- An estimated 212,500 people across the United States are in danger of exhausting their federal unemployment benefits this week because Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn has blocked Congress from considering an extension.
- It's amazing what a man with a broken heart will do. Join up with the Afghan army. Rollerblade through the Taliban's spiritual capital in spandex shorts and a pink tank top sporting the slogan "Dead or Alive."
- North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer on Thursday became the first state party leader to call publicly for the resignation of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, saying the party has set "a poor example of the kind of leadership voters can expect if Republicans are elected."
- The Obama administration has lifted its ban on trips to Cuba to deliver U.S. aid to pro-democracy groups, apparently toughening its posture after Havana's recent abuses, officials said Thursday. Such trips were halted after the Dec. 3 arrest of Alan P. Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor who had delivered satellite communications equipment to Jewish groups.
- Two leaders of disgraced financial titan Citigroup on Thursday told a special panel looking into the origins of the financial crisis that they were unaware of the huge potential for losses from bad mortgages and argued that federal regulators failed to see the very same threats.
- Under fire for launching a television ad attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, the California Chamber of Commerce said Thursday that it will take the spot off the airwaves.
- The families of four Lakewood police officers slain by Maurice Clemmons in November have taken the first step toward suing Pierce County, preparing formal claims that seek $192 million in damages. Relatives contend Pierce County law enforcement leaders could and should have done more to stop Arkansas parolee Clemmons before he shot the officers to death Nov. 29 in a Parkland coffee shop.
- When U.S. officials granted temporary protected status to Haitians in the United States days after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, they expected as many as 200,000 applications. But nearly three months later, federal officials say 42,942 Haitians have filed for TPS.
- Controversy is growing over Alaska's proposed $2.2 billion state budget for construction projects. Lawmakers were busy Thursday adding projects that would make their spending plan even bigger while Gov. Sean Parnell said they are stuffing it too full and need to stop.
- Tim Sanders, who used to fix disasters at Yahoo, came to Charlotte on Thursday to talk about fundraising and Facebook. Sanders, the former chief solutions officer for Yahoo, spoke to YMCA leaders who had come from across the world to get advice on raising money — and how to use social networking to do it. During the talk, he didn't spare his old employer: "Google is a verb for searching the Internet. Yahoo is a verb for walking away from money."
- A few words about Christian terrorism.
And I suppose the first words should be about those words: "Christian terrorism." The term will seem jarring to those who've grown comfortable regarding terrorism as something exclusive to Islam. That this is a self-deluding fallacy should have long since been apparent to anyone who's been paying attention. We have seen no shortage of "Christians" who believe Jesus requires — or at least allows — them to commit murder.
- Of the economic fiasco lessons learned, most important should be that financial road rules need major adjustments. Banking and financial market trading laws were weakened a decade ago, and the results were disastrous. We witnessed exotic high-wire mortgages that led to a tsunami of foreclosures and bank failures, and freewheeling speculative trading arcades with virtually no oversight by federal regulators. By the time we realized what was happening, it was too late.
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