Today's Intel

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012

BLOOMBERG

Mandatory ethics training this year for the 138 members of the Kentucky legislature features a lecture by Jack Abramoff, a convicted felon at the center of Washington's biggest lobbying corruption scandal.

Republicans in Iowa today will start to reveal whether they're more interested in electability or ideology when it comes to picking a 2012 challenger to President Obama.

German unemployment fell more than forecast in December as exports of cars and machinery boomed and one of the mildest winters on record helped support jobs in construction.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that business conditions may be "relatively difficult" this quarter and monetary policy will be fine-tuned as needed.

Manufacturing from the U.K. to India showed improvement in December, suggesting production is weathering strains from Europe's sovereign debt crisis.

Registered unemployment in Spain, where almost half of young people are out of work, rose for a fifth month in December as the euro area's fourth-largest economy contracted.

Forecasters at securities firms are more conservative on U.S. stocks than any time in seven years, predicting the Standard & Poor's 500 Index will rise 6.4 percent in 2012 as budget deficits around the world limit gains.

UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest bank, and a unit of ING Groep NV started the New Year by selling top-rated covered bonds to cut funding costs while satisfying investor demand for the safest securities.

Europe's bailout fund plans to raise $3.9 billion from a sale of three-year bonds after Standard & Poor's said in December it may lose its top credit rating.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is likely this week to unveil the results of the Pentagon's strategic review of U.S. roles, missions and worldwide posture.

AP Top Stories

As the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan steps up in 2012, NATO military planners are trying to figure out the logistics of how to ship out the massive quantities of alliance vehicles, weapons and other equipment from the mountainous landlocked country. The operation requires the removal of $30 billion worth of state-of-the-art military gear by the end of 2014, when U.S. and other coalition troops are to end their combat role.

It was another night of firefighters scrambling across the nation's second largest city to snuff out a series of arson attacks when a tip came in about a German man who matched the description of someone with a shoulder-length ponytail captured on a surveillance video near where a car fire was reported. Five hours later Harry Burkhart was pulled over by a reserve sheriff's deputy who works for $1 a year and later booked for investigation of arson of an inhabited dwelling. Since the arrest, firefighters have not responded to any other suspicious fires.

Iran's army chief warned an American aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf in Tehran's latest tough rhetoric over the strategic waterway.

Minimum wage laws raised the wage floor in eight states as of Jan. 1. Washington now tops all states, at $9.04 an hour. Economic effects of raising the minimum wage are in hot dispute.

Food prices may ease in 2012 due to a slowing global economy, though no drastic drop from high levels is expected, the new director-general of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation said

Construction spending in the U.S. jumped in November as builders spent more on single-family homes, apartments and remodeling projects.

Credit card rewards are the new social currency. The bank launched a Facebook application that lets users team up to use their points, whether it's for charity, a group gift or a personal goal. Citi says it's the first bank to offer such a feature.

A Russian tanker that plans to deliver petroleum products to an iced-in Alaska city has arrived at a fishing port in Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

BBC

The body of an Iraq war veteran wanted over the killing of a park ranger in Washington state has been found face down in the snow, officials have said.

New York leaders have condemned a series of firebomb attacks, including one on a mosque, which police say they are investigating as a hate crime.

President Obama has signed into law a major defense bill including tough new sanctions against Iran. But Mr. Obama stressed that he had concerns about parts of the legislation dealing with the handling of foreign terror suspects.

Venezuela says it will pay Exxon Mobil $255m in compensation for nationalized assets - less than a third of what was awarded to the oil giant.

Hong Kong's brand-new government headquarters was disinfected after bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease were found in multiple locations.

WND

New light-bulb efficiency standards kicked in Sunday, despite a last-minute Republican move that prohibits the federal government from spending money on enforcement.

Iranian scientists have produced the nation's first nuclear fuel rod, a feat of engineering the West has doubted Tehran capable of, the country's nuclear agency said Sunday.

The nation's largest abortion provider topped $1 billion in total net assets in 2009-2010, its first time reaching that mark, according to Planned Parenthood's latest annual report.

Employers are facing more uncertainty in the wake of a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warning them that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The development also has some wondering whether the agency's advice will result in an educational backlash by creating less of an incentive for some high school students to graduate.

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