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Senators Seek Permanent Extension Of Internet Tax Ban

“Congress is looking to keep popular Internet-only services, such as email and social networks, permanently free of taxes. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Sen. Dean Heller areseeking a permanent extension of the original 1998 Internet Tax Free Act, which is set to expire in November 2014. “E-commerce is thriving largely because the Internet is free from burdensome tax restrictions. Unfortunately, tax collectors see it as a new revenue source, and they must be stopped,” said Ayotte, in a statement….”

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Fact Checking Spin Doctors: Reality With WaPo’s ‘Truth Teller’

“We are coming closer to a reality where no politician can ever spread well-known lies. Today, exclusively with TechCrunch, The Washington Post has launched a fully automated fact-checking program, Truth Teller, that displays “TRUE” or “FALSE” in real time next to video of politicians and pundits as they speak. Given the fact that almost one-fifth of registered voters still believe Obama is a Muslim, a tool to curb widespread myths could benefit our democracy. Check out a demo below…”

Full article and video demo

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US House Passes $50.5 Billion in Sandy Aid, Republicans Trim Items

“The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved $50.5 billion in long-delayed federal disaster aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy, but not before Republicans flexed their budget-cutting muscle to strike some spending provisions.

The aid package for the storm that ravaged New York and New Jerseycoastlines now moves to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is expected to win swift passage.

The legislation had been tied up for weeks in the House amid congressional brawling over U.S. deficit reduction, spending and taxes in the New Year’s new fiscal drama.

And surprisingly stiff opposition from Republicans in the 241-180 vote foreshadows a tough road ahead for winning House approval of future budget deals over the debt limit and other looming fiscal deadlines…..”

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FDA Finally Proposes Overhaul of Food Safety for Produce, Dairy, Seafood and Drinking Water

“Two years after Congress ordered the changes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally unveiled new rules designed to overhaul the nation’s food-safety system.

The regulations, characterized as the most far-reaching in more than 70 years, would impose tough new standards for fruit and vegetable producers and food manufacturers.


Federal officials are hoping the revised system will reduce the number of food-poisoning cases in the United States. Currently, about 48 million Americans consume contaminated foods annually, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.


Among other requirements included in the 1,200 pages of regulations, farmers must provide adequate restroom and hand-washing facilities for farm workers. Food processing companies will have to do the same….”

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Alas Del Sur

[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNzu2JuyIzE 450 300]

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“A 15-year old boy used his father’s AR-15 to defend himself and his 12-year old sister against two burglars at their home just north of Houston, Texas.

Their father is a Harris County Precinct 1 deputy constable, and the boy knew what he had to do to keep himself and his sister alive. Around 2:30 PM, two men tried to break in, with one going through the front door and the other in the back.

The boy grabbed the AR-15 and shot at them. The two later showed up at a Tomball hospital. The adult was hit three times and was flown to Memorial Hermann hospital, while the juvenile was taken back to the crime scene….”

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$LNKD Hits 200 Million Users Worldwide


“LinkedIn has announced it has reached 200 million user registrations worldwide — with new users being added at an average rate of two per second (or 172,800 per day). Not bad for a professional social network (but obviously still a far cry from Facebook’s one billion+ active users).

LinkedIn clocked up its first 100 million members back in March 2011, underlining how its growth rate has accelerated in recent times – with the network adding more than 13 million members since its last announcement on November 1, 2012. Back in January 2009 membership stood at 32 million.

In a blog announcing the new membership figure, Deep Nishar, LinkedIn’s senior VP of products and user experience, described it as an “important and exciting milestone”. The company has produced acelebratory infographic to mark the moment.

LinkedIn’s membership spans more than 200 countries and territories. The U.S. remains its biggest market, followed by India. Membership in its largest markets breaks down as follows:

  • USA (74m)
  • India (18m)
  • UK (11m)
  • Brazil (11m)
  • Canada (7m) ….”

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Kim Jong Un Would Like Better Relations With South Korea, Focuses on Economic Growth

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un named improving the economy and better relations with South Korea as top policy goals for his second year as leader, signaling he may ease his country’s confrontational approach toward Seoul.

“The building of an economic giant is the most important task that comes to the fore in the present stage of building a thriving socialist country,” Kim said yesterday in a New Year address carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. “The reunification of the country is the greatest national task that brooks no further delay.”

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Final PMI in China Shows a Turn Around in Manufacturing

China’s manufacturing unexpectedly expanded at the fastest pace in 19 months in December, boosting optimism that a recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy is gaining traction.

The final reading of a Purchasing Managers’ Index was 51.5 in December, according to a statement from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics today. That compares with the 50.9 preliminary reading on Dec. 14 and a final 50.5 in November. A level above 50 indicates expansion.”

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2012 Marks a New Golden Age


“It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.

To listen to politicians is to be given the opposite impression — of a dangerous, cruel world where things are bad and getting worse. This, in a way, is the politicians’ job: to highlight problems and to try their best to offer solutions. But the great advances of mankind come about not from statesmen, but from ordinary people. Governments across the world appear stuck in what Michael Lind, on page 30,describes as an era of ‘turboparalysis’ — all motion, no progress. But outside government, progress has been nothing short of spectacular.

Take global poverty. In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. Itemerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really is helping to make poverty history. And global inequality? This, too, is lower now than any point in modern times. Globalisation means the world’s not just getting richer, but fairer too.

The doom-mongers will tell you that we cannot sustain worldwide economic growth without ruining our environment. But while the rich world’s economies grew by 6 per cent over the last seven years, fossil fuel consumption in those countries fell by 4 per cent. This remarkable (and, again, unreported) achievement has nothing to do with green taxes or wind farms. It is down to consumer demand for more efficient cars and factories.

And what about the concerns that the oil would run out? Ministers have spent years thinking of improbable new power sources. As it turns out, engineers in America have found new ways of mining fossil fuel. The amazing breakthroughs in ‘fracking’ technology mean that, in spite of the world’s escalating population — from one billion to seven billion over the last two centuries — we live in an age of energyabundance.

Advances in medicine and technology mean that people across the world are living longer. The average life expectancy in Africa reached 55 this year. Ten years ago, it was 50. The number of people dying from Aids has been in decline for the last eight years. Deaths from malaria have fallen by a fifth in half a decade….”

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Elizabeth Warren Set to Wreak Havoc as She Gets the Nod From the Senate Banking Committee

“Senate newcomer and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) completed her coup against the banks on Wednesday, securing a spot on the Senate Banking Committee.

HuffPost’s Ryan Grim first broke news of Warren’s high-profile move last week, writing that the “ascension to the panel gives her influence over regulators and the industry that non-panel members don’t enjoy.”

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.) were also named as new members of the committee. Senate Majority Leader Harry hailed the Democratic Steering Committee’s appointments in a statement on Wednesday.

“I am excited to work with the members of our expanded majority. Our caucus is more diverse than ever, with a record sixteen female Democratic senators serving in the next Congress,” said Reid. “These committee assignments will allow all members of our caucus to bring their unique talents and expertise to bear as we work together to advance the interests of the middle class.”

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The SEC Makes a Mickey Mouse Bust at $WFC, Nine Others Charged for Insider Trading

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. securities regulators charged a Wells Fargo investment banker and nine others with fraud on Wednesday in connection with their alleged role in an insider-trading ring that earned more than $11 million by trading on tips about impending mergers.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said that John Femenia, 30, misused his position at a unit of Wells Fargo to obtain material, non-public information about four different mergers involving clients.

The SEC said Femenia then tipped his friend, Shawn Hegedus, a registered broker-dealer. The SEC says the two then tipped other friends, resulting in a “massive, serial insider-trading ring” that spread across five states.

The SEC said it has already obtained a court order to freeze the defendants’ assets.

“Here you have an investment banker who clearly knew better that inside information can’t form the basis of trading decisions,” said William Hicks, associate director for enforcement in the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office.

“Instead, he basically started a phone tree of nonpublic information to enrich friends and others.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Femenia is still employed in the Wells Fargo New York office with the Industrials Investment Banking Group. Previously, he worked in the North Carolina office.”

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US Intensifies Crackdown on Corporate Foreign Bribes

“Setting a key portion of its white collar enforcement agenda for a second term, the Obama administration on Wednesday announced a renewed focus on bribes paid by U.S. companies to foreign officials.

A new set of guidelines issued Wednesday by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission comes in the face of complaints by business groups that the crackdown — which began in the Bush administration and accelerated under President Barack Obama — is hurting U.S. competitiveness.”

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Washington, Colorado Allow Recreational Use of Marijuana

Washington and Colorado voters legalized recreational use of marijuana, making them the first U.S. states to decriminalize the practice.”

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[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaqQhdt1qqk 450 300] [youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFdBjeVpLPs&feature=related 450 300]

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Retailers Report Strong October Sales

“NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Retailers, whose fiscal October ended on Saturday before Hurricane Sandy pounded the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region, reported a surprisingly positive October on Thursday, with major chains projecting a still upbeat holiday outlook

Chains including Macy’s Inc. M +4.54%  and Costco Wholesale Corp. COST -0.49%  said they expected to either make up lost Sandy sales or post just a small negative impact during the critical holiday quarter.

Retailers reported a 3.8% total increase in a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. survey of 17 retailers, topping the average estimate of a 3.1% increase. Department stores were among the bright spots. Macy’s, Nordstrom Inc. JWN +1.06%   and mid-priced chain Kohl’s Corp. KSS +2.75%  all topped expectations.”

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WATCH: Joe Kernen – Paul Krugman Is A Communist

The CNBC host that once said Paul Krugman reminds him of a “unicorn” now has another word to describe the Nobel Prize-winning economist: communist.

Joe Kernen, an anchor for CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” made the statements Monday while defending CNN anchor Erin Burnett against a recent HuffPost article that took issue with Burnett’s claim that food prices and gas prices have spiked because of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programs. Burnett moved to CNN from CNBC last year.

Read the rest here.

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