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Bipartisan trend: new rules to stop lobbyists access to attorneys general, if only to avoid perception of conflict of interest.Texas considering high-speed rail project, $10 billion, linking Dallas and Houston, for starters; financed through debt and equity.Retired NYPD officers fly banner-plane over city that reads "De Blasio our backs have turned to you", reference to last week's murder of 2 police officers by Mike Brown protester, and mayor's lack of support.Mourners gather for wake of first of two NYPD officers killed last week by a Mike Brown supporter in NY city. Hundreds more expected by this evening. Second officer's funeral scheduled for Saturday.Former South Carolina governor James Edwards dies at 87; first Republican gov. since post-Civil War Reconstruction.Baby Jesus stolen from nativity scenes across the globe; latest in Massachusetts, where it was replaced with a pig's head.Kansas tops states for resident's donated time for charities, as ranked by a study from Volunteering and Civic Life in America.Sony's movie The Interview makes $1 million on first day (released in select theaters, and streamed online).Man, US citizen, at US border in San Ysidro, California, dies from stun gun after allegedly jumping over desk and attacking officers.City of Providence, RI, suing Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobas in which it invested, for bond loss from corruption scheme in which the company's involved.Federal judge rules that police can create fake Facebook accounts to befriend suspects and thus get access to their account info; no probable cause needed, since criminal has to him/herself accept to "become friends".Obama and wife Michelle thank troops on Christmas day visit to Marine Corps base in Hawaii (where the First Family vacations), one week before Afghan operations end.Obamacare penalties start this April 15th: not having a health insurance plan that meets the minimum coverage, without valid reason, will mean a higher tax bill for filers.Philadelphia: two police officers help deliver baby on train; boy in good condition.

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Lada, last major car brand made in Russia from scratch, shrunk from 70% market share to 17% since end of Soviet Union; US auto exec hired to bring back the brand.60% of Amazon users shopped from mobile device this holiday season; see article for list of top sellers, from GoPro cameras to Walt Disney's "Frozen"-related merchandise.By the numbers: differences in net-wealth distribution between top 1% and upper-middle class Americans.After Christmas, online auctions sites like eBay see explosion of unwanted gifts listed for sale: perfume and tablets top the list.Music licensing group "Global Music Rights" about to sue Google to make them remove videos from their YouTube site.Preliminary data from MasterCard shows that US spending from Black Friday through Christmas increased 5.5%, as forecasted.Day after unwanted gifts start the legitimate returns, and the return frauds, estimated to cost $3.6 billion to retailers this holiday season, up from $3.4bn in fraud last year.Rivalry between Korean firms LG and Samsung goes too far: employees destroy the other company's products in showrooms.IBM embattled stocks: last week's low was lowest since 2011, on course to becoming the only Dow component in consecutive years, after now defunct Bethlehem Steel.CEO Elon Musk: Tesla roadster will be eligible for a battery upgrade boosting the electric car's range to 400 miles.Chinese antitrust regulator says will soon settle investigation into US chipmaker Qualcomm, suspected of price-gouging and abusing its dominant market position.Japan: inflation decreases to 2.1% as household spending diminishes; YOY income falls 1.1% last November, spending down 2.5%; unemployment flat at 3.5%.NY-based airline JetBlue offers to fly police for free to funerals of slain NYPD officers.Potatogate over: McDonald's Japan to resume serving fries on January 5th, after labor disputes on US west coast are solved.

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Hackers reportedly stopped their distributed denial-of-service attacks on Sony and Microsoft after getting vouchers from German entrepreneur Kim DotCom.2.3 billion people using mobile internet, one third of Earth's population, which profoundly changes lives in the developing world.Xbox Live back up after yesterday's cyber attack, PlayStation Network still down.Iran switches from site-blocking policy to "smart filtering" content instead.Scientist trying to develop Christmas trees that don't lose their needles, top reason consumers don't get a real tree.Lung cancer can be controlled by preventing cells from unbinding; hard to treat, because cancer can stay dormant for up to 20 years.Hackers take credit for Sony PlayStation Network outage, month after Sony hack.Same hackers takes down Microsoft's Xbox Live service, along with Sony PlayStation.Research shows that 40% of cancers stem from life choices like smoking, unhealthy diets / obesity, alcohol, skin damage from the sun, and lack of physical activity.Genomics (study of genetic code) has exploded in recent years, thanks to falling costs and increases in analysis speed; enormous potential for medicine.

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Christmas: from early ban in dark ages to the most recognized religious celebration.Malaysia: over 100,00 evacuated after worst monsoon floods since 1971.Turkey: 16-year-old boy who criticized ruling party released, still facing charges.Libya: hundreds of civilians killed in fighting between government forces and opposition.Thailand: testimonies from two Burmese migrants accused of killing two British tourists scheduled for July.Ukraine: government suspends train and bus services to Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia, for security reasons.Japan government plans ~$300 billion stimulus (subsidies + job-creation) to bring world's 3rd largest economy out of recession.South Korea: gas leak in nuclear power plant kills three workers, during routine safety checks; no radioactive contamination.Ireland: pregnant, brain-dead woman taken off life support because her 18-week-old living fetus could not survive to birth.US, Japan, and South Korea to sign first-ever trilateral intel-sharing pact on North Korea (which US already had with SK).Pakistan: US drone strikes kill 7 militants in northwest, where Pakistani army fights local, pro-sharia-state, Taliban insurgents.Sudan: UN officials expelled as situation seemingly worsens, and just a month after peacekeepers from U.N.-African Union Mission in Darfur were made to leave.Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand: memorials held, marking 10th anniversary of the December 2004 tsunami (9.1 magnitude quake) which killed over 228,000 people.Dubai: detained over a month for driving despite ban, two women sent to anti-terrorism court for unspecified charges, but relating to opinions expressed on social media.Sierra Leone: strike action by nurses since government non-payment of risk allowance.Somalia: Islamist militants al-Shabaab attack African Union force headquarters, 14 killed.Hong Kong: despite arrests, pro-democracy protesters back in the street for 2nd night.Father of downed Jordanian pilot pleads for his son's release by ISIS.Kosovo: car bombing averted as police arrest man driving towards area of capital Pristina hosting western embassies; suspected backlash from Islamic radicals, some of whom were apprehended earlier this year.Mauritania: man condemned to death for writing about the Prophet Mohammad and the sensitive topic of caste system.Cute, India: monkey seemingly brings friend back to life after electrocution on rail tracks.Australia: $11bn cuts in foreign aid since September 2013 threatens preparedness and aid in natural-disaster-prone Asia-Pacific.East Timor: US woman freed 4 months after drug-related arrest, thanks in part to behind-the-scenes work by US State Department.Israel: increasing inner pressures in haredi, ultra-orthodox Jewish community, for more women's rights, especially in politics.

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