Gas prices fall below $50/barrel, first time since April 2009; hurts domestic producers.Long Beach: abducted 3-week-old baby found, dead, in dumpster after parents shot.US health worker, possibly exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone, now in Nebraska for eval.Gas prices under $2 per gallon at 40% of US gas stations; national average at ~$2.20.Ferguson, MO, grand juror (shooting of Mike Brown by officer Wilson) sues prosecutor for rights to speak about the case.Meth seizures break records at US-Mexico border (63% of all seizures) during 2014.Record number of guns confiscated by TSA from passengers in 2014: many loaded, some of them even with round chambered.70yo Thomas Gilbert, founder of Wainscott Capital Partners hedge fund, found shot dead in his Manhattan apartment; son questioned.Houston PD on high alert: shot at in two separate incidents, and one police cruiser's brakes appeared intentionally cut.Abu-Dhabi-San-Francisco flight stuck on tarmac for over 12 hours, leaving passengers in the plane for 28 hours, including flight! Massachusetts judge accepts new Nike sneakers as bail (Christmas gift, ~$85).Top Democrats: Obama veto of Keystone pipeline project would likely stick.Sarah Palin responds to outcry from picture of her son stepping on dog to reach counter: "At least Trig didn't eat the dog" (reference to Obama's first book, in which he describes eating dog meat as a kid in Indonesia, where he spent part of childhood).
After strong December US car sales, 2014 was the best year since at least 2006.Despite being the smallest of Detroit's "Big Three", Fiat / Chrysler best auto stock.2015 tax season likely worst in year: for IRS, because of underfunding; for taxpayers, because of ever more complicated tax code.NYC rent-control laws expiring in June; lawmakers pondering whether to renew them, and whether to strengthen or weaken them.China, dragged to WTO by US for effective monopoly on rare earths, relaxes export controls (despite name, these metals aren't rare, but not worth extraction costs - they're used in pretty much any electronic device).Gold remains relative safe-haven, while most other commodities go nowhere; its price has an inverse relationship with the US dollar, the world's reserve currency. Some recommend 5% portfolio invested in gold."Food porn" trend: chefs increasingly cater to Instagram (social photo sharing site) addicts by improving presentation.Genius: OnStar-equipped GM vehicles (location aware) will now start offering discounts, using websites RetailMeNot and Entertainment Book as source.High-cost stocks worry investors, but bonds look worse: record-low yields mean record-high bond prices, but near-zero-interest rates for cash are even less attractive.China's first private online bank WeBank makes first loan - one of 5 such banks approved by the country's regulators.Club Med, struggling with weaker demand and high costs, expected to accept Chinese offer after Italian rival declines up-bidding.Economists: alcohol-prohibition laws could lessen liquor consumption, but would likely increase that of meth (relatively cheap).American Airline pilots union tentatively accept contract that includes 23% raise.
Irresponsibly, Google publicly releases Windows 8.1 vulnerability after giving Microsoft 90 days to fix it; still unpatched.Microsoft releases Nokia 215, cheapest smartphone in the world ($29), hoping to make inroads in Asian market.Despite (maybe because of) sharing of leaked celeb pictures, website Reddit sees 2014 as record year; 71.25 billion page views.Intel unveils 5th generation of Core processors for desktop / high-performance laptops, 5 months after mobile Core M line.Hedge fund robots destroy human traders in managed futures performance.Touch invisible objects thanks to ultrasound machine that maps 3D objects in space.Audi lets new A7 car drive itself to CES 2015 (Consumer Electronics Show).Following Amazon Echo, Google introduces home audio streaming, called Google Cast.British and Dutch researchers may have devised more accurate lie-detection technique than polygraph; measures full body motion.Stuff overview - what to expect from CES 2015 (the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada).Global tech spending last year grew 1% - doesn't sound like much, but consider that global economy is ailing.Apple iCloud accounts at risk after hacker releases tool that allegedly can crack any of its logins - multiple sources backing claim.Chinese phone maker Xiaomi, a private company, claims doubling sales in 2014, thus overtaking South Korean rival Samsung.Based on US Labor dept., 65% of jobs in 10 years haven't yet been thought up: how to get marketable skills to compete with robots? Experts' insight: will online video trends towards YouTube or Facebook? (Note: YouTube, now owned by Google, has a near-10-year advantage over Facebook.)
Germany: anti-Islamization protests spread to Berlin, with counter-demonstrations.Israel: archeologists may have found the site of Jesus' trial, in Jerusalem's Old City.France: 13.5% of 2014 weddings in Paris are same-sex; was legalized in June 2013.Mali: Islamists kill at least 7 soldiers near Mauritanian border; fighting for north.Gambia coup: DOJ charges to men with conspiracy to overthrow foreign gov.France: Perpignan removes benches to fight the nuisance of people sleeping on them.Eastern Ukraine: look at life in city of Donetsk; hundreds killed despite ceasefire.India: second endangered rhino in a month killed for horn in Kaziranga National Park.Look at the all-female battalion in Syria; also runs police station and 2 field hospitals.Venezuela: broke country's president Maduro to visit China (to get upfront cash for future oil deliveries) and OPEC states to bring crude prices back up (government's lifeblood).Italy: tax reform talks on hold after discovery that the new laws could annul former leader Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction.North Korean deserter detained after killing four Chinese at border town of Helong.Yemen: bomb damages Shi'ite Muslim Houthi militia's compound in Sanaa.Somalia: massive car bomb near Mogadishu airport, days after senior al-Shabab killed.Australia: race against time to control bushfires raging since last Friday (12,500 hectares of land burnt since then).Afghanistan: president Ashraf Ghani, on CBS "60 Minutes", suggests that US should revise its withdrawal deadline.Japan: 1st time since 2011 nuclear accident, Fukushima rice test negative for radiations (2012 & 2013 crops had to be destroyed).Vatican City: Pope Francis picks diversity-reflecting group of new cardinals.Indonesia: ice-damage to engines was likely cause of AirAsia Flight 8501 crash into sea.