Even though I was three miles away, I could see the dark black plume of smoke. Something near my house was on fire.
As I finally drove down my street, a thick haze of smoke hung like fog. I asked my neighbor what happened. “I don’t know, it’s some industrial site near the river,” she said.
Then the UPS driver showed up to make a delivery, and he filled us in. It was a computer recycling plant, and the stuff stored outside on pallets caught fire from someone smoking. “Oh swell,” I said. “All that toxic plastic in the air.” No wonder my eyes were burning.
Despite the half-dozen or so industrial sites near the river, there are no fire hydrants down there, the driver told us. “They had to come up here to fill their trucks, and they called for a pumper truck to pull water from the Delaware River,” he said.
My entire neighborhood just stinks and my head hurts — in a different way than it did this morning.
CAIRO — Egypt will open its only crossing with the Gaza Strip this weekend, the Cairo military government announced Wednesday, significantly easing a four-year blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory but setting up a potential conflict with Israel.
Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency said the Rafah border crossing would be opened permanently starting Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Fridays and holidays.
This gives Gaza Palestinians a way to freely enter and exit their territory for the first time since 2007, when Hamas overran the territory, and Israel and Egypt closed the crossings.
May 25 (Bloomberg) — U.S. home prices dropped 5.5 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the biggest decline in almost two years, as sales of discounted foreclosures undermined real estate values.
Prices fell 2.5 percent from the fourth quarter, the Washington-based Federal Housing Finance Agency said today in a report. Economists projected a 1.2 percent drop from the previous three months, according to the median of five estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
The FHFA’s measure, based on properties with loans backed by mortgage financiers Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, has fallen for 15 straight quarters as lenders seize homes and sell them at cut-rate prices that drag down overall values. Foreclosures and short sales, in which banks agree to let properties sell for less than their loan balances, have accounted for about 38 percent of transactions this year, based on the monthly average of data from the National Association of Realtors.
“Dumping foreclosures on the market and selling them at distressed prices affects the whole real estate market,” said Richard DeKaser, an economist at Parthenon Group in Boston. “It puts downward pressure on prices, even for homes that aren’t in foreclosure.”