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April 28, 2014

The U.S. housing market has turned a corner. After crashing in 2008 and remaining depressed before bottoming out in 2012, prices have been rising again for two years.

Gallup's most recent housing survey found that 74 percent of homeowners' homes were valued higher than when they bought them, up from just 53 percent in the depths of the bust:

[Gallup]

And these newfound price gains are translating into newfound optimism. Fifty-six percent of individuals surveyed by Gallup now think house prices in their area will be higher in 12 months time. Americans haven't been this optimistic about home prices in several years.

[Gallup]

This is exciting news. House prices are an important bellwether of wider economic health, and their rise — even while the private economy continues to decrease its debt burden — signifies the beginning of a virtuous cycle. With house prices finally having bottomed out, homeowners will tend to begin to feel a higher degree of confidence about the economy. This is likely to boost consumer spending and business investment, raising output and further lowering unemployment.

The economic recovery, it seems, really is here. John Aziz

2:58 p.m. ET

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) made history on Thursday by casting a vote with her newborn baby in tow. The Senate voted Wednesday night to allow babies up to 1 year old on the floor during votes after Duckworth became the first senator to give birth while in office earlier this month.

Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, who is just 11 days old, accompanied Duckworth as she cast a vote against the nomination of Jim Bridenstine for NASA administrator:

History adorably made. Jeva Lange

2:47 p.m. ET
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

After nearly two years of investigation, much of the case surrounding Prince's unexpected death is closed. There will be no criminal charges, Minnesota law enforcement announced Thursday.

The music legend died in April 2016 after taking imitation Vicodin he didn't know was laced with fentanyl, per The New York Times. Law enforcement have since searched for how he may have acquired the counterfeit drug and came up empty.

"There is no reliable evidence showing how Prince obtained the counterfeit Vicodin laced with fentanyl, or who else had a role in delivering the counterfeit Vicodin to Prince," said Carver County attorney Mark Metz in a press conference.

That doesn't mean someone didn't help Prince get the counterfeit Vicodin, Metz clarified. It just means there isn't enough evidence to press criminal charges in the case.

A Minnesota doctor who treated Prince twice before did face civil violation for an illegal prescription, per the Times, and is paying $30,000 to settle the charge after telling police he prescribed Prince an opiate under a friend's name. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:45 p.m. ET

Starbucks has faced fierce backlash after video was released of two black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, being arrested in a Philadelphia store while waiting for their friend for a business meeting. In the wake of the incident, Starbucks has fired the manager, who called the police on the men, and announced that it will close some 8,000 U.S. locations next month to "conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores."

On Thursday, Nelson and Robinson appeared on Good Morning America, where they gave their version of events. In the process, it was revealed that only two minutes elapsed between the pair arriving at the Philadelphia Starbucks and the manager calling 911.

"We're at the table, we sit down, we're just talking amongst each other," Robinson recalled. "[The manager] then comes from around the register ... walks up to us, asks if she can help us with anything, can we start with some drinks or water." After the men said no and that they were waiting for a meeting, police showed up to handcuff the men for "defiant trespassing," although they were not ultimately charged. Watch the full interview below. Jeva Lange

12:03 p.m. ET
Harry How/Getty Images

The NHL's newest expansion team did not project to spend this year being golden, and certainly not every night. But that's exactly what the Vegas Golden Knights — a collection of hockey players assembled via an expansion draft but 10 months ago — have done this season.

The Golden Knights won the top seed in the NHL's Pacific Division during the regular season, and on Tuesday they completed a sweep of their division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, in the first round of the playoffs. To date, the Golden Knights franchise has not lost a playoff game.

It's a far cry from what was expected when the season began — and for faithful fans, it could prove lucrative. ESPN noted Thursday that the Golden Knights began the season with 500-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, but they are now "co-favorites" with the Nashville Predators to emerge on top, with 4-1 odds.

Not only that, but the Las Vegas-based gaming company Station Casinos is offering its most loyal customers the opportunity to place a "free bet" on the Golden Knights to win the Cup, ESPN's Darren Rovell reports. The free bets will be doled out at random, with values from $5 to $250, but all will wager that the Golden Knights will emerge as champions this June and be tied to the 4-1 odds.

Enrollees of Station Casinos' loyalty program, known as Boarding Pass members, can visit any participating Station Casinos location on April 23 and swipe their loyalty card to redeem their vouchers. More fairweather gamblers can visit that day to try to amass enough loyalty points to earn a Boarding Pass, and then immediately redeem their free bet.

The Golden Knights will face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference semifinals. Safe to say, they are excited. Kimberly Alters

11:10 a.m. ET
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Lyft

For Earth Day, Lyft has announced that it will be putting millions towards offsetting the emissions from its cars in order to make customers' trips entirely carbon neutral, CNN reports. But the plan will last a lot longer than just Earth Day 2018: The company promises to make its trips carbon neutral for the foreseeable future as a means of fighting climate change.

In the words of co-founder John Zimmer: "With great scale comes great responsibility."

Lyft will use the make, model, and miles driven by the cars of its employees to determine exactly how much CO2 it needs to offset. The company plans to donate money to projects related to forestry, renewable energy, and landfill emissions.

"As we continue to grow the business, we continue to think about finding ways to have the most positive impact possible on the cities and people that are part of our community," Zimmer said. Jeva Lange

10:13 a.m. ET

Time released its annual list of the 100 most influential people of the year Thursday, and to no surprise, the Parkland activists are featured under the subcategory "pioneers." What might be a bit more surprising is that the blurb praising the work of David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, and Alex Wind was written by the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama.

"The Parkland, Florida, students don't have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do," Obama writes. "Most of them can't even vote yet. But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions, and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom." Obama goes on:

[B]y bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA's favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African-Americans and Latinos — the disproportionate victims of gun violence — and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow. [Time]

Read the full blurb at the Time 100 list here. Jeva Lange

10:01 a.m. ET

On Jan. 20, 2017, at 12:01 p.m. ET, Donald Trump was sworn into office as America's 45th president. At 5:11 p.m., he filed for re-election.

The president has been open about his intentions to run for a second term in 2020, holding campaign-style rallies and building a re-election team. But Trump's Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill are unsure whether they're willing to back the norm-breaking president for another round, CNN's Manu Raju reported Thursday.

"A wide array of House and Senate Republicans tell me they aren't ready to endorse President Trump's bid for a second term," Raju said on Thursday's New Day, "reflecting the deep uncertainty on the Hill there is over his political standing and the tenuous relationship he has with his party." Raju said he spoke with "more than two dozen lawmakers who represent a cross-section of the GOP," adding that most of the people he spoke with demurred on the subject, saying either that it's too early to decide whether they'd support Trump or claiming that Trump might decide not to even run in 2020 — despite his repeated proclamations that he will.

"I've never heard of the party in power not lining up behind their president," CNN host Chris Cuomo said. Watch Raju's report below, which features on-camera answers from Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), as well as Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.). Kimberly Alters

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