ATHENS, Dec 29- Greek lawmakers failed to elect a new president in a final round of voting on Monday, leaving the country facing an early election that could derail the international bailout program it needs to keep paying its bills. Under Greek law, a parliamentary election must now be called, leaving financial markets and Greece's European Union partners...» Read More
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he's ready to start funding a light rail passenger line and fast bus lines in the Detroit area if state and regional officials can finally work together on ending the metro area's status as the nation's largest without mass transit.
MEXICO CITY-- Mexican President Felipe Calderon has signed into law a ban on large cash transactions as part of an effort to fight money laundering that experts estimate may amount to around $10 billion per year in Mexico. The bill forbids buyers and sellers from giving or accepting cash payments of more than a half million pesos for real-estate purchases.
LONDON-- Judges are choosing the winner of Britain's most prestigious literary trophy from a shortlist that includes novels set in the court of King Henry VIII and the opium dens of Mumbai. Mantel would be the first British author to win the Booker twice, joining double winners Peter Carey of Australia and J.M. Coetzee of South Africa.
BKSMARCK, N.D.-- Officials say airline boardings at North Dakota's commercial airports are up nearly 20 percent from last year. North Dakota Aeronautics Director Larry Taborsky says year-to-date passenger numbers show five of the eight commercial service airports in the state are continuing on a record-breaking pace.
LINCOLN, Neb.-- Nebraska's corn and soybean harvests are still ahead of schedule, but winter wheat growth has fallen behind. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its weekly crop report Monday that the statewide corn harvest is 80 percent complete, one month ahead of average. The soybean harvest was nearly 86 percent complete, about three weeks ahead of average.
NEW YORK-- Mattel says that cost cuts and higher revenue from toys including Monster High dolls and Fisher-Price helped send net income up 22 percent in the third quarter, providing a bit of early holiday cheer for the largest U.S. toy maker.
PROVIDENCE, R.I.-- The Rhode Island Foundation plans to spend $1 million on economic development initiatives brainstormed during a summit last month on ways to fix the state's struggling economy.
TRENTON, N.J.-- A New Jersey Senate panel narrowly passed a resolution Monday that would ask voters to approve a minimum wage increase next year along with automatic yearly adjustments.
DENVER-- It's not all hippies backing November's marijuana legalization votes in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
EL DORADO, Ark.-- Murphy Oil is splitting in two in order to better focus on the separate tasks of exploration and production, and the sale of gasoline and other goods through its retail locations. Murphy Oil will continue to explore for and produce oil in the U.S., Canada and Malaysia.
Scott Walker is touting the deposit of nearly $109 million into the state's rainy day fund, money that can be tapped in an emergency. The deposit announced Monday comes after the state ended the last fiscal year in June with a surplus of about $342 million.
NEW YORK-- A Republican-leaning independent group supporting Mitt Romney's presidential bid is spending $11.1 million on new television ads aimed at women. The group planned to air the new ad on national and local cable stations, and in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
AMSTERDAM-- Seven paintings by artists including Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet were stolen from a museum in Rotterdam in an early-hours heist, Dutch police said Tuesday.
BATON ROUGE, La.-- Homeowners and renters have been approved for $105 million in individual aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency since Hurricane Isaac. Another $19 million has been provided for other types of individual assistance, according to FEMA. FEMA spokesman Ray Perez provided the latest figures Monday.
A notice published in Communist Party newspaper Granma said Cubans will also not have to present a letter of invitation to travel abroad when the rule change takes effect Jan. 13, and beginning on that date islanders will only have to show their passport and a visa from the country they are traveling to.
NEW DELHI-- Delegates from nearly 200 countries were working Tuesday to implement an agreement on protecting Earth's ecosystems at a biodiversity conference in southern India.
DES MOINES, Iowa-- Iowa farmers are close to wrapping up this year's harvest as much needed rain finally fell across most of the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 87 percent of the corn crop has been harvested, which is a month ahead of schedule. Ninety-three percent of the soybean crop is in from the fields, which is three weeks ahead of normal.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-- South Dakota's row crop harvest advanced substantially again last week, with nearly all the soybeans harvested. The U.S. Agriculture Department says in its weekly crop and weather report that 98 percent of the soybean crop was harvested, up from last year's pace and well ahead of the five-year average.
NEW YORK-- On the red carpet of his annual AIDS foundation benefit Monday night, Sir Elton John remembered AIDS sufferer Ryan White. The 65- year musician said dealing with the teenager's death was a major turning point in his life, which at the time was "out of whack."