ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

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December 26, 2012 -- (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

U.S.

Business groups grow frustrated over impasse in ‘fiscal cliff’ talks (The Hill)

December 23, 2012--Business leaders are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in talks to head off billions in looming tax hikes and spending cuts they say will harm the nation's economy.

Concern increased among business groups following the failure of House Republicans to round up enough votes to pass their “Plan B” bill that would have stopped tax increases on anyone making $1 million a year or less.

Immigrants Welcomed: A City Sees Economic Promise (NPR)

December 22, 2012--If there's one common language that some recent immigrants in Dayton, Ohio, seem to share, it's soccer.

The first Dayton World Soccer Games kicked off earlier this year, an initiative hosted by the city to welcome an influx of immigrants. On the field, a rainbow of brightly colored jerseys represented nearly 20 of the different immigrant communities in the city.

Nearing fiscal cliff, wind industry waits (North County NPR)

December 24, 2012--Uncertainty over the future of production tax credits for wind energy producers has lead to a major industry slowdown. Now, the tax credit's fate is bogged down in Congressional "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

For wind energy producers, the looming expiration date for the production tax credits, or PTCs, is getting even closer.

American wind industry proposes to phase out tax credits (Hydrogen News)

December 17, 2012--The U.S. has shown strong support for wind energy over the past several years, but the country is currently debating the justification for extending the Production Tax Credit, which provides wind energy companies and their assorted projects with tax breaks. The American Wind Energy Association is a strong supporter of the Production Tax Credit, but the organization is well aware of the financial implications of the country’s continued support of wind energy. The organization has proposed a plan that could help address these issues without presenting inordinate strain on the U.S. economy.

End the Wind Production Tax Credit (U.S. News and World Reports)

December 13, 2012--As Congress and President Obama negotiate over how to deal with the "fiscal cliff," one important issue is whether or not to continue the wind production tax credit. This credit was created 20 years ago to help wind try to compete with affordable and reliable source of electricity generation such as coal, natural gas, and hydropower. Despite 35 years of subsidies, the wind industry claims they still need help from the taxpayer. But this begs the question—when will enough ever be enough for the wind industry? Twenty years is more than enough for the wind industry to stand on its own.

NRA defends call for armed guards at schools (Reuters)

December 23, 2012--The leader of the gun lobby on Sunday defended his call for placing armed guards in all American schools despite withering criticism of the group's response to the massacre of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut.

"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Audits looking for undocumented immigrants on the rise (Christian Science Monitor)

December 23, 2012--U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reached its highest number yet of companies audited for illegal immigrants on their payrolls this past fiscal year.

Audits of employer I-9 forms increased from 250 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. From fiscal years 2009 to 2012, the total amount of fines grew to nearly $13 million from $1 million. The number of company managers arrested has increased to 238, according to data provided by ICE. The investigations of companies have been one of the pillars of President Barack Obama's immigration policy.

Few tests done at toxic sites after superstorm (U-T San Diego)

December 23, 2012--For more than a month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that the recent superstorm didn't cause significant problems at any of the 247 Superfund toxic waste sites it's monitoring in New York and New Jersey.

But in many cases, no actual tests of soil or water are being conducted just visual inspections.

WORLD

North Korea could have U.S. within missile range, says South (Reuters)

December23, 2012--This month's rocket launch by reclusiveNorth Korea shows it has likely developed the technology, long suspected in the West, to fire a warhead more than 10,000 km (6,200 miles), South Korean officials said on Sunday, putting the U.S. West Coast in range.

North Korea said the December 12 launch put a weather satellite in orbit but critics say it was aimed at nurturing the kind of technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.

Mayan temple damaged in tourists’ ‘apocalypse’ frenzy (Raw Story)

December 23, 2012--Tourists flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archeological site and urban center of the Mayan civilization.

“Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage,” said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, which is located some 550 kilometers (340 miles) north of Guatemala City.

“We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site,” he told local media.

India rape protests; reporter shot dead (Sky News)

December 23, 2012--A journalist has been killed in violent demonstrations against sex attacks in India as police failed to contain fresh violence.

A television reporter, 36, was reportedly shot dead when officers opened fire on a protest in Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, over an attack on a film actress.

The star, known as Momoko, was dragged from stage in full public view last week by an armed militant who tried to rape her. She managed to fight him off and fled.

AP Exclusive: Palestinians aim to isolate Israel  (U-T San Diego)

December 20, 2012--Weeks ahead of Israeli elections, Palestinian officials are already plotting a series of tough steps against Israel to be taken if, as polls predict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected and peace efforts remain stalled.

Emboldened by their newly upgraded status at the United Nations, the Palestinians are talking of filing war crimes charges against Israel, staging mass demonstrations in the West Bank, encouraging the international community to impose sanctions, and ending the security cooperation that has helped preserve quiet in recent years.

UN confirms Hezbollah fighting for Assad in Syria (Jerusalem Post)

December 20, 2012--The Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah has confirmed that its members are in Syria fighting on behalf of the government, United Nations human rights investigators said on Thursday.

There are also reports that Iraqi Shias are coming to fight in Syria, and Iran confirmed in September that its Revolutionary Guards are in Syria providing assistance, the independent investigators led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro said in their latest 10-page report.

Thousands of Islamists clash with opponents in Egypt (Christian Science Monitor)

December 21, 2012--Thousands of Islamists clashed with their opponents on Friday in Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, a day before the second leg of voting on a proposed constitution that has deeply polarized the nation.

Riot police swung batons and fired volleys of tear gas to separate the stone-throwing crowds, made up of Muslim Brotherhood members and ultraconservative Salafis on one side, and youthful protesters on the other. The clashes started when the two groups met just after Friday afternoon prayers near the city's main mosque.

Risk For Pakistan's Polio Workers Escalates (NPR)

December 23, 2012--The death toll of Pakistan's polio workers shot while trying to administer vaccines to needy children now stands at nine. The Taliban hasn't claimed responsibility and Pakistan is investigating. The United Nations has said it has pulled its field workers, but the Pakistan government says it will continue the program without them. The government has sent workers out under armed guard and suspended the program only in Sindh province and there is some talk of moving vaccinations into hospitals in some districts.