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Wisconsin officials propose first shoreline building changes since 1968

Madison (AP) — Wisconsin environmental officials want to make the first changes in shoreline building rules in more than four decades.

Their plan calls for limiting shoreline structures’ height to 35 feet. The size of impervious surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, would be capped at 30 percent of the lot.

Owners of existing homes would no longer need county variances to make improvements if the owners plan to spend more than 50 percent of the property’s value.

The state’s shoreline rules were created in 1968. The Natural Resources Board is expected to vote on the revisions at a June 24 meeting.

Wisconsin Supreme Court ducks ruling in La Crosse stadium name case

Madison (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court is declining to weigh in on a dispute over the name of the football stadium at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Veterans are suing university officials in an attempt to give the stadium back its original name, Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Board of Regents in 2005 named the stadium Roger Harring Stadium after the school’s successful former football coach and named the turf Memorial Field. The stadium was first called Veterans Memorial Stadium in 1945.

An appeals court threw out the lawsuit, saying the veterans do not have standing to bring their claims.

After agreeing to review that decision, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday it should not have taken the case.

That means the lower court ruling stands.

Fed survey shows signs worst of recession is over

Washington (AP) — The economy’s sharp downhill slide eased in the late spring and expectations for future business activity improved, suggesting the worst of the recession has passed.

A Federal Reserve snapshot of economic conditions issued Wednesday found five of the Fed’s 12 regions said the “downward trend is showing signs of moderating.”

In addition, “several” regions reported their expectations of future business activity improved, although they don’t see a “substantial increase” through the end of the year, according to the Fed report. In the last survey, several regions simply noted signs of some stability at low levels.

Altogether the assessments of businesses on the front lines of the economy appeared to be slightly better than those provided in the previous report issued in mid-April.

Known as the Beige Book, the Fed survey is consistent with observations made by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other central bank officials that the recession, which started in December 2007 and is now the longest since World War II, is loosening its hold on the economy.

Home Depot raises full-year earnings guidance

Atlanta (AP) — Home Depot Inc., the nation’s largest home improvement retailer, reported Wednesday its full-year earnings from continuing operations might come in better than previously forecast.

The move comes a few weeks after rival Lowe’s Cos. raised its full-year outlook.

Atlanta-based Home Depot now expects earnings per share from continuing operations to be flat to down 7 percent. Prior guidance called for a 7 percent decline.

The retailer also expects adjusted earnings per share to be down 20 percent to 26 percent. Its previous outlook was for a 26 percent decline.

The retailer maintained its outlook for an approximately 9 percent sales decline, which would mean sales of about $64.9 billion.

Home Depot has 2,238 retail stores.

International group reports 76 unionists killed in 2008

Brussels (AP) — More than 200 trade unionists worldwide were killed, assaulted or threatened in 2008 for trying to defend workers rights, an international trade union group reported Wednesday.

The International Trade Union Confederation said 76 people were killed, mostly in Latin America: 49 in Colombia, nine in Guatemala, four in Venezuela, three in Honduras and one in Panama.

The annual death toll has declined — from 91 in 2007 and 144 in 2006 — but the ITUC reported many governments violate workers rights and, in several cases, “were themselves responsible for heavy repression of these rights.”

The group reported 7,500 cases of dismissal of workers involved in trade union activity in 68 countries, including 20 in Africa alone.

“The country with the worst record of dismissals was Turkey, where more than 2,000” cases were documented, according to the report.

The ITUC reported Colombia was again the deadliest country for rights activists, with 49 killed in the South American nation last year, up from 39 in 2007 but down from 78 in 2006.

The ITUC comprises 312 national labor unions from 157 countries.

HUD to give $3.7 billion to 11 states hit by disasters

Cedar Rapids, IA (AP) — The federal government announced Wednesday it will give $3.7 billion in aid to 11 states affected by natural disasters last year, including $1.7 billion to Texas and $516 million to Iowa, which experienced record flooding.

Standing feet from the river that engulfed much of Cedar Rapids a year ago, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said the money would go toward rebuilding infrastructure, restoring housing and revitalizing local economies.

The largest portion of the HUD money will go to Texas, which was buffeted by hurricanes Ike, Gustav and Dolly last year. The other states promised money are Louisiana, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and California.

The money is part of a $6 billion allocation Congress made in September to states that suffered damage from natural disasters in 2008.

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