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The Best Photographs of 2012

“From the camaraderie of the Tour de France to snipers in Syria, Sarah Gilbert selects her favourite pictures of the year”

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The Best Science Stories of 2012

“From the discovery of a Higgs-like particle at Cern in Geneva to the picture-perfect landing of Nasa’s Curiosity rover on Mars – we bring you the very best of science in 2012”

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Stupid Business Events of the Year


“Monde-what? That was the response from many observers after Kraft Foods announced plans in March to name its spun-off snacks division “Mondelez International.” Kraft said the new name — prounounced “mohn-dah-LEEZ” — comes from a combination of the words “monde,” derived from the Latin for “world,” and “deliz,” short for “delicious.” But it later emerged that “Mondelez” is pronounced similarly to a Russian phrase describing a sex act. A Mondelez spokesman said that when “pronounced properly,” the name “is unmistakable and has no negative connotations.”

Luckily, there aren’t plans for any Mondelez-branded products; Mondelez International is simply the corporate home for existing brands like Oreo, Cadbury, Nabisco and Trident. — James O’Toole “


NEXT: Zynga buys fad game maker, loses $96M

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T-Minus 10 Hours: Obama’s Speech on the Fiscal Cliff

Start of speech: DOW up 63, NASDAQ up 35, Gold up $23, WTI up $0.93

“Good afternoon, i realize the last thing you want to hear on news years eve is another speech from me.

Preventing a middle class tax hike has been my priority.

We are close, but hopeful we will get tit done.

The middle class, business’s and the economy can not afford a tax hike.

Members of congress have not gotten an agreement done. But we are here with middle class families to tell them to get it done.

Over the past couple of months, my preference would have been to have  grand bargain that takes care of the deficit so we could focus on the economy. We will have to do it in stages and solve this problem one step t a time.

We need to do more above the progress already made.

A proposed deal would extend unemployment insurance.

We need to focus on growing our economy, infrastructure,

We also have automatic spending cuts that go in effect tomorrow. They have an impact on defense and other programs.

Any deal would have to address automatic tax hikes on the middle class.

Any deal with automatic cuts must be balanced.

I want congress to balance these spending cuts and the revenues have to be a part of the equation.

We will also have to reduce our deficit in a balanced manor.

The tax code has to be reformed in order to help with liabilities.

If republicans think i will finish the job of deficit reduction only through spending cuts, well this would hurt seniors and students…this is why we need the wealthy to help out with taxes.

The most immediate priority is to stop taxes from going up tomorrow.

We are close, but we are not there yet.

At this point i will be spending new years in D.C.

The people who are with me here today & the people who are watching today, need congress to be focused on American folks looking for a fair shot. They expect their leaders to work hard for them.

Happy new year.”

After speech: DOW up 32, NASDAQ up 29, Gold up $20, WTI up $0.46

Proposal thus far puts tax  threshold at 39% for $400k incomes on individuals  and $450k for couples


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Hurricane Sandy Pork Barrel Spending

“One out of every $20 spent in a new bill to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy will go to “non-relief-related pork,” says American Majority Action Spokesman Ron Meyer in an email to Breitbart News.

On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a $60.4 billion bill that contains expenditures for areas that were unaffected by the storm, including $2 million roof repairs for Smithsonian Institution museums, $150 million for Alaskan fisheries disasters, and $58 million in taxpayer dollars to plant trees on private property in areas where Sandy never touched down.  Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) attempted to remove the $150 million fisheries “pork” spending from the bill, but his amendment was defeated. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tried to strike down the tree subsidies but his amendment failed as well.

“It’s disgraceful to load a bill like this that has good motives, that has good intentions that is going to help people, with pork,” said Mr. Meyer on Fox Business.  “Why are you putting your own projects in it? It’s disgraceful.  It’s typical of Washington.”…”

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“If the job of Congress is to pass laws, then the 112th Congress is the laziest in modern history. Of the 6,600 bills introduced, lawmakers passed only 231—and only a couple handfuls are pending. At least 45 of the successful bills involved the naming of federal buildings, while many others were similarly insignificant, such as six commemorative coin bills and five correcting “technical errors” Congress made in past legislation.

In comparison, the 111th Congress passed 383 bills, and the one before it passed 460.

Less than 70 real bills went to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing, and he signed every one, with nary a veto. This paltry productivity means the 112th Congress will be the least productive in modern history. Even the 80th Congress, which President Harry Truman branded the “do-nothing Congress” in 1948, passed 906 bills, more than three times as many.

The 104th Congress of 1995-1996 (also controlled by the GOP), which passed only 333 laws, used to be the least productive session of Congress, according to the U.S. House Clerk’s Office, which has records dating back to 1947…”

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Ex Romney Adviser: We Should Raise Taxes on the Middle Class

“IN the continuing fiscal negotiations between President Obama and House Republicans, both sides have, from the very beginning, agreed on one point: Taxes on the middle class must not rise. But maybe it’s time to reconsider this premise. An unwavering commitment to keep middle-class taxes low could be one reason the political process has become so deeply dysfunctional.

Let’s start with the problem: the budget deficit. Under current policy, the federal government is spending vastly more than it is collecting in tax revenue. And that will be true for the next several decades, thanks largely to the growth in entitlement spending that will occur automatically as the population ages and health care costs increase. As a result, the ratio of government debt to the nation’s gross domestic product is projected to rise, substantially and without an end in sight.

That can happen for a while, or even a long while, but not forever. At some point, investors at home and abroad will start questioning our ability to service our debts without creating steep inflation. It’s hard to say precisely when this shift in investor sentiment will occur, and even whether it will strike in this president’s term or the next, but when it does, it won’t be pretty. The United States will find itself at the brink of an unprecedented financial crisis.

Republicans and Democrats agree on the nature of the problem, but they embrace very different solutions. My fear is that both sides are engaged in an excess of wishful thinking, with a dash of mendacity.

If Republicans had their way, they would focus the entire solution on the spending side. They say that reform of the entitlement programs can reduce their cost. The so-called premium-support plan for Medicare, from Paul D. Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice-presidential candidate, would let older Americans use their health care dollars to buyinsurance from competing private plans. (Interestingly, it’s similar to the system envisioned for the nonelderly by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.) The hope is that competition and choice would keep health care costs down without sacrificing quality…”

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El-Erian: ‘New Normal Is a Stagnant Economy’

“The fiscal cliff standoff adds another negative to a weak economy, says Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian.

A plunge off the cliff “isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not a good thing” he tells CNBC. “Two things anyone comes away with are dysfunction and polarization.”

The fiscal cliff means that unless Congress and the White House reach a deal today, $607 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts begin Jan. 1.

As for the economy, “the new normal is a stagnant economy with an overlay of political polarization and dysfunction,” El-Erian says.

“The new normal is sluggish growth and persistently high unemployment and concerns about debt and deficits.”

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