Today's Intel

Friday, Dec. 9, 2011

BLOOMBERG

Representative Steve Israel, leading Democrats' campaign to win back control of the U.S. House, assailed Republicans' position on extending the payroll tax break, saying it will backfire politically and help Democrats.

President Obama is calling attention to the end of the war in Iraq that will bring U.S. troops home for the holidays, staging a series of events even as his administration and Iraqis talk about the future U.S. role there and rising threats from neighbor Iran.

The trade deficit narrowed in October to the lowest level of the year, reflecting a drop in imports that will help give the U.S. economy a lift. The gap shrank 1.6 percent to $43.5 billion.

European leaders' blueprint for a closer fiscal union to save their single currency left the onus on central bankers to address investor concerns that Italy and Spain would succumb to the two-year-old financial crisis.

Gold traders are more bullish as investors buy metal at the fastest pace in a year to protect their wealth from Europe's escalating debt crisis.

An agreement by European Union leaders to boost the International Monetary Fund's resources may open the door to similar loans by nations from South Korea to Brazil in a global effort to stem the European debt crisis. China, which holds the world's largest foreign-exchange reserves, reiterated its willingness to help, while stopping short of any indication of when it's prepared to announce an IMF contribution.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission defended a planned $2.1 billion payout to U.S. commodity customers by the trustee liquidating the MF Global Inc. brokerage, saying customer claims take priority over all other claims.

BNP Paribas , Societe Generale and Credit Agricole had their credit ratings cut by Moody's Investors Service, which cited funding constraints and deteriorating economic conditions amid Europe's debt crisis. Moody's cut the long-term debt ratings for BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole by one level to Aa3, the fourth-highest investment grade. Societe Generale's rating was cut to A1, the fifth highest.

Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain refused to sacrifice sovereignty to save the euro, remaining outside an agreement by European nations to tighten budget rules.

AP Top Stories

The Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors to take a first look at a challenge to Arizona's strict immigration law and decide whether or not to take up the case.

The US, China and India could scuttle attempts to save the only treaty governing global warming, Europe's top negotiator said hours before a 194-nation U.N. climate conference was to close.

Most of Africa's 54 nations ban homosexuality, so President Obama's promotion of gay rights as a human right draws quick ire from African governments. The notion is "abhorrent" across the continent. President Obama has instructed officials across government to "ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons" around the world.

China's central bank plans to create a new vehicle to manage investment funds worth a total of $300 billion to improve returns on the world's largest stockpile of foreign exchange reserves.

BBC

Police confirm one handgun was used in Thursday's fatal double shooting at Virginia Tech, although the gunman's identity and motive are still unclear.

President Obama has defended a decision by his administration to maintain age restrictions on sales of an emergency contraceptive pill.

The CIA operated a secret prison in the Romanian capital Bucharest where terrorism suspects were interrogated, an investigation by the Associated Press and German media has found.

Iranian TV shows the first video footage of an advanced unmanned US drone aircraft that Tehran says it downed near the Afghan border.

WorldNetDaily

The so-called leaderless Occupy movement has just been caught red-handed operating what appears to be a nerve center staffed by professional agitators deeply tied to groups funded by billionaire activist George Soros. The groups, most prominent among them being the Tides Center, have been involved with Occupy since the anti-Wall Street movement's inception.

The Occupy movement hopes to shut down ports along the West Coast on Monday, but its show of solidarity against "Wall Street on the waterfront" is facing a formidable opponent - the dock workers' union.

A new California state law that is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1 is being put in the bull's-eye of a new campaign that would rescind its most egregious impacts, according to organizations trying to overturn the effect of SB48. The law mandates that all children from kindergarten through 12th grade in all "instruction" be taught to admire "the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans."

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee where Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Thursday, suggested that impeachment of administration officials involved with Operation Fast and Furious may be the only way to bring the scandal to a close.

Seychelles, strategically located near both the Gulf of Aden and the Somali coast, Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam dropped this surprise announcement: "We have invited the Chinese government to set up a military presence on Mahe [the main island of the Seychelles archipelago] to fight the pirate attacks that the Seychelles face on a regular basis."

Al Qaeda and other terrorists are trying to infiltrate the U.S. armed forces, which makes military facilities in the U.S. dangerous for American troops, lawmakers said.

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