Today's Intel

Monday, Dec. 12, 2011

BLOOMBERG

Lawmakers seeking to wrap up congressional work for the year likely will leave Washington this month without giving President Barack Obama the opportunity to make a temporary appointment of his nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought to deflect criticism that he's out of touch with ordinary voters because of his wealth, a day after coming under fire during a primary debate. Romney used humor to play down the $10,000 wager he offered to rival Rick Perry during the nationally televised debate.

Germany's top central banker cooled speculation that the European Central Bank will extend its role as European leaders pressed their case that a new fiscal accord will deliver the region from its two-year-old debt crisis.

Europe's failure to agree on a comprehensive solution to the sovereign debt crisis threatens to consign AAA rated bonds in the region to history. Top-rated agencies in the 17-nation euro area have at least $1.1 trillion of debt outstanding

The euro is poised to fall to an 18- month low of $1.1875 after failing to follow through a rally late last week, Societe Generale SA said, citing trading patterns.

The Swiss franc fell against the dollar as concern that European leaders have failed to find a solution to the region's crisis spurred demand for assets with fewer ties to the euro area.

AP Top Stories

Several al-Qaida militants escaped early Monday from a prison in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, officials said, tunneling their way out in the second such spectacular jailbreak this year.

With the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq in its final days, President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will meet at the White House Monday to discuss the next phase of the relationship between their countries.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to rule on Arizona's controversial law targeting illegal immigrants.

Iranian experts are in the final stages of recovering data from the U.S. surveillance drone captured by the country's armed forces, state TV reported Monday.

While much of America worries about the possibility of a double-dip recession, stories of prosperity are cropping up as U.S. farmers enjoy their best run in decades, thanks to high prices for many crops, livestock and farmland and strong global demand for corn used in making ethanol.

San Francisco makes history by becoming the first city in the nation to scale a $10 minimum wage. The city's hourly wage for its lowest-paid workers will hit $10.24, more than $2 above the California minimum wage and nearly $3 more than the working wage set by the federal government.

A curious library caretaker in the Bavarian city of Passau has discovered a treasure trove of ancient silver coins and medals that went overlooked for more than two centuries. The surprise find is reportedly worth as much as six figures.

BBC

Syria holds local elections despite an opposition boycott and fresh reports of fighting between troops and opposition forces in several regions.

New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says he will challenge PM Vladimir Putin in Russia's presidential election, calling it the "most important decision" of his life.

The Arab League condemns Republican US presidential contender Newt Gingrich for calling Palestinians an "invented" people and "terrorists".

An American teenager is free after being held captive for five months by suspected Muslim rebels in the Philippines, say officials.

Former Brazilian President Lula is in hospital for his third and final session of chemotherapy for throat cancer.

Scientists identified more than 200 new species in the Greater Mekong region of south-east Asia in 2010, a report by the WWF conservation group says.

More than 10,000 Latvians withdraw deposits from Swedish-owned Swedbank after rumours the firm is in financial difficulty.

WorldNetDaily

It's possible that Russia directly aided Iran in downing the sophisticated U.S. drone that crashed in Iranian territory last week, America's former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said in a radio interview.

Taking a page out of David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin's playbook, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will begin hosting a regular Bible study group in his official residence for researchers, public officials and invited guests.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, has began an investigation into whether some of its employees outside the U.S. broke the country's anti-corruption laws. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said that its investigation is focused on the permitting, licensing and inspection of stores. It did not disclose where in the world the investigation is taking place. The company has more than 5,000 stores in 27 countries outside the U.S.

Children as young as five could be given lessons on "transgender equality" under government plans. Information about transgender people is set to be included in the curriculum for personal, social and health education lessons, which are taught in thousands of primary and secondary schools.

Germany and France are proposing tough fiscal discipline, including near-automatic sanctions for countries that maintain excess debt or deficits.

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