Gunman opens fire at Pa. psych clinic; 2 dead

Posted March 08, 2012, at 8:22 p.m.
Last modified March 08, 2012, at 9:02 p.m.

PITTSBURGH — A man armed with two semiautomatic handguns entered the lobby of a psychiatric clinic at the University of Pittsburgh on Thursday and opened fire, killing one person and wounding several others before he was shot dead, apparently by campus police, the mayor said.

Six people were wounded by the man’s gunfire, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. A seventh suffered unspecified injuries but wasn’t shot, officials said.

The mayor stopped short of confirming the gunman was fatally shot by at least one University of Pittsburgh police officer who responded. But he confirmed “police acted admirably and did engage in gunfire.”

One of the injured was a police officer who Ravenstahl said was grazed by a bullet. Officials didn’t say if that officer shot the gunman, whose identity and relationship to the clinic, if any, weren’t disclosed. The injured people included employees and a visitor, said Dr. Donald Yealy, chair of emergency medicine at the university’s medical school.

As household wealth rises, so do hopes for economy

WASHINGTON — Americans are climbing further out of the hole they sank into during the Great Recession.

A stock rally at the end of 2011 helped rebuild more of their lost wealth — a trend that carried into 2012. Households responded by borrowing more for the first time since the financial crisis began, even as their home values fell further.

Americans’ wealth rose 2.1 percent to $58.5 trillion in the October-December quarter, the sharpest gain in a year, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. Still, it would have to rise an additional 13 percent to return to its pre-recession peak.

Driving the gains were stock portfolios, which surged nearly 10 percent in the fourth quarter. And stocks have since risen further. Since early October, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has jumped 24 percent.

Household wealth, or net worth, reflects the value of assets like homes, bank accounts and stocks, minus debts like mortgages and credit cards. It bottomed during the recession at $49 trillion in the first quarter of 2009. It’s still well below its pre-recession peak of $66 trillion.

The Fed’s quarterly report documents most of the financial transactions that occur in the U.S.

Greater net worth tends to boost the economy. When people feel wealthier, they typically spend more. Businesses respond by stepping up plans to hire and expand.

Corporations are also wealthier. They held a record $2.2 trillion in cash at the end of the year, up from $ 2.1 trillion at the end of September.

Solar storm not nearly as bad as could have been

WASHINGTON — Our high-tech world seems to have weathered a solar storm that didn’t quite live up to its advance billing.

While some experts think the threat from the solar storm passed by Thursday afternoon, space weather forecasters said it’s still too early to relax.because the storm’s effects could continue or even intensify through Friday morning.

The storm, which started with a solar flare Tuesday evening, caused a stir Wednesday because forecasts were for a strong storm with the potential to knock electrical grids offline, mess with GPS and harm satellites. It even forced airlines to reroute a few flights on Thursday.

It was never seen as a threat to people, just technology, and teased skywatchers with the prospect of colorful Northern Lights dipping further south.

But when the storm finally arrived around 6 a.m. Thursday, after traveling at 2.7 million mph, it was more a magnetic breeze than a gale. The power stayed on. So did GPS and satellites. And the promise of auroras seemed to be more of a mirage.

Scientists initially figured the storm would be the worst since 2006, but now seems only as bad as ones a few months ago, said Joe Kunches, a scientist at the NOAA center. The strongest storm in recorded history was probably in 1859, he said.

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