Headline News

  • In North Dakota, countdown looms for $5.3 billion oil tax break


    BISMARCK, N.D. (Reuters) – Tumbling U.S. oil markets hit an important if obscure milestone on Thursday, closing for the first time at a price that could trigger a $5.3 billion, two-year tax break for North Dakota oil drillers as soon as next summer. Under a decades-old law, the state at the heart of the U.S. shale oil boom would waive its 6.5 percent oil extraction tax once the average monthly price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude at Cushing, Oklahoma, falls below a certain threshold for five consecutive months. For next year, that price is $55.08 per barrel. On Thursday, U.S. crude oil futures settled at $54.11 per barrel, the lowest close since May 2009 and the latest leg of a rout that has halved the price of crude since June. It is unlikely that the clock would start ticking in December, since the average price is still above $61 a barrel. But if …

    December 19, 2014 7:25 am
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Politics

  • With Cuba decision, Obama hands Hillary Clinton a gift


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton knows a political gift when she sees one. She was quick to embrace the step this week when President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat no longer having to face an electorate, relaxed U.S. policy toward Cuba. While assailed by Republicans opposed to restoring ties with the communist-led island, the action has the power to solidify support for Democrats among increasingly influential Latino voters and appeal to voters in farm states like Iowa eager to do business in Havana. Obama’s unilateral move has gently shaken up the 2016 race to succeed him, exposing divisions among Republicans and possibly helping Democrats already buoyed by his decision to liberalize immigration policy. Potential contenders Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio adhered to the traditional Republican hard line on Cuba and sharply criticized Obama. But Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has a libertarian streak, backed the new policy. A likely White …

    December 19, 2014 3:43 am
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Stocks

  • Elizabeth Warren allies march outside Citi: ‘Break big banks’


    A group of protesters gathered outside Citi’s headquarters in New York chanting “break big banks.” Made up largely of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s supporters, the protesters on Thursday specifically targeted Citigroup (C) because of the bank’s role in watering down Wall Street regulation. “We need to break up the big banks that have too much power in our democracy,” said Tim Hernandez-Tarafas, one of the protest organizers. “They literally wrote the law and Washington let them do it.” Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, has blasted her fellow lawmakers for passing legislation that undoes a central piece of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. “I believe banks have too much concentrated power in our democracy and we want it back,” said Emmett Grant, pictured below, a 52 year-old from Mount Vernon, NY. Protesters carried signs that read “#StandWithWarren” on a chilly morning outside Citigroup’s Park Avenue tower with about a dozen police officers standing by. Organizers called for a …

    December 19, 2014 6:44 am
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Sports

  • Davis, Pelicans take down Rockets


    Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) – Anthony Davis tallied 30 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Houston Rockets, 99-90, on Thursday. Jrue Holiday finished with 16 points and 10 assists and played his best basketball down the stretch to help the Pelicans win their second straight game. Holiday scored half of his points and dished out three assists in the final period. “I think there were only 20 people that thought we’d win tonight, and they were all in that locker room,” said Pelicans coach Monty Williams. “We certainly feel good about the win and the way we played.” Ryan Anderson and Dante Cunningham contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively, off the bench, and Omer Asik grabbed 11 boards for New Orleans. James Harden paced Houston with 21 points and Dwight Howard posted 17 points and 13 rebounds, his third double-double since returning to the court after missing 11 games …

    December 19, 2014 7:25 am
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World News

  • Pakistan army ‘kills 59 Taliban’


    19 December 2014 Last updated at 12:00 The army says it has killed 1,700 Taliban militants since June, although this is difficult to verify Pakistan’s military says it has killed 59 militants in ground assaults and air strikes on Taliban units in areas near the border with Afghanistan. The operations come days after the Taliban killed 141 people at a school in Peshawar, mostly children. The military has stepped up its offensive against the insurgents in the provinces of the Khyber agency and North Waziristan. Assaults on militants in North Waziristan began in June. This week’s operations included a series of ground assaults and 20 air strikes by Pakistani jets in the Khyber tribal region, which killed 27 militants including an Uzbek commander. An ambush on Thursday night by special forces in the Tirah Valley, an area near the Afghan border, killed another 32 militants. Airport The army says it has killed more than 1,700 …

    December 19, 2014 7:25 am
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Technology

  • Twitter should ban racist words, says MP


    Racist words should be blocked by Twitter, a Labour MP who was a victim of online anti-Semitism has said. Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health, said she received 2,500 hate messages at the height of an internet campaign against her. In October, Garron Helm, from Litherland, north of Liverpool, was handed a four-week custodial sentence at Merseyside magistrates court for sending an anti-Semitic tweet to Berger. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Berger called on the social networking site to do more to stop abuse. The MP for Liverpool Wavertree said: “At the height of the abuse, the police said I was the subject of 2,500 hate messages in the space of three days using the hashtag ‘filthyjewbitch’. “Online hate needs to be taken as seriously as offline hate – but it isn’t. Twitter’s response isn’t good enough. It has a responsibility to do more to protect its users. “The site is letting …

    December 19, 2014 4:03 am
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Science

  • Study on world’s biggest animal finds more than 1 population in the southeastern Pacific


    Related images(click to enlarge) Scientists from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), the Universidad Austral de Chile, the Blue Whale Center, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), NOAA, and other organizations are examining molecular clues to answer a big question: how many types of blue whales exist in the waters of the southeastern Pacific? The answer seems to be two distinct populations, according to a genetic study comparing the blue whales off the southern coast of Chile with those swimming in the waters of Antarctica and other nearby regions. One of the populations could be made up of pygmy-type blue whales, a subspecies slightly smaller than the Antarctic blue whale. The findings could help wildlife managers devise more effective conservation plans for this endangered species. The study appears in the online edition of the journal Molecular Ecology. Reaching nearly 100 feet in length, the blue whale is thought to be the largest animal that ever existed, …

    December 19, 2014 4:04 am
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Health

  • Double blow for Roche as Alzheimer’s, breast cancer studies fail


    ZURICH/LONDON (Reuters) – Roche said on Friday it was ending a late-stage study of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug after it failed to prove effective, underlining the difficulty of treating the memory-robbing disease. The Swiss drugmaker also said a breast cancer trial had failed to demonstrate the benefit of adding its new drug Kadcyla to treatment programs, damaging its hopes of broadening sales in an commercial area it already dominates. Fabian Wenner, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, said consensus forecasts for annual Kadcyla sales of 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.55 billion) in 2020 would now “have to come down significantly”. Shares in Roche, which in recent years has boasted one of the most productive research pipelines in the industry, fell 4.7 percent by 0840 GMT (03:40 a.m. EST) on the double setback. German biotech firm MorphoSys, Roche’s partner on the Alzheimer’s project, fared even worse, with its stock falling 8.1 percent. The setback for Alzheimer’s drug …

    December 19, 2014 4:03 am
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Entertainment

  • Report: Ashlee Simpson Pregnant, Expecting First Child With Husband Evan Ross


    Posted on Thu Dec 18th, 2014 2:15pm PDT       By X17 Staff Sounds like a honeymoon baby! Ashlee Simpson and husband Evan Ross are expecting their first child together, Us Weekly reports. The singer is already a mom to 6-year-old son Bronx, from her first marriage to rocker Pete Wentz. The couple tied the knot this past August, and X17online first predicted that Jessica Simpson’s little sister was pregnant back in October when she was looking noticeably fuller in the tummy. “She wants her kids to be close to Jessica’s in age. She’s so in love with Evan, she thinks a baby would be the icing on the cake,” a source previously told X17. This kid is going to have Diana Ross as a grandma! Pretty cool!   Stories from around the Web

    December 19, 2014 5:44 am
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Editorial

  • Faith at the holidays: Life is messy. God is mysterious. Let’s live the questions


    Dec. 12, 2014: A tear runs from the eye of a pilgrim as she looks up at the apron of Juan Diego, a 16th century relic believed to hold the imprint of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in Mexico City. Every year hundreds of thousands of people from across the country, many carrying images or statues of Mexico’s patron saint to be blessed, converge at the Basilica on Dec. 12, the Virgin’s feast day. Pilgrims are able to view the apron from moving walkways that pass below. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) While in seminary, I ran across the author Henri Nouwen, who articulated the tension—or paradox—of faith as well as anyone I have read. His answer, unlike most I have heard, does not whitewash the messiness of life or explain away the mystery of God. Rather, Nouwen wrote that an essential part of life is learning to “live the questions” faith engenders. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT To wait on the …

    December 19, 2014 4:03 am
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Odd News

  • Canadian driver jailed for deaths caused by stopping for ducks


    OTTAWA (Reuters) – A Canadian woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Thursday for causing two deaths in 2010 when she stopped her car on a Quebec highway to help a group of ducklings crossing the road. Emma Czornobaj had been convicted in June of two counts each of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death. According to media reports on Thursday, Czornobaj stopped her car abruptly in the passing lane of a highway south of Montreal when she saw the ducklings. The motorcycle behind Czornobaj’s car then crashed into her vehicle, killing the 50-year-old man driving the motorcycle and his 16-year-old daughter. “I just wanted to pick all these ducklings up and put them in my car,” Czornobaj had testified during her trial. “I know it was a mistake.” The jail time will be served on the weekends. Czornobaj was also sentenced to 240 hours of community service, probation and banned from …

    December 18, 2014 3:58 pm
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