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US, California: No Felony Charges in Wal-Mart Pepper-Spray Case

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© Andrew Blankstein / Los Angeles Times
The Porter Ranch Wal-Mart on Friday.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has declined to file felony charges against the woman accused of attacking 20 Wal-Mart customers with pepper spray during a Black Friday shopping frenzy.

Instead, they have referred the case against Elizabeth Macias, 32, of the San Fernando Valley, to city prosecutors for possible misdemeanor prosecution.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the specifics of the case, including whether Macias acted in self-defense or if she used the spray to gain a competitive advantage versus other shoppers in her quest to grab video games that had just gone on sale.

She turned herself in to authorities within days of the incident but declined to answer questions about her involvement at a Porter Ranch Wal-Mart store. She was not taken into custody.

V

US: Deadline Passes for Occupy Boston Without Eviction

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© Adam Hunger/Reuters
Occupy Boston protesters, shown here at an earlier demonstration, will try to halt eviction from Dewey Square.
A midnight deadline passed on Thursday for Occupy Boston protesters to move from their encampment in the city's financial district, but police did not evict them.

Boston police Supt. William Evans told protesters early Friday that even though Mayor Thomas Menino set a deadline, he did not specify when the camp would be shut down.

"We're continuing to work with (the protesters)... and hopefully come to a good conclusion where we don't have any confrontations and there are no arrests," Evans told reporters.

Menino told the protesters to leave one day after a judge refused to issue a court order that would have barred city officials from removing the protesters.

Demonstrators and their supporters began gathering in Dewey Square hours before the deadline. Occupy groups from Worcester and Providence, R.I., helped swell the ranks, along with university students, a group of Quakers and some veterans, including a Marine in full dress uniform.

Passport

Canada: What the New Border Deal Means for You

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© Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shake hands after speaking to reporters following their meeting at the White House in Washington December 7, 2011.
For many Canadians, border crossings have been a constant source of headaches for several years now. The new border security and trade agreement between Canada and the United States, called the Beyond the Border plan, should bring some relief to businesspeople and regular travellers alike.

At its core, the agreement will go a long way towards streamlining the process of crossing the border, both for people and goods.

The federal government estimates that about $16 billion is lost annually to regulatory red tape and border congestion under the current system, an amount equivalent to about one per cent of Canada's GDP.

In his statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stressed the monumental nature of this new border deal. "These agreements represent the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since the North American Free Trade Agreement."

Indeed, what is at stake is clearly significant. At the moment, about 300,000 people a day cross a border that stretches 8,891 kilometres. Trade between the two countries accounts for more than $1 billion each day, with nearly half of that taking place between Windsor, Ont. and Detroit - the busiest border crossing in North America.

V

US: Midnight deadline set for Occupy Boston protesters to clear out

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© Howard Cannon
Occupy Boston protesters have encamped in a downtown city square since late September, setting up more than 100 tents.
A Massachusetts judge has ruled against Occupy Boston protesters' ability to camp in a downtown city square, setting up a possible confrontation with authorities who issued a midnight deadline to clear out or face eviction.

Superior Court Judge Frances A. McIntyre said Wednesday that demonstrators' First Amendment rights do not extend to seizing and holding areas on which they sit.

Authorities are "obligated by law to preserve Dewey Square as a space open to the public," McIntyre added.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who in the past has appeared to tolerate his city's chapter of the nationwide movement, recently signaled that the park could be a safety hazard as winter weather rolls in.

"We're asking them to leave according to their own will and volition," Menino told CNN affiliate WCVB. "After that we'll make decisions about how we'll clear off the site in the future."

Info

Revisiting Newt Gingrich's 1997 Ethics Investigation

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© unknown
Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich holds court at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga., March 11, 1995 after teaching his final class at the school. The 10-week course was criticized as a partisan forum for Gingrich and became part of a House ethics investigation against him.
Even as Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich is riding high in the polls this week, he's been dragged back into a debate over a problematic part of his past. In 1997, he was the first speaker of the House, ever, to be punished by the House for ethics violations.

With "Renewing American Civilization," history-professor-turned-politician Newt Gingrich had a college course a program that was supposed to be insulated from partisan politics and campaign cash.

The litany he used in the classroom sounds much like one he uses today.

"American civilization cannot survive with 12-year-olds having babies, 15-year-olds shooting one another, 17-year-olds dying of AIDS, and 18-year-olds graduating with diplomas they cannot read," Gingrich lectured.

But then as now, Gingrich had several overlapping projects going on. And Democrats alleged that Gingrich used the college course to promote a political agenda.

Dollar

Hefty Gingrich debts a decades-long pattern

Newt Gingrich
© unknown
Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich, who suddenly finds himself near the front of the ever-shifting GOP pack, is also finding that his finances are yet again in the cross-hairs.

Multiple outlets are reporting that financial woes within the campaign means they're skipping contests in key states and foregoing traditional campaign stops, even as Gingrich is taking early repayments of personal loans to the campaign. Meanwhile, long-time creditors fret about when they'll get paid.

In the key swing states of Missouri and Ohio, which President Barack Obama won in 2008, the Gingrich campaign has lagged behind other candidates in filing key paperwork. Just this week he nearly missed the filing deadline for Ohio, but ultimately succeeded in posting most of the required paperwork at the zero-hour. Similarly, he skipped filing in Missouri due to the cost - a mere $1,000 - simply because the Missouri GOP primary isn't the most important selection process for the state party.

In addition, prior reports indicated that the campaign did not have cash on hand for the $25,000 Ames Straw Poll filing fee, or $30,000 for a list of previous Iowa caucus attendees. Meanwhile, Gingrich had his own campaign pay him a $125,000 reimbursement for travel expenses and a mailing list that he could have simply donated.

Info

Newt Gingrich's sister: I'm voting Obama

Candace Gingrich, Newt's half sister, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show last night to discuss her brother's campaign. Candace, an out-of-the-closet lesbian, has publicly clashed with her famous sibling over gay marriage and other issues.

As part of his stance against same-sex marriage, Newt Gingrich has stated that were his sister to marry, he would not attend the wedding, which he did not. Candace announces in this clip, embedded via MSNBC, that were her brother to seize the Republican nomination, she would vote for Obama.

2 + 2 = 4

US: Gingrich: 5-year-olds working is an 'education in life'

Newt Gingrich
© unknown
Newt Gingrich
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Thursday that it was good life experience for children as young as five or six to have a job.

For more than a week, the candidate has been talking about the virtues of child labor, calling current restrictions "truly stupid."

"I got a little controversy going a week ago because I suggested that children could work," Gingrich told a forum with local business leaders in Greenville, South Carolina Thursday.

He explained that a successful young woman had told him that her grandfather had paid her to run errands at the age of five. He also gave the example of a father that paid his 6-year-old son to help him wash the car and clean up the yard.

People

At Least One European Central Bank Is Dusting Off Its Old Printing Press

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© Wikipedia
As the eurozone debt crisis persists, one plan of action that hasn't been completely pulled off the table is a break up of the eurozone, which would involve countries abandoning the euro.

According to Wall Street Journal reporters David Enrich, Deborah Ball and Alistair MacDonald, at least one eurozone country's central bank is holding meetings to plan for such a scenario.

In recent weeks, officials at Ireland's central bank have held preliminary discussions about whether they might need to acquire additional printing capacity in case the euro zone ruptures or Ireland exits in order to return to its prior currency, the Irish pound, according to people familiar with the matter. Officials have discussed reactivating old printers or enlisting a private company, the people said. "All kinds of things are being looked at that weren't being looked at two months ago," according to a person at one meeting. A spokeswoman for the Irish Central Bank declined to comment.

Blackbox

Was bumbling news anchor drunk on air? US Female presenter slurs words in bizarre broadcast

Perhaps she was very tired or just having a bad day. But speculation is rife that a local news anchor presented a live broadcast while drunk on air.

Annie Stensrud, a reporter on KEYC-TV in Mankato, Minnesota, slurred and mixed up her words during a 10pm broadcast on Sunday night.

The CBS affiliate has not yet explained her bizarre performance, which finished after three minutes as the station moved on to weather and sport.


She has been anchoring weekend evening broadcasts for a year and her Sunday show had been cut down because of an over-running NFL game.

In one of the strangest segments, Ms Stensrud says: 'Today's event featured Christmas fo... music, food and a chance to meet the Santa dog.