206,000 Private Jobs Added In November

ROSELAND, N.J., Nov. 30 (UPI) — Payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. said Wednesday the U.S. economy added 206,000 jobs in November, nearly twice the average gain since May.

Small businesses, those with fewer than 50 employees, added the bulk of the jobs, 110,000, while large businesses, those with more than 499 employees, added 12,000 jobs. Medium-sized businesses added 84,000 jobs, ADP said.

ADP’s monthly report tracks private sector jobs. The Labor Department’s monthly job situation report, due Friday, includes private and public sector jobs.

ADP revised October’s figures to show 130,000 jobs added in the private sector, rather than the 110,000 previously announced.

For November, private-sector, goods-producing jobs rose by 28,000. Manufacturing employment increased 7,000. Construction employment grew 16,000.

“This month’s jobs figures show positive growth in all major sectors of the economy and are in line with the recent drop in the national unemployment rate and weekly jobless claims,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP.

“November’s advance was the largest monthly gain since last December and nearly twice the average monthly gain since May when employment decelerated sharply. Today’s [Wednesday's] report, notably above the consensus forecast, suggests that employment, which decelerated during the spring, accelerated in November,” said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, which helps produce the ADP report.

Greater broadband use touted as key to South American development

BRASILIA, Brazil, Nov. 30 (UPI) — A wider introduction of broadband and Internet telecommunication will help development and social inclusion throughout Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank said in studies released at a ministerial conference.

International telecommunications organizations, governments and non-government organizations sent representatives to the meeting, which also looked into promotion of intercontinental fiber-optic networks in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Broadband network expansion in Latin America is linked to issues of chronic poverty issues, patchy development and lack of resources. But this year’s experience of telecommunications playing a key role in the Arab Spring in the Middle East and Africa has given a stronger voice to those backing broadband expansion in Latin America.

Connectivity and access to the Internet is linked to income disparities in Latin America and within countries seen from the outside as buoyant and increasingly prosperous emerging markets.

Income disparities that affect access to broadband are the strongest in high-growth countries, including Brazil, analysts said.

IDB said member countries of the Union of South American Nations need to improve cooperation and stimulate private investment to increase broadband access. UNASUR has 12 members — Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela — and two observers, Mexico and Panama.

Greater accessibility to broadband will lead to lower costs and greater usage, conclusions reached in the studies said. The documents were released at the meeting of UNASUR communication ministers.

Although Latin America’s broadband infrastructure is growing, it lags behind China and other parts of the world, the study indicated. The region’s connectivity is rated at about seven per 100 inhabitants, less than China’s 9.4 and the Organization for Economic Co-operations and Development’s 25 per 100, IDB Science and Technology Division head Flora Painter told the meeting.

The OECD comprises 34 nations dubbed developed or industrialized. Chile is the OECD’s only South American member.

IDB says Latin American countries need to promote public-private partnerships, give more tax incentives and modify regulations to stimulate investment.

“South America will accelerate economic development if it increases access to broadband services to low-income populations and businesses, especially small and medium-sized companies,” Painter said.

“UNASUR member countries have a great opportunity to invest in coordinated efforts to improve regional and international connectivity and increase the production of local content, which we consider necessary to democratize and reduce the cost of access.”

UNASUR members should build more domestic and regional connection points as that will cut the distances for data traffic and lower costs.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean says 75-85 percent of the region’s traffic, including locally produced content, goes through Miami. In contrast, most of Europe’s traffic stays within its borders.

IDB is also promoting greater user of underwater fiber-optic networks in Latin America, which lags behind Africa even though the region generates more business.

An earlier meeting on broadband expansion in Miami looked at the Caribbean region.

U.S. Offers $50,000 In ‘Shredder Challenge’

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 29 (UPI) — The research arm of the U.S. military is offering a $50,000 prize to the person who presents the best way to piece together shredded documents.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said participants in the “shredder challenge,” which began in October and ends Dec. 4, are asked to find a fast and cost-effective method of reconstituting the “shredded” documents posted on the contest Web site, www.shredderchallenge.com, and then solve the puzzles contained in the documents, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Monday.

Officials said four of the five challenges have been solved thus far, with teams using methods including computer programming and piecing the documents together by hand.

“We’ve been utterly pleased with the results so far,” said Norm Whitaker, deputy director of DARPA’s information innovation office.

DARPA said the goal of the project is to find an efficient way to piece together shredded documents that may contain valuable information about the country’s enemies.

Christmas Photos Come With Gun Backdrops

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Nov. 29 (UPI) — An Arizona gun club is giving families the chance to take Christmas card photos with Santa Claus in front of firearms-themed backdrops.

The Scottsdale Gun Club said families can come in during the Santa and Machine Guns event, scheduled for Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and have photos taken with jolly old St. Nick in front of backdrops ranging from an $80,000 Garwood minigun to common pistols, KSAZ-TV, Phoenix, reported Monday.

“I think it’s going to be all in fun from those who support the second amendment and those who don’t. Whether you’re a gun advocate or not, you should have a lot of fun with it,” gun club member Richard Jones said.

Election Tie Broken With Number Drawing

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa., Nov. 30 (UPI) — A Pennsylvania township resolved a tie from the recent board of supervisors election by having the candidates pick envelopes containing numbers.

Democrat Joseph Claar was chosen to serve a six-year term as a Greenfield Township supervisor Monday when he picked an envelope containing a lower number than the envelope chosen by his opponent, Republican Edward Helsel, The Altoona (Pa.) Mirror reported Tuesday.

Helsel and Claar each received 221 votes in the election.

Claar, whose previous term on the board ended six years ago, said the envelope-drawing tiebreaker was not the first for the township.

“It’s been done this way for years. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” he said.

Helsel has held a seat on the board since 1988.

Police: Woman Stabbed With Ornament

SOUTHINGTON, Conn., Nov. 30 (UPI) — Police in Connecticut said a woman accused of stealing items from a Christmas Craft Fair allegedly used an ornament to stab a woman who was blocking her escape.

Investigators said Ruth Wagner, 55, of Southington, allegedly stole several items from the city’s Christmas Craft Fair and began fleeing when she was approached by a vendor who saw her take a seashell ornament, WVIT-TV, New Britain/Hartford/New Haven, Conn., reported Tuesday.

The vendor called out for someone to stop the woman and Wagner allegedly stabbed a woman who tried to block her exit in the arm with the seashell ornament.

The injured woman was taken to a local hospital to have a piece of the shell removed from her arm.

Witnesses took down Wagner’s license plate number and she was arrested at her home, police said.

Wagner was charged with robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, larceny in the sixth degree and breach of peace in the second degree. She was released on $100,000 bond.

Suit Donated With $13,000 In Pockets

MOLINE, Ill., Nov. 30 (UPI) — A Goodwill spokeswoman said workers were searching for a suit donated by an 80-year-old Illinois man who believes he left $13,000 in the pockets.

Goodwill spokeswoman Dana Engelbert said the Moline man, who asked not to be identified, donated an old suit to a local Goodwill store and realized about a week later that his life savings, about $13,000, had been in the pockets, WQAD-TV, Moline, reported Tuesday.

“We’re sorting through the donations that came in at the time,” Engelbert said.

She said the store was searched and workers are looking through donations from the location that were shipped to an Iowa City warehouse. However, she said the suit may have already been sold.

The man’s daughter said her father has been taking care of his wife, who has stage 4 cancer, and is “devastated and embarrassed” by the costly mistake. She said a $1,000 reward is being offered to the potential buyer of the suit if that person “does the right thing.”

Woman who calls police arrested in hit-run

PINELLAS PARK, Del., Nov. 30 (UPI) — A Florida woman who called police to ask them to remove her boyfriend from her apartment was arrested in a fatal February hit-and-run crash, police said.

Heather Lynn Mayo, 33, called the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office Monday night, saying she feared her boyfriend, Robert Worden. But Worden implicated her in the hit-and-run and pointed officers to the neighbor’s truck she was driving at the time, The St. Petersburg Times reported.

Worden, who had just been released from jail after 40 days for issuing a worthless check and said he had come to see his 7-year-old daughter, left the Palm Harbor apartment. Heading out, he showed deputies the damaged 1997 black Ford Ranger in the parking lot and told them Mayo had borrowed the truck Feb. 4 to drive to Pinellas Park to buy marijuana, officials said.

Worden told deputies Mayo had admitted to him she had hit and killed a pedestrian on 66th Street North but was too afraid of going to jail to stop, the Times said.

Police said the victim, Jeannie Fisher, 50, had violated the driver’s right of way but state law required the driver to stop and identify herself.

The Sheriff’s Office called the Pinellas Park Police Department, and Mayo was arrested after confessing to the hit-and-run, police said.

The Ranger had not been repaired since the crash, the report said.

Mayo was booked into the Pinellas jail, where she was being held Tuesday on $52,250 bail.

She had also been arrested on a warrant for driving with a suspended license and was cited for driving under the influence last year, the Times said.

GOP seeks to accelerate Keystone permit

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) — A bill was introduced in the U.S, Senate Wednesday requiring issuance of a construction permit for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline within 60 days.

Republican senators said the legislation would overturn the Obama administration’s decision to kick the project back for further study, likely until after next year’s presidential election.

The sponsors of the legislation said the project needed to commence quickly to both secure new supplies of Canadian crude oil and put Americans to work.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is the largest infrastructure project that is ready for construction now,” Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said in a written statement , “President Obama has the opportunity of creating 20,000 new jobs. Incredibly, he has delayed a decision until after the 2012 election apparently in fear of offending a part of his political base.”

The “political base” includes environmentalists who oppose the planned pipeline route through a critical water aquifer in Nebraska.

But the sponsors of the bill said it included requirements for strict environmental safeguards and provisions to change the pipeline route in Nebraska, but allowing construction to begin outside the state in the meantime.

In the meantime, the bill would make it official that the environmental impact statement on the project was adequate and require the U.S.State Department to issue the necessary permits within 60 days of passage.

U.S.: Canada hid salmon virus for 10 years

SEATTLE, Nov. 30 (UPI) — U.S. officials have expressed annoyance an 8-year-old Canadian scientific report on a deadly West Coast salmon virus wasn’t shared or published.

Molly Kilbenge was the lead of four authors of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans report in 2004 that said the deadly infectious salmon anemia virus had been found in three types of wild salmon in 2002 and 2003.

In November, Kilbenge asked for federal permission to publish the article, but was denied, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

The wild coho, pink and sockeye salmon migrate along the coast of Washington and British Columbia, past huge farms of captive salmon farms, where the virus is suspected to originate, the report said.

Jim Winton, a fish virologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, told the Seattle Times Canada’s decision to withhold the data was “puzzling and very frustrating” as it affects the entire west coast fisheries north to Alaka.

“No one ever revealed that there was a publication that was ready to go to a journal or that the data were as compelling as they appear to be,” he said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., denounced Canada’s decision to withhold findings.

“We should not rely on another government — particularly one that may have a motive to misrepresent its findings — to determine how we assess the risk ISA may pose to American fishery jobs,” Cantwell said.