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VOL. 36 | NO. 50 | Friday, December 14, 2012

Vandy finally finds academic-athletic balance. Can the Vols?

Commodores learn to embrace higher standards 'as a plus'

When Vanderbilt University brought a top-20 national football prospect to campus earlier this year, coaches brainstormed potential recruiters and made a call – to the Blair School of Music.

VU's Williams: Coaching hires, retention key to success

Vanderbilt University’s David Williams was given a new role at the school in mid-July, a reflection of his success in leading Commodore athletics to new heights.

Vanderbilt-UT graduation rates for athletes

Graduation rates, Vanderbilt versus Tennessee shared sports.

Retooled O’Charley’s faces uphill fight

Having survived a rough period that saw its footprint reduced by a third, Nashville-based O’Charley’s is launching an ambitious brand overhaul in hopes of solidifying its place in a shrinking casual dining market.

Worthy Publishing grows, expands lines

While some are predicting the decline of book publishing in coming years, a fast-growing Brentwood-based company is banking on the opposite – a renaissance in the industry that will benefit many, particularly small publishing houses.

Local Weather
Today
Nashville, TN
78°F
Partly Cloudy
Wind: 5 mph
Humidity: 74%

EVENTS

Young Leaders Council’s Williamson County Application Deadline. YLC, a Nashville-based nonprofit organization that has trained 2,000 men and women to effectively participate on the boards of nonprofit agencies for the past 27 years, is expanding into Williamson County through a partnership with Williamson County Young Professionals. YLC will provide training to young professionals, ages 25-40 years, who are members of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, in 11 weekly sessions, beginning February 5, 2013. The application deadline for young professionals interested in the 2013 inaugural class has been extended to December 21 and should be completed online at www.ylcnashville.org. The participation fee is $475.

more events »

REAL ESTATE

Midstate home sales jump 38% as cliff looms

If America tumbles over the fiscal cliff at the end of this month, many of us are going to do it in a new house.

Midstate real estate trends for November

November 2012 real estate trends for Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford and Wilson counties, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

Top Midstate residential real estate transactions for November 2012

November 2012 residential real estate transactions for Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

REALTY CHECK

Turning over a new leaf and a handsome profit

All industries are loaded with personalities and characters. Residential real estate is no exception. One of the most exciting is a mortgage loan officer known as Marty Maitland who is a 20-year-plus veteran of the lending industry and a Nashville native who is currently working with BancorpSouth in Brentwood.

TERRY McCORMICK

Mixed standards for coaching hires

It’s a crazy world, this practice of hiring college football coaches.

NEWSMAKERS

Health Care Council honors Cigarran

The Nashville Health Care Council has recognized Thomas G. Cigarran, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Healthways, with the Nashville Health Care Council Crystal Leaf Award. The award highlights Cigarran’s significant role in fostering health care industry innovation and entrepreneurism in Nashville.

BUSINESS BOOK REVIEW

An ‘I spy’ game that might pay dividends

It takes all kinds to make a world – and a client list.

GUERRILLA MARKETING

Inherent dangers of self-marketing

When you own or operate a small or mid-sized company, you likely have an innate sense of self-reliance. It’s that desire to get things done on your own that probably got you to where you are today. That same drive to maintain unencumbered control, however, may be inhibiting your growth when it comes to the development and execution of your marketing strategy. While seemingly counterintuitive, here’s why this is often the case.

THE WORLDLY INVESTOR

Concerns won’t end at edge of ‘cliff’

Please recognize that the “fiscal cliff” debate will not end with current compromise.

SMART STUFF 4 WORK

Be like Santa, even without red suit, beard

So you’ve got this guy who shows up every year wearing a funny outfit, smoking a pipe and apparently fond of consuming mass quantities of milk and cookies. He’s not really what you might consider a great role model for rational and healthy behavior.

I SWEAR

Call me Pop Pop: Big event prompts big decision

A nickname, because it’s custom-made, rather than installed at the factory, can seem like a better reflection of one’s true self.” — David Owen

KAY'S COOKING CORNER

You had me at ‘guest at my own party’

We hosted the company Christmas party at our house last weekend, so I was busy the week after Thanksgiving pulling decorations out of the attic and putting up the tree.

STATEWIDE

Leatherwood named executive director of Tennessee GOP

NASHVILLE (AP) — Brent Leatherwood, the spokesman for the state House Republican Caucus, has been named executive director of the state GOP.

Armstrong named president of NBCSL

NASHVILLE (AP) — Democratic Rep. Joe Armstrong of Knoxville has been selected to be the president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators for the next two years.

FedEx says it can grow by cutting costs

NEW YORK (AP) — FedEx may be pessimistic about the U.S. economy, but it's confident about growing its earnings.

STATE LEGISLATURE

State Rep. Carr exploring bid for DesJarlais seat

NASHVILLE (AP) - Republican State Rep. Joe Carr is considering a run for the congressional seat held by embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Toyota's Camry performs poorly on new crash test

DETROIT (AP) — An insurance industry group says Toyota's Camry did poorly on a new crash test this year, disqualifying it from the top safety rating.

Peugeot, GM unveil joint-venture models

PARIS (AP) — PSA Peugeot Citroen and GM have unveiled the first vehicles they will develop together as part of a joint venture they hope will reduce costs and re-energize their businesses.

Fiat announces $1.3B investment for new SUVs

MILAN (AP) — Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne has announced a €1 billion ($1.32 billion) investment to produce two SUVs at a plant in southern Italy.

GM recalls pickup trucks to fix problem with hoods

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling nearly 119,000 pickup trucks in the U.S. because the hoods can fly open unexpectedly and block the driver's vision.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

US home sales jump to highest level in 3 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of previously occupied homes jumped to their highest level in three years last month, bolstered by steady job gains and record-low mortgage rates. The report was the latest sign of a sustained recovery in the housing market.

IntercontinentalExchange to buy NYSE for $8.2B

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Stock Exchange is being sold to a rival exchange for about $8 billion, ending more than two centuries of independence for the iconic Big Board.

US economy grew at 3.1 percent in summer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent over the summer as exports increased, consumers spent more and state and local governments added to growth for the first time in three years. But the economy is likely slowing in the current quarter.

Measure of future US growth dips 0.2 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of the U.S. economy designed to signal future activity fell in November, suggesting that growth could remain weak in the early part of next year.

Waiting on fiscal cliff compromise, stocks meander

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market moved between small gains and losses in morning trading Thursday. Uncertainty about the approaching "fiscal cliff," just days away, was top of mind for many traders.

Oil prices drop as US 'fiscal cliff' talks stall

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil closed above $90 a barrel for the first time in two months Thursday as it tracked an upward move in U.S. stock markets.

US mortgage rates rise; still near record lows

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average rates on U.S. fixed mortgages rose this week but remained near record lows, a trend that is leading more Americans to buy homes or refinance their loans.

Weekly unemployment claims rise 17,000 to 361,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week by 17,000, reversing four weeks of declines. But the number of people seeking aid is consistent with a job market that continues to grow modestly.

Darden profit falls despite Olive Garden revamp

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Darden Restaurants said Thursday that its net income fell 37 percent in the latest quarter, as revamped menus and new ad campaigns failed to draw more diners into its Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Boehner plan ends tax cuts for rich, poor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Taxpayers making more than $1 million would get hit with tax increases averaging $100,000 next year under House Speaker John Boehner's alternative tax bill, according to an independent analysis.

Medicare premiums could rise for many retirees

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a health care change that President Barack Obama and Republicans both embrace: Expand a current, little-known law so more retirees the government considers well-off are required to pay higher Medicare premiums.

Details of Obama's call for action against gun violence

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., obligates the nation to finally act to reduce gun violence. He's outlined only a broad plan so far, leaving specific proposals until next month.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19
MUSIC INDUSTRY

Alabama Shakes lead singer robbed in Nashville

NASHVILLE (AP) - Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes is unharmed after being robbed at gunpoint over the weekend.

The Black Keys' Patrick Carney to host radio show

NASHVILLE (AP) — Have you ever wanted to sit down and have a long conversation about music with The Black Keys? Well, that's probably not going to happen. But SiriusXM is offering a glimpse into the duo's world as Patrick Carney debuts a new radio show.

Ke$ha tweets hit 'Die Young' 'now inappropriate'

NASHVILLE (AP) — Ke$ha says she understands her hit song "Die Young" ''is now inappropriate" following the shootings in Newtown, Conn.

STATE LEGISLATURE

Harwell proposes bill limits, committee shakeup

NASHVILLE (AP) - State House Speaker Beth Harwell on Wednesday proposed an overhaul of the way the lower chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly does business, including limiting members to 10 bills per session and restructuring the committee system.

STATEWIDE

State Funding Board makes revenue projections

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes says he expects businesses across the state to be less conservative after Congress reaches a deal on the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Gun sales in Tennessee likely had record weekend

NASHVILLE (AP) - It was likely a record weekend for gun sales in Tennessee.

FedEx 2Q earnings fall on weak air segment, Sandy

NEW YORK (AP) — FedEx, the world's second-largest package delivery company, posted a 12 percent decline in second-quarter profits Wednesday due to weakness in its air network and the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

TDOT stops highway construction for holidays

NASHVILLE (AP) — TDOT is telling employees and contractors to knock off work for Christmas and New Year travel.

HEALTH CARE

Doctors could face 27 percent Medicare cut

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare is warning doctors — and millions of elderly patients — that payments will be slashed next year unless Congress acts soon.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

Will cigarette makers jump into pot market?

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Will the Marlboro Man light up a joint soon?

US housing starts slowed to 861K in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders broke ground on fewer homes in November after starting work in October at the fastest pace in four years. Superstorm Sandy likely slowed starts in the Northeast.

General Motors to buy back 200M government shares

DETROIT (AP) — The Treasury plans to sell its remaining stake in General Motors over the next 15 months, allowing the automaker to shed the stigma of being partly owned by the U.S. government.

Stocks fall as sides snipe in 'cliff' talks

Stocks dipped Wednesday, recording their first loss of the week. President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress sniped at each other, and a deadline to avoid sweeping tax increases and government spending cuts drew closer.

Oil rises on drop in US supplies, German optimism

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil rose Wednesday as the government reported shrinking crude supplies, and some good news overseas offset concerns about political wrangling in Washington.

Discounts abound as stores try to salvage season

NEW YORK (AP) — When it comes to fat holiday discounts, better late than never.

Kodak to receive $525M from patent sale

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Eastman Kodak will receive about $525 million from the sale of its digital imaging patents, money the struggling photo pioneer says will help it emerge from bankruptcy protection in the first half of next year.

Investors turn against gun makers after massacre

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Investors shunned some of the nation's largest gun makers Tuesday, putting up for sale the manufacturer of the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle used in the Connecticut school shooting and worrying that the attack could soon bring stricter gun laws.

UBS to pay $1.5 billion over rate-rigging scandal

GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland's UBS AG agreed Wednesday to pay some $1.5 billion in fines to international regulators following a probe into the rigging of a key global interest rate.

Getco buying Knight Capital in $1.4B deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly five months after a major software malfunction at Knight Capital roiled financial markets, the trading firm has agreed to sell itself to a competitor, Getco, in a cash-and-stock deal that the companies value at $1.4 billion.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Obama: He and Boehner 'pretty close' to a deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Optimistic despite a tightening deadline, President Barack Obama said Wednesday he and House Speaker John Boehner are "pretty close" to a grand fiscal deal to avoid a first-of-the-year shock to the economy, but that congressional Republicans "keep on finding ways to say no as opposed to finding ways to say yes."

White House threatens veto of GOP budget plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House threatened Wednesday to veto House Speaker John Boehner's backup plan for averting the "fiscal cliff," saying it was time for Republicans to stop political posturing and continue trying to reach a compromise deficit-cutting package.

Obama Social Security offer at odds with top Dems

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's offer to limit the growth of Social Security benefits would cost the average retiree less than $50 in the first year. But the cuts would grow over time, and that has advocates for seniors worried that Democrats in Congress will break their promise to shield the massive retirement and disability program from cuts in deficit reduction talks.

House GOP focusing on fiscal cliff backup plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Still short of a "fiscal cliff" deal with the White House, top House Republicans are laboring to rally their rank-and-file behind an alternative plan that would prevent looming tax increases for everyone but those earning over $1 million a year.

Obama set January deadline for gun proposals

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurred by a horrific elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama tasked his administration Wednesday with creating concrete proposals to reduce gun violence that has plagued the country.


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18
NASHVILLE AREA

Nonprofit announces new Cumberland River Center

NASHVILLE (AP) - A Nashville nonprofit dedicated to the health of the Cumberland River basin is expanding its profile in a big way.

MIDSTATE

Expansion of Lewisburg company to create new jobs

NASHVILLE (AP) — State officials say the expansion of a company in Lewisburg is expected to create close to 100 new jobs.

STATEWIDE

Haslam plans no major changes for higher education

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that he plans no major changes to the state's public higher education system next legislative session and has yet to decide whether his administration will take the lead on a bill to create a school vouchers program in Tennessee.

Justice Department seeks to reform juvenile system

NASHVILLE (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday announced measures to overhaul the Memphis and Shelby County juvenile justice system after a complaint several years ago alleged that African-Americans were being treated more harshly than children of other races.

State offers free mortgage assistance hotline

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee homeowners facing possible foreclosure can call a free hotline for help.

Meningitis death toll in Tennessee rises to 14

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee has seen another death from the fungal meningitis outbreak that has sickened 620 people across the nation.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

US homebuilder confidence at 6 1/2-year high

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Confidence among U.S. homebuilders inched up this month, to the highest level in more than six and a half years, as builders reported the best market for newly built homes since the housing boom.

Stocks gain on optimism that a budget deal is near

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks climbed on Wall Street Tuesday, pushing the Standard and Poor's 500 to its highest level in two months, on optimism that lawmakers are closing in on a budget deal that will stop the U.S. from going over the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of next year.

Oil rises on continued US budget deal optimism

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil rose Tuesday on a growing belief that political leaders in Washington could soon reach a compromise to head off the dreaded "fiscal cliff."

Facebook users hit 'like,' stores jump into action

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook isn't just for goofy pictures and silly chatter. Whether shoppers know it or not, their actions online help dictate what's in stores during this holiday season.

Government says it is investigating data brokers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government says it will investigate companies that collect and sell personal information about consumers to determine whether they need to improve their privacy practices.

Amgen to pay $762M settlement over drug marketing

Amgen will pay $762 million to settle litigation that accuses the drugmaker of marketing the anemia drug Aranesp for unapproved uses.

Nielsen to buy Arbitron for about $1.26 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Nielsen is buying Arbitron for about $1.26 billion.

Too big to jail? Execs avoid laundering charges

NEW YORK (AP) — When the Justice Department announced its record $1.9 billion settlement against British bank HSBC last week, prosecutors called it a powerful blow to a dysfunctional institution accused of laundering money for Iran, Libya and Mexico's murderous drug cartels.

Cerberus to sell gun company that makes Bushmaster

The company that makes one of the weapons used to kill elementary school children in Connecticut is being put up for sale by its owner, which called Friday's tragedy a "watershed event" in the debate over gun control.

Developers worried about new rules for phone apps

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cellphone game for kids about U.S. geography, "Stack the States," gets rave reviews from parents. Its creator, Dan Russell-Pinson, considered making the 99-cent app better by adding a feature to allow children to play online against one another. But with the Federal Trade Commission issuing more stringent online child privacy rules, he's not even pursuing the idea.

Judge denies Apple request to ban Samsung phones

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge late Monday rejected Apple Inc.'s demands that its chief rival in the more than $100 billion global smartphone market cease selling models a jury recently found illegally used Apple technology.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Fiscal cliff efforts ongoing, Boehner offers plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner pushed ahead on negotiating a broad deal to avert the "fiscal cliff," even as the GOP leader readied a backup plan Tuesday to pressure the White House with little time left to avoid a double hit on the economy.

NRA goes silent after Connecticut school shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — Where is the NRA?


MONDAY, DECEMBER 17
STATEWIDE

Haslam: Tennessee will be part of national gun debate

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that he expects the Connecticut elementary school massacre to stir new debate in Tennessee about gun laws, as well as better ways to help those with a mental illness.

Fitzhugh mulls longshot gubernatorial bid

NASHVILLE (AP) - House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh is mulling a gubernatorial bid in 2014, but the Ripley Democrat says it's not because he believes he can defeat Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

NASHVILLE AREA

Nashville business group backing charter schools

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Nashville business group has put a priority on advocating for charter schools.

Nashville airport offers new priority lanes

NASHVILLE (AP) — Nashville International Airport has opened two new priority lanes to help speed frequent fliers through the security screening.

Governor, Nashville mayor compete in food drive

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean are engaging in a food drive competition that is part of an effort to provide 10 million meals during the holiday season.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

Economists forecasting moderate 2013 growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — Business economists believe the country will see modest growth in 2013 with strength coming from a further rebound in housing which will help offset weakness in business investment.

Stocks close higher as budget talks progress

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose on Wall Street as investors were encouraged by signs of progress in budget talks in Washington. Just two weeks remain before tax increases and government spending cuts take effect if no deal is reached.

Oil rises on new hope of 'fiscal cliff' resolution

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil finished higher Monday as political leaders in Washington appear closer to a resolution in critical budget negotiations.

Massachusetts fines Morgan Stanley $5M over Facebook IPO

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts officials say they are fining investment bank Morgan Stanley $5 million for disclosing a revenue shortfall with analysts and institutional investors but not the general public ahead of Facebook's troubled IPO in May.

Right-to-work Nevada a rare bright spot for labor

The future of the American labor movement may lie just off the Las Vegas Strip, inside a squat building huddled in the shadow of the Stratosphere casino.

Apple sells 2M iPhone 5s in China in first 3 days

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple said Monday that it sold more than 2 million iPhone 5s in China in their first three days of availability, setting a record for that market.

Sprint ups offer to $2.2B for rest of Clearwire

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Sprint Nextel will buy out minority shareholders of Clearwire for $2.2 billion, a higher price than it previously said it would pay.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Census to offer Internet option in gov't surveys

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, the Census Bureau is giving U.S. households a chance to respond to government surveys over the Internet, part of a bid to save costs and boost sagging response rates in a digital age.

Dems signal Obama flexibility on spending in talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican House Speaker John Boehner is offering to let taxes rise on wealthy Americans' investment income and dividends as part of a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff," officials said Monday amid signs that President Barack Obama is ready to make a key concession of his own in urgent, high-level negotiations.

High court fight looms over right to carry a gun

WASHINGTON (AP) — The next big issue in the national debate over guns — whether people have a right to be armed in public — is moving closer to Supreme Court review.

Obama signals action following school shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is vowing to use "whatever power this office holds" to safeguard the nation's children, raising the prospect that he will pursue policy changes to stem gun violence in the wake of an elementary school massacre.

Pentagon front-runner has strong Obama ties

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is a contrarian Republican moderate and decorated Vietnam combat veteran who is likely to support a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

On foreign policy, Kerry is Obama's good soldier

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. John Kerry stands tall as President Barack Obama's good soldier.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14
MUSIC INDUSTRY

Man arrested at Tennessee home tied to Taylor Swift

NASHVILLE (AP) — Authorities say a man jailed on a trespassing charge took a bus from Wisconsin to Nashville, climbed a fence at a home linked to singer Taylor Swift and told police he was there to surprise a woman on her birthday.

NASHVILLE AREA

Lawmaker's hearing on DUI, gun charges delayed

NASHVILLE (AP) — A delay in state Rep. Curry Todd's court case on drunken driving and gun charges will move proceedings until next month.

Wireless access expanded for Nashville venues

NASHVILLE (AP) - Fans will have better wireless Internet access on their mobile devices during games and events at LP Field and Bridgestone Arena now that two new antenna systems have been installed.

REGIONAL

Counties vow to fight restrictions near dams

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - Counties in western Kentucky are vowing to fight a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to add restrictions to headwaters and tailwaters near Cumberland River dams.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Volkswagen Group reports record sales

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen AG says group sales through the first 11 months of 2012 have already surpassed last year's record full-year result as deliveries outside western Europe more than offset declines in the debt-troubled region.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

Holiday shoppers may see big discounts soon

NEW YORK (AP) — If shoppers don't show up in stores soon, more 70 percent off sale signs will.

US manufacturing output rises 1.1 pct. in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories rebounded in November from Superstorm Sandy, boosting production of cars, equipment and appliances. But after factoring out the impact from the storm, the broader trend in manufacturing remained weak.

Gasoline prices soon to hit low point for 2012

Gas prices will soon drop to their lowest level of the year.

Cheaper gas lowers US consumer prices 0.3 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — A steep fall in gas costs pushed down a measure of U.S. consumer prices last month, keeping inflation mild.

Stocks slip on Wall Street; Best Buy drops

Stocks are ending lower on Wall Street, putting the market into the red for the week.

Oil gains on positive US and China factory data

The price of oil ended higher Friday on positive signs for manufacturing in the U.S. and China.

Science doubters say world is warming

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 4 out of 5 Americans now think temperatures are rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

GOP decries looming 'regulatory cliff' in new term

WASHINGTON (AP) — While the "fiscal cliff" of looming tax increases and spending cuts dominates political conversation in Washington, some Republicans and business groups see signs of a "regulatory cliff" that they say could be just as damaging to the economy.

US holiday sales slowly pick up after Sandy

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers shook off Superstorm Sandy last month and stepped up holiday shopping, helped by a steady job market and lower gas prices.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Narrow 'fiscal cliff' bargain gains currency

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hopes dimming for a wide-ranging bargain, the White House and many congressional Republicans are setting their sights on a more modest deal that would extend current tax rates for most Americans, raise rates for top earners and leave other, vexing issues for the new year.

'Cliff' crash may clear way for deal in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — To get to "yes" on a "fiscal cliff" accord, Congress and the White House first might have to get to "no."

Kerry, Hagel front-runners to lead State, Defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who unsuccessfully sought the presidency in 2004 and has pined for the job of top diplomat, vaulted to the head of President Barack Obama's short list of secretary of state candidates after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice suddenly withdrew from consideration to avoid a contentious confirmation fight with emboldened Republicans.

Rice withdraws as secretary of state candidate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Susan Rice, the embattled U.N. ambassador, abruptly withdrew from consideration to be the next secretary of state on Thursday after an ugly standoff with Republican senators who declared they would vigorously oppose her nomination.

Democrat: Raising Medicare age no longer on table

WASHINGTON (AP) — One of President Barack Obama's Senate allies said Thursday that an increase in the Medicare eligibility age is "no longer one of the items being considered by the White House" in negotiations with top Republicans on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.

Bill to extend fed insurance plan dies in Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal program giving unlimited insurance guarantees to some no-interest bank accounts, enacted at the height of the financial meltdown, will die out at the end of the year following defeat of a Senate plan to extend it.

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