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Saturday, Dec 20th

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Banks ease credit for themselves but not you

"Lending standards on most forms of credit are now tighter than at any time in recent memory," Ryan Sweet, an economist with Moody's Economy.com, wrote in a recent report. "The reduction in credit availability threatens to lengthen and deepen the recession."

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100,000 Sony Batteries Recalled

Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Toshiba have once again recalled Sony notebook batteries following reports of them causing fires that have resulted in people suffering minor burns.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the three computer makers announced the worldwide recall Thursday. The action involves 35,000 batteries sold in the United States and an additional 65,000 sold outside the country. The batteries were sold in the same time frame as Sony notebook batteries involved in a massive recall in 2006.

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McCain Pal Gets 54 Months For Fraud

Raffaello Follieri, 30, pleaded guilty in September to fraudulently obtaining US$2.4 million by leading investors to believe he had Vatican connections that enabled him to buy the Roman Catholic Church's unwanted US properties at a discount.

Follieri had good connections to both McCain and Rick Davis, for whom he had promised to "deliver Catholic votes", and was the host of John McCain's 70th birthday party, celebrated onboard the yacht of another dodgy character - a Russian oligarch who pretty much owns the tiny state of Montenegro.

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VIDEO: McCain's Mansions

Freddie Mac, AIG, JPMorgan Helped Stage Republican Convention

Freddie Mac and American International Group Inc., two companies bailed out by the U.S. government as the financial crisis unfolded, each contributed $250,000 for last month's Republican National Convention, Federal Election Commission filings show.

The money went to the local host committee for the convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, which raised $50 million. The committees can accept unlimited amounts from corporations, unions and individuals. While the donors' names were posted on the committee's Web site, the amounts they gave were not released until the FEC reports. The host committee for the Democratic National Convention in Denver has yet to file.

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British bombers killed 500,000 in Dresden. Wrong, it was more like 18,000, say German historians

For more than 60 years Britain's Bomber Command led by Arthur 'Bomber' Harris has been vilified for causing up to 500,000 deaths in the carpet bombing of Dresden during World War II.

But now, after a four-year investigation, a panel of German historians has said that the true number of dead from the Allied air raids in January 1945 was between 18,000 and 25,000.

It suited the Nazi propaganda machine to claim that half-a-million women and children had been incinerated in the firestorm. It helped persuade a struggling population that this was awaited them all unless they fought for Nazism with their last breath.

Then the Communist East Germans perpetuated the myth, mindful that it served their purposes by showing the destructiveness of capitalism and fascism combined.

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Voters contend they were duped into registering as Republicans

Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they were duped into joining the party by a GOP-hired contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country.

Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

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