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PODCAST: Right-to-work in Michigan, Santa’s political party

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The Michigan State Capitol is hosting thousands of protesters this morning. The house is taking up a so-called “right to work” bill.

The British bank HSBC is set to pay almost $2 billion to settle its U.S. case of money laundering. The penalty is the biggest in U.S. banking history. From London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports.
In the next couple days, it looks like the U.S. government’s bailout of insurance giant AIG will come to reasonably happy ending. The government is selling the last of its AIG shares — at a profit, even.

The Federal Reserve committee that sets U.S. monetary policy meets today and tomorrow. The Fed has been buying bonds and securities off and on since 2008, and has said it will continue until conditions in the labor market “improve substantially.”

Delta Airlines confirms it will purchase almost half of Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways. The two would engage in joint marketing and scheduling, if antitrust regulators approve.

The U.S. trade deficit grew in October to $42 billion — the economic troubles elsewhere mean fewer people abroad buying our exports.

The Labor Department said this morning employers are advertising more jobs this fall. If the labor market’s picking up, dare we permit ourselves to think about not only working but actually being happy in our work? The career planning website is out with a survey of the jobs that make people happiest. Their top 10 list is kind of a fascinating mix: pediatrician, fire fighter, school counselor, aircraft assembler and criminal investigator. And from the bottom 10: telemarketer, housekeeper, and pretty much anything with “clerk” in the title: motel clerk, city government clerk, and, at the bottom of the list, office mail clerk. The survey’s happiest job, by the way: singer. Not clear if singing while working as a mail clerk makes it any easier to get through the day.

And finally, with the election behind us, I guess political pollsters are trying to mix things up a bit. Today the firm Public Policy Polling informs us that 44 percent of Americans, when asked in a phone survey, believe Santa Claus is a Democrat. That compares to 28 percent who say he’s a Republican… and another 28 percent who presumably greeted such a bizarre question with stunned silence. What party do you think Santa Claus is? I think he’s a Socialist or a Communist, maybe… He’s always wearing red, and he does keep a very meticulous naughty list.

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