Today's Intel

Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

BLOOMBERG

National security advisers to the Republican presidential candidates have ties to defense, homeland security and energy companies that have received at least $40 billion in federal contracts since 2008.

Deserted by many of his fellow Republicans, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner surrendered to attacks from President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats and agreed to a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut that he derided hours earlier.

Orders for U.S. durable goods rose 3.8 percent in November by the most in four months as an increase in demand for aircraft outweighed declines in spending on computers and equipment.

Slovenia had its credit rating lowered one step to A1 by Moody's Investors Service on the potential need for the government to support its banking system amid Europe's debt crisis.

Italian consumer confidence fell in December to the lowest in 16 years as Europe's debt crisis forced austerity measures and intensified households' concerns about a probable recession.

Suicide bombers targeted two Syrian security-service buildings in Damascus, killing civilians and soldiers, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said, after an Arab League mission arrived to prepare for monitoring of an accord to end nine months of violence.

Spain's new government will increase pensions next year in line with forecast inflation, meeting an election pledge, even as it plans to cut the budget deficit in half over two years.

The European Union is negotiating a $40.5 million lease in midtown Manhattan 666 Third Ave., to replace office space it must vacate by late July.

Consumer spending rose less than forecast in November as wages declined for the first time in three months, signaling the biggest part of the U.S. economy may struggle to pick up.

AP Top Stories

Several thousand Egyptians rallied in Cairo's central Tahrir Square Friday to denounce violence against protesters, especially outraged by images of women protesters dragged by their hair, beaten and kicked by troops.

A series of strong earthquakes struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Czechs and world leaders paid emotional tribute to Vaclav Havel on Friday at a pomp-filled funeral ceremony, ending a week of public grief and nostalgia over the death of the dissident playwright who led the 1989 revolution that toppled four decades of communist rule.

Tens of thousands of women with risky, French-made breast implants should have them removed at the state's expense, France's health minister recommended Friday, in an unprecedented move that could have implications across Europe and South America.

Seven states won a share of $200 million in federal "Race to the Top" money to improve K-12 education programs, the Education Department announced Thursday.

China's $410 billion sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. is set to receive additional funding of up to $50 billion, two sources said, a step that could help it move quickly to buy overseas assets, especially in Europe. The new funding comes along with an agreement between relevant Chinese government agencies to give CIC new money to manage every year.

UBS will sacrifice its place in the top ten investment bank rankings as stricter capital rules force it to give up riskier fixed-income business.

Banks from the 17 countries that use the euro stashed euro347 billion ($453 billion) overnight with the European Central Bank on Thursday, in another sign that Europe's debt crisis is still putting pressure on the banking system despite massive central bank support.

BBC

Wal-Mart removes a powdered infant formula from more than 3,000 shops across the US after a newborn baby who consumed it died from a rare infection.

Former US President George H W Bush says Mitt Romney is "the best choice" for the Republican presidential nomination, snubbing rival Rick Perry.

Argentina's government wins control of newsprint supplies, amid a long-running feud between the president and a major media group.

Indigenous Maya communities in southern Mexico have begun a year-long countdown to 21 December 2012, which will mark the end of a five-millenia cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar.

The Philippines government says 1,079 people are still missing in the wake of Typhoon Washi, already known to have killed more than 1,000.

The US offers a $10m reward for information leading to the arrest of a man they say is a key al-Qaeda facilitator and financier operating in Iran.

WorldNetDaily

President Obama's new manufacturing czar, John Bryson, served until his recent government appointment as chairman of a major globalist organization whose stated goal is to build a "network of globally oriented business, civic and government leaders." That internationalist intent may conflict with the announced purpose of Obama's new White House Office of Manufacturing Policy, which says its aim is to keep businesses in America.

The Hawaii attorney general has issued an opinion that under state law, doctors may not prescribe fatal doses of medication, blasting a hole in the arguments of the former Hemlock Society, now called Compassion and Choices.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's last-minute scramble to make the ballot in the Virginia primary succeeded, but other candidates were left out in the cold. Republican candidates Jon Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania failed to make the ballot. Mitt Romney, another frontrunner, led the way in Virginia, delivering more than 16,000 signatures. U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who is a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, handed in 14,361, and Texas Governor Rick Perry delivered 11,911.

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