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PODCAST: Goodbye ‘Government Motors’, hello ‘eagle baby’

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Here’s a quick roundup of the latest in the ever-shifting fiscal cliff talks: Negotiators for the president and House Speaker John Boehner are stuck somewhere between $400,000 and $1 million — in terms of the income level above which taxes would rise. The temporary break in the payroll tax many of us have enjoyed the last couple years seems likely to disappear. And both sides seem to agree on letting capital gains and dividend taxes go up to at least 20 percent.

All this will get us some quite modest distance toward addressing the U.S. budget deficit. On the revenue side, some treasured tax breaks are coming in for close scrutiny. And one of the country’s leading social conservatives is weighing in on the matter. Ralph Reed helped launch the Christian Coalition back in 1989. Today he is chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Hear our interview with him here

The U.S. government is beginning to extract itself from General Motors. GM is spending more than $5 billion to buy back 200 million shares of its own stock from Uncle Sam. That leaves taxpayers still invested, but things are moving in the right direction — at least as far as GM is concerned.              

And news this morning of the big settlement everyone knew was coming: The swiss bank UBS will pay $1.5 billion to settle accusations that it rigged that key global interest rate known as LIBOR.

After a rush of home building in October, November turned out to be a little muted. Much of that you can blame on Sandy — the storm definitely seems to have slowed down construction in the Northeast. 

The world’s most polluting source of energy could soon become the world’s most-used. The International Energy Agency says coal could overtake oil within a decade.

If you don’t have kids, you might not know there’s such a thing as a pediatric dentist. The American Dental Association says it’s the fasting growing dental specialty by far. There’s exploding demand for visits to the dentist that are nothing like what you and I probably had as a kid. 

Before we wrap up here. If I say the words “eagle baby” to you today, do you instantly know what I’m talking about? Well, here’s the deal: In this age of Photoshop, and movie special effects, many of us pride ourselves on being savvy enough to spot a fake. So if you haven’t yet, go test your shrewd perception on the viral video du jour: The amateur cameraman is following an eagle swooping over a city park in Montreal. Suddenly the bird swoops down and catches up a baby playing a ways away on the grass. Now don’t worry — no harm done: Ultimately the baby’s too heavy — the eagle struggles to gain height and then leaves it on the ground. Strains credulity, but it looks remarkable. At this moment the official verdict’s still out.

And finally, if maybe-fake-eagle-attacks are not enough in the holiday spirit for you, an item on the state-of-the-art in Gingerbread House technology: Johon von Konow is an engineer in Sweden who recently came into possession of a laser engraver. The result is a meticulous, laser-cut gingerbread replica of his summer home, as precise as any architectural model. But Von Konow discovered an unfortunate drawback to the technique: Laser scorched-gingerbread tastes disgusting. So kids, don’t leave that out for Santa Claus.

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