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Terminally-ill 6-year-old girl from Utah gets letters and packages from all over the world.George H.W. Bush released from Houston hospital after 5-day precautionary stay.US home prices slow their increase for 11th consecutive month, recent lower rates still need time to bring buyers to market.Lawyer for Iranian-American, ex-US marine jailed in Teheran says US offered prisoner swap, which US gov denies.Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) admits addressing racist group in 2002; speech was about misuse of government funds.2014 best year for US carmakers since 2006, mostly from low-discount crossovers, trucks and SUVs; YOY sold-price increase of 2%.LAPD still on the hunt for second man in sniper attack on its police officer.Interview: Obama optimist about working w/ congress, but will have veto pen ready.Missouri: KKK loses suit, can't hand out pamphlets in the street; ok on sidewalk.Police officer deaths by firearm from 32 in 2013, to 50 in 2014 (15 of them ambushes).After private talk w/ Boehner, Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY / Staten Island), will resign after all (re: tax fraud charges).Delaware-sized, permanent methane cloud over New Mexico indicates larger problem: methane leaks from coal / oil / gas extraction, which contribute to warming the planet.Obamacare: uninsured penalty up in 2015; In 2014, it's 1% of household income or $95/person, whichever is greater; In 2015, rises to 2% of income or $325, whichever's greater; in 2016, government figures show that the average fine will be $1,100/person.West coast dockworkers union battle w/ shippers still unresolved; cargo up to 7 times longer than usual to clear; they handle 50% of US maritime trade, 70% of imports from Asia. (Issue that caused McDonald's Japan to ration -then eliminate- fries from menus.)Vermonth nuclear power plant shuts down; switch to green / renewable energy sources.Autopsy report: black man killed by LAPD in August shot 3 times, in back and side.

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Amid massive corruption scandal, Petrobas (Brazil's state-owned oil company) bans bidding from largest builders / engineering firms in the country; prosecutors are seeking $380 million from involved companies."Nature" study: when focused on money, as in banking industry, people tend to behave in more self-interested ways - for a crushing double-whammy, number crunching also induces the same result in people.Pom Wonderful wins trademark suit over copycat which named its drink "pŏm".Tony Hsieh, ex-Zappos CEO, creates startup paradise in Las Vegas; 60 acres of potential.Iron Mountain (info storage & mgt) fined $44.5m for overcharging US government.NCI (cloud / cybersecurity) buys Computech for $56m (big data & software maintenance) - mostly private contractors for defense.$15 million in four days for "The Interview" just with online on-demand video: Sony exposes viable option for movie releases.UPS and FedEx introducing new shipping rates to curb oversized packages; unprepared small firms predicted to pay 50% more.Walmart starts gift-card-exchange program, accepting cards from 200 other stores.Global markets down slightly from Greek uncertainty and Russia's ailing economy.Due to 13-state minimum wage increases, 1.5 million workers likely to get an automatic raise (750k on it, and 818k right above it).Russian banks, starved from international cash, also have hard time lending locally. Government loans likely needed.Hyundai building two brand new factories in China, to better compete with GM and VW.Despite $56 million in revenue, cell phone maker Xiaomi raises $1.1bn funding.Saudi Arabia: forecasted near $39 billion drop in revenues from falling oil prices; no problem for the large-cash-reserve country.World's richest add $92bn to their collective net worth, thanks partly to oil prices and Russian turmoil; top gain by Alibaba Group (went public in Sep.) co-founder Jack Ma.

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Funny: brick-and-mortar suits playing it cool, and mercilessly outed on Twitter.Grocery delivery startup Instacart just about to close $220 million funding round.Gmail traffic starts picking back up in China, where it was blocked for four days.Chevron to support Apple Pay at the pump in early 2015 (already in convenient stores).After unwittingly forcing users to recollect the past year's traumas, Facebook apologizes for its pushy Year in Review feature.New bicycle-mounted dashboard inspired by Audi includes turn signals, headlight, tail light, and smartphone dock/charger combo.Snowden files show NSA and GCHQ (UK) difficulties in tracking users across Tor network, accessing sites on dark web.Half-light-half-matter quantum particles discovered at room temp in semiconductors from molybdenum and sulfur atoms layer; breakthrough could allow devices to leverage properties of both light & matter.United Airlines and Orbitz suing 22-year-old developer of site that saves travelers money by finding flights with layover in your destination city - often much cheaper.Hacker recreates German defense minister's fingerprint from hi-def pic of her hands.Where does Ebola come from? Bats and primates are top picks, but still unsolved.Next gen: stealth combat drones built for conventional warfare, like US vs. China.NASA designs ape-like robot for disaster and recovery, inspired from Mars rover.Yahoo Directory, pre-search-engine portal, to be shut down this week - nearly 20 y.o.From device activations, Apple sees iPhone as top Christmas gift, Samsung far behind.In Europe, Apple now offers 14-day refund option in App Store and iTunes.Apple granted patent for motion-tracking pen and stylus, great for rumored iPad pro.Microsoft introduces "Spartan" light web browser for Windows 10, to supplement IE.

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Insight: computing inside North Korea, as country blames 3rd internet shutdown on US.Germany: 4 dead, 40 injured in crash of rented holiday coach bus through barrier.Malaysia: 200k evacuated from worst floods in decade; gov under fire for slow reaction.Iran low-level nuclear talks to resume on Jan. 15 in Geneva, with 6 other countries.China - Xi Jinping's increased crackdown on dissidence: Gmail blocked, demands on academia to promote Marxism and official party lines, sacking independent profs, jailing film maker, Christian persecution.Russia avoids making a martyr of Alexei Navalny, major opposition leader (in house-arrest since February), with suspended sentence, but just jailed his brother.Libya: 2 oil tankers on fire, 2 destroyed in clashes between gov and opposition forces; contracts US private firm to estinguish.Nigeria: Boko Haram kill 15 near Cameroon border; 172 women and children kidnapped, 35 killed, in same area over the past month.Guinea: 4yo infected by Ebola when playing in tree housing bat colony - first such case.Greece sending rescue to distressed boat filled with 400-600 illegal migrants.Austria: former Kazakh ambassador charged in murder of two bank managers in 2007.Turkey: ex-TV anchor detained for tweet alleging cover-up of gov corruption scandal.Israel: 6 former execs of local Siemens subsidiary arrested for bribery of local electric company; Siemens already fined.Haiti avoids more protests over delayed elections with new deal, after former PM resigned under popular pressure.Indonesia: bodies found in Java Sea, where AirAsia flight disappeared (162 on board).Indonesia: 3 out of 6 bodies recovered off the coast of Borneo; none wore life jackets.Somalia: US drone airstrikes against Al-Shabaab, targeting a senior Islamist.Live updates: Ebola-infected Scottish nurse sent to hospital; fellow passengers tracked.Pakistan: police rearrests 2008-Mumbai-attacks mastermind, who was out on bail.China's most industrialized city, Shenzhen, caps new car sales with lottery or auction.Philippines: 31 killed in floods & landslides from tropical storm Jangmi; 7 missing.Tobruk, Libya: car bomb explodes outside hotel where parliament was in session.Gambia: gunfire around presidential palace in attempted coup, seemingly averted.Russia: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, top opposition leader, found guilty of embezzle-ement, gets suspended 3.5 years sentence.

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