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Jan. 1, 2013 at 10:09 PM
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Cantor attacks Senate cliff deal

WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The "fiscal cliff" deal passed in the Senate struck strong opposition among U.S. House Republicans Tuesday, clouding prospects for immediate passage.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., after a behind doors meeting with fellow Republicans, said he opposed the Senate legislation, which lets taxes rise on upper income households, The Washington Post reported.

Canter forcefully expressed his opposition behind closed doors, and other Republicans did the same, the report said.

The Post said Cantor's opposition probably derails any fast House passage of the Senate bill without amendments. But the Senate is in recess, and the current Congress ends Thursday.

Earlier Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner wrangled support for a vote on a fiscal cliff compromise in the face of mounting Republican opposition.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the measure will add nearly $4 trillion to the U.S. debt in the next 10 years because of lost revenue or payments on refundable tax credits, Politico reported.

New year, new state laws

WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Four hundred new state laws are in effect with the new year, and some of them are strange, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported.

Among the activities now illegal are allowing a hunting dog to chase a bear in California, release of a feral hog into the Kentucky wild and, for Illinois sex offenders, work as Santa, pass out Halloween candy or dress as the Easter Bunny.

California and Illinois are among a number of states banning employers from requesting social networking passwords or screen names from prospective employees, the news agency Politico reported Tuesday.

Illinois also made it a felony to have sex with a corpse, after years of relying on a court room charge of "criminal damage to property."

"The death of a loved one is bad enough, but it should be much more than criminal damaged property," state representative Daniel Beiser, who sponsored the bill, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "This is a completely appropriate charge."

Massachusetts repealed a law demanding every item in a grocery store to have a price label, opting instead for price scanners around the store, and New York banned the sale of electric cigarettes to children, Politico noted.

Putin urges Russians to be benevolent

MOSCOW, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Vladimir Putin, eight months into his third term as president, urged fellow Russians Tuesday to be more "responsive and benevolent" in the New Year.

In a message delivered shortly after midnight, Putin talked about love of family and country, RIA Novosti reported. His brief speech was short on specifics.

Putin said at the end of the year everyone becomes more conscious of how time is "fleeting."

"We should become more responsive and benevolent, more generous and caring toward our loved ones, our children and parents, our friends and colleagues, and everyone who needs our support," he said.

Putin's decision to run for a third term after spending four years as prime minister prompted large protests. He called on the country to stand united.

"As we face the future, we naturally hope for positive, joyful changes, and our personal plans are inseparable from Russia, from our heartfelt, noble feelings toward our Fatherland," Putin said.

One of Putin's last major actions in 2012 was to sign a law banning U.S. adoptions in Russia.

P.M. touts Canada economic growth in 2012

OTTAWA, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper touted the country's relative economic health as he listed his government's achievements in the past year.

In a statement released Monday, Harper said that by making the public sector more efficient and cutting debt Canada had finished the year with one of the strongest economies in the Group of Seven countries.

"The international community has taken note of our success this year: Forbes magazine has ranked Canada as number one in its annual review of the best countries for business; for the fifth year in a row, the World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system as the world's soundest; and both the IMF and OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G-7 next year," he added.

In 2012, Canada also improved its immigration system and strengthened the relationship between the national government and the indigenous population, known in Canada as First Nations, Harper said. The Responsible Resource Development Plan and quicker approval of energy projects will also help the economy, he added.

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