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  • A court in the quake-devastated town of L'Aquila convicted seven former members of Italy's so-called " Great Risks Commission" and sentenced each of them to six years in prison, prompting predictions that experts would be discouraged from working in Italy for fear of similar risks of prosecution.

  • WASHINGTON-- Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is preparing to explain to low-income voters how he and Mitt Romney would do more to help them than President Barack Obama. The Wisconsin congressman planned to outline the GOP presidential ticket's case during a speech Wednesday at Cleveland State University in political crucial Ohio.

  • People love to talk about the weather, especially when it's strange like the mercifully ended summer of 2012. This year the nation's weather has been hotter and more extreme than ever, federal records show.

  • A four-year boom in U.S. oil production is accelerating so fast it could help soon make the U.S. the world's top producer of oil and liquid hydrocarbons. The U.S. passed Russia this year, and is now second behind Saudi Arabia. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

  • The Nevada State Education Association, which has already collected around 60,000 signatures to qualify the initiative, has said it would raise $800 million a year for K-12 education. "The initiative does not prevent the Legislature from supplanting existing education funds with the margin tax," the judge wrote. "

  • The budget deficit _ the shortfall created when the government spends more in a given year than it collects in taxes and fees_ topped $1 trillion for the fourth straight time in the budget year that just ended Sept. 30. It now borrows roughly 31 cents for every dollar it spends.

  • Steve Murdock, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau and ex-state demographer of Texas, said studies are nearly unanimous in concluding that improved education is the key to bolstering earning power _ and thus could reverse the trend.

  • NEW YORK-- A billionaire hedge fund manager has pledged $100 million to the private organization that maintains Central Park in partnership with New York City. John A. Paulson's gift to the Central Park Conservancy announced Tuesday is believed to be the largest gift ever to a public park.

  • NEW YORK-- Inter Parfums Inc., which sells licensed perfumes and cosmetics, said Tuesday that its third-quarter sales fell 3 percent, pulled down by the effects of unfavorable exchange rates. Inter Parfums is the perfumes and cosmetics licensee for brands such as Burberry, Van Cleef& Arpels and Jimmy Choo.

  • LONDON-- The publisher of the British tabloid once edited by Piers Morgan lost more than a tenth of its value after a prominent lawyer revealed that the newspaper stood accused of hacking into people's phones.

  • Europe is struggling to control a debt crisis, save the euro currency and stop a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis that sent the world spinning into recession. Neither President Barack Obama nor Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has offered plans for Europe. Obama has urged Europe to act more decisively.

  • Tennessee currently has triple-A credit ratings from Moody's Investors Service and Fitch and a double-A-plus rating from Standard and Poor's. Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes said the state could lose about $40 million for education and more in indirect federal spending.

  • POCKETING BILLIONS: Russian oil company Rosneft said it could make up to $5 billion in savings when it combines its operations with those of its takeover target TNK-BP. TROIKA: Rosneft is buying the 50 percent stake of British oil company BP for $17.1 billion and a 12.84 percent share of Rosneft.

  • President Barack Obama achieved historic increases in fuel-economy standards that would save drivers money at the pump while raising the cost of new vehicles. Obama failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions and shelved a plan to toughen health standards on lung-damaging smog.

  • Its narrowed outlook for the year indicates that fourth-quarter earnings will beat Wall Street expectations. UPS now predicts earnings of $4.55 to $4.65 per share, compared with its earlier forecast of $4.50 to $4.70. On the earnings conference call, CFO Kurt Kuehn was asked why UPS is confident about the fourth quarter.

  • ALBANY, N.Y.-- Lap dances are taxable because they don't promote culture in a community the way ballet or other artistic endeavors do, New York's highest court concluded Tuesday in a sharply divided ruling.

  • From bridges to broadband, America's infrastructure is supposed to be speeding along commerce, delivering us to work and piping energy and water into our homes and businesses.

  • DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Brown& Brown is raising its quarterly dividend by about 6 percent to 9 cents per share from 8.5 cents. Last week Brown& Brown reported that its third-quarter net income rose 12 percent, boosted by a jump in commissions and fees. Shares of Brown& Brown Inc., which is based in Daytona Beach, Fla., shed 18 cents to $25.16 in afternoon trading.

  • MADRID-- Spain's economy continued to shrink in the third quarter, contracting by 0.4 percent compared with the previous three months, according to central bank estimates Tuesday that will increase pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to seek financial help from Europe. This is the fifth quarter in a row that Spain's economic output has contracted.