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Jobs report shows momentum for new year

The government is expected to report Friday that businesses stepped up hiring in December, a trend likely to gain momentum in 2011. Economists are predicting that employers added a net total of 145,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent. Some are even more optimistic after a private payroll firm estimated this week that companies added nearly 300,000 jobs in December. Also encouraging was a report that fewer people applied for unemployment benefits over the past month than in any four-week period in more than two years. A decline in layoffs has consumers feeling better
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Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss

Overhauling his team at the top, President Barack Obama on Thursday named banker and seasoned political fighter William Daley as his new chief of staff, hoping to rejuvenate both a White House storming into re-election mode and an economy still gasping for help. The choice of Daley immediately brought howls of protest from the left flank of the Democratic Party, where advocates questioned his insider ties to Wall Street. Centrists, business leaders and Republican lawmakers rallied around the move, one that underscored just how much and how fast the face of the White House is changing. Obama, whose hopes for
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IRS agent admits cheating on taxes

A California-based Internal Revenue Service agent could spend up to nine years in prison after acknowledging that he cheated on his own taxes. Federal prosecutors say 51-year-old Albert Bront pleaded guilty Wednesday in Los Angeles to filing false tax returns for himself and two innocent relatives. The false tax form claims included bogus alimony and mortgage deductions. The former Santa Clarita resident told a federal judge that he filed fraudulent tax returns for himself from 2003 to 2007 by claiming excessive deductions and failing to report income. He also acknowledged filing fraudulent returns on behalf of two unknowing relatives. Bront
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Suicide bomber kills 17 in Afghanitan

The spokesman for the governor of the southern Kandahar province says a suicide bomber has killed 17 people in southern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. Zalmay Ayubi says the attack occurred Thursday in the town of Spin Baldok. Ayubi said the attacker set off his bomb in a barber shop where men also go to take baths. Ayubi said the fatalities included a police officer and 16 civilians. An additional 23 people were wounded in the blast, which occurred around noon. Kandahar and other southern provinces are considered traditional Taliban strongholds.
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Feds warn states: Don’t come to us, the well is dry

Cut spending, raise taxes and fees, and accept billions of dollars from Congress. That’s been the formula for states trying to survive the worst economy since the 1930s. As Republicans prepare to take control of the House and exert more influence in the Senate, it’s clear that option No. 3 will soon wither. States will continue to face substantial deficits over the next few years, but they will have to get by with the end of stimulus spending and less financial help from the federal government. In recent interviews, top GOP lawmakers made clear it will be much less. “We’ve
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Another 1,400 troops headed for Afghanistan

The United States plans to send 1,400 additional Marines to Afghanistan to boost its combat forces ahead of the spring fighting season, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The United States, which led a 2001 invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban, has about 100,000 troops in the country, and President Barack Obama is under pressure to show results so he can begin a promised withdrawal this year. “The Marine battalion could start arriving on the ground as early as mid-January. The forces would mostly be deployed in the south, around Kandahar, where the U.S. has concentrated troops over
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