Today's Intel

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011

BLOOMBERG

The uphill climb for Democrats to defend a 53-47 Senate majority next year just got steeper with the decision by Nebraska's Ben Nelson not to seek re-election.

Italy sold $11.8 billion of six-month Treasury bills, meeting its target, and borrowing costs plunged after the European Central Bank provided euro-region lenders with unlimited three-year loans last week.

Switzerland's forward-looking economic indicator fell to the lowest in more than two years in December, adding to signs of a deepening slowdown.

In the past decade, mutual funds poured almost $70 billion into Brazil, Russia, India and China, stocks more than quadrupled gains in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the economies grew four times faster than America's.

The European Central Bank's balance sheet soared to a record after it lent financial institutions more money last week in an attempt to keep credit flowing to the economy during the debt crisis.

China punished 54 officials and ordered the railway ministry to improve management of its high- speed rail system after a government investigation found a fatal train crash was caused by mismanagement and design flaws.

Sales at U.S. retailers rose 4.5 percent last week from a year earlier, as shoppers snapped up last-minute purchases for Christmas and took advantage of some chains extending hours.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer though tests show the tumor is contained and has shown no sign of spreading.

AP Top Stories

China's economy has surfed for years on a crest of hefty capital inflows, but the tide that brought gains in money supply is turning as global growth slows. Capital has flowed out the past two months.

Closing off the Gulf will be "easier than drinking a glass of water" for Iran if the Islamic state deems it necessary, ratcheting up fears over the world's most important oil chokepoint.

Assailants threw a crude homemade bomb into an Arabic school in southern Nigeria's Delta state overnight, police said, wounding seven people and escalating tensions between Muslims and Christians.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's campaign struggled to fend off more bad news after he was quoted supporting main rival Mitt Romney's healthcare reform in Massachusetts.

Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous group said they are getting ready to publish emails stolen from private intelligence analysis firm Strategic Forecasting Inc, whose clients include the U.S. military, Wall Street banks and other corporations.

Improving labor market conditions lifted U.S. consumer confidence to an eight month high in December, but persistently weak house prices remain an obstacle to faster economic growth.

Sears Holdings Corp will close as many as 120 of its Kmart and Sears discount and department stores after its holiday sales slumped, sending its shares sliding more than 27 percent to their lowest level in three years.

The New York Times said it will sell 16 regional newspapers spread across the U.S. Southeast and California to Halifax Media Holdings for $143 million.

BBC

Syria releases 755 people detained in the nine-month uprising against President Assad, state TV says, as Arab League monitors continue their visit.

Venezuela's government has offered to pay for the removal of breast implants feared to be at risk of rupture.

Uruguayan senators vote to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with the lower house set to debate the bill next year.

Somali pirates hijack an Italian cargo ship with 18 crew off the coast of Oman, according to Indian shipping officials.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has reported receiving record cash deposits of 412bn euros ($539bn). The total beat the previous record of 384bn euros set in June 2010.

WorldNetDaily

In a stunning formal statement that directly confronts Barack Obama's presidency-long campaign to promote and normalize homosexuality, a coalition of Orthodox rabbis and respected mental-health professionals says being "gay" is a behavior that can be changed and healed with therapy, if the person has the desire.

Iran may be losing one of its key allies and sources of influence in the Middle East - the Hamas terrorist organization. According to well-placed sources within Hamas speaking to WND, the jihadist group has been asked by the Egyptian military to stay out of any future confrontation between Israel and Iran.

The hackers known as "Anonymous," who helped organize and support the Occupy movement's protests, have released an online survivor guide for citizens "in case of a violent revolution in your country." The guide warns protests can be a "bloody mess." It trains rioters on how to avoid tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.

The White House plans to ask Congress by the end of the week for a $1.2 trillion increase in the government's debt ceiling to allow the United States to pay its bills on time.

A "smart" vending machine that analyzes users' age and gender has been launched in the U.S. by Intel and Kraft Foods. The iSample is being used to offer customers trials of a new dessert. It allows Kraft to tailor the product to the shopper, and exclude children from the adult-focused promotion. Intel says it intends to retrofit the technology to existing vending machines to allow companies to study what types of people are buying their products.

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