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Dec 20, 2012

NYT Breaking news (December 20, 2012).: G.O.P. Leaders in House Pull 'Plan B' Tax Bill, Citing Lack of Votes

BREAKING NEWS Thursday, December 20, 2012 8:20 PM EST
House Republican leaders abruptly pulled their fallback tax bill from the floor Thursday night, conceding that they did not have the votes to pass it.
“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement. “Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.”
The decision was a major setback for the speaker, who was pushing his so-called Plan B to prevent lower tax rates from expiring on most Americans. It came after the House had narrowly approved a plan to suspend planned Pentagon cuts.


NYT | Global Update (December 20, 2012).: Syria Fires More Scud Missiles at Rebels, U.S. Says

The New York Times International Herald Tribune
December 20, 2012
Compiled 21:45 GMT

Global Update


Syria Fires More Scud Missiles at Rebels, U.S. Says

American officials, who have been monitoring Syrian military actions via aerial surveillance, said that was no indication that the missiles were armed with chemical weapons.

Putin Defends Position on Syria and Chastises U.S. on Libya

President Vladimir V. Putin reiterated Russia's opposition to military intervention in Syria and suggested that the United States' role in toppling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi ultimately led to the Benghazi catastrophe.

At Benghazi Hearing, State Dept. Concedes Errors

State Department officials promised to quickly carry out recommendations to beef up security for the foreign service and urged Congress to provide more money to protect diplomats.

Op-Ed Contributors

A Tough Woman in a Tough Job

Park Geun-hye, South Korea's first female president, faces a major challenge from the North.

Video: Polio Campaign Crisis in Pakistan

Times health reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. speaks about the killing of polio vaccine workers.

Lebanon's Shiites and Sunnis Battle in Syria, but Not at Home

Sunni Muslims from Lebanon and fighters from Hezbollah, the militant Shiite movement, have chosen sides in the Syrian conflict but manage to observe an uneasy truce in their own country.

Female Vaccination Workers, Essential in Pakistan, Become Prey

One of Pakistan's most crucial public health campaigns has been plunged into crisis after militants killed nine volunteers over the course of a three-day polio vaccination drive.

Putin Evasive on Support of U.S. Adoption Ban

President Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday skirted the question of whether he would support a ban on adoptions of Russian children by American citizens.

$1,200 a Pound, Truffles Suffer in Heat

Black Périgords are becoming scarcer and more expensive, and some scientists say it is because of the effects of global warming on the fungus's Mediterranean habitat.

Upstart Rival to Buy N.Y.S.E. in Deal Worth $8.2 Billion

The owner of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday agreed to a deal that would give control of a longstanding symbol of American capitalism to the IntercontinentalExchange.

Merck Says Niacin Combination Drug Failed in Trial

The combination did not protect against heart attacks and strokes in a large clinical trial, and the company said it would no longer pursue its approval in the United States.

New Online Privacy Rules for Children

The Federal Trade Commission said it was moving to keep pace with the growing use of mobile devices and technological advances like behavior-based advertising.

Citing Logistics, F.T.C. Pushes Antitrust Inquiry Against Google Into January

The delay in an agreement between the Federal Trade Commission and the company is said to have put stronger penalties back on the bargaining table.

U.S. Office Rejects 2nd Apple Patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has declared that one of the patents that helped Apple win $1.05 billion in damages against Samsung should not have been granted.

Highs and Lows for Welsh Rugby in 2012

In the first part of the year, Wales was flying high as the Grand Slam champion in Europe, but by the end of the year it had lost seven straight tests.

In Wake of Deadly Riot, Egyptian Team Plays On

Al Ahly of Cairo has proved resilient - even winning a major tournament - after a bloody brawl between rival groups of Egyptian soccer fans in February left over 70 of its fans dead.

South America Loves Federer, and He Loves It Back

Roger Federer just completed a lucrative tour of the continent - his first as a professional - and is more than glad he did.

Sale of Wright House Assures Its Preservation

A house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Phoenix, Ariz., was sold on Thursday, after it had been threatened for months with demolition.

Lessons in Politics and Fine Print in Assault Weapons Ban of '90s

After a 1989 schoolyard shooting, it took five years of legislative slogging to pass a federal assault weapons ban. But the price of passage was a host of compromises.

Many Owners Say Semiautomatic Weapons Are Just Another Hobby

Owners of AR-15 style rifles dismissed the argument that a federal ban on their firearms would lessen gun violence.
Op-Ed Contributor

South Korea's New President Must Challenge the North

Alleviating the tremendous suffering of fellow Koreans in North Korea is the challenge facing South Korea's first female president, Park Geun-hye.
Op-Ed Contributor

The N.R.A. Protection Racket

Republican politicians have been bullied by gun lobbyists for far too long.

DealBooK P.M. Edition (December 20, 2012).: Upstart Rival to Buy N.Y.S.E. in Deal Worth $8.2 Billion

Thursday, December 20, 2012
Upstart Rival to Buy N.Y.S.E. in Deal Worth $8.2 Billion The owner of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday agreed to a deal that would give control of a longstanding symbol of American capitalism to the IntercontinentalExchange.
Breakingviews: NYSE Euronext's Decent Deal for Its Suffering Shareholders Antony Currie says that the NYSE Euronext shareholders may wish they could still collect the extra $3 billion that rival suitors were offering last year. But the firm's chief knew it was time to take ICE's offer.
For a Big Exchange Merger, Platoons of Advisers Putting two of the biggest market operators in the world together requires a fair amount of work. In the case of the IntercontinentalExchange's $8.2 billion takeover of NYSE Euronext, that fell on 18 -- yes, 18 -- advisers.
    Making It Easier to Estimate Libor Losses A government watchdog's report estimating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's Libor losses lays out an easy-to-follow road map for others.
    Ackman Outlines Bet Against Herbalife At an event held by the Sohn Conference Foundation in Manhattan, William Ackman of Pershing Square kicked off a three-hour presentation arguing that Herbalife's retail sales were far less than it claimed.
    In Debt: Questions Remain About New Plan on 'Too Big to Fail' Stephen J. Lubben says that the Federal Deposit insurance Corporation and the Bank of England recently put out a new paper on how they might work together to aid a major financial institution who gets into trouble.
    White Collar Watch: UBS Settlement Minimizes Impact of Guilty Plea Peter J. Henning says that to settle a rate-rigging case, the Japanese securities subsidiary of UBS pleaded guilty to a charge of felony wire fraud as part of a settlement that was structured to keep the potential fallout from the plea to a minimum.
    Chinese Companies Head for the Exit The $3.7 billion bid to privatize Nasdaq-listed and Shanghai-based Focus Media is the biggest in a rising wave of Chinese companies seeking to delist from American exchanges.
    Economic Reports Data to be released on Friday includes personal income and spending for November and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for December.
    Corporate Earnings Companies scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Friday ConAgra Foods, Darden Restaurants, Discover Financial Services, KB Home, Rite Aid, Nike and Research in Motion and Walgreen.
    Overseas On Friday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia will attend a Russia-European Union summit meeting in Brussels.

    Quotation of the Day
    "However, this is NOT in any way an indication of weakness on our part or a sign that our strategy was not working."
    Duncan L. Niederauer's memo to NYSE Euronext employees.
    DealBook Video
    TimesCast: UBS Unit Admits Guilt in Rate Case Peter Eavis and David Gillen of The New York Times discuss UBS, which became the first big global bank in more than two decades to have a subsidiary plead guilty to fraud.


BIV | Today's Business News (December 20, 2012).: Who will foot damages from Port Mann Bridge ice bombs remains unclear


Who will foot damages from Port Mann Bridge ice bombs remains unclear

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network was clogged and businesses had difficulty transporting products when the new Port Mann Bridge was closed yesterday because ... READ MORE


Kelowna airport celebrates new routes

Kelowna International Airport welcomed its first direct flight from ... READ MORE

Politics and Policy


Privacy commissioner demands more power to do her job

Canada's privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada needs more power so she can ... READ MORE

More News


Eyeglasses sales help Coastal Contacts achieve record year

Accountants express growing fears over U.S. economy: CICA

Retail sales up for the fourth consecutive month: Stats Canada

MarketWatch | Wall Street at Close Report (December 20, 2012).: U.S. stocks close higher on budget-deal hopes

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as Republican House Speaker John Boehner expressed optimism about reaching a budget deal with President Barack Obama. 

Boehner told an afternoon news conference that he planned to continue working with Obama, even as the Ohio Republican pushed a vote on his plan to limit prospective tax hikes to incomes of more than $1 million. 

“Maybe the conciliatory aspect is what the market is biting on, perhaps there is more openness to this being a negotiating tool rather than a final step,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. 

Fiscal-cliff deal or not, taxes going up The White House made a key concession this week in 'Fiscal Cliff' negotiations: proposing to allow the payroll tax cut to expire on Jan. 1, potentially driving up payroll taxes by 2%. 

“I still think there is a good chance that we have something that is agreed to by the 31st of December, maybe absent some detail, but one where we can in fact go into the beginning of the year with a framework for discussion,” Luschini added. See MarketWatch's fiscal cliff page 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.45%  rose 59.75 points, or 0.5%, to end at 13,311.72, with Bank of America Corp. BAC +2.95%  up 3% and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM +2.30%  up 2.3%. 

The S&P 500 index SPX +0.55%  rose 7.88 points, or 0.6%, to 1,443.69, with financials leading gains among its 10 major industry groups. 

IntercontinentalExchange Inc. ICE +1.40%  said it would acquire NYSE Euronext Inc. NYX +34.10% for $8.2 billion in stock and cash. Shares of NYSE Euronext rallied 34%, making the company the top gainer in the S&P 500. Read: ICE to buy NYSE Euronext. 

The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite index COMP +0.20%  added 6.02 points, or 0.2%, to 3,050.39.

Around 682 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Composite volume topped 3.6 billion. 

Eric Cantor, the No. 2 GOP leader in the House, told reporters Republicans have the votes to pass what Boehner dubbed his “Plan B,” a proposal to extend Bush-era tax cuts for most Americans and replace automatic spending cuts for the military with reduced spending on food stamps and other domestic programs. Read more: Republican ‘Plan B’ heads for House vote. 

“Absent a balanced offer from the president, this is our nation’s best offer,” House Majority Leader Cantor of Virginia said of the proposal, with the House waiting until Thursday evening for a vote on the plan. 

“If he [Boehner] had the votes, it would [have been] this afternoon. I’m not saying it won’t pass, but he needs extra time to whip things up,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC. 

“It’s a symbolic thing,” Greenhaus added of the proposal, which Obama has said he would veto should it pass. Congressional Democrats have labeled it a waste of time, saying it would not accomplish anything other than to make a political statement as the fiscal cliff draws closer. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would not take up the GOP plan, with the Nevada Democrat calling Republican proposals “nonstarters” in the Senate. 

On Wednesday, stocks fell sharply, halting a two-day rally, as the rhetoric between the White House and Republican leaders grew more heated. 

“Clearly the odds of a deal have gone down, at least based on public statements, but the bias is still for a deal to be done,” Greenhaus said of efforts to avert steep spending cuts and tax hikes slated to start in January that economists generally agree would push the economy into recession.

Positive economic reports out Thursday held little interest for Wall Street.

“We do care, but we don’t care. It doesn’t matter at the moment in the context of what is going on with the fiscal cliff. We know the story on the economic side, and we know the story on the stock-market side. It’s the Washington side we’re waiting to hear from,” said Greenhaus. 

In economic news, existing-home sales rose 5.9% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million, reaching the highest rate since November 2009. Read: Sales of existing homes at highest level in 3 years. 
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s index of manufacturing activity climbed to an eight-month high in December. Read more about the surprising end-of-year bounce. 
“Everything is shrouded in this fiscal-cliff issue, but the fact of the matter is today’s data was actually pretty good. The Philly Fed was positive and the housing data looks good, and is really building into being a green shoot for 2013,” Janney Montgomery Scott’s Luschini said.

Ahead of the opening bell, data showed that weekly jobless claims rose 17,000 to 361,000 and growth in third-quarter gross domestic product was revised up to 3.1%. Read more about jobless claims data.
Noting that the four-week average of initial claims was back near lows not seen since the spring of 2008, Miller Tabak equity strategist Peter Boockvar said the data point to a labor market that “continues to improve but at a still lackluster pace.” 

“Certainly the fiscal negotiations in D.C. and the cloudy visibility that comes with them, have impacted business decision-making,” he added. 

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.


Educational Forex Videos (December 20, 2012).

NYT | Opinion Today (December 20, 2012).: The Opinion Pages | The Conscience of a Liberal | On Not Seeing the Forest for the Equations

The New York Times

December 20, 2012

Opinion Today

Op-Ed Contributor

Apps to Regulate Apps

There are smarter and more effective ways than total bans to protect consumers against the potential harms of new apps for more convenient city living.
The Liberation of General Motors

The Liberation of General Motors

The federal government's divestment of its ownership stake in G.M. will end an uncomfortable and distinctly un-American period of our nation's economic history.
The Christmas Frog
Opinionator | Townies

The Christmas Frog

Sometimes this city makes you feel as if you're small enough to be trapped in a bag of lettuce.
Op-Ed Contributor

The N.R.A. Protection Racket

Republican politicians have been bullied by gun lobbyists for far too long
Fears of an Asian Quota in the Ivy League
Room for Debate

Fears of an Asian Quota in the Ivy League

With a disproportionate number of Asian-American students acing standardized tests, are top colleges limiting the number they admit?
Op-Ed Contributor

Asians: Too Smart for Their Own Good?

Elite colleges have implicit quotas for Asian-Americans, just as they once did for Jews.
Op-Ed Contributor

South Korea's New President Must Challenge the North

Alleviating the tremendous suffering of fellow Koreans in North Korea is the challenge facing South Korea's first female president, Park Geun-hye.
The N.R.A.'s Blockade on Science
Opinionator | The Stone

The N.R.A.'s Blockade on Science

There is no scientific consensus on the best approach to limiting gun violence, and the N.R.A. is blocking work that might lead to one.
General Grant's Infamous Order
Opinionator | Disunion

General Grant's Infamous Order

Why the Civil War leader expelled Jews from the Department of Tennessee.

Opinionator Things I Saw

Things I Saw - No. 48

The artist draws things he saw in Brooklyn.
A Merrier Christmas

A Merrier Christmas

In Japan, where traditional end-of-the-year rituals can feel oppressively obligation-bound, Christmas wins out by being fun.

Some Answers on Benghazi

Instead of just pointing fingers, Congress should provide more money for the security of American diplomats abroad.

It's the Guns

President Obama's call for ideas to make the nation safer from guns needs to focus on weapons, not abstractions or distractions.

Mr. Abe's Second Chance

Japan voted for economic revival, not nationalist fantasies. The election victory of Shinzo Abe and his party is cause for serious concern.

The Opinion Pages

Read the full opinion report, including editorials, columns, op-eds and Opinionator. Go to the Section »
Preposterous Explanations for Newtown
Taking Note

Preposterous Explanations for Newtown

One writer blamed the school system's "feminized" culture. Mike Huckabee blamed the lack of "talk about eternity."
On Not Seeing the Forest for the Equations
The Conscience of a Liberal

On Not Seeing the Forest for the Equations

No, macro isn't converging.
Bork and Liberalism

Bork and Liberalism

Robert Bork's defeat and the making of the post-Reagan Democratic Party.
Exploring a Proposed Carbon Diet for American Power Plants
Dot Earth Blog

Exploring a Proposed Carbon Diet for American Power Plants

A proposal for getting the carbon out of American power plants affordably and under existing laws.