Watch. The New York-based group said the deliberate destruction violated international law, and called for an immediate end to the practice.

The report includes satellite images of the neighborhoods before and after the demolitions, providing a window on the scale of the destruction.

Buildings in the Hama neighborhood of Masha al-Arbaeen, a wedge-shaped district bordered by highways on three sides, are clearly visible in a photo dated Sept. 28, 2012. In a second photo from Oct. 13, the buildings have been pulverized into a white smudge, while the adjacent neighborhoods remain untouched.

The government also has been accused of using airstrikes and rocket attacks indiscriminately against residential areas.

In a video from last week, men frantically dug through rubble after an alleged airstrike in Aleppo and unearthed a toddler, still alive and with her face covered in dust. The rescuers chanted "God is greatest" as they pulled Ghina Khalil from the smashed building. The video — — corresponded with Associated Press reporting of the events depicted.


Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Bassem Mroue and Yasmine Saker in Beirut contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Deal: European, Asian Stocks Endure Another Down Day

LONDON ( The Printable Coupons) -- The global stock market rout persisted on Thursday, with European and Asian indices down, after the Federal Reserve taper decision Wednesday conspired with a weak reading from a gauge of Chinese manufacturing to feed fears about an emerging markets meltdown.

The Fed on Wednesday cut its monthly bond buying program by $10 billion to $65 billion, in line with expectations, with Chairman Ben Bernanke making generally upbeat comments about the U.S. economy in his final statement as boss of the central bank.

On Thursday in China, the HSBC Bank and Markit Economics Purchasing Managers' index slowed in January for the first time in six months to 49.5, slightly less than a preliminary estimate and down from 50.5 in December. HSBC attributed the slowdown to both weaker export orders and slower domestic business.

But in Germany, government figures showed that unemployment fell far more than expected in January, declining 28,000 compared with a forecast decrease of 5,000. The unemployment rate held firm at 6.8%. Separately, an index of eurozone economic sentiment in January came in just short of forecasts.

By mid-morning in Europe, the FTSE was down 0.33% at 6,522.98, the DAX had lost 0.32% to 9,306.96, and the CAC 40 had tumbled 0.43% to 4,139.05.

China is preparing to start a fortnight of festivities to celebrate the lunar New Year, which begins Friday, but recent corporate results have showed a government clampdown on excessive consumption and gift-giving within state-backed enterprises and public agencies is bringing unhappiness to Western consumer goods makers.

On Thursday, Treasury Wine Estates lost a fifth of its market value in Sydney trading after the Australian company warned profit in the first half could fall by 40% or more, partly because of Chinese austerity measures. It said it won't be able to claw back the profit shortfall in the second half, and has therefore lowered its full-year guidance to A$190million to A$210 million ($165.9 million to $183.5 million) from a forecast A$230 million to A$250 million previously.

Meanwhile in London, spirits maker Diageo DEO declined after posting first-half earnings that fell short of expectations. It cited weak sales of Chinese white spirits, or baijiu, as a factor that had suppressed emerging markets growth. Net sales of that liquor plummeted 66%.

In Sweden wireless network equipment maker Ericsson ERIC rose after fourth-quarter profit exceeded expectations and CEO Hans Vestberg rebuffed talk he may quit to take the helm at Microsoft.

And in Frankfurt, chipmaker Infineon Technologies led the gainers on the DAX after issuing a second-quarter sales growth projection that was more optimistic than analysts' own numbers.

In Hong Kong, PC maker Lenovo Group ended the last session before the Chinese New Year break down more than 8% after announcing its second big-ticket purchase from a U.S. technology company within a week. Lenovo is to pay $2.91 billion for Google's GOOG Motorola Mobility unit to gain hardware for smartphones. The deal unwinds part of Google's $12.4 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility in 2012 but the Mountain View, Calif. company gets to keep most of the all-important patents. For Lenovo, the acquisition comes just after it agreed to pay $2.3 billion for the low-power server business of International Business Machines and breaks its own week-old record for a Chinese technology deal.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 plummeted 2.45% to 15,007.06. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 0.48% at 22,035.42. Hong Kong trading takes a break for new year festivities on Friday and Monday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sideshow Collectibles Coupons 2014: $10 off Promo Codes + Free Shipping

<Deal Nowp>

Fargo, ND -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/20/2014 -- Sideshow Collectibles, set up in 1994, is one of the largest retailers of collectibles from popular films, television and comic book icons. The company which also has an online store features the most sought-after licensed collectibles and allows people to connect with their stars with ease. This California based enterprise is famous for its original and limited edition statues and busts, while celebrity enthusiasts can also buy film prop replicas and fine art pieces from their favorite movies, television shows and comic books series. The company not only manufactures almost all types of celebrity collectibles with an effort of a great team, but also retails the collectibles at an extremely cheaper price which makes it impeccably famous in the worldwide community of figural art enthusiasts. This year, the store is celebrating their 20th anniversary and is offering huge discount on its entire range of collectibles. Here are a few things about this online store, which would make the shopping experience even smoother.

- Click to Save $10 off Coupon Code

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The easy to use user interface of this online store ensures a secure and pleasurable shopping experience for shoppers. Users can simply browse the brands and characters and select the product they want to buy. After selecting the product, the shopper has to hit the "Buy Now" tab, which will redirect him to the checkout window of the retailer's website. Users can add more products to their cart; however they can also close the order by making the payment.

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The store ships internationally on the next business day from the date of purchase. The store features numerous shipping modes, and shoppers have to select one shipping mode at the time of checkout. Price and delivery time for all these shipping modes differ, so read carefully before making the selection. There are numerous products which fall under the free shipping policy of the store. So while shopping their favorite collectible, the shoppers can also save the shipping fee.

What's the return policy?
In case the shopper is not happy with the delivered product, goods purchased from this online store can be returned with the shipping receipt intact in original packaging to the store.

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This online store keeps on releasing plenty of deals and shopping deals for their customers throughout the year. These offers are updated through, which keeps on updating them on a timely manner. is one of the leading coupon providers for almost all online stores shipping to the United States of America. The most popular coupon entries can be easily browsed across the "Popular" section on the home page, whereas another section named "New Releases" on the home page of OoHey, allows shoppers to find the most recent coupons entries. Specific coupons applicable on a particular store can be found by searching with the store name in the search-box at the top of the home page of OoHey. Hit the "view code" tab to get the coupon code, and then copy paste it to space left to add 'Promotional Code' or 'Coupons' on the checkout page of the retailer's website and the discounted price would get reflected in the final cart value instantly. Numerous other shopping deals are also available on OoHey, which allows users to find all products qualifying for a deal, listed on a single web page on the retailer's website. Shoppers can also subscribe to the newsletter of OoHey and get regular updates about recent coupon entries right in their inbox.

Users can avail the $10 off coupon code at which is applicable on all orders made at this online store. also features the Up To 40% off deal on the original prices of the collectibles with OoHey, while the Free Shipping Promotion is another great deal one could enjoy with OoHey. These deals and offers are updated regularly, so users can find numerous new listings for this online store throughout the year. Enjoy maximum savings with while shopping the most awesome collectibles.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Best E Cigarette Starter Kit Coupon Codes Announced by EsmokeHub

Deerfield Beach, FL -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/17/2014 -- E cigarette Amazon Deal Online is basically a code which smokers have to enter while they buy an e cigarette online and checkout to process the order for availing an instant discount on the complete purchase. This coupon code is offered separately by many e cigarette brands on their different e cigarette products like starter kits, cartridge packs, accessories and sometimes on the overall e cigarette products. But smokers usually prefer starter kit coupon codes as these kits are a bit higher in price compared to other e cigarette products and by availing this smokers can gain good discount on starter kits. And the e cigarette brand offering the Best E Cigarette Starter Kit Coupon Codes recommended by the experts is V2 Cigs. Experts have recommended this brand especially as they are sure about the best quality of e cigarettes offered through coupon code.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Financial firms look to Chinese New Year

CIMB Thai Bank has a new fixed-deposit campaign to welcome the upcoming chinese free new year cards New Year, offering an interest rate of 2.88 per cent per annum for an eight-month time deposit.

Senior executive vice president Adisorn Sermchaiwong yesterday said depositors could withdraw interest without waiting for the full maturity period. The minimum deposit required is Bt50,000.

The eight-month fixed deposit is an option for retired customers and those who prefer withdrawing interest for their daily spending, he said, adding that depositors can readily access details of the amount of interest they have accrued since the first day of their deposit.

"We have launched an attractive campaign, starting with the Chinese New Year, as we want to expand our customer base. We aim to get 2,000 to 3,000 new customers from the campaign," he said.

AEON Thana Sinsap (Thailand), a leading credit-card and personal-loan provider, yesterday launched the "Gold Loan for Chinese New Year 14" promotion. The promotion will be available at all participating stores and will offer AEON cardholders an exclusive deal for gold purchases. For purchases of Bt19,000 or above, customers will be able to make repayments at a special interest rate of 0.99 per cent per month, within a six-, nine- or 12-month period of their choice.

The promotion runs until |February 28.

Meanwhile, Kasikornbank (KBank) and ICC International, a leading consumer-products company, are jointly offering special discounts for more than 60 brands at ICC's Brand Shops and ICC counters in branches of Central Department Store when spending via the co-branded His & Her - KBank credit card.

Thammarat Chokwatana, executive vice president of ICC International, said the company would also present an Ang Pao red envelope worth between Bt100 and Bt1,000 to shoppers who spend via their His & Her - KBank credit cards.

The promotion runs until |March 15.

Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, executive vice president of KBank, said the bank needed to launch special campaigns for its credit cards in order to drive spending during the current quarter.

Spending via its credit cards last month showed a year-on-year drop of 10-20 per cent, even though cardholders purchased Bt7 billion-worth of long-term funds and retirement mutual funds by credit card during the period, he said.

Transaero Airlines started Discount Class

Jan 18, 2014

Transaero Airlines started to offer a new low-cost product called Coupon Codes Class.
Discount class is offered on certain Transaero flights from Moscow Domodedovo airport on a number of popular domestic and international routes including those to London, Berlin, Vienna, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Tel Aviv, Vilnius, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Krasnodar, Mineralnye Vody, Novosibirsk, Novy Urengoy, Omsk, Perm, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Stavropol, Ufa, Khanty-Mansiysk, Kiev, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Astana, Almaty, Karaganda, Yerevan, Antalya.

During the first day of the service launch, the airline carried about 5,000 passengers on 54 Discount Class flights on Boeing 737 and Tu-214 aircraft.

All seats on specified flights are sold according to Discount Class rules. The ticket fares include, in accordance with the Russian Federal Aviation Rules, free drinks and food or meals depending on flight length. Passengers are also offered a choice of newspapers and an opportunity to buy duty-free goods onboard. However, Discount Class passengers won't be able to order special meals. Passengers on these flights can carry 10, 15 or 20 kilos of luggage, depending on tariff of the purchased ticket.

Members of the Transaero Privilege frequent flyer programme may earn points travelling in Discount Class at a 50% rate. They can also get reward tickets for these flights.

The new product by Transaero Airlines guarantees a reasonable balance of comfort and affordable ticket prices.

Transaero Airlines is the second-largest passenger airline in Russia. Transaero launched its services in November, 1991. Transaero has the largest long-haul fleet in Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe. Transaero's fleet consists of 98 predominantly Boeing aircraft. It is the only commercial carrier in Russia that placed orders for Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, Airbus A-320neo aircraft. According to the German JACDEC, Transaero ranks among the top 30 safest carriers in the world. Transaero serves more than 200 routes in Russia, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Transaero has been named the World's Most Improved Airline at the Skytrax 2013 Awards. Transaero was voted the Best Airline in EMEA by Frequent Business Traveler, US online publication.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sprint Officially Announces Easy Pay As Replacement for OneUp

sprint one up-logo.jpg">After being buried in the push to announce its group plan in Sprint Framily, Sprint has officially announced the launch of its EasyPay installment plan, which will replace the Sprint OneUp program. Sprint customers who want to upgrade devices more frequently will now need to enroll in the Easy Pay program, which is being offered for a limited time.

The program requires customers to pay off the balance of their existing handset, then choose a new phone by making a down payment on the device followed by 24 equal payments to cover the cost of the phone. Unlike similar programs by Verizon and T-Mobile, customers have the option of keeping their old device or selling it back to Sprint via its Buyback program and Easy Pay is also compatible with the Sprint Framily program.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ex-Ravens running back Damien Berry denies putting Super Bowl ring up for sale

Former Ravens running back Damien Berry denied putting his Coupon Code Bowl XLVII ring up for sale, telling The Baltimore Sun that the pending auction wasn't authorized by him.

Berry said a friend put the ring up for sale without his knowledge, selling the ring to an undisclosed third party that later sold it to Goldin Auctions.

"I would never knowingly sell my Super Bowl ring," Berry said. "I'm not that kind of guy. That's not me. The ring means a lot to me and I want to do whatever it takes to get it back. This isn't what I'm about."

However, Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, told The Baltimore Sun on Saturday night that he has a copy of a sales agreement with Berry that includes witnessed, notarized documents for a chain of custody that will be made available to the winning bidder of an online auction conducted through

Goldin said that his company conducts extensive research and verification of all items, and wouldn't sell anything that it's not authorized to make available for auctions.

A source familiar with Goldin Auctions' business practices said the company conducts extensive background checks to ensure that there's paperwork backing up the legality of all sales.

The minimum bid for Berry's ring -- pictured here on the Goldin Auctions website -- is $15,000. As of Saturday night, the highest of five bids was $36,603.

A former University of Miami player, Berry spent the 2012 season on injured reserve with the Ravens before being cut prior to the start of the 2013 regular season.

Berry expressed embarrassment about the ring being up for sale.

"This isn't a good look, I know that, but I swear this didn't start with me," Berry said. "I have a lawyer who's working with me to try to get the ring back. I was shocked when people starting coming at me on Twitter about what's up with my Super Bowl ring. It's definitely upsetting, but everything will be all right."

The winter auction also includes former Ravens linebacker Jamie Sharper's Super Bowl XXXV ring, former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis' 2000 Super Bowl trophy and former Baltimore Colts defensive back and kick returner Leonard Lyles' 1958 NFL championship ring.

There are no bids yet on Lewis' personal trophy, but four bids have been entered for Sharper's ring, with a high of is $14,641.

Goldin Auctions says it has sold more than $600 million worth of sports memorabilia, including a Honus Wagner T206 card for a sale of $2.1 million in 2012.

"This is a rare opportunity for a Ravens fans or a collector to own a Super Bowl ring less than a year after it was earned," Gold said in a statement announcing the auction. "NFL Championship rings and Super Bowl rings are coveted by collectors because it is rare for them to become available. That is why we are so excited to offer these unique finds in our 2014 Winter Auction."

Dan Brown's 'Inferno' tops all book sales in 2013

For the third time since 2004, Dan Brown has written the best-selling book of the year.

Brown's Inferno, a modern-day thriller built on clues from The Inferno, Dante's 14th-century poem about hell, topped sales in 2013. That's based on data from USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list and a compilation of the top 100 best sellers (based Deal News from Dec. 31, 2012-Dec. 29, 2013).

Brown's first hit, The Da Vinci Code, was No. 1 on USA TODAY's 2004 annual list, and again in 2006, after the movie version was released. (Sony plans to release the film adaptation of Inferno, starring Tom Hanks, in late 2015.)

It also was a big year for Veronica Roth, 25, who emerged as the most popular new novelist among teen readers, with three books in the top 15.

At No. 2 is Divergent, the first novel in Roth's dystopian/fantasy trilogy, begun in 2011. Sales surged with anticipation of the film version, staring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, in theaters this March. The series' third book, Allegiant, published in October, is No. 8 for the year. Roth's second novel, Insurgent (2012), is No. 15.

Other highlights of 2013:

* Of the best sellers tracked by USA TODAY each week, 80% were fiction. That's the highest since the list was begun in 1993, breaking 2011's record of 78%. The top non-fiction book of 2013 at No. 9 was Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. Their 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, continued to sell last year, finishing at No. 61.

* Nicholas Sparks' love story, Safe Haven, No. 4 for the year, had the longest run atop USA TODAY's weekly list. It was No. 1 for seven weeks. Brown's Inferno was No. 1 for six weeks. Both are far short of the record: E.L. James' erotic Fifty Shades of Grey was No. 1 for 20 consecutive weeks in 2012. Grey had another good year in 2013; her trilogy ranked at No. 14, 25 and 26.

* The prolific James Patterson had the most titles (five) in the year's top 100. Three were written with collaborators, but not his most popular novel of 2013, at No. 34 - Alex Cross, Run. It's the 20 th book in a series Patterson began in 1993.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Iran, world powers reach deal opening nuke program

Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment and to open its nuclear program to daily inspection by international experts starting Jan. 20, setting the clock running on a six-month deadline for a final nuclear agreement, officials said Sunday.

In exchange, the Islamic Republic will get a relaxation of the financial sanctions that have been crippling its economy.

The announcement that Iran and six world powers had agreed on the plan for implementing an interim agreement came first from Iranian officials and was later confirmed elsewhere. Some U.S. lawmakers have been leery of the agreement, calling for tougher sanctions against Iran, rather than any loosening of controls.

Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying the On Sales, which sets the terms of a landmark agreement reached in November, would take effect from Jan. 20. The agency said Iran will grant the United Nations' watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency access to its nuclear facilities and its centrifuge production lines to confirm it is complying with terms of the deal.

Araghchi later told state television some $4.2 billion in seized oil revenue would be released under the deal. Senior officials in U.S. President Barack Obama's administration put the total relief figure at $7 billion.

In a statement, President Barack Obama welcomed the deal, saying it "will advance our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

"I have no illusions about how hard it will be to achieve this objective, but for the sake of our national security and the peace and security of the world, now is the time to give diplomacy a chance to succeed," Obama said.

Under the November agreement, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to 5 percent - the grade commonly used to power reactors. The deal also commits Iran to stop producing 20 percent enriched uranium - which is only a technical step away from weapons-grade material - and to neutralize its 20 percent stockpile over the six months.

In exchange, economic sanctions Iran faces would be eased for six months. During that time, the so-called P5+1 world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - would continue negotiations with Iran on a permanent deal.

The West fears Iran's nuclear program could allow it to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, such as medical research and power generation. Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported Sunday that under the terms of the deal, Iran will guarantee that it won't try to attain nuclear arms "under any circumstance." However, Araghchi stressed Iran could resume production of 20 percent uranium in "one day" if it chose.

The senior U.S. officials said U.N. inspectors would have daily access to Iranian nuclear sites and would make monthly reports. Iran will dilute half of its nuclear material during the first three months of the agreement, the officials said, and all of it by the end of the agreement.

In exchange, Iran would have access to parts for its civilian aviation, petrochemical and automotive industries, as well as be allowed to import and export gold, the officials said. The deal also gives Iran access to international humanitarian and medical supplies, though Iran still could not use U.S. banks and the majority of sanctions would remain in place, they said.

The senior U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the specific terms of the agreement were not released publicly.

European Union negotiator Catherine Ashton praised the deal in a statement, saying "the foundations for a coherent, robust and smooth implementation ... have been laid." German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the deal "a decisive step forward which we can build on."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also welcomed the deal in a statement, saying further negotiations "represent the best chance we have to resolve this critical national security issue peacefully, and durably."

But Kerry cautioned that despite a fledgling detente with Iran, the nuclear negotiations have all but exhausted both sides' time, keeping them from being able to work on other shared global interests, including the civil war in Syria.

"We have been so focused and so intent on the nuclear file that we really have not dug into (Syria) in any appreciably substantive way," Kerry told reporters in Paris, where he was meeting with other Western foreign ministers and the head of the main moderate opposition group seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad ahead of peace talks scheduled in just over a week in Switzerland. Iran the main backer of Assad's regime.

Suspicions remain high in both Tehran and Washington after decades of hostility dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that ousted the U.S.-backed shah dynasty. Iran's new reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, has reached out to the West, but must depend on support from Iran's top decision-maker, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for his initiatives amid criticism from hard-line factions.

Obama must fend off efforts by U.S. lawmakers, including many of his fellow Democrats, who want to pass new sanctions legislation. The measure proposes to blacklist several Iranian industrial sectors and ban banks and companies around the world from the U.S. market if they help Iran export any more oil. The provisions would only take effect if Tehran violates the interim nuclear deal or lets it expire without a follow-up accord.

However, that has caused anxiety in Iran, where hard-liners have already called the deal a "poison chalice" and are threatening legislation to increase uranium enrichment. Araghchi also said any new sanctions would halt the deal.

In his statement, Obama said "unprecedented sanctions and tough diplomacy helped to bring Iran to the negotiating table," but cautioned against implementing any more.

"Imposing additional sanctions now will only risk derailing our efforts to resolve this issue peacefully, and I will veto any legislation enacting new sanctions during the negotiation," he said.


Associated Press writers Philip Elliot in Washington, John-Thor Dahlberg in Brussels, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Lara Jakes in Paris and Jon Gambrell in Cairo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Checks Unlimited Coupons 2014: Up to 70% off Promo Codes + Free Shipping

Fargo, ND -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/08/2014 -- One of the leaders in direct-check industry, Checks Unlimited was founded in Colorado Springs in 1986 with a vision to allow people to express themselves with every check they sign. The company, which now features a web based store and offers checks in over 70 designs along with a complete range of designer checkbook covers and other check-related accessories, once was the first major direct mail check printer. The company is known for its customer satisfaction, while its licensed range of designs features numerous American icons. Users can order their checks in customized designs and fully express themselves with the check-design range available on the online store. The store features several designs in its catalogue from the range of Animal Checks, Classic Checks, Deposit Slips, Disney Checks, Garden Checks, Photo Checks Recreation Checks and Warner Bros. Checks among several others, while the users can also select check types on this web based store. Business Checks are also available on this e-store, while some of the checkbook covers and accessories available here are a huge hit throughout the United States of America. Here are few things one would love to know before ordering a check design at this online store.

- ChecksUnlimited: Click to Save 70% off Coupon Code

- ChecksUnlimited: Click to BOGO Free Promo Code

- ChecksUnlimited: Click for Free Shipping Promotion

- ChecksUnlimited: Click and See All ChecksUnlimited

How to place an order?
The store features an easily accessible user interface, which is also protected by the 128-bit SSL encryption, which secures personal as well as credit card information of the user. After selecting the product users have to hit the "Continue" tab provided alongside the product description on the web based store, which will redirect them to the space provided to add Bank Information and then to the checkout window of the e-store.

What is the shipping policy?
The store takes outmost care for the satisfaction of its customers; hence it prints the checks only after the order is placed. It might take up to 10 business days for the package to reach the customer once the order is placed, however shoppers can expedite the process of printing and shipping by selecting different shipping modes offered by the store at the time of checkout.

Is there any return policy offered by the store?
No. The store works on on-demand basis; hence none of the product ordered at the online store can be cancelled, returned or exchanged once the order is processed. Therefore users are advised to select the particulars carefully, before checking out of the online store.

Are there any shopping deals or coupons available for Checks Unlimited?
Yes. You can find numerous shopping deals and coupons applicable on this online store throughout the year on OoHey updates these shopping deals regularly so that none of them is missed by the shopper.

OoHey is an American web based archive, which allows shoppers to avail marvelous discounts on their online shopping, with its amazing Deal Today coupons and shopping deals applicable on almost all online stores operating in the States. Shoppers can find the most popular coupon releases under the "Popular" section on the home page of the website, while the latest coupon entries for all famous stores can be found under the "New Release" section on the home page of the website. Users can find all active coupon releases for the store of their choice by searching for it in the search box provided at the top of the home page of OoHey. The coupon code of the coupons available on the website has to be copied back to the space provided to add promotional coupons on the checkout page of retailer's website and the affected price would reflect instantly in the final cart value. Shoppers can also find numerous shopping deals on OoHey for almost all web based stores shipping to the United States of America. The website asks for no membership fee and the services are completely free to use, while users can also get regular updates about latest coupon releases directly at their email by subscribing to the newsletter of the website.

OoHey features numerous shopping coupons for this online store, among which the Item Sale Coupon is the most popular one. This coupon allows customers to buy 1 box of checks at $5.50; 2 boxes at $11 or 4 boxes at $16.50. Another coupon available on OoHey reduces the total order value by 50%-70% on bulk orders and also waives off the shipping charges on the same order. Shoppers can also purchase a box of checks at $5.50 and avail free shipping and free custom lettering on the same order with another coupon available on OoHey. If the shoppers intend to buy Duplicate Check boxes along with Single Check boxes, they can get it at a per box price of $7.50 for Single Checks and $8.50 for Duplicate Checks with another coupon available on OoHey. The Business Checks Coupon available on this website allows users to save 30% on Business Checks, while shoppers can make 30% savings on their order value with another coupon featuring on OoHey. With the Free Address Labels Coupon, shoppers can get Free Address Label when they purchase 2 or 4 boxes of checks. The coupon codes for all these coupons have to be copied to the space provided to add promotional coupons on the product description page of the online store and the discounted price would reflect in the final cart value instantly. There is a lot more one can avail with, so hurry up and find what OoHey has to offer.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The sites of The Sound of Music

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By Sally Torbey

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About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to the share the good times and discuss the challenges of... (More)

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Uploaded: Jan 8, 2014

We packed in a lot of magic on our family winter vacation to Germany and Austria. Highlights included the festive Christmas markets, castles, palaces, medieval walled villages, fortresses, and museums. An unexpected highlight was a tour of the filming locations in Salzburg for the movie, The sound of music movie of Music.

The Sound of Music is a fictionalized version of the life of Maria von Trapp, who fled with her family to the US from Austria during World War II. Although the movie has been enormously popular in the US for almost 50 years, neither the movie nor the songs are widely known in Austria. As a 20 year old studying abroad and backpacking through Europe, I was not interested in such a "touristy" activity, but as an adult the story resonates with me as a much beloved part of my childhood. As the spouse of an immigrant, I am also drawn to the stories behind the decision to start a new life in a new country.

Much of the tour was spent on educating us on what in the movie was fact versus fiction. Nonetheless, I found myself surprisingly engaged as we visited the convent where Maria was a postulant (fact), and stood on the cobblestone lane outside the convent gates where the wily nuns sabotaged the Nazis' car (fiction). We also visited the small Abbey church where the von Trapps were married in real life, and the ornate baroque church used in the film. We drove in awe through the snow-capped peaks and glacial lakes surrounding Salzburg and imitated Maria's guitar swinging skip down a tree laned avenue (fiction).

Retracing Maria's steps in Salzburg reminded me of how much I loved the movie growing up. In those pre-video days, once a year we were delighted to watch the movie on TV. Even on a black and white 12" screen, the movie was mesmerizing with mischievous kids, romance, danger, and excitement. We listened to the record endlessly. I still know every verse to every song with Do Re Mi being the first song I ever picked out on the piano. The kids in our neighborhood would regularly act out the musical for our parents, using the slight rise in front of our house to re-enact the climactic scene of the family hiking over the mountains to Switzerland to escape the Nazis.

On the tour we were reminded that the mountains around Salzburg border Germany, not Switzerland. The von Trapp family actually traveled by train to Italy, and the Nazis were not in hot pursuit. And yet, despite the geographical impossibility and the Hollywood created drama of their escape, I was very moved by the von Trapp family's story and their departure from Salzburg. They left behind their home in a beautiful and historic city carrying only a knapsack each, not knowing if they would ever return. It made me think about my husband leaving his home during a war with a suitcase, a little money, and the opportunity of a scholarship for graduate studies. As good as life turned out in the US for both the von Trapps and my husband, it is a huge sacrifice to leave a culture, family and mother tongue behind, despite the gratitude one has for the life one makes here.

As a country of immigrants, most of us have someone in our past who made that difficult decision and sacrifice. Their story might lack the Hollywood drama of escaping the Nazis, but each of them undoubtedly climbed a mountain in making their way here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

TODAY'S DEALS: RADCO Completes an Oklahoma Apartment Acquisition

<Coupon Codesp>Tulsa, Okla.-The RADCO Companies has acquires a 284-unit community in Tulsa, Okla., formerly known as The Overlook Apartments. Rebranding has dubbed the community, which was acquired for $12.8 million, Ashford Overlook.

"We targeted Tulsa for apartment acquisitions because it has an excellent employment base, positive migration and capital has yet to drive prices too high," says Norman Radow, founder and CEO of The RADCO Cos. "Moreover, with close to one million people, Tulsa will soon reach a population milestone that will attract more global businesses."

The Tulsa market was targeted for several reasons. The city makes up 30.7 percent of the state's economy, led by a strong presence of energy and aerospace industries. Furthermore, the cost of living is 12 percent below the national average, and the cost of doing business in Tulsa is the fifth lowest in the country. Unemployment stands at 4.4 percent and per capital income is 15 percent above the national income.

With this recent transaction, The RADCO Cos. own over 5,100 units. Plans call for a repositioning play that will use $2.8 million to improve unit interiors, revitalize the exterior and grounds, and update the amenity package.

Centerline refinances four properties in Ohio

Cincinnati & Dayton, Ohio-Centerline Capital Group has provided four Fannie Mae loans totaling just over $10 million to refinance four properties located in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. The sponsor is a leader in the Ohio multifamily sector, and has developed a large portfolio over several decades. The loan was brokered through BlueMark Capital in Cincinnati. The loan was closed by Centerline's Chicago office. The deal team included Joseph Markech and Felicia Bell.

Located in Cincinnati, Kenwood Olde Towne is a 99-unit garden apartment complex well located in a desirable neighborhood and school district. Park Layne, Rockwood and Riverstone are located near downtown Dayton, in close proximity and total 297 units. All three are high rise buildings.

The four properties were developed between 1964 and 1969. The unit mix consists of 48 one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments, 27 two-bedroom, one- bathroom units, 80 two-bedroom, one-and-one-half bathroom apartments, and four two-bedroom, two-bathroom units. Site amenities include a swimming pool, clubhouse, tennis court, basketball court, storage units, playground, garages and a laundry facility in the lower level of each building.

Beech Street closes $5.9 for Oklahoma refinance

Tulsa, Okla.-Beech Street Capital has provided a $5.9 million Freddie Mac CME loan to refinance South Slope, a 96-unit apartment community located in Tulsa. The transaction was originated by Doug Taylor, Beech Street's senior vice president of originations headquartered in its Newport Beach, California office. David Yancey of Crown Capital, a San Francisco-based commercial mortgage banking and real estate company arranged the loan on behalf of the borrower.

Crown Capital acquired the property back in 1997, and developed a second phase in 1999. The fixed-rate loan has a 7-year term, 6.5 years of defeasance, and 30-years amortization payable on an actual/360 basis.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

30% off Forever 21 Coupons & Free Shipping Codes

Albany, GA -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/06/2014 -- Forever 21 is a leading chain of retail shop in America and it is found in most of the major cities in Asia, Europe, Canada and Middle East countries. The store is confined to great clothing especially for youngsters who have a grace towards new fashions and trends. The company offers Forever 21 coupons which makes every purchase very affordable.

With the help of these coupons, people can either enjoy a fixed discount or a percentage discount on the products. To get the fixed or percentage discount, people should purchase the items that the particular coupon can redeem. Basically, the company offers three types of discount coupons for the people.

Forever 21 coupon usually has a code or image. It has to be taken print out and should be produced while purchasing the applicable item. The purchaser will get a discount mentioned on the coupon. However, the discount might be a price reduction, free shipping or price reduction. It is really a simple way of saving a great amount of money.

People who prefer to make purchases at local stores can utilize this printable coupon as a great way of saving their valuable money. However, this printable coupon cannot be used while purchasing the products at online stores.

The next type of Forever 21 coupon code which can be mainly used while purchasing products from the official website of Forever 21. There will be a code given on the coupon and it can be redeemed while checking out after picking up the product that has to be purchased. The purchaser will get a discount on the product. This coupon code is also called as promotional code and they are applicable to particular products.

Forever 21 free shipping coupon is kind of coupon which is applied at checking out. According to terms and conditions, the consumer has to make a purchase for a certain amount. If the free shipping coupon is applicable for shoes, then a user have to purchase shoes for a certain amount so that they can enjoy free shipping with this coupon. The shipping fee will be eliminated by employing these free shipping coupons. However, the free coupons will be either in the form of printable ones or Printable Coupons.

People who are looking for Forever 21 coupons can get these codes from various places. There are several websites which offer list of discount coupons. Anyone can find the Forever 21 coupons in any of these websites. If any user want to get printable coupons, then they have to enroll with free newsletter from Forever 21. This newsletter will include all the promotions offered by the company and it will be directly sent to email ID.

Online Consumers can take the print out of the codes applicable for the product that they need to purchase. You can also check the official website of the company to find some offers. This helps in saving around 20% for the product. Whatever coupon user may have, it is all about saving hard earned money.

About Promos Nation
At Promos Nation, we try to find the best deals and latest coupons for online shoppers. An average buyer can save up to 30% by using discount coupons. At official site, a consumer can search for all the latest coupons for major US stores.