• Good news and bad news from the Congressional Budget Office's new semi-annual projections out Tuesday. The bad: The federal budget will likely be $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2012, the fourth straight year that it has topped the 13-figure threshold. The good: That number is actually down slightly from the previous fiscal year's deficit of $1.3 trillion, and is the lowest—in both nominal terms and as a percentage of the economy—since the Great Recession of 2009.

  • UN leader Ban Ki-moon called on Tuesday for "goodwill gestures" by Israel to encourage the Palestinians to revive the Middle East peace process, ahead of talks with leaders from the two sides. Speaking after meeting with Jordanian leaders, Ban did not say what the gestures were, but he has been an outspoken critic of Israel's increased settlement in the occupied territories, which the Palestinians blame for the latest peace impasse.

  • The Muppets fired back this past week at a Fox Business host for suggesting in December that their new movie was brainwashing kids with a radically green agenda.

  • GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and other healthcare companies are joining forces with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UAE and other governments to fight so-called neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy.

  • CAIRO — The American Embassy in Cairo on Sunday took the highly unusual step of sheltering U.S. citizens employed by ­nongovernmental organizations amid fears that they could be detained as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy groups, according to U.S. officials and a former NGO official.

  • Since his days in the House, Gingrich has always attached himself to the most extreme neocon elements of American and Israeli politics. Adelson’s $18 million in contributions since 2006 only further fueled draft ducker Newt’s already chronic case of bombast.

  • Over the past few months, the Obama administration has rolled out a series of executive actions that often garner little attention from the English-language press but get huge coverage in the Spanish-language media and other outlets favored by Hispanics.

  • Instead of endlessly praising the soldiers as they withdraw from Iraq and soon Afghanistan, should we not be asking why the US has expended so much blood, time and money to achieve so little?

  • The Saudi government has formed an inter-ministerial committee to examine the disadvantages Saudi citizens face while working in the private sector, Saudi Gazette has reported. Some of the decisions to be expected include the number of working hours, days off per week, and number of annual holidays, in order to encourage Saudis to work for the private sector, said Hattab Bin Saleh al-Enezi, spokesman of the ministry of Labour. The move will help reduce the number of Saudis quitting the private sector to work for the public sector every year, he said.

  • More CEOs in Middle East/Africa reported hiring increases in the past 12 months than any other region in the world, while CEOs in Asia said they are most likely to add jobs in the coming year.

  • Saudi Arabia has signalled it could meet a possible shortfall in Turkey’s oil imports if supplies from Iran are hit by new US and European Union sanctions, in a sign of the interest of Turkey’s main oil group in procuring alternative supplies of oil.

  • THEY have been called "worms", "violent and inept slum-dwellers", and "suckers". And yet hundreds of them, exasperated about austerity measures, political incompetence and lack of public consultation over laws, keep coming out on to the freezing winter streets of Bucharest and other Romanian cities to urge the president and government to resign. "Now is the winter of our discontent—Suckerspeare" read one banner in Bucharest's University Square

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