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Microsoft targets business market

Microsoft Corp is making its strongest push yet into the steadily growing business software market in the hope that it can create another multibillion-dollar business. The world’s biggest software company, which still gets the majority of its sales from its Windows and Office franchises, is hoping it can wrestle market share from heavyweights SAP AG and Oracle Corp, and upstart online vendor Salesforce.com Inc. “The opportunities to make a good business economically are wonderful,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer in a telephone interview on Monday. “We’re pretty pumped up.” Research firm IDC predicts that companies will spend $118 billion
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Docs don’t always follow their own advice

When doctors step into their patients’ shoes, their treatment decisions don’t always line up with the advice they give in their clinics, a U.S. survey says. Faced with hypothetical treatment scenarios, when they imagined themselves as the sick person, doctors more often chose therapies that carried a higher risk of death but fewer severe side effects, said the survey, in the Archives of Internal Medicine. “I don’t think any patient would expect that. If they found out, they would raise a lot of questions,” said Peter Ubel, at Duke University, who led the research. “It has nothing to do with
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At 63, James Taylor ‘still hungry’

James Taylor has filled huge arenas, won five Grammys, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and influenced generations of musicians. His 2010 Troubadour Reunion Tour with Carole King was a major commercial success. Yet every single time he gives a concert, he worries people won’t come. “That’s always the question,” says the 63-year-old singer, songwriter and folk rock icon. “Are people gonna show up? Will they buy tickets?” But there’s a silver lining to the worry: “It’s kept me hungry,” he says. “It’s kept me grateful.” Now in his fifth decade of performing, Taylor, whose appearance
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Obama saved favorite programs from budget cuts

A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway. Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs — Pell grants for poor college students, health research and “Race to the Top” aid for public schools, among others — from Republican knives. And big holes in foreign aid and Environmental Protection Agency accounts were patched in large part. Republicans also gave up politically treacherous
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Obama claims ‘everything’ is on the table for cuts

President Barack Obama, plunging into the rancorous struggle over America’s mountainous debt, will draw sharp differences with Republicans Wednesday over how to conquer trillions of dollars in spending while somehow working out a compromise to raise some taxes and trim a cherished program like Medicare. Obama’s speech will set a new long-term deficit-reduction goal and establish a dramatically different vision from a major Republican proposal that aims to cut more than $5 trillion over the next decade, officials said Monday. Details of Obama’s plan are being closely held so far, but the deficit-cutting target probably will fall between the $1.1
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Food price surge fuels biofuel critics

A surge in global food prices has prompted fresh criticism of US subsidies for ethanol, which diverts massive amounts of corn from global food supplies for energy. Producers of ethanol argue that the biofuel helps blunt the impact of high imported petroleum prices, but critics say the US policy giving tax breaks for ethanol used in motor fuel ends up being bad for food, energy and the environment. The issue has created unusual political alliances, with environmental groups and some lawmakers from both parties clashing with farm interests and legislators from the corn-producing midwest states. Senators Tom Coburn, a Republican
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Republicans find themselves on Medicare hot seat

Now it’s their turn to try to fix the health care mess. Republicans, just like President Barack Obama, may discover that’s easier said than done. The GOP budget expected to go to the full House this week would remake health care programs for the elderly and the poor that have been in place for nearly half a century. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says his approach would “save” Medicare by keeping the financially troubled program affordable for federal taxpayers. But it turns out that people now 54 and younger would pay the price. By one authoritative estimate, they’d be
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Barbour’s lobbyist past could complicate campaign

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is embracing his background as one of Washington’s top lobbyists, saying his powers of persuasion would be an asset if he wins the White House. But an Associated Press review of lobbying by the powerhouse firm Barbour helped found before his first campaign for governor shows that he represented clients on issues and interests that could provide his Republican primary opponents ample ammunition and raise eyebrows among some Republican voters. How Barbour addresses his lobbying past could determine his fate if he decides to seek the Republican nomination. Barbour Griffith & Rogers Inc., which Barbour helped
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Pentagon backing away from Iraq withdrawal deadline

Eight months shy of its deadline for pulling the last American soldier from Iraq and closing the door on an 8-year war, the Pentagon is having second thoughts. Reluctant to say it publicly, officials fear a final pullout in December could create a security vacuum, offering an opportunity for power grabs by antagonists in an unresolved and simmering Arab-Kurd dispute, a weakened but still active al-Qaida or even an adventurous neighbor such as Iran. The U.S. wants to keep perhaps several thousand troops in Iraq, not to engage in combat but to guard against an unraveling of a still-fragile peace.
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Feds stopped 360 terrorists from flying into U.S.

The U.S. government has prevented more than 350 people suspected of ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups from boarding U.S.-bound commercial flights since the end of 2009, The Associated Press has learned. The tighter security rules — imposed after the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas 2009 — reveal a security threat that persisted for more than seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Until then, even as commercial passengers were forced to remove their shoes, limit the amount of shampoo in their carry-on luggage and endure pat downs, hundreds of foreigners with known or suspected
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