TOKYO, Dec 27- Japan's government approved on Saturday stimulus spending worth $29 billion aimed at helping the country's lagging regions and households with subsidies, merchandise vouchers and other steps, but analysts are sceptical about how much it can spur growth. The government said it expects the stimulus plan to boost Japan's GDP by 0.7 percent.» Read More
BANGKOK-- Asian stocks fell Monday as Europe's debt crisis continued to roil markets and the World Bank cut its growth forecasts for Asia. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and mainland China also fell. Andrew Sullivan, principal sales trader at Piper Jaffray in Hong Kong, said protests in Spain and IMF concerns over Greece continue to worry investors.
BEIJING-- The World Bank cut its growth forecast for Asia on Monday in a new sign of the impact of weakening global demand and warned China's cooling economy faces the risk of a "more pronounced slowdown." The bank cut its forecast for China, the region's biggest economy, to 7.7 percent from May's 8.2 percent.
WASHINGTON-- American companies should avoid doing business with China's two leading technology firms because they pose a national security threat to the United States, the House Intelligence Committee is warning in a report to be issued Monday.
ATHENS, Greece-- Greek police say they have detained 18 union members of the state electricity company's union, including the union president, for illegally occupying a building housing the company's computer systems. The unionists had occupied the building for about four hours when riot police stormed the premises shortly before midnight.
LONDON-- The French and German governments must reduce their stakes in defense company EADS NV for the U.K. to allow a proposed merger with BAE Systems PLC to go ahead, Britain's defense secretary warned Sunday. Philip Hammond said Britain would veto the mega-merger of the aeronautics and defense companies if this requirement wasn't satisfied.
NEWARK, N.J.-- An internal report shows screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport are properly executing standard pat-downs of passengers only 16.7 percent of the time. The report obtained by The Star-Ledger of Newark also shows that screeners identify and take appropriate action on prohibited items in only a quarter of all cases.
LOS ANGELES-- California motorists faced another day of record-breaking gasoline prices Sunday, though relief appeared to be on the way. Jerry Brown ordered state smog regulators Sunday to allow winter-blend gasoline to be sold in California earlier than usual to help drive prices down.
LOS ANGELES-- Critics don't like "Taken 2," but Liam Neeson's action sequel has proved twice the hit among fans as the original movie was. "Taken" went on to become a $145 million smash for Neeson, the Academy Award-nominated star of " Schindler's List" who has become an unlikely action hero in his 50 s.
LONDON-- A letter in which Albert Einstein dismissed the idea of God as a product of human weakness is being sold on eBay for a starting price of $3 million. The letter, handwritten in 1954, a year before Einstein's death, was addressed to philosopher Eric Gutkind.
BERLIN-- Germany's finance minister is keeping the pressure on Greece to implement reforms and spending cuts before a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble rejected on ZDF television Sunday suggestions that the trip signals Greece will definitely get further bailout money from its creditors.
MADRID-- Tens of thousands of people marched in 56 Spanish cities Sunday to protest punishing austerity cuts they say will only increase unemployment and job insecurity in a country experiencing its second recession in three years and record high unemployment. The rally in Spain's capital was supported by 150 organizations.
MONTPELIER, Vt.-- In a state that has a long history of maple syrup production and fiercely protects the purity of its brand, Vermont producers are proud of their "fancy," "grade A dark amber" and "grade B" syrup.
Foundations from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh have provided more than $19 million for gas-drilling-related grants since 2009, according to an Associated Press review of charity data.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.-- In an age when people can choose among text messages, email, Facebook and old-fashioned stamps and printed cards, the chance to use the wrong method when sending your very best is quite high.
If you're like many Americans, your friends are texting their congratulations, sending you an e-card or clicking "Like" on your Facebook wall. The 25- year-old nanny from Kansas City, Mo., hears from friends largely through Facebook. " In consolidating its Kansas operations, Kansas City- based Hallmark plans to shed 300 jobs.
MADRID-- Thousands of people are marching in 56 Spanish cities to protest punishing austerity cuts they say will only increase unemployment and job insecurity in a country suffering from its second recession in three years and record high unemployment.
PROVIDENCE, R.I.-- Retired social worker Jim Gillis was told his $36,000 Rhode Island state pension would increase by $1,100 next year to keep up with inflation. He and other retirees are challenging the pension changes in a court battle that's likely to have national implications as other states follow Rhode Island's lead.
LONDON-- Dozens of Britons who believe their phones were illegally tapped by journalists have written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to consider tighter press regulation.
LOS ANGELES-- California motorists faced another day of record-breaking gasoline prices Sunday, though relief appeared to be on the way. A station in Long Beach had California's priciest gas at $6.65 for a gallon of regular, according to GasBuddy.com.
Jerry Brown last month signed legislation expected to save billions of dollars in coming years by increasing the retirement age for new employees, limiting annual pension payouts to $132,120 and requiring workers who are not contributing half of their retirement costs to pay more.