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‘Fiscal cliff’ worries last minute shoppers

Retailers may not see a sales surge this weekend as ho-hum discounts and fears about imminent tax hikes and cuts in government spending give Americans fewer reasons to open their wallets in the last few days before Christmas. The acrimonious debate in Washington over how to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” is one of a number of concerns weighing on shoppers, experts said, as consumers head to malls on the last Saturday ahead of the holiday – typically one of the busiest shopping days of the year. “I don’t think we’re going to get a great pickup in the last
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GOP policies led to ‘fiscal cliff’ meltdown

Republicans seem shocked by their party’s meltdown on the so-called fiscal cliff. They shouldn’t be. The uncompromising conservatives who blocked Speaker John Boehner‘s tax bill were merely sticking to policies that Boehner and nearly all other GOP leaders have pushed, without reservation, for years: It’s always wrong to raise tax rates on anyone, no matter how rich. The nation’s big deficit is entirely “a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” And in any deficit-reduction plan, spending cuts must overwhelm new revenues, by 10-to-1 if not more. To be surprised by Boehner’s failure is to assume one of two things. Either
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Armed security in schools? Yep, that’s the NRA’s answer to school shootings

The nation’s largest gun-rights lobby called Friday for the placement of an armed police officer in every school, but parents and educators questioned how safe such a move would keep kids, whether it would be economically feasible and how it would alter student life. Their reactions ranged from supportive to disgusted. Already, there are an estimated 10,000 sworn officers serving in schools around the country, most of them armed and employed by local police departments, according to a membership association for the officers. Still, they’re deployed at only a fraction of the country’s approximately 98,000 public schools, and their numbers
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Pennsylvania Police investigate latest shootings

Authorities in central Pennsylvania are trying to determine why a man fatally shot three people along a rural road before being killed in a gunfight with police. Police were still trying to piece together a timeline in the arduous investigation of the Friday shootings that began in Frankstown Township and spanned five crime scenes within a 1.5-mile radius. A woman decorating a church hall for a children’s Christmas party was among those killed. Three state troopers were injured. Authorities haven’t released a motive for the shootings. “It’s going to take us some time to put this all together … and
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Court rules that employers can fire ‘too sexy’ employees

  The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that employers in the state can legally fire workers they find too attractive. In a unanimous decision, the court held that a dentist did not violate the state’s civil rights act when he terminated a female dental assistant whom his wife considered a threat to their marriage. The dental assistant, Melissa Nelson, who worked for dentist James Knight for more than 10 years and had never flirted with him, according to the testimony of both parties, sued, saying she would not have been fired if she were a man. At trial, Knight
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Boehner’s ‘fiscal cliff’ bill lacks votes to pass, House recesses

The U.S. House of Representatives abruptly recessed on Thursday amid uncertainty if Republicans had the votes needed to pass a “fiscal cliff” tax plan offered by Speaker John Boehner. Boehner and fellow Republicans huddled in his office. The bill would renew tax breaks for all but only about 1 percent of Americans. Some conservative oppose the measure, saying all should be protected against tax hikes.
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Hunger, homeless on the rise in U.S. cities

Across the United States, the number of hungry and homeless people is growing, and budget fights at the federal level are threatening the aid many need to survive, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said on Thursday. Amidst the holiday season of family feasts and corporate dinners, the mayors released a report that found requests for emergency food assistance rose in 21 out of the 25 cities it surveyed in 2012 and remained at the same level in three. More than half the cities said homelessness increased. “This report is a stark reminder of the long-lasting impact the recession has had
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Suzy Hamilton: From prostitute to Olympic athlete

Three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton says she coped with depression and a troubled marriage by turning to a life of prostitution. In a series of posts to her Twitter account, Favor Hamilton acknowledged working as an escort following a report Thursday on The Smoking Gun website about her double life. “I do not expect people to understand,” Favor Hamilton tweeted. “But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.” The Smoking Gun said the 44-year-old athlete has been working for the last year for a Las Vegas escort service
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Overconfident Romney was so sure of victory that he spent 25 grand on victory fireworks

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was so confident of victory against President Barack Obama that he spent $25,000 for victory fireworks, had already drawn up a list of White House appointments and took it easy on election day when his opponents were still working hard to get out the vote. Political insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue that Romney didn’t think he could lose and was genuinely “shell shocked” when he lost the Presidential race in an electoral vote landslide to Obama. “He was supremely confident and delayed conceding the race as long as possible because he just didn’t believe he
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Seven Navy SEALs punished for giving classified info to video game maker; Four others under investigtion

Seven Navy SEALs from Team Six were disciplined recently for disclosing classified information to a video game maker, Capitol Hill Blue has confirmed. One of the seven was part of the raiding party that killed Osama in Laden.  At least four other team members are also under investigation for providing classified tactical information for use in the upcoming video game “Medal of Honor: Warfighter.” SEALS are often used as subjects of combat video games. Pentagon sources tell Capitol Hill Blue that all of the SEALS involved in the matter face a “nonjudical punishment,” which can include a reduction in rank,
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