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POSTED September 25, 2013 9:39 p.m.

HOME AND STOCK VALUES BOOST US HOUSEHOLD WEALTH: WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. household net worth jumped $1.3 trillion in the spring, fueled by gains in home and stock values.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that net worth rose to $74.8 trillion in the April-June quarter, up 1.8 percent from the first quarter. Home prices and stock markets have risen further since then, suggesting that Americans' net worth is now even higher.

The gains in wealth haven't been evenly distributed. Home ownership has declined since the recession, particularly among lower-income Americans. And the wealthiest 10 percent of households own about 80 percent of stocks.

Americans' wealth bottomed at $57.2 trillion in 2008 during the Great Recession. It's since risen $17.6 trillion.

Household wealth, or net worth, reflects the value of assets like homes, stocks and bank accounts minus debts like mortgages and credit cards.

Greater net worth can boost consumers' willingness and ability to spend. That could accelerate economic growth. Some economists say higher household wealth enabled Americans to spend more this year despite higher Social Security taxes and higher income taxes on wealthier Americans that took effect at the start of the year.

Home values rose $525 billion in the April-June quarter, stock and mutual fund portfolios $300 billion.

Consumers took on slightly more debt last quarter, mostly in the form of auto and student loans. Credit card debt rose slightly, too.

On Wednesday, the Fed revised up its previous data on household wealth to reflect changes in the government's accounting of

DE NIRO TAKES OVER GANDOLFINI MINISERIES ROLE : LOS ANGELES (AP) — HBO says Robert De Niro will step into a project that was thrown into question by the death of James Gandolfini.

HBO said Wednesday that De Niro is taking on the role of a New York City attorney handling a murder case in the miniseries "Criminal Justice."

Gandolfini had played the attorney in the pilot episode. The star of "The Sopranos" died in June at age 51 after suffering a heart attack.

"Criminal Justice" was one of Gandolfini's last projects. Another is the film "Enough Said," which is now in theaters.

PETITION CHALLENGES SCHOOL NAMED AFTER KKK LEADER: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A petition to change the name of a mostly black Jacksonville, Fla., high school named after an early Ku Klux Klan leader has gathered nearly 90,000 signatures.

Omotayo Richmond's petition on Change.org asks Duval Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School.

Richmond says it's troubling that a school where more than half the students are black is named "for someone who would have kept their ancestors enslaved."

Forrest was a plantation owner and slave trader. Some accounts accuse him of ordering black prisoners to be massacred after a Confederate army victory. The newly formed Klan elected Forrest as its honorary Grand Wizard in 1867, though he denied involvement.

A district spokeswoman says the policy for changing school names does not include online petitions.

DETROIT'S ROBOCOP STATUE TO BE UNVEILED NEXT YEAR: DETROIT (AP) — Creators of a Detroit statue of the fictional crime-fighting cyborg RoboCop say they plan to unveil it next summer.

Venus Bronze Works in Detroit is getting ready to cast pieces of the statue and on Tuesday showed off its 10-foot-tall model to The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.

The 1980s science fiction movie was set in a futuristic and crime-ridden Detroit.

The movement for a RoboCop statue started in 2011 after a social networking campaign exploded in support of the project, quickly raising money to make it happen.

Brandon Walley, director of development for the nonprofit the Imagination Station, says the statue "will add nicely to Detroit and the rejuvenation that's happening here." He says the hope is that the statue will stand in a prominent place downtown.

DEMOCRATIC COUNCILMAN WINS SOCAL ASSEMBLY SEAT: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A Pomona Democrat has narrowly won an open state Assembly seat in the Inland Empire in a low-turnout special election.

Democrat Freddie Rodriguez, a Pomona city councilman, defeated Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent in Tuesday's runoff election.

Leon, a Republican who re-registered as an independent earlier this year, would have needed to win more than two-thirds of the 1,064 outstanding votes to overcome the margin. He had not conceded by Wednesday morning.

"This has been a hard-fought campaign on the grassroots level and we'll continue monitoring the results as they come in," he said in a statement.

Rodriguez declared victory late Tuesday, saying he is excited to represent the 52nd Assembly District, which includes sections of eastern Los Angeles County and western San Bernardino County.

CONSTRUCTION CONVOY CREEPS OVER COLORADO MOUNTAINS: DENVER (AP) — A convoy of heavy construction equipment crept over a high-elevation highway through Rocky Mountain National Park on Wednesday to join a massive road rebuilding project after the Colorado floods.

The damage to state highways alone is about $430 million, officials said, with 200 miles of roads and 50 bridges destroyed.

The flooding also caused eight confirmed deaths and damaged or destroyed nearly 1,800 homes.

Trail Ridge Road was closed to other vehicles to make way for the slow-moving convoy traveling from Grand County on the west side of the park to the town of Estes Park at the eastern entrance of the national park.

Sections of the twisting two-lane road are more than 12,000 feet above sea level and traverse steep slopes with breathtaking drop-offs. It is one of only two routes into Estes Park that survived the floods.

The road reopened at midday Wednesday after the convoy finished the trek on its way to flood-damaged towns.

State and local highway crews and construction companies are rushing to make temporary repairs to flood-damaged roadways, hoping to get key roads open by Dec. 1, before winter sets in.

Complete damage figures, including problems on private property, weren't available. But preliminary estimates put the initial cost of fixing public infrastructure at more than $760 million, with more expenses to come.

 

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