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Purveyor

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Georgia Town Ordering Gun Ownership Undaunted by Massacre

Kennesaw, Georgia, is a quiet Atlanta suburb of newer subdivisions and strip malls around a huddle of older homes and storefronts. It is asking churches to ring their bells 26 times today for the victims of last week’s elementary school massacre in Connecticut.
And it has no plans to change a law requiring residents to own guns.

No town in the U.S. has been as public about its support for guns as Kennesaw, population about 30,000, where city leaders for 30 years have required that every household have at least one gun. The Dec. 14 killings of 20 children and six adults, the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, has done little to change that, residents say in interviews.

Most called President Barack Obama’s push to tighten gun restrictions worrisome at best and a conspiracy at worst, exemplifying resistance to such controls in the South.

“They’re trying to confiscate our guns,” said Dent Myers, 81, who wore a pistol on his hip and a red beret at his Wildman’s Civil War Surplus and Herb Shop. The store, draped in Confederate flags, is the most prominent business in Kennesaw’s two-block downtown.

MORE...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-21/georgia-town-ordering-gun-ownership-undaunted-by-massacre.html

US Consumer Sentiment Fell to Five-Month Low in December

U.S. consumer confidence fell in December to a five-month low as Americans grew more concerned about the possibility of higher taxes next year.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index decreased to 72.9, the weakest since July, from 82.7 in November. Economists projected a final reading of 75 for December, according to the median of 66 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Today’s figure was lower than a preliminary report earlier this month.

American households are growing uneasy as the federal government moves toward more than $600 billion of higher taxes and spending cuts starting early in 2013. At the same time, as the world’s largest economy enters the new year, job growth, rising home values, lower gas prices and stock market gains might help boost consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

“Sentiment was doing well but reversed because of the fiscal cliff news saturating the headlines,” Jay Feldman, an economist at Credit Suisse Holdings USA in New York, said before the report. “It’s probably temporary. If you resolve the fiscal cliff I’d be surprised if sentiment didn’t bounce back.”

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-21/michigan-consumer-sentiment-fell-to-five-month-low-in-december.html

Consumers, Companies Shrug Off Fiscal Cliff Fears; Spending Rose In Nov By The Most In 3 Years

By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON | Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:21am EST
(Reuters) - Consumer spending rose in November by the most in three years and a gauge of planned business spending jumped, signs that households and companies are shrugging off some of the fears tighter fiscal policy could cause a recession.

The Commerce Department said on Friday inflation-adjusted consumer spending rose 0.6 percent, while after-tax income climbed 0.8 percent when adjusting for changes in prices.

Many economists think business and consumers are wary of automatic government spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to kick in early next year, a scenario known in Washington as the "fiscal cliff."

"The economy is holding in here at the end of the year despite the concerns about the fiscal cliff," said Gary Thayer, an economic strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis.

Economists have been expecting economic growth will slow in the fourth quarter as companies slow the pace at which they re-stock their shelves, but the data on spending suggests consumers are offsetting some of that drag.

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-21/consumer-spending-in-u-s-rose-in-november-as-incomes-rebounded.html

Jake Tapper To CNN: ABC News Correspondent Leaves For New Role

ABC News’ White House correspondent is leaving the network for a new role at CNN.

He will host a new weekday program on CNN and serve as chief White House correspondent for the network beginning in 2013, CNN said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are thrilled to have Jake join CNN and take the helm of a brand new weekday program,” said CNN executive vice-president Ken Jautz. “Jake is an exceptional reporter and communicator, and we look forward to developing a program that takes advantage of all of his strengths, his passion and his knowledge of national issues and events.”

Tapper was reportedly in talks with the network before the appointment of incoming president Jeff Zucker in November, though sources said Zucker helped close the deal. TV Newser reported that he will host the 4 p.m. hour on CNN.

More...

http://news.gnom.es/news/jake-tapper-to-cnn-abc-news-correspondent-leaves-for-new-role

Israel's Settlement Push Kills Two-State Solution, Leaving Palestinians Few Pptions

By Mustafa Barghouthi / December 20, 2012

RAMALLAH The two-state solution is dying. The Palestinian effort late last month at the United Nations to attain non-member observer state status was overwhelmingly approved – 138 to 9 – by the international community. Israel, however, warned that the vote would be purely symbolic and change nothing on the ground. This was a calculated and misleading statement.

In fact, Israel immediately took revenge for the Palestinians’ temerity in seeking to improve our lot by announcing “zoning and planning preparations” for illegal settlements in the sensitive E1 corridor in the occupied West Bank. This week Israel put out tenders for thousands of new settlement units – the most aggressive activity in the area in years.

Israel’s planned settlement construction makes a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible. Bethlehem and Ramallah will be cut off from East Jerusalem if the E1 project goes forward, though Israel argues that we can make do with connecting tunnels and elevated roadways, as if that is tolerable. The Israeli plan also closes the settlement semi-circle around East Jerusalem and builds settlements in it – our would-be capital. The north and south of the West Bank would be effectively bisected and Israel would control the key.

“This is not just another few houses in Jerusalem or another hilltop in the West Bank,” Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Israel, asserted after Israel’s initial announcement of settlement plans in late November. “This is one of the most sensitive areas of territory, and I would hope the United States will lay down the law.”

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http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/1220/Israel-s-settlement-push-kills-two-state-solution-leaving-Palestinians-few-options

U.N. Adds New Name: "State of Palestine"

The United Nations bureaucracy now recognizes—at least in name—two "states" between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea. One, of course, is the long-since established State of Israel. The other, as of three days ago, is the State of Palestine. It happened quietly in an exchange of letters just within the past week. On Dec. 17, the U.N.'s head of official protocol wrote to the Palestinian delegation to Turtle Bay acceding to a request to, henceforth, be referred to as the representatives of the "State of Palestine."

"It is gratifying, not only for me personally, but for the Palestinian people, to celebrate as a nation," the head of the Palestinian U.N. mission Riyad Mansour told me in an interview today. "It's not only a change of name, it's much more than that: now the United Nations is recognizing us as the State of Palestine."

The protocol division's letter followed on the Nov. 29 vote to recognize Palestine as a "non-member observer state" at the U.N. Mansour said requests for changes in the official language were made following the vote. The reply came on Monday: "I refer to your letter of 12 December 2012 and have the honour to inform you that pursuant to your request, the designation of 'State of Palestine' shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents," wrote the Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon in a letter to Mansour obtained by Open Zion. The designation is on all the nameplates at the U.N. and will appear in activities related to the U.N., such as international conferences. That includes the Palestinian mission to Turtle Bay: Yoon's letter was addressed to "H.E. Mr. Riyad Mansour / Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations."

The Israeli mission to the U.N. did not immediately return a call for comment. (We'll update if we hear back.) Israel, which exercises military rule over the Palestinian territories, and 8 others, including the U.S., voted against the resolution to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state.

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http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/12/20/u-n-adds-new-name-state-of-palestine.html

Chuck Hagel Allies Fire Back; Critics Push For Michčle Flournoy

After days of attacks on the man said to be Barack Obama’s top pick to be his next Defense secretary, Chuck Hagel’s friends are speaking out on his behalf.

As for his adversaries, they’re pushing somebody else to run the Pentagon: Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michčle Flournoy.

First, Hagel’s allies: In response to sustained criticism by pro-Israel voices, Hagel’s former aides on Wednesday released a fact sheet outlining his positions on national security, Israel and the Middle East.

"Chuck Hagel is being misrepresented as anti-Israel and 'soft' on Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. These accusations misrepresent Sen. Hagel's positions on national security, Israel and the Middle East," according to the fact sheet.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/chuck-hagel-allies-fire-back-critics-push-for-michele-flournoy-85336.html#ixzz2FcncmI77

U.S. Economy Grew 3.1% Last Quarter, More Than Forecast

The U.S. economy grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter, more than previously reported, reflecting the first gain in state and local government spending in three years, more consumer purchases and a smaller trade gap.

The revised gross domestic product reading exceeded the highest projection in a Bloomberg survey and compared with a previously estimated 2.7 percent gain, according to Commerce Department figures released today in Washington. The median estimate of economists called for a 2.8 percent advance.

The world’s largest economy will be hard-pressed to maintain that pace of growth this quarter as global demand cools and companies limit spending and hiring ahead of looming tax increases and spending cuts. While a stronger housing market will provide some cushion, the Federal Reserve is pursuing record stimulus aimed at driving bigger gains for the expansion.

“We’re going to have some weakness closing out this year and starting off next year,” said Omair Sharif, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. “We really want to see business investment coming back because, ultimately, that’s going to lead to hiring.”

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-20/u-s-economy-grew-3-1-in-third-quarter-more-than-forecast.html

Guns Sold Out at Wal-Mart as Ammo Surge on E-Bay

With President Barack Obama endorsing sweeping gun restrictions in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, prices for handgun magazines are surging on EBay (EBAY) and semi-automatic rifles are sold out at many Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) locations.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said yesterday that it would continue to sell guns, including rifles like the one used at Newtown, where 26 people, most of them children, were killed on Dec. 14. By contrast, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (DKS) suspended sales of similar guns at its more than 500 stores.

Searches of five kinds of semi-automatic rifles on Wal- Mart’s website showed them to be out of stock at stores in five states, including Pennsylvania, Kansas and Alabama. Wal-Mart doesn’t sell guns online, instead asking customers to input a zip code to see if their local store carries a specific weapon.

“We remain dedicated to the safe and responsible sale of firearms in areas of the country where they are sold,” David Tovar, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said yesterday.

MORE...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-19/guns-sold-out-at-wal-mart-as-ammo-surge-on-e-bay.html

Sales of Existing U.S. Homes Increase to Three-Year High

Source: Bloomberg

Sales of previously owned homes rose more than forecast in November to reach a three-year high as lower borrowing costs sustained the U.S. housing rebound.

Purchases of existing houses increased 5.9 percent to a 5.04 million annual rate, the most since November 2009, the National Association of Realtors reported today in Washington. The median forecast of 82 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected an increase to a 4.9 million rate. Property values climbed 10.1 percent over the past 12 months as inventories dropped to the lowest level in 11 years.

Record-low mortgage rates and an improved job market are boosting sales and cutting inventories, giving the market the opportunity to absorb foreclosures. Prices are rising as a result, which will probably draw more buyers seeking to take advantage of current affordability in housing, helping retailers such as Pier 1 Imports Inc. (PIR) and Lowe’s Cos. Inc.

“The housing market is staged for continued improvement,” Anika Khan, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina, before the report. “Underlying fundamentals are continuing to improve despite uncertainty. We’re seeing better labor market numbers, and that’s also reflected in better consumer confidence. Sales activity is going to be volatile but the underlying trend is still improving.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-20/sales-of-existing-u-s-homes-rose-to-three-year-high-in-november.html
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