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Vegas Real Estate Sales Up in January

Written by: DQ News

DataQuick reports median sale prices are down and sales are up across Las Vegas as investors and homebuyers snap up distressed properties that are selling for historically low prices. Total sales were 15.6% higher thanks to increases in sales of new homes and resales in the market, helping push January numbers to a five-year high for the month, although sales in these areas remain well below average. The significant drop in the median sales price is attributed to home depreciation, strong investor activity in the depressed-property sector and the high number of sales of those low-cost homes. For more on this continue reading the following article from TheStreet

.The number of homes sold in the Las Vegas area last month was the highest for a January in five years thanks to robust sales below $200,000, and especially under $100,000.

The median price paid sank to its lowest point since April 1994 as distressed property sales made up two-thirds of all resale activity and investor purchases reached a near-record level, a real estate information service reported.

In January, 4,038 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County). That was down 16.6% from December but up 8.5% from January 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick, which tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

In January, the number of homes that resold rose 7% on a year-over-year basis, marking the thirteenth consecutive month in which resales have posted an annual gain. It was the highest number of resales for a January since 2005. January sales of newly-built homes also rose from a year earlier, by 26.3%, and were the highest for that month since 2008, but they remained far below average. New-home sales have risen year-over-year for seven consecutive months.

Total January sales were 15.6% higher than the average number of homes sold in that month since 1994, while resale activity (excludes new homes) was 55.5% above average for a January.

Continuing a months-long trend, January sales were strongest in the lower price ranges. The number of transactions below $100,000 shot up 26% compared with a year earlier and represented 44.6% of all deals, compared with 38.4% of all sales in January 2011. The number of January 2012 sales below $200,000 rose 11.2% year-over-year, while the number above $200,000 fell 3.2% from a year earlier. January sales above $300,000 fell 9.1% compared with a year ago.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas metro area in January was $110,000, down 4.3% from $115,000 in December and down 7.6% from $119,000 in January 2011. The January 2012 median, which was the lowest since the median was also $110,000 in April 1994, was 64.7% below the November 2006 peak of $312,000. The median has fallen on a year-over-year basis for 16 consecutive months.

The median’s recent decline to levels not seen since the mid 1990s can be attributed to several factors: home price depreciation; robust sales of low-cost foreclosures; robust sales to investors, who mainly target low-cost properties; historically low new-home sales (new homes tend to sell for more than resale homes); and higher-than-usual condo resales (condos tend to be the least expensive homes).

Distressed property sales — the combination of foreclosure resales and “short sales” — made two-thirds of the Las Vegas resale market.

Foreclosure resales — homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months — accounted for 52.6% of the Las Vegas resale market in January. That was up slightly from 52.3% in December but down from 54.7 % a year ago. Foreclosure resales peaked at 73.7% of the resale market in April 2009.

Short sales — transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property — made up an estimated 13.9% of the resale market in January. That compares with an estimated 13.7% in December, 14.4% a year ago, and 13.6 % two years ago.

This article was republished with permission from TheStreet

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Clock counts down as Google privacy change looms

by Charles Cooper

Time to do some account maintenance as Google’s new privacy policy is set to go into effect in less than 24 hours.

For the congenital procrastinators out there–and yes, you know who you are–don’t complain about not being warned. In less than 24 hours, Google will hit the switch and start linking your data across the company’s e-mail, video, social-networking, and other services.

Google announced last month that it was rewriting its privacy policy in a way that would grant it explicit rights to “combine personal information” across multiple products and services. In our ever-connected world, this will either be received as great news or another stepping stone on the road to Big Brother’s house.

Since the news broke, the company has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to privacy, saying that the simplified privacy policy will only improve the user experience (and also make it easier for advertisers to connect with customers) Before the switch-over to a single uber-policy, Google had to maintain 60 privacy policies for different services.

Simpler and easier to understand. Who wouldn’t want that?
The problem is that if you want to use Google’s myriad services, you don’t have an alternative but to abide by the new rules since there’s no way to opt out and the planned consolidation of user information.

That’s raised hackles with the usual suspects. For instance, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, unhappy by the announcement, tried to stop Google by suing the Federal Trade Commission. Its argument was that the move violated a 2011 privacy agreement between the commission and Google over its launch of Google Buzz. That complaint went nowhere.

Another naysayer, however, may yet have more to say about this in coming weeks and months.

“The CNIL and EU data authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services,” French regulator CNIL wrote to Google recently. “They have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing, and its compliance with European data protection legislation.”
Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, said in a blog post that Google was “confident that our new simple, clear, and transparent privacy policy respects all European data protection laws and principles.”

Removing your search history
CNET’s Sharon Vaknin has a good explainer on what you can do before the big changeover. Sign in to your account on Google and head to http://www.google.com/history. Once there click on the tab that says “Remove all Web history” and then hit the “OK” button. That disables the history of sites you have visited or the searches that you’ve performed.

Also, here’s a primer that the Electronic Frontier Foundation compiled on what else you can do to protect your Internet privacy

Read more:

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Willow Smith To Play A Young Whitney Houston In Biopic?

Written by Shamika Sanders

Just when you thought it was odd that Rihanna was being considered to play Whitney Houston in her forthcoming biopic, things just got weirder… Willow Smith is rumored to possibly play a young Whitney in the film. According to ContactMusic:

“The movie is likely to span several decades of the singer’s life, Will Smith’s daughter Willow Smith could be cast as Whitney during her childhood.”

Jennifer Hudson and Vivica A. Fox are also rumored to be in the running to play Whitney!

Rihanna – Rihanna Lined Up To Play Whitney Houston In Biopic

Rihanna is reportedly being lined-up to play Whitney Houston in a new Hollywood biopic of the late singer. Though some fans have criticized the decision to go ahead with a movie so soon after Whitney’s death, her former mentor Clive Davis is reportedly helming the project so as to make sure the film celebrates the life of Houston, rather than cashing in on her demise.

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, Rihanna and Jennifer Hudson are top on movie bosses’ list of names for the lead role, with Kill Bill actress Vivica Fox and American Idol singer Jordin Sparks also thought to be in with a chance. As the movie is likely to span several decades of the singer’s life, Will Smith’s daughter Willow Smith could be cast as Whitney during her childhood. A report in the UK’s People newspaper suggests Houston knew about plans for a biopic before her death, with a source commenting, “Whitney knew about the project and was excited to see where it would lead. It’s hoped the biopic will be as successful as the Tina Turner movie What’s Love Got To Do With It, which landed two Oscar nominations for Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne who played Tina and Ike Turner”.

Rihanna has established herself as one of the biggest R&B acts in the world, though her talent for acting is generally unknown. She recently hit the headlines after teaming up with her violent ex-boyfriend Chris Brown for a remix of her track ‘Birthday Cake’.

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Is College Bad for Religion?

By Rev. Dr. Lucy A. Foster – Smith

Is college bad for religion? Do students who arrive at college with their faith intact leave four years later brainwashed by a politically correct, leftist ideology? Are college students so impressionable and unthinking that they are “Tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine,” (Ephesians 4: 14)?

As someone who has been a college chaplain at one of the most notably secular colleges in the United States, I take issue with Rick Santorum’s claim that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.” In fact over past five years surprising information about the spiritual practices of college students and young adults indicates that the spiritual and religious commitments of this generation of young adults is surprisingly robust. According to “Spirituality in Higher Education: Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose,” a study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, religious commitment, that is an “internal” quality through which the student seeks to follow religious teachings in everyday life…by trusting in a higher power plays a central role in the student’s life. “Students’ average level of Religious Commitment changes very little during college,” the survey results state.

As experts in college and university religious life, chaplains and deans of religious life know the spiritual and religious territory of our students. We tirelessly work with our colleagues to prepare leaders for the global commons. We realize that our students are expected to think deeply, to critically examine the world they will inherit, to find inner resources, spiritual, emotional, psychological, that will enable them to sustain a commitment to mending the world. College and university chaplains serve the very campuses that Rick Santorum and others decry as some form of liberal brainwashing. We know our campuses well, we weep with this generation of students many of whom are at a loss, trying to make sense of the world and their place within it and often disappointed by popular religious voices that give tried and threadbare answers to complex problems.

I’m not sure what someone like Rick Santorum is speaking about when he implies that college is not good for religiously convicted young people. Never in my lifetime as a college chaplain have students been so earnest, so convicted, so ready to step into a cultural crossfire between absolutes and steady their eye on cleaning up the mess.

Never in my lifetime as a college chaplain have young adults who are graduating from college been as worried, as upset, as wondering about whether they can indeed change a rip tide of political, social and religious, yes religious fanaticism. Never in my lifetime as a college chaplain have students challenged the assumed ideology of both liberalism and conservatism for a more spacious vision of radical hospitality and justice for all people and the planet as a whole.

We shrink the constellations of goodwill, hope, justice and spiritual fortitude that is planted in the hearts of young adults when any of us, including myself, tries to discourage the questions, the challenges, the wake up calls of this generation as prepare to feed themselves, their families, their aspirations, their spirits.

Rather, those of us who tend to the soul of institutions of higher learning, lean close and often find that they carry deep hunger for the vision of Jesus and Moses and Mohammed and the Buddha, that looks into the face of the world with unflinching curiosity and marvelous joy. Is this not good for religiously convicted young people? I think those of us who labor in their midst as chaplains, deans of religious life, campus pastors, will do everything in our power to make certain that they are ready in all manner of their spirit to bring to birth a world that awaits them.

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Time spent on Google+ dwindles while Pinterest draws growing user interest

Data from ComScore shows falling time spent on Google’s would-be Facebook rival, as bookmarking site Pinterest rises almost unnoticed to rival longer-established sites

By Charles Arthur

Pinterest boards: the fast-growing social network has fewer users than Google+ but they spend much longer there on average Photograph: Pinterest

While the media was getting obsessed with Google+… the world actually got interested in Pinterest. What’s more, Google’s nascent social network, despite having seen a growing number of signups, only managed to attract visitors for an average of 3 minutes in the entire month of January – and that was a fall from the 4 minutes it achieved in December.

New data from the web measurement company ComScore say that the figures for Google+ in the UK are even worse: having hit an average per user of 3.5 minutes for the month of December, that fell to 2.5 minutes in January.

Meanwhile Facebook remains the monolith of the web – taking almost 18% of people’s entire internet time in the UK during January. None of the other social networks managed more than 1% of UK “user minutes” for the same period; the blogging site Tumblr.com managed 0.55%, followed by Twitter, with 0.27%, and the “business social network” LinkedIn with 0.22%. Google+ and Pinterest both had 0.01% of total internet time, by ComScore’s figures.

Time spent on various sites (excluding Facebook), worldwide, January 2011-2012. Source: ComScore

While the figures for worldwide visitor numbers to Google+ are impressive – hitting 88.3m in January, not far behind LinkedIn’s 100m, though some way short of Twitter 181.8m (and Facebook’s 805m) – the brevity of visits, and the apparent fall in interest compared to December suggests that the company has not found a simple way to retain user interest.

By contrast, Pinterest, which attracted almost no media interest before 2012, and which has not announced signup figures, has seen steadily growing figures both for users and for time spent since May, says ComScore: in January 2012, 13.76m people worldwide visited, and spent an average of 89 minutes there. The pattern is repeated in the UK, where steady growth saw 250,000 Britons visit the site in January, and spend an average of 25 minutes for the month. That contrasts with Google+, whose UK figures showed 3.8m visitors spending far less time on the site.

The data will be uncomfortable reading for Google’s chief executive Larry Page, who has committed the search giant to focussing on “social search” to the extent that the company has been accused of skewing its search results to push Google+ content above the position that it would normally merit on previous Google algorithms.

Page made much of the number of Google+ signups during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings in January, saying that 90m had signed up and then added “Engagement on [Google]+ is also growing tremendously. I have some amazing data to share there for the first time. [Google]+ users are very engaged with our products. Over 60% of them engage daily and over 80% weekly.”

But that statistic, while appearing to make Google+ look attractive, in fact only means that those people use services like Google Search, Docs, Mail and other products with that frequency – not Google+ itself. The company has not released its internal data which would show how long people spend on the site, in contrast to Facebook.

Google is trying to get Google+ to rival Facebook and Twitter so that it can expand its advertising business; the two networks are increasingly protective of their content. Facebook prevents Google from indexing the majority of its content, while Twitter declined to renew a contract to provide its full “firehose” of tweets to Google when the two could not agree on how much Google should pay it for what would in effect be lost revenue from advertising to Twitter through the lack of visitors compared to the amount Google would earn from showing ads against searches which included Twitter content.

The ComScore data does come with caveats. Rather than coming directly from the sites themselves, it is estimated via a user sample who have a toolbar installed on their desktop or laptop PCs – and so does not record visits to sites made by people using tablets such as the iPad, or from mobile phones. Facebook and Twitter have significant use via mobile phones. It is unclear how much use Google+ gets from mobile phones; it is now built into Android phones, which have dominant market share worldwide, and is available on Apple’s iOS, the second best-selling smartphone OS.

The ComScore data also only offers a mean value – which may disguise large variations in the time people spend on sites. Some Google+ users report being very engaged with the network, spending hours on it – which implies that some of the visitors spend scant seconds on the site during the month.

Other sources suggest that Google+ is failing to engage users: speaking to the Wall Street Journal, John Schappert, the chief operating officer of games maker Zynga, known for its “social game” Farmville, said that the network had been “slow on the uptick with users right now”. Intel’s social media manager Ekaterina Walter said that response on Google+ was “not as great as were hoping it was going to be” and pointed to the fact that its Facebook page has millions of fans and gets thousands of comments – while the Google+ one gets dozens.

But inside Google, there is no alternative: Page has declared that staff bonuses will be dependent on the success of its social efforts – though it is not yet known what measures will be used to determine that success.

Facebook dominates web use both in terms of visitors

Visitors worldwide to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Pinterest, Google+ January 2011-2012. Source: ComScore
And in time spent:

Time spent on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+ and others, January 2011-2012. Source: ComScore

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Consumer Confidence Climbs to One-Year High

U.S. consumer confidence scaled a one-year high in February as optimism about the labor market offset concerns over rising gasoline prices, an independent survey showed on Tuesday.

The Conference Board said its index of consumer attitudes increased to 70.8 this month – the highest reading since February last year – from an upwardly revised 61.5 in January.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index rising to 63.0 from a previously reported reading of 61.1 in January.

“Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement

“And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation.”

Gasoline prices have risen 12.6% or 42 cents since the start of the year and were averaging $3.78 a gallon in the week through Monday, according to the Energy Information Agency.

Rising gasoline prices helped to almost snuff out growth early last year, but economists believe the impact on households this time around could be mitigated somewhat by weak costs for natural gas and a strengthening labor market.

And consumers are beginning to believe in an improving labor environment, with their assessment of the labor market brightening a notch this month.

About 38.7% of respondents in the Conference Board survey said jobs were hard to get this month, down from 43.3% in January. The share of consumers viewing jobs as plentiful rose to 6.6% from 6.2% the prior month.

The jobs market has enjoyed two straight months of solid job growth, with the unemployment rate falling to a three-year low of 8.3% in January.

Read more: Fox Business

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In Defense of College

By Rachel Alexander

There’s a growing chorus of voices telling students that college may not be the best use of their time post-high school. The national UnCollege movement has argued that college does a poor job or preparing students for real-world jobs. Their founder, Dale Stephens, was recently featured on the New York Times higher education blog, where he argued that people seeking a meaningful education would often do better immersing themselves in the so-called “real world.” The numbers appear to be on his side: barely half of recent college grads are working jobs that require degrees, and the ever-growing college debt burden certainly asks us to consider if we could find a better use for $28,500 (the average annual tuition at a private four-year school, according to the College Board).

I agree with Mr. Stephens in many regards. Many students could make better use of four years of their life, and plenty of people go to college for reasons that are more social than academic. On the UnCollege website, there’s a list of beliefs supporting the movement’s idea that you don’t need to go to college to be successful. Some of them make sense to me, but I found one somewhat curious: you don’t need to decide what to do with your life at age 18. I believe that’s absolutely true, and in my mind, it’s one of the best reasons to go to college.

I’m a junior at Whitman College, a private liberal arts school in eastern Washington. When I came to Whitman, I had a vague notion that I wanted to do something related to international development or saving the world, so I decided to major in politics and environmental studies. During orientation week, I went to the activities fair, figuring I should join a club of some kind to get to know people outside of my dorm. Wandering the folding white tables, I saw the table for our school newspaper, the Pioneer. I had no journalism experience, but I liked to read magazines and the staff looked nice. I applied to be a news reporter, assuming I’d at least learn something even if I decided this wasn’t my thing.

Now, three years later, I’ve been selected as next year’s editor-in-chief. I’ve met many of my best friends through the paper, written stories about undocumented students and eating disorders on campus and learned more about InDesign, AP Style and writing a solid lede than I ever thought I’d know. I’m pretty set on trying to make a living as a journalist, and I’m heading to Ecuador this summer to write a story about locals struggling against a copper mine in the middle of a cloud forest. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t gone to college.

The merits of college are often debated based on what occurs in the classroom. I’ve learned valuable skills in class, but I think it’s a mistake to assume that class time is the only place where education occurs on a college campus. One of the coolest things about college is the fact that you’re surrounded with other intelligent, hard-working people who have vastly different skills and interests from you. I’ve learned just as much from late-night conversations with my peers over a pint of ice cream as I have from lectures and discussion sections.

College, to me, is a place for exploration, a place to decide which of the many things that exist in the world are interesting to you. There are many ways to expose yourself to different fields and professions–jobs, internships, volunteering–but the concentration of opportunities available on a college campus makes it ideally suited to exploration of this type. In a single week at Whitman, I can teach a rock climbing class, volunteer at the local women’s shelter, go to a board meeting for a food co-op that’s just getting started, debate the merits of park-based conservation in my political ecology class and write an article about a neighboring high school receiving an award for having a high graduation rate. It’s eclectic mixes like that they make college truly worthwhile.

The UnCollege crowd is spot-on with many of their critiques of college and traditional education. You don’t need to go to college to be successful. If you know what you want to do with your life and don’t need a degree to do it, more power to you. But if you’re trying to figure yourself out and haven’t quite found that niche, college still offers opportunities that you won’t find in the “real world.”

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The Next Generation of Online Casino Games

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Casino game software companies are constantly developing new and improved games and applications that bring them to players’ computers, smartphones and other mobile devices. These new technologies are primarily aimed at enhancing the overall experience of players, ensuring that they will return again and again. The latest advances in casino game technology also make it possible for players to interact and participate more fully as they play, allowing them to see, hear and experience the game as if in a real “bricks and mortar” casino.

Networked Gaming

Networked gaming is one of the latest developments in online and mobile casino technology. Designed to operate with products and platforms from a range of vendors, networked gaming enables users to interface while playing, not only with the rest of the casino, but also with the wider world outside. This helps increase the efficiency and moneymaking capabilities of the casino, as well as giving the player unique opportunities to do more than simply concentrate on winning the jackpot. This type of connection might, for example, allow players to earn points or miles for travel while playing or earn club rewards while traveling. Networked gaming platforms offer every player a unique experience, adhering to high standards of the gaming industry while giving casinos the tools to make their gaming floor as strong as possible.

3-D Technology

Slots are extremely popular games at both online and mobile casinos and the latest machines feature 3-D graphics technology. The crisp images and video of these glitzy games are eye-catching and realistic; this coupled with the stunning audio that features the rattle of spinning reels, bells and whistles, makes for casino game floor experience online or anywhere you like. Other favorite casino games, including video poker and bingo, are also now available with 3-D graphics.

Real-Time Leaderboards

Online casino games enable players to participate in actual games and competitions and real-time leaderboards have made this form of play more appealing than ever. Real-time leaderboards show players their ranking in a particular game, alongside rankings from other casino games also in play. Everyone can check to see the people they are playing against in competitions, encouraging group and team play and fostering the atmosphere of the real casino without the requirements of dress and etiquette they often require.

Live Web Cams and Live Dealers

Web-cams have been around for years, but are now finding their way into the world of online casino games. Most commonly used with the card and table games, the live shots of players and the dealer allows participants to interact and immerse themselves in the game as they would in the casino.

The evolution of live dealers provides an enhanced gaming experience for players, while also hoping to convince those who believe that random number generator programs are unfair that they are, in fact, completely random. As internet connection speeds and streaming video technologies have improved, live dealing has become more popular. Having a real dealer or croupier conducting the game enables you to play baccarat, blackjack or roulette for real money in an environment as close as possible to that of a ‘live’ casino gaming floor.

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Student Brain Dead In Ohio School Shooting

Written by Associated Press

CHARDON, Ohio — A student wounded in an Ohio school shooting has been declared brain dead, authorities said Tuesday, the second reported fatality in an attack that began when a teenager opened fire in the cafeteria at a suburban Cleveland high school a day earlier.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office received the word about Russell King Jr. just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, according to office administrator Hugh Shannon.

“The cause and manner of death of this case are under on-going investigation and will be released upon completion,” Shannon said in a statement.

King, 17, was one of five students injured when a suspect identified by a family lawyer as T.J. Lane began shooting at Chardon High School Monday morning. King was studying alternative energy at nearby Auburn Career Center and like the others who were shot was waiting for a bus for his daily 15-minute ride to the center. Student Daniel Parmertor died hours after the shooting.

A student who saw the attack up close said it appeared that the gunman targeted a group of students sitting together and that the one who was killed was gunned down while trying to duck under the cafeteria table.

Lane’s family is mourning “this terrible loss for their community,” attorney Robert Farnacci said in a statement.

FBI officials would not comment on a motive. And Police Chief Tim McKenna said authorities “have a lot of homework to do yet” in their investigation of the shooting, which sent students screaming through the halls at the start of the school day at 1,100-student Chardon High.

An education official said the suspected shooter is a Lake Academy student, not a student at Chardon High. Brian Bontempo declined to answer any questions about the student. Bontempo is the superintendent of the Lake County Educational Service Center, which operates the academy.

The alternative school in Willoughby serves 7th through 12th grades. Students may have been referred to the school because of academic or behavioral problems.

The FBI said the suspect was arrested near his car a half-mile from Chardon. He was not immediately charged.

Teachers locked down their classrooms as they had been trained to do during drills, and students took cover as they waited for the all-clear in this town of 5,100 people, 30 miles from Cleveland. One teacher was said to have dragged a wounded student into his classroom to protect him. Another chased the gunman out of the building, police said.

Fifteen-year-old Danny Komertz, who witnessed the shooting, said Lane was known as an outcast who had apparently been bullied. But others disputed that.

“Even though he was quiet, he still had friends,” said Tyler Lillash, 16. “He was not bullied.”

Farinacci, representing Lane and his family, told WKYC-TV that Lane “pretty much sticks to himself but does have some friends and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about.”

Long before official word came of the attack, parents learned of the bloodshed from students via text message and cellphone and thronged the streets around the school, anxiously awaiting word on their children.

Two of the wounded were listed in critical condition, and another was in serious condition.

“I looked up and this kid was pointing a gun about 10 feet away from me to a group of four kids sitting at a table,” Komertz said. He said the gunman fired two shots quickly, and students scrambled for safety. One of them was “trying to get underneath the table, trying to hide, protecting his face.”

Slain student Daniel Parmertor was an aspiring computer repairman who was waiting in the cafeteria for the bus for his daily 15-minute ride to a vocational school. His teacher at the Auburn Career School had no idea why Parmertor, “a very good young man, very quiet,” had been targeted, said Auburn superintendent Maggie Lynch.

Officers investigating the shooting blocked off a road in a heavily wooded area several miles from the school. Federal agents patrolled the muddy driveway leading to several spacious homes and ponds, while other officers walked a snowy hillside. A police dog was brought in. It wasn’t clear what they were looking for.

Teacher Joe Ricci had just begun class when he heard shots and slammed the door to his classroom, yelling, “Lockdown!” to students, according to Karli Sensibello, a student whose sister was in Ricci’s classroom.

A few minutes later, Ricci heard a student moaning outside, opened the door and pulled in student Nick Walczak who had been shot several times, Sensibello said in an email. Ricci comforted Walczak and let him use his cellphone to call his girlfriend and parents, Sensibello said. She said her sister was too upset to talk.

Heather Ziska, 17, said she was in the cafeteria when she saw a boy she recognized as a fellow student come into the cafeteria and start shooting. She said she and several others immediately ran outside, while other friends ran into a middle school and others locked themselves in a teachers’ lounge.

“Everybody just started running,” said 17-year-old Megan Hennessy, who was in class when she heard loud noises. “Everyone was running and screaming down the hallway.”

Farinacci said Lane’s family was “devastated” by the shootings and that they offered “their most heartfelt and sincere condolences” to Parmertor’s family and the families of the wounded students.

“This is something that could never have been predicted,” Farinacci told WKYC-TV.

Rebecca Moser, 17, had just settled into her chemistry class when the school went into lockdown. The class of about 25 students ducked behind the lab tables at the back of the classroom, uncertain whether it was a drill.

Text messages started flying inside and outside the school, spreading information about what was happening and what friends and family were hearing outside the building.

“We all have cellphones, so people were constantly giving people updates – about what was going on, who the victims were, how they were doing,” Moser said.

The school had no metal detectors, but current and past students said it had frequent security drills in case of a shooting.

Anxious parents of high school students were told to go to an elementary school to pick up their children.

Joe Bergant, Chardon school superintendent, said school was canceled Tuesday and grief counselors would be available to students and families.

“If you haven’t hugged or kissed your kid in the last couple of days, take that time,” he said.

Associated Press

Education Is Key

Give Yourself a Tax Break

By Nadine Cheung

Tax season is upon us, but it doesn’t have to be a drag. Sure, filing isn’t fun, but with the right method, you just may be able to save some money — and who wouldn’t welcome that?

If you have a relatively simple return, there are a variety of inexpensive do-it-yourself options, some of which are free. That’s right, free. The IRS.gov website allows you to file without charge, if you qualify, and even refers you to an accredited free-filing agency to help you through the process.

Walmart also offers a convenient free-file option. You can file your 1040EZ at over 3,000 locations nationwide at no cost. The best part (well, for frequent Walmart shoppers) is that the store will even load your refund onto a convenient prepaid card.

If your financial status has changed in the last year, or if you think your situation is a little more complicated, hiring a tax professional may be your most economical and hassle-free option. Those who were paid for freelance work without taxes held or experienced a major life event — like getting married, welcoming a new baby, or receiving settlement or inheritance — should seek professional assistance.

f you’re cringing at the thought of shelling out cash for a pro, don’t. An accountant may cost you a few hundred dollars up front, but with the right deductions, you could end up saving more than that on your return as a whole.

As April 15 approaches, assess your situation and do a little digging. You’ll find that the right filing method will ultimately pay off.

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