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What is the fiscal cliff? Facts on the looming U.S. budget changes

The “fiscal cliff” is a combination of dramatic spending cuts and tax increases mandated to take effect beginning in January if President Barack Obama and Republicans cannot bridge their differences on how best to reduce the nation’s budget deficit and debt. To add to a drama that could reverse the…

Former ATF agent: Law ‘really does not provide the mechanism to regulate gun commerce’

On The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednesday, the host interviewed a former agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who discusses the ways in which he claims the agency is blocked from taking almost any action to regulate guns. On Dec. 19, President Obama noted that…

Endangered beached whale dies in New York City

An endangered whale that beached in New York City died on Thursday despite a day-long effort to keep the emaciated 18-meter (60-foot) finback alive by spraying it with water. “We are on the scene and the whale has passed,” Robert DiGiovanni, director of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and…

Possible Chuck Hagel nomination for secretary of defense losing steam

Chuck Hagel: Why his candidacy for Defense post is losing altitude (via The Christian Science Monitor) President Obama’s potential nomination of Chuck Hagel, a former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, to be his next secretary of Defense is now being dubbed “flailing” before it was even confirmed. Much of the…

6 die in Poland from drinking tainted alcohol

Six people in Poland have died after drinking alcohol that was probably tainted with methanol, and six others remain hospitalised, police said Thursday. Three men aged between 38 and 53 and a 47-year-old woman died in Stargard Szczecinski in northwest Poland after consuming alcohol probably containing methanol purchased at a…

Matt Taibbi: Libor scandal biggest ‘Wall Street-related story of this year’

On the Current TV show Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer, Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi said that the underreported Libor scandal was the “the biggest story, Wall Street-related story, of this year.” “There’s been a whole spate of market manipulation-type cases that have popped up in the last year, not…

Putin promises to sign ban on American adoptions of Russian children

Russian president says he sees ‘no reason not to sign’ bill named after boy who died after being adopted by Americans Vladimir Putin has indicated he is likely to sign into law a bill that bans Americans from adopting Russian children. The bill was proposed in response to the US’s…

Pew study: Readers increasingly turning to digital books

US readers are increasingly opting for digital books instead of ink-and-paper editions, according to a Pew Research Center study released on Thursday. The share of US adults reading electronic books rose to 23 percent in November from 16 percent the same time last year, according to the Pew study. Meanwhile,…

EPA head Lisa Jackson resigning

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson, who for four years had led the charge on a number of successful moves to increase and strengthen environmental regulations, has announced that she is stepping down from the agency, reported The Hill. Jackson, who will officially leave soon after President Obama’s…

Consumer confidence falls sharply in December

US consumer confidence fell sharply in December to the lowest level since August amid uncertainty about the “fiscal cliff” crisis, the Conference Board said Thursday. The monthly survey said the consumer confidence index dipped to 65.1, a drop from a downwardly revised 71.5 in November. The previously released figure for…

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